I cannot believe that we are just a few days away from 2016. This year has been so full of events, joyous occasions, tragedies, and learning.
I was driving home from my grandmother’s house yesterday and it gave me a lot of time to think about this year. I wanted to share some of the things that have really shaped this year into an overall positive year. I know that for some this year has been the hardest of their lives and their hardships weigh heavy on my heart.
January we were homeowners of a duplex. We were in the beginning stages of planning, trying to figure out how we would convert this home. I spent many hours on the computer trying to plan our new kitchen. At the time, I did not have a clue home many decisions we really needed to have in place.
February brought us our daughter Helena. The ice/snow storm welcomed our baby girl in a big inflatable pool crammed into a tiny bedroom. Our midwife was great, supportive and it was one a wonderful birth. Due to friends and family and monetary generosity, I was able to stay home and rest for the first 21 days after Helena was born. I didn’t leave the house until she was three weeks old, despite the fact that my husband had to travel for work within days of Helena’s birth.
March we began the prep work for our house and started building garden beds for the back yard. It turned out that our garden was a flop this year, but that’s okay. It was still fun to see the sunflowers grow tall. We received so much flooring during this month that we still haven’t completely laid throughout the house. It will get done. I keep telling myself that.
April we celebrated Nick turning 5. He is such a sweet kid. He talks a ton and I love that about him even when I crave silence. We also ventured to Atlanta to IKEA in April. We purchased our entire kitchen in hundreds of boxes and transported them back home. I also tore up the tile flooring in the old kitchen much to my husbands dismay. We lived with exposed subfloors for six months because of this move. It saved him a bunch of work but also caused some work.
May we celebrated eleven years of marriage. Wow, that is a long time and isn’t a long time. The house renovation was stressful to us this year, but I’m extremely grateful for it too. We upped our communication during the projects and I enjoyed the nights were Damon and I stayed up late working together. It didn’t happen often because we would tag team the work. I don’t know how Damon didn’t drop from exhaustion at times this year. He has to travel a lot for work and he doesn’t have a ton of free time. I’m grateful for how hard he works and deals with my crankiness at unfinished projects. Liam completed his second year of homeschooling.
June, Grant turned 3. We had a pool party at my dad’s house. This month…well, I don’t remember much from it. So that is probably a good sign that it was generally good.
July. Holy crap. I lost my mind for a short while. We had bed bugs. Ones that only bit me. In our bedroom. One thousand plus dollars and a lot of black plastic bags later my house was temporarily decluttered and we were free of bed bugs. Still slightly paranoid about it happening again. During this time electrical work in the kitchen was being done. Our house was a construction zone and I was unsettled.
August brought us back into our homeschooling year. We got started strong and the kids were encouraged to get their work done with promises of going to the pool in the afternoon. It worked quite well. We continued to work on the house. I think inspections happened during this month and we started thinking about getting drywall up.
September brought drywall. It also was the start back to our homeschool coop. I love this group of homeschoolers. We get to do group learning together every Tuesday and the kids really enjoy it. I do too. Building of cabinets started to happen. I deemed myself the cabinet builder. I enjoyed putting them together. They are pretty easy and I got to watch a lot of late night Netflix episodes of Pretty Little Liars while I put them together. Our church also started to have marriage and parenting classes. Each of these classes on Sunday morning have helped me in my interactions with my husband and children. Well, the Love and Logic stuff, not as much as I think I have too much sarcasm in me and Liam can read me very easily.
October. Birthday month for Liam and me. Liam turned 8, I turned 35. Damon worked hard trying to get the kitchen completed for my birthday. We didn’t get the floors in, but it was mostly usable by our birthday. We even baked Liam’s birthday cake in the oven. Such a treat.
