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Initial Summary:

Where were you when 2016 began?
At home!

Who were you with?
Close family – we smashed our gingerbread house and Eli played on his new toy horse.

Was 2016 a good year for you?
It was, sort of. It was pretty rough. It was long. It was life changing.

What countries/states did you visit?
We visited Alan, Mandy and Ethan in Oklahoma as a family first half of the year.  Then Justin and I took an awesome mini-vacation where we drove through Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Maine.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? 
I did not make any, so, yes. One of the interesting things, when I was asked last year what I wanted in 2016 that I lacked in 2015 I said more camping, more friends and a church home.  Luckily, I can add all of those to my list of accomplishments. We went camping 3 times (spring break, summer, and thanksgiving), found a new church home, and I’ve developed some friendships at work.

Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Cory and Erin added baby David, aka Boog, to the family!

Did anyone close to you die? 
No.  Lots of other people did, though, it was a rough year.

What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 1st, 2016, the day Lilly came to live with us AND the day that I started my new career at the Police Department.

Experiences:

What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
We took my niece in for the school year to help her out.  Justin and I got to visit the east coast, which was pretty awesome.  I became the Accreditation and Compliance Coordinator at my job, which is a completely different job than dispatching.

Did you have fun in 2016?
I believe the phrase that best sums up this year is: “All joy and no fun.”  We did get some good camping trips in this year.  My new job is pretty amazing, too.  I enjoy it a lot.

What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I’d spent more time living instead of responding and surviving.  I wish I’d been more empathetic and given more grace to Justin.  It’s been a pretty rough year.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I’d been less judgmental, less controlling, less bossy.  I wish I’d spoken less and listened more.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 32! I worked, because the last few birthdays have kind of sucked and I was tired of trying to do something special.  So my brother-from-another-mother Gabe and some of the other guys took me to lunch.  That evening was our very first Community Group with our new church, and that was a pretty great birthday present.  That’s been a worthwhile and awesome investment.

What did you want and get?
A break from dispatching. Leslie got me a really awesome coffee mug from my Pinterest wish list, too!

What did you want and not get?
Debt free.  And I see no sign of that in the near future.

Others:

Whose behavior merited celebration? 
My families. Lilly has shown a willingness to grow and change and become more self-aware, which for a 13-year-old is pretty incredible. Justin has stepped up and really helped mitigate some of these changes with grace I can’t comprehend. Benjamin has taken on the task of having a big older sister with a good sense of humor and a willingness to grow.  It has been QUITE an adjustment for him, but he’s done amazing.  Eli has kept everyone smiling and shows compassion that I didn’t think a 2 year old was capable of, but there he is every day asking me how my day was.

Whose behavior made you appalled, depressed, or sad?
People who put their needs over the needs of others, people who refuse to listen to loved ones, people who won’t change. People that choose to take dark paths because they’re easy. People that scream that they’re being judged and no one will tolerate them, when they’re the ones who aren’t tolerating others.  Also my own behavior, which was characterized by impatience.

Did somebody treat you badly in 2016?
Yeah but I probably deserved at least some of it.

Who were some new people you met?
Beth!!!!!!!

Favorites/Least Favorites:

What was your favorite month of 2016? 
That is actually easy this year.  April we went to go visit family in Oklahoma, I was given an award at work for my work to help victims of domestic violence, I got to teach at the APCO/NENA conference, AND we got to go to NASA. Oh, and I had a lady’s weekend with my family.  I’m gonna have to go with April!!!

What was your favorite moment of the year?
The entirety of Justin and I’s vacation together. Also, Benjamin learning how to ride his bike. That was a pretty incredible experience with him in front of the house.  He just kept trying and trying until he could do it. And then, he did!

What was your least favorite moment of the year? 
There are a lot of least favorite moments this year.  Most of them involved dealing with things out of my control.

What was your favorite TV program? 
One Piece!

What was the best book you read? 
Hmm. Tough decision, as always.  Non-fiction I really liked “Drive” by Daniel Pink. Fiction I really liked “We’re all Damaged” by Mathew Norman.

What were your favorite films of this year? 
The new Star Wars!

What was your favorite video game you played this year?
I haven’t played any this year.

What was your favorite new technology/application?
My fitbit was pretty awesome for most of the year!

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Aviccii.

What was the best thing you bought? 
New tires for the truck #oldlady

Self-reflection:

What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
I took in a teenager. Pretty much everything pales in comparison to that.

What was your biggest failure? 
I could be doing better at the teenager thing.

