Friday, January 2

7 Quick Takes: 2014 and 2015 (in two parts)

Part One: Looking Foward

2014 was a good year for us!  Another baby, new friends, a big trip, and some deep conversations about God's plan for our family.  Everything moved us forward, so I'd say that's been a good year!

My word for 2014 was "quiet," and thanks to an amazing baby and some hormones that also weren't so crazy as they had been in the past, I'd say I did a pretty good job.  I definitely felt better about myself as a person and mom this year than in previous years!  Caeli changed my body.  I don't know what happened, but there was some sort of hormonal shift that made me such a better person. Everything I'd been fighting in the past was somehow healed.  She has been such a gift in so many ways!

One of my goals was to be up 45 minutes earlier than the kids in the morning.  That hasn't happened yet, but I didn't expect to be bed-sharing this long either, because I didn't expect a baby who would sleep so well at night!  So that will be a new goal for this year. :-)

I managed to make 51 posts in 2014, 22 more than in 2013!  I'd say that's a little success.  This blog is so important to my memory that I don't want to see it neglected, which is why this year I will dedicate a little time every week to adding more. I'm looking at numbers from previous years- 244 posts in 2009?!  When did I find the time?

Looking ahead into 2015, I'm expecting a great year!  We have a few trips planned throughout the year, we'll have a big #35 birthday for Ryan in August, and I hope to feel a little more like myself and a little less like a recovering postpartum mama.  I'd like to get my creative juices flowing again by blowing the dust off my sewing machine and learn how to knit.  Oh, and there's always more exercise!  Maybe I'll run a couple of 5Ks this year.  I have no desire to do anything more than that, at least not in this moment!

One big change for me is that I'm going to take a step back from being a doula for awhile.  If we're being honest, I'm burnt out.  After a rough end of last year for various reasons, I'm in need of some space and some time away from being "on call."  I will miss being present to support mamas during their birthing time but everything else that it entails is just too much for me right now.  I hope that, in the absence of this away time (on some evenings and during births), I can spend more time being wholly present to my family by not having to carry my cell around 24/7 (this is seriously taxing on me).  It will open up my evenings so I have more time for working out, being creative, and planning our school days.  I will certainly miss the extra income but the mental stability I hope to gain will hopefully more than make up for that!

On another note, most people know that we contemplated selling our house at the end of 2014.  I alluded to it in a post (no, anonymous commenter, it wasn't about homeschooling).  As of now this is on hold until we fully discern what God wants from our family.  The good news is, we finished up all those little projects that were nagging us and would keep us from selling our house (a leaky sink, unpainted trim, holes in the wall, etc.!) so now our house looks pretty nice!

I haven't fully settled on a word for 2015 yet.  I'll make a blog post when I do. :-)

Part Two: Seven Quick Takes of my favorite 2014 moments!

--1: Caeli Rose--
It's probably obvious that the birth of my second daughter, Caeli Rose, tops the countdown!  She has been such a blessing to our family that I can't even begin to express what she means to all of us.  She's amazing.  Beth was BEYOND thrilled to have a sister.  The boys practice their sweet side with her and are learning how to care for and protect a baby sister.  She has healed my body and my spirit.  And to Ryan, he's been such a perfect father to her.

Her first morning.

Beth, meeting her sister for the first time.
--2: Our New Parish--
Our second biggest change this year was the move to a new parish home.  Ryan and I had been craving a smaller community, a deeper spirituality, and a faith formation program that respected us as homeschooling parents, and through friends God led us to a new parish that provides us with all of these things and more- all yet within the fullness of truth that the Catholic Church offers.  It's positively benefited every person in our family; even the children talk about the homilies and beg us to go back every week.  Beth is able to receive her low-gluten Holy Communion from her pyx in a more discreet way since we receive His most precious Body and Blood at a communion rail, and our new, so very holy priest has been so accommodating to our family and welcoming to us.  We have been so thankful for this gift!!!

After midnight mass!  Jack was hiding behind Ryan.
On a similar note, Bethany received her First Holy Communion this year.  What an extraordinary gift for our young lady!  She studied her heart out, we had deep conversations, and when she told us she was ready we didn't hold her back.  Ryan and I couldn't keep Jesus from her any longer.  And it's been such a grace for her, this girl who just turned 8 and is turning into a young lady.  She needs Him.  Why would we keep Him from her?

Soul of Christ, sanctity me.  Body of Christ, heal me.

