20 Freaking 18…

Well. This little slice of my life has been on my mind for a few months now. Would you believe that this blog is 11 years old, and I documented much of Ella Kate’s life. Poor Addison has the second child syndrome and well, she wasn’t as documented as well as ole EK was. Still love you big…Big Tiny. Cause one day, they will read all this.

So last year I was on the verge of shutting this thing down. I had a great year landscape wise and kept busy til December with designs and projects. It wasn’t too much and it wasn’t too little. Anyway, between that, a house, two girls…and life…well things get forgotten. I was going to sign off in December for good. Then I got a notice that my domain, chocolatelyclaire, had renewed for one more year. So I contemplated and decided one more year and I will see if I can actually update it.

So being the new year and new goals on the table, this is one. Bless it. I have others…but I keep them to myself – “Set some goals. Stay quiet about them. Smash the hell out of them and clap for your own damn self.”

2017 Year in Review: oldest to youngest

Myself – Still a freelance landscape architect, drawing designs. Most of all of my business was word of mouth. I plan to update an unfinished facebook page that I started last year. I workout 6 days a week, and trail run when the girls are in school and the weather isn’t say 9 degrees outside – and when I am not injured. I had a stress fracture almost a year ago that took a while to recover from. It left a tendon in a big ball of fury and I went to the chiropractor for a couple of months and he worked most of it out. Foam rolling the devil out of it has helped as well. I have met an amazing group of girls at the Y and look forward to working out with them every day! I am on my second year on the board of trustees at our church. One of our family resolutions last year was to volunteer as a family. So every first Saturday of the month, the girls and I head to church and help feed the needy. I am still a big organizer of all things and am constantly trying to better our home. My Christmas present this year, or last year…is under construction. We are adding a counter, cabinets, and shelves to our laundry room. I want to have a “gear room” to put our tents and sleeping bags in. The heating and cooling of the garage aren’t good for that type of stuff. After that gets finished, two other closets will be reorganized. Speaking of gear, we got two backpacking trips in last year, Linville Gorge and Black Mountain Crest Trail. On my plate for the year…nothing to official. I did have a major goal this year, pacing Michael at one of his races we were trying to get in, but that isn’t going to happen. More on that later. I am hoping to be more organized life-wise food planning, things I do with the girls etc. We are also planning more backpacking trips, hoping to section hike some of the AT while the girls are in Memphis.

Michael – On April 1 of this year, he switched jobs. He pretty much hated his other job that brought us to these mountains we love so dearly. So he got another offer at K2, an irrigation and lighting company, and he accepted. So he isn’t designing landscapes right now, which he is fine with…it does get old every now and then. He loves working there, and really likes the people…so that is a plus. That’s what he didn’t like at his other job…the people weren’t too brilliant in the life department. He is currently studying for his irrigation contractor exam, which he will sit for in April. He is still a running fool. He had two official races last spring, Georgia Death Race (74 miles, his Western States Qualifier) and the Cruel Jewel 100 (106-113 miles…no one will ever know, his Hard Rock 100 Qualifier). He finished both, and he was suppose to go into semi-retirement. Well, he got talked into Pinhoti 100, DNF’d due to extreme chaffing of the nethers, and then redeemed himself at the Chattanooga 100, finishing 9th place. So he took December off and is picking it back up this month. We also learned in December that we did not get into either Western States nor Hardrock (hence why my goal of pacing is now nil). So another qualifier for Western States is upon us this year. Hardrock is good for another year. We decided to go back to Ohio, and run the Mohican. He has also signed himself up for two more races, the Hellbender 100, which is local. This race is the most challenging on the East Coast, and this is its first year.  We’ve backpacked and hiked sections of it, and lordamercy its tough! I am volunteering and crewing for this one. Crewing him, and volunteering at each aid station while we wait. The other one is a training run for Mohican, a 6 hr run in Black Mountain. Michael is still a man of many hobbies. He (with my assistance) finished our big ole deck, installed back-splashes, re-did our front landscaping, built huge trellises in our backyard, installed pallet walls, sheet rock repair (NYE accident involving a wax tart and a lawn chair last year), and is currently making a butcher block type counter top for the laundry room. He still home-brews and loves tearing up the grill and the kitchen. His birthday is coming up on the 19th and we are keeping it low-key…steaks or ribs or shoulders…and I am making him go shopping for his birthday present…a pillow and a fish spatula (that would be my term for that particular cooking utensil).

