things I learned in 2016

This time of year there are a lot of blogs on what people plan to do in the new year and  resolutions that were kept or quickly broken. I am a realist and realistically I am not the best at sticking to resolutions. Instead, I thought it would be neat to document what I learned this past year. I may not be in school anymore but I learn a lot from those around me and from mistakes I made over the year. My hope is that I can benefit from a live and learn mentality and that God would continue to give me wisdom as I navigate through life's everyday challenges. 

Entertaining

  • I learned it is so helpful to have a designated beverage station. One of my favorite bloggers did a great post HERE about the benefits of having drinks in one place for guests and we tried it over Christmas. I was shocked as to how it kept people out of the kitchen and it took the burden off of me to refill people's drinks all night.
  • Cook and bake dishes you are familiar and good at for guests. For some weird reason I always thought it was a good idea to test out new recipes when we have friends coming over. I learned quickly that it is unkind and unwise to cook adventurously when you are hosting. So for now on I will stick to chicken cutlets, meatballs and sauce, greek salads, and tuscan soup.
  • Ask guests to bring dessert or wine. When inviting guests over it should be a relaxing and fun night for them so instead of them bringing a side or appetizer, asking them to bring their favorite bottle of wine or an easy dessert helps them feel included without inconveniencing them. 
  • Ask ahead of time if anyone has any allergies. I cooked a spicy dish for a friend and her husband only to quickly discover they were not fans of heat. By asking ahead of time you set yourself up for success and leave your guests happy and well fed.

Marriage

  • Don't put too much pressure on date nights. Seasons come and go with regular date nights. Sometimes that means a date night consists of binge watching Parenthood on the couch. Make the most of it and pick up your favorite treat or tea to make it more special.
  • Make the bedroom kid-free and relaxing. Someone once told me to keep the bedroom free of kid pictures, toys, and to make it a relaxing and inviting place. Our bedroom is nothing fancy but it is filled with some candles, lotions, essential oils, low lighting, a cozy throw blanket, and I make the bed everyday. Nick and I have loved the simple things that make our room more inviting and relaxing for us to spend time in.
  • Read the same book. Nick is an avid reader; it's part of his job. He is really good at recommending a certain book to me that he has just read or wants to read. When days are filled with all things kid-related it is nice to have a grown up discussion together that involves talking about something other than how many loads of dirty laundry I did. Currently reading THIS.
  • Give him a kiss good-bye in the morning. I noticed recently how often I make sure the kids give Nick a kiss good-bye in the morning while I am busy chugging my coffee or cleaning up breakfast. I want Nick to feel loved, cherished, and important and so my hope is that I will continue to try to remember to send him off well each day.

Pregnancy

  • Buy maternity clothes early on to get the best use of your money. I used to buy my maternity necessities once I was busting out of my normal clothes. This time around I learned to just get what I need when I needed it. There is no reason to walk around uncomfortable when you can get use out of the clothes right away.
  • Ask and accept help when you need it. This pregnancy has been rough for me and I have been forced to ask for help at times. There is nothing to be ashamed about when you simply cannot do normal tasks and surprisingly family and friends really do want to help out.

Finances

  • Ebates. My friend always talked about the money she saved over the holidays using ebates and I was never convinced. I have made over $100 back since signing up back in September and am so thankful I finally just took the plunge and did the 1 minute sign-up. 
  • Shopping online is always cheaper. With two boys who have wandering eyes and an expanding family it amazes me how much money I save our family when I order online. Most companies offer free shipping and then there is always Amazon Prime. Between being pregnant and having a toddler who hates the car, UPS and online shopping have been my saving grace.
  • Differentiate between wants and needs. Our budget is simple, spend as little as possible. If I am ever in a store and can't decide between getting something I put it in either a want or need category and that quickly makes my decision for me. 

Kids

  • My kids adapt to new situations quicker than I think. I was so hesitant on having the boys share a room and feared it would compromise their sleep but I was wrong. They love being together and I am so thankful that they adjusted quickly. I learned that I can't let my fears of change get in the way of making decisions that are wise for our family. 
  • Each kid is different and it is hard to compare siblings. I always thought Max would follow closely in milestones but I was so wrong. Max has done nothing at the same time or way as Calvin and it's not fair for me to compare them because they're different people. 
  • I learned it is okay to not always get on the floor and entertain my kids. I am thankful to have two boys with similar interest in hobbies and I used to feel guilty for not wanting to always get down and play with them. I have learned so much from standing back and observing them and hope to continue to let them flourish as individuals from affair for parts of the day. They obviously need guidance and interaction with me but I want to give them room to grow too.

2017 is a few days away and with it will come a very busy year. None of us know what tomorrow may bring but we can go into the new year with more wisdom and tools than we did the year before. God continues to sanctify me as I walk through motherhood and life in general and I can only pray that I would allow both the good and bad that will come mold me more into the image of Christ. 

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
— James 1:5
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