Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Endings Are Hard

Friday mornings I volunteer in Molly's classroom. It is their language arts block. Sometimes I help with small groups or centers. Sometimes I do a read aloud. Sometimes I am just there to be an extra pair hands to help out. This past Friday, the class was beginning the process of learning how to do their animal research reports for animal fair. The third grade Animal Fair is a big deal. Molly has been talking about it for years. There has been great anticipation as to what animal she would get to research. She knows that Shannon had the dolphin. She remembers Timmy's eagle, and who can forget that Ryan got his favorite animal the chimpanzee. Molly was thrilled to get the wild horse. 

But after a few teacher guided lessons, a group of students had to finish their written narrative stories. Molly was one of them. Molly was writing her narrative about the time she broke her arm in New York. Molly said to me, "I'm not good at endings. I always seem to be able to get my beginnings started, my middles are great, but then my middles get longer and longer because I can never come up with a great ending. I'm not good at endings."

"I'm not good at endings"

This stuck with me throughout the day. January is organization month for me. After Christmas, like so many others, I want to get rid of the old to make room for the new. I have cleaned out kids' bedrooms and closets. I have organized closets and cabinets and drawers in the basement. And Molly and I have cleaned out her Barbie room in the basement as well. Yes, she has a whole room dedicated to Barbie houses and American Girl stuff. It is a place where she can set up all her stuff and close the door and the boys will leave her alone. But she was ready to get rid of some of her stuff. We have gone through every bin and we had a pile of unwanted play food and pots and pans, Pet Shop animals, and My Little Ponies. We had puzzles that she used to love and games she no longer played. We had a her first doll house and all the furniture that she did not want any more. We cleaned and we organized and we relabeled bins and her Barbie room is a little less a Barbie room today. But all that "stuff" is now sitting on the floor in the kitchen. It's been there a while and then I realized...I always seem to be able to get started with an organization project, my middles are great, but I'm not too good at endings.

 Barbies are always naked...just sayin'.

 Oh, what to do with all this "stuff."

Endings are hard, no matter what they are. I have this pile of stuff sitting on the floor in the kitchen and after making a million decisions of what we are keeping and what we are getting rid of, my energy peters out and I am left with this pile of stuff. I look at this stuff and I remember when she used to cook with her play food and wear the chef's hat and apron. Endings are hard. I remember when she got her first doll house of her own for Christmas because Shannon didn't want her little sister recking her own playhouses. Endings are hard. I remember her spending hours combing and brushing and braiding her My Little Ponies manes. Endings are hard.

But I push through to get to the end. I sorted through a bunch of stuff and gave away the food and the house and the ponies to Chris' cousin who has a little girl. I sorted some more and put some stuff in the back of my car to donate. I sorted some more and looked at stuffed that really needed to be thrown away. I still have a pile of stuff, but it's a smaller pile. Endings are hard.

So glad this house got a new home.

The Dr. Seuss quote floats around in my head, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

And even though I'm not crying, I do get melancholy at times. But then I think about how I still have boys that will take their mother's hand every once in a while. I still have kids that sleep with that special bear or blankey. I still have a teenager that will have a Disney movie marathon and...I still have alligators in the bathtub.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading

Okay, so it's really Tuesday, but it feels like Monday because of our snow/freezing rain day yesterday. So yesterday morning, I slept in and then finished reading Navigating Early. What a great book. I bought this book as soon as it came out. I read Clare Vanderpool's first book Moon Over
Manifest, which won the Newbery a couple of years ago. It 
was one of those books that the characters stay with you. I loved it. Navigating Early did not disappoint either. 

After finishing my book, I sat in front of the computer to watch the live stream of all the ALA Youth Media Awards. I know, I'm a nerdy book lover. But I follow a lot of authors and librarians on twitter and most of them were predicting The One and Only Ivan to win the Newbery Award and I just had to see if it was going to win. It did.

