Planning for the New Year

When I got up this morning, I realized that that is the last time I’ll be doing my house cleaning for 2013. That thought was shortly followed by the question of what I will accomplish this upcoming year. I reviewed my goals from 2013 and had to laugh at the plans that were made and not met. Sylvi still doesn’t know any other colors beyond pink and purple. Why? Because those are the only colors that matter to her 🙂

Which then leads me to wonder why I even bother to make all the yearly goals. Life is what it is and things pop up… I have to be able to embrace change even when I don’t want to. So this year… what will I tackle? For myself, the word of the year will be Presence. I seem to live my life always looking forward to the next project; planning my goals out so far in advance that I cannot even absorb what is going on right. this. moment. The goal is to slow down, to clear my to-do list, to not plan every moment of life. And in doing so, I hope to gain a deeper connection in my relationships and just soak up each fleeting minute of my children’s babyhood.

But just because I want to be less harried in my life plans, it certainly does not mean that I have no goals for this year! I have them, just less of them 🙂

  • Complete the 6 week 6 pack abs dvd from Jillian Michaels (Jan/Feb)
  • Complete the 30 day shred dvd also from Jillian Michaels (Feb/March)
  • Re-train myself to swim freestyle. (Currently, I can handle 400m, I want to be able to do 1650m)
  • Swim a total of 30 miles (in 1 mile continuous increments)
  • Maintain a healthy enthusiasm about my health and fitness levels and a desire to keep working
  • Finish painting the woodwork in the house
  • Reupholster the arm chair in my bedroom
  • Begin tot schoolwork with Sylvi!
  • Continue working with Liam to prepare him for Kindergarten
  • Teach both kids to ride a bike (with training wheels)
  • Continue monthly dates with Matt – also incorporating family dates
  • Organize the basement (This one may wind up being a life-long goal…)
  • Family canoe trip

Liam asked me to explain “new year” to him this morning and while we talked I told him that he would turn 5 and if Mrs. Lilly says he’s ready, go to Kindergarten.  Changes are coming, and with those changes I like to have something that we can embrace so I asked him what he would like to do this year. “Just snuggle with you, Mom.” That’s a goal I’m sure we can not only meet, but definitely be present for!

What about you? Have you set any new goals for 2014?

Tradition!!!!

From where I sit in my living room, I have a beautiful view of my neighborhood.  With Christmas in two days, it’s been so much fun to watch the holiday deliveries, the visitors and the pretty decorations my neighbors are enjoying.  And apparently, I’ll be getting new neighbors after the holidays since the sign next door went down and there are new vehicles coming and going!

Above all the food, family and gifts this holiday traditionally brings, I always look forward to this time of year for the traditions. Growing up, there were things we always did.  Always.

  • We went as a family to get a live Christmas tree from a lot in town and then decorated as a family listening to Christmas music on my parents’ stereo. The Amy Grant record with Tennessee Christmas was played every year.
  • We baked cookies together starting right after Thanksgiving.  This was a mom and kids sort of thing though.
  • Mom made us new pjs every year she was healthy enough to.  We opened them on Christmas Eve and wore them to bed!
  • Christmas morning began with a birthday cake for Jesus’ birthday. Then presents. Then family.

This Fall I read several books by Richard and Linda Eyre, Teaching Your Children Values, being the one that inspired me the most.  As I read about their family stories, I realized that what we value the most about our memories are the traditions that came from them.

Matt and I want to create traditions and memories that our children grow up loving and anticipating.  But I also want to make sure that our traditions focus on giving. In the last few years I’ve bundled the kids up to take goodies to the neighbors. I think it’s a great tradition considering that they are so kind to our kids for Halloween. 🙂  We also make something for our postal carrier. That man works hard for my family! I don’t like going into stores, so I shop online and he makes many, many trips to our home in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

As a family we’ve tracked down the perfect tree and decorated it, we’ve baked one batch of cookies, gone on several drives to see the Christmas lights, we’ve watched Christmas movies and done our Jesse tree and had a birthday party for Jesus.  We dealt with more than our fair share of germs this December, but they helped us teach the kids how to be compassionate and sensitive to each other.

Yesterday, we had our family Christmas.  This year, our children were excited to give the gifts they chose for each other.  I think I can honestly say that of all the fun items they unwrapped, Liam appreciated the gift Sylvi picked out for him the most. They hugged and thanked each other sincerely.  And Sylvi told Liam she “wuved” her gift.  And my mama heart swelled with joy.  Our Christmas traditions were pared down this year because of illness, but the joy and purity of giving is still in our home.

