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I’m still finding splatters of dried food from that disaster.

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but February has never been my favorite month. And by not my favorite, I mean it’s my least favorite. Maybe it’s the gray skies, that I’m sick of the endless cold winter (although, this year, I can hardly complain…it’s been pretty nice as far as winters go). It’s definitely not that I fear Valentine’s day–I have the best Valentine’s chocolate party every year with the family and feel all sorts of love from Jack and the kids. Whatever it was, when February rolls around, I feel myself getting crabby. This month has been no exception. I didn’t find it particularly enjoyable when Peter slapped his lunch out of my hand and splattered it all over the kitchen. I wasn’t particularly appreciative of the dead mouse the cats left in my boot. I wasn’t particularly happy when I sliced my thumb while making dinner and I certainly didn’t enjoy being run off the road by a careless sixteen-year-old driver.

Yep. That’s my car, rammed a good twenty yards into a muddy cornfield.

I was heading to pick up Kate and Evelyn from school when it happened. I approached an intersection where the cross street has a very conspicuous stop sign. The driver wasn’t even close to paying attention as she didn’t even touch her brakes. I maneuvered the best I could to avoid injury and damage and managed to walk away from the accident.

A splitting headache, bruised, whiplashed, and feeling like I’d been kicked in the butt by a horse but happy to be alive!

The rest of the afternoon kind of went downhill from there. My first thought was to get out of the car. The airbag had deployed and though I figured the smoke in the car was from that, I did not want to for one second sit in there in case it caught on fire. No, thank you. When I managed to get myself out, my list-oriented brain kicked in. I called the school to pull Evelyn and Kate aside until Jack could come get them. I called Jack to let him know what had happened and that I was okay. I called a neighbor to go over to our house to watch Claire, Henry, Peter, and Zoey until Jack got home. Then, I called 911.

She got me pretty darn good.

When the paramedics, fire department, and police started arriving, I let myself be overwhelmed and shed a few tears, mostly out of gratitude that I wasn’t dead. My car was equally matched to the other driver, who jumped out, apologized, and said she didn’t see me. I tried not to be snide but told her she must’ve missed the stop sign, too. It all could have been much more terrible and when I think of leaving Jack a widower with six little children, it makes me choke up. God was obviously smiling on our family that day.

The other driver’s car. I think my car put up a pretty good fight.

Without a car to get myself to the hospital, I agreed to let the ambulance take me. I was pretty sure nothing was broken or punctured or bleeding, but I wasn’t about to take a chance. Jack joined me after he got the kids all settled and after several hours of scans and x-rays and tests, I was sent home. The days following have been hard. I can’t get comfortable sleeping, the kids keep poking and prodding my bruises, and ever time I drive past the intersection where I managed to slide right between a brand new electric line pole and the stop sign, I get a bit of anxiety remembering it.


The thing about trials and challenges is that when I force myself to remember that there’s a balance to all that bad that’s happened, I start noticing the good right away. For one, there are usually three little kids in the car with me when I’m on my way to pick up the older girls from school but because Claire was on the mend from being sick all week and everyone else was taking a nap, I left her in charge of them. I am forever grateful none of my children are in the kind of pain–or worse, depending on where they sit in the car–than I am.


I have also been overwhelmed by the kindness friends have shown us. They’ve been watching kids, picking them up from school, and bringing all sorts of food over so I haven’t had to lift a finger. Jack wasn’t out of town on a work trip and was able to take care of me. The accident has brought up several good conversations with our kids of the importance of not driving while distracted. We have also talked about the meaning of being gentle. All I have to do is whip out one of my bruises and they immediately tone it down a notch.

By far the most impressive bruise I have ever had, complete with some loss of feeling in my leg due to swelling.

