Welcome to my annual post of our life in the last year – a review of all the big and little events, travels, habits, heartbreaks, and joys. These posts require a lot of time and energy, in part due to sifting through all the posts I wrote in the last year, but also because these posts spur me to reflect and sit with the previous year for a moment, before stepping into the next one.
Every year when I write these review posts, I'm amazed at not only how quickly a year passes, but also the abundance 365 days holds, and the evidence of the Lord's faithfulness, in the big and little. It is link-heavy, with links to any relevant blog posts or more details that I mention.
I've already written a Knitting Year in Review: 2022 post, just recently. However, since knitting is something I do daily, I wanted to mention it here too. I chose a lot of simple projects for mindless knitting in the postpartum phase, but also made one garment for my three favorite boys: Nicholas got a sweater, Cooper got a cardigan, and Finn got a vest (blog post forthcoming). I participated in a test knit, and finished it on time (Finn's vest). I knit a lot of repeat patterns for gifts, as I tend to do. And it offered me a creative outlet, a solace on hard days, a way to occupy my hands when I didn't know what to do with them, a travel companion, and a simple, tangible joy.
In my creative planning for 2022 post, I mentioned several plans for garment sewing that simply didn't happen, I think because I wasn't in the mood to sew for myself either at the tail-end of pregnancy, or with a changing postpartum body in those initial months. Plus, garment sewing typically takes me at least a few sittings, and I don't readily find the time for that on a regular basis.
That said, I still did a decent amount of sewing, for my standards, anyway! I made two Chubby totes (a rust one that I use daily and a blue one for my mom), and greatly enjoyed that free tutorial and the professional finish she helps you achieve. A lot of my sewing projects were utilitarian. I sewed a second cover for the SnuggleMe organic out of some leftover fabric that was a thrifted jersey sheet and I made a new cover for my tabletop ironing board. In the fall, I had a flurry of sewing, in which I made a petal pouch, three reversible fabric bins (so incredibly useful), two tiny drawstring pouches, and a quilted drawstring project bag (all of these projects are mentioned here). I find smaller sewing projects like these so satisfying, and they feel doable when I can complete them in a day.
This was the third full year that I've stayed home as a full-time mama and caretaker of our home. While the days often feel long, I am so incredibly glad that I am privy to all the little joys and wonder of my boys' childhood so far. And I do greatly enjoy caring for our home, preparing meals, and making our home a welcoming space.
In the kitchen
This year, I tried a lot of new things in the kitchen. Namely, with our first garden in this home, I wanted to be very intentional about using or preserving our garden harvests. I made jam a few times, I made and canned homemade salsa (we just cracked into it and we love it), and I roasted and froze tomatoes and wild black raspberries that we foraged and really enjoyed involving Cooper in food prep more than ever before.
I baked a lot with my sourdough starter: artisan bread, english muffins, baked pancakes/Dutch baby, pizza on most Friday nights, cinnamon rolls (our special occasion bake of choice), bagels which are a favorite, and only just this Christmas, cardamom knots. Some of our favorite meals were beef stew in the crockpot alongside homemade bread, biscuits and gravy (pastured, local pork sausage, raw milk, etc and sourdough English muffins for the biscuits), pork roast in the IP to shred for carnitas, and chicken fajitas. Breakfasts consisted of eggs and bacon/sausage and sometimes toast from homemade bread–every day (we like what we like).
We love our coffee at home and after adding our newest family member, decided we needed to enter the era of an automatic pour over coffee maker and we love it. I grind the beans and prep it all the night before so we can wake up and press a button and still have really good coffee. These days, we drink coffee with a splash of raw milk in it. Speaking of which, this was the first year that we've tried raw, local, organic dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, and sometimes cream). We are thrilled with the quality/taste/nutrition, and I love the new routine of visiting a local farm.
Following suit to last year, I only got one haircut (yikes) and a balayage, and I'll admit I'm not proud of that. My makeup routine hasn't changed, apart from a few fun tinted lip glosses that I'll wear for fun family dates or very rare/special one-on-one dates with Nicholas. I have a few pairs of comfortable and go-with-everything small gold hoops that I enjoy wearing, and I wear a few simple, gold rings with the boys' names on them.
