Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Health at the holidays

In the past few weeks I've been contemplating something that I think a lot of people wonder about.  Every year I hear and see how many people get sick around the holidays and this year was no different.  As I scrolled through my feed on Facebook it was one post after another about various illnesses hitting families and how much it sucks to be sick around the holidays.  My family was no different.  We had a series of unfortunate events plague us as well and it's made me think: do the holidays really seem to bring about more sickness, or is it, in my case, inevitable when I have such high expectations for the holiday season?

It's not that I have high expectations of myself or others at this time of year, I guess I just feel like I expect everything to be so perfect and wonderful and when something happens to threaten that, it hits me harder than it normally would.  I don't even feel bad for myself, I truly am upset for those loved ones whose holiday is not as spectacular as I would have hoped it to be for them.  I am incredibly grateful to our family and friends who are always there for us and I always just want them to have a holiday that they deserve.

Basically I guess I wonder do we make unfortunate circumstances even worse at the holidays because we have a heightened sense of wanting everything to be perfect? I can't answer that for everyone of course, but I think that may be partially true.  On the other hand, because everyone drives themselves so crazy at this time of year trying to make everything so perfect, they often wear themselves down and sometimes illness almost seems inevitable.

Unfortunately this year, in my family, it wasn't only illness that affected us.  But starting around Thanksgiving things just started happening and while I don't feel the whole holiday season was bad, some events took their toll on the holiday spirit.  I also feel like it made the closeness of my family and friends all that more special and in the true spirit of the holidays, that is what it is all about.

So I sit here on this last afternoon of 2013, with a mind busy pondering all aspects of my life.  Grateful for what I have, appreciative of what we've been able to enjoy as a family, ready to welcome in the new year with good friends; but also very conscious of some of the lower times this past year has brought.  I'm not dwelling on them, but I am conscious of them.  The temperature outside is brutal, the snow is falling, and I'm thankful for my warm home, mostly healthy daughter, incredibly supportive husband, and the food and company we're going to enjoy tonight.

Happy New Year to all, I appreciate the time you've taken to read what I've written in the past year and I hope I can continue to earn your time and support in the coming year.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

One of the best gifts I've received...

So here I am the day after Christmas and I'm sitting down for almost the first time all day.  It was a great Christmas lessened only by the fact that we weren't able to share our traditional Christmas morning breakfast and gift exchange with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who was was sick.  

Each year Tom and I try and set a limit on what we should spend on each other and this year we decided it shouldn't be much.  Tom already had an idea in mind and he said it wasn't going to cost much so I knew it was going to be something meaningful.  He has this knack for outdoing me almost every Christmas, usually by finding something extraordinarily sentimental and thoughtful and this year did not disappoint.  

When I decided to try this little blogging adventure Tom was worried that I was once again taking on something else that I would feel compelled to do even when I didn't have time and that it would become something else that would stress me out instead of being something I enjoyed.  I promised him that since it was all mine, I would only do it when I had time or when I really wanted to.  And except for the month of October for the past three years when I've tried to do the 31 for 21 Challenge, I have kept my promise.  

I think he was still a little skeptical at the beginning, but as more people commented on how much they enjoyed reading it, he began to realize that it was pretty important to me and that other people were actually following me and telling me how much they looked forward to my posts.  And so for my gift this year, he put together all my posts from the first year of my blog, along with pictures, and made it into a book.  The book was amazing, but he of course had to go one step further and write an incredibly sweet and tear-jerking message in the front that means almost as much to me as the whole book does.  I still haven't even had time to sit down and read through it all, but I know that reading those early posts will be both comical and emotional.  Those were the early days of Tera's diagnosis and I was still coping (am still coping sometimes) and trying to figure out how our life was going to unfold now that we had this new element to deal with.  

