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A Year In Review: 2023

Wow! 2023 is not at all what I expected it to be. I started off the year with a surgery that was three years in the making. I had a wound on my left leg that would continually not heal. It had started as a blister from running and no matter what type of wound care we tried, it never helped. I finally decided to have it taken care of. I had surgery at the end of January and was hopeful to be back on my feet by Valentine’s Day. It turns out that slow wound healing did not allow me to get back up on my feet until April. After the initial 3 weeks, I was going stir-crazy at home. I started driving again, dropping my kids off at school and running them to their activities. I would wheel my electric wheelchair up to my driver's side door.  The wound was on my left leg which meant that I still had my right leg so that I could drive.  I would crawl into the car and was fine unless I had to get out.  I could only run errands in stores if my kids were with me.  They would get my wheelchair out of the back and wheel me around.  I am continually proud of my children because even my nine-year-old can take care of me.  It is a humbling experience to be taken care of by a child but I know that my kids are so capable and will be better individuals for this experience.  Once home I would get back into my electric chair and have my run of the house.  Two things I really missed during this time was exercise and my animals.  I could not get in the pool or the barn.  I was so happy when I was finally able to return to these hobbies


We had some unexpected renovations pop up when a pipe burst at our family cabin and found ourselves dealing with construction once again. To give you some perspective, in the last seven years my husband and I have built our custom home, bathroom remodels, installed solar buildings and landscaping ourselves, and patiently waited for a pool to be put in. So, this cabin renovation was probably one we would have put off for at least another five years. It took time and energy on my part to handle this project and it was not how I had planned on spending my time. Construction ultimately always strains relationships. Regardless, in the end we made it through the other side with renovations completed in time for Thanksgiving.


In the meantime, it meant that we had extra time on our hands this summer, since we would not be able to have use of our usual vacation spot. We traveled to Glacier National Park, which was a highly anticipated trip for myself. It did not disappoint. We were lucky enough to stay in the park and had amazing views of glacial lakes. We river rafted, horseback road, crossed into Canada, and ate amazing food. We hiked a lot for somebody who has two prosthetic feet. Our longest hike was a 10-mile round trip to iceberg lake.  It was worth it, but I was exhausted and grumpy by the end. Nature gave me a pick me up when two young black bears crossed our path right before we got back to the car. The kids were stunned and it was so special to watch these animals up close while following wildlife appropriate guidelines . The weather cooperated, and we were able to travel the going to the sun road all the way through the park.  We also encountered wildlife, such as mountain goats, big horn, sheep, grizzly bears, black bears, and we even got a moose viewing on our last day. We made many new fun memories and possibly our favorite one of the year was a pedi cab race when we stayed in Waterton, Canada.


Later this summer, we also played tourist in my hometown, Eureka, CA. So, we headed to Redwood National Park. We received our ranger badges, and the kids were able to experience Fern Canyon for the first time that they remember. We were able to view elk on the beach and visit one of my favorite spots in Humboldt County. Weather permitting, we would head down to Agate Beach and search for these special stones in the gravel.  This is a hobby I have done since I was a child and it is so rewarding to share the experience with my own kids.


We wrapped up our National Park visits this summer with a trip to Crater Lake. We had a beautiful day and hiked down to the lake. We braved the cold water and everyone jumped in except for Gage (who was too busy fishing). This was a quick one since everyone was tired out from a busy summer.


Once school was back in session, I officially had a seventh grader. Gage started middle school at the local Christian school, and the other two returned to our beloved elementary school. We have great teachers, and everyone is thriving. Gage excelled this fall in sporting clay shooting and I enjoyed the one-on-one time I got with him in between stations. We mostly talked about mental toughness and overcoming doubt. The other two kids keep me busy with their 4-H projects which include poultry, rabbits, goats, swine, arts and crafts, and cake decorating. The animal projects are opportunities that I was not afforded when I was younger because we were always busy playing sports. As a parent I enjoy living vicariously through my kids and learning and caring for animals.


I finally finished my book, Our Mommy Glows this August and it is officially published. Everyone asks me how long it took to write this book and I answer them that it took four hours to write but four years to finish illustrations. The illustrator I chose did an amazing job, but between personal life and the pandemic we had some mountains to overcome. Having it finished is an accomplishment and a relief. It has been very exciting sharing it, especially with my children and their schools. Hopefully someday I can take my book and experiences to a wider audience and reach a larger population.


I continue to enjoy teaching my children how to make things from scratch and become more self-sufficient. Drake and I finally used the butter press that I bought earlier this year and made our own butter from heavy cream. We were able to save the buttermilk for use in cooking and pressed our first block of homemade butter. We also harvested fruits and vegetables from our garden this summer and began learning about preserving food ourselves as well as what we liked and disliked.  Keeping a garden is a lot of work and if I want to continue to travel during the summer I will have to come up with a better system of harvesting and preserving.  I continually love to collect chickens as well as cows. I learn something new about these animals all of the time and am constantly fascinated at how complex poultry can be as well as the peace that sitting out with my cows can bring.  I am hoping that 2024 will see us add some sheep to our hobby farm, as well as our first highland cow babies.


 As the year comes to a close, we start to think about our goals for the next year.  Since our children were little, we decided that we do not do New Year’s resolutions but instead make New Year’s goals. The kids have to write down their goals on a piece of paper. We used to have these posted right next to the kitchen table where we could see them every day. Now they are on a chalkboard leading into our pantry, reminding us of the things that we want to accomplish for the new year.  Sometimes these goals are extremely large such as making the emergent standard for the paralympic swimming team and sometimes it is to go pick flowers as a family at the local zinnia farm. It does not matter how large or small the goal. What matters is the intention of doing them.  Ironically the kids accomplish almost all of their goals and this year I believe my husband and I maybe accomplished half. Prior years I’ve been 100% but this year just wasn’t what we had expected. This is okay because somewhere in the middle of our plans real life happens.  This is what life is about, improvising, adapting,  and deciding what it is you are going to do next; whether it is overcoming the challenge or pivoting and traveling down a different path.

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