WARNING: This blog post is insanely wordy and full of information no one wants to hear, but I needed to get it down, hopefully years from now John and I will look back at this particular post and laugh...I kinda don't think so, but maybe.
Wow, 2013...where do I begin? I feel like each year as December 31st rolls around, John and I look at each other and don't know whether to laugh or cry. We know how blessed we are, we have a wonderful life, but MAN is that life full of loops and turns...2013 was no exception.
I don't want to get too negative here, I'll try not to complain. However, I believe writing about some of the challenges we face is crucial in helping us appreciate our blessings and hopefully ensuring our growth as we reflect over difficulties overcome.
I'll attempt to keep things positive by claiming the following events made us stronger...
The Woes of 2013:
Macie's Surgery was certainly one of the most heartbreaking events of last year.
Happily, everything is going well and so far a second surgery is no where in sight.
Patching continued to be a struggle during 2013 as we bumped it up to 4 hours a day. Macie is anxiously counting down the days til her next appointment (12 to be exact) when she can hopefully get the okay to once again patch for 2 hours each day.
Adjusting to life with Gus the Dog was a challenge to say the least.
Though I'm smiling in the above photo, I tend to have somewhat of a tolerate-hate relationship with the poor guy. Maybe being pregnant during his first year of life wasn't great planning on our part...then there was a newborn, again not the best time to have a young dog...somehow we survived. Gus, the darn dog, was hand-picked by Mr. McCoy himself, he came with all sorts of guarantees and promises...as for personality and behavior, he certainly has delivered...his health on the other hand, is a whole different story. I've long since turned a blind eye to the amount of money this dog has cost us. I have also lost track of the many surgeries he underwent before his first birthday. I may be wrong, but I think there were 4 eye surgeries, maybe 5, followed by one very expensive bouncy ball removal (more on that later).
All things considered, he has been a great addition to our family and I hope and pray the worst of "the puppy years" is behind us.
Another big challenge for our family, especially for John and I came by choice as I accepted a part-time job at American Preparatory Academy a month before Tessa's due date, ensuring ALL our children's enrollment through 12th grade after one year of employment.
The catch was I would need to be to the school EVERY single morning, ALL year long. I vividly remember crying as I stood in line for my background check the week before I was to start working...little did I know I was in labor and would deliver Tess 6 hours later...I started working when she was 10 days old. Over the past few years as I longed for one more baby to complete our family, I dreamed of lavishing uninterrupted amounts of time on that future babe...snuggling in bed for hours, reading, playing, laughing together...in my wildest dreams I never imagined I would start a new job days after giving birth.
Needless to say, it was rough. Having every member of our family dressed and fed with lunches packed and teeth brushed, homework done, diaper bag ready to go, baby nursed, etc, etc...and out the door by 7:25 AM (after being up all night with a newborn) was EXTREMELY difficult, for all of us. The first few months of Tessa's life I did little more than survive. John has been a huge help and support, whether he's ironing uniforms at night, getting the kids ready for bed while I make lunches or running to the grocery store for me late at night, he's always there for me. He drives the girls to a sitters every morning before work while I take the boys to school. I could never have done this without him, or our babysitters for that matter (Grandma Lisa and Papa Lynn).
While recovering from labor, life looked like this: Leave for school at 7:25. Get done with work and pick up Tessa at 9:30. Pick up Cole from AM kindergarten at 11:00. Pick up Macie and Porter from school at 11:15. Pick up Wyatt from school at 3:30. Then there were 3 different soccer practices/games per week, taekwondo, dance lessons, young women's, cub scouts, and speech therapy. And during all this I somehow had to squeeze in plenty of nursing sessions, a load or two of laundry, and attempt to put some sort of meal on the table. One day I counted and I had loaded/unloaded poor newborn Tessa into the car 10 times. Life got so hectic, after a few months of barely surviving, we decided to pull Macie from preschool and speech, and eventually soccer...it was a hard decision to take her out of preschool, but I am so glad we did (future blog post about that later).
During the midst of all the above-mentioned craziness, we were bombarded with trial after trial. I honestly don't even know where to begin and I am sure no one in their right mind will ever want to read all this, but I'm gonna go for it. Who knows, it might be therapeutic.
Okay, lets see. I'll start with our Clearfield house...the one that we bought when the market peaked, right before everything crashed. The one we put $20,000 of our hard earned cash, blood, sweat and tears into.
The one we rented for the past 2 years in an attempt to recover some of that hard earned cash, blood, sweat and (PLENTY of) tears. With the news that our renters would be moving out in November, and after much thought, discussion, and prayer, we decided to put the house on the market, count our losses and move on.