Similar to last year, I listened to a lot of Spotify's "daily mixes," which are basically curated mixes, loosely grouped by genre and they change daily. We also listened to a lot of mellow instrumental jazz. Some of my perennial favorite artists that had playtime this year include: Noah Kahan, Vance Joy, The Hunts, Fleet Foxes, Anberlin, Tom Rosenthal, and Ben Howard.
I finished the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder entirely, and really enjoyed them, most notably reading about their daily life and tasks, and the food they ate. I also completed the full Bible Reading Challenge, originally intended to be completed in nine months, but I finished at the year mark. I'm currently reading Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry. Overall, it wasn't a very prolific reading year (I haven't had one of those for quite some time), but I did really enjoy the books I did read.
Movies, TV, and other things we watched
My favorite shows we watched this year were the Great British Bake Off (every year, every Friday night in the fall), and Slow Horses, which might be my very favorite new show: it's engaging, it's British, it's smart, and it's funny. TV shows aside, we actually watch a good deal of YouTube, and try to center content on videos that aren't flashy or overstimulating, and also interesting or entertaining. Some of our favorite channels:
- Simple Living Alaska – follows a couple living off-grid in Alaska, along with their various activities: gardening, foraging, hunting, canning, and traveling.
- Perkins Builder Brothers – follows custom home builders, with lots of interesting building tips, plus lots of humor.
- Talasbuan – beautiful videos about a Swedish family that lives off-grid.
- A Wooden Nest – some knitting content, but also interesting homesteading projects, all beautifully filmed.
Personally, I watched a lot of knitting video podcasts, and these are my favorites:
- Emma Robinson of Woolly Mammoth Fibres
- Laura of Penrose Knits
- Hannah of Hannah G Knits
- Rebecca of the Creabea knitting podcast
In May, my SIL, Katelyn, and I took both boys up to Holland, Michigan for the day during the annual Tulip Festival. It was a bit hectic with a newborn and a potty-training toddler, but I'm glad we went! In July, we drove out to Ohio to have a sort of mini reunion with some of Nicholas' family. In September, we stayed in a cabin just outside Traverse City Michigan. We hiked, and made fires, and spent time together as a family. In December, we drove up to Minnesota to celebrate an early Christmas with my family and to see my Grandma Donna for what would be the last time on this earth.
We visited Nicholas' Grandpa DeVries at the farm before I had Finn. Cooper and Grandpa are little buddies and it's so neat that they have ninety years age difference. We had an early May beach day with friends and a tiny Finn. The four of us visited the Shedd Aquarium (Cooper loved it). We had a beach day with my father- and sister-in-law in July. In October, we drove down to Purdue University (our alma mater, and where I met Nicholas) and visited the coffee shop I used to work at as a college student, and had a fun day.
In January, my friend, Maeve, visited with her little boy! We stayed up late talking, drank coffee, went for a cold walk and just enjoyed the little boys playing together. In early April, my family drove down to see us and meet Finn. In July, our friends Lauren and Casey visited with their little girl. My parents, brother, and Grandma Donna visited us for my birthday. Our friend Andrew visited us in early December for a long weekend, and the boys all went ice skating (Cooper's first time trying it).
Finances, practical things, and home updates
We planted a garden this year! We chose raised beds and were very pleased with how things went, overall. I wrote about our garden: what grew well, and what didn't and shared about how I preserved tomatoes and any other garden yields.
We also bought a bird feeder for the backyard and I'm surprised by what joy our bird visitors bring us daily. We bought a chest freezer, which was so helpful for freezer meals prior to Finn's birth, Costco trips, and garden abundance.
We did some house projects while Nicholas was home on parental leave: painting and installing new shelving systems in the upstairs closets, hanging new shelving in the garage, and doing major organization in the basement.
Big life events
It was an eventful year for us – both with good and hard things.
