This year is marked with strangeness, but our goal has been to take each new day in stride and make the most of what we have been given. This means it has also been marked with unprecedented creativity. We look back and see the growth, new insights, and change we gained this year as some of the greatest gifts 2020 gave us. We are deeply grateful for Benjamin’s job with Formation Inc. that has provided for our family even amidst the unknown that 2020 has held. We acknowledge the privilege this we have been afforded, and try daily to not take it for granted. To commemorate this unique year we had Erin Wakeman Films come to create a family film so we could stop time for just a couple of minutes to remember this time with our people in our home. You can see the family film we had made this fall here.
Early in the year Benjamin and Alex were able to get away for a marriage retreat to Leavenworth and our family trip to a cabin, during the smokiest weeks of 2020, which was a highlight for sure.
Camper turned six and we celebrated with our last in person gathering of 2020 at a local swimming pool, a Minecraft themed party of course. Copeland selected an “Elsa party” for his third big day, complete with costumes and lots of singing. Cashel had his third annual fishing birthday this summer, turning eight! McGuire turned one with a “donut grow up” party, theme selected by her brothers. We were so grateful to be able to have our friends (and pastors) Peter and Heather Blue dedicate her amidst family and friends on Zoom. Friends visited her birthday tent at the end of the driveway and added fingerprints to her birthday art. Corban turned five this month and chose an outdoor adventure in the woods and a family day complete with power ranger and Ninja themed details.
Cashel joined the flag football league and Camper dabbled in violin. (This may have been in 2019 but who knows for sure. LOL) Corban learned to ride a two-wheeler, and we all grew in love for drawing, coloring, and creating with duplos and Legos! Subscription boxes for STEM and cooking have marked our months. We have learned to cook most of our favorite foods here at home including pho and ramen! Copeland has loved having his brothers home full time and has learned important skills like fort building and worm farming, all while coming into his own beautiful personality. McGuire has captured our hearts and each day surprises us with a new word, facial expression, or dance move that makes us all laugh.
Alex’s drive-by birthday orchestrated by Benjamin and a stay at home fancy night were also high points! Fun new experiences like dinner in a pumpkin, a dry ice smoking pumpkin (punch), and a flashlight candy scavenger hunt for Halloween; Benjamin’s birthday breakfast; our Dahlia garden that became a “giving garden;” so much snail mail; loads of kayaking; pulling up carpet and reinventing our space over and over; quarantine haircuts; an end of the school year cabin trip complete with swimming and boating; McGuire’s series of “100 days of outfits;” watching loads of news and participating in politics; fighting for and learning about social justice issues; dance parties; so many beach days and lots of geocaching; Benjamin working from home; Alex learning to can fruits and veggies from the garden; and many, many boat trips; perfecting our mask wearing and learning what social distancing means; buying a new van during a pandemic; more borrowed (and lost) library books then we can count; online grocery shopping, and voting as a family; countless drive-thru activities and our 10th annual trip to the Olympic National Forest for our Christmas tree will be distinct memories and all that made 2020 unique as we did them together.
Distance learning in the Spring from our kitchen table was an adventure. The boys did so well and both received awards for excellent learning. Cashel completed first grade and Camper kindergarten at our local neighborhood school. Through the Summer we chose to continue in the fall with our neighborhood school in their hybrid model, and set to work transforming our music room into a classroom. We wanted to partner with the beloved teachers at our school so this was the best option for us. Having gone all virtual up to this point we are grateful for the experience and have learned so much, all of us!
As we reflect we can see this year as one where we grew as a family of seven and solidified a bond of togetherness. It has also brought deepened friendships and new relationships we hold dear. Who knew you could do so much via Zoom!?! Distance learning through our neighborhood school, while being a challenge, provides invaluable rhythm and consistency in this time. God bless the teachers and staff! Watching the boys blossom in their learning and developing a love of reading has been a gift to me. We did several camping trips to our beloved spot of Leland Lake and have made countless fishing trips throughout our community. We are never without our fishing gear.
Corban has the privilege of attending the all outdoor Magnolia Forest preschool and Cashel and Camper rotate Wednesdays in their Adventure Program. This family of forest, adventure loving people has blessed us beyond measure.
Staying close to home has led to other unforeseeable opportunities like Ben’s daily walks with Charlie; welcoming a new kitten – Harvest “Harvey” Moon to our clan; two more “kids” also increased our numbers – “Avery” a mini lamancha and “Hazel” I Nigerian dwarf goat; building a new chicken coop; the kids building several forts (aka the Bunker) on our property; sourdough baking; Benjamin’s finessing of a delicious donut recipe; online parenting classes; therapy for all; so many double date Zoom nights; lots of games and puzzles; and a closeness we could not have foreseen. Alex and Benjamin created so many post-bedtime dates and virtual double date cooking nights were a favorite for sure. We celebrated 12 years of marriage and couldn’t be more grateful to be home this year with each other.
Did I mention SO much fishing, hiking, geocaching and lots of camping?!
Holidays this year have been different. We are choosing to stay home and have found it to be hard but also rewarding. While we miss those we love we know we are staying safe and doing what we can to make a difference in a global pandemic and unprecedented times. We have created new traditions, had so many new experiences and will never forget this year
Our prayers are with those directly impacted by COVID all around the world who face long-term impacts and loss. We long for a new normal that brings loved ones together in person again. We seek to be “part of the change that we wish to see in the world.” (Gandhi)
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV
See more about McGuire’s birth story here.