Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 to 2018

Whoever said the years go by faster the older you get didn't really lie; however, at times this year felt really long. 2016 ended pretty rough and that continued onto the first half of 2017, but the second half has looked better so hoping that carries over into 2018. With the end of each year I like to have these little logged posts to look back on the year and look ahead at the next.

Family: We've become more sold on three kids it is in 2017 than we were in 2016. Though my sister welcomed her fourth child here at the end of 2017, I haven't yet felt that baby fever. My past two pregnancies and post partum periods were rough of me physically and mentally so first, I'm wimping out. Two, we have our hands full. With no family around for help and three of them outnumbering us I think we better keep the number manageable or we'll be in WAY over our heads instead of just over our heads! Third, money- it's expensive with three as it is with the activities, the meals out all the time between the traveling and activities, and we're trying to save a little bit of money to help them each with college, and there's our own retirement goals too which I'll talk about in a minute so the Glenns are staying a family of 5.

The girls will sometimes ask me what I use to wish for as a child when it came to wanting kids. I'm sure my sisters and I weren't the only little girls that would play house and imagine our future children. I imagined two boys and then a little sister, but I always tell the girls God knew better than me what I wanted because he gave me exactly what I didn't know I really truly wanted. I love raising sisters and two girls after growing up with sisters myself and then leaving my sisters halfway across the country. I love that they're the first two and close in age. Then there's baby boy, which that is the boy that will forever now have my heart. There really is something magical about a momma and her baby boy. And thank God I have the two girls to help out with him. They adore him and he loves his big sisters, but that one is my wild, handful one. We call him the Tasmanian Devil.

As for the rest of our family outside of us five, we still do our best to get around to see our extended family, but unfortunately, I think I'm starting to see the truth of what my mom said so many years ago. Between the two of us we still have most of our grandparents so we do our best to get around to see them and for the kids to know their great grandparents. But the kids are getting older, they're getting busier; we're getting older, we're getting worn out. We're getting more and more settled in our lives and our ways. We did a pretty good job getting around in 2017 but it's looking like in 2018 that number will be cut in half. But our parents and siblings know where we live so maybe we'll see them out our way instead for a change.

Travel: Travel is always a yearly goal for me.  My ultimate goal is to visit all 50 states before I'm 50 and hopefully include my kids on visiting the 48 mainland states. Then after my I've covered the country we can spend our retirement hitting our most favorite places and traveling overseas. This year we added Hawaii, Wisconsin, and Louisana to mine and Nate's list to bring him to 27 and me to 26, though there are a different three for two of mine that he has visited. We took the kids to Delaware so the girls could hit states #18 and #19 for them. I have fourteen more years to hit 24 more states so I need to knock out about two new ones a year!

The only new state on the list for 2018 at this time is the UP of Michigan for the Fourth of July. My husband and I did thoroughly enjoy our little getaways to Hawaii and New Orleans this past year though so if I can find the money and time I'd love to squeeze in a little getaway to somewhere new for us too, but right now I don't see that anywhere except maybe a return trip to the Finger Lakes of New York. After traveling every single month except one in 2017 though I'm actually looking forward to three months- possibly longer- of just being at home too though! We may go up to New York City again for our very short spring break the end of March/first of April and right now that looks like our first trip of 2018.  We'll go up to my husband's family in May for a  wedding and hoping to do a long camping trip in PA with friends Memorial weekend- which we need to get on planning. Then after school lets out it'll be west to MO to see my family and then we'll end that trip in Michigan with our friends from Baltimore. Though we hope to do a beach trip in August it'll probably be to a beach we've been to and possibly one as close as OC, MD. Fall is usually our slowest time of the year for travel but I'll probably try to get out to my family's with the kids sometime between Oct and January and we'll hit PA again around the holidays. We have been tossing around doing Christmas in Disney because we have our timeshare available to use and with no spring breaks anymore to go down there we're considering going in Dec, but we'll have to decide that here in a few months.

Health: This category has definitely had some highs and lows in 2017. The end of 2015 was when we first learned of my son's heart tumors and what all that could entail, but by 2016 that was all looking pretty hopeful and that has continued throughout 2017 so thank God for answered prayers! He's doing great and though we still have to follow up with his heart because the one tumor is still there, his health has been fantastic otherwise.

The big health kicker of 2017 was my cousin's breast cancer diagnosis. March 2017 had us all a little freaked and worried, but by August 2017 she was on her road to recovery and now as we wrap up 2017 we're excited to celebrate not only Christmas next week but that she beat cancer.

