Sunday, January 18, 2015

New Year 2015

Happy New Year, ya'll! I was able to keep my resolution last year to blog less than the year before. This year, perhaps I'll try blogging more :}

What to write.... I have so many projects in mind for the new year. I'm having trouble getting started on anything because the possibilities just are so intriguing. But first, a little wrap up of 2014.

Ellie is 4. She had a birthday after Thanksgiving. We went with a "How to Train Your Dragon" flavor this year. She abruptly decided about 2 weeks before her birthday that Toothless the Dragon was the bees knees. It stopped being all about Frozen and Doc McStuffins. Apparently, even in preschool, peer pressure is a thing. Frozen (in her class) is for 3 year-olds and nappers (the bottom rungs of Montessori society, just above the savage Toddler). Somehow, with her birthday approaching, the Kindergarteners decided to initiate her into the coolness of a certain black dragon. And, I have to admit, we were glad for a change of pace. As entertaining as Frozen is, a little variety is good. And, that's what we have now. She alternates between favoring Frozen, Sleeping Beauty, and the two How to Train Your Dragon (HTTYD) movies. She has most of the movies on her iPad, so when that magical hour of screen time rolls around, she alternates and fast forwards like a deranged monkey with a remote. It ALMOST makes me wish we had a TV set up that she couldn't mess with. ALMOST. We'll probably have to change our system here soon though since little sister is fast approaching the age of screen time. She already sits next to Ellie and sometimes gets to play with the apps. But, Ellie had a lot more practice by the same age, so Cali is still struggling with stray fingers that keep her from dragging and selecting as she wants.

Christmas brought an unsuccessful attempt at potty training. We determined that Ellie was better primed at the point of potty training, so we've stepped back to priming Cali so that the simple act of sitting on the potty isn't an act of torture. We're hoping preschool will help move things along, but we're aiming for a new attempt in the summer. We celebrated multiple Christmases with different groupings of family. For some reason, it seemed more mailing was done to and from this year. I need to internalize the goal to mail early, small, and light. And, I need to prompt my family early for gift ideas. For everyone to whom we haven't sent our thanks to yet, we love our gifts and I have the goal to write notes this weekend.

Ellie is going to try ballet through her school. I figure, it's a low risk, low cost way to try on ballet. She's asked to do it, but doesn't really dwell on it, so I think it's more that friends in her class are interested in it and she feels she should be too. She still does gymnastics once a week, although last week was the first time she seemed enthusiastic and fully participatory. We'll see tomorrow if the attitude holds or it was a fluke. She's also been doing an extra drawing class through school and so far, she loves it. Her motor skills with the pencil have improved a lot over the past few months. She tried a brief run of yoga through school and her favorite part was the one day they colored a mandala as meditation. Slowly, she's working on finishing that first mandala.

Cali is working on verbal skills. She has an adorable "YESSSh" and can say random words like "necklace" with incredible clarity. It's delightful to be able to communicate back and forth because she gets frustrated a lot. Mostly by things she isn't allowed to do (climb onto the kitchen table, stand on furniture,  eat 24-7, etc...).

Over the holiday season, I had my first ever skin cancer check. They found three dodgy moles and removed them. Two were potentially troublesome, but caught in time. Therefore, I will endeavor to be more cognizant of the sun this year and cover my bits with sunscreen, hats and clothing. I encourage all of you to do the same. Because of the sites the doctor stitched up, I had a month-long moratorium from physical activity. I missed my yoga and felt guilty for not missing my strength training. I restarted last week and it was rough at first. However, I am rapidly regaining my flexibility and still can manage a supported headstand. I would like to get to an unsupported headstand and possibly a handstand this year. We'll see how it goes. I probably should try to build a home practice as well to get there faster. But, in reality, that probably won't happen.

