I think I will always look back on our first year in
Wisconsin and wonder how on earth we survived. We moved to Wisconsin a little over a year
ago. What a year it has been!
In September of 2016 we moved our family and all of our worldly possessions 2,000
miles away from the Northwest, the only home most of us had ever known.
|We took family pictures at every state sign along the way. |
On our way over we visited treasured U.S. sights like
Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore. I was 27 weeks pregnant. We made a lot of
Rob started a new job as the Lead Pastor at First Baptist
Church in Whitehall, WI.
We spent 5 weeks in the basement apartment of a very
generous couple while we waited for our home to be ready.
|Me, on move in day. |
I spent those weeks trying to get health insurance for me
and the kids, and trying to navigate all of the necessary paperwork and
verifications in spite of not having a permanent Wisconsin address. It was
harder than it seems.
I got established with a new doctor just in time to discover
and learn to manage my gestational diabetes which meant obsessing over every carb
I put in my mouth while having a difficult time standing up long enough to
prepare real food.
I sprained my ankle at 7.5 months pregnant making it almost
impossible for me to me walk or function (not that I was doing either of those
things well anyway).
I was humbly served by a number of women who reached out to
help us in our time of need. We were given so many meals and they helped with
so many projects.
We moved into our new-to-us home. Tons of people (most of whom I barely knew) helped us
move and settle in. I couldn’t even bear weight on my ankle so I literally just
watched other people do everything.
|Our new church home. |
Rob’s aunt and uncle came to visit from Indiana. They helped
with some house projects and didn’t even complain that we literally had no place
in our living room to sit outside of a couple of random chairs.
We made what felt like endless trips into “town” about 45
minutes away for doctor appointments, shopping trips, and supply runs.
I learned to locate and rock the electric scooters in all of
our regular stores.
We had to equip our family and our home to be ready for subzero
temperatures, which meant securing a lot of supplies (boots, gloves, hats, snow
shovels, jackets, etc). Did you know scarves aren't just a fashion item?
|The evil chair that stole my dreams of a warm hot cocoa. |
I may have gotten a little too confident once my foot began
to heal and injured myself while trying to test out a rocking chair that was
sitting on an end cap in Target. My perfectly calculated 20 carb grams of hot chocolate
went flying everywhere and I ended up with a significant bruise on my very
round belly. After that I decided that I should probably just hibernate until
the baby’s arrival.
Attempts were made to purchase baby stuff as we had the left
over energy to do so.
|My whole world. |
My water broke 3 weeks and 2 days ahead of schedule, because
clearly, in the midst of all of this we were already well prepared for him (where’s the sarcasm font when you need it?)
After 18 hours of labor I had an emergency c-section under
general anesthesia due to a cord prolapse (his ambilical cord slipped out of my cervix so his head was cutting off his oxygen supply with every contraction), which made for a traumatic birth
experience and very trying recovery process.
|The baby I had longed and prayed for for so |
many years was finally in my arms!
We gave birth to a healthy 6 lb. 10 oz. baby boy who lit up
our worlds and stole our hearts!
I only remember about 3 minutes of my baby’s first 6 hours
of life. Drugs are not my friend.
Silas spent his first couple of days in the Special Care
Nursery because he was a preemie and his blood sugars weren't yet stable.
The people at the hospital let us take our little guy home
after 4 days because apparently they thought we knew what we were doing.
Luckily, my friend Monica flew over to help us out for a while!
|This little one has been shown so much love by his siblings!|
I attempted to serve a proper Thanksgiving meal to our
family since we were celebrating all on our own for the first time. I was still
recovering so I let each person pick one dish to include in our meal—then I
required them to help me make it. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole,
stuffing and chocolate pudding pie. Fun memories!
We tried to furnish our home as quickly as we could after
the baby was born, because we had left many of our larger pieces behind when we
moved. This meant shopping for mattresses, bed frames, couches, chairs, coffee
I spent all of those weeks before we moved into our new home
watching Fixer Upper, so naturally, I also may have bought my fair share of
farmhouse style home décor.
We were so tired of shopping.
But then there was Titus’s Birthday and Christmas, so we
shopped some more. Mostly from Amazon.
|Zucchini noodles with homemade|
speghetti sauce and almond flour
rosemary garlic bread sticks.
Each of us had a friend come visit and stay with us during
December. Eroica, Kajsa, and Kamden stayed with us for a week in early December
and Duan came to stay with us for Christmas.
It got cold, the likes of which I’ve never felt. And it was
icy. I stayed inside and snuggled my baby for most of the winter.
One of our family members got suddenly and severely sick,
and was diagnosed with a life-long autoimmune disease. That meant travelling
through the ice and snow for tests and appointments, and many hours spent
researching options for treatment.
Every ounce of energy I could muster went toward learning a
completely new way of preparing food. No grains (wheat, rice, oats, etc.), no
sugars (except for honey), no dairy (except for certain hard cheeses and
homemade yogurt that had been fermented for 24 hours). No starches. No fillers.