 

Expectations and Reality: 2013 Edition

Back in October, I started following a Christmas Countdown on Twitter.  At this point, they tell me there are mere days before the 25th, but our Christmas begins on the 23rd with family celebrations, food and gifts.  Because I’m one of those moms who is very much like Buddy the Elf in my pre-Christmas enthusiasm, I had a very exciting countdown list.  I ordered a cute countdown set and set it up next to our Jesse tree.  I was ready.

And then, I got sick. Again. Like 19 days of constant illness after I finally felt pretty good from surgery in early November. After I got sick, Liam took his first real dive in the world of preschool germs and I found his stash of vitamins that he’d barely chewed and then tossed. Of course, he got sick.  He woke up on December 1st with gross eyes. I’ve never in my whole 32 years seen pink eye in a child… I’ve heard horrible things about it sweeping through a classroom or a family so I *might* have freaked out. We made a weekend trip to urgent care and he was prescribed an antibiotic that he is apparently very allergic to. Also. He didn’t have the sinus or ear infection they insisted he did. We went to our actual doctor the next day and I left annoyed that my poor little guy had been so miserable for no reason.

This weekend, I finally started to feel better and was just so sad to notice Sylvi starting with the icky eyes.  Of all the great things I had planned for our Christmas countdown, we’ve done less than five. Bacteria has a way of throwing a wrench in plans, you know?  I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that all my plans going by the wayside didn’t make me throw myself a pity party.

So here I am with all these grand plans and goals for the next few days and I just stopped.  I sat back and looked at my kids and took inventory of my head and decided I was making a poor choice.  Somewhere in early December I read on a parenting blog (Jen Hatmaker, perhaps?) “if the advent activity makes you scream, don’t do it“… so simple and yet when I read that I thought to myself that I’d better be  on the lookout for screaming.  In my quest to be the most fun a type-A mom can be, sometimes I cross the line and totally screw it up; our “adventure” turns into a total disaster because I can’t get my expectations to an appropriate place.

I called my friend last night and cancelled our plans for today.  We didn’t get dressed all day, or eat meals at the table or comb our hair.  I haven’t done the Jesse Tree for the day or unloaded the dishwasher.  But this morning, when Liam crawled into bed with me, he asked what we were doing today… he’s run ragged between feeling icky this month and Mom’s super calendar.  I told him we were just going to stay home and do nothing today.  His sleepy eyes lit up and he heaved a big sigh of “I love staying home!” The only time I left the house today was to get the giant package kindly delivered by FedEx. We watched movies and played Legos and colored and snuggled.  I finished a quilt that will be gifted next week to my cousin’s baby with watching an episode of Leverage.

The realization that it was time to stop trying so hard to be fun and just BE hit me pretty hard.  I thought about my journey over the last few years as I started blogging my thoughts. We ate a diet that was primarily local.  I was so dedicated om only purchasing items that were produced within the boarders of Ohio.  I learned how to grind wheat and where to find the best local produce.  I learned how to can my garden’s harvest.  I learned how to actually cook!  I became a mother who broke her vow to never, ever purchase drive through food for her children… and I came to terms with the fact that I just really like boxed mac and cheese better than my own homemade.  With each of these moments in my life, I’ve had to adjust my expectations and over time, it’s proved to be beneficial to my own well-being!

Gretchen recently wrote about teaching herself Self-Control.  Guess what? It’s not just toddlers and 27-year-olds who need to learn it!  It’s moms with the mile-long list and a house full of germs.  However, it turns out that an afternoon of Legos and princess tiaras can go a lot farther in learning that lesson than one would originally think. And in the end, the reality is what will be… so I’d better learn to embrace it quicker!

Embrace it

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.

***

We started this year with so many plans and hopes. And all in all, 2013 has been a good year for our family.  But it’s not ending without tears.  I had put on my goals list for the year to be pregnant and I’m resigned to the fact that it will never be on my list again.

The change this year has come in the form of acceptance.  It’s hard to accept that my dreams of having lots of babies and awesome homebirths are never going to be realized. It’s hard to accept that Sylvi is my last little one.  Accepting Liam’s changes and his growth have been difficult but because there was always the knowledge that there was a baby coming along behind him, it softened the blow for me.  Now, I’m even more aware of the little moments in their lives and the need to cherish them.

