Every January, when many are looking forward to the next year, I like to take a few moments to look back. I dig into what the previous year meant for me personally and what it meant for me and Nicholas in the context our our family and community. After I've done that, I feel like the year has a sort of closure, and I can look forward with clearer eyes. As is usual with my annual year-in-review posts,* I've grouped everything by category and linked to previous pertinent blog posts. This was a big year for us! But I suppose every year feels rather big because every year, in it's own style, is a year of full, hard, beautiful life.
Knitting: Overall, it was a big knitting year for me. I wrote a blog post about all my 2018 knitting, with all the details. I knit more adult sweaters that ever before, along with two baby sweaters. I'm learning more and more about finishing techniques and fit and different types of construction. And I'll never get over the feeling of slipping on a handmade sweater that fits; it's magical! I also knit a few more colorwork projects, and it's a technique that I'm definitely getting more comfortable with, over time. There were a lot of baby knits, lots of socks, and I knit a good number of things from yarn from my stash.
Sewing: It was garment-heavy sewing year for me, which was a big win. I sewed two Ebony tees, a Toaster sweater, a Klein dress modified into a top, a Klein midi dress, a blue Metamorphic dress, and a green/grey one. And non-garment sewing included a snuggly baby blanket for a friend. And after October, I didn't do any sewing this year, since my sewing mojo took an even bigger hit than my knitting mojo after I got pregnant. I felt a lot more comfortable using my new serger(!), learned how to oil and appropriately care for my sewing machine, and got more comfortable with choosing patterns that (a) I want to wear, and (b) that fit me and my sense of style well.
Work: I'm still at my same job, working dayshift on a Med/Surg unit in the hospital setting. I love my coworkers and work is never boring. I did start doing some charge nursing intermittently over the last few months and I'm really enjoying that. It's just some of my shifts, but I love the variety that adds to my work routine. I also wrote a blog post about 12 lessons from my career as an RN.
In the kitchen: I of course baked a lot, per usual, including a lot of Scandinavian-inspired, and Great British Baking Show-inspired bakes. I also published my version of our tried-and-true favorite breakfast, baked peanut butter oatmeal, as well as a chicken gnocchi soup recipe, courtesy of my friend Jessica, and a recipe for homemade chili. I made multiple batches of my homemade gf granola. And, I did write an entire blog post about eating well and actually sticking to it, which now that I think of it, seems like a post I need to re-read myself right now. In that post, I detail how I cook a lot of veggies and proteins (with links to my favorite recipes), and practically discuss how to approach a more nutrient-dense cooking style. The latter third of the year was again a bit more challenging with cooking and eating because of food aversions and cravings, but we're trying to eat as balanced as we can, while working around a few aversions. Also, all year long, I loved learning about and embracing the utility of our Instant Pot.
Beauty: Over the last few years, I've gradually been transitioning to safer beauty products, as I've run out of conventional ones. And now I've finally transitioned all my beauty products to non-toxic versions that I love. The last additions/replacements were w3ll people bronzer and two colors of safer nail polish from 10over10, all gifts from Nicholas. I got a balayage treatment for my hair in May, which I love, and has become my annual beauty-splurge. I also began practicing a trick for refreshing and removing residue from my roots. And, as a rule, I feel more pretty in items I've made myself, including some of the sewn and knitted items mentioned above.
Favorite music: Still more Sufjan Stevens (always and forever all of his music) most recently his Planetarium and The Greatest Gift. Gregory Alan Isakov's Evening Machines, who I saw live in concert(!) the week I found out I was pregnant. Young Oceans' Suddenly (Or the Nuclear Sunburst of the Truth Revealed, Bethany Dillon's to Those Who Wait, Vance Joy's Nation of Two, and Relient K's older and newer releases, all oddly enough served me well as an anthem of waiting, so to speak. I listened to a lot of S. Carey's Hundred Acres, Manchester Orchestra's A Black Mile to the Surface, and always, anything by The Oh Hellos. I utilized Spotify's Daily Mix's often, when I was unsure what I felt like listening to, but wanted some music.
