Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Year of 2020

Ah, yes. The Year of 2020. What does one say about the year we've just had? 

Some may call it The Year of Covid. 

The Year of Doing Nothing. 

The Year of Quarantine. 

The Year of Loneliness. 

I'm calling it the year of our lives. Not the worst year of our lives. No, 2020 has been the best year of our lives. Here's why.


I just finished reading about our 'Year of Adventure' in 2019, and I realize that 2020 just built on that. All the skills we learned and practiced in 2019 were fine-tuned in 2020. 

Because wasn't 2020 the biggest adventure of our lives? 

In 2018 and 2019, we were so focused on adventuring, and most of these adventures took place away from our home. These adventures were fun and exciting and new and adventure-y.

In 2020, our adventures looked different. Nature trails - car rides - library curbside pickups - smoothie runs - these were our adventures. Making these feel exciting became an adventure. 

Hardest adventure of my life. 

I could title an entire section of this post as THE YEAR OF WALKS because how did any mom get through 2020 without taking a bajillion walks? Some days taking this walk was the last dang thing I wanted to do in the world. 

But walk, we would. And every time I wondered why I fought it so hard. After all, a walk is just a mini adventure, sometimes taking us on the most extraordinary, magical journeys - past the same houses, down the same roads, waving at the same neighbors...but what fantastic fairytales we lived on those walks. 

The Year of Building. I'm so grateful for all that adventuring practice we had in 2018 and 2019. I'm not sure where we'd be without it.  

Thanks, 2018 and 2019, for the incredible set-up. 


The list of things we said goodbye to this year is lengthy. 

[tradition] A lot of traditions got chopped this year. Why are we doing this? We don't know. Do we like doing this? No. Can we think of a good reason to do this? No. K bye. 

[iPad] As I type this, our kids iPads have been on a top shelf for about 4 months. The almighty iPad was something we dove into without thinking, and realized after the fact that it's not a benefit for our kids. They don't need another opportunity to zone out with a screen. Some day, we'll teach them how to use tools like iPads in a constructive way, but until then - bye.

And before you feel bad for our poor, sad, uncool kids let me tell you they're happier than they've ever been. Because they spend more time in deep play and less time begging for iPad.

Also, we are movie people! So we aren't really screen-free. In fact, back in September a friend suggested we start watching Star Wars...we're on episode 5 and our kiddos are loving it. And so are we! I'm watching as a total Star Wars newbie who knows nothing about anything. How much of a newbie? Sometime during episode 3 I turned to Jake and said "Wait, does Anakin grow up to be Darth Vadar?". I'm clueless and it's so fun.

[baby bob] Anyone who knows Carter knows he loves his doll - Baby Bob. For years, Carter has loved this baby. For years, he's carried him around and hugged him and kissed him. 

He's taken him to restaurants, parks, even the barber shop. Until this year. 

While at a park with friends, Carter thought Bob would like to go for a swim. In the river. The middle of the river. 

The week before it happened, I remember thinking that someday Bob might disappear. I wondered how Carter would handle that. How I would handle that?

So on this day, I felt really set-up. I was prepared. 

A little disappointed as I saw Bob float away. A little heartbroken as Carter begged me to go get Bob. A little concerned for the boater who might find this floating baby. 

Bye, Bob.

[babies] It's official this year. The baby of our family has become a little boy. His fingers are no longer pudgy and plump, but useful and strong. His long, thin feet run and jump and climb instead of plod and patter. 

He uses words like "Yes, actually..." and "I believe so..." and "Oh, certainly..." and "Hey mom..." instead of "momma". He pops over for a quick hug and snuggle instead of the long stretches of togetherness that a toddler needs. 

I like where we're headed - and I know good things are ahead. So I'll savor every mispronounced word and owie kiss until there aren't any more. 

Bye, useless traditions. Bye, iPads. Bye, Gibson baby. There are better things ahead! There is more! 


Somewhere along the way, our kids heard the word 'brave' and tried it on for size. They didn't understand the layers, but knew enough about it that they wanted it. 


After some long talks with Macy this past spring, we discovered that any time she felt nervous - scared - afraid - anxious - she felt like she was failing because "that's not brave". Dear girl, bravery isn't the absence of fear. If we don't feel afraid, then the feat isn't brave. 

We explained to our sweet, tender, bold 5 year old that the most brave people feel scared while they do the scary thing. 

Late summer, Macy had enough of watching all the neighborhood kids fly around with their two wheel bikes while she squeaked along, teetering side to side on her rickety training wheels. She woke up one morning and told us she was ready. She told us she was afraid AND brave, and after dad got home from work she wanted to take off the training wheels and fly. 

