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Evelyn and Peter have a few thoughts about the start of 2020. 😂

At the beginning of every year, I feel a sense of hope and excitement to see what the change of date will bring. I had very high hopes for 2020. It was an Olympic year, most of our family’s birthdays are on the weekend, Halloween is on Saturday and Christmas is on a Friday…the amazing list went on and on. It wasn’t long before things started going awry and we realized 2020 wasn’t going to go the way we planned. At all. Not even close.

Poor old Stoney’s starting to lose his teeth. 😥

One of the first memorable kicks to the gut was a visit from the vet. Stoney’d been having some loose droppings and had subsequently been losing weight. It’s no surprise that his age is catching up with him but after a lengthy dental appointment where our vet had to remove several of Stoney’s wobbly, worn-out molars, it became clear that Stoney doesn’t have a whole lot of time left. Of course, I’m not naive that horses can’t live forever but I’m not ready to say goodbye yet. It still makes me teary-eyed when I think of looking out to the pasture and not seeing Stoney there. Someday, that day will come.

Poor Claire was the first to go down.

Then, one by one, we started getting hit with the flu. It’s been years since any of us have caught the bonafide influenza (we usually have a bout of the regular old stomach bug) but this year was one for the books. I spent hours dosing medicines, taking temperatures, coaxing kids to eat and drink, cleaning out the barf bowl, transferring kids down to their beds who’d fallen asleep on the couch…it was exhausting as the disease slowly spread. None of the kids escaped without a brush with being incapacitated and while away on a work trip, Jack succumbed, too. Awesome.

Henry just wanted to lay his head on something cool. 

Then, on my way to pick up Evelyn and Kate from school, a careless sixteen year old rammed me 20 yards into a cornfield. That was a pretty big surprise. It was the first major accident I’ve been in where there were two vehicles involved and I can with surety say I hope it’s my last.


Despite it being over eight weeks since the accident, I’m still recovering. I’m a firm believer that regularly exercising, my quick reaction to prevent a head-on collision, and making a request for safety during our morning prayers as a family kept it from being worse than it could have been. Still, it has been plenty painful and frustrating as I’ve tried to take it slow so I can fully recover. When all is settled with the insurance company, I’ll write all about it.

I have no idea how this leg got so dinged up from the accident but it is definitely taking f-o-r-e-v-e-r to heal.

In the middle of the chaos, Claire mentioned one morning that Mortimer hadn’t shown up for breakfast. I tried not to worry much about it but I always get a gnawing pit in my stomach whenever it comes to the animals. We haven’t had many disappear but it’s never a good sign when they do. We searched for him, called for him at night, drove around the area, asked neighbors…nothing. My best guess is that his naive, inexperienced, and playful nature got him into trouble. We have a pack of coyotes we hear frequently and a neighbor’s dog who’s a known cat killer. He was the perfect cat to fill Hercules’ shoes, and we miss him terribly. When Zoey insists we still pray for Mortimer, that makes me teary-eyed, too.


Then I got the flu. That was especially sucky trying to get comfortable when it hurt to move in every sense of the word–body aches + whiplash + bruises = no fun. Then from all the testing and imaging from my accident to make sure my neck was okay (which, it’s not. Boo), a couple of suspicious lumps were found on my thyroid. One tiny, which, in a nutshell, means it might be cancerous and one large, which, in a nutshell, might mean it’s cancerous. Though I knew that the possibility that either of them would turn out to be cancerous was pretty rare, the idea of having cancer is disconcerting to say the least. I cried. A lot. Maybe it was the thought of facing my mortality and wondering what it would be like if I wasn’t a part of my family’s life, I’m not sure. Anywho, that was a rough couple of days waiting and wondering. The biopsy was rough–the doctor was amazing and made me feel loads better but having even a tiny needle stuck into your thyroid hurts like the dickens. Add that on top of the car accident neck injury and I spent a lot of time lying down so my neck didn’t have to hold up my head for long.

Thyroid biopsy. Fun times.

By mid-February, I was thinking I’d about had it with 2020 and wondered how I could get a redo. Psych! By then, we were on round two of the flu. Yep, the flu, twice. How, you wonder? While we were sick with the flu the first time around, we had the B strain but Jack, who was away on a work trip, came home and shared the A strain. Gah!

We had to take the barf bowl with us to the doctor. 🤒

To a mother, there’s nothing worse than seeing her children suffering and they got that in bucketloads this year, from being sick, sick, then more sick, and not having their mother there 100% to be able to care for them at the level of care, compassion, and efficiency I normally can.


I had to laugh at the mini apothecary I had set up on our island. There were plenty of natural remedies–downing spoonfuls of honey, drinking homemade elderberry syrup mixtures, gargling saltwater–mingled with a shot or two of over-the-counter meds to keep everyone as comfortable as possible, on top of my car accident pain meds and muscle relaxers. Grateful to have access to them when needed, glad we don’t have to deal with that level of medicating on a regular basis.