I have read lots of Newbery books and Newbery Honor books but I think this is the first time I read one before it won. I've tried to get my kids to read it, but no takers, until yesterday. When I was on the computer watching the awards, Molly walked in and asked what I was doing. I told her and after they announced the winner. Molly said, "We have that book!"

She ran upstairs, got the book, and we started reading it together. We read to page 75 and Molly is loving it and I am enjoying some of Katherine Applegate's great lines from the book.

Molly laughed out loud when she read,

"Bob and I have seen many romance movies too. In a romance there is much hugging and sometimes face licking."

And I love when Stella says,

"Memories are precious. They help tell us who we are."

And I love this line,

"Because she remembers everything, Stella knows many stories. I like colorful tales with black beginnings and stormy middles and cloudless blue-sky endings. But any story will do."

Molly brought The One and Only Ivan to school today and when she jumped in the car at the end of the day, she said, "When I first met Ruby, she was scared and shy. Now that I know her, she is really quite talkative. I love her!"

Molly spoke of the character, Ruby, as if she were a new girl in her class. Katherine Applegate makes you fall in love with Ivan, Stella, Bob, and Ruby and you care what happens to them and you will have to remind yourself that they are just characters in a book.

Timmy is reading Breaking Stalin's Nose. It is historical fiction and not a happy, feel good, kind of book, but it will make you grateful that we live in a United States. I knew Stalin was terrible dictator, but did not realize that 20 million people died during his rein of power.

The Nealons have read 14 books towards our goal.

For a complete list of all the winners yesterday, you can find them here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What Does a Non-Reader Look Like?

"I HATE READING," as he yelled at me while he stomped his feet up the stairs, each stomp coinciding with each word, "I," stomp, "HATE," stomp, "READING," stomp. 

"You NEVER will say anything to convince me that reading is good for me...NEVER!" 

Bedroom door slams shut, end scene.

Ryan is a self proclaimed non-reader. He tells me this everyday when I tell him to do his daily reading for homework. He has told me that no good as ever come from reading a book. He has told me that it's the biggest waste of time. He has told me that reading is anti-social.

What does a non-reader look like? Well, non-readers have routines. When my non-reader comes home from school, he rolls his eyes, and his shoulders will slouch, and he drags his feet as if each foot weighs a thousand pounds while he finds his book for his daily reading. He always tells me how much he hates reading and sometimes I even get awarded for being the meanest mom in the world. This is just one thing my non-reader does.

After this daily ritual, my non-reader goes to his favorite spot to read. He goes downstairs to the basement and he snuggles into his spot on the couch where he reads each day. 

My non-reader will come up the stairs half an hour later and say, "Mom, you want to hear what just happened in my book?" He will precede to tell me in detail about the characters, the plot, and what he thinks will happen next. 

My non-reader will reread a book that he "hates" to read and finish it in three days. He will then move on to the second book in the series.

My non-reader also asked me to order the third book in the series when he found out that it was coming out on February 5th.

My non-reader has a plan for his reading that he "hates."  When he finishes rereading this book,

He will read this book, 

and then this book,

and hopefully he will be done with them by the time February 5th arrives so he can read this book.

My non-reader keeps track of his reading. He can tell you how many books he has read since the beginning of the school year, he can tell you that he is on his third book for the month of January. He can tell you that his teacher has set a reading goal for the class to get to by the end of the school year and he checks his list every time he finishes another book.

School will let out soon. I will pick up Ryan and Molly in carline. They will tell me about their day and then have an afternoon snack. Then it will be time to read. I might be told I'm the meanest mom in the world...again. I may be told that no good ever came from reading...again. Or I might just hear I don't like to read like you do...again.  