No preservatives. No exceptions. That leaves fruit, vegetables and meat.
Suddenly this vegetarian was learning how to prepare meat for every meal and
was making everything from scratch. So. Many. Dishes.
|Me, Silas, and Monica at the |
Magnolia Bakery in Waco, TX.
A woman who has walked this road before us mentored me along
the way and helped equip us to stay the course with this lifestyle change. She
was and still is such an encouragement to me.
I spent 5 glorious days in Texas with my very best friends (from
California, Oregon, and Texas) and my 3.5 month old baby in celebration of my
Birthday. We visited the Magnolia Market and the Pioneer Woman’s
Mercantile. It was a much needed break for this weary mama!
|Me with my besties getting to meet the Pioneer Woman|
at her Mercantile. An unforgettable trip!
We hit homeschool hard in the spring, since we had limped
through the winter with the new baby and the new illness. We had continued to
do the core subjects throughout, but we picked back up the ‘fringe’ subjects
that we had let slide during that time. We found ourselves very grateful for
the flexibility of homeschooling!
In late April we flew back to Oregon to visit friends and
family for 3 weeks and got to introduce them all to our new addition. It was so
good to see our friends and family again since we had left in such a hurry in
attempts to get established with a new doctor.
|Rob with his brother and dad on|
We bought a new-to-us minivan while we were there since we
had left one of our cars behind.
At the beginning of May we attended Rob’s graduation, as he
earned his Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis in non-profit management
from Corban University. Yes, this means that while all of the above was occurring,
he was working diligently toward finishing his degree during every spare moment
we could find. I don’t want to brag, but he earned A’s in all of his classes,
except one… and that one was an A-.
In June we began to feel like we had a little space and breathing
room. So naturally, I decided to do the finish work on a custom built 10 foot
farm table and Rob decided to paint the exterior of the house.
The kids took four weeks of summer school classes at the local school.
|My beautiful 10 foot farm table!|
I also decided to help take on the task of launching
Children’s Church at FBC.
In July, Kyndall (Leeann’s birth mom) came to stay for a
week. We celebrated Leeann’s Birthday together and had one epic shopping spree
at the Mall of America!
I helped plan VBS this year. I was the craft lady and I
loved it. It was so good to be able to help with a VBS program again!
I learned to can and process/cook all sorts of food that has
been shared with us. It seems like nearly all of our friends grow fruits and
vegetables and/or raise animals and we’ve been able to enjoy so much farm fresh
|Leeann and Titus enjoyed playing soccer this year. Here|
they are with their best friends. The best kinds of a friends
a mama could hope for her kids to have!
All the while, our sweet baby boy has continued to thrive
but he still requires A LOT of time and attention from his people. His default
mode seems to be “fussy” unless he has recently been fed, or someone is holding
him close to them. We have more or less spent his whole life playing hot potato
with him. If he falls asleep on you, you drop what you are doing and spend the
next part of your day enjoying sleeping baby snuggles. It’s a rough life.
Leeann and Titus played soccer in the fall and they also started with a homeschool choir and chimes group. That meant regular trips to town several times a week.
|It's hard to believe he's one already!|
In November we celebrated Silas's first Birthday. Monica flew in to help me plan it and many friends gathered with us to celebrate surviving the first year of his life!
Our nephew, Josh, got to visit with us for Thanksgiving on his break from college. It was so nice to have family here for the holidays. Our kids were over the moon excited to have a cousin here for so many days!
Just a few weeks ago Rob and I got to get away on an overnight adventure to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. We travelled to Green Bay and got to tour Lambeau Field. It really was such a neat experience, and of course, it was so good to get away together after such a long and exhausting year.
|Our kids with cousin Josh.|
There are so many good things that have happened this year, far too many to include in one simple post, but I'd be remiss if I didn't try writing at least some of this down as a record of what a crazy, difficult, beautiful, exhausting year this has been.
I wish I could have spent more time writing down the specifics of this year as it unfolded--but alas, I've had a baby to hold. And we all know babies don't stay babies for long. It's been a delight and treasure to get to know and love Silas. He's such a joy to our hearts.
We have all made wonderful friends and we
continue to absolutely love our church. There has not been a single moment that
we’ve regretted or even questioned our decision to move out here. Well, okay…
the day it was -22 degrees may have made me wonder out loud who on earth
chooses to move to a place where the air makes your face hurt. But, it was fleeting.
We remain confident that God has brought us here and we are
grateful for the many blessings he has bestowed upon us throughout this year.
We have no way of knowing what this next year will bring, but we look forward to many new adventures as a family of five. By the time our next Christmas letter comes out (assuming I get around to writing one), Silas will be 2, Leeann will be 15, Titus will be 13, and Rob and I will have just celebrated our 17th year of marriage. It seems impossible that these numbers could be correct, but I've done the math and checked the calendar. Apparently time doesn't stand still even though you beg for it to do so. This is my life and I couldn't imagine it any other way!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours,