Tag Archives: Year in review

A Letter to 2015.

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2015, you will be a year in which I:

* Plan a sweet family vacation. Don’t know when or where, but hopefully something that rival’s this year’s journey to England/Spain. Can be close to home or far, far away, but it must include all of us and we must live it up.

* Add two new passport stamps. We have Mexico in February and nothing scheduled aside from that. The Caribbean? Bermuda? Somewhere, we’ll go somewhere, the whole gang of us.

* Gift myself at least one hour a week of time just for me. No guilt, no chores, no one but me. Yoga, a walk, a magazine, whatever. One hour for me.

* Bake more bread. I failed at this in 2014, but 2015 is the time. Sourdough, I have my eyes on you.

* Really focus on shifting the priorities. Figure out what works for our family in terms of hour worked, hours at home, etc. Which is to say, deal with life’s bologna.

* The camera: figure it out. Really this time.

* Run a race. I don’t care how long or when or where or anything. But run one. Just ONE. Doable.

* Shift the chores to mid-week so the weekend becomes ours again. This one takes a little refocusing, but I think it’s feasible.

* At least once a month, find time for just me and Chris. A pint, a movie, a walk – whatever it is, just the two of us. We make one heck of a dynamic duo, and I would like to keep it that way – focus on us is a very good thing.

* Bake more. Once a month, bake something new and share it amongst friends.

* At least once a month, enjoy my coffee not to-go. Sit, sip, savor. It’s a simple pleasure.

So that is all, not too lofty but goals nonetheless. Keep it simple, focus on my little family, and embrace the simple. Oh, and travel. Always travel, always learn, always grow. It’s where we’re at our best.

2015, I have high hopes for you.

2014: a year in review

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Looking back at where I set my goals. 2014, how did we do?

Practice patience. Not as much with James and Chris – I’m generally pretty patient with them already – but with myself. Be kind to myself. Whether I admit it or not, I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I’m my worst critic. Now is the time to take a breath and just let my world be.

I suppose I did okay. I let go of a lot in terms of letting the days guide me without thought of where they might go or why, but I still found myself trying to do too much all the time. I know some of it is the nature of life right now, but some of it is self-imposed. This one is a work in progress.

* Along the same lines as the a lot on my plate notion, evaluate what’s on my plate.  Get rid of the junk, savor the good stuff.  Find more time for the good stuff by minimizing time wasted on the junk.  I kid myself with no elusions of finding more time. 

Well, I certainly evaluated what’s on the plate, but I can’t say I was overly successful in changing much. I do take more time to soak in the good stuff…but the crap is still there. That might just be life as a grownup.

* Celebrate my son’s first birthday.  Bake him a cake (a wee one for a wee lad), buy some balloons, share in the joy. Reflect on what the past year has meant not only for him, but also for me and Chris.  Ponder just how far we have come, because, by god, we’ve come a long way.

Celebrate we did! With a sick little guy, but a celebration nonetheless. And a store-bought cake, but who cares, he was happy. There were balloons and a piñata and so much guacamole – we had one heck of a first fiesta. There was also a lot of reflection and joy in that we had a rough winter with a sick baby a lot of the time, and birthday numero uno marked a turning point to a healthier boy.

* Earn another stamp or two in the old passport.  One will be Mexico in January.  Where will the next be?

Mexico, bingo bango. And then England and Spain! We nailed this one. Absolutely nailed it with so much freaking travel joy it’s hard to describe. The little dude was incredible; we savored every second; and we finally found time to just be. 2014 travel did not disappoint.

* The four generations get away. Figure out how to make it happen. 

Please let this happen in 2015. We had lots of visits, but no getaways. Plan it!

* Hone the camera skills. Read about it, practice it…learn it.

A work in progress to say the least.

* North Dakota or South Carolina: make it happen.

Fail.

* Same with you, chicken coop. Make it happen.

Fail again. Boo.

* Sew. Cushions for the kitchen chairs. Curtains. What have you. Be domestic. 

Kitchen chairs: check. Curtains? Umm, nope. Moderate fail on this one.

* Run another half marathon. This one with the husband. Part of it with the kid.

Wishful thinking. Lots of running, just no half marathon. 2015?

* Reflect on what this body of mine has accomplished in the past few years, because goddammit, it’s impressive. Ponder what it will accomplish again in the next few years.

Check and check. Feeling good, proud, content.

