Monday, December 31, 2012

A Look Back At 2012

Every year is full of ups and downs. There have been studies that show that people who concentrate on the positive or are more optimistic are happier and more grateful. Everyone has things in their lives they wish they could change and we all have days that are better than others. Yet every day is a blessing from God and a reason to celebrate. Even when it doesn't necessarily feel like the day was great or those (hopefully rare) days that you wish you could forget.

In honor of 2012 here is a list of our highlights (in no particular order).

1) Matthew graduated from 4K. Finally our days of paying full-time child care for an infant, toddler or preschooler are over. Matthew did great in 4K.

2) Jacob made swim team. This was a huge accomplishment. He could barely swim the length of the pool in August and worked extremely hard to improve his swimming ability so that he could make the team in September. I have never seen him work so hard or try to hard as he did during tryouts. He made the team and can now swim many laps without stopping.

3) Matthew was promoted to 6 year old swimming lessons. He showed great improvement in December and was moved up to the "big kid" lessons. This was not only due to his improved swimming abilities but also improved behavior and maturity during lessons.

4) Jacob and Matthew learned how to ice skate and got the chance to participate in hockey lessons. This will be a one year only experience since hockey is expensive and the kids have other sports they like just as much.

5) Matthew got to play t-ball after watching his brother play t-ball for the past 3 years. He loved it and was doing really well by the end of the season. He is already looking forward to playing again next year.

6) I got the chance to coach Jacob and Matthew in soccer. I have very limited experience in soccer but I don't need much at this age level.

7) Matthew was accepted into a dual language charter school and loves it. He speaks Spanish most of the day and has been learning a lot.

8) I received a Master's Degree in Social Work. This was a major accomplishment. I thought about quitting several times over the past 3 years but was able to finish it. I now have a social work degree that I can use in my current job or in any other state if I ever want to move or change jobs.

9) Jacob and Matthew have had a great start to kindergarten and 1st grade. Matthew has had a few difficulties over the past few weeks but overall has done very well. Both kids are ahead of grade level in Math and are doing very well academically which is most important to me.

10) We made it through the year healthy. We had a few ups and downs health wise. I made my first trip to the ER as a parent when Jacob was poked in the eye and it was scratched enough to bleed. It was an accident but still pretty traumatic. Matthew was sent home from school early after putting a hood over his head and then walking into a wall trying to be silly. He ended up biting through his lip. No stitches but lots of blood and a very fat lip that is still healing. No broken bones, serious injuries, serious illness and no stitches yet so I call this year a huge success. With my boys, every day without a broken bone is a day to celebrate.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Break and Reflections on Recent Events

It is Christmas break at our house. I am working hard to try to spend less money and find cheap and fun activities around town. We have a membership for the Y so we go there often. We have also been taking frequent trips to the library and book store. The kids love looking through the books and I love watching them learn to read. Jacob is now reading easy chapter books and can read alone or to someone. Matthew is trying to learn to read in English and Spanish. He is also doing a great job but doesn't have the same passion for it that Jacob is developing. I am hoping he will enjoy reading more as he gets better.

Today we are off to get free hair cuts at JCPenny Salon. They give free hair cuts to children 5-12 years old every Sunday. The salon hopes that it creates more foot traffic through their salon and store. I can say that it works for us. I am horrible at remembering to schedule hair appointments for myself and will often go three or four months between appointments (sometimes longer). It is easier to remember to take the kids in since it is easier to tell when they are due for another cut. I have been better about getting my own hair cut since I started taking the kids for their free cuts. I can make appointments for all of us although I try to get my appointment on a day when the kids are at school.

This time of year is also a time to remember how important family is and spend a little extra time with them. I have known two families suffering loss and scary emergencies in the past two weeks with their sons in their early 20s. There was the school shooting in CT where the victims were all the same age as Jacob. It was hard watching that coverage and not thinking about Jacob and his friends at school. Matthew is only a year behind those kids and will be 6 in just a few months. It is scary to think that anyone could look at children their ages and see anything other than innocence. It is also scary to think that there could be anyone out there who may want to hurt my children or any children. I have seen a lot of very disturbing things in my careers in law enforcement and social work yet the amount of evil someone can possess continues to amaze me.

I have been like a lot of other parents and spent a little extra time hugging my children and appreciating them. I believe that as an adoptive parent who had to work hard to become a parent means that I can never completely take my relationship with my children for granted. I often wonder why I was the lucky person to get to parent them and be called mom. I am forever grateful for them and for the people who helped bring them to my home. With all of the recent news of children being hurt, firefighters attacked and mentally ill adults harming people for no apparent reason, I appreciate my children and the time I get to spend with them a little more. After all, no one knows what tomorrow will hold. All I can do is enjoy today and hope that I get to spend many more wonderful days with my family.