the year it all changed

Oh 2017. What a gloriously difficult and wonderful year you were.

I was in a low spot when the year began. I was battling constant weird health problems, I went three straight months of being unable to sleep a decent amount at night, James was working two jobs, our downstairs neighbor was smoking pot day and night which led to migraines, our cars kept breaking down every 5 minutes all year long, and Gracie was getting her 2 year molars. It was BRUTAL. I felt past the end of my rope every single day. We had been house hunting for a year and a half with no end in sight. It was a very dark time for me.

Halfway through the year, a new job opportunity fell in James' lap. It has made our lives SO much easier. After two years of house hunting, we finally bought our first house. It hasn't been without its drama, but there is no feeling as satisfying as finally being able to renovate our own home and do exactly what we want with it. I've been working really hard on building and strengthening my friendships. Those have kind of fallen by the wayside over the past few months, but the point is I TRIED and was actually moderately successful. God has been so gracious to us this year. He was faithful when things were going against us, and He's faithful to us now. He's carried us through some dark and difficult times over the past few years, and this year He turned our lives upside down in so many good ways. My life looks nothing like it did when the year began, and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for that.

Whenever I think of this past year, these are the verses that keep coming to mind: "I waited patiently for the LORD; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD." Psalm 40:1-3

In January, Gracie took her new walking skills to the mall and walked the entire thing the day after New Years. James and I were floored over how she went from walking a few feet at a time to walking a giant, 2 story mall in a matter of days. Within a couple weeks, she was running. My best friend came over and we ordered pizza and watched the inauguration together. This is also the month Gracie finally noticed the red hat she's become known for. She wore it one evening before bed, and before we knew what was happening, she was wearing it all day and asking to sleep with it at night. A few times, she even wore it in the bath. We lost it during the move, but she found it last night and it's like best friends reunited even though it barely fits her.

In February, I bought Gracie pink squeaky shoes. I have NO idea what possessed me, but they were the source of great entertainment for us and everyone who witnessed them. I took her on a Valentine's Day mother/daughter date to a hipster coffee shop downtown that turned out to be a hot mess, but one that inspired my favorite blog post of the year. I posted the link to Facebook which I usually don't do, and it offended someone. I'm still laughing about that. We went to the zoo with friends and spent the mild winter days at the park when I was feeling up to it. I wrote my annual Valentine's post. One of my favorite memories of this month is lying in bed on a Saturday afternoon. I was wearing my coziest pajamas, drinking coffee, and reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder while it snowed heavily outside. That's the very definition of living my best life now.

In March,
Gracie smuggled a purple crayon into bed with her and colored all over the white walls. I was horrified at the time, but it makes me laugh now. We went through a long phase of her coloring on every surface she could find no matter how closely I watched her. My friend hosted a St. Patrick's Day playdate. We ate pizza while the kids played and it snowed outside. I turned 28, and we spent the day going to my favorite places and eating my favorite foods. Gracie turned 2 two weeks after my birthday, and we did the same thing for her. We were watching tv one night when the tornado siren went off and the sky turned green, and I thought we were all going to die. I read Spaceman by Mike Massimino which I'm still recommending to everyone I meet.

In April, my parents came to visit for the weekend to celebrate our birthdays. We had a quiet Easter at home. We went to war with our pot neighbor who tried to get us evicted to retaliate for complaining about him. I started reading the Anne of Green Gables series for the--gasp--first time. As predicted, it changed my life.

In May, James and I celebrated 6 years of marriage with a night of bowling and pizza. It was the most fun anniversary ever. We had a...wait for it...BALL. My mother-in-law came to visit, and we bonded over an episode of The Bachelor. She now texts me all her commentary and it is pure gold. I started my balcony garden and went insane growing flowers, strawberries, herbs, spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes. Nothing died and everything flourished. I was/am SO PROUD of it. I witnessed the condo building behind us burn down. I started going to the pool during nap time. On Memorial Day, we took Gracie strawberry picking, and I turned them into strawberry lemon muffins.

In June, things really turned around for us. James was offered his new job. Our pot neighbor moved out. We found a new realtor. Gracie and I drove to Iowa. She got her very first haircut, my dad and I went shooting together for the first time in ages, and mom, Gracie, and I went to Antique Archeology in 100 degree heat and missed Mike and Frank by one day. When we got home, we spent most days watering the flowers and playing in the pool. My dad and I had the best text exchange about produce that we're still laughing about.

