2019 has been a wonderful year. A few weeks ago, I sat down with the intention of writing up some of the highlights to create a “Christmas Letter” style post.
What I ended up with was line after line of the amazing things we did this year; big and small. Rather than tell you every single little detail and funny story along the way (because that would probably take you at least 3 hours to read,) I’ve decided to just hit the highlights. It’s still long, but that’s because we did so many wonderful things this year!
So let’s start at the beginning:
It was a cold month. We celebrated our 2nd anniversary as husband and wife, and went bowling together and then out to dinner at the Olive Garden. We also took a trip to Ohiopyle with Alethea! We all bundled up and got to see some amazing sights. There was no one else around.
We got Alethea a sled for Christmas, and there was finally enough snow to take it outside for a short ride. She did not like the cold or moving on it by herself! But at that point, she wasn’t walking yet.
Speaking of her walking, she figured out how to use her baby walker and was running from one end of the room to the next.
Jonathan and I were able to attend Winterjam at PPG Paints Arena with some friends! While both of us have been to winterjam many times in the past years, we had never gone together! So that was exciting.
I finally upgraded my iPhone! Decided to take the leap and got the iPhone X. I absolutely loved the portrait mode. If you could only see my camera roll from that month, you’d probably laugh.
Alethea was getting tons of teeth at the beginning of the year. As soon as one came through, another one started. She was a mega drool monster for a LONG time. We’d take extra shirts with us everywhere because she was constantly soaked.
We found out that Alethea’s favorite food is fried rice! She just can’t get enough. We don’t eat it very often, but she’d finish an entire plateful and ask for more.
Some people find it surprising that I cook dinner pretty much every day. I know in this generation, that’s kind of unheard of. Well in March I made my second “bad” meal since Jonathan and I started dating. (Not too shabby I say. LOL) But it made it all the more memorable. I was trying to make wedding soup, but let’s just say, Jonathan refers to it now as “tapioca soup.” You live and you learn, right?
With March also came the sunshine and motivation to do some things we’d been putting off. First up was clearing out our front room to use as a functional living space! It was awesome and wonderful.
We also began the painful process of digging up, sifting out, and replanting our front garden. THAT was a labor of love. While I started the process one day, I realized it might take me years. Jonathan faithfully came home from work each day for probably at least a week straight, and worked on it until dinner time. He’s my hero. When it was all finished, we had the most beautiful front garden ready for spring flowers. And my what beautiful flowers we grew this year!
At the end of March, Alethea turned a year old! So crazy. We took her to Phipps for the spring flower show called “Colors of the Rainbow” which she absolutely loved!
On her birthday, we gave her some cake which she happily devoured. The following day was her party! Our house is not that big, so my parents graciously let us have the party at their home.
It was a “Duckies in the Rain” theme party! Alethea just loves ducks and it was the first animal sound she ever made. It was a blast! And she loved every minute of it. (So did we!)
My birthday was just a few days later, and Jonathan surprised me by taking us hiking to a spot we’d never been to! Our goal was to find a hidden waterfall. When we reached the general area, we could hear it but there were no trespassing signs in that direction! So unfortunately, we couldn’t get a good view of it, but we had a wonderful hike anyways.
That weekend, we went to Deep Creek to open up the house for the first time! As many years as I could when I lived at home, I tried to convince my parents to open up the house for my birthday. This year the weather cooperated! AND it was the first year in a very long time that my cousins came down as well in April! We all had a wonderful time, and Alethea just loved the lake!
She started walking like a pro right after that! She’s never stopped since!
Our daffodils in our newly refreshed garden started blooming! They were so beautiful!
Alethea got a bubble machine for her birthday, and we were finally able to go outside in the warm weather and enjoy it! She had so much fun with that this year.
All of the flowers and trees were so beautiful this spring. Alethea and I took so many walks around our neighborhood to see them!
Then the worst part of our year happened: the day before Easter, Alethea came down with a stomach bug. She had never really been sick before, let alone this sick! It broke this momma’s heart! Jonathan and I stayed up with her all night that first day. I wish I could tell you that was the end, but that would’ve been too easy. This virus lasted a whole week. She wouldn’t eat and she barely nursed. And two days later, Jonathan came down with the same thing. As hard as it hit Alethea, it hit him even harder. So much so, that he passed out from dehydration and I had to take him to an emergency room.