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
Not really.  Luckily I paid attention to my body a lot better this year and didn’t have any major injuries.  Eli had a lot of illness, but he’s doing good on his medicine this fall so we haven’t had nearly the sickness we did last year (thank you Jesus).

Where did most of your money go?
Kids and gasoline.

What kept you sane?
I’m not sure I kept it…

Who did you miss?
My husband.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
CAMPING!

Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? Sadder
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner!
iii. richer or poorer? POORER!

Did you fall in love in 2016? 
Yes, with a temporary daughter!

Did you lose anything important this year?
Yes.  We lost the previous family dynamic. But, it’s being reshaped into something new and different, and sometimes losing something important isn’t a bad thing, just a thing.

What was your proudest moment of 2016?
Listening to Benjamin try to teach Lilly about God. Getting my new job.

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2016?
Telling my boss he shouldn’t worry about being sloppy with his Y’s, as long as he’s not sloppy with his wives *facepalm*

Gauge your:
(On a scale of: Very Good, Good, Fairly Good, Fairly Bad, Bad, Very Bad)
• Relational Health – Fairly good
• Emotional Health – Fairly bad
• Physical Health – Good
• Social Health – Fairly good (this has consistently been bad, but this year we really improved it)
• Spiritual Health – Good
• Intellectual Health – Very good!!! This new job is really helping that!!!
• Financial Health –  Bad. Almost very bad. But not quite!

It seems to me, each year, that one of these things is bad. Balance is a terrible, terrible thing.

In the future:

How will you be spending Christmas? 
We already had it! We spent Christmas Eve at our house, and it was absolute chaos. It wasn’t nearly enjoyable enough considering how much effort was put into it! Next year: everyone opens presents ONE AT A TIME.  Christmas morning we were at Aunt Tina and Uncle Scott’s and we had a great time.  The kids got some really fun presents.

How will you be spending New Years? 
Already done (I am totally late this year filling this out).  We went to visit Aunt Charla and Uncle Brad and Alexis in Bastrop where they camped, and then drove over to Gabe and Rachel’s house for the nights.  We rang in the new year with all the kids and I kissed my husband at midnight.  We hung out with friends, laughed, talked, snorted with laughter and made some great memories.  I loved it.

What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? 
More organization in the house. I would really like it a lot if Justin and I could work out a way to balance and prioritize our life a little more.  Adjusting to this year has been ridiculously difficult, and while I know we’ll come out stronger on the other side of this, it’s definitely been a challenge.

What are your plans for 2017?
To spend a lot of time outdoors, to get Eli potty trained, to log more time on my bicycle, to get my BMI to 27.4 (170 lbs, right in the middle of “overweight” instead of obese). To improve my relational and emotional health to the “very good” categories.

Will you make any new years resolutions for 2017?
Yeah – I gave up candy, cakes, and cookies for the first 11 months of the year, with a few exceptions (like the kids birthday).  I gave up candy in 2015 and it helped a lot with my awareness.  This is a big more extreme, but I think it will be a good experiment.

In Conclusion:

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016: 

I am still learning it.  I think it’s something about the importance of listening, and shutting up, and servant leadership.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year: 

I have two:

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse

And:

You’re the reason that I feel so strong
The reason that I’m hanging on
You know you gave me all the time
Oh, did I give enough of mine?

Hold on, darling
This body is yours,
This body is yours and mine
Well hold on, my darling
This mess was yours,
Now your mess is mine

 

Initial Summary:

Where were you when 2015 began?
At home, with family.  We were celebrating Eli’s first birthday the next day!

Who were you with?
The Sullivan family, Scott family and Breese family!

Was 2015 a good year for you?
Yes.  I had a great year! Not being pregnant, not working night shift, and not having a new baby does wonders for the ability to rest.  There was a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, isn’t there always though? But it was a great year!

What countries/states did you visit?
Justin and I took a cruise with some family to Cozumel, Belize and Honduras.  It was an awesome, relaxing, revitalizing experience.

Did you keep your new years’ resolutions? 
Sort of. Yes, mostly. I wanted to go a year without eating candy – which I mostly did! No candy at Easter or Halloween, which are my two big holidays with stuff I love to eat. However, I did take a day off in May so everyone in the family could eat Wonka candy while watching Willy Wonka – Benjamin and I read the book, and followed it up with the movie.

Did anyone close to you give birth? 
Finally, NO. But next year Cory and Erin will be adding a new baby to the mix!

Did anyone close to you die? 
Not particularly, but one of the Lieutenants that retired from Cedar Park passed away, and that was very sad because he was really an amazing guy.  Also, we lost one of the Fire Department administrators at work, her name was Debbie and she was SO incredibly sweet.  They both will be missed!