I hope that when I can finally finish going through it I can remember some of things I was trying to learn along the way.  I still struggle with being able to let things go although some life events have helped push me along the right path recently.  I don't take enough time for myself, I don't allow myself the luxury of relaxing enough, and I still worry about things that aren't always important.  The holidays are usually a perfect example, but I have to say with a few exceptions, I didn't do nearly as much as I have in the past and again, with a few exceptions, I was okay with it.  

I still have over a week left of my winter break and though I did work around the house today, Tom and I were able to work out together, get coffee together, and do some shopping together that we don't often get to do (we dropped Tera off at daycare).  And so my focus for the remainder of my break is to do what I want, enjoy my time off, still get some things done, and try and regain my perspective.  I'm not really one for New Year's resolutions, but I'm perfectly fine with a little reflection on what has worked and what hasn't and using that to recenter myself so that I can be a better wife, mom, teacher, and just a better me.  One that I can enjoy.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Christmas Spirit

I'm sitting here at home alone in my living room; Tom worked a little late and is picking up Tera to take her to speech.  I have a cup of tea, our Christmas tree is on and looks beautiful, I have Christmas music playing, and I feel pretty at peace right now.  These past two weeks have been beyond words, but that's for a later post.  I have been in desperate need of peace and while I could be on the elliptical right now, I feel like this is much better for both my physical and mental health.

I absolutely love Christmas.  I can't wait to get our tree up and ever since I was a kid I've loved every minute it was lit up.  I remember when I was little being able to see our tree lights up from my bedroom and even as an adult I find it so magical.  There is something about the little lights illuminating all the ornaments that almost all have sentimental value.  We don't have one of those themed trees where everything is the same color and the ornaments are just that: decorations.  We both have ornaments from when we were kids that were given to us as gifts.  We have ornaments that we have bought together, we have Star Wars ornaments, M&M ornaments, German Shepherd and Siberian Husky ornaments, little white kitty ornaments, Scooby Doo ornaments, teacher ornaments, we have the paw prints of both Jaina and Feyla as ornaments, and other various whimsical ornaments that we enjoy.  I even have a fairly large chicken ornament that my grandma gave me that makes me laugh every time I put it on and that this year Tera dictated be placed at the top of the tree.

I love coming home in the dark just so I can see our outside lights all turned on.  I smile each time I see the effort that Tom has put into making our outside look as perfect as it can even though I hate that we don't really have an entryway to decorate.  I love our village that I have built up since Tom and I have been on our own.  Of course, not your traditional village, but the Department 56 North Pole village with all its silliness and fun.

I prefer pictures from her first Christmas because last year
she had a black eye :)
 Now that we have Tera things have had to be adjusted slightly.  Since my sweet girl is nothing if not curious, we've tried to find a balance between keeping our favorite pieces out and not having to say "no" every two seconds when she is awake.  This year I had her "help" set up the village but we didn't put any of the very small removable parts on the buildings.  I also had her "help" decorate the tree by having her put the few non-breakable ornaments on her level.  The rest of the tree is decorated to just above 34" from the floor plus whatever her arm length is.  I set up a separate tree for Tera's ornaments downstairs just like my sister and I had when we were growing up and she likes that.

One of my favorite pictures of Tera with her AC
As soon as I'm done with this I'll do some online Christmas shopping which some may say doesn't have the same feel as actually going out to pick gifts.  But I say if I can shop from the peace and quiet of my house surrounded by my tree and my own Christmas music, I've embraced the Christmas spirit plenty.

I love trying to pick out gifts that people will truly enjoy and I have to say, having Tera around has definitely made Christmas more fun.  Tom and I haven't gone too crazy for her because she gets so much from everyone else and because she doesn't know any better yet.  But it's fun for us to find little things that fit her current loves and now that she really does have interests, it's even more fun to watch her open things on Christmas morning.  I've spent some time looking for ways to start new traditions and I'm looking forward to the years when she will appreciate them.  I have so many fond memories of Christmases with both sides of my family and I just want Tera to have things she loves about Christmas (besides presents).

Now this little elf needs to get to work on making some of these Christmas miracles happen...