Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

Addie's first day of 1st grade2016 was a rather quiet year for us… though busier in some ways, with lots of milestones for the little ones. Addison turned six, started first grade, lost her first tooth, and had surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids. She has a love of all things teal, American Girl dolls, and making art.

The twins celebrated their third birthday over the summer. Kate is still obsessed with the Red Sox, has more stuffed animals than any child should, and loves to use big words, especially when scolding her brother. Evan loves to cook (banana bread muffins are his speciality), thinks Superman is awesome, and recently discovered a passion for Paw Patrol. When they are not causing mass chaos in our house, the twins enjoy creating “arts and crafts,” or playing outside. Evan’s heart is still stable, and he’s now heavier and taller than Kate.Kate and Evan turn 3!As usual, we tried to cram lots of adventures in during our down time, including snowshoeing, hiking, traveling, visiting museums, and more. We planted our garden, made art projects, and hung out at the library. Trips to ice cream stands were a weekly staple once the warm weather returned.

snowshoeing art museum hiking gardening beach

For the second summer in a row, we packed up and moved to Vermont so Kendra could continue working on a second masters. While she studied hard, the kids and I explored more of Middlebury and the surrounding area, hiked, visited the library, and ate lots of yummy food.

Middlebury VT Middlebury VT Middlebury VT

I even got to meet one of my heroes – cartoonist Alison Bechdel! Her comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, was a lifeline for me when I was coming out in college. I fangirled a bit hard, but she was kind enough to listen to my rambling and pose for a selfie.

Me with Alison Bechdel

Dorothy CampbellThe toughest part of the year came over the summer when my Grammy passed away. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was painful nonetheless. She was an amazing woman. I am so grateful for the 40 years she was a part of my life, and for the fact that all my kids got to know and love her.

four generations

Over the year, we’ve gotten to know more of our neighbors, and we continue to fall in love with where we live. There are always loads of kids in and out of our house – it’s not uncommon for us to have lots of extra folks around the dinner table. Some of the neighborhood highlights were a trip into Boston, a mom’s night out for dinner, our annual pumpkin carving party, and a “drive in” movie for all the kids.

neighborhood drive in neighborhood drive in

We celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah in South Carolina. It was a wonderful week filled with good food, fun, hiking, and spending time with Kendra’s family. The kids were thrilled to see their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and especially to play with their cousins, Olivia and Jada.

The Bauer Cousinsbauerschristmas

Though it’s been a good year for us as a family, my heart aches. I think a lot of people are feeling similarly. 2016 has not been an easy year. Bathroom bills, terrorist attacks around the world, a surge of racism and xenophobia in our own country… it’s starting to feel like hate trumps love.

The tragic shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando hit us especially hard. Gay bars were such a huge part of my life when I came out, and for years after. The Common Ground in Ithaca, NY, was my safe haven in college. Where I felt like I belonged. I had to apply to get in when I was under 21. I took my form with shaking hands to get it notarized in downtown Ithaca, worried the clerk would pass judgement on me. But she smiled, and handed the form back to me. And with that signature, I had a safe space.

So when the massacre at Pulse was carried out, it struck fear in all of us in the LGBTQ+ community. Kendra and I sought comfort in others, and refused to succumb to fear and hatred. We hung a rainbow flag outside of our house, and took the kids to vigils to pray for Orlando.

praying for orlando praying for orlando

Of course, Orlando wasn’t the first, or last, tragedy of 2016. My heart has broken a little more with each act of violence and hatred. Our hopes raised as election day came – we were so excited to take the kids with us to cast our ballots.

voting day voting day

Yet despite the polls, Kendra somehow knew that Trump would win. I penned an open letter to Trump Voters in hopes of reaching the hearts of those on the fence. Waking up after election day, I felt beyond disappointed.

We spent our last night of 2016 watching Harry Potter: The Order of the Phoenix. It seems especially fitting in these times. Here’s hoping this year will surprise us all… though after tonight’s attack on a night club in Istanbul, I fear we are in for more of the same.

Yet, ultimately, I truly believe that love trumps hate. Our resolutions for 2017 are to fight even harder for equal rights for all, to speak up when we see injustice, and to be a voice for the oppressed.

I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight, I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. – Theodore Parker

Wishing you all a safe, happy new year!

My Favorite Posts of 2016

  1. The Enduring Love of a Grandmother
  2. Finding Love in the Green Mountains
  3. 10 Tips for Stay at Home Parents
  4. The Donor Talk: When Kids Have a Sperm Donor
  5. Hiking and Birdwatching at Lake Conestee Nature Park

Readers’ Favorite Posts of 2016

  1. The Donor Talk: When Kids Have a Sperm Donor
  2. 10 Tips for Stay at Home Parents
  3. Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016!
  4. How to Dress Kids for Winter Adventures in 3 Easy Steps!
  5. Ringing in 2016 in North Conway, New Hampshire

About Jen

Outdoor adventurer and traveler. Writer, Photographer & Communications Professor. Wife. Mom of twins plus one. Tubbs Snowshoes Ambassador. Blogger at gayfamilytrips.com.

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3 Responses to Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017!

  1. Betty Jane Crandall January 2, 2017 at 10:04 am #

    I am so grateful that your family is a part of my life. I love everything you write and the pictures you take, Jen. I love the way you and Kendra work out your lives together. I love Boris and Jane and Colin and Tonia and all the children. Just know that I wrap my heart around you all. You inspire me.
    I took my family to England and Scotland this past summer, and I took 2 rocks with me. I had written FOR LOVE on each rock. One I put in the ruins of an old mansion in Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, where my daughter’s mother in law is from. We had a wonderful time visiting her family. The other I put down in the roots of a huge tree in a cemetary in Haworth, Yorkshire. The church was where one of my friends was baptised and married, and the father of the Bronte sisters was pastor there. Those rocks were placed in honor of my love for you and your family, and because you shared the for love rock story with me.

    I also share your pain in the events of 2016, and your fears for 2017. But overriding those pains and fears is my hope for the future, which is born in your children and their cousins, and my grandchildren and now great grandchildren.

  2. Janeiac January 4, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    Thank you for your words and images. You give wonderful perspective.

  3. Mary Walsh January 25, 2017 at 7:57 pm #

    Your heartfelt comments on the past year moved me to tears. I think you voiced what a lot of us are feeling right now about this country. I took comfort from hearing it said on NPR that progress in this country has never been a straight line but a zig zag. Thank you for so openly sharing your beautiful family with the rest of us.

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