I'll tell him that I accept my award. I'll tell him that he is entitled to his opinions about reading but it is part of his homework so he does have to do it. I once even told him to research and back-up his statement about "no good has ever come from reading" and we could debate the two sides. But what I try to do more than anything is listen. I listen to his excitement when he gets to a good part in a book that he didn't want to read. I listen to his opinions and point of views and acknowledge to him that he is a "hater" of reading. I listen when he tells me his reasons why he didn't like a book and I listen when he tells me why another book might just be "okay" even though I know he loved it.

Sometimes a kid just needs to save face and be a "cool non-reader."

Don't let the perfect, be the enemy of the good!

The Nealons have read 13 books this month.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Piano, Soccer, a Magic Killer, and a Halftime Show at Church

When Shannon was little, I found someone in the neighborhood that was giving piano lessons. Her teacher was a teenager and Shannon was in second grade. Shannon liked her and didn't give me a hard time about lessons. But eventually, her teacher stopped giving lessons and went off to college and we had to find someone new. Shannon's teacher gave us a list of people she knew in the area that were giving lessons. So I called and Shannon started taking lessons from her second piano teacher. He was a teenage boy and his and Shannon's personalities didn't really match and gradually Shannon lost interest in piano. She didn't want to take lessons any more. So she stopped. I wanted her to continue. I've read so many articles about how music is good for children's math skills. But put that aside, just being able to create music is something that will stay with you for life. I loved the idea of music being created in the house. But as a mom, you have to pick and choose your battles. And there are many. So the keyboard she had remanded quiet.

But then, a number of years later, Shannon asked for a keyboard for her birthday. The small inexpensive one was long gone. It had been moved to the basement and I'm pretty sure one of the boys pulled on a cord too hard or turned a switch with too much force and it had stopped working. Now Shannon wanted a good one, an expensive one. The deal was that she had to take lessons again. If I was going to invest a small fortune in a good keyboard, she was going to learn how to play it. She agreed. Now she goes to lessons with no arguing. She does it because she wants to. We found a piano teacher that is a teacher by profession. She listens to what Shannon wants to learn how to play, not just the next song in the lesson book. Shannon is happy playing piano because she came to it on her own.

Shannon also played and still plays soccer. She had played for a number of years and she had a coach that she had loved during that time. We even switched soccer leagues to stay with him as well as a great group of girls. But then he tragically died and Shannon wanted to take a break from soccer. It was very understandable. She had had the same coach and she played with the same group of girls for a number of seasons. If she played again, not only would she not have the same coach, but she would be with a new group of girls. She wasn't ready for that. So she stopped.

But then one day, Shannon said that she wanted to play again. She missed soccer. We talked about what league to sign up for and that we wouldn't know what team she would end up on or who would be on her team. She understood and so we signed up. She ended up with a few of her friends from that original team as well as another great coach. Shannon stayed with that team until she moved to travel. Shannon was happy because she came back to soccer on her own.

Chris and I were both raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school for 12 years and Chris' mom was the director of her parish's CCD program for about 25 years. Chris also has a sister that became a nun. When we were little, we both went to church every week and we both had parents that, when on vacation, would find a Catholic Church so not to miss a week.

Fast forward a number of years when Chris and I now have a family. We joined our community Catholic Church, signed the kids up for Sunday School and went to Church every week. When the kids were little, the kids were up early anyway, one of us would take the older ones to church while the other would stay home with the babies. We would switch off each week and that was our routine for years until the kids got older and started going to CCD during the week. Then we started going to church on Saturday night. It really was perfect. We would go to church, then have dinner, and then sleep in on Sunday morning.  