Favorite reads: I got sucked back into so many wonderful fiction books from Jan Karon's Mitford series. And I also read some rather good non-fiction books:
- Chasing Slow by Erin Loerchner,
- Hinds Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard,
- These High, Green Hills, Out to Canaan, A New Song, and A Common Life by Jan Karon
- Loving my actual life: An experiment in relishing what's right in front of me, by Alexandra Kuykendall
There were a few other partially-finished books mixed in there too. Overall, from October onward, reading was more appealing to me than knitting, so I did more of it.
Trips: We took an incredible trip to Maine, specifically Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. I wrote about that trip in detail in three posts: Senses, Places and Things, and A Better Good. I visited my family and some friends for a wonderful summer trip to Minnesota, which as always, was good for my heart. And for the end of this year, we celebrated an early Thanksgiving in Minnesota with my family, and an early Christmas with Nicholas' family in Indiana. Every trip was especially needed at the time. We also took a little day trip to San Marcos to meet my dear friend Clara and her man for a fun day.
Locally, in Austin: It was wonderful year for local friendships. I spent lots of time with friends, and it was so fun to share in the growth of my friend Jessica's sweet little boy and my friend Molly's pregnancy and baby girl born in November. Nicholas and I spent most Tuesdays with our little ritual. I went strawberry picking with two friends and their littles and got to witness freedom in parenthood, with messes and laughter. Nicholas and I drove out to Hill country to see the wildflowers and I learned more about grace. And there were a lot of ordinary days. Nicholas and I took a lot of walks. I met my friend Molly for coffee on lots of Saturday mornings, and I frequently stopped for afternoon tea/snacks/walks with my friend Jessica. And I tried to celebrate all that summer in Texas offers, including birthday celebrations for friends, and fun trips downtown. Fluffy clouds were special to me in 2018 the way that sunsets were special to me in 2017.
Visitors: In January, my mom and dad came to visit us for a few days! Nicholas and I were both sick, but we still managed to have some nice time together and visit a bunch of our favorite Austin places. In October, our friends Maeve and Kyle, came to visit us. We ate really great Austin food and reveled in getting to share a cup of coffee and talk in person! So special.
Things I googled in 2018: Kent, UK, how to fold a fitted sheet, Great Molasses Flood of 1919, remembrance poppy corsages, tatziki recipes, orange squash (beverage), poltroon, Tonya Harding, Sufjan Stevens tour schedule (he's not touring), chocolate button cake, slap bang, toot sweet, esrtwhile definition (formerly/former), Christopher Nolan movies, pasties, and the size of a beet.
Finances and practical things: I gradually replaced conventional cleaning supplies with non-toxic alternatives, and my now-favorite Branch Basics. Nicholas worked from home, apart from in-person Tuesday meetings. We reorganized the closet and tried to minimize accumulation of unnecessary stuff in our lives. We had discussions about what having a baby means for us as a family, practically and financially and we talked of dreams of owning a home sometime soon. I'm still staying more consistently organized with my very simple and straightforward bullet journal. I went through my sometimes Sunday routine to preserve sanity on Monday morning.
Rest: We had lots of discussions about prioritizing sleep. And also, in that post, the importance of "kindly opening your day." We both got the flu this year (yuck), but it meant for lots of mandatory resting. And as a whole, I leaned into rest and more needed sleep, from October onward, since baby DeVries absolutely required it ;)
Movies and TV Shows: Endeavor, The Crown, Longmire, Poldark, The Great British Baking Show (both the regular and the Masterclasses), and we rewatched Larkrise to Candleford. We watched Interstellar at least three times. We saw a few movies in theaters, including the most recent Mission Impossible: Fallout and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And per usual, we watched a lot of The Office.
Living in light of the seasons: I wrote about embracing summer in Texas, choosing better summer habits, little victories with attitude and choosing joy/noticing beauty in spring, finding one tiny red leaf in (early) Texas fall, anticipation of fall, and being cautious about my tendency to season-creep. I wrote about snow and what a stone of remembrance has been for me of God's faithfulness in seasons of anticipation. And I chose another year of slow, gentle advent preparation for Christmas, with a prepared heart. I also wrote about a quiet Christmas, here in Austin.
