Monday, December 13, 2010

Reflections on 2010

I've been reminded again that some friends still read my blog! As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, I use Facebook so much that I've forgotten that some people still pay attention to these old-style blogs! ;) So here goes... a very quick overview of the year.
My girls all grew a year older. That means that Brianna is 14 and in high school and attending church dances. High school has included her involvement in band, which for the past few months meant marching band, which meant lots of time at school for practices and away for competitions and at football games. I wasn't sure how she was going to like marching band; I did it for a couple of years of high school myself and had mixed feelings about it. But she absolutely loved it and has found her niche and a fun group of friends. She plays clarinet, and this is only her second year playing in band, so she really stepped up to the plate and did great despite her limited experience. Watching her perform and listening to her practice and talk about all her experiences has been very satisfying for me. I've just popped from pride. She's also got a 4.0 so far in her classes, so I'm happy for her academics. I love listening to all her stories every day. She has so much to share, and she still loves her mom and dad, which is delightful. I can't express enough how much I enjoy her and watching her turn into this amazing young woman.
Marissa turned 12 this August, which means she was able to leave Primary behind and join the ranks of the Young Women at church. She went to her first Girls' Camp in August, too, and had a great time. As always, she's a charmer and just smiles at everyone and has a great time with whatever she does. She's still quite small, so people tend to forget that she's 12. At Girls' Camp, in fact, she had other girls giving her piggyback rides on the hike! Yikes. I don't think that is what the hike is for. But she had fun, and everyone else seems to be enjoying her and watching out for her. She has a new teacher at school this year; the teacher she had for a year and half in her special class moved away to Kentucky, unfortunately. But Marissa is still doing well at school and working hard to keep learning, and has already gotten an award during one of their assemblies. She is still a ray of sunshine.
Cami turned 8 in May, which meant she was able to be baptized. A string of circumstances led to us having her baptism at home on her birthday, which was Memorial Day. So she can say, like Brianna, that she was baptized in a swimming pool. Brianna had to be baptized in someone's pool because the font was in the wing of our chapel that had had a fire; Cami just got to be baptized here in our pool for other reasons. So far, Marissa's the only one to be baptized in a font! Cami is bright and talented and doing great at school. She's been reading through a lot of library books, and she got an award at school last week at an assembly. She's just doing great and is lots of fun.
Charlotte turned 3 this April and is now talking about her next birthday, which is still several months away. She goes to a day care for two days a week so I can get things done around the house and on my website and have a little break, and she just has a great time. She talks about her school and all her friends there and what she likes to do there with her teachers. The other days of the week, she enjoys going to the gym with me. We have an established routine, and you know how kids are about routines! She is a charmer as well and uses her extreme cuteness to her advantage with everyone she meets. I don't let it sway me when she's acting up, being somewhat immune to the cute factor after all this time, though. But I thoroughly enjoy getting and giving her hugs and kisses. She loves to sing and dance and read books. She definitely keeps me on my toes.
A few activities of the year:
We went to Disneyland with the kids twice, once in January and once in June. The season pass was fun to use, and the girls had a great time. Marce and I used the passes again for our anniversary in September. We were able to ride all the rides together that we had to take turns doing with the girls who were big enough for them before. It was quite fun. It was especially nice because there was hardly anyone there when we went then, and we just zipped right through all the lines. We had more time then to just chill out and sleep in our hotel room, which is always welcome for busy parents!
In June, after the Disneyland trip, we went straight from L.A. out East. We rented a minivan for two weeks and visited Ohio, Alabama, and Kentucky. The main reason for the trip was to see my dad's grave, which I hadn't been able to visit yet. I wanted to have my whole family there with me, which is what happened. We were even able to coordinate with some other family members to come up and be at the grave at the same time, so my oldest half-brother and his wife and youngest son came, as did my mom and nephew and the oldest of my stepsiblings, L'Erin. It was so nice to be able to be there at Dad's grave together and see the gravestone that had just been put on. Also in Ohio, we visited my grandma, who is still doing great at age 94. Next, we went to our old stomping grounds in Alabama and visited friends we have missed since being here in Visalia. It was nice to be back where we lived for 10 years. I sent Marce back home to Visalia to get back to work and then took the girls to visit my mom and siblings in Kentucky. My brother and his wife had just had a new baby, so we were able to see my handsome little nephew Drake and see Ken's new house. It all worked out beautifully.
I've been working still on Rated Reads, which is coming along. I decided this summer to redesign the website to make it more attractive and functional. I hired a designer to help me to do this because I couldn't possibly have done it myself. I also did a little advertising to try to get the word out about it. I'm very pleased with the new look, and I've gotten very positive feedback. The Deseret News also contacted me this fall and asked me to write an article for them about how to find appropriate books to read, so that was published in the Mormon Times last month and got the word out a little more. Even with these improvements, it's still really slow going getting more traffic. I wish I knew how to wave a magic wand to get hundreds of people visiting the site every day, but I guess I just need to settle for slow progress.
Now it's the holiday season. It's been a long year; in many ways, as you can see, it's been a good year, but it's also been one of some personal struggles that are finally easing a bit. So I feel I'm ending the year on a good note and a hopeful one. I am enjoying the holidays and savoring the sights and smells and sounds of the season. Last year was hard, with Dad just having passed away, but this year I can feel happier and just enjoy my memories.
I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and the best for the upcoming new year.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New post for the new year

