For this season’s Checking In I went with a Year in Review of 2015. Looks like we have a family Christmas newsletter after all!
Reading: As I gathered my books for my “2015 In Reading” photo, I found that I only own half of the books that I read! Judging by my past check-ins, I spent the winter and spring borrowing books from the library.
My year of past and future reading
From what I could tell, I finished a book every month! I kicked off the year by finishing Kristen Gillibrand’s Off the Sidelines, then dove right into my 2014 Christmas gift Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. His book was a big part of how I got into the practice of Mindfulness. Throughout the year I read different stories that were good for an entertaining read but it wasn’t until Labor Day weekend, at Powells’ Book in Portland Oregon, that I picked up Steps Out of Time – One Women’s Journey on the Camino by Katherine B. Soper and really cherished my bedtime again.
Gloria Steinam rolled into town in early fall for a speech and I was able to see her and pick up her latest book My Life on the Road for free. I haven’t finished it yet but I know when the time is right, I will be glad I did: so far her writing and storytelling take me right back to those intense significant times in American Women’s History. Last month, I entered an Instagram contest and won a signed copy of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert thanks to Barnes and Noble College. It became my lunch read before I went on Christmas break, but I haven’t finished it yet, either, because…
Ironically, with multiple novels going, appearing I can’t say no to books nothing has grabbed my attention more and made me seek out warm reading spots than my husband’s Christmas gift: Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes – How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person. I keep telling people that this book feels like reading monologues from Meredith Grey or Christina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy (my ALL TIME favorite show on television). I’m in heaven! And what better way to end my 2015 year of reading than with the humor and grace of writer Shonda Rhimes.
Sam at his first practice for team Galactic Empire
I have no worries about what to read after I’m done. Christmas also brought me Elizabeth Egan’s debut novel A Window Opens, Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough and Dintv W. Moore The Mindful Writer. 2016 is already looking up.
Watching: 2015 was the year where I watched my kids become the most active they’ve ever been: the twins were doing gymnastics, Sam played soccer for the first time and the kids were running through water puddles any chance they got. (In hot pink rain boots of course!)
For my husband and I, 9pm became the time in the day we both got to slow down and watch our favorite t.v.shows. We got hooked on The Royals and Master Chef. When Silicon Valley returned for a second season, we were right there on opening night, ready for anything. Through it all we had our constant shows of Hell’s Kitchen, The Big Bang Theory, American’s Next Top Model – and my Grey’s Anatomy, which never disappointed.
Listening to: As I write this post, I hear our birds Max and Pete talking away, who have been with us for (I think!) 8 years. If you asked them what they mostly heard in our house last year, they would probably mention that crazy kids show Caillou, and The Chicka Show, along with Sprout‘s awesome new shows Nina’s World and Maya the Bee. When the TV was off, YouTube was streaming Maroon 5’s Sugar and everyone was dancing! Hey that sounds about right!
Looking forward to: So far, 2016 looks steady and calm. I’m imagining a year in which my husband’s game Mafia 3 finds its way to the masses and doesn’t disappoint. My son Sam finishes kindergarten ready for the world of reading. My daughters have said goodbye to diapers forever – and hello to a new independence. And I am still writing all about it and more! There is a wedding planned in the spring on my side of the family, my in-laws will be returning in the summer, and my dad will be celebrating his 70th birthday on Labor Day weekend. Looking forward to another great year!
Sam’s favorite new Skylander: Spyro
Sam Update: 2015 was the year Sam went from preschool to kindergarten. We went from watching him like hawks outside the house to letting him roam through the neighborhood with his friends. 2015 was the year Sam discovered Skylanders and Lego Ninjago. He got this first jobs around the house like making his bed to setting and clearing the dining table. As the year comes to a close, he continues to make us proud. This past week, between building Lego sets and finishing Skylander video game levels with his dad, his saw his first Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. He did pretty well for not being quite 6 yet! There were some scary parts but I think what he loved the most was being out with his mom and dad.
Twins on their first day of preschool
Twin Update: The twins started the year running through the gymnastics halls, and finished the year running through the halls of preschool. They filled our walls with their love of colors and drawing. They blessed us with so many hugs and so many kisses, I’m amazed more and more every day that we are raising twin daughters. Lily, my artist and Ellie my dancer remind me every day how much I love my life now more than ever. They also remind me that taking care of them is a daily job that can only be truly recognized and appreciated when I also take care of myself.
Meaning of home: This year I added a section on the meaning of home to my Check-In posts. Looking back over these posts, I talked about finding that favorite spot in your house or how there is a difference to be made each day, both inside and out in the world. I discovered that regardless of whether you live by yourself, with friends or family, you’ve got to be there for each other and yourself. Home is your place in this big world to feel safe, loved, and be at peace. Some days that will feel harder and further out of reach than others.
From my collection of #blackboardquotes
On other days it will be right there like water in the ocean, ready to fuel you. 2015 taught me that when it comes to the meaning of home, the most important thing is to have no fear when you leave the house and to always bring the best of you back home.
Cheers to 2015
It’s amazing to think that in 2015, between doing the Leadership Novato program, taking three kids to the library/Target/local parks and getting my twins to nap at the same time, I still found time to write. Writing became my time. I continued to write for the national twin website twiniversity.com, Multiplicity magazine, and for my own blog Cafevic.com. When I had a deadline, I noticed that writing gave me a reason to ask for help. And without writing, I wouldn’t have taken a break from my kids! The one piece that I am most proud of was Stay-at-Home Parenting, A Vocation Worth Receiving, an interview with seven local stay-at-home parents. It received more blog visits than any other post I’ve ever written and showed others what it’s truly like to be a stay-at-home parent in 2015.
Me at Marta and Dan Le’s wedding in Getaria, Spain
I started 2015 with one personal goal: to make it to Spain for my closest friend’s wedding in June. In May I had almost lost faith: I wasn’t getting hired and I didn’t know how I was going to afford the plane ticket. Then, right at the last moment, a new friend made the ticket happen and my in-laws agreed to watch our kids for me.
For this mom-of-twins-plus-one, having that chance to travel by myself for a week not only gave me the break that I needed; to this day it still fuels my soul and made me a better mom and partner. My husband and I celebrated 8 years of marriage and continued to learn that through it all, it is important to give each other space while finding time together, both with and without our children.
As we say good bye to 2015, I can’t help but think back to how the year started. My closet friend was living across the pond in Cambridge. New neighbors had just moved in across the street. I was in full swing of being a stay-at-home parent, taking my twins to gymnastics with my neighbor. I remember how in January I was applying for jobs in student life at the local community college, thinking that a job interview was surely on the horizon and that I would be back to work by March. Instead, I discovered, that it would not be until mid October that I would return to work – not in student life but in academic advising at a private liberal arts university known as Dominican University of CA. Which is an area of student development that I’ve always wanted to try!
With my husband Matthias at Relief Reservoir – 7600 feet high at the end of a horseback ride from Kennedy Meadows (near the Pacific Crest Trail).
I end this Check In with one of my favorite moments of the year: our good friends Anne and Thomas decided to make their annual summer desert trip a Bachelor/Bachelorette party. We were only able to join them for the first night, but those 24 hours away from the kids made all difference. It also was our first time camping as a couple. Best advice in relationships:try new things together.
Thank you 2015 – for all you gave and taught me, my family and our friends. Danke.