Getting Back on Our Feet After an Intense Year

Evenings in our home lately look like this: Pete sleeping in his own room surrounded by mixers, keyboard, speakers, screens, and cables, Buzz half inside his new teepee tent with best pillow friend Dory and daddy hanging out with him until he falls asleep, and me -- dishwasher loaded and running, cuddled on the couch with a warm blanket, craving a few moments of peace, quiet, and introspection. Tonight, instead of trip planning or checking FB, I'm putting in the time to piece words together in an attempt to tie a pretty bow on a challenging year.
I think I can make a list of reasons why life has really stretched me lately:
#1. My sons are old enough to really assert themselves. They DON'T want to ________ [go camping, go hiking, go on a road trip, etc]. They are developing personal hobbies and interests that collide with mommy's plans or wishes and can't simply be carried along with my every whim. This has been a significant change.

#2. As my boys get older and develop their male-ness, I end up feeling more and more at odds with them. Sound effects, flatulence, just loud and really goofy... Most nights Buzz wants to have a NERF war with daddy. I'm the odd woman out in this family and often get out-voted in favor of more manly activities. Fortunately I never was much of a girly girl, but still.

#3. This has to do with boys growing up too -- their interests are really veering off in opposite directions. They like different things now. When they were 5 and 3, playtime was easy. Now, Pete wants to create Scratch projects and make music with FL Studio while Buzz wants to jump and shoot and run and slide. He thinks Peter is pretty lazy and definitely not active enough. This creates a fair bit of conflict in our family.

#4. Ezra is pretty sure he's the only extrovert in the house. That may be true. Pete is definitely enjoying solo hobbies more and more and needs significant nudging to get out of his bedroom. Tim has long days at work and needs more time to unwind alone. Everyone knows how far left I live on the spectrum, right? So it's an obvious problem -- who plays with Buzz? He wants us to have more kids. That won't solve anything.

#5. I made some decisions that weren't best for our family. Tim and I spent March through May trying to decide whether to homeschool this fall. Then I spent September through November hating the decision and trying to figure out how to remedy our situation. So many walk-talks with my husband going over everything again and again from every angle. Too much time analyzing decisions, too much time reeling from the decisions... Thanksgiving break marked the end of the school at home experiment, so I'm happy to report that we are healing emotionally and getting back on our feet. I'm regretful and embarrassed about the whole thing. The stress of it all feels like it wiped out a pretty big chunk of the year.
Lately, it's been helpful to assign numbers to things. For example, Ezra thinks staying in a cabin in the snowy woods with FRIENDS would be a 9/10. And if it were just the four of us, it would be a 7/10. This helps us understand what everyone really wants when making decisions...and it helps them recognize when things are a big deal and when they are not. Ez tends to be rather all or nothing [like his mother] so instead of being completely fatalistic about things, if he can tell us that the day was a 3/10 and understand that that is better than a zero, we're making progress.

It is fascinating to see their personalities blossom, to see ways that they are like mom or dad, or grandma or grandpa. Frightening sometimes when they react in ways we're not proud of and make us wish we had kept that genetic material to ourselves!!

Speaking of genetic material -- Peter LOVES rearranging things, organizing his space and setting things up. He got really excited at the prospect of moving furniture around in the living room and also pretty stoked about getting his own bedroom. No clue where this comes from. #mom #grandma

Fortunately, their sense of humor develops with age too. Recently when asked "What does love look like?" Ezra responded, "When you fall down a cliff, and land on a girl." He just celebrated his half birthday, give him six more months and maybe he'll understand the idea of love a bit better.
I've been thinking about personalities a lot lately, since our little boys are really starting to become real people. There's this podcast called "The Road Back to You", all about the Enneagram typing system. Super interesting. I find it so helpful to understand myself better, but my husband isn't such a big fan. This probably reflects our personalities. :p

One episode said that maybe following the golden rule isn't the best thing we could be doing -- instead of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" it should be "do unto others what works for them"!! Love them in their own language...accept their different needs...
I think we did a pretty decent job of making our Christmas break work for everyone this year -- from cutting down a fresh tree (mommy) to staying home lots of days (P&B) to nordic skiing with friends (mommy) to having a gingerbread decorating party (daddy?) to alpine skiing with family (P&B) to getting a few really good presents (P&B) to geocaching (mommy?).... Sixteen days is a really long time, though, and I think I'd like to travel a bit more next holiday season. We'll see. #kidsneeds #mommaneeds

Next year Ezra requested that we not put the presents under the tree too many days before Christmas. The anticipation was hard for him. #thingswelearn
We really did have a whole bucket of fun this year, all is not lost!! #philippines #eastcoast #haiti #camping #skiing #biking #rockclimbing Notice how those are all my favorite things...I should ask the rest of my family what they liked best about this year...

Buzz: 1) making gumdrop structures at game night 2) the airplane ride to Haiti 3) jumping off sand dunes 4) slidewaters with Manny 5) swimming in the cave in the Philippines

Pete: 1) camping with Tayton and Colby 2) getting introduced to FL Studio in Haiti 3) moving into his own room 4) tubing at RiverPlay 5) playing with Aiden in the Philippines

Tim: 1) Europe solo bike tour 2) teaching the boys how to ski 3) jumping in the pool after work

What's incredible is that we could have all that fun and still have months and months of stress. Hmmm...
Let's make 2018 great!! 

Both Peter and Ezra got hammocks for Christmas, so you can imagine what I'm planning for our summer. As much hammock camping as possible! But for my family to have fun, we need to bring along some friends. The invitation is open, guys! #sleepoutside

And if Tim can successfully get our kids to love downhill skiing, there's hope that they will eventually love mountain biking, right? #goals 

Cycle tours are pretty high on my husband's list, but we're not sure the kids would be happy under those conditions. Bike all day, camp in a shelter at night, no computer time, no friends. Again, we're trying to meet everyone's very different needs. #tricky
Loosely held goals for 2018: 
+ Read at least ten books aloud to my kids
+ Build several playlists for different times in life [chill, energy, road trip]
+ Process my thoughts more regularly by writing in a journal
+ When something awesome happens, write it down on paper and keep the papers in a jar
+ Figure out a solid strength training regimen
+ Learn more about video creation and try to make a little family movie every month [this has been on my list for too long]

Bring it on, Twenty Eighteen!!