Obviously blogging has taken a very long backseat drive in my life, and although I can't speak at all to whether or not my blogging will pick up again in 2015 - here are a few notes and thoughts about 2014.
I hope you have all had a great year, and that this letter finds you healthy and happy. Our year had moments of stress and sadness, but as a whole it was a wonderful year of growth for all of us. Here are just a few highlights from our 2014 year:
At the end of 2013, Brian started his own business, and 2014 was his first full year working for himself. He works in his downstairs office, and joins us for lunches and has a 15 second commute. Occasionally, I've called him asking for help to get the kids in the car or when I've been sick he has taken an hour or two (because that's all it is when you have no commute) off so that I could have a nap. The girls have been really good about knowing that 'Daddy is working', and they don't interrupt him very much at all. Sometimes he leaves his office door open, and they are free to stop in and say 'Hi', which both Brian and the girls enjoy, but they don't take advantage, and they know that when he closes the door, not to disturb. It's been a learning experience for both of us - and it will continue to be, as we learn how to budget for vacations and medical expenses in 2015.
We bought our first 'SUV', a Ford Flex - which, after driving for, nearly a year I wonder how we ever managed with a smaller vehicle. We now have room to offer rides to other people (our Cobalt couldn't even fit one person in the backseat between the carseats), and can transport our own Christmas gifts back home from our parents' houses!!
In early February, Audrey started walking! This year she has gone from baby to little girl so quickly - she turned 2 on October 26th, and because she has an older sister to emulate and because she has a calmer nature and longer attention span than Clara, she seems more like Clara did at 3. I wanted our girls to be close in age, and watching them happily playing together with the same sets of toys, I'm so glad they are!
In March, Brian and I officially decided that we would be homeschooling our children. So far, I have not been as organized as I would have liked. I began in September with the Pre-K curriculum from Confessions of a Homeschooler that goes through the Alphabet one letter a week. I should be on L or M, but I'm a few weeks behind at I or J... I can't actually remember, we sort of fell behind in December. I like many of the activities in the downloaded curriculum, and it has already been well worth the $15 I spent on it, but I've learned some things about Clara and how she and I work together that might make me choose other options in the future. This February, Brian and I will attend a Homeschool Convention in our province, and I hope to gather more information on curriculums and ideas for schooling Clara. I'm excited to continue with her, as she and I both learn more about ourselves and about how to work together. I've also tentatively decided to continue schooling her through the summer, because - well - why not?
In Spring, we spent a number of days at my Grandparents' house getting ready for the auction sale they had in June. This was a challenging time for all of us - my Grandpa struggled to get rid of all of the things he had spent the last 80 years accumulating, and his family was frustrated by his hoarding personality - knowing that he could not keep all of these things as my Grandparents were planning to move soon to a condo where there would be much less room than they were used to. It was a continual struggle, that made me miss my Dad terribly - as the oldest son, he would have had a big hand in helping with this project, and we all felt his absence very strongly.
August was a busy month for us, looking back at everything. My friend and I took our kids camping without Dads, and it was a totally new experience for me to be the 'grown up' of my family - and be solely responsible for myself and my kids. I've taken for granted that in my life I moved from my parents' house into my husband's, and I've always been 'taken care of' by someone else in that way. It was a lot of fun, though, and I hope we can do it again! We also went on a trip to a family wedding in Alberta, visited with family and friends, and went to Banff for a day - the girls first experience seeing the mountains!
We moved Audrey into a 'big girl bed' in August as well, and shortly after attempted to potty train her. You can read about the start of our attempt, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 - the day we gave up and decided to try again sometime in 2015.
In September, I started homeschooling Clara. My goal was to work on her Preschool curriculum 3 days each week, and although I started out doing alright with this, I fell apart by December. I also began teaching piano two days a week in September, and I have been babysitting 2 days a week as well, and I have realized that in order to really focus on homeschooling, I need to slow down my schedule. The babysitting I have been doing has been wonderful - the two little girls I watch are the same ages as my girls, and they are all very much best friends, but I have been very overwhelmed with how much extra work it is to have 4 kids under the age of 4 running around. Although they have been getting somewhat easier, and I have found a few tricks for homeschooling with the extra girls around, I only have a few more months of 2 full days each week, and after that I will have them for only a partial day each week. I'm looking forward to devoting a bit more time to homeschool after that, and my three month break from teaching piano over summer will give me a chance to devote some extra time to Clara as well. This is part of why I have chosen to continue schooling through the summer as well. Homeschooling has taught me a lot about myself - and about Clara - and although my own motivation hasn't been the greatest, I am really encouraged by how much she is already learning, and I'm excited to continue.
We had begun meeting with another group of Homeschooling families with young children, but I bowed out of the group when I realized how much I was being affected by an over-full schedule. I loved meeting with the group, and getting to know the other Moms, but there will be other opportunities for this sort of thing in the future, and I decided that for now I should focus on just 'getting going'.
At the end of October, we said goodbye to my Grandpa who died after a long battle with Asbestosis. The doctors had given him only a few days to live in August of 2013, and he proved them all wrong by living - at home with only occasional home care - for another year. We were so glad to have been able to have the additional year with him, and we are confident that he is now in Heaven fellowshipping with his God, and although we miss him, we wouldn't wish him back for his sake.
Clara turned 4 this December, and I can hardly believe how BIG she is getting! She behaves like a little kid these days, rationalizing things in a way that I remember from when I was a child. It's incredible how much she has changed this year. She is still occasionally difficult, but she is no longer the discipline problem she was a year ago. She is becoming more sensitive to how we treat her - as she becomes more perceptive of our moods and actions. She loves to learn, and truly wants to be reading, but she has an extreme aversion to being told what to do, and so I need to be a bit sneaky in my teaching. When it comes to things like cleaning up her toys, however, I have been explaining to her that although she doesn't like to do it when she's told to, it is one of the things in life we just need to do, and she's getting better at understanding that kind of thing.
This blog post may be evidence to why my blog has fallen apart lately - I wrote it over an afternoon filled with constant interruptions, and so I apologize if my writing is disjointed and confusing. I just wanted to get it out and start the year with something!