This year. It definitely was better than last year, but it went way too fast. I mean, my baby girl is already one year old! How did that happen? We did a lot of traveling (local or back to Utah), got used to being a family of four, paid off a car, got a reliable and steady work-at-home-job, and more. So, on to one of my favorite posts of the year–2017 in review.
They year started out blissfully. My family was in town and my stayed even longer. Baby Evelyn was absolutely adorable! She was such an easy, sweet baby–except she didn’t sleep very long. Rhys started getting used to her. After three days, I gave up nursing Evelyn. When Mom went home to Utah and Justin went back to work, I had a hard time with the two kids. Not only did Evelyn have a hard time sleeping long, she also had a hard time pooping by herself and constantly wanted to be held. At the same time, Rhys was getting very discouraged because he wasn’t getting enough attention and I wasn’t able to understand a lot of what he was saying because of his speech delay.
My birthday month was hard. I was suffering from pretty bad PPD and anxiety. Evelyn was getting worse. I felt like I wasn’t keeping up. I wasn’t getting enough sleep. I wasn’t being close to my husband. I didn’t feel like myself. I did do a lot of blogging, but participated in the annual #LoveBlog challenge–just a bunch of short, simple prompts. Mom actually paid for two plane tickets for me to come to Utah for a week and a half for some more extra help and support. I really needed it.
Recipe: Brazilian Fish Stew
I slowly started to get the hang of having two kids. Rhys started to love on Evelyn and she started to notice him. I started getting back into a normal schedule and working out a little bit. We decided to go see a pediatric Gastroenterologist for Evelyn’s poo trouble. The diagnosis: infantile dyschezia. I began to believe in the power of essential oils when a friend in our congregation gave us some to help Evelyn’s bowel movements go more smoothly. I learned a lot about being a parent and about our Heavenly Father because of this physical trial of Evelyn’s. I also learned a lot about judging others.
Recipe: Easy Lettuce Wraps
We went back to Utah for Easter so that we could bless Evelyn. Both sides of our family came. It was a quick, weekend trip, but we enjoyed every second of it…that is, until Justin got really sick and Evelyn came down with an ear infection 24 hours before we flew home and Rhys started throwing up just hours before we left for the airport. Thankfully, the flight home was very manageable. When we got back, we enjoyed the warm weather in Texas and had many family activity nights, especially outside. I started to work out again. I tried to go to a blogging even, but my social anxiety was too much. I also gave up on my Etsy shop. After six months, I only had one sell.
Recipe: Tater Tot Casserole
May was busy. I had a lot of freelancing and a lot of playdates. Evelyn was getting more active and Rhys was continuing to learn and grow. I hosted a Favorite Things Party. I was also asked to do a newborn photo shoot for a woman in my congregation (free of charge, of course). Justin was being very successful at work. My health started to decline again. Back when I was pregnant with Evelyn, I had a really hard time physically: low energy or strength, debilitating tension headaches, etc. It started to come back this month. Rhys became fully potty-trained–hallelujah! He also became very protective of his sister. Our apartment flooded because of the apartment upstairs. We also went to the Kubota Tractor Company Open House and had a lot of fun meeting Justin’s coworkers and taking pictures with all the tractors.
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This summer was hot. I was miserable, but I continued to try to work out. I stopped blogging much and stopped doing freelance work. My mental and physical health were declining. My church attendance was spotty. I was sleeping most of the day. I started talking to my PCP because I had a feeling it was more than just depression. Evelyn turned six months old and started crawling!!! We transitioned her into Rhys’s room from ours and they loved it. I joined my congregation’s book club and loved discussing the books and just hanging with other moms I knew and having adult conversations.
July was busy in a fun way. We went on many family outings and had a lot of fun together…when I was feeling well. I got more clothes for my new mom body that was sadly gaining back my pregnancy weight. I also realized there were a ton of things I had done in the course of my three years of motherhood that I never thought I’d do. Rhys turned three years old. Justin turned 28 years old. We celebrated the Fourth of July. We went to a church breakfast. Then, we went to a local party for kids with firetrucks, helicopters, and many bounce houses. Again, blogging fell by the waste-side. We started looking for a new apartment–our contract was ending in August and we needed a bigger place with our kids growing. My sister-in-law got me a job with VIPKID–an online English learning company for Chinese kids. I love it! The kids and I went back to Utah, again. We even spent a few days down in Nephi with Justin’s family and went to a parade with them.
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Yeah, August was terrible. My health was really bad. But I also got a new calling (voluntary job) at church: Primary Secretary (children 3-12 ministry). We celebrated our fifth anniversary with a nice date. We also moved to a new apartment. I was able to go to a local blogger sponsored party and learn how to do different DIY crafts with the new Tai Pei boxes. I had so much fun! I also started the process for getting Rhys into speech therapy through the school district and got very frustrated with the district level administration. Hurricane Harvey came and hit Houston pretty badly (three hours from the DFW area). We were only affected by rain. Justin was going to go to a BYU game down there with one of his college best friends. But, it got delayed and moved to New Orleans. I convinced Justin (since he already had a ticket), to buy a cheap flight and spend the weekend in New Orleans with his friend. He was so happy to do so.
