Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Happiness Project Progress: Month 2

Busy making Valentines
I know February is the shortest month and all, but it really flew past me this year. I squeezed in a fraction of the Valentine crafts and baking that I wanted to do, and the house went undecorated with the exception of our homemade cards (which were completed while Rob was at work, on Valentine's Day itself). But it was still the most wonderful Valentine's Day I've ever had. Lucas and I crafted the morning away, Rob came home early enough for a family adventure to the park, and I had a lovely dinner cooked for me while I made Rob his requested pineapple upside-down cake.
Daddy also got cookies, made with lots of love.
As for my second month of resolutions, it was a mixed bag. All that second trimester energy I was riding on while devising this project hit a brick wall in early February, and a lot fell by the wayside. Lists were not made every day, the house was certainly not tidied every night, and making meals fell to Rob more often than I'd like to admit. We ate quite a bit more spaghetti and pre-packaged meatballs than I had originally intended. And by the end of the month, I'm pretty sure my complaining increased as opposed to disappearing completely. Perhaps I'll come back to that one with renewed force after this baby is born.

But even with the backsliding and some resolutions just flat out failing, I'm not giving up hope. There were still areas where I felt like I excelled; picking up treats, touching more and being more appreciative really gave me a big boost of happiness. I feel like my month of love resolutions brought us closer together and made our relationship happier, even though we were in a pretty great place to begin with.

Also, my January resolutions are starting to become second nature now, though I'm still struggling to get my act together at night with tidying and staying in a regular bedtime routine. I'm getting more done, the house is staying well organized and I'm doing much better at battling pregnancy brain with list making.
I didn't even forget anything I needed for our trip to California
So all in all, I feel (sort of) ready to take on a new month of resolutions for March. The upcoming March resolutions are important ones, because they are all about friendship. They're especially important because most of my friends are probably wondering where the heck I am, because I've been slacking on keeping in touch with many of my nearest and dearest. Hopefully that ends here!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Life List

One of my January resolutions was to start writing out my goals, which ultimately led me to update my life list or bucket list or whatever you'd like to call it. My goal was to get it up to 100 items by the end of January. I think I missed the deadline, but early in February I got my 100 items on the list and I feel pretty pleased with it. I'm excited to share it with you, to keep some sort of accountability for it. Hopefully I'll have some sort of progress to show you by the end of the year, I'd love to knock 5 items off the list.

I kept all the items I originally put on my list (which was written out in pencil, in a notebook, sometime shortly after seeing the ever-life-changing Walk to Remember in middle school), even the ones that seem absurd now (like living in England or being in a pageant...not sure where that one's going). I was happy to find that most of the things I dreamed about doing when I was 13 are things I have either accomplished or still aspire to. I'm pretty steadfast in my passions, which I think will serve me well throughout my life. Or at least that's what I hope.

Here's a few life lists I found helpful when forming my own, in case you're into this sort of thing or want to make your own.

Early Mama
Mighty Life List
Scarlet Words
The Traveling Adventurer 

And of course, here's my list for all the world to see too:

