December 31, 2019

My Top 19 Moments of 2019

When I started the tradition of writing this New Year's Eve post, it was 2011. Each year, I've added one more item, and it gets rather difficult to choose more and more "top" moments of the year. This year is especially difficult, because it wasn't a very exciting year. I spent a lot of time working on projects (which I love and am proud of!) but as far as my top moments, I had to sort through photos to remember.

In no particular order, I present My Top 19 of 2019:

1. Finally finishing the complete DIY remodel of my house! The kitchen was definitely the most dramatic change, and I am thrilled with how it turned out. I feel so proud that I did about 95% of it by myself.

2. Befriending the squirrels, and gaining their trust. They are such amazing animals! It started with just one squirrel a couple of years ago, Tuck, who eventually started to take nuts out of my hand (after a long time of gaining his trust). He must have told all his friends, because now we regularly have about six squirrels that come around every day for walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and peanuts.

I learned that squirrels have individual personalities and they are so much fun to watch. At first, I thought they all looked identical; but now we (Eli and I, at least) can tell them apart and we've named them.

3. Getting to see Aaron win his final race on my cross country team. He'd been on the team longer than anyone (since second grade, and he's in fifth now). I've always loved coaching him because he was one of the few kids who really put his full effort into the races and was always willing to go to the extra mile (literally) at practice.

The best part of this season with Aaron was watching him not only win our first race, but beat "Ferris", the kids he'd been chasing for three seasons! Ferris always placed one or two ahead of Aaron (who was usually in the top five or ten overall), and each year, I gave Aaron the goal to beat Ferris at a race. After the first race this season, I told him I can retire happy ;)

4. Having the honor of knitting this stocking for my friends (Eric and Maris) who had a baby this year. Maris's aunt knitted a stocking from this pattern for Maris when she was young, and then one for Eric when they were married. Well, her aunt can't knit anymore (I'm assuming arthritis?) and Maris had posted on Facebook one day a photo of the stockings, asking if anyone would be able to knit one for Ada, their new baby.

I get really nervous about making things for other people, because I want it to be perfect and I tend to just focus on the flaws. I also hadn't knitted anything with fair-isle color work in about a decade. However, the responses she got on Facebook were saying that they may be able to crochet it, or they might have a friend who could do it, etc.

So, I volunteered--I was happy to do something for Maris, because she was so kind to me when I was going through a bad period of anxiety and mild depression. She is really into essential oils, so she mixed up a "potion" (haha) to help with anxiety. Whether it actually works or not, just the gesture really made me feel good. So, being able to knit this for her felt nice. (I haven't actually given it to her yet! Hopefully this week.)

5. Accidentally finding these baby bunnies in the backyard (thankfully before Eli cut the grass!). Could they be any cuter?! (I could have sworn I wrote about this, but it must have just been on Instagram.) Finding them made me want to research rabbit nests, and I learned that rabbits like to make their nests in the middle of fields because they are basically hiding in plain sight (larger prey usually like to stay hidden).

The mom rabbit digs a hole for the babies, and covers it with fur and dried grass (it literally looked like a patch of dried grass on the ground--Eli only uncovered it because he saw a little fur and hoped he hadn't run something over with the lawnmower). The mom will usually only go to the nest to feed the babies once or twice a day so that she doesn't draw attention to it.

We covered it back up and I checked on them two more times (like a lot of people, I was worried they'd been abandoned, until I read up on them). But they were growing just fine! I saw the mom one time, and that was when a squirrel got a little too close--mama ran over and chased the squirrel away.

When I checked on them the final time, they weren't in the hole anymore, but scattered around it. The grass had gotten long in that spot, because we set stakes up so no one would cut the grass there. They were old enough and big enough to be on their own. It was so fun seeing them and learning about them!

6. Watching Eli play baseball all spring, summer, and fall. I feel like the only mom that goes and really gets into watching the games, but I love it. I even bought a scorebook to keep score (I happen to really enjoy doing it). Eli was the best catcher on all three teams he played on, and I was so proud every time I'd hear a parent or someone say, "Dang, that catcher has a good arm!" or something like that.

However, his fall baseball coach told us that he needs to work on hitting if he wants to continue to play on the team--Eli was hitting great in school ball, but once he played on the fall team with all the kids who play travel ball, he had a harder time hitting the different types of pitches.

For Christmas, Jerry and I paid for a one-on-one coaching lesson from a former Detroit Tiger, and his lesson is this Thursday. His confidence was really down about not being able to continue with the fall team through the winter, and it was heartbreaking for me. So, I really hope that this lesson will help (and if it does, maybe we'll do another for his birthday present; his birthday is January 7th).

