2018 // Our Year in Review

Somehow it’s the last day of December and 2018 is coming to a close. I can’t believe the holidays are already over, but honestly, this year was a long one. I cried a lot and experienced more heartache than ever before. But as I was going through my planner to write this, I remembered that there was a lot of good, too. We had so many people come visit us in California this year and we made a concerted effort to get out and do fun things. We didn't make our goal of leaving the country as a family but we traveled more than ever, visited new places, and made so many new friends. While it was the hardest year of my life and much of it was spent grieving, it was also a very, very blessed (and full!) year. Last year I loved writing our month by month year end review, so here I go again :) 

Our year started off uncertainly with Chris being unemployed. Most of January was spent job hunting, interviewing, and hanging out at home together. We called it “funemployment” but those few weeks were pretty stressful. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long and Chris was hired to work at Apple. We said good-bye to the little apartment where we brought Emi home and where I painted an accent wall with my mom. This was also when things started happening with Emi. Two days before we moved, Emi started having seizures. Our pediatrician set up appointments for an EEG and a pediatric neurologist closer to our new place. Chris started his new job and life in our new city began!

Emi had her first EEG and while we were worried, it was uneventful. Chris started to get settled into his new job and we starting meeting new friends through church! Our neurology appointment didn’t go well and we were sent to the hospital for more tests. We spent four days there, only to leave with an epilepsy diagnosis, cause unknown. New friends invited us to a fancy potluck on Valentine’s Day, my mom came to visit, and we moved again because the previous tenant in our apartment was a smoker and that was a major no-go for us. 
After not having one for almost a year, we bought a car!! More EEGs, more appointments, and more medication for Emi. We met with the genetic counselor for the first time and got a tentative but devastating diagnosis of CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder. We took Emi to a mini zoo and she slept through the whole thing. We settled into our new apartment, had game nights with friends, and felt so much support from our church family after receiving the hard news. 
My two friends from high school, my in-laws, and my dad all came to visit! We received Emi’s official diagnosis of CDKL5. We went hiking, went on dates, and went mini golfing with friends. Emi was given a beautiful baby blessing in Utah the same weekend Chris walked and “officially” graduated. 
We went to a Cinco de Mayo party, explored the beach, and flew to Washington for a quick trip to see my brother’s family! Occupational and physical therapy started in full swing for Emi. We had a last minute BBQ with friends for Memorial Day and we went to Joe Hisaishi’s symphony concert and loved every minute of it! 

We started swim lessons, went strawberry picking, and went hiking with friends! Old friends/roommates from college came to visit so we explored the city and ate a ton of good food. We went to Denver for the International CDKL5 conference with Chris’ parents where we made friends and learned more about the genetic disorder. 
We went camping with Emi for the first time! We visited the library often, celebrated the fourth of July with a BBQ with friends + watching fireworks from the car, and Chris’ mom came for a visit. We went to Tilden Park in Berkeley with cousins and our favorite Thai restaurant in Oakland! 

Emi and I went to Seattle to visit family and go to a high school friend’s wedding! We met Emi's two new cousins, went blueberry picking, and went to my grandma’s house! Then we flew straight to Utah for Chris’ sister’s wedding (it was a busy week). Emi got her bright yellow helmet and there was more therapy, swim lessons, and beach exploring. 
We started the month off by spending Labor Day weekend at Lake Tahoe with friends! Emi visited a specialty clinic for kids with similar disorders, Grammy came to visit, and Chris and I took a flying trapeze class. The month ended with an unexpected trip to Utah for Chris’ grandpa’s funeral. 
We celebrated my birthday with a picnic at the park, went to the pumpkin patch, and explored a new farmer’s market! All four grandparents came into town to celebrate Emi’s first birthday, which we celebrated by having brunch at the park with friends. Then my friend Aubrey came to visit for almost a full week! We went to two Halloween parties and we dressed up as Gru, Scarlett Overkill, and a minion :)
We had lots of dinners with friends, game nights, and we celebrated Chris’ birthday with super fun weekend trip! Then my brother and sister-in-law came into town and we showed them around San Jose. We flew to Washington for Thanksgiving and spent a week holding babies, enjoying the rain, eating way too much food, and together with family.
We spent lots of time in Christmas pajamas and watching Christmas movies. We went to the Creche exhibit in Palo Alto (a bunch of nativities from around the world on display) and Bethlehem in Santa Clara (a reenactment of Christ's birth). We decorated gingerbread cookies and hosted a Christmas gift exchange! We flew to Utah for Christmas, celebrated our wedding anniversary, and soaked in the rest of 2018. 


