Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

I was sort of waffling to do this post again this year. I’m not entirely sure why, but I guess it was something along the lines of why would anyone else besides me feel it worthwhile to read through a personal post like this. But then I called to mind why I started blogging in the first place – to provide myself a place of reflection and to record my story. Whether I have one or five thousand readers, it doesn’t matter. I still enjoy looking back at last year’s post and remembering the good and the bad. It helps me to recognize areas of growth in my life, to find strength in recalling what was thrown at me and what I was able to conquer, and to remind myself of the big picture. It also ironically helps me to keep the past in the past. Never underestimate the necessity  and power of a proper farewell.

To me, the new year isn’t about riding on this expectation that you’ll suddenly become this “new me” on January 1st.  Real growth and real change take much longer than that – longer than a year anyway. I’ve started to try focusing more on building on myself every year. Changing bad habits or growing good ones, setting more broad goals than specific ones and then actually acting on them, letting myself a little more off the hook if I stumble and picking myself back up with a little more humility on board.

It’s funny how a year can seem to fly by isn’t it, though time is a natural constant and no minute is every really longer than then next…

Without further ado, here was my 2016:

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We kicked off the start of the New Year with a winter bonfire in the backyard. It’s probably a good thing we took advantage of the mild winter weather then because not long after, the area plunged a long stretch of bitterly cold sub-zero temperatures. We were about halfway through the uncertainty of D’s unemployment at that point and to conserve our monetary resources, we lay pretty low this month. We learned how poorly our old little house conserves heat and in an effort to conserve our heat to keep our electric bill down we learned to double or triple layer our lounging clothes and kept our blankets well employed. We split up the days in the month by babysitting our niece puppy, Rue, and put aside our stresses for a night out on the town at the local winter festival. The month was sadly capstoned by the loss of my dear little Beagle, Jack.

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Another quiet month. D finally was able to gain a few leads in the job hunting department and towards the end of the month he could finally officially no longer call himself unemployed. I got to sheepishly claim his as mine when people asked whose husband that was in the “special outfit” at a dodgeball tournament to raise money for his sister’s school that she’s a teacher at. I also began to tackle the remodeling of our home library by picking up and trying out about 2,593 paint samples before settling on a nice red. I am pleased to say the room for the most part is finished, and has been a relaxing area to retreat to when the days get long. The month also marks the beginning of my jump back into the fitness world.

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About every six months like clockwork, I start to get the the itch of wanderlust. Bad. Luckily, my employer offered me an all-expense paid week-long trip to Las Vegas to attend a convention. While it wasn’t a new destination for me, it was still nice to just get out of Dodge for a little while, especially at the tail end of a long winter. We got to celebrate my brother and sister-in-law’s new status as homeowners at their housewarming party one Saturday, and then again as they hosted their first holiday in their new home on Easter. It was exciting to see them go through it all, as we had done the previous spring. We also decided to add a new member to our family – our puppy Patrick was born at the end of the month (coincidentally, on 17th anniversary of my father’s death).

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 I spent a ten days house-sitting for my mom as she made a big leap across the ocean and took a much needed vacation to visit my sister in Guam. We started thinking about our summer gardens (D and I planned to have “dueling gardens” in town. Spoiler alert: … I won…), and I embarked on the construction of my garden fence. We also got to finally meet our new little canine baby at puppy pickout day, and learned just how long a month can drag out afterwards.
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As always, May was a busy month. We indulged in a concert-going experience by getting tickets to see Carrie Underwood and Easton Corbin. Unfortunately, I think we heard a bit more of the teenage girls singing next to us then Carrie. It was then that I decided that  more intimate, lesser known concerts may be a better way to spend our money in the future.. I rang in my 28th year, starting a slow farewell to my 20s, which I would say I have made peace at doing. After a long month of waiting, we finally got to bring  home baby Patrick. Ruby wasn’t too impressed with this young whipper snapper, though it did pull the younger side out of her. We also enjoyed a nice long Memorial Day camping weekend with two of my brothers and sister-in-law. Patrick marked it as his first big adventure with our family.

