Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Martial Arts Mom's Reflections of 2008...

Wow, can you believe it? Another one bites the dust...another year, I mean. I thought I'd just kind of reflect on the highlights of my year...probably much more for my own benefit than yours : ) Besides, I'm sure you have your own essay regarding events of 2008.

If I went month by month, there would surely be alot of holes. But May - now I can tell you about May. I remember May 2008 specifically.

In May of 2008, my 18 year old daughter graduated from high school. I am a sentimental person, but this one really caught me off guard. I didn't think I would become as emotional as I did seeing her walk across that stage. (Even though they accidentally mixed up about 10 students names/order of presentation, my daughter being one of them.)

Also in May, we got a SWEET deal on a pop-up camper from a friend. Only $500 because it had a small hole in the roof where a tree limb had pierced it during an ice storm last year. Ironically, the quarter size hole was almost directly above the dinette, so my husband and another friend put a skylight in, centered above the dinette. It looks great! We went on our annual Memorial Day Weekend camping trip and let me tell ya - it was sooooo much nicer having the camper. Sleeping was nicer, food prep nicer and the best part - packing up all your camping equipment and not having to unpack it when you get home...Extra camping storage!!! We hadn't even thought of that little bonus!

On May 9th, what I would call the single biggest highlight of 2008 occurred. I got my yellow belt after not quite a year in the study of martial arts. I say "got" rather than "earned" because when I was done testing, Sensei told me that we are awarded our belts, but that we technically really "earn" them as we work torward the next rank. I know yellow is the lowest of the belts not automatically given, but it was the first nod from my instructors that I wasn't quite as awful as I thought I was going to be at martial arts. I can honestly say May 9th was one of my proudest moments of personal accomplishment.

But let's back up. We had a group of 3 couples who hung out together for quite a few years. In March, the one couple divorced and it changed the dynamics of our social lives. Social get-togethers used to be based on which couple's house we'd go to. After their split, it shifted to "Which of the two should we invite?" And as much as you try to stay close to both parties in a divorce, it almost NEVER happens. One of the former couple always tends to drift to a different group and becomes lost to your original group.

In April, my daughter became an adult - at least chronologically. She turned 18. That really changed alot of things in our household. She wants to be treated like an adult, but doesn't want the full responsibility that comes with it. I try to explain to her...THAT'S WHAT I WANT TOO - TO BE TREATED LIKE AN ADULT BUT NOT HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITIES!!!! But I'm immersed in being an adult up to my...okay, past the top of my head. She just doesn't get it yet - that, unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

In June, my son went from a one digit age to a two-digit age. He turned 10 years old. Quite a milestone in a mother's life - when her "baby" turns 10. There's no denying it now - my kids are growing up.

In August, my recent high school graduate of a daughter started community college. She is working toward becoming an elementary school teacher. (2nd to 3rd grade, she says, because at that point in their lives, they've mastered going to the bathroom and tying their shoes without help, yet don't have that "tween" attitude yet. Little does she know...) She has one more year of community college, gettting in her basics and then she'll be off to another college to get her specific teaching degree.

In September of 2008, after almost 7 years with the home care division of one of St. Louis's largest healthcare companies, a new job within the same company was in the works for me. The Performance Improvement Group had been trying to get a position created for me (an administrative assistant) for about 2 years - ever since the department was created, but kept running into corporate red tape. Well, in September, authorization to create & fill the position finally came through. They called me immediately. Many applied for this position, but I won it. Home Care asked me to stay on for 4 weeks to make the transition to a new person go more smoothly. On my last day, home care had a huge blow-out going away POTATO pot luck party for me. They had secretly had my daughter bring my wedding set to them and had the diamond solitaire in my engagement ring replaced (YES, REALLY!!!) and even had it replaced with a bigger diamond than I had before! (I had lost the diamond in June or July or so.) They presented it to me at this party...Talk about surprised! They also gave me a sizeable gift card to a gas station in our area known for having the best coffee around. And, I actually willingly left these people!!!! One of the last things I said to the other secretary there that day (through a veil of tears, I might add) was, "I'm afraid I'm making a big mistake. Nobody will love me as much as you guys do." And she, always knowing the right thing to say, said, "Oh, you'll find LOTS of people who will love you!" And, as usual, she was right. I started the new position on October 6th. The people I work with are GREAT! And since we work with my former co-workers, I get to see my former co-workers and interact with them via phone & e-mail pretty consistently. So, you, see, I have the best of both worlds now.

