While 2016 was an incredible year for our little family I feel like the year was filled with lots of unexpected moments of wonder. Moments that jumped out of nowhere and reminded me about the importance of living every moment to the fullest.

Here’s my top five highlights of 2016:

Seeing an 85 year old man on a water slide for the first time

Water Park

At my local pool there is a pretty big water slide that starts two stories up and winds around down to pool level. I was waiting at the bottom and my five year old came whipping around the corner with the biggest grin on his face as he slid into the wash out area.

Before I had time to scoop him out of the water an 85 year old man came around the corner. He shared the same ear to ear grin as my son, eyes bright, and arms extended above him as he whipped around the corner, yelling “yahoo” the whole way.

I’m pretty sure this was the first time he had been on a water slide. I’ll NEVER forget the look of pure joy on his face!

As he stepped out of the bottom of the water slide I realized that his eyes were locked on one thing – his beautiful wife. She was sitting on the pool deck, fully dressed, knitting. He ran over to her (just like my son had run over to me!) and she put down her project and locked eyes with him as he shared his slide experience. He was bursting with energy talking about the dips and the swirls and how much fun it was… only before kissing her on the cheek and heading back up to the slide to do it all again.

I wish I had been able to capture this moment, however I know that I’ll never forget the look on his face! I hope that when I’m 85 I’m still trying new things and going down slides with an ear to ear grin!

Getting chased by a cow in a search for WiFi

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When we were in Costa Rica I was completely unplugged… disconnected, no power and NO wifi. This was another huge step outside my comfort zone! After three days of being in the jungle we were given a chance to hike into a farmer’s field and connect to wifi. I jumped at the chance and threw on my boots!

After 15 minutes of hiking through thick, knee high grass I was able to quickly login in, connect, say hi to the family and make sure everything was okay. My anxiety was in check and I could head back to camp.

However there was another Mom who was deep in conversation with her family, and a sudden” gloom” started to come over us. That “gloom” was a herd of cattle who weren’t at all impressed with our presence. We kept telling her “We need to go!” until we finally started hiking out. We had crested a big hill and thought we were safe only to find out – nope –  we were being chased.

I can honestly say this was one of the scariest moments of my life. I had a quick moment of panic and then I took off, and ran as fast as I could for the fence. All while looking back and seeing a mad cow pacing back and forth at the top of the hill, trying to figure out how to get down and closer to us.

I cleared the fence quickly and bent over and grabbed my knees in order to recover. Could you image, how stupid would it have been if we had been trampled and hurt, all because we were looking for Wi-Fi.

I seriously don’t want to be remembered as “that” blogger… and so while not ideal, this was a blatant reminder that WIFI can WAIT!

Hearing my mom say, “I’m terrified!”

woman and guide reppelling down a waterfall

We were in Costa Rica and my mom had just nailed a tree climbing activity and was ready to tackle the water fall rappel. I had a ton of fun launching myself off the waterfall and came up out of the chilly water to see my Mom’s face, frozen with fear. “I can’t do this, I’m terrified” she said.

After much reassurance from her peers and my telling her that I’d be there, right at the bottom she took the plunge and threw herself over the edge. And guess what… she did it! I love that my Mom is still willing to challenge herself and put herself in situations that scare her… even at 60 years old. I can’t wait to see what adventures she will have on her plate this year!

Crashing through waves in Jasper National Park

white water rafting in Jasper

While we would never put our children at risk, some of the activities that we enjoy are more adventurous and inherently riskier than others… and river rafting would be up there on that list. While we decided to go on a family friendly tour in Jasper there were a few moments where I found myself wondering if this was a bit  above my little 5 year old’s head.

However when we crashed through our first wave, getting absolutely soaked by four degree water –  the look on his face answered it all. Pure joy, elation, excitement and adrenaline lite up his face and I could see he was having the time of his life. I’ll NEVER forget that moment and have a 12 X 16 framed photo that sits next to me at my desk. It reminds me that it’s okay to go outside your comfort zone, and that sometimes my biggest adventure partners are only 4 feet tall.

Surprise emails and text messages from followers

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Right before I stepped on the plane to go to Costa Rica this email landed in my inbox, “Congratulations!!!!  I don’t know you but feel a kindred spirit with your story and hope you have an amazing trip!!!!  Woot wooot!!! Crystal.” I was in a moment of panic and regret, wondering if I had taken on too big of an adventure… this message popped up and gave me support at the exact time I needed it!

A few days before Christmas I received this text message: “The fears and truths you wrote about leading up to and during your Costa Rica adventure are an inspiration to all who want to, but are held from doing with excuses. I will be 65 next year and 40 yrs married. You have inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and celebrate those milestones. Just not sure what and where.  Am open to suggestions?.  Jami, your children are so very lucky to have chosen you as their mother.”

The reality is that these messages didn’t take long to compose but the reassurance it gave me was incredible. In 2017 I hope to pay it forward by sending more random messages and thank you notes to supporters.

Wishing you a 2017 full of health, fun, and lots of adventures!