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Where were you when 2016 began?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
What was the best thing you bought?
New tires for the truck #oldlady
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?
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
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*
(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.
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
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
One of the joys of parenting is watching my son discover how he fits into the world.
I have, in my opinion, a highly articulate 2.5 year old. He speaks in full sentences most of the time, although his standard answer is very 2-year-old-esque: “Because I can” or “Because I can’t.” Occasionally we’re able to get better sentences out of him. He has two new things. One of them is to tell us about something he wants to do, or something he wants to happen, and then end it with, “That will be a good idea.” The other new thing is to “match” things.
For example: “I wanna go see Skye and Brian and Papa and Nanny and then play with my race cars and then pet Lucky and that will be a good idea!”
He was laying on his Nanny’s bed, watching Dumbo with her. I brought him Friend-Ent, his favorite stuffed animal, a very tired Dumbo that has been with him almost every night since his birth. He held up his stuffed animal to the TV screen. “Look Nanny, it matches!”
“I want chocolate milk. That will be a good idea, Mommy!” To really feel the genius of this one, you have to mispronounce chocolate – think “cschok-lit.” He pronounces other C-words correctly, but Cschok-lit? I’m not correcting that one until he graduates high school.
For Christmas, his cousins Teresa, James and Mandy gifted him 2 really awesome Dr. Seuss puzzles. When he unwrapped it he got very excited. We asked him what it was and he said, “It’s Dr. Whouss!” Hmm. That’s another thing I’m not correcting. He thinks Dr. Who and Dr. Seuss are the same, and who am I to argue?!
He’s already put both puzzles together and taken them apart multiple times. One of the puzzles is from his favorite book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” The night he put it together for the first time we read that book at bedtime. He paused on the page that the puzzle is inspired by and said, “Look Mommy! It matches my puzzle! Let’s go put it together. That will be a good idea.”
Some days are crazy and insane. But some days end with him snuggled in my arms, and especially on days like those I find myself unable to articulate how lucky I am to be his Mommy.
Benjamin – on a natural christmas high from getting presents and being surrounded by family and love all day long.
Various friends and family – scattered throughout the house.
Papa and Nanny bought Benjamin a fake black and decker tool set for Christmas so Benjamin could “help” Papa work on stuff. He had cycled through all of his toys at least twice already that day.
Christmas night, 9pm, at home. Benjamin is playing in his playroom, there’s several people in the kitchen baking cookies and Benjamin’s parents and Aunt Charla are in the living room standing around talking about the days events. The weather outside is, appropriately, frightful. Low 30’s with a severe wind chill.
Dim lights. Three adults speaking to each other in murmured conversation as they hear loud footsteps. All heads turn to see the two year old running towards them, still in Christmas best, wild sugar-fuled eyes, small pupils, a large smile, and his left arm raised into a 90 degree angle with his hand holding a small plastic hammer. The child runs through the kitchen, deftly dodging the cookie-bakers, straight at the small group of adults. At the last minute he swerves to the right, still at full speed, towards the closed back door. Without a word he flings the door open with his empty right hand and starts to push against the cold breeze. The adults watch as the cold temperature registers in his brain and he steps back, slamming the door, and turns to look at the small group of adults who up until this point have been silently watching.
JUSTIN: Benjamin, what in the world are you doing?!
The child looks at his father with the wild, excited eyes of a two year old on Christmas night.
BENJAMIN: I WANT TO BANG THINGS!
JUSTIN: Son, that feeling will never go away.
The child, unaware of why his comments are funny, turns from the adults and starts to hammer away on the closed door. The outside chill, for now, forgotten.
So for lent, all the things I gave up, I failed at. I did not increase my prayer time, I did not read my bible more. I did not grow closer to God. I did not stop checking facebook, I just stopped posting. I did not cut out my sweets, I just didn’t go out of my way to eat them. I did not stop watching TV with my son, the whole family got sick and that was all we could do. With just two weeks left I’m calling this Lent a spectacular disaster.
I suppose, though, that if I look at it honestly – I did become more aware of my utter brokenness. I am now, more than ever, aware that I fail at being good on my own. So I guess it wasn’t a complete disaster. In fact, I suppose, I kind of actually accomplished something in my failure. Or maybe I’m just saying that to feel better. Who knows?
I guess I’ll just keep being me, and keep trying (and failing) and eventually, maybe, I’ll get the hang of this thing called faith. If not, it will probably continue to be quite an adventure…
Almighty and everlasting God,
you hate nothing you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent:
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins
and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy,
perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1979 Book of Common Prayer (source)
My prayers are tiny and my soul weary; I look forward to Lent for the renewal of my spirit.
I think this year I will observe Lent. I found a great set of questions on Rachel Held Evan’s blog that helped me make the decision to do so. I really like her (and her blog), even more now that I know she agrees with one of my basic tenets I hold close to my heart: that really, everyone is broken.
