Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ciao, 2011.

Kent, Marissa, Brandon, and I
San Diego on the water taxi

Every year as it's slowly winding down, I can't help but think about what the year has brought.  I am always amazed at how quickly time goes by--and this year is definitely no different.  2012.  Wow.  I remember being just a kid and thinking to myself, "God, in the year 2000 I'll turn 30 years old!"  And it seemed so long off, so far into the future that I couldn't imagine it.

Bran & Roo Xmas '98
I remember when my kids were born, when they started school, and thinking, "Geesh, in 2012 that will be the last full year both kids will be in high school."  And it seemed so long off, so far into the future that I couldn't even truly fathom it.

And here we are, with 2012 only hours away.  Where has the time gone?

This year we've accumulated a lot of fond memories--here's a quick list of what immediately comes to mind (in no particular order):

Year One!
Kent and I celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary in March--going back to the Denver Chop House and going to a Mammoth game.  Was so much fun!  =)

B holding up his temporary
Brandon getting his Driver's License (God help us all!).  It was a crazy day--my back light was out and they wouldn't let him take the test without it working.  We rushed to the Dodge dealership and they fixed it in under an hour--then headed back to the DMV.  He passed with flying colors!  A very proud day for him and scary one for me!  Another huge milestone... *sigh*

Marissa driving my car for the first time--will never forget the bushes she ran over...  She actually did very well coming down the road and parked the car on the curb with extreme accuracy.  It wasn't until her brother got her all worked up, that the bush went kaput...

The Duckies
Melissa, Gloria, Me & Laszlo
When I finally walked in the graduation ceremony for my doctoral degree--great moment, very proud moment for me.  Of course when I saw my decorated car (courtesy of Brandon, Marissa, and Amanda)--well, where to start?  Only a picture will do...  And my party was SO much fun!  Great friends and family to help me celebrate--love you guys!

Me very excited about the PACK!
Writing my first novel over the summer--Mr. Rights Gone Wrong--hoping to one day get the thing published!


Marissa going to Nationals in Florida with her cheerleading team

Fuzz playing for CT soccer in what may have been his last season

Brandon and one of the cars
Driving cars at the speedway--that was a lot of fun and something I was not very good at...the kids, however, and Kent loved it!

All of us with Evon!
Meeting Evon--Kent's sister-in-law--for the first time!

Reuniting with my friend, Tina--we had lost contact for years.  I've known her for 20 years.

Realizing my nieces were exactly like my brother--which is not a compliment by any means.  Knowing I would never be used by another person the way my brother used me.  It was eye-opening and door-closing at the same time.

Me and the
Meeting a Rapids player and getting my picture taken with the MLS cup--that was cool and will probably never happen to me again in my lifetime.

Julia, Me & Tina at the
Turning 41 (ugh) and celebrating with friends down at the Wyncoop--good times were had--and at Carmine's with family!

Taking the motorcycle out with my hubby--not nearly as often as we liked, but grateful for the times we did.  I love riding the bike--it makes me feel so free!  Love it!

Kent & I at
Washington Park
Lots of fond memories with the family and the dog at Washington Park--I love going there.  It's fun watching the kids fly around the park on one of the quads, walking Gates, and just relaxing near the water.  It's one of my favorite places of all time!

Me and some of the ladies from work
at the Clock Tower
Girls' Night Out at the Clock Tower--had never seen burlesque dancers before that night!  Was so much fun--laughed my ass off!

Kent & I at the Rapids game
Watching my mom dancing at the Rapids game when the music came on!  She was getting her groove on, while Brandon sat completely mortified, as his soccer team was there as well!  Too funny!

The snake...
Seeing the first (and only thus far) snake make its way up near our stairs.  That was a little frightening.  Hasn't ever come back!

Marissa serving one of the seniors
Marissa helping out at Holly Heights Nursing Home for the Mother's Day tea--she's so incredible with the seniors--very proud of her!

Mama and Fuzz
Brandon getting 2nd place at the President's Cup Tournament with the CO Fusion--his team did beat the 1st place team, but unfortunately, they had more points overall in the tourney...

