Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap Up Post

 The biggest overarching theme of this year for me was races, even though you don't see all the bibs in the picture above. Back in 2011, I made a huge goal to achieve the goal of running a marathon. I ran races leading up to it, but due to getting pregnant, I was unable to run the marathon I signed up for back in 2013. After more training, I finally achieved this huge, years in the the making, goal in February of 2015! In honor of this race (and future races) Blake made me a medal display. The left bib and far left medal will always remain in place. On the right, where the picture below shows the pink Diva run race bib, I put my newest race bib on top, and add the medals below. This picture is from February, but there have been 4-6 more added since then.
 This is the face of someone who has been running for 5 hours, and is so over the top excited to finally see the finish line!

 It doesn't get more genuine than this picture above. I was exhausted, but so proud of myself for finishing this goal.

 This is the half marathon I did a few weeks later with Jami! This was a particularly crazy weekend as immediately after the marathon in Temecula, we had to hightail it to Santa Barbara to see our good friends get married! We didn't even have time to stop for a meal, just gas and a quick stop at our hotel to get changed. This was also our longest time to date of leaving our kids with grandparents.

Apparently I was itching for more adventure, because soon after finishing my marathon I decided to do another run out of my comfort zone, with my first Ragnar in April. I then loved the whole Ragnar experience enough to do another one in October (no picture in this post), and signed up to do another one in February of 2016, this time in Arizona! I just love having a running goal to pursue, and these especially hit the spot as they require you to run three times in a short period, run through the night, but also have to be part of a team and support each other. If you like running, grab friends and do a Ragnar! So addicting. Anyways...
 This is the half marathon I did with Blake in November! His first half marathon (and he hates/hated all the pictures I took on that run).

 The pictures above are from family day this year, celebrated on the date that Grace arrived in our home back in 2013. Every year Blake takes the day off work for the four of us to celebrate our family, and in 2015 it was a trip to the aquarium.

 At the top of the first picture you will see a stack of Ducks tickets. We continue to be huge Ducks fans and go to as many games as we can (here's hoping they improve over the second half of the season and still get to and through the playoffs!). Some of the tickets are for games we bought in 2015, but some are tickets that we are given from a few amazing sources.

 Thought people would enjoy some random pictures of the kids from Easter this year, when our family was looking exceptionally good, if I do say so myself.
 This summer my brother finished his Masters in Business! Go Grant! They also are expecting their first child, and I get to be an aunt!!! So excited!

 More sports fan pictures, as we made it to a few Angels games too, even if Remington insists that he is a Dodgers fan in honor of my grandpa (so sweet!).
 We had an awesome trip to the Orange County fair this summer too! Remington literally talked about it for weeks afterwards, thanking God that he got to drive the car, and catch a fish.

 Two totally random, I love my kids and aren't they so cute pictures.

 The kids had their first camping trip this year, thanks to Damian and Katy!

 We had a great December with me finally getting around to the advent bags I had been intending to do for the last few years, and did a fun Christmas/nativity/winter themed fun thing every day (except for the two days that got too busy for the bag thing to happen). The two above are the kids having an amazing time making "snowflake soup" which basically was water play with snowflake confetti.

The kids also had their first time in the snow on our trip to Big Bear after Christmas. They even got to see snow falling, though both of them expected snowflakes to be bigger than they were. The snow didn't hold together very well, so didn't really get to make a snowman, but they had fun throwing snow around.

Featured in the "mason jar" picture, we have tickets from our annual trip to Disneyland and California Adventure, as well as a trip to Sea World. These big trips are fun, but I think my favorite memories from the kids this year were the little moments. I love seeing their imaginations and seeing them play together. They use the experiences we are able to give them, and they recreate it on their own, like going camping together on a blanket in the living room, and giving each other "marshmallows" which are actually just toys on sticks. They make each other food, go to the beach, drive to El Pollo Loco in their toy cars. They fight bad guys, or pretend to have characters go to school. I love the moments when they beg me to read to them (I sometimes wish they didn't too, but usually give in), and show me that they already know the power of a great book.