* Bake more bread.  In the literal sense, not in the that’s-a-cute-metaphor-for-having-another-kid sense. NOT YET.

Fail. 2015, I’m looking at you.

* Yoga. At least once a week. Because it feels good. 

Moderate fail. Again, 2015.

* Smile. Laugh. Soak it all in (this should be an easy bullet to accomplish – I excel at smiles and laughter).

Yes, yes, and yes. One of my biggest successes of 2014.

* Think gratitude. Maybe even start writing about it. Three things per day. So far today I have my morning smoothie, a free cup of Starbucks, and one more to go. What else will I feel grateful for today? The sun on my back. An up-coming vacation. Practice gratitude.

Umm, ehh. I did okay but wasn’t as intentional about this one as I would like. Again, 2015.

* Likewise, practice kindness. Always, always, always.

Success on this one. Maybe not as much to myself as I would have liked, but overall, a pretty solid year.

So we met some goals and we missed some, but 2014, you were an adventure for sure. If 2015 shares half as much joy, we’re in for one heck of a ride.

A letter to 2014

2014, you will be a year in which I…

* Practice patience. Not as much with James and Chris – I’m generally pretty patient with them already) – but with myself. Be kind to myself. Whether I admit it or not, I’ve got a lot on my plate, and I’m my worst critic. Now is the time to take a breath and just let my world be.

* Along the same lines as the a lot on my plate notion, evaluate what’s on my plate.  Get rid of the junk, savor the good stuff.  Find more time for the good stuff by minimizing time wasted on the junk.  I kid myself with no elusions of finding more time. 

* Celebrate my son’s first birthday.  Bake him a cake (a wee one for a wee lad), buy some balloons, share in the joy. Reflect on what the past year has meant not only for him, but also for me and Chris.  Ponder just how far we have come, because, by god, we’ve come a long way.

* Earn another stamp or two in the old passport.  One will be Mexico in January.  Where will the next be?

* The four generations get away. Figure out how to make it happen. 

* Hone the camera skills. Read about it, practice it…learn it.

* North Dakota or South Carolina: make it happen.

* Same with you, chicken coop. Make it happen.

* Sew. Cushions for the kitchen chairs. Curtains. What have you. Be domestic. 

* Run another half marathon. This one with the husband. Part of it with the kid.

* Reflect on what this body of mine has accomplished in the past few years, because goddammit, it’s impressive. Ponder what it will accomplish again in the next few years.

* Bake more bread.  In the literal sense, not in the that’s-a-cute-metaphor-for-having-another-kid sense. NOT YET.

* Yoga. At least once a week. Because it feels good. 

* Smile. Laugh. Soak it all in (this should be an easy bullet to accomplish – I excel at smiles and laughter).

* Think gratitude. Maybe even start writing about it. Three things per day. So far today I have my morning smoothie, a free cup of Starbucks, and one more to go. What else will I feel grateful for today? The sun on my back. An up-coming vacation. Practice gratitude.

* Likewise, practice kindness. Always, always, always.

I think that’s enough for a year.

If 2014 is half as kind to me as 2013 was, goodness me, I’m in for a lovely ride. 

2013: a year in review

Reflections on my goals for 2013:

