Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 recap: tight on money, big on life

I was gonna do a month by month recap of the year but decided to just go by category which I quickly realized a few dictate the others. Of course the first category dictated almost everything.

ALICE: I can't believe how much she's grown in one year. This was her at the start of 2015.
This is her at the end of 2015.
She went from being a baby in a bouncy toy to bouncing toddler. She eats food, she has words, she knows simple commands, she runs, she slides, she points out words she knows, she has favorites, she laughs at funny things, she's a full on little person. Our life revolves around her and we love it.

FAMILY (extended, my side): It was a mixed bag with my family this year as we had a few family fights (once again taking a mom break) but we spent a good amount of time together with our kids. We found out my sister Mari is pregnant and we'll welcome another nephew in early March.
The full line up in February. It's gonna get a little more crowded soon. 
Christmas with the California girls in their matching PJs.
It always feels like our time together is never long enough which is a good thing right? We went to a fair share of family birthday parties with our extended Mexicali family too and hopefully next year we'll get to visit Mexicali so Alice can meet the rest of the gang. We miss Liz and the kids and luckily got to spend Thanksgiving together. 
The full line up in November. That's a grip ton of kids. 
FAMILY (extended, matt's side): One of the best things to happen in 2015 was when the Carrs moved back to California so Jason could go to nursing school. Up 'til now we saw each other once or twice a year and now it's about 2-3 times a month either in La Mirada or up in our hood.
These two girls are so flippin' great and the sweetest baby watchers. They actually like having Alice around and playing with her and chasing her and taking care of her and making sure she doesn't go up the stairs or eats tiny toy pieces of Legos. It's so nice coming to my mother in-law's to see them but also to watch the girls play together. Warms the heart.
I'm so glad they moved back.
One of the unsung heroes of 2015 has to be my mother in-law Jill. She has the biggest heart in the world and could not be more generous to our little family. Not just hooking Alice up with sweet things she bought or made but with her time. She's our favorite babysitter and we never think twice when we go somewhere and leave her in her good care. She even took her overnight! She's my designated texter of daily photos and mom questions. I think knowing she really likes Alice helps me not feel guilty about all the photos and videos I send her. We love her so. 
And although grandma does a lot of the legwork, my father in-law Dan, generally beloved and admired by all, is of course beloved and admired by Alice. He's one of the few dudes that when he stretches arms out, she goes for him. He's a wonderful example, funny, caring, serviceable, flexible, patient, thoughtful, and he's easy on the eyes as my aunts have mentioned. Ha. 
FASHION: Well due to not losing any of the baby weight, my looks were mostly revolved around hiding the baby weight which means a boat-load of black. I didn't buy a lot of clothing this year except to buy more loose black clothes and some Christmas attire and bought about two pairs of shoes TOTAL. Also much of that was predicated by the one thing we lacked this year. 
The Christmas Eve outfit nobody saw. A hilarious tale I'd be happy to regale you with sometime.
FITNESS: I think I went on two runs and one hike and my weight spiraled. It's no good. We got a plan for next year though, it's happening whether I like it or not.
FOOD: We ate out quite a bit but mostly it was our local joints. As far as the more upscale restaurants I like to explore we got a few good meals in Colombus and San Francisco and a good new brunch joint in WeHo by church.
Due to the lack of funds and work, we ate in a lot and though I tried a few new recipes, I stuck to our classic staples when trying to feed us and even tried making things I never had before like tortilla chips.
Of course feeding Alice was the most challenging part of meal times since she decided to form an opinion so often it would be a battle of my presenting to her what the rest of the family was eating and her rejection of such presentation.
Then we'd give her some simplified version of a meal and all was well.
FRIENDS (new): Our involvement in a new church led to some new friendships being formed from old friendships which was the case with the Kazarians (Milena's brother, wife, and kids) and the Lucases (Drew & I were in film classes together!). We especially formed a great new nerd friendship with a couple from our small group and fellow Burbankians the Southerns.
FRIENDS (old): Well, not old old right girls? In July the girls all made it to Alice's 1st Birthday and in October Man-D, Michelle, and I gathered our SoCal butts and headed to OH-IO to visit Ambre who's attending grad school in Ohio State.
It was an adults only trip and we had a lot of fun just being together under the same roof for the first time in years. It's amazing how much you can blab on about even after that many years together.
It was an experience in fall I'll tell you that. We bought warm leggings but wore them underneath our real pants 'cause we're real time adults.
Our annual Christmas dinner was held at our alma mater's cafeteria and you know what? It was a lot of fun visiting our old haunts with kids in tow. A happy mixing it up occassion.
FRIENDS (playdates): There was a huge increase in playdates as the need for commiseration rose to the top of the priorities list. I did a lot of one on ones with moms and kids and did museum, zoo, and Disneyland meet-ups all the way up to December 30! The beginning was about comparing notes on baby life and mom struggles but by the end it was mostly about letting the kids tire themselves out and learn to play with each other. Still working on that last part but it's definitely happening. She seems to pay more attention to the existence of other kids now and it's great just being around a mom and not having to apologize for the chasing around of a kid since we're both doing the same thing.
GOODBYES: Matt's grandmother Rosemary passed away in April after a long battle with Alzheimer's. The funeral service and surrounding events with the Fredrichs was such a wonderful and hilarious time that you could feel the influence Rosemary left on her family. Also: we got some serious brownie points when we would introduce Alice with her full name. From Matt: In true fashion, my grandmother Rosemary Ryan Fredrich waited until Easter Sunday to go be with the Lord. She raised four children on her own after my grandfather Louis died in part from wounds suffered in WWII. She was an incredibly strong and hilarious woman who brought joy to all around her, and the reason for my daughter Alice's middle name. We've missed her for many years already due to Alzheimer's, but look forward to the promise the Resurrection brings that we'll be reunited again someday.
HOME: The biggest home project of the year was the master bathroom mini-makeover and the laundry room cabinet install. Though small in rooms they made a big impact in room functionality.
The laundry room cabinets were one those projects I knew the room needed from the minute I walked into it. I still love seeing these things every day, I always smile.
And the biggest home purchase was the new couch and ottoman we got for our Oscars party. Well, the Oscar party inspired the purchase, it was a long time coming. It's been such a happy addition to the living room and surprisingly, makes the room feel a lot bigger, or at least that's what our guests tell us. And it's about 10 times comfier than our last couch, very very happy with it. 
Baby-proofing took on a whole new meaning once Alice got seriously mobile. I tried hard to make the kitchen more Alice proof so we wouldn't have to have the gates up all the time but it's so much easier on us to just have the gates up especially when I'm in there cooking otherwise she's clawing at me to keep holding her while I'm trying to get dinner done. It's a constantly evolving project but we're happy to keep shaping our home to fit our growing girl. 
Another project in the works is the playroom-ization of the office. We moved her little kitchen in there and I'll photograph the place as it stands after I take down the Christmas decorations.
MARRIAGE: Matthew and I celebrated 8 years of marriage with our first overnight away from the baby and a grown-up day at Disneyland and treating ourselves to annual passes.
We had a few date nights but not nearly enough to say we get a grade higher than a C on the quality time report card. We do have a lot of time just the two of us since she goes to bed at a decent hour but we need to improve on the just us outtings in 2016. Maybe even a full weekend away just the two of us! I'd also like to do some sort of marriage tune-up like a marriage retreat, every couple needs a good tune-up now and again don't you think?
MEDIA: We didn't go to the movies a whole lot this year but we watched a whole lot of TV on streaming services and we got cable (which was more cost effective than our internet only plan) so Matt could watch sports. I let all my magazine subscriptions expire and started Moby Dick and we both want to spend more time reading books next year. Alice is really into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and loves playing on the iPad and likes being read to and I'll often find her pulling out books and turning pages herself.

