I’ve decided to call 2016 our Lemonade Year.
From the loss of a job to the sickness and death of a beloved parent, it has been filled with some of the most difficult experiences we’ve ever had to face as a family. But the horrors of this year also have been precisely what re-centered us, reminded us of what really mattered, and gave us the motivation we needed to take the lemons we’d been handed and make… lemonade.
I saw evidence of this as I compiled this recap of Facebook and Instagram updates from the past year. As Dennis was facing the rapid demise of his father, dealing with his own health issues, and worrying about losing his job, he spent more time than ever making the time he had with his family count. In 2016, we went on dozens of hikes as a family, attended countless movies and plays and concerts and museums, and tried to create as many memories with each other as possible.
We also spent as much time as we could on the road, visiting big cities and tiny towns, hiking through national forests, seeking out countless waterfalls, climbing mountains, snorkeling in the Gulf of Mexico, and riding in a sunset-drenched boat alongside a pod of dolphins leaping in the surf.
These were our many pitchers of lemonade, made from the sourest of lemons.
I’ve had my fill this year of tragedy and heartache, but while I’m hoping we’re done with the bad stuff for a while, I can’t say I’m hoping things will calm down for us any time soon. I’m loving our adventures and will take as many of them as I can get.
Here now is our Lemonade Year in review:
January 10: There was this CD I used to listen to obsessively in high school– I couldn’t get enough of it. It was called Mozart’s Requiem. And last night, I got to see it performed LIVE. So y’all just take a step back with your Janet Jackson and Guns n Roses reunion concerts. I’ve got my mind on my Mozart and my Mozart on my MIND.
February 7: Journal assignment: If you were to write a book, what would it be about?
Annnnnnd…. MIC DROP.
February 16: Okay, I’m just going to say it. The Revenant? It sucked. And if Leonardo DiCaprio wins an Oscar, it will be for grunting a lot and finally being able to grow a full beard.
MY 8-YR-OLD: Mom, if you were invited to a very fancy party, would you go?
ME: Definitely. I’d love be invited to a very fancy party.
MY 8-YR-OLD: Well, I wouldn’t go if I were you, because it would probably be a trap. The people having the party would really just want you to clean their house.
ME: Huh. Well. Thanks for the heads-up.
March 2: As some of you know, my beloved grandmother died a few months ago. This morning after I accepted a LinkedIn request, her name popped up as someone I might know. I never knew she had created an account, and she didn’t do much beyond open it, but I can’t tell you how it felt to see that she listed ‘GrandMother’ as her profession– I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job in that role than she did. Thank you, Grandmother. I really needed this today.
March 3: One good thing (and only one) about all the drama surrounding the upcoming presidential election is that it’s gotten both my kids interested in the political process. My 11-year-old asked for a complete rundown of how everything works a few days ago and both kids can’t wait to watch the GOP debate on TV tonight. I have no doubt it will lead to some very interesting conversations!
July 1: I wanted to let everyone know on Dennis Ferrier’s behalf that his father, Ken, died early yesterday morning after struggling with multiple serious health problems over the last year. Ken was a fun and zany grandfather to his seven grandchildren and there was no question that he was devoted to his family over everything and everyone else.
We were fortunate to spend time as a family with ‘Papa Ken’ and Dennis’s mother in California recently and are so grateful now for the many memories we made that week. He was a legendary figure in the Ferrier family and will be greatly missed.
Rest in peace, PK.
July 4: July 4th, 2002 was hands down the most magical day of my life. In a fairytale village in Scotland, surrounded by family and friends, I married a man with whom I was head over heels in love. I couldn’t have known what lay ahead of us or whether our love would truly endure, but I hoped with all my heart for the best.
