Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What I've Learned About Myself in 2016

2016 was a HUGE growing year for me. I was stretched in so many ways. I've never felt so literally weary in my life. I learned so much. I did so much. I changed so much. It was definitely a year, that's for sure. I thought it would be kind of fun to document everything I've learned this year. About myself, about God, about life maybe? We will see where this leads. I know I'll enjoy looking back on this in years to come because I am sure I'll always remember 2016 as a huge year-both good and bad. 
So here is what I have learned about myself this year....

  • I don't handle stress nearly as well as I thought I did. For possibly the first time, I think I found out what it is like to be under very high stress levels for a consistent and long period of time. I've never had that before, and I didn't manage it well, which made it take its toll on me. 
  • I am emotionally stronger than I thought I was. Although this year has been stressful, I feel like I have been strong and have been a source of strength for others around me. 
  • I need a plan for follow through. I have always had a hard time sticking with things, but this year I found out that I am fully capable of it...when I have a plan. The biggest thing I did this year was read the Bible chronologically in one year (well, I'm not done yet, I started on Jan. 3). I have wanted to read the whole Bible in a year before, but I've never been consistent enough to make it happen and it fizzles out. This year,  I stuck with it and I'm almost done! I am really proud of myself for doing it, and for sticking with it even though I had so much less time and more stress this year. 
  • I NEEEEEED rest. I am bad about self care and about taking time to rest. I am really bad about it. But this year, I have learned that I really need it. I need to go to bed earlier and get a better night of sleep. I need to take a few hours every couple weeks away from the house, by myself, to refresh. I absolutely need time to unwind and unplug. (This is probably also why I don't handle stress very well). 
  • I am a total book nerd! I have always enjoyed reading, but this year (and maybe a little last year), I really realized HOW much I love it! When I set a goal to read 50 books this year, it was because I wanted to pursue that a little bit more, and take time to actually do something I enjoy. I didn't make it to 50, but I don't feel too bad about it considering when I set the goal, I had half the amount of children I do now. I think I will have 28 or 29 read by the end of the year (plus 2 more that I'm partially through), so I feel pretty good about that considering how this year went! (Also, I originally wrote "I think I will have 28 or 29 by the end of the year", but since I had just been talking about my kids it sounded like I was saying I would have 28 or 29 kids....scary). 
  • I thrive when I have a creative outlet! This year a lot of that consisted of photography, but blogging is also a big one. I enjoy having something I can do (bonus if it's from home, while my babies nap!) to feed into my creative side a little! 

  • I am glad to be out of the baby phase. I honestly wasn't sure I would ever feel like that. And not to say we will never have another baby in our home (#fostercareisunpredictable ;) ). I LOVED the baby phase with my girls. And I absolutely adore babies. But this year, I started noticing that I didn't ache for another one when I would hold friends itty bitty ones. And when we added TWO babies to our family this year (who quickly became toddlers), I was not at all sad to be done with multiple naps, bottles, strollers, etc when they moved past all that. That's where I'm at right now-who knows if it'll change! 
  • I am not good at making decisions. I don't know that I've ever really realized it before, or maybe I have been better at it in the past. But for sure this year, I have had such a hard time making decisions...both big ones, and little every day ones. I am overthinking everything and going back and forth on pros and cons. Sometimes I make a decision just so that I can stop thinking about it, and just pray its the right one (we did this recently with a was taking over our life trying to choose one)! 
  • I really enjoy hosting! This is one of those things that you don't realize how much you like it until you're no longer doing it. At our old (much larger) home, we hosted people and events all the time. In our new (much smaller) house, we rarely have the opportunity to. Part of that is because of how crazy this year was adjusting to foster care, etc. but part of it is also the layout and size of our house. We both really miss hosting regularly! 
I'm sure there are more, but my brain is tapped out for the night! What did you learn about yourself in 2016? 
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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sickness, Christmas Gifts, 8 Years, Girls Day

