Laresa Watkins

Taking it Back to Our Favorite Year

Mar 13, 2019

I used to be a big scrapbooker.  I spent hours each night printing out pictures, cutting paper, choosing the perfect quotes and stickers and embellishments, and placing everything perfectly on acid-free paper.  Charlie and Maddie love looking back at my scrapbooks, and I enjoy flipping through the pages and showing them the things that Jason and I did before we had kids (Charlie and Maddie refer to this time as “the olden days”).  I made a couple of scrapbooks after they were born, but that is a hobby that fell to the wayside when the kids learned to crawl (much to Maddie’s chagrin, as she reminds me every so often that her baby book is incomplete).

About the time that I quit scrapbooking, I started blogging.  This blog became a way for me to store pictures, thoughts, and write down little moments that I want to remember.  The past couple of years I have not had too much time to write, and wrote on my blog only 3 times last year! I really regret that, because there is so much going on that I don’t want to forget.

Charlie asks us all every so often what our favorite year has been.  We all have the same answer: 2017.  It was a great year.  We did so many fun things and traveled to some really cool places, and now that it is 2019 I want to document 2017 before I forget more details from it than I have already.

So, this blog post is completely, selfishly just for me.

We started out 2017 simply relieved that 2016 was over! It was a tough year, and we looked forward to a fresh start. Then, in the second week of January, we got the best snow ever.  It was really cold and didn’t get above freezing for several days, so we got to enjoy the snow without worrying about it melting immediately.  We ate snow cream, dyed the snow, and even made a volcano in the snow.

Then, in February, we tagged along with mama and Jason on a work trip to Atlanta.  We arrived on Super Bowl Sunday, and the Falcons were playing in the Super Bowl! Even though they weren’t playing in Atlanta, it was still really cool to be in their home city to watch them play.  We had so much fun that night, and the kids drank no less than 100 Shirley Temples.

Casey and Emma came with us so we would have someone to hang out with while Mama and Jason were in meetings during the day. We went to the aquarium…

…the Coke museum and factory (where we did NOT learn the secret formula, but did get to taste soft drinks from all over the world) …

…and the zoo.

We also went to the CNN headquarters, which was very cool and interesting, and a museum.

Emma, Charlie, and Maddie on their first-ever taxi ride! This was also the year that Charlie started his stuffed-snake collection. 🙂

We had a great school year in 2017.  Charlie’s reading excelled, and Maddie began learning to read and write in kindergarten and first grade. I began finding these little notes all over the place, and it makes me so happy that she still does this today.

We had a lot of fun….and cleaned up a lot of messes.

In the summer of 2017 we did something that none of us will ever forget: we raised a squirrel!

Earl had very sharp claws, so we had to stop handling him as much as he got older.

Earl and his 2 siblings fell out of a tree that we were having trimmed.   Their mom didn’t come back for them, so we did our best to care for them.  Earl’s brother and sister didn’t make it, but we worked hard to make sure that Earl was healthy.

We fed Earl puppy formula with a medicine dropper. After a couple of weeks he started eating all types of fruit and veggies, and especially liked avocados.

Earl became part of our family, and we released him a few months later.  He would come into the garage to visit for awhile after that, and we like to think that he’s now raising a family in the woods around our house.

We became really involved at the ballpark in the spring of 2017.  Both kids played ball, and Jason became the chairman of the board of directors for Bonlee Rec in addition to coaching Charlie’s team.  This is now a really big part of our life and family.

As soon as ball season was over, my mom took our entire family on a trip to Destin, Florida.  We swam with wild dolphins, went to Crab Island, and just enjoyed relaxing. Charlie and Maddie loved being with their cousins all week, and we’re looking forward to going back this summer.

On our way home from Florida, we, along with Randy, Bethony, Sam, Aaron, and Noah, took a detour to South Carolina.  We spent the night there, then watched a complete solar eclipse that was happening in that area.  It was so awesome to be there to see it turn completely dark and hear the crickets chirp while the birds went silent in the middle of the day. It was an experience I will never forget, and was totally worth the extra driving.

The eclipse-viewing was actually the first day of 1st grade for Maddie and 3rd grade for Charlie. I can’t think of a better kick-off to the school year.

That fall, we took the kids to the NC State fair.  We had taken them before, but they were both much smaller and rode in the stroller most of the time.  This year, they had a blast! We bought bands ahead of time so they could just ride anything they wanted without tickets, so they ran from ride to ride together while Jason and I watched and tried to keep up.

We walked a million miles at the fair that day, and I took notes in preparation for a big trip we had planned for December. But first, Halloween.

Halloween has always been one of our favorite holidays.  We decorate the house and the kids go all-out for their costumes.

Our family costume this year was “Grease.” Charlie killed me with his fake cigarette!

By actual Halloween, Maddie had worn around 5 different costumes! Charlie was consistent with his Harry Potter Quidditch costume, though. 

On December 1, we left on the trip we had been anticipating for months: Disney World. I still get butterflies in my stomach just thinking of the fun time we had together there.

I spent hours and hours researching and planning this trip, and I hate to brag, but it was awesome. The kids had their first plane ride, and we stayed at a great resort where the view from our balcony was Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom. We could watch the fireworks over the castle every night from our balcony. Also, everything was decorated for Christmas, and it was absolutely beautiful.

We spent 7 nights there, and we didn’t waste a minute. We went to every park and we rode everything we could, and it was warm enough that we could swim in the resort pools during our down time.

One day, we rented a car and drove a little way to visit with Aunt Betty. She showed us around her assisted living facility and treated us to lunch there. I’m so thankful for that time we got to spend with her, even though she had forgotten that we were coming :).

That same day was Mickey’s Christmas Party, which was probably the highlight of the trip. We ate so many cookies and drank so much hot chocolate that night. The park was closed for regular ticket-holders, so we rode ride after ride without waiting in any lines at all, and even rode Splash Mountain maybe 4 times in a row without getting off! Maddie and I were in the front row, so we were soaking wet by the time we were through! The Christmas parade was just perfect, too, and we got to see it “snow.” We stayed until the park closed, and were exhausted the next day at Epcot.

The day we flew home from Florida it was snowing in NC, so that was a bit of a shock. Honestly, the Christmas of 2017 wasn’t too exciting for us because we were still coming down from our Disney high.

I’m so thankful to God for all of our blessings, for my family and for the opportunities that we have had, not just in 2017 but every single day. I remind myself constantly that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). I find comfort that he was with us in 2016, one of the hardest years, and in 2017, one of the best years. He is with us when we’re traveling around, and in the mundane moments like now when I’m sitting here typing while the kids are working on their math and handwriting and I have a zillion things on my to-do list.

Over a year has passed since 2017, our favorite year (so far;)) The kids are now 8 and 9 years old, and I’m going to be celebrating my 40th birthday in a few weeks. I would like to say that I will be blogging more often, so as not to forget all of the little moments that I know I will want to remember, but I have been writing this post since 2018. So maybe in 2020 I will write about 2018. We’ll see…

2 Comments on “Taking it Back to Our Favorite Year

  1. Chris
    / Reply

    Shewww that took me a long time to read LOL but I loved it!❤️☺️Looking forward to more!

    1. mommyinbonlee
      / Reply

      LOL! I know it was long, but I wanted to remember it all. 🙂 Thanks for reading it.

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