2021: A Year in Review

31 December 2021

I have been writing these year-in-review posts since 2012, the year John and I were married. They’re often a feat to push out, publishing as they do in the last week of the year, when family time is the priority and free time is scarce. But they’re also always worth it. These are some of our favorite posts to look back on, because even though the contours of our years might have similar curves – we’ve been picking strawberries since that first year, after all – the particulars change memorably.

I’m not sure if I’m just lucky or optimistic or delusional (maybe a bit of all three?), but my family and my faith make it easy to see the bright side of even a tough year. Thanks for taking a walk down memory lane alongside me before we turn our eyes to 2022…

We kicked off the year by celebrating our best five-year-old and with a first project from the now-famous baking book: cake pops! The kids scraped together enough snow in our one dusting to create a snow alien and I struggled to formulate and share my 2021 goals amidst the fatigue of the first trimester. I also (finally!) finished our happy upstairs bathroom refresh.

On the blog, I shared my 2021 reading list as well as this funny little post about research studies that seemed to encapsulate for many of you what you love about EFM.

There were celebrations of all kinds in February! We celebrated my birthday here on the blog with a two-part Q&A, we celebrated Valentine’s Day with the most fun mailbox, and we celebrated a normal anatomy scan and finding out we were adding a sweet baby girl to our family!!! On the blog, I shared one of my most memorable posts from the year, at least in my mind.

In March we planted our garden, assembled Easter baskets to donate and Easter baskets for our own kiddos, and took one of our favorite trips of the year, our spring break jaunt to Jekyll Island. I got a little more pep in my step as I moved into the second trimester and had the blog posts to prove it, including sharing the news of our third baby, a lengthy post on deciding to have a third child, screen-free road trip tips, my skincare routine, and how I organize kids’ clothing.

We kicked off April by worshiping outdoors for Easter, a true delight! This was our first time back at church since the pandemic began and was long awaited. We ate many meals outside, cheered June on at soccer, and took the first of many trips to the strawberry patch. I enjoyed the sweet spot of pregnancy, when it wasn’t too hot and I wasn’t too large or tired :) On the blog, I finally posted another Marvelous Money installment: Investing 101!

Life in May was very sweet, as recorded in this post! We took advantage of the beautiful weather to pick more strawberries, picnic, cheer at a Bulls game, fly kites, and visit many flower gardens and playgrounds. We took a weekend trip to Charlottesville to meet up with John’s sister and family, we took maternity family photos, and June finally cashed in her tea and pedicures Christmas present, one of my favorite memories of the year. Of course, life took a turn at the end of May when John ruptured his Achilles’ tendon while playing tennis. He attended June’s preschool graduation on crutches and went in for surgery the next day.

On the blog, I shared some of our favorite dad’s wardrobe favorites just in time for Father’s Day.

June! I think this month was a sweet spot for many of us, coming as it did with the ease of COVID in many parts of the country. I feel so grateful we were able to gather safely for our backyard garden party and celebrate the arrival of three new babies. We counted down to Annie’s arrival with pool trips, blueberry picking, our niece staying with us for a week to attend pony camp with June, and enjoying my parents’ extended stay as best we could.

On the blog, we chatted about introducing a new sibling to the family.

July was the turning point of our year, as we welcomed our youngest daughter, Susanna Liberty, into the family just eight days into the month. We are still praising God for a healthy pregnancy and healthy delivery, albeit in less-than-ideal surroundings :) Once discharged from the hospital, July was spent with both John and I on parental leave, soaking up our squishy baby and adjusting to life as a family of five. June had the biggest adventure of any of us: she traveled to Maine with my family for her first solo trip to the Island just a week after Annie was born. We missed her so much, but she had the BEST time with cousins and grandparents and aunts and uncles!

On the blog, I shared a slightly-neurotic breakdown of how I get things done and the meaning of Annie’s name.

Blog posts were scarce in August, but lots of life was happening at home! John went back to work after six weeks of leave (although still mostly from home), June started kindergarten, and I adjusted again to a new daily rhythm (with smoothies). I dropped almost entirely off of Instagram as we prepared for elementary school (including with a back-to-school dinner!), but I did squeeze in a post of fall outfit inspiration. I’m pleased to report I’ve had fun adding a little variety to my daily looks in the second half of the year!

September marked the official close of summer, and we looked ahead to fall with John back on his feet (hooray!). We actually checked off everything on our seasonal fun list except a visit to the Museum, including a long-awaited trip to WaterColor with John’s extended family. It was a dream! More about our stop in Decatur on the way down, too. And June lost her first tooth! And we got to ride on Thomas for Shep’s birthday!

We celebrated 13 years of blogging on EFM with a rather epic three-part series: on nuts and bolts, on content, and a grab bag. Those were some of my favorite posts to write, and I think some of your favorites to read, but man, they wiped me out!

I returned to work in October just in time for the PowerSheets launch and with reduced hours (down to 30 per week). The adjustment has gone smoothly on the home front – drop offs and pick ups and our daily schedule are falling into place as I’d hoped, though we continue to fine-tune! – but it’s been a steeper curve at work, where I’m still trying to figure out what can stay and what must go in a shorter amount of time each day. I’m grateful to have the challenge, though, and God has truly given our entire team so much grace and mercy as we closed out the year.

We celebrated six years of Articles Club in October – one of the joys of my life! – squeezed in a backyard camping trip with the Rays, ate our way around the State Fair, and carried off my favorite family Halloween costume yet. (I think we’ve peaked.) We also took one of my favorite trips of the year, to Black Mountain, which I haven’t recapped yet but will soon. It was a little slice of magic!

We wrapped up Shep’s first soccer season in November and June began ballet and tap again after a pandemic-hiatus. We made our first gratitude tree and were VERY grateful to bring home our new family car after a five-month wait (!). We finally hosted June’s first sidewalk bakery and closed out the month celebrating Thanksgiving at our brother- and sister-in-law’s new home in Virginia with grandparents, too.

December saw the return of several of our favorite holiday traditions, including our town’s Christmas parade and pancake breakfast, the Nutcracker with cousins, and our favorite Duke Chapel Christmas concert with the Rays. We ended the year with a double-dose of Christmas: Christmas Eve and morning with my parents and sister here in North Carolina, then hopping in the car on Christmas afternoon for a week in Connecticut with John’s family. Annie even got to meet my grandmother (her great-grandmother) for the first time, which was the sweetest capstone to 2021.

Friends, thank you for indulging me. No matter the year, these posts are such a treat for me to write, and always some of my favorites to look back on years later. They help me to notice the good things, do my best to facilitate more of them, and remember to thank God for every delight (and for being with us in the struggles) along the way.

I know I’ve said it before, but I am SO excited for what we’ll discuss here in 2022. Thank you for being here, and for sharing so generously with me! It’s one of the delights of my life. Wishing you a healthy, happy, and abundant new year. My 2022 goals are just about ready to share, so I’ll see you soon! :)

2020 year in review
2019 year in review
2018 year in review
2017 year in review
2016 year in review
2015 year in review
2014 year in review
2013 year in review
2012 year in review

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January 3, 2022 9:48 am

I love this so much! Excited for 2022 and Happy New Year!

January 3, 2022 7:14 pm

What sweet memories! Excited to see what 2022 has in store for you!

Abigail Gray
January 4, 2022 3:30 pm

Love your years in review – I want to start doing my own version, too! Happy New Year and cheers to 2022!