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Looking Back at 2018

This year was a good year for our family. I feel so blessed to say that. Everyone was healthy. Everyone was happy. Everything that happened was something we grew and learned from. Most of what happened was planned and wanted.

Old Quebec

Both of my daughters started taking classes at community college. Although they are not the same age, we homeschooled them since our older daughter was in 5th grade and our younger daughter in 3rd grade. Our older daughter would have graduated in June, had she been in school. She opted, as many of her friends did, to consider this year her senior year of high school as opposed to her freshman year of college. It was a decision mainly based on two things: she had not finished Geometry in June and if she was considered a high school senior, she would not have to take the Accuplacer to start taking classes at community college. She was still able to take 3 college classes, which seemed like a good transition into a more structured academic profile. (She just finished Geometry this week and will start Algebra 2 in January, but I don’t think she will finish it).

Since we started homeschooling 8 years ago, my girls did most of the same classes and used most of the same curriculum, with the exception of math. With my older daughter graduating, I didn’t feel like I had anything left to give as far as history and science. We had been through the history of the world twice; we had gone through American history from the settlers through WWII twice and we had covered modern American history in various ways – documentaries on Vietnam, news reports on the Gulf Wars; my girls are fascinated by conspiracy theories on everything from the Moon Landing to 9/11, so they studied that independently because I am not much of a conspiracy theorist; we tracked the 2016 election and the girls were invested in researching candidates (even going to see Bernie Sanders, their candidate of choice, speak). As for science, we had done chemistry three times, biology twice, physics twice and geology once. It was time for both girls to take science in a classroom with a real science lab. My younger daughter had the option of enrolling in a high school program or taking college classes. I did feel that I could still work with her on language arts and she could do math using the online software we have used for years, so she opted to take a couple of classes at community college.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

My older daughter LOVED community college much more than she thought she would – she loved meeting new people, she enjoyed the discussions in her classes and I have no doubt that the material she learned will stay with her for a long time, as she came home from almost every class eager to share with her father and I what she had learned. My younger daughter was very stressed out about her classes, she was concerned about getting called on in class, she was extremely anxious about tests and exams and projects and she found that she did not like college as much as she had hoped she would. There were some tearful evenings and she considered not enrolling for the spring semester and enrolling in a high school program instead. But, one of her best friends, who was homeschooled but went to school a few years ago, decided to leave school, take a high school equivalency exam and enroll in classes at community college. Although they are not taking the same classes in the spring, they will be going on the same days and will be able to hang out in the cafe or student lounges and Piper has decided to enroll in ASL and Geology in the spring.

Neither of my girls knows yet what they want to do. Well, that is not entirely true. My older daughter wants to be a mother and a wife. She wants to live in a farmhouse, homeschool her kids, have chickens, grow organic food and make her own organic holistic beauty products. So, we discuss plans that make sense for this lifestyle. A degree in education? She has assisted in running children’s programs at the library for years and she doesn’t feel she wants to work with kids. Possibly a degree in marketing to market those beauty products? She is currently working at a skincare and make up store and considering getting her esthetician’s license to learn more about skincare.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

My younger daughter is quite the opposite, not sure if she wants to marry and have a family, but definitely knows that she wants a career where she can be creative. She’s wanted to be in fashion ever since I can remember, but we have been encouraging her to think broad for her undergraduate degree…maybe marketing with a minor in fashion merchandising (design, drawing, sewing are not her thing). She also likes to edit video and so we have looked at the Communications program at the community college. Additionally, she is THE MOST ORGANIZED PERSON I have ever met. The child LOVES to go to the Container Store. Her closet and drawers are organized with bins and things that she has purchased there. It is quite a marvel and she sticks with it! We have a friend who owns a company where she helps people purge things and organize their homes, I could see Piper doing something like this and have considered approaching our friend to see if she would consider allowing Piper to intern with her.

Both of my girls have worked since they were about 12. My older daughter tutored my friend’s daughter; my younger daughter walked dogs in the neighborhood. Over the years, my older daughter has babysat and worked as a “page” shelving books at the library and my younger daughter has a dog walking business, walking several dogs in our neighborhood every day and she cuts grass for several neighbors during that season. This year, Allie got a job at the mall. She has wanted to work at the mall since she was 4 years old. She got a job at her first pick, the first store where she applied: Riley Rose, a makeup, skincare and decor store owned by the daughters of the owner of Forever 21. She works with a GREAT group of people! I could not ask for a better group of people or a better first job experience! There have definitely been issues that she has had to navigate – first, getting many more hours than she had originally said she could work and then getting too few hours. But, she is making friends and from what I hear, the girls and guys that she works with seem to all have good heads on their shoulders, are not into drugs or going to crazy parties, they all have a good sense of right and wrong and when another employee doesn’t, it is not tolerated.