1.      explore a cave
2.      go skydiving
3.      fall in love
4.      get married
5.      have a baby
6.      run a marathon
7.      get straight As one semester
8.      bike Mt. Haleakala
9.      ride in a helicopter
10.  swim with dolphins
11.  be in a pageant
12.  learn to wakeboard
13.  learn to snowboard
14.  host a dinner party
15.  see the Northern Lights
16.  go ice fishing
17.  have churros and hot chocolate in Spain
18.  live in England
19.  bungee jump in New Zealand
20.  go dancing in Spain
21.  eat sushi
22.  visit Hana in Maui
23.  be in a dance show
24.  earn my blackbelt
25.  eat chicken fried steak
26.  graduate from a 4 year college
27.  write a novel
28.  have my photography displayed
29.  have my writing published in a literary journal
30.  ride world’s top 10 rollercoasters
31.  plant a garden
32.  own a house
33.  throw a surprise party
34.  visit the 7 natural wonders
35.  go to Alaska for crab festival
36.  enter food in a cooking contest
37.  ride the Ultimate Rush
38.  learn to play the guitar
39.  learn to play the piano
40.  go clubbing in England
41.  be in a play
42.  have a book published
43.  live completely debt free
44.  participate in a NaNoWriMo
45.  take a trip with my Nana
46.  make a cookbook
47.  knit a sweater
48.  crochet an afghan
49.  take my kids to Disney World
50.  visit 10 National Parks
51.  visit all 50 states 1. Alabama; 2. Alaska; 3. Arizona; 4. Arkansas; 5. California; 6. Colorado; 7. Connecticut; 8. Delaware; 9. Florida; 10. Georgia; 11. Hawaii; 12. Idaho; 13. Illinois; 14. Indiana; 15. Iowa; 16. Kansas; 17. Kentucky; 18. Louisiana; 19. Maine; 20. Maryland; 21. Massachusetts; 22. Michigan; 23. Minnesota; 24. Mississippi; 25. Missouri; 26. Montana; 27. Nebraska; 28. Nevada; 29. New Hampshire; 30. New Jersey; 31. New Mexico; 32. New York; 33. North Carolina 34. North Dakota; 35. Ohio; 36. Oklahoma; 37. Oregon; 38. Pennsylvania; 39. Rhode Island; 40. South Carolina; 41. South Dakota; 42. Tennessee; 43. Texas; 44. Utah; 45. Vermont; 46. Virginia; 47. Washington; 48. West Virginia; 49. Wisconsin; 50. Wyoming
52.  write a fun children’s book for my kids (and illustrate it)
53.  write a book of advice and notes for each child
54.  go on an extended family vacation with each (or both) our families
55.  see the tulips in the Netherlands
56.  join (or create) a book club
57.  practice yoga in India
58.  go vegan for one month
59.  be featured in a magazine
60.  build a house
61.  ride in a hot air balloon
62.  master French macarons
63.  renew my wedding vows
64.  go to a Broadway show
65.  read The Sound and The Fury
66.  eat at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant
67.  take Lucas on The Polar Express
68.  cook through an entire cookbook
69.  stay at the underwater hotel in Dubai
70.  perform stand-up in front of strangers
71.  plant an herb garden
72.  be a vendor at a Farmer’s Market
73.  make croissants from scratch
74.  see a cirque show
75.  see ten of my favorite bands perform
76.  learn how to change a tire
77.  read the entire works of Shakespeare
78.  attend the summer Olympics
79.  go running in Central Park
80.  learn to juggle three balls
81.  walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
82.  finish a bicycle race
83.  pay cash for a home
84.  visit the Eiffel Tower
85.  go camping for a weekend
86.  take a spin class
87.  watch the sunrise on a beach
88.  have a pedicure
89.  eat lobster in Maine
90.  go to the top of a lighthouse
91.  watch a movie at a drive-in
92.  read 50 classic novels:
93.  go technology free for a week
94.  learn to sew
95.  make a stuffed toy
96.  plant a tree
97.  attend 5 mass celebrations such as Carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, La Tomatino in Spain, Burning Man in Black Rock Desert, etc.
98.  hike the pacific crest trail with Rob
99.  start a fire without a match 
100.  build an “igloo” for my kids 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love at Every Turn

Here I am,

Sixteen, sitting in the locker room, lacing up my high tops knowing you're across the gym, in a room just like this, doing the same. We'll come out at the same time, because I planned it that way, and you'll walk with me to weights class. I'm hoping you'll ask me to hang out with you and your friends again. I'm literally doing back flips to impress you. I'm waiting for pep assemblies where I'll sit in front of you and you'll put your hands on my shoulders and I'll lean into you and feel your heartbeat. I'm anxious for that day when your hand brushes over mine at the lunch table and stays there. I'm all in. I'm yours.

