2010: a look back

When I look back on this year, there aren’t huge life-changing moments that come to mind. In 2008 we got married. In 2009 we had a baby.

In 2010 we just were.

We played with our child, dedicated him to the Lord, spent time with family, and traveled a little.

When I read my blog posts from the past twelve months, the most common theme is contentment, and my search for it.

My husband’s business grew and continued to thrive, allowing me another year to be at home with our sweet Hudson. But I found other ways such as voluntarism and event-planning to keep me fulfilled and had to learn to say “no.” My search for personal satisfaction aside from my daily duties in the home led me right back to the home. I learned that I never want to be too busy to see what my son is doing on that particular day, but will continue to take on extra responsibility as I have time to do so.

We had our house on the market and took it off about six weeks later when we realized that we do love our house and want to stay where we are.

I stressed out about planning our second pregnancy. When is the right time? What do I want to do before we get pregnant? And in the first month of trying, Baby Boy Carroll #2 happened.

I am flawed. I am always having to slap myself in the face as a reminder that I don’t need to sweat the small stuff. And I don’t need to obsess over shoes and handbags. Or what outfit I may wear to an event and then never wear it again. Sure, this is all money stuff, but trust me, I’m not “cured” yet of this and I’ve still come a long way. Just ask my husband.

I spend most of my time in comfy clothes around the house and don’t have a need for the beautiful things of which I once dreamed.

In 2010, I worried about friendship and finding the friendships that lift me up and that I can give back to. Friendships with women who have kids or don’t have kids – because to me, friendship isn’t about your children or your husband. And just when I prayed about it, wrote about it, and stopped worrying about it, those worries went away. My prayer wasn’t answered immediately, but I found contentment where I was at the time, and those worries began to fade. And I believe as a result of turning it over to God, He has blessed me with some amazing friendships this year. Some of these women are people I only talk to once a month and others I talk to every day. Some live here and many of them don’t. But they’re there for me and they pray for me just as I pray for them.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is not to judge others. We all make different decisions and live our lives differently because we are different. And I celebrate our differences. What is right for me may not be right for everyone else. But I have learned a lot about myself, my limitations, my temptations, my weaknesses and strengths over the last 28 years. And you know? In ten years, I may be reading the post and laughing at myself. At this point in my life, though, these are things that I’ve had to change about myself in order to avoid stress and unnecessary worry.

I’ve learned more about trust, staying faithful, and seeing myself the way the Lord sees me. I know that I don’t need to disguise myself with other things and that He loves me just as I am. And He’s blessing my family and me every day.

I am extremely grateful and will forever praise Him for healing my precious mother, who has shown unconditional love for her family and unwavering faith in His plan.

So I’m looking ahead to 2011 with no expectations. I don’t want to hold myself to impossible standards that cause me to obsess and turn my attention away from the things that matter most. I know my personality and committing to lose 40 pounds in 20 weeks after having my baby is not something that I need to do. It may be healthy for my body, but it won’t be healthy for my mind.

With no expectations, I’m looking forward to growing and learning and becoming closer to what the Lord wants me to become. I plan to focus on what I have instead of what I don’t. And be grateful. For the time with my husband, my child(ren), my parents and in-laws, and so many loving friends.

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my 2010 reading list review

I read 19 books in 2010! I did a post in January and had a goal of reading 12 books and then I included a thirteenth book “to grow on” just in case I finished all 12 of the books on my list.

I got a little sidetracked with my list and didn’t stick to my schedule, so there are a few books on my list that I didn’t get to. I am still proud that I spent so much time reading and hope to do it again this year!

I’m not going to do a full written review of each book, but I’ll let you know if I liked the book by doing a rating system of 1-5 asterisks. I’m not a book snob by any means. To me, books are good if they keep me turning the page. And books are great if I can’t stop thinking about them after I finish reading.

In 2009, The Help and Same Kind Of Different As Me were those books that made me think for weeks after finishing. I didn’t find anything that did that for me in 2010, I’m sorry to say.

I’m going to post my 2011 reading list in a couple of days, so if you have any suggestions for me let me know! And don’t forget to be my friend on Goodreads, so we can share book reviews!

