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A Look Back at 2012

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It’s January 2nd and the house is nice and quiet as both children are back at school. I’m very happy to say that last night they were both really excited to return to school to see their friends and teachers again.  We did have a nice Christmas break, though, and for Clark it was quite productive-he read 14 books, earned 5 Cub Scout belt loops, we all went ice skating, to a museum, and on a nature walk. And watched plenty of movies and episodes of Phineas & Ferb.

This is a big post that usually I look forward to doing and think about in my head around New Year’s Eve. I like to look back on the year and reflect and remember. I’ve struggled a bit with it this year, though, because so much of the end part of the year has been, frankly, not that great for our family.  In September, the day before school started, Paul lost his job when they unexpectedly eliminated his position.  He’s spent the fall diligently looking for a new job and while we’ve enjoyed having him around so much more, it’s definitely been a challenge for us.  From worrying about finances to struggling to adjust to both being at home it hasn’t always been easy.  On the plus side I think it’s been really great for Clark to have Paul waiting for him at home every day after school and that traditionally difficult time of day for us has been better.  Add on to that the general worries about the kids, frustrating stuff like stopping running and then being ready to run again but developing plantar fasciitis and being unable to, and then stuff that has made me worry about people and the world (my purse was stolen from my driveway, likely by a neighborhood young person; the elementary school shooting made me unbearably sad) and it all adds up to me really hoping that 2013 is a fresh start for us and a year filled with positive changes.

But let’s look back positively, shall we? In 2012 Clark finished 1st grade and started 2nd.  He really likes his 2nd grade teacher a lot, and so do we. He is successful in her class and this year his librarian genes revealed themselves and he took to reading a lot, staying up late in bed reading, and loving getting caught up in a book.  He also moved up in Cub Scout to the Wolf level and he’s really enjoying his friendships and activities in scouting.[This fall Paul became Assistant Cubmaster, too!] He and Paul went on their first camping trip together and in the fall we did a family camping trip with Scouts that had the very exciting ending of not being able to stay the night due to the pervasive presence of a mother bear and her 3 cubs who would not leave our site alone! He tried out some different sports this year, including soccer, which he loved (but I hated as I found it painful and stressful to watch when he didn’t do very well at it.) He also got glasses, which is a probably not high on his list of highlights of the year.
Wall Walker
Tabby moved up to the 4 day class at her preschool, where she is doing much better with the more school like structure and routine of this class.  She is finally writing her name, but I worry that she can’t seem to remember what sounds the letters of the alphabet make.  She loves to sing and dance and is still outgoing and friendly and loving. I’m grateful for her late in the year birthday because we have lots of nice time together.  She is definitely more into that than Clark was with me.  She is also my child who likes to cook in the kitchen, which I love. We do hope that this year she will break her dreadful habit of prefacing every sentence with “I want to tell you something.” Then by the time she gets to actually saying her thing, she’s forgotten what she wanted to say! A big highlight for Tabby this year (and me!) was going on a girls’ weekend with me to visit my friend Joanna and attend Girl Scouting’s 100 year anniversary at the Rock the Mall event in Washington, D.C. She loved being part of this event with us, and it was very moving for Joanna and I to be there with our own girls celebrating the importance that Girl Scouting had in our lives.
Best Buds
Tabby & I
It was a big year for me in terms of sewing and creativity.  In the summer I entered my first county fair and won 2 blue ribbons! Sure there weren’t a lot of entrants in the categories, but I’m confident my apron and quilt won on their own merits.
The Winning Apron
I made many aprons this year and loved them all.  In the fall my mom and I did our first craft fair.  While the craft fair itself was disappointing I followed it up with opening an Etsy shop and doing custom orders.  This year I will keep it stocked with things I think might sell and find a way to sell my notecards featuring my photography.  It was also a good photography year at the end–I finally did some paid family photography! I’m hoping to build on that and next year do more Christmas card sessions earlier in the season.

