Saturday, January 10, 2015

Saying Goodbye to 2014

(This took me FOREVER to finish.  Finally posting now, but less than halfway into January, which I declare to be not bad, not bad at all.)

Since Louie's birth on New Years Eve three years ago, the holiday has definitely changed for us.  In fact, I don't even think about doing anything else that day, other than celebrating my boy, so it's just sort of something in the background.

Not a huge deal, I've never been much of a New Years person anyway, but I do like the idea of reflecting on the past year and thinking ahead a little.  Especially as we're on the cusp of another huge change for our family... I think it's a good idea to take a look back and reflect on what this past year has meant for our family, and for me specifically.  It's been a great year, but it's also been challenging in many ways, and full of as many highs and lows as you would expect raising two little boys.

I like this survey so I'm going to go with it as a way of organizing my thoughts.

What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Got pregnant by accident?  Eesh, that sounds bad, but it's the truth.  This baby girl is a wonderful, happy surprise, and I couldn't be more excited to meet her, but I'd be lying if I didn't note that her creation was something that was still being heavily debated when it occurred.  However if you believe in fate, or some sort of higher power, or God (which I think I do) then she's no accident.  She was meant for us, and we were meant for her, and she is a good reminder that life has a way of deciding things for you.  That things really do work out.  That control is an illusion.

Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make one last year, and I don't usually make new year's resolutions.  I am not a big "goals" person, is that terrible to admit?  Maybe it's just apathy and laziness, but I just don't get hung up on that stuff.  If I want to start doing something, I do it, and I certainly have never felt like the turnover of a new year was a reason to overhaul something huge about my life.  A reason to buy a new calendar?  Sure. 

As I get older though, I do like the idea of thinking on a mantra or a specific idea that I want to be aware of as I begin another year.  Or even something I want to try to avoid doing in the coming year.  And for 2015, I'd say I'd like to Worry Less and Do More.  I spent A LOT of 2014, and 2013 for that matter, worrying and stewing over things that were a big "unknown", and a lot of times, worrying about things that are out of my control.  And then trying to stuff all those worries deep down and not think about them.  Not do anything about them.  Mostly, I'm talking about my sweet oldest child.  I lay in bed some nights and my brain just will not shut down with thoughts of kindergarten and this new baby and all the changes that are coming that could go well, and could go badly.  I am worried that I'm not making the right decisions for Gus.  I am worried that he will continue to have issues with school and social situations and getting enough sleep and his energy level and controlling his emotions FOREVER.  I am worried he will be labeled a bad kid when he starts school.  I am worried he will get a teacher next year, or some year down the road who won't understand him.  A teacher or administrator who won't have the time or energy or ability to try to understand him and work with him.  And I worry about how all this will affect his confidence and his learning.  I worry that school will break him, and if it happens, I won't know what to do.  It feels like I'm bracing myself for a battle, but I have no idea what it looks like, or when it will occur. 

And that's really no way to live.  I can't keep thinking like this.  I have to try to think positive, and I want to take a perspective that shit happens.  Shit WILL happen.  And when it does, I will do something.  Worrying about it now and stewing about all the things that could happen until I'm truly a crazy person does no one any good.

When or if something does happen.  I will stop.  Assess.  Act.

And until then... I will live.  Trust.  Hope.  Love. 

I'm sick of thinking the worst of people, thinking that my kid is the only kid with challenges, and thinking that no one will understand him.  History has proven that that is not true.  We were blessed with a daycare provider that has made it her mission to help him grow and flourish over the last year and a half.  And he has.  Her methods or opinions on parenting might not always mesh with mine exactly, but everything she has done has been out of love for our child, she has proven that time and again, and her efforts have proven fruitful. 

We have had amazing preschool teachers whom have had to have the difficult conversations with us, but have also shown such kindness, such respect, and such clear and noble intentions.

