Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections of 2014

I’ve done these resolutions every year for the last several years.  I try my hardest not to make them sound redundant and to put thought into them.  I also want them to be real.  Sometimes that means having the same feelings year after year.  It’s a double edge sword.  Luckily, no one reading remembers last year (including me) and if they sound the same, no one knows.  So no blog judging is going on here.  I’m a mom of 3.  It’s a sheer miracle that there even is a blog to begin with.  It’s writing has become increasingly less frequent(que resolutions) but I usually love this one and try to make it a priority.  So, on with the show.

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

I won’t for a second try to disguise the best thing that happened to us this year.  It’s a clear standout in everyone’s mind but especially mine.  I dreamed all my LIFE of having a sweet baby girl.  It’s been everything I dreamed and more. I told my sister just the other day, it really is like having my very own live baby doll.  We play dress up, girly things, and snuggle and giggle all the time.  Is it weird that my best friend is a 10 month old? 

2      What is the single most challenging thing that happened? 

It seems the answer would be clear.  The balancing act.  Learning to navigate the waters of raising 2 elementary school boys while juggling a baby’s ever changing schedule.  Jason is continually rising in this job (a good thing!) and it requires more of his time combine with his daunting commute every day leaves much of the duties on my shoulders until the 7pm hour.   We tried not to take away from the boys  activities because they had a sister.  I didn’t want them to resent her.  Luckily for us she was the 3rd baby and like most 3rd children, she’s the    easiest most docile child to deal with.  Dinner at the ball field?  No problem.  Nap in the ergo while cooking dinner, sure thing mom! 

        What was an unexpected joy this past year?

Our minivan?  It seems very superficial to say my new car was a joy but it was certainly an unexpected blessing to me.  I was anti mini-van.  Jason wanted a minivan.  I wasn’t ready to give up the SUV mom status.  I usually don’t care much about cars and what I drive.  Honestly, I would probably still be driving my 200,000+ Mountaineer if we hadn’t decided on a new car.  I was perfectly happy with it.  But Jason knew it wasn’t safe for us to drive a car that old with 3 kids around in America’s 3rd largest city.  I caved on the minivan argument knowing from all my friends’ statements that I would love it also.  The results are in and I totally do.  Now, it still doesn’t make me feel “cool” that we drive a minivan as our “nice” car.  But we’ve made not one or two but THREE LONG LONG trips in the minivan now.  And there’s no doubt in my mind that it makes ALL the difference.  There’s the leg room.  There are three FULL rows.  There are the TV and Bluetooth headphones for the boys that allow Jason and I to listen to whatever we want.   It allows me to sit in the middle seats with Lillian and hold hands which she LOVES.  Suffice to say the minivan was an unexpected joy for our family this year.

4         What was an unexpected obstacle?

In September, my dad had a mini-stroke.  That is the one thing that continually comes to mind when I think of unexpected.  Everything is ok now, not 100% but better.  It was 7:32am, I get a group text (mom, Tracie) with mom saying call me, call me, call me.
I got her a few minutes later and she’s panicked saying, “the Brick-Hatton fire department picked Ron up at his Dads.  He was unconscious” That was about all she knew at the time.  When I got in touch with my sister, we were pretty much useless.  Neither of us knew anything other than what mom said and there was NOTHING we could do living in Texas and South Alabama.  It gets a little blurry as to what I did in the minutes following.  I knew not to freak the boys out too badly but I had to tell them something.  I walked over to the table and told them the 5 year old version of what I knew.  Pawpaw was hurt and he needed our prayers.  We said a prayer at the kitchen table and I sent them on their way.  I went back inside and hit my knees in the living room.  It’s easy now to put it into perspective and see that it wasn’t THAT big of a deal but then it most certainly was.  I talked to my sister, my aunt and mom over the next few blurry hours and then after lunch, I finally talked to dad.  Since he retired, he’s been a big influence in our lives.  He’s the one with the most time to travel to see us.  He comes once every month or so to visit.  He is also the one I talk to on the phone the most.  He doesn’t work, and I stay home so we have a little more time on our hands.  His health is still a concern to us.  Here’s hoping 2015 brings about healthy changes in his life so the kids can ring in 2020 and 2030 with him as well! 

