2014 in Review...or the Post in Which I Overuse the Word Lovely

We have had a good year as a family of four.

January and February feel so long ago in some respects. The winter of 2013-2014 was the Winter of Never-ending Snow & Cold in Minnesota--which is saying something, since that's kind of every winter here...but this year, Winter went above and beyond. I think I've tried to block some of it out. I'm sure our days were filled with playing with legos, playing outside, and doing whatever we could to avoid going stir-crazy...which pretty much describes any winter day ever.

We also visited these lovely people in St. Paul...and sadly, I don't think we've made it back there since then!

In March, our youngest turned 5 years old, and I started a very deliberate journey toward more self-care. Because, ya know...if you're not taking care of you, how can you possibly think you could take care of anyone else?

Ice Cream Cake in snow-covered March? Um, YES!!

Going to restaurants used to be a train wreck...now they're mostly enjoyable!

In April I celebrated 10 years of employment with Bridges of Hope. So much has changed in that time--both at the organization and in my own life. Nick and I also continued our therapeutic parenting adventure by attending a 2-day conference in Chicago, specifically for parents like us. It was SO amazing to be surrounded by other people who would listen to your story and say, "I have so been there." We hope to go again this year.

My lovely co-workers decorated for me.
Just a handful of the lovely people at Parenting in SPACE.

May and June were spent finishing school and beginning summer vacation. I was able to move to a very flexible schedule this year (thank you Bridges of Hope!) and was thus able to spend more of the summer with the boys.

Why yes, yes you can jump on the bed. Please do!

We spent some time at the family cabin in July, and our garden starting making some progress--though overall, it was a rather lack-luster year for us, garden-wise. We also attended a family reunion for my side of the family. After many many years of Thanksgiving-Christmas, we have finally reached a point where that is just too difficult to get everyone together, and we've started a new tradition in the summer instead. It's so much nicer in Minnesota in the summer anyway! After that, we also attended a family weekend at a cabin for Nick's side of the family. Apparently July is the time to do stuff. (It also appears that I got a bit carried away with the pictures from July....)

Yeah, this is pretty much how Nick & I look most of the time.

The boys...2012 and 2014.
August marked 10 years of marriage for Nick & me. As everyone says, the time goes faster and faster these days. We made an end-of-summer trip to Itasca, and the boys crossed the Headwaters of the Mississippi River for the first time. I won't include details of how the rest of the trip went; suffice it to say that that was the clear highlight of that trip. In September, our youngest started Kindergarten, which meant that at last, we had two kids on the same schedule! So very lovely. This year we did a little more prep work beforehand for the boys' teachers...introducing them to attachment struggles, and the boys wrote their own introductory letters (thank you homeasafeplacetofall!) to let their teachers know the things they personally have difficulty with at school. At home, we started talking about trauma, and loss, and healing, and acceptance, and other such light subjects. (She said dryly.) It's been really tough at times, but also really really good for all of us. And because I can't really show you all of that very personal, very difficult work we've been doing together, I will instead plaster this post with memes. You're welcome.

Crossing the Mississippi

And this would be how we left our car during the entire School Open House. Yep.
First Day of School!

We celebrated our Adoption Anniversary this year in Bemidji over MEA. Bemidji is where Nick & I went to undergraduate college (and where we met). We had an AMAZING trip--no schedules, no obligations...we just did what we could handle each day...and we actually came home calling it a vacation! (Those of you with children will appreciate the enormity of that statement!)

So...that brings us to November and December. Our oldest JUST turned eight years old. Eight! What in the world??

We're still chugging along, closing out one year and preparing for the next. Nick and I were counting up all of the parenting techniques/methods we think we've tried over the past four years and came up with a list of more than ten...happily we still use bits and pieces of most of them as we've journeyed into our own style of parenting that best fit our circumstances at the time. The four of us are also feeling all of those holiday feelings...excitement, anticipation, and joy...and also loss, sadness, and grief. I've been recently bitten, and there was an attempt on my life in the form of strangulation by scarf. (It didn't tighten, thanks to a complicated tying of said scarf.) In the midst of this, I've also been snuggled up against countless mornings, afternoons, and evenings...I've been told "I love you Mommy," and "I'm so sorry I did that." Last night when I said, "Am I on the right track in thinking you are having some big, big feelings about your birth family these last couple of days?" and  I got the tiniest nod in response...those are the moments I know we're on the right path together. Thanks for coming along with us.

Note: I swear I had JUST cleared this counter off completely! 

Celebrating Nana's birthday in December, too! 

Merry Christmas to you, and Happy New Year, from the four of us.


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