Going to the Denver Zoo on Mother's day--they both hate going to the zoo.  This is because back in the day when I was broke and they were little, I would buy a season pass to the zoo.  Every single weekend we spent at the zoo.  Now, they're over it...  But I'm not!  It's my must-do every single Mother's Day--love this place.  Reminds me of when my babies were just that, babies.

Massages at the Massage School with the girls--yeah.  That was an experience I'd care not to repeat...but for $12.50, you can't beat it!  =)

Joelle, Me and Melanie
Mel, Me & Joelle in Bethel
WI trip for my nephew's graduation!  Had a great time with the family, seeing the farm, and just having us three girls (my two sisters and I) together again.  Unfortunately, my nephew had too many detentions (family trait perhaps?) to walk...  Hoping in 2013 to see the first to cross the stage--that would be Brandon!  Had fun on the farm--actually hopped up on a tractor, saw some cows (even a dead one--that was a trip!), and had a good time.  Doing the tour of our youth was something else--it's as though it's all just frozen in time...  Oh and I got to see my friends Tracey and Tammy!  That was awesome.  =)

Getting and iPhone 4, 3G network, touch screen--my kids always laugh when I say that, so I had to include it!  =)

Kent & me at the dunes
Finally making our way to the Sand Dunes of Colorado--I've wanted to see them for as long as I can remember.  It's amazing to see!  Of course, we were anything but prepared for the scalding hot sand on Gate's paws...  I ended up walking by myself and Kent kept Gator near the water.  We stayed at a pet friendly place--was nice to be able to take Gates with us.  Oh, and I totally kicked Kent's ass in ping pong on this trip!  =)

Kent & I at the Gator Farm
Going to an alligator farm and holding a live alligator!  I was terrified, but happy I did it!  We never saw so many gators, ever!  Was a lot of fun.

Fuzz and Roo at Mission Bay
Marissa & I on the boat in Cali
Fuzz on the boat in Cali
Kent, Fuzz & Roo
roasting hot dogs on the beach
Kent & I in the jail on the
USS Midway
One of my favorite pics
of Kent and I on the beach
Kids on a rafting adventure
Going to San Diego with Kent, Brandon, and Marissa.  Was the best time--the kids drove a boat for the first time, we went to Sea World (my favorite was Shamu) on a water taxi, went to the beach where the kids were able to boogie board--water was FREEZING!, experienced the San Diego Zoo Safari park, toured the USS Midway, roasted marshmallows on the beach, watched the kids in their raft out in the bay--just had a great time!  I was also able to work on my novel every single morning.  I would sit out by the water with my coffee and laptop and just write.  It was so peaceful--just me and this duck that would perch near me every morning.  There were times when the kids were on drive mode and making me a bit crazy, but overall was a great trip!  Especially the nights, when we'd all be laying on our beds with our iPods or iPhones playing Scrabble against each other.  This trip was the first real family trip that I've been able to take the kids on, so it really meant a lot to me.  Those memories of our trip will always be with me.

Kent and I at Red Rocks
Seeing Blues Traveler at Red Rocks--Kent's always wanted to see them on the 4th of July and finally got to this year!  Was a great show--and we were able to see a TON of firework shows going on throughout metro-Denver.

Kids being silly on the beach
Marissa turning 15 and Brandon turning 17--once again, where has the time gone?

Joelle, Me, Donna & Emily
in Vegas
Vegas trip with the girls--and falling asleep every night before midnight.  Okay, I'm SO not as exciting as I was once in my youth...  Still had a great time though!  Loved hanging out every day at the pool for 8 hours and just relaxing without the "mom, Mom, MOM!" getting yelled every ten minutes.

Brandon being cool in his car
B getting his first car--a 1997 Honda Civic.  For his birthday, Kent and I bought him car seat covers with Lil' B embroidered on them.  Every time he gets in that car I have to say a little prayer that he'll be returned safely to me.  Chant the whole rosary when Marissa's in there with him!

Me and Trace!
Going to the Rockies
Having my longtime friend, Tracey, come visit from WI--crazy night on the town that involved Shotgun Willie's--enough said!  Loved seeing her and miss her A LOT! There's nothing like having a friend from the time I was 12 years old, and even though years go between the time I'm able to see her, the moment I do it's as though not a moment has passed.  We just pick up right where we left off.  Love ya, Trace!

