A Happy Review Of A Rough Year

This time last year, none of us knew how much of a roller coaster 2020 would be! Despite it being very stressful from a political and world events perspective, on a personal level there are still blessings to be found as I look back on it now.  I have written one of these yearly recaps every year for the last 12 years, and I will continue because it is an exercise in gratitude.  It's a way to count blessings that may not seem as obvious, because even in hard times, the Lord's grace to us is there when we look for it.


January was a relatively quiet month.  We started out the year with a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, and a horrid cold that last for 2-3 weeks for me and Derek (knowing what we know now...well, we wonder what that was, because we haven't gotten sick since).  Then we settled back into our school routine. At this time I was attempting to take a step back from our co-op, because it was turning out to be harder on our family than I thought.  We did squeeze in a trip to a local historical museum with one friend, and a hike with another, along with a date night for me and Derek!  We saw 1917, which inspired me to start my World War One personal study project.


February started off with a flurry of snow days, including one storm that dropped over a foot of snow on us.  In the middle of one of those storms, the girls went to a daddy/daughter event with our church, all bundled up in princess dresses and snow coats.  We also had the first of many car problems that would plague us in 2020 - a new transmission was installed, though we are not even sure if the transmission was truly the problem.  We also celebrated Wyatt's birthday, a very bittersweet one for me as I realized he is halfway through his childhood now.  We made valentines to give to our cousins and friends, and spotted a tiny bit of greenery poking through the dirt in town.  We enjoyed a family hike at a local state park. I also had a girl's night out with some friends, and we discussed the rumored virus.  I remember saying I didn't think it would be that big of deal...hadn't we made it through several other varieties of flu - bird, swine, etc - just fine?  Joke's on me I guess.


This month started out like every other March I ever remember - brown, muddy, a little boring.  We got out and enjoyed the warm weather, and saw our friends one day at a McDonald's play place, were I was informed that if I didn't want to run out of toilet paper, I might want to grab some, because it was selling out.  I was honestly shocked at this, very surprised at the level of panic.  A few days later we went to a train museum with my sister, and the next day we snuck in a trip to the library and stocked up on books. Our co-op was cancelled for the week (little did we know it would end up being cancelled the rest of the school year). The day after that almost everything was shut down, including our church.  We had the first "church at home" of what would end up being way more Sundays than I thought.  As our opportunities to get out of the house dwindled more and more, we worked on letters for our family and friends, and I learned how to make whipped coffee.  At the end of the month our governor issued stay-at-home orders, but I still went out for takeout scones in my car every Friday, and it was a much-needed outing.  We also made it a point to go on hikes as much as we could for exercise and fresh air.  People weren't meant to stay inside all the time. 


Finally in April I stopped obsessively checking the news for changes, and realized I just had to live my life. Derek started building a playhouse for the kids, and I continued with visits to our local coffee shop for takeout, found several fun projects for the kids, and enjoyed some unseasonably warm weather which we celebrated with going out for grocery-store popsicles - eaten in the car.  Easter came and went, and it's the first Easter ever that we didn't start the day by going to church. The kids were especially disappointed that we couldn't do our usual sunrise service, but we did still enjoy an egg hunt at Grandma's house.  We celebrated Clyde's birthday as he turned 6 years old!  I usually try not to rush the summer vibes, but this month I did.  In my mind, everything would be better in the summer.   Later in the month I organized a photo scavenger hunt for the kids that we did from our car, as well as weekly family movie nights and Sunday school "parties" through Zoom.  We all had cabin fever, but we tried to do little things to make the best of it.

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The weather started to warm up, and we enjoyed more days running around at parks and going on walks.  Mother's Day ended up being a favorite for me - we went on a nature walk with Derek's mom, had a picnic lunch overlooking the mountains for me, and then visited my mom in the afternoon.  We finished up the school year earlier than expected, thanks to having so many Saturdays at home with nothing to do but school.  I had the kids pick out some books for summer, and we finished the school year with donuts.  Derek installed a greenhouse on our porch and started growing various vegetables and flowers.  At the end of May the beaches in Texas reopened, and we took a road trip to spend a week in Galveston.  It was a perfect refresher for our family - I don't think I realized how stressed I was about all the pandemic stuff until we got away for a few days.  Though it was an eventful trip, with a problem with our beach house and an ear/throat infection that required an urgent care visit for antibiotics, we mostly just enjoyed the water and pool and restaurants.


We got back from vacation at the start of June, and I determined we were going to have a good summer even if it wasn't totally "normal".  But the parks opened, and our church reopened for in-person services, and just those two little things made a huge difference.  I made a big summer to-do list that included hikes, playing in creeks, craft projects, and lots of summery food.  We also planned an ocean-themed birthday party for the boys with our friends and family, after delaying it for several months! Derek and I got out for a date that involved mini golf and takeout, and we went fishing for my birthday.  We celebrated Derek on Father's Day.  And overall we just enjoyed the warmer weather and the break from school.


