This is now the third time I’ve done a yearly recap complete with the family pictures that we take weekly on Sundays. It’s always amazing to me to look back and see just how much can happen in the span of the year, and this last year was just as eventful as the years before were, complete with some amazing triumphs and high points as well as heartbreaks and losses, too.
This year taught me a lot, and I’m proud to say that I think I’m a better human at the end of the year than I was at the beginning, which is always the end goal, really. Sometimes I wish that personal progression didn’t have to happen through experiencing such hard things, but I guess that they’re often the most effective teacher, so I’m at least learning not to fear tough times as much.
Consider this our both our Christmas and New Year’s card for the year, complete with a full run-down of what we’ve been up to for the last 12 months. We sure love and appreciate all of you for showing up to share in our lives, and we wish you all the best in 2023!
January is always a hard month for me, but just like last year, this January was, once again, especially brutal. I’d found out around Christmas that I was pregnant, and so January was when I started to get the morning sickness and exhaustion I always get with pregnancy. Then, on top of that, our whole family ended up coming down with COVID, and while most of the family got better quickly (most within the 3-5 day window that many sources said was average for the omicron variant, especially if you’d been vaccinated and boosted), I was sick for a solid two weeks.
Then, at the very end of the month, when Matt and I went in to my 10-week ultrasound, we discovered that the baby had no heartbeat and that I’d had a missed miscarriage. I later found out that the baby had been a boy.
It was a long, hard month, and I was not sorry to see the back of it.
February had a tough beginning, as I had to prepare for and then go through the D&C procedure to complete the miscarriage, but the month ended up being very restorative and positive overall–a poignant reminder to make opportunities to slow down and enjoy the season you’re in. Over the Presidents Day weekend, we took a somewhat impromptu family vacation down to Southern Utah to stay in Moab and were joined for part of the time by my in-laws. The trip was exactly what we all needed, and the four days of sunshine after such a cold and dark winter were completely soul-lifting.
February was also the month that I opened up the flower farm’s CSA bouquet subscriptions, which did very well — we actually ended up making more over that week than we did all last year with the farm! (With a CSA subscription, members pay upfront for a certain number of bouquets that will be delivered to them throughout the growing season.)
I was also asked by the local college to do a special workshop/presentation as part of an entrepreneurship seminar series they do on how to run a successful business, which ended up being an amazing experience (and one that has led to further employment opportunities in our off season through a teaching position for me).
March was another month where we got hit hard with sickness, as we all came down with a flu that lasted several weeks. It was awful.
On the bright side, Matt and I were basically able to complete the high tunnel enough that we were able to start planting in it, which was a big step forward on the farm. The two of us had been working on it for months, and it was SUCH an accomplishment to finally get it finished.
The kids had their spring break the last week of the month, which we kept super low key and spent having a fun lunch date with Matt at McDonald’s, going to the park, and spending as much time as we could outside.
I thought that my flower farming season would start in late March (since that’s when I’d started to get some blooms last year), but due to an unusually cold early spring, we didn’t have any flowers all month. However, I was still kept plenty busy with seed starting and with the first of the transplanting.
April was filled with a lot of family fun, including celebrating Raven’s 7th birthday and Easter. For Raven’s birthday, we met the grandparents who live close enough at a halfway point in between our houses at a pizza place, and my sister was able to come, too. We had so much fun celebrating with everyone and enjoying a night out, and Raven loved every second. We also taught Raven how to ride a bike this month, and she was a natural thanks to having ridden a balance bike for years. We enjoyed several fun evenings together as a family in large empty parking lots or going to the park where all the kids were able to ride their bikes together.
April was also the month when the flower farming season officially started, at least when it came to having flowers to sell to the public. Although our CSA bouquet subscriptions started a bit later than expected due to a colder than usual spring, we still had the flowers we needed to fulfill all our needs. We didn’t have the excess beyond that that I’d hoped, but I can’t complain.
April is an insane month when it comes to flower farming though, just because you have to start harvesting at the same time that you’re frantically planting out the first big of wave of hardy annuals (of which we grow a LOT). We managed to mostly stay on schedule though, and we were already way ahead of where we were at the April of the previous year, which was our first year farming.
We started off May by being rebels — instead of celebrating Mother’s Day for me on the second Sunday of the month, I requested that we move it up a week so that the day would be more relaxing, especially considering that I knew I’d have an insanely busy week leading up to the real holiday due to wanting to have flowers to offer to the public. For the actual holiday, we made the four hour round trip drive to see our moms and spend time with our families.
On the flower farming side, we did do some Mother’s Day sales for the first time (which taught me what to do and what not to do in the future), and I also successfully sold quite a few surplus dahlia tubers we had. On the down side, we had a massive crop failure with our tulips and only ended up getting about 10% that were sell-able, which meant we lost hundreds of dollars on that crop.
As for family news, Raven started playing softball for the first time (her first time playing any sport), which was overall a fun experience for all of us. Mathias wrapped up his first year of preschool, and Raven finished up her year of first grade. Matt and I celebrated our 11th anniversary (by going out on a family date to our favorite burger place and taking the kids to the park after). I also found out I was pregnant again near the end of the month.
