Happy New Year’s Eve, friends! In lieu of my usual Monday post, I am getting sentimental (you’re not surprised, I know) and looking back on the year that is wrapping up today. 2018 was a year of extreme highs and lows – we had some really joyful times, but we also had an unexpected death in the family that left us reeling for the latter half of the year. I think if there was a theme or a lesson to 2018, it was that life is short and you should hug your loved ones as much as possible.
January was a hectic month. I entered a particularly busy season at work and had several 70-hour workweeks in a row – ouch. Poor little Nugget also got hit with a yucky stomach bug that we’re pretty sure he picked up while playing at a local children’s gym. And the weather was super-weird, fluctuating from 65 degrees one weekend to below freezing for weeks on end. But we managed to get outside a couple of times, even in the cold weather, kicking off the 52 Hike Challenge at Theodore Roosevelt Island in D.C.
February brought more cold weather, more indoor time, and more hectic weeks at work. We only managed to hit the trail once, but we did host Peanut’s BFF and her mom for a fun play date. The girls baked raspberry crumb bars (with some help from the moms) and we all enjoyed them with tea. I had some grown-up fun, too, attending a rosé tasting event at the Embassy of France with my BFF and doing a bit of book shopping.
March means one thing – my sweet baby’s birthday! We celebrated THREE YEARS of Nugget with a Star Wars themed birthday party, and true to his nature, Outdoor Boy chose to mark his birthday with a hike. We hit the trails a few times this month, since the weather finally started to thaw, and we also made a trip to the National Zoo. I also made a trip to Boston to work on a union campaign (my favorite part of my job) and spent an evening chatting into the night with sweet Katie.
April was a banner month, because I saw my favorite band, the Decemberists, in concert! They don’t tour all that often and even more rarely come East, so it was a special treat. The rest of the month was just as celebratory. We marked Easter with a service at our church – joined by Aunt Rebecca – followed by egg-dyeing and a vegetarian feast with a Aunt Rebecca, Aunt Jenn and Uncle Robert, and Peanut’s very first friend (Jenn and Robert’s daughter). Hiking was good, too – there was the Bluebell Loop Trail, naturally – a can’t-miss April tradition – a Mason Neck hike with Rebecca and her dog Brandy, and a muddy good time at Great Falls.
May saw more family fun – a visit from Grandma, who we don’t see nearly as much as we wish we did, and a Mother’s Day hike at Mason Neck. We also started our garden for the year (dubbed “Squirrelbait”) – spoiler: this wasn’t the most successful year. We visited Mount Vernon and petted the baby animals, and Peanut said lots of hilarious things.
June was a month of highs and lows. We started with the highs – first a trip to Cornell for my fifteenth reunion. How is it possible that so much time has gone by since graduation? It was fun introducing the kids to the place where Steve and I fell in love. After Cornell, we stayed upstate for a bit longer and swung by my parents’ house, where my brother Dan and his wife Danielle were visiting from Colorado. We never get enough time with them, but we made the most of the few days we had – sailing on the Adirondack lake where my parents have a camp and hiking at Lake Minnewaska. The end of the month brought great sadness, though – the sudden and unexpected loss of a beloved family member. We’re still working through the grief that followed.
July was a sad month, while we grieved and tried to adjust to a new reality without someone we all loved in it. We’d been planning to make a trip back up north to spend the Fourth of July with my parents, and we decided that we would keep those plans, because we wanted to be with family. I didn’t recap most of the trip – too sad – but we made it to the lake again and my parents distracted us with an afternoon of hiking at Bash Bish Falls and dinner out in nearby Lenox, Massachusetts. (Western Massachusetts is so lovely; I wish I got there more.) We kind of drifted through the rest of the month; I don’t remember much of what we did, other than camp runs and play dates – and I finally learned to bake bread. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but looking back I think that maybe my obsession with bread-baking this summer might have had something to do with needing an outlet and to do something with my hands when my heart was feeling so sad.
August was the month we reserved for our summer vacation, and we managed to have a pretty good time. We drove back up to New York (three trips to the Empire State in three months!) and spent a week in the Adirondacks with my parents. We got a cute Airbnb apartment right in downtown Lake Placid and used it as base camp for a week of hiking and water fun. Steve and I climbed our fourth Adirondack high peak (Big Slide Mountain this time); the kids splashed and played at the Lake Placid beach, and we celebrated Peanut’s sixth birthday on the trail.
September was quiet after the wild swings of summer, and that was what we needed. We hiked at Great Falls with new friends who just recently moved to the area from San Francisco, and the kids went back to school. Most of my month was taken up with back-to-school activities – as kindergarten class mom, I had a lot to do with back to school night, first PTA meetings of the year, and more. Volunteering in Peanut’s classroom was one of my fall goals, and I have loved being around the school more.
October is my favorite month! It’s my birthday month, fall splendor is everywhere, and Halloween is the best way to close out a month – if you ask me, which I realize no one did. I cashed in my birthday authority by dragging the family out for a cold picnic and hiking in Shenandoah National Park – Nugget’s happy place. During the week, I treated myself to a lunchtime excursion to see No Spectators: the Art of Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery with my friend Susan, and it was fabulous. The rest of the month, we fit in several more hikes, watched the beginning of the fall foliage changing (it’s really a November phenomenon in Virginia, but it starts in October) and celebrated Halloween at school and in the neighborhood.
November was Steve’s birthday month, and we celebrated on the trails, of course! Governor Northam had recently opened a brand-new state park – Widewater State Park, near Stafford – so we headed down there to check it out. Even with the very barest beginnings of a trail network, it was lovely. I also changed jobs in November, after a long search for a new opportunity, and enjoyed three days of “funemployment” – which I spent reading and chaperoning Peanut’s field trip to the weirdest farm ever. And of course, one of my favorite holidays – we shared a Thanksgiving feast with my parents and our beloved next door neighbors, then spent Black Friday working off the mashed potatoes on the trail at Great Falls.
December – we made it to the end of the year! I started the year with a business trip to Philadelphia, which was a lot of fun – and I got to see the lovely A.M.B. into the bargain! Back in Virginia, we tried out a new tradition and cut down our own Christmas tree, then decorated it with all of our favorite ornaments. We filled the month with other holiday fun – like a trip to the Christmas trains at the U.S. Botanic Garden – and even made it up to Baltimore to spend a day at the National Aquarium. We ended the month with a little over a week at my parents’ place and managed to squeeze in almost everything we wanted to do – lots of friend time, hiking, family fun and playdates. A good way to bid the old year farewell.
And now, it’s 2019! Here’s hoping for lots of joy and adventures this year – we need them.