So this year I will worry less.  And do more.  And try to trust that we will get through whatever comes our way, because we always have.  And trust that I will know in my gut what to do when and if the time comes that something must be done.

Phew.  Feels good to get some of that out.  

Did anyone close to you give birth?
Oh yes someone certainly did.  My very best friend in the world became a mom this year, in December, and we were able to spend a good chunk of the year experiencing our pregnancies together.  One of the best things about 2014 for sure.  

Did anyone close to you die?
No.  Not that I recall.  And I don't like this question because I feel like it's bad ju ju to talk about a lack of death. Like it's somehow asking for death.  And now I don't want to talk about it anymore.

What countries did you visit?
Dan and I went to Mexico for five days in April for our 10th anniversary and it was glooooooorious.  Just.  Wonderful.  I'm so glad we did that before I went and got pregnant and therefore committed ourselves to at least another couple years of likely no (kid-free) travel.  (Is anyone going to be willing to watch our THREE kids?  Am I going to want to leave three kids and know how much they will surely make me pay upon return?  I'm just going to go ahead and assume no, at least until we're out of the infant stage with this little girl.)  

What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
I want to feel like myself again, physically.  I know it will be a while before I am TRULY myself again, with the post-partum stuff and the breastfeeding and everything that means for a mother of an infant (Dan says I'm a complete lunatic for the entire first year while breastfeeding, which I resent a little, but he's probably right), but I am so looking forward to not being pregnant.  I am way over it, and okay with this being my last pregnancy.  It was definitely my most difficult, both physically and emotionally, and it seems like I experienced every symptom in the books this time around which is just... well it sucks.

So in 2015 I would like to have a summer that is not plagued by nausea and tin-mouth and fatigue.  And I would like to start running again.  I cannot wait to sweat and pant and feel strong.  I want to feel strong.  I have felt weak for the better part of the last year and I miss that.  I realize that having an infant is not going to improve my restfulness, I am not naive, but also I know first-hand that it is a different type of fatigue than I've been dealing with for basically this entire pregnancy.  And I have survived one of the worst sleepers known to man, so bring it.  I am ready with my coffee. 

Oh, and also?  A daughter.  I definitely lacked a daughter in 2014, and I am ecstatic to have her in 2015. 

What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
December 12th will probably stick with me, which is the day Lisa went into labor and Carter was born.  Other than that... I'm not much of a "dates" person.  I actually have a terrible memory with stuff like that, things come and go and are quickly forgotten.  I'm also terrible with birthdays.

Though Friday, May 30th, 2014 does jump out at me.  Yup.  That one I remember.  You can probably guess what happened that day if you count back 38 weeks exactly from my due date of February 20th, 2015.   

Also October 3rd was the day of our ultrasound, when we found out we were having a girl.  That was a very exciting and much anticipated day, so it doesn't surprise me that I was actually able to pull that one off the top of my head.  But I suspect the impending sleep deprivation and chaos of parenting three children will rip that useless knowledge from my brain.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
A promotion at work?  Feels like a cop-out, but it happened, and it was a bit of a happy surprise to find out my work is valued as highly as it is.  I wasn't necessarily feeling very valued before this promotion was pretty much dropped on my desk.

What was your biggest failure?
I am not always the best wife, or friend.  I feel like I'm in survival mode for so much of my life that when I really take stock, I don't feel like I give those people in my life that mean the most to me their proper due, nor do I nurture those relationships as much as I should.  I am pulled in many different directions for so many hours of my days, to the point where I just sometimes do not have the mental or emotional energy to be the wife and friend I want to be with that extra time I do have at the end of the day, or the end of the week.  I could do better, and I want to do better. 

Did you suffer illness or injury?
No.  I've been pretty healthy this year (knock on wood) and so far this pregnancy has been healthy and normal. Despite often not "feeling" healthy, everything has been a-ok and I am thankful for that. 

What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets to Mexico?  A minivan?  A new furnace (ick).  Huh.  Boring.

