Family, Monthly Recap

State of the Family Address {April 2019}

After receiving lots of feedback in my latest reader survey (which you can still take if you haven’t yet–click here), I’ve decided to do away with the Sentence a Day posts. However, because there were enough people who said they really liked them and would be sad if they went away, I’ve decided to meet you in the middle and do a “State of the Family Address” each month, which will include all major updates on how we’re doing (along with plenty of pictures from the month, obviously).

Waiting for Daddy to get home

For now, I’m planning on reporting on the following four areas every month (and I might add or take away from these categories, depending on how this goes in the future): Good Stuff, Hard Stuff, Big Picture Goal Progress, and Overall Thoughts.

Good Stuff

Mathias had surgery at the beginning of the month to get ear tubes put in, which, while it was kind of hard and nerve-wracking to watch him go through surgery, has overall been a really, really good thing. After the surgery, his balance immediately improved drastically, and he started being able to sit up on his own almost immediately. His appetite has also increased about ten-fold, so he’s growing much faster than he was before. And now, at the end of the month, he’s finally crawling AND just cut his first tooth, so we’re super happy about the progress he’s made!

One big thing we also celebrated this month was Raven’s 4th birthday! I’m still not brave enough to take on a friend party yet, but we got together with all her grandparents that live close by and went out to Pizza Pie Cafe. She also had preschool the actual day of her birthday too, so she was beyond excited to be able to take in donuts as her special birthday treat to share with everyone. One of her bigger birthday gifts from us was this Frozen scooter, which she has been zooming around on ever since. (She was especially proud of herself for being able to be big enough for a scooter with TWO wheels rather than three!)

The Easter Bunny came to our house soon after the community egg hunt. In one of my more brilliant spontaneous parenting ideas, I told Raven to go out and look to see if she could find the Easter Bunny. If she found any Hershey kisses or other candies laying around, that would mean that she *just* missed him. She went out with Matt and found four all over the yard, which led her to start saying “the Easter bunnies” (plural) since she thought there were four.

Easter this year was particularly fun, mostly just because Raven remembered all the festivities from last year and so got even more excited about it all this year. Rather than make the hour drive south to do the community egg hunt with my sister’s kids (as we have the last two years), we decided to stick around here and participate in one put on by a family in our neighborhood. Since many of Raven’s little friends were there (and several of our closest neighbors), we had a fun time doing the egg hunt and then just playing at the park/shooting the breeze with everyone after.

My mom and stepdad also put on an egg hunt for our April family party, as well as put out all the stuff for the kids to decorate eggs. (We also decorated eggs here at our house one Monday for Family Night).

On Easter Sunday, we decided to keep the focus entirely spiritual, and I enjoyed one of the best church meetings I’ve been to in a really long time–excellent speakers, excellent Sunday School lesson, and the baby fell asleep almost the whole time, so I was really able to focus and pay attention. I love Easter and all it represents!

Part of the Meidell clan (missing two of my husband’s brothers and their families plus me, who was taking the picture)

Another event that was both hard and good was that we said goodbye to my in-laws, who left to go on their 18-month mission to Hawaii this month. It’s going to be super tough not being able to see them whenever we want, but we are saving money so that we can go visit them at least once while they’re there.

We also were able to squeeze in some extra time visiting with family (thanks to the holiday and thanks to us wanting to spend as much time as we could with my in-laws before they left), and we also did a really fun night out with friends to Pizza Pie Cafe to take advantage of their Tuesday night $5.99 special (which those same friends let us know about, and now which we can never un-know, ha ha).

The weather was also gorgeous and mild for about half of the month, which meant some play dates at parks, lots of time spent out in the yard or on walks, and just an enjoyment of the outdoors altogether (when we could).

And of course, April wouldn’t be complete without our yearly tradition of going to Baby Animal Days! (I’ll be dropping a lot more pictures from that in my monthly goals post, which hopefully I’ll get up this week.)

Hard Stuff

We continue to have health issues, and at times, it makes us question if we’re somehow cursed or something (just because stuff keeps cropping up). After Mathias’s surgery, his recovery time took quite a bit longer than the doctor thought it would, so he was still pretty irritable for about ten days after. Then, when he was acting significantly happier, we were able to successfully move him out of our bedroom (!) and sleep train him to sleep through the night…but then he got sick again two days later, this time with a cough/cold-turned-croup (which he still has). Then, at the same time, Raven (who was actually the first to get sick) got this nasty cough, and then last night and today, she’s been throwing up frequently and just overall feeling miserable.

