2017 in the rear view mirror

This was a strange and difficult year in the life of the world. For good or for ill, I think we’ll remember 2017 in the history of the world. (I mean, assuming there is a history to be written and that the triumvirate of Trump/Putin/Kim Jong Il doesn’t end our species in a blast of radiation.) (These are the kinds of caveats 2017 has felt like it’s all about.) It’s been a terrifying and uncertain year for many in the wider world – especially immigrants, people of color, non-CIS folk, or anyone with pre-existing health conditions. But in the life of my family, it’s actually been an excellent year, despite the background fear, anxiety and attendance at protests.

Here are the big things that went on in my family this year.

Lastours

We went to Europe.
This was the kind of trip you fantasize about and remember your whole life. We spent time in Barcelona wandering the narrow alleys, we took the train to Carcassonne. We ate cassoulet in the cooling evening in the shadow of an impenetrable fortress built on Roman walls. We found a local guide who brought us to the fastness of Lastours and guided us across the narrow chasm into the ancient, tiny town of Minerve which we’d visited last in a fantastic Cthulu game run by my husband. It was exceptional – the whole thing. The kids were great. The weather was hot hot hot. The history was amazing. I loved every minute of it.

Eclipse

The kids watched the eclipse.
As part of what must be one of the best summers of their lives, the kids did a cross country road trip with their grandparents and cousins and got to see an unobscured totality from the middle of Idaho. It was hard to fit it in between their weeks at Camp Wilmot (they want to go back for three weeks next summer!), tubing with friends, boating camp, and camping trips, but their sacrifices were duly noted. Truly, this summer was epic.

Our last night together

We said goodbye and hello to friends and neighbors.
Looking through my year in pictures, I was struck at how so many in the spring and early summer included our dear and loved neighbors. (I think we had about 12 goodbye parties.) And then how empty the spot felt in the summer. We miss you folks every day, and twice on Saturdays. But our new neighbors, while not the same, are pretty awesome in their own rights. It’s been a sort of generational shift in our little street. I can’t help but feel lucky to have not one, but two generations of awesome neighbors!

Our 17th anniversary

Adam and I had great years at work.
It was a very strong year, professionally. I had a huge (internal) project exceed all my expectations for success in March. It might be the most successful, amazing thing I’ve ever done at work. (And all the more so for being surprising in the process!) Adam made a huge difference in his job, and then was lucky enough to get a new role at a fantastic company where he’s getting to code more and learn a whole new programming language. In the waning hours of the year, I’ve also gotten great news about getting to transfer to a new team I’m super excited about within Alphabet. I do try to keep work and home life separate, but obviously work is a huge part of one’s actual life. For both of us, it’s been an intense year but with good results.

We hired a pastor
This was a huge part of my year. I spent so much time, effort, passion and energy on this search. I learned a lot. I prayed a lot. I felt a full range of human emotions. I got to know people very well. It’s not *quite* over yet, but we’re nearing the end. I’m very weary, so looking for how to recharge these batteries.

Dear friends on cold days

It was a Francophone year
In addition to our time in France, we also visited friends in Quebec City and took a lovely long weekend trip to New Orleans. One of these was very cold and one of them was very hot. Both of them were very fun.

Victorious Views!

I finally climbed Chocorua.
I’ve been passionately wanting to do this for a very long time, but it was a hard one to get done. This year was the year though! It was everything I’d been hoping. I had great company. I am not sure I’ve ever used my body that hard. The weather was excellent. The lodgings close and comfy. I loved it so much.

A few other highlights –
We worked with Fealty Design to create a family crest, which I have been LOVING. I think I managed to include it four times on this year’s Christmas cards.
We bought a new car
We practiced civic engagement, on both a local and larger level
I completed the two year project of listening to all of the Wheel of Time on audiobook
We went camping, but only twice. I’m still regretting bailing on the third time.
The children have both been thriving at school. It’s been an excellent year for both of them, with mental, physical and emotional health.

Thane Turns 1 Year Old

A year ago at about 9:30 in the morning, in a room crowded with nursing students and onlookers, my midwife placed a white-covered, howling baby boy on my belly. Through my own tears of joy, I found myself swearing fealty to him, telling him I loved him over and over as they wiped him off and I pulled him up to my arms.

There are moments that stick with you. He will never remember, and I will never forget.

Nathaniel Augustus Flynn — my sweet Thane-boy. What a gift you are, and what a gift our year together has been.