Whose behavior merited celebration?
My children.  Ironic since I've alluded to Gus's behavior "problems" but when I look at the big picture, over the past year these boys have grown so much in maturity.  Their friendship and brotherly bond has flourished beyond what I could have expected two years ago when we were really in the trenches, and that really does merit celebration.  Goodness I love them so much.

I will also say Louie, specifically, because he essentially rocked potty training here at the end of the year, when we anticipated and feared the worst.  (Oh my, he is stubborn.)

And of course, Dan.  He has picked up the slack with nary a complaint (well maybe sometimes a sarcastic joke) while I've been, frankly, a bit of a beast throughout this pregnancy.  I couldn't fathom doing any of this, (this meaning, well LIFE), without him.   

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Jeez, I don't know.  Gus's behavior (and sleep habits) in December made me appalled and depressed.  But I've talked about that before and don't want to re-live it.

I have had friends go through some really rough times this year, and the behavior of certain people in their lives has really sucked... and that is a major understatement.  I am hopeful that the next year will be a much better one for those friends.

Oh, and also let's go light and fluffy and ridiculous and say... the character Captain Jack Randall from Outlander.  He just freaks me the hell out and I spent the majority of his scenes hiding behind a pillow.  And he needs to leave my Jamie and Claire alone.  Also it is appalling and depressing that the second half of the first season of the Outlander series does not continue until freaking April. (Are you people watching Outlander?  OMG why not?)

Where did most of your money go?
Daycare.  Preschool.  Student loans.  A new furnace.  A minivan.  Impulse Zulily purchases. Costco.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
That we're having a baby girl!  Also the fact that I will have two new nieces in 2015.  And my brother's wife is also having another baby (gender to remain unknown).  And OF COURSE my best friend's pregnancy and new baby boy!  So basically... babies!

What song will always remind you of 2014?
Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran.  I'm basically obsessed with it and the kids cheer with excitement every time it comes on the radio (which is a lot), screaming "Mom, it's your favorite song!  Your favorite song! Turn it up!"

Compared to this time last year, are you:
-Happier or Sadder?
As I mentioned, the nagging worry and anxiety related to kindergarten next year and school in general just intensifies as we get closer to September 2015.  So I have to admit... probably a little sadder.  But again, I'm trying to work on that, on how I deal with that unknown and those worries.

-Thinner or Fatter?
Fatter.  About 25 lbs of baby and amniotic fluid and uterus fatter. 

-Richer or Poorer?
Poorer.  Impending 3rd kid.  Private school next year for Gus.  A busted furnace.  A new car.  And on top of that Dan started a new job this year that has been a very good change for him, but came with some minor negatives, financially.  Nothing we couldn't handle, and we went into it eyes open, but still.  We're doing more with less this year and our savings account is proof of that.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
De-cluttering.  Writing.  Organizing my photos.  I get behind on things, then overwhelmed, and then I just don't do them.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Procrastinating.  I really do make my life more difficult on a day-to-day basis with this big character flaw.  Mornings are more stressful and frantic because I don't do things at night that I should do, like shower and prep mine and the boys clothes.  I even procrastinate getting out of bed in the morning, and we're almost always running out of the house late, and that means I get to work later than I'd like, which means I have to stay there later than I'd like.

And then I procrastinate with big projects at work, which often leads to stress and later hours in the office and arguments with my husband about when I'm going to be home for dinner.  It's a big giant circle of lateness and added stress that could be avoided if I could just DO BETTER at life.  But man.  Old habits die hard.

How did you spend your Christmas?
Busy.  Happy.  Tired.

Did you fall in love in 2014?
I've thought about a way to answer this question creatively for so long, and have come up with nada. So I guess the answer is no.

What was your favorite TV program?
The aforementioned Outlander, of course.  I've also been binge watching The Good Wife throughout various parts of the year, and Scandal as well, though I'm kind of over it at this point, I did love watching the first couple seasons on Netflix.  The Mindy Project makes me belly laugh like nothing else I'm watching right now.

Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Terrible, weird question.  Bill Cosby?  Still love Cliff Huxtable though, so that is all very confusing.

What was the best book you read?
I read both Gone Girl and Sharp Objects in Mexico and consequently am a big fan of Gillian Flynn. Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes was heartbreaking and wonderful and perfect.  Moved me more than anything else I read all year.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
None.  I am music-lame.

What did you want and get?
I finally decided to take the plunge with a DSLR camera, and so Dan and I bought a Cannon T5i for Christmas.  I have no idea how to use it, outside of auto mode, but there is plenty of time for me to learn.

What did you want and not get?
A new kitchen.  We've been dragging our feet, not sure if we are here in this home to stay, but it's beginning to look more and more like that is the best plan.  So with that decision made, we plan to remodel the kitchen, but haven't been ready to make the decisions and spend the money and deal with the inconvenience just yet.

What was your favorite film this year?
The Veronica Mars movie was awesome just because it was Veronica Mars in a movie theatre.  I also really liked Gone Girl and Mockingjay Part I, and I'm sure I saw more movies than that this year, but nothing jumps out at me.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
I turned 33, and I have no idea what I did, but Dan made me this cake.  I'm guessing I requested an early bedtime for the kids and a quiet night at home.  Living. It. Up.  :)

What is one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Less stress and worry over things I cannot control.  Less gross pregnancy symptoms.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Well since I was pregnant for the 2nd half of the year, I'd probably say making non-maternity clothes work as much as possible.  For some reason I REALLY hated maternity clothes this time around, and ended up purchasing a lot of non-maternity stuff that would work with an expanding mid-section. Not sure what my huge aversion was, but I remember going through my boxes of maternity clothes when the time for that came and hating almost everything.  I donated most of it and ended up barely wearing the stuff I saved.

What kept you sane?
Sparkling water saved me during the times of intense nausea this summer/fall, and I totally stocked up on Pellegrino at Costco and chugged that stuff right from the glass bottle.  Stay classy.

As for my general sanity, I think just saying no more often has helped me this year.  I have a really hard time saying no to people, but I've made a concerted effort to give myself a little grace this year and try not to be the doer of all the things.  I have tried to remember that I do actually have a choice in how I live life, in the things that I do or don't do.  Yes, I tend to fall back on my old ways, but just making a concerted effort to be okay with staying home more often and not booking up every free second of the day has been freeing.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I find Sam Heughan just dreamy and got somewhat Google-happy when I was watching Outlander this summer or fall or whenever it was.  Also, find Ed Sheeran to be too cute for words in the Thinking Out Loud video.  What is with me and the gingers this year?

What political issue stirred you the most?
The racial divisions in the country being magnified by the Ferguson riots and the Brown/Garner decisions.  I've followed all of it with mixed feelings, but mostly a lot of sadness.  And the reactions of people on social media... well a lot of that can be just gross and I have determined that I don't even want to know how a lot of my "friends" feel about certain issues.  Which makes me feel like part of the problem, pretending these issues don't exist.

Who did you miss?
My brother Nathan, for sure, especially this year when he had to make another big move and wasn't even able to make it home for Christmas.  We saw him and Eric over labor day, but it's of course just always hard to have family live so far away.  Especially since my life is such right now that a trip to Chicago or St. Louis to visit my little brother would be quite complicated.  I would like to make it a priority in 2015 though.  I say that, but will I really want to travel that far with an infant?  Right now the prospect of such a trip just makes me feel very tired.

Who was the best new person you met?
I really have enjoyed getting to know the other moms/dads at ECFE with Louie this year, and the parent ed teacher has been delightful.  More of a support group moderator than an instructor, which I have appreciated.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
Sometimes you have to make difficult decisions.  Sometimes they end up being made for you.  But control, in general, in this stage of life is pretty much an illusion.