I think one of the hardest parts about the accident is that though I walked away without any serious, life-threatening injuries, it has certainly impacted my life. I have been tired and groggy from lack of sleep, I’m stiff and sore, I can’t do the things I normally do–I was running three to five miles on the treadmill daily but haven’t stepped on it since. I should be out collecting maple sap but can hardly lift a full bucket. The kids have to go feed the animals because I can’t pick up a hay bale. I can’t snuggle with the children for fear of them elbowing a bruise or keep up with the baby because he moves faster than me at the moment. By far, the worst part of the accident has been the mental strain it’s caused because I’m not living life the way I have been accustomed.

Peter’s a little explorer at the moment.

If that wasn’t enough for our family, one by one, we’ve been getting knocked down by illness. Though I took Claire in to be tested for the flu, it came back negative. I wasn’t totally convinced but it’s hard to argue against a medical test but mother’s intuition isn’t a recognized diagnosis. For a week, she’d be on again, off again with fevers, chills, body aches, headaches, a sore throat, and a cough.


It has not been a surprise that the rest of us have been gradually succumbing. The symptoms were varied but overlapping–some kids threw up, others complained of chills, one morning, Henry crawled into our bedroom because his legs were so stiff and sore.

Poor guy.

I wish I would have listened to my own intuition and taken the other kids in as they fell ill. It wasn’t the common cold. I’ve seen my kids have plenty of colds. So, the morning after I spent the night wafting between fevers and chills, only to wake up and have my car accident injuries ache like they’d just happened, I went into a small minute clinic, got tested for the flu and guess what? It was positive.


For most of the kids, it’s too late. They’re going to have to ride it out. For those who haven’t gotten it yet, I’ll be kicking down the pharmacy door to get them tested and treated if they so much as sniffle. To add insult to injury, Jack has been out of town on another work trip and guess what? He went to a clinic and tested positive too, except with the opposite strain as me. Yay.

Kate feeling well enough to read to Zoey.

We’re not even to mid-February and I already feel like it’s kicking my butt. Every day, I have to remind myself of my little mantra: make do and be grateful. It is easy to feel as gloomy and gray as the unforgiving February skies in Indiana but when I look for the good, it’s still there, even if it comes in small slivers of sunshine.

Body art by Henry
We’ve been reading a lot more together, especially me. I’m confined to the couch and every one of the children has brought me multiple books and asked me to read them aloud. They also read to each other. As silly as it is, being an author, I don’t read nearly as much as I’d like to, especially with my kids. Being sick and injured has definitely been a good reminder to slow down once in a while.
We’ve found a few games in our game closet that the girls are old enough to play with us. Though Jack always wins, we have enjoyed several hours of fun together…right until the end when accusations of cheating and unfairness are thrown. We’re still working on not being sore losers.

Along with the hearty dinners we’ve enjoyed, we have never had so many yummy treats delivered. No one complains about dinner with the promise of milk and cookies when they finish.


We’ve also been enjoying the rental van we’ve been cruising around in. There’s enough space for everyone to stretch their legs and enjoy their own bubble. It probably won’t last–it looks like we’ll probably be getting a similar Suburban for the time being until we can settle with the other insurance, but for now, a big van has been appreciated.

Pretty snow! And then it rained. But still, it was pretty while it lasted.

The month isn’t over and there’s good and bad still to come. We have to find a new car, there’s a string of doctor’s appointments to go to so I can make sure there’s no underlying health issues from the accident, and eventually, we’ll have to tackle the beast and work out a settlement with the other driver’s insurance. I already spoke with them once and was so offended by their lowball offer and faux concern at my well-being that I’m not going to pull any punches. I could have been killed, and I want it to hurt so that these kinds of accidents don’t happen, and people aren’t killed by distracted drivers. The thought of that confrontation gives me all kinds of anxiety and it’s hard not to feel depressed about what a curveball this February has already been but then I remember…

…at least I’m still here. For another day on earth to watch my children grow, work alongside Jack, and experience it all–the good, the bad, and even the crappy Februaries, I am eternally grateful.

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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