Looking through the holiday photos from last year… I’m amazed at how much they’ve changed.  Last Thanksgiving Liam wore a fedora and vest, neither of which have fit his growing body for months.  Sylvi had hair that was long enough to be a sweet little bob.  She’s since had her first professional haircut and has a sweet little ponytail.

At Christmas, she was still squinting up her face any saying “Cheeeeeessse”.  This no longer happens.

Liam had mastered the 60 piece puzzle.  He made it to 100 piece puzzles and lost interest in that activity.  He just wants to write his name. On everything.

Liam memorized his address, full name and birthday.  He’s also learned the addresses or locations of his friends’ homes.  He builds with Legos all the time.  And learned how to work the dvd player.

Sylvi is sleeping through the night on a regular basis.  She also decided one that she no longer wanted to wear diapers.  And although it took longer that I expected (based on how Liam did) she’s also 100% potty trained with no accidents for weeks.  She can almost spell her name, but is convinced her middle name is “Robert” and not “Karin”.

Liam is doing wonderfully in school and I’m constantly amazed by how much he can absorb.  We don’t know if we’ll do Kindergarten next year, but I am just thrilled at how much he wants to learn so I’m soaking it up!

About the only thing that hasn’t changed in our home is Matt’s employment.  Still steady.  Still the same office.  Still the same clients.  And that’s comforting.  I’ve been writing some copy for them as well, so this year when we attend the Christmas party, I will feel a little more like a part of the team 🙂

So with all the change in our home, the only thing I can say that has worked has simply been to “roll with it”.  I cannot change our circumstance, but I can choose to embrace each of these moments.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she’s ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter’s transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She’s sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you’re interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.

Egg-cellent

I’m a huge fan of eggs for protein.  I blame it on my Bradley Instructor, Donna.  I started eating two a day when I was pregnant with Liam as soon as I could keep food down and have continued that patterned several times a week since.  I’m very picky about the eggs I get and am in the very fortunate position to have a friend who raises chickens in her backyard.

There is just something about a fresh egg, and these are have beautiful, bright orange yolks. Those yolks are indicative of a nutritious diet for the chickens, which in turn means a load of nutrients for me!  (Funny story, once I started using my local eggs, I didn’t pay attention before a snow storm and realized I was going to need some so I just zipped into a store and grabbed a carton.  The next morning I made breakfast and discovered those eggs had yolks as pale as could be.  I baked a cake with those eggs and have never bought eggs away from the farm since!)

Anyway.  The point of this post is to tell you that if you haven’t tried “hard-boiling” your eggs in the oven, you really should.  30 minutes in a 325 degree oven, and you’re on your way with creamy, perfectly cooked eggs.  I put my eggs in a stoneware muffin tin to cook them, but I’ve seen people just put them on the oven racks.

The next thing you need to do is make yourself an egg salad sandwich.  Only just use mayo and horseradish.  You don’t even need to add salt or pepper or mustard or whatever you use.  For kicks, make your sandwich on white bread. I know.  Not what I usually recommend, but every now and then… it’s nice just for the sake of nostalgia.

Handcrafted Holidays

So this year, it’s been my goal to give each person a handmade/created gift.  I started a few months ago and as of right now have only a zippered pouch and a baby quilt to make.  The baby quilt has been slow in coming because I wanted to find a pattern I was just in love with and that took forEVER.  Seriously.

What did not take forever were the zippered pouches.  I found this tutorial on Pinterest and used it to make the majority of the pouch structure and then added my own details here and there.  I plan to use the pouches as a vehicle for the gifts too.  Bracelets, gift cards, necklaces or a little note for each person.  I’m so excited!  But I can’t say too much on this gift… someone could be “peeking”! 😉

Liam’s handmade gift this year is a set a of pillowcases.  I bought the kits while I was the quilt show in Columbus this summer with my mother-in-law.  I used this tutorial to make them and must tell you that they are far easier than I had imagined.

Finally, I made up my own pattern for my Dad and Step-Mother.  They have an eat-in kitchen and one of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that she uses placemats on the table frequently.  I made a set of 4 and am packaging it with Whitney’s cookbook and this towel from Sweetwater.

 Fastest, easiest Christmas gifts!  I am so excited to give them this year, too!  Have you made anything for your Christmas gifts?