2011 – A Year in Review

It’s true. I have no original ideas, so I must steal them from my friends. Bet you feel lucky now, huh! So as we approach the end of the calendar year, let me follow the lead of my friend, Laruse, and sum up the last twelve months.

But first, a bit of a prelude to set the stage….

Just before Christmas of last year, we found out that our landlord was losing his battle with the bank and our rental home was up for sale. While it was a very nice house, it wasn’t quite what we were looking for so we chose not to buy it. However, that meant that we needed to find a new home, and we had no idea when we would have to move. Having lived the previous ten years in a septuagenarian home, we knew that we wanted newer construction, and we were on a budget.

We began to look further afield from our desired location, and found a neighborhood way out in the suburbs that had homes by a builder we had our eye on; but those homes were far out of our price range. However, as a developer in these hard times, they were looking at having to lay people off, and that made them sad. Our story of impending homelessness, and their desire to keep their employees working, led us to a mutually agreeable arrangement. They broke ground on our new home days later, and by Christmas morning, we were able to visit the frozen, just poured foundation looking promising in the snow.

All through January, we dropped what we were doing several times a week, often several times a day, to allow strangers and their realtors to tromp through our box-filled rental, and we began to think that we might have to find yet another temporary arrangement before we could move into our new home. Once again, our builder stepped up to the plate, and promised us our home a month early. And they delivered.

All luck comes with a price.

Three days before we closed on our new home, a very drunk driver careened over four lanes of traffic, crashing through the fence of our rental, and embedded his borrowed Jeep into the side of our truck at 1am. As with all drunks, he was fine, but our truck was out of the moving business. Thus began the three month ordeal of getting the truck repaired and living with only one vehicle 33 miles away from work. Every day my husband would get the kids up at 6am so he and they could drive me to work, then drive home again to get the kids ready for school, only to do it all over again a couple of hours later when my work day was ended. But wait, there’s more. The man we hired to move the shed rear ended the van and I was left with a rental car for two weeks. I’m never moving house again.

On the SCA front, I stepped down as Kingdom MoAS in February, leaving behind six continuous years of Kingdom service. Although I promised my family that I was done volunteering, I soon accepted a minor role in the current royal household organizing volunteers. This time when I am done, however, I promise to sit on my hands. Really. You have my permission to remind me of this come spring.

We lost our beloved German Shepherd Dog, Sasha, over the summer. She developed lymphoma, and though the vet tried to save her, we ended up having to put her down less than a week after diagnosis as she was clearly suffering badly. She was the best guard dog ever and probably would have prevented the burglary that happened the week after Thanksgiving. We lost a lot, but no one was harmed; and I learned how smart my oldest son can be since he arrived home from school alone, to find the scene of the crime, and did the exact right thing.

My oldest son was accepted to a center-based gifted school, to which he is bussed an hour each way. He is doing well. My youngest is finally enjoying school due to his jewel of a first grade teacher. We can understand 85% of what he says now, and we are thankful for skilled speech tutors as well.

2011 is also the year I started running again. I began by training for the Corporate 4 Miler to earn volunteer hours at work. The race itself was run in grueling conditions, and I did poorly, but I ran it and ended up looking for more. As a result, I signed up for a half marathon training team, and after 14 weeks of training through heat, humidity, a hurricane, a 12 miler in a vicious nor’easter, and freezing conditions, I ran a personal best time at the Richmond McDonald’s Half Marathon on November 17. Eager to do more, I signed up for the Shamrock Half this coming March, but training has not gone as well this time. The group I run with is too fast for me and I find it depressing so I haven’t been running for a month. Now, 11 weeks to the race, I’m wondering if I should bother.

Moe found work, was laid off for three weeks just prior to Christmas, and is now working again somewhere else. It isn’t what he wants to be doing, or paying him what he is worth, but the extra money removes the financial strain imposed by the new mortgage payment.

Another means of easing the monetary pinch was paying off the truck, which we were able to do by selling the van. While I had to buy a new vehicle to bring us back up to two, it is actually working out to our benefit. The new payment is far less than the old one, and the new car gets nearly 50 mpg – all the better for those long daily commutes. No, it isn’t a hybrid. It’s a VW Jetta TDI. Now both our vehicles are diesels. Though much tinier than I am accustomed to, it has the features I need in a commuter car, and none of the fluff of my former ride. I sorely miss my sweet luxury van, but it is what it is. The van was due for about $3,800 worth of work this year. With that in view, along with a projected $1,200 savings in fuel costs, the new car turns out to be a bargain.

On the knitting front, I successfully managed to knit a surprising number of projects on deadline, which is a first for me. While I did not make anything for myself this year, the recipients of my humble work were pleased. How much of that was due to opening a box with a completed gift versus a half-finished jumble of sticks and strings, is a mystery as my penchant for procrastination is well known. My family is happy that more yarn went out of the house than came in. I only bought two skeins and promptly used them up on a baby blanket so they are already gone again. The rest was all from my stash. The yarn and knitting supplies now all fit in two 30 gallon containers. Shocking, I know.

I also revisited my musical side by deciding to teach myself the violin. I rented one over the summer and fall, but when practicing fell by the wayside as my running hit 20 or more miles a week, I began to feel guilt for the expense. Two weeks ago I turned in my rental instrument, only to have the cause revived last week by the generous loan of a violin from my friend, Lyle. I have been practicing every day since.

2011 has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. I find so much change to be exhausting and hope to find more peace and tranquility in the new year to come. Here’s to new beginnings!

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