Monday, December 31, 2012

Farewell 2012

It's been (another) year of ups and downs, but it's over now. It's the last day of the year and before the new year hits at midnight, I wanted to take a look back at 2012.

I think one of the biggest events of 2012 was Nate graduating from college. It had been a long time coming and had entailed a lot of sacrifice, but he did it. He had been working full time for a year, attending school full time and fitting in 4-5 hours of sleep where he could. It was hard on us as a couple, but it was especially hard on him physically and mentally. When he graduated, I think we both felt a huge surge of relief. For so long, our mentality had been "just get through this." We were focused on the light at the end of the tunnel and finally it was here.

That feeling of relief was short lived. It wasn't long until we realized that he couldn't even use this degree he had worked so hard for. It was a degree in Criminal Justice and not only had he realized during the course of the degree that he had absolutely zero desire to work in law enforcement but that certain details probably precluded him for even getting a job as a police officer. Add to that an economy where they had been laying off cops for several years and it just looked bleak. So talk turned to going back to college. Finding another career path. At first, his desire to be a writer looked like it might be the way to go. We looked into bachelor programs where he could get a degree in English and work as a teacher while he wrote his book, which was his true passion. But once again, just as things were beginning to look bright and hopeful, reality set in. He had already taken too many student loans and didn't qualify for enough to actually cover the bachelor degree. There was just no way we could pay for it.

So down to earth we came. He would just have to find something else to pay the bills while he wrote his book. We looked at the 2 year programs offered by the college and Nate decided he wanted to take Accounting. We knew the income potential was higher than security or law enforcement and likely the job security was better as well. He also had many of the courses already so the degree would only take 5 quarters instead of 6. It turned out he qualified for just enough loans to pay for the course. So in September, back to school he went. When he graduates at the end of 2013, he'll have 3 2-year degrees. As it turns out, he really enjoys accounting and is very good at it. His first quarter resulted in straight A's and being added to the President's List.

That period of time was the most heartbreaking and stressful of the year. It was so crushing to feel like we'd finally made it, only to find the rug pulled out from under us again. It was about that time that Nate lost his job as well. Things were bleak, but we pressed on and, as they always do, things got better.

It wasn't all bad news and stress though. We were able to take a camping trip with our friends, our first ever as a family. It was probably the best experience we have had as a family.

One of the biggest blessings in my life, apart from my family, are my friends. They pretty much ARE family. Every event is just made better by their presence and I thank God that I'm lucky enough to know them. 

Anyway, we went camping on Memorial Day Weekend and wow. Lesson learned. Don't do it. A) There are no camping spots unless you reserved 10 years ago. B) The water is cold. Like, your toe will freeze and fall off if you test the water for 10 seconds cold. 

After driving around the mountains with 2 kids and a dog for a few hours, looking for a camping spot, Peter and I finally found a GREAT one. It's like it was made for us. It was spacious, big enough for 3 tents to be put up well away from each other for maximum privacy. It was close to the restrooms, which is critical when you have young children. It was close to the lake, but wasn't part of the lake campground, so it was cheaper.  And best of all, the campground wasn't crowded and packed together. The lots were spread out. The only people we really saw were the people across the road from us, who were super nice and chatted up the kids, who just think they've died and gone to heaven whenever someone takes the time to chat them up. They have lots to say....

It was an amazing trip and I'm really glad we decided to go camping instead of going (again) to Seattle. We're going to make camping a regular thing each summer and I'm really glad my kids will have that experience. 

This post has already been super long and I've only talked about the two biggest events of the year, but there have been many others. Damien turned 5, Julia turned 4 and I entered the dreaded 30's. (30 doesn't count. It's like you're standing on the threshold, peering in with a feeling of dread. 31 is when you give up and just step in.) Damien started kindergarten, Nate re-started college and I discovered the joy of 3 hours 3 days a week of having the house entirely to myself. 

Nate and I celebrated 6 years of marriage and discovered that we've celebrated NINE Christmases together. We started the year in marriage counseling and ended it stronger than ever. We have what can only be called a "volatile" relationship (we're both....irritable), but our devotion to each other is unwavering. There is no question in either of our minds that this is forever, no matter what. 

And honestly, that's the best way I can think of to end the year. 

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