Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking forward, looking back

In 53 minutes it will officially be 2012! We had an awesome Christmas and a really fun week. Shawn has been home all week, so it's been really fun to have so much family time. We recently introduced Josh and Matthew to The Amazing Race and we've spent the past week having marathons of a few seasons that we never saw. It wasn't the most productive week, but it was ridiculously fun! We're all raced out now though. I don't think we're going to be ready to watch it again for a little while!

Tonight we were going to have a party at our house with friends but one family had to cancel so we decided to just to have a quiet night at home. Clarissa went to bed at the normal time but the boys are down in the basement having a Wii tournament, trying their hardest to stay up until midnight, although Josh is not a night owl and I'll be shocked if he makes it!

Shawn and I are sitting side by side with our laptops working on some church stuff that we need to have ready for tomorrow. We're not very exciting on the last night of the year!

I'm also sitting here finalizing our list of adventures for next year! If you saw my post from earlier this month, our family is declaring next year our year of adventure and we've spent the past few weeks coming up with a list of things we want to do as a family next year. The list got pretty long and then I decided that it needed to be whittled down to 24 items. That's two a month, which is plenty. Any more than that and we may be scrambling to finish them. Some of the items are big and some are small, but they're all fun and we're excited about all of them!

I decided that I'm going to write out the list and post it to the side column of my blog and I'll cross things off as we do them and blog about each adventure. Then you can follow along with what we've accomplished and what we still have to do! Some of the things on the list won't make sense to anyone but us ( in fact, a couple of them sound kind of ridiculous, lol), but I'll post them anyway and explain them when we get to them.

So tonight as we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, it has made me think about the past year and do a little life review. Frankly, this past year has been one big ball of suck. I spent most of it battling annoying health problems and feeling stressed out, anxious and overwhelmed. I don't even know what lead to all the problems I had this year but all I know is that I'm working really hard to change things because I'm determined that next year is going to be different.

2012 is going to be about fun and adventure and letting go of the worries and anxiety. I am SO excited about our year of adventure. I've been talking about it nonstop for the past few weeks. I'm ready to shake things up around here. I'm ready to laugh more and worry less. I'm looking forward to new experiences. I think it's going to be a good year for our whole family.

So goodbye, 2011. Goodbye and good riddance. In 36 minutes the clock strikes midnight and it signals a new year and a new start. Bring it on! :) 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Whites

(And yes, Clarissa's pajamas are almost identical to last years. She loves the pajamas I bought her last year so much that I decided she needed another pair!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Year of adventure...and giving!!

Our year of adventure idea is just getting more exciting! We've been going through our list for the past week or so, putting more ideas of it of things we want to do next year and I think it's going to be really fun for our family and in the process I've come up with another idea!

This is kind of a long story, but the short version is that yesterday I got a booklet from a friend of mine that someone compiled of all the charitable organizations in our city and what kinds of help they need from the community. Some of the organizations are ones that I've heard of but lots of them are ones that I didn't even know existed and they all list donations that they're in need or of services that can be performed.

As I was looking down the list it occurred to me how simple it would be to provide services or give donations to some of those organizations and how sad it was that up until now I wasn't aware of any of these places and haven't been giving service like I could have been. I do service through my church but I haven't done much service for my community lately. I've been so busy focusing on myself this year that I haven't been looking around and see what I could be doing for others as much as I could have.

So along with our year of adventure next year we're including a year of giving. Every month next year we'll go through that booklet and as a family decide on a service that we can provide or a donation that we can give and we'll go do it. There are things like donating dog food to the humane society, donating childrens books to shelters, making hats for cancer patients, making baby blankets for the hospital, making or buying colorful pillowcases for children in the hospital, donating school supplies to the Step Up program that provides GED tutoring to the homeless, etc. The list goes on and on and on. There are so many organizations that need help and so many different ways to help if we just make ourselves aware of what's out there. I'm going to learn how to make loom hats, because there were a few different organizations that take those and I think making pillowcases out of fun fabric for hospital patients would be simple and fun.

So on that note, I wanted to encourage others to also do a year of giving. It's amazing how many opportunities there are out there and a lot of them aren't time consuming or expensive. Even things like donating your old coats or outgrown baby gear can make such a difference.

I'm really looking forward the coming year. There are lots of fun things ahead!

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Christmas season is in full swing at our house! I'm getting so excited for it this year. Last week we had a big Christmas party here for all the teenage girls from our church and that was really fun. My two amazing, wonderful friends came over the night before and helped me decorate my house for Christmas, which was SO sweet of them! I had been stressing out about getting my house ready for the party and they showed up ready to get to work. In two hours we had lights and garland and decorations all perfectly placed and looking beautiful. Now every time I look around my house at all the pretty lights and decorations I'm reminded of how wonderful my friends are and how they knew exactly what I needed.

