December 31, 2016

Because some of it was pretty darned great

This year was not one of the best in the history of years. But despite some bumps globally, locally, we had some kind of great things happen. So let's take a look back at the good pieces of what happened so we don't leave it behind believing it was all garbage.


I started 2016 with a giant concussion. I hit my head on the ski lift while skiing, and spent the next 3 weeks stupider than usual. While it meant canceling our New Years plans, it also meant staying home with my family and being quiet. And we all know how much I enjoy that.

And, of course, there was wrestling. Something clicked with C-man during this year, and he really started to love the sport. Since it's my least favorite of his 3, I had mixed feelings on this. But even though he was consistently coming up in third place throughout January, he was suddenly so passionate about it. And I was finding myself at the bottom of some painful move he needed to practice more often than I wanted to be. But I had my great new camera to capture it all, which is always a joy.

Then, while the boys spent their time at two tournaments in a weekend, I took a weekend of wrestling off and flew to Texas with my sister to meet up with my other sister and parents. We celebrated our parents' 50th wedding anniversary. While it was chilly, it was still sunny. And, of course, a 50th wedding anniversary is always something to be happy about.


February continued into our theme of all wrestling all the time. Honestly, it was every weekend. And when he wasn't at practice, he was practicing on me. Even the weekends the team took off, he insisted on finding a tournament somewhere in the state and wrestling. He set goals. He was working hard. He was jumping rope constantly. And those January thirds turned into February firsts. It was pretty impressive.


In March, I had the pleasure of opening my bee hives and finding that both hives survived the winter. It was a fantastic feeling, and I think I actually ran around the old pig shed a few times in celebration.

And then we wrestled some more. Except this time, it was to take 2nd at Regionals. And while second isn't first, when you're at Regionals, it means your ticket is punched to go to State for the very first time. It was beyond delightful.

And then he turned 11. Gosh, he is cute at 11. This age that can be so difficult to live through has been such a joy. He's so smart and creative and focused and passionate. This child, even at 11, has figured out that life is for joy.

Then we took the trip to Madison to compete at the State competition. While he ended up not placing, State was a great experience that he really treasured. Plus, it really proved what setting goals and working hard can do for you and gave him great experience for the future.

The very next morning, we got up early and boarded a plane for Fiji. After our long flight, we adjusted to the time change by lounging, exploring beautiful orchid gardens, swimming, eating great food, and taking a mud bath. C-man was sick - I can only imagine from all the stress and flying. But it was a great place to recoup because everything was great about Fiji.

And then, we boarded a sailboat and sailed around the Fiji islands to snorkel, laugh, and eat. And while we fried our skin like it's never been fried, gosh, it was a glorious trip. Blue skies and blue waters and colorful fish. The best. C-man has always loved fish and marine life, but he was transfixed by it.


From Fiji, we moved on to the South Island of New Zealand. (Where I repeated shouted, "6th continent, bitches! Becuase it was my 6th continent, and they only have 5 and 4.) 11 days and 1900 kilometers in an RV roaming wherever we felt like roaming. I saw so, so many honeybee hives, and I think even more sheep. It was a great, great trip that took us from ziplining to my favorite vineyard visiting to glacier helicoptering to whale watching. It's one we'll always remember taking together.

But all trips eventually have to end. So we came home, and it was time to set up new beehives. I was supposed to set up 3, but the bees came and one of the three queens was dead. The supplier was a total jerk and wouldn't replace her, so I had 4 beehives. Which, really, was enough. (Although I'll never say a good word about Honey Bee Ware again.)

And, because we're never one to be without a sport for long, we came home from our trip directly to a wrestling banquet and then moved right into baseball games. This year he was a National, since he moved up a division. It's always a question how things will go when you move up a division, but things turned out well for him, and he ended up being the key team catcher. Beerman, of course, was an assistant coach.


May is always a great month. This year, I celebrated my 40th birthday. While I was sick on my actual birthday, and home alone because Beerman was traveling for work, it ended up turning out pretty darned great when we had a party with our closest friends and family. It was cold, and we had to change the venue, but we made the best of it, and had a really great time.

