Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year in Review

I've been reflecting on this year--it's probably the hardest one we have ever experienced, with Emery's cancer diagnosis and treatment, but also a great year that brought the birth of Beck, lots of fun with all the kids and grandkids, family and friends, travels, and new adventures, along with Emery's recovery and great progress. Here's a recent photo of our crew.
(L) Corey and Susan with Aidan and Ally in front of them
(C) Sarah and Miles holding Beck with Elle in front
(R) Bonnie, David and Emery
So here's my little flashback on 2010:

January: Our year did not start out in the happiest way. After learning of Emery's diagnosis of neuroblastoma, I left Unalaska in a hurry to meet Bonnie, David and Emery in Houston, where our sweet girl was to begin treatment at Texas Children's Hospital. Little did we know how long we would end up being there! Thankfully, she did really well, but January was pretty scary.
February: Still in Houston, in and out of the hospital, having chemotherapy and outpatient treatment. I was reunited with my friend Becky, whom I hadn't seen in over 30 years. She and her family lived just ten minutes from Texas Children's and were a huge help to us.

And we celebrated Elle's 2nd birthday with lots of family and friends. Cute girl!

March: Ally turned 3 years old! What a cutie!

And our big boy Aidan turned 7! Although I was not happy with the reasons for being in Texas, it was good to have some extra visits with my girls and guys and grandkids. :)

What a handsome little guy!

While back in Houston, Emery was getting bigger and sitting up! Doing much better and tolerating lots of medical stuff....not the most fun, but she was a trooper.

Hurray, last chemo treatment and Gigi prepared to go home to Alaska after 9 weeks. Emery did not go home till April, after surgery.

One last trip to Dallas before going home and my good friends Karen and Kelly drove in from Abilene for lunch. Now those are some friends!

Elle and Emery

April: We received big news that Sarah and Miles were expecting baby #2 in November or December! That's grandchild #5--how exciting!

Back home, I got talked into appearing as the Easter Bunny at our annual Lions Club Pancake Breakfast. Let me tell you, that costume was HOT! But it's amazing how goofy one is willing to behave when hidden inside. I had lots of fun dancing, doing the cake walk, strolling around saying "hi" to the kids, and posing for pictures. :)

Also in April, I joined my friends Char and Donna at the Healthy Native Communities Fellowship retreat in sunny San Diego. Loved the warm temps!

May: Rich and I cooked up some goodies for the "Just Desserts" concert
and joined "Team Emery" formed by friend and fellow blogger Steve to raise money for childhood cancer research through St. Baldrick's. Steve shaved his head in honor of Emery and brought in a bunch of money. Supporting him are his wife, known as "Goldfish" and friend Elaine.
June: Yippee! We got a housing upgrade and moved into a bigger duplex up on a hill. It was a hectic move with lots going on and seemed to drag out forever, but we love our new place!
I was pouting about moving on my birthday but my friends threw a little get-together for Andrea and me (our bdays are one day apart).

And off to another Healthy Native Communities retreat, this one in Shiprock, NM, where we tackled a ropes course. That balance beam was up high but I had a harness, so no biggie, right?
And since I was in New Mexico, I couldn't pass up a trip to Texas, could I? I had a bonus visit with some of my nieces and their families as well as my kids.

Corey and Ally

Susan and Aidan July: Then to Dallas to see Sarah, Miles and Elle

and Emery and Bonnie flew in to meet us

Shopping for baby boy clothes
After leaving Texas, I met up with Rich in Anchorage and we flew away to Honolulu for a week. Ahhh, sunshine, blue skies, calm water and lots to do!
August: Rich and some of his coworkers played in the annual Tundra Golf Classic, which is both difficult and hilarious.

Fresh salmonberries, which were quickly made into jam that we are still enjoying

September: There are always too many community activities to fit into our schedule. We hosted the Alaska premiere of a film called "Papers," about the struggles of undocumented youth.
October: Time to pick blueberries

Rich made blueberry jam to go along with the salmonberry. Dee-lish!
Stylin' in our new KUCB sweatshirt at our One Day Radio Pledge Drive--a ton of fun every year!

More travel in October as I attended the last Healthy Native Communities retreat in DC, where I had a great visit with my niece Kristinn, her hubby Tim and their cute kids Gabe and Sofia.

Donna, Char and I "graduated." Whew! It was an intense year of training and I am glad it's finished. It was not quite what I expected and not really my favorite thing, I have to admit.

Rich is quite the pumpkin carver and bested all previous efforts this year with his haunted house.

November: Back to Texas! Yes, we do travel a lot, don't we?! Baby Beck was due at the end of November and we went early in case he decided to come early. He didn't, so we took a trip to Abilene to see Susan, Corey and kids while we waited.

Grandpa Rich and Aidan had a big Lego project that they worked very hard to complete.

