Plans and Goals for 2016

IMG_4840Yes, it’s one of my favorite times of year! Time to look back and look forward, like Janus of old, and assess, reflect, and plan. When we were in Nashville this Christmas with Eric’s family (three more uncanonized saints!), I was telling Eric’s dad that I have never felt quite so unprepared for a new year, but that I thought it was a good thing. My word for 2015 was savor, and I take it as a good sign that I was so busy savoring things that I had not a moment to spare for reflecting and planning. Savor is a very good word for baby days! I usually set about four goals for each year, which seems to be just about right for me, but I hadn’t thought about it at all yet on that cold and windy day while we took turns catching Micah at the bottom of the slide (the big boy slide! the twisty one!). I wasn’t worried, though. A new year can start any time we like, and mine usually do start sometime after we’ve settled back in at home after holiday travels. Still, that very afternoon, I curled up in an armchair while Micah’s sweet grandparents were playing cars with him, and I typed four little things into a note on my phone. And here they are! In no particular order.

IMG_49661) Learn embroidery. I like to try to pick up at least one new skill each year. In the past it has been quilting and candle-making (still not a pro at either, but have had unquantifiable amounts of fun with each, which is the whole point anyway), but this year I’d like to build on my skills with a needle and thread. I started doing cross-stitch a few years ago (probably this was also a yearly goal), and would call myself moderately proficient at it. It’s fun and relaxing, and I love seeing images come together in tiny little stretches of thread. This past year I have been experimenting with images on linen, in my delightfully rudimentary way: a traced image on tissue paper and my trusty companion, back-stitch. It has been great fun, but I’d like to learn some new stitches and expand my repertoire. Time for seed stitch and satin stitch!

IMG_48542) Dig deep into my faith traditions. I was raised Catholic and spent most of my young adult years away from the church before coming home in my mid-twenties. I would say that one of the greatest delights of this past decade has been discovering so many beautiful prayer traditions that I really knew nothing about, Catholic school notwithstanding! I love exploring these (centuries-old) spiritualities like a kid in candy shop. It fills my heart with joy that it seems there is truly something for everyone and for every season of life, whether it’s the rosary or the examen or the divine office or novenas or Simbang Gabi or lectio divina or Las Posadas or meditation or labyrinth-walking or learning about the saints or celebrating the liturgical year. Even just the little bit of exploring I have done has been so deeply rewarding, and I want to keep it up all year. (And just a small note to say that I have great love and respect for all spiritual traditions and never want to make anyone feel uncomfortable in talking about my faith. One of the things I love most about my faith is its affirmation that every person is wholly beautiful, unique, and filled with light. Whatever shape that light may take, I love and honor it.)

IMG_48573) Use my time better. Hoo boy, this is a big one! It includes, but is not limited to the following:

-Plan my days more effectively. Plan activities and outings for Micah. I have been doing much better at this by just having a list for each day. I make it the night before so I can hit the ground running in the morning, and it makes all the difference. Plus, who can deny the thrill of crossing things off a list?! Instant motivation.
-Be more efficient with those hours after Micah has gone to bed. 7:03pm rolls around every evening, and my head spins with all the things I have been waiting for just a few minutes of quiet to accomplish. But I’ll just check my email first. And then 40 minutes have gone by, and I realize I am really exhausted because my sweet baby keeps getting up at 5am. No more! The benefit of typing up goals after you’ve started working on them is that you have learned a bit already. What have I learned? Honestly, to keep moving. Wash those bottles, start that laundry, clean out that closet, work on that sketch. And then, when exhaustion hits, cozy up with a book or some needlework and a podcast (Serial! Undisclosed! Bookworm! The Moth! I have no new wisdom here, but all of these are beloved for a reason) before bed, with the glorious bonus of not having any tasks hanging over your head when you do.
-Get babysitters more frequently. We love a date every now and again, but I would like to have someone come sometimes for a few hours during the week so I can get to the gym or just read a book and drink tea in perfect silence. Ahhhh! I know that time off makes me a better and more attentive mom, so I heartily intend to make it happen.
-Go to Joshua Tree! It is our closest national park. Thus, it is a very good use of our time to go there. So says me!
-Help others. Simply put, I have so much. I want this to be a year of giving and doing and helping.

