Wow, 2015 whizzed by. I can hardly remember where it all went. Thank goodness for photos, right? Looking back at our photos and remembering all that 2015 brought to our lives, I have to say that 2015 was a really, really good year. It hasn’t always been that way; we’ve had our tough years, too. But this year was pretty special, and for that I feel so blessed.
Here’s a look at our Top 15 from 2015:
Though this list is in no particular order, KonMari is on the top of the list for a reason. Last January, I had no idea what kind of storm would be brewing in my soul shortly after. A friend casually mentioned “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” during a parenting class last February and the Japanese art of decluttering AKA “KonMari” dominated most of my year.
By March, I had read the book and bought six copies for family and friends. By April, I was down to less than 10 pieces of clothing and my house felt 1000 tons lighter after an epic garage sale. By May, things were clicking and my house started to feel like a home, just not my home. By August, we decided to list our house for sale and look for a more simple life. By November, I had a joy-sparking capsule wardrobe and we were settled into a cozy apartment while building our new, smaller home.
KonMari was a whirlwind in a way I never expected. It wasn’t easy; it was messy; and it was a harsh reality check. It was truly life changing.
2. Brian changed jobs
My husband is a hard worker and gives his company 110% of himself way more than 40 hours a week. For the last few years, he worked in a position that gave him great opportunities to grow and develop and lead others, but it started to creep into our family life. There were long hours and phone calls even on Christmas Day and the work-life balance began to tip the wrong way.
As much as Brian is loyal to his company and those he leads, he is even more committed to his family. He took a new position, surprising some as it may have not been the best strategic move, so that he could spend more time with us. We love that he has a more regular schedule and is home for dinner most nights and rarely has to work outside of the regular workday.
I read an article recently about stay-at-home moms, but I think this applies to anyone who makes a commitment to family: “Choosing to invest in others when everyone and everything is telling you to continue investing in yourself and your career shows strength of character and a willingness to live your principles.”
3. Trip to Disney World
Disney is in my blood and nothing gets me more excited than taking my kids to experience the magic. This trip was completely magical and everything I could have hoped for.
A few of our highlights were the Princess breakfast at Norway’s Akerhaus Banquet Hall, going up in Spaceship Earth at Epcot, seeing the birds in the Tiki Room at the Magic Kingdom and the Disney Junior show at Hollywood Studios. We can’t wait to go back and are planning a big family trip for Thanksgiving 2016.
Once KonMari had worked its way through our house and our lives, the walls of our beautiful home began to feel like they were meant for someone else. I had a vision of a smaller, yet still beautiful home where our kids could grow up more like we grew up as kids. I craved a more simple life with less to do around the house and more to do for the family.
A conversation with a friend about living in a smaller house gave me the push to talk to my husband and see if moving could make sense for us. Within a matter of weeks, our house was staged and listed for sale and we had found the perfect spot nearby to build a new, smaller home.
After an unexpected quick sale, we moved into an apartment with a short term lease until our new home is completed. Apartment living is different. The tiny kitchen and lack of counter space or cabinets is a definite drawback when I spend most days cooking for the family. The budget-saving light/fan combo in the bathrooms might drive me bonkers. The noisy neighbors have made me lose my stuff on a few occasions. But mostly, we’re loving this simple life and are excited if this is a preview of what’s to come.
Our house is expected to be finished at the end of February and after a few DIY upgrades, we hope to move in sometime in March.
This year was the year I wanted to lose the “baby” weight. I started out reading “The Food Babe Way” and came up with a plan to start running. I did run (I use the term loosely) a 5K in March, but with a baby who didn’t sleep through the night and a busy three year old, it was tough to find time to run. I was reinvigorated to run again in the fall, but I fell off that bandwagon too. Again, it’s hard to run on just a few hours of broken sleep with set schedule.
Good workouts for me happen at the gym. A hundred years ago, I took a Pilates class at a local gym and really loved it. There was a quirky instructor who had us breathe crazy and bounce on BOSU balls and I got a great workout. Someone in a Zumba class mentioned Pilates reformer one day last spring and with fond memories of the Pilates of my younger days, I decided to give it a try.
It was love at first sight. Pilates is an excellent full body workout with a bonus of feeling relaxed like I did yoga. I coerced my husband into joining me for the next class and thankfully he fell in love too. For more than six months now, we’ve done a Pilates class together every Monday night. It’s exercise and a date night all in one. It’s been a long time since we’ve been this committed to a fitness routine. I’ve fluctuated from doing one to three Pilates classes a week and I’m so happy with the results on my body and strength.
I started 2015 weighing 176 pounds and was down to 12 pounds after following Food Babe’s 21-day plan and then lost another 8 pounds after six weeks of Pilates. I’ve been hovering at 155 pounds, which means I am down the 50 pounds I gained during my last pregnancy, but I still have 20 pounds to go from when I ate my sorrows away after my loss in 2013. That 20 pounds must go in 2016!
6. Brian’s half marathon
My husband ran a half marathon in under two hours and thirty minutes. That’s pretty cool by itself, but this was a symbol of so much more. Brian has suffered chronic and debilitating back pain for the last 10 years along with other chronic ailments. This year, his pain went away.
It’s an unbelievable story that started by a book recommendation from a friend. Our lives are so different than they were when we lived in constant fear of a flare up. Brian did a 13.1 mile race and ended up lightyears away from where he started his journey.
7. Our kids started sleeping
I’ve been sleep deprived for more than five years now. I actually don’t remember what it’s like to sleep well. Gabriella woke up every two hours from the time she was born until she was two years old. She didn’t consistently sleep through the night until after she was three years old. She didn’t go to sleep on her own until after she turned four.
