2017. What can I say about 2017? It was a year of learning and refining and failures, of frustrating, unforeseen circumstances. It was also a year of immense growth for our family in so many ways. As the year draws to a close, I can see that through the trials, we have gained so much.
The year started off with big hopes and plans. I am pretty sure we only accomplished a small fraction of what we set out to do, but I am okay with that. We aimed really high, and while we missed the mark, we were able to accomplish a lot. Through our “shortcomings” I was able to reassess, come up with a practical plan, and regain my focus. If you haven’t figured this out about me yet, my brain runs a mile a minute, but my body is limited to a fraction of that, largely because we have a lot of young children running around our house…a limitation I often underestimate!
Through the winter, we started to make plans, and we got an early start on gardening indoors and a few other projects. I wrapped up a few indoor projects that had been weighing me down, and my hope was to find a rhythm and gain focus and organization. I felt ready to tackle the outdoor season.
Spring came, and after a dreary winter, we were ready to do big things outside. Spring started great. We really did accomplish a lot, and we learned even more. There were a few things that didn’t progress as far as I had hoped, like the garden expansion. In fact, it didn’t expand at all, but we did lay down a great layer of mulch, and we did finish fencing the first square, so we got to where we needed to be.
From there, it felt like things went down hill. I know many of you know the story, but if you don’t, you can check it out here. We started to focus on getting our house running smoothly instead, but for several months, the kids fought me every step of the way. I felt like I was going to loose my mind from the stress of it. I started to withdraw and really wanted to give up on everything.. cleaning, homeschooling, homesteading… even though I was asking for help, I wasn’t getting the help I need from the kids, sometimes from Scott, and I nearly gave up on asking for outside help from family and friends because they either we’re not available when I needed help most or just weren’t able to help in the way I needed. Scott and I were taking a walk one day and I was talking through my frustrations when we decided I needed to try and take a regular break, once a week, if possible. Part of my problem was that I was never getting time to be alone with my thoughts, another being I just wasn’t getting enough adult time where I could talk with other adults about stuff that has nothing to do with children, or to talk through the stresses of having children with people who understand. Mom’s, I bet you can relate. While you can talk to your husband about the kids, sometimes you just need to be able to talk to someone else who lives in your shoes so that you know you aren’t alone. My friends and sisters have heard me say it often enough, “I’m sorry you have to go through this too, but I am SO glad it is not just me!”
The breaks I started taking were just enough to give me some clarity and motivation. We were able to really start giving homeschooling some of the attention we wanted, and I was able to be there for the kids mentally more and more. I didn’t dread cleaning so much anymore. Suddenly, things started ironing out. It was fantastic.
Oh, and a big part of the reason I struggled through the summer was that I was having stomach issues. I landed in the hospital one day after a nasty day of problems… fully dehydrated. I hadn’t been able to figure out what the problem was, only that it was food related. Right before the trip to the ER for dehydration, I did a lot of research and came up with a game plan for dealing with the issues and solving the problem. The ER visit was good in that it confirmed that my plan was a good one and that there wasn’t something worse at play. After getting home, I ordered a copy of The Whole 30. I made it through 26 days… breaking when E ended up in the ER. But the Whole 30 in conjunction with the other steps I took was enough to fix the issues I was having. It took until after Thanksgiving however, before I realized that I have some sort of maple allergy. We had started swapping out regular sugar for either maple syrup or honey, and because we were using more maple syrup than ever before, it was causing me problems. I realized that I can have maple syrup. In limited quantities, and not so frequently. But that issue clouded up a huge portion of my time from Easter until I started the Whole 30 in September.
Then E’s hospital visit came. My eating derailed as I started stress eating again. I definitely put weight back on, but honestly, the stress eating only lasted about a month. The hospital stay was good for me for the prospective it brought back to me. I began to reconnect with God in a way I hadn’t in over a year. It’s funny how even if you pray daily, there are times you just know you aren’t connecting with God on the level you need to.
After the hospital stay, things slowly started to fall into place, even though life was crazier than ever. With my best friend expecting a baby, another very sick, and yet another bringing home her first baby, I was spending extra time lending a hand as needed or making meals. I was preparing my video for the Handmade Christmas Gift Boot Camp as well, but those all wound down right before our road trip.
The road trip was very much needed for us. We were able to relax and have fun as a family without interruptions… something that hadn’t happened for quite some time. The kids were a bit crazy the week before and after, which was a bit stressful, but we started to really hit a stride with the necessary homeschooling and cleaning.
We hosted Thanksgiving which went well, but I felt a HUGE burden lifted from my shoulders after it was over. Yes, we decided to get a puppy, and yes, outwardly, that seems like an absurd decision, but it was actually that final motivator that I needed to get on track. I have never been big on routine, and it comes and goes with the kids, but dogs are very consistent. She not only serves as a playmate for the kids and protection for the chickens, but as a call for the consistency that I have been needing, but struggling to find. She’ll also serve as a motivator for me to get out and exercise a little more.
This last month has been great for us. We hit our stride, and every day has brought us to a better place. The decision and commitment to get a dog brought me clarity that I needed, and during that time I also had a change of heart. I remember working on cleaning the house while Scott was deer hunting, before we got Poppy, thinking ” When did I lose my joy for cleaning or serving my family? When did I start dreading it all so much?” (Not to imply that I am a servant to them, but my job is to care for them all.) And suddenly, I stopped hating it all so much. It was so good to feel that change wash over me. It’s a part of my job, the one I always wanted, and here I had become ungrateful for different parts of the wonderful job I had. After that moment, maybe a couple of weeks later, I read an article that reinforced what I had come to see. The title of the article caught my eye and made me laugh…”Stop Being a Butthole Wife.” I have read another article similar to this a few years back, but this one just really hit home. She talks about how she used to grumble about the wifely duties she had agreed to for a husband she had loved, only to lose him all too early in life (unexpected death). It was when he was gone that she realized how much she missed loving and serving her husband. Her point was that we should stop taking for granted the blessings we have. It just really helped cement the change of heart I experienced just a few weeks earlier. After getting so close to losing E, and recalling the time we almost lost Scott to a kayaking incident when I was pregnant with Miss Lady, I knew she was right about how fleeting it all is.
2017 brought me everything I needed in exactly the way I needed it. We made the progress we needed for homesteading and homeschooling, we began to find the rhythm I have been seeking since the day we moved, and our family started to work together in a way we hadn’t ever done before. We started the organization process we had longed for for such a long time, we gained perspective in many different ways, and we all grew so much. The kids physically and mentally, and as for myself, the 30th year of my existence was a refining one. I have never been afraid of turning the big 3-0, but I feel like I am ready for it now. With just over 2 weeks till the big day, I am actually excited to say that I made it to 30. I’ve done a lot of living and learning in 30 years, and I am excited to see what the next 30 hold for me. As I am going back through the pictures I have for the blog, I am actually amazed at what we accomplished in just one year. It was a really hard, really difficult year, but if I would let that stress consume me, I wouldn’t be able to see the beauty behind it all. If I have one goal for the new year, it is that I will remember to keep my joy. We have a beautiful life, and it would be a waste if I didn’t take the time to truly appreciate it or I let the bad things cloud my memory!
I am hoping to start doing a bit more writing again now that the holidays are over. There’s a lot I want to share about this past year I just haven’t had time to share. But in the meantime, I want to know how your 2017 was! Was it a year of trials or learning or growth? What was the best thing that happened to you, and what was the biggest thing you learned? Leave your comments below!
New Year’s blessings!