2013: Month by Month

IMG_9240

I wanted to take a post to reflect on 2013. It’s been an interesting year. 2012 was truly a roller coaster– the highest highs, and some pretty low lows. 2013 has been like it’s lamer roller coaster neighbor. The one with all the hype, but really kind of a let down. Not to say that we had an awful year, but we certainly had a transitional year. There was much that we hoped would happen that did not happen yet. I will be relieved to move on to a new year and I have much hope for 2014!  [I apologize for the vagueness there. It does NOT relate to adding to our family.]

Some highlights of 2013 include:

  • Celebrating Gus’s first birthday home!
  • Our short trip to Pennsylvania in March
  • Celebrating Aaron’s sister’s new marriage and Reed and Lena being a part of the ceremony
  • My new job
  • Spending 6 weeks with my family in Pennsylvania over the summer
  • Lena starting school (and Reed going to 1st grade)
  • Our trip to Colorado

Like last year, I am sharing one picture for each month. 

January: 3 little goofballs. Don’t they look so little here?
Untitled

February: Gus’s first birthday at home.
_MG_4604

March: Visiting cousins in PA. This trip was the first time that all 9 had been together and our first time meeting baby Hugh.
Untitled

April: Climbing trees. As it gets warmer, they’d always seem to be outside.
_MG_6136

May: I just love this one. Do I need to say more?
Untitled

June: This is a hard one for me to choose, because a lot happened in this month. But, this sums up a good portion of our summer at my parents’ house. I’d finish working and find them outside, having fun (under the supervision of my wonderful mom). I love their bikes thrown down in the alley behind them, because that, too, was a huge part of our summer.
_MG_7275

July: Their first trip to our big family reunion.
_MG_7816

August: This image is what opened up the door for me to start exploring night photography, and I love it because of that. I also enjoyed this brief camping trip with Aaron, Gus and the dogs.
Untitled

September: Our Colorado camping trip, I have many fond memories of this trip. Some not so fond, but I’m glad we got this time together!
9666014645_2e23a2c862_o

October: Halloween cuties.
IMG_4192

November: Thanksgiving Day, spending time with family. I think this captures a little bit of that.
IMG_6166

December: My littlest man in front of the tree.
IMG_8039

You can see 2012’s month by month review here. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

Sunday

We spent the day celebrating Christmas with Aaron’s family. Unfortunately, we missed last week when all of his siblings were there, so it was just his parents and brother.

It’s a long drive to their house. Which apparently means I take selfies with Reed and my dogs.
2013-12-29_0008

I’m super cool.

Lena and Gus have bucket seats next to each other. I tickled Gus’s feet for awhile, but he wanted more, more, more and I quit. Someone else took over.
2013-12-29_0009

And this adorable thing happened.
2013-12-29_0010

This makes me happy. In the midst of people and many toys, I found her with her nose in a book. I can’t imagine how much more she’ll enjoy books when she can read all of the words.
2013-12-29_0006

Lena just adores her Uncle Micah.
2013-12-29_0007

Presents were opened. Lots of presents. Including envelopes which probably seems odd, but I promise you, Reed and Lena will use them up fast. And maybe we can even use some of them to write thank you notes!
IMG_9165

I went out for a brief walk with my dogs, and saw several cardinals. I love their bold color against the starkness of winter.
IMG_9186

And my dogs are ridiculous. Ridiculous.
2013-12-29_0003

An Elk in Kansas

Aaron had to work this morning, but I wanted to do SOMETHING today. It was a bit warmer and a good day to go somewhere. I love Kansas for its wide open spaces and general tranquility, but it does seem to lack tourist attractions. Unless you want to visit the Agriculture Hall of Fame, the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, or the Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States.

I settled on the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, a bit of a drive, but we’ve never been there before and it has both bison and elk. Aaron and I have seen both in the wild several times at various National Parks, but our kids haven’t. In fact, the only National Park they’ve been to so far is our trip to Great Sand Dunes back in August. We probably should fix that soon.
2013-12-28_0002
The start of our trip. Reed told me that he wants a camera like mine. I explained that it’s something that could easily be broken or damaged by little hands. But, he can start learning and handed him the camera manual.

This quickly happened. Gus took the best nap he’s taken since he moved to a big boy bed. Score!
2013-12-28_0001

Unfortunately, we missed out on the tours, as it was so late in the day. We could see both a herd of bison and a heard of Elk in the distance.
2013-12-29_0001

We decided to drive around, hoping that we’d see something. And we spotted these guys.
2013-12-28_0004

We drove around a bit more, and unfortunately, the only additional wildlife we saw was some geese.