The general outlines of what a child learns in their first year of life are the same. They lift their head. They smile at you for the first time. They reach out to play with a toy. They roll over. They sit up. They stand. They crawl. They walk. They call you by name. For a healthy child, the outlines are the same — like lines in a coloring book. But oh the vivid differences that show up!

Thane is my book-reader and belly-sleeper. He’s a nose-crincher and cat-lover. Thane is my thumb-sucker. Thane is my independent son. Thane is my patient child. I hear him tell himself stories in the morning in his crib. When he plays, he’ll every-so-often come over and grab on to your leg, lay his cheek against you and suck his thumb. This lasts for a few seconds of love and reassurance, and then he is back to his play again. At night when he goes to sleep (which he does like an absolute dream, night after night), he refuses to lie down until he’s turned on his crib bubbler. If you turn it on, he’ll look reproachful, turn it off, and turn it back on again. Car rides are far more peaceful than I remember them being at 1, as he gazes out the window, reads his books, and removes his socks.

Thane is, I think, destined to be a gentle giant. For all his quieter ways (and quieter is a comparison — he’s not quiet), when Thane makes a decision he’s very hard to stop. I fear dirty diapers, because Thane twists like a muscular corkscrew on the changing table. He’s far more interested in the “Ba! Ba!” (book) over there than lying down! He is so strong, it’s hard to credit.

Thane follows the cats through the house and eats their catfood if not supervised. The other day in just a moment’s inattention, I came to find him drinking (surprisingly skillfully) out of the cat’s water dish while eating their kibble as though it was popcorn. The cats were rather put out.

Thane is persistent in his skills. I watched him try no fewer than 20 times to both put the Weeble on the Weeble-horse AND spin it, until he finally mastered the effect he desired. He was patient, thorough and unhurried.

When Thane smiles, his noses crinkles up.

Thane is being cautious with language. We will hear a word once or twice and then it will disappear. The consistent words are “Book”, “Mama” and “Dada”. When I ask him to say his own name, “Can you say Thane?” he gives me a reproachful look and says with great emphasis “Mama”. I’m sorry son. I like your name. I know that only native English speakers over the age of 7 can say it, but I still like it.

Thane loves loves loves water. He has no fear of it. He loved swimming this summer. He loves taking baths. He will stay in the water until his skin is blue and he’s all shivers, and weep bitter tears when he has to come out.

Thane gets this amazing expression on his face when he’s trying to explore something by tasting it. I’ve seen him bring his mouth down to experience the busy ball bopper or the carpet or the bathwater, with this same intent expression.

Thane and his brother get along wonderfully, although they do still seem to inhabit largely separate worlds. Grey makes Thane laugh with the least thing he does. Although they periodically have their differences over toy-possession, Thane and Grey seem to really like each other.

Thane learned to walk so he could carry toys in his hands as he wandered from room to room. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason he saw a point.

Thane’s favorite food in the world is cheese. He also loves yogurt, but wants to feed himself. He loves bits of meat and enjoys gnawing on pizza crust. He’ll inhale a pair of fried eggs. He finds Cheerios vaguely insulting and expresses his disapproval by sending them all to their fate on the floor.

Thane enjoys fingerpainting with the milk from his bottles.

Oh Thane. How I love your golden curls, your disproportionate smile, your crinkled nose. One year has been wonderful. May we be mother and son for many, many more.

Thane is born
Check out the size of those feet!
Check out the size of those feet!

Thane at one month

Thane was a brunette
Thane was a brunette

Thane at two months

One of Thane's first smiles
One of Thane's first smiles

Thane at three months

Thane and the inauguration
Thane and the inauguration

My beautiful boy
My beautiful boy

Thane at four months

Thane begins to play
Thane begins to play

Thane at five months

He's starting to look like Thane here
He's starting to look like Thane here

Thane at six months

Happy Thane-boy
Happy Thane-boy

OK, so I missed seven months. So sue me.

Increasingly Thane-like
Increasingly Thane-like

Thane at 8 months

Howdy, howdy, howdy. I'm a baby!
Howdy, howdy, howdy. I'm a baby!

Thane at 9 months

Most pictures from this period are in a stroller or high chair
Most pictures from this period are in a stroller or high chair

Thane at 10 months

Thane loves swings
Thane loves swings

Thane at 11 months

Thane is srs reader
Thane is srs reader

Last night

Nose-crinkling Thane on the eve of his birthday
Nose-crinkling Thane on the eve of his birthday