top 17 of '17

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 ^^ i found it interesting to discover that - when i used that nifty website that pulls up your “top nine” pictures from 2017 on instagram - my most “liked” shared images were not from the travel adventures we had this year (and we had some truly epic ones!) but mostly from simple joys at home. i liked those bits the best too. ^^

to be frank, there’s a part of me that is excited to put two thousand seventeen firmly in the past. it was a rough year for me in some significant-to-me ways, and i experienced some truly breathtaking lows. but, 2017 also brought so so many incredible highs, and lots of exciting growth, and a boatload of delight in our little mo (and then also in baby brother!).

and as i’ve looked back at the year now gone, i have felt truly blown away by how packed with goodness and adventure and learning these last twelve months have been. my life is extraordinarily beautiful, i am outrageously privileged, and i feel so so so grateful! the year has been full of epic travel experiences, awesome adventures (and misadventures) in parenting a baby turned toddler, wonders that come from living in london, simple joys sprouting from service in and out of the home, new discoveries and tearful nights and stretching challenges and thrilling risks. ah! every passing year of life is amazing. i am just so glad to be alive on this earth, learning and working and relishing.

i love doing year-in-review blog posts but this time especially i have had such a hard time summing up and narrowing down all that has happened. this is just my best attempt on a monday night as we brace ourselves for going back to the grind after a fantastic holiday break. seventeen little vignettes, in no particular order, from two thousand seventeen - a full, amazing year.

after weeks of kind of intense anxiety, my soul was flooded with relief and gratitude when i saw a pulsing blob in black and white on an ultrasound screen. ian was holding my hand as i laid in that dim room, and moses watched as the technician moved the wand across my gelled up belly and we all beheld the profile of a perfect, tiny, moving human.
seven weeks later, the three (or, rather, four!) of us spedwalked home through the dark streets of london, quickly took off our coats, sat on the couch next to our glowing christmas tree, and opened a white envelope. i unfolded the paper inside and saw the words, “the baby is a little boy.” ian and i were floored - shocked and then thrilled - and it felt like such a beautiful, sparkly family moment.

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on our last day in sri lanka, we stopped at a roadside restaurant to get some curry before going to the airport. while our food was being prepared, some teenage boys that worked there excitedly came to say hello to moses (who was then seven months old). as we ate, they held him and played with him and made him laugh maybe more heartily than he ever had before in his life. it was incredibly heartwarming, and reminded me why i love to travel, and also why i love to travel with a baby … because it so beautifully promotes human connection that supersedes even the starkest differences.

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there was perfect weather on the evening of the twelfth of june, and moses and i met ian at my favourite spot in all of london after work. we set up a birthday picnic among the luscious and fragrant roses in queen mary’s garden and spent golden hour celebrating my birthday together as a family. i was sublimely happy, and so grateful for another year to be alive on earth and to share life with those two darling boys.

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one morning in march, i sat in a sealing room in the mount timpanogos temple cuddled up close to my husband and witnessed the marriage of his baby sister. ian’s parents, each of his five siblings, and each of their spouses were all there, and the room was heavy with the sweetest familial love and a rich dose of the spirit of god. tears silently rolled down my cheeks as i reflected on the deep, deep gratitude in my heart for my marriage and for my faith.

one day towards the end of the year, we were riding home from somewhere on the tube and ian and i had just had a little tiff (about something i definitely can’t remember now and that was undoubtedly trivial and dumb - ha!). moses peered up at us from my lap, looked earnestly into our faces for a second, and then grabbed each of our heads with his two little hands and pushed them together, clearly gesturing to us that we should kiss. of course we did and of course we were all smiles then.
now, at the end of the year, we are in a solid habit of having a “family kiss” - a three-way kiss! - each morning and each night. often, little mo takes it upon himself to initiate by actively moving his parents’ heads together and then jumping in with his wide open, slobbery mouth :)

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after multiple plane rides and a speedboat journey through the wide open ocean, we arrived at hadahaa island in the maldives. we did our best to keep our jaws from dropping to the ground as our “host” showed us around the resort we had qualified for four free nights at. the second she closed the door to leave us in our beach villa, ian turned to me and said, “okay, time to freak out.” and we took a few minutes to do just that together :) this place was so beyond dreamy and so much fun to experience as a family.

one evening in late july, we took a bedtime walk around our neighborhood - across golden jubilee bridge, along the southbank of the thames, back across westminster bridge. as we were nearing the end of our loop, ian checked his email (for the tenth or so time on our little stroll…) and then said, “here it is! i passed.” i immediately threw my hands in the air and shouted yes!! (sorry to the tourists and londoners enjoying the peaceful evening around us ;) ) second round of the cfa, done! we reveled a little bit as the london eye reflected in the river next to us, and it was just a simple triumphant family moment.
in somewhat related happenings, this year i found my professional calling and began making plans to go back to school (i’ll likely start september 2018!). this is pretty huge for me, and i am really excited about it.

