Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections of 2011

You can find these questions located here.  It's fun and inspiring to look back at the past year.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

We made a life change.  The decision was made long before this year but this is when it all came to fruition.  We transitioned from the only life we had ever known as an Army family into the civilian world.  After nearly 10 years in the Army, Jason's duty was done and we were moving on to new adventures.  He had chosen to further his education with an MBA and was accepted into the program at Vanderbilt.  While I was hesitant at first about our life altering move, I quickly began to see all the advantages it had to offer.  Jason really knows what he is doing in taking care of this family.  Not only did he move us here to Nashville (which we LOVE with our whole heart!), but he also worked hard and scored an internship with the ONE company he was targeting to work for (Exxon Mobil, Gas and Power Marketing Division).  All that worry about moving here just proves, I don't know much...but I know I love the man that makes these decisions.  I should really trust him more!
2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Moving away from THIS.  We spent the first 8 years of our married life in Fayetteville, NC.  A place I never knew I would miss.  We built our first home and loved living there.  We had an amazing neighborhood and friends there that proved to be more like family to me.  The friendships I had while residing there shaped who I am today. I raised my children from babies with those girls.   It was some of the most challenging times of my life and without them, I might have crumbled.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times and I'm thankful for every minute!
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
We found this house.

  It was one of the first ones  I looked at.  I spent the months of February and March consumed in research for finding housing and schools for us during our transition to Nashville.  I knew we couldn't afford private schools so I would have to place us strategically in a place where the public schools were acceptable.  My search was consuming and a little disheartening.  I knew that Metro schools didn't have a great reputation and there was ONE, only one elementary school that carried a 10 (the best) rating on  I focused in on that area but there were no rentals available there.  I widened my search and even lowered my standards a bit to try and find something acceptable.  I had several picked out that were rented before we could move it.  I was looking too far out, apparently, when renting, you can only look 1 month out.  That didn't sit well with this planner mama.  I needed a place to live and I needed peace of mind BEFORE I left NC.  I found a house on craigslist, in our price range, close to Jason's school with a playground across the street.  It looked too good to be true.  I contacted the owner and set up a showing for when I flew into TN.  The only hang up was that the school wasn't exactly the one I wanted him to attend.  Oh, well, it was just Kindergarten.  I met the home owner and we had an instant connection.  She was delighted to see a family and I was happy to see that she actually cared who rented the house.   At the end of the showing, we discovered from my neighbor that the school WAS the one school I had chosen.  It had been rezoned to the only school I desired Jackson to go to.  That pretty much did it.  That was the biggest joy I received this year.  And we haven't looked back!
4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
Health Insurance!  We were a little blindsided by Tricare.  You know, you can always count on them.  When Jason exited the military he was told that we'd have 180 days of Tricare coverage.  Not true.  Luckily, we who are rarely sick didn't know until we had been uninsured for nearly 2 months.  They dropped us the day he was officially out and we didn't know it until 2 months later.  So then we were scrambling to find health insurance for the kids.  It was mostly on me since he had school and in that 2 weeks, I learned more than I ever wanted to know about insurance plans.   
5. Pick three words to describe 2011.
Anxious, Adventurous, Amazing  
After last year, I figured I'd go with a letter theme and it worked out well.  I spent the first 4 months of the year incessantly looking at housing, schools and researching where we would spend the next 2 years.  It was really important since I'd have a kindergartner and school zones were at a premium.  I knew public school was our only option(we jokingly say only one family member can attend private school at a time and right now, Jason is taking his turn!).
After moving to Nashville, we made it out goal to live out every single minute here to the fullest.  We jumped right into life here and started doing all the things one must do in Nashville.   We spent the summer in the Warner Parks, at the Music Venues and Canoeing along the river while occasionally visiting the not to be missed restaurants locals admired.  It's been quite an adventure and it's not over yet!
We love it here (this might get repetitive!)  It's an amazing city.  The people are nice, the weather is pretty great and there is tons of stuff to do.  We sat on our back porch late one summer evening and self proclaimed that this may be the best place we will ever live.  Not the house or area but the best city we'll ever get the chance to live in.  Sure, we will love wherever we are together but this place is about as good as it gets!
6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2011 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you).
Neurotic, Surprised, and I asked him the last one and well, we won't even begin to go into the words he came up with.  It wasn't pretty and it didn't end well.
7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2011 (again, without asking).
I totally asked him.  I didn't have the patience to try and choose for him.  Besides, who knows himself better than him?  Ok, sure, most of the time I do but this time I thought I'd give him a chance.  His answers were similar to what I would have chosen.
Different, Exciting and Happy
8. What were the best books you read this year?
Ah, I read a lot of great books this year.  I read The Help, Same Kind of Different as Me, Water for Elephants,  Black Wheels to Tractor Wheels (again!), The Art of Racing in the Rain and most recently The Hunger Games.  Next up on my library que is book 2 in that series.  It is INTENSE!
Oh, and I nearly forgot but I read the most amazing book called Kisses from Katie.  It should be on your next book list pronto.  Life changer, game changer, hold on to your seat!
9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
While I had to say goodbye to some of my very best friends in NC, they will still remain my friends among the many miles.  We can thank social networking for that!  I also developed quite a few new friendships here in TN.  I joined a MOMS club shortly after moving here and it gave me tons of moms just like me.  It wasn't long before I found a new running partner, Stephanie who has kept my miles up and my running strong.  Also, as sad as I was to say goodbye to Mari H, I found a new Mari!  Really, I found a friend with lots in common and her name just happens to be Mari W.  How totally cool.  Cool enough for it's very own blog...coming soon!
10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
I went from being an "Army wife" to a "grad school wife?"  I had always defined myself by Jason's job in the army.  It was my job too.  I had to transition from that lifestyle but luckily for me, much about business school at Vandy is about networking which is exactly what I was doing in the Army.  Sure, it's never as intense as it was while discussing deployments and homecomings but it does take an outgoing personality and a smiling face.  I think I can handle that!  
11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
My heart grew on the mission field.  I had never even considered any type of mission for me to go on. I have always been a giver of money but never put myself there.  I had never put such an emphasis on serving God.  Crosspoint is a church committed to serving God's people both near and far.  Also, a friend from NC who has become a better friend across the globe also set my heart on fire.  She and her husband, led by God, moved their family across the globe to serve His people in Cambodia.  She was a normal girl, just like me.  Her kids were my kids age and God told them to go and she obeyed, they obeyed.  You can and (SHOULD!)read about her life HERE.  It hasn't always been easy for her but it has been a blessing to me and started a fire in me that will lead wherever God sees fit.  This Christmas, it was Wheelwright, KY. I don't know where it will lead next,  I just pray for obedience.
12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
After the move, we were looking for a new church.  We didn't have to look far.  As we drive into the neighborhood, Crosspoint Church is about a mile away.  We like to choose a church that is close by, it ensures that we at least get there somewhat on time!  We tried it and the kids came back telling us it was the best church ever.  It helped that many of my mom friends already went there but when in every single message God started speaking directly to us, I knew we were home. Also refer to question #11.  It applies here as well.
13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
No brainer here, Jen and I finished our first half marathon in April!  It was our running send off.  We ran the Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon and did it even faster than we ever thought possible!  We crossed the finish line in UNDER 2 hours which is far better than what we had expected!  I'm already aware that we set the bar pretty high for future half marathons.  It was so exciting to finish with her by my side.  We'd been running together over the last 4 years pretty consistently and most days about 5:45, I still miss her.  Country Music Half Marathon coming up in April of this year, who's running with me?
14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?

