• Margaret Va'aulu

2020: A Year in Review

The past year was definitely one for the history books, one that will be remembered forever. As a nation we experienced Black Lives Matter protests and a polarizing election period-- all in the midst of a global pandemic. 2020 was a lot: quarantines and social distancing, masks and zoom calls. For me and my family, it was a roller coaster ride filed with some of our highest highs and lowest lows. But 2020 also forced us to grow and stretch in ways I couldn't have predicted, so I wouldn't trade that.... and I don't want to forget. This blog post is more of a journaling experience for me, so if the past year isn't one you're ready to look back on, I won't be offended if you skip it.

  • January started like most new years do-- feeling refreshed with hope and resolutions. My brother Jeffrey moved in to help with the kids for the second half of Blake's deployment. I discovered @1000hoursoutside on Instagram and their challenge to combat childhood screen addiction with outdoor time, and decided to try it. So with three kids ages 4 and under, we made it a family goal to spend a little bit of time outside each day-- braving the cold and biting wind of Oklahoma. We met Batman at a special library story time. We spent lots of time cuddling our sweet 3 month old baby Alema.

  • February was just more snuggles and outdoor time.

  • In March, COVID started shutting everything down and things started getting scary. Through the whole pandemic, I have been very grateful that Blake's employment hasn't been in jeopardy, so our finances and daily life weren't in danger. I am deeply aware that this is not the case for so many people. The weather warmed up early in Oklahoma, so during all the months of shut down, we spent hours each day outside-- mostly in our yard, but also hiking with the kids. March was also when I learned that COVID would be delaying Blake's return indefinitely and had to process all the frustration, anger, and sadness that came with the news.

  • In April, Isala turned two. We celebrated our first Passover. After caring for a lost dog and the boys crying when he left, we went to the shelter the same day and adopted our sweet Remy-- an 85-lb Great Pyrenees.

  • During May we spent lots of time outside and raised Painted Lady butterflies and it was so easy and fun and a great learning experience that we are making it a yearly tradition! The link is below if you'd like to try too!


  • June was a busy but fun month for us. We traveled to weddings in 2 states for my cousins and reconnected with family I haven't seen in years. We got halfway through our library's challenge to read 1000 books. And Blake finally came home on June 30!

  • July was one of the hardest points in the year. Adjusting back to life as a family was unexpectedly hard for everyone. A lot of times it felt like whiplash between immense gratitude for Blake's return and frustration that things weren't as idyllic as I imagined. I think only my fellow military spouses will understand how much things change in a year of separation: me & the kids had our own daily routines formed in his time away and as much as Blake loves them, he's wasn't used to being around kids anymore. So finding how we all fit together again was difficult. July was filled with hugs and fights and frustration and tears of joy and everything in between. On top of that, we only had a few weeks to get a contract on buying a house so that we would close by the time we moved from Oklahoma the first week of September.

  • August was busy prepping to move and saying goodbye to friends.

  • September: we got into our new home (coincidentally on Masi's 5th birthday)! I have a whole other blog post about the moving process if you want to read it.. we started up homeschooling again and began exploring our area.

  • In October, Blake's family surprised us by visiting for the weekend, we celebrated baby Alema's first birthday at the pumpkin patch, "adopted" a wild duck named Duckbill for five days, and had the first snow of the year.

  • November: the last couple months of the year were pretty hard on my health, so we didn't do much except spend lots of time together. Alema did get to go out in the snow for the first time!

  • December: full of snow & a trip with my family up to the ski resorts in Northern Colorado. We didn't end up going skiing, but we're able to do lots of sledding and playing in snow that was thigh-deep for Isala!

I think it's safe to say that 2020 was (at the very least) a weird year for everyone, and my family is no exception. We went through a lot last year-- and in many ways-- it highlighted the areas we needed to grow in.

I'm ridiculously optimistic about all that 2021 holds for us. I've chosen the theme of my year to be "Intentional". Less screen time, more reading, journaling, and creating. Definitely more blogging! More family game nights and date nights (I honestly can't remember the last date Blake and I went on... pre-COVID and pre-deployment maybe?) We're also working on setting better habits in both our homeschool and general life so that our days run smoother. And I wish you all a year as full of hope and sweet memories as the one I envision for my family. Happy 2021!

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