IMG_49054) Make more art. Because it feeds my soul.

IMG_50065) And this very last one came to me about a week ago: read a book in Russian. I spent a lot of years studying this completely intoxicating language, and I want to keep sharpening my linguistic knives (ohhhhh, they are pretty dull right now). I haven’t decided which book yet, but heaven knows my bookshelves are full of shiny new paperbacks and musty old editions that I rather perilously hauled back with me from Russia (perilous because I could really have injured my back or incurred exorbitant overweight luggage fees. If not for that kind KLM agent taking pity on me…I’d be about 100 Euros poorer today). K-Sos! Shelly! Any other intrepid Russian-speaking readers of this blog! Long-distance book club?

This probably seems like an awfully long list of goals for someone who is raising a toddler, but I find it so helpful to think about what I really want to focus on. Goals are like Voldemort–the more you speak them aloud, the more powerful they become. I am sure I won’t knock all of these out in 2016, but I am sure going to have a good time trying. Happy new year to all!!

And also, THANK YOU! You sweet and wonderful people, you have brought tears to my eyes with your beautiful comments. It amazes me that I can disappear for a month or so, show back up, and have you all shower me with your kinds words and affirmation. You are the best! The bestest best! I am so thankful for each and every one of you!

My Two Uncanonized Saints

IMG_4997Hello, 2016! I am excited to kick you off with this little blog post I wrote in my head during midnight rocking sessions and diaper changes and toddler chasing sessions. Our little family spent the holidays with my family in Memphis (plus one week in Nashville with Eric’s sweet family). We spent two weeks in Memphis, and during one of them, Eric was at a conference in Florida. We set it up this way so I wouldn’t be flying solo with my adorable sidekick for a whole week. And boy did I ever feel the relief. I started thinking that we probably (hopefully!) all have some uncanonized saints in our lives. What are saints but those who love and do good things? Mine are my parents.

Mommy, thank you for getting up in the middle of the night with me while my baby was inexplicably screaming for an hour. And thank you for ordering me to take a nap the next day.

Daddy, thank you for picking us and our traveling luggage circus up from the airport at awfully early and awfully late hours.

IMG_4994Mommy, thank you for taking walks with us and going above and beyond in helping to keep our little tiger entertained (by this I mean…helping me pick up all the chairs he overturned at the library).

IMG_4954Daddy, thank you for making two (two!!) full pots of coffee every morning so we would never run out. What unspeakable luxury! And thank you for baking bread and for doing the dishes and cleaning Micah’s high chair tray, every night, without fail. More unspeakable luxury!

Mommy, thank you for watching Transparent with me, even though you’d already seen it twice.

Daddy, thank you for moving an obstreperous car seat more times than I can count, and thank you for taking my baby home so I could go to yoga and knitting with mommy.

Mommy, thank you for spending every afternoon in the kitchen so that I could have such a glorious break from cooking.

Daddy, thank you for running in circles all over Molly’s La Casita (and Republic Coffee and Huey’s and that Japanese place I can’t remember the name of) with Micah so I could finish my dinner.

IMG_4979Mommy, thank you for buying a new car so you could fit carseats and have an automatic on hand for your non-stick-driving daughter. And thank you for figuring out how to adjust the mirrors!

IMG_4767Daddy, thank you for reading books and playing cars and teaching Micah how to go up and down the stairs safely. And also for letting him roll a bowling ball around in the garage.

IMG_4974Mommy, thank you for filling every day with your kindness and your sharp and hilarious wit.

Daddy, thank you for filling every day with joy just by being your sweet and gentle self.

Mommy and Daddy, thank you for re-scheduling your anniversary dinner (!!!) so that Eric and I could spend a night out at your condo. And thank you for instead celebrating your anniversary with fistfuls of pasta and green peas (oh wait, that was Micah!)

IMG_4961Mommy and Daddy, thank you for 1,000 meals, most of them at kid-friendly places, for letting your house be taken over by our little zoo, for getting up early to keep me and my little explorer company, for staying up late to read and talk with me, for delighting with me in my sweet and beautiful and hilarious child, for making this trip full of the happiest of happy memories.

And if I could just add one more little point to my case for canonization…I am pretty sure you would think that none of these extraordinary kindnesses are things that you need to be thanked for. But thank you, thank you, thank you, all the same.

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