The last day of October is one of our family's most anticipated days. We absolutely LOVE Halloween. We decorate for Halloween like other people decorate for Christmas. (Okay, think Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.) This year, it ended up being one of the best. The weather was gorgeous. And since Halloween fell on a Friday, we had a big block party complete with lots of really good food and company. We blocked off our short street and had fire pits at 2 or 3 driveways and roasted marshmallows, hot dogs and "biscuit-on-a-stick" (my husband's "specialty") Remind me to show you a picture we have of him roasting one of these...almost looks like a dirty picture. (Try to get a visual of wrapping a Pillsbury raw biscuit around a long stick and roasting it. C'mon...use your imagination...Seriously, everyone laughs when they see them, but they sure taste good with butter and honey and cinnamon, if that's what floats your boat.) Anyway, we always sit outside for Halloween, but this year was almost perfect. Looking forward to another like it in 2009 when Halloween falls on a Saturday!

Then we have December. My family's December is just as busy as everyone else's. Maybe a bit more so. My husband decorates the house and yard pretty extensively. He is of the old school that likes the old-fashioned blow-molded hard plastic lawn ornaments. (Santa, snowman, reindeer, candles, soldiers, etc.) which are extremely hard to find in this day and age. Then, on December 23rd, my dad's internal defibrillator shocked him back from what would have been a fatal heart attack. Then it shocked him again on December 27th. (See the whole story in my post from the other day, A Christmas Miracle in Real Life - Because of this, lots of shuffling around my son, who usually stays with my parents, medicines for my dad, etc. ensued. (My dad will probably not be able to drive anymore, so I have to try to figure out logistics of how my son will get to & from school.) I have to admit worrying about our own money problems, my dad's health, and the logistics of getting my son to & from school has me WAY BEYOND stressed. Not proud of it, but feeling pretty sorry for myself. Sandwiched inbetween those two dates, we had a nice Christmas and my 44th birthday (December 26th) came and went. And now, on New Year's Eve, I anxiously wait for the clock to slowly make its way to 3:30 pm so I can leave work and get home and prepare the house for the New Years Eve Poker party we host every year. We cover our pool table with a piece of plywood and a green felt tablecloth. We play poker for change because none of us has anymore than that and toast various subjects.

At the beginning of the evening, we will mostly likely be toasting the meaningful things in life. Tonight, my first one will almost certainly be in thankfulness that my dad's defibrillator worked...twice in one week. Followed by Sissy's graduation and start in her journey to be a teacher. By mid-evening, Buddy's ADHD seems to be a little better this year - that is something to be thankful for. I got my yellow belt. I got the new job. By the end of the evening and with all these other "toasts" under our belts (literally!), we'll most likely be raising our glasses to Sammy Hagar's new CD, the new season of American Idol getting ready to start in a few weeks, and the fact that we are off work on New Years Day to recover from all of our "thankfulness".
Oh, yeah, and btw, in case you're curious, the husband in the couple that split is the one coming to our New Year's Eve party this year...


Ikigai said...

A truly eventful year! Congrats on all the success you and your family experienced - those are some big steps. I bet 2009 will bring just as much excitement, and hopefully another rank!

Martial Arts Mom said...

Thanks, Ikigai! I admire the way you focused on the positive and not the negative. Makes me want to put a more positive spin on things myself! Happy New Year!

Becky said...

You've had a busy year! Wishing you a peaceful and prosperous 2009!

Martial Arts Mom said...

Right back at ya, Becky! : )

Perpetual Beginner said...

Happy New Year! You had some big milestones in 2008 (your son is the same age as my eldest, so that's one we share). Here's hoping 2009 is a happy and prosperous one for you.

Karen ~ Cider Antiques said...

Happy New Year!!! Wow, that was quite the year. Congrats on your new job and yellow belt. I know what you mean about watching the baby in the family grow up. Some how we expect them to stay little all the time. (My baby turns 13 in 2009). I am glad your Dad is doing well now.

Thank you for visiting my blog so frequently :)

Best Wishes for 2009 and Happy New Year! ~ Karen

Martial Arts Mom said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Karen. I just love antiques. I just acquired a ton of vintage jewelry from my husband's grandma who just went into a nursing home and I found THE pin I've been looking for forever in the cache! I just love reading your blog as well - and loved, loved, loved the teddy bear story!!!

Julie said...

Oh girlfriend you DO make me laugh :D Even with the sad stuff, you have a way of making life bright! I'm soooo glad your dad is fine - I can't imagine the scare. Congrats on the belt and the award!!! That is so cool :) And I'm glad you are still loving the new job. Life is good!