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Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Year in Review - 2020

2020 was a year we will never forget. It was full of some of our biggest life moments which also happened to take place during such a scary time. 2020 will always be remembered as the year of the pandemic, the crazy election, the forest fires, the floods, the black lives matters movements, and so many other challenging events. At the same time, we will also remember it as the year we got married, bought a house, found out we were pregnant, and spent a lot of time at home together.  It's hard to have such conflicting feelings about a "year" - to have so many happy memories taking place in a year that was so brutal for many. 

Nonetheless, I write this post every year (you can read my recaps for 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014), and this year was an important one to look back on.  It was always my favorite post to write, acknowledging the importance of looking back and being thankful for all the memories made - an important and oh so necessary exercise in gratitude especially this year. I am thankful for all the memories, thankful for the growth, appreciative of all the happy memories but I am so excited to put this challenging year behind us. Before we welcome 2021 and all the changes (and uncertainties, let's be honest) that the new year will bring, let's look back at 2020... the good, the bad, and the ugly. 


We started the year with a ski trip out west.  Adam and I flew into Salt Lake City and spent a few days exploring (and eating around) Utah.  We went on a winter hike on Antelope Island State Park on our first day in the Beehive State.  The next few days we skied AltaDeer Valley, and Snowbird.  On my last day in Utah, I came down with the flu and Adam started experiencing some wisdom teeth pain which made our last day quite interesting.  Two under the weather skiers packed up the rental car and made the drive northwest to one of my favorite mountain towns, Jackson, Wyoming.  In Jackson, we drove through Grand Teton National Park, and skied my favorite resort Jackson Hole.  On our last day in Wyoming, we went on a sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge before making the drive back to Salt Lake City to spend some time with Amanda.  After eating at some of my favorite places and skiing some of my favorite mountains, we headed back east.


February is my birthday month and was our quiet month between two different trips - our end of January ski trip out west and our Disney trip with Adam's family at the end of March. We celebrated Valentine's Day by heading to New Haven for some indoor rock climbing before heading home to make sushi. My birthday is a few short days after Valentine's Day and while we had big plans to head to New Haven to have a nice dinner at Union League, I came down with laryngitis. Yep, the 33rd Birthday with no ability to use my vocal cords. We postponed dinner and a few days later, enjoyed an amazing meal at Union League. We started planning what a wedding would look like in December and in January, spent some time talking and designing a ring. Even so, at the end of February, Adam caught me completely off guard and proposed on one of our favorite local trails in Guilford. We celebrated with my sister and brother-in-law in New Haven that night. Adam closed on his house, transferred to the Madison Eversource headquarters, and moved into the Guilford house with me. By the end of the month, I had experienced the flu twice, Adam had to have wisdom tooth surgery (again), and I spent my 32nd birthday with laryngitis. It was a telling sign of how tumultuous 2020 would be.


On the last day of February, we flew to Orlando to spend a few days at Disney World with Adam's family. While Disney World gives me extreme anxiety (the crowds, the people, etc) I was happy to spend some quality time with Adam's family. The Corona Virus was just starting to make the news abroad and little did we know, it was on its way to change 2020 for good. Before the pandemic hit, we reroofed the Guilford house and headed north to Killington for what turned out to be our last ski day of the year. Everything started to shut down and we spent the second half of March in lockdown as COVID-19 made its way to the states. We got outside for little hikes to pass the time and nervously anticipated the future. I remember our last "normal" meal inside a restaurant at Buffalina ordering pizza with Adam. I remember using a napkin to touch the communal parmesan cheese dispenser and little did I know it was the end of indoor dining and this kind of "communal condiment" for a long time. 


April we were still in lockdown mode and we moved forward with working on the house and staying local. We were getting my Guilford house the exterior updates I had been longing for, new siding and windows and fireplace. It was starting to look like the little house I always imagined it could. We spent the nicer days on our local trails and explored East River Preserve, thankful to have this outdoor oasis to safely escape to. Our wedding plans slowly started to crumble and we quickly had to shift gears. We realized that a Yosemite wedding was no longer a safe idea (flying our family during a pandemic) and there was so much uncertainty surrounding what would happen in August and if the park would even be open. We had an engagement party in May that had to be canceled and we scrambled to find an alternative for an elopement. With the promise of warmer weather, we started to get outside a bit more, enjoying outdoor picnics and time with the dogs. 


