Thursday, January 2, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

So, here we are in 2014! I know this will make me sound weird, but I really like even numbers. So, I'm happy to find myself back in an even year. I know. It's a really weird and now you know something quirky about me.

Well, it's time to look back on the year that was. What worked? What didn't? What did I accomplish? What did I learn about myself?

First of all, our Advent got off to a rocky start and it really never got any better. We never really decorated the tree aside from the lights, the star, and some plastic ornaments that the twins couldn't break. Even Luke seemed to understand how sad I was not to bring out the Flower Fairy ornaments this year. December seemed to move at a breakneck speed and like the rest of the 2013, I felt that feeling of barely being able to tread water to keep up. Paul and I realized that we both had health issues in the last quarter of the year and that we should be kinder to ourselves about letting some of our traditions fall to the wayside this year. After I ended up in the ER in September due to a reaction to Percocet for a severe tooth infection, I spent the next few months dealing with the residual pain from a tooth that ended up needing a root canal through an existing crown. Paul finally had his double hernia surgery right before Thanksgiving. Needless to say, neither of us really had the energy this year.

Another thing derailed me emotionally. I moved to Colorado just a little over a year after the Columbine massacre in 2000. I don't live very far from Columbine High School. Sadly, I seem to live in a state that's no stranger to mass shootings. Right before the first anniversary of the Newtown shootings, I started to think about all those parents coming upon another Christmas without their little ones. I just couldn't bear it and I prayed for everyone of those families who'd lost a child on that fateful day in 2012. The day before the Newtown anniversary, though, another shooting occurred here in Colorado at Arapahoe High School. This sent me into a little bit of a tailspin. I can't bear the loss of young life. I just can't. We were at Tess's first Irish dance performance ever on December 21st, when we learned that young Claire Davis had succumbed to her injuries. I started crying while watching all those sparkly bouncy Irish dancers. My heart broke for a girl I never knew and for her family. Is it crazy that I felt so emotional over this? Maybe it's because I have a young child in high school. Don't get me wrong. I don't worry about his physical safety at school, but I guess I can't imagine the agony of losing a child like this. Rest in peace, Claire.

Paul Walker also died this year. He wasn't one of my favorite actors. I saw only a handful of his movies.  I'm not even a fan of The Fast and the Furious franchise. I don't know really anything about him.  So, I'm not sure why his death hit me so hard. Was it seeing someone my age die tragically and without warning? My emotional state has been so fragile in this last quarter of the year for sure. Rest in peace, Paul.
So, the Christmas season felt rushed and crazy and emotional this year, but we did have a very nice Christmas day. We slept in, relaxed, and that was really wonderful. Paul made snowmen pancakes. Those pancakes are becoming one of our family traditions. It was a lovely day.

We took down the tree yesterday on New Year's Day. We used to keep the tree up until the Epiphany, but I just don't want to anymore. I was happy moving into a new year and I want to begin anew and that means putting the Christmas decorations away and clearing the clutter. We'll still celebrate Epiphany without the decorations.

Let's move on to happier things. Okay?

Best of 2013

I went to the movies more this year than I have in a very long time. Paul and I love going to the movies and thanks to having an older child who is babysitting certified, Luke afforded us the opportunity to spend more time together.  Here are some of my favorites this year:

I also read a lot. I read a lot of YA novels this year. I have a best of 2013 post for tomorrow. So, I'll leave books for now.

Things I did and Things I learned:

I continued to knit. I did take a break from knitting, but I still managed to knit two summer shirts for Tess and more hats than I count. I have a crazy goal to knit 50 hats this year. That way, come December I'll have both hats for gifts and hats to sell at the Craft Fair at Sam's school.

I bought both hiking shoes and running shoes this year. I need to move more. It's as simple as that.  I started walking much more and it's life-changing and quite calming. By the way, I bought pink running shoes. I used to love running cross country in high school. That was a long time ago. I'm sure I could love it again. I am sure I will love it again. I mean, I'm not going to go crazy and train for a marathon or anything like that.

I took a break from quilting. I just haven't felt like sewing lately. I have one tartan quilt that's almost ready for the quilter. It's for Paul. Right now, I'm not in the mood for quilting.

Paul and I learned that the kids can stand being in the car for roughly 15 hours! We drove to Virginia last Summer and the kids all did reasonably well for the long two day drive.

I learned that I was CRAZY for thinking that I could easily put 4 kids into one big bedroom! Luke is going to move to the basement bedroom and the twins will move to Luke's current room on the main floor. Sam and Tess will be much happier without the twins in their room. My quest for a guest bedroom was short-lived, but oh well. It's all good. Soon, everyone will be in the right bedroom.

I learned that I've most likely come to the last of my home schooling days at least for now. I spent a lot of time really trying to understand my personality this year. I renewed my interest in Myers-Briggs and learning more about being an introvert. I learned what being introvert means and what it doesn't.I I have come to terms with the fact that I'm really good at home educating only one child at a time. Luke has finished his first semester of his freshman year and Sam is in the third grade. Both are in public school. I am teaching Tess to read, but she will head off to kindergarten next Fall. Does this break my heart a little? Of course! I'm passionately committed to their educations and continuing to read as many books aloud to them as possible. I LOVE reading aloud to my kids. I hope that they will always associate being read to as a form of comfort.

I love learning and education. That hasn't changed one bit. I am much happier understanding that I'm both highly introverted and a highly sensitive person. Sensory overload is quite common here with active and inquisitive twins.There's nothing like truly understanding what makes me tick and what doesn't. Knowing this has made all the difference and most likely will make a huge positive impact on my family going forward.

I learned that I need more help. I hired a housekeeper in the last month of the year. I was extremely reluctant to do so. I had too much pride. I really think I can do everything and I'm limitless, but I can't do everything and frankly, I don't want to. I had to learn to prioritize better and some aspects of housekeeping kept falling to the wayside. I'm sure this will help my outlook in 2014. The whole family will be better organized by simply having help.

I learned that I need way more quiet time than I thought. I seek quiet every day in my loud household. It isn't just a treat to stay up late and read. It's an absolute necessity to restore and recharge.

It's good to set goals. I've already set up my reading challenge on Goodreads. I review every book that I read on Goodreads. So, join me over there too. I also hope to post here at my little blog at least twice a week this year.

I was looking at my sparse posts for last year. I thought I had chosen a word for 2013. I thought it was CALM, but I guess I never wrote that post. My 2013 was anything but calm. Maybe I should choose that word again? CALM. I know I wrote about it somewhere, but I just can't find it. So maybe this year will be the year I finally make the necessary changes to achieve CALM.

                                           Here are my beautiful kids on the last day of 2013. What will I learn about them this year? What adventures will we have together? I'm looking forward to a better year of calm and clarity with these fabulous little (well, mostly little. Luke is 5'8" now).  Can you see the tree without any decorations?

                                               Goodbye, 2013. Hello, 2014!

New Year's Day.  Paul snuggling with James.
                                                HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!

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