Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Highlights of 2013

When I woke up this morning, it hit me just how awesome 2013 has been for our family. We have had so many amazing people enter our lives, created wonderful memories, met tremendous goals, and have overcome huge changes. All of these experiences have made 2013 a fantastic year! To celebrate, and take a trip down memory lane, I made a list of the top 25 things that happened over the past year.
Nolan's Birthday

1. First and foremost, our Teddy Bear was born!
2. We paid off a car and part of a student loan.
3. I passed my Reading Endorsement test.
4. I was the Matron of Honor in Staci's wedding.
5. I was asked to be the Matron of Honor for a childhood friend-Emily.
6. I ran my first 10k and 5k.
7. We had our first Big Brother Date night.
8. Emily came to visit.
9. We went on our first vacation as a whole family: Cannon Beach.
10. We sold our house.
Our last photo in our old house
Rum Run 2013-1st 10k

Visit w/Emily

11. Desi and Mikey got engaged! Welcome to the family Mikey!
12. I realized a new career goal, and took steps to reach it.
13. Walking/running/raising money for several worthy charities.
14. Liam started preschool.
15. Having months of memories with Joe's Grandma Ida, before her passing.
16. Completed the Color Run with my sisters and mama.
17. Seeing a love of reading develop in our boys.
Cannon Beach Trip
Big Brother Date Night
Color Run 2013
18. Threw a fantastic surprise party for  Joe's 30th birthday.
19. Watching Liam run/complete his first race.
20. Celebrating the holidays with family that we don't get to see often enough.
21. Joe got a raise and recognition for his hard work.
22. Liam's first Christmas program.
23. Reaching our down payment goal, and beginning the search for our forever home.
24. Enjoying rare snuggles and open-mouth kisses with Nolan Theodore.
25. Sharing experiences with all of our amazing family and friends!!
First day of Preschool

Here's to an awesome 2013, and an even better 2014!
March for Babies 2013
Preschool Christmas Party 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dreaming of a Kid Christmas

Remember the days when Christmas was nothing but presents, family, parties, and sleigh bells? I do. Vividly. This year, I realized just how different the holiday season is for adults. Although I still absolutely love this season, it's just not the same. Some parts are even better: like seeing our boys get excited about every little thing that the season has to offer. But other parts are so very different. This is the first time in my life, that I'm not particularly excited about Christmas day. I am for the boys, but not personally excited.

Since Liam was born, Joe and I have made every Christmas about him. The focus of the holiday has changed from gifts and parties, to visits with Santa, letter writing, baking, and decorating as a family. These are the new parts that I adore. This is Nolan's first Christmas, and I was raring to go, to make this year as special for him, as it has been for his brother. Then life happened.

We are still working to make this the best Christmas we can. We are trying to keep our stress under-wraps, so that the boys will have similar memories to mine. I don't know how my parents pulled it off every year. Making us think that everything came together perfectly without effort or frustration, and filling our home with the Christmas spirit, even when I'm sure there were moments of craziness. Joe and I are trying.

Hopefully, a magical Christmas memory
In the past few days things have gone off the deep end. We finished all of our shopping early, and had all the supplies needed for the gifts we would be making, but actually making the gifts, and wrapping other packages has proven to be much more work than we seem to have the energy for. It didn't help that we put everything off until Friday. Now we are overwhelmed. Saturday, things got more complicated, when Joe noticed a huge gash on one of our cat's back. When he rushed her to the emergency vet, they said that she was dehydrated, her levels were far from normal, and that the gash would require surgery. Awesome!

He picked her up from the emergency vet late last night, then took her to our regular vet today, who told us that there isn't enough skin left to surgically repair the gash, so we have to let it heal naturally. Not a horrible thing, except she has to stay away from kids and other pets, and be calm for 2-3 weeks for it to heal correctly. Double awesome! I'm not even going to get into the amount of money we had to shell out (of course, well worth it).......perfect timing.

