January 3, 2013

Reflections & Goals.


We had a much appreciated, laid back break over the kids' winter vacation.  
Yesterday we returned to our regular work, school & sports routine.
With the quiet in the house, I changed calendars and spent some time reflecting on the old year & contemplating the new.  In our Christmas Letter, I wrote an abbreviated overview of our 2012.  At a closer, more personal look, these are the challenges & triumphs that set the tone for our year:

Following my heart, I departed (for the most part) from doing portrait photography.  It's good to be in control of my time again.  That was a necessary triumph for me for 2012. 

We thought seriously about relocating this past year.  
We considered a move around 2002-2003, and deliberated even more seriously this time around, ten years later.  At year-end, the status is that we are staying put for the current time.  Nonetheless, I spent much of 2012 trying to visualize our life in a setting other than we know it.

We tried new things, some of them out of our comfort zones.  The kids all traveled by airplane for the first time, which a couple of them were very reluctant to do.  It went well, they experienced new parts of the country, and they enjoyed themselves. 

Beau starting kindergarten was pretty huge.  After a fifteen year run of kids of some number under my watchful wing at all times, the fall of 2012 began a new chapter in my life.  To have these quiet hours of independence in the day is entirely new to me.  It's not better or worse necessarily, it's just a change in the growing forward of our family. 

Just as Beau took that big step of independence in heading to school, Mason & Eric hit new levels of growing up, too.  First, having friends who are of age to drive was a big change toward independence.  Their friends come & go now, without the need of parental chauffeurs.  Our household has expanded some in this sense.
Allowing them to go places with friends & waiting (maybe worrying a little) for them to get safely home is a new stage in parenthood for me.  And now, having them with their learner's permits, Mitch & I no longer have the front seat together as we have teenagers behind the wheel, transporting our family as we've travel to & from holiday visits.  A new page, for sure.
They've excelled to high school level of play in sports, which also sets a new, busier, later tone to our days.
I sometimes wonder if this -where we're at with two teenage athletes, two social grade-schoolers, and a preschool-turned kindergartner- is the height of "busy" in our life.  At this time, it feels like it.
 
We paid off our mortgage.
I shared this in our Christmas letter, and then I wavered, wondering whether or not I should remove it.  I think half of the printing included it and half did not.   People often share when they've bought a home, as it's a big life event, (as well as when they've bought a list of other things, which isn't my style) so I decided it's not unreasonable to share our accomplishment in home ownership. 
2012 was the year we became loan & debt free.
This is a big accomplishment & turning point in our lives.  Our time belongs more to us than ever before, rather being owned by lenders. 

We experienced a broken ankle, a broken collar bone, our share of other unexpected mishaps & challenges.  But we continued to learn & grow & move forward.
The biggest challenge of the year was the amount of time Mitch has been absent from our family & home.  That has been a big factor in our life for a few years now, and leads me to my hopes for the future, which I also sat down & spent some time thinking about..

I'm not a New Years Resolution kind of person. 
But I do plan, & think, & hope, & dream regularly.
Here are a few of things on my To-do List for the new year (in no particular order):
  • My biggest hope is that Mitch will be home-based eventually, for good.  He's been away from home more than ever the last few years.  Constancy, & the balance of our family together under one roof each night, this is the most important goal for us this year. 
  • Get a water softener.  A material thing, but at this point I'm completely unabashed in wanting it.  I've had hard - very hard water all my life.  It's at the top of my 2013 home improvement list.
  • Travel to somewhere I've never been.  (Our plane tickets are waiting for us, we just need to decide where to go.)  I hope to never stop seeking new places to explore & learn about.
  • Finish all planned work before planning more.    
  • Create something every day. 
  • Exercise my mind and body every day.  No matter what.  
  • Have meaningful conversation with each of the kids every day.  Communication requires more intention at times as the kids get older & busier.  It's more important than ever to stay on top of it.
  • Try something new.  Last year I started kayaking and I tried Caesar Salad  & became hooked on it.  (I've lived a sheltered culinary life.)
    The other day I randomly started practicing some German.  (Go ahead & ask me how to say "brown sugar" in German next time you see me!)
    Learning to crochet is on the To-do list, as is canning venison.
    Most new things I learn or try are unplanned, though.. So we'll see what 2013 brings.   
  • I hope to surprise myself.
Best New Year wishes to all!

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