Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Review

Another year gone, so many things I never got around to blogging about. Hopefully this questionnaire will help me encapsulate at least a little bit of life this year.

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

Watched two of my kids learn how to read. It's been amazing and gratifying to see, and so interesting to observe their different learning styles and strategies. As a voracious reader I am just so happy they are gaining this skill and I hope to really foster their love of books going forward.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions and will you make more this year?

Well, it looks like I did have some goals, let's see how I did:

More books and games, less screen time. I actually did pretty well with this. Screen time naturally limited itself with the kids in school all day, and a broken iPad screen allowed us a chance to detox while it was being repaired. I see a huge difference in behavior, specifically in my oldest, when screens are limited so it was easier to take a firmer line. I also eradicated watching shows while eating except on very special occasions. I feel good about that.

More physical activity.  Hmm, I don't think I hit this one as intended. The kids are really active in general and we are not a sedentary family but I also didn't get us all outdoors as much as I wanted. It was a bit hard with Archer this past summer but we did get to the beach a few times which was not something I even dreamed I'd tackle on my own with the three kiddos. I will give us a few points for discovering the trail that runs between our house and Excelsior. We did many weekend family walks that end up being six miles in total so that's a win for sure. Next summer we will work on figuring out how the kids can be more active vs. riding in the jogger.

More meals eaten together, less short-order cooking. I made some progress here. Still plenty of work to do but I feel good about having found a few meals we can all eat together and taking a slightly firmer line on providing alternatives. Will keep working on this again in 2015.

Less yelling, more teaching. I'm going to give myself an A on this one. Getting more sleep and addressing the state of my own mental health allowed me to be a much calmer and patient mother.

Laugh, laugh, laugh some more. Stop taking life so seriously. Eh, not sure how to grade this one. Bottom line is that I'm a serious person. I'm not lighthearted and, while I strive to be more positive than negative, laughter is not my go-to coping mechanism. I'm trying though, and my husband continues to be a counterbalance for me in this regard.

I do have some things I'd like to focus on this year, which I'll write in another post.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Several cousins and a few good friends. Enough newborns to confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would not like anymore of my own :)

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Yes, my grandfather, John passed away.

5. What countries did you visit?

Haha. Chris and I did get a two-night getaway though, which was a much needed break and greatly appreciated. Thanks to Nana and Papa for holding down the fort while we were away.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you didn't have in 2014:

Some ideas about what I might like to do in the next few years as my child-rearing duties change and my time can be a little more flexible. We need a new 5-Year Plan.

7. What dates from 2014 will be etched upon your memory and why?

I don't think this was a year of specific dates, more of a transition from a lot of chaos to something much more stable and comfortable. Plenty of good days, some bad ones, lots to be proud of and practically nothing to regret.

8. What was your biggest achievement of this year?

Taking control of my mental health. I have learned a huge amount about how to keep myself feeling good and I hope to stay in this good place for a long time. I made a medication change in May after a challenging couple of months and it, once again, allowed me the breathing room to figure out the other ways I need to manage things. I understand my own brain a lot better and while I'm still not the best at self-care, I am improving. I have discovered a few specific triggers (like alcohol, WEEP) and mostly eliminating them has made a world of difference for me.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Not as such but I am struggling with a frustrating inflammatory problem with my knees that is preventing me from exercising the way I'd like to. As in, at all. An orthopedic consult was a bust (although it reconfirmed for me that having a joint drained is the most painful thing I've experienced) so I'm onto a rheumatologist later in January. I'd REALLY like to get some answers.

10. What was the best thing you bought?

Well I didn't buy it but Chris bought us a dual-control electric mattress pad and it has been a game-changer in the winter. Other than that, the babysitting hours I purchased were truly worth every penny.

11. Whose behavior merited celebration?

You know, I think I'll call out my husband on this one. He's had some work-related challenges to deal with and he has really stepped up to work on coping strategies and prioritizing work-life balance in the midst of it. I have also been impressed and so appreciative of the strides he made in being a dad this year. He really is one of the best I know and the only one I'd want for my kids.

12. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Many, many Americans' behavior this year could be described exactly this way. Sometimes I genuinely wonder if we shouldn't be making a plan to get the heck out of dodge.

13. What did you get really, really excited about? 

Planning a girls' trip in 2015. Eventually getting our home warranty to cover the bulk of the cost of our new furnace (officially old now). Getting rid of the pink paint in our home office.

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Writing here and reading books.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of? 

Allowing myself to get distracted from the present by the internet and social media. That, and laundry.

16. How did you spend Christmas?

Here, just the five of us. It was lovely.

17. What was your favorite TV show?

Lots of goodies this year. I enjoyed House of Cards, The Killing, The Americans and am now getting into Last Tango in Halifax.

18. What was the best thing you learned?

How to listen to podcasts. I have discovered that while I am easily "talked out" when my response is required, I generally don't tire of being a straight listener. I'm still looking for recommendations now that Serial is over and I'm almost through the archives of Radio Cherry Bombe. Household chores are so much more enjoyable when I'm listening to something interesting.

19. What was the best thing you read?

Here is where I wish I had been more diligent with Goodreads. I know I read some good books this year but I can't think of them. I know I really enjoyed The Rosie Project.

20. What was your greatest food discovery?

Probably loose tea. A friend of mine started brewing it and it has inspired to me to look beyond tea bags. A good hobby for the winter for sure.

21. What did you want and get?

 A redecorated and usable office with dedicated work space. It took several long evenings with a paint roller but the results are so worth it and we are inspired to keep going.

22. What did you want and not get?

A new winter coat. Totally my fault. It's hard to think about winter before you're in it and once you're in it you just want to focus on it being over.

23. What was your favorite film of 2014?

Favorite one I watched this year was About Time. Or maybe Wild. That was so good.

24. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I turned 34 and I really don't remember what I did. It maybe involved an ice cream cake? And friends?

25. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Honestly, nothing. Well, maybe more preschool hours for Brighton this spring. That was a looonnng five months.

26. What kept you sane?

Sleep. Definitely getting adequate sleep.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

I am naturally one to fall all over myself preventing others from feeling bad about things yet equally committed to feeling guilty myself. I need to be kinder to myself. Being a martyr is neither personally satisfying nor productive nor conducive to good relationships.

28. Show us one of your favorite photos from the year.

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