Looking Back

I have lots of thoughts rattling around in the old noggin, and hesitate to even try to put them in a blog post.  But let’s not let perfect be the enemy of the good.  Move forward, and blog even if it is not fully comprehensive.  Right?

Here’s a few things that worked for me in 2016:

1.  Buy what works, even if it costs a little more.  It applies to my hair, which I have been wearing wavy for the past few months.  My bestie from childhood (shout out to Heather!!!!!) told me about devacurl products (not to be confused with diva cup.  Different.) and I invested the big bucks in September to give it a go.  For a typically $2 suave shampoo girl, it is darn pricey- but worth it because it works and I like the way my hair looks down now.  Win!

Hair model

It also applies to pens, jeans, and a wool rug I want to eventually buy for our dining room.

(Never forgetting to spend well within your means, of course.  My friend Lee-Ann chimed in about that and I could not agree more.)

2.  Bullet journaling.  I started this back in February and have figured out how it works best for me.  I keep both the daily and the long-term to-do’s corralled in one place, along with my book log (I read 77 books in 2016!), books to read, gift lists, and the monthly calendars.  I don’t use the index much at all- I just put a paper clip on the pages I flip back to a lot.  Simple (for me) and a single place for lots of stuff I want access to on a regular basis.

And I like that it is pen and paper.  

Some of the year was sour (looking at you, election 2016)

3.  “This is a fixable problem.”  I say this to myself a good bit when I am frustrated by something pretty trivial.  Like when my kids take my pens out of the jar in the kitchen, so when I want to add to the grocery list I don’t have a pen.  I am a smart woman and can certainly fix this problem.  I fashioned a little paper container out of notecards I have on hand and packaging tape (also already in the kitchen) and tacked it up on a bulletin board, beyond their reach.  Now they stick with their markers and art supplies and I have a pen when I need it.    

This also applies to meal planning, having too many lists in too many places/see number two on this list, and feeling the time-suck of social media (see number 4).  These are fixable problems.  

4.  Gratitude.  I am struck- really surprised all over again, at least once a day- at this crazy, full life I get to live.  My kids are fun little humans who push my buttons and highlight my weaknesses and make me laugh and who I adore.  Like heart explosion adore.  They are nuts…and imperfect…and I am so thankful I get to have them in my life.  What a gift.  My husband is a man of extremes and adventure (for example), makes me laugh quite a lot, and often sees life and relationships in a way that is upside down from me, and I am thankful for that.  If our family does anything remotely out of the ordinary, day to day routine it is because of him.  I keep the train moving and he suggests different, fun destinations.

Also- our house and our neighborhood.  Someday I will write out the story of how we ended up in our house because I do not want to forget the details.  But I love love love our home and feel grateful on a daily basis that we get to live here, with great people all around us.

And some of the year was as sweet as my 15 year old nephew holding his 2 year old cousin’s hand while she wears roller skates. A 2 year old on roller skates. I mean.

5.  Counseling.  2016 was a new stage of life for us as a family.  For the first time in ten years we were not moving/changing jobs/pregnant/trying to get pregnant/recovering from pregnancy/sleep training a baby/breastfeeding/walking through major medical issues.  We just were.  

Happy in our jobs, enjoying our kids, loving our home.  Pretty settled.        

So it seemed like it was time- and I actually had the margin again- to refocus on a few things.  Like marriage, post-survival mode.  And parenting as we are just starting to see headier, more emotionally complicated years ahead of us.  I found a great counselor and have met with her off and on for the year.  (If you don’t like the first counselor you meet with, give it a good solid try and then feel free to move on.  It is not unlike any other relationship where sometimes you click and sometimes you don’t).

I am a biased source- I am a counselor.  But here is something that happened this morning, that reminded me why I think counseling is worth the effort.

One of my kids had some anxiety about returning to school today.  This child has a classmate that causes some anxiety and fear.  I emailed my child’s teacher and school counselor last night, but was not really feeling that optimistic about the situation.  I said something to that effect to a friend this morning– I just had zero imagination for how this classmate situation could resolve well.   Jenn was pretty quick to respond- “No, that is a really big deal in schools these days.  The staff get a lot of training in how to deal with it.  They will know how to handle it.”   And I thought “Oh right.  I don’t have a good roadmap for how this will resolve, but this is not my area of training and expertise.  Of course they’ll have something to offer here.”

I have gone into counseling before with that similar thought process- I have zero imagination for how this could improve…I have tried a bunch of things and they are not working…what else could someone offer me?

Spoiler alert: a lot.

I would have taken us to the same old boring playground. He took us on a three hour hike to the cliffs of death. His idea was better, even if my nerves were shot up there. Yay for marrying someone different from me!

What worked for you in 2016?     