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – ***** (5)

The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay: I’m giving (5)***** to all three books because I don’t think you can read one without reading the entire series. And it’s a great series!

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan- ** (2)

I really wasn’t a fan of this book. It wasn’t what I expected and I think I had high hopes for this one that shouldn’t have been so high.

3 Books of The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts- **** (4)

In 2009 I read Vision in White, which is the first book in the series and I enjoyed it. So this year I read Savor the Moment, Bed of Roses, and Happy Ever After and liked them all. The series is about four friends who run a wedding planning business and each book focuses on a different character’s love story. Cheesy? Yes! Totally fun? Yes!

Swimsuit by James Patterson- **** (4)

Just a scandalous, suspenseful, James Patterson book. I thought this one was good and even a little scary! I read it this summer and it was a great summer read.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah- ***** (5)

I absolutely loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. It made me laugh and cry and I recommended it to everyone I saw. Such a great girly book about friendship.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah- *** (3)

I had a really hard time getting into this book. There were points in the book when I actually wanted to stop reading, but I finished and it was a touching story.

Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus- **** (4)

I liked this book so much. I loved The Nanny Diaries and loved getting to revisit the characters from the original story. I liked reading about New York City and I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Nanny Diaries.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen- ***** (5)

Water for Elephants was my favorite book that I read in 2010. It was so interesting and so well-written. I am not sure why it took me so long to read it, but I’m glad I did. It’s a wonderful story.

So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore- **** (4)

I wrote a lengthy review on this book right before we went to the Beth Moore conference in Atlanta. This was a book that I definitely needed to read and I’m so happy that I did. I think about this book and the way God spoke through Beth every day when I’m telling myself not to torture myself over something.

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin- ***** (5)

I read every one of Emily Giffin’s books in 2010. They were all very different, but Something Borrowed was by far my favorite. All of her books have a broken (or almost broken) relationship at the core of the story and that makes me a little sad to read over and over again. But I wanted to see what all the Emily Giffin hype was about.

Something Blue by Emily Giffin- **** (4)

I liked this book so much more than I thought I would. The main character is the character that you dislike the most from Something Borrowed. But this book shows a completely different side to her and it’s a very touching story about redemption.

Baby Proof by Emily Giffin- ** (2)

It pains me to say that this is my least favorite of Emily Giffin’s books. Maybe because I can’t really relate to the characters, but I think it’s mostly because Emily Giffin’s character development is lacking so much depth and the characters and their problems seemed so shallow to me.

Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin- *** (3)

Okay, I didn’t love this one very much either. I kept wanting to say, “snap out of it, you idiot! Your life is perfect!”

Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin – **** (4)

I’m torn. I couldn’t put this book down, but I wanted to so many times because the story made me so sick! This book focuses on infidelity and Giffin is trying to get us to see all of the sides from all of the players in an affair: the wife, the husband, and the other woman. But I had a really hard time stopping myself from shouting at the other woman. I wasn’t even that angry with the husband, but I couldn’t deal with the mistress or see “her side” of the story as anything but horrible. But I have to give this book a good rating because it evoked so much emotion in me!

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain- ***** (5)

I loved this book. There were definitely a couple of times that I wanted to slap CeeCee, but I couldn’t put this book down even though I had to– it was the inaugural book in our blogger book club and the reading schedule forced me to stay with the schedule. I was a definite fan!

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Stella and Dot Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Lizziefitz for winning the gorgeous Stella & Dot earrings from Karah!  Just email me at eeakin11{at}gmail{dot}com.

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Hudson and Uncle Walker “chatting”

I mentioned that on Christmas Eve we video chatted with my brother, who was in Vail working during Christmas. We all opened our presents together and that was so much fun!

Hudson came into the room after he’d gotten his medicine (which is why he’s carrying around the bottle of infant pain relief medicine– I promise he didn’t drink it). Hudson got really excited about seeing Walker and just started babbling uncontrollably. We thought it was quite hilarious, as you’ll hear us all cackling in the background.

Hudson can say a lot of words, but it was like he forgot them all while trying to tell his Uncle Walker as much as possible!

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