Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Oh, 2013. I have thoughts about you. A lot of them.

Oh, hi there. It's just me, brushing off this dusty corner of the internets to wrap up the year. I wish I had written more regularly this year, it would have been good for me. Nonetheless, I want to take some time to look back and remember all the good and bad and hard and joyful before this year comes to a close. Also, odd years? Not a fan. Just saying. Even numbered years are my jam.

{Soundtrack for this post brought to you by the score for "The Family Stone." Watch the movie. Get the score. You won't regret it.}

Not to be a total Debbie Downer, but 2013 began with a massive head cold and crud and apparently it's going to end that way as well. Hooray for me! The soundtrack for January was anything and everything from Les Mis because after seeing the movie, Jason was obsessed. But listen, if a husband of mine is going to be obsessed with anything then let it be a Broadway show. Hooray for me! Carlye and her petite E-Ranchers came up from Birmingham to visit. We colored, we instructed Knox on how to be gentle with Elle Belle, we saw how Uncle J built houses and he took the kids for rides in the Bobcat. It was heavenly to have one of my best friends here and to snuggle up with Dash, Moses and Elle whenever I wanted. Hosted a Golden Globes viewing party, dealt with a little snow and ice and even contemplated where to put 700 people during Chapel when conditions looked ripe for a tornado on campus.

The best part about February was #fallcreekfiesta2013, our (what is turning out to be) annual trip to the mountains with some of our small group friends. This is a trip where it's almost expected that you'll stay in pjs/lounge clothes the entire weekend. Those are my kind of people. We laughed, ate, laughed some more and one of the best parts- it snowed! I added some new decor to the Chapel Office, participated in the obligatory Harlem Shake video (see here), and broke my long standing record for live blogging the Oscars. I know, a part of me hated to break the tradition but the other part of me loved just making some treats and watching it with a friend. I think that was the start of me trying to learn how to just be present and not distract myself or multitask overload. A lesson I am still trying to learn and put into practice...

I remember March as being a particularly sweet month for our marriage. However, it started out with the disappointing news that Jason was being laid off from his job right before his birthday. Our friends rallied around us (and particularly him) in some pretty fantastic ways, though. We pulled together a surprise dinner where they each shared some things they love about him. It was such a gift to have community that month. With my craftiness and J's technical know how, we put together a photo booth for Rachel's 30th birthday and hilarity ensued. I gave up Facebook and Twitter for Lent (easier and more relaxing than I would have thought), we strolled through our first (and probably last) Color Run, and "Nashville" taught me the best way ever to eat a cupcake. Easter was particularly meaningful this year. For the first time in a long time, I had made room to really prepare for it, to ponder it, and that made experiencing Easter morning and our church's worship service a really tender time. I remember turning to Jason at the end of early service and saying, "I don't feel like I've gotten enough church this morning! I kind of want to come back for the late service!" A glimpse of heaven, I suppose, when you want to just keep worshipping. Add in brunch and some really sweet, honest, thoughtful conversation with the man of my dreams and you have a glorious Easter morning!

I did a couple of really good things for myself in April. The first was to go back and start seeing my therapist again. Listen, we allllllllll need some kind of therapy. Lord knows, I gots some issues and it has always been good and hard and fruitful to dig into them with the help of a professional. Those afternoons in her office were some of the best I had this spring. The other was to tackle a new sewing challenge - quilting. I've talked about how craftiness is in my bloodline, and quilting has been so. much. fun. I'm totally addicted. I started my first quilt in April and spent many quiet and thoughtful hours back at my sewing table. Marmee came for a visit, I bought my first fern (spoiler alert: it was dead by July; like mother, like daughter), Allie came home safe and sound from Afghanistan, Knox gave Covenant students a little therapy while they took finals, and Jason was offered a temporary position up at Covenant. And thus began a new experience in our marriage, riding to and from work together!

While May no longer means the start of summer vacay for me (the thing I miss most about being a teacher), it did mean things slowed down at work and left room for lots of sewing and playing and traveling. Right after I read 540 chapel summaries in one day. Seriously, I counted. Oh, procrastinating graduating seniors. It helped that one of them made the task pretty hilarious with every email he sent. With Jason working at Covenant, the learning curve of being together all the time was pretty steep for me. In truth, it was all my own selfishness and junk. God did some much needed work in me during May. I'll remember that month as being a pivotal one where we turned a page in our marriage and looked at being partners and a team in a whole new light. It was pretty fantastic, y'all. We road tripped down to Allie's to spend a weekend with her and her girlfriend, Megan. Golf (I got to drive the golf cart!), cornhole games, really good food and three dogs under our feet made for some good times. I finished my first quilt and promptly made another one for my friend (and former 4th grade student), Jenna, who graduated from Trinity School that month. Which meant it was the perfect reason to make my annual summer trip to NC! It was a whirlwind trip full of seeing my former students all grown up, cousin's dinner and laughing until my sides hurt with Meredith and her crew in Winston.

Oh, I also chopped my hair off. A decision I almost immediately regretted. Being a girl is hard.

{The graduating seniors who were once my fourth graders...}

In June, we relaxed and just enjoyed summer in Chattanooga. Ate yummy fresh food, visited the farmer's market, helped some friends move and rejoiced with hundreds of others when my friends Tobi and Corey finally got to bring Ivey home!

