Twenty nine reflections


I subscribe to several blogs online.  Some are those of friends and family and some are those that I have never met, yet their writing and photos make me smile and give me a sense of happiness. They provide different views of family life, shed light on motherhood, and give a different perspective on obstacles we all as humans face.  Reading them allows an escape from any chaos, yet parallels a feeling of, “I am doing something right”.  It’s comforting.

Lately, the posts I’ve read all have a common thread—reflecting on this past year and the idea of going forward, looking ahead into what may present itself in 2012. One in particular caught my attention.  She spoke of her birthday always landing at the end of each year, allowing her to reflect on what she has learned and gaining a momentum to move forward. 

That said, my 30th birthday is in eleven  ten days.  Yes, THE dreaded 30 that I hate to even mention.  Truthfully I haven’t embraced the whole idea yet.  In past years, I’ve been excited of the upcoming festivities my birthday withholds. This one? ...not so much.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much.  Maybe its saying goodbye to those “20s”.  I’ve labeled the phrase “you are still so young” to only belong in that sacred decade. Knowing that security blanket of a phrase will be forever lost come next Tuesday is daunting.  But Tuesday will come and I will be forced to mark a different age category.  I knowingly must embrace it somehow.  And reading these posts on reflection gave me a momentum to embrace this new era in my life.   I quote Kelle Hampton, (her fantastic blog here) saying, “I've learned that every year brings more experiences, more layers, more character chiseling--a gradual metamorphosis into a better, brighter, wiser, more compassionate being. And that fact alone makes birthdays and new years thrilling. I whole-heartedly embrace Thirty-three  today.”  I second that—minus three.

So—I’ve decided to go full force into this newfound decade.  Happily.

It’s a tradition for her, and I am sure for many, to reflect on things she has learned within the past year. What better way to look ahead at a new decade then to reflect what I’ve learned?  I think I’ll borrow this annual notion and reflect some.

--With numbered days left in my 20s, I give tribute without delay.  Here are 29 things I’ve learned in 2011--

1.       I’ve learned a deeper definition of family.  Simple and strong as that.

2.       I am a morning person.  The notion of sleeping in until noon passed over a decade ago, but the idea that I enjoy waking up early is a new found one.  There is something about the warmth of a freshly brewed cup of coffee, the hum of the computer as I check emails, and a peace in knowing the men in my life are upstairs blissfully asleep.  Waking, only to learn I am the first up has become a pleasant invite to my days.

3.       I share the same pinky toes with my brother. Slightly stumpy.

4.       “mommy” is the best name--hands down.

5.       Laundry and emails can always wait—reading “Mr. Brown can moo, can you?” cannot.

6.       I become anxious quite quickly.  Not my best trait.

7.       The very reason I love peanut butter as much as I do—my mother ate a lot of it while pregnant with me. A validation long awaited.

8.       I underestimate my creativity.

9.       “I love you’s” will forever be in this family’s vocabulary.

10.   Party planning is my secret indulgence. I love a themed party. If a party is on the calendar, you can bet I am on the hunt for the perfect favor, topper, and recipe…even if it involves late nights, phone calls to the post office ensuring delivery, and hours of ‘pom pom’ assemblement. Yes—I am that gal. A slightly proud one at that.

11.   When I have an idea, I go with it.  My mind focuses on nothing else--tho a good trait to carry, I've learned it doesn't always deliver a perfect outcome. I am learning that my plans aren't always Gods plans and going  off course once in a while or slowing down isn't always a bad thing.

12.   My husband ceases to amaze me. His determination and drive has always inspired me, yet he continues to challenge himself. A trait many strive to carry-he humbly holds.

13.   My son has rhythm...I like to say he inherited  that from me. His best moves are usually seen on Sunday evenings. There's something about the football theme song(and maybe a little Faith Hill) that bring his spins and claps to new levels.

14.   Patrick has come to the conclusion, and I agree with him, that Lionel Richie is a modern troubadour. A song bird. :)

15.   Succumbing to comparisons always leads to worry. It also leads to a false definition of who I am as a mother.

16.   Iam slowly becoming a "yogi". The act of "being still" ironically is a work in progress.

17.   I have always been a woman of routine--recently, I have become more spontaneous. It's refreshing.

18.   There's something special about the things we learn from grandparents--as adults or as children.

19.   Most days--I'll choose comfort over casual. Proof? Aside from special events--Tell me the last time you saw me in shoes other than my black sweater "Bear Paws"?

20.   The award for "Best maker of airplane/trucks/train sounds" will forever be awarded to Dadda. Mommy just never makes the cut.

21.   Training always pays off.

22.   Traditions lie within that definition of family stated above. They hold strong.

23.   Naps (or lack thereof) can make or break a day.

24.   Couponing requires effort, time, and strategy. It's not difficult, but rather is practical and ethical. Most of all--it's rewarding.

