What a Year

It's been a tough year, and we've been rather quiet on our journal. What happened?

Early this year, I decided to take a prerequisite course (Calculus III) for an master's program that I would like to apply to. It was the only requirement I didn't have. The course was online and I'm pretty good at math, so I thought it would work well. I was quite wrong - the course was simply not run well.

Just a few weeks into the course, my cousin, Alexandra, a 20-something year old college student, died as a result of complications from a collision with a car driven by a drunk driver. She is a bright, beautiful young woman and will remain so in my heart forever. She was the second cousin to die on this side, and my family was devastated. It affected me more deeply than I imagined.


I was not close to Alexandra or her family, but she meant a lot to me anyway. I remember when she was born, holding her as a baby, and watching her grow over the years. Granted I was a kid for most of that time, too, but I really felt quite fond of my young cousins. For about 2 weeks after her death, I had bouts of despair where I just cried until I ran out of tears. I still think about her quite often.

Begrudgingly, I started the course again. I had all sorts of issues. The mentor was behind on grading, the content was not up-to-date and sometimes incorrect, and it was tough to learn the material. I had a lot of review and catch-up to do, and all told it disrupted our family life quite a bit. Kyra had to do a lot more work around the house and with the kids.

I completed the course and thankfully got an A+. Shortly after, I submitted the paperwork to get reimbursed for the course by my employer. About two weeks after that, I got a strange meeting invitation from my boss. I asked what it was about, and got a vague response. I found out at the meeting I was getting laid off, along with several other coworkers. Fortunately, I would still get reimbursed for the course, and they offered a very generous severance package.

Obviously, this was rather awful news, especially since I had already sapped a lot of time and energy out of our family by taking that course. Now I had to drop everything and look for work. Fortunately, I was able to find work as a consultant rather quickly. It didn't provide (reasonably priced) benefits, so I continued to look for full-time work.

However, I needed a new car since we got rid of mine as I was working at home. Well the first car turned out to be a lemon. I had to work out returning it, getting my money back, and finding a new car all on a work day. What a hassle - I just didn't need any more stress at the time.

Eventually I landed a new, full-time role. Luckily, it's a work-at-home role as well, so I was all ready to go. I took a couple of weeks off and started working. Shortly into the new role, I heard some more bad news - my grandma died.

Grandma Jeraldine always had a bright smile whenever I saw her. She had multiple sclerosis (MS) for a very long time, and most of the time I knew her, she was confined to a wheel chair. Yet still, she had this magnificent smile for anyone who visited. She never seemed depressed to me, although I imagine she must have been at least some of the time. Despite it all, she just glowed when you saw her.


She had been in hospice for quite some time, and it appears she may have just fallen ill with a cold or something minor to anyone else. She had 7 children, 12 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren, and 1 hell of a husband - Grandpa Robert.

Grandpa Robert is quite a man. He is a dedicated husband with amazing strength, a great sense of humor, and an abundance of love. It's been a hard year for him, losing a second grandchild and wife. Through it all, he's been a role model of love and compassion.

On top of all this, my aunt Cindy has been struggling with a recurrence in the cancer she had years ago. She's a strong, amazing woman, too. She has this quiet strength like Grandpa. We were both sick at the same time when I was a kid, and I always felt like we were war buddies. We made it through our diseases together. Last time I saw her, I told her she had to come to our anniversary party and Megan's wedding. She promised she would be there.

What a year. I'm exhausted just thinking about it again!

So far, 2017 has only had a few redeeming qualities:
  • I have a new nephew!
  • Our dear friend Carla got new lungs and is doing rather well!
  • My immediate family is healthy and doing well at school/work
Kyra decided to go back to work at her prior preschool, and Astrid has a spot in one of the classes there, too. They both have adjusted very well. Luca continues to do well at school and is improving in social areas. I'm at work again, and our daily life is more-or-less back to normal. Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and despite all that 2017 has thrown at us, there's a lot to be thankful for.

Even so, I sure hope 2018 is better. We've got our 10-year anniversary to celebrate, after all!

Welcome Miller!

Miller Kenneth was born over the weekend to Ken and Joana.


Welcome Miller, and congratulations Ken, Joana, and Luma!

A picture is worth...

My darling Chris, words could never express how much I love you, or how important you have been in my life over the past nine years. I hope that instead these few pictures can say what I am unable to.


Dating


Engagement


Wedding


1st Anniversary


2nd Anniversary


3rd Anniversary


4th Anniversary


5th Anniversary


6th Anniversary


7th Anniversary


8th Anniversary


9th Anniversary
All my love darling, for now and so many more years to come.

Kyra

Our Baby is Two

The other day, Astrid turned 2.



Here she is reveling in all the birthday attention.



She's done a lot of growing over the past year, but she still has that same goofy smile!



She was so little!





She's always had beautiful bright blue eyes.



She loves being outside.





And she loves to dress up and be goofy.







I think she has paint on her face.



OGA!



Oh, that cheesy grin!





She can be quite sensitive.



And she always loves to read.



Happy Birthday, Sunshine!



I love you!

Father-Son Day

Back in November last year, Luca had a day off, so I took the day off to spend it with him. We didn't do too much, but it was a good day.

We decided to start the day by going on a hike at a park in Middleton. It's just outside of town, and there was a large hill to climb. Luca is a very physical kid, so he was excited about it. Additionally, I figured he would sleep better if we burned some energy.

We arrived and started hiking toward the big hill. It was a quite a way from the parking lot we selected, but it was rather nice so it was worth the walk.

Once we got to the top of the hill, we read some signs and found out that there are Native American burial mounds around and on the hill. It seemed like they were working on clearing the brush from some of them, so we found a couple and walked around them.

We started heading down the other side of the hill, but found that a neighboring pig farm was rather stinky, so we decided to head back to the car. It would be about lunch time anyway by the time we got back. Back on top, I snapped a few pics:



Here you can see the river running by the park.





I was hoping to go to a certain cafe for lunch, but it had closed down. So we went to Hubbard's, and we had lunch at the counter. It's kind of odd eating with Luca at the counter - not sure why. We had pie and had a good conversation.

Then it was off to home for a nap. After that, we played Minecraft for an hour or two - why not? It's a day off - take a break!

Then it was back to the usual routine of dinner, family time, and bedtime.

Overall it was a good day. Thanks for sharing it with me, Luca!