Unfortunately November came and went without any offers on the house. Long story short, we were stuck making 2 mortgage payments each month...OUCH! Thankfully we'd somewhat prepared for this and saved all the money we'd accumulated from the renters. Month after month without any offers and that money was soon gone. The holidays were upon us and needless to say we were tight on cash. It was at this financially stressful time that John called me from work to inform me we would be responsible for ALL of Tessa's hospital bills, our insurance would not be covering her until January 2014. I was certain it was some sort of very un-funny joke. It wasn't. I won't go into all the details, but after going through all stages of grief, speaking to anyone with an ounce of advice, fighting and arguing with all involved, we finally accepted that there was nothing to be done. For lack of a better vocabulary, we were officially screwed.
That, unfortunately is not all. I will spare the personal details, but in the past I have had a reoccurring health problem while breastfeeding that is excruciatingly painful, uncommon, and in a nutshell, my biggest nightmare. During the midst of all this stress, my health problems arose once more...sending me into a panic as I vividly remembered how bad things got the last time this occurred. I also developed severe neck and shoulder pain, no doubt due to stress, to the point I couldn't even move my head. At all. In any direction. Driving was lots of fun.
During this time of hellish torment, our dog decided to start vomiting all over the house...all day, non-stop. It was foul. Oh so foul. In less then 24 hours he rapidly declined. He could not stand, he was emaciated, his eyes were sinking in... After an emergency run to the vet, we discovered there was a bouncy ball lodged in his intestine and if not immediately removed (to the tune of $1,000) he would die. As much as I pretend to dislike this creature, I was heart broken. Keep in mind we had thousands of dollars in medical bills, two mortgage payments, Christmas around the corner, no prospective offers on our house, and now a dying dog.
I think John almost cried. Really, he looked like he might cry, but he didn't. I did though. A lot. It was in a very VERY small way almost funny. But not quite. Needless to say, we saved the darn thing.
So there we have it...2013, the year of...growth? Despite it all, I can honestly the horrid-ness of it all somehow brought us closer together and simultaneously increased our faith.
One day after a visit to the temple, I had a strong inclination to visit our Clearfield house...John had just been there 2 days prior and neither of us really felt like going again. In fact, as we drove the hour there with our four whining children I questioned why in the world we were going up there. My original intent had been to clean it really well, yet we didn't bring much to clean with. When we arrived, we discovered (much to our dismay) that the gas had been mistakenly shut off when I transferred the service into our name after the renters moved out...thus there was no heat in the house. The upcoming weather forecast was freezing. Who knows how long it would have taken for our pipes to freeze, the house to flood, and one of our neighbors to finally notice water leaking out the windows and contact us. I can't even imagine the damage and expense.
My health issues were also resolved (mostly) that same day after visiting the temple. John told me exactly what he thought I needed to do to fix my problem. I prayed about it and decided I would give it two weeks. I followed his council and two weeks to the day everything was fine. It has come back to varying degrees, but for the most part has been manageable.
That very same day, as we walked out of the temple, my mom was parked outside of the temple doors waiting for us. She knew I had been stressed out to the max and upset earlier that day and wanted to lend her support. I burst into tears when I saw her and now as I look back, I realize what an inspiring day that was on all accounts.
Yes, the last few months of 2013 were very challenging for John and I and needles to say, very humbling indeed. We both have worked so hard to stay financially sound, to make good choices, stay out of debt, etc...it was scary and humbling to face so much all at once. I am so grateful for John. No matter how stressed or worried he is he always keeps it together...he says I'm already crazy and it won't help if we both are...Hmm, now that I write it out, it doesn't actually sound that kind, but I think he means well! If anything, the past few months have thought me 3 valuable lessons.
1. I can always count on John. He is my partner and we can get through anything together.
2. We should never judge others, we have no idea what their circumstances are.
3. God is aware of us.
2013 was rough, there's no doubt, but it certainly wasn't all bad. 2013 was also full of wonderful moments I will always cherish...
The Joys of 2013:
And with that, I believe I am officially (and finally) done blogging about 2013...oh, except for the last day of the year of course. New Year's eve was well spent with the McCoy clan eating lots of goodies...
playing games, giving pedicures, visiting with family...
and playing with fire...
Macie went down without a struggle around 10:00 PM and for the first time ever, the boys actually made it til midnight. Wyatt had no trouble, or so he claimed. Cole on the other hand could hardly stand. He was determined to make it and so he did, just barely.
2014 started out great, the 2nd day of January we got an offer on our house and closed in less than 30 days. Phew, what a relief.
A few weeks ago, the teacher I work for informed me she only needed me 3 days a week, again, such a relief. Though it has been the most difficult experience, somehow we have survived and I can honestly say I would do it all again. I am so happy with our new school, the boys are thriving and I only have to work for thirteen more weeks!!! And you better believe I have a countdown til my last day set up on my phone.
After multiple bouts of medication, a priesthood blessing and a few doctor visits, I am happy to say I haven't had any problems for the past six weeks or so...fingers crossed it is all gone for good.
I'm sure 2014 will be filled with ups and downs, but so far things are looking bright. We are excited and anxious for the adventures 2014 is sure to send our way.