I had already been thinking about Lent this year, thinking about changing a behavior, thinking about the timing, thinking a lot of things. When I saw that RHE’s feed had a post on ideas for Lent I was all ears. The first question I read on her list almost knocked the breath out of me:
When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different?
Well. In all the times I have observed Lent, I don’t think I ever took the time to ask myself that question.
Growing up in a Pentecostal church gave me a pretty decent grasp of the bible, but did not help me learn anything about the history of the church. I mean that seriously. We never learned about the differences between catholic and protestant, or about how communion is different in different churches, or why some people baptise and some sprinkle. For the most part that stuff wasn’t even on my radar at all.
Over the past, say, 10 years or so, I have met many people who have opened my eyes to a different way of looking at my faith: a way that is steeped in history and culture. While I find it creates for a much messier faith, I think it is also much more beautiful. Over those ten years I have attended pentecostal churches, non-denominational churches, emerging churches, catholic churches, episcopal churches, baptist churches, and methodist churches. Each one had its purpose to increase my education and help shape me into the person I am now. Each church helped shape my faith in a different way.
So now, even though I attend a baptist church, I still keep in mind the little bit of education on Church traditions and history I’ve gotten over the years. For instance, even though my current church doesn’t follow it, I love the church calendar. I fell in love with it when I attended one of the Episcopal churches in Houston. I love how each church season creates a new focus in your walk with Christ. How we focus on Jesus’ sacrifice building up to Easter and we celebrate his birth in Advent. The first time I received ashes on Ash Wednesday I spent the rest of the evening feeling like I was walking on holy ground – or better yet, as if my body was marked as holy. I never knew there could be so much holiness in an action, but I found that there was.
While I try to observe the church calendar I don’t always have it all figured out. Like others, I’m sure, I am learning as I go. I always viewed Lent as a way to put myself in Jesus’ shoes when he fasted 40 days in the wilderness. I knew it was supposed to make me a better person and draw me closer to God, but those goals have always been pretty undefined.
The question: “How will I be different?” makes me look at Lent as more than just the very generic “self-improvement” or “exercise in holiness.” Suddenly I don’t want to look at Lent either of those things, or even as a time for me to give up my bad habits (I should give those up anyways) but more as a time to remove something from my life in the hope that after 40 days without it I might possibly be more Christ-like. Suddenly my priority has shifted from looking internally in a selfish way, but looking internally in a holy way. I like this.
With all this in mind, I’ll spend the next few days praying and trying to decide what to “give up.” I think I’m going to go to one of the local churches that has a Ash Wednesday service, too, since I don’t think mine will have one. I don’t know that I necessarily “look forward” to the next few weeks, but I do hope they are helpful to me in the long run. We shall see.
In honor of Valentine’s Day (which I actually thing is a lame holiday) I saw a few bloggers I read doing this and I thought I’d join them and tell you guys a bit about my hubby and I!
Dedicated to my lovely Comm Manager who inspired this project, with special thanks to my coworkers for assisting.
“Our Favorite Things”
Cops that are helpful and friendly to dispatch
Sun on our days off and radios that aren’t patched
Bosses that love us with halos like rings
These are a few of our favorite things
Getting the scoop when they come in from Show-up
Creatures that Animal Officers bring up
Spider, snake, dog and an owl that sings
These are a few of our favorite things
Christmas when citizens offer us cookies
Knowing a tiny bit more than the rookies
Finding a suspect with 3 cell phone pings
These are a few of our favorite things
When the phones ring
When the guys scream
When we’re feeling mad
We simply remember our favorite things
And then we don’t feel so bad
© 2011 Jennet Sullivan
Today you are a year old. 365 days of laughter and tears, 365 days of poopy diapers and more than a few days of 2am wake ups.
The day we took you home from the hospital we were tired and terrified and excited. You were so tiny, so fragile, so precious. Your head was unusually dinosaur looking (think: Coneheads or a T-Rex head) but it really was love at first sight. Well, it was love, but it came with a huge amount of terrifying responsibility.
One of my favorite memories was from the moment we took you inside the house. I came in and greeted Lucky, petting him and reassuring him that he was loved. Then we introduced him to the “newest member of the pack” – you. I hope that when you’re old enough to read this you’re also old enough to remember Lucky. He has been your bestest friend this past year. He would prance around you when you laid in the floor as a babe and at night time he would snuggle with us at the foot of the bed. When you were colicky, he would walk along side us as we wore a path through the living room, dining room, and kitchen. If we were rocking you he would lay at our feet, or just outside your door. He gives you kisses unconditionally and with fervour. Although those first few months were mainly one-way affection the scales have slowly shifted. Now you drop your lunch for him, you crawl after him, and you like to “pet” him. Sometimes your petting is more like hitting him and almost poking his eyes out, he doesn’t seem to mind too much.
