2013 has been a good year for our family. Here is a look back at our year...
We happily rang in the new year on our Christensen family vacation to Kauai. Barry and Elaine (David's parents) celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with all of their kids and grandkids (38 of us) on the beautiful island. What wonderful memories were created on that trip!!! When we came home, a local farmer had a litter of border collie pups ready for a new home, and David and I surprised the kids by bringing one home. They were so excited to have a new puppy, which they named May, and eventually, June was also very excited to have a playmate.
We had a few big snow storms, and the kids loved being able to play outside in snow with their dogs. Russell and David built a car for the Pinewood Derby, and we all enjoyed the month cooking delicious food and spending time together. The kids have been working hard on all of their subjects for homeschool.
All of the kids partcipated in the local Jazz Basketball program. They all enjoyed playing basketball and getting some excercise during the cold months. Despite all of our family getting flu shots, Grace ended up getting influenza, and was very sick for over a week. We were so relieved that she finally got feeling better with a little help for mom's homemade chicken noodle soup. We continued to work hard on our homeschool assignments and got ahead in all of our subjects so that we could take some time off for our family vacation. On February 24, we loaded up our car and headed to Disneyland for the very first time. We stopped and spent the night in Las Vegas, which was also a first for the kids. Our trip to Disneyland was a memorable one, and a trip our family will never forget. We enoyed each of the mild winter days at home, and took many long walks with the dogs along the canal bank and around our fields. We also traveled to Dillon, Montana where the kids competed in the annual Dillon Fiddle Contest. Grace, Russell and Kate all played, and Grace won the junior-junior division.
March brought warmer, longer days. I was able to start some of my spring chores like pruning raspberries and cleaning up the yard. David fertilized and rotatilled my garden, pruned, and cut down a few overgrown trees in our orchard. While Russell enoyed riding his dirt bike around the farm and getting covered in mud, Grace participated in a dance group with two local senior girls, and had her final performance this month. Grace, Lily, and Kate also continued to enjoy their gymnastics class in Blackfoot. The kids and dogs enjoyed being able to play outdoors more often, and they even got new kites to fly in the grain field.
David kept busy working on farm equipment, getting in ready for farming season, and working with another local farmer, instally precision planting equipment. Sherelle spent many hours working in the greenhouse, tending to plants and planting new seeds for the upcoming gardening season. Grace continued to work hard on practicing fiddle tunes and preparing for Nationals, and she took a sewing class from a sweet local friend, and she sewed her first skirt. She also got a wild hair decided to have her mother cut bangs for her.
Our whole family enjoyed the Easter season by coloring eggs and participating in egg hunts and family traditions to celebrate the holiday.
We continued garden preparations by working in the greenhouse, and David built a raised bed around my strawberry patch. We enjoyed even more time outdoors, and we even went to the skate park for homeschool "recess" a few times. Shelby and I went to see the Kingston Trio in Pocatello, which we really enjoyed.
Our whole family took a trip to Spokane, WA, where Grace competed in the Northwest Regionals Fiddle Contest. This wasn't her best contest, and she placed 3rd, but she learned some very important lessons from the contest that helped her throughout her other contests this year. We were able to visit Brenden and Danielle while we were in Spokane, and it was fun to spend time with them.
The kids got really serious about building their treehouses in the large poplar trees on the farm. This was the beginning of months of hard work building their treehouse. The kids also took their homeschools and finished their classes ahead of schedule. It was so nice to be out of school early, so that we could spend more time on all of our spring chores. Kate and I planted all of our flower pots early, and got them going in the greenhouse. David was busy getting everything lined up for a busy farming season, and spent much of the later part of the month planting potatoes. Russell and David both celebrated birthdays this month. David turned 34 and Russ turned 10 years old. He had his first ever "friend" party, and we took them to iJump.
While David continued planting potatoes, we kept busy with house and yard chores. Once all of the potatoes were in the ground, Russell and David were able to go Paddle fishing in Montana with my dad.Shelby graduated from Hillcrest High School as class Valedictorian, and we were so proud of her!
Our farm also got a special new addition. Molly, a baby miniature Tennesse fainting goat, was abandoned by her mother and needed a new home. We were happy to adopt her and bottle feed her, but all too soon, she became very ill and we were worried she might die. After a trip to the vet, and lots of love, she finally got better and has been such a fun addition to our family.
