a year in review

I can remember last New Year’s so clearly: our murder mystery part at the S’s house. It was so much fun. I looked around the room at our friends and thought “this is exactly where I want to be in my life: surrounded by these people”.  And while not every single one of our friends were there, they were in my heart. I am richly blessed with honest, loyal, true friends; and 2013 did not disappoint.

Our annual trip to Colorado in March was met with some  Colorado snow, but it didn’t stop us from having a fun night out in Denver with our friends at a fabulous restaurant, Duo, and one of our favorite bars, the Green Russell. Their two daughters are a delight, and we had so much fun with them. Their excitement when they saw us in the airport is etched in my memory. They got all dressed up in these lovely hand-made dresses just for us. They warm my heart, and I can’t wait to see them again in March.

April was a fun month, because I met a music legend: Vanilla Ice. That’s right, I called him a legend. Our brief encounter at a Scripps TV Network event was warm and friendly, and was all for taking some photos.

Me&Vanilla

That same night I met Amanda Freitag, and we bonded over eggs and sock monkeys. Then Adam Richman, who gave me some great drinking tips for our trip to Portland. Specifically, McMenamins Kennedy School.

adamrichman&me

We traveled to Portland & Seattle for a week in June. Lots of good beer, city exploring, interstate train travel, and a ton of photography. McMenamins Kennedy School is an old elementary school turned hotel/brewery/concert venue/movie theater. It truly was one of the coolest places we have been. Then we walked 2 miles down the road to some of the sketchier parts of Portland, just so I could take a photo of the feminist bookstore in Portlandia.

On a beautiful, warm evening in mid-July, my newest niece arrived! I very affectionately refer to her as Cheeks, because she has the cutest munchable cheeks ever. She is an absolute cuddly love, and her big sister, my goddaughter Little Pants, is doing an excellent job as big sis. *Sidebar: Little Pants got her name from when my sister was pregnant with her, and was making a pair of pink baby pants dance around on a hanger while in line at Gap, saying “Little Pants! Little Pants!”

August brought Pants’ birthday, and a work promotion for me.

September we decided we loved Seattle so much that we’d return, then explore Woodinville, WA and the wineries in the area. Chateau Ste Michelle is beautiful, and we brought home a ton of delicious wine. Then we were off to Vancouver to see some hockey, eat some delicious candy we can’t find in the US, and conquer one of my fears (heights) at the Calipano Suspension Bridge. We also had a fabulous time traveling with R & T.

suspension bridge

What happened when we arrived home is something I always feared: my father was in the hospital. The day before we arrived home, he suffered two mini-strokes. My mother was spending the day with her cousins, I was driving from Vancouver to Seattle, and by God’s grace, my sister was home with her babies and husband, and was there to answer my father’s call. She kept him on the phone, they got him help and safely to the hospital, and her brother-in-law brought her the hour+ drive to him. We are so LUCKY and my dad is so BLESSED that he is doing well. He is being good and following his doctors’ instructions and taking care of himself. My birthday was less than 3 weeks after his stroke, and being able to celebrate with him, and having him healthy, was a gift I could never, ever put a price tag on. It is all I’ve ever wanted for the past 16 years since his heart problems began. (And since I know you’re somehow going to be reading this, Daddy – KEEP LISTENING TO THE DOCTORS!)

October is always my favorite month: the crisp fall weather, boots & sweaters, my best friend’s birthday, MY birthday, and Penn State Football. And for the first time in years, I was together with all of my girls. J was visiting from Colorado, and the rest of the crew got together for a good old fashioned PSU tailgate. L & I had tickets to the game – THAT WE WON IN 4 OVERTIMES! – and we had a perfect weekend. Those ladies mean the world to me. We all lead crazy, busy lives with work and children (and our four-legged children!), but if I needed anything, or if anyone needed anything, we’d be there for each other in a heartbeat.

November saw a ton of time spent with our dear friends and family, and our third Thanksgiving celebration at our house. Brian outdid himself with this year’s pork tenderloin (and if you know my dad, you know he hasn’t stopped talking about how good it was). We rounded out the weekend with a visit from the E’s, and a trip into NYC for the day, bar hopping, cheese plate eating, and sight seeing. It was a great day.

And now, on the next to last day of December, I’m thinking back to what a great month it has been. Our home was beautifully decorated for Christmas, I got to see the incredible joy on my nieces’ faces (ok, Cheeks not so much since she is still so little) as they opened their Christmas presents, I got my Christmas Eve drinking buddy back (my sister – who has been pregnant 2 of the last 3 Christmases), Brian and I spoiled each other for our anniversary and Christmas, and we’re rounding out the year at our annual celebration at the S’s house with our dear friends since high school.

This year has truly been wonderful. Despite all of the “bad” things that happened, a lot of good came with it. I’m not going to get all sitcom theme song, but you take the good and you take the bad. You have to. You can choose to dwell in the negative, which will blind you from seeing a lot of good around you, and ultimately hold you back from moving on and creating GOOD out of that situation.

My wish for the new year is continued good health for my family, continued good health for me & Bri, to spend as much time as I can with my two nieces (they bring me more joy than I could even begin to put into words), and to not let me hold me back. I tend to do that sometimes. I also have a list I need to get to work on: my 36 in 36.

My wish for all of you is for good health, happiness, love, peace, and prosperity.

Much love. Cheers. xx E

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