2019, You were good to us

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
2019 was one of my favorite years to date. We had a lot of *firsts* for our family of five, a lot of connection, exploration, and a good amount of travel. 

January might just be the start of a new year for some, but for me, there is A LOT of feelings in the month of January. I'm always amped and excited because January is the month that Justin and I first said "I do" and created our union. Each year we get to celebrate our marriage and love for one another on the 21st of January... and, on our fifth wedding anniversary, 40+ weeks with our second born, we had an anniversary baby! So each and every year we celebrate us and we celebrate our second born's life. It's a lot of love and a lot of busy, for sure! The hardest part of January comes during the first week. My sister's birthday is the 3rd and my mom's birthday is the 5th. This past year my mama would have celebrated her golden birthday, the B-I-G 50. That was really, really hard.

February brought us the most memorable snow days (literally, we were snowed in for three days) and Ava got more time off from school! We built a snowman, celebrated Valentine's day, and shoveled our driveway with a broom (we have since purchased a shovel). This was the first month in a long while that I decided to truly purge our home. I gave away SO many things! A 50 inch flat screen, our entire master bedroom set, our living room sectional, endless clothes from the kids, etc. The "Buy Nothing" group for our area literally changed my life and reminded me to give before disposing, always. February afforded us a lot more time to do DIY projects like customizing a dresser for Miss O ((Ikea Dresser), learning how to make hand soap, and finding new recipes/revamping old ones in our instant pot (my favorite cooking tool for life).  

In March, we celebrated my 28th birthday -- I also got rear ended in the mom wagon with all three kids! Thank God, we were all okay. Even the driver that hit me. The very next day we celebrated Mr. Liam Arthur turning one year old. That first birthday was a hard one for me. My third baby turning one! Could not believe how quickly his first year passed us by. I mourned the loss of my mama for the third year... being home this year made it easier to cope, somehow. Thankful or that! We got Olivia set up in her first ever gymnastics class, Ava of course, rejoined (after 2.5 years of gymnastics in Texas) alongside her sister. Justin gifted this mama with her first Roomba and I can honestly say that I will never again shut this man out from purchasing practical gifts for me. The Roomba is a god sent! March was also really hard on us health wise. Everyone (minus Justin) was plagued with the flu for over two weeks. Being down and out like that was the hardest thing I have ever experienced in motherhood. Between multiple urgent care visits, breathing treatments, double ear infections, and upchucking around the clock -- the end of this month and partially into April really left us feeling depleted. 

Spring brought us lots of outdoor time and nature visits. Between Tolmie State Park, Northwest trek, countless neighborhood bike rides, and utilizing our memberships to kid influenced places (Seattle Science Center & Olympia's Hands on Children's Museum)... we were going places! We also really dove in to spending more time with extended family. My kids LOVE our cousins -- (my mom's side) and were able to spend holidays bonding with them, like Easter. I finally buckled down and submitted my saliva for ancestry DNA results. We introduced Justin's birthday sombrero (this will be used for each and every year to come) and Miss Ava turned 6 -- which we celebrated with photos at Gold Creek Pond! Ava was awarded her fourth (or fifth?) achievement award at her new school, for both academics and personal behavior milestones! So impressive for only being at her new school for four months. Justin killed the recruiting game during this time as well. Making mission, putting people in the Army -- our family was on fire! 

Summer afforded us a six year old READER, a trip down 101 -- the coast of Oregon and California, and swim lessons! Ava graduating kindergarten was one of our proudest moments! We showed up with candy lei's flowers, and a whole pack of Howland's cheering our girl on as she got one of only two school wide awards given for citizenship. We made a quick trip to California to celebrate at my cousin Chauncey's high school grad party and the kids got to see the Golden Gate Bridge (and most of San Francisco) during out trip. I got to see my mom's brother for the first time in TOO long and we saw familiar faces on the coast of Oregon on the way back home. The kids finally got back into swim lessons and they killed such an aggressive schedule (four days a week). We spent our summer going to fairs, Mt. Rainier, birthday parties -- we said goodbye to the mom wagon and daddy (for just a little while). While Justin was at recruiting school, the kid and I joined our family out at Alder Lake during their camping trip! It was incredible to say the least,

Summer closed out with school shopping, football, berry picking, Justin pinning E7, Liam full blown walking/running, Olivia officially becoming a swimmer, and Ava's full on Dino obsession coming into play. Fall afforded us my favorite season, family Halloween costumes, celebrating our community, and familiarity. Ava started first grade, Olivia continued to swim, and Mr. Liam started becoming SUCH a chatter box! Ava started art club and her first season of basketball, and her daddy coached! We spent Thanksgiving (and a week) in New York for the first time in nearly three years and the kids got to bond with their grandma Arleen, first cousin, Ariana, and new cousin Nova. The last part of 2019 was a whirlwind, as it went quickly, but we spent it together and enjoyed every minute of it. Between Christmas lights, Christmas movies, two weeks off from work and school for Justin and Ava, and breaking bread with my extended Ohana on Jesus' birthday... What a year you guys.

Look out 2020. I have a feeling this is going to be our most memorable year to date! 

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