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June was spent getting adjusted to having a puppy again. After having old dogs for so long, it definitely puts you in a different ballpark. Days were filled with lots of training sessions, puppy class, runs out at the farm, and just watching the little guy grow. It was a little stressful at first, but at the same time rewarding and a lot of fun too. At the end of the month, Becca and I took a time out from life and took a girl’s camping/kayaking trip at beautiful Long Lake.

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The first part of the month was spent with a half-hearted effort to reverse the overgrowth that we had let happen at the farm garden. We eventually admitted to ourselves that, once again, we may have gotten our seeds down too late, though an early summer dry spell did nothing to help. This was also the month of the Tough Mudder Half and a weekend in the city visiting one of my sisters.

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This was a tough month, dealing with the loss of Patrick early on. I was almost surprised by just how much I grieved for the little guy, even now, so many months later. Toward the end of the month, some old army friends of ours moved in a couple of blocks down, finally giving us “couple friends” in our little town. We also had some of my family members over for the local potato festival in town.

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We kicked off the month by checking off a bucket list item with a trip out to Kentucky, spending about four days just driving around the state, seeing what it had to offer. Our friends down the street got married in the middle of the month, so a couple of weekends were filled with celebrations for that. I also worked on my woodworking skills by making a pair of matching bed stands to tie into our handcrafted bed frame.

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This month marks our one-year wedding anniversary. We celebrated a little bit unconventionally and off our original plan, but made the most of it. We also finally investigated into a wet spot under our bathroom sink, which eventually led to the discovery of the rotting of the entire frame of the shower. Thus began our bathroom remodel, which is rolling over here even into the new year. But more on that later… We got in a few more weekends of bow hunting this year before rifle season started, though no luck in harvesting a deer. We celebrated our second Halloween in our house, though it was with a little less involvement than last year unfortunately. It was a banner year for the trick-or-treaters though – at least they didn’t have to wear snow suits under their costumes! We were blessed with extremely mild fall weather.

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D’s absolute favorite month because it is the opening of rifle season around here. I didn’t participate as much in the rifle aspect of it, but I did take my bow back into the stand a few more times. The weather was almost too mild for a lot of success for the party and they only harvested a couple of deer this year. Election day of course came and went, D and I getting to try out our small town polling place for the first time. We also decided we would like to try the puppy thing again, even though I still miss Patrick dearly. Our new little guy was born mid-month, and we’ll be bringing him home just a couple of weeks into the new year! Name is tentatively Franklin “Frankie”, though after watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the year, I started thinking George Bailey would be an awful cute beagle name too… Thanksgiving was celebrated with both sides this year – we were well fed by the end of the day!

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Oh boy, this month… It has been a doozey. We continued on with the bathroom remodel, only to realize after all of the shower floor tile was laid that the wrong materials were used and basically washed away the first time the shower was used. So that will all be coming up and redone here in the New Year. I attended my third work Christmas party; D and I tried to live up the holidays as much as possible, even partaking in a very nice meal and holiday lights tour to commemorate our engagement anniversary. We got to go down and pick out our new puppy. Christmas Eve was spent with D’s family and we hosted Christmas for my family for the second year at our house. It was a full house, but fun, with a lot of games. Then apparently we had to send out the year with a bang – Mom fell off a step ladder at her home and broke her left leg and will require surgery to correct it. The news has severely disrupted her independent lifestyle and has had to move in with us for a little while as she’s for the most part bedridden. We are hoping we’ll get her moved home soon, but have had to come to terms with the fact that this will be no easy fix – our world will be turned upside down for at least the next six months if not more. I’ve also learned a new appreciation for taking care of a parent – it is something you can’t quite understand until you have to do it. We’re trying to stay optimistic and strong.

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As we start out into this new year, I don’t know what it will bring. You never do, I guess. The best I figure I can do is still come up with goals and ideas and do my best to keep them in front of me. I feel this year will require a different kind of strength from me than I have had to tap into before. I think I will need to learn to keep an open mind about everything, but do as much as I can with what I have, and not let my own dreams get pushed entirely out of the picture.

I wish you all a very happy and restful New Year! Be strong, be brave, have fun 🙂

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