What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don’t think I have had any particularly standout dates.

Experiences:

What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
Taught my first “Train the trainer” in February for SAFVIC, which was an AWESOME experience!! Took both boys to their first baseball game in April. Sent my son to school – although that’s really more of a first for him than me!  We bought a truck!

Did you have fun in 2015?
Yes!

What do you wish you’d done more of?
Found more time to be a Husband and Wife instead of just Mom and Dad.  Being married is a lot of fun, but if you don’t take time to have dates you really miss out on connecting.  I exercised a lot, but I wish I had done more, more consistently.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish I’d been injured/sick less.

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 31! We drove out to Houston to visit family. It was a quick turnaround trip, and I ended up offending one of my family members inadvertently, so I spent most of my birthday feeling like absolute crap over a breakfast plan misunderstanding.  That’s the second year I’ve had a bad birthday experience for at least part of the day, so I think next year I’m going to make my husband take me away for the day!  This year he bought me (besides the truck) a nice flannel shawl.

What did you want and get?
Justin and I have needed a vehicle with one more seat for some time, for the times we need to transport 4 kids and 2 adults (which is more often than you’d think). So we debated what to buy and finally pulled the trigger on a 2013 Chevy Silverado with low mileage and leather interior.  I’m in love with it and we’ve already been camping once in it!

What did you want and not get?
Debt free. But my priorities shifted this year, and it is worth it to remain in debt because now I have the vehicle necessary to go camping.  Also, did not get to spend more time outdoors. Spent a lot of time the end of the year working, and unfortunately all the days off I did get were usually bad weather days!

Others:

Whose behavior merited celebration? 
Amanda. She doesn’t see me watching, but she’s turning into an incredible young lady.

Whose behavior made you appalled, depressed, or sad?
All the folks that left dispatch (Vanna, Charitie, Jared, Jen, etc) made me very sad.

Did somebody treat you badly in 2015?
Not particularly. I think there were a few situations where Justin wasn’t treated like he expected, and that had a significant impact on me since we’re married – so, sort of, but only as a bystander.

Who were some new people you met?
Vanna, Ginger and Jono.

Favorites/Least Favorites:

What was your favorite month of 2015? 
Probably August.  We took the kids to the beach, Benjamin started school and Justin and I started our cruise (and finished it in September).

What was your favorite moment of the year?
Probably Benjamin starting school, when he looked at me and said he was good for us to leave him. So big!  I’d also have to list Eli finally saying “I love you” back to me!  Also, buying the truck with Justin!

What was your least favorite moment of the year? 
Taking Eli to the hospital because he was having difficulty breathing.  That was stressful and terrifying.

What was your favorite TV program? 
STARGATE! Who’d have thought?

What was the best book you read? 
Tough call. I read a BUNCH of books this year – it’s been really awesome having the kindle, I read so much more.  The most EDUCATIONAL book I read this year was “Parenting your powerful child” by Kevin Leman.  The most ENJOYABLE book I read was Ready Player One. And the book that was the most well written was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

What were your favorite films of this year? 
Big Hero Six (I know I technically saw it for the first time the year before, but I watched it a LOT this year) I also really enjoyed Age of Ultron and Inside Out….I really missed a lot of good movies this year though due to schedule, so hopefully  next year we can watch a few more.

What was your favorite video game you played this year?
Diablo III!

What was your favorite new technology/application?
My fitbit! I got it at Christmas – so not much time to use it – but it’s already been well appreciated!

What was your greatest musical discovery?
I really enjoy the following songs this year:
Maps – Maroon 5
Let her go – Passenger
Honey I’m Good – Andy Grammar
Counting Stars – OneRepublic
Shut up and Dance with me – Walk the Moon
Thinking out Loud – Ed Sheeran

What was the best thing you bought? 
THE TRUCK!

Self-reflection:

What was your biggest achievement of the year? 
I made some good strides in priority evaluation and I lost quite a bit of weight.  I also received an award at work for “Distinguished Leadership” which is an amazing honor that made me feel recognized in my efforts at improving relations between employee and employer.  I’m so blessed to work where I am, and this award means quite a bit to me.

What was your biggest failure? 
I just can’t eat healthy for nothin’! At least, not consistently.  I keep trying!

Did you suffer illness or injury? 
I got most of my PF under control but broke my ankle (well, hairline fracture, but it still hurt a lot!).  I also got sick ALL of November and half of December with Bronchitis and sinus infections that would NOT end.  Then I had tinitis (ringing in ears) until Christmas morning.  However, it did make me more greatly appreciate my health and I’m going to try really hard next year to spend more time appreciating my good health when it’s around.