After dealing with pregnancy health issues between my second and third with a thyroid disorder (did you know that can be triggered by pregnancy?) that resulted in my first major depression episode and then two miscarriages, that was then followed up with the worrisome pregnancy of baby boy, and then the PPD that followed him while we followed up with all of his medical testing after birth I put off following up what was going on with my hearing loss which I noticed back in Dec of 2013. This summer I finally went to an ENT, had a CT scan, and invested in hearing "helpers", but I am just now coming to the realization of how bad my hearing has become, that it's a lifelong prognosis (a genetic condition that was also worsened by pregnancy?!?!) , and that I could very possibly have profound hearing loss (one step below being deaf) before I'm 40. There's lots I have to sort out in 2018 about how bad is it really going to get, what are my options for repairing or restoring as much of it as possible (the "helpers" do help but it's not a 100% fix by any means), and what's all this mean for me in my personal and professional life and what action do I need to be taking to adapt. I go back to my ENT in February so now that I'm not so focused on my concerns with baby boy, I will probably use 2018 to figure out what to do about this new little health obstacle of my own.

Career: If you've followed my story much in the past year you know last year I was so ready to throw in the towel on education. This year is going much better, but now with my hearing issue I'm more convinced than ever that I'm not going to make 30 years in education. As I learn more about what all this hearing loss entails for my future I've already started researching my financial options in regards to leaving teaching. There looks like a possibility I could have a case for early retirement, and if my hearing is going to get much worse I am financially better off to stay in teaching for now and take the pension cut of retiring 10 years early than leaving teaching in the next year or so.  I have six years to go until I reach 20 years so right now mentally and physically with my hearing I'm hoping I can make those six more years.

Though obviously if I retire at 20 years verse 30 I'm going to collect a significant amount less for the reminder of my life, but at the same time if I can leave teaching, collect early retirement, and go do something else for 20 years that isn't so dependent on having good hearing I think I'll be okay with that as long as I can set aside more retirement funds to collect on when I'm 62. Though I've tossed around a ton of different career changer ideas from working with new moms to owning our own business I've learned life passes fast enough and whatever is next will be here before I know it anyway and I'll take it as it comes. Life has a funny way of working itself out.

My husband and I have a hard time seeing eye to eye when it comes to financial planning so I've realized in the past year it's best not to make my future professional or even retirement plans dependent on him. His shouldn't be dependent on me either. Our problem is we're too first born children set in our independent, our way is the only way mentality, and we split our finances about five years ago. Some will judge and criticize for that, but I'm too controlling and too much of planner and he's a spender. With this set up I can focus on my way of doing things- saving money and paying things off so hopefully if I'm leaving my career at 20 years I can carry my financial weight (with my 20 year pension and other job)  and he can plan and carry his however he sees fit to do so in whether he wants to go the business route one day or not and as for when he hopes to hang up his hat on education. For now I'm just tacking on each additional year in education that I can, and praying I can get a couple more good years like this one to keep me sane enough to keep going until I can hang up my teaching hat.

Writing: Though I am still a starving artist in the writing world, I did make money every month but four with my writing this past year so that is a new record for me, considering how sporadic I am in seeking paid publications. I did sell several essays, sold over a 100 books, and even made a bit of income from some great product reviews. Writing for a business is something that is really hard to stay consistent with and I'm constantly at a battle with myself of whether to push and pursue more from it or just do it when I want to do it and what gets accepted for publication gets accepted and what money I make is just nice little extra dinner out or vacation dollars when it comes in. I write for a niche that is overflowing with very talented writers so it's hard to get seen and break through the pile to get published at times. But I love the connection and relationships it's allowed me to build, and writing has been a passion of mine since I was ten years old so all of this writing with its rejections and acceptances has really helped me grow as a writer. One of my biggest dreams as a little girl besides traveling the country and world and my envisioned perfect little family (they're almost perfect :) ) was to be published one day. Whether it's completing two of my own book projects with editors to publish them or getting accepted for publication with online and well known print books like Chicken Soup for the Soul I've reached my goal. I also have "readers"- people that find something to connect and relate to in what I have to say.

But as I'm learning our goals and dreams are always evolving and my desire to write a novel is returning. I still "feel" like that's something in the distant future, but I also feel like when I do it I need to cut myself off from the digital world. Though I don't quite feel the need to wander into the woods like Thoreau I do feel like when the time comes to really tap into the depths of what I want to write I'd get my best work out of isolation. Again I feel like that's a ways away, but it never fails that whenever I start to feel the need to write on here less it's after I just put in months of growing my traffic and connections. I feel like I constantly take a few steps back for every step forward.

I don't really know what to expect of my writing goals for 2018. I've considered taking a writing course with the Disney Babble writer that edited my Letters to a Daughter book and working with her to pursue bigger publications in 2018, but I've also considered stepping back from the blog for a bit. I do know when I've been  drawn to writing these past five years it's had little do with seeking publication or making money- it's always been about my need to come here to my sanctuary so to speak when I need the help navigating life. So who knows what will be the situation with my writing in 2018.