I have been sick for 3 weeks....I just can't seem to shake it! It started as what felt like the flu, but I hit some home remedies hard and felt mostly better the next day, then it just turned into the cold gunk. Then other members of the family started getting it, then it moved into my chest and I barely had a voice, then more people in the family got it, then it started to feel like the flu again for a couple days, then it all moved into my head and has been there for a week or so. Have you ever had a cold that lasted 3 weeks? When are you supposed to go get checked? I mean, there's nothing they can do for a cold anyway, right, so.....? Now we have 2 kids on antibiotics-one for an ear infection, and one for an eye infection. Did you know you can get cellulitis of the eye?! Well, you can. And I am SO glad I took her in, because the Dr. said that it often gets bad enough that you have to get on IV antibiotics. So we are praying that clears up quickly. We also had a kid swallow a Lego this week. Of course it happened past 7 p.m. when all the Dr's close, so to the ER we went for x-rays. We called, and they said we had to come in because it could have cut a hole in the esophagus on the way down, so that's really what they were checking for. Luckily it didn't. The Lego itself just passes, which we are still waiting for.....That visit is also how we found out about the ear infection, so I guess it saved me another trip to the Dr ;) My oldest also had an appointment with a cardiologist at the beginning of the month. All was well, praise Jesus. So moral of this story is that I have basically been living at doctors offices/hospitals this month. It figures. We had a pretty low key year in terms of sickness and injury, so of course it would all hit the last month of the year, right? 
Today I realized that we have a few large things that need to be put together for the kids for Christmas. I mean, I KNEW we had them, but Christmas really snuck up on me! Anyone else? This month has absolutely flown by, and here we are, 5 days out from Christmas! I'm trying to figure out how exactly to do this, because I know based on the Amazon reviews, that one of the items (a play kitchen) took people 4+ hours to put together. So I don't want to save it for Christmas Eve, but how do you start it and hide it until then? I am really excited for Christmas this year. The whole "large family Christmas" thing seems like it will be really fun. And insane. But the memories of wrapping paper flying everywhere and squeals of delight from 4 little ones seeing their new stuff will be so worth it! I can't wait! What are you getting your kids for Christmas? Are you done shopping? Do you ever have those years where you just KNOW your kids will absolutely love their gifts? Most years I feel like they'll be really excited and really enjoy what they got, but this year I just can't wait to see their faces. Maybe it's because they're getting older and actually have ideas of what they want going for awhile, but I just really think they are going to be so excited and that makes me so excited! 
Today is our 8 year anniversary! 8 years seems really long! It is very hard to believe that it has been almost a decade! This morning I was thinking that probably within a few more years, everything from our wedding and the photos will start looking so outdated. Right?! It seems like usually when you look back at things from 10+ years they look really old. 
I took my girls out for a girls day on Saturday. They were supposed to have dress rehearsal for their nativity play, but that got cancelled, along with church on Sunday, because it was -30 F with the windchill. NEGATIVE THIRTY DEGREES, GUYS. So I took them out and surprised them with a girls day and it was so much fun! I have been missing them lately. We had my dad, step mom and sister in town over Thanksgiving, then a few days later my mom came, then we've all been battling the sickness off and on and I feel like I just haven't connected with them enough lately. We got donuts first (of course), then we went to see Moana.
 It was super cute and we all enjoyed it. I had one or both girls on my lap for the entire movie, so it was pretty much the best!
 When we came out, it was snowing pretty good, so we went and got lunch at Noodles and Co. I think this was actually my favorite part of the day. We just ate and chatted about the movie and Christmas and whatever their little hearts desired. They seemed so grown up to just sit and have conversations with me over lunch and it was so bittersweet. I love watching them grow. (Also, can I just pause to say that things like going out to eat or to a movie seem SO easy with just my big girls without two wild toddlers in tow! There is no time to pause and chat when we are out with all 4!) After lunch, the snow was still really coming down, but we needed to get the girls gifts for Daddy and brothers, so we braved several stores. I think 5 actually before we all had cold wet feet and and were tired of snow blowing in our faces! It was such a great day, and I think all of our cups were full by the end of it! I could tell by all of the lap sitting, hugging and holding that they requested, that I wasn't the only one who had felt like we haven't connected enough lately. 
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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Miscellaneous Brain Spew (aka blogging like its 2010)

My friend Callie did a blog post today on "old fashioned blogging" and I loved it SO much, I had to write my own! 
If you didn't blog or read blogs back from about 2008-2013 or so, blogging was a TOTALLY different thing then! It was just people writing about their day to day lives and it was I had a different blog then, called Extraordinary Love. I blogged on almost a daily basis about any random thing that was on my mind and it was such a great hobby and outlet! In 2014, I started this blog with the intention of it becoming more the style of "modern blogs". I burnt out on that REAL FAST. It was SO much to keep up on with promoting posts, doing social media for the blog, having beautiful images, creative titles, and "Pinnable posts", that it took all the fun out of blogging for me! Some people might enjoy these aspects of it, but for me it was just one more thing on my check list! And for what?! The whole point of blogging for me has always been for a hobby so what is the point of doing it if I don't enjoy it?! Which is why I have posted so infrequently the past couple years. I haven't known exactly where to go with this blog. I want to share more day to day life stuff, but it's hard to with foster care. I can't post pictures or really any details of our fosters and obviously that is a huge part of our life so it's hard to balance. So more often than not, it's silent over here. 
But today, I'm kicking it old school with a random brain spew post circa 2010. Maybe, just maybe, you'll be seeing more of the like over here! Based on the comments on Callie's post, it sounds like a lot of people miss that style of blogging!

