Reflecting on 2015

The time has come, this late December, to look back at the year and revisit what happened, what we learned, what we accomplished, what we wish we had done. It’s a terrifying and wonderous thing, to realize that a year is almost over, and a new one is beginning. Some of us made big plans for our year, set goals and worked hard to achieve them. Others of us made loose plans and rolled with the punches. Still others may have been lost in the throes of 2014 when we began, unsure of what 2015 would bring, or the tone that would dominate the months of uncertainty.

As we reflect and gather our thoughts on 2015, here are 7 questions you may ask yourself to wrap up the past year. I’ll even answer them for myself, and reflect alongside you.

  1. What was the biggest event in your world this year? Something you can tell your children’s children about, years from now…   This year, D was born. We began the year with trepidation regarding his health, and were happy to welcome a perfect little guy into the world in July, after a night of hard labor and a blessedly quick delivery.
  2. What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever? And why?   We bought a new car, a GMC Acadia, just before D was born. We knew we needed a new car (three kids needed a bigger car than my Camry), and weren’t quite sure what we would get, or how much space we really needed. The Acadia was the perfect blend of space we needed day-to-day and space we would need on a road trip. We’ve been very happy with it!
  3. What was the funniest thing that happened this year? Is there anything that you still laugh at today?   I wouldn’t always share a birth story for a big question like this, but there was a moment during my labor with D that the nurse broke my water… Hubby was taking a snooze (we’d been up all night, and I had just gotten my epidural) and I cried out when she broke my water, because it splashed all over the room. And I still die every time Hubby tells the story. He’s way funnier than I am.
  4. Who are the top 5 people you spent the most/best time with this year? If I have to pick exactly five, I’m going to choose our sweet family friends the Van Zandts. Hubby’s best friend from high school, his wife, and their three girls, who are roughly the same ages as my kiddos moved to town (into our neighborhood!) right at this time last year, and we have been blessed by their presence and closeness multiple times. They are good people to have close by and we love our time with them. 
  5. What was one thing that you did really well this year?   I think that I grew as a worship leader this year. I got to know my people better, grew in confidence behind the keys/mic, and fell in love with doing my job even a little bit more. I have some incredible co-leaders and role models to base my craft upon. 
  6. How did you grow spiritually, emotionally, and/or physically?   I’ll try to answer all three: Spiritually, I bridged the gap between having no time for a personal spiritual life and making time for myself as often as possible (Goal: daily. Reality: weekly.) Emotionally, I struggled with some hormonal changes after D was born, and again at his 4 month sleep regression (apparently, being tired makes me short-tempered and straight up angry sometimes). I battled to keep my cool some days. Physically, the last half of the year was comprised of losing my pregnancy weight, and finding a healthy exercise routine…and then losing the routine again for the holidays! Ha!
  7. If you had one word to describe your 2015, what would it be, and why? At the beginning of the year, I chose a word (phrase, actually) to carry me through the year. I had chosen “Embrace it!” to be what I wanted my year to be about. I feel like I did a pretty good job with that most of the time, however much things changed or were crazy. I don’t know if I think that was the most important word, or the word I thought about most often, but it definitely was up there. Thankful is another word I think of that goes with my year. Amid the craziness of expanding our family, I always tried to remain in a posture of thankfulness. 

Let’s hear some of your answers to these questions!

Things Toddlers Say

Hey y’all! This week has been crazy, what with Christmas and J’s birthday, and I’ve unfortunately had a fair amount of time away from the kiddos. But here are a few gems; they will tide you over! Happy Tuesday!

Hubby snuggling with EK as she falls asleep…
EK: Daddy, you’re the biggest man I’ve ever seen.

EK, totally randomly: I rest my case!

Me: While daddy and I are gone, I want you to take a really good nap, okay?
EK: Yeah, that’s what little girls do. Close their eyes, and then wake up! But while my eyes are closed, the tears can still come down.
Me: …

J: My water! My water! My water! My water!
Hubby: What about your water?
J: My water is wet!

At the Mexican restaurant, in the bathroom…
EK: They have wonderful-smelling, pink soap!
Me: It does smell nice, doesn’t it?
EK: I could kiss the sink!
Me: NOOO!

 EK, wearing this dress: Can you bring me a horse to ride on?

My mom got the kids these things called FatHeads for the kids’ rooms. Basically they’re enormous stickers that go on the walls. J got a Tonka (construction vehicles) set, and EK got almost life-sized princesses. When she took our friends Andrea and Chris downstairs to see them, she said, “These are my people.”

Me, singing Dave Matthews: I’m the king of the castle, and yore a dirty rascal.
J: I’m a dirty rascal! (on pitch)

Got this post on my Facebook timeline from one of the children’s ministry leaders at my church: I went in to EK’s class yesterday to teach the Bible Story and sing with the kids and EK requested “Shake it Off.” Still laughing about it today. ūüėāūüėÜ ‚ÄĒ ÔŅľfeeling amused

The only thing I’m really missing is the fact that J copies almost exactly what EK says… right down to poor grammar, random comments, and rude statements. So there’s that.