Fast forward again, and now my kids have travel soccer games and travel basketball and tournaments and they could be late on Saturday night or early on Sunday morning and we haven't been going to church on a regular basis. I would do my best to get us there, but the reality of it all is I was alone in this battle. I battle with the kids every Monday to go to their CCD classes. I would hear moans and groans from them when I told them we were going to church and Chris is more in the camp of you can pray anywhere and doesn't have the need to go to church. As much as I agree with Chris that you can pray anywhere, I also believe that as parents, it is our job to share our faith with our children and there is something to be said about routine and doing something every week and sitting quietly in church away from soccer and basketball and homework and housework and just sitting quietly. There is something about being still and quiet in church that I think is hard to find in our crazy, chaotic but wonderful life. But I was tired of battling this battle alone. I was tired and so I stopped looking at the soccer schedule and basketball schedule to figure out when we could get to mass. I was tired of being the only one fighting this battle. I was just tired and so we stopped going to church and we slept in on Sunday. I didn't tell them we weren't going. It was more of a gradual thing and an all at once kind of thing at the same time.

The kids still go to CCD, Molly has made her First Holy Communion, Shannon was just Confirmed but we weren't going to church. But then this weekend Shannon made a comment that we don't go to church anymore. I told her I think about it every week but it became such a battle with you guys I kind of gave up. Timmy over heard this and said I think about church every weekend too. I asked Shannon if she wanted to go. She said yes. Timmy said he wanted to go as well. I told Shannon that Ryan had a basketball game Saturday night and she had soccer training at 10:30 Sunday morning so if she wanted to go she would have to get up early and we could go to the 8:45 mass. She said yes. Timmy was hesitant about having to get up early. I didn't push it. That night I found this sticky note on my door from Shannon.

So I set my alarm and got up to get ready for church. I walked down to Shannon's room and she was up getting ready as well. I walked into Timmy's room just to let him know that we were going if he wanted to go with us. He rolled over and moaned but in the end, he got up to come with us. Then when I walked back to my room, Chris was up. I asked him what he was doing. He said he was going to come to church with us. I said, "Well, if you're coming, then Molly and Ryan need to come too."

Now, when Shannon said that she wanted to go to church. I was secretly jumping for joy inside. She had come back to it on her own just like piano, just like soccer. The guilt I felt of not going to church for so long didn't feel so bad any more. But now, the whole picture was about to change. I was going to have to wake up Ryan and Molly and it wasn't going to be pretty. Ryan did his usual moaning and groaning and sulking and complaining but did get up and got dressed. Molly on the other hand, my sweet, "Yes, Mom," "Okay, Mom," "I love you, Mom," must have still been sleeping because the girl that was screaming and yelling was not my Molly. 

"Shannon, this is all your fault, just because YOU wanted to go to church, look what you've done!!!! Now we all have to go! Sunday mornings are suppose to be MAGICAL because we get to sleep in, well Mom, you just KILLED the MAGIC!!!!!"

I kid you not, I'm a magic killer. What was I doing?!?! This is why we didn't go to church anymore. I was right back to where I left off those many months before. I almost walked out with just Shannon and Timmy, but Chris, my "you can pray anywhere" guy said, "No" and helped get everyone into the car.

We went to church this past Sunday as a family. I sat there exhausted from my morning and thinking about how I am a magic killer. But then I also starting thinking about Shannon with her piano and how she came back to it, and then soccer, she came back to it, and how maybe, just maybe we as parents might need to step back sometimes and let them make their own choices, and hope and pray that we have guided them well. As I sat there, hoping and praying for guidance and patience, my family all together, Molly's head nestled into me, despite me being a magic killer, Molly leans over to me and whispers,  "Can we leave after the halftime show?" "Halftime show? What do you mean?" as I looked at her puzzled. "You know, when we get up to get communion and they start playing the music, you know, the halftime show?" Okay, I guess this girl has watched too many of her brothers' basketball games and football games, and there has been too much football playoff games on TV this weekend. And that's when I thought, this is messy glory. You got to get through the messy to get to the glory. And even though our morning wasn't perfect, it was good.

                                               ~ Gretchen Rubin

Monday, January 14, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

This past week, I've spending a lot of time on Amazon searching for books. Molly and I went to the book store yesterday in search of books. I've been reading blog posts and twitter updates in search of books. 