--3: School--
Despite adding a baby to the mix, I think this is our best year of homeschooling so far (granted, it's not over yet!).  I feel like we've just stumbled upon our groove that works for us.  There is still whining and complaining occasionally, but for the most part things are going well.  I think it's because I'm confident in my abilities and my plan.  It feels good to be confident and sure, and not have to run to the internet for every little problem I encounter.  We know enough now to just go with the flow and deal with it!  We've had some great field trips (the aquarium, the museum, Renfest,  the pope exhibit) and some great gatherings with other homeschooling families (the May crowning, co-op, the All Saints Day party) and we all are so grateful for the opportunity to home educate.

--4: Our Garden--
The spring was full of fresh produce from our garden.  Carrots, onions, radishes, beautiful lettuces, spinach... I felt like such a Proverbs 31 woman every time I went outside to pull leaves for a fresh salad on a nightly basis.  I felt like this was the woman God created me to be!  A hobby, a way to teach the kids, a way to eat better.  I want so desperately to learn more, add animals (chickens, goats, a pig, a cow?!), and spend more time outside.  It's awoken something primal inside of me.  It's good my for soul.

--5: Restore--
I participated in an online workshop in the spring that included essays, reflection time, and podcasts that was really good for me.  I wasn't able to go to any sort of retreat this year, but the Restore workshop lasted all of Lent and it was just a tiny bit of a kick in the pants to remind me of the lengths I used to go through to nourish my soul.  It left me wanting more.  More time for quiet reflection, more time for my husband, more time for just being.  A step I took was to ditch Facebook for awhile.  Since my birthday, I log in only occasionally to check out events with our homeschool group, and keep with my doula business.  Not scrolling through the endless newsfeed has left me with more free time and not getting upset over all of the silly trivial things that just don't matter. I've also tried to incorporate more podcasts and EWTN radio into my day, read a few spiritual books (that are more than just "how to be a good holy mom" kind of books), and joined an Opus Dei circle to provide monthly reflection.  I still need to find a spiritual director and work on a recent personal revelation of a major source of sin in my life.  That's on the 2015 plan!

--6: Travel and Family--
I just realized I never posted about our trip to St. Louis last summer!  I will have to go back and do that!  Traveling is so good for me. The same day-to-day routine is comfortable and familiar, but at some point it usually catches up to me, and I need to be refreshed.  Getting out of the house for a few days does this for me in a major way, so our trip to KC and St. Louis to visit friends family members was very restoring.   I love being around other moms, seeing how other people manage the ins-and-outs of family life, spending time one-on-one together after the kids go to bed; it's so encouraging to me!  This year we were able to do that once in KC/St. Louis with an old friend and with my amazing sister-in-law, who is a great patient Mommy and so positive!  I loved having her here for Christmas too.  This year we hope to see them more, maybe travel to North Carolina to visit my parents, spend a few days at the beach with friends, and celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on an adults-only trip.  I hope we can spread these events out through the year, as that would be so good for my mommy spirit.

--7: Friends--
We've been blessed to cultivate new friendships this year, and for this I am so grateful.  I didn't have good girl friends as a kid and teen, and as a mom it's caught up to me.  I need strong, holy, beautiful women in my life, and over the past 5 years God has really blessed me with that!  It's been so important to me too, that my children and husband have good friendships.  Ryan has grown his friendships through early morning mass and coffee, late night "homeschool dad" nights, and keeping up with is old buddies via fantasy sports.  Beth has grown into a young woman who has a craving to be with girls her age.  I desperately want her to have good girl friends in her life, a gift that I never had, so we go out of our way to try to make that happen.  Luke and Jack are getting there- they have a few friends but for the most part, they have each other right now!  And as a busy mama, I keep in touch with friends mostly via texting, daytime playdates, and the occasional mom's night out.

Birthday boys- friends since before one year old!

Beth's first sleepover!

"Ridiculously good-looking" buddies at a game
I have to say, my favorite thing about our lifestyle is that we are friends with families.  Spouses are friends and kids are friends, and we are all together.  We can stay at a friend's house till late at night while all ages of children play together and adults kick back together with a glass of wine.  I love their kids and they love mine.  It's nice to be social with other adults, knowing that our kids are safe and having fun too! I am so very thankful for these late nights!

I have a lot of thinking to do still about 2015.  Lots of ideas swirling around in my head.  Hopefully I can get those thoughts put down to "paper" soon!


pumapants said...

What a gnarly post!

pumapants said...

FYI, and by "gnarly" I mean "awesome" :)

Andrea said...

A beautiful reflection on your year! I love the photo of Beth on her first communion day. That is so beautiful!

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