Year in Review – 2013

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Last year I resolved to truly live, to be in the moment rather than looking back or waiting for the next thing, to say yes more, to do life with joy.

Two-thousand thirteen was a hard year, but looking back, I actually think I (mostly) stuck to my resolution! Did I play more board games with the kids? Maybe not. But I did get off my butt to go biking, swimming, camping, hiking, walking, and more with them and my handsome man. Did I take more time for coffee with friends? Maybe not. But I did try, and I feel okay with that. Did I start living in today and embracing the moment? Yeah, I think I did! Instead of dreading the crazy days with appointments and activities, grumping my way through to bedtime, I had fun and embraced the pace of life. I’m still having fun, in fact.

Here’s a little recap of the year 2013…

January – Pat and I had a weekend in Arizona to celebrate his brother’s 40th. I need to run away to warm climates more often! I had my first Break Forth that was fully “mine,” from booking the speakers and bands to riding out the wild and crazy weekend.


Our resort in AZ. Sigh.

You may recall that Megan (then 9) was diagnosed with Celaic’s Disease in the summer of 2012. By Christmas we had added Shea (then 7) to the roster of celiacs in our family. This was my first month with two gluten-free children. Turns out it’s easier to have two! We added a second refrigerator to our kitchen to hold solely gluten-free goods. Shea handled the change in stride.

February – We discovered that Braeden (then 14), who was previously diagnosed with mild hearing loss in his left ear, was struggling to hear at all in that ear. Thus began a six-month journey of appointments, assessments, and adjustments.

March – While friends were on a mission trip in Africa, their four kids stayed with us for eight days. It was a little bit of chaos and a little bit of fun! After that, I headed to Florida with my parents. My mom was “working” there and we all stayed with my aunt. She played tour guide and took us to see alligators, dolphins, Universal Studios, and St. Augustine. I had so much fun that I’ve been plotting and planning how to get back with the whole family! As soon as I got home, our family went on a ski trip in the mountains (climate shock). We discovered that it’s REALLY HARD to ski with 5 kids. But, we might just try it again this spring.

Tyler & Lori (aunt) ready to see some gators.

Tyler & Lori (aunt) ready to see some gators.

Slow and steady down our first green run.

Slow and steady down our first green run.

April – I took the kids to the dentist over spring break. We discovered that Malakai (then 5) had 11 or so cavities and required dental surgery to deal with them all. He now has 5 “robot teeth” with silver caps and a mother who is obsessed with making him floss and brush.

Abbey (11) was struggling at school. Not academically, but with the demon we all hear about and hope we never have to deal with – bullying. She had been dealing with it on and off for nearly 2 years, but it seemed to be escalating dramatically since Christmas. She became depressed and we sought the help of a Christian counsellor. Before month’s end, Pat and I made the decision to remove Abbey from school and homeschool her for the remainder of the year.

This month, I made the difficult decision to leave my job at Break Forth. It had been almost 2 years of me working, and it still felt like I was drowning at home. Housework, laundry, meals – they weren’t getting done. (Except the parts that Pat was doing!) I was dropping balls all over the place, and all sorts of stuff was going down with the kids that wasn’t really being dealt with. I felt that God was telling me He needed me at home.

May – This was the month of Braeden (now 15). Tests and appointments related to the suspected hearing loss (CT scan, audiologists, specialists)… Dental and orthodontic appointments to figure out why one of his 12 year molars still hadn’t erupted, with likely surgery. Surgery to correct a wrist turned the wrong way. The wrist surgery was optional (more cosmetic than functional), so we waiting until Braeden was old enough to decide he wanted it done. Even at that, it was very difficult and painful (for him and his Momma). With each appointment, I found myself increasingly grateful that I was able to be home and deal with things.

Our family also discovered the awesomeness of BMX bike racing this month! Malakai and Shea (8) geared up and raced twice a week for two months. Abbey tried a couple times, but after a painful wipeout she wasn’t interested in “getting back on the horse.”

And the racers are off! One of them is one of my kids, I think.

And the racers are off! One of them is one of my kids, I think.

June – More appointments for Braeden this month, including being prescribed two hearing aids. He was diagnosed with profound hearing loss in the left ear and mild to moderate in the right. I was invited to speak at a women’s event this month, and shared the message “From Ugly Duckling to Swan.” I cannot begin to express the joy I felt at doing something I feel that God has called me to do!

July – Pat’s brother, sister-in-law, and their 3 kids were here for a couple weeks. (They live in Reno, Nevada, so when we get to see them it’s a big deal!) We camped and visited, biked and quadded, and had a month of good, ol’ fun! Alberta had experienced devastating flooding the month before, and we were able to see the after-effects in the area of the mountains where we camped. The forces of nature are unbelievable powerful…

That's a lot of Rowans!

That’s a lot of Rowans!

August – We started off the month celebrating the marriage of a good friend (one of the guys who was in Haiti with us in Jan 2012). An exchange student from Japan lived with us for the month, as well. Shotaro (16) had fun trying out some camping and BMX biking. He took a shine to Malakai and they became “extreme sport buddies” for the month.

