2012: Year in Review

Well would you look at that! Time to review the last year again. And you thought I forgot. Let's see if last year was more exciting than 2011. JANUARY Yeah, January was pretty much uneventful, as it usually is, save for an occasional snow storm. But I can't even write about that for last year. So, we welcomed 2012 like we did 2011 - sleeping. And the month passed pretty uneventfully, except for two events: First, I had my day in court on the 6th for that ridiculous traffic ticket I had gotten last June. I pleaded my case and did well enough apparently that the judge suspended my ticket. On January 6, it will all go away for good. The conditions were that I couldn't get another citation within a year and if I didn't, the ticket would be voided. Almost there. The second event was Christopher making his seemingly yearly quota to get a broken bone in when he suffered an undisplaced distal radius fracture of his wrist on the 17th playing indoor soccer. Been there, done that. We know what to do. We're practically experts by now. FEBRUARY I was counting off the days in February like I usually do, eager to get one day closer to spring. Granted, the winter so far was proving to be pretty mild, which was a nice respite from our usual occurrences of snow and ice storms, but one can only stand to look at the sparse, dead landscape for so long before yearning for some warmth and color. But this year, I now have a reason to smile, because I landed a job, and at first I didn't think I should have even pursued it because I thought I should have been looking for a job in the corporate market and this was a job working at a church, and I already had a part-time job at another church, and how much church can one person take, really? Well, it was just meant to be and never have I enjoyed something more. I truly love this job working as an administrator to a catholic church. And it is changing even now and I could go on and on about it, but I'll spare you the details. Just know that I am extremely happy and having an anniversary in February will make an otherwise bleak month now something special. February 23, to be exact. :) Okay, on to MARCH I uncelebrated my 44th birthday and Chris almost made it through the month unscathed, but he just had to get another break in. This time, he displaced that same radius fracture while running outside for gym at school. This break required a brief surgery, but the wrist has healed well and hopefully having him sit out the first half of the spring soccer season and wearing a splint throughout the entire fall soccer season ensured a positive result and no further breaks, or screws will need to be involved for a repair next time. APRIL Spring soccer season started, except for Chris, and Tommy could have experienced a great opportunity visiting Washington, DC for his 8th grade trip, but he didn't. His loss. MAY I continued to settle into my job, and the days got longer and warmer. Jeff made his First Communion and at the end of the month, we split up to get the boys to their soccer tournaments over Memorial Day weekend. Chris was itching to play by now and was given the green light by his doctor to, as long as he wore a removable cast.
JUNE Tommy's soccer team went for their second State Cup win on a miserable, rainy day, making them eligible to play in the regionals in Pennsylvania. Some things are worth standing in the rain for.
School let out for the year and at the end of the month, Tommy and I went to Lancaster, PA. They didn't win but we all had a great time and I'm still fascinated by Amish living.
We did get to Hershey Park one day, although not a single ride did I enjoy as a friend fell ill and we had to leave early, which was perfectly fine with me because it was hot as hell and amusement parks aren't high on my list, even if they are all about chocolate. JULY This year, we all went to my work place and with my boss and some of his colleagues and friends, we watched the 4th of July fireworks from the walking bridge. We rarely do anything as a family anymore, so this was nice in that we were all together for a change. AUGUST For the first time, Jeffrey and Joey flew in an airplane when we went to visit my sister and her family in Illinois. Greg and Tommy opted to stay home. Chris, Jeff, and Joey had a wonderful time visiting with their cousins. We spent a couple of days at The Dells, a huge indoor and outdoor water park in Wisconsin. We visited downtown Chicago and Six Flags IL. There is nothing like spending time with family and I remember all the great memories I had growing up with my cousins and really wanted them to get to experience those memories with their cousins, which is not easy to do since we are all spread across the map. Some highlights:
At the end of the month, I got to spend a couple of days in heaven with a great friend. Yes, heaven. Her parents have a sweet home on the cape and we spent the weekend there when we went to see my favorite entertainer, Martina McBride.
SEPTEMBER Back to school! Hooray! Tommy started high school, Chris went into 7th grade at the middle school, Joey started his 5th and last year at the elementary school, and Jeff started 3rd. Soccer season started again as well with the annual Labor Day tournament in town. Like in the spring, I had to get used to the challenge of getting the boys to and from practices and games on time, since I was now working full time and had lost that flexibility with my time. Tommy played for the high school freshmen soccer team and although he was disappointed that he didn't make JV, he excelled and played well. Christopher played for the L middle school team and they made it to the finals, coming in second place. OCTOBER Soccer season winded down to an end, both in school and with the boys' travel and rec teams, and things quieted down a bit. Like last Halloween, we were again hit with a storm - this one Hurricane Sandy, that knocked out our power for a few days. Again. We made the decision that it was time to invest in a generator and had one installed the following month. We have yet to have to use it but it's just a matter of time where we live. NOVEMBER We spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home this year, alone. It is not my favorite holiday, but the day was a nice one and we enjoyed a great turkey meal with all the trimmings. Things were getting busy for me at work since a colleague had left and his responsibilities had shifted to me, but I thrived on it and still love what I do working at the church. Now, along with the administrative duties I have, I am doing the liturgical tasks as well. There is still so much to learn but I am getting there and by this time next year, I will be much more sure-footed about things. DECEMBER Tommy celebrated his 15th birthday and decided he needed a whole new wardrobe, so I took him shopping. Greg had an uneventful birthday on the 14th. He usually does and tends not to want to celebrate it, but this year was the worst yet since it marked the horrible tragedy in Newtown, CT. It was difficult to celebrate Christmas during such a dark period, but we got through it and enjoyed the day with some of Greg's family. Like past years, the clutter becomes overwhelming by this point so Christmas was down and put away by New Year's Eve. Christmas cards and photos will stay up until the Epiphany. 2013 will be a good year. Tommy will be driving next December. He already is, in fact, as I have let him drive short distances around town. My family is planning a visit together somewhere around Virginia for next Christmas. It will be the first time in 15 years that we have celebrated together. I. Can't. Wait. Bring it.

Thanks... for jumping to the wrong conclusion

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? We are ready, mostly. It's not my favorite holiday, but G likes to cook and relax at home and celebrate in a quiet way and that's fine by me. We will eat, drink and be merry. I'll reminisce about the good 'ole days when Thanksgiving was something to write home about and then give thanks for the memories, even if today's celebration is is less remarkable. Still, I am blessed and happy and try not to take anything for granted. I try not to jump to conclusions, either.

Speaking of conclusions, let me share a story of how somebody did just that today. While it is a day off for the kids and a day off for G, I had to work. We had Thanksgiving baskets to give out to the needy and Friday's work needed to get completed today since we are closed Friday, and that's just a a small part of my day. Anyway, a reporter from a local newspaper called our house, and Jeff apparently answered the phone. Not long afterwards, G went to answer the door, thinking it was somebody else he was expecting, only to find himself staring at a police officer. The police officer was there to determine if there was, in fact, a 3 year old boy home alone, because they had received a call claiming as such.


Naturally, G was offended and said as much. When he was told who made the call, he questioned me because it was odd that they would do such a thing. After all, the owners of this newspaper are neighbors and our kids go to school together. They know us well enough to know that the last time we had a 3-year-old was over five years ago.

After some deliberation, I was able to determine who made the call. The reporter was calling to speak to me about a story he wanted to run and I hadn't yet returned his first phone call, so he must have been following up. I called our neighbor and relayed what had happened, and she said she would check for me. Later, I called the reporter myself and spoke to a woman at the residence. "Oh, you must be the woman with the little boy and the police." Yeah, that's me. Negligent mother of the year! "He felt awful about that," she told me. "He thought he was doing something good." I'll bet he did.

