Generally speaking, I loathe January. Call it a post-Holiday slump or whatever you like, but it's always been my least favorite month, with March coming in a close second. I've always found January to be a drag of a month, but it started out on a high note, with Cait and JP becoming engaged on New Year's Day.
I think they're closer to settling on a date, which means I need to keep on track with shaping up and losing some more weight, as I'm the matron of honor, thank you very much. I'm very proud of both Cait and Jeeps and am very much looking forward to their wedding.
I watched the inauguration of President Obama with immense pride. What a great day for our country!
The saddest part of January, which made life difficult for pretty much the rest of the year, was the passing of naptime. Ella arbitrarily decided that she no longer needed to nap and, because her brother will not sleep without her in the room and despite valiant efforts on my part, naptime was pretty much a thing of the past by the end of the month. You cannot begin to imagine the depths of my envy when I hear other Moms talk about how their children still nap.
The highlight of February was finally convincing J to get DVR. Oh, how we've snowballed that one! It took forever to get him to agree to it and now we're all super high-tech in the living room. Flat screen TV, HD DVR, Blu-ray player...we're goofs.
I don't know if they fully get it, but these kids are going to get away with so much in life because they are so damn cute. Here's an example of naptime being avoided and a moment of random adorableness. They were playing in a box that Mom had brought over for them.
I was pretty productive in March. Getting stuff done around the house and planning for Easter and the kids' 3rd birthday party in early April. On a warm Sunday, we took an impromptu trip to the coast and introduced the kids to the ocean.
Little did we know that our lives would be turned upside down a couple of weeks later.
At the end of the month, very early on the morning of March 28th to be exact, my cell phone rang. It was my mother telling me that my brother-in-law had just committed suicide. The shock still hasn't worn off and the rest of the year has been clouded by the shadow of Mark's death. It's been truly amazing to see how my family came together - and still rallies - to support my sister, N, my nieces and nephew, but the overwhelming tragedy of it all still engulfs many of us to a great extent.
April was pretty much a blur of sadness, but Liam and Ella had their first Easter egg hunt, turned 3, and we went to see a Thomas the Tank Engine show (which was a good deal of fun, I'll admit).
Mom was very ill with a terrible case of pneumonia (courtesy of my sister showing up to Easter dinner sick...but, hey!, it was her birthday and she just had to celebrate with someone - nevermind the fact that no one was in a mood to celebrate and we were all just going through the motions), but the month ended on a positive parenting note, with Ella making great strides in potty training (find the silver linings where you will, right?).
After corresponding for a few months, I met my long lost sister. It was a wonderful time and we've stayed in touch since (though we've both been very busy lately and it hasn't been as often as I'd like, but we know the other is out there and that's what matters).
Life settled into a new pattern, post-Mark, and I made it a priority to try and make good memories for the kids. Mom and I took them to The Butterfly Place and had a lovely visit.
We visited York's Wild Animal Kingdom and had a nice time overall, despite a major meltdown on she-child's part.
Cait and I undertook The Great Basement Cleanout and organized the unfinished side of the basement and fully cleared out the finished side so that it could be redone. I know, I know I haven't posted "after" pictures yet. Trust me when I say that it's been a fabulous improvement and that having a third floor of living space has been a hugely great thing.
As part of the basement renovation, we moved the futon out of the kids' room and they moved into big kid beds! That was a big day in our house!
For the second year in a row, we ventured up North for A Day Out With Thomas (yes, it's been a big Thomas year). It was so much better than last year! The kids had a blast and really enjoyed the day. I don't know if we'll do it again in 2010, but it is a fun event.
July saw Mom turn 76 and Cait turn 23. It was a sucky wet summer for the most part and we were stuck indoors most of the time. We didn't get to use the deck much, but we did have a very nice July 5th celebration with Cait, Jeeps, Mom and "friend Katie" (as Ella calls her to distinguish her from Caitlin).
I became a pretty decent baseball fan in July and got really into the Red Sox. Am very much looking forward to next baseball season with the new TV!
We finally had some real summer weather in August and actually had to make use of our air conditioners. The rain continued, though, and we didn't do much. The weekend before Labor Day, however, we visited Clark's Trading Post and had an amazing day. It was just fabulous all around and filled with memories that melt my heart.
August was significant, because I hit a major milestone.
