So, here I am to share a bit of what our year has been like - the highs, lows and mediocre moments. I will begin with January 2011 and end with December 2011, sharing moments of interest from each month, if applicable. For any of you who make it through this post, I think I might owe you some chocolate or something. This is probably going to be one of the longest posts ever written by yours truly.
After four grueling months at my new job location, I finally came to peace with being there and resigned myself to the fact that since the environment was not going to change anytime soon, I was going to have to change. So, I did. My approach to my job had to shift in order for me to maintain my sanity, and by God's grace, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that God knew what He was doing when He placed me in that job location. Of course, in my finite human mind, I had a hard time understanding it all, but as I look back on the past 18 months, I realize that God's hand was definitely putting all the pieces together so that the bigger picture could unfold in a way that I myself would not have imagined.
Part of this bigger picture was the sense we had about making some changes to the way our children were being educated. Last January, Mitchell (who was part-way through Grade 6 at the time) began his homeschooling journey. As a result of our decision to homeschool, we now have a more emotionally-stable son, who is loving his homeschooling experience and the unique opportunities that go along with it. My adjustment to having Mitchell at home more, trying to manage family life, homeschooling and working outside of the home has gone well and I am grateful for God's grace in our day-to-day living. My free-time has virtually vanished, but all for a good reason.
I believe it was this month that I decided to read more books; this inspiration came from three different sources . . . one was from the students at the school in which I work, whom, as far as I am concerned, are the most avid readers I have ever met; secondly, my own children. Mitchell's homeschooling ELA program incorporated novel studies, which I read aloud to him (and Ty) each evening; and my final inspiration came from one of my own friends, who informed me that she reads on average, one book a week, every year. I was blown away by that accomplishment, and so for me, not an avid reader, my decision to read one book every two weeks, making a total of 26 books read by the end of 2011, seemed like a potentially attainable goal. Now, I must admit, some of the books I read were books meant for pre-teens or teens; but they were, nonetheless, books of content and I accomplished my goal of reading 26 books. (Also included in my 26 books was the Bible reading I do on a daily basis.) I finished my last book around 4:15 p.m on December 31st! My three favorite books read in 2011 were: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Latham; and Dogwood, by Chris Fabry.
February also brought about an opportunity for Mitchell to participate in the Provincial Tae-Kwon-Do Tournament, in which he place 2nd and 3rd in patterns and sparring, respectively. We were very proud of his accomplishments as a yellow-belt. He continued on with TKD until this December, at which time he quit and has decided to pursue drumming instead.
Aside from many family and friend birthdays, I do not have much to say about March . . . I think it came in like a lion and went out like a lion . . .
Easter arrived very late this year, so by the time we had the school break, it seemed like a long time since our last one! Our holiday was low-key with some time spent with family as we celebrated Jesus' death and resurrection to give us eternal life. During the break, Mitchell got a major hair-cut and was able to donate about 7 inches of his hair to a company that makes wigs for cancer patients. He set this goal for himself, and he had to endure a lot of teasing along the way, as his hair grew longer and longer. At the time he enjoyed his long hair; however, now he says he'll never grow his hair long again.
Mitchell and Ty both started playing in a ball hockey league in May, which lasted until the end of June. It was a great opportunity for them to get some exercise, make some new friends and play a sport that they both enjoyed. Unfortunately for Mitchell, because of when his birthday occurs in the year, he was competing against kids much older and larger than him, so it was an intimidating sport at times, but the boys both did well in their divisions even if they didn't win all their games. I must admit I was somewhat relieved when it was all over, though, because it was a huge time commitment as we were gone 4 nights a week to accommodate their game schedules.
The end of the school year was very welcomed in our home. However, before it came to an end, the boys were able to participate in some field trips and year-end activities. I was able to attend a field trip with Ty's class, and Wayne was able to go on a field trip with Mitchell and a group of other homeschoolers, which was awesome. We celebrated Ty's 10th birthday and still cannot believe that he's already that old!
I'd kind of like to forget about July, to be honest. It was a trying month for us financially and emotionally. Plans to visit family out-of-province for a mini-vacation had to be abolished due to vehicle expenses and lack of funds. Also, an accident at the intersection at the end of our driveway (we live in the country and our yard is on a corner with stop signs two ways), took the life of a community member. We did not know the accident victim, but Wayne was first on the scene and had a lot to deal with as a result. Thankfully, the boys and I were at our church for the evening attending VBS, so we didn't arrive home until Wayne said it was okay to return.
