I have ISSUES with New Year's Eve. It makes me grouchy and funky.
When I was single I struggled on NYE like some women do on Valentine's
Day (which doesn't bother me at all...go figure). I thought it was my
circumstances, but as it turns out, NOPE. NYE is just as hard for me
married with children as it was pre-marriage. And I married right into
motherhood, so went straight from hanging out with my roommate to
hanging out with my husband and kids - no date nights for us (on New
Year's Eve, at least. I would NEVER ask anyone to babysit for me on NYE.
Or Valentine's Day, for that matter. Feels too much like, "Since you're
not married and have nothing to do on this exciting day, maybe you
could watch my kids so I can have a romantic evening?" Yuck.)
Some years I've planned parties and had people over - that works for me. I do great if I have something fun planned. BUT I also get nervous about making plans for NYE - what if everyone else already has fun plans with other people, confirming my insecurity that I'm the only one being lame at home on this amazing holiday??
This year we are coming off of too many changes to host a party, I knew it would be better just to do something fun with our family. And honestly, we've had so much to focus on I didn't even think about gross NYE feelings ahead of time. I had a cheap, fun plan for our family, and I was excited to put it in motion. I completely forgot my usual New Year's Eve funk.
So on Saturday morning, I made a fun breakfast (canned cinnamon rolls I bought just in case I didn't get the PW rolls made for Christmas morning.) We started taking down the Christmas decorations - which was probably my first mistake. Doing something depressing on a day I already tend toward depression and pity parties? But I was SO EXCITED to get rid of our Christmas tree. The needles and the constant vacuuming they necessitate were driving me nuts.
Through the morning, we had escalating grouchiness from the kids, as I was trying to type out things we'd need for the AWESOME FUN New Year's Eve family party I was planning. Luke was badgering me because he wanted to play video games. The boys were fighting about the same things over and over and treating each other rudely (and not responding when they were corrected.)
I think all of this would have been fine, except I was multi-tasking. I wasn't stopping to give them my full attention, and I was expecting them to work together taking some things down without my supervision. This is a recipe for disaster - when we have big blow ups, it's so often because I'm trying to do too many things at once.
Well this was a disaster, for sure. I ended up yelling at the boys that I WAS TRYING TO PLAN A FUN DAY FOR THEM BUT WHO EVEN WANTS TO DO THAT WHEN ALL YOU PEOPLE CAN DO IS FIGHT AND NOT EVEN FOLLOW SIMPLE DIRECTIONS, sending them both to their rooms crying and going to my room to cry myself. Happy New Year to us.
I sat on my bedroom floor trying to give thanks to combat the stress, but it didn't work... The lies were spiralling out of control - no one appreciates me, I'm going to go to all this work and the kids won't even appreciate it because they just want to do their own thing (because you know, mothering is all about earning appreciation, right??)
And then my normal feelings about New Year's Eve came rushing in like the ocean. I was lost.
I did apologize to both older kids (the youngest escaped the wrath of mom). But I was torn about what to do for the rest of the day (it was noon and my plan was supposed to start at 1pm.) Part of me knew I'd just be more depressed if we didn't do anything to make the day special. But the bigger part of me just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep, and let the kids do whatever they wanted, then send them to bed early. Sounds healthy, right?
Matt was awesome throughout all of this - after my blow up, he reminded me that we all need grace, even the parents. And he stepped in to supervise all the taking down of the decorations (although he refrained from putting all our everyday decorations back in their places. Those are still randomly placed about, I kind of like it.) He wasn't sure what to do with me - should he encourage me to go ahead with my plan, or to let go of my high expectations to CREATE FUN with all the pressure that entails?
For a while he didn't even realize how bad it was...but when he realized I was really in a mess, he got in my face. He made me tell him 5 things specifically that I was thankful for about New Year's Eve - which is what I make the boys do when their grouchies are out of control. I tell them that giving thanks is like magic, it makes grouchiness disappear. And while I responded to Matt about as well as my kids respond to me when I make them do this.... It really works. By the time I finished, my funk was broken. I still had some fighting to do, but it was much easier to be thankful and make a special day for my family. The Lord is GOOD.
So... We delayed the plan a little - rather than starting the plan at 1, we started at 3... Allowing us to get all the Christmas put away, have lunch, and get MM down for a nap. We had a balloon countdown for every hour from 3 to midnight, with something fun to do (well... the 11pm one was "Time for Luke to go to bed!!", he didn't think that was such a fun activity :D).
The boys took turns popping them. On Luke's first turn (MM was still asleep, so Tobin & Luke opened the 3pm one and the 4pm one...), the boys wanted to try and pop it between their backs:
The 3pm balloon was popcorn and hot chocolate - but since it was unseasonably warm, we did popcorn and pop (Coke, for you Texas people.)
The 4pm balloon was "Wake Micah Marvin up, it's time for a dance party!" This was probably my favorite, the boys got really into it. We each picked a song, starting from the oldest: Matt... Who picked David Crowder's HAPPINESS, a song that will always remind me of the summer of 2010. I picked Steve Miller Band's "Dance Dance Dance" ("I don't know, but I've been told, if you keep on dancing you'll never grow old..." Love that song.) Luke picked "Come on Eileen" (my boy LOVES 80s music!) ; Tobin picked Toby Mac's "Funky Jesus Music" (which we'd been listening to most of the day anyway), and Micah picked Go Fish's version of "5 Little Monkeys" (with a little help from Mommy.) We were having so much fun, I picked another one - "God is Enough" by LeCrae. We've listened to a LOT of LeCrae this year, it didn't seem right to have a dance party without some LeCrae! Then Matt put on a song we call "Turkish Dance Party", because you can't have a dance party without Turkish Dance Party.
So. Much. Fun.
5:00 was our traditional charades game. For the past few years, sometime around the end of the year, we play a family game of charades, acting out fun things we did in the last year. We love it - we played in 3 teams, Luke, Me & Tobin, and Matt & Micah. Micah didn't completely understand what we were doing, but he LOVED acting out his parts as directed by Matt. AND after each other team went & we guessed, he would get up and copy everything they did. So Cute.
6:00 was dinner (homemade buffalo wings and oven fries) and a movie: The Muppets Take Manhattan. LOVE THE MUPPETS.
For the 7:00 balloon, we paused the movie and made dessert - pre-made cookie dough (which Matt bought while I was still in Africa) cooked in ramekins, and served with ice cream on top, and eaten while we finished watching the Muppets. Delish.
At 8:00 we went ahead and put the little mister down for bed... And Luke & Tobin got into their pajamas. Then we filled out these sheets I found on the interwebs:
The 9:00 balloon told Tobin to pick three books to read before his bedtime. Luke, Matt & I each read one to him, then off to bed he went - protesting that he wasn't tired at all, but asleep almost immediately. :)
At 10:00 we moved downstairs where we could watch the ball drop at 11 in New York City (a place and time I NEVER want to be, by the way), and do our 10:00 balloon - play a game, Luke's choice. Luke has been playing Words with Friends on the Kindle Fire he got as a combined Christmas present from most of his grandparents. So he felt pretty confident in his word skills and picked Scrabble. But I kicked their tails, as usual. Because while I have no patience at all for that game, I kind of rock at it.
He was not happy to go to bed at 11 either... But off he went. Also asleep in minutes. Leaving Matt & I to pop the midnight balloon alone. And that one is none of your business. :)
So. The day ended MUCH better than it began. And I'm thankful thankful THANKFUL to have ended a wonderful 2011 as a family of 5. And even more thankful for each day of 2012.
But next year I think I'll throw a party. You're all invited.