Family Magazine

2021, In Summary

By Sherwoods

I must say that I really don't have much to complain about 2021.  Lots of people have had crummy years, but ours has been pretty great.  When we started the year last January, I was starting to count down the months until we left Tashkent.  This January we're starting down the same countdown over again until our departure from Uzbekistan.  But instead of counting down to being crammed into a three-bedroom apartment for a year of language training in DC, we're counting down to our move to Kazakhstan this summer.  It's like deja-vu, but with a better ending.

Over the course of 2021, everyone has gotten a little older, which is something that I am very enthusiastic about.  This year Sophia joined Kathleen in the taller-than-Mom club (although she's only currently got half an inch on me), and Edwin is coming up fast.  Kathleen learned how to drive this summer, and Edwin is now old enough to be second back-up babysitter.  Joseph started playing the violin (which he practices downstairs in the exercise room with the door closed), and Eleanor is very good at helping Elizabeth bathe, get dressed, and go to the bathroom.  William has learned how to dress himself, feed himself, get himself food for lunch, microwave the food, and is learning how to read.  This year Elizabeth went from a baby who couldn't walk to a toddler who never wears diapers, talks constantly, sings songs, and is capable to getting her own pancakes, complete with syrup. 

When I try to think of the worst thing that happened this past year, I can't think of any one thing that was particularly terrible.  Brandon bumped a car in traffic, but a hundred-dollar bill took care of the problem.  The State Department updated their payroll system and when that was combined with our home leave this summer, it left us with a $10,000 - and counting - pay deficit.  But we have money saved for times when State does things like this, so it's been obnoxious more than anything.  Brandon tried to go caribou hunting with his brother in Alaska, but the hunt got cancelled and all he had to show for it was a four-day stay in the Kotzebue Nullagvik hotel to show for it.  But he came home a week earlier, which the rest of us were happy about.  I think that I really can't complain that much about anything that 2021 threw at us.

When I remember some of the great things, I really can't complain.  We got to see almost all of our extended family members this year, in addition to quite a few friends.  We went hiking in Utah, got to set off fireworks for Pioneer Day, rode the Alpine Slide, had a rocking house party with over forty cousins and siblings, went to the beach in North Carolina, sent most of the kids off to go biking with my parents, and even got to take a direct flight from Tashkent to New York and back.  We got to travel to the Maldives and have a fabulous week together with the kids, having the first family vacation we've had in quite a long time.  Brandon got a major award at work, although it sadly didn't have a lamp leg as a prize.  Everyone has been healthy this year, with no trips to the hospital and no more broken bones for me.  

This year we're looking forward to our move to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.  After spending four years in Tashkent (the longest either Brandon or I have lived in one house/apartment since leaving home for college), we'll be ready to move on to a new adventure.  I always love the excitement of a new place and new things to explore, new upsides to enjoy and new downsides to be irritated with, and new people to get to know.  Since we won't be traveling to the US this summer (complicated State Department rules), we're considering driving to our next post, making a two- or three-day trip out of it.  I can't imagine I'll have another chance to drive across Kazakhstan, and the kids are finally old enough to make it an adventure instead of a painful slog.  

I feel like this time in my life is a really good one, and that 2021 kicked off the Next Era in family life.  I love having children old enough to help out and really enjoy being with, and I love having little children who are funny and still small enough to cuddle.  I love having had enough Mom and wife and homeschool experience that my life isn't a continuously unfolding train wreck every day.  I love that I can enjoy the time that I have with my children and husband without getting stressed or irritated with what is or isn't happening.  I love being old enough that getting old isn't daunting and I don't have to pretend that I still might possibly be in my twenties.  

And perhaps 2022 will be a complete disaster year for us, with all sorts of unexpected challenges and surprises that I had no idea were coming.  Some years are like that (I'm talking to you, 2011).  And maybe it will be a normal year with the usual mix of ups and downs.  As with all things in the future, we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.  But as for 2021, I can safely say that it was a pretty good year.

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