I did a lot of reading. The kids and I played a lot, went to the library a lot, and walked around malls a lot. I loved being in Primary. I went to Time Out For Women with a few of my church friends and it was such a wonderfully, spiritual experience. I tried to go off my anti-depressant because 1) I accidentally packed it up while moving and had a hard time finding it afterwards and 2) I wanted to lose weight which I was continually putting on. I started to have really bad side affects: my limbs kept going numb easily and quickly and I was losing a lot of strength. I started talking to my PCP again about my health. Rhys got an official evaluation and testing for speech. We also bought a new bed for Rhys–an IKEA loft bed. Then, we gave the crib to Evelyn, who had been sleeping in a pack-n-play her entire life. Our new apartment was fully furnished and decorated. I also celebrated 100 days with VIPKID and loved every moment and every student I taught.
Because of my health, I started focusing on real ways to give self-care — ways to improve my mental health and ways to appreciate my physical form. As a family, we went to visit Hagerman National Wildlife Reserve. We had decided we wanted to explore and discover more around us exceeding a 20 mile radius. We loved the drive through north Texas and we loved seeing the nature around us. Mom and Dad came to visit us for a weekend. The kids were so excited to see them (as was I). During that time, I finally got a call about a positive (bad) blood test that had some potential answers for my health. My PCP gave me some referrals and I made the appropriate appointments after getting over the original shock. To be honest, it’s something I suspected, so it was also a relief to hear it from a doctor’s mouth. We went to a local pumpkin patch and had so much fun! Rhys had a playdate with one of his best friends and they painted pumpkins. Halloween was super fun. We dressed up as characters from the Pikmin video game that Rhys was currently obsessed with. Our church had a fun chili dinner and trunk-or-treat. We also took both kids Trick-or-Treating on Halloween and it was very fun!
Recipes: Quinoa Chicken Taco Salad
My brother came home from his two-year proselytizing mission in Argentina. I wasn’t able to go to Utah to welcome him home, but thankfully, mom and dad had me on FaceTime, so I could still be there. I was so happy to see my brother. This month was spent binging on Netflix. I watched The Office all the way through, which I had never done before, and I started Parks and Rec. Everything was finally complete and official for Rhys to start speech therapy. By this time, he was pretty familiar with the elementary school and his speech therapist. He loved doing speech therapy twice a week for 25 minutes each. Blogging was basically non-existent this month. Rhys and Evelyn both suffered bad illnesses: Rhys had croup and Evelyn had a double ear infection and bronchitis. For Thanksgiving, we stayed at home, but we invited the sister missionaries over. A few women in our congregation had babies and surgeries that week, so I also signed up to bring them all dinner–it was a lot of cooking and grocery shopping I did. We ended the month with decorating for Christmas and welcoming back Jingle, the Elf on the Shelf. We also said hello to Lamby, the Little Lamb from Bethlehem. At the end of the month, I had my referred doctor’s appointment and a lot of questions were answered. We are going to get a second opinion after the holidays, then I will share on the blog.
More Netflix, colder weather, rain, recovering from colds…that’s basically what December was full of. I got involved with the LDS Church’s #LighttheWorld campaign. I also made my fifth DIY ornament for my mother-in-law. Justin and I went to Kubota’s Christmas Party. We won 3 pounds of Ghirardelli chocolate! Justin also got in second place for a dance competition. We almost won a big cash prize for that! On the 18th, we flew to Utah, but Rhys, Evie, and I immediately got sick. Before we headed down to Mt. Pleasant to visit Justin’s family, we went to Instacare because Rhys had croup. We had a ton of fun in Mt. Pleasant. Justin and I explored the small, tiny down town. Rhys and Justin had a lot of fun sledding with a four wheeler. Family dinners were wonderful, as well as playing with only train tracks and blocks. Evelyn turned ONE YEAR OLD! We had a small party with my family, Justin’s parents, and his brother’s family. Christmas Eve, we went to a special musical sacrament meeting and the power went out–in the whole town! So, we spent an hour and a half in the dark singing and praising the birth of Christ. Justin’s brother’s family came back down for dinner and present exchanging. I had a really bad asthma attack and was out of puffs on my inhaler. So, we booked it up to an instacare to get me one–but they were all closed for Christmas Eve. Thankfully, by the time we got to my parent’s place, I could breathe again. Christmas Day was wonderful and all the gifts were so meaningful for everyone. On the 26th, as a family, we all went to Temple Square to see the lights. Rhys and Evelyn were entranced. Temple Square has a lot of cultural nativities and Rhys loved looking at them. We went into one of the visitor’s center and went up to see the Christus statue. There was a bit of a voice over from Christ’s point of view saying He was the Son of God and to follow Him. Rhys was amazed. He really thought Christ was talking to him. He saw the statue had “owies” in his hands and feet. I explained to him that bad guys did that to Jesus. Rhys asked if the bad guys killed Jesus. I said they did. Rhys got really upset. He knows Jesus is our Savior and the “best good guy in the world” and that Jesus loves him. But, I had to keep reassuring him the rest of the night that Jesus came back to life and is ok. That Jesus “won” (everything is good guy/bad guy and win/lose to him). He was happy again. It was a very spiritual moment for me. Justin left the next day. My sister, who is due in April, had her baby shower yesterday so that I could attend. It was so fun to see her open the gifts as a new mom. I got a bullet journal for Christmas, so I’ve been working hard on it this week.