Thursday, January 9, 2014

13 Highlights from 2013

Happy New Year!  2013 was a year of growth, changes, and adventures ... and we made sure to have a little fun, too. ;) Although this post is several days late, I wanted to take the chance to reflect on 13 highlights from 2013.

1.  Celebrating Papa John's 90th--My Mom's dad, Papa John (not his formal name ;), turned 90 on January 7, 2013.  Darren and I were able to join other family members to celebrate that special day with him.  I'm so glad we made it!  We lost Papa John on December 1, 2013, which made this last opportunity I had to spend with him very special and a real highlight.  There is so much I admired about Papa John, including his sense of humor, kindness, organization, and his way with words (fitting since he spent his career as a journalist and author).  I sure will miss him!
Papa John, Chris, Me, Dustin, Nick, Gabe, Darren

2.  Growing as a teacher--In 2013, I finished my fourth year as a fifth grade teacher.  While I anticipated that each passing year in fifth grade would become easier and feel more routine, a new school and a few very challenging students made last year unique.  I learned more about myself as a classroom teacher and how to handle difficult situations in the classroom last year than I probably did in all the three previous years combined.  I grew a lot, and I now have several more tools in my teacher tool belt.  Looking back on that year, I feel that in many ways it has been my most rewarding as a teacher.  In Pinedale in 2013, I began substitute teaching.  For a while, I only received calls to sub in the Pinedale Middle School, which also brought new teaching experiences.  Most recently, I subbed in a middle school Chinese class--talk about stepping outside of my comfort zone!  I am happy to report, however, that I now know how to say hello, goodbye, hamburger, and pizza in Mandarin. ;)

3.  Reunions with friends--Any opportunity I have to visit with old college friends and roommates is always a highlight.  In 2013, I had the chance to reunite with some of my closest on the east coast and in Utah.  I am so grateful for friends like these ladies in my life!

Getting to know the two cuties below was definitely a highlight!

No one ever said we don't know how to pamper ourselves. ;)
4.  Exploring Arizona--I am so glad that we had the chance to live in AZ, if only for a year.  It is a beautiful state, and we enjoyed the chance to get to know it in 2013!
Native American ruins near Flagstaff 
Grand Canyon
Famous Root Beer Float at Joe's Barbecue in Gilbert
39 Steps at the Hale Centre Theater thanks to a Christmas gift from Chris
5.  Family Reunions--2013 was filled with family reunions.  Darren and I had the opportunity to attend the Hubbard, Myler, Sonne, and Wintch reunions.  Growing up, family reunions were like holidays that I anticipated with growing excitement ... and I still do!

The Hubbard Clan: Nick, Gabe, Tad, Catrine, Dad, Mom, Me, Darren, Elizabeth, Jim, Sue, Ron
Visiting the Myler Farm in Idaho
Meeting Hudson Hyde at the Sonne Reunion 
How cute is the little guy in the lower left?  He loved it up there!

6.  Church Callings--I am grateful for the opportunity I've had to work with the kids in our wards in 2013.  In Gilbert, I had the chance to return to the Young Women Program and feel of the strength and testimony of those girls.  In Pinedale, I am excited for the opportunity to work with fifteen 8-9 year old girls in Activity Days.  Getting to know the youth of the Church sure makes one optimistic for the future!

7. Turning 30--I turned the big 3-0 in 2013.  It happened in the middle of a busy summer and our preparations to move to Pinedale, but we still made sure to celebrate.  I wasn't sure how I would feel when the day actually came, but I can say now that I have a great feeling about this new decade in my life.  Bring it on 30s!

My parents sent flowers to our Pinedale hotel.

Birthday gondola ride and steak dinner in Jackson :)
8.  Moving to Pinedale--I have written several recent posts on our experiences moving and adjusting to life in Pinedale, so I will keep this short.  While there were/are challenges to working and living here, we are both so happy to be living in Pinedale at this time in our lives.  The future may hold further changes, but we are soaking up all of the beautiful countryside, outdoor activities, warm friendships (if not weather), and simple life as we can while we have the chance to live here!

Leaving Arizona--The 950 miles we drove in this baby is a trip I will not soon forget!
Driving down our new street.
Moving into our second (!) Pinedale apartment
It's easy to see why they call this "Big Sky" country!

9.  Parents Visiting in Pinedale--When my parents visited Pinedale in September, Darren and I had a great time showing them around!  There is something about having parents visit a new place that immediately makes it feel more like home.

10.  New Friends--Since I can't have my parents close in Pinedale all of the time, I am so grateful for the new friends that we have been able to make here.  Dinners, game nights, bonfires, movie days/nights, and trips to the lakes have all been made possible by some young families that have befriended us.  These new friends have made the transition to Pinedale so much more fun and comfortable.  I know we will continue to be friends for a long time!

11.  Old/New Hobbies--In March of 2013, I had the chance to attend a one-day writing class at Stanford thanks to a Christmas gift from Darren.  Writing is a hobby/talent I have wanted to develop for years.  The opportunity to attend this class was a highlight that I will always remember.  Since moving to Pinedale, I have started a new hobby that has also interested me for a while ... quilting!   There is something so neat, I think, about having handmade quilts to snuggle up in or put at the end of a bed.  While my quilt teacher takes me through every step, and I'm pretty sure I couldn't recreate a single square on my own, I have loved the process every Saturday.  I can't wait to see what it looks like when it all comes together!

Ready for the writing class

A few quilt squares

12.  Anniversary Trip to NYC--In celebration of our 3rd wedding anniversary and to cross another item off of our bucket list, Darren and I traveled to NYC at the end of November/beginning of December last year.  I have written a recent post about this trip, as well, so suffice it to say we had a great time!  One of the best moments for me may have been when we were getting on the plane to fly home and Darren leaned over and said, "So, where are we traveling to next?"  I'm so glad he has been bitten by the travel bug, since I have been infected for years. ;)

13.  CA Christmas--No Christmas season would be complete without the opportunity to visit family.  Darren and I celebrated Christmas day in Pinedale, and then were able to leave for CA on the 26th.  My family was kind enough to hold off on our Christmas traditions until we arrived.  We celebrated our Sonne Christmas on the 27th, and it was wonderful.  We loved being able to visit with family and warm up in the sunny 75 degree weather!
CA Christmas (I may have gotten a little carried away with a collage app I recently discovered ;)
Writing this post has reminded me how blessed I am to have had the experiences, family, and friends that have filled 2013.  I am looking forward to the adventures to come in 2014!
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