Alethea had only slightly improved at that point, but Grandma so graciously came over and took care of her while I took Jonathan to the hospital. We were there for quite a while. He had to get two full bags of IV fluids, plus a bag of magnesium because he was so low.
Easter is my favorite holiday. Not being able to celebrate it was a huge bummer, but I am so thankful I was healthy and able to take care of my husband and daughter. It was truly a miracle I didn’t catch this virus. I praise God for that!
About 10 days after it had all started, it seemed like the two of them had mostly recovered. Jonathan was able to go back to work for a full day. The doctors were pretty baffled by it and had no solution except “Wait it out and do your best to keep hydrated.” 10 days was a long time. But we made it.
My brother Steve graduated high school! I got to take his senior pictures, which was a wonderful time. (I seriously can’t believe that only Ruby is left to graduate now!)
Since we didn’t get participate in any Easter celebration, my mom decided to delay their easter egg hunt until everyone was better! So the first weekend in May, we FINALLY had Easter.
We found out then that Alethea hated walking in the grass. Even with shoes! She did not want to go find the eggs! It was pretty hilarious, but also so much fun.
I photographed a gorgeous wedding, a proposal, and a family session that month! It was so much fun.
My brother Steve began the process of replacing and adding ceiling fans in our house! He did such an amazing job and we are so thankful!
Our refrigerator also died in May. Thankfully, we had a family member who had an extra one and we were able to get it replaced fairly quickly!
Mother’s day was wonderful.
We went to round hill park a few times! We loved seeing the animals and the duckies in particular. We also enjoyed several trips to Indian Lake to see the ducks and swing!
Our beloved pup, d’Artagnan turned 2 years old! He’s really the best dog in the world. I joke that the worst thing he does is shred tissues. But seriously, that’s it! We love him so much, and he gets along with Alethea so well.
We finally made it back to the lake for Memorial Day weekend! Alethea and I got in the water for bit. She seemed to love it!
Then we came home, and on May 28th, we remembered our Aria’s second birthday in heaven. We got ice cream cake and flowers, and cried and cherished her.
We had wanted to go back to the place we got engaged for the last few years, and it finally happened! We drove out to Bear Run Nature Reserve and hiked into the woods. I wish I could tell you it was wonderful, but when we got close, a fellow hiker warned us there was a huge snake hanging out at the overlook! It was still there when we got there. I HATE snakes. We took some pictures, had a short snack break, and when the snake disappeared, we left as quickly as possible!
Other than that, it was a pleasant hike. LOL
We attended our first music in the streets of the year! Alethea LOVED all the jazz music that was playing. She was dancing and clapping.
One of my lifelong friends got married, and I photographed her wedding! It was such a beautiful day. I also photographed a maternity session for a friend who I haven’t seen in over 15 years!
I took two of my sisters to see Parachute in concert at the end of the month. Pretty sure we had the best time ever.
4th of July was a blast! We headed down to the lake early that week, and got to spend time with my cousin Zeb and his family, and my sister Kara and her family. We got a picture of our 4 combined kids together in their red, white, and blue, which was absolutely adorable.
I photographed another wedding and a family session at Deep Creek! It’s so great to meet up with returning clients down there who love Deep Creek as much as I do. Later on I did another family session back home as well.
We planted Zinnia’s in our garden and my goodness how they grew! I’m not joking when I tell you they were over 6 feet tall. It was all that fresh clean soil! All of our neighbors were seriously wondering how we did that. They were all so beautiful! We had pink red, orange, white, and yellow blooms all season!
At the end of the month, there was a little surprise for Jonathan when he came home from work one day. I tucked a little note in an envelope, and told Alethea to give it to daddy when he came in the door. He was so excited and thought she had made him something, but when he opened it up, he literally dropped to the floor and said “Are you serious??”
The note said : “I’m a big sister!”
We had fun telling everyone else in the following weeks. We even go to break the news to Jonathan’s extended family when they came to vacation at deep creek! It was so perfect.
We announced on facebook that we were expecting, in the most “us” way possible: With tacos.
I got Alethea a shirt from etsy that had a taco on the front saying “I have something to taco bout..” and on the back had two tacos and said “I’m going to be a big sister!”
Everyone seemed to love that. ☺
We went to idlewild together for the first time as a family! Alethea loved playing in the soak zone, so much that she didn’t want to leave! It was Norwin Community Picnic day and Alethea actually won a prize for her first year!
