The gifts of 2021

The gifts of 2021

The highlight of my year can be summed up in what Noella told me yesterday. She said, with complete honesty and sincerity, “Mom, I love you more than cheese.” WOW. Have you ever known a love like that? So beautiful. Also, cheese is heaven and everyone knows that, so to be loved MORE THAN CHEESE? That’s a mic drop on the whole year, honestly.

Our year began with a dusting of sequins throughout the house as two little girls dressed in their princess dresses, complete with tiaras and wands and those death-defying little plastic dress up heels, where you’re just waiting for someone to slip and break and ankle. Seeing Shawn’s “enthusiasm” in trying on their tiaras as a girl dad who grew up with four brothers was pretty epic as well. I gotta say, he can really rock a pink unicorn princess tiara with feathers on it.

Another highlight of our year was the arrival of Shawn’s long-awaited and much-researched wood fired pizza oven. It even came in one of those giant wooden crates that baby elephants come in in the movies, so that was fun. Your circle of friends will grow once word gets out that you have a pizza oven, but we’re not above buying our friendships with food. And be forewarned, the toppings can be somewhat obscure at times, but that’s how we like it. If you’re local and want an invite to our next pizza party, just like the link to this blog post. Leave a comment and we might even serve you dessert. But no promises!

This year we went to the beach with friends and even merged our last names into a new last name. Like when Ben and Jennifer became Beniffer. Something like that. Btw, traveling with little kids is so hard but so worth it! And if you go with friends you get to wake up with that look of solidarity like, “You sleep well? Nope. Me neither. Want some coffee?”

On the way home from that beach trip, we got the hookup from a friend who works with the penguins at Sea World to go behind the “employees only” sign and meet two baby penguins! It was the most magical, fluffy, high pitch squawky, and unforgettable experience. The girls each got a penguin stuffed animal and Noella wanted to hurry out to the car so she could turn the AC on for her penguin. Awwwwwwwwwwww.

Shawn gave me a ginormous bouquet of flowers on the day that would have been the due date for our girl/boy twins. It was such a meaningful gesture. That was a big loss and we circle back to it from time to time. That’s how grief works. As Kacey Musgraves says, “healing doesn’t happen in a straight line.”

It was also the year we lost grandma Joan. But our loss is heaven’s gain, and those aren’t cutsie words, she’s in paradise and we celebrate that. Even though we miss her here. The trip out to Colorado was a big one, a 12-hour drive one way, on a whim when we heard she wasn’t doing well. I’m so glad we went when we did. We knew it was to say goodbye and that made for a tearful but such a meaningful journey home. I cherish those last conversations with her, and that time with uncles, cousins, parents, and siblings. If you love someone, tell them, thank them for who they’ve been in your life. I’m so glad I had those opportunities with my grandma, and I want to carry that into 2022. Speak love, don’t hold back on telling someone they matter to you.

There was more travel this year which felt especially rewarding after a year of lock-up where we couldn’t even go to Dollar General. We went to San Antonio just the two of us, toured the river walk, ate some A+ tex mex, and met some fun 50-somethings who were on a girl’s trip from Phoenix, and we ended up hanging out downtown one evening. It’s so fun meeting strangers. I got to go to my home state of Colorado by my SELF, see my family, enjoy a night away in the Rockies with my sisters and cousin, and meet my new baby niece. Just the airport experience alone is relaxing when you’re alone. No one was begging me for snacks (except me, I was begging me for snacks), and you get to sit alone with your thoughts as the clouds pass you by. We also went to Fredericksburg just the two of us, walked the little German streets and enjoyed the shops, had a good Hefeweizen, and star gazed from the Airbnb hot tub. We alsoooo, finally managed to meet some of our dearest Ohio couple friends in Cancun, Mexico! We ate lots of fresh fish tacos, and swam, and lounged, and laughed, and it was just the best time. Again, traveling with kids is hard but worth it, and on the flip side, travel without kids is heavenly and so much fun. But it takes about 200 years of planning and prep and finding the right person you trust to stay with the kids, and 1-2 novels of instructions for while you’re gone, but again, doable and so worth it. You just have to make it a priority to have time together alone as a couple. Coffee dates or big trips, it’s up to you what you want to do, but just do it!

I was having a hard day one day this year and Shawn was out of town, and low and behold, there was a knock at the door, and he had had a local company deliver a charcuterie board to me! (Which, I should say, Shawn calls them “shitshiterie” boards because he’s Shawn and sarcastic and has a name for everything – like Hobby Lobby is “Hobster Slobster”) It’s a lost cause to apologize on behalf of Shawn, but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. (Also, I’m so grateful for a thoughtful man in my life. Shawn is the thoughtful man, btw. In case you were confused.)

We moved this year! We weren’t looking to move, good grief, we’ve done enough of that to cover a few lifetimes. But this beautiful house came on the market, and we put in an offer sight unseen while we were on vacation, from our balcony at the beach… oh, and this house is in the same neighborhood where we lived before. We have some more land and we’re in a cul-de-sac, and the arched doors were love at first sight. We’re so so thankful for this gift we didn’t expect. We also gained some awesome neighbors on this street. We logged a lot of hours in the driveway this summer with Mr Fred and Miss Sandy and the girls on their bikes and drawing with sidewalk chalk.

We joined a community pool this summer and that filled many of our days with fun. And sunscreen. And floaties. And lime La Croix. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Texas gets hot in the summer.

Shawn hit some personal goals at work this year and looked good in a tie at the same time.

Some family came from Ohio for a visit (Shawn’s oldest brother and his family) this summer and we had the best time out on a boat, and hiking at the state park, and enjoying a double date for the adults at our fave place in town.

We read 34,550 ish books to the girls this year. I love that they love to read and play pretend. It’s a beautiful part of childhood. My favorite is when Shilo will sit and “read” out loud to herself, making up the story as she goes along.

I had a big birthday bash this year on our new outdoor patio! Friends, live music, candles, karaoke, food by Shawn, make your own bouquets-to-go… and my dad and sister surprised me and came all the way from Colorado! The phone call saying they’ll be here in an hour was a super, super special part of my year.

I got a new tattoo. Shawn nailed his home roasted coffee. We went to Ruidoso, New Mexico with my sister and her family and stayed in a cabin with a VIEW. The girls played in their sand box. They wore a lot of fun shaped sunglasses and had a lot of dance parties. There was love, learning, and living and we are so grateful for the gifts of this year.

Wishing you a 2022 cholk (chalk?) full of joy and happy memories.


2 thoughts on “The gifts of 2021

  1. I love reading your blogs! They are so down-to-earth and relatable. I think 2021 was difficult for a lot of people because of the continued pandemic. We were beginning to feel “safe” over the summer and then made a trip home to NH to visit family and friends we have not seen in a year and brought back COVID, everyone we visited had been vaccinated so this was a shock. Still trying to get over the PTSD of that trip. So, thank you for sharing some happy memories from the past year:)

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