Watching my kids heading off to Homecoming--they both looked amazing!

Going to Canvas and Cocktails with my sister, Joelle.  I love the way I'm SO not an artist, but they make me appear to be one!  Now both Bran and Roo have an original painting by their mother hanging up in their rooms.  (and I love that they hang them...)

Mom, Me & Dad at their
anniversary party
Me and Kent at their party
My parents celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary--we had a wonderful time at Cinzetti's.  Very proud of my parents and of their love.

The opening of IKEA!  Yay!  Love this place! (although my bank account does not...)

Air Force One--pretty cool, huh?
Having Air Force One practically land in our front yard--that was quite the sight and so happy that Kent grabbed the camera and took some pics!

Off to camp!
Seeing Marissa off to Camp Chief Ouray--she had a wonderful time and really needed to get away on her own.  She really grew up over the summer and is turning into quite the teenager.

My baby girl
Watching her not make the Varsity squad (hard to see), but loving cheer so much that she sucked it up and cheered for JV with pride.  She's one of the strongest people I know.

Watching Brandon not make the soccer team this year--first time ever.  Another hard moment, but he handled it well.

Fuzz working away
Brandon getting a job at Safeway--as a courtesy clerk, although he's just started on the register as well.  He's doing a good job bringing home the bacon, as he's paying for his insurance, gas, and any break-downs for his car (which has already happened...had to replace his engine--which cost him $1100.)

My baby Gates
Halloween sucked.  We had ZERO trick-er-treaters, so I made Marissa go on the porch, ring the doorbell, and yell "TRICK-OR-TREAT!"  When Brandon got home from work I made him do the same thing.  They got to split all the candy I bought...  One good thing was Gator's costume--he was the cutest pirate ever!  (Kent wasn't into the dressing up of our dog as I was...)

Kent in the hot tub
Taking a weekend in Vail with my husband in October--that was the most relaxing, wonderful weekend ever!  It snowed--which was perfect.  We sat in an outdoor hot tub as the snow fell around us--I was in Heaven and couldn't stop smiling.  Just picturesque!  Our room was upgraded free of charge because they had an extra upgrade that wasn't being used--how nice was that?  Complete luxury--down to the heated tile floor in the bathroom so our toes wouldn't get cold.  Yeah...loved it!

One of my favorite pics that I took of Kent in Vail
Taking Kent on a "photo shoot" in Vail for his graduation pictures that I needed for the invites that I made.  I loved playing photographer and he was such a great sport!  Although he didn't "do" all the poses that I tried to make him do, he was awesome!

Mom and me at the RFTC
Amanda & Riss
Being a part of the Race for the Cure for the 8th straight year for Marissa and I--9th year for me. Although the race part was inspiring and invigorating, after the race when we "lost" my mother, it wasn't so great...she was found and tempers got back in check.  Other than that was a great day!

Trying to golf with Kent--yeah, I suck.  Although I rock the crap out of my golfing outfit--complete with pink clubs (if only I could properly use them...)

Me and the parentals at the Packer Bar!
Going to the Packer Bar for my sister's birthday!  Love that place!

Having a student teacher for the first time.  Ummm. Yeah.  Was a roller coaster ride to say the least.  Enough said.

Fuzz & Roo finding our way
through the maze
Me and my babies at the Maze
Going to the Wild West Maze for the 2nd year in a row with Brandon and Marissa.  This year, however, we completed EVERY single stop in under two hours.  This maze is the biggest in the WORLD--needless to say, I was not the navigator...  Brandon was, although Marissa did find three or four of the stops.  We had a great time--especially Marissa with the donkey that would "hee haw" every time she was near!  Too funny!

Me, Mom & Joelle at the Electric
Cowboy celebrating Mom's 66th
Seeing both of my parentals turn 66 this year--although going out with my mom for her birthday and watching her do jello shots was awesome!  We all played pool and danced our butts off--was a great birthday for her.  =)

Kent "Poncho" and I
Celebrating Kent's birthday at 3 Margarita's and the singing Mexican cowboys calling him "Poncho"--that was another funny moment.