We made many more trips to deep creek that month and Alethea and I even stayed for a whole week with my mom and sisters. We visited the deep creek rock maze for the first time! We loved it so much, we went back again with Jonathan a few weeks later.
I photographed another gorgeous wedding, and did some headshots for a friend of mine! I also got to do another photo session for the couple who’s maternity photos I had done in June, and meet their little baby girl.
We headed to the lake one last time. I was so sad that we weren’t going to make it much in the fall, but my schedule was filled to the brim on weekends with family photo sessions! I photographed so many wonderful families in September, October, and November. I get to meet so many wonderful people and take so many beautiful photos. I can’t wait to blog them all!
Also the first week of September, we got a call that our roof was going to finally be replaced! We had been waiting several months, and it was finally time for our slate roof to go.
They came to replace it on the day we left for vacation! We were heading out the door as they arrived.
We had an amazing vacation week. We traveled to New York and stayed with Jonathan’s grandparents for a few days, then we headed to Boston! It was such a fun time for us 3 as a family. We walked the freedom trail, ate lots of sea food, went to the bay, and we even got to see a lighthouse on our last day! Because of all the driving time, we stopped at Jonathan’s aunt and uncle’s house in New York on the way back to break up the time. We stayed with them for a few days as well and then headed home.
Our new roof is so beautiful! We were so amazed when we arrived home!
We celebrated my grandparent’s 60th anniversary with a huge party that month. Alethea decided it would be funny to stick her fingers in her nose for all the pictures.
I photographed another stunning wedding at the end of September. So much love!
While we didn’t make it back to the lake, we did make a day trip to the Springs Folk Festival! My family goes every year, and I so wanted to take Jonathan and Alethea. We had so much fun, even though it was quite chilly.
We celebrated Jonathan’s birthday that week as well. We didn’t have anything big planned this year, but we spent the whole day together as a family and it was perfect.
Then the marathon of family photo sessions began. It was so much fun, but it was rough not being home for dinner every weekend for almost 2 months straight.
Jonathan and I traveled for two weddings this year. One was in March for his cousin, and the other was the end of October for a friend of his from college! The second one was far enough away that we stayed in a hotel that night. It was our first night away from Alethea since she was born. I missed her so much, but we had a great time away.
The day after we had returned, we found out we were having another little girl! We are so excited and we can’t wait to meet her in March(ish)! I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes again, and got a jump start on getting that under control. I’ve been doing very well with just diet control, but as expected, it’s getting harder the further along I get.
This month was filled with many blessings, which I was continually reminded of. The Lord has provided all our needs. He always has. But it was particularly evident all through this year.
In November, we went to the zoo for the first time as a family. We saw a lot of animals, and though Alethea was devastated when the polar bear disappeared after seeing it for about 3 seconds, it was still a great time. (And don’t tell her but she’s getting a stuffed polar bear for Christmas because I felt so badly about it!)
We attended light up night in downtown Irwin. We had to walk because there was so much traffic! Let me tell you, walking at 23 weeks pregnant uphill both ways is not easy. But we made it just in time for the tree lighting, and watched the whole parade. Alethea loved it!
She got to ride the Christmas train at the mall one day, after I had another ultrasound. Needless to say, when the ride ended and she had to get off, she was NOT too happy.
Our thanksgiving gathering was small this year. A lot of my siblings were missing, and my grandparents all went elsewhere. But we still had a good time with delicious food.
The next day, we took a trip into the city to see the Christmas village set up and the market square Christmas tree and ice rink! It was something I’ve never got to see before, so it was a delightful time (even though it was COLD.)
We set up our Christmas tree, and decorations and are so excited to celebrate the birth of our King in less than a week!
It’s been a busy month here. Something has been going on every weekend and we’re ready to just relax and enjoy this winter season. Jonathan and I snuck out this weekend to see the new Star Wars movie and it did not disappoint! 10/10 recommend!
The amazon boxes are piled high in our living room, filled with presents for Christmas Eve and Day! Alethea is bursting at the seams, and can’t wait to tear into her presents. Christmas is so much more fun with kids!
We praise God for His continual grace and goodness towards us every day. We are so excited for what He will do in our lives in 2020!
Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!
Ellen, Jonathan, Alethea, and Baby Girl on the way