29What are you kiddos saying? Did it have to do with Christmas?

Some Assembly Required

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

I had a lovely experience with Christmas this year. My two oldest kids are old enough to really appreciate more complicated toys and notice when things are a little different. I spent a few hours setting up for Christmas morning, and making sure everything looked “just so”. I even made my brother help me with the Lego village. 

So naturally, on the eve of my son’s birthday, only 3 days after Christmas, I abhorred the fact that I was already wrapping more boxes and assembling a birthday celebration. This feeling was even more pronounced since I had bought a special surprise for him months ago, that I imagined being the favorite birthday gift. 

A friend of mine had bought a teepee for her son, on sale and very nice. Online, it looked similar to a pop-up tent thing my daughter has (in the shape of a princess castle of course) that J loves, so I thought it would be the perfect compliment to that. The box arrived amid several other Christmas gifts, so I put the entire box away to open later when I prepared for his birthday. 

Tonight, when my kids got in bed, I began to look at the Christmas crazy left from the last few days of slowly dwindling house guests and overflowing bins and boxes of stuff. I’m supposed to host a birthday party tomorrow?! I don’t care how small it’s supposed to be, that’s a little bit of pressure. So naturally I run the vacuum half-heartedly and pick up miscellaneous items from new toy sets and one thousand little scraps of wrapping paper I had so carefully folded and sparingly taped. And then… I remember the teepee.

I retrieved the box from the garage, and got to work. I’ve got a few choice pictures of my progress…  

 When I took it out of the box, I was surprised to find wooden poles. What happened to that pop-up tent I ordered? Along with the poles there was treated canvas. Was this thing an actual tent?! Is he, at some point in the future, going to ask me to camp in this thing?!

So, I got to work, in the middle of the living room floor, glass of wine close by for moral support. The directions seemed simple: Twist poles together. Put poles into inserts in canvas. Tie poles and grommets in canvas together. Enjoy your tent. Easy! 

 Forty-five long minutes later, I call my mom upstairs to help me tie knots, and we stand back and look at our newest abode within an abode. I could probably curl up and sleep in this thing. J is gonna LOVE it. I had envisioned it in his room. I’ll probably still let him keep it there, but it’s gonna be tight.  

 Moral of the story? J will love it. And I would do anything for my son, especially on his birthday, that I think he will love. Even after a week of crazy has just happened, I will open my home to even more crazy, because he deserves to be celebrated. I love him for who he is, but also (mostly) because he is my sweet, beloved son. Will he remember his second birthday? Nope. Will his adult self remember an awesome, surprisingly durable, traffic cone-like teepee? Maybe not. But will he remember the love his mama put into everything that had to do with him? I sure hope so. 

If I can love my silly, sweet middle child so much, after only two years, that it brings tears to my eyes, how much more can my Father, creator of the cosmos and author of my destiny, love me? I may be sweet, I am definitely silly, and I often feel lost in the shuffle, but I always know that I have the deep, secure love of a Father who would do anything to make me whole. 

Christmas Eve, Y’all.¬†

Time stamp: 1:49am, December 25

Santa’s presents are out. The rest of the presents are wrapped. The tree is lit, as it will be all night. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, and sugar plums are just out of my field of vision. 

Hubby and I spent seven hours today at church, preparing for and carrying out three Christmas Eve services at our sweet church. I loved it- every moment. It was awesome to be on stage with the “all-star team” (Hey guys!) and see people from every service mingled in together. I’m a fan of church on Christmas Eve to get you in the right mindset before Santa and his BS take over. My kids are basically to young to get that gifts are because we love each other, so unfortunately (fortunately?) we haven’t bothered to worry about missing out on most of Christmas Eve, stretching bedtimes and naptimes to accommodate our crazy musical schedules and particular family dynamics. 

But in the midst of tantrum big toddlers, five-month-olds who won’t sleep, and burgeoning excitement over cookies, presents and pajamas all day, I’m pushing through my tiredness for fun. I’m going to ignore the clock, snuggle with the Hubs and just come to terms with the fact that I will be s little strung out tomorrow. 

Because it’s Christmas. And I love y’all. 

Have an amazing day tomorrow. Merry Christmas. 

When you try to go to bed but you still have a bow.

 Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday, y’all! Nothing much to report, so here we go!

J cries because he put an enormous potato chip in his mouth.
EK: It’s okay, buddy. You’ll get it.

EK: Let’s go into the kitchen!
J: Let’s go to the chicken!

EK: Here’s some rabbits for you!¬†
Me: Okay, then…

I hurt my foot and I moaned and groaned about it for a while…
J: Don’t cry, mama.
Me: Are you all at once the cutest and most concerned kid?
J: Yeah.

