A Year in Review + A Year to Come

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In January 2011, I was resolved. I followed through on some of the things I wanted to do, and some of them remain unfinished. I enjoyed marking my monthly progress (for a few months, at least) on the blog, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to mark progress like I did last year.

2012 will be a year of change for our family. Even if nothing else in our life changes over the next 12 months, the baby who will arrive in just a couple months will certainly change our life as we know it. For that reason, I’m not exactly sure how I want to write out my goals for this year. They are nebulous as opposed to the very precise tasks I wanted to accomplish in 2011. Nonetheless, I want to record them here so I can look back next year and see what was most important to me in 2011.

relational and family goals:

  • I want to learn how to be mom. I’m not qualifying that, because I don’t know what to expect as I begin this journey. I don’t want to be perfect, because I know I will fall short. I don’t want to set expectations that will frustrate us more than guide us, but I do want to do all I can to learn to parent our baby guy in a way that honors God. I want to learn as much as I can and take in as much advice as I can without feeling not good enough.
  • I want to keep Aaron as my priority as our family grows. I know this will be a tough one, but it is  the most important relational and family goal I am setting. 
  • I set a goal last year to send birthday cards early and failed quite miserably. That’s one I want to change for good.
  • I want to spend more time with our families. Part of this will happen naturally when the baby is born, but I know it will be tougher than ever once the spring is over and our families have met the baby. 
  • Plant ourselves in a church home and grow there.

personal goals:
  • Take time during maternity leave and focus on my career and educational aspirations. Decide if I want to pursue graduate school and commit to a timeline.
  • Be consciously content and thankful.
  • Practice using our camera.
  • Focus on our financial goals and what the next steps should be toward them. 
  • Create a Life Plan.
  • Read more.
  • Take a trip with Aaron, hopefully to a film festival.
  • Learn CSS and HTML
  • After the baby is born, I want to lose the weight I’ve gained by my birthday.

task-oriented goals: 
  • Make a meal plan every week and maintain our household budget.
  • Try not to let food spoil in our fridge.
I’ve intentionally left many of these pretty broad. I am looking forward to a year of keeping my focus on faith and my growing family. I know everything else will fall in to place. Are you making any goals, or do you think it’s a silly practice? Whatever you do, as you turn the calendar, I hope you are looking forward to the future. Happy New Year, friends! 
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Christmas Vacation

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I’ve never really wanted a destination Christmas. Unless it was my family’s tradition to go to the beach or to a ski lodge or somewhere else, I don’t think I would like it. To me, going home and being home at Christmastime is something I look forward to all year long.

Aaron and I were talking about traveling over Christmas, and he asked if I was sad to be leaving our own home, which we’ve relaxed in and enjoyed decorating so much for the season. If we were traveling somewhere that didn’t have as much meaning, I might be, but since we are going to our childhood homes, I don’t feel like I will be missing much at all.

I have been thinking about if this will change next year, when we have our own baby. Some of my best memories are when my family did not travel, and we stayed at our own home and did Christmas our own way. I certainly want my family to have our own Christmas traditions, but, right now, I don’t not want to be with our extended family over the holidays. Yes, the drives are long and it’s tough to juggle two family Christmases with only the two of us, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Especially because it’s one of the only times each year we get to see our family.

For now, we’ll enjoy our last Christmas without baby and relish the time and freedom we have to make this trip.

Second Anniversary

Wow, this second year of marriage has been so different than our first. I don’t know how love grows and mellows or what makes it do that, but the frenetic pace of year one slowed down this year, and many of our newlywed complaints and problems dissipated as we learned how to better live alongside each other. You finished graduate school and we began to grow our family. You’ve become the chef in our family, and you regularly make us dinner. You’ve also turned in to quite the baker. I feel like this is the trade-off, as I am the chief laundry officer.

