Saturday, December 31, 2016

16 Things To Remember about 2016

Okay, so the last post was not the final one for 2016. This one is. I'm going to take the time to review 16 things I will always remember about 2016. 

Now I know that this past year was unlike any we've seen in a long time. From the deaths of so many significant public figures and celebrities to the unprecedented political campaign; it's events will have long lasting effects on our society.

But these 16 items are all personal. A few I have written about during the year; some recently. Others I am mentioning in this post for the first time. Either way they are included because they made a difference in my life; good or bad. Here in no particular order is my list of 16. 

Two Surgeries: The month of May saw both Paula and me have major operations. Her's was scheduled; mine was not. On the 10th my wife had rotator cuff surgery.  On Memorial Day weekend, I had surgery to remove my gall bladder. 

It took us both a couple of months to recover and effecting our lives and our bank account.  

March Trip To Walt Disney World: The 

picture below is the quintessential reason 

Paula and I decided to go to Florida with

James, Brandi, and Aria with about 3 weeks 

notice. Look at the smile on my granddaughter's face. 

This was a physically exhausting and emotionally sentimental trip for me but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. 

Essentially, this was the first vacation we went on with both our grandchildren. 

In this group pic with Mickey, we are all there but my grandson cannot be seen. Still his heart was beating and he was already part of our family. 
I wrote an extended 13 post series detailing our vacation in Walt Disney World on my Goofy Guy 909 Blog . To read them just click on the link. 
I'll have more about our time in Florida with Aria later in this post. 

The Quigley's Move Away: 
In April of this year, our best friends, Patty & Mark Quigley, moved from about 10 miles from us all the way to Saint Louis, Mo. 

While we are happy that they followed God's leading in their lives and are now living very close to their 3 grandchildren. But they are now 5 hours away from us. 

One of the best ways to describe our friendship with the Quigleys comes from the Old Testament book of Proverbs, chapter 27, verse 17. "As iron sharpens iron so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."

Although we will continue to keep in touch with them and have even visited them in their new home already, since April our lives have been a little "dull" without Mark & Patty around.   

A VERY unwelcome "visitor": In the middle of June the advantage of living in the country became a temporary curse.

On the evening of June 10, we had a very unwelcome visitor, a skunk, at our house. It effected our house, our dog, and our lives for almost 6 weeks. I wrote about it my June 18 post. Here's a link to My Skunk Story .

Visits From The Pearsons: I wrote about my sister's family visiting me in August in my "10 Things From 4 months" series a couple of weeks ago. 

The 2nd weekend of December they came back again.  The main focus of their visit was to meet my new grandson and spend some time with Aria. But it also gave my Kentucky family and part of my Pennsylvania family, for the first time ever, the chance to share a little bit of Christmas together. 

I count it a personal blessing that my sister and her family made the choice to come see us this December. I’m so happy they got to enjoy being with my grandchildren and the rest of the Kentucky branch of my family. I can never thank them enough for helping to make my 2016 Christmas season extra special. 

Becoming "TCB" Guy: You can cue the Bachman Turner Overdrive music for this one. At the start of 2016 I had become very unhappy at my job as a driver for Ron & Brenda's Transportation. Paula was finally rewarded at her job with a promotion she well deserved. 

These circumstances combined to allow me to do something we had talked about for a while. I was able to leave my job and start taking care of business at home. I will elaborate on just what that "business" was in just a few paragraphs. 

It was a big step and maybe only a temporary one but the arrangement has helped us at least begin to get our home the way we want it to be. 

Downsizing and Organizing: One of the things I will remember doing at the house in 2016 is beginning the process of downsizing and organizing the rooms. Our storage room at the far end of the house had become packed full of stuff some of which we really didn't need. 

I went through a lot of it and we decided what we wanted to keep and I made plenty of trips to the Goodwill store to make donations. 

I finally "thinned my herd" of t-shirts, personal memorabilia, Legos, and other things. 

There's a lot more to do in this aspect in the coming year but when we are finally much more organized and have more space I will look back at 2016 as the starting point.   

The Year Without A Ventriloquist: I will remember 2016 as the year I went without performing ventriloquism in public. I didn't avoid it on purpose, just didn't pursue any opportunities.  

I made an unconscious decision to step back and think whether or not I wanted to keep doing "vent". 

I sold some of my vent stuff, such as a learning course and some "how to" videos. I also sold my vent figure, Ruben. 

I liked him but I just never found a way to make him likable to an audience. At one point the potential for a "geeky nerd" type character was there but I didn't pursue it. So I let him go to someone who just might be able work with him. I will miss him; but I know some of my family members who won't. (Right Heather?)

So now that I've reduced the number of puppets I have I can focus on getting back into being a Vent and concentrate working with a small troupe of well defined characters and not a menagerie of shallow ones. 

Home Repairs and Improvements: One of the reasons I began staying home was so that we could get some of our home repairs completed. 

The skunk episode in June led to the outside vents to the crawlspace under the house being repaired and resealed. We replaced a section of the floor and the toilet in our half bath.  
We had a new pull down attic door installed. 

Improvements and repairs to our main bathroom included: putting up a magazine holder; reorganizing the stuff in the closet and on it's shelves and James and my brother-in-law Bob installing a vent fan. 

For our Christmas present our family got us a new dishwasher and James put in a new faucet in our kitchen sink. 

 I'm sure there are other things that were repaired or improved that I am forgetting. Point is we made progress and had the means to do what we needed/wanted to do this year. There's more to be done but at least it's a start. 

