For me the new year starts January 5th. That's my birthday. MY new year. So I always give myself till then before I feel as though I need to have set some goals for the year, clean up the house (mostly) from Christmas, and finally feel ready to move forward with the post-holiday, less-sugar, back-to-normal diet, because ya know, I have to wait till after the birthday cake is gone.
And so, January 6th is when I started this post, but alas, finishing up my 2012 album, more organizing around the house, a church project, getting the kids back into the school routine, and... no blogging, so I took ten days to come back to it and another few to finish. Whew.
Last year I started my year off by reading Ann Voskamp's 1,000 Gifts. This year a friend and I are planning on getting together once a week to go through the study guide for this book just as soon as we get them ordered and in! (Details!) In the meantime, we did meet once and went for a pedicure - that's close right?
In 2012 I didn't end up being very good at my written list toward 1,000 thanks inspiring things, but I still had a much better perspective, moving forward through the days and months in a more positive way.
I have a long way to go.
Time to start over. Time to refocus. Time to linger, to acknowledge again the things I've been noticing that have filled my heart, fuelled or refuelled when tedium or irritation encroached.
So here are my first 35 (because of the new 35-Year-Old Me) gifts at the start of this year...
1. January beach days and large clam shells, cockles and carditas, white, gray and red in abundance, perfect for decorating our sand sculptures.
2. Beautiful, magical novels. I have started this year off by finishing a fantastic novel and reading another, with a powerful memoir consumed in between.
3. Brave parents who bravely tell their stories. I read January First. I started it in car line on a Tuesday and I finished before I was back in car line on Wednesday.
4. Animated book groups to discuss such books. (Love our little Meet-Ups.)
5. Speaking of parents who bravely tell their stories, my friend Rebecca, who I've mentioned a few times here, has jumped into the blogosphere with amazing perspective and inspiration. Read her at See Luminosity.
6. Birthdays with Donna. We have known each other since the second grade and we have the same birthday, our entry into the world separated by twelve hours, and we often have shared that birthday together. (Perhaps more often than not, but we've never stopped to make a chart or anything.)
7. Birthdays with Kevin. This year we dropped the kids off at my mom's, went out to lunch, went to see Les Miserables, and then went to Donna's for dinner and game night. A good birthday. My first birthday with him was January 5th, 2000 when I turned 22. Apparently I had a party in my college apartment because this is in my scrapbook, but what I remember in better detail is that over the holiday break we went up to Virginia so I could visit a friend and he could continue on to some ski slopes. During the trip I got my presents - he had planned it so that I had one to open every time we crossed a state line.
8. Toby's new words. Whenever I hear Toby use a word for a first time it always surprises me what he's paying attention to. The other day he called me "Feedra." Another time he saw Cinderella and said, "princess." Of all the words to have picked up!
9. Neighbors. I love that our new kids have really taken to our new neighbors across the street. Kaden is always asking to go over and see them and their dogs. They, ready for grandchildren, but without any in sight, seem to enjoy the kiddo distraction.
I love that when we are playing in the front yard and "Mrs. Kathy" another neighbor is walking her dog, she always stops and chats and lets the boys visit with her dog. (She too has grown kids my age but no grandchildren.)
I love that I have a neighbor I carpool with, so she drives kids to school every morning and I pick up every afternoon.
I love that the girl next door will ring our bell and just hang out and play.
I love that I may finally get to know a family I've been meaning to get to know (We've said high on walks - we see them at the ball field because their who is Kaden's age plays too.) because I just rang their doorbell to invite them over. It didn't work out that day but we chatted and exchanged numbers.
10. The occasional good parenting moment. I'm thankful for the day when I didn't get mad or yell or start revoking privileges when children would not listen, would not follow through, would not stay to the task and instead we played a Simon Says-ish listening game showing the boys that the can listen that they can obey quickly. What could have been just another lecture was fun. The point still got across.
11. Cuteness. I'm not sure where he picked it up, but Toby has started to say, "I am a robot," in a robot voice and move his arms stiffly.
12. Junk = cash. Many months ago I cleaned out my jewelery box and threw some old tangled necklaces and bracelets and ugly earrings in a bag. This week I finally brought that bag to a place that buys gold. Walked out with three crisp $100 bills.
13. Kevin's hard work. Every time I go over to the house we bought to renovate I get prouder and prouder of my husband. He. Did. So. Much. Work. Look at this kitchen! He did it all himself! Seriously. He ripped out everything that was once there and started over. This kitchen alone makes me wonder if we should change the plan, sell our house and move here.
This is Kaden's second year playing Upward Basketball and Blue's first go at being a baller. Two games in and so far so good. Coach Dad (yup, Kevin is coaching both their teams) seems to be having fun with it too.
15. Service. After the boys' games on Saturday we headed up to MFI because they were hosting a Feed My Starving Children event in the hangar. Loved seeing the hustle and bustle of so many happily filling food bags during their shift. And we put Kaden to work while we were there.