In July, we went on a family date and got barbecue and ice cream. I became obsessed with popsicles and ate so many I nearly turned into one. We spent the 4th of July at the pool and trying to teach Gracie how to ride her tricycle. Both our cars broke down at the same time. James' car died in the middle of the road, and we had to push it into a parking lot and wait for it to be towed. I took Gracie to the park of roses between thunderstorms and to German Village one morning where she kept swiping my iced coffee.

In August, my mom came to visit! It was THE BEST visit. The house we bought was listed, and we made an offer that was turned down. We went on a family hike which led to me slipping on a rock and falling in the creek. I started waking up early and going on morning walks before James left for work. I introduced my mom to The Office and watched the first season with her while she laughed hysterically which was the achievement of a lifetime. The solar eclipse happened. I didn't buy the glasses, but I did wear my NASA shirt, and I sat outside while it got eerily dim. I read 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, and I'm still grappling with it.

In September, James and I went on a date (and we haven't been on one since! Help!) on Labor Day weekend. We ate a nearby pub and played trivia, went to a couple bookstores, and drank apple cider by a roaring fire. It was cold and rainy thanks to the remnants of Hurricane Harvey. I had a rough month with some health issues and spent several weeks unable to do much. Gracie and I went back to Iowa and had the most fun trip. We went apple picking, mom treated me to a haircut and pedicure, I somehow broke all the toilets in my parents' house, Gracie dubbed the Mississippi River the Sippy Cup River, and mom and I had the most fun shopping trip ever.

In October, my mother-in-law visited. James turned 32. Gracie started drawing smiley faces and Minnie Mouse. We went pumpkin picking on an unseasonably warm fall day. James and I watched American Ripper, one of the best documentaries ever on tv, and I'm still thinking about it months later. I read Last Christmas in Paris, my favorite book of the year. Our realtor gave us the shock of our lives and told us the sellers of our house wanted to negotiate after two months of refusing to entertain an offer. We went into contract, and I had what can only be described as a nervous breakdown. A week later, a producer from House Hunters contacted me to see if we were interested in being on the show, which we wound up turning down. We visited James at his new job and got our first snow. It was an intense and life-changing month.

In November,
we spent our weekends watching college football, which is still weird to admit since I've hated football as long as I can remember. We binge-watched Stranger Things and are now diehard fans. Gracie was hit with an upper respiratory virus that she STILL HAS, James had bronchitis, and our fridge died on Thanksgiving. My parents came for Thanksgiving, and we showed them our new house. We closed on it 6 days later and had a plumbing crisis the same day. I had another nervous breakdown.

In December, we spent the first week painting our new house during the day and packing at night. We moved in and dealt with one problem after another. I started to wonder if we were crazy to buy a house, but buying a new washer and dryer and FINALLY being able to do my own laundry in my own home somehow set me straight. I knit something with zero help which doesn't sound like a big deal, but TRUST ME it is.We drove to Iowa for Christmas and had what was probably the best week of the whole year.

Other things to note:

+ I read 63 books this year. This is a record for me, and I'm not quite sure how I managed it.
+ I published 92 blog posts. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one still in love with blogging. Sometimes I wonder why I'm still doing it. Blog readership has gone way down in general, but I'm so thankful for my loyal readers, many of whom have become close friends. I've quit social media for periods of time, but I can't quit blogging yet. Sometimes I wonder if I do it too much, or if I've gotten annoying, or if I'm doing it for myself or for entertainment's sake. I've come to the conclusion that it's become my way of keeping track of memories while keeping my writing skills sharp. I can never keep a journal going, but blogging has become habitual. It's free therapy for me. I don't blog the way most people do. I write hopelessly long posts, I make zero money, and I like to tell stories instead of telling you how or why you should or shouldn't do something. I'm just going to keep doing my own thing as long as I still love it, even if it's not the popular thing. Thank you all for reading and engaging and interacting with me. You are all so special to me.
+ Gracie was already speaking in short sentences at the beginning of the year, but you can have full, drawn out conversations with her now. I will miss her baby gibberish until the end of time, but it's SO nice to be able communicate with her. Her imagination has taken off and she has make believe conversations and games every day. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.
+ My two most played songs of the year are Safe by Bay Ledges and Staring by Tipling Rock. They are the happiest, catchiest, most cheerful songs. I finally upgraded to a Spotify Premium membership, and IT IS WORTH EVERY PENNY. So many dance parties.
+ Hidden Figures was hands down my favorite movie of the year. We didn't watch many movies this year, and this was the only one we saw in theaters, and I am so in love with it.