In six minutes she went from "Dad, I don't think I can do it." to "Dad, I'm doing it!". She flew up and down the driveway, around our cul-de-sac, down our street, free as a bird. 

My mama heart was flying with her. Look at this woman - taking risks - stepping into the hard thing - giving up control (and rocking a unicorn helmet like nobodies dang business) - can you see the confidence on her face? 

So brave.

Of course when I think of bravery, I think of Carter. I can't think of a season of his life where bravery was not required for survival. 

I could stop there.

In 2020, we turned a blood draw into a faith boost. Anything that looks, smells, feels like a doctor is perceived as a threat by Carter. When Carter feels he's unsafe, all bets are off and he becomes super-human strong. 

You can imagine how a blood draw might go. But we believe that Carter is capable of repair - he CAN heal, he CAN grow, he CAN change. (What's that thing we sometimes say...? Umm...oh, right. Carter CAN.)

How can we help him repair this area of damage? We did what you do when you have a community of lovers around you. We asked for help. We explained the need, and asked people to pray. 

Carter walked in with a smile, rolled up his sleeve, and said "Here's my arm, take my blood!".

Just kidding. 

Carter cried. 
Carter begged us to stop. 
Carter grabbed our faces and looked into our eyes. 
Carter fought. 
Carter squirmed. 
Carter asked me to sing his favorite song ("More Than Conquerors"). 
Carter relaxed. 
Carter calmed. 
Carter smiled. 
Carter gave a thumbs up. 
Carter kicked fear's ass. 

What I just shared might seem like a loss. We see it as a tremendous win. After his blood draw, Carter sat peacefully in the same room while Jake had his blood drawn. Carter said thanks to the phlebotomist. After it was over, there was no screaming. There was no yanking us out the door. There was no endless looping for days about 'no doctor' or 'no poke'. 

We went for a celebratory walk on the bridge afterward, and then went home and had a normal day. 

This is repair. 

This is bravery.


How does one educate a child? Is there more than one way? What is everyone else doing? Do we have to do that? Do we WANT to do that? What else could we do? What would be best for our kids?

These are all the questions we asked which led us to our decision to homeschool our kiddos. 'Homeschool mom' is a label I never thought would be assigned to me. I didn't want it, didn't like it, didn't consider it.

Until I did. 

Our reasons are simple - we want our kids to have a wild & free childhood. We want them to learn how to think, how to play, how to learn. 

We're learning as we go, and we've got the best teachers. 

With a 6th grader who has much school damage & fresh-brained kindergartener, we eased in slowly. 

Phrases that carried me through our first several months of school: 
-If they're not enjoying this lesson, I need to adjust. 
-Homeschool is about love (and there's nothing glamorous about that)
-Relationships before rigor.
-Homeschool is less about school and more about home.
-Play is the work of childhood.
-Because our home is unique, our homeschool ought to be unique.

On repeat. 

I'm no homeschool expert (seriously, we're 5 months in) but what I've learned is this homeschool season might be my most refining of my life. 

Take all that my kids have learned in these 5 months - the writing, the reading, the math - and multiply it by 100. 

w + r + m x 100 = what I've learned about myself. 

w + r + m x 1,000 = the amount of times my own issues surfaced. 

Math is not my strongest subject, so I'm going to be done with that now. 

I'm just saying, I feel I'm being refined and it's so hard and so good. 

Educating this little lady is especially refining. Like her mama, she is. Looking at her is like looking in a mirror. She's constantly confronting me without even trying. 

Homeschooling. Educating. Refining. So hard. So good. 


I know this may sound strange, but 2020 was a year of community for us. We realized, more than ever, that we need a healthy community around us. We WANT a healthy community around us (even when I feeeeeeeeel like just being alone). 

We also learned there are unique ways to access that community - and so WE HAVE NO EXCUSES. Isolation is not an option. Loneliness is not an option. 

Why would we ever choose that over this?

I'll remember forever the day we returned to church after doing online church for several weeks. We had missed being together, and were so excited to gather again. In the van on the way to church, our kids were talking about the people they were excited to see. 

And it occurred to me, this community we have is special. It's unique, and not everyone has this. It's been built over time, and it continues to grow even in the year 2020. 

May we never take this community for granted. When Sunday mornings bring their flurry of activity and van loading and arriving on time thoughts - may we always remember what we have is special. What we're doing is important. What we're doing is eternity.

And our kids, these tiny humans, they need community too. It's taken some creativity and ingenuity to make this happen - but they payoff has been huge.

Tiny humans, growing in confidence, loving other tiny humans, making mistakes and learning from them...why would we choose anything other than this? 