By the time we were on the mend from the second round of the flu, we were all walking on eggshells and giggling nervously, wondering if we’d made it out the thicket of troubles once and for all. Short answer? NOPE.

All those little speckles are the stingers of some seriously angry bees.

One day, our surviving beehive had fallen over and Jack was out putting them back together. I didn’t think much of it–he’d been taking care of bees for years on our farm and had been stung enough that all he’d gotten was the occasional swollen appendage and you’d think the bees would be appreciative (they really aren’t…every little thing makes them MAD). I went inside to shower when I heard a pounding on the door and Henry came running to my room to tell me that dad needed me. I put on a towel and hurried to the back door where Jack was on his knees, panting and telling me he was dying. Way to scare me to death. As a precaution and since Jack has allergy shots, we keep EpiPens on hand, so I ran to get them. Jack disappeared down the stairs, apparently trying to get to the car to save me the trouble of having to lug him there if he passed out (so sweet, always thinking of me 😘), and sat there, repeating he was going to die, that he loved me, and goodbye. I opened the first EpiPen…and shot it through my own finger.

Thankfully, it went all the way through my thumb, so I didn’t get any of the epinephrine. But still, ouch.

Not the epic life-saving moment I was going for but in my defense, I was hopped up on adrenaline of my own making and my hands were trembling like a leaf rattling in the wind. Fortunately, EpiPens come in pairs (probably in part for idiots who accidentally stab themselves while trying to help others), and I managed to get the second into Jack’s leg, but not until he full-on passed out. Like, dilated pupils, slumped over, cold-as-a-stone unconscious. I was on the phone with 911 in a flash and shook Jack so vigorously that he was at risk for his own neck injury. It was worth it though, because he came to, still mumbling incoherently for the most part until the adrenaline started doing its job.

Contemplating his brush with death by finishing up a batch of maple syrup. 😂

He told me he’d bent over to pick up the hive when a couple of the bees stung him in his nose and chin. He didn’t think much of it, having been stung in the face before, but when he started feeling light-headed, he knew something was the matter. After waiting an incredibly long time for the ambulance (seriously, if anything ever happens that really requires immediate assistance, we’re dead out here. Ah, country living has its price), I sent him to the hospital with them, picked up the kids from school and when he was pumped full of antihistamines and fluids, we went to get him. Alls well that ends well.


Except for a few days later, the same freaking hive had fallen over again. Jack hadn’t exactly gotten it put together well before he started feeling faint the first time and in some kind of sick joke from Mother Nature, we had a night of strong winds, which we almost never get in our neck of the woods. The next morning I woke up to take care of the animals and saw it’d tumbled again. Seriously, what the heck? Honestly, I wasn’t so mad as I was nervous that Jack was out there barely hours after he’d been attacked. I watched closely with a brand new EpiPen in hand while he reassembled their hive. I breathed a very grateful sigh of relief when he finished and walked away unscathed.


We rounded off the end of winter with another health crisis for Stoney. He’s never done well in the sloppy, tenacious mud of Indiana but his age isn’t helping, either. He developed a hoof abscess, which is a pretty darn big problem for a horse–the infection can’t bubble up and pop out like it can under skin–so until we could get it to drain and dry up, he was on a constant schedule of Epsom salt soaks and hoof wrapping, which is much easier said than done with a 1,200 pound animal.

Little things like messes are put into perspective after you’ve faced death a couple of times in a month.

When I catch myself thinking about how the first quarter of the year has gone for our family, it feels a little overwhelming. For the most part, we have lived an exceptionally charmed life because we’ve worked hard and sacrificed for it, but for the majority of it, we have been extremely blessed by a loving Heavenly Father. We recognize it and realize we aren’t worthy of all the goodness we’ve received but we’re also so, so grateful for it.

Somebody likes their alfalfa mash.

Being put through the wringer so many times was difficult and at times, downright scary. It also produced the side effect of being grateful. For one, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with the horses because Stoney’s care has become a high priority. I don’t know how much longer he’ll be around but I’m glad to make the most of our time together.

One of Jack’s strengths: pondering.

Things that seemed like a big deal really weren’t and we were reminded how appreciative we are and should be of each other. Nitpicking and bickering has noticeably lessened and we are quicker to express gratitude and love for each other and for being alive and restored to good health, including an a-okay biopsy for my silly thyroid.

So happy to be alive, even if I was stiff and sore after the accident.
It’s been a lot easier to be grateful for the little things, like blooming flowers, sunny skies, happy babies, giggling children, animals and wildlife, and inside jokes that make us laugh until we can’t breathe. Even the messes mean we have clothes, food, books, toys, and space. We’re learning to be grateful for it all, the good and the bad, the sun and the rain.
Add COVID-19 on top of our dismally strange first quarter and sometimes, it feels sort of like nothing will ever be the same again but then I remember the lessons I learned from all those trials we had in such quick succession. We might be down but not out. There’s still a lot of joy to be found, kindness to give, life to be lived. Everything will be alright and this too shall pass. Until it does, it will be a reminder to live life to the fullest in whatever way it comes.signature-3927716

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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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