Good morning and Happy New Year!
I have been trying to sit down and write this post for over a week now and couldn't find the time. So here I sit today, New Year's Day, in my bed under my brand new patchwork quilt, ready to write. I first put this new quilt on my bed yesterday and when I crawled into bed last night, it just enveloped me in its warmth and comfort. I don't know why, but I immediately flashed to memories of being a little girl on my paternal grandparents' farm, sleeping in one of the beds there under the big farm quilts. There were 5 bedrooms upstairs and they were always cold but those old quilts always kept me warm. I never thought much of it at the time, or since, but last night when I first wrapped this new quilt around me, the memory of those old farm quilts was for some reason so strong, so vivid, I could almost feel them on my cheek. I seriously considered calling my dad at 11pm last night to ask him if he still had any. I wanted to bring them home and put them on all the beds here and recapture the feelings I had as a little girl snuggled down deep within them in that big old farmhouse.
Sometimes the new reminds us of the old.
There's been a lot of that for us this year. Where should I begin.
As I thought back and reflected on all that 2012 had been, I remembered where I was and how I felt exactly one year ago today: Jan 1 2012. We were renting a house on Wellington Street, in the middle of building a new one on Park Street 4.5 months post tornado.
When I consider all that has happened within the last 366 days I am overwhelmed.
Our little family of 4 travelled to Mexico last January. We surprised my grandma in Toronto with the news that we were coming too and Makenna had such severe anxiety about flying that morning I wondered if we were even going to go. It was the first time either one of them had flown and been anywhere like that and they loved it. My three year old refused to walk almost the entire time we were there, insisting we carry him everywhere we went.
We did get back into our house on Park Street, and delighted in the process of making it our own again. We set up the back yard, christened it with numerous parties and put it on the IODE Christmas Home Tour. We celebrated our first Christmas in it a week ago and hosted a family Christmas here on Boxing Day with 25 people, 2 dogs and a cat. This house has been spilled on, puked on, fought in and cried in. Things have been broken, burnt and lost. The steps have been stomped up and fallen down. Doors have been decorated and doors have been slammed. There have been dance parties and "crafternoons". In my mind's eye I see a fistfight in my garage. A group of firemen sitting crosslegged in a circle on the grass in my backyard patiently playing a game designed by my 7 year old. I see s'mores. I see a man learning to dance, practicing for 7 months behind closed doors to prove himself to over 300 people. I see highschool friends coming together to hang out, children in tow. I see the first birthday party being celebrated here. Playdates. Naps on the couch. I see Markle, our elf on the shelf making himself at home here. I see myself waking up to a text in the wee hours of the morning announcing my nephew was on his way and I see snuggles with that same nephew here in this house.
Yes, we are back, and this is our home. What a journey it was. A journey that came with so much stress, sadness, tears and pain. But brought so much growth, learning, and strength. It was the worst of times but brought out the best in so many people. The post tornado journey of this past year tested me in ways I couldn't have predicted, but I am still here. Still smiling and still writing.
This past year saw much growth in my writing. I have taught and will continue to teach classes on blogging with the Lake Huron Learning Collaborative. I attended a weekend blogging conference in Toronto, a pivotal decision that has shaped where I am going and taught me some valuable lessons and skills. I earned a contributing position on the website www.mrsjanuary.com. And I have learned that I really do love to write and when in the mood, can do it well. I have received compliments from people in my community and beyond that carry real weight and mean a great deal to me. I have had speaking engagements, including with Canada AM, one of 12 media interviews I did in a year, 4 of them National. I have been asked to consult on various projects. Been recommended by others in this community. I have learned that this blog has been read by everyone from grade 7/8 students to people in their 80s. By journalists and news reporters. By highschool teachers and college professors. By my best friends and by those who continue to talk trash about me. By my grandma, who doesn't even own a computer....but still not by my own husband. lol. what can you do. I am learning what is important to me, what my passions are and how important it is to pay attention to them. I even travelled to New York City for the first time ever this year, with 3 other great women. Just because we wanted to and we could. And it was awesome. And when I left my husband and kids at home for 4 days, they survived just fine.
