The things I did right in 2008

Posted Dec. 28, 2008, at 10:33 p.m.

Each year I make New Year’s resolutions, and each year I break them. Such a defeatist, negative thing. Oh, sure, I could, of course, choose not to break my resolutions, and then it would be a positive thing. But sometimes I don’t even have enough resolve to empty the dishwasher, so anything like “losing weight” or “getting to bed earlier” is a lost cause.

I should point out that I used to be a somewhat disciplined person. Then I had three boys. Ford, 8, Owen, 6, and Lindell, 2, daily test my limits of discipline and follow-through.

I guess you could say my standards of “clean,” “organized” and “on time” have lowered since becoming a mother. Why torture myself with New Year’s resolutions? So this year, instead of focusing on all the things I should be doing but likely won’t in 2009, I’m going to list all the things I did surprisingly well and-or the good decisions I made in 2008.

I only kicked the car door once (I wanted to kick it at least a dozen more times) when it was frozen shut after our first snowstorm.

I went to the gym at least five hours a week and only spent, at a maximum, two of those hours socializing.

I quit cutting my boys’ hair myself.

I refrained from laughing when Dustin put on snow gear that he owned 10 years and 20 pounds ago and went outside to learn how to use the snowblower.

Likewise, I reminded the boys to appreciate Daddy’s hard work and helpfulness before we all giggled when he fell into a snowbank while shoveling the sidewalk.

I made sure that I got all my friends’ mailing addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses before we moved from Pensacola, Fla., in August.

I also made sure that I filled out all of the post office’s change-of-address forms after moving into our new home in Bangor. (Still, my mail is caught up in the USPS “fun” game of we’ll-try-to-forward-this-and-then-we’ll-just-send-it-to-any-one-of-the-Smileys’-10-mailing-addresses-from-the-past-10-years.)

I sent out my Christmas cards in time.

I completed three-quarters of Lindell’s “Baby’s First Year” book. His second birthday will be Jan. 9.

When the basement flooded, I said only two curse words, and nobody heard me.

I successfully unlearned and quit humming most preschool cartoon theme songs. The ones that I am left with — “Blue’s Clues,” “Wonder Pets,” and “The Backyardigans” — I have grown quite fond of.

I thought about mowing the grass myself this summer when Dustin was busy working. If only the mower hadn’t been out of gas, I might have actually done it.

I kept on top of the laundry, so much so, in fact, the boys never ran out of clean underwear.

I moved the clean dishes to the cabinet on a regular basis.

Of the 36 hours it took to drive from Florida to Maine, I volunteered to drive for seven of them.

I successfully slipped pureed spinach into the boys’ brownies. They never ate the brownies, but the spinach was there nonetheless. Not surprisingly, pureed spinach did not keep me from eating the whole pan of brownies myself.

I cut back from three hours to one hour of cable news-watching each night.

I colored my hair only once in 12 months.

I flossed more times than I did not.

Although I failed at getting my older boys interested in something besides “Star Wars,” I did get them to build a train track for the baby brother now and then, and I think they kind of enjoyed it. (Just don’t tell their friends.)

Yes, it’s been a very good year, if I do say so myself. No, I didn’t lose much weight, and no, I’m not any better about getting the kids to school on time. But if the accomplishments above are any indication, I’m getting more disciplined and organized one small step at a time. At this rate, the year 2067 is bound to be a productive one.

Maine author and columnist Sarah Smiley’s writing is syndicated weekly to publications across the country. She and her husband, Dustin, live with their three sons in Bangor. Her new book, “I’m Just Saying … ,” is available wherever books are sold. You may reach her at sarah@sarahsmiley.com.

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