Happy New Year!! It is that time of year for reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the next. I’ve never really been the type to make New Year’s Resolutions. I always thought of them as the sort of thing that last a few optimistic weeks into the year, then life settles back into normal routines and all those lofty goals inevitably fall by the wayside. That said, I will admit to you that last year I did make some resolutions for the first time ever.

Transitioning from being a teacher to being a stay at home mom a couple of years ago had it’s moments of frustration. I loved teaching but I didn’t realize how much of my identity was wrapped up in that role until it was gone. I love being a mom. I love having the option of staying home. However it would be all too easy to get lost in that role and lose sight of the fact that I am so much more than ‘just’ a mom. I will forever be grateful for my (aptly named) friend Angel, who impressed upon me, long before kids were even a thought in my mind, that being a great mother means being more than ‘just’ a mother. She advocated and beautifully modeled the belief that in order to be a great mom, you need to nurture all the other parts of who you are and model for your kids the importance of leading a well balanced life. (In fact, she will soon be publishing a book on this very topic! I’ll keep you posted.) That means taking the time to cultivate any spiritual, creative, personal, professional, or physical goals we may have. As Lilly was becoming increasingly active and the demands of being a mother of two started to take it’s toll on my energy levels I realized I was being depleted and needed to find a way to re-energize. Angel’s wise words returned to me and I decided I needed to set some goals for myself or risk being overwhelmed by the mundane tasks that come with staying home. So as 2011 dawned I set some goals that, I suppose, could be called ‘resolutions.’

The theme of the goals I set was to challenge myself more. Regardless of what area of life they pertained to, each goal was designed to get me out of my comfort zone. While I may not have attained every specific goal that I set (yoga did not happen once a week as originally planned!), I can honestly look back and say that I achieved my goal of staying challenged. I may not have reached the mileage goal I set for running in 2011…but I DID train for and successfully run in my first race ever, a 10K! That is farther than I had ever run and I came in solid middle of the pack and not dead last as I feared! 😉 Here I am crossing the finish line, as Andy graciously allows me to finish ahead of him. He ran the whole race by my side so we could do it together instead of running his own race. Isn’t he the best?

We also finally hiked Mount Timpanogos together!

Physically challenged: check!

While I have spent time studying God’s word throughout my life, I had never read the bible cover to cover. Andy and I decided to do the Bible in 90 Days reading plan. It was a lot to get through but we did it! It was a great way to see over-arching themes that get lost when reading small sections at a time. I also found that since childcare had no longer been available during weekly studies through our church I had not been able to be a part of any formal studies and I really missed it. A friend and I decided to find a way around that and did a study together, trading off whose house we met at and working around the little ones. There were interruptions but at least we made it a priority! Spiritually challenged: check!

I happen to be lucky that one of my great passions is one of my biggest jobs as a stay at home wife and mother: food! I will frequently ask Andy during dinner for an opinion about a meal idea I’m playing with for later in the week. “How can you think about other food when we are in the middle of dinner?” He will ask. “Honey, I can always think about food!” is my reply. Along with “Plus, it’s my job to keep you people fed so I’m always thinking ahead!” One of my goals for 2011 was to challenge myself more in the kitchen. I had many firsts: home-made pasta, roast duck, Duck Ragu, Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes, French Macarons, A Creme de Mint Cake with Chocolate Mint Leaves for my parent’s 60th birthdays, Mole Negro (will have blog that one soon…I’m getting a hankering!), Bun Thit Nuong (my all time favorite Vietnamese food! Will have to blog that soon too!), authentic Coq Au Vin… Here are a few photos from my pre-blogging days:

Buckwheat Pasta:

Macarons Framboise:
Creme de Menthe Cake with chocolate leaves and edible flowers:

Lavender Lemon Cupcakes filled with Lavender-Lemon Curd:

Bun Thit Nuong:

Hmmm….Looking back at the photos, it’s a good thing I did all that running this year!

This year I also, sort of accidentally, happened upon blogging thanks to a comment someone left on a write up I did about my 10K training. They suggested I write for a living, and while blogging is no career for me, I did realize how much I enjoyed writing and decided to start up this little sarahsjoys blog. Along with the blogging came a chance to engage in another hobby I had loved long ago but hadn’t really done in years: photography. Cooking, writing, photography…Creatively Challenged: check!

None of this would have been possible without the support of my amazing husband, Andy! He is truly the best husband a girl could have….Did I mention he gave me a new camera lens for Christmas and recently suggested we add a line to our family budget for “blogging expenses?” He encourages me to stay challenged (and also ‘challenges’ me to stay on budget for groceries! 😉 )  I pray daily that our girls will one day be blessed with husbands as amazing as their father is to me.

And what of 2012? Well….I’ve made some personal goals and we have made some family goals. I’m sure they’ll be reflected in posts to come. In the mean time…I do have a back log of recipes to blog already! Hopefully you’ll stop by to check them out and see what the Shaffers are up to 2012. Thank you so much for reading and being a part of our adventures in Faith, Family, Food, and Fun! Happy New Year, 2012!!