christmas letter 2021

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year to you!

As I walked through our 2021 memories and collected photos to add to this letter, I am filled with thankfulness for God’s goodness and kindness to our family. As you may know, we moved to Kansas City, MO over the summer, and found a home this fall. This year has been nothing short of a whirlwind, packed full of changes, and often stress, but walking away from this year and into this next, I’m left with only gratitude.

The year started out for our family like many of us: recovering from 2020, and hoping for a taste of normality. You may remember that we started a podcast last year. We intended to take a break and start up season two in the spring, but at that time the opportunity to move entered, and our lives became absorbed with getting our house ready to sell, and moving! During this time, we’ve continued to have some great conversations, and hope to bring the podcast back with season 2 once we’re settled into our house. (Side note: if anyone needs a great realtor in either Colorado Springs or Kansas City, we definitely hit the jackpot in both! Hit me up; we’d be thrilled to connect you.)

Since we knew early spring that it would be our last few months in Colorado, we soaked up as much as we could and enjoyed having both friends and family visit (have we mentioned we love hosting guests?). While we were showing our house, our realtors recommended we get away for the weekend, since the market was nuts and we only needed to show our house for 3 days. That way, we didn’t have to keep cleaning around ourselves, and constantly be ready to leave every hour or so. We decided to enjoy the mountains one last time, and did a weekend getaway in Breckenridge! My parents also flew up to join us, as it happened to fall on my dad’s 60th birthday. It was the best time, and one we all continue to recall fondly. Ryan, my dad, and I went white water rafting while my mom took the boys gold mining. We had leisurely walks through the adorable town, ate ice cream in 40 degree weather, and enjoyed what is possibly the best meal of our lives. It was the perfect way to wrap up our time in Colorado.

When we moved to Kansas City, we didn’t have a house, as we wanted to wait until we closed on our Colorado house and didn’t feel comfortable buying a house we’ve never seen in person. KC has some amazing character, and some gorgeous homes, but many of them are very old, and come with very old house problems. Foundation issues, mold, really rough plaster cracking, 100 year old plumbing… the list goes on. Because of this, we looked at countless houses that looked like a dream on paper, but inside were heartbreaking. So glad we decided to wait until we were here, because there’s no way we could’ve known these things from listing photos. It took us 4 months to find our house, and along the way we were under contract on two other houses that fell through. It was definitely exhausting to say the least. In the meantime, we were staying at my brother and sister-in-law’s house, and are eternally thankful for their generosity and hospitality. One benefit of living together for 4 months was the cousin time our kids were able to enjoy. We moved to KC to be closer to family. My brother’s family, of course, but it also brought us closer to everyone else as well. We’ve been able to have weekend visits with my sister’s family, and soon my younger brother will be joining us in KC! We also drove to Houston for Thanksgiving, and although we’ve done the trek from CO, KC is just so much closer, haha.

Ryan still works for Compassion International, but is now remote. In 2020, Compassion decided as most companies did to move to remote work. Once the opportunity to open the building back up arose, they offered an exclusively remote option to anyone whose position was able to be done outside the building. It has been such a gift to have Ryan home, as it has cut out commute time, allowed flexibility where needed, and even gave us the ability to become a one car family. Ryan has a pretty sweet office in our new house, and I can’t wait til we get it all set up and running for him. When I look back I remember how crazy the work-from-home transition felt at first, and now feels so normal. Just another reminder of how much we all adapted and flexed to the best of our ability to make 2020 work. Now, I can’t imagine it differently!

Jude turned 5 last January (he’ll be 6 soon???), and started Kindergarten in August. He goes back and forth between absolutely loving his school days, and wishing he could just stay home and play (don’t we all?). I’m amazed at how much a 5 year old can absorb and learn in such a short time, and even more amazed at the gift of school teachers who take on the incredible challenge of not only managing the chaos of 15+ kids in a room together, but somehow coordinating it into something productive and beautiful, and even pouring encouragement into each kid along the way (thank you, teachers). Jude has many interests, including dinosaurs, Godzilla, and the newest addition, Mario. He is very musical, and is constantly singing whether he realizes it or not. He’s sensitive and caring, and also a little wild. We love watching his curiosity about the world, and feel thankful that we get to walk alongside him in his discoveries and journeys.