On our long drive home, we stopped for some Barbecue. It was on my bucket list of things that we needed to do with Andrei. Have I told you that Gus is in this adorable phase where he comes up to me often and says “I want a hug, please”? He’s started doing it with Lena, too.
2013-12-28_0003

 

He just presses his little body into hers. And, I love her reaction.

My Ukrainian Girl

When Andrei saw us taking photos on Monday, he told me that for a welcome, bread is presented on the rushnyk. I googled it and I found some interesting photos.

rushnyk, women, bread

(source)

So, I wanted to try this with Lena. We don’t have any of this traditional Ukrainian attire and I didn’t feel like trying the incredible ornate bread, but we did our best and we had fun.

2013-12-27_0016
2013-12-27_00182013-12-27_00172013-12-27_00132013-12-27_0015

And the outtakes…
2013-12-27_0014

Reed came out and helped me for a bit. Then, it turned into a silly “what does this bread smell like?”
2013-12-27_0006

I told them that we weren’t going to eat the bread, after it had been touched and sniffed, so if they wanted a nibble, go for it. which turned into this…
2013-12-27_0020

This girl is just so sassy. Aaron was taking them to the playground, and this is how she dressed and announced that she was ready.
2013-12-27_0008

Real Things

A friend asked how my Christmas was today, and I told her– it was pretty good. Moments of fun and moments of “WE’RE NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!” She told me that she’d never know it by my blog– that I seem like the “world’s best mom”.

You guys. I don’t want to be THAT person. The one who puts on a show of perfection. Wonder mom who seems to do all things.

I’m not. I have my strengths as a mom, but I also have tons of weaknesses.

1. Something that I left out from Christmas Day?

I showed my kids the following adorable Christmas video.

Afterwards, I asked them who that was all about and Reed said “Moses?”

2. My cabinets are a HUGE disaster.
IMG_8946

If you look closely, you will notice not only the mess, but also evidence of my chocolate covered pretzel addiction. I regularly sneak candy behind my kids’ backs.

3. My floor desperately needs to be vacuumed and mopped. Ugh.
IMG_8917

4. That Advent calendar. Yup, I rocked it.

Here was December 8th’s card.
IMG_8948

We did it. And here are the canned goods on 12/27.
IMG_8949
… by our back door. And I took a can of beans out last week for dinner.

5. I adore my sweet dogs, but they leave a huge mess everywhere around them. Nose prints, much?
IMG_8923

If you are still under some illusion about me being the “world’s best mom”, just ask my kids. Although I actually did, and Lena told me that she just wants me to not correct her ever. And Reed wants me to stop dragging him to the dog park. But, there’s a lot more than I wish I could change about myself and more I’m sure they’d say if they understood what I was getting at. I lose my temper and yell or speak harshly. I regularly (as in, almost always) skip class parties. I’ve never volunteered for anything at school. We almost never have friends over to our house, which I know Reed would certainly like me to change. We are late to school at least once a week, sometimes every day. And I am a couple of minutes late to pick them up almost every day. Doing homework with my kids sends me into fits of frustration. I only share the fun stuff on here (usually), but there are lots of days where my kids watch too much TV while I sneak chocolate and don’t do anything productive. It’s true.

I’d love to do better at those things, and a lot more. But, I’m learning to not feel bad for what I cannot do and learning to not feel guilty about what is in the past. My friend Bethany shared the article, Parent Guilt – A Silent Epidemic, in my first Imperfect Friday post and I really enjoyed that. My friend Jill(who is fabulous and looks gorgeous even right out of bed, so obviously she doesn’t have any self doubt whatsoever) wrote this post, Why I Don’t Suffer Mama Guilt, which is also awesome. I’m sure I’ve read more great articles on perfect and mom guilt recently, but I’m currently suffering from another common parenting epidemic– mom brain.

Whew, anyways, I have some more photos to share with you today– and I promise they are not of my dirty house this time, so I will be back later!

My Baby in a Big Boy Bed

He is growing up so fast. Earlier this week, he started regularly climbing out of his crib. He had only done it once before, and he began to do it at every naptime and morning. We quickly removed the front of his crib, converting it to a toddler bed.

Two days in a row, I’ve realized I haven’t heard from him in a bit and I’ve gone upstairs to find him asleep. Yesterday, it was in the middle of the floor on Reed’s pillow. But, today, it was like this:
2013-12-27_0003

How adorable is he?
2013-12-27_0002

He is becoming such a sweet little person. A phrase I hear about once a day is “I want a hug, please.” I bend down to scoop him up and when he is done, he runs back to playing.

He seems so big to me now, using more and more full sentences, eating soup with a spoon and developing more patience. Lena also seems so big to me now. But, he’s just a tiny bit bigger than she was when she came home, although certainly much more vocal and physical than she was just after her homecoming.

12/24/10.
PC250022

IMG_8741