Real Life | Wrapping Up 2014 and Things I've Learned

This is a end-of-the-year review post -- kinda long, but fun. :) Thanks for coming along for the ride in 2014!! 

Oh my, what a year! It's definitely nice to look back over a large span of time and see successes and realizations and lessons learned. Things that seemed super hard in the moment unravel into manageable bits of time. We did hard things. We painted a whole house. We drove to Arizona and back. We tried backpacking with the kiddos. We adventured a lot. We moved. We loved each other through it all. We rose above.

I started things out with great anticipation -- I had spent several months of very early mornings in 2013 writing and editing my ebook and was ready to send it out into the world. I learned a lot about self-publishing and realized I needed to learn a lot more about marketing. At that point, marketing my book wasn't a top priority. I was focusing more on traveling with my kiddos and living out the concepts in the book. So I had to let go of my dreams of selling many many copies. Writing it was my accomplishment to hold on to.

We hopped in the car together with our tents and sleeping bags and trail mix and headed south on a journey through CA to AZ. #roadtrip Camping at Indian Cove and Steep Ravine were two of our favorite places along the way. I learned that some beautiful places are really out of the way and not worth the trip and some are right along the highway and not much more than a paved trail and a photograph. I learned to look for campgrounds with big rocks to climb on or treed trails to play hide and seek on.

Indian Cove Campground

The trip taught me a lot besides the obvious, you can do hard things. It made me think really hard about what I long for. And why I have such intense longings. I remembered that God needs to be in the center of us, filling those deep desires. I learned a bit more about contentment. I learned about gratitude and focusing on beauty when everything seems gray and discouraging. I learned that we can make beauty.

And I learned that investing time in relationships with uncles and aunties and faraway friends has great value, even to an introvert. It's scary sometimes to think of giving others my time and energy, but it's become more obvious to me the rewards that come with that sacrifice. People have become a bigger priority in my life after this year.

We enjoyed old favorites and discovered new things about Portland #portlandchildartstudio. We love taking public transportation in cities and looking for water features and yummy ice cream or pizza. We discovered Fruitlandia and drank down two different delicious fresh-fruit smoothies! We went to Seattle too -- rode the train downtown and enjoyed the Pacific Science Center. I didn't know my boys would sit still for long periods of time waiting for butterflies to land on their fingers!!

Pacific Science Center

My husband and I share many of the same values [that's why we wed!] but obviously, we're going to differ in a few areas and that can be frustrating. I've learned that quite often, even after a heated debate, we will realize that our views aren't exactly all that opposite. We can usually agree. Sometimes we want different things, but we will be okay. And we will focus on the values we share. That realization that you don't have to love EVERYTHING about your husband, wife, kids, job, holiday....that's pretty big. We could just end here and call it a great year!

But we don't end there! We bike the Hiawatha trail together [yes, kids rode 13 miles on their own bikes!!] and we discover another favorite campground and also resolve to spend more weekends at home next summer [mental note!]. I make a list of fruits and vegetables that I want to be sure to preserve enough of -- including pesto and corn and of course, more applesauce. We realize that backpacking is super hard and we prefer camping with the car close by [food+water!].

Hiawatha Trail

This fall was challenging for all of us. It was a time of transition -- new job for mommy, new school for kids, then a new house. It was a time of self-sacrifice -- helping our neighbors through their significant hardships. I found myself making thought lists [things to think about later when I have time!] and after a couple months of intensity, found myself needing to realign and refresh all the while continuing to flex the just-do-the-next-thing muscle. I learned to be determined and persistent. I learned that it's important to take a step back from it all and let God give me His priorities. I remembered that He can take my ordinary life and make it something special and meaningful.

After the dust settled, I had a bit of time to think about non-profits and what we should really consider when helping others in developing countries. I have learned about supporting local economy and about going back to the same project again and again.

We've spent a great deal of our year encouraging our kids to love science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] -- giving them time to be creative and materials to work with. This has proved to be very successful with both boys building with Lego and enjoying episodes of Mythbusters or Kratts Creatures. They are about a grade level ahead in math because the concepts come so easily to them and they beg for harder math problems to answer! We've learned to just keep challenging their little brains -- it pays off!

Christmas Photo

And finally -- our family photo in the snow. Could we have chosen a warmer day? #arcticblast Next time, check the forecast before scheduling such activities. #camerafreeze That's something to remember.

We survived, we're coming out swinging. We're ready for another year together. Cheers to that!!! 
Two thousand fifteen is going to be fabulous -- there are already plans for a Spring Break trip to Utah and we're working on a friend/family road trip tour in June. Follow our adventures -- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, Bloglovin!