In November, our dear elementary school principal, Mrs. Hwang died in an accident. My neighbor and good friend sent out an email to our immediate neighborhood of three cul de sacs for donations for flowers or to make a donation in her name. After many emails going back and forth, there was a consensus that the money should go toward something a bit longer lasting than flowers and to something that was dear to Mrs. Hwang's heart, books. So I've been working with our school librarian and searching in bookstores and online for books for our neighborhood donation to the school library. It's still a work in progress, but once it's finalized, I'll post the book titles.

In the meanwhile, the Nealons are reading:

I read this in the car while Molly was at horseback riding lessons. This would be a great read aloud for second and third graders.

I hope to finish Capture the Flag today or tomorrow and pass it on to Timmy or Ryan. It reminds me of the National Treasure movies. There is a national treasure that is stolen, the Star-Spangled Banner Flag, there is a secret society, but it is kids that are stuck in the airport in Washington D.C. that are trying to solve the mystery.

I'm hoping this to be my next read. I read Moon Over Manifest, also by Clare Vanderpool and loved it.

Timmy is reading:

This picture book was out on my dresser because Ryan was doing a project on Lou Gehrig's Disease. Timmy saw it and asked, "How could he possibly be "the luckiest man," he died young, he couldn't play baseball, how is that lucky? I said, "Read the book." So he did. 

Molly is reading:

Ryan is reading:

This is a reread for Ryan. He read it last year and loved it.

Ryan loves the Muppets and he got these books for Christmas and plans on reading them after The Fourth Stall.

Shannon is reading:

The Nealons have read 7 books toward our goal of 40 books by spring break. I count everything they read. If it's a reread, I count it, if it's a picture book, I count it. It all counts.

I read this article this week as well...something to think about. You can read it here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's a new year and time for new reading goals. Last year I discovered the goodread widget that you can add to your blog. In September, I added it and set it at 40 books. That was our family goal. Our goal was to read 40 books as a family before Christmas. We read 48! I set a family reading goal for the first time last summer. Our goal then was also to read 40 books by the end of the summer. I told them if we made our goal then we would go to Great Wolf Lodge. I know, a complete bribe, but you know what, it worked.

I few years ago, I read Donalyn Miller's book The Book Whisperer. Her book completely changed my way of thinking about how to get kids to read and how to get them to become readers for life. Because of her book, I've been reading more children's literature, picture books, middle school books, and YA books and it makes all the difference in the world because now I can say, "I read this book and thought of you. I think you will like it." I can talk with my kids when they are reading a book and I know exactly what they are talking about because I have read the book. I can ask them specific questions about the characters and make connections with them, "When that happened in the story it reminded me of the time it happened to us."

Donalyn Miller sets a goal for her students to read 40 books at the beginning of the year. This sounds like a lot, but with the right guidance, with the right conversations, with the right books in hand, students can do it. Last week, I read this great blog post about What Counts As Reading? This is a lesson that I have had to learn as well. I have come to learn that it's okay for Molly to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. They count! It's okay for her to read the Dan Gutman series My Weird School even though they are below her level and she can read a book in a day. They count! It's okay that Timmy just found the Origami Yoda series and they are also below his reading level. They count! And it's okay that Ryan once in a while will read a picture book for his 30 minutes of reading time. They count! 

Kids need to know that they have some say in what they choose to read. They also need to know that we value their choices. But by me reading lots of kidlit myself and being aware of the books that they do choose, I can make recommendations for them to read more books. After reading the book Wonder, I recommended it to Timmy. It sat in his room for a while. He said that he read the first two chapters and it didn't interest him. But then, something happened at school and I wanted Timmy to read it because Wonder has a theme of choice kindness over being a bully.

