Merry Christmas 2013
I had the thought this year that I would post our family Christmas letter on my blog. I don’t even know if my friends actually read it, and I know that most of my family doesn’t, except my very favorite Aunt Janell! (Love you Auntie 🙂 And I can actually say that because no one else is reading it….
So, here we go.
2013 has been a very emotional and difficult year for me personally. I have learned that I am not as nice as I thought I was, I still really stuff my negative emotions and try to eat them away (guess I will keep working on that for 2014), I have rejection issues, and I don’t always make wise or good choices when I am sad and disappointed in my life or myself. Lovely, huh? The biggest issue I learned that I still have a lot of personal and emotional work to do to bring myself into harmony with my desires and beliefs. I still have places where repentance and the atonement need application. It is so much nicer and easier to just believe that I am basically a good person with no need for change, which is obviously not true, or I would no longer be on earth. So apparently there is still a lot of work to do.
My sweet husband is my ever faithful companion in the process who still loves me and cherishes me even when I make mistakes. That was a new revelation to me because all of these years, I have been hoping that he wouldn’t see any of my deficits and I could hide my mistakes from him. That of course, is just ridiculous, but it is what I was hoping for. Alas, our relationship in 2013 is finally at a place where I can admit that I really messed something up. Guess what?!! He has not disowned me or ever once even hinted that he is horribly disappointed. He just listened to my complaints, hugged me and discussed with me the doctrinal principles that we try to teach our children in the process of helping them to learn to use their agency. Who would’ve thought I still needed to learn a few things too?! Go figure.
My oldest child, Slim, reminds me constantly that I am not getting any younger as he continues to jump through hoops and reach milestones that I never imagined would actually come to pass, not because he wouldn’t or couldn’t do it, but simply because I was never going to be old enough for him to do those things. This coming May 2014, he will graduate from his university. His applications are in for grad school, and we are all anxiously awaiting the path he will take.
My second oldest, Spanky, has been dealing with dating drama. He really didn’t date much in high school, because there really isn’t anyone here to be dating and the distance makes it difficult. He saved up all that adolescent drama for his young adult life, post mission. I won’t go into any of the details, but just know that Drew and I have been laughing hysterically as we listen to his stories and perspective and the lessons learned. It has been quite entertaining. Then to have his oldest brother tease him and poke and prod him about sharing information and details with him has been pretty funny. It is really nice to see that now that they do not live in the same house, their relationship has grown into one of respect and admiration. Spanky has gained enough self-confidence that his brother’s relentless teasing nature no longer hurts his feelings. Yea! Growth!
Our missionaries are making arrangements for the home phone calls for Christmas day—TOMORROW!! We are so very excited for that and are so very grateful for their service and love. They are both doing well! Tammy is in Wisconsin! Scuff is still in Colorado…still waiting for his visa to Brazil. The only issue, is that we packed him for Brazil, short sleeved shirts and slacks, not even a jacket on the list, but he is serving in the Colorado snow. If his visa does come through at any point, he will travel from winter in the Rockies to summer on the equator–quite a shift. I imagine he’ll mail a few things home, like gloves, hats, and a coat. We are so very blessed and love them dearly!
Sport has been trying to do all of those things necessary for college bound seniors. His college applications are in. He finished the work of his Eagle Scout project and now has to complete the paperwork. Scholarship paper work and FAFSA stuff all are on his agenda. I think he has been my most overwhelmed by the amount of extra things he is required to do to go where he wants to go. But he is almost finished.
Speedy has traded the relaxation of a home schooling environment for the constant demands of every teacher in each subject believing that their class is the only one that should be important and require every ounce of the student’s attention and effort. To say he has been stressed, would be an understatement. However, he is also really, really enjoying having friends around again. Our two years of home schooling were exactly what his self-esteem needed. He grew in a well-rounded and wholesome environment that has allowed him to successfully combat the experiences of high school.
Sun is in the middle of that process. She is learning about herself and the world around her. We are only one semester into the process, but I think slowing down and listening to her feelings and emotions will help her to gain confidence in her abilities and personality. At first she was very concerned that she would not have the social relationships and would miss her friends. Recently, she told me that she was glad she was at home, and she has enjoyed it. We are going to have to really buckle down this next semester and work harder. She does great the first month and not so much the next two months and then has to pull it out in the fourth month. I had another child who functioned like that. It is a process of teaching them how to manage that part of their personality so it can function properly in the world around them. That is one of our goals for 2014.
Shorty is completely pre-teeny! Oh my goodness. At the end of the school year 2013, there was only the hint that it was coming because he was getting broader, everywhere. By the end of 2013, the attitude has kicked in—super emotional and tons of drama over minor issues. It isn’t anything his brothers or sister have not done, but the magnitude of it always surprises me. He is happy that his brothers are home for the Christmas holiday and I think he is feeling more accepted and actually has someone at home who will go and do things with him, which helps the attitude. Plus he is packing away the food, which has been completely contrary to his nature. I know the growth spurt is on the horizon, probably in the next four months………I’d better pull out the bigger clothes.
Smilely’s cognition has recently changed. His brain is more capable of analyzing and thinking logically. I love it when they make that change. There is so much more you can discuss and reason about. Now, all of the children, except Spike, have reached that developmental milestone. This summer we reached another milestone, all of the children, except Spike, are swimming. That was a major goal for the year. I had three children who were not swimming and it was really bothering me. We had a friend move into a complex with a swimming pool and they invited us to swim with them weekly. Within the first two weeks of swimming, the first child took off. By the end of the first month, the second child was swimming confidently, and by the end of the summer, Smiley was swimming too!
The important thing about swimming was what it taught me. I am not a swimmer. I can do it, but I do not like it and I do not do it well. I was not confident in my ability to teach my children to swim because of my perceived incompetence at the activity. Throughout our experience, I learned that I am the best teacher for my children. Not because I know the subject matter best, but because I know my children best. I know when to push them and when to back off. I know when they are at their best and when they need to rest. I may not know the best techniques or be an expert on the information, but I am an expert on my children. I am the best teacher because of our relationship. That was news to me too.
Then of course, there is Spike. What a joy he is—so much work, but so much joy! He is my very most high maintenance child, with the most drama ever! He likes things his way. He has taken over all of the door responsibilities in our home. If anyone needs to go in or out, it is his job to open the door. If you open the door for yourself to go out, he cries and yells at you and insists that you come back in so he can open the door. If you come into the house and he is in the front room, he insists you go back out, knock, and then he will let you in. If you do not knock, he will not answer the door. Sure it is cute, but we cannot always bow to him or he will become a dictator and always insist on his way, which he is obviously already struggling with. We went through a little phase where he would not change his clothes, especially if it meant getting dressed for church. Knock on wood, I think we have bypassed that phase. For 2014, our goal is potty-training. Wish us luck. Then, once again, all of the children will be using the toilet. Hip, hip hooray!
That, for us, my dear friends, is 2013. Have a great Merry Christmas tomorrow! Remember that we celebrate because we love our Savior and hopefully with our annual remembrance, our hearts will be more focused and dedicated to serving Him in the coming year and changing those things about ourselves that bring our behavior closer to His. Merry Christmas friends!