If I had to think about a theme (or, in this case, several themes) for 2011, they would be:
Milestones ~ Connections ~ Travel ~ Fun
An 18th birthday, a high school graduation, a 30th class reunion, starting college, a 16th birthday, a 50th birthday. WOW, those are a lot of exciting, important events for one year. I made it through mostly all of them without a lot of tears (of happiness). Milestones really do help us mark the passage of time, don't they?
This was truly a year of connections - spending time with loved ones and reconnecting with those who mean a lot but who we don't see all the time. Cam's graduation and celebrating Annalisse's Sweet 16 and Mark's 50 gave us many great opportunities to spend time with family and friends this year.
Especially fun was my 30th reunion and seeing so many of my great, old school chums (that' a word I don't use enough), especially Derb and Rick Martin and Mike Hayes from the old neighborhood. Through the power of Facebook (observations of which I've written about here) seeing my classmates was extra special since we had been in touch a lot before the event. I don't care what people say...while technology can isolate people, my experience is that it brings people closer together.
Another wonderful family connection this year was having my niece, Nic, move to Fairport. We've had so much fun with her and her boyfriend, Patrick!!
Travel (and fun other stuff)
Looking back, I was in and out and up and down a lot this year, and had the opportunity to experience a lot of different (and in some cases, new) cities. It stated in January with a trip to Ft. Lauderdale with my national association, which was cool because I had never been there. Who could refuse Florida in January? Not me. It was a nice little reprieve to help me through the winter months in New York.
In February, Annalisse took her first solo flight to Baltimore to spend a couple of days with Mom Shiao/Mema, Jackson and Amelie in Arlington. She felt so good about doing that all on her own. I was proud of her, too.
In April we traveled to Roanoke to visit Sue and take a look at Roanoke College - the highlight of which was visiting Jefferson's Monticello in Charlottesville. Also in April I spent a week at the NAGAP conference in Washington, DC, during which I got my iPad!
In May we didn't travel very far from home but had a surprise visit from our nephew, Anthony, who was passing through town on his way back to Raleigh, NC. Also in May was the Sophomore dance and Annalisse's play, Arsenic and Old Lace. So you see, we were too busy to travel in May!
June was taken up with the end of the crew season and a kinda-sorta important event: Cam's graduation and the weeks leading up to it.
In July it was back to Las Vegas for the NAGAP board meeting. The Las Vegas trip was probably one of the funnest things I did all year as my sister Mary, Annalisse and I had had non-stop laughter for four days. (And speaking of connections, it was wonderful to see our cousins Patsy, Nancy and their families while we were there.)
August found us back on the road to Virgina (to Arlington) to visit Mom Shiao, Dave and the kids. We also played tourist and visited the National Mall and Mount Vernon (that's two president's homes in one year if you're keeping track). We also had a chance to see our German exchange student, Belinda for a brief visit and got a chance to meet her mom and sister, Caroline, who will be staying with us for two weeks this coming May. At the end of August we were mostly focused on getting Cam ready for RIT, for which he departed on August 31.
In September I joined "my girls" for our yearly get together in Gettysburg (another weekend filled with much fun and laughter). Also in September I also traveled to Philadelphia for a quick trip to attend a graduate fair for NAGAP, and had a chance to hang out with Derb for the evening. Too. Much. Wine. but great memories and fun conversation!
In October I was on the road locally quite a bit for graduate fairs, and also traveled to Chicago for the NAGAP Board Meeting. Chicago has become one of my favorite towns!
In November we only traveled as far as Buffalo for the very memorable Mat Kearney concert to celebrate Annalisse's birthday.
...And that brings us December, a month with no travel but an extremely busy month nonetheless as we get ready to start a new year of visiting new (and exotic?) places!
It's probably evident through all our travels and events this year that it ended up being a really fun and special year. This year I think I learned to let go a little and to not take things too seriously. It was a year of understanding and appreciating what is truly important, and to stop every once in a while to count our blessings. A great year, overall!
As memorable as this year was for us, it was not easy for many with personal and family losses. As the calendar turns, I think about Camille and Dave on their loss of Nick in August, Carla and Steven on the loss of dad/husband Larry a week before Christmas, Clare in the loss of her mom before Christmas, Steve and Jan in the loss of Jan's dad, Bob, who was a long time friend of Mark's dad, Charlie. There we so many touched by weather and natural disasters this year also. I can't even imagine their lose. Many others, known and unknown, through the year have lost loved ones and faced personal and professional challenges, and I hope 2012 will bring comfort and a renewed sense of hope for all.