However, July was not all bad, as we were able to have one of our adult nieces visit for a few day; we also participated in our local agricultural fair and did quite well with our entries; Mitchell got to be a part of the parade, riding on the TaeKwonDo float; we were able to visit with more family members at my parents' house as well. Wayne had two weeks of holidays in which we camped out in our back yard with our new tent, sleeping bags and air mattresses. Since we weren't able to leave and actually go camping for real, we decided to turn our own property into a campground and I actually much-preferred that anyway. It meant less packing and organizing for me:)
August arrived and we were able to visit with more of my family. The last few weeks of our summer holidays flew by as I diligently prepared for Mitchell's grade 7 year; and what seemed like the very last minute, we decided to include Ty in the homeschooling experience as well. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but well worth it. I don't hear, "I'm so bored; School is SO boring!" coming from the mouth of my youngest anymore. He was excited to start school with his brother and so far, so good. The boys truly are best friends and most of the time they are happy to be together as much as they are.
In September life fell back into the best routine it could, and to be honest, I thought I was going to drown in my own life. Thankfully, over time, and again, by God's grace, everything felt normal again within several weeks of starting our "new" life . I returned to my job with the flexibility I need in order to accommodate the boys' learning; Wayne started working a LOT of overtime due to product demand at his workplace; Mitchell started grade 7 and Ty grade 5; we celebrated Mitchell's 12th birthday; Mitchell began Youth Group at our church and Ty began attending The Bridge at our church as well - both programs are amazing and the boys look forward to their events each week/month; Ty began drum lessons; Mitchell continued in TaeKwonDo and like I said, Wayne and I fought for our
October was probably one of my favorite months of the year, because this was the month that my four sisters and one sister-in-law and I, got together for a weekend getaway at one of my sisters' homes in Edmonton. Seriously, this was one of my top five highlights of the year. I have got to be one of the most blessed women alive to have such a group of amazing individuals to be called not only my sisters, but my friends and advisers as well. They all rock!
And, once again, it was time for Wayne to return to Man Camp (The Fall Edition), one week after I returned from my weekend with my sisters. So, we both got a taste of being away and the boys got more focused time with each of their parents. It was a totally win-win situation.
During this month, life continued to progress as usual. The boys were both fully engrossed in their extra-curricular and church activities, myself in managing our schedule in such a way that the boys' education did not falter, and Wayne making sure he was getting enough sleep in order to put in all the extra overtime at work. Eventually, his boss realized that the guys were burning out so he cut the overtime. That was a relief.
A little bit more on Ty's highlight of the year, which has been the start of his drum lessons. He stated earlier in the fall that he wanted to learn how to play drums. I was hesitant about this, because what it meant to me was a huge expense and a lot of noise. But, there is a music company in our nearest city that offers an 8-week trial program for various instruments, for a very low fee. This program allows the student to try something out without making a huge commitment. I thought it was a great idea, so I got Ty signed-up for drums, anticipating that once the 8 weeks was over, he'd be done with it. Well, apparently he's got some talent. So, he now has his own drum kit and has continued on beyond the 8 weeks. Unfortunately, his drum teacher, (who happens to be an amazing Christian guy), is not going to be returning in the new year. He referred us to someone else, and so in a couple of weeks, Ty will be working with another drum instructor. We are hoping this new teacher will inspire Ty as much as his former one did. It has been so fun to witness Ty's (hidden) talent unfold . . . and just so you know, I love the "noise" . . . and it's been worth every cent!
December is a bit of a blur to me. I baked goodies and decorated the house in order to prepare for the two Christmas parties I hosted for my "girl" friends the first weekend of December; participated in a cookie swap the following day; baked a total of 19 cheesecakes for people who got wind of the fact that I make cheesecakes and so I had a bit of a cheesecake-baking business going for a few weeks; tried to finish the school session successfully with the boys; worked extra days at my job due to Christmas-related activities and ensuring that enough hours had been logged for December's paycheque; attending several family Christmas gatherings and preparing for the next "season" of homeschooling. In and among this, drum lessons, youth group parties, book reading and preparations for other events, nearly overshadowed the true meaning behind why all the craziness was happening in the first place.
For the past two days I have been able to sit down (finally) and relax and contemplate the season and the upcoming year and establish some goals for myself and our family.
Upon reflecting on the past twelve months, I am grateful for a God who proves Himself over and over. He is faithful and He knows what is best for me. It is sometimes impossible to understand why things happen the way they do in my life, and why they don't happen the way I think they should. It is because I do not have the greater picture. God holds the key to my future and I'm glad He does. Each day in 2011 I gave God a little bit more control . . . more of Him. Less of me.
I hope and pray that trend continues . . .