- In March, we welcomed our sweet Finn.
- In June, we said goodbye to my beautiful mother-in-law.
- I turned thirty-two, and shared what brings me joy at this age.
- And just before Christmas, my Grandma Donna passed away.
Living in light of the seasons
I wrote about some of our favorite mid-winter activities and how January is a continuing on. We went on spring walks, visited parks with our favorite picnic quilt, bought tulips at the store and plants for the front porch during Nicholas' parental leave.
I wrote all about our first attempt at a vegetable garden in many years – how and what we planted, and I mentioned how it was going in June. I loved the routine of caring for the garden, checking on new growth, watering it, etc. It was such a fun and tangible experience for a toddler, too. I shared about "life lately" in July: park visits with friends, girls nights on back porches, daisy season, and summer strolls around our downtown. I wrote about the nostalgia of summer days.
On the edge of summer and fall, we visited Northern Michigan. We visited a new-to-us apple orchard and I did lots of fall baking. We went on a lot of fall hikes, and I shared tips for hiking with littles.
We celebrated Thanksgiving at home, and I talked about decorating the house for Christmas. And I shared about other Christmasy life things early in December, around town, and at home. In wake of my Grandma Donna's passing when we were in Minnesota, we had a quiet and meaningful exchange of Christmas gifts with my family. And then we celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Indiana.
I wrote about the beginning of third trimester, and how much Finn was a wiggly baby. And I shared about the weariness/my somewhat aloof heart during my pregnancy, likely considering that this was a pregnancy after repeated losses, and also the wonderful gift of the little life I was carrying. As I approached my due date, I shared my preparation for labor and birth for our home birth. I really tried to soak up all the special time I could with Cooper before Finn arrived. And a couple weeks early, we welcomed baby Finn! I wrote about his birth story, and I shared newborn and family photos taken by my talented friend, Molly, who managed to capture us perfectly at that moment in time. I wrote about the newborn phase and how it was a period of recovery and receiving, as we felt so loved and served, and it was actually a more restful recovery than my previous postpartum experience.
I wrote on my instagram on Mother's day, "I often feel unprepared for how sanctifying and beautiful motherhood is. The exhaustion and the joy." And I wrote about how "there is so much emphasis in our culture on how children take away from life (freedom, sleep, etc.). But can we change that emphasis? How much joy and delight do children add to life? An abundance."
Love & marriage
I wrote my annual love letter to Nicholas on his birthday in January. We welcomed our newest family member in March, and we celebrated nine years of marriage in August with a fun day date and lots of quality time. We navigated some trickier parenting together in the midst of potty training and the adjustment to two little boys. I cherish family walks, working on puzzles, coffee with him, and our evenings together after the boys are asleep.
- I'm so thankful that we don't look to our own hearts as a source of truth. I wrote about the weariness of parenting that can easily lead to a hard heart. "My weakness and failure further amplifies breadth and depth of Christ's sacrifice for me and the way the Lord loves His children."
- The Lord's timing is perfect and He equips us for the task at hand (in this case, delivering a baby when I was barely recovered from the stomach flu). And He gave us reminders of His faithfulness – extra special ones for me, like the first signs of spring, and snow (a longtime "stone of remembrance" for me) the week our rainbow baby, Finn was born.
- "Grief and joy coexist in this life. And what a grace that is! Grief can highlight the joy, make it more precious in my eyes."
- "These days right now, are worthy of cherishing."
- "I think it is a good practice to speak of things that glorify God and pull us to worship– so I will keep writing about the brilliant golds and oranges and reds of the leaves this time of year. They are beautiful, and they are fleeting: such a gift and a reminder that we have a God who makes beautiful things, even ones that peak in glory for a few weeks, beautiful things that draw our eyes past the trees, to the Creator."
Thank you, Lord, for this past year, for the hardships and grief that drew us to you, the joys that spurred us to worship, the newness of each day, and Your goodness to us.
Happy new year, friends! If you want to read previous "year-in-review" posts, here is a link to all my previous Year-in-Review posts since 2015.
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