Goodbye, 2016. Onward and upward.

While most days as a stay-at-home parent to a young child are roughly similar, it’s New Year’s Eve, so I’m suddenly finding myself reflecting on the year and thinking of my hopes and goals for the coming 12 months. I don’t think I’ve heard a single person say 2016 was a ‘great’ year, and I am personally classifying it in the “fair-to-meh” category. It certainly wasn’t a ‘terrible’ year, but since I’ve had a lot of pretty awesome years in recent history, this one has not been a highlight. Nevertheless, I am feeling hopeful and optimistic for 2017, and confident the (uncharacteristically) dreary weather in San Diego is not an omen.

First, let’s review my goals for 2016 and see how things measured up.

  • Continue to enjoy motherhood and weather the challenging days with my sanity intact: – “Sanity” is obviously open to interpretation, but I did this one pretty well. Oliver is well and truly a toddler now, so he keeps us busy with exploring and testing limits and wanting to be involved. It can be tiring, for sure, but it is truly a brilliant age. He is like a little sponge, soaking everything up, and I am continually amazed at how rapidly his vocabulary is exploding. It feels like he’s learning a new word almost every day, and his physical and verbal confidence are both astonishing to watch. While the boundary testing and resulting protests can be annoying, I love the power of emotion in toddlers. He loves hard and is incredibly motivated. He’s an adamant snuggler, he is very attached to both Mark and me, he can have very strong opinions about what needs to be happening rightthissecond (currently, it’s most commonly that he wants us to play peek-a-boo or hide-and-seek or go to the park to play on slides), and he loves having a routine and being helpful (he helps sort and put away laundry, helps unload the dishwasher, involves himself as much as possible in vacuuming and dusting – none of which is surprising with two hyper-tidy parents!).
  • Get Oliver to nap *and* sleep overnight reliably – LOLOLOLOL Oh man, was this an optimistic goal. To be fair, we have definitely all slept more/better in 2016 than we did in 2015, but “sleep” is not one of Oliver’s natural traits. We have had some wonderful periods of reliable naps and solid overnight sleep, but we also have frequent regressions – especially with naps. Since both we and his body know he is able to sleep independently, it usually just takes a couple days to get things back on track. We are, however, seemingly on an elongated infinite loop of good sleep -> slight disruption (teeth, cold, brain development, growth spurt) -> needing to be held for half his nap -> needing to be held for the entirety of his nap -> not even napping well while being held in the rocking chair -> re-training. The overnight slip-ups are less frequent, but follow a similar pattern with “laying with him in the spare bed” replacing “holding in the rocking chair”. It would be easier if he was willing to sleep in our bed, but he’s been completely unable to settle there since he was about 6 months. We’re on the “good” part of one of those loops and nearing the end of the less good part on the other part, so hopefully we’ll get some overlapping ‘good sleep’ naps and overnights early in the new year.
  • A handful of house projects – We accomplished every single house project we had set out to do at the beginning of the year. Yay, us! Except it turns out we won’t be amortizing those efforts over very much longer, so … oops, us. (see: 2017 plans)
  • Starting to run again – Mark and I started out the year strong with our morning runs. Then we started down one of those overnight sleep regression loops and took a hiatus mid-spring. In May, Oliver and I joined the YMCA though, and we have been going to the gym consistently since. Earlier in the year, I was mostly focusing on weights, but over the last few months, I really missed running and started getting back into both HIIT and steady state runs on the treadmill. I have enjoyed it immensely, and am glad to be getting some good runs in – clearing my head and challenging my body – while I am between pregnancies.
  • Get (viably) pregnant again. – Ouch. Well, this sort of happened. And then it sort of didn’t. And it was definitely the downer of the year. Better luck next time, we hope.
  • Trade in my car. – This was an early achievement. We planned to do the swap around autumn, but wound up doing it at the end of February instead. We had a lengthy test drive and negotiated good deals on both the Highlander Hybrid we bought and the Prius we traded-in. Incidentally, about a month later, we also took the very first baby step to trading in Mark’s Prius, too. He’s eagerly awaiting the arrival of his Tesla Model 3… in 2018.