It seems inevitable that July will always bring massive thunderstorms which allowed Knox to continue his unbreakable streak of being a total scaredy cat. Silly pup. He also got to take an emergency trip to the vet when he suddenly seemed very sick. Turns out it was just a classic celebrity case of exhaustion and dehydration. Apparently he didn't get the memo that he should drink the water we leave for him when outside. After more money than we prefer, some anti-nausea meds, and fluids, he was fine and had used up his sympathy quota from Jason for the year. In July, I got a new glimpse of God's faithfulness as I met Ivey (a most prayed for baby) and we celebrated a long awaited pregnancy with our friends, Gail and Michael. I helped pull together the decor for their gender reveal party, my craftiest endeavor of the month. We were ecstatic ourselves to find out I was pregnant (on the same day that Jason was permanently hired at Covenant!), but heartbroken when I miscarried early. As providence would have it, it happened the day before we left for the every other year beach trip with Jason's family. It was a gift to get out of town, be with our family and in one of my favorite places on earth, the Carolina coast. There was space for me to grieve and just be, space to think and play and laugh. Through that time, I felt and knew God's faithfulness more than ever and that my hope in Him was well placed.

 {Turns out fluids under the skin make your dog look 'roided out}

 {Hello, Ivey!}

{Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning...and the beach.}

The Petree Family Beach Trip was later than usual and the week spilled over from the end of July into August. It was a glorious week of laying by the pool and rereading old favorites, watching the kids (and dads) build a sand octopus who attacked the sand village, laughing as the guys stayed committed to grilling during a monsoon (that's our 8 ft beach umbrella), celebrating Scout's 13th birthday, mastering the art of friendship bracelets with her while watching "Pitch Perfect" (I was in auntie heaven) and celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary in the state where we married. August also means school begins again at Covenant which is my favorite time of the year. New student move-in day, the kickoff dinner for faculty and staff, and convocation (video snippets here and here) make this tradition loving girl so happy.

September was a blur of getting the new chaplain situated and finding a new normal at work. Yeah, that's about it for September.

Ah, my birthday month. Ambition took over and I attempted to participate in The Nester's "Create" blog series.  I lost my steam a couple of weeks in, but there were more important things to focus on than blogging. Like heading back to NC to be with dear friends as they said goodbye to a wonderful mother. While there, I got some much needed time with my mom (#theoneandonlyLila) and Meredith, a most kindred spirit (accidental twinsies!). I welcomed autumn with some new office decor, in fact an entire makeover. In a magical twist of perfect timing, three of my all time favorite artists were touring together and doing a show in Chattanooga the weekend before my birthday. The music of Bebo Norma, Sara Groves and Andrew Peterson has impacted my life over the last 20 years and it was indescribable to sit on the front row and listen to the three of them perform. And I got to meet Sara Groves! Definitely a highlight of the year. We followed that up with dinner at Tupelo Honey, making my thirty-sixth birthday a pretty fantastic one.

In November, my beautiful, brave, joyful friend Sarah passed away after a fierce battle with breast cancer. What I said that day still feels like enough, "Sarah was a delight to everyone she met. She lived life with joy, with her contagious laugh, her deep love for Esteban and Milo, with the generous way she gave her time and energy to her friends and students, her adoration for her family and her deep faith in Jesus. I am so thankful to have been her friend, to have so many memories of her grace, her smile, her strength, her wit. We rejoice through tears that she is whole and with Jesus."

Her memorial service was the most beautiful thing I have ever been a part of. Her friends, family and church community celebrated Sarah with truth, tears and laughter. It was amazing and heartbreaking, all at once.

"This photo of her husband, Esteban, and son, Milo, at her Memorial Service yesterday is to me a profound symbol of God's goodness and Sarah's legacy - the tenacious perseverance of joy, even through tears, breaking through in the midst of deep pain."
- Ruthie McGinn (photo credit, Liz Green)

At the end of the month, we hosted Mom, Allie & Megan for Thanksgiving. Five adults, three dogs, gorgeous weather and successful family pictures. Check, check, check.

Ok, running out of steam, so here's December: 
- Mainx24 Christmas parade and possibly my favorite picture ever of the three of us
- All the sewing I've done over the past 4 years on a beginner machine finally burned out the motor, which means...I upgraded! Well, just slightly. But the new girl is good as gold!
- Cruise Family Christmas in NC and the return of the Yankee Swap.
- Sick day. Sick day. And repeat.
- Lots of time in the living room. It's my favorite at Christmas and where I pretty much live during the generous break that Covenant gives us staff.
- The final number of half-batches of cinnamon rolls this holiday season: 5
- New homemade pajama pants for the two of us. Nothing like a Christmas Eve sewing project!
- A cozy Christmas for just the two of us
- New Year's Eve meant Chicken Train Dominoes with friends and our traditional appetizer dinner.

But mostly, December seems to have been this.

Jason and I have passed various types of colds and crud back and forth and we are soooooooo tired of it. Here's to a healthier 2014! I have no idea what the next year might hold. I hope it holds adding a little Petree and that's really the only thing I'm fervently hoping for. The rest of it will come as it may and I trust God with that. This year has stretched me, has grown our marriage in really lovely ways and has made me take stock of what it might look like to live life to the full. I am grateful for all those lessons. My word for 2014 is "brave" and I can't wait for all the different ways I'm going to have the opportunity to be brave, whatever that may look like. 

Happy New Year, y'all!