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Top 10 in 2016

I feel like a broken record, but I really hope 2017 will be the year I get back on track with Christmas cards. Thank you to everyone who still has us on their Christmas card list, we always enjoy hanging up your cards during the Christmas season.
 

I can't let go of our long-standing tradition of out Top 10 list for the year, so without further ado, here it is...

Family photo at a cottage on Lake Simcoe in Orillia, Ontario

10. We kicked off 2016 by taking a first hike of our year which prompted Project Outside365. The idea was to get our kids outside as much as possible throughout the year. While we didn't spend time outside every single day, we came pretty close. I believe my final tally was 337 days spent outside.

First Hike of 2016: Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain, TN

We hiked, paddled, camped (including Isaac's first camping trip), biked, climbed, swam, snorkeled, and spent many days at playgrounds. Like the start of the year, we ended 2016 with a family hike. It was a great effort and I am proud of us.

Last Hike of 2016: Snooper's Rock on Signal Mountain, TN
 
9. In January, Isaac got his first teeth and we discovered that he had a pretty severe lip tie. After assessing it, researching and making an appointment with a local doctor who specializes in lip ties, we decided to have a walk-in procedure. It was awful to watch him have it removed – seeing your child in pain is always difficult, but we are glad we went ahead and had it fixed. He bounced right back and the gap between his teeth is almost gone.

Isaac has a lip tie corrected.

8. At the end of February, my Grandma passed away. She had been bed ridden for the last three years, but had been able to be in the comfort of my parent's home during this time. We were sad about her passing, but so grateful that she had had the opportunity to meet and spend time with all of her great grandchildren. It was also a blessing to go home and spend time with our family and extended family.

Our family said goodbye to my Grandma in Searcy, AR.

7. In the month of April, Daniel and I participated in our first triathlon. It was the Rock Island Rock and Row hosted at Rock Island State Park. The race started with a 5k paddle, followed by a hilly 5k run, and finishing with a 5k ride. It was a tough course with huge hills, but lots of fun. We enjoyed our first Tri experience and also taking our boys to some of our favorite trails in Rock Island and Fall Creek Falls State Parks. This is such a beautiful part of our state and we hope to be back soon.

 
Daniel and I participated in our first Triathlon, The Rock and Row in Rock Island, TN.

6. This was the year that we decided to let Jack start to explore sports. We agreed that he should only do one activity at a time. He's still in the phase of being easily distracted and not wanting to exert a lot of energy. Only time will tell whether he will really be into sports or not. In January there was Gymnastics, then T Ball in the spring, followed by Soccer in the fall, and also swimming lessons at our Y. We have him signed up for Taekwondo starting this week, he is super excited about it.


Jack started trying different sports, including Spring T Ball.
 
5. This year both of our boys had milestone birthday with Isaac turning ONE in April and Jack turning FIVE in November. We are so blessed by both of these little ones and cannot imagine our lives without either one. Jack will start kindergarten this coming fall (he is currently in his third year of preschool) and Isaac will start preschool. Time slow down!

Isaac turned ONE in April.

Jack turned FIVE in November.

4. This summer Jack taught himself to ride his bike. Daniel was outside with him and he just kind of did it. It took us both by surprise. He has really excelled at riding and has continued to teach himself new tricks like hopping curbs and some very basic mountain biking skills. We can't wait to take him out on trails with us.


3. For our family vacation this year, we decided to go to Canada. We rented a cottage on a lake about an hour north of Toronto and had a fantastic time paddling, biking and swimming daily on our own little portion of Lake Simcoe. During our week stay, Jack discovered a love of snorkeling and spent hours each day floating in the water seeing everything he could.

Family vacation on Lake Simcoe in Orillia, Ontario
  
During this vacation, we also attended my Family Reunion and had a blast catching up with all of those who were able to attend. It was a first time for most of them to meet Isaac and they hadn't seen Jack in a couple of years. We hope to make this trip a more regular occurrence (the last time we had been there was four years ago for my Grandpa's funeral). 




We ended our trip by taking the boys to Niagara Falls. I don't like the touristy part of NF, but the falls are truly spectacular and we always stop to see them when we are in the area visiting family.


Visiting Niagara Falls, Ontario on our way home from vacation

2. In December we celebrated our 14th anniversary and had our first real night away from our kids. Ever. I'm not sure what took us so long, but 20 hours to ourselves was worth it!

We celebrated 14 years of marriage with a night away at the Bluff View Inn in Downtown Chattanooga, TN.
 
1. By far, our best news of this year is that after interviewing for different positions within his company for the last several years, Daniel FINALLY had the opportunity to change jobs and fields. He spent almost three years working as a Start-Up Engineer for Watts Bar Unit 2. They are the first power plant in the US to bring a new nuclear unit online in the twenty-first century. It was a really big project and Daniel was grateful for the unique opportunity and experience he had while at Watts Bar. Unfortunately for our family, the hours were awful and we are thrilled that the now works in downtown Chattanooga as a Civil Engineer in their Dam Safety division. This was a big change for him, but has been a huge blessing to our family. Working 40 hours a week instead of 70+ (with a long commute) has made a huge difference in our family life.

Dinner with the Watts Bar Unit 2 Startup group to celebrate the completion of the project.

On a separate work-related note, this summer I wrapped up a textbook that took me a year to design for Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina. I have been extremely blessed by the freelance graphic design projects that I have had over the last six years. Unfortunately the last quarter of this year was really slow for me. I'm not sure what next year will hold, but having my foot in the door in the design and marketing field while I stay home with the boys has been a tremendous blessing for me.

Thrilled to receive a copy of a college textbook of my year-long design project for Central Piedmont Community College.
 
We can't wait to see what 2017 has to offer, good or bad. We are ready to embrace the coming year!



Top 10 List from Years Past:  2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | We skipped 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

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