Susan and her precious kids
And a trip to Oklahoma City to see sister in law Nadine and some of her family.

Baby Beck finally made his appearance on November 23, also Emery's first birthday.

Sweet family of four
David, Bonnie and Emery--happy first birthday! What a year you've had!

What an adorable baby boy--welcome to the world, Beck!

December: We traveled back to Unalaska, returned to the work routine, and enjoyed quiet holidays at home. I'm not really sure what to say about 2010. Several of my friends have had a difficult time this year and we have commented more than once that we wished we could rewind and do it over with different results. I'm thankful that our family is doing well--we have a healthy new grandson and Emery has come through her treatment with flying colors. Aidan, Ally, Elle, Emery and Beck keep me smiling and warm my heart. At the same time, I know that people I care about still struggle with health issues or the loss of loved ones or jobs or are sometimes ovewhelmed with life's challenges. I know that we are not guaranteed an easy life or even a happy life but my wish for all of you is that 2011 will bring you peace and love to make the hard times a little less daunting. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

The kitchen is open on Christmas Day, just like any other day. Rich went to work early while I puttered around the house and watched the snow fall outside, accompanied by some strong winds. At times, I couldn't see a thing! White-out! We had a good bit of snow overnight so I did get my white Christmas wish. Rich didn't want me to be stuck at the house all alone on Christmas Day so he came to get me in the afternoon and I hung out at the hotel, making two pumpkin pies and a bunch of ginger snap cookies while checking emails and calling my girls and Mom. Rich and the crew were hard at work taking care of the restaurant and getting ready for the traditional Hospitality Division dinner and party held each year after the restaurant closes.

Here we are in front of the huge Christmas tree in the hotel lobby. We had a nice day but were ready to come home and relax after having dinner. I missed having all the kids and grandkids around--Christmas doesn't quite seem like Christmas without them. I hope everyone had a happy day, surrounded by lots of love and laughter. Now I am going to have some of that pumpkin pie. xoxoxo

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fun Stuff

My friend Tammy made this very cool wreath for us. Love it!

I was doing some fair trade shopping recently and came across these purses from Fair Indigo. They're made out of recycled men's suits. When you order, you don't really know what you are going to get but I like both of mine! Fun idea, huh? Go see them here.

View of the back

Pipa and I ditched our usual jobs on Wednesday and hosted our own radio show of Christmas tunes. We had a blast, despite trying to remember all the technical stuff. :)

I love getting cards, notes and photos from everyone at Christmas time. Thanks for indulging me.

Our stockings, plus two little ones for Ajax and Kali

Rich has been working all day and we are going over to friends' for dinner tonight. I went in and did the weather but otherwise was off all day, running errands and doing chores around the house with Christmas music playing in the background. Tomorrow Rich works again and I am going to help make cookies for the Hospitality employee dinner, which we will attend on Christmas night.

We wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a happy 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like

I posted on Facebook yesterday that I was dreaming of a white Christmas. I don't know if it will still be snowy on Christmas, but we certainly got a lot of it overnight and today, not to mention big winds to go along with it. Ajax (and Kali, not shown here) sat in the bedroom window and surveyed the scene but didn't want to go outside. They used to go out in all kinds of weather when we lived in our other house but they have been more skittish here.

I think I have a romanticized notion of snow and the white Christmas thing because I really did not enjoy fighting the wind and slipping around in the snow and ice today. I'm borrowing a friend's car while she's out of town because mine is "unsafe to drive" at the moment. It needs new tie rods and we've been waiting for the shipment to arrive. We live on a hill; after work today, I managed to get most of the way up before sliding back down. Luckily I did not hit anything (sorry, Jeanette, if you are reading this--nothing happened, really!) After recovering my senses, I parked at the "mall" and trudged up the hill on foot. Rich then trudged over to get the vehicle. Of course, he had no trouble getting up the hill. It's still snowing and blowing so we will see what tomorrow brings.

It may be snowing but we have lots of cherry tomatoes in our aerogarden. Nice! Just a little taste of summer when it's cold outside.

This is Donald, whom I've known pretty much since I moved to town. He joined the Marines after graduating from high school a couple of years ago and just finished a tour of duty in Afghanistan. That teenager I knew turned into a fine young man, funny how that happens. We worried about his safety, sent him a couple of care packages and tried to stay in touch while he was there. Last Saturday he came home for a four day visit before returning to Japan, where he's been stationed. I was so happy to see him and to know he made it out okay. And let me tell you, there's nothing better than a small town to do up a homecoming right. The high school band greeted him with the Marine Hymn. The Scouts formed an honor guard and saluted him. The mayor spoke and presented him with a key to the city. Family and friends showed up in droves to hug him and pat him on the back and shake his hand. Those of you who know me know that I am not nationalistic nor a fan of military adventures, but this was personal--one of our own had come home. It wasn't about politics. And many of us had great big tears in our eyes.