Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Reflections

It's the last day of 2014.  As we go into this next year, there are changes I want to make for a better year for my family and me.  I have resolutions for moving forward, but I also want to take time to reflect back. 

Here's a few questions I found on this website  to help me reflect on 2014 to assist with looking towards 2015....
  1. What did you do this year that you have never done before? Travel to France with my husband on my annual trip with my students.  Having him there made it the best experience! Standing on top of the Eiffel Tower with very best friend?  Best moment of 2014. 
  2. What was the smartest decision you made this year? Moving into the home we now have.  Love it here!
  3. What one word best sums up and describes your experience last year?  Learning
  4. What are you most grateful for this past year?  Rob's love and support.  Corny, yes, but true
  5. What do you wish you had done more of?  Traveled alone with Rob.  One day, we'll get a honeymoon. 
  6. What do you wish you had done less of?  Allowed anxiety to control a situation and feel stressed.  Also, spent less time consumed by the cell phone (note--new year's resolution number 1)
  7. Knowing what you know now, if you could write a letter to yourself that would travel back in time so that you would receive exactly one year ago, what advice would you give yourself?  Know that it will all work out in the end.  Don't let the anxiety and fear of what could happen affect the current situation. 
  8. Who were the three people who had the greatest impact on your life last year?  My amazing husband Rob, best friend Nikki, my loving mother Sharon
  9. Did anyone close to you give birth?  No
  10. Did anyone close to you die?  Thank goodness, no. 
  11. What important relationship improved the most?  My husband.  Being newlyweds was incredible!  Fell more in love with him each day during 2014. 
  12. What important relationship suffered the most?  Co-parenting relationship
  13. Whose behavior or what event merited celebration? 12.  She truly took on being a big sister to the little girls, matured, grew in her relationship with me, and became the most helpful person we have in this house.  She is a quirky fun kid who makes my life better.   I'm so proud to be her stepmom!
  14. Whose behavior or what event appalled you?  Oh, I'll leave that off the blog.  I don't believe this person reads this blog, but I have to watch what I say.  No, it has nothing to do with #12.  However, it was ridiculous and most definitely appalling. 
  15. How did you positively influence a child (or the next generation) this year?  Teaching.  I have the greatest students and love my job daily.  Not every aspect of my job, but I still find joy in it daily.  Students at the end of last year wrote me notes of thanks telling me how I changed their life.  I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my career. 
  16. What well-known person, dead or alive, influenced you the most this year?  God.  I've become more in touch with my faith over the past almost three years.  It's a journey I didn't think possible after feeling like I lost my faith completely.  Prayer has become a part of my daily routine as it once had been up until Maggie was born.  Rob and I became youth leaders in our church this year and it has been one of the most fulfilling experiences we've had as a couple.  We love our Wednesday nights and the people we've met through leadership.  We love our students and the meaningful conversations we have with them.  I know it has made us a stronger couple.  I often feel inadequate because of my past, but God is showing me that it is enough. 
  17. Who made you laugh the most this year?  My daughter, Katie.   Funniest person I've ever met in my life.  She spent the better part of an hour today with a (clean!) pair of underwear on her head singing Frozen while pretending she was a dog. 
  18. What were your favorite TV programs?  We watch very little TV, but love Impractical Jokers on TruTV.  Rob and I will watch late at night for a laugh before bed.  Absolutely hilarious!
  19. What were your favorite books?  I read a lot more this year than in the past few years.  From self-help to young adult books my kids and students are reading, I found a little more time to read.  It's been nice. 
  20. What was your biggest musical or art discovery?  Three musicals that my kids were in!  12 was the LEAD in the high school show of the Music Man.  Maggie had two small parts in Ever After and Annie Jr at the children's theatre.  I love watching them perform!  We were blown away with 12's performance.  We're continually impressed with the quality of productions of the children's theatre. 
  21. What was your favorite movie this year?  I know I'm an adult, but I have to say Annie 2014.  It was my all time favorite movie as a child and I LOVED the new version.  12 teased me for crying! 
  22. What song will always remind you of this year?  I Lived, OneRepublic.  I took 16, her friend, and two of my friends to their concert down in Austin this August then used the song on the first day of school in my classroom. 
  23. What musical artist did you listen to the most this year?  Probably Eric Hutchinson or Ben Folds
  24. Did you attend any concerts, plays, or art events this year?  Yes, but I would have loved to do even more!  Concerts included Eric Hutchinson (our favorite just me and the man), Ben Folds, Parachute, OneRepublic, Brendan James.  Lots of plays, especially at te children's theatre.  Maggie has done two shows with them this year plus I've seen performances of my students multiple times.  I would love to have season passes to Dallas Summer Musicals as well, but the price is a little more than I have to spend on me right now. 