MONEY: This pretty much was the big element that affected a lot of our life. Work for me was really slow and limited us and freed us in a way that only absolute necessity brings. We cut out anything superfluous and spend so much less money now than ever before because we don't have any to spend! I wrote all about it earlier and the plan is still the same for whenever we do actually have money: save save save.

PARTIES: The beginning of the year was tough to get anything done with Alice being so small but starting in May with Mother's Day we started entertaining pretty regularly at our house.
Home parties ranged from smaller gatherings of one other couple for dinner to about 20 deep for our Sandlot movie night.
It was great to balance both hanging with friends with the convenience of being home so Alice could go to sleep and we could keep hanging out.
Every party had a different setup due to the small nature of our house but nobody ever complains.
I guess it helps to keep the booze coming.
Of course the biggest party was Alice's 1st Flamingo Fiesta which went off ridiculously well thanks to the best idea of the year which was to just pay someone else to make food.
PETS: No more kitties. A sad but necessary decision.
SPIRIT: We've been regularly attending a new church and went to a small group for a few weeks which gave us new people to say hello to on a Sunday. We've been really loving the community we've been involved in and the new thoughts on who God is and how great he is. I've been more challenged lately to talk about my faith and how that defines my life. The least I can do is just mention church and presenting it in an tangible way like how dope their warm drink station for the Christmas service was.
TRAVEL: My general theory on travel is that a good year is any year where I got to go on an airplane. And I got to go on one twice! Once for fun and once for work!
People seem to be changing the way talk about travel with social media making travel the ultimate show-it-off prize. Or maybe seems that way to me? Either way, I never take it for granted and am so thankful for any chance I get to pack my favorite blue rolly suitcase and have to take off my shoes while going through a cancer giving device that scans my whole body.
And that my friends, was 2015. It took about four hours to type this thing up on the last day of the year right before I started making chili before people come hang. Seems fitting.

May your 2016 be big on life through joy in the little things.

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