14 years later, our marriage has exceeded my wildest dreams– and that’s not to say it’s all been easy! We’ve experienced sickness and health, good times and bad, years of plenty and years of struggle– but through it all, my husband Dennis has been my rock. Through it all, he’s made our marriage and family his priority. Through it all, he’s been a true friend, love, supporter, advocate, advisor, and soulmate. I couldn’t have asked for more.14 years ago, I honestly had no idea that the love I feel now for my husband was even possible. Today, I can’t imagine a life without him, or the loyal and deeply loving little family we get to call ours. Dennis is our fearless leader, the man in whom we all place our complete trust, and he has proven over and over again that he is completely devoted to the task.
Happy anniversary, Dennis. I love you with all my heart.
July 5: From Dennis Ferrier: Thank you everyone for all of your kind words. You are awesome people and I care about each one of you. You have lifted me up in a tough time. For those who have asked, here is the information on funeral arrangements for my dad. On Friday, we will REMEMBER him and all he meant to us. God bless you all!!
July 13: Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has called and sent messages — Please know that Dennis and I are fine and we are so moved by the incredible outpouring of love from colleagues and viewers over the last two days.
I seriously could not be prouder of Dennis and the amazing work he’s done during his career as a reporter. He’s won dozens of awards, been instrumental in getting countless laws passed in Tennessee (two this year alone!), helped thousands of people, and been a mentor to many, many younger reporters and photographers over the years. He has always put his family first and always believed that his true calling as a reporter was simply to serve others. That’s what kept him going and I believe that’s why he’s earned the trust of so many over the years, both in the newsroom and in homes across Middle Tennessee.
Dennis has been working long, long hours for a long, long time– We seldom saw him before 7 each night– and even on his days off, his phone would ring off the hook with news tips and he’d constantly get stopped by viewers who wanted to tell him their story. He made time for every single one of them. I am glad that he is getting a chance to get some rest, mourn the loss of his father, and spend real quality time with his family before he decides what he wants to do next. We are excited to see what the future holds.
July 15: Thank you to the Nashville Humane Association for an awesome week at Critter Camp! This weeklong camp was completely sponsored and FREE to campers- It was the one week my daughter was most looking forward to this summer and she learned so much! She is now looking forward to volunteering there the moment she turns 13.
July 21: I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to the most amazing man I could ever have hoped to marry.
Dennis Ferrier, you have surpassed my wildest dreams. You are an attentive husband, committed father, devoted son and loyal friend to so many. You are filled with faith, integrity and an incredible resolve to never, ever give up and it’s an honor (not to mention a whole lot of fun) to live life with you. I hope you’ll look back on this birthday some day as the start of the best years of our lives.
July 21 (written by Dennis): Years ago, Pastor Pete Wilson shared a story I never forgot. He said he’d sit for a moment in his driveway when he got home from work and pray that God would help him go inside and give the best he had to offer to his family.
I love this story, because imagine what could happen if every parent who spends the day at work engaged and present and attentive brought that same passion home to their families at night.
I’ve said the driveway prayer on many occasions, but often fallen short because I was tired or stressed or preoccupied with work. I didn’t give up, though, because the prayer inspired me to try and save my very best for my family instead of wasting it all on a live shot or editorial meeting.
Right now, while I’m home cooking meals, driving kids to camp and figuring out a new career, this prayer doesn’t quite fit my life. I’m simply praying to be HERE while I am HERE, rather than worrying too much about the future.
And so I’m passing the driveway prayer on to you.
July 30: It’s hard to find words for how I feel about Connie Dean. She was one of the first to welcome me into a new church several years ago, always inviting me to sit with her during Wednesday night suppers and giving me a big hug and a hand squeeze every Sunday morning. When I sang occasional solos in church and felt nervous and inadequate, I looked at my family for encouragement– and I looked at Connie Dean. She’d nod her head reassuringly and give me a big thumbs up, and I’d feel my terror melt away. Connie Dean always gave me confidence and made me feel like I mattered. She had that effect on a lot of people, including my husband and kids. When the ice bucket challenge came along a couple of summers ago, my entire family eagerly participated, along with the rest of our congregation, all in honor of our beloved Connie Dean.
