Patrick turned eight. EIGHT! It seems so old. It's not easy to coordinate a birthday party and gifts so close to Christmas and every year I vow to be better at not being stressed about it all but I took a few notes this year to remind me next year. We had a small family party for him and it was so fun and relaxing. I made all the easy favorites and lots of good (easy!) desserts.
(Oreo Pie-recipe on back of Oreo pie crust)
The two older kids made it back from college safe and sound and with so much laundry. Both worked (on their own initiative! yay!) through break. I do have to say that the first week home is always an adjustment for everyone. The college schedule is quite different from our family schedule (as in-go to bed at a normal hour and wake up at a normal hour and eating meals at normal times) and always causes some angst (is angst the right word? maybe annoyance?) as we press the "reset" button on what "normal" is. This is what coming home is for though right? Because no one should live the college life 24/7/365. I think I am getting the hang of this though-this need for readjustment, the patience it requires, when to set my foot down and when to ease up. It is nice to have them home-they appreciate my cooking (which isn't fabulous at all) so much, and add a fun energy to the home. I love their friends, I love the extra help with the little ones, I love the good conversation.
On the same subject, I was laughing with a friend the other day who has many children older than mine at the fact that it seems as soon as you figure out this parenting thing across the board for all ages (even adult children) you are "done". There is no education but doing it as you go on, and learning while you are in the thick of it.
We took the three younger kids to a work party at the zoo-saw the lights and had a nice dinner with a Santa visit. Janey won't sit on his lap but stays just far away enough to reach for her gift.
Here she is dashing away.
On Christmas Eve after church and dinner the kids exchanged gifts and it was so cute to watch them receive and give. Janey bought everyone a pack of gum since it's just about her favorite thing in the world.
At some point in the break Jeff took the kids to see the Star Wars movie and all those light sabers came out again.
Later that day. And then all week till I couldn't take it anymore. It was a record year for the tree being up though, I lasted about a week after-and next year I am going to try a new place my neighbor told me about with fresh trees and a new stand that will allow me to keep it up till the Epiphany. I swear our tree was cut in October!
Her two favorite gifts. So easy and simple!
All in all it was a good Christmas. On Christmas Eve late at night I felt so sad about the kids growing older. I know I can't complain-I've had 22 years of having a child little enough to be really excited (a "believer" is a way to put it?) but I count the years down now and I shouldn't. But it's an adjustment as the years go by-as busy and hectic and draining the little years are, they are gold too. I know I lived them and appreciated them and gave them my all (even with fuzzy headed lack of sleep with babies in arms) and I'm still doing that but memories blur and fade and change. I'm not good with change maybe.
I also wanted to scale back this year and that was hard for me-I worried about it. I thought there would be disappointments with the older kids and there wasn't-or if there was I had settled in my mind it was something they just had to work through and that I needed to be peaceful about. But then I was so proud of them all. They were so grateful and I realized that much of my worry exists in my mind only.
On to New Year's Resolutions, my favorite of all.
I am doing Whole 30-my friend Jane did it and lost a lot of weight and felt so much better physically and after a month (a year?) of eating not so healthfully, I am very motivated. After 3 days I can see a change in my skin already. Bags of Dove chocolates (and Lindor and Symphony and whatever else I get my hands on) aren't the best for me go figure. I really indulged these last few months-I made and ate every treat I ever wanted knowing that January was around the corner. I have our wedding picture on my screen saver and taped to my fridge and I swear I'm going to get back down there finally, as close as my body will let me in a healthy way. It feels like the time is right-Janey is three, and I have a little more time on my hands when it comes to exercising and getting in that right mindset.
My mom gave me the book The Life Changing Habit of Tidying Up. I have heard of this often and it didn't appeal to me too much because I don't have many issues with purging my house of clutter and keeping things relatively organized, but I loved reading it-it is quick and very motivating when it comes to reducing clutter. A few days after Christmas I had our closet looking wonderful and made Jeff ask himself "Does this bring me joy?" while he went through 50 t-shirts. Sometimes I had to tell him it just couldn't, there was no way possible, he must be mistaken, there was no joy there. :) I was ruthless on my side of the closet of course. On to the rest of the house-lots of indoor winter time to accomplish that task.