Best of 2022

30 December 2022

I hope you’ve all had wonderful holidays, friends! We are laying low after a stretch of extended family visits, and it has been sweet. I’m down to the wire to squeeze in the two final blog posts of 2022 – this one and tomorrow’s year-in-review – but I wouldn’t miss them. They help me count the fruit from another precious year, and that’s an opportunity I’ll fight for even in the midst of these full, chaotic, slow post-holiday days. I hope they can serve as an opportunity for a little reflection on your own 2022, if you haven’t had a chance for it yet! In the comments, please share a few of your best memories, finds, and favorites from 2022, if you’d like. As always, I can’t wait to hear!

Best adventure, travel, or trip: Our tenth-anniversary trip Mayakoba in Mexico is an obvious frontrunner here, but our Fourth of July week in Michigan was near perfect. We were so happy to be back after a five-year hiatus and to be with so much dear family. Just looking at the photos makes me grin. We also took an unexpected day trip to the North Carolina coast for June’s January birthday since it happened to be 70 degrees, and I feel like it’s a memory we’ll be talking about for years.

Best book: I read 21 books in 2022, a bit lower than my usual, and that included a higher percentage that I was ambivalent about and one I didn’t finish (rare for me!). Still, there were gems: Hunt, Gather, Parent and The Common Rule for nonfiction, and The Evening and the Morning for fiction (with an honorable mention for my favorite read-aloud with June, The Penderwicks!).

Best TV show: The second season of OMITB was as good as the first. (Steve Martin, I will never quit you.) We also thoroughly enjoyed The Mole, a delightful, clever reboot of the early-2000s cult classic. Severance and Reacher get honorable mentions.

Best movie: After a movie-theater drought, John and I saw Top Gun: Maverick on opening night and it did not disappoint.

Best album, song, or artist:King of Kings” and “All Glory Be to Christ” struck a chord with me this year in the way the best worship songs do. The Arcade Fire is inextricably twined into the narrative of John’s and my relationship (Funeral was the exclusive soundtrack of our first months of dating); their newest album We was on repeat after its May debut. And “Dance With Me Tonight” is just a fun bop that was my pick-me-up song this year.

Best new podcast listen, newsletter subscribe, or blog follow: I subscribed to Laura Wifler’s newsletter earlier this year, and it’s been a once-a-month delight ever since. Laura is the co-host of the Risen Motherhood podcast, and her newsletter is meaty and packed with things she’s learning about life and faith, book recommendations, and parenting insights. I also rediscovered Erin Loechner’s blog, Design for Mankind, and though she only posts a few times a year, it is worth it to me to subscribe to make sure they land in my inbox. Her writing is elegant, poignant, searing. I love it.

Best kiddo milestone: Annie walking and “talking” has been a delight. She loves to move purposefully around the house, her hands clasped behind her back, making earnest burbles and gestures to each of us, and it does not fail to crack me up.

Best faith grower: This one is probably obvious, but joining our church. It has stretched and grown and deepened our faith even as it has renewed our faith in the local institution of the church.

Best beauty purchase: I mix one drop of these tanning drops into my moisturizer every other night and love how they even out my skin (which can sometimes run a tad too rosy) without makeup.

Best friend memory: I’ll always remember our backyard “spring party” as a sweet turning point in our friendship with two dear preschool-friend families. There’s just something about inviting people into your space that deepens relationship.

Best new tradition: This is a nascent tradition, but I can already tell it has legs: Saturday board game nights. Now that family movie night is well established on Friday nights, we thought it might be time to introduce a second themed family evening. And you know I’ve been waiting for this one! Ocean BINGO has been our most successful game so far when we include our non-reader – the illustrations are beautiful, and it really is fun for everyone to play.

Best habit you created: This isn’t necessarily a new habit, but perhaps a renewed one. I had fallen out of the habit of biking with June to school, but with the start of her first-grade year, we picked it back up and it has been the sweetest bookend to our days. We biked well into November, and look forward to getting back at it once the temps rise a bit!

Favorite blog post written: This post with tips for the fourth trimester is dear to me, because it contains hard-earned wisdom I’ve been grateful to pass on to many friends offline, and am now glad to have it recorded here, too – and while it was fresh. Any time I’m able to capture my love and gratitude for John is a privilege. And this four-part series on working part-time as a mom helped me process a big transition in my life. I’m sure it’s a series I’ll be returning to for years to come.