Speaking of books, I started tracking my books read back in 2010 on a website called Goodreads. My highest year since starting to track was 2011, when I got through 63, but this year was my second highest with 55 books! This is especially good considering that 2014 was exceptionally bad with just 17. No, that wasn't a mistake, or a lack of tracking, it was a year that I had subscribed to The Economist, and though I found it very interesting, I could not keep up with those weekly magazines, and didn't have much time to read anything but magazines. I did not renew that subscription.

What I did do this year was start my new reading goal, which is admittedly a long way from being complete, of reading through the Rory Gilmore booklist.
 I have made good progress though, and have read 34 more books on her list (in addition to the ones I had already read) since I started this goal back in April. I am still working my way through Don Quixote (which I also started in April... and am just going really slowly though, while also reading other books for fun and the list concurrently). It has completely pushed me out of my comfort zone with books, and some of the books I loved, and went on to read/ intend to read other books from that author, while others I hated and had to force myself to finish them. For example Ann Patchett's book Bel Canto was amazing, and I then went on to read multiple books from her that weren't on the list. I read the books that I had only seen the movies of, or had just heard about, like Lord of the Rings. I read poetry, I read journals, biographies, etc. and really expanded my horizons of books, and was able to make connections between books, or between what I read and my life. It has been a really positive change in my reading habits, and I am excited to start another year with it.

I also made progress towards another goal of being a paid writer. I have gotten a few articles published online, and one little blurb in a print magazine coming out in a few months. I have written a few children's books, but haven't made progress towards getting them printed yet.

So, for the new year, I plan on doing less races, but continuing to run to stay healthy, and try to get to the gym on a more regular basis.

I plan on continuing to read through the Rory Gilmore list, and see where it takes me. I will continue to try to get articles published on the website I have been, mostly for supplementary income, and I will also dust myself off, and make another good attempt to get a children's book published.

In 2016, in September, when Remington starts preschool, I also plan on starting to substitute at his preschool (which I can do, since I got my child development permit this year, yay!)

As far as the kids are concerned, I intend to be more purposeful in engaging with them on a daily basis. I realized that the advent bags really forced me to plan time in that was fun for all three of us, and usually were sweet connecting moments, whether it was reading, or art, or a game, whatever the day's bag brought, I felt it brought a good point to the day. It made me realize that too often, I allow the chores of the day- get to school, go to the store, lunch, naptime, make dinner, etc.- become the only thing I do with the kids until bedtime, with no moments of me stopping and carving out that quality time. I really want to get better at that.

Looking back over the year, it was a good one, but I cannot believe how much my kids have grown, and continue to grow. People said the time would fly by, and it truly does. I want to cherish these little ones as long as I can, because I really feel like I will blink, and I will have two teenagers.

Here's to a great 2015, and a warm welcome to 2016 and all the memories it will bring! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Olsen Kids, Early December

Remington was born a sports kid. His earliest favorite toy was balls, and he loved to throw them, roll them, chase them around, and watch them be thrown. Now that he is two, his interest in sports hasn't waned at all, it has grown with him.

His favorite game to play outside of Grace's school is invisible sports. The basic idea is that he names a sport, gives you and himself a position, and then you are supposed to act out that sport.
He knows most of the terms too, so in baseball you will either be the batter, pitcher, umpire or squatter (catcher). In football, he will designate the quarterback and receiver, and in soccer and hockey he will just say who is the goalie (and the other person has to try to score).

He isn't totally unfair either. Sometimes you get to hit the ball, score the goal, shoot the basket etc. Though most of the time, yes, he is the hero. As a goalie, the shots almost never go in, but as a shooter, they almost always do. In baseball, if you hit the ball, he usually manages to get you out with a tag or you hit a fly ball, and he caught it.

He frequently goes through multiple sports in a short period too. This morning we played some basketball, soccer, and baseball. When we picked Grace up, he fit in baseball, football, soccer and hockey. It is really easy to change sports when you use no equipment.

