Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017, the (Bittersweet) Year in Review

Another year, flown by! I know I say this every year, but, man, that went by fast! Now I have to get used to writing 2018 on my checks; that'll take a solid month to master, no doubt.

2017 was a pretty good year, we had a lot of highs and some pretty low lows, but, all in all, it was not too shabby.

January: We started the New Year in the usual fashion, with a sledding trip to Cerro Summit. We were among friends, as Jana and Co. were able to join us, again. It was also the last year that our beloved Rowdie Dog would be with us, but, of course, we didn't know that then.

It was also in January that the boys finally, finally broke the four-year losing streak that they had been on, winning at home, against their arch-rivals within the league. It was a glorious moment and a memory that the boys (and their parents) cherish.

February: The boys ended their season with more wins than any team in the preceeding four years, which, was a huge accomplishment. We celebrated with Senior Night, at which Hugh was notably absent in physical form, but, along for the ride in spirit.

Also in February, Queen B turned 21, which, hardly seems possible, but, there ya go. They grow up and become legal drinkers. It happens.

March: A search of my photo archives would indicate that March was all baseball, all the time.

Even the Booster Moms got into the spirit.

There was also an adorable baseball-themed Promposal thrown in for good measure.

April: This was a tough month. We lost our Rowdie Dog to an aggressive cancer. He was such a good dog and we feel his absence in every minute of every day.

And, of course, prom season, which, was bittersweet; a fun milestone sobered by such a sad time in our lives. But, we soldiered on. The Cub got a two-for-one deal with his prom date; attending both his prom and the prom at her high school in a nearby community. As Senior Moms, we did an awesome job of planning our pre-prom dinner, and, for the first time we were smart enough to rent a location outside of one of our homes (generally, mine). Why did it take us until our last prom to figure that out? The world will never know.

And, speaking of the other moms; we also planned and executed the best Senior Sports Banquet that the school had ever seen in. The decorations were amazing, the food was tasty, and, at the banquet, Hugh and I were honored with the Volunteer of the Year award, which was both touching and completely surprising. If I had to leave my sports mom life behind, it was a great way to go out.

May: May was jam packed with the Cub's graduation and all of the events surrounding it, including the party that we threw for the Cub, Mikey, and Trace and the class's sober grad party.

I also hosted my last ever end-of-school slip'n'slide party, which was another bittersweet moment (bittersweet was the official word of 2017, apparently).

June: Our first big family vacation since 2010 was one to remember! We gathered up Mom and the kids and headed to Hawaii, where we enjoyed everything that Oahu had to offer in addition to checking out the HPU campus. The trip was fantastic and it left me a little less worried about sending my baby over the ocean to attend school. A very little less worried.

Later that month, Queen B had her first significant car accident, totalling her beloved Reggie, but, thankfully, not getting hurt. The pain came later, when she had to sign the bank loan on her first self-purchased car, a cute little number she calls Benny.

July: I traveled back to Mayberry for my 30th high school reunion, reconnecting with several old friends, meeting their families, and co-hosting the best mimosa/bloody Mary bar that Mayberry had ever seen.

August: We went back to our roots, hosting Jana and Co. for a nostalgic Porch Night and recreating the photo of the kids from way back in the day. We knew it was the last time that we would have all of the kids together for a while, so we made the most of it (it was, say it with me; bittersweet).

Then, before we knew it, the summer was coming to an end; it was time to say goodbye to the boys. Hugh and I hosted a luau to do just that, and, we included the Fearsome Foursome as well as several of the other departing seniors and their families. It was a hell of a party.

A few weeks after the party, it was time to take the Cub to school. Watching him and his sister say goodbye to each other was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but; actually getting on a plane and leaving without him topped it, for sure.

Once we were home, the empty nest hit me like a ton of bricks. I decided that I needed to find something to focus my attention on, and, having felt heavier and heavier and weaker and weaker and more and more tired over the previous months, I decided to embark on a fitness regime that included walking and eating better. My first foray into that goal came in the form of a late-summer hike with my co-worker Kristi, who proceeded to Kick. My. Ass. But, in a good way; it was just the push I needed.

At the end of the month, when the local schools started again, I was feeling pretty adrift, but, neither of my children were about to let me miss my annual back-to-school picture, which put me in far better spirits. Bless their hearts.

September: I took my new fitness regime on the road, traveling to Baltimore for a conference for Day Job. The city entranced me, the history, culture, and architecture were amazing. I managed to stay on my program, thanks to the mild weather and to having colleagues with whom I could take long site-seeing walks. It was a great trip.

October: Although there were a few traditional things that didn't happen this year (pumpkin carving, haunted porch, Zombie Prom, just to name a few), I still managed a kick-ass yard display for Halloween.

I also did a kick-ass job of photographing my first paid wedding gig, if I do say so, myself (and, I do).

And, I spent a lot of time walking the paths is the local park. The walking paid off with some lost pounds and some gained strength, endurance, and stamina; three things I had been sorely lacking for quite some time. The view wasn't half bad, either.

And, on the topic of views, it was during October that I officially became a crazy bird lady, spending hours in the bay window in our kitchen, watching the birds that came to the feeder in the backyard. In my defense, it was remarkably relaxing and went a long way in helping me to work on my mental wellness in addition to my physical wellness.

November: Hugh, Queen B, and the Man-Cub pulled off the best Thanksgiving/birthday surprise in the history of our family. I honestly never expected to walk into my kitchen and find my son home for the holiday, but, I can honestly say that it made my month. Maybe even my year.

As an aside, the outfit I was wearing (my HPU T-shirt, in honor of the kid I thought we would be Face Timing with later in the day) is the same one that I wore to the first football game of the season, back in September (to honor the kid who used to wear the #23 jersey on that football field). These side-by side photos are the best proof that walking and not eating crap actually lead to a slightly slimmer shape. Who knew? (Oh, that's right; everyone. Everyone knew)

Having the Cub home for the long Thanksgiving weekend also gave me an opportunity to take pictures for our annual Christmas card, which, was something that I didn't think I would be able to accomplish this year. And, while I'm sure that neither of my offspring particularly wanted to don elf costumes on turkey day, they humored me, helping to create the photos for one of my favorite cards of all time.

December: This month has cruised by on warp-speed. The Cub got home on the 11th, for a nice long holiday break. Both Queen B and the Cub finished their semesters with high grades, which makes Hugh and me understandably proud, and, we have had several opportunities to gather together as a family, again.

As my recent posts show, we have also hosted my extended family for a holiday full of laughter, cookie decorating, game playing (we laughed our way to tears during a hilarious round of Speak Out), light viewing, picture taking, antique hunting, reminiscing, and welcoming our newest family members and potential new family member (hint, hint, Rodeo Princess's boyfriend).

It was a holiday to remember.

And, now, here we stand, on the cusp on 2018.

Hugh and I don't have major plans for seeing in the Baby New Year; we have outgrown our tradition of hosting Jana and Co. for the evening (well, the kids outgrew us, I should say), and, there is every possibility that I won't even be awake to see the ball drop over Times Square.

But, one thing is certain; tomorrow morning I will awake to a new year, full of new possibilities, new challenges, and new experiences. I'll embrace the traditional experiences as often as possible, and, God willing, will create something brand new and awesome along the way.

It's going to be a good year (she said, with fingers crossed and fervent prayers to the Lord).

Happy 2018!