We had some wonderful outings and trips this year:  Grounds for Sculpture
the Adirondacks, Cape Cod, the Academy of Natural Sciences
Angry Triceratops
and especially Duke Farms, which opened to the public in May and we’ve enjoyed so far in summer, fall, and winter.
Exploring-not ruins!


A beautiful day for butterflies in the meadow

And of course we had fun at our own house. We got a trampoline (thank you Al & Sandy) and spent many a happy hour bouncing like crazy.
The treehouse was, of course, lots of fun for everyone, too. Sadly…Hurricane Sandy was a huge event for everyone. We were pretty lucky-without power for 3 days, without tv/cable/internet/mostly cell service for 6 days, and our house was totally fine. Unfortunately, our beloved tree house demolished by a falling tree and it took out another tree as well. The silver lining is that Paul spent the next two months gathering wood and stacking wood and we’ll be able to use it all to heat our home next winter.
It made us all really sad that the treehouse was smashed. :(
When I asked myself what some of my favorite memories of the year were, I noticed they all involved water. Cape Cod National Seashore
Everyone races to the water
our own river
Paul & Tabby
, Asbury Park waves with Clark,
Kate took this of us-I am having fun!
the floating raft by our cottage and white water rafting in the Adirondacks. A visit by both of my brothers’ families was a big highlight of the year as it was a bit of a family reunion for us. We had a wonderful Memorial Day together barbecuing and swimming in the river, which reminded all of us when we were kids and would explore the river at my grandparents in Vermont.
Cousins after the swim

Formal Family
The other even bigger highlight was our short but action and relaxation packed family vacation to the Adirondacks. We stayed in Lake Luzerne in a little cottage right on the water. We visited Lake George, took a steamship ride, went canoeing and kayaking, swimming, made smores, and loved our snug little cottage. My happiest moments of the year which I will cherish forever are these:



White Water Rafting

Last year I did this post with lots of favorites in categories, but this year all I can think of what was my favorite food/meal and what was my favorite things I sewed? My favorite sewing project was definitely my kimono. The pattern came from a book I got for my birthday, and I deliberated over the fabric for quite a long time.  The end result was just what I wanted-a beautiful, vibrant garment that I love to wear. (Here’s the whole set at a glance of my 2012 sewing projects.)
Big kimono sleeve
Favorite food/meal? I keep remember that tomato-corn pie made this summer with farm fresh ingredients.  The recipe sounded strange, but the end result was amazing. I can’t wait to make it next summer! Astonishingly I don’t have a photo of it! Here’s a runner up meal of ravioli with an amazingly sweet yellow heirloom tomato:
Garden Grub:Tomato-Corn Ravioli
I was also very pleased with the birthday cakes this year (Kirby, chocolate layer, and ice cream cone.)Here’s a mouthwatering glance at everything I cooked or baked in 2012. I made good on my resolution to preserve more fresh foods, even if they didn’t come from my garden.  I received a wonderful book called Small Batch Preserves and tried out a few recipes from there that were wonderful.
All labeled up

The garden did pretty well this year, especially the tomatoes, which were all heirloom variety seedlings given to us by our friends. Thank you, Liz & Eleanor!

Favorite crafty thing? It’s got to be drawing and carving my own rubber stamp logo, for The Cornish Hen!
the stamp I made
the cornish hen logo
Paul scanned the stamp for me so I could have it be the new header on the blog, as well as my icon on Etsy, and I use the stamp to stamp big round stickers for my packages. It’s also on the back of the notecards.

Favorite books: Can be found over at my other blog, where I keep track of my reading. Here’s my look back at 2012 in books.

It was a pretty big year for us in terms of animal husbandry. One of the reasons I think it’s good to raise kids with animals is so they can see the cycle of life. And boy did our kids get that this year. In the spring we got 3 ducklings and raised them. They were adorable, flappy, and swimmy. Watching them swim in our pond was wonderful.
More fresh air and swimming
We were sad when they flew off at the end of the summer, but then happy to discover where they went!
Later in the spring we ordered 25 baby chicks from Murray McMurray hatchery. Two days before they arrived one of our own hens successfully hatched three of her own baby chicks!
Family portrait
EEEEE! Box o' Chicks!!

"AAAH! My eye!!!"
It was a wonderful summer watching all these little creatures grow and change. And of course I discovered the fun of staging them with little props and taking their pictures. Throughout the year we did lose some chicks and older chickens, including witnessing the unfortunate killing of dear little Nancy by a hawk. The chicks have grown up into a variety of beautiful breeds and despite gaining some roosters, our egg production has skyrocketed.
Near the end of the summer we got two guinea pigs, Nibbles and Blackie.
Meet the Piggies
To our surprise, it turned out Nibbles was a boy,which we realized around Thanksgiving when we discovered that Blackie was pregnant. We watched her grow larger and larger until December 27, when she gave birth to four babies.
Blackie's Babies are Born!
One was stillborn, but the other three are just fine.
3 little pigs, all in a row
They are unbelievably adorable and it’s been really exciting to watch all this happen.

You know, when I read all this it really doesn’t sound like such a bad year after all. Maybe all it takes is taking the time every now and then to count the blessings that we do have. If you’ve stuck with reading this whole thing, thank you! Thank you to everyone who has left a comment this year–I truly do appreciate them. Goodbye, 2012!
Mom with Cukes


About Sarah

I'm a librarian living with my lovely family in a gorgeous spot of New Jersey, where we raise chickens and love the outdoors. I try to find enough time to indulge all my hobbies-cooking, photography, gardening, sewing, and I write about it all on my book blog & personal blog.

11 responses »

  1. Thank you Sarah for sharing all of your adventures in living with us. I find your blog a constant delight to read and still can’t make up my mind which Etsy apron will be mine! Perhaps it’s one of the up and coming ones! Hmmmm .. must keep my eye glued to that! I’m looking forward to the day we run into you at Duke or GFS. Have a Peachy Keen 2013!

    • Thank you Toni! What a nice compliment. That would be such a hoot to see you at Duke Farms some day! I really do like it there. Thinking of signing Clark up for the Jr. Naturalist program they are starting this month.

  2. You’re so right, Sarah – there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for! Major job changes like this can really throw you for a loop (as I well know now) and the worrying is the worst. Reminding ourselves of all the good things in life is truly the best way to cope, as you’ve well illustrated here. And being creative! That has also made a big difference for me, as I can tell it has for you. Anyway, cheers to your awesome attitude! and to 2013 holding plenty more goodness!

    • Thanks, Anne. What do you suppose people who don’t like to do artsy, crafty, creative things do with themselves? It’s so satisfying and soothing. A good year to you, too!

  3. I have a great feeling about 2013 for you all! I can’t believe how much you crammed into 2012; I feel like the duckings were surely three or four years ago. 😀

    • Pookie, I thought the same thing about the ducks! I all of a sudden remembered them and had to pause and think,”Wait-was that really just this year???”

  4. Margaret Simpson

    Sarah, loved reading this! Happy to hear that Clark is such a reader. I received his “bacon” note today, quite delightful and well thought out especially for a 2nd grader!!

    • Thank you!
      And, re: bacon. Tonight Clark told us he and another boy came up with a gangnam style parody: “Bacon style”

      • If there is a dance to go along with “Bacon style” then please PLEASE share a snippet with us! That would be fantastic! I’m imagining them on the ground sizzling like bacon in a pan (somewhat like ‘the worm’ dance move).

      • One more thought on bacon … I made Bacon Jam this year to bring as a holiday nibbly treat when I went-a-visiting .. BIG HIT!!!! I would totally recommend it if you are bacon fans.

  5. Toni a bacon dance would be hysterical-I’ll have to ask Clark if they thought one up! I made a whole bunch of bacon jam last year and LOVED it and yet this year I didn’t make any. Hmm..having a little brunch next weekend, maybe I’ll make up a batch.


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