Where did most of your money go?
Medical bills. We were crazy sick this year, especially the boys.  School starting and allergies did a number on our wallet!

What kept you sane?
The boys.

Who did you miss?
Friends. All of them.

What did you get really, really, really excited about? 
CAMPING!

Compared to this time last year, are you:
I. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner!
iii. richer or poorer? POORER! But – happier. I’m willing to make the trade off.

Did you fall in love in 2015? 
I usually say “over and over again” but I would have to say no – this year was one of the years where we worked hard to maintain – not in a bad way, just in a “we’re in this for the long haul and not every year is all roses” kind of year.

Did you lose anything important this year?
My church.  I’m still feeling the effects. I’m heartbroken and I believe this is the right decision for my family, but it’s not an easy one and I’m so very, very sad.

What was your proudest moment of 2015?
Benjamin’s first piano recital!!!

What was your most embarrassing moment of 2015?
Calling someone “Fellatio” over the radio

Gauge your:
(On a scale of: Very Good, Good, Fairly Good, Fairly Bad, Bad, Very Bad)
• Relational Health – Good
• Emotional Health – Good
• Physical Health – Fairly Good
• Social Health – Very Bad (My status did not change AT ALL in 2015, so I’m downgrading this and planning on working to address this next year!)
• Spiritual Health – Fairly bad
• Intellectual Health – Good
• Financial Health –  Fairly good

In the future:

How will you be spending Christmas? 
Already had it! We spent it at home, with the family, and it was awesome.  Aunt Lynn, James, Teresa and Amanda joined us and there was lots of presents and lots of fun.  We spent the day playing with the boys playing with all their new toys/games.  I got a new Fitbit Charge HR, which I’m looking forward to having!

How will you be spending New Years? 
Not sure – I work at 6am New Year’s day, so we will probably stay in with the family, maybe play some games, and enjoy time with them.

What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? 
Hmmmm.  I would like some more friendships.  I would like to have a church home – which I did have for most of 2015, but lost at the end.

What are your plans for 2016?
To spend more time outdoors, to get Eli introduced to the potty (not trained, persay, but at least on his way), to get Benjamin riding a bicycle with no training wheels, to log more time on my bicycle, to get my BMI to 27.4 (170 lbs, right in the middle of “overweight” instead of obese. I previously set a goal at the start of 2015 to be at 185 by the end of 2016, but since I made it to 208 by the end of this year I decided to go ahead and aim for lower for the end of next year…we will see!

Will you make any new years resolutions for 2016?
Maybe. I don’t know yet – I am seriously considering taking a year long social media break.

In Conclusion:

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015: 

You only have one life to live. This is it, folks, a few trips around the sun and then you’re dead. I believe this life is just a jumping off point for eternity, and I know not everyone believes that, but either way I believe and really learned this year that you have to make the most of it. Live hard, love harder, work hard, and push yourself. This is the only chance. You’re worth it to make the most of it.

So worry less about the bank account, but save as much as you can.

Try to be as healthy as you can, but enjoy a piece of cake now and again.

Set goals, push yourself, and strive for greatness.

I know that’s all really cliché advice but this year I really realized how true it is.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Lately, I’ve been, I’ve been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I’ve been, I’ve been praying hard,
Said, no more counting dollars
We’ll be counting stars, yeah we’ll be counting stars

When I was a young girl, my Mom showed me a picture of my Nanny (her mother) as a child with her family.  She showed me the people who had committed suicide; the people who were alcoholics, the people who had fought battles and lost.

She looked at me and said: “The cycle stops here. With us.” She told me and she hugged me, she said we were going to be different, that we would succeed where others failed.

I lost her, too.  Just a few years after that conversation.

I sometimes wonder if in her fight to escape she forgot that she also had to fight to live.

There are echos of generational brokenness scattered across our culture.  I’m not talking about “generational curses” that were talked about in the Old Testament. I’m talking about an alcoholic family producing alcoholic children because that is all they know.  Or an abusive husband who raises a son who is an abuser too.

Generational brokenness is everywhere when you start to look.  I see it when I see local stories of families destroyed by two generations worth of bad decisions that cumulate in tragic loss.  I hear echos of it in the voice of a man who shoots his daughter and 6 grandchildren.  I saw it when my father shot my mother and I see it when I look at my husband and my children and I know that we have to fight.

I can’t speak to your story – I can only speak about mine.  And I know that in mine there are generations and generations of brokenness.  I bring alcoholism, suicide and domestic violence with me into my marriage with my husband. He brings alcoholism and bi-polar depression.

