10 Things, Faith, Parenting

10 Things I Learned in 2014


Lists.  This is that time of the year, when we take stock of our lives and list the old and the new and try to quantify what’s happened.  I don’t know about you, but the second half of my year has flown, a hodgepodge of good and bad, but all…quick.  In an effort to mark, to pause, to remember, here are 10 things I learned in 2014.

1. Adding a third kid feels like adding twelve kids.

I’m not great at math, but this feels weird.  Somehow adding one child has multiplied each child into four.  They’re just one ginormous tangle of limbs and talking at me and undies that need to be washed.  Everything has exploded.  Let the record show that I love this.  Except when I’m hiding in the bathroom.  But mostly love.

2. Being in a car wreck is not like the movies.

In the movies, people get into big smash ups, pull themselves out of the wreckage, run across the street, and engage in hand-to-hand combat.  In real life, someone had to pull me out, everything hurt, and I’m still twitchy and recovering six months later.  Now when I watch action movies, I flinch and yell at the TV, “Oh yeah right!  Sure he’s still running around after that!”

3. Willy Wonka makes a Rainbow Nerds Rope.

I did not know this, and learning it has made my candy-eating an extraordinary experience.

4. God is still there even when you aren’t experiencing all the feels.

Faith is such a journey of ups and downs and I’ve learned again and again to recognize and acknowledge my feelings, but not to depend on them.  This year has been a quiet one of continuing in daily practice of prayer and Bible reading and thankfulness and service without any of the tingly excitement of feeling His presence.  I simply trust that He is there, out of a lifetime of listening and because he says he is.  It reminds me of marriage.  Some years are exciting and some years are just the daily work of building a relationship.  Equally important.

5. It’s never too late to have your best year of marriage yet.

We’re in year 14 of this thing and after 12 years of building our family out of ashes and tears, we were a little worse for the wear, but this year has probably been my favorite year yet with the man I fell in love with back in 1996.  After focusing so much energy on entering into parenthood, we were finally able to turn to each other and reenergize the spirit of us, our us-ness, and I’ve rediscovered my best friend.  Also, an added perk to having all the kids and re-falling in love with your spouse is kissing in front of them while they make gagging noises and act like they’re dying from Overload of Gross.

6. It’s okay to take care of yourself a little bit.

Sometimes as moms we put everyone else first and then we’re too tired to do anything to help ourselves.  This year I added in being an author and I started to feel a little ragged between all the book work and the blog work and the mom work, so I figured out some little things to take the edge off.  I’ve added in a yoga class once a week to make me stretch and strengthen.  I hate exercise, so this is about me breathing and getting quiet and talking to God in my head and thanking him for my body.  I also dumbed down dinner and am serving easy foods and once a week we get to use paper plates and throw them away, because I need a break.  I also watch Jimmy Fallon every night (DVRed from the night before because LATE) and I laugh my guts out and lay on the couch and eat popcorn and pet the dog.  And occasionally on a weekend I sit and read a book and let everyone swirl around me.  I like to think that this models reading for fun to the kids, while also giving me a whole day to enjoy a good book.

7. There is no magic bullet for balance and getting everything done.

For months, I ran around going, “If we can just get this…” and ” We just have to make it to…” and then I realized that there is no magic bullet.  There is no perfect rhythm.  Every day we just work and juggle and sign forms and pack lunches and it’s an endless swirling dance, so figure out how to enjoy the chaos and celebrate when you remember stuff and don’t beat yourself up when you forget. 

8. You don’t have to wear heels anymore if you don’t want to.

My feet hurt and I broke up with heels.  Oh happy day.

9. Getting up at 6am will not kill you.

So far.  My two oldest went off to elementary school this year and these 6am school day wake-ups are new and weird for this night owl.  It’s amazing how much I have done by 10am and I see how morning people walk around feeling superior, because dang, I’m a whirling dynamo of awesome when I get up that early.  Unfortunately, I’m still staying up till the wee hours every night because it’s my way, and I may internally combust by second semester.  But still, yay for night owls trying new things.

10. You can cultivate bravery.

You might feel timid and unsure or afraid to walk in the direction you think you’re supposed to go.  It can be terrifying to try new things or stick up for what you think is right or chase your dream.  It takes baby steps, and it’s something you tend, like a little garden of courageousness.  Every day you can wonder what’s the next brave thing and do that and your bravery will grow and take you places you didn’t think you could go.

Well, onto 2015.  I’m terrified and electrified and excitedfied.  Ready or not, here it comes.


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  • Misty Wagner

    I <3 Jimmy…
    Such a great list… So true re: both kids and marriage!

    • Melanie Dale

      Yay Jimmy, and thanks, Misty!

  • Christine

    I just loved this post. Thoughtful and funny.Made me reflect and laugh. Thanks.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Christine!

  • Missindeedy

    How have I never discovered your blog before? My humor and your sense of humor could be besties. Truly. This list… yes. We’re on year 15 around here, after meeting in 1997, and I agree – kissing in front of the kids to a chorus of “GROSSSS!!!!” is a joy unbridled. I am going to be pre-ordering that book because, yes, they surely can be. I so enjoyed this list!

    • Melanie Dale

      Thank you! Fist bump for sense of humor besties!

  • http://www.positivelyalene.com/ Positively Alene

    Thankful I made it here. Love your lists — I have a saying hanging on my wall “It’s never too late to live happily ever after!” Yep, every year can be better. OMGoodness — when I added child 3 I thought I was dead. Gone, ran over and useless. My philosophy is stop before the kids out number the adults. Love them all — they are grown now. :) Glad we all survived.

    • http://www.positivelyalene.com/ Positively Alene

      Just noticed your modern day slavering posts and mission trip to-know’s. My heart girl — my heart!!

      • Melanie Dale

        I love that: “It’s never too late to live happily ever after!” Fantastic. I’m thankful you made it here, too! :)

  • Pam

    Great post!! I related to so much…like the part of about God still being there even if we don’t feel Him. And how getting up at 6am will not kill you, even if it feels like it will. I’m a night owl but whole-heartedly agree with your sentiment about being “a whirling dynamo of awesome when I get up that early”.

    • Melanie Dale

      Thanks, Pam! I’m already dreading next week’s wake-ups, but dynamo of awesome here we come!

  • http://wheremyheartresides.com/ Ashlee

    Super love this. Number 7 is the story of my life right now.

  • OffTheCuffCooking

    I love a good list!! :)





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