Preston, thankfully was a much better sleeper and started sleeping until 5 a.m. around a year old. And the best part is that he prefers to put himself to sleep and doesn’t require an extensive bedtime routine like his sister.
This year, for the first time since we’ve become parents, we can actually expect to put our kids to bed around 8:30 p.m. and have the rest of the night to do whatever we want. It’s simply blissful to have time in the evening with my husband or to finish up chores or just relax. This year we have watched more TV than we have in a loooooong time. We binged watched Downton Abbey, Falling Skies, Newsroom and more. One of my 2016 goals is to make it through the entire series of 90210 (I’m only half kidding).
8. Thanksgiving trip
We made a trip to Grapevine after Thanksgiving with my sister in law’s family and had a blast. We stayed at The Gaylord Texas to experience ICE! and decided that nine degrees is just too cold. Brrr! Then we spent three days at Great Wolf Lodge and had a wonderfully relaxing time. The kids loved it and we’ll definitely go back.
9. Preston’s Baptism
Preston was baptized at Brian’s childhood church and it was a special, wonderful day. We celebrated in the fellowship hall with a lunch for the congregation, cake and baby snuggles for everyone.
10. Preston’s first beach trip
We have a Memorial Day tradition to rent a condo with family and this year we found a cute beach house in Galveston for Preston’s first beach trip. He was such a beach baby and loved every minute of the sand and waves. I’ll never forget him crawling into the Gulf with a huge grin on his face an absolutely no fear of the water.
11. Started homeschooling
Last January, I took Gabriella out of her preschool and started homeschooling. While I had a lot of reasons for wanting to homeschool, I really had no idea how much we would love it. We made it through most of the Before Five in a Row book list and then started with A Year of Playing Skillfully from The Homegrown Preschooler in September.
Our actual homeschool routine looks absolutely nothing like I would have guessed a year ago and I credit that to meeting so many seasoned homeschool pros who constantly remind me that what preschoolers need most is time to read books and play. We’re doing plenty of that!
12. Spending time in nature
I attended a homeschool conference last summer and discovered the Charlotte Mason method of teaching. I fell in love with Charlotte Mason’s educational philosophy, and read “For the Children’s Sake,” which is based on her methods. With pages and pages of wonderful information about how to create an education designed for the child, I took one golden nugget that I believe will be one of the most important facets of my children’s education and entire childhood.
Children need to spend time outdoors every day- hours and hours of outdoor play, mostly unstructured, is what ignites the mind and primes it for the more rigorous learning to come. It’s a simple goal, but it takes commitment. Rain or shine, wind or cold, we are getting outdoors. We’re taking long, long walks and exploring the world around us. We’re discovering creeks and rivers and fallen trees and all of the wildlife along the way. It’s such a special way for us to begin this journey of education together.
13. Four Generations together
Last spring, my mom and grandma flew in from the East coast and sister flew in from the West coast so we could get all four generations together here in Texas. My kids love their Grandma Lindy, Nanny and Aunt Aimee so much and it was so, so special to have them all visit us at the same time.
14. Project 365 completed
I started my Project 365 photography project in 2014 with one simple rule: take one photo a day. I completed this, but I’ll admit it was a little painful in the end. Taking a photo a day seems simple enough, but at the point it became a chore, I probably should have given it up or found a way to change something.
Overall, I’m so glad I did it. I have a year’s worth of pretty awesome photos and my photography improved by leaps and bounds. I found that I enjoy food photography, I don’t like to do portraits of strangers, and taking photos of my own kids is definitely my forte.
I’m not up for another 365, but I’m considering a Project 52 where I take a photo a week. We’ll see.
15. Discovering Gabriella’s allergies
The lowest points in our year had to do with Gabriella’s health. We struggled with her constipation, eczema, behavior issues and molluscum contagiosum and have seen so many doctors and natural practitioners and spent thousands of dollars trying to get her better. It’s been a hard year for her and us when I think about all that we’ve been through.
But, thankfully, things are definitely looking up. After discovering her food allergies and going through elimination diets and food challenges and lots of trial and error, we’ve found that wheat is the main allergen we have to avoid. We’ve been gluten free since May and while it was a challenge at first, I have lots of gluten free moms who have helped me with recipes, sourcing ingredients and finding places to eat out. Since we have eliminated wheat from her diet, so much has improved in her overall health.
We’re still working on healing her gut and immune system, but I see signs of hope that what we are doing is working. I know we’ll get there, it will just take time. I can’t wait to see where we are at the end of 2016.
There are a few other biggies that happened in 2015 that didn’t quite make my list like my big brother moved to Austin so I’ll hopefully get to see him more, my little brother got engaged (yay!!!), my sister in law is pregnant with another cousin to play with and I had the wonderful pleasure of being invited to a friend’s birth to take photos. My husband also conquered the world of organic gardening and grew us so much delicious food and he also got a new-to-him truck that is his first nice car (that we paid cash for) since we decided to get out of debt nine years ago.
I also spent my first full year blogging. I write mostly for myself, but in just this short amount of time, I’ve been blessed by each and every one of you reading this. I’ve learned so much from people I’ve never even met. One amazing reader even gets credit for helping me figure out Gabriella’s wheat allergy. I hope that I’ve been able to share some useful ideas for others too.
It’s been a good year, but that was fun, but now it’s done (in my best Daniel Tiger voice).
For 2016, I still stand by my resolutions from last year: Eat more vegetables and be present. I’m in work in progress when it comes to both of those. If you know my in real life, feel free to give me the stink eye if I order french fries instead of a salad and knock my phone to the ground if I pull it out and we’re talking. Among the broccoli and less screen time, I know we’re going to have some amazing adventures in 2016, and I can’t wait.
What are you excited for in 2016? Share with me on our Facebook page!