Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Review

This had been another busy year for our family.  When the year started out we were in New Hampshire, putting some finishing touches on our house and hoping to sell it soon.  We'd decided we would take the job here in Great Falls and knew we had some house hunting to do.  Jeremy was scheduled to take his oral board exam in October, so he was also trying to study during all of this.  

Our twins turned three years old and Katie started preschool at Mt. Lebanon.  She loved going to preschool, and we all loved the walks through the cemetery to get there.  

I decided I would run a half marathon sometime in the spring, and then as we looked at schedules we realized the only ones scheduled for the end of May/beginning of June were on Sundays.  So I borrowed the Vermont Covered Bridges Half Marathon route and ran it by myself Memorial Day.  My time was a couple of minutes under two hours and I had a great time.  

We went out to Great Falls the end of March to look for a house (hopefully to buy) and came up pretty short-handed.  But we both felt guided to buy a piece of property east of town.  So we bought the land, then sold our house in New Hampshire to our neighbors (a very providential thing).  We still needed a place to live until we could build a house, so we kept looking for rentals.  Nothing was working and Jeremy found a house for sale that was cheaper to own than for us to pay rent.  Therefore, we bought the house.  We had never seen it other than the pictures online, but it felt right (again, thank you Heavenly Father for guiding us!).  
After that we had to pack up our house and plan our move across the country with a carsick dog and three little girls.  Jeremy's parents came out to help us load the truck and make the drive.  I'm not a fan of trying to take three little girls to random rest rooms across the country, but other than that, it went well.  We stopped in Palmyra, NY, Kirtland, OH, visited one of my dear friends in Dayton, then went to Nauvoo, IL (all three of those locations are big Latter-Day-Saint church history sites).  Nauvoo was a really neat time for our family, and quite humbling as we continued our drive west realizing what we drove in an hour's time took the early saints over a week.  We then spent a week with my family in Cedar City and a week with Jeremy's in Salt Lake.  It was so good to see everyone, but by the end of it we were ready to not be homeless anymore.  
We got to Great Falls to find out our moving truck was stuck in another city and wouldn't get to us for another day, but it worked out.  Our house had a doggie-door for Pele (which she loves), and three rooms upstairs which meant that Katie could have her own room.  The house is a good size for us, but a lot of the rooms needed painting.  We finished painting the front room and hallway withing a couple of weeks of being here, but painting the others has taken a LOT longer.  We finished Katie's room in November when Jeremy's parents came to visit us (we love having dads that can fix anything).  Then we just finished painting the twins over the Christmas break.  I have learned from living here that I DO NOT LIKE crabapple trees.  We have one in the back yard and it is the nastiest thing to try to rake up in the fall, let alone pick up all of Pele's dog poop.  

Katie started Kindergarten and the twins started preschool in the fall.  Katie goes by "Kathryn" at school and has her teacher laughing a lot.  We have been so happy with the teachers and schools that they're both in.  We feel very blessed.  We also found out we were prayed into the ward/church congregation we are in.  We love going to church.  It's a small, pretty diverse group that truly love the Savior and want to do His will.  We have been very blessed by being part of this congregation.  We have made friends here through Jeremy's work, the kids schools, and church, and really feel that this is our home.  

Jeremy took his boards the last day of September in Phoenix and passed, so he is an official anesthesiologist.  This is his first official job and he has been very happy with his coworkers, the hospital, and his job, even if the business side of medicine is an ever changing monster to deal with.  

We were hoping to get pregnant soon after moving here, but it didn't happen until October, then we lost the baby within two weeks.  That experience has brought so many ups and downs to our family.  It has not been easy, but we have felt the Lord's love through it and are grateful for the three healthy girls we do have.  We bought a bigger vehicle on our trip to Utah so we'd have enough room, and now we know we have enough room to haul around anyone who comes to visit.  

After wrapping up the end of the year with so much sickness, exhaustion is the word that comes most to mind for the end of the year.  We are on the mend, and looking forward to better days.  Jeremy and Katie will start piano lessons this week and I start violin lessons the next.  We're hoping to have our whole family involved in some sort of dance class as well.  

It has been a year of all sorts of changes and ups and downs for us.  Yet through it all the Lord has been constant for us - guiding us when we seek the guidance, teaching us when we listen, and taking care of us in miraculous ways.  We are so happy to be closer to our families, yet we miss the good things and people we knew in New Hampshire.  We are very excited for this coming year as our girls get older, we (hopefully) become a little wiser, and we get to spend a little more time together as a family.  Here's to an exciting 2014!   

Phone Pics

I've tried to grow up and use an iphone this year.  I bought one in June, but have had all kinds of problems with texting and pictures.  I got a replacement going yesterday, but I'm still confused about a lot of it.  Here are some of the pictures I was able to pull off the old phone right side up.  
 I think this was our second week in town.  I took the girls to Giant Springs State Park and this is one of my favorite photos of them.  Cora's in blue, Syd's in the middle, and I love how Katie has a ribbon tied around her head!  

 Another time we went someone offered to let the girls go fishing.  There's that beautiful Missouri River (or Murry River, as Cora calls it).  
 For Katie's birthday our family and some family friends went to play in a creek and had a blast!  
 Here's Katie's first go at bridge jumping.  I didn't start until I was 18, and here she is at 5!  She did it twice while we were there.  I jumped 5 or 6 times and just loved it.  

 The twins kept wanting to, then looking down and saying "no," so Jeremy just grabbed their hands and down they went.  They were a little traumatized, but talked about it for weeks afterward.  

