Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Out With the Old

It’s hard to believe this year will end and a new one will begin in a few hours. The older I get the more impressed I am by the shockingly quick passage of time. I feel sure I could wake up tomorrow and be 56 instead of 26.  It’s funny to look back and see how New Year Celebrations have changed. We’ve often celebrated with a friend who has a New Year birthday; and despite the best laid plans, I’m writing this and bringing in 2013 from our couch, gingerale & peppermint nearby instead of “birthday-ing” with her-- a sign of the season of life I’m in if ever there was one.

We had a great Christmas. Watching your child adore a gift you slaved over is just about the coolest thing. Tommy and I don’t rock at putting things together, so her little wooden kitchen was a task. It was funny and we had a good time laughing at ourselves, particularly because when things didn’t work it was always a result of me having touched it… Really though, Santa should definitely consider learning the word “Pre-assembled…” 

 When she came out into the living room on Christmas morning and saw her kitchen, she ran over, started flinging the doors open and said, "I cookin!"
 Taking a time out from cooking with some stocking stuffers 
And right back at it later that evening

Sadly, Abi Kate and I were both sick on Christmas. Her little voice was so hoarse it was hard to understand her at times when she was talking. Pitiful. I was so congested that I could not taste any food on Christmas Day. (That is so sad. Too sad for words.) It really didn’t seem to phase her too much. I’m the whiney one. I don’t like being sick period. I definitely do not enjoy it when pregnant. Since I’ve been either pregnant or breastfeeding for almost 3 years now (Wow…nothing will make you feel more “mom-ish” than that realization), I’m limited in what I will take to treat sickness. Even before pregnancy, I’ve preferred to lean towards the side of natural cures that boost my immune system. But I’m telling you, if I hadn’t been pregnant this last time I would’ve been racing for the chemicals. I would’ve happily taken stock in Nyquil, Tylenol Cold, and anything else that would put me out of my misery. Tommy and I are both believers in orthomolecular medicine, though admittedly he knows a lot more about it than I do. Unfortunately, neither he nor I have been able to find a lot of consistent research about vitamin dosage at therapeutic levels for pregnancy, so… cuts that out. For me, “natural” doesn’t automatically equal “safe,” so I’m also pickier about the herbal and homeopathic treatments I’d normally use when not pregnant, meaning that most of my “aces” for quick natural healing were kind of wiped out….Huge bummer. All of that to say, it takes longer to get better and I’m not patient. I downed copious amounts of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, which I hate with every ounce of my being. I fully believe in its benefits & so desperately want to be one of the people that likes that stuff so much, but it’s not in me. I literally talk to myself out loud, telling myself why I’m taking it before swallowing a shot and chasing it with orange juice or something to mask the awful flavor. (With Tommy standing by saying, “You should probably do another one…” WHAT?!) I drilled through the rest of our local honey and part of a container of raw honey, mixing it with cinnamon. You’re welcome bees, I just kept you in business another year. We juiced, I smelled like a walking poster for Eucalyptus oil and Vicks, and the Sinus Rinse people made money off of me again. I did so much lymphatic drainage massage on my neck/head that my fingers were worn out. It went away after a few days, I could taste again (hallelujah), and if I were really honest with myself, then I’d happily acknowledge that it lasted a shorter time and was less severe than sinus infections that I used to treat with medication….But I’m not being honest with myself (probably because I can still taste that ACV), so I would love to find the person who passed that nastiness off to us, no doubt while I was out Christmas shopping.  So with the exception of the sickies, our Christmas was wonderful. ;)

I will say the day after Christmas takes on a whole new meaning after becoming a parent…. You know, finding homes for all the new toys that have arrived in your house. Back in November, we went through her toys, clearing out things and packing away toys she no longer uses for Abram. Still, it was a bit of a task. And the cardboard… I took 3 huge boxes filled with cardboard to recycling two days later. It’s well worth it to watch her discover a new toy in the basket or the spend hours in her little kitchen. And now when I’m picking up toys, at least there are new ones to look at ;)

We really had a fantastic holiday season and like most people, the ending of the year has made me think on all that has passed. This year brought us a lot of things. A lot of good and a lot bad. It has been, easily, one of the hardest years of my life. I’ve shared publicly a lot of the hurts, but many of them I have not. So, I can’t say I’m sad to close the door on 2012. I won’t pretend that I’m not eager to look into a fresh beginning. I know tomorrow is really just another day, another square on a calendar dictated by human constraints of time. But I’m letting it be a day where hope and ancitipation begin anew.

At the very beginning of this year, Abi Kate wasn’t even a year old yet. Incredible what 12 months will do to a child. This year brought us her first steps. It brought the arrival of her rather intense personality. It welcomed with it her desire to talk about everything and sing endlessly. She plays purposefully now with her friends and asks for them by name when we aren’t with them. She weaned herself this year, nursing for the last time at 21 months. She couldn’t use food utensils at the beginning of the year, and now she uses them effortlessly (and often inappropriately if we’re being honest…. Yogurt isn’t paint, sister.) She uses the potty now during waking hours about 85% of the time (though she could definitely use a heart to heart about why pooping in the potty is equally as cool as peeing in the potty….yowza). It’s hard to imagine all of that happened in just 12 months… Seriously, think back to where your kid was on January 1, 2012 versus where they are now. It’ll blow your mind.

This year brought us the knowledge and excitement of pregnancy. It brought us the devastation of losing that baby. It brought us renewed hope of new life once again a few months later. It brought us the news that our household will no longer be outnumbered by the girls. It brought health challenges and scares for family members. It welcomed new friends into the fold of our lives. It fostered friendships that were already present into deeper, more meaningful relationships. It brought big changes in our lives spiritually. It grew us in character as individuals and as a couple. It connected us even more tightly to each other.With ups and downs, the Lord has brought purpose and established a greater sense of gratefulness. So there’s been a lot of good, and a lot of good that has come from the not-so-good.

Tommy and I are both goal-oriented people, so we regularly talk about things we hope to achieve or want to work towards. The New Year doesn’t really change that. But we are both anticipating this new year--looking forward to seeing our baby girl turn two, walking through the remainder of this pregnancy together so we can meet our son, who is quickly becoming the topic of many conversations in our home. We’re anticipating the many changes that will occur as we learn to parent two children instead of one, of watching our little girl take on the role of big sister. I’m anticipating this next year to be a season of continued vulnerability in my life, where Christ makes beautiful the ugly parts of my heart and continues to bring restoration to the broken parts. And I am hopeful, so hopeful, for these things because of Christ’s willingness to become Emmanuel…

Ann Voskamp, poetic as ever, wrote this a few days ago. It captured the essence of how I feel about this next year, so I will let her words speak for me…
“God comes to the edges. He intimately knows the muck of my lives, the stench I try to mask. And this is the thing: He chooses my dirty places, the places that shame me, as His point of entry. The lights celebrating the birth of the Christ Child — God with us — they’re still flickering as we look into the New Year — a new us…. I feel this happy relief: The New Year only has hope because Christmas happened out in a dung heap.”

Happy New Year friends. I hope yours is filled with overwhelming goodness.