2018 – The Year of Intention

On the surface, 2017 was an unexceptional year in our little world. It began in Texas with a minor car accident and ended in Virginia with antibiotics. We existed within the minutiae of work, school, after-school activities, and the mundane tasks associated with running a household. My grandmother passed away and the kids grew bigger and more aware of the world around them. I turned 34 and I’m still growing out my hair from a particularly disastrous haircut. My body isn’t as strong as I’d like it to be but it allowed me to experience some great adventures so complaining about it seems unnecessary.

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In 2018 I will turn 35. I’d like to believe that I am still less than halfway done with my mortal existence but we all know that health isn’t guaranteed. I no longer feel invincible – at least like I did while navigating my late teens and early twenties. My worries now stretch beyond myself and those in my bubble. Will I be okay? Will we be okay? Will humanity be okay? Perhaps that is why the idea of New Year resolutions – at least those in the vein of ‘lose 10 pounds’, ‘survive Whole 30’, or ‘floss nightly’ seem not worth admitting to those around us.

Not that I am discounting the importance of resolutions – quite the opposite. I love resolutions. I love goals. I love starting over. I love lists. I love crossing off items on a list, so much so that I’m known for writing down tasks I already accomplished just for the satisfaction of crossing it off the list.

  • New blog address
  • Redesign blog
  • Write blog post

Last year my friend, Allyson, declared 2017 to be the Year of Better and her 2018 project is The Year of Living More With Less. I love the concept of The Year of _________ and earlier this month I brainstormed ideas about what I wanted from this year ahead of us and what I wanted to give to 2018.

  • The Year of ME!
  • The Year of Eating all the Pho
  • The Year of Writing More
  • The Year of Not Snapping at My Kids
  • The Year of Green
  • The Year of Not Reading Comment Sections
  • The Year of Exploration
  • The Year of Intention

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Last week, we took the kids hiking in Great Falls Park in 20° weather when school was cancelled due to expected inclement weather. We practically had the place to ourselves. It started to sleet while we were scrambling across rocks but we didn’t let that deter us from enjoying the icy water views and terrain. We couldn’t stop smiling. I was so happy to be outside doing something I love with the people I love most. My cheeks stung from the cold wind, we had to tell our daughter multiple times that jumping head first toward the rocks wasn’t the best idea, and our son ran ahead too far for our comfort but it was exactly what I needed because I felt alive climbing rocks with little pellets of ice hitting my coat.

It was an intentional choice to take the kids hiking in not-so-great weather. Now that our children are getting older, in addition to having to watch our language like a hawk, we’re really starting to think about the lessons we want to pass along. We want them to know that we do hard things. We want them to know that there is success in failure. And most of all, we want them to know that while a ship in port is safe, that is not what ships are built for. Life is made up of choices. It is up to us to define a purpose, to set goals, to accomplish these goals, and to learn from the experience. The hike may have seemed like an insignificant family outing, but we’re hopeful that it will be one of the many puzzle pieces that contribute to their overall world view when they leave the nest.

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The Year of Intention is about being purposeful in word and action. In 2018, I am going to actively interact and engage with my life. I’m not going to be overwhelmingly reactionary – just waiting for something to happen. And one of my biggest goals associated with the Year of Intention is writing here a lot more than I have been in recent years. I may be 15 days late but let’s do this. Cheers to 2018 and all the mornings that will bring new opportunities. I’m ready.

 

 

 

 

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The Last Post of the Year

We’re currently en route back home after a quick trip down to Wilmington, North Carolina to spend time with Clay’s family. It had been a couple of years since we were last there during the holiday season and now that we’re calling northern Virginia home, we decided to jet down there when Clay’s scheduled opened up for a few days.

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The last time we were there, our family was patient zero for the stomach flu that eventually made it’s way through the extended family so I am happy to report that we were illness-free this time around. Well – except for me. But thankfully, the massive sinus-infection that overwhelmed my face during December is finally making it’s curtain call thanks to a cocktail of prescribed medication that limited my alcohol consumption during the holidays.

IMG_2395Clay was in and out of town throughout November and December so we did our best to squeeze in holiday traditions when he was home. One we introduced On December 23rd, we saw the Manassas Ballet Theater perform The Nutcracker. It was our first time attending such a performance as a family and we can’t wait to do it again. We will likely move around a lot during the next five years so it will be fun to see the performance in different places around the world.

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Last year, we made the decision to not travel for Christmas – instead choosing to wake up in our own home on Christmas morning and push any travel to the day after Christmas. When it was just the two of us and when the children were younger, traveling with gifts wasn’t an issue but now it just makes more sense to stay home. When the kids are teenagers, I can see us traveling again over the holidays and perhaps even taking an epic trip as our big gift to each other. Our church had a wonderful Christmas Eve service, complete with fiber-optic wands for the kids. Afterwards, we put on matching pajamas and ate appetizers while watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and tracked Santa via NORAD. Speaking of which – when calling NORAD on speakerphone with the kids, I misdialed and somehow ended up phoning a sex line. Obviously, I’m winning a parenting award for my achievements this year.

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Christmas morning featured excited squeals, some surprises, and enough cardboard and wrapping paper to fill the recycling can for the next few weeks. As always seems to be the case, the kids played the most with the $8 worth of Play-Doh that day. My sister and her family came down from Pennsylvania the following day for a couple of days. The kids acted like spider monkeys and us adults maintained our sanity by eating, drinking, and watching Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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After a trip to Urgent Care for me, we made our down to North Carolina, where we celebrated Christmas and took advantage of Clay’s sister’s beach house on Ocean Isle Beach. There was plenty of Clemson gear on display and the six cousins enjoyed playing together. We weren’t there long – less than 48 hours – but I’m glad that Clay’s schedule allowed for us to squeeze in the trip.

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The six grandchildren (ages 4 – 12).

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Hopefully the traffic on I-95 N will be kind to us as we make our way up to the national capital region and we will be home before the sun sets. Our New Years Eve will be a quiet one this year as we say hello 2018 – just the four of us. But if 2018 is anything like 2017, then it will be one hell of a ride. And as the sun sets on this year, I look forward to tomorrow’s sunrise.

Lucky Number Thirteen

We met and fell in love as teenagers and were married the same year that I could legally consume alcohol. Science says that frontal lobe isn’t fully developed until we’re 25, so for making such a major life decision before we were 100% rational beings, things have been turning out okay. Better than okay. In fact, things are pretty freakin’ amazing.

Today marks 13 years of marriage for us. In many ways, 13 years doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to encapsulate the infinite moments that comprise our story. It feels like chump change. I’ve been in love with this goofy, hardworking, kind, courageous, and beautiful man for almost half my life. We’ve gone through a lot together and we approach life with the idea that we are stronger together than as individuals. Together we are unstoppable. We are a team. And a pretty damn good one at that.

Like many other couples, our story is a collection of excitement, joy, and heartbreak. The highlight reel would show the exciting moments surrounding the birth of our children, the moments of anticipation before a reunion, the tender moments spent wiping away tears before a deployment or after a miscarriage, the thrilling moments of a new adventure, and the quiet and comfortable moments that let us know that everything is going to be okay.

I suppose that is one of my favorite things about being married to Clay – that no matter what is thrown our way, it will be okay. For no other reason than because we have each other. As we slide into the downhill portion of our thirties, we find our eyes have more crinkles in the corners. We’re finding gray hairs at an alarming rate and truth be told, it is becoming quite difficult to maintain the flat stomachs of our twenties. But he has never looked better to me. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, a better cheerleader, a better father for our children, or a better man. Not too shabby for a couple in love who decided to get married before their frontal lobes were even fully developed.