2015 is over, and boy am I glad. 2015 kicked my butt in a major way. MAJOR. In July, after two years of trying to get pregnant, I had a miscarriage. It hurt like hell, both physically and emotionally. To add insult to injury, I got severe, crippling postpartum depression, despite not getting to have a baby to show for my efforts. Oh yeah, and then I had to get a tonsillectomy. It has just been a rough year all around, particularly in my battle with PPD / mental illness. Things got very scary for myself and my family. But you know what? I SURVIVED. In every sense of the words, I SURVIVED. I am still here, both physically and mentally, and I must say, I am SO proud of myself for surviving. I am proud of myself for getting out of bed in the morning, I am proud of myself for being able to ask for help and let others in when I realized that my depression had reached a dangerous place, I am proud of myself for getting myself into the psychiatrist’s office each week, I am proud of myself for taking my medications and sticking with them through experiments to see which one would work best, and I am especially proud of myself for still being able to care for my children and for doing the things that needed to be done to help them thrive and grow. It was a rough year, but with the support of my family and close friends, I made it. I realize that 2016 is just a number on the calendar and that nothing seriously changed between December 31 and January 1, but on January 1 I felt a tiny glimmer of hope for recovery, and I had forgotten how that felt. There are hard things to deal with ahead – realities to face, decisions to make, and work to be done – but I am starting to feel hopeful that I can deal with them successfully.
Another thing that I am proud of myself for doing this year is continuing to run my blog / business. It has NOT been easy, and there have been weeks and months when I just couldn’t do ANYTHING, and so I just didn’t. That is the beauty of being your own boss, I guess. There have also been months when my amazing contributors pretty much carried the blog without any posts from me. I am SO grateful for them! However, overall I powered through and kept things running, even through the last few busy holiday months of collaborating with lots of brands. Even though it was rough, I did it. I met deadlines, I produced work that I was proud of, and I didn’t let my brand die off. I am by no means a massively successful blogger who makes tons of money, but thanks to my hard work I have been able to supplement our family’s income, help pay off a debt, and yesterday I BOOKED A TRIP TO MEXICO FOR JUST MY HUBBY AND MYSELF! I am so ecstatic! In two weeks we are ditching the kids with Grandpa and heading to Mexico for a few days. I can’t even tell you how badly we need this or how excited I am. We have been to hell and back this year, and to think that somehow I was still able to make something like this happen for us is so rewarding. Plus, quite frankly, I am giddy that I can even feel giddy about this. A month ago I would have been on the beach in Mexico crying because I couldn’t feel anything but a ten ton black cloud sitting on my back. Now I am starting to see glimmers of light from inside of my cloud. To call that a “relief” would be an incredible understatement!
To celebrate my survival and the work that I have been able to produce this year, today I am going to share 20 of my personal favorite posts that I did this year. Not all of them were big traffic drivers, but they are my personal favorites. They are in no particular order.
Thanks for coming along with me on this blogging journey! Your support and kindness, particularly over the last six months, have been so appreciated!
1.My favorite post was one that I wrote about the complicated, but intensely loving, relationship between my late mother and me, Snapshots of the Emotional Stages of a Mother-Daughter Relationship.
2. I loved how my son’s Wild Kratt’s Birthday Party came together. Thanks to my not-always-happy-about-it helpers (dad, hubby, sisters) for helping me make my vision come to fruition!
3. My personal favorite recipe of the year was my S’mores Rice Krispie Treat Sandwich recipe. These things are dangerously addicting!
4. This crafty tutorial features one of my mom’s fun traditions, Dressing Room Stars. I busted it out for my little lady’s first dance recital. Find out all of the details by clicking through!
5. This year I invited you into my home for a Halloween Home Tour. My decorations may be getting a bit out of hand. 🙂 Nothing gory, just cute and fun!
6. My favorite jewelry tutorial of the year was the Patriotic Bauble Necklace that I made for my little lady. I loved it so much that I bought beads to make Halloween and Christmas versions, but then depression got to decide what I accomplished this Fall and they never happened. Next year!
