Sorry, this will be twelve takes instead of seven. BUT!! I encourage you (if you don’t already have a super sweet #7QT lined up) to create your own year-end review post and link it up below. Now you can’t say you don’t have anything to write about. I’ll give a photo, summary, my top ten popular posts, and my favorite reads for each month. You can feel free to add or delete whatever strikes your fancy. Favorite song, smoothie, or photos that document the progress of your receding hairline? It’s all fair game!
Overall I read 30 books and wrote about 50 blog posts. If I previously wrote about my favorite monthly read, I’ll link to the appropriate post, if not, I’ll give you a short summary. Top ten blog posts are listed in the month they were written and their seating.
We started the year by finally settling into a bit of a routine with our orphans, only to realize it was time to send them home. Our Christmas had been crazy, our house was a disaster, but after the dust settled we all wanted to know when we could host or maybe adopt in the future. Unfortunately, our finances would not allow us to host anymore in 2017, and we learned that international adoption, especially involving multiple siblings, would probably not be something we could do for a variety of reasons. By fall, I had filled out paperwork and we started the process to foster and ultimately adopt domestically. But due to a quirk with our old house (Tony and I need to walk through the kids’ bedrooms to get to our bedroom) we can’t be licensed to foster. There’s no working around it. We’re all disappointed, and I’m left to wonder why this seed to adopt was planted and allowed to grow, only to have it pruned back right now, especially knowing how many children are waiting in foster care. I just gotta trust in God’s timing.
No memorable books. I think I was too mentally fried to read.
February was blessedly mild and this photo is from Edie’s birthday trip to NYC, something each child get around their 11th birthday. Renovations recently wrapped up at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the results are stunning. Arbp. Sheen is still sitting under the altar, where visitors can’t get to him, awaiting the ruling of an appeals court. Off the blog, this was the month I started the ball rolling to get the boys enrolled in school. Also, I didn’t share that as of January, Tony had started his own software company and was 100 percent self-employed. It was something he’d wanted to do for a while and I supported him completely. It was exciting, yet for someone like me who likes to plan and know what to expect month to month, it was also completely nerve-wracking.
Here’s Addie on the left competing in her fencing school’s youth tournament. Feeling more confident with her blade, Addie continued to compete throughout the year. Edie and Byron decided to quit Parkour and I was fine with that, despite losing coveted blogging time. Edie and I started a weekly craft time together and Byron assured me he wanted to play football in the fall (so could I please stop bothering him about finding some outside interest???). I continued to organize Science and Adventure Club meetings for Fulton, Teddy and their homeschooled friends. On Thursdays, Tony and Addie had scouts. Our schedule was busy, but didn’t feel quite as harried as the fall, perhaps because I stopped worrying so much about the little boys education, knowing (or hopefully believing) that everything would be made right once they were in school.
Everyone in the family got hit with a virus in April, and then got better, and then each succumb again, and again. Thankfully beautiful spring weather was in full force (after a pretty mild winter to boot!). We managed to go fishing, hit the accessible playground, go to a comic con type event in Ocean City, Addie went to a homeschool dance, and Byron had his first piano recital. This photo was taken on Easter, with Tony and I fresh off our Lenten fasts and ready to lay into the kids candy stashes after dark.
Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind Over Body, Jo Marchant – Marchant tries to explain the placebo effect, why it’s more effective than treatment in some cases, and how we can manipulate it to our benefit.
By now the weather necessitated beach trips. I knew the boys would be starting school during the extended school year program in July, and Byron’s schedule would be filled with football practice in August. Addie’s first year of high school wrapped up, and I tried to keep going with homeschooling as the month dragged on.
Fulton and Teddy BOTH went to MDA camp for A WHOLE WEEK and Tony and I got to go away over night for the first time in almost a decade. Despite a touch of homesickness, Teddy did well his first time away from us, and the older three loved a whole week at my parent’s house doing activities we can’t usually do altogether. (Thankfully, my parents enjoyed the time with them just as much.) Tony and I still fondly think back to those few nights we had in Atlantic City. We had our annual Nativity of St. John the Baptist party, and Fulton also turned nine. I felt especially blessed this month.
Three Squares: The Invention of the American Meal, Abigail Carroll – How eating in America has changed as we’ve moved from an agricultural to industrial to a heavily commercially influenced society.
Despite a few kinks with busing and GI issues, the boys started school. The half day schedule was a good way to ease them into a school routine and it gave me a taste of what it was like to have chunks of free time during the day. Teddy had a hard time adjusting and I started to worry about the fall. Edie completed a week at a police camp organized by our local police department and much to our whole family’s surprise, willingly did push ups, crunches, and marched in time – without dying! She immediately asked to attend again next summer and started planning potential careers in law enforcement.
