we started out together with a newborn, a 2 year old in diapers, and another busy season. i was ready to pull my hair out most days- but we pulled through, all living, breathing, and smiling- miracle, i tell you. we quickly became the circus- and have called ourselves that ever since. life with kids in our house is just that, one big juggling-act-tight-rope-walking circus. and we love it.
my crazy trip i took with the girls by myself? well, that's what you do when you're in survival mode, i guess. my favorite part of that trip was seeing Ellie ride a pony for the first time. i don't think i ever blogged about it- but she was so brave, so proud of herself for being so brave, and so cute holding her cowgirl hat the entire time.
and of course, we also enjoyed the beach, Disneyland, and spending time with gammy, pops, Mimi, and with grandma and grandpa grapes. it was an emotional time for all of us- but a wonderful trip- and special to spend so much time together. there's just no place like home, right?
after living through busy season, and a few more weeks of crazy traveling and work schedules, you stood with M has he put in his two weeks and said goodbye to the Man (Deloitte). it was a bittersweet time, saying goodbye to colleagues, friends, and a steady paycheck twice a month + awesome health coverage. but it was mostly awesome as you were with M to fulfill his lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur AND being in business with his parents. sure, it's been a roller-coaster. but together we've enjoyed the up and downs- and mostly enjoyed a normal family life again. how we love having M around. and love knowing we'll never have to survive busy season again (whoa, what a thought). thanks, 2011, for giving me my hubby back.
and once M was back, he became the girls' favorite. i've had to come to terms with that- but i'm ok now. 2011, you turned my girls into daddy's girls. will they ever love me like they love him?
shortly after M's job change, we said goodbye to my grandpa who passed away. it was a sad time for my family- though happy to reunite with so many distant relatives we had been out of touch with for so long. it also made me grateful for the peace and hope the gospel brings.
and only five months later, you were with us to say goodbye to my grandma, too. i'm grateful for their inspiring love-story- but miss them both. i miss their house. i miss their laughs. and i especially missed them on my birthday when they weren't there to sing like they had the previous 25 years. you helped me realize that life is fragile. to hold on tight and enjoy the chaos of my young family and my parents/siblings, because we won't be around each other always- and to love those around me a little more.
and so we got to spend lots and lots of time with family, thanks to you. from trips to visit to my family, trips from our families visiting us, and lots of outings with M's family, we were overwhelmed with love and appreciation for such awesome people to call ours. i'm determined to build a big communal village someday.
we discovered the deliciousness of King's Donuts. thanks a lot, 2011.
we shortly after discovered the effectiveness of P90x. sure, we gave up once or twice. but we also saw it through-- and you were with me and M every morning, slapping us in the face, telling us to get our donut butts out of bed-- until we could do our own pull-ups and felt super fit and sexy. thanks for helping us discover p90x, 2011.
you gave me my first gray hair. jerk.
we had a summer full of swimming, splashing and playing. it was a blast, and i died every time i saw the girls in their adorable swim suits. we miss your summertime, 2011.
we endured a terribly ghetto front yard for much too long- but then you helped us get our acts together and refinish it. i think this was my favorite house project we did together- thanks for helping me love my house again.
we started our joy school together with three boys + Ellie and ended with three other little girls + Ellie. you made me fall in love with the joy school curriculum, especially watching Ellie learn and grow while making such good little friends in the process. joy school is awesome.
we made new friends and kept old ones and missed ones that are far away. we started hanging out with friends more and even having girls nights. i needed that girl time. a lot.
and then one of them moved away- her little boy was one of Ellie's best friends, and she was one of mine so it was super sad. you helped me remember that saying goodbyes doesn't really get easier as you get older, but that finding true friends is worth the heartache.
we were 1st time season pass holders to Disneyland with you. it was awesome- though i think people got a teensie overwhelmed and annoyed with my Disneyland Blog Posts (here, here, here.) i don't regret it though- because i am a disney freak (whew, i said it. feeling very liberated right now).
remember how fun it was serving the young women in our church? i especially loved our crazy sleep-over party and excursion into San Francisco. i love those girls and the women i served with.
you were there when i was shocked and saddened to be released- and you were there when i was overwhelmed with love as they heart-attacked my house and car, saying good-bye. you were also there when i closed that door and cried my eyes out. life is funny, isn't it?
you gave me a new calling, 2011- one that i have been entirely overwhelmed by, and felt incapable to fulfill. i still think my bishop is crazy (and Heavenly Father too) but i know they know what they're doing and so i just have to remind myself to have faith. but faith seems to come harder the older i get, even though i definitely don't feel old enough to be having callings like this. still, i love the Primary children, i love the women in my presidency, and i love the Lord- and so like President Hinckley would say, i know it will all work out. it always does, especially when you're doing His work.