J walks up to EK, wearing two bead necklaces.
EK: Joseph, do you want to be a king, and I’ll be the princess?
J: Yeah! (Gives her one of the necklaces.) Here you go, Princess!
EK: Thank you!
This was obviously all pre-arranged, right?

J: I wanna snuggle! Sing the train song!
Me: Come on ride…
J: Sing Eidelweiss!
Me: Eidelweiss, Eidelweiss…
J: Sing Oceans!
Me: You call me out… (The first verse.)
J: No! Oceans!
Me: And I will call upon your name… (The chorus.)
J: Close the door now.
Me: Well, I just feel used.

J, holding the Apple TV remote: I got it!
Me, controlling tv with my phone: Ok, buddy.
J, furiously pushing buttons: Look! I got it!
Me, still controlling it: Yep, totally.
The battery was dead. But who needed to know?

Me: Joseph and I are cleaning! Do you think you cold help us?
Ek: Um… No… I’m going to… Um… Read the Bible!
Apparently she thinks I’m not going to argue with such an activity.

Well, have a merry Christmas, everyone!

Things a Mom Can Do When She Sleeps All Night

This also appears on My Big Jesus!  

It’s no surprise that moms frequently don’t get enough sleep. If they aren’t woken by babies or kids or pets, they’re up worrying about why they haven’t been woken. But on the odd day that a mother wakes, all on her own, having rested fully the night before, she transforms into an amazing creature… a superhero of sorts. She can take on the world in a whole new way, and she’ll only need two cups of coffee to do it! Here are some things a well-rested mother might do if she sleeps the entire night:

1. She will wake up with her first alarm. She won’t even hit snooze. She’ll just stretch her arms wide, take a deep breath, and start her day with a smile.

2. She will cook herself a hot breakfast, and not share it with anyone. Frying eggs, brewing coffee, and toasting bread, all before her children wake up.

3. She will make pancakes, and not even be annoyed about it. Special breakfast will be no big deal, and the children will give her a cheer!

4. She will pack the children up for an outing before lunchtime. She is excited enough to hit the park AND the grocery store – in one fell swoop!

5. She will actually eat lunch! And I don’t just mean whatever her kids leave on their plates. She will fix herself a sandwich, alongside the children’s healthy meals she will patiently coax them to eat. 

6. She won’t turn on the TV. She doesn’t need background noise or distraction for the children. She is so energetic! She will become tickle monster or professional storyteller before the TV comes on.

7. She will plan a healthy and delicious dinner for her family. Since she went to the grocery store, the kitchen is her oyster as she minces garlic, chops peppers, sears steak and bakes cookies.

8. She will tackle bath time, pajama wielding, tooth brushing and story reading all in time for an early bedtime. She is fearless as she enters the witching hour fray. 

Why, oh why, can’t this well-rested woman be you? Because she’s mythical, of course – an idealized version of you when you get even six hours of sleep in a row. In other words, she is a very figment of our imaginations. Everyone knows that mothers don’t sleep!

Easy Peppermint Ornaments 

One evening, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed, and saw that my friend Marcie had posted cute pictures of what looked like peppermint-swirled ornaments. Intrigued, I clicked and found out she had made them with her son! She posted some easy directions, and I filled in the blanks and made them with EK one afternoon!

I bought some Brach’s Star Brites, and EK spent several minutes taking the mints out of their wrappers…
And she was wearing only her tights. Because threenager. After we had a bowl of them ready to go…

I chose some metal cookie cutters that weren’t terribly detailed, spread them on a cookie sheet, and sprayed them down with some Pam.
  
EK placed the candies flat to the pan inside the cookie cutters until she couldn’t easily fit any more. The ones that looked like they needed more mints, I broke a few into pieces and stuck them in (the snowflakes in particular). Following Marcie’s instructions, I then put them in a 300 degree oven, and waited. At first, I thought I was going to be waiting forever; nothing seemed to happen for the first 6 minutes. But when they melted, they MELTED. So I took them out!
  
(That was the ugliest. And it also broke. Yikes.)

As you can see, they melted maybe a little too much… and also, it didn’t help that my cookie sheet was warped, and the melted candy¬†seeped out from underneath the cookie cutters. Oops. But the stuff off the edges came off easily while it was still hot (I scraped with a toothpick) and broke off easily when I hadn’t gotten it all off before it hardened. I took a toothpick and stuck it upright in each shape to be the hole for the fishing line. I waited for them to cool completely, and slid them (surprisingly easily!) from their cookie cutters. They were REALLY¬†brittle. A few broke in the process, and I accidentally dropped two more and broke them as well. They were quite greasy, and I wiped them with a paper towel. But once the ones that had survived were strung up and on the tree, I really liked them!
I think I wasn’t watching closely enough, and let them get too hot, because they bubbled up in a few places. Watch really closely, even when it seems like nothing is happening!
  

Obviously, they’re made of sugar, so they’re a one-season type craft, but it’s so easy and cheap, I’ll do it every year! You should definitely try making them!