  • Finish growing Mango and become a mom. Learn what that means. Pay attention to the experience. Savor the precious times, and allow myself to truly feel the frustrations, the challenges, and the headaches that are sure to result. Learn. Love. Have so, so very much fun. Laugh. Laugh so very, very much and so very, very often.
  •  It happened.  Every bit of it.  Mango became Nugget became Buddy Bear became James, my sweet boy, full of joy and love.  I felt it all – physically and emotionally – and have been challenged in ways I could never have imagined a year ago. At times I still forget that I am a mom…and then I remember…and my heart swells with the enormity of it all.
  • Slow down. Do less of the stuff that doesn’t matter, and instead spend my precious minutes embracing what does.
  •  I’m not sure anything about this year could be considered slowing down, but I know for certain that we did a heck of a lot of the stuff that matters.  The less important stuff still crept in, but the important stuff?  Good lord, we embraced it.
  • Hug my family. A lot. All of them. Even if they’re not huggers.
  • Huggers or not, I buried them all.  Suckers.
  • Build a coop and…
  • Fail. To be completed Spring 2014.
  • Raise chickens! And cook Sunday morning breakfasts with fresh eggs gathered hours before.
  • Fail again.  See build a coop bullet.
  • Finally purchase a decent camera AND teach myself to use it.
  • Thank you credit card points, we now own a nice camera.  Learning to use it is still a work in progress, but isn’t learning always a work in progress?  If you do it right it is.
  • Join a CSA.
  • Veggies and meat: check.  Assessment?  Veggies: ehh.  Meat: awesome!  We even ventured to the farm that grows the meat to meet the pigs and the turkeys and the cows who would then become…dinner.
  • Travel to North Dakota or South Carolina, the only two remaining in my quest to visit all 50 States. Mango will join me. We’ll take nice photos using our new camera and camera skills. Chris can come too if he behaves. Maybe we’ll take the Vanagon to ND to celebrate our one year anniversary? Road trip.
  • Fail. Maybe 2014?
  • Learn to drive a stick. FINALLY. It will happen.
  •  CHECK.  And I love it.
  • Camp with a baby. Toss the kid in a backpack (with airholes) and hike a mountain. Sit by a campfire to snuggle said baby for a bit before putting the peanut to bed and pausing for a minute to reflect with Christopher about where this magical world has taken us.
  • July 2013. With a three month old. Love, love, love.  Mini man is a trooper.
  • Convince the parents to travel with us. Somewhere, anywhere. But get away for at least a weekend, at least three generations in tow (we get bonus points if Mimi’s in the loop and adds a fourth generation for us)
  •  Road trip to Montreal, September 2013: boo-yah.  We’re still working on four generations for 2014, but in the meantime we took one heck of a journey with the moms, the baby, and some big goofy grins.
  • Bake bread. Real bread with yeast and kneading and deliciously crusty crust.
  • Pretzel rolls, blizzard 2013: yes!  Not likely to happen again anytime soon.  Delicious, but so is bread from a bakery.
  • Live it up. More often than not. And never regret a second.
  • Success, success, success.  So many smiles, an abundance of laughter, and my fair share of tears.  I wouldn’t trade one single bit of it.

2013, you opened my eyes to a whole new world, so full of love, so devoid of sleep, and so very incredible. Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes, but life lesson of the year told me that the best adventure of all looks a little something like this:

A letter to 2013

A few years back I quit making New Year’s Resolutions and started writing letters to each incoming year.  They’re mostly streams of consciousness: things I want to achieve, mindsets I want to embrace, places I want to travel, and a means for me to look back and reflect from time to time about progress.  It’s not about accountability so much as it is a way to see growth and to derive pleasure from simple joys throughout the year.  So here we go…

2013, you will be a year in which I:

  • Finish growing Mango and become a mom.  Learn what that means.  Pay attention to the experience. Savor the precious times, and allow myself to truly feel the frustrations, the challenges, and the headaches that are sure to result.  Learn.  Love.  Have so, so very much fun.  Laugh.  Laugh so very, very much and so very, very often. 
  • Slow down.  Do less of the stuff that doesn’t matter, and instead spend my precious minutes embracing what does. 
  • Hug my family.  A lot.  All of them.  Even if they’re not huggers.
  • Build a coop and…
  • Raise chickens!  And cook Sunday morning breakfasts with fresh eggs gathered hours before.
  • Finally purchase a decent camera AND teach myself to use it.
  • Join a CSA. 
  • Travel to North Dakota or South Carolina, the only two remaining in my quest to visit all 50 States.  Mango will join me.  We’ll take nice photos using our new camera and camera skills.  Chris can come too if he behaves.  Maybe we’ll take the Vanagon to ND to celebrate our one year anniversary?  Road trip.
  • Learn to drive a stick.  FINALLY.  It will happen.
  • Camp with a baby.  Toss the kid in a backpack (with airholes) and hike a mountain.  Sit by a campfire to snuggle said baby for a bit before putting the peanut to bed and pausing for a minute to reflect with Christopher about where this magical world has taken us.   
  • Convince the parents to travel with us.  Somewhere, anywhere.  But get away for at least a weekend, at least three generations in tow (we get bonus points if Mimi’s in the loop and adds a fourth generation for us)
  • Bake bread.  Real bread with yeast and kneading and deliciously crusty crust. 
  • Live it up.  More often than not.  And never regret a second.

So there you have it, a letter to 2013.  If the only thing I accomplish in the coming year is the first bullet point (and the third! and maybe the last too), the year will be considered a success.  That said, I have a feeling we can knock a few more items off the list if we put our minds to it. 