We bring ourselves, and written on our spirits are fingerprints of the past.

For better or for worse we are children of the generation before us.

Where then, is our hope?

What then, can save us?

I don’t have all the answers.  I can only guess. But here are a few things I can tell you.

  1. Being aware is crucial – I grew up knowing that my parents were fighting against the bad things they had learned from their parents, just like their parents surely had fought against the bad things they learned from theirs.  Each generation the combination changed.  I didn’t see my parents alcoholism until the last few years of their life, but I grew up seeing their domestic violence (not that I realized it at the time).  I grew up from age 5 knowing the effects of suicide.  Being aware helps you actively fight against it.
  2. You have to actively fight against it – I can only speculate, but I suspect that my parents actively fought against the errors of their predecessors for a very long time until they slowly stopped fighting as hard. And eventually, day by day, they got a little bit more lax, until finally they stopped.  And it was when they stopped that darkness took over and it wasn’t long before they went too far and lost their lives.  Fighting is the only option.
  3. It’s not easySometimes it is exhausting.
  4. Where there is brokenness, grace abounds – God is, thankfully, much bigger than the broken situation we find ourselves in.  Nothing is too shattered for Him.  Romans 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Corinthians 2:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

I don’t know if I can successfully fight the brokenness I’ve learned from my parents.  But I do know that I’m going to fight it at every corner, at every turn, and work hard to stay aware of it. I’m going to keep myself accountable to my husband, and vice-versa, because together we are stronger.

And at the beginning of every day, I’m going to try to lean on God.  Because it is exhausting to fight, and he is strong.  Life makes me despair, but with him I feel hope.

Ephesians 6:10 reminds me to “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”

He is our greatest hope.

Two things. First: today is a good day.  Not only did my wonderful, amazing, fantastic husband sleep slightly-less-comfortable last night so that I could get a good night of sleep (by sleeping with the bed at an angle, which makes me sleep deeper and him sleep lighter for some reason), but the visit with the doctor seems to have actually helped my breathing.  A steroid shot in the hip seems to have reduced the swelling in my nose to the point that I can, once again, breathe.  That plus two new prescription allergy medicines (xyzal and singulair) and I have FINALLY.. FINALLY woken up without feeling like I needed to immediately take a pain killer for the pressure in my head. Thank you Jesus!! Modern medicine once again helps!
 
Waking up able to breathe, feeling like I got enough sleep, it’s amazing what those two things can do for a person.  I feel brand new.  I feel like if this keeps up, I’ll be ready to start working on some other projects.  Projects to help me get more balanced.
 
I initially thought that my primary goal this year was to get to my target weight.  However, the more I think about it, the more I realize it is much more than that. When I think about how much work the weight loss is going to take, I realize that my REAL goal this year is to obtain a little bit more balance in my life.
 
See, I want to get down to my target weight (160) and I was doing REALLY good until December.  Have you ever made 500 cookies over the course of a month and NOT put on a few extra pounds?  So I was at 190 (I am putting my numbers on the internet, WHAT!) and now that the holidays are over I’m back up to 200. 
 
200 isn’t bad – still better than my max weight of 250 (ohmywordIjusttypedthat) – but I have a extra problem there that has prevented that number from going down in the first half of the month.  I’m going to say it. Are you ready? I quit smoking.  Yes, yes, I smoked. I’m not proud, and most of you probably didn’t even know.  It’s terrible, I know, but I honestly enjoyed it.  I didn’t smoke around Benjamin, and I had quit when I was pregnant, but I didn’t stay quit.  So anyways, I finally made up my mind that even though I enjoyed smoking, it was going to slowly kill me (and I didn’t want to die from something so stupid), so I quit.  I’m done. No more. Not another single one in my life, I hope, so help me God.
 
But with me quitting smoking I’ve been having a very hard time controlling my eating.  It’s kind of like, I finish a meal and I really want a cigarette but I can’t have one, so I think: “Oh, I’ll just have seconds, or maybe I can have something sweet to reward myself for not smoking!”… yeah.  Not good.  So one of the ways I have tried to cut down on my calories is by drinking more coffee in the morning.  I’m up to about 4 cups before 10am on the days I work.
 
Do you see where the balance thing comes in?
 
I’ve been trying to be cognizant of these issues, even if I haven’t really taken much action to prevent the overeating.  I’m self-aware enough to know that I can’t just change all my bad habits overnight.  It’s frustrating, but luckily I can be patient.  I have to ease in to this or I’ll stress myself out to the point that I cave and smoke.  I don’t want that, but I also don’t want to be overeating. 
  
Balance.
 
I think if I can figure it out, 2012 may be my best year yet.