Because of ALS, Connie was eventually unable to come to church– and so last Christmas, we brought our Christmas service to her. Dozens of church members crowded into her home and we sang all the carols we could think of. Connie couldn’t speak by that point, but before the kids and I left, she wrote ‘I love you’ on her notepad and handed it to me. It was a classic Connie Dean moment — reaching out to others, even during the toughest season of her life.
I will miss Connie Dean dearly, but my life is so much richer for having had her in it. She was a true role model to me, and I hope I can face the great struggles in my life with the same grace and courage that I witnessed in her.
I love you, too, Connie Dean– I will never, ever forget your kindness.
On the road again… This time, we're headed to Lake Lure, made famous(er) by Dirty Dancing. No one puts the Ferriers in the corner! . . . ##northcarolina #greatsmokymountains #smokymountains #exploreeverything #familytravel #travelblogger #travelgram #instatravel #outdoorfamily #momswithcameras #travelblogger #getoutside #mountains #visitnc
Living on the edge in #Indiana on a gorgeous fall day! Hemlock Cliffs is just 30 minutes away from #FrenchLickResort and definitely worth a visit. . . . #momswithcameras #october #instatravel #travel #roadtrip #visitindiana #exploreindiana #familytravel #outdoorfamilies #exploremore #familyfun #wanderlust #neverstopexploring #hike #cliffs #canyon #familytrip #hike #getoutside #hikelife #hemlockcliffs #hoosiernationalforest #trails #exploreeverything
The secret's out… Panama City Beach is absolutely perfect in October. 😍👙🌞🏖#RealFunBeach . . . #panamacitybeach #beach #ocean #gulfofmexico #blue #travel #travelblogger #visitflorida #outdoorfamilies #instatravel #travelgram #getoutside #getoutsideandplay #familytravel #familyfun #familytrip #lovefl #purefl
One of our favorite moments visiting Panama City Beach was when this mother and baby dolphin swam right under our boat! 😍🐬😍🐬 #RealFunBeach . . . #visitflorida #lovefl #familytravel #fallbreak #travel #travelgram #travelblogger #instatravel #dolphins #dolphin #panamacitybeach #getoutside #neverstopexploring #exploremore
What better place to try our first fried bologna sandwich than at Rugby's R.M. Brooks General Store, said to have the best one in the state? Be sure to top it with a slice of hoop cheese from the Mennonite community down the road and don't leave without getting a few of Linda's fried pies- if they haven't already sold out. . . . #tennessee #madeintn #exploreeverything #familytrip #roadtrip #travel #roadsideamerica #atlasobscura #rugbytn #food #restaurant #nashvilleexplorersclub #theonlytennisee
Nov. 17: Tonight, I’d like to congratulate Dennis Ferrier on his 31st career Emmy nomination for an important story on social media stalking that helped change state law this past year. It’s always exciting to be nominated for an Emmy, but in light of recent events, this one is especially meaningful. (And I confess, I made him take this picture at Disney a couple of months ago in the hope that I could use it tonight!
Dec. 21: We have a full house for the holidays and ran out of hot water before Dennis Ferrier had a chance to shave- so today, he’s sporting the Don Johnson look. After dinner tonight, he promised to get rid of the stubble tomorrow– That’s when our nine-year-old son begged him: “Oh, please let it grow for two more days! I want to see what puberty looks like!”
Dec. 23: Several years ago, I told my son that he was so wonderful, a part of me wanted him to never grow up. “Don’t worry, Mommy,” he reassured me.”Even when I grow up, I’ll still have all my ages inside of me.” He was right, you know. He’s 9 now, but I look at him and still see glimpses of the babbling one-year-old, the laughing toddler, the kindergartner with a thousand questions. They’re all there. Inside of him.
Happy New Year, everyone. May your 2017 be filled with wonderful surprises. And if you get handed lemons in 2017, may you make your own lemonade.