Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in the rearview mirror

October 2013
G'day folks!

2013 ... its all, but a day, behind us! Phewww! Feels like I was going at the speed of light for the whole year and now it's something of a blur. This will be a long reminisce folks ... grab a cuppa, a snack, & find a comfy chair!

Highlights for our family in 2013 include:

My Mum & Dad celebrated their 53rd Wedding Anniversary in January - pretty awesome in this day and age!

Tyya had a great Winter swim season, adding the individual medley to her now full swimming repertoire. She took between 2-6 second off all her times by season's end! To cap off a great season, her team were the Division Champions!

In early March, after progressively (3-4yrs) becoming physically uncomfortable just sitting down, I had (robotic) surgery to remove more than 2 lbs (nearly 1kg) of fibroids & endometriosis from my uterus (left intact). Surgery went long, but very well. My recovery was swift and complete — aside from an allergic rash all over my stomach (from dressing adhesive & antibacterial) that took 4 weeks or more to clear — I felt fantastic within 2 weeks, and was back at the gym within 5 weeks! I haven't felt this good in years :) My scars look like the constellation Cassiopeia across my stomach — Matt's favorite constellation I might add ;)

After an early spring in 2012, we had a late winter in 2013, with snow in late March! Brrr. Our Easter weekend was spent in NY celebrating the life & memory of my "Bonus Mom" Valerie Daly who passed away in December 2012. I was so blessed to be loved & 'adopted' by her. She was the embodiment of the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control - every one of them!)

In April we cheered on [from home] Matt's brother Craig who ran the Boston Marathon (26.1 miles) for the first time, finishing with a personal best time of 3hrs:4min. He was [safely] on a train when the bombs went off :( He qualified to run again in 2014.

On April 22 we added 4 new members to our family ... 4 girls* ... Gandie, Henrietta, Sunshine & Fluffball ... the cutest little chicks you ever did see! I mean it — they were baby chickens! *Alas, Henrietta turned out to be Henry, and at 6 weeks old he was swapped for another girl, Peaches. It was awesome watching them grow!! They are beautiful. Gandie is the only one laying so far (thus she is officially a "hen") I guess the other 3 "pullets" are going to wait until spring 2014? They'll end up in the pot if they don't do something more than cluck, eat & poop! We have "hidden" them in a cozy coop & run under our back deck, behind an 8ft hedge! Our township is not yet chicken-friendly, but apparently they are working on it!

Days old

1 week
3 weeks

Henry the handsome rooster on departure day.
As if that wasn't enough, we also started a worm farm — a.k.a. vermicomposting! A thousand+ red-wigglers. Like the chickens, they like to eat fruit & veg scraps. We did this primarily for fertilizer for the garden, and I thought the chooks might like the occasional worm treat. Nope! Rejected! More compost for the garden I guess.

In May, Matt & I celebrated our 11th Wedding Anniversary, and I finally finished our wedding album! Kaeden mastered backstroke in his annual swimming lessons. If it is the only recognizable stroke he does, I will be a happy Mama. He loves water & swimming, but not to the extent of his sister, and that is perfectly OK :)

In June Kaeden & Tyya finished second grade at opposite ends of the academic spectrum. It was another great year for Tyya, and another challenging year for Kaeden as we continue to learn about how he learns. Thankfully their school provides a lot of learning support.

On something of a whim, we were all treated to a helicopter ride over historic Gettysburg thanks to Matt's sister and her involvement with a local aviation club.

Our beautiful & compassionate Princesita turned 8 in June ...
Where have the years gone?!

Kaeden has enjoyed a hip-hop dance class since September last year, which culminated in an inspiring & fantastic dance recital in June. He was so cute in his "SpongeBob" dance number! Needless to say he was eager to pick up the class again this September! Kaeden & Tyya started Judo classes at our local YMCA and got their first promotion in December.

In July our imaginative
& handsome Kaeden turned 9!

