Goodbye 2012: 12 Things Learned | Hello 2013

Another year has come and gone. 2012 is now singing it’s Swan Song as we all look ahead to 2013. We ruminate on the year that has passed and consider plans on how to make the coming year better or different or perhaps equally amazing if we can say that the previous year was just perfection. I don’t think I’ve ever said that, but you know… it could happen.

So looking back, here are the highlights from 2012 and what I learned from them:

  1. In January Dan threw his back out just before the first real snow storm of 2012. Which meant that all the shoveling was on me for awhile. At first it was awful and discouraging. I was kind of disappointed to learn that in my 28 or so years on this planet that I hadn’t really learned to effectively shovel snow. Then I sucked it up and learned. Dan got me a fantastic shovel called the SnoBoss that anyone with a fair amount of snow cleanup to do aught to go out and buy immediately. When your plow or snow blower fails you, you will thank yourself for spending $30 on the best snow shovel you will ever own. It’s ergonomically designed to make shoveling easier on your body and it’s bright yellow color is like a beacon of hope in a nasty snow storm. After one day of shoveling with this bad boy, I was pretty sure I was a super hero. Lesson learned: I am capable of more than I give myself credit for. And what I don’t know, I will learn.
  2. In February I did a 21 day weight loss challenge with Dustin Maher. His boot camp exercises involve a lot of weight lifting, spurts of cardio and pushing yourself to the limit. I found myself lifting, while not as much as recommended, more than I thought I was capable of. I found myself doing plank exercises and pushing myself further and further. Lesson learned: I am stronger than I realize.
  3. In April we had a lot of awesome family memories – we celebrated MM’s 6th birthday with a surprise trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, had a Star Wars birthday party and celebrated Easter – and we had two very exciting family members visit, my father came up for Easter and my MIL came to visit a couple weeks later for MM’s birthday party. I would say all three of these awesome events involved an element of letting go when things changed. BB had a major blow out on vacation which meant no water park for the girl and I until she was digesting normally again! Instead we went shopping a lot and made the best we could of it. MM’s birthday party was wonderful, but most of the plans I made for the party fell through. We never really watched the rented movie and the name tags I made for all the “themed” foods were not used either. In the end, nobody cared and fun was had by all, even though I got almost no pictures… ::gasp:: For Easter I really wanted to make my own natural dyes for the Easter Eggs – and I did and it was pretty great, but it wasn’t much fun for the kids since they had to sit in the fridge for so long for the colors to take. So we decorated with stickers and crayons, too. Lesson learned: Know when to let go of expectations and when to change plans to make everyone happier.
  4. After making a resolution to lose weight in 2012 and then doing almost nothing about it for four months, in April I did something very clichéd. I joined Weight Watchers. And for about three months I even stuck with it, not that I lost more than 5 pounds or so total. No, I didn’t stick with this diet in the long run, but I don’t regret trying it either. The big take away for me from my Weight Watchers experience that I found different from dieting I’ve done in the past, was the emphasis on wiping the slate clean each day. Lesson learned: I still try to remind myself after a day of less than healthy eating (of which I have many) that, as Scarlett would say, “Tomorrow is another day.”
  5. We went camping on Fathers Day weekend and thanks to low expectations, I’d say we had a great time. I’ve had to learn to let go a lot where camping is concerned and never expect perfection, to never expect anything really. When we called the trip early on account of rain, it didn’t even really phase us. We’d had our fun – a LOT of fun – and were content to head home again. Lesson learned: Letting go is a very good thing.
  6. In July we took one of the longest vacations ever – we spent nearly a month back in MA visiting with friends and family. Leisurely days at the beach, blueberry picking, family birthday parties (BB turned 3 while we were there), a quick trip to Boston, first haircuts and a wedding – this month truly had it all! We loved getting to spend so much time with family and friends, but were equally happy to return home at the end of the month and fall in love with Wisconsin all over again. It’s sometimes hard to not be able to “have it all” – a city we love with a great job and friends and family all in one place would be amazing, but at least we have a wonderful family and a home we love and a good job. That’s more than a lot of people can say. Lesson learned: We may not have it all, but we have a lot.
  7. In September MM started 1st grade. Unlike the year before, this year I volunteered in the classroom on Tuesdays. Being about to bring BB with me made this much easier and being there once a week has been wonderful. I love knowing all the kids in his class and knowing his teacher so well and feeling informed. He has a wonderful teacher this year and I’m so grateful for that. Lesson learned: Get involved.
  8. In October MM joined Cub Scouts. It was a major learning curve for momma, but I’m so glad we did this. Scouting is one of Dan’s best memories from childhood and MM has really enjoyed it also. His den has gotten to tour the police station, walked a hike together, visited a news station, toured a library and more. A lot of these tours found me learning things I’d never known before, very cool. Lesson learned: We never stop learning.
  9. That month we also took a little weekend getaway to Sheboygan, Wisconsin where we visited the Bookworm Gardens. This was probably my favorite Midwest vacation so far and the main event was 100% free – can’t get any better than that! Lesson learned: Sometimes the best things in life really are free.
  10. For Halloween, I spent a long time tracking down all the components for a terrific Dr Who costume for MM and an Amelia Pond costume for BB so she could be his companion. Terrifically adorable pictures were taken, Dan and I swooned a lot. And then on the day of Halloween BB announced that she wanted to be Snow White instead after having gotten a hand-me-down Snow White dress from some friends of ours. And you know what? I didn’t care – I knew she’d have more fun if she loved her costume and both kids had a blast. MM loved dressing up as Doctor Who and both kids loved going trick or treating with their grandpa who came to visit again! Lesson learned: My daughter has a mind of her own. A Big Girl Princess Mind.
  11. The week before Thanksgiving, we all came down with a nasty stomach bug. One by one the family was dropping like flies and I was certain Thanksgiving was about to be ruined. I was kicking myself for our having ordered a giant turkey and bought all that food just to cook a meal for the four of us that it looked like wouldn’t get eaten at all. And then we all got better. With days to spare. And Thanksgiving was pretty much perfect, complete with dessert with friends in the afternoon. Lesson learned: Sometimes things work out perfectly.
  12. December was a month of Christmas crafting, cookie baking, present shopping / opening and spending lots of time with family. It was also a month that shook me to the core. Though I was not personally affected by the events of December 14th, I think mothers and fathers everywhere felt shock, outrage and grief that day and I spent a lot of time that day and the following weeks thinking about obsessing over the tragedy that happened in Connecticut so close to the holidays. I hugged my babies a little tighter, had a lot of conversations I never wanted to have and wrung my hands daily waiting for my son to get off the school bus each afternoon. I felt the preciousness of life,  the cruelty of never knowing if tomorrow might be the last day you see a loved one, and I tried to be better for it – to love better and spend my time more purposefully. I failed at this often, we are all only human after all. But in December I think we all learned a painful lesson: We cannot always protect the ones we love and keep them safe, but we have to go on living and loving anyway. This is a lesson we must learn over and over again, a reminder to live in the present and make the most of every moment and try to worry less even when it seems impossible.

