2014: The Longest Year Ever

I haven't been writing very much (again) but I wanted to take some time to put down some thoughts about this year. To be perfectly honest, this is one of those babbling posts that's mostly just for me to reflect and have some pictures to look back on. I totally intend to get back to sharing posts about homeschooling fun and other ideas that might actually be useful for other people to read in 2015. 

The year started out like this:

Yep; that's Agent J in a cast after breaking her arm on New Year's day. Great way to ring in 2014, no? I will add that after all the worrying I have done about her crazy antics resulting in some sort of injury, she managed to break her arm (at the elbow) falling off the bed to a carpeted floor (just a fluke, awkward landing).

But it was all good because the day after she got her cast on we got to do this:

And yes, every picture we have from that trip pretty much looks like that one.

Shortly after we returned from visiting The Mouse, Hubby left for a 5-ish month deployment. We made a calendar and checked off days and somehow managed (like we always do). 

The Agents spent a lot of time in the back yard during those months. We also celebrated Agent J turning six and Agent E turning eight.

I know we did other things while he was gone, but as usual it's all kind of hazy. Most deployments are like that. You feel like the individual days are never going to end, and then as soon as it's over it's like it never even happened. In early June Captain Daddy returned and all was right with the world again. 

And we went back to Disney, this time for Star Wars Weekends and our final trip as Florida residents.

Once we got home, the reality of oh, crap, we're moving 1100 miles in three months hit. Most of the rest of summer was kind of a blur of cleaning, packing, and house hunting. (I wrote a bit about how we got ourselves organized here and here.) 

We arrived at our new home in mid-September. Hubby spent a whopping 72 hours in our house before he left for 12 weeks. Luckily we managed to get a lot done in those three days and the Agents and I only had minor unpacking left to do to make the house livable. 

Two weeks later, I found out that my mom was having my dad (who had been very ill for a while) moved to hospice care, and they expected it to be a matter of days, maybe two weeks at best. I debated driving there right away vs. staying put until we had actual news. 

We waited ten days and then decided we couldn't stand being here waiting around for bad news any longer. The Agents and I (including Agent C) drove 500 miles to my parents' house in Pennsylvania. (How we survived that, I have no idea.) 

On the way, we stopped in State College, where Hubby and I met.

We got there and . . . nothing happened. We went to see my dad a few times. (I'm not sure how much he knew at that point; I would like to believe he saw the kids and knew they were there.) Honestly, I thought the kids might be freaked out by the nursing home and the fact that he was not able to speak and kind of out of it, but they told me they just wanted to see Grandpap again. 

While there we continued doing our usual school stuff (more or less), spent time outside every day, got to see a lot of relatives we hadn't visited in forever, and even made it to the local Star Wars Reads day.

We spent Halloween there as well. And Agent A's fourth birthday.

After about four weeks we decided to leave my mom's for a bit and head over to Washington DC to visit Hubby. Yes, more driving for the gal who hates driving. 

Even though Hubby had to work every day we were there, we still got to see him in the evenings (yay!) and the Agents and I spent a lot of time exploring DC on our own. (Some highlights from our trip can be found in this post.)

Rather than return to New York, we decided to head back to see my mom again. The kids (and the cat?) were glad to be back and quickly settled in like they owned the place.
Five days later my dad passed away, after a year-long battle with some stupid illness none of us had ever heard of.

The Agents loved that Grandpap would always get down on the floor to play
Grandpap and Agent A, summer 2012
Grandpap and Agent J, Christmas 2008
Grandpap and Agent E, Christmas 2007
I was (thankfully) home with my mom the morning she got the call. I put Agent E in charge of Agents J and A in another part of the house and began making the worst phone calls ever. I had to be the one to share the news with several people and that sucked.

After the funeral, I didn't really know what the Agents and I would do. Thanksgiving was a few days later, and my sister and I took over making dinner, and it went about as well as you would imagine given the timing.

We decided (primarily driven by the upcoming snow in the forecast) to head back to New York that weekend. We spent a total of 54 days away from our house (which we barely had time to get comfortable in as it was). It basically felt like moving all over again.

It didn't take long to get back in the swing of things, though, and the Agents were thrilled to be back among all their own stuff. We had originally packed thinking we'd be gone 10-14 days tops. They missed all their creature comforts (and were kind of over the four outfits we had packed in the suitcase).

We started a new Daddy Countdown and tried to get back on track with school. After a few trial and error misses, we even found a new church we liked. 

We also got to play in our first significant snowfall. Agents E and J had technically seen snow before, but they were so little they didn't really remember. Agent A had never experienced snow. It had snowed a bit while we were in PA, but not much.

Finally Hubby returned (in a new car, which the Agents have named Vader) and things went back to the usual mayhem. Agent A was especially excited to have Daddy back, and he's pretty much been his shadow ever since.

A week later we celebrated Christmas.

Now we are patiently (okay, not patiently) awaiting our upcoming Disney Cruise vacation. Hopefully it will involve fewer trips to the ER than the last one.

Overall, I'd have to say we've had better years. We definitely had some fun, but it was kind of overshadowed by the fact that we spent nearly 8 of the 12 months missing Hubby and then of course losing Grandpap just before Thanksgiving. (Suffice it to say the time leading up to the holidays will never be the same again.)

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