I still continue to have back pain, though I have some days when it hardly bugs me anymore (although that usually means that I then do a bit more around the house or yard and then make it hurt even more for the next several days). It’s still bad enough and consistent enough that I still can’t really exercise though, which has been particularly hard for me, as it’s one of my main ways of relieving stress. I also continue to have daily nausea (not related to another pregnancy–trust me, I’ve checked. And the doctors have checked. Multiple times.) Then, about 3 weeks ago, I noticed a rash on my chest and the all-too-familiar “butterfly rash” across my nose and cheeks, which could only mean one thing—

My autoimmune disease was flaring up again.

I haven’t had a single flare since it went into remission over two years ago, and so I’ve been a bit down about it. The thing is, my doctor told me that while I’m breastfeeding or have the possibility of becoming pregnant, I cannot go on the medications for the disease, so I basically only have natural, holistic options to pursue. Seeing as how doing an elimination diet was one of the key elements to making it go into remission last time, I immediately cut out gluten a couple weeks ago and might be shortly going on a full elimination diet (and cut out dairy, corn, and soy too) if it gets any worse. For now, it appears that the flare-up is contained, though not necessarily showing improvement. We shall see.

Some good news to do with my health is that I ended up going to a GI specialist to see about the nausea, and she ran the same blood tests I’ve had run for the past several months (and which have always been abnormal in multiple areas), and they finally looked totally normal, which means that I’m probably on the right track with the going gluten-free again.

The bad news is that we still have no idea what’s causing the nausea, and because I was pretty unimpressed with the GI specialist I saw, I decided to just try and figure it out on my own with diet changes and better stress management rather than go back.

Time will tell if I’ve made the right choice there!

Big Picture Goal Progress

Our current “homestead”

For almost our whole marriage, Matt and I have dreamed of owning a homestead of several acres (ideally over 10) out in the country, where we can raise animals, have a huge orchard, grow the majority of our own produce, etc.

It’s something we talk about all the time. ALL. THE. TIME.

However, we just aren’t in a financial place right now to do it. Ideally, we’d like to be able to have Matt retire or semi-retire in order to spend the bulk of his time working on the homestead, but we’d need to save up a LOT of money before we ever reached that point.

In the meantime, we’ve decided to start our own “homestead in miniature” right now. Our Homestead in the ‘Burbs, if you will.

This month, to make progress on that, we learned to graft fruit trees for the first time. We have two wild apple trees in our backyard whose fruit is worthless (but whose overall health/strength is really good), so after getting some scions (small cut branches to graft in) from a local orchard owner, we invited over my friend Heather who has a degree in plant science to help us get that done last weekend. We ended up grafting cuts of Macoun, Jonathan, and Cortland apples onto our two trees, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that at least *some* of them take. (Of course, as I’m typing this, it just started SNOWING, so…we’re a bit nervous.)

Our other big step forward in the Great Homestead Project was to get six baby chicks this month. Neither of us has ever raised chickens before, but Matt’s naturally so good with animals and I didn’t mind the idea of chickens because they’re an “outside pet,” so we decided to try some out.

The kids have loved interacting with them and holding them and watching them, but I don’t think that even their enthusiasm matches Matt’s, who comes home from work each night and goes straight to the brooder to pick each one of them up. They’ll need to stay indoors for the next few weeks, and then we’ll gradually start introducing them outside and getting them acclimated.

One of the chicks developed a bum leg, and tragically, she actually just died while I was starting to write this post (seriously). It was perhaps one of the most traumatic animal experiences I’ve ever had, as she just started frantically flapping her wings and then, as I tried to pick her up, she literally died in my arms. I called Matt sobbing. I know death is part of the homestead life, but MAN, I’m going to have to toughen up or this will scar me forever. Rest in peace, Pinkalicious (Raven named that one, which makes it even harder).

Overall Thoughts

The first half of the month (two-thirds, really) was actually pretty wonderful in a lot of ways, which was good, because this last week and a half has been BRUTAL. Every time we turn around, something else has gone wrong (cavities at the dentist, car won’t start, the kids are sick, Raven gets more sick, I get more sick, the chick dies…). It’s just been hard.

However, just because the month has ended hard, I do want to focus on the fact that all in all, there was a LOT of good stuff this month.

Now, if the kids can both just get better quickly and I don’t have any more chicks die on me (literally), life should feel a bit more manageable in May. Fingers crossed.

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