We got our corn patch all planted, and we even found time amongst all of the busy spring chores to go to the hills for a picnic. David also started cultivating potates and logged many hours in the tractor. We planted most of the garden and worked hard to get the farm and yards all cleaned up and ready for grandpa Barry's 70th birthday party. David also custom built the kids a GIANT trampoline.Towards the end of the month, the potatoes popped out of the ground.
We celebrated my 34th birthday, and continued on with all of the yard, garden, and farm chores that kept us super busy. We enjoyed family time together outdoors, and even invited my parents down for a nice weiny roast. The kids started the summer tradition of slip n sliding on our redneck waterslide and continued to log hours and hours on the slide with cousins throughout the summer.
We traveled to Weiser for the National Oldtime Fiddle Contest, where Grace won 3rd place in the Junior Junior division. We were so proud of her and her accomplishment. Coming home, there were so many chores to catch up on, and the garden was really starting to grow. The kids kept busy helping me weed the garden and do all of our chores, as well as finding plenty of time to explore outside and enjoy the life of being farm kids. We even snuck away one day to Blacktail with grandma Sheri to play in the water and beach out.
David was very busy this month, watching and caring for all of his crops and their irrigation. He also had the huge task of having his work crew move a set of grain bins to a new location. We celebrated the Fourth of July with family and friends, and spent lots of time on the slip n slide. Some of the first fruits of our labors in the garden finally were ready, and we enjoyed fresh peas and potatoes and many other yummy things from the garden.
Aunt Shelby was in the orchestra of South Pass, the musical, and the kids and I traveled to Jackson Hole, WY, to watch her perform. Our family was also able to go camping in Paris Springs with the Sponenburgh's, and we also went boating at Bear Lake.
David and I took a special trip with Barry and Elaine to Kodiak Island, Alaska, where we went fishing. It was a very memorable trip, especially when I caught a 100 lb. Halibut! We returned home to a garden bursting with produce, and a slew of golden ripe grain fields, ready to harvest. David was soon busy in the grain harvest. The kids and I kept super busy canning and preserving garden produce, and feeding the grain harvest crew. We were lucky enough to make it back to Jackson Hole for the Jackson fiddle contest at the end of the month, where Grace won first place in her division.
Garden harvest was at an all time high, and I was up to my elbows in fresh produce. We canned and froze many things to use throughout the winter. David finished up a successful grain harvest, and started to focus on the upcoming potato harvest by working on equipment. Grace and I took a little shopping trip to Utah with my mom and sister. We decided to give public school another try, and the kids headed back to school for the first time in two years.
Grace had her 12th birthday, and our family all got together for annual tradition of freezing corn. Russell started his football season, and loved every minute of it! He has a real natural talent for football, and we enjoyed watching him play all fall.
Even though I sent the kids off to school, I still didn't find much free time, as I continued to work in the yard and garden, and help David on the farm when possible. August was also a very sad month for our family. We experienced a lot of heartache when our sweet dog June went missing. We cried so many tears and spent hours searching for her. Just over a week later, our neighbor found her dead under his tree. Meanwhile, May became very sick and ended up in the vet overnight. She was very sick, but we thought she was getting better. One morning, we woke up and she was dead in our yard. The heartache we experienced from the death of these two animals was almost unbearable at times. I never understood how people could get so attched to animals, but now, it is something that I completely understand. We will never forget the love of these two sweet dogs.
This month proved to be as busy as the past few years. We went to the state fair and took the kids to the tractor pulls for the first time, and Russell was super excited about the opening of dove season. He (and even Lily), enjoyed going dove hunting with dad and grandpa. Lily, Kate and Grace started tumbling classes at a new gym, and they are advancing so quickly. They look forward to gym every week! I also started volunteering in Kate's classroom each week. I have enjoyed getting to know her teacher and classmates, and of course, spending time with my sweet Kate.
David set up a tree stand in our orchard and got a deer with his bow and arrow. The deer had been targeting the plums and pears in our orchard for weeks, and he was proud to have gotten a deer for the first time in our own backyard.
