Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Thanks For A Great One 2019 (and Decade)

Picture from September 2010

2019 was busy. It brought friends closer, the minis more independent, new schedules, new adventures, new feelings, more problems, tears, frustrations, growing....all of those things you wish to have in life packed into one year. Going through blog posts, photos, Instagram, and Facebook to remember the year makes it so easy to remember all of the wonderful things 2019 brought. It's also easy to remember those tough times throughout the year: when I battled my first serious case of winter blues, learned the hard way not to overschedule myself or I crash. Hard. Failing on multiple occassions on projects and certain personal goals. However, in failing, I have learned to schedule breaks for myself and that it's okay to lower the bar I set for myself.

2019 was all about appreciating and spending time with the people I hold most special. It was about adventuring and pushing ourselves. It was a year spent thinking about our future and future goals. Not just immediate, year long goals, but five and ten year goals. That is something I haven't given much thought to in recent years because I've learned to live for the day (something raising and being around young kids has taught me). Don't focus on the past and don't put too much pressure on your future because it can all change in an instant. It was interesting to grow throughout the year and realize I needed these long term goals back in my life as I also tried to apply my "live for the day" belief. It was challenging, I don't completely have it down, but it's working for now.

I have a much harder time putting the decade into words. It was probably the most important decade of my life. I had two (of my three) kids, opened businesses, found and reconnected with my passions, found my voice and footing in this world, helped to open a Children's Museum, became an advocate for the importance of local communities, celebrated milestone birthdays and anniversaries, bought houses and cars, traveled, made my own dreams come true. As I was thinking back on everything that has happened in ten years, it boggled my mind. However, one song came on that I knew the lyrics to, but hadn't exactly paid attention to. Until today. This refrain sums up not only my year, but the last decade.

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did 
Yeah with every broken bone
I swear I lived

-- I Lived, One Republic

The past year was so FULL of highlights that I had issues choosing the highlights of each month. I went with moments I hope to never forget, moments that filled my soul, and made me happy. I'm spending my NYE full of gratitude that I've known moments like this not just this past year but in the last ten years.

1.) Sledding in the neighborhood. At the height of my winter blues (something I'm getting ahead of this year) we had several snow days. This caused me to be with my children, with no break, for nearly a month straight. It was rough. However, finding the good in the bad, it also meant we got to have some fun in the snow. We waited until after bedtime, when the neighborhood was quiet and full of freshly fallen snow to go sledding. Living in a residential, light traffic, and hilly neighborhood paid off. We loaded the minis onto sled and pulled them through the unplowed streets. We actually went sledding down the streets (one parent stood at the top and one stood at the bottom just in case a random car came by). It was truly a scene out of a movie.

2.) New Orleans for #35 AND my very first successful Gala. I planned an event. A fundraising event. An event that was a complete success and more. A few days later Hubs and I made a whirlwind trip to New Orleans for carnival season. To keep track of all of the carnival parades, I downloaded an app called Parade Tracker. It's still on my phone and occassionally random parades throughout the year pop up (like today's "Sugar Bowl parade is now rolling in the French Quarter")and bring smiles to my face.

3.) St. Patty's Day in Chicago. I've waited for this day since the oldest was born. The minis are finally old enough that we no longer worry about going into big cities with them. We introduced them to St. Patty's in Chicago in our favorite way: getting a riverview room at the Hyatt, donuts, and watching the river being dyed from the warmth of our comfy hotel room. I have many things I want to do once the minis are old enough and this was just the first one.

4.) We made Sunday Family Dinners an important part of life. We invited extended family to join, we made a point to end the weekend/start the week reconnecting with each other, and it was one of my favorite things from the year.
One of the many chilis we made this fall during our Chili Sunday's.

5.) We ran in a race. At my request, we did a family fun run at Living History Farms. The boys rocked it. A lot. It really got them interested in running, taking walks, exercising, and exploring more.

6.) One epic road trip. We saw so many epic things: Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame, a coal mine, a black bear, dolphins, all of Washington DC, family, historic sites, friends. 18 days of on-the-go and we all came back just as happy as when we left.

7.) Another crazy summer at daycare, with Celebrations Around The World as our theme. Even after all these years, I still can't quite describe how it feels to have a hand in raising so many kiddos. I often say, yes I have three kids, but I usually have more. I look forward to my summers with not only my three, but kids that I had as babies who are now big kids. I love it, in all of it's insanity. My house was a nonstop party from June to August. Also, I can now tell you all about holi powder.

8.) The oldest mini began middle school. Middle school. That has presented so many challenges just in these short few months since school began. There's been hard talks, schedule changes, attitude shifts, attitude adjustments, so many freaking talks about attitude, but one big amazing thing has happened. Through our need of finding rides to and from school for our kids, we have an amazing tribe of parents and friends who help support each other and help take care of each other's kids. This alone has made middle school a much easier transition (for the middler schoolers at least). Also, those shoes he's wearing in this picture no longer fit him. Well over $1,000 has been spent in the last few months of new wardrobe and shoes. The growing is insane!

9.) Concerts. Several concerts. The minis stayed up well past bedtime to watch Andy Grammer perform at Pizza Fest, Pentatonix at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand (after making an announcement that we weren't going to the Fair at all this year, only to grab last minute tickets and head out for an entire day of fried foods and a night of music), and most recently a Christmas concert at the historic Surf Ballroom. The Christmas concert was the real highlight as we got the minis on the dance floor to swing dance.

10.) Exploring caves. I love our Iowa Day Trips. Our day exploring caves in Maquoketa was quite memorable.

11.) New Mexico. My first solo trip the kids and I enlisted my best friend from high school's help and companionship. It was a highlight road trip with so many adventures and experiences. I need more vacations like this one was.

12.) Experiences for Christmas. I have fond memories of driving around and looking at Christmas lights throughout my childhood. It was a highlight for our family. Our present for our parents was renting a passenger van and taking as many family members around to look at lights. Not only was this cherish by us and parents, but I have a feeling the minis will remember this for years to come.