He was reluctant at first but then started to read and read and read and after only two days he had reached the end. During those two days, he sat in the family room and read while I cooked dinner. "Mom, I can't believe those kids did that!" While I put a load of laundry in the washer, Timmy would say," I'm up to the part when..." While I helped Molly with her homework, Timmy would express his disbelieve by the cruelty of some people in this world. And when he got to the end, he said, "You were right mom, that was a great book!" 

Right now the Nealons are reading:

Friday, January 4, 2013

In Search of Perfection

 Christmas is over, birthday celebrations are done, and January organizing is in full swing. This year, I had a sense of "just getting through" the holidays. Then after Christmas, I got sick which always drains you of all motivation and energy. But yesterday, I was feeling pretty good and decided to tackle Molly's room. Her room is the smallest room in the house. Even if there are only a few things out of place, her room looks messy because it really is just such a small space. I reorganized it last year. She wanted an update. She had the same decor since she was born so she picked out her wall color and bedding and then I decided to have a desk put together for her using Ikea book shelves. I got the idea from iheartorganizing. You can see her button to her website to the right. 

Here are pics of Molly's room makeover from last year. I love the turquoise that she picked out.

The desk that was inspired by iheartorganizing.

Trying to plan out her wall behind her bed with plaques that Molly and I painted together, free printables I found on the internet, and photos.

Molly's actually sleeping in her bed in this pic. Can you see her little head?

But here is the problem. Molly has a lot of stuff stuffed into this small, little room. Yesterday, I didn't think it was going to be an all day project to straighten up her room. But as I pulled out each drawer, each basket, each bin, there was more and more stuff.

Here's the other problem. I'm a bit of a perfectionist at unsuccessful perfectionist. Chris and I have had battles over this. I feel if I'm going to spend my time cleaning, I might as well do it right. Once I was cleaning the study and I was going through piles and piles of papers...sorting...throw away pile, file away pile, bills pile, school papers pile, and it keeps on going. The study was covered with papers. In my eyes an organized chaos. Then it was time to pick up the kids, bring them to all their activities, help with homework, make dinner, you know, all that mom stuff that we do everyday. Well, Chris came home, saw the "mess" all over the floor and decided to clean it up. The study looked great when he was done, there were no papers on the floor, they were all back in one neat pile. But they still weren't sorted and he had undone hours of work that I had done. I try to tell him that sometimes you have to get through the messy to get to the glory but he really hates the messy part.

Now, again, I don't like messy either. It drives me crazy when I organize the kids' rooms and their closets and their stuff in the basement and their cubbies in the garage and everything is labeled and they know where everything is suppose to go and we have family meetings about putting their stuff away and picking up after themselves as well as each other because we are a family and we should help each other out and that the word "mom" is not another word for "maid" and on and on and on!!!!! It drives me crazy when I put all this effort into trying to make it as easy as possible for them to put their stuff away and they don't. 

But yesterday morning, I started my day with going through some emails. I had a huge amount since I didn't go through them over Christmas break. I subscribe to Gretchen Rubin's emails from The Happiness Project and I opened one yesterday with this picture.

The night before, I was reading See You at Harry's, a YA book that will rip your heart out. The main character is a 12 year old girl named Fern, named after Fern in Charlotte's Web. She is talking with her friend, Ran, who has a mantra of "all will be well." It is at a time in the story that "all is not well" and Ran tells Fern,

But the whole thing was a scam," Ran says. "It was just some stupid thing to say to make me believe life isn't unfair. And just when I thought life was perfect, it became unbearable again."

I think of all the times Ran has said those words to me. He said them like they were a fact. I always secretly loved when he said them because I thought if anyone knew how things were going to turn out, it would be Ran.

"I was so wrong," he said quietly. "I'm sorry, Fern."

There was that word perfect again. I actually looked up the word perfect. Perfect means excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. The words "beyond improvement" sat with me and I thought there is nothing that we cannot improve. There is always something that we can do to make things better. Whether it is ourselves, our relationships, situations around us, nothing is beyond improvement.