A year ago, I was distraught at the idea of my girls growing up. This time last year, I kept thinking “this will be the last time…”. The last time we take off the month of December and craft and watch movies and bake cookies and enjoy the Advent season. This will be the last time Allie is home for Thanksgiving or to decorate the tree or to decorate sugar cookies with us. This is the last time the girls will have time to watch Christmas movies with me and bake with me. I needn’t have worried. Although Allie is working at the mall and taking classes, she was with us on Thanksgiving (her boss scheduled herself and other managers and had a sign-up sheet for staff that wanted to work the holiday). We were able to plan tree and cookie decorating around her schedule and we watched many Christmas movies together, sometimes at 9 or 9:30pm when she got home from work. She missed our annual neighborhood potluck open house, but that is really more for the adults in the neighborhood at this point than the kids.

Montreal

This year I have grown in ways I could never have foreseen a year ago. Like my older daughter, all I ever wanted to be was a mother and wife. I love making a home and taking care of my family. I spent a good part of the last few years telling people that when I thought about having kids, I didn’t think about them growing up. I didn’t think about them no longer needing me. I loved planning playdates, planning meals, cleaning our home, creating a peaceful home sanctuary for our family, it’s all I ever wanted and to feel like that was coming to an end was disorienting to say the least.

I have worked at our local library for ten years and one of my favorite parts of my job is talking to people about books, recommending books and getting book recommendations from other readers. I have managed the library’s social media for a good portion of those ten years and last March, I decided to start an Instagram to recommend books…I thought for our local library patrons, I had no idea Bookstagram was a thing…until I started posting and looking around and realized it was a community! I started following other readers who liked to read the same kinds of books that I like to read. I learned about Netgalley. I made new friends. I started communicating with authors and publishers and it was been such an amazing, rewarding experience! A hobby, yes. But a hobby just for me and one that gives me so much pleasure!

My husband and I always take the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. Last year, during that week, we went out to lunch and we started talking about how we can do these things now…we can go out to eat just the two of us, we don’t need a babysitter. The girls have their own lives and that gives us time to be together. That seemed fun! Also, inspired by my Instagram pal, Mamaland, we decided to take on a hiking challenge for the year. We both love to hike and the girls never liked it, so we had not done much hiking with them, but it was something we wanted to make time for and we didn’t. I knew that taking on a challenge would encourage me to plan it and put it on the calendar and in our house, that is the only way things get done. We discussed reasonable number of hikes considering our work schedules, family time, not wanting to hike when it was 40 degrees or cooler, etc. We decided that 9 hikes seemed reasonable and we had fun all year looking for places to hike. We often combined hiking with brunch or lunch or a visit to a small brewery. We are taking on both a hiking challenge and a brewery challenge for 2019.

This year, we also started fostering dogs, which is something that I have wanted to do for many years and has been so rewarding and something that we look forward to getting more involved with in 2019. I wrote about our experiences here and here and here and here .

Another big change this year was that after many years of being vegetarian, inspired by Hannah McNeely and Ellen Fisher, I decided to go mostly vegan. I am not completely vegan. I eat dairy and eggs on occasion and I am not sure that I want to be completely vegan, although I do feel better when I eat completely vegan, but I also feel good that I am causing less harm and cruelty to animals by having dairy and eggs infrequently. I have a lot to say about this, too much for just a recap post.

The Butcher’s Daughter, NYC

Jason continues to work as an arborist and volunteer his time with the NJISA, our local shade tree commission and sit on the board of several gardens and arboretums. He continues to practice guitar. Several years ago, he got a record player for Christmas. He has always loved music and receiving a record player was the impetus of a new hobby: record collecting. He and I travel around to record stores on weekends, where he peruses the collection for rare or interesting records. He waits on line for hours on Record Store Day and was up and out at 6am on Black Friday Record Store Day to stand out in 12 degrees to get 1 of 3 coveted copies of a Mamas and Papas album. He loves it and finds it so much fun!

This year has been a year of tremendous personal growth for my girls and I. It has been a year when my husband and I started focusing more on our relationship and less on what the girls wanted to do–that is not to say that we are not focused on our kids or are any less focused on them, it’s more that we are focused on them in different ways which leaves more time for us to focus on our relationship. We are all in a good place and for that I feel very blessed.

One of the highlights of my year was seeing Springsteen on Broadway

3 thoughts on “Looking Back at 2018”

  1. Oh wow, a beautiful post… I had tears in some sections. Thank you for sharing your life. It was wonderful to read how your life has molded you along its way. I could feel your happiness, joy, fear, sadness…
    It was all YOU

    Like

  2. I love this post. 2018 was a year of transition and I am eagerly awaiting 2019 and everything it will have in store for us. Old Quebec has been on my wish list for some time. I’d love to hear about what you did and where you stayed. I have not been since high school. Traveling now is more complicated since the girls vacations do not line up but I’d like to try. I’m so grateful that through the years we have stayed in touch and have been able to “see” each other walk such similar paths. Greg and I have a dream of owning a tiny camper and taking off for weekends to a lake or the shore, where we can relax and unwind for a day or two. The girls are on the verge of being comfortable staying home alone. It’s exciting rediscovering what makes us happy. Wishing you all the best as this year comes to a close and a new one is about to begin!

    Like

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