And just for the sake of comprehensive documentation, my physical activities for the year also included a day of snowshoeing in January, an orienteering hike with my family in June, an impromptu photo hike and a day on the river kayaking with Angela in July, a hike in the Laurel Mountains with the kids during an unseasonably warm spell in early November, and (mostly) weekly indoor rock climbing sessions with my daughter through most of this fall.
Related to the health improvements are the changes I made to my eating habits. I was successful in cutting from my diet a lot of refined sugars, white flour-y/starchy carbs, processed foods, and grease. For the first time, I've clearly discerned a distinct connection between what I put in my body and how my body feels and performs. This has been reinforced for me this holiday season as I've indulged in a lot of sugary crap that I hadn't been eating, and as a result, I have felt miserable from it. Not miserable as in guilty, but physically ill. Hopefully this will serve to solidify my resolve to continue eating healthily in the future.
And in my effort to eat better, I tried again -- and more successfully than ever -- to be a gardener. My little salad garden produced greens galore as well as other yummy veggies including delicious cukes and cherry tomatoes, at least until the blight hit in late summer. It was good while it lasted, though! Our large garden didn't fare as well. An early rain -- flooding rain -- destroyed a lot of it early in the summer, and it never really flourished after that. Oh, the weeds flourished mightily, but they plants couldn't really compete.
We did, however, end up with a nice crop of pumpkins by fall. And my flowers...they flourished beautifully all summer and well into fall!
Knitting continued to be a huge part of my life this year. I completed approximately 45 projects this year (which includes finishing some things that had been started the year before). The biggest project I completed was my afghan swap afghan. What's funny is that of the 20 squares in my afghan, I only knit 2 of them. But there are 18 other squares out there in the world in other people's afghans that I did made, so it all works out. I love how mine came together and I really enjoy curling up under it. I again made charity hats each month, which I love to do (I still have my stash of hats, too...they need a home! If you know of a homeless charity that could use them, please let me know.)
While I may not have learned a ton of new knitting techniques this year, I did gain a lot of knowledge when it came to spinning. Having gotten my spinning wheel at the very end of 2008, spinning itself is a skill I definitely improved in a lot this year! I also had the enjoyment of knitting with some of my own handspun yarn this year, and I got to take part in Tour de Fleece with my wheel instead of trying to drop spindle like I had previously. Much more successful!
Handspun Yarn Party. In April, we escaped a late season snow when we went to Florida to visit my mom over Easter. In a quick turnaround, I then headed off to St. Louis for The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling knitting retreat. What fun that was! (So excited that I get to go again!) On the heels of Fling, I drove myself down to my very first fiber festival, Maryland Sheep & Wool. And if one fiber festival is good, two are better, so I drove west with Cosy to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival later in May. At this point, I was sufficiently traveled out and did not get in my car for any road trips until I went to Plymouth, PA at the end of August and again over Halloween weekend to watch my friend Sho in her two fights. Then in November, I drove my son and grandson back to NC after Thanksgiving and enjoyed a couple days' hiatus from real life.
On the family front, we continued to homeschool, beginning our tenth year this fall, which is also our first high school year. I went to my 25th (!!) high school reunion in August and then turned 43 in September. My mom and step dad came to visit in early October, which was so nice. And then Muffin came and joined our family later that month! And also this fall, Angela and I started VoaT, which we hope to continue through the new year.
There have been some rough spots in our extended family this year, with illnesses and personal trials, but I think it is safe to say we all managed through. Sometimes, that is the best you can do, you know? On a bright note, we did get to spend a lot of time with our grandson this year, as he spent several chunks of time up here in PA visiting with all his grandparents. What a blessing that was. He may not remember those times as he gets older, but I will always treasure the time we had to spend with him this year.
I'm sure there are other things I could note about my year, but I'll spare you. Much of this is probably redundant in that I've already blogged a lot of it as it was happening. Writing it out in this summary form, though, helps me realize just how good a year it has been...how full and rewarding it was. I am so thankful for this life of mine. I know it is fragile and could change in a heartbeat. So I take this time now to thank God for all that has been this year -- even the hard moments -- and pray his blessing on the year to come.