 And lest we forget other adventures, in the middle of October we went to Utah for family pictures and while we were there Katie was trying to swing on a rope swing, slipped, and split her head open on a metal box.  Six staples later and life is good!  

 I wish I could get the other pictures up, but they're all upside down on the blog, even though they're right side up on the computer.  Technology is frustrating for me!  


 Christmas as a parent is pretty awesome.  But also a little overwhelming.  I hadn't realized how much whatever "traditions" you're going to have are almost completely up to the mom of the family.  Then the schools will still give you something to do as well.  The twins had a Christmas program.  It had reserved seating.  I had no idea it was such a big deal for 3 and 4 year olds.  Shows how much I know.  It was fun to watch them act out "The Night Before Christmas," then sing songs at the end.  

My not so favorite part of this was we had a cookie exchange afterward.  No nuts allowed.  At all.  So we went with sugar cookies.  I think whoever invented those had an evil plan to waste away the days of mothers.  Those things take too much time for me.  That, or I'm lazy.  
 Katie's program at school was full of music.  She wanted to wear her fancy dress, so there she is in the middle.  She had a great time.  Jeremy was able to make it and it was so fun to watch her together, especially when she'd see us and sign to us "I love you."  
 And then we had the ward Christmas party and Primary got to sing after the dinner.  They could not stop dancing to the music, or signing "I love you" to us.  
 Katie was so happy she got to sit with Santa and so relieved that he told her she was on the nice list.  
 Sydney and Cora both asked for bracelets since the ones they received from the dentist a few days before were already broken.  About broke their hearts when that happened, but Santa came through for them.  

 Here's their wall of art from some of November and December.  
 This is our beautiful Christmas tree that was frozen solid when it got to our house.  Jeremy braved the -33 degree weather on my birthday to go out and get our family a tree from a tree lot.  They wouldn't sell any of the standing trees because it was so cold all of the branches would shatter from being laid down in a truck.  This was tied up under several blankets in their trailer.  We were impressed with how well our unseen, frozen tree turned out and it smelled (and still smells) wonderful!  My favorite are all of the kids' decorations!  
 I had great aspirations of treat making for Christmas, but being sick means you do really nothing.  I had bought a gingerbread house kit, but the only reason they were put together was the sister missionaries came over Christmas Eve for dinner.  They helped the girls put these together while I finished cooking a few things.  I think that should be a new family tradition!  It was wonderful.  
Here's their Christmas jammies from Grandma Vicki.  
 And here are some of the pictures from Christmas morning.  Can you see the bandages on Katie's pinkie finger below?  As we were out visiting Christmas Eve, she slammed her finger in someone's front door and had to get six stitches in there.  Could have been worse.  

 One of the best Christmas miracles in our house this year was I actually finished the stockings.  I did mine, Jeremy's, and Katie's while I was on bed rest with the twins.  So it's only taken me another four (yes, four) years to finish the other two.  They were so excited, and so was I.  It's so fun to have a chimney to hang them on!  Yes, I hand stitched everything you see on front, so I'm pretty proud of myself.  I just wish I was a lot faster at things like that.  

Early November and Sick of Sick

November 1st began our so far two month long battle with all kinds of sicknesses.  Can we say we're sick of being sick?  But when we weren't vomiting or dealing with other fun things about being sick we tried to get out whenever we could.  Giant Springs Park is still a favorite and we spent one of our off days there with the girls.  
 There's a fish hatchery in the park and a place where for a nickel you can feed the fish.  These girls love it - even when mom and dad forget to bring so much as a nickel and random strangers from Kentucky donate fish food for our kids.  
 Cora and Daddy pulling faces at Mama on the hike.  
 Syd with her Daddy's hat.  
 One of the rare times we had all three in tubby time and no one was screaming.  They are cute.  

So back to being sick.  Our family kind of went into hibernation since Halloween.  Syd woke up throwing up the morning after, then had 10+ days of an on and off fever with way too much diarrhea.  That cycled through everyone over the month, then more fun came in.  We finally had insurance to get all of our girls their well-checks, and Katie needed her 5 year old immunizations (the school had called me twice to let me know she needed them).  Katie also had her first Montana eye appointment.  The closest pediatric ophthalmologist to us is three hours away in Missoula.  She and I took a day off school, she was coughing the ENTIRE drive and time there, and we drove through the beautiful canyons to get there.  It was a great trip, but that started the nasty cough we all ended up with.  About a solid week of coughing and fevers, with no medication able to really touch it.  Jeremy and the twins got it after her, then I got it right before Thanksgiving.  I forgot to mention that Katie got a rash that sent her home from school for 3 days after her immunizations.  When I got it, it made me so sick I couldn't eat anything.  Literally nothing.  I had a fever for about 12 days and could not lay down to sleep because I was coughing so hard.  There was a lot of crying in our house from just about everyone.  Jeremy still had to go to work, though he was sick too.  My mom came up the first weekend of December, which also happened to be my birthday and just fed and cared for us.  I had been to the instacare twice with no diagnosis.  We finally got me on an antibiotic that killed the fever and a steroid that mellowed the cough.  About three and a half weeks after all of that I was starting to climb out of the sick hole.  Just in time for Christmas.  We all woke up with fevers and coughs for Christmas.

I don't know how people who lived before medicine had things like this and didn't die.  They probably did die.  We're trying to get rid of all our colds we have now.  I'm a little worried that we'll all get better just in time to send the girls back to school to pick up more germs.  Hopefully this year is just giving our bodies a chance to acclimatize to school and Montana germs and next year we won't get sick.