we ran over 500 miles together this year- and i even got my body back (kind of) in the process. sure it has dents, stretches, and tears- but i'm going to view those like Mater from Cars does- like they're a treasure (even though sometimes i cry about them, too). back to the running: you were with me to share many morning runs with my dad when i went to visit- and you were there as i made some amazing friends running several times a week, something that i look forward to instead of dread (who looks forward to exercise?). also you were there to see me accomplish a life-long goal of running a half-marathon. it felt amazing...
and you even helped me have one of the funnest weekends of my adult life running the Napa Valley Ragnar. (side note: can you call yourself an adult when you still like Disneyland as much as i do, eat pb+j's every day for lunch, and bust out in random dance parties multiple times a day, and even through a race's finish line?) you will always be the year that i truly learned to love to run.
we discovered Pinterest. and then didn't see the light of day for weeks. you've watched me be inspired and addicted and captivated and zombie'd out like never before. bless/blast that pinterest.
you were there to survive the worst part of parenting yet: potty training. it sucked. and i'm already dreading the day that i have to do it with Alice. but you saw us through it and i thank you for that.
we discovered the world again through Alice's eyes- and Ellie's, too. we watched Alice change from the sweetest little piggie baby on the planet, into a feisty, funny, happy, busy toddler. you were with me as i kissed her squishy cheeks over and over, and almost ate her dozens of times because her chubbiness was so delicious. i was sad that you took her baby-ness from me, but am happy that you gave me such a fun, beautiful, sweet, and verrrry curious personality in return.
we discovered Ellie's iron will and determination.
we learned that she does what she wants when she wants to. you've watched me be baffled- and come to the realization multiple times that i'm basically parenting myself. still, you helped me realize how sweet she is, seeing her need love and attention and affection, and giving love, attention and affection liberally to those around her. she is compassionate, and i love that about her. i've loved seeing her become the person she will always be- with her funny phrases, her beautiful dancing, love for music, books, and art. 3 has been a tough transition, losing my baby/toddler to this new strong preschooler, but at the end of each day when she says her prayers and tells me she loves me, i know i'm the luckiest mama in the world.
and so i thank Heavenly Father every day for blessing me with these two little girls who give my life so much purpose and joy. i've never worried so much, laughed so hard, been so frustrated, or felt so much happiness as i have with you, 2011, while being their mama. having two is definitely sweeter than having one. who knew?
the mr. and i celebrated 6 years of marital bliss with you (marital bliss = teasing/annoying the crap out of each other sometimes + making each other laugh...hard). 6 years sounds like a long time- we're getting pretty good at this marriage thing, which is good because we really love each other.
we went on some memorable dates, M and me. we latin danced for the first time. which was hilarious, ghetto, and fun.
we also ate lots of sushi together. and realized that's me and M's favorite special treat. does that make us trendy? anyway, i'm kind of mad that you had me discover how much i like that stuff because it's dang expensive. but then i'm way glad because it's just too delicious and wonderful to not know about. dang sushi.
Holga- which is super awesome. i've loved capturing life through a new lens and using film. i think it's become one of my favorite possessions.
we also blogged the most together than i had with any other previous year- at a whopping 135 posts (which beat my current record from 2009's at 134 posts...weird, right?). i don't know what to make of that- if it's a good thing or a bad thing- but i mostly think it just means that you were busy and i was busy and together we just had a lot to say.
we did and learned lots of other awesome stuff too- other awesome Southern Cal trips, Ellie's room re-do, almost losing a finger (and several other embarrassing moments), dressing up as Alice in Wonderland for Halloween, meeting my new niece Ruth, and enjoying every last minute of the holidays, from thanksgiving to Christmas....but this letter is getting too long to talk about it all... and you've probably stopped reading by now. so i'll wrap it up by saying this: you were quick, busy and full of new experiences, some sad and some joyful. it's hard to say goodbye- and so i'll do what a teacher of mine used to do in High School- i'll say "see ya later" instead. because i do hope to see you again- maybe in my Life's Movie someday (yes, i think in heaven we're going to be able to watch big-screen movies of our lives. it's going to be awesome). thanks for giving me so many memories and special moments with the people i love. i'll never forget you, 2011.
P.s. guess what? as if you weren't bored enough, you can also read letters to previous years! 2010, 2009, 2008, & 2007.