Hey, hey, it’s time for one of my favorite posts of the year! 2022 was a banner year in so many respects. Freshly boosted with extra COVID-19 protection in January, we started venturing out more and our family travels (with and without kids) took us as far afield as Central America – twice – the Dakota badlands, and on plenty of local adventures. Looking back on the year that’s just ended, I can say we really lived this one.
In January, Nugget discovered his love for strapping boards on his feet and sliding down a mountain! We drove up to Pennsylvania most weekends of the winter, and I taught him the basics (this year, he’s destined for lessons with an actual pro – I don’t want to instill bad habits, and Mom needs time to sneak off and tear up some black diamonds). As for the rest of the month, we squeezed in a few hikes (around mountain days – skiing took priority!) and I discovered that serving as Peanut’s troop Cookie Manager was too much work and too much math for me. Nevertheless, she (me) persisted!
February was a month I’ll remember for a long time! Steve and I were supposed to be on the adventure of a lifetime in Antarctica, but our trip was postponed due to COVID (long story). Not ones to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, we shifted plans at the last minute and went on an incredible road trip around Costa Rica – including the spectacular Osa Peninsula, where we finished our PADI scuba certification and dove Isla del Cano. After exploring the reefs, the cloud forests, and the Arenal volcano region, we fell head over heels in love with Costa Rica and are already scheming up ways to get back there. The rest of the month was the usual winter shenanigans – work, school, and Mom/Nugget ski days on the weekends.
Our sweet Nugget turned seven years old in March! Where does the time go? For once, we mostly stayed home – just one weekend on the slopes and no travel for any of us. It’s good to be home sometimes. Nugget started his second season of Little League toward the end of the month and we pounded the dirt on our favorite local hiking trails.
In April, I made my first of several business trips of 2022 – out to Seattle for a departmental all-hands meeting. It was a fun trip – seeing colleagues from all around the world, and Mt. Rainier even came out to say hello! Closer to home, there were more hikes and more Little League games, and Nugget and I squeezed in a couple of trail rides on our bikes. The Virginia bluebells burst into bloom and we hit up not one, but two, local bluebell festivals.
May was another quiet at-home month. I was under the weather for a few days, but we still managed to squeeze in a few hikes – including on Mother’s Day at Huntley Meadows (an old favorite from our days in Alexandria) where we watched the spring migratory birds setting up their nests and enjoyed the burgeoning green. And Nugget got a new mountain bike; he’d outgrown his old one and was looking pretty comical until we sized him up appropriately.
The kids wrapped up their school year in early June, and Steve was at his law school reunion the weekend they started their summer vacation – so I planned an action-packed celebration I called The Great Summer Kickoff Weekend of Partying and Fun. We officially started summer vacation with Chinese food eaten picnic-style in the backyard, followed by a movie night (Luca, a perfect summer movie!) with popcorn. The next day, I took the kids out for an epic day out – Duck Donuts for breakfast, a visit to the Old Town Pool (our old stomping grounds) and an afternoon hanging out with our favorite former neighbors, dinner out at a Mexican restaurant in Old Town, and gelato. Whew! (It was a lot, so Peanut promptly got a sore throat and it rained on Sunday, so the Great Summer Kickoff Weekend was mostly just a really busy Saturday, but you know how it goes.) The rest of the month, we bumped around the local hiking trails, celebrated Father’s Day at Steve’s favorite local park, and wrapped up the Little League season and started summer programming (baseball camp for Nugget, musical theatre camp for Peanut). I like to stay busy, you know!
July found me back underwater. My parents wanted to borrow the kids for a week or two, so we drove them up to New York and spent a week working remotely from my parents’ house and sailing and kayaking on the Sacandaga Lake over the Fourth of July weekend, then we left the kids to terrorize their grandparents and headed back to Central America – this time to Roatan Island, Honduras, for a “digital nomad week” of scuba diving in the mornings and working from our beach hut in the afternoons. Not a bad life, indeed! Back home, we hit the beach (Sandy Point State Park on the Chesapeake Bay) and Nugget got stung by a jellyfish – whoops – and the kids continued making the summer camp rounds; Peanut back at her musical theatre camp and Nugget transitioning to the soccer portion of his summer.
Family vacation time! We hit the road as a foursome in August. Originally, we had planned and booked a trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, but had to quickly change strategy again due to the historic flooding. (I mused to Steve that 2020 was the year of making plans and then cancelling everything and not going anywhere; 2021 was the year of making no plans at all and then traveling across the country twice; and 2022 was the year of making plans and doing something completely different – hopefully in 2023 we will make plans and actually stick to them.) On short notice, we changed our trip from Yellowstone to the Dakota Badlands – hitting up Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota; Badlands and Wind Cave National Parks, Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park in South Dakota; and Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming – what a whirlwind! We celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary on the trails at Badlands and then rushed home for the first day of school. And we capped off the month by celebrating lovely Peanut’s tenth birthday at the American Girl Store – seriously, how is she TEN?! And where did the summer go?
In September I dashed off to Nashville for another business trip, and found time to squeeze in a visit to the famous Parnassus Books while I was there. Don’t worry, I left with a major haul! Back at home, we continued tramping the local trails, and we also finally got out on the water as a family! Peanut got a kayak for her birthday – Nugget already had one – and we loaded all four onto a trailer and paddled as a foursome on a small local reservoir, one of our favorite lakes in the area, and the Potomac.
October was all about the local fun! We hosted my parents and their friends on their way back north after a month in Hilton Head (they’re doing retirement right, let me tell ya) and took them on one of our favorite hikes at Great Falls Park and for a stroll along Embassy Row in D.C. At the end of the month, Nugget and I ran in the Marine Corps Marathon weekend – he did the kids’ mile and I did the 10K and we discovered that he can bust out a seven minute mile without breaking a sweat. The kid is insane. And of course there was Halloween to cap it all off – the ultimate of the anklebiters’ holy days. Peanut dressed as Cleopatra (and did the entire trick-or-treating walk in character, acting as if she had just been plunked down in this century and had no idea where – or when – she was; it was hilarious) and Nugget was a cowboy. They were adorable, and the neighbors rewarded them appropriately with pounds and pounds of candy.
November found me traveling across the country again – another trip to Seattle, this time for a conference – and returning to find Thanksgiving creeping up on me. We hosted my parents, and Nugget and I both ran in the local turkey trot (he did the kids’ mile and I did the 5K). He finished in under eight minutes again but discovered that cold weather running is not for him – ha! The kid is definitely a Virginian.
In December we came full-circle and were back on the mountain again! Nugget and I got out skiing twice before the calendar officially turned – once at our regular mountain in Pennsylvania and once at Jiminy Peak in western Massachusetts. Those highlights aside, we did all the usual December things – I flew to Seattle for one more business trip; we brought home and decorated our Christmas tree; we visited Aladdin at Mount Vernon; we did our Old Town holiday wreath walk, and more. It was a whirlwind of a month, as December always is, and I ended the month looking forward to a clean slate in January and all the adventures that 2023 will bring.
Cheers to 2022, friends! What were the highlights of your year?