It’s the 2021 Year in Review post! For when I want to take a stroll down memory lane quickly, without having to scroll through all my uncategorized posts. I’ve got some favorite books listed (affiliate links), popular posts, updates on the family, and some pictures. It’s like the Christmas letter you used to write for the extended family you never saw, except at funerals.
We entered a new month, and a new year that felt strangely like the previous ten except colder. But to make staying home even better, we finally installed hardwood floors in our living and dining rooms, and I intituted a new family diet free of most vegtable oils. (Seriously. I’ll outline it all in another post.)
Bourbon Empire: I drink bourbon and whiskey now and act like I can tell the difference between various brands. I didn’t plan on becoming pretentious this year, but here we are.
We enjoyed substantial snow for New Jersey (much to the kids delight), and Byron dislocated his elbow while learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Not the worst injury one could get while learning MMA fighting, but it prevented him from practicing his driving or working at McDonald’s for longer than I expected. By this point, many of the older kids activities resumed (fencing, FNE scouting, MMA) with masks and distancing, and Edie even added a new extra-curricular to the mix with Sea Scouts.
The boys worked together with Byron’s friend to create a film contest entry that still makes me laugh. I completed my book edits and looked forward to a fall release. We celebrated one year of quarantine by, surprise!, not going anywhere. While the older kids worked and did activities, we were still cautious with Fulton and Teddy and usually attended the less crowded Saturday evening Mass at our parish, and continued to avoid large gatherings. But at the end of the month, I got my first COVID shot and we all started getting more hopeful.
We started the month with a large Easter feast to break our Lenten fast. My 20th Easter as a Catholic! A few weeks later I started torturing myself in new ways by lifting weights in the basement. I can’t remember anything else from this month which means I must have been stressed out about something.
I discovered Peter Lovesey mysteries at my library and enjoyed several. They’ve become a favorite go to when I need a fun mystery.
I spent most of May fighting for the second time in six months to keep 12 hours of nursing care for Fulton, and filling out paperwork for the OSV Challenge. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of the OSV Challenge taking up all my free time!
I lost my appeal to keep nursing care, and, exhausted, gave up the fight for the time being. Instead we celebrated our new ceiling mounted lift in the boys room and Fulton becoming a teenager on the 28th! I also learned that all that OSV paperwork paid off, and my fledgling apostolate Accepting the Gift was selected as one of 24 semi-finalists and awarded $10,000. We also learned that Teddy would need spinal fusion surgery this year, and I picked a date in November that might impact the holidays, but would assure he’d be recovered enough to attend summer camp in 2022. #priorities
WE WENT TO FLORIDA! The boys enjoyed a week at summer camp. Tony and I enjoyed a week to recharge our batteries. The older kids learned that staying home alone just equals more responsibilities, and we topped it off with van trouble that extended our trip by a day. But that wasn’t all! We managed to hold our annual Nativity of St. John the Baptist party, and, after missing a year, went all out with a whole roast pig and fireworks. I started the OSV Challenge Accelerator program and realized the rest of my summer was shot.
The Dyslexic Advantage: Excellent must read book for any dyslexic adult, or parent of a dyslexic child, especially very severe cases. If your child is six and still reversing letters, you don’t need to read this book. But if you have a struggling teenager, this is the book that will help you understand how his or her brain works, and identify his or her strengths.
Tony turned 43! He continued working from home this year, with no end to that arrangement in sight. It’s a dream come true. Edie and I drove with Addie to Cleveland to drop her off for her sophomore year of college, and her first year at Cleveland State University. It was quite the adjustment to not having one of my kids at home. I also learned that Accepting the Gift was not selected as a finalist in the OSV Challenge and wallowed for a solid weekend about that. We started our XXX year of homeschooling and recess improved exponentially by the addition of a large concrete patio in our yard.
Hillbilly Elegy: I think most people have heard of this book by now, especially since it’s been made into a movie. It’d been on my ‘To Read’ list for years and I finally got it from the library at the urging of a friend. Very enlightening look at a side of life in America we don’t hear nearly enough about. If we want to understand why people act, or vote, the way they do, we need to listen to a wider range of voices.
Byron finally gets his drivers license, and in the process becomes a master at parallel parking. He can now get himself to all his classes at the community college. I turn 43, and Addie turns 19 away from home. My parents visit with her and leave her with lots of cake.
Talking to Strangers: Another interesting book from Malcolm Gladwell about the ways we misunderstand one another to the detriment of all parties involved. Also a reminder on how without doing a lot of digging around, you rarely know all the information surrounding a sensational court case.
After years of work, my book Better Than OK launched on Teddy’s 11th birthday. I held an Oktoberfest themed party to celebrate (the book). Tony and I celebrated 20 years of marriage on the 13th and another ongoing “project” wrapped up (or maybe just began) as we became licensed foster parents. We wrapped up the month by adding another adult to our home by celebrating Byron’s 18th birthday on the 29th.
Don’t worry! I didn’t get to sit back on my laurels and enjoy my accomplishments for too long! The day of Teddy’s spinal fusion surgery at Shriner’s Hospital in Philly was upon us before I knew it. Everything went well, and we held Thanksgiving at our house for the first time ever (thanks to the hard work of my mom) as Teddy continues to recover at home. Addie made it home from Cleveland for the first time since August and immediately was overcome with all the noise…and love; noisy love.
The Dorito Effect: Learn about why unhealthy food tastes so good, and why healthy food tastes worst than it should.
We start the month with some exciting college visits for Byron and Addie finally got word from the NCAA that she can officially fence for Cleveland State. It’s been a long battle that started her senior year of high school, but thankfully, she’s now a Division 1 fencer and her first tournament was at Ohio State. Edie turned Sweet 16 on the 16th and I thought about preparing for another driver. She continues to love Sea Scouts and was promoted to Bosun for the coming year. Despite having an emergency room visit, and an inpatient hospital stay, we didn’t have any emergency illnesses that resulted in an inpatient stay for the second year in a row which is HUGE for this family. Byron got promoted to manager at McDonald’s and everyone is looking forward to a Christmas break of food, Minecraft, boardgames, movies, and time with friends. We can thank God for another blessed year.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers!!!!