Tomorrow is my final follow up with my surgeon that charged me 5k to do nothing to fix my nose.

Well, no, it is more like she charged me thousands of dollars for a surgery that was supposed to stop my recurring sinus infections that only repaired my deviated septum.

I’m not really sure what I want to tell her tomorrow. I feel like I was promised one thing, given another, and am powerless to do anything about it.  Justin is coming with me and hopefully he will help me tell her how horrible the last few months have been health-wise. A sinus infection that lasts years is terrible. I’m tired of tossing and turning so I can breathe, I’m tired of blowing my nose, I’m tired of taking pain killers every day. I’m just tired of it.

So I will go tomorrow and paint her a picture. We shall see how it goes.

Grief is a funny thing. It has affected me in so many different ways throughout my life and sometimes it doesn’t feel fair the way I feel. Grief forces me to feel a way I generally don’t want to feel – angry, mad, sad, numb, relieved…etc.

The past few nights I have not slept well at all. You could say I am grieving – and that’s exactly what I am saying – although I don’t have a very good reason to grieve right now. Hmm. I don’t know that I’m wording this very well, let me try again. There’s nothing new that has happened in my life that gives me a reason to be grieving. There.

I kind of feel like this grief may be residual grief that I never really worked through with my folks. Maybe certain things didn’t get dealt with because of the huge big crazy tragedy that was their death. Maybe I didn’t deal with some of the stuff because I was too busy caring for others.

I’ll probably never know.

I know what triggered this, but I won’t elaborate here because the trigger isn’t a part of my story, it belongs to someone else. It’s not important any way. What is important, though, is that I recognize that grief is OK. Even if the grief hits me almost three full years after their death.

So the part of grief that has hit me is this crazy inability to stay asleep. I can’t close my eyes without thinking about terribly depressing subjects and seeing floods of “what ifs” race through my consciousness. When I finally do wrestle myself to sleep, I wake with a start at the slightest disturbance around me. I bolt up, heart racing, and take forever to get back to sleep. As you can imagine, this has been slightly irritating.

So what do I do?

I recognize that this is normal. I recognize that grief is weird and strange and affects everyone differently and maybe this is how I have to grieve – one piece at a time – so I don’t fall apart at the seams. I recognize that my mind has to process things in its own time. I recognize that my job is to sit here, tired, and remember that through all this – the grief and the pain and the sleepless nights – I am not alone. I recognize that this sucks, but that it’s part of life. And I blog about it, so that maybe someone out there googling how to deal with grief will find these words and know that they, too, are not alone.

A few months ago I started walking to work. It’s a little under 2 miles, so if I leave my house at 4:30 AM I can make it to work with plenty of time to shower and even stretch in the gym. It’s been a good setup – if I follow through with it. But it seems like something always comes up.

First I was sick. Then I slept in. Then I got a weird cyst thing on my right foot. Then I got a blister on my right foot. All of which are things that prevented me – at least a day or two each – of begging out of the jog so my hubby would drive me. A few weeks ago I went to get a mani/pedi with my cousin. Well, the lady took a chunk out of my right heel (literally – a chunk of skin – it’s going to scar). So that prevented me from walking for a few days while I gave it time to heal. Then I was too tired because of the overtime I’m getting at work. Then I get a ride so I can take my work clothes and food in to work with the intention of walking the next day.

It’s always something.

Last night Benjamin, still re-adjusting to being home after a weekend in Houston with family, did not go to bed until almost 10pm. Then he was up at 2am with a fever – so of course, so was I. To be blunt, four hours of sleep is not fun, and I didn’t get him back down to sleep until the tylenol kicked in at 4am. I’m supposed to wake up to walk to work at 4am. Do you think that happened last night? Oh, no. I went back to sleep for an hour and got what sleep I could!!

It’s always something.

I was doing really good eating healthy and going to the gym. One busy weekend where I didn’t make it a priority, and I haven’t been back since. Add to that a bad day and cake readily available at work…

It’s always something.

I find more and more in my life that the things that are important to me NEED to be my priority. When I list the things off the top of my head that are “important” to me I get this list: Faith, family, fitness, friends, finances and my “fun” stuff. Side note: I initially had “health” instead of fitness, but my OCD wanted it all to match.

After I thought about what I just wrote for a few minutes I added my career and my home to the list. Because even though I wouldn’t consider them “major priorities” they are things that are important to me – my career gives me great joy, satisfaction, and helps pay for everything I do. My home is the place I live and I want it to be a happy, relaxing place to build memories.

