Happy New Year! 2016 in Review

I recently was commenting to my husband Nathan how I felt our year was uneventful so it was no big deal that we weren’t sending out a newsletter. He immediately corrected me as we both began naming many things we did/accomplished throughout the year! As I started this entry, I couldn’t believe how right my dear husband was. Although 2016 was a painful year of growing for me personally, it was also a beautiful year and God has never left our side. We have been immensely blessed by the gifts of relationships, provisions, laughter, beauty and wisdom to just name a few. So although we did not send out a physical letter/card this year, hope you enjoy learning a little bit about what we’ve been up to via this blog. This entry has been a healing journey of remembering all the gifts God has so graciously given us!

January-January was a pretty busy month! I enjoyed some girl time by hosting some of my close friends/old roomies for dinner; meanwhile Nathan enjoyed a snowboarding trip in Wausau, WI with his sister Jessy.

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snowboarding at Granite Peak in Wausau Wisconsin with his sister Jessy

We also had our first couple guests as a married couple, my cousin Caitlin and her husband Barry. I made teriyaki salmon and we played games and just relaxed. It was awesome. Finally, we enjoyed a 2-day stay at Canyon Road Inn-a cute B & B in Turtle Lake, Wisconsin (a wedding gift from our good friends Travis and Shivan).

February- We enjoyed skating at Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. We also celebrated Valentines day at a fancy restaurant-McCormick & Schmick’s and heard/saw our first ballet-St Paul Ballet. The dinner was good; the walk to the ballet was brutal (super cold); the ballet was…interesting! If you want to hear the whole story, go ahead and ask, haha.

March-We celebrated N’s birthday at Mediterranean Cruise Cafe, one of our favorite restaurants. I enjoyed watching my middle schoolers perform the Little Mermaid Jr. with my good friend Jesica. The highlight of our month was our long-awaited week-long honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. We chose the all-inclusive Iberostar Grand Hotel in Punta Cana and were delighted by just being able to relax in a beautiful setting! The trip was unforgettable!20160327_120111

April-We celebrated Nathan’s gradation from graduate school with an MS in Electrical Engineering. (He still had some studying left to do for a few weeks afterward so we couldn’t fully celebrate til May!)

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May-Nathan finally finished his studies (Way to go Babe!!!!!) so we enjoyed more time together! Tim and Amelie came from Germany. The 4 of us plus Caitlin and Barry all hung out at Lake Minnetonka. We also attended my old roomie and good friend’s Ambrosia’s wedding to Daniel. It was a definitely a month of connection and relationships!

June-Since I still had a few weeks of teaching left, Nathan began vigorously working on the house, organizing, decluttering and cleaning. We had our first overnight house guests come at the end of June. N’s brother Bob, wife Carol and children, Landon, Ashlyn and Reese, stayed with us for 3 days. Bob and Nathan bonded through their running of a Spartan Race in Welsh Village (it was N’s 3rd Spartan Race and, while he did not have a lot of time to train this time, both guys finished well and had a quite a story to tell!) We enjoyed dinners, movies, Nickelodeon Universe, a trip to the beach and just talking and spending time together with our family.

July-I finally began to relax after a stressful school year. Since I decided to not work this summer, I got a lot of reading in. I finished the entire Harry Potter Series (started it in March); I also enjoyed Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, a lighthearted memoir called Wait Till Next Year and a very interesting memoir about losing and finding faith,When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over. I also read quite a few marriage and self-help books.

July was also a month of family. Nathan and I enjoyed a visit to Coleman, Wisconsin (his hometown) to celebrate Fourth of July with his extended family. The party was hosted by his great Uncle Myron. This was an incredibly special time to meet tons of family and also because Uncle Myron recently passed away (a few days before Christmas). So I was very grateful to have met him and just feel closer to my husband’s family. We also visited my brother Nathan, Kat, Brendan (5) and Owen (2) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It was our first time to their home. We enjoyed seeing the hospital where Nate works as a chaplain, yoga (Kat and me), bike rides, farmer’s market, and just playing around the house and yard. We are blessed by family!