7. Getting a lesson from dad in how to change the oil in my car, as well as checking the levels of the other fluids. My dad has been a car mechanic his whole life, and I wanted to learn it from him before he's not able to teach me. I wish I'd asked to watch him work on cars years ago, so I could learn to do it all myself. I can't tell you how much money I've saved over the years every time I've had to fix something with a car. Having a dad who is an auto mechanic is fantastic!

Anyway, not only did I get to learn how to do all that (the question is will I remember it??) but I got to have some cool bonding time with my dad. We don't have a lot in common, so it was fun.

8. Having a successful cross country season, even though I lost Renee as a co-coach before the season started. We'd started the team together five years ago, and this was my first solo season. I was so worried I was going to screw things up! She'd always taken care of the paperwork and administrative side of things with the school, and I just planned the training schedules.

Thankfully, partly due to a smaller team, I only had fourth and fifth graders this year, just to make sure I could handle it. It was great being able to really get to know the kids better than I had in the past. With a team of 30+, it's hard enough just making sure they are on task. With just 12 this season, I could focus on each kid's strengths and weaknesses.

9. Speaking of cross country, another "top" of 2019 was the generosity of so many blog readers. I had no idea when I posted the link to the Amazon Wish List I created for the team that so many people would donate awards and training gear! It was AMAZING, and I got so emotional every time another package was delivered.

The kids LOVED the different awards--the compression socks were the hottest item, I think--and it made them work harder. If there was an item they wanted, they had to earn it in various ways. I can't say thank you enough for the donations!

I also want to mention the donation of your old Garmin watches--we used them at every practice and it made keeping track of mileage so much easier! THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of you who donated a watch, a gift card, or something from our list. It was appreciated more than I can describe.

10. This completely random practical joke that my dad played on me. It's a little lengthy to describe the whole thing here, but I wrote all about it on this post. It was so random and hilarious!

11. Making a bed frame from scratch for Noah. He needed a new bed frame, but I just couldn't find one I liked. He frequently sat up on his bed to do homework, and I thought a daybed would be cool, if I could find one that wasn't too girly. Well, they're insanely expensive!

So, I headed to Lowe's and bought the materials to make my own. He loved it, and it's a very solid piece of furniture. I also made it tall enough for quite a bit of storage underneath, if needed. Here is the post with the details.

12. This one is so odd, and kind of dumb, but I just had to include it if I am being honest about my Top 19. I was SO excited when I found this Paslode finish nailer (Amazon affiliate link) on Facebook Marketplace. It's a very expensive tool to buy new (just under $400), and I knew I'd never be able to justify spending that much on one. I'd been borrowing one from my brother as I worked on the house.

Anyway, I saw one on Facebook Marketplace for $110--which included not only the nailer, but THREE batteries, the charger, a nice carrying case, three fuel cells, and about $100 or more worth of finishing nails of various sizes. It was an insane deal!

It was insane enough that I immediately messaged them saying I wanted it and I'd pick it up the following morning. It was a two-hour drive into Ohio, but I listened to my favorite podcasts and I really enjoyed driving the back roads (to the middle of nowhere, honestly).

I was so thrilled with the find! I now love having reasons to be able to use it. And it feels so odd, but my dad actually asked to borrow a tool from ME for once, and not the other way around, haha.

On the way home, I had to pee SO badly, and I saw a sign for a rest area. Holy cow, this was an experience in and of itself. You can read about that (and see the surprise on the inside of that building, haha) on this post ;)

13. As a parent, this was a challenge for me--but I sent my kids on an airplane all by themselves to go visit my parents who were vacationing in Hilton Head, SC. I was grateful that I could go with them to the gate and that my parents would be waiting at the gate in SC, but I was still an anxious parent. It didn't help that there was a horrible snowstorm (in April!) on the way home from the airport, and it took much longer to get home.

When I got home, I saw a text saying that the flight was delayed and they'd been sitting in the plane all that time! I desperately wanted to talk to them. I'm so glad that Delta has free texting, because the kids were able to text me from the plane. They had fun, and they felt very grown up traveling by themselves!

14. I've raved about it a trillion times now on my blog, but buying a Kindle Paperwhite (Amazon affiliate link) this year was life-changing. I've read more books since getting the Paperwhite than I had in about a decade--I bought it in April, and I've read 13 books on it since then--including three books that were over 1,000 pages! For someone who was not a reader, the simple act of switching to a Paperwhite instead of paperback turned that right around. Here is a pretty recent list of books I've read.

15. When my kids were in Hilton Head, Jerry and I took Luke to see PJ Masks at the Fox Theatre in Detroit (with a yummy dinner at McDonald's first, of course!). It was super fun to get to spend some time doing something special with Luke, and I loved watching him dance along to the songs. I know he won't remember that day, but Jerry and I always will!