A year of good and bad, amazing and awful, in short: a fairly normal year. A year that I am content to put behind me as we head into the new year.

And what’s in store for 2013?

BB will likely enter 4K in the fall, as MM enters 2nd grade. In February I am going to try my luck with open enrollment and try to get the kids switched to a different school. We are hoping to do a lot of camping in the summer, with Door County being at the top of our Destination Wish List. And if the stars align, I’m also planning to see Wicked for the first time!

As for resolutions, I have to say I am hesitant to make any. I feel like just by making a resolution that we are doomed to fail them. Perhaps I should take the advice of Sunshine625 at HubPages and make some anti-resolutions. A kind of reverse psychology approach to resolutions, I should strive to gain weight, spend more money, work out less and accomplish nothing! Then sit back and wait for all those resolutions to fail? Think that would work?

Another interesting take on New Years Resolutions, Michelle at Bleeding Espresso likes to give her new year a one word theme with which to focus her energies on. Rather than a specific resolution, she comes up with one word that sort of encompasses what she wants to strive for in the coming year. This year her word will be “grow” – I’ve been thinking about different words I would hope for in 2013. Simplify was the first word that came to mind. Both in the sense of decluttering and taking a simpler approach to the holidays, to how I deal with stress and also to remind myself that sometimes taking on too much is… too much. I want to strive to accept my limits and to set realistic expectations of myself. So though, yes, I’d like to lose weight and put more away in our savings account and transform into super mom next year, mostly I want to trim back my expectations, to let go and enjoy little moments and just let life happen more.

What would your word be for 2013?