Fitness: In April of 2016 I wanted to get back in the habit of working out 3-5 times a week on a regular basis again. I think once I started in April after Linc was born I missed four weeks for the rest of 2016. If I can stay on track this week and next then I will have also missed four weeks for the whole year of 2017. However, around this time last year I was down 22 lbs. I'm now about five lbs from gaining all of that back! Food, people, food! It's all in what we eat. I maybe kept up with the regular exercise but I totally slacked starting about last April with food. When I started watching what I ate the year before it wasn't even like I did anything too crazy. I cut way back on my sugar. I quit drinking soda so much. In fact we rarely even buy soda for the house anymore. I was much more self conscious of what sweets I was eating. Between that and when I first started I was doing 21DF about three times a week and then the past few months it's mostly been 2-3 mile walks or on the ellipitical so those things don't quite have the same calorie burning potential as 21 DF. But I'm getting 21DF extreme in the new year so I'm hoping with a new workout program and cutting back on my sugar I can at least go back to making some headway. But even still, I'm happy with  sticking to the consistency of working out 3 times a week now for going on almost two years! Weight loss or gain it's such a great mental outlet/cleanse for me, and I definitely need it.

Future goals: So what are my future goals for 2018. Well, not sure if you're as unsure what my goals are from reading this as I am from writing it. I've been a goal oriented, list checker, over planner probably my whole life. As the mid point of my life is quickly catching me, I think my greatest goal for 2018 is to just be. Just be happy with where I'm at without stressing too much about what's around the next corner on this road of life. Just be present more with my family and take a step back from moving through life so quickly. Just be content with who I am- as a mom, as teacher, as a writer, as a woman in whatever size that happens to be.  Just be me and embrace the me I am in all my imperfections, flaws, and silly quirks. Laugh more, yell less. Find the joy, ignore the mess. Forgive others transgressions of the past, and remember more how I'm blessed.

Thanks for reading in 2017 and wishing you the very best in 2018!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Christmas Contradiction

One minute I love Christmas and the next I'm just like "is it over yet?"

I get excited about coming up with meaningful sentimental photo gifts (it's kind of my gift thing) or getting someone something big off their wish list. But then I get moody and grumpy that my bank account is dwindling down and that I never stick to the budget I saved to spend on gifts. 

I  want to buy up all the different pretty varietys of wrapping paper that fills the aisles at the store.
But then I get sooooo tired of wrapping gifts in said pretty wrapping paper I just let the six year old wrap it and pretty kind of goes out the window.

I love the pretty decorated Christmas tree in the window. But then I dread the work of taking it all down and starting at it dying in my backyard waiting to be burned to ash in the spring.

It's so busy with the parties and Christmas events to attend; the to do list with baking, shopping, wrapping, and traveling just gets overwhelming after awhile so I'm just ready for it to be over to start my hibernation the slower life of winter that follows after the holidays.

But then I remember Christmas with small children really is magical though and each year I feel like I need to do all these magical Christmas things right now because there are only so many Christmases where they're little enough to be awed by the magic of Christmas so then I don't want Christmas to ever end.

What are your thoughts on Christmas? Not a fan? Over the moon for it? Or have a love/hate relationship with it?

Be sure to check out my latest essay on Perfection Pending.

Need any last minute holiday gifts check out my Letters to a Daughter.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Joyful Thanks

Around and around the hands of time seem to go faster and faster. I try to slow the passage of time with photo after photo and journal after journal of the endless moments that fill me with a joy and awe that at times is beyond anything I imagined possible because to be here living this life with you really is the happiest of dreams come true.

This life is chaotic and overwhelming and as much as I may think I want to slow the hands of time, I swear we're running the time up faster and faster as we move from one thing to the next. I take the pictures; I record our life stories here. I don't want any of us to forget the highs and lows of this  journey together the five of us have embarked upon.

There's always rough moments in this life- in any life- whether it's the paycheck to paycheck stage, whether it's a house and all its needed work-desired or undesired-, there are health scares and struggles that leave you in a desperate fear for the ones you love, there are disagreements with the ones you love, there are struggles with how to do right for your kids, there's the stress of your job or career. It all adds up to a lot of sweat, tears, and sleepless nights.

But at the end of the day-the good and the bad- there's always gratitude in my heart that this is the life God chose for me. Life likes to knock us around and at times is quite on the mission to steal our joy. I'll be the first to admit I let it steal mine. When the job is harder than hard, when the money in the bank account seems to be running low, when our own health or the health of those we love is threatened, and quite honestly when it just feels like things aren't going my way I let my anger and quick temper take over.

There always seems to be the question of uncertainty hanging around with what's around the next corner in life whether it's health, finances, career, or just life in general, but I'm learning to be content in the now. Right here, right now with my little family of five just living the ordinary, not really sure what's around the next corner but content to be where we are at that moment, is a great place to be.

Wishing you a blessed and joyful holiday season from our family to yours!