Our Utah Christmas 2018

I'm currently in that cozy space between Christmas and New Years where all I want to do is relax and eat chocolate and it feels goood. We spent our Christmas in Utah but we flew back to California yesterday and it's so nice to just be home together. It was a happy Christmas spent with family and doing fun things! We felt really blessed this year to be with family, to have gifts, and to be in a warm home. So many don't get that kind of holiday and I know I take it for granted sometimes.

We tried to squeeze in as much as we could while we were there! We went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet, made gingerbread cookies, and decorated the tree! I went to a Christmas play The Forgotten Carols, we played games, and had our third annual "Casual Christmas" with friends. There were lots of deep, thought-provoking conversations about health, religion, and true happiness, plenty of good food, and hanging out in pajamas.

Emi cried quite a bit and didn't sleep well during our trip but I kept feeling grateful that she was with us. She had a seizure on Christmas Day (and honestly on most of the other days, too) and slept almost the entire morning but I was grateful we weren't in the hospital and that Emi wasn't struggling with anything extra. There were a few times when I needed some time alone to process what I was feeling but I've learned that if I let myself be sad and really feel it (rather than avoid it), it helps in the long run. Overall though, it was a very merry Christmas :)
^^Emi and I went to Utah ahead of Chris. She cried the entire night before so I was really nervous for the flight, but overall she did amazingly well! 
^^We got to see lots of friends! So excited for the Hutchinsons and their little twins on the way!
^^a cold morning walk with Emi. She liked the fresh air and playing on the swing with me :)
^^Chris' mom loves tennis so she asked the whole family to do a lesson together. So we did! I probably enjoyed dancing to the music more than actually playing but it was fun! Emi fell asleep in her stroller on the sidelines with Grammy.
^^Christmas pajamas with my favorites. We bought these last year and I hope we wear them for years to come!
^^Emi's new trick. She eventually figured out how to put her pinkie in as well ;)
^^Meeting little Simon at five days old! Our friends had their baby but still came to our annual "Casual Christmas" party to see us! Somehow I didn't get a picture of all of us and I'm bummed. But we played lots of games, talked about babies, and ate lots of treats.
^^My heart in a picture. Also, babies in beanies are the best.
^^Celebrating three years of marriage in the mountains!
^^Chris took me skiing! He has been skiing his whole life and has wanted to teach me since we got married so we made it happen this year!
^^Such a newbie.
^^Until next time Utah!


Thanksgiving week in Washington

We went to Washington to visit my family for Thanksgiving and since Chris got the entire week off, we got to be there for an extra few days! It's been an adjustment this week, getting back into the routine and going to all of Emi's "piled up" therapy appointments but it was so nice to spend time with family. My parents' house got a little crowded at one point but we were extra blessed to have everyone there this year.   

Thanksgiving day itself was surprisingly relaxed. Chris, Emi, and I went on a long walk in the morning and everyone got all of the food ready in the early afternoon. My mom was in charge of the pies (she makes the best pie) and potatoes, my older brother did the turkey, and I did the green beans and sweet potatoes. This year we did something a little different and I loved it. We had the usual turkey dinner, but we did temaki sushi as well. So right next to the turkey we had raw fish, rice, and seaweed ;) (temaki means hand rolled. Basically, you have all the ingredients for sushi laid out and you make your own roll). It was our first time doing it and judging by how popular it was, it probably won't be our last! I didn't take any pictures of the food but oh well. Everything tasted amazing!

Our family is a hang out, eat leftovers, and play board games kind of family but we decided to all do two things together this year: go on a hike and go to the temple together. And we did! With three babies and a toddler, we weren't sure how it would all go but it ended up working out great. Our time at the temple together was so special and a good reminder on the importance of family. Our hike was rainy and too short but so refreshing. We went on a very short hike since we didn't know how the babies would do but all three stayed nice and cozy in their carriers :) Hopefully, next time we'll be able to brave it for a little longer. Living away from it, sometimes I forget just how green it is in the northwest. It is so beautiful and it just takes my breath away sometimes.

Here are some iphone pictures we took over the week (although most of them are from the hike). Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and I can't believe Christmas is so close!!
^^He wanted to sit by her but I told him she would probably kick him. And when she did, he just laughed and said "She kicked me!"
^^Their cousin relationship is sweet. 
^^my twin nieces!

^^those bear ears! I didn't think I would love that little coat as much as I do :)
 ^^temple selfie with the fam.

^^skipping rocks in the rain.

^^hanging out with Aubrey, just watching the football game.
^^Thanksgiving day naps. Her sleepy smiles are just so cute!
^^pajama party! 
^^love this little family of mine.