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  • Renee Burns

2021 Reflections and 2022 Projections...

Wow! Honestly, it feels foreign to be in this space currently. If you have been following along on our journey to parenthood over the last 2+ years, you know that writing has been a form of therapy for me. Over the past few months the little voice (or conscience) inside of me was screaming to write- (or maybe it was just saying “now is the time to go back to therapy and pump and breaks and look in the rear view mirror for a bit")…either way, here I am.

Where am I exactly? I am in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in a little motel across from the national elk refuge. Zach is in the bed next to me, working on his calendar for the week, and the girls are in their pack n’ plays on the other side of wall- imagine the little “hallway” to the bathroom in a hotel…that’s where they are. They showered, put on their jammies, got swabs stuck up their noses, then read a book and we put them down. They continue to test 'negative', and for that, we are grateful.

What a wild ride it’s been.

2021 was nothing short of a roller coaster ride for us, as I’m sure it was for many of you as well. We went through all the emotions, discussions, logistics, and COVID tests to figure out if travel/work/play/socializing was an option.

And- for a time it was. In July the girls flew for the 1st time. They got to meet their east coast family finally after a year and a half. The highlights included swimming with their great-grandmother in saltwater on the beach that she grew up swimming on. The picture of them with their “Great Gammy” was worth the stress of the trip…a photo marking the 6th generation on that same beach in New York.

Other highlights were meeting all the “cousins” in the DC area- and taking the girls to my aunt’s gravesite. They even followed suit and picked rocks to leave on her tombstone- a Jewish custom. I swear I could feel her rolling over with excitement to meet them. We returned in November, via our #duluthadventurevan, to the east coast, and the girls wowed us with their flexibility to road-trip across the country.

2021 also brought us a bit of a “return to normalcy” feeling with work. Zach traveled, and I took on a small caseload virtually. We hired a nanny- it felt so normal….it felt GLORIOUS! The Duluth grandparents shared childcare duties with our amazing nanny, and all appeared well. The girls were checking off milestones- almost appearing on growth charts here, developmental milestones there….then BAM...back-to-school time hit.

We attempted to forgo childcare and be two working parents from home, with two immunocompromised toddlers at home, with a dog and a cat at home, and pretty much just BE AT HOME as we watched cases rise again. Just like the rest of you, the exhausting conversations returned….When is it safe to put them in daycare? When is it safe for me to see clients in person again? Will work travel be halted again?

Then, just like that, the girls turned two. TWO?!!?!? We “graduated” from speech therapy and physical therapy. (yes Viv still has a GI and Pulmonologist at the children’s hospital. She gets lung x-rays every 6 months to track her development and still needs daily meds to help with bowel movements) Non-the-less, Zach and I had more difficult conversations than I wish to share here about what “normal” life needed to look like for us moving forward if we were going to thrive as not just parents, but as a couple, in this bullshit pandemic. (Sorry- preaching to the choir- but it’s such bullshit to deal with still…we were handed enough through our fertility/pregnancy/birth journey that we’re SO over this being our ‘new parent’ story as well…) Anyway- after MANY sleepless nights, relationship struggles, and a general feeling of loss of identity as individuals- we decided to pull the trigger, buy ski passes, pack the girls up in the van, and ring in the new year doing what we love best; traveling, skiing, and just being together playing and exploring all that our big backyard has to offer.

So here we are, a week in to 2022- and we’ve already spent New Year’s in Victor, ID with Zach’s family- skiing at Targhee, traveling through Yellowstone national park to spend a week with my aunt and uncle in Big Sky, Montana (where the girls got their 1st ski passes)…and here we are now- skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, enroute to Utah, then Colorado, before returning home...sticking swabs up our noses along the way.

We’re beyond blessed to have the family and friends we do- as this is not just a ski trip, but a time to introduce the girls to our greater community, and to share our passions with them. It's also a time for Zach and I to return to our 'center' as individuals and as a couple; to remind ourselves of who we are, and that we can still be “us” after all we were handed over the past few years.

After all, this is far from our 1st time venturing out on a 'skication' together- the initial one was during the winter of 2007-2008, driving out of norther Arizona together towards Taos, NM, CO, WY, and Utah- having not a clue (or a care for that matter) what the future would hold for us. All we knew at that time was that we were each others favorite ski and adventure buddies...

So- here we are, with our newest additions to our little ski crew- What's the projection?? What do we want for 2022? ...Simple. Just like the rest of you, we want health, safety, and the ability to feel comfortable taking a BIG DEEP breath in public! We hope to continue to write with more regularity, adventure with more ease, and laugh with less stress in-person with the people who fill us up. We hope to continue to find our "old" selves, and have grace welcoming our "new selves" as parents of healthy twin toddlers.

Cheers to 2022- Oh, and to our little warriors that are walking, talking, eating, breathing…and are now by the way….SKIING?!


Burns Party of Four



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