5        Pick three words to describe the past year.

Complete.  Domestic.  Joyful

I always knew I wanted a girl and after Lincoln, I knew I’d want a third child.  Jason took a little more convincing but we BOTH knew we only wanted three.  That was our golden number.  When Lillian was born we both had an overwhelming feeling that our family was complete!  It’s a great feeling to have No doubt.  Defoor party of FIVE is complete!

Domestic.  I’m not sure this is the right word here.  We are settled but I used that world last year.  We are comfortable in our town, in our house, in his job.  We have steady friends, a church home and we can get around without using the GPS to return home most days.  Jason has a normal 8ish to 5(more like 7)ish job and We have a pretty weekly routine.  There are no HUGE changes that we know of coming up in the near future.  That is what most people can say about past years but not us.  We are anything but normal in our career choices and family life.   We have lived life on the edge of change over the last few years.  SO much so that it sometimes seems that there should be change lingering but as far as we know there’s not.  It’s a nice feeling to think we are where we will be for a while but the truth is I keep expecting change in the back of my mind.  I guess it’s not a bad think. It proves I’m open to change even if it’s BIG change like accepting an overseas position.  It’s not highly likely at this time but maybe sometime.

Joyful.  Becoming a mother makes your heart forever go walking around outside your own body.  Doing it 3 times over just multiplies that feeling.  Having a girl really knocked that point home for me. I AM a girl so I feel like I “get” her more than the boys.  I understand her feelings and girly tendencies more than I did with them.  It was no secret that I always wanted a girl but it wasn’t just for the fancy clothes (though that was pretty huge!).  There’s an old saying and while it’s not the stone cold truth, there’s some weight to it.  “A son is a son until he takes a wife…a daughter’s a daughter all of her life…”
So there you have it.  I know we’ll have some troublesome years but ONE DAY, I hope to be to her what my mother is to me!

6        Pick three words to describe your spouse’s year.

Trying.  Rewarding.  Change.

I might have mentioned before that Jason’s life is quite a bit more stressful that I’d consider my life.  He commutes downtown on the daily while I live in what is commonly referred to as the bubble.  Everything I do and need is within 5 miles of me.  He fights rush hour traffic both coming and going.  His job isn’t an easy breezy slow pace work environment.  He’s doing exactly what he wanted but it’s fast paced, ultra demanding and it MATTERS.  He’s being watched, judged and rated on his every move.  I can’t imagine working under the kind of microscope his job requires.  I think trying would accurately describe his work. 

Rewarding.  While working under the said microscope, we do feel like he is succeeding.  He’s doing the job he set out to get in grad school and he’s excelling in it.   The things he analyzes make actual changes for the largest company in the world so those types of projects while challenging can prove very rewarding.  We worked hard to get where we are in this life and seeing it come to fruition is rewarding and that’s a good feeling!

Change.  We expanded our family by one.  We also added a GIRL to the mix when all we had known was boys.  Waited just long enough to make it like starting all over again with a newborn.    
Jason’s parents also moved 4 hours from us making it easier to see them more often.  Late this year, Jason changed positions inside his company.  It was a new job and title but I didn’t really understand the change much other than a new boss and different projects.    January will bring about another new change as he FINALLY quits the commute and starts working in the Woodlands not far from where we live.  We will get around 2 hours a day back with him.  It’s been a LONG time coming!

What were the best books you read this year?

         While I thought Lillian would allow for more reading, I was wrong.  I haven’t even kept up with the same TV shows I thought I might.  I did listen to a few books this year.  I read the first Divergent book and then saw the movie. 

In bible study we re-read “The Same Kind of Different As Me” and I loved it all over again.  I really enjoyed discussing it with my favorite girls too.  That book will really make you think about our judgmental nature and treating people equally. 

Jason and I just finished listening to the podcast SERIAL.  It’s compelling and interesting but we were both left wanting more.  It was a great way to pass 15 hours in the car on the way to Nashville for New Years! 

Some of my girls and I read “The Perfect Game”. It was a steamy love story and I enjoyed it while on the treadmill this spring! 

