2014 was a good one, all things considered. A few highlights:
—In January, A had his second surgery to remove his tonsils. Recovery was a bit rough, including an overnight ER visit where we discovered that he has bad reactions to morphine. We also learned how to pin a child to force them to take their pain meds. But his breathing and sleep are SO much better now and the long few weeks of having a child on my lap nonstop were worth it.
A few weeks later, A began developmental preschool through the district. We had to fight a little to get him in, since he was denied at first, but I’ve never been more glad we asked a second time, went to some meetings, sent some emails. School, more than anything else, has been a huge boost for A’s speech and social development. At his parent/teacher conference, his teacher said he’s completely able to interact and communicate with the other kids. He comes home telling me the name of his new friends. And academically, he is already where they like to see kindergarteners by November (and he still has all of next school year in preschool), so he’s definitely thriving.
Speechwise, he’s come miles from this time last year. Where we still struggled to understand words last year, we’re getting full phrases and sentences. It’s such a joy to be able to know his thoughts and feelings! We still have a long way to go, but he’s doing great. I no longer stay awake at night worrying . . . I know he’s going to be more than okay.
—In February, our beloved Hawks won the Super Bowl. I don’t mind telling you, there were some teary eyes among the menfolk in attendance at our SB Party.
—In March, I began work on my tattoo over at Seattle Ink & Oil. Two months and roughly 27 hours later, my Bird-by-Bird piece is complete. I still can’t get over how beautiful it turned out, how much meaning it carries for me.
I also attended a women’s art retreat that helped me connect not only with other women, but also with the benefits of taking time to work with my hands as a way to slow down and encourage myself. I hadn’t been away from the kids for more than an overnight before, and the break was really helpful.
—In May, we began painting the downstairs! It’s going to be awhile before I can get to the upstairs, but in the meantime I have an amazingly bright green kitchen and I LOVE IT. Special thanks to Justin, who allowed me to buy more paint when I had an idiot moment at Home Depot and, in a moment of panic, second-guessed my original choice and bought the wrong green. That’s love, folks.
We also turned 34 together. One of my favorite weeks of the year.
Justin also took me to my first Symphony — a performance of music from Tim Burton films. It was such a great night — I was teary eyed a few times as I took it all in. What meant the most, I think, was Justin showing me he understands me and wants to cheer me on in the things I enjoy.
—In June, I threw my back out. The night before our first getaway from both kids. That part was not so much fun — I have never been in so much pain, except maybe after my car accidents — but we managed a good time anyway, complete with long rambly conversations, movies, a Food Odyssey through Bellingham, and trips to our favorite used bookstores. Our bed and breakfast in La Conner was beautiful, and we bought way too many books, many of which, I am sad to say, I have yet to read.
—In July, we rented a beach cabin in Westport and went on our first family vacation. Justin and I went in with low expectations — worried about how the boys would sleep mostly, but it was a ton of fun and more relaxing than I anticipated. The boys were ecstatic and high on adventure the whole time, and they slept really well after long days spent on the beach.
—August brought a family reunion on Justin’s side, and we loved having Roger (Justin’s brother) and Jenny and their friends come stay with us! We took in a Mariner’s Game, the menfolk cooked for us, and we enjoyed one of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten at the Salish Lodge. Can’t wait for them to visit again. I always eat good food and drink good wine when Rog and Jenny are around! 🙂
—In September, we decided that whole 3rd kid question.
A went back to school with the world’s best preschool teacher.
We also began speech therapy for F, who also has Apraxia of Speech, though he has a much milder case. Working with a therapist was a challenge for him — he fought it hard, but we realized he will work with me — so for now I’m putting all I learned with A into being F’s speech therapist. He’s growing, little by little. I’m excited for six months from now when we’ll be able to understand a lot more of what he’s saying. In the meantime, our playful, strong-willed second-born finds plenty of ways to let his wishes be known.
—In October, this happened (A was Wall-E, F was Buzz Lightyear):
—November brought us to our 8th anniversary — and I got some special news that day. We found out we are expecting a little girl!
I also went on a writing retreat for 3 days in Port Townsend. Still working on creating the time I need to write, but I’m getting there little by little.
—December was busy and just fun. The boys are at a great age for Christmas, and for the first time we got smiles on Santa’s lap.
Oh, and I said goodbye to my Explorer — my high school dream car — and we joined the mini-vanned masses. I want to get a bumper sticker that says “I used to be cool” but the truth is, I love the thing. We bought it used (but barely) with low miles, and plan to drive it to death. For now, I’m feeling fancy with the bluetooth and power doors. And the travel mugs I demanded of our salesman.
All in all, 2014 was a good year. Much less of the scary stuff this year — it was less learning about our kids’ challenges and more a matter of continuing to be intentional with the boys on their therapies. We’ve seen tremendous growth and know that good things are ahead. Forget that — good stuff is happening now. They’re smart, funny little boys.
I got a little better at creating some space for myself. Being a stay-at-home-working-mom with kids who have appointments 3 or 4 days each week, it’s easy to let the to-do’s take over. I did projects that were deeply satisfying. I had friends over for Art & Wine nights. I got away for a few days. I got a giant tattoo. And though I felt a little selfish, I also felt parts of me coming back to life that had been dormant since the trauma of A’s early days and the emotional challenges that followed.
Justin made all that happen for me. When I’d bring up retreats, not really knowing if it was feasible, he said “Go!” before he even knew the details. He cheered me on at every turn when I was getting my tattoo done, though it meant long afternoons after work with the kids. He kicks me out of the house if I haven’t been out of the house alone in a few days. He asks me — often these days — if I need a nap when he gets home. Goodness, what a man.
Speaking of him, the other major thing this year: we’re also learning how to be more intentional with each other. Marriage is a whole other game when you’re in the midst of raising littles and I think it’s easy to feel like 2 ships passing, to not appreciate your partner like you should, to feel unappreciated yourself. This year we made time for hard conversations. We had the freedom, thanks to grandparents, friends and a trustworthy nanny, to go out and make good memories together as much as possible. We kept in mind that with #3 on the way, we’ll have less freedom next year, so we’re making the most of this time.
LIfe is messy, imperfect. But I dearly love the people I get to live it with. And in a few months I’ll get to meet the newest (and last) addition to our family. Gratitude isn’t hard to manage these days and I find myself genuinely excited for the year ahead.
Happy 2015, friends. Whether 2014 was an amazing year or a tremendously tough one, I wish you bright days ahead.