Isolation is not an option. 

Okay, it is. But why would we choose that over this?


We're all in this together. Uh-huh. Yep. We know. We've all heard it. Some are tired of hearing it. 

Sometimes the people I'm togethering are hard to together. But together, we will. 

Because let's just be real - I can be hard to together, too. And when togethering feels hard, usually I'm the problem. 

A friend of mine has said 2020 was a 'back-to-basics' year. Hallelujah - I couldn't agree more.

Togetherness is hard. Maybe this is why our culture has shifted away from that. But please, let's do more of this.

More cozying down and snuggling in. More talking face to face and eye to eye. More games and art. More reading together (so thankful for our library system!), More creating Death Stars out of cardboard boxes (Star Wars reference, for the newbies!)

More conversations about why unicorns have horns, how our cute friend Henry has hair that flies up when he runs, why brothers and sisters can't get married 'because I wanted to marry Silas', and questions like 'will grandma forget about us if we can't hug her'? and 'does Carter remember Ukraine?' and everything in between. 

Togetherness has brought so many feels. It's not all sweet and precious and dear. 

Five unique humans under one roof, all growing and learning, all flawed and complex. Throw in some extra tension from the world around us and suddenly togethering doesn't seem so fun. 

This year I've realized my kids aren't robots. I can treat them like robots and expect to input data, and get immediate results every time. But if that's my approach, I'll spend a lot of my life being disappointed.  

These kids are humans - humans who are growing and learning, and grabbing at the experiences around them, gathering them up to create something all their own. As their mom, I get to support them in that. 

Or I could be frustrated when they don't behave how I want them to. Or annoyed when they don't meet my expectations. Or mad when the data I input doesn't come out of them like it was supposed to.

Beep-bop-doot-meep. Boop-dop. 

(Translation: that would really suck)

There's a better way. Why would I choose that over this?

Look at how good this is. 

Like 2020, this seems to be the post that just never ends. If you're still with me, thanks for reading along. 

Other labels that I could have used for 2020: 
The Year of Neighborhood Walks
The Year Carter Called 911 But I Didn't Know It So An Officer Came To Our House
The Year of Rehearsing My Triggers
The Year of Hamilton 
The Year of Making Neighborhood Kid-Friends and Running All Over The 'Hood With The Crew

For all those reasons and more, it really was the year of our lives. I never said it was easy, or comfortable. 

But friends, we aren't dead yet. There is good ahead, and there is still time to love our humans - grow our faith - build on the past - repair our wounds.

We aren't dead yet, and there is more. 

Reach out and grab it. 

CLICK To Read Previous Year-End Posts;

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Top Adventures of 2019!

If you want to know the top moments of our 2019, you're in the right place. 

I'm late in posting because I've come back here so many times in an attempt to wrap up our year in a nice little package. And then I remembered that nice packages are overrated. We all know it's what inside the package that counts. So here's the package - it's like the wonky gift that doesn't fit in a bag and so I just roll it up in newspaper and call it done.

2019 was a big year.

Looking back at these photos from 2019, I feel like I'm looking at memories that happened 3 years ago. It's still a whirlwind, and I feel like I'm still recovering from some of it. 

But here it is, my top adventures of 2019.


 So much of our year was trying new things. This guy tried many new things - most of them might not seem scary to the average person. But this thing - a hammock - floating above the ground, making no logical sense to his brain, with no promises of safety - and he loved it.

What's that thing we used to say? Oh that's right, Carter CAN. Lest we forget. Let's say it again, all together now: Carter CAN.

Other new things include the baby of the family moving to his big-boy bed. Remember that post I did about saying goodbye to the family crib? (Read it HERE)

Well, the crib is being used by someone very special to us - sweet baby Nora Lane. My niece, their cousin, my brother's baby girl.

Other new things: Macy diving in to writing and drawing and reading, Silas figuring out his big-guy bike, Carter embracing things like drawing, building legos, and playing pretend with his siblings, Macy trading her nap time for quiet book time in her room, Silas staying in his bed until it's time to get up (instead of bursting into his day at 4am!) and so much more.


This year might have solidified the bond the five of us have. We spent a lot of time together - making decisions together, talking about our decisions together, actually doing our decisions together...and feeling it all - together.

Our kids love each other. They like playing together, and miss each other when they're apart.

They root for and cheer each other on. When one is sad or struggling, they huddle up and try to figure out how to help.

They also argue and grab toys and take jabs. Don't think it's all rainbows and unicorns over here (although, we currently have a crap-ton of unicorns in our home...if you have a daughter between the ages of 2 and 10, you likely understand).