16. A new call. We are excited for our pastor and his family as they dream big, step out of his salaried church-staff position to a support-salary (like us) and follow the call to serve Haiti through Northwest Christian Haiti Mission. John writes more about this new role here.
17. Change. We love LifeQuest, our local church, and we are excited that the church voted to continue after John announced his stepping-down (see above!) even though this reality left it without any staff and the church is facing challenging financial difficulties. That said, Kevin and I feel that this time of transition and change is also the right time for us to transition and change. We will be searching for a new church. Part of me dreads this. To break from a body of believers we have known and grown with for two+ years. We've never left a church for any reason other than the fact that we've moved out of state and even then, we haven't really left those churches. I refer to Winter Park Baptist as my North Carolina church and LifePoint as my Texas church. But. We're in agreement it's time to move on. Even without a clear sense of what church God is calling us to partner with, I'm excited about the change knowing that new dreams will be realized on the other side.
18. Toby's come so far. I'm thankful when I stop to think about how far Toby has come since this summer when he was an anxious, hyper-aroused mess. Maybe it's structure. Maybe it's the increase in his communication skills. Maybe he's maturing. Maybe... it's a combination of all those things and something I'm overlooking as well, but he's potty trained! He's doing fine with his afternoon school hours and dropping his nap! We've had no problems with the transition to a big boy bed! Looking back over this first 20 things in this post, it's clear that Fragile X doesn't slow us down!
But it does make us different.
I've been thinking about this post which addressed the question, "Can people with Fragile X have a normal life?"
On Saturday we had back to back basketball games, then we spent about an hour at MFI, then we had a quick stop at Walmart and then we headed to Chipotle for lunch where Toby promptly broke down because they accidentally put hot salsa in the veggie bowl he and I were sharing instead of mild. After all of the above, there was no bringing him back. So I grabbed him and the car keys and rapidly fled the premises. In the van, I urged him to chug water and gave him a few fruit bars to get the spice out of his mouth. He calmed down, stripped naked, and proceeded to play. Fine. I sat in the front and played on my phone. So that was our family. Three in the restaurant, finishing up. Two in the van - one of whom had stripped naked. That's probably not normal. But it's so not a big deal. When the big boys finished they brought me my food and some plain beans and rice for Toby to eat at home and on we went with our day.
Fragile X makes our road bumpier at times, but at this age I can confidently say that Toby is living a mostly normal childhood punctuated by quirks, good and bad, and that's ok.
19. Just one of the boys... At a party last Sunday.
21. Blue's smile when I pick him up from school at the end of the day. There is no face. Just smile.
22. Silliness. Toby will break out into "This is Halloween" (From Nightmare before Christmas - I had it on a play list I played in October) at any given moment. This song, over all the carols of Christmas, is what rattles and lingers in his little brain. Makes me laugh.
23. Stars. I was outside so briefly one night (car to house) but the stars demanded my attention.
24. Fresh mint and basil always available in an earth box beside the house.
25. Waking up to brother noise. Ok, this depends on the brother noise, but one day last week the littlest had climbed into bed with the biggest and it was pretty stinkin' cute.
26. Friends! Plans working out! Some day last week Blue came home with a slip announcing Thursday to be Twin Day, so I asked him who he wanted to be his twin. I wrote a note for that boy's parents and sent it to school with Blue instructing him to pass it along. The mom actually called. And we coordinated for our boys to be twins. And our boys were the only ones cool enough to have an in-class twin (others twinned up with siblings in other grades.)
27. New friends made in unexpected ways.
28. The stubbornness of the tomato plant we thought done, stopped watering, but still produces.
29. The sweet patience of our old dog.
30. Downton Abbey. (Could there be any doubt I'd be a fan?) At the end of Episode 2, Season 3 I both laughed and cried at Mr. Carson's adorable reaction to Mrs. Hughes news of good health.
31. Boys who play outside ALL DAY because after our snow day, when there was no snow, just gorgeous Florida weather, that's where they wanted to be.
32. Legos. The boys will be underfoot. The boys will be fighting. The boys will be ON MY LAST NERVE and then I can say, "Go make (insert made-up lego assignment here)." And... quiet. It's incredible really.
33. A love note.
34. Cooking and not cooking. I love trying new recipes, having the kids love them and feeling as though we're all eating well and healthy without compromising on flavor, (Here's an example of a current family fave.) but at the same time I love having a night off from cooking because I'm going to book group and Kevin says he'll make frozen pizzas or my mom drops off a batch of lentil soup because she doesn't know how to cook for one person.
35. Dreams. I can't call my hopes for this year goals. I don't have measurable, practical plans. A continuation of old dreams, tenuous ideas I hope will grow and make something of themselves. Too big to share. Too big to let go.
Of course there are more, just days into the year and already so full! Thankful for the fullness, praying it doesn't distract from reflection, overburden or frazzle, but remains simply... full, a cup ready to overflow, and that goodness and love will continue to follow our family as we dwell in the house of the Lord eah of the days of our new year. (Psalm 23: 5-6)