Twelve Reflections On 2012.

Unlike some years past, I’m not going to bother doing a lengthy recap of this past year.  I imagine it would go something like played with Cullen, tried new Seattle restaurants, traveled to visit family, cooked awesome local produce, repeat.  It hasn’t been a boring year by any means – just a lot more simple.  And that’s definitely not a bad thing. 

This year has brought a lot of growth to our family.  It has been one of the toughest, and yet most exhilarating years I can remember.  Here are twelve things I loved about 2012:

1.  Discovering life as a family of three (or five!).  Cullen was born in 2011, but 2012 was really his year.  We went from sleep-deprived, fumbling new parents with a confusing newborn, to a functional, working unit of three.  Being far away from loved ones has been very difficult in many ways, but it has also really strengthened our immediate family.  I think the dogs have finally accepted that Cullen is here to stay.

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2.  Strengthening my marriage.  I’ve mentioned this before, but this has probably been the toughest year of our relationship to date.  We went through a lot of big life changes, all of which came with some element of stress.  Now that we’re at the tail end of it, I can see how much stronger we’ve become.  We are not perfect, but we’re a really great team, and I am so grateful to have such a wonderful partner through this incredible ride.  Watching a husband become a dad is truly precious.

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3.  Lots of travel near and far.  In February, Casey and I took Cullen to Hawaii when he was only three months old.  Looking back, we might have been insane, but despite being totally sleep deprived and nursing round the clock, we still had a blast.  It was probably our last big vacation for a long time, and we made it count.  These days, we’re saving trips and vacation days for opportunities to visit family, and I feel really lucky that we’re able to travel as much as we do.

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4.  Fifty one new recipes.  It has been a challenge to figure out how to fit cooking and recipe development into my days at home with Cullen, but I’m proud of the recipes I churned out this year.  Of course I wish there had been more, but I’d rather create fewer, better dishes than post a picture of every bowl of rice and lentils we eat.  Looking back through my recipe page, it looks like I made fifty one recipes this year.  Not bad for a new mom, struggling to find adequate daylight for photographs during the Seattle winter.  

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5.  Learning how to feed a baby (now toddler).  When I first looked into starting solids with Cullen, I felt really intimidated.  Now that I’ve made it through to the other side, I feel so confident in and excited by his meals.  This has probably been one of the bigger surprises of my year.  I hope to talk a lot more about infant and childhood nutrition and meals in the coming years, as I feel really passionate about sharing my journey in feeding a family. 

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6.  Returning to – and taking a break from – running.  I’ve written quite a bit about my rocky journey through postpartum fitness here.  In 2012 I ran two half marathons, which is actually sort of hard to believe now that I look back.  I think I jumped back into running too quickly, and set my goals too high, which ultimately had me backing off completely.  I hope next year brings better balance to this aspect of my life.

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7.  Embracing my role as a stay at home mom.  For many of Cullen’s early months, I felt really torn between my new role at home with the sudden feeling that I was behind on everything and unable to keep up with my work.  Somewhere mid-year, I had an epiphany type of realization, and decided to let go of all the pressure and expectations I had put on myself.  I am much, much happier now.  When I’m with Cullen, I focus on him 100%, and when I’m not, I focus wholeheartedly on my work and other commitments.  I’ve reorganized my schedule, focused my work, and found some childcare – all of which has helped.

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8.  Falling in love with Seattle.  We moved here in May 2011, but learning to love Seattle was a slow process.  It’s very different out here than what we were used to, and I spent the first few months here feeling very homesick and longing to move back toward family.  This year, we explored so much of the Seattle area, and I can honestly say that after a year and a half, it finally feels like home.  I feel so lucky to live somewhere so beautiful.

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9.  Exploring the Pacific Northwest.  One of the things that is strange about living here, is that I have virtually no knowledge of the surrounding areas.  Growing up in Ohio, you don’t learn much about the Pacific Northwest other than general climate and state capitals.  This is something I’d like to do even more of in 2013.  This year brought trips to Portland, exploring a few local islands, and several hikes in nearby mountains. 

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10.  Another summer with my little sister.  For the past two years in a row, my sister has come to Seattle to spend the summer with us.  It has been such an incredible gift to get to spend so much uninterrupted time with her now that we are both adults.  And I’m so glad she’s such a big part of her nephew’s life.  He adores her. 

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11.  Celebrating Cullen’s first birthday.  There have been so many wonderful moments this year, but the joy of watching my baby turn one really stands out.  It was such a fun celebration with friends and family, and I couldn’t have asked for a better day. 

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12.  Watching my baby grow into a toddler.  I know I’m a big sap, and I gush about Cullen here way more than I should, but I just can’t help myself.  I knew I’d love being a mom, but I didn’t understand how all encompassing that love would feel.  He is so independent now, and he needs much less from me on a daily basis.  And while I loved his newborn snuggles, nothing gives me greater pride and happiness, than watching him run through the grass without looking back.

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It’s been a great year.  Thank you for being part of it.  Here’s to whatever comes next!