Two-thousand-eleven was a big year, wasn’t it? (Arab Spring, anyone?) Although we can’t necessarily lay claim to events of historic import, the Boyds’ house has seen a fair amount of action itself, though we haven’t always covered it at the time. Here’s our Year-in-Review Edition.
These highlights aren’t exhaustive, but they do include many of the fun things Lucy and I reflected on together before her 8:30 bedtime on New Year’s Eve. (We had our countdown and cries of “Happy New Year!” at 7:45.) You may also notice they include a fair amount of food highlights. That’s just the way it is around here.
Click any photo to enlarge it.
- The beautiful wedding of our friends Debby and Mitch. It’s a black-tie reception, and Ann breaks out her junior-year recital dress for the first time in ten years. [And she looks stunning, as the photo proves. — Jon]
- We open the doors for a Wonka-fest extraordinaire, featuring Violet Beauregarde’s Gum Dinner and an enormous vat of chocolate fondue.
- Epic snowstorm on Groundhog Day! Lucy and Rosie jump into the snow from the top of our jungle gym with delight. Mama makes chicken dumpling soup and chocolate cupcakes. Jon helps run emergency communications as North Park University shuts down for a day or so (along with the rest of the city).
- I bake a batch of Jimmy’s Pink Cookies from Molly Wizenberg’s book for the first time and learn afresh the definition of “addictive.”
- I have a delightful 36th birthday, including painting fingernails with the girls, baking chocolate chip cookies, and a lovely dinner at Las Palmas with my favorite Jon Boyd. [Jon wonders, “Who are your other Jon Boyds?”] (Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, in case you were wondering.)
- Lucy starts wearing an eye patch for two hours each day to improve her amblyopia. What a trooper!
- Rosie turns three! We have a fun kid-party for her. (Lemon cake, by her request.) We avoid the emergency room this year, but we do have to go to the doctor due to ear infections. Lucy has one, too. The girls are pretty cute with their matching bottles of pink antibiotics and the accompanying “yogurt medicine” that Mama insists on (to offset antibiotic side effects).
- Jon’s “unbirthday” (as we Boyds call half-birthdays) calls for a homemade chocolate cream pie.
- Our friend Carrie Bare spends the night at our place on Saint Patrick’s day, when I make my first failed cake from In the Sweet Kitchen. We not-so-lovingly refer to it as “the birdseed cake.” (I’ve since made it successfully with a few tweaks.)
- Jon and his brother Jim head out to Cleveland for baseball’s Opening Day this year, their sixteenth consecutive. Highlights include back-to-back dinners at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. and a somewhat successful visit to the industrial waterfront of Lake Erie.
- A joint birthday party for the girls on an unseasonably hot day (I think it hits 85Â°). The frosting almost melts, but we manage OK with yellow cake and chocolate cake with cherry frosting, one for each girl. The girls tear around the neighborhood on their new bike and scooter.
- Lucy turns five and hosts an Easter-themed party, for which we boil three dozen eggs for painting. (Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, a girl after Mama’s own heart.)
- The Boyds take a vacation week at some friends’ lake house. The girls have a blast lounging around, playing with princess toys, and sleeping in bunk beds. In fact, the bunks are such a hit that when we get home, Jon unloads the car and turns right around to purchase our own bunk beds. The next day is building day, and the girls never look back.
- Jon and Ann go to prom — literally! A community of friends throw a prom and we can’t resist. Ann gets to wear that luscious red dress again, and Jon gets gussied up in his very own tux (acquired for the occasion, and for all those that will surely follow). We go out to dinner before the dance and score an awesome table even though we lack reservations. It’s because we look so fab.
- Ann takes her first work trip with the girls and marvels at the success! Part of the reason: our hosts include the friendly dog Kip.
- The girls participate in a local week-long vacation Bible school. After getting over the shock of not having children in the house, Ann does some major basement purging (with Jon’s help, taking time off work).
- Ann gets a serious black eye, courtesy of Rosie. (All better now!)
- The girls get to stay up late for fireworks at Grammie & Grandpa’s. An annual treat!
- Jon and Ann are gifted with last-minute tickets to a U2 concert at Soldier Field, which kicks off a summer of listening to lots of U2 — sweetly nostalgic for Ann (a longtime fan), all brand-new for the girls. Lucy’s favorite song is “Get On Your Boots,” which we frequently listen to on endless repeat while the girls dance.
- Can I just mention some of my favorite summer activities here? Swimming pool visits with the girls, biking date nights along the South Lakeshore Drive trail with Jon (see photo), family outings to Dairy Star.
- We enjoyed a visit to the Marions’ Circle M Farm in conjunction with the wedding of our friends Lydia and Josh. The girls are delighted to paint their own nails under the care of their capable babysitter, Emma.
