Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Reflections

Looking back. Looking forward. Reflecting. Pondering. Wondering. Hoping. Surviving. Wanting. Wishing. Waiting. 

The year of 2014 brings many thoughts of tired days, interrupted nights, toddler angst, cold cups of coffee, weary parents, studying for the primary exam, disappointment, frustration, loneliness and slogging ahead, just to make status quo. Although there were a few sprinkles of rest, 2014 was tiring. 

Jarod is in the thick of his PhD work. He is at the official mid-point of his five years here at the University of Rochester. As accurately described, it is too far from the start to be swept up in the romance of pursuing a PhD (or to quit!) and too far from the end to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is now where the work feels insurmountable, where the new ideas are far between and the demand is wearing.  It's been a hard year with all that has been required of Jarod. While we still know we are meant to be here, having daily faith and veracity to make it through has depleted us. 

I took on caring for a sweet little two year old girl in July for 38 hours a week. Having three under three, five days a week, has proved daunting, to say the least. 

Charlie Ann brings new challenges and new depths of patience and forces new creative methods of training. Her spirit is tenacious and her heart feels deeply. I admire her perseverance and strength. And I pray constantly that we are channelling her strengths to help her and lead her rightly. 

Tripp has brought so much joy and happiness. He is the one thing that is thus far, simple and not complex, and I'm so thankful. His needs are straight forward and not complicated. And it's refreshing to know he is satisfied with cuddling, lunch or a nap. Tripp has been such a bright spot for everyone in the Sickler household. He is so expressive in his love for all of us, and it brings my heart deep happiness to see him make his sister and his daddy smile. 

As the children are now one and three, we are moving out of the baby stages and into easier years. They are communicating better and becoming much more self sufficient. And although their demands are still very physical, there is much more rest and restorative sleep at night. I'm looking forward to having a toddler and a preschooler in 2015. 

Jarod has only one more semester of class, and then he begins his writing proposal and dissertation work. Which, although the demands will be rigorous, he will have more authority in his daily schedule and freedom in his hours. 

In 2015 I am hoping for a less reactive life style, and a more proactive one. One where I am thriving, instead of merely surviving the day to day. I am hoping to be able to rise early again in the morning, before children, and take a deep breath before beginning my day. I am so satisfied in this opportunity to stay at home with my little ones while they are so young. And even on my worst days, I still can feel my heart smile at the privilege to walk the journey with them so closely. In 2015, I want my home to show peace, contentment, joy and gratitude. 

In 2015, I want more dates with my spouse, more high fives between us and more comraderie in our united efforts. I want to be more compassionate, more understanding, more sympathetic and more encouraging. He is a good, loving man and not many can say they married their first love. In 2015 we will celebrate seven years of marriage. I am so pleased.

My personal challenge for 2015 is to grow in my comfortableness of being emotionally available for my family, to swallow my pride and acknowledge my wants and my needs. To move away from militant task master and towards one who has freedom to enjoy and freedom to rest. 

It is good to reflect, to ponder and wonder. It is good to take time to step back and observe. I am grateful for all that we learned and managed this past year, yet I am eager for what is ahead. 

Cheers to 2015. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Birthday Photos - Charlie Ann

Much celebrating was had on November 11th for Charlie Ann. 

Waking her up and telling her she was THREEEEEE!
Clapping is so necessary. 
Queen for the day. 
This three year old face. (Insert heart-eyes emoji here) 

And the bitter sweet part of that day-- returning those pacis to the store. Everyone knows that's what happens when you turn 3. 

And she traded them in... 
...For a larger than life Minnie. 

And no birthday is complete without cake. 

And I'd like to point out that this is a much improved cake as compared to her two year old cake-trastophe.. 

We love celebrating our little Charlie Ann. She's a gem. Happy three, Sweet Pea!
(Also, obligatory birthday growl)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Charlie Ann and the Big Three

Three. Years. Old.

I know it's still a little age for a child, but in this household, 3 sounds like retiring age. How is it that my little girl is already three?

Celebrating Charlie Ann's birthday was bitter sweet for me. Sweet to see so many smiles and witness genuine excitement. Sweet to watch her understand and know what celebrating her birthday means. But bitter to know that two years old is a finished chapter.  Bitter to watch her struggle with the inevitability of growing up (namely trying to fall asleep without a paci for the first time in her whole little life). Bitter because as the older she gets, the more I realize and experience that she is her own person, not always to be fixed and soothed and comforted by her mother. I don't always know what she needs now. She is more complex in wants and needs and personality. I can't always MEET her needs and wants and understand who she is and that is a humbling place to live.  I know that these things are healthy places for all of us.  But of course, adapting to change is always a bit prickly.

But speaking of this new chapter of THREE...

Charlie Ann at three is a smart little cookie, very aware, full of adventure, confidence, curiosity and compassion for her little brother.

Three year old Charlie Ann loves Curious George, duplos, playing outside, running and walking (never riding in the stroller), purple rain boots, the color pink, Minnie Mouse, tomato soup, cleaning up her toys, drinking from a glass (with no lid or straw), climbing in and out of her car seat and buckling it all by herself, taking showers and washing all by herself, swimming, making Tripp laugh and doing everything that Daddy does.

Charlie Ann is learning to share, to draw with pencils, to ride her tricycle, to kick a ball, to climb the climbing wall, to help with chores and to be patient.

Three year old Charlie Ann sings songs she knows and makes up new ones, has just started an interest in dolls and make believe/pretend play, teaches Tripp the hand motions to multiple ditties and tries to get him to talk and walk.  Charlie Ann is very responsible and is very dependable and trustworthy.  She looks after Tripp when I am in the other room, and I hear her repeating my phrases of correction.

My sweet Charlie Ann, thank you for making me a mom and bringing to light new depths of love and fear (and consequently faith) like I've never known!  Thank you for continually refining my character and challenging me to face my own insecurities and frustrations (it's amazing how much kids can be a mirror! -yikes!)

I am looking forward to so many more years together.