In a year that has been the “worst” in many very real ways, it felt all the sweeter to reflect on what has been the best! For the second year running, I’m sharing some end-of-the-year superlatives alongside a few dear friends (Emily, Stephanie, and Nancy), all of whom I am lucky to know in real life. These ladies are the real deal–they encourage me both on and offline to live more intentionally, appreciate little joys, and celebrate well. Especially if you’re not already following them, don’t miss their posts today!
I think what has changed the narrative of our year most dramatically was welcoming Azelie to our family, two short weeks before the world turned upside down. While having a newborn (and therefore, no semblance of a schedule or routine to cling to) made many things especially challenging during those months, it also kept me laser-focused on soaking up my little family and enjoying the present as much as I could. I know that our 2020s have all looked different, and many of you may be suffering the loss of loved ones, jobs, postponed weddings, and more. I hope that reading this post helps bring some of the sweet, joyful, or comforting moments to the forefront of your mind, small as they may be. Most of all, I pray that Christmas next week tops the list for all of us!
Best book: I have done more reading this year than any recent years past, thanks to a combination of nursing and using the Libby app :) Especially when I’m reading during middle-of-the-night feedings, I keep my books light and fun. I remember particularly enjoying Majesty and Evvie Drake Starts Over. The Ashley Brooke Book Club is my favorite place to find new reads!
Best movie or TV show: We are suckers for anything Julian Fellows creates and LOVED The English Game on Netflix. Definitely our favorite entertainment of quarantine! Beautifully filmed, intriguing and multi-dimensional characters, and a fascinating story. We’re also in the middle of a Downton Abbey rewatch, which is always my favorite :)
Best album or song: This isn’t a 2020 release, but anytime we need a little pick-me-up, we ask Alexa to shuffle songs by Leon Bridges. We love him!
Best podcast or episode: I literally paused loading the dishwasher while listening to “Caring for Yourself When You Have Small Kids with Robin Long” on Work and Play with Nancy Ray so that I could do a ten-minute workout. Robin has such an encouraging spirit and the episode challenged me to rethink what caring for myself looks like. So impactful.
Best adventure/travel/trip: Well, seeing as how we have two whole trips to choose from… ;) We spent a week at Virginia Beach with the Kirk side of the family in celebration of all of our 2020 wedding anniversaries (the combined total of the four siblings’ anniversaries this year equaled the number of Dave’s parents’ anniversary–crazy! 5+10+7+20=42!) The first trip with a new baby is always nerve-wracking, but we loved having the extended time with family, especially in a year when we expected to have to cancel the trip. (I hope it goes without saying that even though there was risk involved with a family trip, we all took precautions leading up to it and were thankful to enjoy a safe and healthy vacation!)
Best date: Only three to choose from here! Our last date night before Azelie was born was fabulous, but I don’t know if any date has ever been sweeter than the one we went on just last week. We sat on the gorgeous rooftop at my favorite restaurant (Jolie) and spent two hours indulging in anything we wanted from the menu while reveling in the joy of being out of our house together alone. It was so needed and so special.
Best family memory: I don’t think anything could possibly beat welcoming Azelie to our family. Her birthday was everything I could have hoped for from a birth experience and I was (and am) so grateful. From that day forward, she has brought us so much joy every single day!
Best faith grower: Despite many setbacks to a consistent schedule, this has still been my most consistent year of prayer journaling ever and I’m excited to keep up the routine for many years to come. I LOVE using the blank Write the Word journal alongside the daily Mass readings.
Best habit you created: This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but 2020 is the year I actually started to floss daily. I credit this to being motivated by our amazing new dentist and switching to this super effective, clean floss.
Best kiddo milestone: For Charlie, overcoming his dairy allergy this summer was HUGE! It has made so many aspects of our life easier and less stressful…not to mention, more fun! For Azelie, practically everything in the first year is some type of milestone, so a little bit of everything :)
Best life or mom hack: When we were in the hospital after Azelie was born, Dave and I made a list of things we were purposefully choosing to not worry about over the coming three months (at the time, we had no idea that those three months would include quarantine!). Naming those things intentionally and then living out that choice to not stress about them was huge for my mental health during the postpartum season.
Best mama moment: A few weeks into the new school year, Charlie’s teacher reached out to me to tell me that Charlie was being especially helpful with friends who were having a hard time with dropoff–introducing himself, asking them to play, and telling them everything was going to be okay. I felt like my heart swelled out of my chest, I was so proud of him!
Best trend you tried: I rarely wear dresses or skirts when I’m home with the kids (ahem, every single day this year), but I’ve been reaching for this navy slip skirt almost every Sunday for church. Penciling in a January post about all the ways I’ve been styling it so stay tuned :)
Best beauty purchase: I’ve bounced around between a bunch of different foundations over the last few years, and Beautycounter’s Skin Twin is my favorite to date. Love the medium coverage, the smooth formula that blends really easily, and the fact that I feel confident in the safety of the ingredients. A winner all around!
Best follow on Instagram: I’ve been following Venita Aspen since last year when I sat next to her at a baby shower luncheon, so it has been exciting to watch her following explode this year! She has the most dazzling, warm personality and fabulous style.
Favorite blog post written: I loved marking some special milestones on Something Pretty this year with these posts: Seven Years in North Carolina, Four Years with Charlie, and Ten Years of Something Pretty.
Best home improvement: Y’all, it is CRAZY how much has happened in our house this year!! I’ll be sharing an updated home tour in January where I’ll go into the progress we’ve made, but overall, painting (almost) every brown/beige wall has made the biggest difference. Can’t wait to share more!
Best new recipe: This Instant Pot Lemon Chicken Soup has been in heavy rotation over the last few months. It was the perfect warm-to-cold weather transition recipe and continues to be a weeknight staple our whole family loves.
Best little luxury you’ve enjoyed: I really am obsessed with our ChappyWrap blanket, which has made all the hours logged in the living room this fall/winter extra cozy! Can’t recommend them highly enough.
I would LOVE to hear some of your 2020 favorites–pick a few from this list and chime in below! (Or, if you have a blog, feel free to use these questions and pop your link in the comments!)