On reflection, it looks like I achieved everything I set out to do this year, so at least there’s that. Other points of note:

  • Early in the year, I made a conscious choice to cut ties with a formerly dear friend whose presence had become toxic for me. Our morals simply didn’t align, and I couldn’t stomach the frustration or interactions anymore. It was a tough move, but sometimes you have to prioritize your own happiness and refuse to accept unacceptable behavior. I feel much happier and more at peace as a result, so overall, I’d say it was a win.
  • Mark and I treated ourselves to some fun purchases recently, which has been a highlight. He finally upgraded his laptop after threatening to do so half a dozen times before (including buying and returning at least a couple of devices in the last year). The upgrade forced his hand at getting a new monitor, so he’s enjoying a very well-deserved geeky indulgence.I finally bought a pair of earrings that had been on my bucket list for at least a couple years. We also both geeked up our accessories a notch with Apple Watches, which we’re in love with. If our material pleasures are anything to go by, it has been a great year, and Q4, in particular, brought us a lot of joy on that front 🙂
  • 2016 was the first year in as long as I can remember where I didn’t set foot in a single airplane all year. We took a short drive to Anaheim to meet up with out-of-state best friends who were visiting Disney, but we otherwise kept it local.
  • I am more appreciative than ever of my, Mark’s, and Oliver’s health. We are all fit and well and happy, and that is really the most important thing.
  • I continue to value my marriage and admire my husband. We are a wonderful team, and he is the best partner and friend I could ever ask for. He would also be offended if I didn’t mention his boyish good looks and brilliant sense of humor 🙂

Originally we planned to keep 2017 fairly low key. Aside from that whole “next baby” thing, we weren’t making any grand plans. My 2017 goals were going to look something like:

  • Continue going to the gym
  • Attempt a family holiday, even if it’s only a road trip to Anaheim for a couple days
  • Find a new hair conditioner, because the one I used for years was reformulated and no longer working as effectively.

You know – big, important things… But then the universe had other plans, and now we’re moving house in about 5 weeks!

Two weeks ago, we had no moving plans in the near-term. Long-term, we planned to stay in this house until 2018-2020. We knew eventually we would  want more space both inside and outside. Eventually. Our goal was to move before Oliver started kindergarten, so he wouldn’t need to transition schools when we eventually moved to our ‘dream neighborhood’. The ‘dream neighborhood’ has excellent schools, a lot of amenities/shops we use often, is very walkable, has lots of parks and pools, and a couple of our friends (both of whom have kids Oliver’s age that he gets on very well with) live in or near the area.

Being real estate junkies, we always keep on eye on the market, tour new housing developments, etc. I have a saved search in Zillow for the eventual next house, and we usually just click through pictures when a listing pops up and move on. Two weeks ago, I was holding Oliver for his nap (because we were in that part of the nap loop), and browsing on my phone. For whatever reason, I went to a different real estate website to scope out a house, and stumbled upon a new listing that never came up in my Zillow search. It was “reasonably priced” (by San Diego / California standards, which are laughable/ridiculous for most other markets, to be fair) and the pictures looked nice, so I sent the link to Mark. He liked them, so we decided to see if we could tour the house. We did, we liked it, and we decided to take a punt and put in an offer. We took an extra day to crunch the numbers some more (to be totally sure we were happy making this move a full 2+ years ahead of schedule), and put in our offer the Tuesday before Christmas. They already had one other offer, which was not contingent on the sale of any other property, and they later received a third offer that was contingent (like ours). The sellers wanted to close by the end of January, so to make ourselves look more serious/competitive, we would need to list our house ASAP. The next day, I met with a listing agent and we had a plan to put the house on the market the day after Christmas, IF the sellers of the other house picked our offer (which we were not expecting them to do). When the listing agent left, Oliver and I went to collect the mail, and – out of nowhere – received a letter from a real estate agent with a client wanting to buy a house on our street. (?!?!) She had mailed several people on the street, and we had received such letters before, but had never actually been interested in selling. We had our agent call hers. She, too, wanted to close by end of January.  And oh, by the way, the sellers of the other property DID pick our offer. There was some back-and-forth with showing the buyer our house and negotiating price, but in the space of 10 days, we found a house we liked, put in and had an offer accepted, and had our house under contract to sell before it was ever even on the market (and before a listing agent could even take photos of it). It was like all the stars aligned and the universe was telling us it was time. So… I guess we’re moving.

The house is only a couple years older than our current home. It’s in great condition. There are some tweaks we plan to make (paint the walls and replace all the builder-grade closets before moving in, swap out bathroom countertops and replace the half walls in the staircase with railings in later months, etc.), but it’s a truly lovely house. Our current house is absolutely perfect, but we’ve realized the limitations of this particular neighborhood for our lifestyle and use. We would rather have great house in a perfect neighborhood than a perfect house in a good neighborhood, especially since all the house things can be made perfect in the next year or two.

So 2017 is going to be the year that we move into our “family home” – completely with play room and separate office and guest room and yard for running and playing in. Hopefully we’ll also find ourselves growing our family, too, since we’ll have the space for it and all 🙂

Like I said… I am optimistic for 2017. Here’s hoping it lives up to its potential. I’ll be celebrating by sharing a bottle of my favorite champagne  with my favorite man… and probably going to bed by 10pm, since we’re toddler parents 🙂

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