I took a few pictures but it's a million times prettier in real life!

We've been so busy the past couple of weeks. We had the church party here last Wednesday and then Saturday was Shawn's work Christmas party and they had it at our favorite restaurant, so we were really excited about going to that! Tonight we're going to a friends house to have an Amazing Race finale party, which we're all excited about! I know we're a day late. Don't tell us who won. :)

I'm almost done Christmas shopping, which has been going well this year. Some years I have a really hard time figuring out what to get people, but this year it all kind of fell into place and it has been really fun picking things out.

This is the first year that Clarissa is old enough to kind of understand what's going on and that has been fun. I don't think she completely gets the whole Santa thing, but she's loving all the lights and Christmas trees and all the excitement. I asked her what she wanted Santa to bring her for Christmas and she told me Strawberry Shortcake and Hello Kitty. Santa is working on that.:)

All in all things are going pretty good around here these days. I'm still having some annoying health problems but I'm trying to stay busy and not focus on them. Having Christmas stuff to focus on helps. Next week the boys will be out of school for Christmas break and I'm looking forward to that! I love this time of the year, and all the excitement in the air!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Year of Adventure

So I keep saying that next year is our year of adventure. A few years ago I started assigning themes to our year for some reason, lol. The year we brought Clarissa home I kept saying that it was the year of adoption, when all the excitement and adoption stuff was going on.

After that crazy year I kept saying that the next year was going to be the year that nothing happened. As much fun as the adoption was, it was mentally exhausting by the time it was all over and I needed a year where there were no major changes, no big vacations and we could just get into the groove of having three kids and let everything mellow out a bit.

Then this year just sort of become the year of my early midlife crisis or something, lol. I've been calling it my year of reflection, where I needed to sort some stuff out and decide where my life is going. It's kind of been the year of crappy health problems as well, unfortunately, which is kind of what prompted the year of reflection.

Anyway, after everything I've been through this year I've been declaring next year our year of adventure. We're going to get out of the house more, go on vacations, try new things and have some fun. My therapist said that it's interesting to make a graph of your life and look at when you were happiest and what was going on in your life that made it happy. It occured to me that I was a lot happier when we were going on regular adventures. We used to take a lot more vacations, spend a lot more Saturdays at the lake or on a day trip in the car exploring and we always had something fun going on. That has stopped in the past few years. It needed to stop, or at least slow down, for a while for several reasons and that was fine, but now it's time to bring some fun adventures back into our lives. We all need it.

So that has been my focus over the past several weeks, trying to come up with some fun adventures for next year. Today I was talking to Josh about how I wanted him to help me come up with some ideas of fun things we could do next year and it turned into the two of us writing a list of fun things and that turned into an even better idea!

What we've decided to do as a family is spend the next three weeks coming up with ideas of things we want to accomplish or adventures we want to take next year. Some of them are big things and some of them are small things. Some of them cost money and some of them are free. So far we've added things like go geocaching, go hiking, rent a cabin, finish the backyard movie theater and have a neighborhood movie night, plant a garden, fly a kite, go to the zoo, visit a pumpkin patch, go to Oregon, invite the neighbors over for ice cream and game night, build a model plane/car and fly/drive it...the list goes on. We're still working on it, but it has prompted some fun discussions and a lot of "hey, you know what I've always wanted to do?" conversations.

We will finish our list by the end of December and then we're going to type it up and hang it on the fridge. As the year goes on next year we're going to do everything on the list and cross them off as we do them. We're all ridiculously excited about this! I don't think I've been this excited about anything in quite some time, actually! This will be so great for our family. Lately it seems like we get to the end of the summer or the end of the year and we have a list of things we wished we had done but never got around to. Hopefully our year of adventure will change that.

One thing that I definitely knew I wanted to do was to plan some kind of getaway in January. I get super blah every January for some reason. It's a long dark month and it always seems like it goes on forever! So I've been looking for a fairly inexpensive, easy getaway that we can do for a couple of days in January to give us something to look forward to and to break up the long month a little bit.

Today I found it! I got an e-mail about an hour ago that the hotel we love in a middle of nowhere town about an hour and a half from here is having a 50% off sale! We stayed at that hotel a couple of years ago when our exchange student Melissa was here and we took the kids skiing and and we took a sleigh ride and fed some elk, which was SO fun. The hotel is so cozy and adorable and so much fun to stay at and the elk feeding place is close by, so it's a really fun winter getaway. The boys are out of school for a couple of days in January so I called Shawn and told him to get the day off and I called the hotel and booked it for two nights! I think that will be the perfect start to our year of adventure!!