7. This year I started a new business venture as an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant. This has been a great fit for me as a book enthusiast and former elementary school teacher! I shared many posts of ideas for activities to do alongside some of our family’s books, as well as lists of books by category and theme, in my READING ROCKS section. This was my favorite book related post of the year, 9 of Our Family’s All-Time Favorite Books for Kids from Usborne Books. (This really helps narrow down the site! If you want book recommendations or would like to host an online book party with me in order to earn free and discounted books please let me know!) 🙂
8. These Creamy Pepper Jack Chicken Enchiladas have been a favorite recipe of my extended family for years. My sister’s MIL gave her the recipe and we have all been in love ever since!
9. I kicked off January 2015 sharing a MAJOR triumph: How I FINALLY Organized My Craft Supplies and Reclaimed My Basement! I could NOT have done it alone – my sisters helped me on it for DAYS. Literally. You won’t believe the transformation! This is the BEFORE. (Only one side of the room. YIKES.) Click through to see the AFTER.
10. This silly, simple holiday snack food idea, Fun & Festive Ho Hos Reindeer Treats, was my first video tutorial that I produced for a sponsor. It’s far from perfect (I should have used a tripod!), but I got it done even though it was extremely overwhelming to me, and I think my kiddos are pretty darn cute teachers. Click through to view the video.
11. I really poured my heart and soul into this post that I wrote in September 2014 about my mother, and I republished it the week of Mother’s Day 2015. It is a very vulnerable piece entitled What My Mother’s Battle with Cancer Taught Me About True Beauty.
12. This year my little princess couldn’t decide on which princess she wanted her birthday party to be themed around, so we just embraced all of them. See all of the pictures from her Bippity Boppity Boutique Party by clicking through. It was one of the highlights of my year!
13. I still drool when I see the pics of this Chocolate Malt Frozen Custard Cake that I made for a sponsor. It was melting too quickly when I was trying to photograph it, but I think it just makes it look all the more tempting, don’t you? Oh, and here’s a tip: be sure to go for HOMEMADE hot fudge sauce for this recipe, and then be generous in how you use it. It makes all the difference!
14. In October I wrote an ode to my favorite vacay thing we have ever done as a family: Mickey’s Halloween Party! We have done Disneyland trips in October twice now, and we WILL do it again. Mark my words! 😉 Click through to read Ten Reasons Why I Am Obsessed With Mickey’s Halloween Party.
15. As I mentioned earlier, this year I became an Usborne Books & More Independent Consultant. This has brought a ton of new books into our already bursting children’s book library. I decided to use all of these new and incredible books in a way that would encourage my developing reader to work hard at learning to read: Mommy Bookstore! Click through to find out what it is all about and how you can implement it in your home cheap and easy, complete with different ideas of places and ways to find cheap books!
16. This one is random. I have a friend who started a blog, I’m So Chique, and wanted to view me as a fashion “expert.” When she asked I laughed and laughed. After all, I am sitting here in my pajamas at 1:45 pm typing this out. Haha. But I do enjoy blingy fashion on occassion, and I had a lot of fun writing my uncensored opinions on everything from bright colors to the importance of great bras in this post, so click over to “A Fashion Interview With Yours Truly” if you would like to peek into my glittery brain for a minute. 🙂
17. This year I shared my husband’s family’s designated birthday cake, Perfect Chocolate Bundt Cake. It is moist, dense, rich, and just PERFECTION.
18. A few years ago our family discovered the Jr. Ranger Program at the U.S. National Parks. It is fun, education, and FREE. We have done it in several parks now, and our kids absolutely love it! There is even a Web Rangers version! Read all about Why We Love the Junior Ranger Program at the U.S. National Parks by clicking through.
19. A little over three years ago I posted my first ever tutorial, my mom’s Halloween Firecracker Bows. For the sake of nostalgia, and to get a fun and simple idea out to a now expanded audience, I recreated that original tutorial this year. I even got the same adorable redhead to be my model! Click through for the simple instructions.
20. Last, but not least, the extremely raw post that I wrote when I was going through my miscarriage in July. I had to really swallow some nerves to hit publish on this one, but I’m glad that I did. Readers and friends came out of the woodwork with kindness and empathy, and it also opened up the door to friends who needed someone to talk to about their own miscarriages. It is always scary to share of yourself, but I have yet to regret doing so. You can read the post “Grief” by clicking through.
Thanks for looking back at my favorite posts of 2015 with me, and thank you for sticking with me through 2015. Here’s to a brighter 2016! Happy New Year!