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You have always been my serious husband, and this year, as you’ve grown from student to non-student, you’ve become more serious and sometimes your worry makes your face look ashen. I know why you worry and I wish you didn’t, but I am even thankful for that, because the reasons you worry are because you love your little family and want to take care of us in the best way you can. And when you’re happy, your joy is palpable, and you are one of the most genuinely glad people I’ve ever met.

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I am looking forward to journeying in to this next year and watching you grow from husband to husband and father. You are so eager to meet this little baby boy that I can’t even believe it. I know you can’t wait until he can play basketball or catch with you.  I can’t wait to see you teach him things that bring him joy and show him how to love life as a child and grow in to a man. He couldn’t have a better example for that.

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I don’t think this year was what we expected it to be, for better and, sometimes, for worse. I don’t mind not knowing, though, because I know you are there to hold my hand as we figure it out together. You are my favorite person in this world, and I am so proud to be your wife and best friend.

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Please don’t stop dreaming your big dreams. And I won’t stop dreaming mine. I can’t wait for the next year, and the next 50.

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Christmas Tour of Home 2011

Welcome to our home at Christmastime! Since we live in a small apartment, there’s not too much room. I love this season, though, and some of my favorite memories are how my mom decorated our house growing up, so I have found a few little niches to put the Christmas things that I love.

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We bought a taller Frasier Fir this year than we did in 2010. We didn’t realize it until we brought it home and it looked huge in our tiny living room. We call it our Whoville tree because it leans a little bit to the right, has a pretty big hole in the bottom, and the star won’t stand up straight. I love it anyway.

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We don’t have a theme for our tree. It is a collection of ornaments from our childhoods, our travels and our new family traditions. Growing up, I got ornaments each year from my grandparents, and I also got a new Chrismon on Christmas Eve service at our church. Aaron got a Precious Moments ornament each Christmas. Both are so much fun to take out each year; we love telling the stories associated with each of our old ornaments.

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IMG_0927 Some of our ornaments are new; we have a few Husker ornaments, of course, from our time at UNL, and we also got several ornaments from our wedding two Decembers ago. Though I’m not a blonde, one of my favorites is the one pictured below. Last Christmas, they fell down and the bride literally broke her crown. You can see in the picture the sharp ridge where the gold crown used to sit.

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One of my favorite parts of our Christmas tree is getting our new ornaments. Each year, we pick an ornament symbolic of the year to add to our tree. In 2010, we picked an alligator to represent our move to Florida. This year, we picked a nest to symbolize our growing family. I’m sure next year we’ll get a few “Baby’s First Christmas” ornaments!

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I love our green stockings. I don’t know if we’ll use the same ones on our mantel next year, because we didn’t make any more and we’ll need another stocking next year, but I know we’ll find a place for them in the future. They are just so fun and bright.

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I feel like living in a warmer climate has changed my Christmas decorating style. I don’t use a lot of dark reds or greens or have much of anything in that color. For instance, my Christmas village:

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I love my mom’s vintage Putz houses, and though none of these are originals, I think they are so fun and quirky. This will be a collection I hope to grow over time.

I’ll end this little tour with my favorite Christmas possession. When I was a little girl, my parents bought me this tin nativity. Each Christmas season, I would set the nativity up in a prominent place in my room and proudly display it. I took it to college and did the same thing at Christmastime, and now, the nativity is with me in Tallahassee. When I was younger, I wished for shepherds to go with the set, and I always had difficulty using the metal peg in the back to stand up the tin people. They fell down daily, and I would always painstakingly arrange them again, hoping they’d stay upright. I would beg my mom to not put away the nativity with the rest of the Christmas decorations, but to no avail. They would get packed away for another 11 months, only to be opened with joy again the following year.

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Perhaps that is why decorating my home at Christmas means so much to me. It’s certainly not necessary to have a tree or ornaments or anything, but once a year, to celebrate one of the most joyous seasons of the year, I want to open the boxes that have been packed away and experience a renewed sense of joy in the season. They are just things, but to me, they are indicators of the joy of Christmas, Christ himself, and the memories of spending time with those we love and cherish.