December 31st – a day that makes it impossible not to reflect on the previous 364 days. We’re home now and brainstorming how to spend our last day of 2019 (spoiler alert – we went hiking and ate an early dinner at Chuy’s). Our holiday season was fairly low-key and family-centric with road trips down to northern Georgia for Thanksgiving and the North Carolina coast after Christmas. It is likely our last year living on the same coast as our families so we made an effort to spend time with our extended family – a goal which we happily met. Clay and I also celebrated 15 years of marriage, which feels mind-boggling. How can we be married for over 15 years when we feel like we’re barely in our mid-20s?

I felt compelled to write here today, despite only publishing 47 posts on And Then We Laughed in 2019. One of the gifts I received from Clay for Christmas was a hand stamped leather cover for my journal that I’ve been keeping in my purse for the past several months. Ironically, 2019 is probably the year I’ve written the most words – they just haven’t been in this space. 2019 was a pretty good year and as a whole, I enjoyed it more than 2018. I kicked off the year with an honest post about dealing with envy as a military spouse. I still have to remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy but I’m definitely more content with decisions beyond our control. I wrote a handful of military posts this year – I wrote about Clay’s promotion and I wrote about what we liked best at each duty station thus far. I shared a conversation I had with Allyson wondering if we were seasoned spouses and I shared a lot about our AGR experience. I wrote about education and the military child, the fight to end the widow’s tax (which is now set to be eliminated by 2023), and a look at the military housing crisis.

On the professional front, I said yes to a long-term full-time substitute position at my children’s school back in April. It was a fantastic and humbling learning experience, so when the school district offered me a part-time position at the central office for the 2019/2020 school year, I gladly accepted. I am able to put my instructional design and content development skills to use and I only work when my children are in school, which I absolutely love.

We were able to travel a fair amount in 2019 and tried our best to maximize our free time outside of work, sports, and volunteer committments. The four of us took another stab at New York City in February and managed to get one full day of sightseeing in before norovirus infiltrated our Manhattan hotel room. Thankfully when I went back for a weekend with my Fort Drum girls I managed to remain healthy (woohoo!). After a dark and gloomy winter in the DC area, we spent Spring Break at Amelia Island at my parent’s condo after a stop in Savannah and Clay and I even managed to sneak away to St. Augustine for the night. We spent the long Memorial Day weekend outside of Philadelphia at my sister’s place. In June, we took advantage of the Waves of Honor promotion and spent a long weekend at Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg. And for the 4th of July, we went down to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina and soaked in a lot of beach time and time with family.

At the end of July, we went to Germany and Austria and fell in love with the Bavarian Alps. We hiked, ate, and drank our way through Munich and Salzburg and left a little piece of our hearts in the countryside. In August, we squeezed in one last summer trip and spent a long weekend in Charlottesville and the Shenandoah National Park. Earlier this year, I wrote about why our family hasn’t gone to Walt Disney World yet and wouldn’t you know, this fall we booked a Disney World vacation for January 2020. The world (or Mickey…) works in mysterious ways.

Clay and I vowed to experience more live music in 2019. While we didn’t get to see too many shows, we attended more concerts in 2019 then we did in 2018, so I can’t complain. We saw Sister Hazel, some friends and I went to the Tim McGraw and John Meacham Songs of America book tour, and we finally saw Jack White when we went to a Raconteurs show. The two of us loved seeing The Head and the Heart and we all enjoyed attending the National Symphony Holiday Pops Concert with Leslie Odom Jr. as a family.

We were able to attend many Washington Nationals games as a family and cheer them on to a World Series win. GO NATS! Going to Nats games will likely be what we miss the most when we PCS – it doesn’t get much better than an afternoon or evening at the ball park. While the team won’t be the same, we can’t wait to attend more games during the first half of 2020!

On a personal note, I am ending 2019 feeling healthier than I did in 2018 – both mentally and physically. However, I learned that what worked for me in my late 20’s and early 30’s is not working for me on the downhill slide toward 40. I have some inches to lose and I know that my cardiovascular health could be better. I have made some changes in the past month that I look forward to continuing in 2020. It’s not about losing weight or a number on the scale. I am an able-bodied healthy woman and I have no excuse for not being in the best shape that my lifestyle allows.

2019 was a pretty good year but I look forward to what 2020 will bring. Bring. It. On!

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