  25. What did you wear often in your closet?  Anything with a cardigan, maxi skirt, or skinny jeans and boots
  26. What was your hair style this year?  Long and straight.  It has gotten REALLY long this year!
  27. What did you really, really, really get excited about this year?  Larissa, my co-founder, becoming the new Executive Director of Heroes for Children and me becoming the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors.  We celebrated our TENTH year as an organization with a big celebration in November, and we have our 10 year fundraiser in March.  Good things to come for HFC!
  28. How old did you turn on your birthday?  36.  About to turn 37 in January
  29. How did you celebrate your birthday this year?  At Great Wolf Lodge celebrating mine, Katie's and 16's all together.  It was so much fun! 12 begged us (over and over) for over a year to go.  We told her she was not allowed to even ASK to go for another year.  She knows that restriction is up on my birthday and I'm sure she'll be ready to ask as soon as possible! :) 
  30. Did anyone close to you have an important milestone birthday?  Oldest stepdaughter turned 16!  She got Dad's old car and started driving.  I think it's hitting Rob hard how quickly the time is passing and how little we have left before she is in college.  They are planning college visits for the Spring together. 
  31. How did you spend the holidays?  We volunteered with an organization called the SoupMobile on Christmas Eve with the big girls.  It took in 500 homeless men, women and children in Dallas and put them up at the Dallas Omni Hotel overnight.  It was an amazing experience.  Christmas Day was a little odd because we were opposite on our schedules.  Didn't get the littles until 3pm so we made the bigs wait until they came home (yes, that is what we call them all the time).  Three hours of present opening ensued.  My favorite part was watching the excitement they all showed towards one another when opening gifts.  They loved seeing what each got and complimenting each other.  These girls love each other so much! We attempted to do family pictures on the 26th before we took the littles back to their dad, but Katie was not behaving her finest.  Maybe a few turned out ok!
  32. How will you be spending New Year's?  At home.  My husband had surgery on Monday, so he's recovering.  Having a "Girl Party" with Maggie, Katie, and Maggie's friend.  First time Maggie has been allowed to stay up late.  We have plans for every hour.  She is making us dress up and curl our hair.  We have crafts, games, sparkling grape juice, movies, their favorite dinner (Cheez-It chicken) and dessert (apple nachos) to keep us happy.  I am assuming Rob will be asleep or at least hiding downstairs in bed. 
  33. I missed...  My dad.  I would have loved him to know Rob.  They would have gotten along so well.  Allie.  I always miss Allie. 
  34. I would use a magic wand to change... my finances.  Wouldn't that be great!  HA
  35. I want to repeat... The terrific summer we had as a family. 
  36. I lost.... my battle with Adult ADD--started medication this year to help me focus a little better.  I can't say I've seen a great improvement year.  I often forget to take the medication!
  37. I gained...  even more respect for my mom as I watched her be sworn as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Child Protective Services.  She asked me to be her guest to see her at the swearing in ceremony with the judge.  I cried watching this woman I love knowing all the good she will do for this organization.  So proud of my mom!
  38. I regret...  allowing anxiety to affect me from time to time.  Panic attacks are not fun!
  39. I am thankful for... my friends and family who make my life better each day.  I've learned so much this year.  It's easily been one of the biggest years of personal growth for me.  The year wasn't exactly what I anticipated for unforeseen reasons, but in the end, it was a good one.  I still have a lot to learn about being a wife, mom, stepmom to this family and how I can make the most of it all.  Of course, I'll probably be saying that every year of my life to come!
  40. I felt most alive when... my house was filled with all four children together.  My most favorite thing in the world!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

One Year

This was us a year ago today...

Saying those two little words was the easiest thing I've ever done. Marrying Rob was the best decision I've ever made. He's my rock, my love, my best friend, my secret keeper, my best cheerleader, and my companion. He makes me happy beyond measure.

Our life can certainly have it's challenges, but it has three times as many rewards. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Looking forward to our next year and all the years to come spending time beside one another. Today was our last full day with our big girls before they return to Oklahoma midday tomorrow. The little girls return at noon tomorrow. No date for us to celebrate until sometime in January, but we don't care. We've hung out with the kids, laughed, and enjoyed our family.

I don't need much for my anniversary--just the man I'm thankfully married to.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sisters, Blended Family Style

Love these awesome girls!