We spent May unplanning and replanning our wedding. We found a place in Maine which would allow us to get married in a socially distanced way, with a large outdoor space and everyone having their own house or cabin. We made the difficult decision to cancel the party we had planned with friends and family and were instantly sad that we would not be able to celebrate with the people closest to us. We replanned our wedding and also tried to plan our future and what it would look like. We had been toying with the idea of staying in Guilford, making my 1,000 SF ranch home while we saved up for our dream house. We also toyed around with potentially putting an addition on the house and finally decided to put my house on the market and look for a new home together. After seeing a few houses, we decided to put an offer on a 1979 colonial on a cul-de-sac street that backed up to the preserve. It was the perfect location but the house needed a ton of work. We closed on May 15 and got to work ripping down walls, tearing down wallpaper, ripping up carpet, gutting the kitchen, and putting in new floors. Halfway through the month when my only option was to return back to our small office, I made the decision to leave the company I had been at for eight years and start my own company. We found some time to sneak into the woods and headed to Kent for the day to hike Macedonia Brook State Park


Restrictions were starting to lift a little and we were all happy for the warm weather. We went full force working on the house, spending every free second outside of work. We tried to stay within a safe radius of home and spent some time exploring new-to-us Connecticut hiking trails like the Trolley Trail. At the end of June, we celebrated Father's Day in Norwalk before heading north to spend a weekend in Maine, checking out our wedding venue. I took a pregnancy test at our hotel in Maine, knowing we had tried the month before and if it had happened by chance, what a holiday to find out. We found out we were expecting on Father's Day and spent the weekend in Maine in quiet disbelief. We spent a night in Portland before heading to Harmony, Maine to check out Grace on the Lake. On our way to the property, we stopped for a hike at Mount Philip and eventually arrived at the wedding venue. The dogs ran around the beautiful lakefront property and we were so excited to be married in August. Back in Portland, I went for a run, strolled the beach with the dogs, and enjoyed a delicious seafood meal in downtown Portland.



COVID-19 was still very present but with the warmer weather, infection rates were starting to go down. We found ways to gather with friends and family outside including concerts on the green and trips to the beach. We did all of our socializing outdoors and enjoyed outdoor dinner, outdoor book clubs, mini-golf sessions and outdoor picnics at the beach. By the middle of July, we closed on the Guilford house and moved into our new home together that still required a ton of work. I also stayed busy planning our August wedding. First-trimester side effects were in full swing as I battled home renovations with severe nausea and fatigue. 



August was a short glimpse into normalcy as we packed our bags and headed north to meet our family at the property in Maine. We arrived in Maine on a Thursday and stayed at the property until Monday. We spent the first few days soaking in the sunshine, playing on the lake and hanging out outside, thankful for the perfect weather and the chance to be together. On Saturday night, we had a rehearsal dinner style New England lobster bake and on Sunday, we were married with just our immediate family in attendance. It was a lovely evening, filled with the things that mattered most to us (good company and good food) and we were thankful to be able to pull off this little wedding, even if it wasn't Yosemite as we had originally planned (wedding recap and video here). On Monday, we packed everything up and headed north to Bar Harbor/Acadia to meet our photographer for pictures in the park. We put our dress and suit back on and hiked up the Beehive Trail with our photographer Kat following behind us. It was such an experience to hike along this gorgeous National Park with your favorite person in tow and a professional just behind you capturing all the moments. After our afternoon photo session, we went back to our hotel and spent the next few days exploring the park and the area with our parents. We tackled some of Acadia's famous hikes including the Jordan Pond Loop, the Beech Cliff Trail, the famous Precipice Trail, the Beehive Trail, and even caught a pretty epic Sunset at Otter Point. Back home, life slowed down a bit and we enjoyed the change in pace and the summer weather to gather with friends outside.