On top of our cat-astrophy, the stress of scheduling Christmas with three families, while trying to keep Christmas day low-key for the boys, wrapping, baking, cleaning, shopping (the usual holiday chores), Liam is now sick. He has been coughing non-stop since yesterday afternoon. All he wants to do is lay around and snuggle, and for anyone who knows him, they know that's not abnormal. I hope that Liam and Nolan don't see our frustration; I hope that they will remember a magical Christmas full of love and fun. I hope that we are as good at shielding them from our adult-issues, as my parents were for me.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A November of Blessings

Every November, people on Facebook and Twitter post what they are thankful for daily. Although I love the thought that goes into these posts, and the fact that it reminds the writer of how wonderful their life truly is, I find it a bit.....ah.......redundant. So, I have decided that, to get the same reflection and reminders, I will do this on my blog instead of making people read what I am thankful for each and every day. Instead, each day of the month, I'll take a quick second to add to this post, then I will post the whole list, just once. I hope I remember!

Day 1: I am thankful for my amazingly sweet, smart, adorable, hilarious, baby boys. They have created my most cherished of memories, make each day, the best of my life (so far), and make my future something to strive and look to with great excitement. I have always been driven, but they give me even more motivation to be and do everything I can to make my life, and theirs, as wonderful as possible. I love them more than anything!

Day 2: I am thankful for the wonderful friends we have gained throughout the years. Everyone says, "It's better to have a few great friends, than many." As I have gotten older, I have realized that it is actually better to have many people to lean on and share memories with. Since my boys entered my life, I have gained many amazing friends, who love and support me and my family. Without them, I would lose my mind!

Day 3: I am grateful for my ability to be home with my boys, as well as continue to nurture my passion for educating young minds. I love that I have never felt like I have to choose between the two, letting my lifelong dreams go when my boys entered my life, or feel as though I was leaving my children to be parented by others. I get the best of both worlds, and for that I will always be thankful.

Day 4: My husband. He has, not only, been my best friend for 13 years, my husband for 7, and the father of my two babies, but he has always done an amazing job of supporting me. He bends over backwards to help me reach my goals, he runs himself ragged trying to make the most of our situation, squeezing every drop out of his and my paychecks to help us reach our goals. And even though, as we get older, our views on some topics no longer are in line with one another, we still know how to see eye-to-eye when it comes to our kids, our goals, and our future. I love you Loaf of Bread Head!

Day 5: Today, I am VERY thankful for my career, and the amazing people that I teach alongside. Sometimes it's hard to be thankful for the extra work and stress that comes with my job, but today, I was reminded (as I am periodically), that what I do everyday is worth the time, stress, and effort. One of the best parts of my career path, is the little reminders that pop up now and then. I was in serious need of one, and I got it!

Day 6: My mom. I can call her for any reason, at any time, day or night. She has always supported me and my boys. I love you Mom!

Day 7: On the same note, my Dad. He has taught me to be responsible, money-smart, forgiving, driven, and happy with what I have, when I have it. I love you Dad!

Day 8: Second chances. Everyone deserves them, if they put the effort into earning them. I'm so appreciative that I have received them, and that I am in a position to give them.

Day 9: Lazy days. Our family tends to have a very busy schedule. Most of the time, we love it. We fill our days with love, friends, family, memories, and experiences. However, today is one of those rare days, where we get to sleep in, snuggle on the couch, enjoy our morning cup of joe, watch a movie as a family, and play together. It sure is nice, once and in awhile.

Day 10: I am thankful that we are able to fill our home with things passed down from the family that we love and have lost. Our living room is now home to a chair from my Grandma Darlene and Grandpa Bill (with another to be upholstered in our garage) and a table from Joe's Great Grandma, in our dinning room sits a table from Joe's Grandma Ida, and in our garage are several items from Joe's Grandpa Ted that bring back wonderful childhood memories. We are so lucky to have these wonderful items to remember them by.

Day 11: On Veteran's Day, I'm thankful for veterans. Specifically, my Grandpa Vince and Joe's Grandpa Ted (both of our boys received their middle names from these wonderful men). They fought for our country in WWII, on either end of the battle. My Grandpa in Normandy and other European countries, Joe's Grandpa in Japan. Both came home, but were never the same. Their families saw first hand, how war can affect someone, even if they are not killed in battle. Today, I am thankful for men and women who fight for our country, and come home, never to be the same. These are heroes that tend to be overlooked, because people believe that they did not give the "ultimate sacrifice". To these people I say, of course they did!

Day 12: I'm thankful for Assessment days. They give me a chance to catch up on all the little things that get forgotten while teaching 99 kiddos. On the other hand, I loath the day after assessment days......grading 99 assessments. Arg!

