Sunday, November 30, 2014

2014 Christmas letter

Shoot!  Is it THAT time of year again?  Hey Everybody--
I’m writing this a little earlier than usual because I want to make sure to get it to you in plenty of time for you to enjoy it during the holidays.  The last couple of years were so hectic I thought If I planned ahead, you might get this letter, oh, I don’t, BEFORE Christmas. :-)
 So, as it’s near the end of the year, I take stock of what’s happened in 2014. As I look back, I think it’s been a good year. New milestones, new adventures and just changes, in general. We spent a year in Astoria, Oregon, we survived another tax audit and we moved back to the valley. DH got a transfer, so we don’t have to do the long-distance relationship again. Yay! That would bite! I got admitted to Western Oregon University, so we moved to Monmouth. I planned on doing the whole on-campus college experience thing, but after my advising meeting, I decided that there is no way that I want to basically start over and go another 4 years. So--I’m NOT going to WOU (even though we live right here.) Maybe I’ll stick with the idea of taking a class here and there like I have been doing, but we are going to focus on getting out of debt.  Yeah, that’s a wonderful plan.  Like, who wants to spend $ on interest payments anyways?!  It’s been wonderful having such a long time off of work, but I think I’m going to look for work. Maybe part-time work and college. Then, the paychecks can go straight into the debt.  Being debt-free is possible, isn’t it?  I mean, I’ve heard of it happening, at least once.  I think it was my sister’s friend’s cousin’s next-door-neighbor that actually got out of debt, so it CAN happen, right? Right?
 Family up-date: DS #2 got his B.A. this year.  Yay!  He’s moving up in his job and seems pretty excited about it.  His life is filled with family and some fabulous friends.  DD is enjoying raising kids and doing art stuff along with honing her homesteading skills. Between work and studying, DS #1's second year of nursing school is hogging up every. single. second.  He’s making some great memories and lifelong friends.
 The grandkids are growing and learning and just loving life.  3 DGDs are voracious readers (Yes!), DGD #1 is still way into dogs and 8-year-old DGS is quite the awesome chef.  We made gnocchi the other day, he and I, and I was thoroughly impressed at how adept he was with a knife.  You don’t know how much fun I have in telling you, on Christmas day those wonderful, obnoxious, beautiful, curious, boundry-pushing, hilarious grandkids will be 10, 9, 8, 7 & 6. Oh, and did I mention brilliant and stubborn?  Yeah, maybe they take after their Nana, sometimes.  I DO love their mad reading skills, compassion, and their sense of humor.
 This spring we went on vacation with friends to Mexico and Belize and it was an amazing experience. We hung out & relaxed, we swam in a cenote, we shopped and visited and dined. If you’re ever in the Yucatan area of Mexico or in Belize, try the mango juice or the watermelon juice.  They are to-die-for delicious!  We climbed Mayan pyramids, met wild iguanas, up close and personal, thoroughly enjoyed the zoo in Belize and … wait for it…(are you ready?)...snorkled with a whale shark.  It was SO cool!  Unbelievably cool!  Like, you can’t even imagine how cool it was to just jump off the boat and land only about 12 feet from his (her?) face.  I’m over 5 feet tall, but this whale shark’s MOUTH  was like 5 feet wide and the shark itself was about 20 feet long. OMG!  Can you say HUGE?! Yeah, and it was swimming with ME.  OK, me and DH and my friend and about 30 other people, but still, when you’re swimming with a whale shark, everyone else kinda’ pales in comparison.  Yep, I did it! but I didn’t buy the t-shirt.  I bought the towels instead.  I know, it’s a little tourist-y, but we now have 2 whale shark towels from Gladden Spit, Belize.
The weather was perfect for diving, the people were so friendly and the reef was almost too beautiful for words. Obviously, I have to say “almost” because I seem to be using plenty of words right now.  The water was gorgeous shades of blues and turquoise, the plants came in a variety of colors, but the fish … they were just, Wow!  Brilliant jewel tones.  The most memorable to me was a blue Queen angel.  It was the brightest blue and about a foot long.  It stayed within 2 feet of me for almost 5 minutes.  I think it was checking me out as much as I was checking him out.  Simply beautiful.  If we move there some day, you’ll know why.
 When I write these letters, it feels a little fakey. Life isn’t all highlights and fun times, but that’s the fun parts to share.  You don’t really want to know how many times I washed dirty dishes, went grocery shopping or had to plunge the toilet.  You might not even want to know that I had to recover from surgery--but it was for a very good cause.  I got lasik surgery on both eyes.  I had a HUGE correction, so I’m still healing, but you don’t know how good it feels not to be so dependent on glasses.  Oh, I still need readers, but I don’t get a headache if I don’t have my glasses on for 5 minutes.  Life is good.  And sometimes, even the yucky parts work out for good.
 Life has its up and downs, but just know that it’s the people in my life, our lives, that are definitely one of the “Ups”.  Thanks for being an UP.

Merry Christmas ♥ 2014

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