This month N and I became companion care volunteers for a hospice program. We now visit a hospice patient several times a month and have enjoyed our time as a couple doing something that we both find rewarding.

August-I planned a karaoke birthday party for my 32nd! So that was fun. It was special that so many great people took the time to come and spend time with me, even if karaoke isn’t their cup of tea!  Nathan and I also enjoyed going to (his first) drive-in movie. Actually we stayed for all three movies! It was a fun, enjoyable and romantic date!

The highlight of the summer was probably our time up in Duluth with our friends Jeff and Emma. We loved their beautiful home, ate good (healthy) food, played games and enjoyed a day of hiking. Then N and I spent some special time at a Bed and Breakfast in downtown Duluth right on the incredibly gorgeous lake! It was a beautifully unforgettable trip! Finally, this month, we had a double date with our friends Scott and Joy. We enjoyed sushi, Yogurt Lab and a Trader Joe’s run. We are so grateful for our friends!

Sadly, summer came to an end. I enjoyed getting a few more books read and working on organizing the house and yard, particularly my bird stuff. I also practiced quite a bit of yoga at a private yoga studio a mile from my house! (Now that I mention it, a new grocery store called Fresh Thyme opened next door to the yoga studio, so I also enjoyed getting some good deals there!)

We got involved in a Saturday evening Bible Study on Genesis with a bunch of couples from our church and are really enjoying it!

September-We celebrated our first anniversary on 2 different days. First we enjoyed Pho at Quang Vietnamese in Uptown. Later, we had an interesting night (long story) hearing live music at Dakota Jazz Club in downtown Mnpls. Our actual anniversary was even more enjoyable. We spent several hours at a nearby apple orchard! We enjoyed strolling the beautiful grounds and getting lost (and found) in the corn maze!

I also began writing on my blog more. I was captured by this Blog-tember writing challenge where you were supposed to respond to a prompt each day. Well I probably wrote only about half of the days but it felt good to be writing again.

Throughout the summer and fall, Nathan went to town doing multiple house projects including finishing our driveway, organizing the garage, fixing the garage door, replacing the water-damaged siding on the back of the house, and gardening among other things. He is an awesome handyman!  (He installed a dartboard in the garage so we have enjoyed playing darts here and there!)

October-We went to Bethel Homecoming with our friend Theresa. It was fun to visit our (Theresa and my) Alma Mater again! Nathan enjoyed going to see the Packers play in Green Bay with his high school buddy.

Meanwhile I visited my parents in Eau Claire. I enjoyed visiting the apple orchard with Mom!

This month I also expanded on a different blog I have been working on. Check it out! It has been a healing journey for me.

November-We enjoyed date nights such as seeing Finding Dory, eating Greek food at the mall and working out together at the gym. We had Thanksgiving with N’s family and also attended his cousin Jennifer’s wedding in Milwaukee. It was a great time for me to get to know more of his family better and really love and cherish their family culture.

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Nathan, his dad Steve, stepmom Chris and me

December– We are debt free! Thank you Lord! I paid off the rest of my school and car loans this month! We also enjoyed many Christmasy type things: Festival of Christmas at Bethel University; a Christmas gathering with our Bible study and a Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant concert. We had an enjoyable Christmas with our families in eastern Wisconsin (Nathan’s) and Eau Claire (mine). I also enjoyed seeing my girls. We enjoyed a Christmas gathering at Good Earth and ice skating together!

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Maintaining my friendships is priceless to me. Here are 4 of my closest friends/Small Group girls: Dallas, (me), Theresa, Vanessa and Michelle. Each is dear to me in her own way!

N and I also hosted my brother Greg, sister-in-law Sarah Jane and their 4 kids on Dec. 30th. They live about 40 minutes away but it’s still hard to get together. We did crafts, ate BBQ chicken and just talked.

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my nieces Nynaeve (1 yr), Verity (almost 5), Corryn (6) and nephew Callum (6)

Finally, this month, Nathan and I really grew as a couple. We both enjoyed several weeks off of work where we could work on the house together (mostly N), read and study the Bible together and play racquetball together. We have had a great, rewarding year. I hope 2016 was a blessing for you and we pray for many more blessings in 2017! Happy New Year!

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