Ella Kate – Turned the big 1-0 as of 8 days ago. She is still as sweet as can be. We get compliments on how well behaved our kids are, and she is a HUGE part of it. She is the BEST big sister to Addison, a second mother if you will. Our girls get a long pretty much all the time, hardly any fighting. They have many many sleepovers in EK’s room. She is in the 4th grade now…a bookworm, violin loving, old soul. She is still shy, and only has a couple of good friends. She invited one friend to her Wonder Woman birthday party and they had an absolute ball. This was the first year we branched out and had a friend come to the birthday. I told her when she found a true friend, then she could invite them. We’ve never been the invite the whole class over party type. I’d loose my marbles. She loves school and her favorite subject is science. Music is her forte. She can play by ear and surprised us over Christmas Break with Away in the Manger and Silent Night…self taught. She began reading notes this fall, and is doing well at that. Ella Kate had a big change in her life early last summer. She, by herself, decided to quit karate. I knew it was coming. I could tell there was no more fun in her eyes. Blue belts are tough, after all, that belt is halfway to black. It’s the sparring that got to her. She cried every time. I approached her one day after practice and I sat her down and told her that I wanted her to take the weekend and get her thoughts together about her Karate career. I wanted her to figure out what she wanted, and didn’t want, if it was worth the tears, if she was still happy. She took about a week, and she told me she was done. She said she took so long because she thought we would be mad. She hasn’t looked back or missed it. I would have loved to have seen her get a black belt, but I love her happiness more. She took up chimes in church and loves that as well. She also participated in a running club during the fall and liked that. Michael took her on a good bit of trail runs which she thought was super fun. Since it is cold now, I am taking them to the track at the Y and am encouraging her to run a mile. She loves hiking, camping, swimming, dolls, books, and is getting into listening to music. She got a stereo for her birthday and the Moana CD which is blasted daily!

Addison – our wild little pistol (aka mini Claire). Addison is 6 and a half now, in the first grade, has lost 2 teeth, and weighs a whopping 37 pounds. That 37 pounds is a ball of fire. She is working on reading, which hasn’t come easy for her. I almost held her back last year, but her teachers and guidance counselor said she would be fine, so off we went. So we work extra hard on reading and site words. We have site words posted on the fridge and her bathroom mirror. Last summer, hark the harold, that child learned to swim. She finally jumped up 4 levels in swim lessons. She was in the 2-3 year old class, but she was the same size…so no one really knew. My parents got her this belt to wear at their pool, and one day she said take this thing off me, I’m going to swim, and she did…and that’s how she rolls. Aunt Holly also taught her to ride a bike. I saw it on video and facetime, got her home, and she hasn’t been able to do it since. We will pick that back up this spring. It could be because our neighborhood isn’t flat. Its rolling, not big hills…so that could have been part of it. Addison is the crafter, make believer, and story-teller (not lies, but making up stories). Her teachers love that about her, although she can’t read a book, she makes up her own stories to the book, and her classmates gather round and listen to her. She is also a singer and a dancer. The girl can sing, we don’t do any lessons or whatnot, but she can belt a tune, in key…its quite amazing and funny. Addison also sort of likes running…she likes the snacks at the end. I am also encouraging her to run about a half mile at the track as well. No violin for her yet, I don’t think she has the attention span yet, and I don’t think I have the patience for her attention span. Maybe next year. She loves all things unicorn and rainbow, especially rainbow unicorns. No more unicorn parties or unicorns though, she has unicorned me out. She loves being outside, hiking (sometimes), camping, butterflies, and trying to get away with most everything. She is mainly the reason there would be a fight, but not very often. She is definitely not shy…quite the opposite, the mouth of the south.

So that’s where we are. And here is my attempt at keeping this 11 years of documentation going. So much has changed since I started this in 2007, which I actually think I started in 2006 and some posts got lost when I transferred from blogger to WP. We’ve all changed, for the better I think. I love these 3 souls that are my world!

So here we go…oh and I know my grammar and punctuation are terrible, and I don’t give a damn.

“It’s okay if you fall down and lose your spark. Just make sure that when you get back up, you rise as the whole damn fire.” – Collete Werden



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