I believe I wrote before I don't get on here much anymore, thanks to the evil wiles of Facebook. But I do want to post a little for those who keep up with me via this method. So hello! Happy 2010!
We have been busy this year. We took the girls to Disneyland for two days in early January before school got started up again, and then we went to Sacramento at the end of January for Marce's oldest niece's wedding in the LDS temple there. I took copious photos of both trips that can be seen on my smugmug site. There should be a link for that off to the side, right?
I have been continually trying to move forward past Dad's death, grieving, pondering, going through all his stuff, etc. I have just gotten to the point where almost all of his things have been put away somewhere in my house, which is very pleasing to me. It had been frustrating seeing the boxes just sitting around taking up space and creating clutter. I've gone through most of his possessions, some things just very briefly, enough to get them stowed in a closet, and some more closely. It's been an interesting journey all around. I've been missing him terribly. But I've been lucky, frankly, to be reminded of some of his weaknesses that made me absolutely crazy, so it's helped me to not miss him so much. It may sound crazy to some, but to those who have been in my position, you will understand what I mean.
I've been through a heckuva lot this past couple of years, and I believe I'm starting to be able to move forward now and feel like I can start fresh again. I'm doing what I can to take care of myself and my family and do what is best for us. I've made some good new friends here in our new hometown, and I'm glad we're here. I still miss our friends elsewhere, definitely, but I'm feeling more at home here. As always, I still can't wait for a future day when all the people I care about can live on one fine heavenly cul-de-sac, and not be separated by states and miles. Life has been good to me in so many ways, but some of what I am most grateful for are the wonderful relationships I've enjoyed over the years with some amazing people. You know who you are! I thank you, and I miss you!
In terms of events, I mentioned our little trips. But everyone continues to grow. Brianna will be 14 in 3 months (whoa!), and she just got braces this week. So she now sounds a little different. It's just darling to listen to her. Charlotte will be 3 soon and is getting bigger and more mature, thank goodness, and one of the coolest bits of news for her is that she began wearing panties this week. Very exciting. So she's a big girl now! Cami and Marissa are doing great and moving right along too.
I took a few weeks off of work this month to take some time to get myself ... well, centered, grounded, re-found somehow. I've got one more week to just be with myself before I go back to the newspaper. But it's been valuable time to focus on myself a bit after everything that's happened these past months.
I also was released from the Relief Society presidency and now am playing piano in Primary. I have been in R.S. for a long while now and am adjusting to a new and very different environment! But Cami and Marissa love being able to see me on their turf on Sundays, and I am glad to be getting the rust shaken off of my long-dormant piano-playing fingers.
And that's kind of the highlights. Happy February to all.