We did A LOT of living this year, and it shows.
I rang in 2012 working at my local Irish pub. Yah. It wasn't exceptionally busy nor fun but I hubby had recently deployed and the Princess was with friends. So there really was nothing else, besides I don't really remember having a choice since I hadn't worked Christmas. If I remember correctly, it was just my turn in the holiday work barrel. No matter what, I made the best of it that night, and looking back it wasn't so bad after all.
|My girls and I hard at work at the Dubliner.|
I made a great friend/family, one that I am sure I will have for many years to come. We bonded in our likeness, sarcasm, parenting styles, husbands deployment and in the many things that brought us together last year. We stay bonded in the friendship, mutual respect and love that grew in that miserable winter last year where sunshine seemed like some other worldly occurrence. I can't thank her enough for her support.
|Bear and his Arrow of Light|
February crossed us over from Cub Scouts (Webelos II) to official Boy Scout status. The ceremony was awesome and he did an excellent job at advancing through belt loops and badges.
We did quite a bit of local traveling and did some castle exploration. We got to see a FREE show performed by Cirque du Soleil courtesy of USO. It was spectacular! And considering it was only a shortened performance, in an aircraft hangar, they did an AMAZING job!
February also packed in some unexpected surprises like pneumonia! Not fun. The positive side of being deathly ill was the commitment to quitting smoking. I had been a smoker on and off since I was 17 years old. There had been plenty of years where I didn't smoke (pregnancies and nursing and infants in the home) and then there had been years where I smoked regularly. Over the last five years I had taken to being a "summer" smoker. Weird. I know. Except it isn't. When most of your drinking, BBQing and hanging with friends happens in the summer, and as a school teacher I am off all summer... it seemed logical to take it up during the dog days of summer. Either way...February's illness presented me with the opportunity. I have been smoke free ever since. Hooray for me!
February was all peachy and cheery. I struggled with trying to loose weight, inches, something, anything. To no avail. I finally broke down and get signed up for Weight Watchers online. I struggled with seasonal depression which was made worse by being sick and the fact that the sun didn't shine with ANY regularity. It was tough, but I marched on through.
Bring in the start of Spring and warmer weather. We spent this month exploring the Easter Egg Markets here in Germany. I had never seen so many beautifully adorned eggs! We purchased our first three Easter eggs for our collection. This will be something we explore again this year!
March is also the start of the birthday season in my home. We have a March bday and two April bdays, so Spring is truly the time of birth! Bear celebrated his 11th bday in March and also went on his first SOLO overnight Boy Scout camporee. I was nervous he would be frozen to the bone, but he did well!
|Sibling tomfoolery on the bike rides!|
We did encounter some difficulties in March. Like the time I came home from work one night to find someone hit my hubby's car right in my driveway! Jacked up the right rear tire and quarter panel. And no, they didn't even leave a note or knock on the door. Fuckers!
|View from the top of a hill in Garmisch.|
We celebrated birthdays and just being back together again. We took Sunday bike rides and enjoyed our family time.
Our travels took us to my favorite area of Germany: Bavaria! We were blessed with the opportunity to attend a Marriage Retreat in the German Alps, with Bear and Princess courtesy of the US Army. Thank you so much! It was a great weekend for all of us!
Our travels even got to a historical site: Dachau Concentration Camp. The kids were excited to take a day from school to visit this historical site. They learned more that day from experiential history than any history book could every convey in words.
April was a month of renewal. My family was back together, the sun was shining again and I felt like the weight of winter had been lifted. Literally and figuratively since I lost several inches and pounds. All the hard work with P90X and Insanity was paying off.