Paula's New Office & Wardrobe: The biggest home improvement of the year was converting what used to be Michael's bedroom into Paula's office/den. 

We started in the spring by having a painter come in and make the walls gold. 

 Then we added a rug...
... A desk, a computer, and a treadmill (her idea).
And finally curtains, and some furniture. 

Throughout the summer we worked on her closet; a major project that included purchasing and assembling  and modular storage units and a clothes rack. Then we placed them in the closet for maximum storage potential.  

Paula was the heart and soul behind the entire makeover. Everything that her new room is reflects her creativity and imagination. A job well done. I hope as the years go by it's a place she enjoys. 

Also in the summer, my wife was introduced by a co-worker, to a clothing line called "LuLaRoe." It immediately became her passion. 

This line features styles and designs very different from what my wife had usually worn up until then. Soon dresses, leggings, blouses, ect. were arriving in the mail several times a week over the next few months. 

At the end of the year, she has a more than fully restocked closet with clothes that are comfortable, stylish, and make my wife feel as comfortable with her wardrobe as I've seen her in a while.

Those are just two of the hundreds of things I could mention about my wife in 2016. But they will be among our top recollections when we talk about 2016 in the years to come.   

These next few things are all mentioned in detail in recent blog posts so I won't go into them. You can go back and read about them for yourself. Just wanted to include them because they made my memory list for the year. They are: 

  • Angel's Surgery In October
  • Long time Friends, Gene & Larry visiting me in September
  • My Birthday solo trip to Walt Disney World
  • Our Anniversary Getaway to the Smokey Mountains
Next is something that seems like its just technology but there's a lot more to it. 

Streaming TV Shows And Movies: 
While this may seem rather frivolous compared to the other things on this list and things that are supposed to be important in life but there's more to it than what you may think. 

First I need to say that, for Paula and me, the ability to watch entertainment when we have the time is an important element of spending time together.  

Whether we're accessing cable "On Demand", NetFlix, or Hulu Plus, our weekends at home were when we binged on episodes of: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Stranger Things, bloodline, Dare Devil, Luke Cage and Chance. We also caught up on network series like: Scorpion, NCIS, This is Us and Designated Survivor.  

Occasionally we also rented movies that we missed in the theater on pay-per-view. 

Yes, we've watched more streaming TV together this year than we had any year before. Time spent together and experiences shared that only serve to bring us closer together.  
Aria's Year: Parks, Play Doh, & Ponies: How do you summarize a year in the life of a 4 year old? The growth,the changes, the learning, the experiences. I could never do the task justice on this blog much less this post.    

So allow me to share with you Aria's year in regard to time she spent with her Nana & Papa. 

The most important thing was spending time at our house where it was just the 3 of us. There she was treated like a princess. 

She really looked forward to playing with Legos with me. In fact, the very first picture I have of her from this year is one where we are showing off our first Lego models we ever built together. 
Her favorite things to do was play with her Nana and Play Doh. She also loved to just chill on the couch with Nana and watch her favorite shows on her Nana's I-Pad. 

Of course when she occasionally spent the night during the year, she would get to sleep with Nana, while Papa bunked on the couch. 

During the warmer weather, playing outside with Nana in the front stone filled flower bed or drawing with sidewalk chalk was the playtime choice. 

And the newest playground for Aria and her Nana was Paula's new office. They spent lots of time back there playing with the Disney Princess paper dolls Nana had gotten for her. 

Of course the most memorable experience of the year with our granddaughter was our week visiting Walt Disney World. 

Precious memories with Nana were abundant in the Disney Parks. Here are my two gals hanging out together...

 ...with the Woody topiary at Epcot's World Showcase. 

But without a doubt their best moment came when Aria took her Nana by the hand to show Minnie Mouse, Nana's painted finger nails. 
Although, I did have fun with her, there were not many pictures of just Aria and her Papa in Walt Disney World. Here's the only one and we're not alone and not exactly together. 
But here is a pic of one of our special times together in the Windsor Hills Resort pool. We had a lot of fun. 
Over the course of the year Aria's choice for what she wanted to watch while at your house went from Disney's The Aristocats to Pocohontas (she pronounced it "Cocohontas") and finally settled into an obsession with "My Little Pony". 

Her obsession with the cartoon show was not just at our house she was "My Little Pony" almost all the time. 

One thing additional thing I must mention about Aria and me this year. It was in 2016 that our little game of tickling knees really became a thing for us. Its the only game that I remember my grandfather ever playing with me. So I had to pass it on to her.

While rubbing on her knee I say "Tickle, Tickle on the knee. If you laugh you don't love me." Depending on her mood she would either hold back or laugh for all she's worth. It's a game that makes me smile every time. 

Just to show how much she has grown over 2016 here's one of the last pictures of my granddaughter from this year. It was taken during their family's Christmas picture session. 

My she's grown so much. I will never forget this year with her. My hope is that she remembers it too. 

Gabriel Alexander Is Born: Of course, even if everything else about 2016 is forgotten, it will forever be remembered in our family as the year our grandson, Gabriel Alexander was born.  
That October day was one I will always remember especially holding him for the first time. 

It's hard to believe that he's now 2 1/2 months old. Here's a picture of him from just a couple of days ago. 
Such a cutie. He's growin like a weed and eating every chance he gets. I look forward to seeing him turn into a toddler in the coming year.

So there you have the 16 things I'll always remember about 2016. What's on your list? Was it a good year for you? I hope so. Try and make your memories of 2016 as positive as possible. You can't go back and change it now. So just look back for a bit and keep moving forward. God Bless y'all and Happy New Year. See you in 2017. 

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