P did a lot of wood working leading up to Christmas. He made three beautiful cutting boards (one for me), a maple learning tower for Ellie's birthday, and a last minute Greene and Greene style frame I've decided to put a mirror into. Any day now, he'll order the wood to get started on his office furniture for the new plant. He's also begun playing World of Warcraft again. It isn't all-consuming like it was. He generally beats me to bed now. Between the wood shop and WoW, it's a good thing we don't have cable anymore. We don't watch tv much anymore, although we do try to watch a movie together once a week. Last night we watched Boyhood. It had an interesting concept and I was surprised to find that the second half was filmed in my hometown of San Marcos, Texas. That gave me a bias toward the film, but P didn't care for it much. The last film we both watched and enjoyed was Chef. It's a decent feel-good movie with lots of food porn.

At Christmas, the girls got more toys than they knew what to do with. I set a limit of 5 things each from us. Santa brought 2 joint gifts (a box of books and an indoor play area) and 1 gift each. I wasn't counting on how generous our friends and family are. I'll need to pare that back to 2 parental and 1 santa, probably. It's so difficult to narrow down what will be best received and used, but it was still too much this year.

Along those lines, I've been reading more about simplifying your life/home by purging belongings and shifting to a more experience-based life than a possession-centered one. I still have a lot of work to do shifting my mindset. The UPS driver and Amazon know to what depths I consume. On my reading list is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as well as reading at blogs like UnFancyBecoming Minimalist, The Art of Simple, and Into Mind. Perhaps my major project this year will be shifting from an acquirer to more of a creator. With the girls both at school more, I'll be trying to revive my artistic skills, streamline our home, and polish up some marketing skills.

Another project this year is my informal reading challenge. One of my favorite bloggers suggested a reading challenge of 12 books from different categories to bust reading ruts. I have been in an escapist "easy reader" phase for a while. Coming off the mind candy of the Dragonriders of Pern series (thanks Dad for planting that seed), I've decided it might be time to tackle some of these delicious novels that are supposed to be superlative, but don't fit into the comfortable genres I've gotten used to. I'm having trouble narrowing it down to just 12 books because there are so many interesting ones out there. Reading truly is the best hobby. Unfortunately, I chose to start with No Ordinary Time:  Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.... At a whopping 700+ pages, it's a bit hefty coming off of a McCaffrey binge. It's good reading, just a little drier than I've gotten used to. I've signed up for an Audible trial (finally) so I can start listening to some of my other books at times when reading isn't feasible (i.e. folding laundry, driving, etc). First on my listening list is All the Light We Cannot See.
Girls playing in the leaves at our Halloween camping trip at the Dunes.

Cali messing around with sister's hat. Stolen toys are soooo much more fun!

Just your little (nice) monster family.

Me testing 4-6 year-olds at Ellie's school for Amblyopia.

A beautiful succulent wall at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

Ellie and Grandfather goofing off.

To appeal to all our party, there was an exhibit of Lego sculptures scattered amongst the plants.

Girls with Grandmother. Sadly, this was the best of three. They have been working on "cheese" since this was taken.

Little boxes...

Ellie with her "Toothless" cake

To be shown to a future prom date.

Girl loves some Brinner with her whipped cream.

Cali also loves brinner.

Oh, dearie me! It's a Toothless hat!!!

Cali enjoying the learning tower. It is a blessing and a curse.

Awkward Santa photo... Check!

Grandma tried really hard. This is the closest Cali would go.

My little dragons being Toothless. "Rawr!"

Ellie's first Christmas recital. Just before her antlers fell backwards.

You know, just walking my sister.

Dad fooling around with the girls.

A little mouse got at the gingerbread house this year. Ellie giggled and confessed, "I'm the mouse, Mom!"

More fooling.

Ellie drooling over our pink and purple Christmas cookies.

Coordinated Elsa costumes courtesy of Grandma. (This was not a cooperative day)

The Texas crust-cutter was a hit with the preschooler. The toddler gladly ate the crusts :)

Cali eating ALL of Soph's chocolate mousse from NYE.

Adding injury to insult.

The cat was actually fleeing the picture. She likes rasslin' with Cali.

New year, new hair.

A new interest in reading courtesy of potty training.

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