Buying my first items ever from Craig's List and E-bay--yeah.  That was something.

Making gingerbread houses at the Lee's--a tradition that's now five years in the making!

The graduate
Kent, me, Julia, & Garrett at
the Bull & Bush
Watching my husband, Kent, receiving his diploma from MSCD--where I'm an alumni as well.  So very proud of him and his accomplishment!  Had a fabulous time at his party--at the Bull and Bush!

Bran, G-pa, G-ma, Me, Kent, & Rissa
at the Bull & Bush
Marissa, Bruce & Michael
Spending the holidays with my family.

Kent and I at Zoo Lights
Zoo lights with the Chizmo's!

Getting the flu for 3 days--not fun.  Literally the first time I've been sick in at least 10 years.

Joining a Women's Book Club--meeting some new, amazing women!  I've wanted to do this for so many years and just never did.  SO happy that I've jumped in and look forward to our monthly get-togethers!

Starting a public blog in November and enjoying every minute of it!


As I look at this list there are several things I've left off, one in particular.  I've left off the negative things--the times when my kids were making me absolutely insane and I wondered if I'd even make it to 2012.  I've left off the times I was aggravated beyond all hope or I felt as though there were too many weights impending on my shoulders.  Why focus on the negative?

My list is quite long--even as I look at it, knowing all the fun times and hard times that aren't on there, I can't believe all the things I've done this year--especially all the firsts.  But not one of those things define my year.  See, I look at 2011 as the year of forgiveness.  It was a long time coming.  I made a promise to my daughter at the beginning of 2011.  It took me exactly one month to fulfill my promise.  I promised her  I would make amends with her step-mom and her dad.  I've known for a long time that forgiveness was in order.  But I became accustomed to anger, to hatred, toward them.  It was perhaps how I coped even.  I know why I was angry--but after awhile even that doesn't make all that much sense anymore.  I realized that I was holding onto my resentment because it was easier to do than to forgive.  And I will admit that it was not only the best thing that I did this year, but also the hardest.

We were at one of Brandon's soccer games and it was cold and rainy outside.  Marissa was with her dad that weekend and I could see them all sitting there in the rain cheering Brandon on.  Kent and I were lucky enough to get a spot for the car right in front of the field.  I sat there, watching my son play, not even knowing I was going to make good on my promise to my daughter that day.  I saw Marissa, Taylor (Marissa's step-sister), and her step-mom heading toward the bathroom.  I looked at Kent and said, "I'm going to talk to her."  He looked over at me with shocked expression on his face.  "Okay," he replied back.  I could feel his eyes in the back of my head as I headed in the threesome's direction.  I wanted my daughter to see that if you make a promise, if you want a change, then you do it--even if it's the most difficult thing imaginable.

Marissa at her "Family Birthday" dinner--look at the glow!
I won't go into details of that moment--in all honesty I'm unable to without shedding a few tears.  But what I will say is that it is the moment that defined my year--that changed my relationship not only with her and my ex, but with my children.  I realized how much it meant to my kids, especially to my daughter, when I asked if she wanted a party for her birthday.  "No, mom, I want a family dinner," she requested instead, "And a real family dinner--with my whole family."  And that's what we did, for the first time.  Just went to dinner with HER entire family.  What I've realized this year is I'm not in this parenting teens hellish-at-times experience alone--or even just with my husband.  There are four of us that are parents to my two kids.  Four of us that agonize about them and stress about them and love them.  No one will ever replace me or their dad.  No one will ever feel the way I do as their mom or as their dad does either.  It just took me until 2011 to find that forgiveness in my heart and to open my mouth and say it.  Better late than never, right?

So at midnight tonight, when we're in the living room watching the ball drop, I'll be doing what I always do.  My eyes will water, my kids and husband won't understand why, and I'll hum along to the song Aude Lang Syne.  It's what I do.  I'll be saying good-bye to another year--an eventful year to say the least.  And good-byes always make me misty...

Happy New Year!
Much love, luck, and laughter to all of you in 2012!