Circles were completed in May as I finished the last of graduate work and closed the chapter on my Administration Internship. That was relief! Talk about an albatross hanging around my neck. Sheew!
|Hubby and the Graduate|
We traveled back to the states for the first time since we moved to Germany for my stepson's graduation from high school. It was a bitter sweet moment. Many divorced parents are able to set aside differences for those momentous events in the child's life. Many divorced parents can "play nice" even for just a few hours. Not here. Hubby and his ex have not played nice in over a decade, if not more. It's truly not for a lack of trying. Hubby has really tried and I don't say that because he is my hubby, but because I really believe he has given it the effort it deserved only to consistently get slapped in the face by lies, and manipulations. The ex really gives a new meaning to the word c*nt. I could go on about her injustices against the boy and Hubby, most egregious is her total devolution of the father-son relationship. Graduation was just more of the same. After watching the graduation in the stands avoiding "her". We slinked out of the stadium, unable to take pictures with Oldest since Mom was hovering like a hawk. We finally got to see him at the local Olive Garden for approximately an hour, and that was like from 9:45-10:45pm. It wasn't pretty. Oldest was ambivalent. Hubby was hurt. Not the best of situations.
The worst was yet to come. Oldest told his Dad that he would not be visiting him this summer. He wanted to "hang with his friends and girlfriend before basic." To further add insult to injury, he was going on vacation with his mother and step dad to see his step dad's family. Words still fail to heal that wound. We will see what time can do.
Our trip to the states did give us a chance to see and hang out with old friends! That was truly the highlight of the trip.
Mother's Day was great this year, and in keeping with the spirit of YOM, I got my first NEW car. My kids call it "Mom's first new cool car!" I love it! My other Mother's Day gift was an iPad. I guess maybe it was YOM.
Other travel news took us to Disneyland Paris where I got to reunite with an OLD friend from high school whom I hadn't spent time in 10 years.
June brought heartache to the Princess as she said goodbye to a new love, and hello to old friends. She finished the dreadful Junior year, which was quite rebellious and ushered in a fresh new grounding for the summer! Uggh how I hate those as much as she does!
We traveled stateside again for the family vacation. We visited friends in Maryland. We attended a 40 year vow renewal, and drank ourselves stupid. We visited family in NYC. We happened to be in NY when the heatwave of June rolled through, and we roasted in a Bronx apartment with the circulation equivalent to a jail cell. We spent a fuck ton of money, and went way over budget. However, we had a wonderful time! It was good to be home, even if we didn't have a home stateside anymore.
For Father's Day, I made sure I returned the good favor of YOM, and got hubby his very own laptop!
|Gma fooling around with a beer!|
A week after her departure, we embark on the cruise of a lifetime. Our graduation present to our daughter, yes the summer before her graduation, was a Mediterranean cruise. Words can't express how awesome it was! We travelled to Barcelona, Spain; Marseilles, France; Florence, Rome, Naples, Venice and Sicily, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia. Talk about getting my travel fix in! AMAZING! The food. The drinks. The ports. The excursions. The family time. The adult time with kids taken care of. All of it was pure perfection. And in the words of my Hubby, YOM.
Fucker was right.
While on our cruise, I discovered I had been offered an interview at the local high school for a job! It was turning out to be a FABULOUS summer!
School started and I started a new job! It was great to be back in the classroom and out of a smokey pub working nights. The job offer was a dream come true: part-time, every other day, teaching electives Psychology and Sociology. Cha.Ching. Oh yea.. the money is spectacular too!
August was a restful month as we got back to the daily grind of school, routine and end of summer blues. We did the back to school shopping, the unpacking, the post vacation rest which were coupled with the post vacation blues. It was a month to get back on track with savings, considering how expensive the summer had turned out to be. Ouch!
August also saw the start of Volleyball Season. As the new Assistant Coach and head JV Coach, I had my work cut out for me, especially since I hadn't coached in over 6+ years. But it was worth the adventure!
Like every fall in Germany, September starts the season of wine festivals! The weather is beautiful and the wine is delish! We made our rounds to a new wine festival in Bernkastel-Kues, and what a good decision. It's a beautiful city on the river and what gorgeous country-side! Good friends, good wine = Good Times!
Sports was a consuming event this past fall. Volleyball kicked in full gear mid-September and my schedule was consumed with it. I had a great group of girls, albeit a bit prone to drama, but it was exciting and fun!
|At his final game, with snow flurries, like a BOSS!|
Bear started soccer and had an excellent season! It had been years since he played, but he got back into it and did well. Add to that starting middle school, learning to play the Oboe and Scouts his played was plenty full.
Princess got busy with her Senior year and plenty of AP classes to keep her busy. With the idea of college looming on the horizon, we saw a new Princess emerge with a more settled sense of being. Thankfully!