June was a flurry of activity for the first half as we were frantically trying to plant out everything in the flower farm as fast as possible after (what we thought was) our last frost. We ended up having two unexpected frosts in mid-June, however, which necessitated that we cover as many of our crops as we could. We ironically didn’t lose any crops to the frosts (though a few got damaged), but we DID lose nearly a whole bed of marigolds and several rows of zinnias because the cover that we used to protect from frost ended up frying the seedlings the next day when the sun come back out. Oh well. You live and you learn.
The older two kids did swim lessons every morning for two weeks, which was a lot of fun. I loved the routine of having something fun built right into our day every day, and the kids really looked forward to it each time. Sure, Mathias’s lessons ended up being a bit like a really expensive bath time since he was super nervous about trying anything his teachers tried to show him, but he did at least make some progress with blowing bubbles and such in the water, so there’s that. Raven’s always taken well to water and progressed enough that I signed her up for the following level in July.
In the middle of the month, we celebrated Mathias’s 4th birthday by taking all the kids out to go bowling for the first time. It was literally the longest bowling game ever (around two hours), but the kids had a really fun time, and it was a fun first to share together. My dad also came and visited during this time, which was the first time we’d seen him since before the pandemic hit. He’d never even met Hyrum!
On the work front, the newspaper I’d been copy editing for had to lay off my position due to budget constraints, which meant our income got cut down. On the bright side, the layoff did help me have a lot more time for flower farming.
Right before we left on vacation, I had an ultrasound for the pregnancy. I should have been 8 and a half weeks along, but there “wasn’t enough to see” at that point, so I was told to come back in two weeks. I hadn’t been having many symptoms though, so I was expecting another miscarriage.
We left for our Hawaii trip at the end of the month!
We spent Independence Day and the rest of the first week of the month in Oahu, where we spent lots of time on the beach, snorkeled (Matt and me, anyway), visited the Polynesian Cultural Center, ate lots of yummy food, and let the kids finally watch fireworks for the first time (though we paid for it dearly the next morning in crankiness from our younger two). Hawaii was full and fun, but we were sure glad to get back home to the flower farm and to our puppy!
Right after we got back from our trip, we had that ultrasound. I didn’t know what to expect because I wasn’t having a ton of symptoms still, but I was having more. We ended up having to take the kids with us too since our normal babysitter was out of town. Much to our delight, the doctor zoomed right in and found a strong heartbeat and gave us the news that I was just two weeks behind what I thought, with a due date in February rather than in January! I couldn’t believe it. We all went out to eat at our favorite restaurant (Leatherby’s) after to celebrate.
At the beginning of July, we found out Mathias also has celiac (like Matt), which meant we had to break the news to him that he’d no longer be able to eat some of his favorite foods, like McDonald’s chicken nuggets or flour tortillas. He actually took the news extremely well, and although there were some tears the first month as he adjusted to the new restrictions, he handled it like a champ.
Two weeks after the other ultrasound, we went to the doctor for another ultrasound just to make sure everything still looked okay. While there, we found out I’d miscarried again, another boy, just a day after the last ultrasound had been performed. I had another D&C at the end of July.
The miscarriage brought up a lot of serious conversations about our future, especially concerning where we were living. Being so far away from family (2+ hours) and still not loving where we lived after two years made us decide to start having Matt apply for jobs back up in Cache Valley, where we’d moved from back in 2020. He officially put in his first job application on the 30th.
We knew if Matt was able to find a new job soon, things would likely move quickly, so we wanted to try and prep the house to sell just in case things went that way. In addition to keeping up on the craziness that is flower farming in August (which is extremely constant during that month), we were decluttering like mad, packing up stuff that we wouldn’t need anytime soon, and thinking about staging.
Halfway through the month, we started selling flowers again at the local farmer’s market. We weren’t sure about how the market would go because the year before we felt that it hadn’t really been worth our time, but things could not have been more different this year — we had SO much community support and even basically sold out multiple times, too. It was a huge morale (and financial) boost for our little farm!
However, the jam-packed and frantic pace of the month was not sustainable, and I had a panic attack out of the blue one night while I was trying to fall asleep. This wasn’t the first time I’d dealt with a panic attack, so I knew that I absolutely had to slow things waaaay down and stop neglecting self-care, or things were bound to get a lot worse in the mental health department. Luckily, even though there were for sure some pretty intense weeks mentally and emotionally in there, I was able to learn some great strategies for dealing with the panic and anxiety when it tried to flare up more. I even started running again for the first time in about four years because my back injury/problems were finally fixed!
Raven started second grade a little more than halfway through the month.
September brought Mathias’s first day of preschool (his second and final year), which he was beyond ready for. It also brought birthdays for both Matt and me, with us both turning 36 at the end of the month. To celebrate, we went super romantic by going shoe shopping after we went to the temple and out to eat 🙂 But hey, my mom had the kids and it was our first real date in seemingly forever, so we were perfectly happy! We also rounded out the month with a ton of family fun, including our Sunday “picnic hikes” and a family reunion on Matt’s side to celebrate his grandma turning 90.
