A look back at 2013

I always feel such pressure to come up with an end-of-the-year blog post.  It’s hard to summarize an entire year into one blog post.  I feel the need to be reflective and insightful.  I’m not sure that this post will be any of that.  This year was an entirely different beast.  It held many challenges from my son not breathing on his own for 20 minutes after he was born in January to sleeping on the couch with him for the first three months thanks to his reflux to myself coming down with shingles (and thankfully being able to contain it enough that my children didn’t come down with chicken pox) to major surgery for myself.  And it’s held so many blessings from the birth of my sweet baby boy to my daughter starting preschool to feeling like a complete family of four to learning more daily about these kiddos of mine.

Our sweet baby boy arrived in January 2013. (Photo by Catherine Hatton)

I’ve tried to think about what I’ll remember of this year in five or 10 years.  First and foremost will always be that 2013 was the year that brought me Drake.  He presented challenges right from the start.  But, then it got good.  He hasn’t been my best sleeper (my daughter wins that award hands down!), but I’ve gotten to know this little guy this year.  I’ve gotten to see his personality start to take shape.  And I’ve fallen even more in love.  He has an easy smile and laugh.  His whole face lights up often and makes those around him light up, too.  You can’t see a baby with a big smile and not return it.  He smiled early and has continued to smile often.  I love it!

He has been physical in so many ways with rolling over early, crawling and pulling up to standing.  He’s ahead of his sister with these benchmarks and I anticipate he’ll be walking by the time his first birthday rolls around the end of next month.  Of my whole family, Drake has changed the most this year.  He started the end of January with being a tiny, helpless little baby.  And now he’s almost a toddler.  It’s mind blowing.  I have tried to hold on tight and not miss a single moment of the growing, the learning and the fun.

My daughter on her first day of preschool

My daughter has had her share of growth this year as well.  I’ve seen her blossom into a big sister.  I was worried how she’d handle the transition, but she has been incredibly great.  We’ve had some moments here and there where she struggled.  We’ve had some battle of wills because she’s like every preschooler in testing her limits.  However, she’s been excited about her big brother.  She was disappointed at first that his hair wasn’t purple.  And she didn’t especially like his name.  In fact, when my pastor and his wife brought us dinner right after Drake was born, Lexiana showed them the baby and said, “You might not like his name.”  That’s all changed this year.  She’s gotten used to his name and his black then brown hair.  She gave him some space at first, but now she loves on him and hugs him.  She only needs an occasional reminder to be gentle.  She is so incredibly patient.  She makes sure he has a toy to play with.  She tries to teach him things.  In the last month, I’ve seen the two of them start to actually be able to play together and my heart almost explodes with love.

My daughter’s sweet spirit has really blossomed this year as a big sister and in other ways.  She’s been compassionate when I’ve struggled with my health or exhaustion when Drake wasn’t sleeping early on.  I’ve watched her take some of her little cousins or friends’ children under her wings and make sure they’re OK.  She’s also developed a love for crafts and drawing.  She’s continued to enjoy singing and dancing and been through two ballet classes.  She started preschool and has had a great time making friends and learning new things.  When she was getting ready to start school she was worried about making friends. It was a serious concern to her.  I almost laughed, but I refrained.  The kid has no clue how chatty and sweet she is and how friendly she is.  I knew making friends wouldn’t be an issue for her. It hasn’t been.  It’s something I’ve always struggled with as a shy, quiet, introverted person.  My daughter is not like me in that way.  And I’m proud of her.

As for my husband and I, we’ve survived 2013.  It’s had a crazy amount of challenges.  I’ve mentioned some and won’t even share others.  I don’t want to dwell on them.  But, we have learned to continue surviving.  We have learned over and over again to remain Team Shannon.  We have adjusted to being a family of four.  Looking back now, I think it was an easy adjustment, but that’s because we’ve gotten through most of it. There were challenges in the beginning.  There were times Lexiana got to watch some extra Disney Junior because we were too worn out to do anything else with her.  But, we made it.  We have tag-teamed.  We have learned to sometimes divide and conquer.  We have learned that, as always, communication is key.  Communication breakdowns have happened, but we’ve worked through them, learned lessons and moved on.

Our whole family at a recent Christmas celebration.

I feel like now that we have two children, we’re more parental than we were even before.  We’re certainly busier, but it’s good.  We’re finally at a point with our unpredictable baby where he’s more predictable.  We have more of a schedule again.  Newborns have no schedule and that can be stressful.  It’s nice now at the end of the year that we have a schedule.  It can most certainly change up on us, but it’s better than it was.  I’ve come to look forward to the 30 minutes in between the kids’ bedtimes when my husband, Drake and I hang out in Drake’s room and play and chat.  It’s nice.  I look forward to Drake’s long morning nap that usually goes past Lexiana’s lunch time where we can sit and chat while we eat.  It’s nice.

I’m looking forward to more of the same when it comes to good things in 2014.  I’m looking forward to learning more about my children and watching them grow.  I’m looking forward to figuring out even more who they are as people.  I’m looking forward to the pride I will feel at their accomplishments.  This time next year, I will have a full-fledged toddler and a preschooler.  I’m looking forward to sharing in that joy with my husband.  I’m hoping for less challenges in 2014.  I wouldn’t mind a boring, quiet year of just enjoying my little family.  Boring isn’t such a bad thing.  I’m looking forward to doing a bit of work in 2014 and getting in some more writing.  I’m hoping to find chances to read some more and maybe enjoy some me-time now and again.

I know 2014 won’t be perfect.  No year ever is.  They all have their ups and downs.  They all have their challenges.  But they also all have their blessings and good times.  In the midst of all 2013, I will do my best to hang on to the good memories of my children, of meeting some of my husband’s extended family I hadn’t gotten to before, of hanging out with my own extended family, of going on vacations, of surviving health issues and of laughing always.  I am blessed and God is good no matter what 2013 has brought or 2014 will bring.

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