The Death of Expertise:The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters, Tom Nichols – When does hours of Google research make your opinion more credible than someone with a PhD? Should all opinions on a matter be considered equally valid? And who holds most strongly to their opinion, and why is that dangerous? FASCINATING READ.
After months of waiting, we finally got the call that Fulton and Teddy could get Spinraza! There was also a once in a lifetime type eclipse thing, but I was more excited by the little boys getting lumbar punctures. Addie started tenth grade and I tried to begin homeschooling Edie and Byron before Labor Day. Reluctantly I gave up my preferred year round homeschooling schedule with the encroachment of outside school and activities, and I hoped the longer than usual first trimester of our new school year wouldn’t kill us.
Sometime Amazing Things Happen: Heartbreak and Hope On Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward, Elizabeth Ward – Ward spent years caring for the most dangerous and mentally unstable prisoners from Rikers Island. She does a wonderful job showing how our society lets down mentally ill patients, criminals, and the inherent worth so easily over-looked in these outcasts.
After a second dose of Spinraza, the boys went back to school. Teddy found his new first grade classroom more enjoyable than his summer program class and despite complaining every morning about leaving, he arrived at home with a smile. Fulton’s new school year brought some new issues with busing, aides, teachers…pretty much everything, however, the benefits of his full day program outweigh the cons. We start sharing our home with nurses until 6:30 p.m. and for twelve hours on Saturday. Schooling with Edie and Byron seems downright easy. We enjoy new subjects together, binge on BBC movies, and still make time for a trip to OCNJ for my 39th birthday on the 26th. Football practice four times a week plus games is rough since Fulton’s bedtime gets moved up to 7:30 p.m. and Addie still has fencing. But despite the yelling, painful hits, and loses, Byron loves football, and I rejoice in another child finding something they love enough to work hard at, even when it sucks.
Fall activities and Halloween costumes apparently weren’t enough on my plate so after trying to sell then finally give away our piano for two years, I started tearing it apart. Tony and I celebrated 16 years of marriage at a winery in the afternoon. (You can do that when you’re self-employed and your little kids are in school! Seriously, try it!!) Otherwise, I’m just tired most of October. The fall new schedule wears me out.
Shakespeare Saved My Life:Ten Years in Solitary With the Bard, Laura Bates – The works of Shakespeare reach the hearts and minds of the most isolated criminals. Despite their tough upbringings and lack of education, most relate deeply to his characters and come to understand their own motivations and life choices in a new way.
Yay for the sacraments! Byron got confirmed! That’s one more adult in the eyes of the Church around here. Pretty sure he and Addie can both start earning their keep. I start looking for jobs at a local blacking factory with no success. Football season finally ends and we spend a lot of time in Lancaster with loved ones celebrating my mom’s 65th birthday, her retirement, a friend’s surprise 40th, and Thanksgiving.
Little Soldiers: An American Boy, A Chinese School, and the Global Race to Succeed, Lenora Chu – We tend to stereotype all Chinese as excellent students, and Chu does a wonderful job exposing the reality of the situation by also tracking her own son’s progress in a competitive Chinese school. Readers learn about educational opportunities offered to poor, rural Chinese vs the wealthy urban dwellers who take helicopter parenting to the next level. Raising U.S. test scores to meet those of their overseas counterparts would require more cultural changes, not test practice, than most Americans realize.
I tried to take the month off blogging (cuz Advent), but still jumped online to share that OUR FAMILY WAS AWARDED A TRIP TO FLORIDA. It was kind of a big freakin’ deal. I manged to use the time I wasn’t on social media sending Christmas cards for the first time in two years, buying presents, making gifts, and generally not stressing at Christmas prep for the first time in recent memory. Did I mention I made limoncello? Cause that’s also great for stress relief. After almost a year of self employment, Tony was approached by a local consulting firm about a position. He went through the interview process and ultimately accepted the job right before Christmas. While running his own company went well, it was stressful in it’s own ways, and I think we both agreed that we’re at a point in our lives (vs being young and childless or only having a couple of small children) where we needed more stability than self employment offered us. He’s excited to start his new job (it offers much of what he loves about being an independent contractor, but with a salary, better benefits, and he no longer has to worry about finding clients / contracts.) We celebrated by going to Applebees for $1 Long Island iced teas.
Richard III, William Shakespeare – I read this strictly for my own enjoyment. We’re currently reading MacBeth and it was interesting to compare these two deeply contrasting criminal minds. We’ll watch the second season of Hollow Crown this trimester and then we’ll watch the play of Richard III. We’re coming up on this era in history so it’s a fun way to study the British monarchy, even if we know Shakespeare’s plays aren’t 100 percent historically accurate.
It’s funny looking back at how much of the last year was a blur. Thank goodness for iPhone cameras to capture brief the brief moments my kids are photogenic/ cooperative, and for at least some time in my week to make a few notes on here (or social media) for posterity. Thanks for sticking around. Now share your year in review below. Be sure to include a link to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!