It's becoming obvious to Macy that Carter struggles with things like language and showing he understands. She asks questions, and then tries new things with him. "Mom, maybe Carter will like it if I do it this way!" or "Carter, what do you need?".  She's learning him, and then teaching us what to do.

Sometimes togethering looks like late nights at the beach with a grill and burgers! Those moments are so sweet and will be ingrained in our kids memories forever.

Other times, togethering looks like sitting by the fireplace with a book and a cookie.

Together, we can do just about anything.


I've been learning to give up control so there's room for creativity. This sounds nice and freeing, but it's been hard for me! I don't like clutter or messes or projects that don't go as planned.

Recognizing that cleaning up is part of the process has been good - it doesn't all fall on my shoulders.

Also, the end product isn't important! Let them create! Give them the time and space to figure it out!

It might take us twice as long to make pizza if I let them help. The floor might be covered with ingredients that ought to be in the bowl. But they're learning!

So much of the time, my role in helping my kids create is to stand back and let it happen.

And guess what? Usually what comes out of it is better than anything I could have planned or controlled.


This was a big part of our 2018, too. (Read more HERE)

This year I think we took it to the next level.

Perhaps our biggest adventure of the year started with this:

This is Carter on his first day of school. New school. New district. Teachers, aides, and peers he's never met. A building he's never stepped foot inside.

Carter CAN.
Carter CAN.

These were times filled with big-feelings. We took lots of walks to talk things out and feel all of it. Our kids participated. They know why we switched schools, and they have feelings about it, too.

But they also know, maybe even more than we do, that Carter Can. We'd turn our world upside down for this young man who we owe so much to.

Eventually, our decision to switch schools led to moving to a different city. This was not part of the plan. This was not part of my plan.

Adventuring sounds fun and, well, adventurous. But sometimes it feels like your heart being ripped out and trampled on.

But we did it. We found a great house in a great neighborhood at a great price. It still wasn't my plan and I had so much pain to work through.

This was a beautiful, hard, incredible, intense season for me. THANK GOD I had so many people in my life walking me through it. Sometimes they held my hand as I walked along slllooooowwwwllly, sometimes they grabbed my face in their hands and spoke hard things to me. All of it was love. But what I wanted was hope. I wanted to know that everything was going to be okay.

The hope came as an effect of doing the hard things.

Thanks, countless people. You who sat in my living room and asked me questions. You who took long walks with me as I processed it all out. You who laid in bed with me at night and let my cry and curse and cry. You who have helped me countless times over the past 12 months to say "I forgive them. I forgive them. I forgive them."

I forgive them. And I have so much hope.


Without vacations, without weekend getaways, without date nights (seriously, I think we've had one date in the past eight months) - we've intentionally carved out time from our schedules to figure life out. I used to think we needed special stickers on the calendar for those things.

Turns out, we don't!

We've processed our day, set up the week ahead, talked through hard feelings, and so much more - in the early hours of day and late at night after the kiddos head to bed.

A big part of this season has been using the brains God gave us to think about what's best for our family, instead of just going with the status quo.

Who told us we have to do things this way or that way?
What do WE want for our kids?
How do we get there?
Let's do THAT.

We are an amazing team. We're learning how to be an even better team. After almost 14 years of marriage (yes, that's right - I counted several times to be sure) we still don't have it all figured out.

We still get to learn and grow together! There's no end in sight, and that's so satisfying. Being married will never be boring. There are always exciting things ahead.


Just like last year, we're learning who are kids are and how to love them best.

As they grow and their struggles become greater, we have more opportunity to understand them. We've been given more opportunities to love them based on who they are and what they need.

One of them thinks only of himself and what he needs in a moment. What a joy to adjust to him and help him move forward!

One of them is always looking for a need to fill, and will create one if necessary. What a gift to offer examples of slowing down to make more with what I'm given, instead of creating things on my own!

One of them will do whatever it takes to move people around! What a treat to help him reach his goals and execute his plans!

Parenting. It's not for the weak or faint of heart. It's dirty work and most days I go to bed feeling like I'm covered in dirt from head to toe.

But then, I see little sprouts begin to come up here, and little leaves unfurling there, and suddenly the hours spent in the dirt make so much sense.

Parenting is a long-game. And we're all-in.


That's our 2019. Maybe it was the year of leveling up. Taking what we learned last year, and going a step farther. Each level gets harder, and that goes against what I always thought life would be. Doesn't it get easier and easier until I retire, and then I can have a life of relaxation and comfort?

Ugh. That sounds awful.

Bring it on. Let's keep leveling up.


If you want to check out our past year-end posts, you can find them here:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...