Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 Revisited

Minutes of the School Board meeting addressing my retirement!

I'm never really sad to see the end of one year and the start of a new, because there's always so much promise in a fresh beginning. Yet it can also be fun to look back and revisit the joys and accomplishments of a year well spent.

My first act of 2016 actually set the stage for one of the greatly anticipated promises of 2017. Early in January, I submitted all the required paperwork to retire at the end of the 2016-17 school year. And now, here I stand just 22 weeks away from retirement! And that includes two weeks off for Spring Break!

January 15: Laparoscopic photos from my knee surgery.

Not long after applying for retirement, I went in for knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in my right knee. It had been causing me pain and some serious hobbling since the first week of September 2015, so I was anxious to have it taken care of. The surgery went well and my doctor gave me the good news that my joints are actually in great shape, with no signs of arthritis or serious wear. However, the recovery was much slower than I'd hoped for. It took most of 2016 to reach a point where I could walk without much of a limp. Heading into 2017, though, it really is much better.

February 4: Mary buys a "new" 2009 Chevy Traverse.

Three weeks after the surgery, I decided it was time to buy a new car. With retirement and so much traveling in my future, I wanted something with more room and more power. My dream SUV was a Chevy Traverse and, as luck would have it, someone had traded in a 2009 model (exactly in my price range) the day before I went car shopping. I went in tough, talked the price down a couple thousand dollars, and got an amazing interest rate, so I was pretty pleased at how it all turned out. 

Of course, there was that little episode where the power steering reservoir cracked and left me stranded in Mesa on the weekend of my sister's wedding less than two weeks after I purchased the car, which was mega-stressful, but the dealership handled it and paid for everything, so it had a happy ending. And the Traverse truly has been great for traveling so far.

March 25: David Archuleta in concert.

Other than driving to Mesa for Karla and Steve's wedding, our second trip in the new car came at the end of March when we headed to the Valley again. This time it was to enjoy a concert by David Archuleta in Queen Creek on Friday night, and then spend the next day at the annual Renaissance Festival in the desert outside Apache Junction. Jake, who is not an Archuleta fan, did not join us for the concert, but we were all there for the Festival fun. Except for Jacob and Danielle, of course, who live too far away, but I'm glad to say they were able to join us for Karla's wedding in February.

March 26: Mary at the Renaissance Festival, holding her new wand,
wearing her new circlet, with her favorite Drabbit on her shoulder.

May 27: Dylan graduated from high school.

After a little lull in April, May was a very busy month. Dylan finished up four years of high school, traveled to Southern California on the senior trip, and then walked across the stage to receive his diploma from the hands of his waiting mother. It was the last of my three opportunities to enjoy that privilege.

Jacob at top, Dylan in the center, and Sarah at bottom.
Yes, Jacob and Dylan wore the same shirt for their pictures.

And now, thanks to the events of 2016, all my kids' photo walls are complete: the wall of senior photos next to my bed (above) and the wall in the living room featuring each of my children on their 4th birthdays and at their graduations (below).

Sarah, Dylan, and Jacob at age four and age eighteen.

May 29: Dylan, Mary, and Jake on the guys' wedding day.

Just two days following graduation, Dylan got married and moved out (not too far away, thankfully). I'm not sure any mother is ready to have her nest emptied quite so suddenly, but it all worked out. Dylan and Jake had a simple but lovely wedding in my front yard, filled with their closest friends. Even Jacob and Danielle were able to come join us all the way from Utah for the graduation and the wedding. In fact, they made the huge wedding cake that became a striking centerpiece for the "To the Moon and Back/Star Wars"-themed celebration.

Danielle and Jacob with the wedding cake they created for
Dylan and Jake's wedding.

June 21: Cars lined up to leave town during the Cedar Fire.

Mere weeks after all the fuss of graduation and wedding, our area was struck by the Cedar Fire, located just a few miles due west from our home. And the wind was blowing it our direction. We spent weeks under evacuation warning while ash poured down on us like a light snowfall. Many people packed up and left due to breathing issues or just to beat the crowd. The hospital three miles from my house was evacuated. Our usual summer vacationers were warned to stay away. As for myself, I was already fighting a respiratory infection when the fire started, so it made for a stressful episode during a summer I'd so much looked forward to enjoying.

July 12: Mark is ready to check out of Banner Medical Center.

In the midst of the evacuation threat, Mark and I made a two-day trip to Phoenix, where on July 11th he finally had a badly needed ablation to correct his atrial fibrillation, a dangerously irregular heartbeat caused by areas on the heart wall discharging incorrect electrical cues for the heart to contract. The operation appeared to be successful, but less than two weeks later he was back in the emergency room with a pulse of 184 beats per minute! In danger of imminent stroke, the doctors administered an electrical shock to his heart, which they allowed me to witness. Not sure I ever want to do that again, but it worked. So far, his heart is beating correctly and steadily.

July 15: Sarah, Mark, Jacob, Danielle, Jake, and Dylan in front of
Homestead Crater in Midway, Utah.

Just three days after Mark's ablation procedure, we all (except Chris, who stayed behind to work) piled into the Traverse and headed for northern Utah to spend five days with Jacob and Danielle. They came to see us in Midway, where our resort was located, and we had a belated Fathers Day and belated birthdays for Mark and Dylan, since Jacob and Danielle had missed those events with us. Then we explored the rustic little resort town of Midway in Heber Valley. On another day, we all drove over the Wasatch Mountain range (beautiful!) to explore Jacob and Danielle's turf in and around their hometown of Midvale. We saw where they live and work, met their new pets, and enjoyed the places they go to dine out and to have fun. We also spent a day together on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

September 9: Jacob surprised us with a weekend visit.
Jacob, Mark, Mary, Jake, Dylan, Chris, and Sarah.

One very wonderful thing about 2016 was how often we got to see Jacob and Danielle. When they moved to Midvale, Utah, in late September 2015, I figured it would be like they dropped off the face of the earth. But then they were able to join us for my sister's wedding in February, and they came back in May for Dylan's graduation and wedding. Then we went to see them in Utah for five days in July, and of course we were all together again in October for our family vacation in Southern California. We even got a surprise visit from Jacob in September, when he came to attend a friend's wedding. We were so thrilled to see him, but so mad that he didn't bring Danielle with him! I know every year won't bring us together so often, but for our first year living in different states, it was awesome to see them on five different occasions.

Sarah, Chris, Mark, Danielle, Jacob, Dylan, and Jake on Seal Beach Pier.
October 3, 2016

Other than the big holiday season that winds up each year with Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December, our last big event of 2016 was our annual family trip in October. We had such a great time visiting several beaches along the Pacific Coast, doing two days at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Hollywood, spending almost three hours on a whale watching cruise, dining out at various fun restaurants, and just plain relaxing together at the Anaheim resort between the good times.

2016 was a full year, a good year, and the thing that made it most wonderful was being able to spend so much of it with the people I love most in the whole far-flung galaxy. May 2017 be just as amazing, for both my family and yours!

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