Like many, the end of the year gets me all nostalgic. I like to look back and see just how far we've come. While it seems like this past January was a decade ago, 2020 has been a big year for many in many ways. Our family has definitely has some big changes and, while some of them were challenging, we have learned new skills, have gotten better at adapting, and are thankful for another year.
We started the year on a great foot! Josh completed nursing school in December and passed his boards in January. He then moved into the role of a nurse on the ambulatory surgery floor at the VA Hospital. During this year, Josh was also promoted to Sgt. First Class in the USAR. We are so proud of him and he sets and amazing example of hard work and dedication for our girls!!
This spring brought some adjustments, as Covid changed life for us all. The girls navigated their way though online school work well. There was a lot of uncertainty for weddings, and I tried my hardest to be a support for all my couples who were looking into whether or not to reschedule. My work days changed, as inquiries slowed and weddings postponed. But that bit of extra time was so fortunate when we found or dream house on 5 acres of beautiful pasture land in May. It allowed me some extra time out of the office the help pack and prepare to move in June. Which was so very fortunate! Josh was working overnights and, not wanting to risk exposing Josh who is around high risk patients at work, we were on our own for this move. I am so thankful for my girls for being willing to work so hard to get us packed, the old house ready to sell, and helping move everything to the new house. I'm seriously blessed with an amazing family!! I would like to point out that our U-Haul was a "North Carolina" one, which I took as a good sign for this move as the universe seemed to be giving a nod to my home state. :) We were fortunate enough to have some time to paint and prep before we did our big move in. The girls were a great help with painting! They were so excited to paint their new rooms!! And this, my friends, is why we don't let Josh label the boxes. In case you can't decipher his handwriting, it says "Thermonucular Device: Handle Like Eggs." Yep, that's my husband. Ha! The girls and I did so much painted at the old house. Sorry for the messy photos, but this is reality. It was a lot of back and forth between houses for several weeks as we worked to prep the old house to sell and got settled into the new house. Long days, but absolutely worth it! I'd like to just take a moment to say how incredibly proud I am of my girls. They, along with myself and (for part of the time) one other helper, moved around 5 tons of gravel to re-gravel the garage at the old house. It wasn't easy and we were all very sore at the end, but these girls rocked it! It was bittersweet selling the old house. It was our first home, and we were there for 13 years. You guys, that is 3 1/2 times longer than I had ever lived anywhere previously! So crazy to think about!! Plus, this is the home where my girls each took their first steps, where we celebrated countless birthdays and Christmas mornings, and where I got to spend the last few months of my dad's life with him before his sudden passing. It was a good house, and am I am so thankful for all of my memories there! I hope the next owners find as much joy within the comfort of it's walls!!
On whim I set a random personal mini-goal. I decided this spring that 2020 was my year to "embrace the chaos." That motto has served me well throughout the year in accepting the things I cannot change and looking for the good in it all. But in my own little personal way, I've taken it to heart embracing my natural waves. I've fought against my fluffy, curl-when-it-wants-to hair since my teens and just didn't treat it well. Ponytails were my thing, anything to keep my hair out of my face and contain the poof. So this year, I started trying the Curly Girl Method and what a change it has made! It's probably a bit silly that I'm sharing these here (please excuse my cell phone selfies), but it has been a fun little goal to strive for. It has made me stop and take a little more time for myself, which was probably all the more meaningful in a year in which the isolation can start to wear you down. Self-care is so important! I started documenting my journey from the beginning (left picture above) because I was curious to see if any real change would occur. I'm glad I did, as it's fun to look back as see the changes. I think the biggest change has been how I view my hair. It's no longer something I try to hide in a ponytail. It is now something I enjoy styling and feel more confident about. I'm still learning how to best care for my hair, but it's been a fun process. Obligatory first day of school photos, this year on our new front steps!
We made the choice to do the Virtual Academy through our school district. It has been challenging in many ways we didn't expect, but my girls are learning a lot beyond the curriculum. I am loving watching them work on self-accountability, time management, goal setting, adaptability, and perseverance. These are skills they will carry with them the rest of their lives. Gabby turned 12 this year and is just as spunky and sassy as ever. She loves to paint and is enjoying learning to cook and bake. Laurelin turned 14. She is still loving creating art and crafts, playing Pokemon Go, and is still one smart, caring person! Also, she got her braces on this fall. Choosing the band colors is something she loves to carefully plan. Good for her! I was always too chicken to choose any fun colors. I had silver bands for all three years I was in braces.
The girls loved (and still do) to take study breaks to go play with the mama and kitties who adopted our barn in September. We've found homes for two of the litter, but the girls are head over heels in love with the sweet little runt of the litter, Itty Bitty. So she and mama live as well-fed, well-loved outdoor cats on our property. We had a bonus kitten show up in November and within 24 hours were able to find her a loving home. I'm so glad, as Mama and Itty Bitty were not very welcoming. We kind of feel like a pet adoption agency at time, but are happy to find good homes for these sweet little ones! Fall for me was packed with family portraits, seniors, and weddings. I have to say, it made my heart so very happy to be back to work, seeing my amazing clients, and meeting new couples! It was a crazy schedule, being gone basically every evening and weekend, but I wouldn't change a minute of it! I truly love what I do!!
Now we're here at the end of the year and I can honestly say, I think this year has made us all stronger. It hasn't always been easy. But, we got through every challenge together and came out the other side with new skills and new strengths. I am so thankful for my family! Love them to pieces!! I could not imagine this year without them by my side.
I am also beyond thankful for all of my clients! They are all so amazing, and I am so blessed and honored to be asked to capture such important moments in their lives. Thank you all!! Cheers to a bright 2021!!