25.   Getting coffee will forever be in my list of "to-dos". That’s just me.

26.   There's a difference between understanding and accepting.

27.   After 29 years, I still worry what others think of me.  Yet, the process of accepting those perceptions (both positive and negative) has become easier.

28.   Friendships grow deeper with time.  At times, true friends may know you better than yourself.

29.   I am blessed beyond measure.  I have none other to thank than my God above.

Happy New year and cheers to turning thirty. 


Hancock Christmas 2011


Snapshots of a Hancock Christmas...

Christmas pajamas and captured moments before Santa comes..
First moments of realization--
Traditional cinnamon roll breakfast--

Gifts ('cars') galore--

A BIKE (!!!!)

a perfect remembrance


Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with the McCarter family.  Several family members came together from afar to celebrate.  We ate a delicious dinner and all gathered in the downstairs room by the tree to open gifts.  My memories of Christmas will always hold dear to my heart.  And being in the midst of it all yesterday brought back memories of my childhood and all the joy and wonderment I held at Christmas--The tree all lit up, the chaos of opening presents, the warmth, the smell, the decorations. This year held all of that.  It was perfect. 

McCarter Family Christmas 2011

The remembrance of Christmas I carry is exactly what my mother wanted for her grandchildren this year. For a moment, just a small moment, I sat from across the room and watched my mother. She grinned as she witnessed all the wonderment of Christmas in her house.  I knew she was content.  In that split of a moment I captured, I knew she had received that perfect gift she worked so hard to receive.   She witnessed grandchildren in awe of Christmas.  The soft glow of colored Christmas lights on the tree, the joy of opening yet another gift from grandma and grandpa, eagerness as children opened their stockings, "mmmms" from the taste of grandma's frosted sugar cookie--it was all there. She witnessed  the sharing of toys with cousins, the twirls of her granddaughter's new Christmas skirt, the giggles, excitement, and an abundance of  "Thank You"s.  It was all accounted for.   

Merry Christmas, Mom.  You've given us a gift in itself this year--a perfect remembrance of Christmas.

ONE year photos


A little late.  Okay--more like 8 months late--but here are photos that were taken on Jonah's first birthday.  


Santa 2011


Jonah loved Santa and actually told him he wanted a bike for Christmas.  It was fun seeing him interact with Santa. Here are a few snapshots of this eventful occasion--

photos of undermining growth


For the past couple days I’ve been going through several photos of ones taken throughout this year.  I’ve been trying to decide which ones are best for a Christmas card photo and how to convey all our family has endured this past year.  I just cannot seem to choose 3-4 photos that transmit it all.  It makes me value the importance of words and reiterates the expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  .  Yet I am stuck with choosing the perfect picture(s).  For I want our Christmas photo to be one that conveys many words—words describing all the feelings, experiences, learning, and growth within the past year.

It’s difficult to describe that said growth.  There lies the reason I’ve had such difficulty choosing the perfect photos.  Our family has truly grown this year—not only physically (in Jonah’s sense), but personally.  I look at Jonah’s first scoots and moment captured of crawling.  I see determination as he takes his first steps.  I smile at his interest in daddy’s planes and wonder if he’s at that point of where dreams develop.  I am curious if he’s near that stage we as adults speak of when referring to time. --- if he’s developing his own specific “moment I can remember”.  I reminisce, looking at photos from his first birthday party.  Today he has grown taller, his personality shines, his understanding of the world is deeper.

I look at photos from the beginning of the year to present day and see the dependency that was once so vivid decrease.  Jonah now is a more independent boy with an abundance of curiosity and fearless wonderment.  His vivid expressions are clearly something that is passed down by yours truly and he is not afraid to express his sense of liveliness.  


Watching the bond between father and son is a joy.  From the photos of the first moments with his son and those now, the bond still holds strong.  There is nothing better than watching Jonah look at pictures  and recognize ‘dadda’ himself.  

Patrick and I have both set active goals for ourselves this past year and have met them full force. I laugh looking at my half marathon finisher photo—I am clearly expressing happiness.  Happiness not otherwise felt if it weren’t for a strict training regimen, an abundance of sweat/sometimes tears, and a determined mindset.  This dedication, drive, and determination are characteristics I didn’t know I held within.  Similarly, I see excitement in Patrick’s smile as he finished the Seattle to Portland ride.  There is a presence of pride and another affirmation that he can do whatever he puts his mind to.

I look at photos of my reunion with my mother and siblings.  I reflect and notice that I’ve learned more of who I am—what makes me ‘me’, and the traits that I share with my new found family.  I now know where my traits stem from. I have seen myself in my mother and siblings and feel more grounded.   I’ve learned where my breaking point lies, now know what it means to endure “waves of emotion”, and carry a deeper definition of family.  

Viewing my ‘cake creation’ photos, I smile. This year, I’ve tapped into what makes me happy.  I’ve found outlets that are therapeutic and have allowed myself to dwell within the creative nature God has given me.  I have recognized the importance of time solely by myself and have embraced it.