How in the world am I supposed to fit a reasonable amount of time for each of those things into my life without scheduling myself to death? How can I balance the “fun” stuff like playing video games with taking the time to do a bible study, or pull some weeds or do the dishes without putting myself on a schedule? How do I stop myself from letting those pesky “somethings” distract me from what is really important?

I know this is not a new problem for anyone, and I’m not the first or the last who will ask these questions. Everyone is going to have a their own way of balancing their life, just like everyone has their own priorities. I think the best I can do for now is to identify areas I need to improve on and focus on them a bit more. At the end of each day (or week, or month) I want to sit down and ask myself, “did I spend enough time with friends? Did I read my bible enough? Did I keep up with my chores and do fun things with my family?” And if any of those was lacking, I’ll make that my focus the next month.

Review, tweak, ad infinitum. Such is life.

Things on my mind right now:

1. Copper door hardware. I’m leaning towards these or these, but I think Justin might like these (with these knobs) better. I didn’t realize how difficult the knob vs. handle decision was. Depending on the design, we will probably mix it up. Also, hi, copper door hardware is expensive! Especially for 21 doors and 7 drawers. Especially since I’m going to have to more than likely replace most of the kitchen cabinet hardware including the hinges (2 per door, ouch). If I wasn’t I could just get some antique copper spray paint and call it a day.

2. Ladders. We are going to buy one. Maybe this one. I love that I can get free shipping on a 54 pound item though Amazon. Amazon, you are my hero.

3. Dear Jesus, I am so glad we are able to do this without going into debt. I mean, besides the actual cost of the house. That will set us back. But all this random stuff we have to buy. Although, I have to admit, I am EXTREMELY tempted to throw caution to the wind and go ahead and spend a ridiculous amount of money to install custom closet stuff before we move in… would be sooo nice to just paint and move right into my pretty closet but I think good sense (and the need to buy things like flooring and paint) will win out over the stuff I want. Will have to save pennies for the closet upgrades, I think.

4. The brain pain I have been experiencing (and subsequent bad taste in my mouth) that is somehow due to allergies has gotten MUCH worse since going to the ENT and getting on their spray. This depresses me. I’m kind of hoping that it’s one of those get-worse-before-it-gets-better things, but I don’t know for sure. Will be calling them on Monday. It pretty much made the first half of my shift at work miserable and almost unbearably unhappy.

5. My son is 8 months old. That number is unreal! He’s almost one! My coworker has a great philosophy: parents throw their 1 year olds huge birthday parties not for the child’s sake, but in celebration that they’ve made it through the first year. I never would have understood that before, but I do now. I am so in love with this tiny little version of Justin and I, and I daily get reminded of all the great things I get to teach him and introduce him to when he gets older. I can’t wait, but I’m also enjoying this time of exploration.

6. My family is possibly planning a vacation in August and I miss them all so much, I hope we can work it out so that I can go.

7. I miss my parents so much. I’m hoping to be distracted on the 2 year anniversary of their death (which is quickly approaching) but honestly, there’s a part of me that just wants to curl up and cry the entire day. Why is it that it hurts more now? It just feels more fresh, more raw.

Anyways.

Let me add one more so I can end on a happy note.

8. Justin and I wanted to do our bedroom in brown and blue, but I love this so much I think I might make him add YELLOW!

The hour is quiet. It’s just a hare past midnight on my Friday. Yes, I know it’s Sunday night (aka Monday morning) but today is the last day of my long work week. I love working Sundays because even though I’m at work, it’s still kind of a day of rest. Criminals don’t do a lot on Sundays – and if they do, they get caught pretty quickly, which is nice. The world is quiet in calm preparation for the week ahead.

At work I have a rotating schedule every two weeks. One week I work a WHOLE LOT Monday through Sunday (64 hours) and then the next week I work Wednesday and part of Thursday (16 hours) and am off the rest of the time. While this setup leads to one exhausted Jennettiee for the long week, it also leads to a very happy Jennettiee during the short week. I love having that many days off – days I can spend up and awake with Benjamin and we can make up for the lack of time together the previous week. Days I can have lunch with my friend Leslie and watch a movie with my husband. Ahh, sweet serenity.

So today is my Friday. I have lots of plans for next week! Starting at 9:30 tomorrow morning we go back out in search of a home to raise our family in. We’ve been searching since Octoberish, and haven’t found the perfect house yet. We found several that were perfect – but for whatever reason they weren’t perfect for us. And that’s OK. It’s easy to get frustrated or feel like we have to find something now now now ! But we’re in the luxurious position of not having a time table. Sure, we’d like to find a house before the interest rates climb into the sixes, but if that’s how long it takes then we’ll be OK with that. We’re more interested in finding a good home we can love and build and grow in. A home that preferably has room for us, Justin’s brother, his parents, the dogs, the pool table, and maybe a little nook for me to have some space to myself. Maybe.