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my heart truly soared as we returned to the bay area, the hugely beloved place where we met, fell in love and chose each other. we had perfect weather, saw dear friends, visited old haunts, biked the golden gate bridge, had our dream date with an overnighter at the ritz carlton in half moon bay, and just absolutely reveled in all the joys of the city by the bay and the peninsula (and I got to stay an extra week for a sisters’ trip!). it was all so so so wonderful (until moses got pneumonia … but that’s another story entirely!).

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on the evening of easter sunday, we arrived in moscow via train from st. petersburg. we quickly made our way to our hotel, dropped our things off and, truly giddy, walked down the street to the entrance of red square. this little bit of earth was a spot both of us had been pining to see all our lives, and as we approached the square we were seriously buzzing with excitement. and then we were totally blown away by the magnificence of it all! it was so so freezing cold outside but we were in such a daze of thrill that we hardly noticed, and it was just fun.

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taking my son to my favourite place on earth - bear lake - was such a thrilling joy for me. seeing moses surrounded in adoring and adorable cousins was the most perfect, fantastic balm for my heart that had grown weary from living so far away from family. especially since we missed being at bear lake last summer, it was so so sweet to be there this summer, with our little boy, and there were moments of exquisite contentment and comfort and cheer.

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late one night in october, ian and i left moses at an airbnb with his aunt and uncle and drove (back) to mont saint-michel. the glow of the illuminated island cut through the deep dark of night and the ocean waves lapped against the imposing village walls. there was hardly anyone else around. we strolled through some silent cobblestoned streets and kissed in a turret overlooking the sea. it was really romantic and such a crystalized moment in time for us.

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we spent one summer night kissing and giggling on a rooftop in salt lake city in our wedding clothes. i had surprised ian with a “cityscape” photoshoot, a random but deep desire he’d had for years. the air was dewy and our true love felt thick.
we’ve grown a lot in our marriage in 2017.

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we celebrated our anniversary in the stunning dolomites (a portion of the italian alps). taking in this ^^ view at golden hour with my arms around my boys was - magic.

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after our first hike in the faroe islands, my face hurt from smiling, my body tingled due to exertion and the elements, and my heart hurt a little from sheer exhilaration! experiencing this unbelievable place with my husband and baby and my incredibly awesome brother and his family was epic. we were all gobsmacked by the incredible, unique beauty, and by the end of the trip had both shared pregnancy news - baby cousins are arriving probably the same week in april 2018!

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one morning in late october we knelt in our completely empty flat and offered a hearty and heartfelt prayer of gratitude to god for our tiny family home in covent garden.
the next morning i woke up under the tall ceilings of our new flat in kensington and my heart felt so much distinct peace.
over the course of the next couple of weeks, moses scampered all around our new space (often making several consecutive laps around the couch) with his hands outstretched, babbling gleefully. so much more space!

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witnessing moses’s extreme excitement about all things christmas brought me a lot of joy. and christmastime this year, with an enthusiastic toddler by my side and a tiny baby squirming in my belly, just felt so special.

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on 22 december, we took the train from london to brussels. when we came out of the subway station en route to our hotel, we found ourselves in the middle of a christmas wonderland and moses started freaking out - hands in the air, kicking legs and squeals of wonder. (i wish I had it on film, he was seriously so jazzed!) after dropping off our bags we watched the light show in the grand palace (brussels’ big and stunning main square) and felt completely wrapped up in magic as the buildings and huge christmas tree illuminated in a dance to the music. later, the three of us held each other close and waltzed around that spectacular tree with dozens of other couples as nutcracker music rang through the air. we were giggling and glowing and it was just the perfect moment of christmas, family, and adventure joy.


there were also awesome trips to austria, cornwall, malta, baltimore, texas, the border of luxembourg, and wiltshire/bath. one of my best friends came to visit us with her five month old baby and we had such a blast; my parents, four of my siblings, and one of ian’s also came to london. we left traded old callings and friends for new ones in a new church congregation, explored our city more, and laid in bed delighting at the movements of our unborn baby. yes, best of all in 2017 were the many moments of simple joy in our little family. it really has been an incredible year.
and 2018 is going to be wild! we’re ready and grateful and excited.
[pat years in review: 20092011201320142015, 2016]


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  2. What a beautiful life you live! Even though our lives are different in so many ways, I love following your journey and reading your perspectives. Thanks for sharing your heart and insights with your readers and for being an uplifting place on the Internet.

  3. What are you going back to school for! And how exciting!

  4. Good for you to go back to school. It will be easier now than in the future. I think about it now, and it seems insurmountable, too much life going on. Good luck with applications if your still working on that.


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