Kaeden & Tyya went to a week-long, overnight summer camp where they learned and performed a cute little musical "Famous Kids of the Bible." The following week we went camping as a family, together with my Mum & Dad/Nana & Pop (who came for a 6-week visit). I am convinced it was the hottest week of the summer, but we enjoyed swimming in the river & a few campfires.

Kaeden finally learned to ride his bike sans training wheels & parental assistance ... a simple set of (skater) elbow & knee pads gave him the extra confidence he needed :)

Tyya decided to get another haircut, with just enough to make her second donation to Locks of Love :) She looks so cute with her short hair!

It was wonderful to celebrate my Dad's birthday in late July, and to have Mum & Dad here to celebrate my birthday in August before they returned home.

In August I canned & jammed a bushel of fresh, locally grown peaches, and blanched/froze 4 dozen ears of locally grown sweet corn (22lbs of kernels!). Y.U.M. Our veggie garden provided well for us this year too, especially greens. There's nothing like home-grown veggies & fresh green smoothies!

Summer break came to a close with the beginning of the school year — the start of 3rd grade — at the end of August. After 3 days at school we took the kids for our annual sojourn to West Virginia for Old Timers Reunion over the Labor Day weekend+ — 5 days of camping, caving & partying! T & K's 8th year, my 13th & Matt's 23rd year. It's a reunion with a great bunch of out-of-state friends that we camp with :) Tyya finally enjoyed caving this year!! Woohoo!

In September Matt celebrated his birthday, Tyya eagerly started another season of swimming, and Gandie started laying eggs and officially became a "hen." Matt also started as a "full-time" teacher of 2nd year electrical apprentices (2 nights per week) after being a substitute for the past 2-3 years.

It was a busy year for the tooth fairy this year! Both kids lost 6 teeth combined. Kaeden's lower front permanent teeth came in before his baby teeth fell out and he had two rows of teeth for a couple months. After 9 months wait, Tyya's top front permanent teeth finally 'cut' in :)

October saw one of the prettiest Autumn seasons I have seen in my 14 years in Pennsylvania. October also brings with it Halloween fun and this year was no exception. Kaeden was a Minion & Tyya was ninja-Edith from the movie "Despicable Me 2". I think they got to wear their costumes on at least 3 separate occasions, in 2 parades, and Trick or Treating!

November was a month of Thankfulness. Each day on Facebook I posted something I was grateful for. It was wonderful to remember and count the blessings in my life. We celebrated Thanksgiving at our house this year with some of Matt's family and lots of good food :)

2013 was a year to improve my health, fitness & figure. It's been one of the healthiest, feel-good [adult] years I can remember! I've lost 14lbs, but I have improved muscle tone with high-intensity workouts at the gym. Still a bit to go.

December 2 was the opening of rifle season for deer in our region, and Matt got a small buck on opening day and a huge doe on closing day.

We've had some lovely snowfalls already this winter, with enough to create a small sled run in our yard to the kids' delight.

Tyya's first swim meet for the season saw her shave time off all her personal bests from last season, including a whopping 11 seconds off her 100m Individual Medley and a first place (8 & under)! Can't wait to see what the rest of the season holds in store!

On Dec 18 we signed the final papers and took ownership of our 'new' house. It's 2 miles from our current home, on 4.7 acres (a little more than our current 1/8th acre lot!) Lots of work to be done to make it our home, so stay posted for updates. The photo shows current and hopeful (Photoshopped) outer appearance.

Christmas — we took time to reflect on the reason for the season, as well as some 'worldly'  Christmas fun throughout the month. We spent 7 hours at church on Christmas Eve participating in 3 (of 6) services. Kaeden & Tyya's gift to us was allowing us to sleep in until 8am on Christmas day before we all descended the stairs to read the Christmas Scripture & sing Happy Birthday to Jesus before opening gifts. Technically it was a "White Christmas" as there was a dusting of snow left from a Christmas Eve flurry. We enjoyed the afternoon and evening at Matt's sister's house with the rest of his family.

And now it is New Year's Eve ... 3:00am to be precise. I am determined to get this done before I go to bed!

I hope and pray that 2014 is full of blessings, health, and joy for you and yours! Happy New Year!