December 31, 2014

2014: A Year In Review

We started the year with a trip to Chippewa Falls to celebrate Christmas in January. It was -20 degrees outside, but the family was together and warm.

C-man started his ski lessons. It began what I believe will be a life-long love of downhill skiing.

In February, C-man and I tried out for plays, and got the parts. He as Pig #3 in Three of a Kind, and me as Laura in the Butler Did It, Again!

And after weeks of testing fruit and learning about electricity, (and me reminding Beerman that C-man was only a 9 year old) C-man (and Beerman) proudly showed off his Natural Battery Science Fair project. (It really was a great project!)

That same week, Beerman and C-man also proudly raced in the annual Pinewood Derby. C-man won by a landslide, and ended up placing in the design category, too. It was a big month for the two of them!

In March, we got a 9 year old. I was sicker than I'd been in a long while, so Beerman had to fly home from a work trip to do it all. The party, the sleepover, the cleanup. But even without me there, he still turned 9 and had a blast.

In April, I was finally in my play. It was a fabulous experience I'm not sure I ever need to do again. But I did it, didn't screw up too terribly, and can check it off my list.

Spring Break came. As a family, we took our "staycation" long weekend together and spent a couple of days in Chicago. We saw the planetarium and the aquarium and hotel pool.

On Easter, after 6 weeks of most of my Saturday classes on beekeeping, I got to set up my hives - starting me down the bigger and longer class of on-the-job learning.

C-man started another year of baseball. This time, promoting up to the minors - the division of Little League with full baseball rules of stealing, kid pitch, and no mommies tying your shoes.

In May, I turned 38 with little fanfare. (There was a baseball game to go to, after all!) And on Mothers Day weekend my bees finally came. I went to Rhinelander and stayed with Pat and Keith before picking them up. Then I drove to Coleman to install them. It was a tremendously exciting and easy experience. The classes I took and the countless youtube videos I'd watched really paid off.

C-man continued on with his baseball season.

And I continued on with my beekeeping.

We celebrated our lucky 13th anniversary.

And, of course, my bees required I speed ahead in my learning when my beehive lost its queen. The good news is I immediately recognized what was going on from my classes and promptly ordered another queen via UPS. (It really makes you think about what is flying around in all that freight!)

June meant more baseball. It was getting serious now, as the A's were screaming ahead in first place.

And it also meant more trips to learn more about my bees.

It was also about family graduation gatherings.

And since 3rd grade ended,

C-man put on his bee suit and learned how to become a beekeeper alongside me.

June also brought warmer weather and leisurely nights outdoors.

And then an end to the baseball season. The A's had a really, really great run at 18-3, but unfortunately lost the championship game. (C-man still refuses to look at that second place trophy)

C-man started summer camp and very proudly made a wooden bench in woodworking.

While Harry and I spent our weekends enjoying the outdoors. (One of us clearly enjoyed it a bit more than the other.)

July brought Independence Day, and a fun time with family on Little Lake Wissota.

Beerman and I enjoyed C-man's many overnights with friends by taking time to play cribbage at the local biergarten.

We all followed the World Cup games closely, and C-man had a jersey for just about every country out there.

My gardens were busy and beautiful, and I celebrated the return of the monarchs again this year.

I also enjoyed the beauty of my beehives.

With no baseball and the bees in full swing, August meant slowing down and enjoying the beautiful summer days.

And, of course, State Fair cream puffs.

I spent a few days in Chicago for a training session.

And after much, much, much discussion, we agreed to let C-man play tackle football. For the first three weeks, practices were 5 nights a week for 2.5 hours a night. And they were the best nights of his young life.

Because football practice kept us close to home (and the impending kitchen renovation was going to take all our spare cash), we enjoyed his last week of summer vacation with a staycation. We started by heading to see Lambeau Field.

We checked out the Art Museum's latest offerings.

And we headed up north to winter to do some fishing and enjoy the lake. C-man caught a nice Northern Pike which he named Larry Peterson.

In September, C-man went back to school. Late for the bus, he raced off to fourth grade. It was definitely a whole new year of maturity for him, with school being less exciting, and everything taking on a little older outlook.

We also started cooking in our garage with our kitchen demolition and renovation.

C-man started his football games. He got the first sack in the first game, and much to our surprise, acquired a real taste for quarterbacks.

Not to take any days off, he also played fall ball baseball.

And there was more football.

And baseball.

And football. (Now sporting Breast Cancer Awareness pink everywhere he could)

And apple picking.

And finally, after all the months and dollars and miles and love, there was the the glorious, glorious honey extraction. I only got 7-ish bottles of honey, but it was amazing in every way possible.

And, of course, there was more football.

He got too much candy as Rocket (from Guardians of the Galaxy) for Halloween. But after an hour or so of trick or treating, one friend said, "You wanna just hang out?" and all four boys agreed that would be better than candy. Who knew that was possible?

November started with family coming together for the annual Jingle Bell Walk. It was around the Art Museum along the lake this year, and ended up being a beautiful day.

C-man had his football banquet, and won the "No Quit" coaches' award for his tireless efforts all season. It was a pretty big deal, and we were incredibly proud of his work ethic. He really proved he deserved the chance to play a year up.

In the theme of maturity and responsibility, C-man got contacts.

The boys went to see a Wisconsin vs Nebraska football game together. It was a great blowout of a game, and they had an amazing time.

C-man also made the big step and learned to be an altar server.

I took a cooking class back in June, and with the new counter space in place, I finally made the strudel recipe on my own and it turned out. In fact, it was delicious.

Then in what was definitely the worst part of our year, we had to say goodbye to our dear, sweet Harry. He'd been struggling to walk and move, and we knew by its quick progression that it was something more than his age. The vet confirmed it was bone cancer. About a week later, it was time to say goodbye. After almost 12 years of having him in our lives, a light in the universe went out for us. We continue to be deeply saddened by and struggle with his loss. I cannot express enough how much this sweet toilet paper eating dog and his sloppy kisses meant to us.

November also brought Thanksgiving with family. The time together was lovely, and I officially put my bees to bed for the winter with a hope and a prayer (and some candied sugar) that they'll be happy and ready for spring the next time I see them. (Unfortunately, that lovely family time together was a giant spreading of germs, and almost everyone at the festivities was throwing up within 24 hours after. So that wasn't so great.)

In December, C-man started wrestling. This meant an end to the long hair.

December also allowed us to christen the new kitchen and celebrate an early Christmas with my side of the family.

Then in what became a theme - the days after we spent on the couch sick again. This time with what we suspect was true influenza A, since it was what everyone else had. But we mustered through, and Beerman had a birthday. Unfortunately, he was in the thick of the feverish sickness, and C-man had his school Christmas concert, so it turned out to be a bit of a bust. The concert was adorable and I cried like always.

We went out for tea and the Nutcracker.

Found a pickle (Still undefeated at 6 - 0) and opened presents.

Celebrated with even more friends and family.

And happily skied our way through the UP of Michigan.

2014 is over. It was a real year of growth for us. The maturity leap in C-man was a giant one. I stepped out of my own comfort and met a whole new cast of characters by being in a play. And beekeeping taught me an incredible amount, not just about bees, but about nature and our food source, and our ecosystem. It was a real point of sadness when we lost Harry from our lives. Being a non-dog house is something I can't quite get used to, but am not quite ready to change. But even enduring that, we definitely had more happy than sad this year. And that's a blessing in itself. And next year, I'm not doing any major remodeling!