On that note, here’s to making it happen, one step at a time.

2012: you taught me

2012, you taught me to move home to Massachusetts, to live in a dingy basement apartment, and to feel joy during my walk to work.  To love Armenian grocery shops.  To look forward to a long Saturday morning run, followed by a latte and a warm welcome home. 

You taught me that there is no greater feeling than that of safety (2011 might have taught me the opposite).

You taught me to wear a gold sequined mini dress to my cousin’s pub in Connecticut, and to own it in the most carefree, blissful of ways. 

You taught me patience in working through Chris’s long, miserable stint at unemployment, and you also taught me what a saint he is for putting up with me when I went through the same.  You taught me we’re a team.  And when one half of the team is miserable, it’s up to the other half to hang in there, put aside the bullshit, and smile…whatever it takes.  Even better, to do whatever it takes to make the gloomy half smile.  And not to do it because I have to do it, but because I want to do it.  To be there for him when he’s sad…because he so much more so is there for me when I’m sad. 

On a beautiful day in June, you taught me to bear my soul in front of the people I love most in this world.  You wrapped me in your warmth, allowed me to feel every single second of that entire weekend, and to love – to truly love – the beauty of what I experienced.  To know in the depths of my soul just how valuable those precious days were.  To look around.  To breathe.  To laugh and to cry.  To be.  You taught me to be a wife.

You taught me to travel the coast in a 1986 camper, on a honeymoon of windblown hair and no air conditioning.  To eat lobster, to drink beer, to try mussels, to hike mountains, to swim in the sea.

You taught us to keep the biggest secret of our lives and then to share the biggest secret of our lives.  To feel our world change in an instant, and yet to know that we would be alright because it’s us and we figure things out. 

You taught me to see the tiniest little fists on a screen in front of me and to feel my heart swell ten times its size with the purest form of love I have ever felt. 

You taught me to move into a house and to make it our home.  Our quirky, little, cozy home.  The place we will begin our life as a family not of two but of three and maybe more. 

And finally, 2012, you taught me – no, you reminded me – on a daily basis to look at the man beside me and smile because I know that we are in for one heck of a ride as we stumble through this world together.  To see and feel the beauty and the fortune of having him in my life.  To eagerly await all of the years to come, while somehow managing to embrace the present. 

2012, you were packed full of life changes and big moments, and for each and every one of them I feel truly blessed.  Cheers to an equally blessed 2013.

Looking back: One year in the land of Chinggis

Well, we did it…we made it through a year in Mongolia! Our clothes are a little rattier, my hair is a lot longer, and we’ve both faced our share of challenges in the past year, but for the most part we have come through unscathed…I think? Here’s a look at a few highlights (it’s amazing looking back on it and realizing just how much we have done in a year’s time):

August 11, 2010, we left the womb in Manchester, MA, bright and early.

Only to be swallow by Beijing for 30 hours, then ultimately released. August 14, 2010, to Mongolia we went:

We ate our first meal at our new home, still blind to just how deeply we would grow to love the orange couch:

And won our first pub quiz:

And took our first ger face photos!

We saw our first snow in September…

and learned the wonders of karaoke in Mongolia:

Chris played basketball…

and we enjoyed a delicious Indian food dinner for our Thanksgiving away from home:

That was followed by a beautiful Christmas shared with friends bonding together to create a wonderful meal and a magical day:

We participated in the Mongolian Ryder Cup of Curling 2010 (the Americans took the Cup!):

and went to Thailand!

Only to come back for our first Tsagaan Tsar:

We turned 30!

And froze our butts off at the ice festival:

I went home to meet my beautiful niece and see my wonderful family:

Chris went home for June, and I attended my first VSO Summer Conference in this beautiful place:

And then Chris came back and we went to the Gobi…

And on our first kayaking adventure…

And saw our first Naadam…

And we got engaged!

And trapped on an island, where we re-inflated the boat to bring us to the mainland where we walked down train tracks to get to a train station that we mistook to not be a train station so we kept walking to another town only to walk back to the previous town, but who cares we were happy:

And then we went to a Mongolian Death Metal Festival which was, in a word, weird:

Jack arrived; we went kayaking again:

The boys set off on their trip:

They returned from said trip – a blog is in the works!

And now here we are, one year complete in this crazy, crazy place. Whew!