2011: a Look Back

What a year this has been!

Christmas cards are rolling in, and I can’t help but smile over adorable photographs of pets, children, couples, and families.  I am reading lots of “year in review” family updates and am amazed at all that has happened since this time last year. This has been an eventful year for all of us, from what I can tell. Besides all the media headlines – royal weddings, the 72-day Kardashian marriage, the end of the Harry Potter series, the end of the Oprah Winfrey show, the idiocy of Anthony Weiner, the craziness Charlie Sheen, and the rapture that never came – there were marriages, births, deaths, illness, promotions, survival stories, graduations, lost jobs, successes and failures in the lives of the people all around me. All around you, too, I’m sure.

Unless you are friends with us on Facebook, you probably don’t know all the things that we experienced this year. And for that, I am sorry. It has been a very busy year for us, and we have not been keeping in touch with our loved ones the way we should. That is no excuse, and I will have to make keeping in touch a high priority resolution for 2012. To further illustrate how out of touch we have been, we didn’t send out any Christmas cards this year. Gasp! I know. Terrible. Well, I have no excuse, but hope you all know that we wish you incredible joy this Christmas, and much strength and laughter in the new year.

Consider this our end-of-year newsletter:

In January, I started a new job. Still with the bank, but in a different position. It was a welcome change, as I was struggling to stay positive about my previous role. It was a really big change for me, though, as, for the first time, I would be working from home.  That definitely took some adjustment. I had to learn how to prioritize my time differently, and how to deal with having practically no face to face contact with anybody during the week. I was used to being able to go knock on my boss’ door if I needed something, or go get coffee with coworkers when things got slow or stressful. Having very few team members in Charlotte, and no office to go into, proved to be a lot more difficult than I ever imagined it would be. I felt cooped up and depressed in the beginning, and had to find ways to get out of the house and stay positive. I did find ways to turn my outlook around, and have enjoyed working from home ever since.

Chris also took on a new role at his job. He became a Sourcing Specialist, and negotiates contracts for hospitals. If you know Chris at all, you know that he is definitely suited for this type of work. He loves to negotiate! He has been so much happier in this role and continues to learn and love it.

If you follow my other blog, you know that in April, I chopped most of my hair off. I am transitioning to dreadlocks, and it has been interesting and fun. My hair has grown and changed  a lot from when I first decided to loc my hair on our honeymoon in Jamaica, in September of 2010. Now, over a year later, they are still not where I thought they’d be, but are coming along. I am learning to be patient and to just enjoy each stage. This year I learned more about retwisting on my own, as my loctician moved to Florida. My hair is long enough to pull back, but not quite into a ponytail. It’s easy to take care of, and fun.

Around June, Chris and I made an offer on a new home, and after a bit of negotiating, it was accepted! We had decided to build a new construction home, so our summer was filled with all kinds of fun things. We picked out all the options that would make our home our own – the lot we would build on, our flooring & countertops, brick and siding, structural options, and lots more. We would drive down to check on the progress of the home every chance we got, and were so excited to see how quickly the house was being built. I started a Facebook group for our community, and before we knew it, we were already friends with our future neighbors.

While the building of our home was in progress, plenty of other things occupied our summer. Chris’ sister, Tina got married in Raleigh, so we spent a few days out there celebrating with her and the family. That was an eventful weekend, and the wedding was lovely. I got to meet Brett’s family, as well as lots of people who have touched Chris & Tina’s lives.

In July, we went out to California for my 10-year high school reunion, and spend the week visiting family and friends. We stayed with my grandparents, and together we all visited the places I hadn’t been to in years. We ate at my favorite restaurant in Berkeley, had an authentic Irish Coffee in San Francisco, enjoyed clam chowder in a bread bowl at Fisherman’s Wharf, walked through the aquarium in Monterrey and went wine and champagne tasting in Napa. We spent some time with my uncle and cousin, and Chris got to meet some of my high school – and even elementary school -classmates. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed everyone. We even had some time to meet up with some of Chris friends who live out there. It was great. We ate a lot, laughed a lot, and had a wonderful time.

In September, Chris and some coworkers did a Marine Mud Run here in town. He had been training all summer for it, and they completed it in good time!  The guys were dirty and tired, but had accomplished their goal. It was fun to watch them go through all of the obstacles.

The day after the mud run was our first Anniversary! Would you believe that Chris voluntarily subjected himself to hiking Crowder’s Mountain that day? He wanted to torture his body apparently. But more than that, he wanted to revisit the place where he proposed to me – sans rain. It was a beautiful day and there were lots of people out, unlike the last time we were there! After that, we looked at furniture and went to eat good burgers and drink good beer at Big Daddy’s Burger Bar. It was a wonderful day!