And to think I get all these ‘words’ from these photos—words that may not ever be  noted with the options at hand….  Of course, Christmas cards will be sent--for it wouldn’t be Christmas without them, but I hope this post gives a deeper reflection.   It has simply outlined what I’ve wanted to convey our family has been blessed with this year--An undermining, beautiful, note-worthy growth.  

Traditions hold strong


This year Iam really thankful for traditions.  I’ve learned that traditions are very comparable to the definition of a true friend.  Regardless of what hiccups you’ve had along the way, it will always pick up where you’ve left off-no grudges or questions asked.   This year Jonah experienced Thanksgiving in all its glory.  Slightly different from last year, he saw traditions at first hand—however, I want to note that I would never demote last year’s Thanksgiving in any way.  We made wonderful memories.  Reflecting on last year, and the time spent with our family makes me smile.  I am once again reminded that Thanksgiving, in addition to the tradition of a good meal, is TOO, about family and its importance. I look back and smile at Jonah’s innocence and laughter at 'Sharis', and release any grudge I held against the weather.  

Our family holds traditions-a large table is always beautifully set for dinner.  There will always be grandma Reimer’s crescent rolls made, lima beans present, and although you may not notice it, celery will always make its appearance in my mother’s stuffing.  My aunt will always make her delicious green jello salad and some type of cream pie (chocolate or coconut) will sit at the desert table waiting to be devoured.  A blessing is always said, thanking our heavenly Father for the many blessings He has given us, expressing our gratitude for family and friends to gather together.  Laughter, stories, and smiles fill our home—something that I look forward to each and every year. 
Eighteen of our family members gathered together yesterday to enjoy the traditions our family has made.  It brought me a sigh of relief. Our family traditions held strong.  Not that I had any doubt they wouldn’t, but it was so nice to experience the joy of Thanksgiving and what I’ve grown up with it being.  Enjoy a few snapshots we took throughout the day. 

First hair cut


I had to mentally prepare myself for today. What may not seem a big deal to some, it surely was one for me.  One that marks a deeper reality that my son is growing up.  Jonah had his first hair cut today.

He sat with many options for distraction--a gadget filled police car, several toys, and a movie to watch. Watching the stylist put his cape on, Jonah was probably more ready than I was at that moment.  A moment that most likely was nothing out of the ordinary for others, but one I had to embrace myself for.  This was my baby--getting his first hair cut. I managed to get by with only a few tears myself--knowing the very hair that was getting trimmed was the virgin hair he was born with.  With only a few fearful cries himself, Jonah sat and got a stylish new do.

As much as I wanted to keep it (and I did..a small amount for keepsake), the cut was much needed.  He now sports a handsome cut, lacking any makings of a fine haired mullet, and providing us a clear view of his ears. My 'not-so-little' man looks so handsome. 

our little Superman


Jonah was Superman this year.  (don't you love his slicked back hair...we thought it was an added touch) 
It was his first year to actually go out and trick-or-treat.  He was a pro..such a big boy he is turning out to be.

Halloween preview

a connection


This past week was monumental. With my heart racing, I stepped off a plane to meet my family in Oklahoma. So many emotions, words of prayer, and thoughts ran through my mind those two minutes as I walked to the end of the terminal. But, sitting down to reflect on this past week, I surprisingly feel as if I handled the vast amount of emotions fairly well.  Yes, there were moments of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty.  The "what ifs" and worries were present too.  But the moments of clarity were the ones that held me together.  The moments where I was able to stop and reflect that this IS in fact happening made me come to surface.  This is real.  These beautiful people around me are my family. This dream of mine has come true. All the years where I wondered--I was here NOW to see the wonderment of it all.

Until this past Wednesday, I only had pictures to go by.  This week I was given so much more--I was able to experience a connection I didn't know existed.  I was able to hug the beautiful woman who carried me for 9 months so many years ago, look into the eyes of my brother whom I share with, sit and laugh with my twin sisters--it was surreal. I saw the similar traits we share-- the enjoyment of a good Dr. Pepper, our musical rhythm, the disgust for Alfredo sauce, the shape of our toes, the excitement of a good bargain..the list could go on...and I love it all.

We all had a chance to visit, go out to dinner, sit and talk, watch movies, and enjoy each other's company.  I was given the grand tour of Owasso--where the girls live with their families. I met my beautiful mother, brother-in laws, a sister-in law, nephews, and nieces while in Oklahoma. My brother and mom showed me around Tulsa, took me to my first flea market, and I got my first taste of my mom's amazing cooking. (Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!!!)

Overall--it was a trip I will never forget.  I miss each and everyone of them as I type this.  My brother noted the feeling well saying, "it is crazy how you meet someone for the first time, but miss them like they have been there since the beginning..." 

I guess the connection he speaks of now lies in my definition of family.

Jonah's snorts


Took this video the other day while waiting in the car... towards the end. Jonah's interpretation of what a "piggy" says is pretty cute. 
(You know you are a biased mom when you think your son's snorting is cute...)