I sat down to write this year-end post and then realized: if you don’t follow me on Facebook, you don’t know that we lost Rob’s mom this week. I’ve written a lot about her this year and know that I will write about that (because that’s what I do), but I am not ready yet. This week has been so very hard and full of tears, but also laughter and peace and some special times with family. I miss her terribly already. Last night we rang in the New Year going through Lynn’s childhood pictures and letters while 19 rowdy kids blew noisemakers and ran screaming through the house. It was kind of perfect for this week.
Just as I’ve loved looking back and thinking about Lynn and her life, I loved looking back at the blog this week and what things happened last year. Hint: It was a LOT. Join me for highlights of my blog writing by month last year.
We started off the year mostly bald in our family. My three boys shaved their heads in honor of Mimi, who had just shaved hers when it started to fall out from chemo. I was feeling a little low and wrote a post that encouraged me even now: For the Days When You Feel Like a Failure. For MORE comfort, try this Butterfinger Cheesecake recipe I shared. I shared tips to kindle your child’s adventurous spirit and encouragement to NOT fear your kitchen with amazing pictures of my kitchen fails. I wrote about Cooper at almost 8 months (which is insane considering now Quin is almost 6 months) and wrote about why people are ALWAYS more important than cookies.
I shared about my life and maybe your life and how it looks each day in Life in the Second Person, then gave some instructions on how to paint walls with a brush as we moved to put our house on the market. Complete with video! I wrote about one of my first ever loves and first ever heartbreaks and took some par-for-the-course terrible Valentines photos of my kids. I gave tips for simple but unique baby showers, wrote some true words about community and motherhood and shared intimate details about Cooper’s birth.
This is the month we put our house on the market, sold it in three days (tips on how you can do that!) and bought a new house. Crazy month! I shared a recipe for creamy jalapeno polenta (still one of my faves!) and made Stupid Simple Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Apple. You can see a bit about what my kids were up to as well. The boys look the same, but the girl (singular!) does NOT.
One of my favorite posts from this month was An Afternoon with Cooper, which is exactly what it sounds like. I wrote about life lessons from coaching roller derby and shared advice on how to navigate through birth choices. I made food this month, like an overnight casserole, ham and cheese kolaches, and Easter Brownie Bites (which are so stinking good). I talked Easter and how we are all Peters, gave you a video tour of our new house, and made some FABULOUS tea sandwiches with my mom. You should totally go pin this huge list of boredom busters from the dollar store, because summer will be here again before you know it!
When I think about May, I think about moving and how we lose our memories sometimes. There was the time I had to rent a motorized cart at Legoland (see the boys fight Darth Vader via video!) because I was so swollen and pregnant on our trip there and to Disney. Cooper also turned one! I shared how to make chicken lettuce wraps, how NOT to move, and talked about pregnancy not feeling beautiful. Oh! And S’mores Brownies.
The month before having a baby I shared how to make a Dutch baby and a frozen fruit salad—both stupid simple! I made homemade detergent with essential oils as well as some essential oil pregnancy hacks. Sawyer and I had some solo time and went to Gator Country, where he swam with gators and I tried not to vomit from the smell of rotten turkey meat. I made homemade chocolate bars, wrote about what it’s like to be 9 months pregnant, and also went on a van tour for human trafficking.
This month started with a stomach flu that led to an early arrival of Quinlyn (but first reflected on moving from 3 to 4 kids). I also shared one of most popular ever posts with recipes for homemade products with essential oils. Independence Day got me thinking about freedom, right, and privilege. I made a really delicious watermelon gazpacho that you should totally pin for summer eating. I had a huge parenting fail by way of shaming my kids. But a large kitchen success with this easy and delicious Dr. Pepper Cake. You want tips for post baby? See my favorite products and my top tips!
In August I had a one-month-old and my first “baby” starting Kindergarten. It was a HUGE month. I wrote about God’s pursuit, some tips for making after-school-snacks with kids, and got Robbie to shave his glorious face-mane. I realized that I needed a huge parenting reset and felt grief a whole world over at the things happening in Iraq. I wrote about Julie and Julia not once, but two different times. then showed you a stupid simple recipe for bacon-wrapped asparagus. Then, based on my own first-day mistakes, I give you tips just in case you want to ruin your kid’s first day of school.
September brought an unexpected five days in the hospital with Quin for a bladder infection turned bacterial blood infection. She was probably the healthiest baby ever to spend five days in the hospital and came out a whole pound heavier. I shared my tips for saving money at Kroger and talked about how I want to SEE the day. I gave a stupid simple recipe for roasting garlic and remembered September 11. Apparently, I felt like cooking and made fish tacos, hatch chile dip, champagne cupcakes and pork schnitzel.
I survived a 31 Days Series on How to Grow Your Blog, which I hope to soon expand and turn into an ebook. If you want to see more on that, you can check out the first post (with links to all the others). I made super fancy grilled cheeses and pumpkin cake with brown butter frosting. I confessed why (as a youth pastor’s wife) I sometimes hate Sundays and what turned me into a grizzly bear mom plus what makes me feel like a Capital P Parent. If you want to know if you’re a normal mom, I wrote about how you can know for sure. Above all, I will remember this as the month we found out that Rob’s mom was moving from treatment to hospice for her cancer. You can read why I think it’s okay for Christians to mourn and about how cancer just doesn’t care.
One of my most popular posts of the year was this Thanksgiving food roundup, proving that we ALL like eating. I reflected on how it feels when the clock winds down on life as Lynn’s condition worsened and had a much lighter look at how to ruin a family holiday. I made zucchini pasta and shared my favorite green & kid-friendly cleaning products. And if you need tips to save money shopping online, I have ALL the tips.
I had an amazingly large roundup of all things Christmas and made an insanely good soup from leftover mashed potatoes. (And if you’re wondering how there are EVER leftover mashed potatoes, you just make a LOT, silly.) Because eating is a big deal in December, I also made empanadas, sweet Christmas party mix, and Christmas Crack. I shared quirky holiday ideas and gave a much-needed update on our kids. I wrote about losing my most influential writing professor, Claudia Emerson, and we lost Rob’s mom. Still waiting to process and write about that.
WHAT A YEAR. With moving, having a new baby, and losing someone very dear to us, I think I’m ready for a low-key, low-life-event kind of year with 2015. I don’t have a resolution or a one word or even a list of things I hope for yet. I kind of feel like getting out of 2014 with my sanity was doing pretty well. Yes, there were some great and amazing times! But we also really had heavy and huge and hard things this year. It was a doozy. I hope you had a fabulous year, new year, and are ready for a lovely 2015! Thanks for reading and being a part of our journey!