Uhm....don't have much for September. This is where I really gave up any pretense of calling myself a blogger. Life just started to get in the way in a big way. I switched gyms and that's been alright. I was happy to get out of the insanity that was the Concord Gold's, but my new gym is a bit of a downgrade. However, they have a franchise up near Mom and, on Sundays, we head up there and she watches the kids while J and I have gym dates and workout together. Then we wrap it up with a nice family dinner. Now that the insanity of the Holidays has passed, I'm most looking forward to that routine starting up again.
Ah...my favorite time of year! J turned 36 and we celebrated our 13th anniversary (go, us!). We had a little escape up North, which really turned out to be almost more trouble than it was worth. But, any alone time is good time, right?
Early in the month, J and I signed a contract to completely remodel the kitchen. Little did I know that it would mean the work would be done 11 days before Christmas! All of the stress and hassle was entirely worth it, though.
On October 18th, Cait, Katie and I participated in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk and it was great. It snowed the entire time and was freezing! On a whim, I brought the kids (who had the best seat in the house, snuggled in under wool blankets and protected by their weather shield), so I pushed 70+ pounds of kids in a double stroller in the snow and freezing rain for 5 miles. The walk meant a lot to me, as I did it to honor Mom, who will mark 5 years cancer-free next week and, really, it was a wonderful day!
At the end of the month, J's family came to visit and we had a nice time. I framed the two pictures below and gave them to both his sister and his parents for Christmas. Believe it or not, the family picture is the first one that we've taken in the 13 years that I've been a part of his family.
The kids celebrated the first Halloween that they'd remember. We went trick-or-treating for the first time, and Ella was Tinkerbell and Liam was Thomas the Tank Engine. It was a fun night. Ever since, Els has been obsessed with fairies and princesses. I'm not really a fairy and princess kind of chick, so it's been an adjustment on my part (she does, however, like to dress up in her princess clothes and appropriate her brother's tools....also, it's quite the sight to see her all dressed up and kicking ass at Wii Sports Resort swordfighting).
ETA: How could I forget that I became a Pampered Chef Consultant in October?! I'm really enjoying it! If you ever want to host a catalog show, let me know and I'd be happy to help you have a great time!
I turned 34 and began noticing a significant amount of grey hairs. I really don't want to be one of those people who stresses about going grey, but it's bothering me much more than I'd like.
We ventured down to Boston to see The Imagination Movers (Smitty, how I love thee!) and it was a great show! It takes a lot for me to go into the city, but it was so worth it! The kids had a great time and I can honestly say that it was one of the best concerts I've ever been to.
After a last minute change of plans, Thanksgiving was held at my sister N's house and I think it was just the right thing for everyone. We had been planning a huge gathering at Mom's, like last year, but there was a lot of ambivalence as it was the first major Holiday since Mark died (not counting Easter, since that was only 2 weeks post-shock) and an emerging health crisis clipped plans severely at the last minute. I think, though, that hosting Thanksgiving was great for N and the kids and it ended up being a nice, though bittersweet, celebration.
November saw a lot of prep work for the kitchen remodel.
Most significantly, though, one of my nephews became very ill. They think they've found the proper diagnosis, but I think it may actually be multiple sclerosis. It's been a dreadful time for my sister, A, and my nephew has deteriorated very quickly. Once again, my family is rallying. Please pray for my sister and her family.
December was a blur or planning for the kitchen remodel and keeping tabs on my sister and nephew. We stayed with Mom for 10 days and I ran back and forth to the house most days to manage the contractors. It was pure insanity! The kitchen was done on the 23rd and I spent Christmas Eve and most of Christmas morning setting the kitchen up and hosted Christmas here. It was a lovely day, though, and I finally had my "ahhhh" moment the day after Christmas when I literally stepped back and was able to take it all in. I am in love.
Hey look! It's the new TV!
Phew! That's really only a mere snapshot of the year. As I was going through the year's posts, I was struck by the little things that I'd forgotten. I am truly blessed with an amazing family, a wonderful husband and fabulous, funny and incredible children. Yes, it has been year of sorrow and grief, but there have been good times and new traditions, too. The Christmas card says it all:
Wishing you peace, joy, hope and love at Christmas and always.
If you're still out there, thank you. I'll try to do better in 2010. May the New Year bring you great happiness and health.