The year 2012, like every other year since having kids, has just flown by. As I was looking through my google calendar, trying to remember big 'main' events of the year, I came by two surprises. The first was how much purple (MY specific calendar of obligations, events, and fun nights) there was, and the second was how Big Life Events like Stefan switching jobs (he was still with his previous employer until February) seem like past lifetimes, just not a mere 11-12 months ago.
Around the time Stefan switched jobs, Ani turned three, and she became less of a toddler, more of a preschooler in a variety of ways. The photo above is just a regular occurrence at our house. Kids want to play-act something, they go create their props, and act it out. These are, of course, their pirate patches.
This past year I had a lot of girls-nights-outs, a bible study I loved, and we squeezed in a few sessions of music and swim lessons, and also Ani had her first dance class. She loved it. It's been harder for me to find something for Lukka to do. Dance was a very easy thing for me to connect the dots for Anikka, because she is always wanting to read stories about dancers, she's captivated by live performances, and she prances around every day proclaiming her ballerina moves.
Lukka, is still without 'his own thing' but he was able to go to many, many camps this summer which I was grateful for. Some were paid for him, some were free to begin with, and only one was a big chunk of change, which we gave to him as his birthday gift. His favorite, when asked, changes every time. Zoo camp, Camp Sonshine (above), Messy Jobs camp at the local children's museum, or one of the two Vacation Bible Schools he went to. They were excellent experiences for him, and he enjoyed all the creativity and projects that went along with each week.
Also this year, I started selling wonderful children's book through Independent Publishers Usborne and Kane Miller Publishing. I had a soft spot in my heart for their books before doing this, regularly giving one to Anikka and Lukka for their Christmas or birthday books, but the amount I have gotten for free, very reduced, or won has been amazing along with the small pocket cash to help our daily life expenses. I really love this debt-free company *(who won Children's Publisher of the Year!)* and their leadership. It's a small- time thing, but I've seen huge benefits.
We home schooled again this year, Anikka the ever eager learner, her brother, the creative inventor-turned-entrepreneur turned photographer- of- self- portraits. I can't really chalk up our home school year at this time for two reasons: first, we're only 'midway' through this grade level, and second, we've decided to home school year round, which means...well, who knows when I will do a 'yearly review' of our homeschool. I trash things about a week after I realize they aren't working. A week, because there is a small grief period where I wish it would, because I spent money on it. Then I realize, that's foolish.
The kids got their first real taste of camping this year, and it's definitely become part of our family's culture. The kids and Stefan went on a few "men and kids" camping trips with friends, while the ladies got nights off, but I joined alongside for a few camping weekends, we took our first family vacation to Lake of the Ozarks in October for a week where we tent camped, hiked, and had a great time.
This year, more than any other so far, has really felt like we've hit a groove in trying to find our family's culture--what we want to be spending our time and energy on --and it has been a really fun ride. We've biked with the kids more than ever (Lukka learned how to ride a bike!), we travelled a couple times with kids and sans kids (Vancouver in June for Stefan and I), and have been outdoors with our kids more than any other year. We've started allocating money for a canoe, and that's a exciting.
Other big and little events, that I can remember, are family visiting in June and July, a beautiful, full Autumn season, plenty of holiday baking and family days, and tons and tons of reading (me). We did fun, annual traditional-y things like apple picking with our friends and the Pumpkin Patch. My mom also got married in early December, and all around us our friends are having children (first, second, thirds, and fourths, oh my!).
All of these things fall under the category of living life. Time off and vacationing goes hand in hand with inconveniences and working over-time, for him and myself. I'm learning to love my children more with their own personalities, not just mine, in mind. I'm trying to give up the fear of the linear learning scale, and go with the flow more, and frankly being cheerful while doing all of that just seems a little out of reach. However, this was our year, and it was a blessing.
This year was great, for so many reasons. It was great because we had just enough, but not too much, and not too little, and we were thankful. It was great because I was able to take a break from creativity, and pulse it more into other avenues that had gone unexplored. And then it was great because I got that creative juice back. It was great because our extended family is growing, and that's always an exciting and an intentional place I want to focus on. It was great because I love my church, and served when I could, in capacities that felt true. It was great because I am blessed with a simple household; my best friend, and my two favorites, and a little adventure. Happy New Year. May your 2013 be blessed, full, and ever surprising.