Where This Meets That
Howdy All! My blog posting is virtually non-existent these days, but as my yearly reviews serve well for my own family’s archives, it’s one annual post that’s a must-write for me.
Any household bursting with two adults, five kids, a dog, a cat, a bearded dragon, and two hermit crabs could probably warrant an entire book to recount each year’s activities. Nevertheless, here’s our 2015 in abridged form, better late than never!
On the Road
We were blessed to be able to take a few family trips in 2015. With our eldest child now working and rapidly approaching (gasp!) adulthood, our opportunities for such trips together are an increasingly precious commodity.
In June, we loaded up a rented Suburban and headed to Panama City Beach, Florida (this is where the hermit crabs came from). On the way, we stopped off a Providence Canyon State Park, sometimes referred to as “Little Grand Canyon,” due to its resemblance to the big one. We had a great time hiking down into the canyon before everything went south for our uphill return.Once at the beach, we had a brief brush with disaster. We quickly realized our 18th floor condo rental was a danger for our adventurous two-year-old, Catherine. We immediately pulled all the balcony furniture inside the condo, so Catherine wouldn’t be able to climb her way to a failed attempt at flight.
Discovering that the front door didn’t have a latch lock left us feeling a bit more vulnerable; we always understood the value of a latch lock to keep people out, but we never considered its importance for keeping people in, until we found ourselves with Catherine in an 18th floor beach condo. Therefore, we next moved all the balcony furniture to barricade the front door and keep the little explorer contained.Nevertheless, Catherine still managed an escape. One day while we were all preparing to head to down to the beach, she evaded our six sets of watchful eyes just long enough to board one of three elevators that could take her to any of 20 floors in the structure, dumping her out anywhere from a parking deck to a swimming pool to the beach itself! Miraculously, we found her within minutes on the top floor, trying to enter the unit that would have been our own, had she been two floors below.
Other than that and a couple days of unusually strong Gulf surf, our trip was wonderfully uneventful, and Christy and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary with the long road trip home. Funny how a seven hour drive, under the right circumstances, can seem longer than 17 years of marriage!In early August, we stole away for a day trip to a natural water slide on Wildcat Creek in the North Georgia Mountains. I’d been longing to take the family camping this summer but just weren’t able to find a good time, so this was a substitute. It was an awesome little place, and the cold mountain water slide provided an exhilarating thrill!
In mid-October, most of us escaped for a weekend to a lovely little cabin in Hayesville, North Carolina. The cabin was situated on a crystal-clear reflection pond beside a tumbling creek. The weather was absolutely perfect, and the kids were amazed at how many stars they could see at night. Here, Caleb got to see his first shooting star (and his second, third, and fourth!).
We returned home on Ava’s 6th Birthday, so we stopped off in Helen, Georgia, where we enjoyed a horse-driven buggy ride through the town, ate barbecue overlooking the river, and paid a little visit to one of the delicious candy shops located there.Apart from these trips with my family, I also drove my father to Fort Walton Beach, Florida in February, to celebrate the 80th birthday of one of my beloved aunts. As my father had turned 80 the year before, he’s not doing too many road trips anymore, so this opportunity for one-on-one time was a true gift.
In addition, work took me to North Carolina, Ohio, and California. While in California, I was able to break free for a couple hours to tour giant redwood trees at Big Basin State Park. These were the first redwoods I’d seen since a visit to California in elementary school, and they were no less impressive today.
The Kids are Alright
As for my kids, let me just say that one of my greatest blessings in life is that I get to share my home with my very favorite people. Helping to guide them in their growth (and having them help guide my own growth) isn’t always easy, but I’m so thankful for each of them and proud to be their father.
Aidan is now 17-year old high school junior and working toward getting his drivers license. Teaching a budding driver the ropes on the roads can be an adventure, but he’s well on his way and doing great. This year, he also got his first job, working the drive-thru window at McDonald’s. It’s a little further away than we’d like (we pass two others on the way), but it’s helped get him more driving time! He’s also successfully shouldering a heavy course load that includes AP History, Physics, and Latin.
Maddie, now 14, seems to thrive with a full plate. She’s making the most of her final year of middle school, having just earned straight A’s in first semester. She was also recently inducted into Junior Beta Club, plays violin in her school orchestra and volunteers with a couple ministries at church. She’s probably most excited about being on her first club volleyball team, which will start tournament play in coming weeks.
Maddie has also recently moved into her own room for the first time in six years. She’s been very excited to make it her own, buying new drapes and bedding and helping to paint her walls.
My 10-year old son, Caleb, is full of interesting pursuits. He loves school and his teachers, and he is doing well. As a 4th grader last year, he finished 6th in his school spelling bee and looks forward to competing again as a 5th grader this year. He remains an avid Minecraft player, still enjoys working with magic / illusions, still dabbles in coin collecting, and is now curious about gold prospecting, as well.
Caleb and my 6-year old daughter, Ava, both caught the fishing bug at the family reunion, so when we weren’t spending our idle summer moments at the neighborhood pool, we were spending them with our hooks in the lake. Both caught their share of fish, but Caleb came away with the best fish stories, snagging two consecutive two-foot-long fish, both of which broke his line and swam away into mythic status. I saw them, honest!
Ava’s had as big a year as any. She graduated preschool and started Kindergarten. She’s rapidly becoming a proficient reader and loves practicing writing, as well. She also learned to swim and to ride a bike, and she now appears primed to learn roller skates, as well. She’s such a driven girl, who always amazes me with her determination!
Last month, with Maddie’s departure to her new room, Ava moved up to the top bunk, to make room for her new roommate, our 2-year old “baby”, Catherine.
Catherine’s had a big year, too. She’s now daytime potty-trained and has started preschool. She recently graduated from her crib, as well, and moved in with her big sister, Ava.
The Happy Couple
Christy and I have enjoyed another year of all the chaos together. Christy is always on the run, keeping “the machine running” at home. She also volunteers in Ava’s classroom one morning each week, helps to distribute food to needy families through St Vincent De Paul, leads our kids’ family faith lessons at home, and participates in Women’s Catholic Bible study.
She’s also done a lot to help with my aging parents, lending her medical background to their various doctors consultations and her time by paying them visits and helping with the occasional meal, as well. It’s made me realize that she’s no longer a “daughter-in-law” to my parents but a bona fide daughter, and that’s a beautiful blessing for me to see!Together, Christy and I continue to participate with several other families in a Catholic marriage ministry called Teams of Our Lady, and in March, we were honored to become godparents to some our friends’ sweet new baby girl, Rosemarie!
I have enjoyed another year of working, thankful for employment with a company that challenges me to grow and allows me flexibility to be a father to my children and a husband to my bride.
To be sure, 2015 was a year full of blessings, a year to foster the attitude of gratitude we should all be seeking! I enter 2016 counting my blessings and praying for the perseverance required to tackle anything that might lie across our paths.
May you all have a very blessed 2016!