2017 in Review

2017 was a quiet year on our journal. We didn't publish a lot, for a few good reasons.

I mentioned the calculus course and what happened surrounding it in another post. The course took up quite a bit of my time and required Kyra to do a lot of extra work since I was busy. Once I finished the course, I got laid off from work, so looking for a new role took up quite a bit of the summer. I've been back at work for several months now, so things have gotten back to normal.

We had a lot happen in 2017! Here are a few highlights.

Luca and Astrid Cooking

Ghibli Spirit!

Yoga Pants 1

Yoga Pants 2

Touching Organs

Cooking as a Family

Visiting Cousins

Astrid's 2-Year Birthday

At a Dance

Fireworks at Great-Grandpa Ihm's

Swimming Lessons

Bathtub Play

Goon Face

A Day with Baba

Hanger Dance

Hugs with Grandma

On the Farm

Luca in a Plane

Cousin Pile

Visit to Great Wolf

Astrid's First Day Back at Daycare

Luca turned 9 this year, but I can't find any photos of the party! We went to a Lego store, built with Legos, and had pizza.


Lego League

Great Grandpa Visits

Birthday Present

Holiday Preparation

I posted about Christmas in another post as well - here it is.

Now that I'm caught up with 2017, I need to catch up with 2018!

Christmas 2016 and 2017

I hadn't posted any Christmas pics from 2016, so I figured I'd post both and compare! First, Christmas 2016:

Here's the family in front of the tree.

And we met Santa for the first time... It didn't go too well.

Sledding out front!

Making some bread dish.

Here we get to Christmas Eve, and Astrid got many baby dolls.

Opening some more presents.

And hanging a new ornament.

Looking at presents with Megan and Jeremy (first photo of him on the journal, I think!).

On Christmas Day, I had to hold Luca back, since he was so excited.

He got a bike. Santa must have had a hard time wrapping that one!

We went to Auntie Megan's for brunch.

And read a new book after food.

We visited the family in the Twin Cities, too. What a bunch of goons: Liliana, Luca, and Dalila.

And we tried to get a shot with Nana, but the kids were just too excited to sit still for a good one. Here's the best one, at any rate.

Now, on to 2017!

Grandma and Auntie Megan made cookies with the kids.

On Christmas Eve, of course we had a goose again, and for some reason it was hard to cut this year. It took all our "man" power.

Jeremy and Megan with their gifts from us.

Astrid got a microwave, which of course got Luca's attention.

On Christmas Day, we went to Megan's again, and Great Grandpa was there too!

Everyone on the couch after eating.

We had a very short visit to MN again, but Astrid got a fever and we had to leave early. Here's one with all the kids on the couch with Auntie Sabrina.

It was a bit of a tumultuous holiday season and year, so I'm glad it is concluded. I feel like we're just getting back to normal now.

We hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Stay warm!

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!