Love & marriage: We celebrated 5 years of marriage! And I wrote my annual birthday love letter to him on his birthday. I also wrote about our little loving rituals in our marriage. I wrote about the importance of talking about little/fun things with Nicholas, not just the big stuff. We did a lot of crossword puzzles together, and spent a lot of time on the porch together. We both agree that this was the most fun year of marriage yet. Even as we sat in waiting and anticipation together (for a baby, for other things we dream of for the future) we loved our time together.
Heart lessons: This was a year that was hard in a lot of ways, another year of waiting, anticipation, and delayed hopes. But I felt the sweetness of living in hope even in waiting, more than ever before. It was by far the most recurring heart lesson all year:
- In a season of repeated prayers, we cannot make Him weary.
- "My whole life is a balancing act of sorts, of attempting to be present, and also future-minded, and also thankful for His provision in the past."
- "These are the days, because they are the days we have. I want to spend mine, even the hottest ones, acknowledging that every season has good things. So I'll look closer. I'll taste the peaches, hug Nicholas, darken my chaco tanline, drink the kombucha, feel the breeze, see that those clouds are slightly fluffier than yesterday's, and see His goodness in the heat, too."
- " I'm free to live outside of a day held in bondage by regret. I want to live my life like I know in my heart that my life is a redeemed one, covered in grace. If that takes not-so-perfect day trips to show me that, so be it. Count me in."
- "Whatever your prayers look like right now--prayers of thanks or prayers for dreams not yet imagined, He meets us with fresh grace, He gets the glory, we get the help. Whether far away from family, or in a waiting season, or with literally anything that weighs on our minds, we can trust Him. He knows my heart, what fills it with joy and what hopes are hidden within. He made raspberries and 3-month old sleepy babies with long lashes, soft green grass, those wispy clouds in twilight skies, and Minnesota summers, after all. He is a good God."
- "There's no harm in planning ahead, but I think I may find harm in planning so far ahead that I miss out on life right now.[It's better to] greet this day, and tomorrow with gratitude, because those sunrises, the hugs from Nicholas, texts from my encouraging and loving friends, calls to family at home, chopping veggies, drinking something warm out of a mug, knitting stitches with wool, finishing a book and picking up new library books—all those things—they're a gift. Anticipation can be a gift too, but even more so when I'm still clear-eyed, sipping my tea for this life, today."
- "The longer this waiting season stretches on, the more I'm engraining this truth into the depths of my heart. He's weaving my hope in Him into more of my waking moments, more of my days. My current life circumstances are not merely a placeholder for my real life. This is is my real life. And my heart knows more of His goodness in the waiting than it did in a season of blessing."
- "And here, where I am today, in a season of little things, I want to make an effort to savor it. When I take a moment (or several) to do so, the little things can cause thanksgiving to spring up in my heart, and a thankful heart is not a small thing at all."
- "What is the manna in my life? The daily provision that I can go out and gather? In a season of waiting, in a season of sameness, God provides the new, every day. And all I have to do is gather it. If I claim to trust Him with my eternity, certainly I can trust Him with my week, my month, and my year."
- "The antidote for earthly fear is to go to the Word, ask for wisdom, and He'll replace the earthly fear with knowledge and wisdom and a holy braveness like we've never known before. Fear in waiting or difficult life seasons is the opposite of fearing the Lord, actually. When I fear (revere) the Lord, there's no need to fear anything else."
- "If you're in a heavy season, shake off some of the heaviness with a friend, a spouse, a knitting date, a cup of coffee, a neighborhood walk. Leave what’s heavy behind. Hope in the present doesn't diminish hope for the future."
- "Only a good Father would know exactly how to love His child in all the ways I needed to be loved that week [in Maine], all the tangible and intangible ways. His good is different than my version of good. And that is the best. [His is a better good]."
And of course, one of the biggest joys and celebrations of 2018 was of course, finding out about this new, little life, something longed-for, hoped-for, prayed-for. The rest of the year set a framework and a context for us to discover this news in October. I saw that after long seasons of waiting and heartbreak, rather than being hard-hearted, my heart was more eager and more joyful and more aware of this joy. God brought us where we needed to be, in all of it. And I'm truly excited about the next year, for His timing, for His heart lessons for me, for new dreams with our family of three, and steadfast promises of His that can be relied upon, in seasons of sorrow, or joy, and in the co-mingling of the two.