This is my tenth year-in-review post. My first came in 2012, which was certainly a good year to start: it was the year we were married, the official beginning of the life of our family. Each year together since has held its share of joys and pleasures, sadness and disappointments. Looking back in intentional ways – marking the time with reflections like these – has helped me to take what I can from each year, to appreciate what it had to offer, to learn what it had to give, to acknowledge the hard and appreciate the good.
I read recently that our lives are what we give our attention to. These posts are my way of giving a little attention to the year of my life I just lived. Thank you, as always, for indulging me!
We kicked off the year by celebrating our best six year old with a day trip to the beach – it’s not often we get to celebrate a January birthday with 70-degree weather! Annie tried solid food for the first time, we got enough snow to go sledding, and we persevered through ridiculously-low temps for an outside Articles Club in the midst of another COVID wave. On the blog, I shared my 2022 goals and reading list as well as our top ten meals of 2021, thanks to my record-keeping neuroses.
In February, the COVID wave crested in our house when our littlest brought it home from daycare and we all fell one by one. Thankfully, our cases were mild, but we suffered through the awful cascade all working parents know well, of sick kids and sick parents, and days missed from school and work. We did manage to make some cute valentines in the midst of it, though :)
March saw our triumphant return to Duke Gardens after COVID restrictions were lifted, and that visit was emblematic of spring springing as a whole: my camera roll shows lots of time outside this month! March was also the month I surprised John with tickets to see Nate Bargatze, a date night that tickled me to no end. On the blog, I shared about our first weekend away as a family of five (to Black Mountain!) and the other names we considered for our children (I think this post might win for most comments of the year!).
April was a delight, and many of its pleasures were captured in our first filming of Annie in April: strawberry picking, a return to Jekyll Island for spring break, seeing our beloved babysitter in her senior year musical, a spring flower party, celebrating Easter with our church. John also buzzed his hair for the first time and Cultivate’s acquisition talks began, both momentous in their own way.
On EFM, I masqueraded as a fashion blogger.
In May we finally made good on two Christmas gifts: an overnight girls’ trip to the American Girl store in Charlotte, and a train trip to Durham! Annie was dedicated at our church, Shep had his first playdate ever with his very best friend, and – in less exciting news – the drive belt on our Telluride failed, kicking off a six-week period without our family car. On the blog, I shared six favorite parts of my evening routine.
Off to the mountains! We celebrated ten years of camping with the Rays in glamping style, a highlight of the year. I got to volunteer at June’s field day before wrapping up her first year (and beginning her first summer) of elementary school. Kristin and I assisted Lisa for the day at her big Maylis shoot and I spoke about “everyday magic” to a hundred local moms. We celebrated Juneteenth with a visit to Hammocks Beach State Park, a local treasure that had been on our NC bucket list since we moved here. And on the last day of the month, Cultivate officially changed hands.
July was bookended with trips: first to Michigan, with 33 Thomas family members and Annie’s first birthday, and then to Maine, with a Sunday service led by me. Both were as golden as always (it was nearly impossible to narrow down these photos). In between, we tucked in birthday peach cobbler for John, a camping-themed birthday party for Shep, and Cultivate’s biggest photo shoot of the year. Unsurprisingly with all that action, I eked out just two blog posts in addition to my monthly goals, including my mid-year goals review.
With the tail end of our trip to Maine and a week in Connecticut, my camera roll was almost entirely blue and green in August. Looking back on the photos, I can’t believe I didn’t name the week in Maine one of my favorite trips of the year – it was packed with such sweet memories. And Connecticut, with a visit to my family’s farm and a particularly memorable date night in Mystic, wasn’t far behind. We also bought paddle boards and took them for their inaugural spin before we celebrated the first day of school. In the midst of it all, this was by far my most challenging month at work as we weathered some of the rockiest aftermath of the acquisition. (I also transitioned to part-time, which was unrelated.)
On the blog, I shared my first year baby gear picks after three kids (I promise part two is coming in 2023!).
September! Work finally kicked off on our kitchen refresh (in the works since January!); the first phase happened while John and I were in Mexico (not Bermuda). Our tenth-anniversary trip was a forever memory we are so grateful for. Around the edges, we moved things in and out of our kitchen cabinets and enjoyed a really awesome soccer season for the older kids. On the blog, I wrote about family movie night and how we handled summer as two working parents.
Sickness struck again in October, as June, I, and John fell in succession to the flu. Absolutely brutal. Thankfully, the two littles, who had already gotten their flu shots because of when their well-checks fell, stayed strong! (Let this be a lesson to us all to get our flu shots early and often ;)) On a positive note, our kitchen refresh crossed the finish line (praise!) and our mountain trip to Highlands was a delight. On the blog, I shared everything we read in Articles Club this year as well as part one of my working part-time series.
We celebrated a (chilly!) major milestone for our church in November; this felt like the sweetest cap to our first year in the community. We headed to Virginia for Thanksgiving with the whole Thomas crew for a turkey trot, lots of card games, and cousin time, then snagged our tree on the way home. A few days later, Annie and I spent much of the Duke Chorale Christmas concert outside, since she could not hang in an echo-y chapel :)
December, like much of this year, was full. Honestly, when I detailed month after month for this post, the pace felt somewhat relentless – I had several moments where I had to double-check dates to make sure all that I was describing actually happened in the same month. The most beautiful thing, though? The pace of our life almost never felt relentless in the moment. Usually, it felt rather slow, ordinary, and yes, full. For that, among so many other things, I am grateful.
Friends, I know I’ve said it before, but I am SO excited for what we’ll discuss here in 2023. 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 2023 goals are just about ready to share, so I’ll see you soon! :)