The annual roundup!  This is one of my favorite posts to put together – even in the years that didn’t go as planned, the years where I didn’t get through my to-do list or take that trip I hoped for, reflection brings so many reasons to feel accomplished and to be thankful.  2021 was no different.  Some lows, but a lot of highs.  Okay, and one BIG high (hi, Buddy!).  


Favorite book:

I finished 23 books, one shy of my goal, but I’m going to let that slide because I was able to check off quite a few books that have been on my reading list for 8+ years.

Favorite book in the memoir category, and favorite book above all, was One Long River of Song by Brian Doyle.  I literally clutched this book to my chest several times while reading and took a deep breath, as if it would allow me to more fully soak in Doyle’s words about family and nature and love.  What a gift.

Favorite non-fiction was The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, because it opened my eyes to the lasting significance of the Great Migration, which I’ll admit I knew nothing about a year ago.

I was a little light on fiction last year, but loved A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith for superb character / setting development – by the end of the book, I felt like I knew the Nolan family through and through.


Favorite TV show:

Top honors to Insecure.  I watched all five seasons over the past few months (three cheers for marathon breastfeeding sessions!) and gosh, why’d I wait so long to get on the Issa train?!  I loved watching her change and grow over the course of the show, loved bearing witness to her deep-though-tumultuous friendship with Molly.  And the Lawrence saga…I ate it up.

Mare of Easttown deserves a mention as well because…sheesh!  The suspense!  The acting!  Kate Winslet’s Pennsylvania accent!  My palms haven’t sweated like that since Breaking Bad.


Favorite movie:

Whenever Shane asks me if I want to watch a show or a movie, I always choose show because I like more bite-sized chunks of TV, but King Richard was worth the two-hour commitment.  Will Smith is stunning and those Williams sisters (in real life)…total bad-asses.

Honorable mention to Father of the Bride, even though it’s 30 years old, because I had so much fun watching it with Juliette on one of our lazy Saturday mornings together.  It’s good to have another rom-com lover in the house!


Favorite podcast:

Bah!  I almost skipped this category because I did so little listening last year (still mourning the Reply All scandal), but in scrolling my queue I see that I stayed pretty current on HBR’s After Hours.  Though Felix, Mihir, and Youngme operate on a completely different academic wavelength than I do, they’re still approachable and their take on current events feels less sinister than the reporting I get from The Daily.


Favorite song:

I was determined not to give this category to Taylor Swift again, but dang it!  Her re-release of the Red album, and her 10-minute version of All Too Well in particular, blew our damn minds.   The short film, the SNL performance, the saga of the missing scarf, we devoured it all.  Over and over.


Favorite purchase:

I’m going to go big on this one and shout out to our new kitchen.  I’ll give more details and the full before-and-after in another post, but I can definitively say that it’s all I hoped it would be.  The opening up of the kitchen to the living room in particular has been a game changer – it’s so nice to be able to chat with Shane or Juliette if they’re in the living room and I’m cooking or doing dishes.  The peninsula gets tons of use – Juliette does puzzles or art projects there, it’s our snack buffet if we have guests, and I do most of my meal prep there.  Now if only I could keep it clean…


Favorite personal pastime:

I was a little short on recreational me-time last year, as pregnancy, a remodel, and then newborn life left me pooped. But I continue to find much joy in making our home homier and did some quality nesting in 2021. What was our guest room (and then my home office) has now been made into a cozy little nursery, complete with a hand-drawn wall pattern that took far longer than I expected but was also soothing in its tedium. Juliette’s room now serves as the guest room on the occasions that we have family in town and has gotten some Jules-approved grown-up upgrades. Our tired downstairs brick fireplace got a coat of black paint, some lighting, and new mantle styling. Our bedroom got a glow-up with accent paint and shelving and fresh art. And the houseplants! So many houseplants to brighten each room. Dare I say our house is almost “finished”? (I don’t.)


Favorite family pastime:

Again, it felt like we lost many of our summer weekends and evenings to the kitchen renovation, and then Isaac upended our routines completely, so I’m not entirely sure where to go with this one. My 2020 highlight reel tells me we used to play cards every night after dinner and I’m having a hard time even recalling what that was like – sounds so civilized! So luxurious! These days, 6pm is when we start our evening round of pass-the-baby as we endeavor to keep him content until his 7:00 bedtime… We’ve got some figuring-out to do in regards to fun-making as a family of four (though we have whiled away some good hours together on the living room floor, trying to find Isaac’s most ticklish spots). I did really, really love watching Juliette play soccer on Saturdays last Fall, with Shane at the helm as assistant coach and Isaac in my arms as (sleepy) co-cheerleader. I previously felt a sort of pity for soccer moms, spending their Saturdays on the sidelines rain or shine, but now that I’ve seen my own kid out on the field, I get it – turns out it’s thrilling to see her score a goal! Or try to score a goal! Or participate in the opening team cheer! I’m Juliette’s biggest fan.


And, favorite moments…

Many evenings spent listening to Harry Potter while following along in the book.




Sharing the news with the sister-to-be!






A visit from much-missed grandparents.


Mother’s Day with our newly-vaxed crew.


An unexpectedly snowy hike with my best bud before she headed off into the train tunnel for a bike ride with her dad.


A Marrowstone weekend with friends we saw too little of in 2020.


The Oregon Coast and that ocean magic.


An attempt to escape the end-of-June heat.


Lake life at our new favorite spot in Idaho.


Possibly Juliette’s best day ever


She loved him so much already.


My ladies!


Summer Saturdays at Colman Pool.


Lazy weekend mornings in bed.


Our last outing as a family of three!




Newborn bliss.  And lots of hospital milkshakes.


Little bro meets the best-ever big sis.


So tired, but so happy.


Lazy mornings in bed take a new turn…


A horseback ride for the the EIGHT year-old.


Chair snuggles.  So many chair snuggles.




Momming so hard…


Cloud nine grandparents.


First smiles.


Sister love runs deep.


Autumn magic.


Keeping traditions alive.


A Schnell family Thanksgiving.


The sweetest advent.


Chosen family.


Jarrell family.


A snowy surprise.


Cozy December mornings.


And more snow…


Happy New Year.

2021 felt so damn tough for the world outside our door – COVID rolled on, divisions ran deep, and we bore witness to heartbreaking loss. But I’m exceedingly grateful for the joy that bloomed in our little bubble, for snowy surprises and pool days and the most perfect little babe a big sister could hope for. May joy bloom bigger in 2022, may we see it burst our bubble in the very best way and spread near and far.