I am worn out and exhausted from the year, but this is the first time I'm not chomping at the bit for the ball to drop and a new year to begin. 2017 is the year James went from two jobs to one, we FINALLY bought our first house, we were offered the opportunity to film an episode of a major TV show, I finally became interested in makeup thanks to an impromptu visit to Ulta, I went on several long road trips alone with Gracie and had a large number of wardrobe malfunctions at the worst possible moments.  It was a really good year. I haven't been able to say that in awhile, and it feels so good to say it and mean it.

I have no idea what's coming in 2018. More house improvements, more books to read, more coffee shops to fall in love with, more music to discover. Hopefully fewer embarrassing moments.

But probably not.

Happy New Year! And thank you all for being here. GROUP HUG.

Just kidding. Individual hugs for all of you. No group hugs. I am an introvert, after all.


  1. Thank you so much for still blogging!! You make me miss doing it regularly. I'm so happy you're family's had a good year...watching Gracie's adventures with her hat have definitely made mine better.

  2. It always makes me laugh when people are like, sorry for the giant post, and it's like a quarter of the size of mine. ha! I enjoy reading your blogs and I'm glad this year is ending better for you than it started. I know you went through some tough times this year. Looking forward to your next Valentine's Day post! I always figure I will know when it's time to quit blogging, but for now I'm still really having fun, and I do like to occasionally make money too, but everyone just has to do what they feel comfortable with :) All the best to you and your family in 2018!

  3. This is such a neat way to look back on the year! Now you're making me want to carve out time to write a blog post like this :) I am so glad that some truly awesome things happened to you and your family this year! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us. I, for one, am immensely grateful that you are in love with blogging and write here. While I do enjoy more professional bloggers who try to make money, I just really love blogs like yours where you do it solely because you love it and share the awesome, hilarious, and heart wrenching moments of life.

  4. Thank you for blogging about the mishaps. Makes me realize that it’s just not me. Here’s to 2018!

  5. I definitely don't comment enough, but I still love reading your blog. And what you said about why you do it inspires me to write in mine more in 2018. KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING! Happy New Year!

  6. Keep blogging girl- it brings people joy <3.

    I’m super envious of the number of books you read this year!

    The G baby pics on instagram today we’re so great. Love seeing her grow.

  7. Never stop blogging!! You are a treasure that needs to continue being shared. Lots of love and happy new year to you. Less floods in 2018!!

    1. Thank you Erin!! You're so kind and I appreciate your words so much!

  8. You have such a good memory. If someone asked me, "What did you do in April of this year?" I'd be like, "Um...probably showered a few times, watched some Netflix and ate a lot of food?"

    I had a goal of (I think) 50 books on Goodreads this year. And then I had a baby. Hahahhahahahahahahhaha. I think I'll make a goal of maybe 10 books for 2018.

    I have no idea what I would do without Spotify Premium. I finally convinced my mom to upgrade, too, and she is loving it.

  9. I love this post so much! I love that you love blogging (I do too!!! Helplessly, hopelessly love it). I love that your 6th anniversary was spent bowling. I love that you find your home. And I especially love that you introduced your Mom to The Office ;)

    Happy New Year!

  10. I love your blog. Never stop. I am way behind on reading it, but I'm hoping to catch up in the next week or so. It's like a favourite book I've been saving up.

    Here's to 2018 having less home related drama but just as many great stories.

  11. SO GLAD 2017 ended on a high note :) You've had some roughhh patches this year but I think it says a lot that you're walking away from the year with more good memories than bad :) Hopefully 2018 is a quiet and happy and flood-free year ;)

  12. This made me cry because psalm 40, yes. I'm SO happy things have been better for you and your family.

  13. Loved reading through this post. Gracie is such a cutie! And HOW DID I MISS THAT YOU WERE ALMOST ON TV? I'm clearly behind on my blog-reading game since having Georgie!


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