September is one of the best months in New England and we took full advantage of the warm days, cool nights, and fall foliage. We started the month off with a day trip to Block Island, biking around and showing Adam some of my favorite sites on the island. We also headed to the northwest corner of Connecticut to hike one of Adam's favorites, Pine Knob Loop, before having dinner in Kent and heading out on the Appalachian Trail for a one-night mini backpacking trip. We spent the night at a beautiful campsite along the AT right on the river and enjoyed our last camping trip for the year. We ended the month with a trip up north to my first bed and breakfast in Franconia, New Hampshire. We enjoyed an amazing breakfast and cozy stay in the woods and hiked the famous Franconia Ridge Loop (Adam's first time). We also checked out the picturesque Town of Littleton (a quieter alternative to Lincoln) before taking the scenic route home. On our way back, we stopped in the lakes region of New Hampshire to hike Mt. Major



October truly wrapped up the picturesque hiking season here in New England. We chased the last of the leaves in New York and Connecticut, enjoying the colorful display before the dreaded "stick season" of November crept into view. We made a day trip to the Catskills to hike Wittenberg Mountain and enjoyed some gorgeous views of the Catskills below (and where I saw my first bear on my drive to the trailhead). We also did some local hiking as a way to safely meet up with friends and we made our way up a CT favorite, Heublein Tower. We kept tackling projects at the house which was finally about 80 percent painted and mostly furnished. I also spent a lot of time trail riding and at the barn, thankful for this COVID friendly activity to keep my mind off the crazy year behind us and the unknowns ahead.


November was a quiet month as the pandemic reached daily records for rates of infection and deaths. The days were shorter and much colder which meant we spent a lot more time indoors and alone. I snuck out for hikes during the day when I could, spending a lot of time in our local preserve and even making my way to a few popular CT hikes like Chauncey Peak and Gillette Castle. Again, we kept focused on the house (finally getting the front trees cut down). We were so sick of working on this fixer-upper yet thankful for the time and space to get the house finished before the baby's arrival in February. We celebrated a solo Thanksgiving (which basically revolved around an insane cheese platter after our annual 5-mile run), just Adam and I around the table and got our first taste of how strange the holidays would feel this year. The day after Thanksgiving, we joined my sister and her husband and headed to a local tree farm to cut down a tree.



December came and we all tried to get in the holiday spirit. We watched way too many Christmas movies as the 4:30pm darkness meant there was little to do besides scroll through Netflix. We added in more nightly walks with the dogs and became even more grateful to live on a quiet street at the edge of the preserve. With the rise in cases, we mostly kept to ourselves, chipping away at home projects and putting together gifts for our families. The week before Christmas, a large snowstorm dumped about a foot of snow in Connecticut and we put on snowshoes and enjoyed some time in the winter wonderland.  We cooked a lot, I walked and hiked A LOT and I was thankful to have my spin bike for daily workouts as running became too uncomfortable. Usually, December is full of busy weekends and holiday festivities but this year, we spent a lot of time home in front of the tree and the fire. 

We were thankful for a seasonably warm Christmas Eve which meant we could gather with my family outside for a Christmas Eve lunch around the fire pit. On Christmas Day, Adam was called into work at 6am and was stuck there into the night. It was so 2020 to be stuck on Christmas completely alone and it felt like such a strange day to not be opening gifts or to be able to see immediate or extended family. Christmas felt like a wash but I tried to remind myself we were very thankful for our health and Adam's job. Like everyone else, we were insanely excited to put 2020 to bed but we knew very well that 2021 was going to be far from normal. Thankfully, we had our little guy to look forward to and we spent some time looking back at all the wonderful memories in such a challenging year. 

2020 - we had some great memories but we are so happy to see this year come to an end. 

We are cautiously optimistic about 2021 and although we know it will still be centered around the pandemic, we are insanely excited about the newest addition to our family and the company of a little boy this winter.  So long 2020, you will not be forgotten. 

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