Two Thousand Twelve. Well that was quick. Some years seem to never end (can we say 2011?) but others are gone in a matter of blinks. I don't even remember much of this year. I honestly cannot tell you what happened prior to Benjamin's birth in April. I chalk it up to pregnancy brain, but it's a tad disturbing. Even in the months that have followed, I'm hard pressed to come up with much in the way of memories this year. I thought I might make a "Best Of" list or a "My Favorite Memories", but there really just aren't any. Oh we had lots of fun! And we've been busy. I just can't remember doing what.
Perhaps it's best to consider where we are at this moment and where I'm headed as we click the google calendar arrow to 2013. We are now a family of six. Our table is full and our family complete. I will not fight my way through newborn nights or nurse another wee one. For this I give thanks. Benjamin received a booster seat for Christmas that clips to a dining room chair and so he has joined us officially at the table for meals. Daniel scooted down one seat to make room and so we complete the circle. It is good.
The older kids are making their way through the grade school years. In this I am learning new things as a mom. The first is to foster independence, which means sometimes they fall. It means their work is their work, not mine they traced. It means I help but don't give answers, even though it's tempting. It means - most of the time - I don't bring forgotten items to the school. And it means I (try to?) model respect for their teacher, even when I don't agree with her. The second is to allow each child to be who they are. To foster their talents and give them opportunities when possible, but not to push. This means honest conversations about what they enjoy and the pace at which they can maintain a peaceful steadiness. Brenna, in particular, does not like a frantic, busy life. This I must remember. And third, I am learning (or rather need to learn, as this will be ongoing) not to compare what we are doing as parents with what others are doing. I did not have so many insecurities as a first time mom because quite honestly Brenna was so far ahead of the norm that I rarely felt the need to compare. Now, since we've moved into the school community and - let's be honest - everything is all over facebook, it's gotten harder to be confident. I try to set up my white picket fence and let our decisions be what's best for our family, but I still get that nagging worry that my kids are missing out because everyone else is doing such and such. There are kids who seem to literally do it all - mine wouldn't even like that, and yet it still causes me to wonder. So this too, is something I am learning and will continue to wrestle with in the new year. School is good.
It's been a whole year and two months and I am still in love with our church. In fact I so enjoy being there that occasionally I stay for both services. I got brave this year and taught our Sunday School class. It was a lot of work, but fun. I decided to volunteer again in the spring. The people of our church are so real and they have blessed our family in more ways this year than I could ever write. Sometimes it's with gifts. Sometimes it's with friendship. Sometimes it's with empathy and encouragement. Or time. They are honest and true to their beliefs, even when those beliefs conflict with someone else's. I've continued to be amazed at how amicably they can disagree! These people are pouring into my kids. And I do mean pouring - as in a steady, thick stream. It almost seems as if God has appointed each of my kids a handful of adults (and a teen or two) to specifically love on them. It's neat how different people just seem to connect with each kid. We feel blessed and church is good.
There are two things in my life in particular that are all me. One is work and the other is bread. The true tension of work is that I love being there, but when I walk back in the house I see all the things I didn't do because I wasn't home. That probably won't change over the coming year. And that's ok. The kids do things with Daddy that Mommy never lets them do (play dough, paints, crack eggs, cook,...) so I guess it's ok if it takes me two days to catch back up. I am selling bread to about four families consistently now. I don't think I can handle much more unless I make bread for our family on a different day. There are just too many interruptions - lunch, bottles, bus stop, dinner, dishes, etc - to get more than 8 loaves in a day. Sometimes I can do 12 if I stretch it into the evening. But this whole bread thing has led us to so much information about our food in this country and we've been challenged to make changes. Most of the time we drink water now, rather than sweet tea. We switched to real butter, always. We are buying local eggs every other week. We've upped our fruits and veggies. We pop our own popcorn on the stove, and don't really care for microwave popcorn anymore. I think this will continue as we learn more and enjoy the changes we make. Work and bread are good.
Besides mom, my other big title is "Mrs." These lyrics from Dust On the Bottle come to mind, "Some say good love, well it's like a fine wine, It keeps getting better as the days go by...There might be a little dust on the bottle, It's one of those things that gets sweeter with time". Reflecting on nearly fourteen years, I'd have to agree. Leaning into God's design for marriage has made a huge impact in our relationship over the last few years - at least from my perspective. We are still learning, but the 'off days' are fewer and farther between. We are more unified now than ever before and that helps so much in setting boundaries around our family and in our decision making. We laugh. We love. And we enjoy life. Together. We just do whatever it takes. Sometimes that's a lot. Sometimes it's easier. Always it's good.
Stepping in to 2013 is exciting. We'll be partying and trying to keep Daniel awake. I am incredibly thankful for the relatively peaceful year that 2012 was in our home. (Perhaps because I can't remember the chaos?) I have just a few goals aside from what's above for 2013.
1. to finish Carrie's quilt - for pete sake I'm at three years already.
2. to find my way into a new normal, now that I have four kids
3. to finish my 1000 gifts list
4. to figure out which things are important and which need to be let go - and to be confident in those decisions, as there will be many of them.