I'm sixteen and falling in love in a passionate stupor. Making out to rock music blasting from my boombox, and halfway watching movies with wandering hands. Driving out into the desert and watching the sunset. Sneaking off campus for forbidden fast-food lunches. Making trips to buy doughnuts on late-in days with your brother and the German. Lying on Derek's trampoline staring at the pale blue sky. Going to school dances in cheap, glittering dresses and borrowed heels. Hiding hickeys. Boldly saying I love you on the deck as you drop me off.

Here I am,

Throwing a graduation cap into the air. Spending late summer nights in your backyard, fire burning in the laundry drum. Trailing out into the country to watch friends marry young. Telling you I'll never marry you if you tattoo "straightedge" in bold letters across your chest like you want to. Lying across boulders at Lake Tahoe and talking about the big dreams and big houses and big money of someday. Hiking the foothills and speaking loftily of joining the Peace Corps. Waiting for life to begin. With you.

Here I am,

Emaciated by college poorness, struggling through insomnia, working a thankless job that occasionally accuses me of being a thief. I'm coming home late and calling you, and you're walking through the dark night, from the safety of college dorms into my shady part of town, and you're staying with me so the world doesn't feel like it's falling apart anymore. I'm starting to say "we" when I talk about the future and proposals are half-whispered in the night. I'm making a Valentine's Day dinner that we eat sitting on the floor of my room at a coffee table stolen from the common space. I'm telling you about the sort of life I want. In every version, you're in it.

I'm loading up the Dodge Neon and we're unloading across town, in an even worse neighborhood. We're buying cheap futons at K-Mart, and eating spaghetti at folding card table and playing grown-up in our shoebox apartment. We're taking in roommates when there's hardly room for the two of us. We're driving out in the middle of the night and buying sparkling cider when you ask me to marry you because we're still too young to drink. We're shrugging off the comments that we're too damn young for marriage. Considering the drive-through chapel about once a month.

Here I am,

Walking down the aisle in a white dress. Holding your shaking hands, scared you're going to run. Putting on rings. Taking vows. Kissing you for the first time as my husband. Ringing the church bell that no one inside can hear. Dancing to Frank Sinatra. Toasting and taking too many photographs to manage. Watching lightning crack overhead as we leave in the limo. Coming home to our trashed apartment; a thank you note from friends stuck to a sticky, boozy counter top. Picking up where we left off yesterday, but today I'm your wife. 

Here I am,

Standing in an empty living room, decorating a Christmas tree. Dragging a mattress inside despite the snowstorm, so we can sleep for the first time in our house. Coming home to a little black puppy you picked out for us. Looking around myself and wondering how it all happened so fast. Wondering how I got so lucky. Wondering how it could get any better.

Here I am,

Stomach rounding, new life growing inside me. Buying clothes, trinkets, diapers, baby books. Picking over names on the couch, hands intertwined. Taking for granted late night trips to the grocery store together. Life unencumbered, but as of yet incomplete. Sleeping at night in your arms. Waiting impatiently for our son to be born.

Here I am,

Awestruck by the fact that today there is a new person in the world, and he is ours. He is you and he is me and he is perfect. I'm watching you hold him, love him, transforming into a new man before my eyes. Loving you more deeply than I knew possible. Hoping that our son grows up to be just like you. Lying exhausted on the couch; a living, breathing patchwork of our love asleep on your chest. Disbelieving that the days can be so long and pass so quickly.

Here I am,

Spending sweet days at home with Lucas. Sifting through memories of our life together. Feeling grateful and overwhelmed and undeserving of it all. Looking forward to our daughter being born. Looking forward to years ahead. Knowing they'll be filled with happiness. Knowing that I'll love you at every turn our lives take.

Waiting for you to come home. Wanting to tell you I love you again.

Here I am. 