- Uncle Jim, Aunt Lisa, and Cousin Violet visit Chicago for a week. Lots of fun all week long, but I must mention the dessert triumph of that week: key lime pie popsicles. Super yum!
- We go to InterVarsity‘s Cedar Campus for our first ever Family Camp! Everyone has a great time. The girls love their classes and making new friends (especially Sylvia and Margaret), Jon and Ann love the long walks, and we all enjoyed being together. Getting the girls to go to sleep at night is tricky, but Papa works his driving-around-in-the-car magic with Rosie and all is well. (She can’t last as far as Detour Village, for the record.) The eight-hour drive is surprisingly painless, and en route we write one of the funniest posts in Boyds’ Nest News history.
- Jon gets his fourth job title in his two-plus years at North Park, which is both awesome and a lot of work. (Stick with it, baby! Things are going a lot smoother by the end of the year.)
- For Ann’s unbirthday celebration, she tries out her first homemade batch of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in the Salty Caramel flavor. This kicks off a couple months of ice-cream making. And to balance out all the cream and sugar, this really starts to turn into the Summer of the Kale Salad.
- We throw a barbeque for Jon’s colleagues, which is a blast. I get an excuse to make two giant ice-cream cakes, so what’s not to like?
- Jon turns 45, and we celebrate with sushi and a chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting. Papa gets a nap, too.
- Rosie’s unbirthday means chocolate pudding cups.
- We take a couple of spontaneous trips to Evanston on our bikes! Getting to Grammie and Grandpa’s on human power is half the fun.
- Lucy gets the “no-more-eye-patch” go-ahead from Dr. Rabiah. Good job, Lu!
- Our annual apple-picking adventure (this time, at a small orchard in Woodstock yields 31 pounds of apples and a lovely pie. Our favorite variety: Empire.
- We begin homeschooling! After a few days of feeling as if she has to be a teacher-entertainer, Ann settles down and we all get into a flexible rhythm. The girls enjoy their swimming and gymnastics lessons. Lucy attends M&M Club (Music & More) at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston every Wednesday afternoon, and we combine that with some one-on-one “Grammie-time” for the girls. We squeeze in library visits, playdates, and lots of book-reading time.
- A fun and unseasonably warm Columbus Day weekend vacation with our friends derek, Linda, and our one-year-old goddaughter Eve. Who knew the girls would be able to spend the weekend in their bathing suits in October? (See photo.)
- Our family attends a Northwestern University performance of A Year with Frog and Toad, a musical based on the Frog and Toad book series by Arnold Lobel. The show is awesome, the music fabulous, and we wind up listening to the soundtrack almost nonstop for a few weeks (and on through the winter). The girls really perfect their re-enactment of “The Large and Terrible Frog.”
- Lucy’s unbirthday = chocolate cupcakes with pumpkin decorations!
- After much debate, Lucy decides to be Supergirl for Halloween, and Rosie decides to be a bunny…. no, wait, let’s make that a ladybug. We have a fun and tiny Halloween party with another homeschooling family. The candy haul is substantial this year. (As of New Year’s Day, Mama still has a bunch tucked away in the baking drawer… shhhh!)
- Our annual Harvest Fest weekend gathering at Circle M Farm in Wisconsin. This year, we decide to let the girls stay up crazy-late (for them), and bedtime goes much better. In fact, the girls are so low-maintenance that Mama finishes two books that weekend and Jon becomes a seasoned hillbilly horseshoes player. Tried out a new chocolate tart recipe: super yummy.
- We attend a performance of The Nutcracker ballet together as a family for the first time. The girls love it and spend several weeks afterward in leotards and tutus. (See photo.)
- For Thanksgiving this year, we have a lovely dinner with Jon’s family (roasted cinnamon ice cream!). The girls dress up as American Indian princesses in historical garb, complete with wigs. The next day, we host a brunch for the Gortner side (cranberry cake!) and dive into our old family photo albums.
- Advent brings lots of fun activities for us: making ornaments, sending packages, trimming the tree, and baking batch after batch (after batch) of cookies, including this year’s new recipe, gingerbread shortbread (recipe forthcoming). We have to get ready for Jesus!
- We’re involved in two Christmas pageants this year: one at our own church (Lucy is an angel, Rosie is a sheep), and one with M&M club at First Presbyterian Church in Evanston (where she appears again as an angel). It is a festival of fun!
- Rosie confuses the name of the musician Josh Caterer with Jesus Christ (a reasonable mistake, since he sings a song entitled “Jesus Christ”). This brings us some classic quotes, including “Jesus Christ sings this song!” at the pageant, referring to the song “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “I wish I could marry Jesus Christ.”
All in all, it’s been a terrific 2011! We wish you all a wonderful 2012!