Our "borrowed" son, Shotaro.

Our “borrowed” son, Shotaro.

September – This month, September of 2013, had always represented “true freedom” in my mind. This was the year our youngest was in grade one and our oldest began high school (grade 10), and I was going to have all the time in the world for cleaning my house, coffee with friends, volunteering at the school, and so on. Except that we decided to homeschool Abbey for her grade 6 year, so that we could help her build some “God-confidence” – confidence in who He created her to be, so that the opinions of others wouldn’t be so crushing. Farewell, sweet freedom!

After a nearly two-year break from extra-curricular activities, we decided it was time to jump back in. This decision was spurred by our BMX racing experience, where we saw how great it was for our whole family to be out, getting exercise and having fun. Malakai chose indoor soccer; Shea chose minor hockey; Megan chose to try fencing; Abbey wanted to continue the vocal lessons she began in the spring; and Braeden decided he’d like to learn to play the drums.

At the end of this month I spoke at my first women’s retreat! (I didn’t tell them it was my first one, and I hope they couldn’t tell!) The theme was “Metamorphosis.” The experience of building a message that carried through four talks, building over the entire weekend, was like no other. I can’t wait for the next opportunity I have to speak at a retreat!

Tyler speaking at Metamorphosis reatreat.

Tyler speaking at Metamorphosis retreat.

October – As she had on and off for the past year, Megan (10) began complaining of swelling in her fingers and feet. However, the swelling did not seem to be going down, and we could see that she was in pain each morning as she limped/hobbled down the stairs. Thus began another medical adventure, including x-rays, blood work, and more specialists.

Pat had a work conference in Banff, and some wonderful friends of ours offered to stay with the kids so I could go along. I spent an entire day in the spa, and it was beyond wonderful! The mountains are my favourite place. And the beach. I’m pretty sure that Heaven will have hot, summer weather and sandy beaches, in the mountains.

Our happy place, the mountains.

Our happy place, the mountains.

November – I’ve never heard of this anywhere else, but here in Sherwood Park our kids have a week off for “fall break,” right around Remembrance Day. Our family had a staycation, and each day we found something fun to do together. The best discovery was an indoor trampoline park! The kids have been begging to return ever since.

Jump around, jump around, jump up, jump up, and get down!

As for Megan and her joints, we were told that we’d probably get an appointment with a Pediatric Rheumatologist in January. So one Wednesday night I asked our small group to pray that Megan would be seen sooner. Thursday morning I received a call from the specialist’s office – they had a cancellation for Friday! Go, God!

Megan was diagnosed with Juvenile Arthritis. Polyarticular – Rheumatoid Factor Negative Juvenile Arthritis, to be exact (for those who like to google). She was prescribed a non-steriodal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) as well as a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic medication (DMARD). She was also prescribed physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and foot orthotics.

Shea’s hockey team participated in their first tournament – an all-female tournament – and won the gold medal!

Go for gold!

Go for gold!

December – The month of peace on earth and good will toward men. Also known as the month of crazy, hectic, nuttiness. We had Christmas concerts (three of them), Christmas parties, medical appointments, and kids’ activities. And I finally managed to get in a day of volunteering at the school! We rang in the New Year at 10pm (we counted down with New York) and crawled into our warm, cozy beds as the wind and snow blew in a cold front of -35 C outside. A fitting end to the year, I think.

My recap was full of facts and details, and looking at all the new developments in our world seems overwhelming. But through it all, I’ve only been overwhelmed by a sense of peace and rightness. I am where I’m supposed to be for this season of life. I’m doing what I’m able to do and choosing not to feel guilty about what I’m unable to do. The many appointments have provided me with a lot of one-on-one time with a couple of my kids. As has the homeschooling. The activities of the younger two have provided me with the opportunity to cheer for them and celebrate with them. And though many days and months have been hard, there have been lots of good times, fun times, and getaways to relieve any stress.

The year 2013 was long. It was difficult. It was a bit isolating, from both real-life friends and family and you, my online friends. (Oh, how I’ve missed you!) But it was life. And I lived it. I even loved it. Which is exactly what I wanted to do.

But now, I’m ready to move on. Bring it, 2014!

Here we come, 2014!

Here we come, 2014!

How was 2013 for you? What are you most looking forward to for the new year?



  1. 1

    First…you were in St.Augustine????????? Ok, that’s like 20 minutes from my old house in florida. I LOVE St. Augustine. Jon and I used to go there for dates. And whenever someone came down to visit us, we took them there.

    Second…I love when you post. I always enjoy reading about your life and your insights. You year does sound a bit overwhelming. Pretty cool that God kept you in peace and joy during all that.

    Happy 2014.

  2. 2

    Wow! Even though I was kinda around for a lot of this it still looks fairly overwhelming when written down. Looking forward to seeing you for coffee again soon.

  3. 3

    So glad you’re writing again. Keep it up. We need your words and wisdom and winsome stories. And your heart issues. PS to everyone….Tyler was a GREAT retreat speaker! We LOVED her!

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