Beerman was away again for our anniversary. But, of course, we played more baseball, so it's not like it would have been a crazy night even if he had been home.


June brought us... baseball. And one of my favorite photos of the year.

And then, unfortunately, it also brought us a broken wrist. That was the result of a failed 360 off a swing at the biergarten. It happened during the last week of school, so the signatures on the cast were plentiful. The last week of Catholic school, that is, since C-man decided he was moving to the public middle school. So many changes and decisions. But a true sign of his own independence growing, and his need for bigger and different things.

The beehives continued to thrive.

And with baseball out of the picture due to the casted wrist, we moved into full summer swing, and spent lazy days in the backyard.


July was, unbelievably, mostly sportless. So we spent our time at the park and the beach and in the backyard. It was pretty great.

It was incredibly sweet, too, especially when the honey started to flow into my belly. All 110 pounds of it this year.


To wrap up our summer, C-man and I took a trip around the state to see Great Grandma and the bees, and then to Winter to see Grandma and Grandpa. After some s'mores and fishing, we stopped in Wisconsin Dells on our way home to waterpark our day away. It was a huge hit with C-man, and something I suspect will be an annual trip.

I followed up that trip by taking a week in New England for work. In the middle of working, I saw Maine, Massachussetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Except for Massachussetts, I hadn't been to the other three, so that was pretty nice.

I even made my way to Montreal for a night/day (which was lovely) before heading back to New Hampshire and Maine to spend some time with some great friends. It was a beautiful trip, but one I was ready to come home from after having driven so many miles.


Then we moved back into school life. A uniform-less public middle school almost directly behind our house that C-man could walk to. He was thrilled, and took off with a smile and a new short hair cut. September was a huge adjustment for him, but he loved the change and the increased size of the school population.

And, of course, after weeks of football practice, the football games began for both C-man and Beerman.


October was all things football for both boys. C-man again played with the 7th graders, even though he was a 6th grader. The team didn't do quite as well as previous years, and C-man's size was definitely noticeable. But his ability was no less than anyone else, and he continued to make an impact. And oh, how he loves this sport.


In November, we voted. In what I thought was an historic vote, it ended in a night that made so many of us physically ill. But on the positive side, the election season had come to an end, and I actually got to vote for a woman. The small victories, I suppose.

And, of course, November brought the annual Jingle Bell Run that means so much to me. I was the Adult Champion of the event, although that ended up being a bit of an anticlimactic position when the woman who recruited me left the foundation and the woman left behind didn't really know what to do with me. But the day itself was sunny and great and filled with my closest allies.


December started with a really early Fake Christmas #1 in Winter. It was a nice time that ended with an extraordinarily long drive home due to the snow storm we drove through. But we made it home, and all was well with C-man sporting yet two new football jerseys out of the deal.

We ended up canceling Fake Christmas #2 due to the weather, which was disappointing.

But then it was real Christmas. The one where we searched for a pickle. C-man won again. Of course.

The very next day, we packed up and headed north to go on our annual ski trip. This year, it was to Hurley to ski Whitecap. Unfortunately, we left the hill after only two runs because it was an ice skating rink and just not safe. But fortunately, we made up for it with some bowling and tubing, and had a great time with one another anyhow.

As we move from 2016 to 2017, I have mixed feelings. While we had some pretty extraordinary experiences this year - C-man making it to State, having the bees survive the winter to produce so much goodness, visiting a new continent, turning 40, moving to a new school - it is a year that I can put in the memories and move on from. I think as we transition into 2017, my focus is going to be on simplicity more than ever. How do we take the daily grind and remove the clutter and the inane, and distill it into the things that matter most? How do we take those important times make the moments last? How do I keep it on the present and the important and not focus on the unchangeable and inconsequential?

I have much to be grateful for. And in 2017, I'm going to make sure it's those things that get my focus. Cheers to you and yours. And Happiest of New Years.

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