While September didn't bring many opportunities to travel, we had a great month getting back to the business of daily living, and that is always good!
Bear had his first Oboe concert! He did a great job and sounded great for only having learned to play it for less than 6 weeks. We were so proud!
Volleyball season was a huge success with JV losing only 1 match the entire season! AWESOME! Our Varsity team was heading straight to European Championships and on its way to another victory.
|Alex and I, WHOOP!|
One of the highlights of the month (year) was the chance to audition for Jeopardy! I had the opportunity to test and retest with the Clue Crew and I even met Alex Trebek. I have the picture to prove it! :)
Our travels took all four us back Stateside to see the Oldest graduate from OSUT (Basic Training and AIT). This too was a disaster! While we made it there to watch him graduate, it was a fuckton nightmare with the ex. I won't divulge all of it here because it isn't my story to tell, but it wasn't pretty. Suffice to say that when it all shook out, we saw the Oldest for about 10 minutes after graduation. That was it. We traveled half-way around the world, drove from SC to GA, and got to spend 10 minutes with him WITH an audience of his mom, stepdad, grandmother, aunts, cousins and every other swinging dick that was there. Epic fail.
We also took the time to take Princess to see her first college campus. It was a great experience. She loved it. I loved it. Hubby loved it. It was a reality check that she would be graduating and leaving soon. *deep sigh* You would think that would have sunk in when we ordered her class ring and announcements this month. Ouch!
We also got a chance to see my mom and grandmother. While Mom was a planned part of the trip, Grandma was not and it was a perfect surprise. We spent a few days in Savannah enjoying the weather, the company and Mom & Grandma.
|Us at Cologne Cathedral|
|Hubby, Bear and I in Austria.|
Thanksgiving brought us a quiet dinner with friends as the Princess traveled to visit her real dad in FL. This year was better. I was more settled with my new life in Germany, and my usual seasonal depression was kept at bay with a busy schedule, travel and volleyball. Bring on the Christmas season!
Our travels had us on the road again. Hubby planned a SURPRISE trip to Salzburg, Austria! We had a fabulous time going to the Christmas Markets and touring the city. The only downside (not really): the drive!
Bear had his second Oboe concert and we had our first German snow!!!We Christmas Marketed almost every weekend, sometimes two in one weekend. We ventured to Bastogne to the historical walk, and we walked 13km in mud and yuck! We ice-skated. We drank glühwein. We did the Christmas carols all month long! We enjoyed our Christmas season, like we were unable to last year. Time has a way of helping you adjust.
|Bestie and I|
Another chapter closing in the book of our life. December brought us another visitor as well. My first stateside friend/family to visit. My bestie from MD make the journey over, and we spent a whirlwind 10 days touring as much as possible. From Frankfurt to Heidelberg, to Saarbrucken, and even down to Strasbourg, France. No Christmas Market that was available was left untouched. :) We ran ourselves so ragged we caught a stomach flu and spent two days bed ridden, but we had a great time! I can't wait for her to return this summer. :)
Christmas was good to both the kids. Princess got her class ring, and sweatshirt, and memory book and all sorts of other class memorabilia. She also got a few other things in there as well!
Bear got the usual clothes, new coat, books and other small necessities. His big present for the year: iTouch. He was happier than a pig in poop. :)
The New Year celebrations were quiet and peaceful, which was much needed after the holidays and the year we had! We can't wait for next year.
Our family is lucky. Beyond lucky, we are truly blessed.
I know it. Hubby knows it. I hope to hell the kids know it.
We crammed a shit ton of living into one year, (and I'm sure there is sooo much more I am missing), and I am grateful we were able to do so.
I am grateful and appreciative for our health: financially, emotionally and spiritually. As we embark on this new year, I want to thank everyone who supported us this year, through thick and thin.
I want to thank my husband who a truly patient man, and who loves his family unconditionally. I want to thank my kids who are not perfect, and sometimes there are a true pain in my ass, but they give my life purpose and meaning.
I want to thank God who has guided me to a better place in my life, one where I can accept the challenges he presents to me as well as the blessings.
Here is to the hope that 2013 is as wonderful as 2012!
Happy New Year!