Jake turned 3 in September, and is a 3 year old in every way you can imagine. He cannot be left alone, as he likes to fidget with things, and it often leads to disaster or danger (help). He keeps us on our toes for sure. He is extremely snuggly and affectionate, and it has been the cutest thing to watch him with his new baby cousin. He loves any kind of physical activity, and has quite a throw. He loves to be involved and help with whatever you may be doing, whether it’s cooking, cleaning, hauling, or building. We were too late to get him into a part-time preschool this year, but hoping we can enroll him next fall, as we know he’d really love it (he loves having somewhere to go).

After we moved to Kansas City, I decided I was going to take a break from teaching and just focus on adjusting to a new city and taking a brain break. Turns out, I cannot stay away from group fitness! 2 weeks into working out alone, I felt like a huge part of myself was being neglected, so I decided to look up some fitness clubs. I found Woodside, and found my new fitness home! It’s been really fun jumping back into more freestyle teaching, as I had been teaching mainly Les Mills programs in CO. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in love with LM and am teaching a few of their programs, too. But having the mix has been a blast.

In November, we finally were able to have our long awaited vacation to Disney World and Universal Florida! We originally planned to go last year, but with the pandemic and so much being shut down for so long, we decided to postpone our trip, and I’m so glad we did. The boys were a year older and so much more invested in everything. They understood better what we were doing, and seeing Disney through a child’s eyes is pure magic. We did a ridiculous amount of research, watched countless YouTube videos, and meticulously planned each day. If you need some tips, I probably have them… feel free to reach out, haha. I’m so excited that we actually got to do every single thing we hoped for, and we had the best time ever! My parents live in Orlando, so we were able to stay with them, and they were able to join us for the two Disney days! Christian, my younger brother, also drove up from Miami and experienced his first taste of Disney, too! We spent an entire day in Galaxy’s Edge, Disney’s Star Wars land, and another day covering the rest of Hollywood Studios and park hopping to Animal Kingdom. 100% nerded out, and brought an extra suitcase home (no, I’m not kidding). We also did one day in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, mostly to see Jurassic Park and lean into the boys’ dinosaur obsession. The trip fell on our 10 year anniversary (what?!), and my parents kept the boys one night so Ryan and I could spend a day getting massages, eating a quiet, uninterrupted meal, and sleeping in. It was an amazing and much needed time away from our daily routine, and when we came back, we closed on our house the following day!

We didn’t move into our house right away, as we wanted to get some work done while the house was empty. We got to visit Houston for the first time in almost 2 years over Thanksgiving break, and catch up with some good friends, and spend time with family. Although we were only there for 5 days, we squeezed in several hang outs, and I even taught a pop up class at my old stomping grounds! It’s so good to be with your people; we left physically wiped, but full in reconnections and friendship.

2021 threw lots of things we were not expecting at us; some invited and welcome, and others painful and disheartening. As with all hardship and joy, we have learned some things that seem to be the theme of our experiences: 1. God is consistent and trustworthy. In a life that is constantly changing, often raising suspicion, and extremely uncertain, He never waivers in His goodness, and it’s ok to be unsure. 2. Having people in your life that you know love you for who you are enables you to live in freedom and without fear. The past couple of years have had a lot of us questioning a lot of things in our lives, and having a safe space to do that is a gift. My prayer is that I can also be that kind of safety for the people around me, and practice the beauty of listening without worrying or causing insecurity. What a beautiful dream to be and be in that kind of community.

As we look forward to the new year, I am challenged to walk forward with intention. To be more intentional in every aspect of my life: spiritually, physically, in healing, in growing, in relationships. 2021 was a year of big changes, of questions, and in many ways, survival. May 2022 bring newness, wholeness, and health in all forms.

My prayer for you is that Christ meets you where you are. As we celebrate His birth this Christmas, we celebrate a very specific name: Immanuel, which means God with us. My prayer is that you see God in all of the big and small things in life. That when you see Him, you are met with peace, and that His presence provides healing and growth.

I’m thankful for you, and thankful we get to share this life together. May you have a wonderful holiday spent with people you love.

The Butterfrases

Photo by Angelique Humcke

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