What. A. Year.
Good gracious. 2017 may be tryin' to sneak up on us like a creepy ex-boyfriend, but I'm taking a minute to look back at 2016 and the only words I have for it are...BUH BYE. Don't get me wrong, there were some great things that happened this year - ten visits with our Little Lady, my sweet nephew being born a day before my birthday, our ten year anniversary trip, tons of camping trips in #thehillsmobile, and bringing home our sweet Dakota Bear in July.
But, there were hard times, too.
We lost six family members this year. Yes, six. Within a five month span. With each passing came great heartache and loss. We mourn for those closest to these family members and will never forget their memory. I don't know who all these smart people are who are working on curing cancer, but they need to WORK. FASTER.
We awoke on the first day of 2016 at our campsite with C on her first day camping. That's a trip I won't quickly forget. A few days later, baby A was born. I highly recommend nephews. They're kind of the best.
We are forever grateful to C's grandma for sharing her with us every month. I do not take for granted how rare our relationship is and I never will. C is 10 now, going on 35. The pre-teen years are in full force and we're bracing ourselves for the teenage years. BLESS.
We celebrated our TEN year anniversary in May. We each got ring tattoos to celebrate this milestone. Marriage isn't always easy, but it's always worth it. I love this man I get to do life next to.
Our one-year anniversary dinner took place at Dakota's in downtown Dallas, so it only seemed fitting that we spent our tenth anniversary there as well. Ironically, Bry's anniversary present to me was a new PUPPY who we happened to name Dakota as well! More on her later...
We left Dallas in the rearview mirror on the first day of summer. Bry finished his job as a Principal on a Friday and we were in the car Saturday morning, #thehillsmobile packed tight. After planning this trip for ten months, we were ready to make it happen! Our two-week #bearfood2016 adventure took us to Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, Zion National Park in Utah, Yosemite National Park in California, and Kings Canyon/Sequoia National Parks in California. It still doesn't feel like real life when I look back through these photos.
We hiked countless miles, explored secret corners of the parks, hiked the famous Narrows in Zion, crossed off bucket list items, and met some great people along the way. It was a DREAM.
We're already planning #bearfood2017 which will take us north to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier, and Banff. Let's hope #thehillsmobile can make it through customs in Canada!
We met our sweet, 8-week-old Dakota on July 2nd in Arkansas. She was literally the sweetest puppy. For FOUR whole days. Then life changed. The first few months of puppy life were RUFF. Pun intended. She tested every bone in our body and was nothing like her *perfect* older sister, but we held on to the tiniest string of faith that she'd turn a corner soon. Praise the Lord, she did! She has turned into a precious little pup, for the most part. She has her moments. :)
We had a "welcome home" party for Kota at the end of July. She loved meeting new friends and playing for hours! She and Lucy Lou are just inseparable and they fight just like real sisters, but they make up and cuddle later. Our little adventure pups are a full-time job for us over here!
Here's to hoping 2017 has fewer goodbyes and more hellos, hugs, and blessings.
Love to you all! Merry Christmas,
Brian and Julie