I’m also planning on baking some bread! I’m a test baker for Peter Reinhart’s new cookbook – Gluten Free, Carb Free breads. I’ve received the first few recipes and I am SO excited! This is a huge deal to me for several reasons. One, I’m a HUUUGGEEE Peter Reinhart fan. Two, I haven’t been able to eat bread lately since I’m low-carbing my way to my target weight. Three, because I haven’t been eating bread, I haven’t been baking bread. I’ve missed it a lot… bread baking makes me incredibly happy, so I’m eager to get back into it. For those of you who care, he’s ataining GF/CF by utilizing many techniques that people have already used, almond flour, flaxseed, xantham gum, etc… he’s just (hopefully, probably) doing it better and more awesomely. One of the things I really respect about him is his passion for bread, and I can’t wait to see how that translates into these healthier breads. It’s a good week to be low-carbing it at my house!

Anyways. Also planning on going to the doctor. I’ll spare you the gory details, but I’ve essentially gotten to the point that I have to get something to fight the ridiculous infection in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s sinus related, but it’s been progressively getting worse and now my ears are starting to ache too. So, after much fighting it, to the doctor I go. I’m hoping they’ll be able to suggest a solution other than antibiotics, but I’m not very hopeful.

So there are some of my plans. Ahh, to have them written down! Speak of plans, I find it funny the way our minds work. Justin can’t stand plans. If he gets a day off work, he doesn’t want to make any plans. He wants no commitments, no schedules, nothing to stress him out. I’m the opposite. I want to maximize my time to relax, so I’ll plan my relaxation around the duties and must-dos. I like to have order. That drives him crazy sometimes, but luckily I don’t force my plans on him too often. I wonder, times like this, when I’m busy planning away, which side will Benjamin take to? Will he be like his Daddy, impulsive and carefree? Or will he be like his Mommy, obsessive and detail-oriented? Time will tell. In an ideal world, just like Justin and I balance each other out, Benjamin will be a good balance of the two of us.

Anyways. I keep reading all these amazing blogs from these people who make a living doing this. Can you imagine?! I think if I was going to do that I’d have to have more focus. And be a better writer. And blog more. And since I don’t see any of those things happening anytime soon, I guess I’m just going to have to be happy writing mediocre to a few readers, knowing that in the end, the blog is more for my sake than anyone elses.

Nyah!

Day 10 – Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.

I’m changing this question to “SomeTHING you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t HAVE” because I’m tired of trying to think of negative things about people. Sheesh!

So. Something I need to let go of.

About half of my belongings. Seriously. I’m not a fan of clutter, but I am a big fan of things. The downside to one is the other. It drives Justin CRAZY. So, I’ve been thinking about working hard at getting rid of things. Selling things, throwing things out, paring down and putting up. I’m actually a HUGE fan of organization, although you’d be hard pressed to tell based on my house.

The clutter in the house has slowly been grating on my nerves to the point that I pretty much get angry anytime I think about it… and I can’t even IMAGINE how much it drives my husband crazy. His tolerance is way less than mine!

I’ve done OK keeping up with Benjamin’s clothing (easy when I’ve got 2 ladies who just gave birth to boys to pass clothing down to) but going through anything else has been on hiatus. Something about having a brand new baby makes for a slow move to organization!

I’m also still recovering from adding an entire extra household of stuff to my belongings from my parents stuff. I was able to get rid of a lot of stuff, but some of it that I couldn’t part with at the time. I knew I’d be able to eventually though, so I put it away to a time and a place where I would be able to part with it. For instance, my mother’s curio cabinet. I couldn’t dream of getting rid of that right after she died, because of course I would want a curio cabinet in my house just like her!

But if I’m honest with myself, I’m not the type to have an entire cabinet filled with knick knacks. I’d much rather have them scattered amongst the house and hidden in surprise places. So, out goes the curio cabinet.

I have 350923 vases of my Mom’s. Ok, maybe only 30, but that’s still a RIDICULOUS amount of vases. I need to get rid of half, and send them to my sisters or something.

There are still some things I won’t be able to part with. I can’t stand the idea of losing her tea set, or some of her angel stuff, and I don’t want a million tiny ceramic animals from Red Rose tea but dang it, I can’t stand the thought of giving them away! One day I will.

I’m really going to try this week to sort through some stuff and put a few things on craigslist. If nothing else, I’ll have to start getting ready for Christmas. And eventually, moving.