We found some fireworks to watch on the 4th of July, which I was so grateful for since so many shows were cancelled.  Then a week later, Derek surprised me with a weekend getaway to a Gaylord resort for our 12th anniversary!  We enjoyed the night away and getting to lay by the hotel's pools without worrying about anybody not being able to swim.  We also made the trek to our county fair, which included a free circus show and rodeo events.  I was so proud of our little county for continuing with the fair, since so many counties had cancelled theirs.  We had a couple hikes with friends and did more at-home summer activities like sidewalk paint, homemade play dough, and local sightseeing at historical sites and national monuments.

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We started gearing up to restart the school year in August, but not before we sent off the summer with a little more fun - campfires (before wildfires got out of control and a ban was instituted), porch camping, and finally a trip to Arches National Park and Black Canyon Of The Gunnison! It was a beautiful trip, even though it was short.  It was a trip that felt truly energizing instead of just stress-relieving, as our vacation in May had been. Derek finished up the summer with getting the roof on the kids playhouse, while we had our first day back to school.  Wyatt started 4th grade, Gwen started 2nd, and Clyde started 1st.


We had some wild temperature swings in September, including a first snow!  But overall it was a fairly mild month, and we spent time outside studying plants as we learned more about botany for our homeschool science.  We also ended up taking a weekend trip to Nebraska for Derek's cousin's wedding.  It was lovely, and I read quite a lot of my World War One book in the car.  The kids started Awana at church, which gave them a regular outing, and gave Derek and me almost weekly date nights.  At the end of the month we celebrated Clarice's 5th birthday!  


October always brings a lot of fall fun with it, and this year we managed to squeeze in a trip to a corn maze, and a fall hikes at the peak of color.  I took our annual fall family pictures at my parent's house.  Derek started gearing up for hunting season, and I started teaching the kids how to embroider (we're still working on it).  We took a trip out to our friends' ranch and had a lovely visit with them, as always.  I also flew out to Montana with my mom for my cousin's wedding - it was a whirlwind trip, but I'm so glad we went!  At the end of the month we went target shooting, and I went deer hunting for the first time in about 8 years.  I got one on the first morning, thanks to my great hunting guide (Derek)!  We celebrated Georgiana's 3rd birthday at the end of October!  We also did our little Reformation Day activities that have become a tradition for us.


Derek spent several weekends hunting in November, so we didn't do too much at the beginning of the month.  We voted on November 3rd, and then I spent the rest of the month obsessively reading the news and being stressed about the dubious election results. We visited with friends, kept plugging away at schoolwork, and just enjoyed time at home.  On Thanksgiving we enjoyed seeing our family and thanking the Lord for getting us through a very unusual year.  Then we cooked a second Thanksgiving dinner for our own little family, just because.


Even though this December was just as busy for us as any December is, it somehow still felt more relaxed.  We enjoyed a trail of lights with my family, a Christmas party with my extended family, a Christmas party with our Sunday school class, a winter hike, and a trip to see my grandpa.  Even though restaurants were targeted for closing indoor dining this month, we still went out to eat on the patio or in outdoor tents during our Awana date nights. The kids and I decorated a "night tree" with dried fruits and popcorn for the deer, and we read a lot of Christmas picture books to go along with school.  We visited a train museum with friends on Christmas Eve eve, and it was so nice to have a field trip after having so few this year! We went stargazing in the mountains, the darkest place we could find, to see the "Christmas star", a connection of Jupiter and Saturn.  We somehow managed to squeeze visits with both sides of our family in on Christmas Eve, and then we enjoyed a quite Christmas Day at home, opening presents, playing games, and watching movies. In the week between Christmas and New Year's I became aware of some invasive privacy policy changes to Instagram, and after a year of censorship and activism on the part of the big tech giants, I'd had enough. I prepared to say goodbye to Instagram and Facebook, probably for good. (You can find me on Parler and MeWe now!) We celebrated Derek and Gwen's birthday after Christmas, with my girl turning 8 years old!  We finished off 2020 with a family movie night at home, which seemed an appropriate and comforting end to this crazy year.

Even though last year was a rough year, I am so thankful for the way the Lord has carried us through, and the way He has blessed our family this year with time together and fresh perspectives on what really matters.  I want to remember that as we head into 2021!

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Bekah said...

I love your recap and your resolve to find the good in the year. There certainly was a lot of it tucked in there! Happy New Year!

Emily Powell said...

It was a very strange year politically but I hope that I remember how great 2020 was for us as a family. So glad 2020 was good to y'all too!

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