The week of our anniversary was  a busy one for us! Besides the mud run, we also had to prepare to move, as we were scheduled to close on our house only 3 days later. Well, our closing date got changed a few times, and then missed a few times, but when it was all said and done, we finally signed the papers on Sept 15th. We were thrilled! That night we went to stain treat the carpets and assemble our bar stools, but the actual moving didn’t begin until the weekend. We enlisted a big group of friends to help us, and only had to make a few trips between Concord and Indian Land to get everything moved. Chris parents’ helped us by coming up with their truck and trailers and buying us a couch and kitchen table. My parents bought us a beautiful rug. It was wonderful to have new things already to help define our new space and make it feel like something that was “ours” not just “my stuff” and “his stuff.”

After the move, we had to ready Chris’ old house for the wonderful family that would be our new tenants. They signed a two year lease and love living in that house. We are so happy with how well it all turned out!

In the weekends that followed, we unpacked plenty of boxes, changed out some of the bushes and trees, created some artwork for above our mantle, put up Autumn harvest decorations in the yard, and celebrated Halloween with our neighbors at our neighborhood’s first ever Halloween block party. It was so fun! We also began our “Midweek Mingling Sessions” every Wednesday night, where we opened our house up to anyone who would come for dinner and games. It was a great way to introduce circles of friends, meet new neighbors, and just relax during the week. I can’t wait to resume them in 2012.

I celebrated my 10 Year anniversary with the bank in October. I can’t believe how long it’s been, or that they’ve kept me around for so many years! Ha! I guess I really am an adult, now!

The move resulted in us being without a home church, so we spent many weekends visiting churches, hoping and praying that we would soon find the right fit. We finally found one that we felt we could call home – Forest Hill. We love the pastor, and his sound biblical teaching, and have started to build friendships with others that go there too. A couple of our neighbors go there, and some friends as well. It is a large church, and even though there are tons of people there, I run into old friends in the sea of faces almost weekly. It’s been really nice. We hope to get more involved at Forest Hill in 2012.

At the end of October, the lady that had been renting my townhouse decided to skip out on us. It was unexpected, but we just buckled down and got to work. We took a few weekends away from our house and friends to get the townhouse in shape to be rented out again. With my best friend, Krystle’s help, we got the place fixed up, tidy, painted, carpets cleaned, and started showing it to many interested renters. Even though there was a lot of interest, it took a while to find the right people to rent to. We didn’t stress about it, though. We knew that the townhouse was desirable, and that we could afford to pay both mortgages for as long as we had to. We trusted that the Lord would provide, and as always, He answered our prayers.  We finally found a great couple to rent to, and they just moved in!

In November, after a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with my family, we drove down to Myrtle beach to celebrate Thanksgiving weekend with Chris’ family, and also to spend his birthday with them. We went out dancing for the first time in what seemed like ages and had an absolutely wonderful time. I also got to enjoy some oysters, which I always look forward to on trips to Myrtle Beach at this time of year!

Just after that, the party season came upon us!  I kicked things off with a Stella & Dot jewelry party. It was a brunch, and with less than 10 of us, it was the perfect group to get things started. We had a great time. Soon after, the outdoor decorations were changed from fall to winter. Christmas lights went up on the house, and stockings were hung on the mantle. We have a red and gold tree downstairs in the bay window, and a white and silver tree up in the loft. There are wreaths everywhere, as well as candles and ornaments. We started December by hosting a Christmas baby shower for our dear friends, Sarah and Jacob. They are expecting their second child in just a couple weeks- this time a girl! The following weekend we threw a holiday housewarming party, and had probably 30+ friends come through our home. Last weekend we went to parties, and gave our home a break. Haha. And this weekend is Christmas! We will spend Christmas eve in Charlotte with my family, and Drive down to Myrtle Beach on Christmas day to spend it with Chris’ family.

So, that was our year, in summary. Next week my mom and I are taking a girls day to celebrate her birthday, and I think we are just hanging out with the neighbors for New Year’s Eve. The plan is to keep it low key – but we’ll see how well that works out!

2012 fast approaches, and we really need to sit down to think and pray about what we hope to do this year. I hope we have some time and money to travel a bit. Also, as I mentioned, we want to get more involved with our church. We are wanting to expand our circle here in the neighborhood as well. Chris’ car is on it’s last legs, and it’s probably time we looked into owning more of a “family car”. We have lots of ideas and projects in store for the house – I’m thinking this will be a landscaping year. My brother starts a new job in January, and I’m hoping to do a little acting this year. We also have some business ideas we are mulling over, and are generally just excited to see what’s in store for us.

I sincerely hope that as you look back over this past year, you find you have been blessed with many more joys and triumphs than sorrows and  trials. I find that looking back makes me so grateful for all that I have, and hope that it is the same for you. I wish you all the best in 2012. I hope it’s a year that is full and happy, and also that you would continue to follow what’s going on in the lives of weMartins right here.

Love to you all!

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