Where This Meets That
A Roller Coaster of a Year!
Back in July, our then three-year-old daughter Ava conquered her first adult roller coaster, Six Flags Over Georgia’s The Mindbender. Its twists and turns, ups, downs, and upside-downs have turned away more than its share of seasoned grown-ups, but Ava soldiered on through its duration. There’s not much choice once you’re strapped in and the wheels are rolling, of course, but in the end, she loved it.
Ava’s roller coaster ride is a fitting analogy for the past year in my family.
We started 2013 on high. I was some 65 pounds lighter than a year before, and on January 16, we welcomed our fifth child, Catherine Elizabeth, into the world. We have been blessed to watch our other children embrace her so lovingly over the past eleven months, and we have enjoyed watching Catherine pick up all the basic first year skills, like rolling over, laughing, and crawling. I don’t think this part of parenting would get old with a hundred kids; we have cherished every one!
In fact, 2013 was full of special birthday celebrations. In May, I turned 40. In July, one of my sisters turned 50. And in November, we celebrated my wife’s grandmother as she turned 90!
We have been so blessed over the years, to have enjoyed so much longevity among those closest to us. As the nature of this world commands, however, such blessings can’t last forever, and among so many milestone birthday celebrations this past year, 2013 also weighed heavily with celebrations of lives lost. In April, my brother-in-law, husband of the sister I mentioned above, died unexpectedly, leaving behind my sister and three amazing daughters, including my one goddaughter. They all make me proud every day, but this was not something my immediate family was used to dealing with, and we’re all still working our way forward from Brian’s death.
In July, we said goodbye to my aunt and godmother, Theresa. In October, my cousin Cassandra died. Cassandra, like Brian, also died too young. Their memories help inspire us to count our blessings each passing day. And finally, only two weeks ago, another beloved aunt, Alma, died. Aunt Alma helped Christy and me to plan a cruise for our 5th wedding anniversary, a trip that still ranks among the best vacations we’ve ever had.
In such ways, this year leaves us rather like an unwelcome guest, so we hold our blessings close and bid the year farewell. Despite the sad times, we did have many highlights during our 2013.
Christy and I celebrated our 15th Anniversary in June and stole away for a night together at Stone Mountain Park’s Evergreen Resort. We have been so blessed over our years together and thank God everyday for the five healthy children he has entrusted to us. We also thank God that Christy’s parents are still willing and able to “fall on the sword” and watch our kids so that we can occasionally get away together.
Speaking of Christy’s parents, they also took Maddie and Caleb to Washington D.C. in May. To this day, I still haven’t been there myself, so I am thankful that my in-laws have now given three of our five kids that experience.
In July, my boys and I attended my Aunt Theresa’s funeral in Mississippi. We were able to see tons of extended family, whom we hadn’t seen in a couple years. I was honored to be a pallbearer for my aunt and, as always, cherished the little time we were able to catch up with our extended Mississippi kin.
Later that month, my whole crew enjoyed a wonderful trip to Kentucky to visit family and friends on Christy’s side. Our trips there have become less frequent in recent years, so we always love the times we can get up there and remind them all that we’re still around. This time, we stayed in the heart of Louisville for the first time and had a nice little opportunity to stroll the streets downtown. Beautiful city.
In September, Christy blessed me with a weekend of solitude in the north Georgia mountains. I sorely needed it, and this little private retreat was a godsend I still cherish today. Little did I know, however, that as soon as I returned to reality, I would discover my first case of kidney stones! That’s an issue that, after my first three minor operations, will require a little of 2014 to resolve!
The Kids are Alright
By September, our eldest child, Aidan, had moved up to high school, and Maddie up to middle school, meaning we now have kids in four different schools. Crazy stuff! With varying levels of encouragement from Christy and me, I’m happy to report that the kids are all doing well in school.
Aidan still enjoys playing basketball for the local recreation league and is currently having one of his best seasons yet. He also plays upright bass for his school’s orchestra. Maddie loves middle school and is participating in a couple clubs. She also excels in church softball and participates in girl scouts. Caleb still loves Minecraft and sports cars, and we’re now diligently (and finally) working our way through the final Harry Potter book. Ava enjoys pre-school and helping out with Catherine.
House and Home
We’ve had to do a good bit of work on our house this year. While Caleb was away in D.C. in May, Christy and I worked overtime to (finally) paint his room. He was very excited to return home to the surprise, which, of course, excited us, too!
We have spent the latter half of 2013 renovating our basement, adding a bedroom for Aidan and a home office for me. We also had to do several pesky exterior repairs to our home. Upkeep is never done, and while it’s rarely fun, we are so thankful to have a good roof over our heads!
Of course, we couldn’t keep that roof over our heads without a good job. I am grateful to be entering my 14th year with my current employer, in a job that now allows me to work primarily from home. Soon after Catherine was born, Christy and I decided the time was right for Christy to resign and be a “full time mom” for a while. Now a year later, so far, so good. We are incredibly blessed that we have been able to make this change, and we are constantly awed by families who are able to succeed without this flexibility.
I told you 2013 was a roller coaster for the Falcone household. There’s a joke that asks, “How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans for next year!” Who really knows what’s in store for 2014? I can say that we have some really, really great things planned, and I hope those things keep on track.
I also hope that 2014 brings all the best to you and your family. As always, thanks for dropping by my little crossroads of cyberspace.