November. The floors. It took us a while to get ready to do the floors. We knew that the center of the house is slightly elevated due to a center support. We got started on the floors and then half way through, we pulled up the old laminate and discovered water damage. Lots of damage. I cried. I cried a lot. A week later and lots of hard work from my husband the floors were able to be mostly finished. But we also discovered a typical Tennessee problem. Our crawl space has too much moisture in it and we would need to regrade our yard to help divert water. Hopefully this week or next we will have our friends from Signature Scapes come out and start the work on this. Thanksgiving we spent with my sweet father-in-law and my husband’s aunt. Both are really great people and we had a nice time, getting to start the Christmas festivities a day later in Livingston at their Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
December was a quick month. I can’t believe that Christmas is already passed. The kids enjoyed a low-key Christmas season. I didn’t make them a single gift which is out of my norm, but it reduced the stress for me. I did still knit but made something for a friend. We made cookies with cousins, sang christmas carols at church, drove around Christmas Eve to see the lights and did an advent reading every night. Damon, Helena and I also got to go to French Lick, Indiana for a work party. We stayed the night at this beautiful resort called West Baden. It was a nice getaway.
This month though, for whatever reason, my temper got shorter and shorter. I tried to reduce the stress, but the baby, and two kids caught a cold. This caused the baby to scream for good chunks of the day. Add in normal kid noise and I just couldn’t handle it very well. My husband though, read me well and sent me on Christmas Eve to a spa day at Opryland hotel. My goodness, I needed thatI felt bad though. I wish that he could have enjoyed it with me along with 100 of my favorite friends. Such a nice time away.
Christmas Day was fun. We woke up to some very excited children. We opened our gifts to each other and then went to Nana’s house for breakfast. My mom spoiled us with food and some very well thought out gifts for each of us. Then we headed to my dad’s for a late meal of pasta, wine and desserts. I was so shocked to receive music lessons as my gift from my dad. I’m going to learn how to play the mandolin that I’ve had for years.
We also have taken a leap and decided to switch up the way we do our health insurance. With climbing insurance rates, we decided that we would try out Samaritan Ministries instead. A friend has used them in the past and since we don’t have any pre-existing conditions, I think that it will be a good fit for our family.
Now the lessons I’ve learned from friends, experiences and family.
1. Everything will eventually be okay. In the moment, it is okay to cry and freak out a bit, but in the end it will all work out.
2. God does provide, maybe not in the way that you originally thought he would, but he is still there.
3. Cancer sucks.
4. I’ve learned that praying helps.
5. Friends feed my soul.
6. Home renovations can hurt or help your marriage. In our case, I think that it has helped our communication skills, even if I’m being an ass and I need to watch my tone.
7. My kids are really creative and smart.
8. Cards Against Humanity is hilarious to play.
9. Watching friends deal with death, illness, marriage problems and house hardships is humbling. It puts my hardships into perspective and allows me to realize that it is okay to accept that my stuff is hard and that their stuff can bring me to my knees in prayer for them.
10. I know very little about the way the world works. I will be forever learning.
Goals for the next year:
- Be patient with my kids when the noise gets to me. Remember to not yell when I’m about to lose control.
- Be patient with the house stuff. We signed up for this home renovation voluntarily. I need to remember that we will always have some kind of project going.
- Learn to play the mandolin with my new music classes.
- Support my husband’s marathon training, he has signed up for the Country Music Marathon in April. I want to find ways to make sure he stays healthy, energized and injury free. This has been on his bucket list for a long time, and I really want to not grumble about his training but find ways to give him the space and time to do it.
- Find a way to fit fitness back into my life without stressing myself out. I really don’t know how to add it in with everything else we are doing. I’m feeling the pull to train for a triathlon or two this summer but with homeschooling the kids, teaching Hypnobabies and just maintaining the house, I don’t know how to fit it in. I like working out in the afternoons and perhaps I can find a way then. Swimming requires a babysitter though, so we will see if I can make that happen. I can lift weights at home. Riding bikes will just require me to use the cargo bike most of the time to train. Running, well that may happen after I get stronger and after Damon does his marathon.
- Start learning how to give to others. I just completed a book called, “29 Gifts.” I see a few friends that give their time, their money and themselves to others with joy.
- Once again, learn to be more patient with my kids. While typing this, I just growled at my oldest because he shouted near a sleeping baby. Why must kids be so loud? Sigh. Pray for patience and kind words to come from my mouth.
- I need to be investing my retirement money more mindfully. I haven’t been doing a good job these past few years and I need to start growing that nest egg so that in our old age, we have enough money to take care of ourselves and to bless others.
So, that is my year. Did you have a hard year? A great year?
Overall, I would rate this year a good year.