 

Things About Me That Used to Feel Like Lame Things, But Now I Don’t Care Anymore

Here are three things about me that…well…just read the title.

1.  I don’t care for most live music.  I know!  All the cool kids looooove a good concert.  Not me.  There are a million other ways I would prefer to spend my evening.

Nine shows out of ten I am like “ehhh…I’m tired of standing…This music is too loud…I can’t even hear the person next to me…My back hurts…”.  Then I go home and shake my cane at the kids on my lawn.  

Exception: outdoor concerts that are conducive to sitting and chatting and hearing one’s neighbor.  (Like the Lumineers at the Pavilion last month!!!)

2.  I don’t care much for beer, wine, or chocolate.  I know!  How am I a woman in her late 30’s who doesn’t just LIVE for wine and chocolate at the end of the day?  This is the stereotype that has sprung a thousand memes!

You don’t understand me at all.


But-for real- I could not have any of those things for the rest of my life and I would be perfectly fine.  I mean- I will always choose a chocolate chip cookie over oatmeal raisin.  Because I like chocolate more than dried fruit, as far as desserts go.

This does not amuse me.


But I choose a vanilla-based ice cream over chocolate.  Always.  And am juuuust fine with a taste of wine, and that’s it.  Beer-meh.  I’ll pass.  

3.  Loud parties strike me as fun about once a year.  Oh gosh- no.  What am I thinking?  Maybe every four years.

Like, when the stars align I am ON for a loud party.  I’m cracking jokes and dancing and making some stellar small talk.  Try to stop me!  

But most of the time a loud party has the same effect as live music.  Just get me back home and on my couch, thanks.  With a carton of vanilla-based ice cream.

*****************

I used to sort of feel self-conscious about #1 and #3.  It seems like fun people like concerts and parties.  But I don’t and now I don’t care anymore.  The only time I care about #2 is when I am offered beer or wine and need to answer that- nope- I am not opposed to either, I just don’t like either of them.  But knock yourself out.

Is there anything you used to feel lame about, but now you don’t?  I’m all ears.

Brain Dump

When all else fails and I have not blogged in a while- there is always the brain dump.

The rarely seen (or taken) photo of just us


1.  How about this weather?  Mid-80’s for the high, in the middle of October.  WTH.  It seems I was premature on busting out the flannel sheets and down comforter a couple of weeks ago.  

The up side is that I got to go through my clothes and bag up a bunch of warm-weather stuff I didn’t wear much and pass it on elsewhere.  I am way into doing that sort of thing, as you may know.

2.  I’m back to a cash system for some of our budget areas.  Time to curb some of that impulse spending.  There is nothing like going back through my credit card statement and adding up all of those little purchases to the tune of hundreds of dollars for the month of September…  I am a pretty firm believer that knowledge is power, even if it made me slightly sick to my stomach to see the final tally.  

The ultimate side eye to the craw dad; camping 2016


I maintain that sometimes you gotta throw money at the problem, but this last stretch has gotten out of hand.  I withdrew cash for my personal spending, spending for the kids, and home purchases.  We have a debit account for our groceries, which keeps me on track with my spending there every month.  

3.  I read 11 books in September and have read 5 so far this month.  I read I Let You Go in a day, because I got all sucked in before realizing it was a suspense/thriller type book (never ever what I like to read).  But I had to know what happened!  Other notables: A Man Called Ove, The One in a Million Boy, Scary Close, Before We Visit the Goddess, and Love Warrior*.  All brought to you by your local public library.  Scary Close and Love Warrior are both memoirs and I liked a lot about both of them.  Hate to say it, but I didn’t actually LOVE Love Warrior.  Just liked it.  No offense, Oprah.  

*I am not linking to all of those titles on Amazon because I am lazy.  

Pretty into the pigtails these days


4.  A few other factors that have allowed for extra reading time: my rad husband took the three oldest kids on two separate camping trips.  I went to Bermuda with my dad, sister, and numero tres for four days (what is this life I am living?!?!) And I am mostly staying off Facebook during the weekdays.  (Here’s where I am embarrassed about how much time I have given over to Facebook, ESPECIALLY during election season.  That does not serve me well.) 

Bermuda was okay… If you go for that sort of thing…

Twinning with Poppies


5.  I have said something to this effect before, but I increasingly see life on the other side.  We are in the last stretch of diapers, nap times, 5 point harness car seats, and frantic bedtime searches for the lovey.  We are crossing over into more independence and into some headier parenting.  It’s not just kneeling down to break up a fight over a toy; it is also talking about anxiety and uncertain friendships and “I’m not sure I believe in God” sort of things.  It is bittersweet, for sure.  

My kids are extremely fun little humans and I am so thankful for our little crew here.  What a crazy gift (and responsibility) to be their mom. 

Life on our street. His name is Maestro, btw, and he pooped in our yard.