8       With whom were your most valuable relationships?

This one still pulls at my heart.  I may have left Nashville but it sure hasn’t left me.  Over 18 months later, I still consider some of my best friendships to reside in Nashville, TN.  I still get group text daily from them and feel as much a part of them as I always have.  They will always be important to me!
My bible study girls also played a big part in my life this year.  I knew the FIRST day I walked into bible study that this was MY place, these were MY girls but I continue to feel that way more all the time.     
Emily is my neighbor.  She’s definitely the closest friend I have in Texas.  She also happens to have a husband that works for Exxon, 2 school aged children and a baby at home just 5 weeks older than Lillian.   It would be convenient for us to be friends with so much in common but she’s also a GREAT friend, a good sounding board and gives great advice.  She keeps a level head and always listens.  Not many friends can compare to Mari (my NC friend in CA) to me but Emily comes close!

9        What was your biggest personal change from January to December? 

    Mother of 3 was a pretty big change.  It took a little getting used to.  The kids outnumbered Jason      and I.  I had one playing baseball, one doing homework and one nursing.  Oh, and we still had to        eat.  And there was laundry.  I think we have the hang of it now but it still takes a village!


            In what ways did you grow physically?

Did you hear about Lillian’s birth?  Well, it did NOT happen how I planned.  It wasn’t’ that it was bad.  It was just fast.  I did NOT get the epidural I planned on for 9 months.  I didn’t think the whole natural birth thing was even possible for me.  I completely dismissed the idea.   If I had a choice, the epidural WAS my birth plan but there wasn’t time for an IV much less an epidural.  I’m proud of the fact now that it wasn’t’ needed but I’m more glad that it was just FAST!  I'm tougher than I ever gave  myself credit for!

        What was the most enjoyable part of your work?

Experiencing all the baby “firsts” for the last time was certainly the highlight of my year.  It’s easier to relish your last baby.  You want to remember every single detail.  You can simply enjoy it and know it won’t last forever.  I let Lillian sleep in our room and wake up at night until her 6th month because I knew it wouldn’t last and there’d ever be another bassinet in my room.  While I celebrate every millstone for her, I know it will be the last one I experience as a mother.

       What was the most challenging part of your work?

Is it sad to say 3rd grade was the hardest part of my job?  It’s not just the work but the attitude it provokes and the “growing pains” that come along with a pre-adolescent.  Homework is becoming harder and more common.  This comes as a challenge to the one that is used to everything coming easily and without dedication.   Here is where being like Jason comes at a price.  Naturally smart makes it increasingly hard to study new material.  We’ve had some grade drops to overcome and a poor attitude to accompany that.    Much of this I believe can be attributed to the lack of individual attention.  I know every family has it but the ages of our kids make some require more attention than others for different reasons.  Jackson is self-sufficient in most ways and requires the least care but still needs the individual attention that sometimes gets overlooked.  Dividing equal time between children is the most challenging part of my job at the present time. 

   What was the single biggest time waster in your life this year?

  Well…I’ve fallen into this rabbit hole of girls’ clothing.  Boutique shoes, smocked bubbles and bows…oh, my!  It’s BAD.  In a good way.  But calling it a rabbit hole is probably the polite way to put it.  I think I’ll just stop there before I incriminate myself!

  What was the best way you used your time this past year?

   We managed to have a lot of FUN!  We made lots of family memories.  And I spent LOTS and Lots of time snuggling a baby.  I had no qualms about sitting around all day holding her and she didn’t seem to have a problem with it as well.  I didn’t even mind getting up at night with her because I knew it wouldn’t last forever.  She is already growing up too fast for me and I miss it already. 

  What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?

                I finally “get” the savoring every moment; they grow up too fast thing.  Before now, I knew it went fast but I always thought, you don’t know how tired I am or how much energy they have.  Now I get it.  It goes by fast.  Way. Too. Fast.  And enjoying the children is important.  In the good and the bad.  They aren’t going to be little forever and I must savor every stage of them.  They will never be little again. 

Create a phrase the describes the past year for you.

You complete me(us)!

Our family became full.  Complete.  With the addition of Lillian, our family was complete.  I  knew I wanted a third child.  I REALLY wanted a girl.  I knew we weren’t complete as a family. Jason took a little convincing but the minute she was born we both knew it.  This was OUR family.  We were finished.   I love our little party of 5.  I never knew growing up that I’d want 3 children but after 2 I never had that complete feeling.  It’s good to KNOW and I know that Lillian completes us!


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