I love how independent you are becoming. You will play by yourself for minutes at a time and sometimes I watch you, with your face in total concentration, and I can’t help but smile. You’ll look around to make sure I’m nearby and then go right back to what it is you were doing. Here recently it’s been blowing bubbles in the pool, or banging pots in the kitchen floor, or chasing the dog around the coffee table. You throw yourself wholeheartedly into whatever it is you’re doing and I know part of that is just being a baby, but I can’t help but hope that some of that is a glimpse of the passion you’ll feel later on in life.
I hope the clingy flailing around and screeching when you don’t get your way is something you grow out of.
You’ve started taking steps here and there. The other day when you walked in the kitchen to me I was so proud of you!! I swept you up and covered you in kisses… and you did the usual “ok, ew Mom, I get it, let me down now..”
The good outweighs the bad, but sometimes there is bad. Not everything is roses and butterflies. You occasionally have bouts of insanity where you scream and yell about… everything. Sometimes I just want you to go away for 5 minutes so I can have some peace and quiet. Sometimes you’re teething so bad your fingers are permanent fixtures in your mouth and you’re crying and there’s nothing we can do but hold you as you cry. And when I spend time working on your meal just to see you unceremoniously dump it upside down on the floor…. well sometimes I want to thunk you in the forehead for that.
You love speed. Scared me half to death the other day when scooting down the stairs… you were having so much fun and going SO fast and then lost your balance and tumbled backwards. Thank God your Nanny was behind you to catch you! I hope you keep your love of speed… but gain some caution too. There is such a thing as too fast!
You hate sitting still… which makes diaper time a wrestling match I’ll be glad to say goodbye to.
I love you in the morning. There’s this period in between when you wake up and when we go into your room that you have a conversation with yourself. You talk and squeal and play, content to simply be. It’s hard to be upset when you’re that happy. For that matter it’s hard to be mad at you at all, even when you’re acting cranky and screaming and throwing yourself onto the concrete because I know it’s just a phase, and this too shall pass, and I kind of cherish the bad because it makes the good that much better.
I love hanging out with you outside. If you had your way, we’d spend all day out there. Even in the heat of the day you want to be outside in the sunshine or the pool. Winter time is going to devastate you.
When I was a kid I used to dream about having a family. I never could quite picture it because I hadn’t met you or your Daddy yet. Now that I have, I realize I didn’t dream big enough. I never imagined your kinship with Lucky. I never imagined the heart wrenching feeling when you dive head first towards the edge of a brick in front yard. I never imagined laughing so hard when you decide that anything you can fit your bottom in – whether it be a dog bowl or a bird bath – is fair game as your personal swimming pool. I never imagined how it feels when you wrap your arms around me or when you scream MAMAMAMA from the other room.
I knew having a family would be an exercise of love; I don’t know that I fully realized the adventure that accompanies it.
I guess what I’m trying to say, Benjamin, is that I love you and I’m glad you’re in my life.
My husband and his brothers are Irish. Every year since I’ve known them we have celebrated St. Patrick’s day in some form or another. It is always a great day filled with much fun. We can usually expect some good Irish music, corned beef and cabbage, drinking, laughing, joking, story telling and a usually a little bit of fighting. They’re the kind of Irish that are proud to be Irish for various different reasons – and it shows. They’re tough, independent, fierce individuals who care deeply and are passionate about the things important to them.
So today’s Miscellaneous Monday is in honor of Brian, who will give you the shirt off your back and work tirelessly alongside you if you need him to. And Cory, who is passionate about integrity and honor and strength of character. And Justin, who is my favorite of them all (after all, he IS my husband) who consistently shows me a dedication to the things that are important to him and integrity when it counts – when (he thinks) no one else notices.
Today is about all things Irish in preparation of March 17th. Enjoy!
Beauty and Bedlam – St. Patricks day tradition ideas – Some cute ideas, LOVE the penny idea. We’ll be doing that as soon as Benjamin is old enough to know not to eat them 😉
Guinness Corned Beef and Cabbage – A basic idea of dinner in our house on St. Patrick’s day.
Soda Bread – If you know me, you probably know how much I adore a good bread. Here you can learn way more than you ever wanted to about soda bread. And for the record, I lean towards the pure soda bread without any fruits or sweeteners.
Tullamore Dew Irish Wiskey – If you’re drinking, this is a good choice.
– Great Big Sea! A live version, so I apologize in advance, but this is pretty much a classic Irish song. Period.
– by a band called Gaelic Storm. This song makes me giggle every time I hear it.
– This song makes me tear up and I loves it.
– My favorite Dropkick Murphy’s song, period.
I could do this for hours, so let me just name off a few more: Rocky Road to Dublin by Gaelic Storm, Star of the County Down by Mackeel, Fields of Anthenry by Dropkick Murphys, Mountain Dew by The Clancy Brothers… ok. That’s enough to get you started. Enjoy!!
Source for picture: Wikipedia