Many of my past friendships matured into long distance friendships or friends via social networks.  We moved and many of them did too.  I like to think I'm pretty good at the long distance friendship thing since my best friend moved to Ohio several years ago and we never miss a beat.  I keep up with several friends via their blogs and then when I need advice, I know I can count on them to be there.  
I also jumped right into making new friends here.  I love how quickly the dust settles and you discover who you will mesh well with.  I have discovered several true friends here that I fully intend to maintain long term friendships with.
It warms my heart to know that some friendships are blind to distance and time.  Those are the best kind!
15. What was the most enjoyable area of your work?

I have really enjoyed being involved in Jackson's school activities.  I am fortunate to be able to have that luxury.  I like him knowing that I care about his education and can invest time into it.  I like him to see that his teacher and I are on the same page.  
I also enjoy the time I have had to spend with Lincoln while Jackson is at school.  Sure, we talk about him all day until he returns but it is nice to do things one on one just like I did with Jackson before Lincoln came along.  It's only fair.
16. What was your most challenging area of home management?
This house is SO much smaller than my NC house.  We have tons of stuff in storage but it seems to not matter.  It is so much harder to keep this house clean!  I try equally as hard and it never seems tidy.  I know it's temporary but I miss my big house, my large kitchen and my craft/dining room!  There are also stairs in this house and that took a little getting used to.  Basically it means toys are up and downstairs now.  The children won't have it any other way!
17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Say hello to PINTEREST.  Yes, along with many many others, I have spent more time than I care to total up checking out the latest recipe and craft pins.  Pins of houses I'll never live in and projects I'll never be talented enough to try.  I actually had to take a step back after the initial addiction because I was pinning my life away.  Now I get on there mostly to look up recipes or great ideas for pumpkin carving or 100 days of kindergarten activities.  Otherwise, Facebook and Google Reader are my only vices.
18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
The best time I've spent has been with my family.  I spent the whole summer with Jason and the boys exploring Nashville and all it had to offer.  We spent a week traveling LA and FL.  I've probably never in my married life spent this much time with him.  It was such a wonderful change for us.  Having him home for dinner on a regular basis is still surprising sometimes.  Definitely something I want to get used to.
We are also taking full advantage of living so close to our extended family.  They boys are getting to spend so much more time with the grandparents lately and having babysitters 2 hours away has been fantastic!  We are lucky to be able to depend on them so much!

19. What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
Change can be good.  Fantastic actually.  I gained nothing for all the months I spent worrying about how things would work out when we moved to Nashville.  Things are working out just fine.  Better than fine and it all happened without the help of all my worrying.  I need to learn to trust God more and worry a little less.  He's got this!
20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2011 for you.
Happiness is something you CHOOSE. Love is WORTH IT. Life is what you make of it and I think mine...SPARLKES!
To God be the glory!

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