Best life or mom hack: For years, I’ve used the monthly calendar in my PowerSheets as my sole planner. Our family’s life together is pretty simple, and, combined with my trusty Word to-do list, it got the job done. This fall, however, I’ve started to transfer the contents of each week to CWM’s weekly notepad on Sunday, and it has been so helpful to have more space to see each day’s happenings at a glance and to jot reminders and to dos in one central place as they pop up. I just wish the notepad included full columns for Saturday and Sunday but (spoiler alert!) the next version we print should include them!

Best mama moment: There were so many favorite moments, remarkable in their ordinariness and preciousness, but our girls’ trip to Charlotte and the American Girl store is a very sweet memory. I love spending time with our kids, and love seeing who they are becoming.

Best home improvement: Another obvious winner here: our kitchen refresh, which was a decade in the making and has transformed our entire downstairs. I am beyond grateful and still somewhat in shock that it’s complete. But if I could pick one small detail that has sparked a surprising amount of joy, it would be the wall clock we added in the midst of the renovation. I can see it from anywhere in the main room, and it has smoothed out a pain point I almost didn’t notice: having to reach for my phone whenever I wanted to check the time. Adding the clock has made it so that I can go phone-free more often, which I love.

Best little luxury you’ve enjoyed: Fairlife chocolate milk. John turned us onto it after reading that Katie Ledecky drinks chocolate milk in the cool-down pool after swimming a race, and so naturally we’ve adopted it as our post-Peloton reward of choice. Yes, I’m saying we’re basically the same as Katie Ledecky.

And just for fun, here are the top ten most popular posts from Em for Marvelous in 2022:
1. The best way I’ve found to regularly see my friends (February 2022 – this got a major boost when it was linked in Emily P. Freeman’s newsletter!)
2. Working part-time as a mom, part one (October 2022)
3. 2022 goals (January 2022)
4. Kale, sausage, and chickpea pasta (November 2019)
5. Working part-time as a mom, part two (November 2022)
6. Our tenth-anniversary glamping trip at Gold River (June 2022)
7. Children and the passing of time (February 2021)
8. My 2022 reading list (January 2022)
9. How to host a book swap party (August 2019)
10. The other names (March 2022)

As always, I’m ending the year so grateful for the delights, big and small, that filled our year. I’ll be sharing more in my year-in-review post coming tomorrow, but in the meantime, please do share: what are some of your “bests” from 2022? Can’t wait to hear!

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December 30, 2022 2:20 pm

You probably covered this already, but how do you find the time to read that many books every year, especially with three kids? And are they exclusively paper back/hard cover or does this include audiobooks too? I managed to read a few non-childrens books this year :) My favorite: The Plot (which my husband also read). I fell out of love with TV and returned to my great love, the movie theater. Top Gun was good, but the Woman King was great. Beyonce’s new album is my most listened to this year. And surprisingly (I say this because I’m not a big fan of her books) Glennon Doyle’s podcast with her wife and sister is pretty good.

December 31, 2022 8:48 am

First, I love that your favorite pasta made the best-of lists for top posts. It always smelled so good when you heated it up in the office! I’ve known you for quite some time and I often think this but it’s worth saying again, even after all these years you’ve heard me say it: you are a great writer! Every year there is a layer of richness added and that richness is love. So much love and wisdom in your words. I tucked many of these favorites in my pocket for the year ahead. I’m so grateful for you!

December 31, 2022 10:19 am

Chocolate milk is the best post-workout recovery drink there is! I love reading these posts of yours, and I was inspired to write my own this year! Thanks for being such a light on the internet. Happy New Year!

December 31, 2022 11:05 pm

Really enjoyed your recap of the year! Your writing is just so fun to read! My favorite hack – which I feel like maybe I read here a while ago?! – was to buy a second sheet set for our bed. So simple, but it makes things so much easier! I strip and make the bed in one session, and there’s no devastating realization that the sheets are still in the dryer when I’m ready to climb into bed. My favorite home improvement is our new kitchen sink and faucet. The basin is much roomier, and the faucet has the built in sprayer nozzle. Weekly I think how much better it is than what we had! Happy 2023!

Naomi W
January 4, 2023 4:35 pm

I’ve been following your blog for several years & it’s one of my favs! This post is ALWAYS a keeper! I missed having the links to your friend’s bests like last year!
As always your posts always encourage me as a mom & a woman who loves Jesus & wants His best in life. Thank you!!! Can’t wait to see what 2023 holds!

January 31, 2023 11:19 pm

Would you consider sharing parts of your process of finding a new church home? We are considering looking for a new congregation, after me being a member of our current church for my whole life. The timing feels right but we are filled with all kinds of emotion!