Friday, January 4, 2019

2018 Year in Review

Geez louise... it has been over a YEAR since my last post. That gives you an idea of what kind of year it has been!! I have encountered ongoing (postpartum) depression for the first time in my life, so this has kinda been a year of survival. We have done a lot of really fun things, but the parts in between have been a struggle. I have hope and am working with a counselor and doctor to get better, and I think I see a twinkling of light at the end of this particular tunnel (heck, I feel like tackling this epic post, so there ya go!). Geronimo!

For Chritmas last year, I planned a year of dates for Nathan and me. It's something I did a few years ago and we so enjoyed that I worked with Robin to schedule babysitting and we got to do so many fun things (thanks a million, Robin!!). January was a visit to an arcade and deli in Dayton.

The year included a slew of adventures with our diet... we did Keto first this year (which we felt great and lost weight on, but I got sick of it). I've lost a few pounds this year, but have had a lot of ups and downs in that area. I miss my 18 year old metabolism...

We enjoyed a few decent snowfalls in the winter and the kids got to build a snowman (with Ra and Papa while I tackled hot chocolate duty) and go sledding.

For the first half of the year ish we had a snack and read-aloud time when Hazel took her afternoon nap around 3:00. I SO enjoyed this ritual, and hope to start it again next week. My quest to enjoy hot tea continues to be a failure.

We finished out the 2017-2018 homeschool year and made it half way through the 2018-2019 year. In a surprising twist, I signed the boys up to attend public school starting next week! I always said I was open to this possibility, but never honestly expected to make this move. It's what I need to do right now to take care of myself, and I have high hopes that the boys will thrive there. But hey, if not, I'm totally open to educating them at home again in the future!

Desy has become a master builder. This kid LOVES Legos and can follow the directions to build anything. Future engineer? (btw, Hazel gave him that scratch on his cheek which is now a scar. facepalm.) Desy turned seven this year! I think he must finally be growing, because he looks so lanky!

We were able to buy a beautiful new-to-us-but-actually-a-decade-old new Minivan! It's a Honda Odyssey in my favorite blue hue and has all the bells and whistles. And we can squeeze eight people in there. I LOVE it.

Another of our dates was the Dayton Art Institute. We had such a peaceful wander through until a security guard nearly tackled us for leaning on a display or something...

This girl turned one! She was the world's most perfect infant, but man oh man is she a stinker now! Hazel is a teeny tiny tornado who will not take no for an answer. I'm thankful her verbal skills are getting a lot better (at the end of the year) and hope she decides the toilet and litter box aren't super fun toys after all...

Besides that, she's a good eater, a good sleeper, and oh-so-cute.

Orion and Desy were in two plays at church and did such a nice job in both. We were especially impressed with Orion's pitch-perfect solo in the Christmas play. Nathan and I just looked at each other... who knew?!

The boys earned their junior blue belts at the United Church Karate Club and Cece was given (not earned.... ha!) an orange belt. We haven't gone since before Thanksgiving, I think, so we need to remedy that soon.

We got the cutest Syrian hamster for the kids for Christmas last year! Dandelion (Dandy) was the sweetest hamster ever, and we were so sad when she suddenly died this spring.

The very next day after Dandy died we got baby chicks! We had chickens once before and had fun with them, and we so enjoyed raising these little peeps. We started with 6 and got 3 more a few days later, all different breeds. We even got a fancy coop. Unfortunately, a couple months later we got a letter from the city stating that our lot is too small for foul and we had to get rid of them within a week. We were SO upset and disappointed (and surprised, as our neighbor three doors down had, and still has, chickens). Providentially, some friends of ours had just expressed their interest in getting chickens just a few days before, and when we contacted them they gladly took the chickies off our hands. We were so thankful and at peace after that. And the chickens are living a spoiled, happy life with their new owners, so all's well that ends well.

Aaaand a few days later, we brought home this handsome (though shockingly parasite-ridden) boy, whom Orion named Enzo (after the Ferrari founder). He is SO good with the kids and very loved. And getting very big!

I tried a straw bale garden this year with mixed success. There were zero weeds which was a big plus. Many of the plants I started from seed withered, mildewed, or straight-up disappeared. The hardier sprouts and the pre-started plants did pretty well. We got a good harvest of tomatoes and cucumbers, a few nice zucchini, and a few sweet potatoes. I left the bales in the yard and am hoping the decomposition this winter will help with next year's garden.

This feral princess turned four while we were on vacation with Nathan's family at Norris Lake in Tennessee. She had a unicorn cake with sparkles, of course. I don't know how one child can be so girly and so wild all at once.

The vacation to Norris Lake was the best family vacation I can remember, and we're going to another lake next summer.

My niece, Ellie, stayed with Robin and Larry this summer and we enjoyed having her around and having all kinds of little adventures (sure Sam's Club counts).

I donated blood for the first AND ONLY time. The next two times I tried my hemoglobin count was too low, and the third time my blood pressure was too low. Props for trying?

Since last year our anniversary celebration consisted of seeing Captain Underpants with all our kids, this year I wanted to do something special. Robin kept the kids, allowing Nathan and I to take a long weekend away for our 11th anniversary. We went to Origins game convention in Columbus for a day, then spent a couple days exploring Mammoth Cave and Onyx cave. We stopped at a couple national parks while we were at it (Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft). It was such a nice trip! The only bad part was that I booked a wigwam hotel that I was SO excited about, but it reeked of smoke so we had to leave (with only half a refund) and get a hotel room. I was totally bummed, but we ended up at a great hotel!