So yesterday after checking emails, I moved upstairs to tackle Molly's room. Again, I did not think it was going to turn into an all day job. I started cleaning and sorting and I was in the mist of "messy glory." I couldn't even walk in her room because everything was on the floor. I was getting frustrated.  I began to realize this wasn't going to be a quick clean up. 

My companions for the day weren't much help.

That frustration of all that work from last year, of all the bins and the labels and the organizing had gone to waste once again was bubbling up inside of me and then I found this. This water stained, crumpled, wrinkled piece of paper with all her "stuff." I had found the "glory" in all that " mess" and it was worth it. Every kid should feel like their family is the best. I love that she wrote "They are" with an arrow just in case you don't know who the Nealons are.

Gretchen Rubin says, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Well, Molly's room may not be perfect, but I certainly had found the good.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Embracing 2013

Wow, I haven't posted anything since November. December is always a crazy busy month, but this year I seemed to be in the mode of just getting through each day. I hate feeling like that, but the last few months of 2012 weren't exactly joyful. The end of October and beginning of November were filled with worry for our families in New York as Hurricane Sandy hit them hard. It took two weeks for most of them to have power restored, but during that time there were four hour gas lines, many businesses were on a cash only system, and even though all of their homes were safe, they all have their stories of friends and neighbors that lost so much. 

Then November brought the sad news on Thanksgiving night that our dear principal, Mrs. Hwang, was hit by a car and was killed. I wept for her loss, for the principal who always had time to listen to any concerns or ideas that I had to share, for the children of Sanders Corner who would not see her standing in her usual spot to greet them each morning, and for the family that she loved so very much.

And then December brought the unimaginable horror of Sandy Hook. I sobbed as I heard each of their stories, I sobbed for the children lost, the parents that now have to go on without their children, the teachers and staff that were heroes that day who lost their lives, and I will be praying for the staff of Sandy Hook to help them get through those first few days and weeks when they return back to school.

So good-bye 2012. Even though the Nealons had some great moments and new adventures, I am not sad to see you go.

Robert Frost once said, "In three words I can sum up all I know about life. It goes on."

So now after reflecting on 2012, I am ready to move forward. I have tried to make New Year's resolutions in the past. I have read Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project and Happier at Home. She talks about resolutions and how they need to be measured. You can't say "I'm going to get more sleep," but you can say, "I will go to bed at 10:30." You can't say, "I will exercise more," but you can say, "I will go for a walk at least four times a week." 

But another way to embrace the new year is to pick a word. A word that reminds you of what is important in life, a word that reminds you of what you want, a word that reminds you of those resolutions and goals. Last year, I picked the word enhance. This year my word is embrace.


The first definition is to clasp or hold to one with the arms, usually with a display of affection. 2. To encircle or surround.

Right now I just want to hold on tight to my kids and never let go. I wish I could surround them with bubble wrap, keep them safe and protect them from any harm. But since I can't do that, I will embrace them each and everyday. I'll help guide them to help them make good choices and surround them with love, so that they know what it feels like to be accepted, so that they can do that for others.

Another definition is to take up willingly or eagerly, eager acceptance.

I need to be more willing and eager to take on new adventures, try new things, take more risks, and embrace the changes in our lives. Life is not perfect and I don't know what  lies ahead for us this year, but whatever it is, I will embrace each moment, I will embrace each new thing, I will embrace each adventure. Because when it comes right down to it, I have everything I need...what I need comes home from school and then from work each day, we will sit at the dinner table and share our days, they will climb into their beds and I will kiss them goodnight, and that is all that I need. 

Today, I will embrace 2013 with the celebration of Ryan's birthday. He is my snuggler, my hugger, and I just love his embraces.

"When they had eventually calmed down a bit, and had gotten home, Mr. Duncan put the magic pebble in an iron safe. Some day they might want to use it, but really, for now, what more could they wish for? They had all that they wanted."

~William Steig, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble