I think this was our best New Year's Eve ever. It was not particularly fancy, but like our last Valentine's Day, it was particularly and perfectly us.
Also like Valentine's Day, I feel like New Year's Eve sets too high an expectation for a night when prices are too high and bars and restaurants are too crowded. Unlike Valentine's Day, which JP has always handled in a thoughtful, low-key, but romantic manner that suits us both, it's taken me years to shake off the feeling that I should be doing more on NYE. I think it's because my parents have always done NYE up so big- huge bashes at our house while growing up (we were banished to friends' houses for the night until I started babysitting for the guests- I remember being a neighbor/guest's house 5 houses down the block and hearing the music from my parents' house while INSIDE the neighbor's) and now a fancy dinner and brunch at the lake with close friends, but still, they're always doing something involving sparkly clothing (well, my dad doesn't sparkle, but my mom's outfits sure do), music, champagne, and other people.
But JP and I have always fallen short on the fancy/festive grown-up NYE front. For one, we had children way too early with no one to watch them if we wanted to go out. And two, despite the way I met him (at a bar- actually, getting kicked out of a bar- and totally intoxicated), JP doesn't actually like going out when there are a lot of people. He doesn't really like going out much at all, ever. In fact, as a whole, he doesn't really even like people. (False advertising, I say, though he'll pretend to enjoy himself for my sake if I force him into a bar.) And so, our NYE plans have stalled, making JP happy and me feeling like I'm missing out but unsure why or if I'd really want to do anything big even if I had the option to.
But this year. This year we have a 6-week-old and not even I thought a babysitter or staying up past midnight were good ideas. So we let the kids eat any meal they want (spaghettios; gag), tucked them in bed at 7:30, and then I got out a few pieces of our wedding china and crystal and got to work setting up our night: our favorite meats and cheeses, olives, bread and crackers, expensive champagne we've had for 2 years and never felt like we had reason enough to drink, and a chocolate torte cake and berries. I lit candles (in an inappropriately borrowed advent candelabra because apparently we don't own any other candles), turned on the Pandora piano music station, and put on a date-night dress with heels, makeup, and fun earrings. While I was busy playing hostess for 2, JP fed and bathed Cora and put her down at 8. At 8:01, we were sitting down to eat. And it was so fun and delicious and lovely, I've decided we're doing it every year until the kids can stay up late enough to ruin it, and then we're doing it again when they go off to college. We were asleep by 11ish and one of my last thoughts as I drifted off was that it was a perfect night.
The kids didn't make a peep until 8 a.m. the next morning (though they never do) and Cora- CORA- gifted us all by sleeping for 7 straight hours, eating for 20 minutes, and then going back down for another 5! Happy New Year's to us all!
New Year's morning was for the family- brunch, sparkling apple-cider mimosas, homemade cinnamon rolls and fruit.
Claire was particularly fond of her faux-mosa.
We kicked the kids outside for a few hours while Cora napped. It was a gorgeous day and JP and Landon played basketball (Landon starts practice for his first ever basketball season on Friday) and Claire drove her Spiderman big wheel around in what looked like a purposeful attempt to trip one or both of them. Cora woke up and at some point, I looked over from my spot on the couch where I was re-reading a favorite book to see this:
A perfect summation of JP as dad, life with three kids, and the maxim that no matter how many square feet you have, everyone will end up sharing the same few. I love it so much.
In Austin we always went hiking on New Year's Day, but in Fort Worth, we take long walks through our lovely winding neighborhood. A friend loaned us their double stroller and it was awesome! Claire usually rides her big girl bike on walks, but that limits us to only about a mile at most- now we can do 3-5 miles no problem. And we did. Then we wrapped up the New Year's festivities with Hopping John (gotta have your black-eyed peas!) and the leftover chocolate cake and felt very ready for 2014.
2014. I'm excited about it. It will be our 9th year of marriage and think it's going to be our first without a move, new job, or new baby. Our theme is going to be growth- no new anything (except maybe a new used car, I can't seem to fit all 3 kids in my Sonata), but growing what we have- JP's business, my job, Cora's cheeks and thighs... I have no real goals, in fact, for the first time on a January 1 (or 2, as it is), I just feel really good about where we've worked to be. 2013 began with unemployment, depression, and frustrated attempts at a 3rd child. This year... doesn't and I feel good, so good, about where we are. Not complacent, but happy. Tremendously happy and hopeful for a good, growing, nothing new year.