I'll bet he was also disappointed that there was not a 3-year-old home alone. Wouldn't that have made for a great cover story?

So, there you have it. This is exactly the type of thing that can get you into heaps of trouble if you jump to the wrong conclusion. How about running with that story, Mr. Reporter? Thanks for not questioning your boss who would have squelched your great idea for an abandonment story before you had the chance to imagine it and that you'd have the exclusive. As disappointing as that is for you, we are that much more offended.
Happy Thanksgiving, though. Really.

That's the Spirit!

I took the 3 younger boys to visit their cousins in IL last week. Adding my three boys to my sister's seven made for a fun and crazy and chaotic week, and we had a great time. I'll blog a separate post about it.

We flew Spirit Airlines, and having never flown with this airline before, I wasn't sure what to expect, but my mom, a seasoned traveler and Spirit Airlines member, gave me the low down on how to avoid those unexpected hidden fees because there is a reason why their flights are so cheap, you know. So we packed really light, I paid for the two carry-ons beforehand, and we ate before boarding the plane. Since it was the first time for Joey and Jeffrey to fly, and not wanting to risk us winding up all scattered on the plane, I did concede to purchasing four seats together that included two window seats so they could enjoy the views.  So, we had great flights that were uneventful and pleasant and safely arrived at our destinations without incident.

If we let them, the boys would have played Minecraft (the latest apparently addicting game they can't live without) on their iPods during their entire vacation, but we kept them busy with lots of other activities. Again, that's another post to come. But they played Minecraft while traveling, of course and it kept them occupied. But you know how all electronics have to be shut down during take off and landing on the plane, and the boys did comply with this rule. But remember, we traveled really light with minimal bags, so having no bags to stow their iPods, Chris and Joey apparently put them in the pockets of the seats in front of them. And then they forgot them and we deplaned and headed home, and the iPods went on to Atlantic City, NJ. Of course, the boys didn't realize they had forgotten their devices until we were driving home. For sure, those iPods were long gone.

I did check Spirit's website and the answer to my question clearly states:
We're very sorry. If you lost an item please submit a report in person at the airport during its hours of operation. We'll search for your missing item and contact you if we find it. There was no way I was trekking into Boston in person to try and find two iPods that were likely now in the hands of some unsuspecting travelers who happened upon them by chance and who were thinking their luck had started early en route to Atlantic City.

I had arrived home from work the next day to Chris' inquiries as to when he could get another iPod, as if I was going to run out and replace the lost one without a second thought. Ha! It wasn't until this time, by the way, that I even learned that Joey had left his iPod on the plane as well. So as you can imagine, I was pretty angry at them - and myself - for not having checked to ensure we had everything when deplaning.  I was walking out the door to take Chris to soccer practice when the phone rang. The caller ID showed "Pleasantville, NJ", but I answered, because just maybe, it wasn't a sales call. And it wasn't. It was Josanna from Spirit Airlines asking if I had lost anything. They had found Chris' iPod and according to Josanna, a coworker in Myrtle Beach had commented on the coincidence that another iPod had been found in the very same row of that plane. Umm, yeah. That would be Joey's iPod. 

I was told I had to open an account with Fed-Ex and call Josanna back with the number so she could ship the iPod back. As for Joey's, well she had sent an email to Myrtle Beach with my contact information and hopefully somebody would contact me. Still, I contacted Myrtle Beach myself and when I finally spoke to a Spirit employee there, I was told they didn't have an iPod and they had already emailed Josanna back with that information. But they will keep an eye out and contact me if it turned up. People leave iPods and phones all the time and perhaps the one that was found in the very same row as Chris' was found was somebody else's. Hunh. Yes, just maybe. 

At 8 AM this morning, the doorbell rang. Chris' iPod had been expeditiously shipped back to us. We are hopeful Joey's will turn up eventually, but even if it doesn't, I think one out of 2 isn't bad. Thank you, Spirit Airlines for tracking us down!