For some reason this year, it just doesn't feel like it should be Christmas. I'm sure a lot of it is how fast this year went by (insanely fast....complete record speed!) but I just can't wrap my mind around it actually being Christmas. It's starting to feel a little more like it now that it is SO stinkin cold out (9 degrees when I was out at noon today... yes, NINE), and there are presents under the tree, but it still weirds me out that it's really here. 

It has already snowed here a few times! The kids have been loving it! The first snow was actually pretty warm-still in the 30's so they stayed out for probably almost 2 hours playing in it. Daddy put a harness on and pulled their sled up and down the yard over and over-they had so much fun! 
 My mom caught this picture of us after we woke up and were checking out the first snow. Love my guy and love the first snowfall of the year!!
Bundled up kids are just so cute!! 
Last night I made a huge Costco run with my friend Megan (it's about a half hour away so I don't go super often, but stock up when I do). I got SO much stuff-it was kind of ridiculous. They had this planner there called The Happy Planner. I had just recently started hearing about it, and Megan has one and was raving about it, so I decided to go for it. It was only $20 or $25 (can't remember exactly) for a TWO YEAR planner, and a ton of extras. I feel like the washi tape alone could be almost that much!! I have stayed pretty well organized this year with planning, because I've had to with all of the appointments, court dates, social worker visits, etc., but I am excited to do it in style this next year ;) Seriously, one thing I didn't realize about foster care is how many appointments there are. Obviously not wanting to deter anyone from fostering, but holy cow. It's a lot. (Or maybe it's just the kiddos I have?) 

My girls were looking awfully cute and festive for church last Sunday! I had to stay home because the sick cycle has been running through our family. Holy smokes, with 6 people it takes forever for it to make it all the way through everyone, so I was at home on duty with the littles. But really, didn't they look so sweet? 
(and since we are going old school today, we are also going with unedited phone pics... Although I just got the iPhone 7 plus and it takes pretty decent pictures!) 

My kids have started waking up from their naps, so that's all the random I've got for you today! This was fun, though--I'll have to do it again sometime soon! 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2017 Theme

For years, I've been hearing people talk about their "word of the year". I've never chosen a word of the year before, mainly because I have enough to think about and focus on without widdling it all down to one word. This year, though, I have had a lot of things weighing on my heart and mind and when I really started to think about them, they all kind of connected in certain ways. I am doing too much, I have too much, I probably talk too much and eat too much, I worry too much, I stress too much....
2016 has for sure been the hardest year I have ever had. It has been very trying, and very stressful. There has also been so much goodness and joy this year, but in terms of stress, this year tops the list. I am hoping and praying that next year can be simplified so much more. A lot of this I can't control because of foster care--the process, the courts, the appointments, etc. But many things, I can. So I am choosing to make a theme for myself next year. Something to focus on and strive for. And that theme is.....
I know that probably sounds really weird. Less? Less isn't a super positive word. But it keeps ringing in my brain, so I'm going with it. But why less? 

I want to have less things, so that I can give more. 
I want to worry less, so I can have more peace.
I want to care less what people think, so that I can care more what Jesus thinks.
I want to be less plugged in with electronics and social media, so I can be more plugged in with prayer.
I want to spend less time stressed out, so that I can give my family more. 
I want to talk less, so that I can listen more.
I want to be less concerned with food (read: chocolate), so that I can be more concerned with health.
So maybe "more" is really the theme, but before I can give and do more, I have to remove a lot of the negative that has accumulated. I am excited and grateful for another year to grow, change, learn, and become more like Jesus. 2016 has been such a weird and interesting year. While yes, the most stressful I have ever had, it has also been so eye opening in terms of faith. I have learned SO much about God, about myself, and about our relationship, and I will be forever grateful for that. I am excited to continue learning more about those areas and applying them to myself and my relationship with God. I am hopeful that God will allow me to use what I am learning now to share with others and help them grow, as well. I know that no matter what way 2017 goes, God will be glorified. His mercy is unending, I have found that in 2016 more than I ever have before. 
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