We took our family to see The Incredibles 2, 14 years after seeing the original The Incredibles on our first date. How time does fly...

Our yard was a veritable water park this summer. Nathan found a great bargain on this super nice inflatable water slide and it was a hit with friends and neighbors. So fun!

Another of our year of dates was going to the Irish Festival in Dublin, Ohio this summer. It was SWELTERING, but we had fun and enjoyed some tasty food and history lessons. This picture is one of my favorites.

Orion attended Vacation Bible School at my brother and sister in laws' church this summer and expressed a desire to be saved and baptized! It was a long process of us trying to discern whether he had knowledge or faith, but we are happy he chose to take these steps! I'm really proud of him for pursuing what he needed to do.

We took a mini-vacation to my parents' house with lots of fun activities at the end of summer. We visited the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, the Toledo Zoo, a mini golf and go-cart place, a splash pad... all as a surprise to the kids. It was a GREAT little trip, and the weather was perfect the whole time.

The kids' first day of school this year and my favorite picture of all of them.

 I dyed Cece's hair pink... 'cause what four year old girl doesn't want pink hair?! It has all faded away now, but it was fun!

I finally consulted an ENT about the fact that it seemed like Desy couldn't breathe well (he could never breathe through his nose), seemed to have hearing problems, was constantly congested, etc. We ended up with surgery scheduled TWO DAYS after that consultation! He had his tonsils and adenoids removed and ear tubes placed. Recovery was a bit rough with day 7 being the low (as we were told to expect), and on day 8 he took a sudden turn for the better. He can finally breathe through his nose and says he's sleeping better. He still seems to have an issue with his speech related to a valve not closing tightly behind his nose, so we're following up on that in February.

I participated in "Inktober" on Instagram in the month of October. I had to play a lot of catch-up as I didn't do it every day, and I never did those last two days... oops. But I had fun with it and artistic stuff is good for me.

We got to go to Tuken's apple orchard about three times this year! With Nathan's parents, with my parents, and with our friends. And we ate every single one of the pounds and pounds of apples we bought. Can't beat fresh orchard apples!!

I tried to get outside more with the kids this fall. I realized that I feel a lot better if I get out of the house, and especially if we get outside (I think everyone feels better). We found that the disk golf course at a local park is absolutely gorgeous and perfect for wandering. We had a few really nice walks there.

From October 1 through Thanksgiving we did a "Healthy Family Challenge," which was supposed to encourage everyone to eat healthy (we chose Paleo), exercise, get schoolwork done daily, and Bible study. We earned stickers (traded in prizes) for the things we accomplished. It went remarkably well and I saw great physical changes (especially in Orion, Nathan, and myself), and I wish we would have jumped back in after Thanksgiving weekend.

We didn't get to go trick-or-treating this year because it was rainy, but we did enjoy our church's Fall Family Festival, and we let the kids eat a bunch of candy that night before tossing the rest. And nobody even complained. Whaaaaa?!

This is just a random picture of a nice moment. Nathan watched through the cartoon series, Avatar: the Last Airbender with the kids (the very best cartoon ever) and read them the books afterward. They absolutely loved it.

I got to go with a group from church to the Lifeway Women's Leadership Forum in Nashville, TN this November. I had SO much fun, inspiration, and awesome worship. We're currently planning a small conference at our church using videos from Forum.

My friend Mark died in November. He was one of my closest friends in college. He had cystic fibrosis, but he had a lung transplant years ago and was doing so well. But he got a lung infection and didn't make it. We visited him in Minnesota about three years ago and I haven't really talked to him much since then, but it's strange and hard to believe that he's gone. He never expected to live to be old, but I guess I did.

Orion turned NINE! Wowee. He's up to my shoulder and his feet are almost as big as mine. Crazy crazy crazy.

We had a really nice Thanksgiving with my parents. We had great food and enjoyed a traditional walk after our feast. 

We always love picking out a live tree and decorating for Christmas!! It was hard to find one this year and the prices were crazy, apparently because of the recession 8 years ago when these trees were planted! Huh! Anyway, we found the perfect little tree for our little house.

Orion and I got new glasses! Well, I did... Orion's are still on order for some reason. He's excited to get them, though we'll see how he feels when he has to actually wear them...

Christmas was SO nice this year. One of the best in recent memory. We just had Nathan's parents and Grandma Grim to celebrate with us, so it was quieter and smaller than usual, but so so nice. We had great food, read the Christmas story from scripture, lots of presents for the kids, took turns reading the names of God after dinner, and just had a very relaxing day together. We also celebrated Advent for the first time this year, with a wreath, candles, and reading. Very cool tradition that I want to continue.

The very best gift of all: Grandma Grim chose to accept Jesus after spending the week with our family. She wants to see her great grandchildren again (in eternity). This has been a lifelong journey, and we are so very astonished and thankful.

We had a big board game party with our Sunday School class (and former/displaced members) right after Christmas. We had a great turnout and I think everyone had a lot of fun. And a lot of tacos.

Our friends Joe and Jenna got married this week!  I got to get my nails done with Jenna and play photographer (and unofficial coordinator) for the wedding and Desy got to be the most handsomest ringbearer... and Nathan got to officiate the wedding! It all went so well and it was such a sweet little wedding.

As usual, we trekked up to Michigan to celebrate the new year with our college besties. It was a very small group this year (as seems to be the theme of the year), but it was so nice and both the kids and grown-ups had such a nice visit. I'm so thankful for friends.

That just about brings you up to speed! Whew! Happy New Year, y'all!