I had tons of help from family canning the bushels and bushels of tomatoes my plants gave me this year. I was so thankful for all of their help. We started potato harvest a little early this year, digging Norakota potatoes that never went into storage, but were hauled off straight from the field. I fed the harvest crew lunch for the first week. Soon, we trasitioned into regular potato harvest, and the kids were out of school for two weeks. Grace and Russell worked very hard picking clods this year, and were even featured in the Farm and Ranch section of the local newspaper. We all kept busy picking clods when needed, and feeding the large harvest crew lunch and dinner each day. It was a sucessful harvest, and we later sold the potatoes at the top of the market, which was a first for us.
Lily and Kate both celebrated their birthdays during harvest. Lily turned 8 and Kate 7 years old. Kate's one birthday wish was to have her dogs back. Though we knew that wasn't possible, we heard that David's cousin had a new litter of puppies, and one thing lead to another, and suddenly, he showed up with two sweet puppies for our family. They are mini Australian Shepherds, and the kids named them Gabby and Grizz.
We finished up potato harvest this month, and we were so relieved to have that done. We continued to enjoy going to Russell's football games. We began cleaning out the garden and getting everything done around the farm so that it would be ready for winter. Lily also started piano lessons, and she has loved learning to play the piano.
The fall colors were so beautiful this year, and I especially enjoyed photographing all of fall's beauty. Russ enjoyed deer hunting and fishing with daddy and grandpa, and all of us girls snuck away for annual girls shopping trip in Salt Lake. The boys had a fun fishing adventure to Fort Peck, Montana where they caught lots of fish.
I sewed Halloween costumes for the kids, and we enjoyed the school carnival, carving pumpkins, visiting grandparents, and trunk or treat. This was the first time Grace has been gone on Halloween...she went to Boise with grandma and grandpa Russell to babysit Tawsha's kids. She enjoyed spending time with her cute little cousins.
The month of November just flew by. I don't even know where the month went. We were so glad to have it cold outside...and to have a break from all of our work. It was quite nice to not have a yard to mow, a garden to weed, or fields to tend to. Maybe that's why the month flew by so quick...we were just all zombies trying to catch up on our rest from the busy summer and fall.
We traveled to my sister's house in Boise for Thanksgiving, and enjoyed a great holiday with family, eating, playing and shopping. I was also able to accompany Kate's school class on their field trip to the guitar museum, and teach a beginning photography class at Grace's school.
We also had a sweet new cousin born into the family this year. Ashley and Todd gave birth to a sweet baby boy, Oliver, and we are so happy to have another baby in the family! David has still kept busy by loading trucks of grain to be hauled to the mill.
As always, December also flew by. With all of the holiday preparations and celebrations, the month dissappeared. I spent plenty of time preparing and shopping for Christmas, but I was glad to be able to enjoy a few fun shopping days with my mom. There were so many school and church holiday activities. I especially enjoyed watching Russell play a wise man in our church nativity, listening to Grace play Christmas music, and listening to Lily and Kate sing in their Christmas program. I had the pleasure to help in both Lily and Kate's school Christmas parties. I also helped my parents with the annual Russell Family Christmas party which they were in charge of this year. It was fun to see my sister and her kids again before Christmas, and to be ablet to have Christmas Eve parties with both David a my families.
I am so grateful for the birth of the Savior, and for the gifts that God has given to me and to our family. Sometimes I feel like time is just slipping between my fingers. I feel like the days are so full of work and play, and it feels like a year happens in a blink. I feel like so many things are out of my control, and I'm a control freak. I'm also a perfectionist, and quite honestly, I'm very aware that most everything in my life is not perfect, and it never will be. I'm trying to learn to let go of the things I can't control. I'm trying to remember that the most important things in my life are growing so fast that I don't have time for perfection. How grateful I am for my husband and my children. They are the most important things in my life, and I pray that I can be the best mother and wife that I can be for them, despite my imperfections. I am so grateful for parents, siblings, in-laws, friends and neighbors that make my life so full. I am thankful for the love that each of them shows to not only me, but to my family. I'm grateful for those that help our family farm survive. Thankful for the hours of hard work and dedication. Especially for my husband who spend endless hours to support our family and provide a good life for us.
I'm setting a few goals for the new year. Not really resolutions, but just goals. I want to be a better mother. More patient, more loving. A better wife. Less time attached to my phone or the internet. Let go of some of the things I can't control. Criticize less and praise more. Drink more water and less soda. Love more, and enjoy more time outdoors. I think that a new year is a new gift, and I hope to make the most of mine, enjoying it with my wonderful family. Enjoying work and play, and remembering, that where much is given, much is required. Happy 2014!