To be clear, he doesn't just play invisible sports. We have a sports friendly house, and on any given day, you will see Remington and whoever he convinces to play with him playing baseball, completely with bat, ball, glove and helmet, or hockey with the sticks, puck and net, or shooting at the big basketball net in the house. While Grace does soccer, he does too, aiming at another net, trying to score on Blake. Plus he has baseball guys and hockey guys that he imagines their games too.

When he isn't playing sports, he is using his healthy imagination in some other way. One favorite is fighting bad guys (balloons with faces on them) with light sabers, or cooking elaborate things at the play kitchen.

Grace has been very big into her babies lately, and don't try to add the word "doll" to that. They are her babies. For a long time, her favorite was a baby boy she named, "Joshua" and was very particular about having his diaper changed and his clothes changed for bed, changed back into regular clothes in the morning. But unfortunately all these tasks are still a bit challenging for Grace, which means that Blake and I got to do a lot of work taking care of this baby.

Then for a while she had two favorites, adding another doll, Scarlett (named after her cousin) to her (our) responsibilities for the day. But Joshua recently changed to Tina because of some doll tights she found.

Some might disagree with me, and I am not taking any side on the whole gender debate, but I drew the line at having "Joshua" wear the white tights with pink ballet slippers. I told Grace that she had to pick something else for her boy doll or start pretending that this doll was a girl. She really wanted a ballet outfit, so Joshua is currently "Tina."

She is the ringleader at playtime between the two of them, and frequently is the one who has the idea to pretend to drive to visit Santa, or go to the beach, or have a picnic, or any number of other things she cooks up in her imagination.

Naptimes are officially gone for her, but I have retained my naptime break through a hand me down tablet from my mother in law, and some kids games that she can play by herself during his nap (like right now). Her two favorites are a baby one, where you give the baby a bath, then get it dressed in any of a zillion outfits and then give it toys and take a picture, and a cake one, where you get to make an elaborate multi-layered cake, and decorate it with frostings and other random items.

They are both at fun ages, and most days, I cherish this time when they are still so small and cute. 

I was searching back over my pictures, and I don't have a lot of the things I described above. They are the moments I want to remember, they are the times where I most see my kids shine their own unique lights, but I don't have many pictures of them.

The main reason for that boils down to two main things- 1- when I start to take a video, I ruin it. I ruin their pretend world, I stop the play, they want to watch the video, or they want to purposely do something silly for the camera, which is completely not what I wanted to record. 2- A lot of times, I am actively engaged, getting the doll dressed, or being goalie, and I can't be active and present with the kids while also taking pictures or videos.

What do I have pictures of, that for at least today, I chose to not post? The family day at Disneyland, the kid's little races, a trip to a science center, her Thanksgiving party at school, Thanksgiving at home, and more special, not normal life events.

Back to basics

This blog has been neglected of late, and I feel like half of my posts start like that.

To put it simply, it just hasn't been high on my priority list. As I am not earning a steady income, my contribution to family finances typically means a bunch of little side jobs, that don't make a big dent, but help slightly, and make me feel a lot better.

One of my many side jobs is writing, and I am happy to say that I can call myself a paid writer, even if I am never going to get rich from my current writings.  When I have snatches of free time, I am typically working towards getting more articles accepted, because each one pays me a small, one time amount, and that is enough to keep me going. I would love to also work (more than I have already) towards getting a book published at some point, but at the moment, the small short term payments are more worth my time than the long term investment of a book deal.

All this to say that my recording small snippets of life with a few pictures as a record for prosperity/myself/friends/family has had to sit on the sidelines. I have very purposefully decided to not monetize this blog, because it isn't about the money, and I don't want it to be. It has always been enjoyable to write, and great to look back over and know just how I was feeling about events in life from my posts.

I am going back to basics, and see if I can give at least one post a month that are more what the blog was originally intended to be, as opposed to my articles, or articles that didn't make the cut,  or even big event pictures/stories. This is the moments, the thoughts, the small slices of life.