Farmer’s markets were over by the first weekend in September, but MAN, were we still kept super busy by the flower farm! It seemed like everything we touched that month was gold, as nearly every single bouquet I made up sold and we also got a ton of custom and florist orders. We also finished up all of our bouquet subscriptions this month, which is always such a relief.
Thanks to a lot of little miracles and unexpected mercies, we finally started feeling a much greater sense of community and support where we’re living, and since the job search wasn’t going nearly as well as we had expected, we decided to hold off on trying to move at this point, although we’re still open to it in the future. Matt also started looking into education and certification opportunities to strengthen his resume and help him to be even more effective at the management position he’s in (and started one program near the end of the year).
I found out at the end of the month (on my birthday, coincidentally) that I was pregnant again.
October was so mild and the frost held off for so long that I was still selling bouquets up until more than halfway through the month, as well as offering extra peony roots for sale that had unexpectedly been shipped to us by mistake. The extra income was much appreciated, but the late frost did mean that we were way behind on our fall chores for the farm.
My anxiety was (understandably) high about the pregnancy, and when I had some somewhat heavy spotting halfway through the month, we ended up going in for an ultrasound when I was 7.5 weeks along to see what was going on. Much to my relief, everything looked great, and since I was being hit with constant morning sickness from about 5 weeks on, I was able to relax a *little* bit after seeing the heartbeat and hearing that all of my levels looked great.
Since I was feeling so sick all the time, my pace slowed waaaay down, so the rest of the month didn’t hold much. We did celebrate Halloween triple time with parties with family and friends, a community trunk or treat, and then trick or treating on the actual holiday.
November was one loooooooong round of morning sickness and exhaustion, but after seeing two more good ultrasounds, I finally felt confident enough in the pregnancy to announce it to the public at the end of the month (not that I could have waited much longer — I really started to show by about 10-11 weeks!). Due to me not feeling well, we really kept the month as low-key as humanly possible, including basically putting a pause on all housework that wasn’t 100% necessary to daily living and survival.
November brought new church callings for both Matt and me. After serving the entirety of our time here (so, for the past two years) as Primary teachers together, Matt got called into a leadership position (second counselor in the Elders Quorum), and I got called to be a pianist in the Primary.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable Thanksgiving by celebrating the main meal with Matt’s extended family and then having (more) pie with mine. All the time spent out and about around the holiday finally put an end to our sickness-free streak, however, which had lasted several months — poor Hyrum came down with what we’re assuming was RSV at the very end of the month and sounded and looked pretty pathetic for over a week.
By mid-December, I was finally starting to feel normal again, but then BOOM, we got hit with more sickness — stomach flu (mostly me, but Raven had it one day too), flu (Matt), and a lingering cough from the RSV for Hyrum. We got lucky though that our sicknesses didn’t last for too long or get too serious, and we were also lucky that we were healthy for all the holiday parties and events going on.
We celebrated Hyrum’s 3rd birthday up in Bountiful with the grandparents who live locally right after we had an extended family Christmas party with my side that same day. We also had a fun “fancy” dinner on his actual birthday the next day, which the kids said reminded them of Thanksgiving since it involved turkey, mashed potatoes, and the first (homemade) gluten-free rolls Matt had eaten since being diagnosed with celiac in early 2020.
Murphy’s Law hit us throughout December, unfortunately. It started with a broken dishwasher, but then we also had issues with plumbing (fingers crossed it won’t be anything as huge as I’m fearing) and then a broken mixer.
Two days before Christmas, we found out the gender of the baby (to be announced soon). A couple days before that, we’d done our fun “Winter Solstice” dinner with the kids, which isn’t really anything too fancy except that we turn off all the lights during dinner and eat by candlelight 🙂
Christmas was the usual whirlwind affair, especially as it involved us doing the four-hour round-trip drive to visit family and back three times over the space of just a handful of days. We had parties and gift exchanges with both sides, another extended family party for Matt’s side, and more. The kids always bring such a level of magic on Christmas morning that makes me want to cry every time. This year I was a little nervous because we had to do a smaller Christmas than usual, but I needn’t have been–the kids were beyond thrilled with everything. The boys got a wooden train set to share, and Raven got the pair of roller skates she’d been asking for for awhile, among some other books and clothing and other smaller things they needed and wanted. We loved being able to go to church on Sunday to ensure that our focus for the holiday was right where it should be — on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
The last week of the year was pretty low key, but the kids loved being able to try “bubbly” (sparkling apple cider) for the first time this month, especially since we let them have it in the fancy flute glasses. As the year came to a close, we felt so much gratitude for so many things, especially a healthy pregnancy, many answered prayers throughout the year, and lots of opportunities to draw closer together as a family.
We’re excited to see what the new year is going to bring us, and we hope that this past year brought a lot of growth and good memories for you as well!