We marked the one year anniversary of the tornado this past August, a day full of emotion. We held our breaths through every thunderstorm and wind warning this year brought and sighed with relief when they ended. And I suspect we will continue to do that in the years to come.
We weren't the only ones in our family with big news this year. Both my mom and my dad moved as well. My dad moved home from out west and bought a house I hope he will stay at for many years as it is the perfect property for his grandchildren to grow up at. My mom moved to Wroxeter after completely gutting and renovating the house she bought. My brother became a daddy when his son was born in October, and right at the end of this year my daddy announced he was engaged. This is good news, as finally, after a long time, my dad seems to be at peace.
This year we added a dog to our family. We adopted 4 year old chocolate lab Maggie in September and she has fit in perfectly. Now, we have decided, our family is complete.
In September I joined a fitness bootcamp. There were times I was so sore I could barely move and I almost threw up the very first day. I get up at 5:30 am to sweat and push myself and when it's this cold out I seriously wonder if I have lost my mind.
But I'm still going. It's addicting and it's awesome and I actually do love it. I am slowly seeing results. If I could kick my bad eating habits I would see more results but that seems to be a tougher battle for me. I like to eat bad things. I am an emotional, comfort eater. BUt the support and camraderie at bootcamp is really impressive.
This year Jack ended his time at daycare with Mrs Brenda and Jodi with much sadness, but it only took a couple days for him to realize that he loves school. Kindergarten has been great for him and he (fingers crossed) seems to be following in his sister's academic footsteps. He still calls Jodi regularly to "catch up" with her, and is very excited to spend a week at her house this month when Jeff and I take a trip without the kids. He also was involved in speech therapy for awhile this year and when he learned in December that he no longer needed to go, that he had "graduated", he cried at the thought of not seeing Finola, his therapist anymore. She was so touched at his emotion, it almost made her cry too ;)
Makenna entered grade 3 this year and I think has maybe found a passion within playing piano. That's another thing that joined our home this year - a great big old piano from my paternal grandparents' farm that only Makenna can play. Her academic abilities were assessed in December and it was determined that our daughter is in fact "gifted", which explains much and will set her on a path that will hopefully help her achieve the great things we know she is capable of.
We lost some great people this year. Some whose influence on our lives will be felt for years. People who weren't supposed to die. Life can be so unfair. Some things just don't make sense.
Looking ahead, this year Jeff and I will celebrate 10 years of marriage. 10 good years. We are going South in a few weeks with 3 other couples who have become great friends just in the last couple of years. My dad will get married. Jack will turn 5 and Makenna 9. My nephew will continue to grow and I will continue to be reminded of the time my children were that small. Another summer will arrive, another thunderstorm season, another August. I will go to the same blogging conference next fall a stronger and more confident writer than I was at the last one.
The new will remind us of the old.
It truly is hard to believe all that has happened in the past year. 2012 was a tough one. But a lifechanging one. It brought pain and it also brought peace. I can't say I am sad to see it ago, but there are aspects of it I will miss.
I leave 2012 with the Newtown school shootings fresh in my mind. It shook me, it really did. Like many of you I am sure, it made me look at my children with fresh eyes and simply be grateful that they were there. Be grateful for their laughter, for their tears, their fights. For their struggles, their shortcomings and their neediness.For their messy rooms and dirty laundry.
I leave 2012 grateful for all I have. I begin 2013 with an open mind, an open heart and a renewed sense of purpose. I pledge to continue to be grateful and to pay it forward where I can. I don't make resolutions, I plan to just continue on. Surrounded by the great people I have in my life with similar outlooks.
Wrapped up in this quilt, a gift from my dad's fiancee, I am looking forward to the new, while I continue to remember the old.
Happy New Year, friends.
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