Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year Our Family Exploded

I love, love, love the New Year season.  I love the reflection on the last year, the resolutions, the goals, the projects, and the plans.  I've reflected a ton of different ways in the past, but looking back on the day-to-day is why I blog (and Instagram).  To see what my family was to from January to July, check out Simple Girl.  To follow us from July to December, check the archives here.  

For my own personal wrap-up to the year, I used these questions from The Art of Simple.  I highly suggest this exercise; it took me a little over an our, but it was completely worth my time.  Even though I live in a constant state of recording the important and mundane facts of my life, there were plenty of things I would have completely forgot about without the prompting.  Even if you don't get to it until a week into the new year, take the time to answer these questions.  Or pick one and answer it in the comments! 

20 questions for a New Year’s Eve reflection

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Elliott was born, strong and healthy

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Elliott was born, strong and healthy

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?
When Milo began communicating, using words and adding to his vocabulary

4. What was an unexpected obstacle?
Milo's speech delay

5. Pick three words to describe this past year.
Crowded, routined, home

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your year—don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you.
Home, strong, busy 

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their year—again, without asking.
Tired, busy, double-love

8. What were the best books you read this year?
I really wanted to take more time to track my reading, but I was terrible at it this year.  
I know I read Anna Dressed in Blood and the sequel, Girl of Nightmares at some point.  I mostly read blogs and magazines and unexciting parenting books.  I was rereading Goblet of Fire right up until I pushed in labor with Elliott.  At the end of the year I finished Game of Thrones, which I really loved, and binged on The Fault in our Stars and Divergent on my Kindle.  I did not read enough fiction.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
Ben and Laurel

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year?
The obvious is going from a mother of kid to a mother of two.  I've written before that the difference is more complicated than one more mouth to feed, one more sleep schedule to work out.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
I went from loving one to two.  I started working on letting go of some of the "mommy guilt" that creeps in around staying home, going to work, using daycare, letting my kids watch TV, etc.

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I started getting interested in religion in general, as opposed to RELIGION in a right/wrong/obligitory format.  I taught myself a tiny bit about the different meanings of Buddha statues and got into collecting little icons and meaningful trinkets.  By meaningful I mean meaningful to me.  I am beginning to trust myself to believe in big and beautiful things while letting go of the guilt and judgement that I relate to most organized religion.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically?
I began toying with the idea of good foods vs. calorie counting.  I tried very hard to "snap back into shape," with Weight Watchers and Wii exercise games and rules and meal plans.  Only when I stopped trying very hard did I lose a little weight, but I'm definitely taking a different approach with year.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
Being a stay at home mom for eight months of the year let me see a different side of day-to-day life.  It was extremely hard, and I got to meet other moms who were home during the day, which opened me up to new friendships.

15. What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Going back in September was exciting because teaching is so incredibly routined and I love routines.  I'm also on an excellent teaching team and working with them for the past four months has taught me so much about best practices, planning, and relying on each other.

16. What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Fitting everything in is harder now that I'm not at home during the day.  When everything is going right, work/daycare/grad school/family time are perfectly proportioned, but when anything is off (someone is sick, a project is due, there is bad weather, I fall behind in any way) then I struggle with guilt and become quickly overwhelmed.  The choice about
whether the boys are sick enough for me to stay home with them is easily the hardest thing about being a working mom.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Social media.  I love participating, posting and discussing things, and that's not the problem.  It's the obsessive CHECKING, mostly on Facebook, which is fine to be checked twice a day.  When I'm home, I can easily spend up to an hour checking and clicking on things before becoming devestated that I've wasted so much time.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Taking pictures and taking the boys places.  Our house is small and I'm antsy, so whenever we're home (with and without Ben), I'm usually scheming an adventure.  This year alone we went to five different playgrounds, Davis Farmland (season pass, we went a ton), the Acton Discovery Museum, the Boston Children's Museum, the Holyoke Children's Museum,
 two different indoor playspaces, three different beaches, Florida twice, Vermont once, and the library a ton of screamy crazy times.  I also take 5-15 pictures a day, more if we're
adventuring, and try to limit myself to only posting 4 per day on Instagram.  Sometimes I go over.  I adore every over-gram, because it's the coolest way to go back and relive all the things I almost instantly forget because I am fried.

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year?
Being a parent is a hugely flawed process.  Having just one kid didn't kill my holier-than-thou parenting stance.  I knew how to be a good parent, obviously, because I had read all the books and blogs and hasd a perfect schedule/routine/feeding pattern worked out.  Adding another life into the mix threw light on the fact that parenting is informed SURVIVAL, and 
kids do not CARE about your studies or best practices.  Yeah, there's stuff I swear by that worked for us, but the key words are WORKED FOR US.  The ebb and flow of our crazy little family is exhausting and amazing and I know for sure that I want more children before we're complete.  That's what I learned this year.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
This was the year that our family exploded. We have more people and are more exhausted than ever before.  Our adoration is deeper than we thought it could go, we're more committed than ever, and we're more supported than we could have hoped.  None of our feelings can be measured, and even if they could be, we're too worn out to do anything but smile and watch the kids crawl all over each other.  

The Art of Simple has these questions available as a PDF, as well as similar goal setting exercise.  If you answer the questions and feel comfortable sharing, leave a link to your answers, or, like I said, find a question that speaks to you and leave the answer in the comments.  I'd love to see what you come up with.  Happiest of new years.

(Image credit here, quote added by me)

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