Day 13: Preschool Art Projects. Every week or two, Liam brings home a stack of adorable, educational art projects that he creates while at school. I love to see what it is he does all day, and I love seeing/hearing his excitement, as he shows me his creations and explains what each squiggly line and every paint blotch represents. Not to mention, the feet and feet of blank wall space that these projects will fill.

Day 14: I'm thankful for wine. That is all.

Day 15: Apologies. Without them, hurt feelings would last forever, and wonderful relationships would crash and burn.

Day 16: Having ten amazing months (so far) with our little Teddy Bear. Time is going so fast, and right now, I'm thankful that he isn't a year old yet. I can still call him my baby, and have it be true. Happy 10 month B-day baby boy!

Day 17:  I know that I have already said that I'm thankful for my hubby, but I'll be more specific. Today I'm thankful that he not only deals with my horrible moods, but does everything in his power to make my day better. Ex. He helped me do the dishes, laundry, and give the boys their baths, then poured me a big glass of wine, and is now working on a yummy dessert. I'm so stinkin' lucky!

Day 18: Tissues. When there are two fountains of snot running around your house, tissues are not a luxury, they are a necessity.....and I'm thankful I have a stockpile.

Day 19: Coffee creamer. After nights like last night, wake ups like the one I had this morning, and a stack of assessments to grade, the deliciousness that is white chocolate peppermint, is the only thing that gets me going.

Day 20: Our comfortable (yet temporary) home. I know that we are extremely lucky to live in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, where safety is not a concern, and our neighbors are friendly. On that note, we are missing our old neighbors from Lynnly way. I think a visit may be in order!

Day 21: "Adult Time". After a super long, very stressful day, I'm very thankful for the hour or two (or three), that Joe and I get to ourselves at night. Although I should spend some of this time sleeping, on days like today, staying up way past my usual bedtime, is far more relaxing.

Day 22: 10 day weekends! That's right folks! I get all of Thanksgiving week off. I can't wait to spend every morning, relaxing and enjoying my adorable little guys.

Day 23: Good listening days. Liam was A-MAZ-ING today! We had playdates, went to a Christmas bazaar, and went to a restaurant for dinner (which are usual crabby-pants triggers), and he was awesome! He even took a nap......alone......on the couch!

Day 24: Catch-up Sundays. Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, picking up, couponing, naps, vacuuming, sweeping.......None used to warrant getting excited about (and really, they still don't), but when you have neglected these chores for a whole week, it feels mighty good to get them done!

Day 25: Watching my oldest boy and his daddy, play catch with his new football (a gift from self-proclaimed "Papa Mark"-one of Joe's co-workers). One of the most heartwarming things I have ever seen!

Day 26: 4 am nursing sessions. I NEVER thought I would say that, but at this point, less than two months from Nolan's first birthday, I have realized that they won't be happening soon. I'm so lucky that I have been able to nurse two beautiful boys, and I appreciate that I had that time to bound with them, now more than ever. It has it's moments of frustration (using my lunch to pump), uncomfortable moments (Mastitis), and times where you wish that you weren't "just the food source", but overall, I wouldn't give it up for anything! I will miss it when it's gone, so today I'm thankful that Nolan dragged me out of bed at 4:45.

Day 27: History lessons with Grandpa. My Grandpa Dale loves genealogy, and has worked very hard to find out all he can about his family's background. Every time we visit, he tries to share more information with me, but having two small boys in tow, tends to make it difficult to sit and listen, read, explore the articles/pictures/family trees, that he has collected. Today, I was able to sit and do these things for quite a while. I was able to hear stories about Grandpa's hometown, his schooling, friends, and family. It was so wonderful to hear about his life, and my background.

Day 28: Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for several things today. Seeing family that live both near and far, turkey, my dad dating an awesome cook, silly smiles from my boys, Grandma's deviled eggs, being woke up to "Happy Turkey Day Mom and Dad!", bonding with Lissy over $3 movie bins, my warm bed, and by default (because I the one I purchased was not yummy), Dutch Bros. coffee. A random bunch of stuff, I know, but all thanks-worthy today.

Day 29: The smell of Christmas trees, beautiful lights, holiday music, festive drinks, my boys' smiley faces as we decorate for the best time of the year, yet another, of Nolan's "firsts", and family love.

Day 30: On this last day of Thanks, I'm thankful for the life I live. My family, friends, career, pets, blessings, and trials. Everything I have been through has brought me to this exact place in my life, and I couldn't ask for anything more. I love my life, and the people in it!

Happy Thanksgiving!