December 31, 2013

2013. Let's wrap this thing up.

January started as it usually does. With some celebrating with some friends, staying warm, and sledding when it was available.

In February, I flew to Orlando for an annual work conference. It was warmer than Milwaukee. But work was incredibly insane for me, so unfortunately, very little good was happening for me on a personal level.

But that all changed in a busy, but fun March. C-man turned 8.

 He made his very off-Broadway debut as a Russian cosmonaut, which he absolutely loved doing.

And the biggest event of our year happened when we took our first out-of-country family trip together. First, we started in Paris. The crepes, the Eiffel Tower, and the museums - Paris was everything we'd predictably thought it would be, which was a fantastic way to start this trip with an 8 year old.

We continued our trip as April started when we flew from Paris on to Turkey. We started in amazing, beautiful, crazily busy, and delightful Istanbul, and made our way around the Bosphorous Peninsula. We saw Troy and Pergamom and Ephesus. We bought a rug. I had a Turkish bath. We swam in the Bursa hot springs. And we loved every bit of it. It was an amazingly, unforgettably, beautiful, perfectly perfect trip for all of us. And at the ripe age of 8, it forever changed C-man's worldview.

May got crazy, as it always does. C-man was in judo now, and had started competing in the tournaments. It was a pretty natural fit, as he was even winning them.

He also made his First Communion.

The same weekend I celebrated turning 37 at the Brewers game.

May marked the start of baseball season. His last year as a Yankee.

Beerman and I celebrated being officially together for a solid dozen years.

And C-man won the 50 meter dash at the school Junior Olympics, thereby being crowned the fastest 1st or 2nd grader around. (Something that has given him an entire year's worth of bragging rights)

In June, C-man said goodbye to 2nd grade. (And some teeth), and was ready for summer to officially begin.

We also celebrated a family high school graduation.

July rounded out baseball season with an All-Star game - one of C-man's life long goals.

Once baseball was done, we had the opportunity to do a few other things, like attend more baseball. At one Chinooks game, C-man ran (and won) his race as a Racing Minnow. Something he didn't want to do when I entered him into it, but then thought was fantastic after he did it.

In August, I took an unforgettable trip with my mom and sisters to New York City. We saw quite a bit of Manhattan in just a few days. And from now on, chubbies will always be on the family dessert plates.

From there, I few home from NYC to another judo tournament at State Fair. This time for a 2nd place. The State Fair food after softened the blow of not winning it all a bit, as did the giant medal. It was his last judo tournament, as he decided he didn't want to do it anymore after this.

Through the rest of August, we took advantage of the slower summer nights to go to the local biergarten and enjoy a few - one of my very favorite things to do.

And we spent the final week of the month, before school started, on Lake Wilson in Phillips, WI, lazing around on the lake and eating too many s'mores. It was a really great way to say goodbye to the summer.

In September, we married off my mother- and father-in law (again) in a beautiful church ceremony.

We picked apples at a newly discovered orchard.

And we picked out Mr. Pickles - the porcupine pufferfish that Beerman had been building a fish tank system for a solid year and a half just so C-man could get.

In October, C-man started another year of flag football, as a Saint this time. And while he has always enjoyed football, this year, the insane football gene kicked in. And it was all he could think about.

On his annual long weekend off school, and while Beerman was at the Great American Beer Festival, C-man and I took our annual trip to Chicago. We went to the Science and Industry Museum this time, as well as lunch, the Lego store, and for a photo-op at the Bean.

Harry happily enjoyed the cooler weather by spending lots of time at the beach.

And the headless horseman rode through Halloween, gathering insane amounts of candy.

In November, the largest group of family and friends we've ever had together for the event, jingled at the zoo on a beautiful day for the Arthritis Foundation. It was such a perfect day, that my heart overflowed.

In December, we made the trek to Wisconsin Rapids for the Pelot family Christmas gathering. Getting together on the happy occasions are always so special.

From there, we drove to Green Bay to cheer the Packers on to a win against the Falcons in 9 degree weather. It was loads of fun, and C-man declared he wanted to be put on the season ticket waiting list. (Which we did as soon as we got home)

In other news in December, C-man fell in love with skiing. (Which means I need to get up there in 2014 with my own lessons so we can do some family wintry trips together.)

He sang his heart out at the annual Christmas concert.

He kept his undefeated title by winning the Christmas Eve pickle.

We all celebrated Christmas with close friends, laughter, and (some of us with) sloe-gin.

And we ended the year with a fun trip to Shedd Aquarium.

2013 was a really fortunate year for us. So often, when I make it to the end of the year, I take time to lament the downs a bit. And while I could do that about work this year (because it was a big freaking drag for the majority of it), overall the downs were completely minor when compared to the entirety of our amazing year. I am so thankful for the trip we were able to take together. For the love we were able to share. For the friends we have. For the laughs we experienced. And now, for the promising future we have in 2014.