16. As a total surprise, Amazon dropped off a package addressed to the following:

It was obviously for me from Jerry, and when I opened it, I was so excited to see this squirrel shirt! It was extremely thoughtful--not only am I obsessed with squirrels, but it's a bit retro looking, which is very much my style. It's rare that Jerry can pull off a surprise for me (usually when he buys me something, he can't help himself but tell me the second he orders it, haha).

17. Going muskie (also spelled musky) fishing with Eli and a family friend, Andy. Eli's biggest dream in life is to catch a muskie (a ginormous fish that is basically a fresh water shark). They are known as the "fish of 10,000 casts" because you literally just cast over and over again with a lure the size of your arm and reel it in until you catch one.

Lake St. Clair, about an hour and 15 minutes from our house, is frequently referred to as "the best muskie lake on the planet" by fishing websites and magazines. I was considering paying for a charter trip for Eli (and the rest of our family, but basically for him), which is an insane amount of money ($700!). When my sister heard that, she asked Shawn's best friend if he could take Eli out on Lake St. Clair because he fishes there every so often and he's caught several muskie. He was so kind to agree!

I wanted to go along in case Eli caught one, so I could witness it and take photos and all that. Andy's girlfriend was with us, so I spent the time getting to know her while the guys fished. We were out on the lake all day, and usually, I hate being on a boat. Eli and I are total opposites in that respect. But I desperately wanted him to catch a muskie.

He didn't get to hook one that day, but Andy hooked two and gave his pole to Eli to reel them in. Eli was super excited! He doesn't "count" it as catching his first muskie, but he loved the experience and I loved getting to see him in his element. Andy is going to take him out again next year.

18. Speaking of firsts, I had the pleasure of being with Noah when he drove on the expressway for the first time. As an anxious mess in normal circumstances, I'm surprised how calm I was while he was driving! Of course, I'd put a magnet saying "Please be patient... student driver" on the back of my car ;)

Just the fact that Noah is old enough to be driving is crazy to me! I cannot believe how fast the last 15 years have gone. It's bittersweet. I'm super proud of the teen he's become, but I so miss his tiny little voice. I came across the sweetest video while I was watching some home movies on Christmas. He was in line to walk into preschool, and he turned around and said, "Bye Mama! I will miss you!" These days, it's clear he's embarrassed of me sometimes, but what teen doesn't go through that phase?

19. I decided to end with this photo, because I felt SO content and happy in this moment. I was sitting alone, people-watching, with a peppermint mocha latte in hand (I never ever buy Starbucks, so I don't know what possessed me that day).

The weather was nice and I wasn't worried about anything. My anxiety was the lowest it'd been for as long as I could remember. The moment didn't last forever--I only sat there for 30 minutes or so--but I snapped a selfie so that I could remember how I felt in that moment.

And there it is! My favorite 19 moments of 2019. (I'm sure there are lots that don't come to mind, simply because I don't have photos of them. Usually, the best moments go without being captured on camera--as it should be! When having fun, pulling out a phone tends to break it up.

Anyway, per tradition, I like to do the same "fun facts" every year on this post, so here goes:

I ran 182.6 miles this year, down from 279.16 miles last year. Rather than feeling ashamed of this number, I feel proud. Over the last 13 weeks, I ran 3+ miles three times per week. And I feel like I got my running mojo back!

The food I consumed the most of this year was definitely ice cream. Since I quit drinking on January 1st, 2019, I found a replacement that is almost as unhealthy. Since I was able to quit drinking for a whole year (which I am working on a post about), I am going to see if I can go a whole year without ice cream in 2020 (the only exception being a cone or sundae from McDonald's). I'll write more about that on my Goals for 2020 post tomorrow.

My most memorable meal was dill pickle pizza. I LOVE dill pickles, and when I came across this recipe on Pinterest, I decided to give it a try. It was AH-MAZING. If you try it, make sure you make it as-written. It wouldn't be nearly as good with any substitutions!

My current favorite breakfast is toast with butter or coconut oil.

My current favorite TV Show is Shameless. It's been a favorite since the day I watched the pilot ages ago, but this season has made me laugh out loud so many times. I can't get enough!

My current favorite evening treat is ice cream (surprise surprise).

What I am most looking forward to in 2020? Working on my health! Like I mentioned in yesterday's post, I have plans to work on feeling better in general. I know my diet has a lot to do with it (as well as the extra weight) and I want to work hard on that in 2020. In August, it'll be 10 years since I reached a "normal" BMI, and I want to be back there before that anniversary!

Happy New Year, Friends! I'll be toasting the new year with non-alcoholic sparkling wine ;)


  1. Great post! Cheers to 2019! Those knitted stockings are amazing!!

  2. I love reading your top moments! Thank you for sharing.


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