I'm all in. I'm yours. And I always have been.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

February Resolutions

I really love February, but it's a short, sneaky month. If I'm not careful it will elude my resolution efforts, which are faltering more than I care to admit. My January resolutions were going pretty well until almost the end of the month. But now I'm struggling to keep up with the tidying at night and building routine and there have even been a few days where I haven't written down, let alone tackled, my to do lists. I'm telling you this because I'm ashamed, and I want to get it back together. I'm really striving to be faithful to this happiness project, and I need to be honest when it's not going so hot.

And to add to my feeling lackluster in resoluteness, February means a whole new set of resolutions. January was probably one of my hardest months (which is why I put those resolutions in place first, and is probably why I'm still struggling a bit). February is a total shift in focus where most of my resolutions are relationship based rather than productivity based. Let's hope I have at least one day where I stick to all ten (yes there's ten now!) resolutions.

Here are February's Resolutions on Love:

1. Make Meals

  • My goal to make meals isn't a huge step in a new direction for me. I already make plenty of food for my family. But this month, I'm making a real effort to make dinner for Rob every single night (unless we're going out or he has a special meal planned that he wants to make) and to make more special treats and desserts. So far (um, all of one week in) I've kept to this goal and as an added bonus, it's totally helping me stick to our meal planning budget. I'm also trying to make a greater variety of meals for Lucas and add more homemade into his picky, picky diet. It doesn't always go over well, so I have chicken nuggets and frozen waffles on stand-by, but he has taken a great liking to my homemade raviolis, which makes me feel awesome.
2. Touch Tenderly
  • This is another straight out of the book resolution. I'm making a conscious effort to give more hugs and kisses, and snuggle up on the couch, and hold hands whenever possible. It's not a terribly difficult resolution, but it's definitely one that majorly boosts my happiness. It helps me feel closer to Rob, which is especially important since our time together has been cut way down with his ambitious full-time load at school in addition to his 40 hour work week.
3. Appreciate Everything
  • So, as I said, Rob is working full-time and going to school full-time, and sleeps probably all of four to six hours on any given night because he has homework like nobody's business. And on the few nights he is home at a decent hour, he manages to give Lucas a bath and put him to bed. Or on the mornings he's at home, he gets Lucas out of bed and makes time to take him to the park. He's superdad and superhusband. All. The. Time. So, I'm really making an effort to tell him I appreciate him, every single day, because he really deserves to be appreciated.
4. Stop Complaining
  • I never complain about my husband, but I always complain to my husband. So in addition to appreciating him, I'm trying not to drain any more on his energy with all my whining. Which is really hard for me and, I'll admit, I'm not doing a great job on this resolution so far. While I've significantly scaled back on my complaining and venting, I still find myself whining about my back hurting or the baby kicking too hard or how gosh darn tired I am (you know, because I'm sure he's not tired at all) or how I just don't feel good. I am a way more major whiner than I realized before trying out this resolution... I am however, doing a lot better not complaining about him going running when I want him home or the fact that he can't come to bed at night because he has too much homework to do, which is a vast improvement from past semesters. Baby steps, my friends.
5. Give Proofs of Love
  • I'm great about telling Rob I love him. I tell him all the time. But I'm not sure how often I show him. So I'm trying to do more to show my love in tangible ways, like bringing him home his favorite cookies from the store, or choosing a show/movie that he wants to watch, or making a special treat on a whim. Too often I find myself thinking that I'm showing my love by keeping the house clean and taking care of Lucas and doing the majority of the cooking and carrying our kick-punching children in my uterus, but those things are part of my lifestyle. I don't do them purely for love, purely for him. But those nasty fudge-creme mint oreos and an evening spent watching TED...that is 100% for Rob.
These resolutions are compounding on my January resolutions which were:

1. Track To-Do Lists
2. Tidy at Night
3. Clear Clutter/Organize
4. Build Routine
5. Write Out Goals (an update where I share my Life List is coming soon)

This year of resolutions is going to be a beast, but so far, despite my failings, I'm really glad I'm doing it. I can honestly say that this happiness project is already making me feel much happier and in control of my life.
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