Happy New Year!

December 30, 2013

A day of fish and Packers jersey wearing

This summer, C-man's best friend moved to Austin. A few weeks ago, during a regular Facetime conversation, the friend informed C-man that they were coming back for a visit while staying with their Grandparents (who live in Chicago). And in the afternoon yesterday, we opened the door to the best friend. What a treat for C-man. So, of course, we just kept him for the night. But that meant we got a little later of a start this morning. But we decided we were going to head to Chicago to the Shedd Aquarium anyhow.

When we arrived, it was less than 15 degrees out, and the line snaked back what seemed like miles. (We've gone as it opens in the past - note to self - this is the way to go!) People were coming back to the end, saying they were being told the wait would be an hour and a half. And at the rate we were moving, we believed them. So I quickly checked online, and realized that while it was more expensive to get a membership, it wasn't extraordinarily more expensive. And it also meant we could walk right up to the warm inviting door marked "Members" that had absolutely no line.

Since Beerman was about to turn into a beercicle (he didn't wear his winter coat, not wanting to carry it since we never dreamed the line could be that crazy on Monday - holiday or no), we agreed it was the way to go. So in we went so we could explore.

We had a great time, especially after being so much more into the world of fish. And after 5 hours, decided to head home. Since the Shedd is right next door to Soldier Field, we'd parked in the Soldier Field parking structure. On our way out, C-man thought he should have his picture taken in his 3 day old I refuse to take this off victory stanking Lacy jersey as he shouted, "Boom!" (Nevermind there were loads of people around, many of whom were wearing Bears gear.) I love this child's enthusiasm.

Overall, a really lovely day to celebrate the 14 year anniversary of meeting my husband.

December 27, 2013

In short, awesome.

Seriously, what day IS it? This life I'm living is so incredible. I can't imagine going back to work. Or doing something meaningful. My life has been all dog parks and movies and books and Legos. In short, awesome.

December 26, 2013

Sloe-gin, I think I love you

Christmas, after the presents are opened and mass is attended and the wrapping paper put in the recycling, we spend our evening sharing joy with our friends at our house. Individual make-your-own pizzas, fondue pots of deliciousness, raclette grills filled with lobster and scallops and beef and tofu and chicken and vegetables and potatoes, and glasses filled with deliciousness.

This year, the glasses were filled with Refulgant Punch*, a delightful mix of sloe-gin, champagne, rum, sugar, and lemon juice. Which coupled with the great friendships, resulted in fun stories and laughter so raucous that the kids complained they couldn't hear their movie. (I didn't even know I liked sloe-gin, but whoa - holy deliciousness!)

I feel so thankful to have friends we adore. It's hard to imagine that the hoopla is over. But since I'm getting sick (running through tissue boxes while I sneeze myself silly), it's probably a really good thing.

* I had to read at Christmas Mass. I showed up as a sub for someone who couldn't make it, and ended up being the only reader - needing to read everything, most of it blind. One of the words I had to read was "refulgance". A stupid word because nobody uses it. But when we found a great punch recipe, we decided it was going to be radiant. Refulgant, if you will. Hence, the toast to Refulgant Punch.

December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

We made and decorated the gingerbread men. It gave C-man something to do and think about other than the fact that it was Christmas Eve and all those presents were going to be there in the morning.

As is the tradition, Beerman and C-man searched for the pickle. C-man, once again, won. Beerman is 0-7 now. One year he just might get that thing.

After some Christmas music and Christmas movies, we went to bed. And woke up this morning to stockings and presents and happiness galore.

And in a flash, after weeks of buying and wrapping and making sure everything was just right... there was paper galore. And stuff everywhere.

I'm exhausted from not sleeping the last few nights. Arthritis doesn't care about the holidays apparently. I was all excited for a family shot after church, and now realize, I really need some sleep tonight. But we have friends coming over, and slowing down is really no fun.

So from ours to yours... Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2013

Living La Vida Vacation

So I've read 2 trashy books in the last 3 days. Haven't gotten out of my jammies until it was sort of obscene to still be in them. And watched so many Christmas movies, I had to resort to watching Scrooged because it was the only one left other than Alvin and the Chipmunks. Harry has played at the dogpark until his paws froze up or he passed out, whichever came first. C-man has played with friends non-stop. And Beerman has planned his Christmas night dinner and studied up on fish until there can be nothing left undiscovered on either topic on the interwebs.

In other words, vacation life continues to be fantastic.

Now if that one last present would show up from Amazon today... Because after all, tonight is "Pickle Night" in the house.

December 23, 2013

Trojan Horse and Mistletoe

This year's Christmas tree got two new ornaments - one from Paris, and one from Troy. So very much to be thankful for this time of year.