Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009...the rest of the story....

Yes, I loved listening to Paul Harvey!

Ok, so last night I left off at the end of June. The kids and I had made an impromptu trip up North, had an incredible time with my family and then headed home. The next weekend was 4th of July weekend. My sister-in-law Amy called me mid-week to ask if I knew what was going on with Mom, that she was in the hospital but they didn't know much else. Long story short, she was having abdominal swelling and intense pain and was in the hospital, but I didn't know much else. I went to a holiday pool party on Friday the 3rd. I got a call during that party from John (my brother) that Mom was not doing well, so I left the party to get ready to head up. She agreed to a decompression treatment, which seemed to work, so instead of heading up that night I decided that Jeff and I would head up in the morning if necessary. My Mom was a tough gal...she had gone up against some pretty daunting health issues before and come through like a trooper, so I was assuming this time would be like all the previous ones. On Saturday morning I got up and called the ICU nurse. She told me that my Mom had had a horrible night and that she was NOT doing well at all. Jeff and I packed quickly, turned the kids over to his parents Wanda and Al, and drove like a bat out of hell to get to the Quad Cities where she was hospitalized. During our drive the decision was made to try surgery. We got to the hospital shortly before the surgeon finished. He was explaining everything to us as Mom was brought back to the ICU floor and then we heard a Code Blue over the PA System. We knew that was not a good sign.

So, my Mom died on July 4. Ironic, really...she was always patriotic. Her brother had been in WW II, and her grandson had recently died at war in Afghanistan. I sometimes wonder if she just missed him so much that she gave up that previously seen iron will and slipped into the next stage. My Dad, her husband of over 58 years, lost his beloved wife, faithful card player, and all-around best friend. My 3 brothers and I lost the person that we often fought with, but always came running back to for advice, reassurance, and true, honest, unconditional love.

The next few days/weeks were spent making arrangements, helping out my Dad, and spending time with family. Avery's 3rd birthday was celebrated the day after her actual birthday when she, Drake, and Jeff arrived at my parents house. I missed my baby girl's 3rd birthday. Once again, my friends and neighbors kicked into gear. Funeral clothes were bought for my were sent...2 of them even drove the 6+ hours to come to her funeral and then drove back. The ones that couldn't make it pitched in and watched the kids of the ones that did come. How in the hell did I get so lucky to not only be blessed to be born into an amazing family, but then turn out to have friends that would part the sea and move mountains for me? Wow...humbling really.

Eventually, as in February, everyone has to go home. I returned on weekends to "help" my Dad, and gradually we all began finding life without Mom and Schuyler. Our True Dungeon event was fast approaching in mid-August, so once again, work was there as something that had to be focused on, whether we wanted to or not.

August 2009
August is 3 things to our family...Gen Con month, Drake's birthday, and back-to-school! We got through Gen Con. It was not my finest week, but we got through it, and honestly, before we went, I had my doubts. We did a Memorial Run for Schuyler's Memorial Fund and raised an INCREDIBLE amount of money for the Fund. As always, Gen Con meant reconnecting with some old friends and meeting some new. As with my family and friends, many of the friends we've made because of Gen Con and True Dungeon have become total blessings in our lives and I can't imagine not knowing them. They are a wonderful group of people. Once we returned from Gen Con it was time for Drake's 8th birthday and then back-to-school! Avery began pre-K this year, so everyone got back into the "school" mode. Trips were made up north as we could swing it. Also, either at the end of August or the beginning of September we adopted a puppy. My wonderful friend Carolyn found this sweet boy on the roadside, covered in seed ticks, and in bad need of some TLC. She provided that to him and then "introduced" the pup to me via her cell phone camera! It was love at first site, so we brought him home. I can honestly say that Albus Dumbledog has been a GREAT addition to our family! I love having a dog again. Not so much when he chews ONE of my favorite pair of shoes, but most of the time I'm over the moon about this pup!

September 2009
Labor Day weekend was spent up north with my family. My brother John was turning 50 on the 25th. After Schuyler and Mom's deaths this year he said he wanted to skip the party and just forget about it. After a bit of prodding, we got him to agree to a party, and Amber got to work! We all went to Kewanee for the weekend of the 25th to celebrate. My brothers Jeff and Dave were able to join us. Avery and I stayed at my Dad's for about 10 days so that we could join in on some other activities in October. Schuyler's headstone was set on the 24th...7 months after his death.

October 2009
The weekend of the 2nd had a couple of significant events. First, 10/3 is my brother Dave's birthday, and he was there to celebrate it with us, which was great. We're lucky to get together once a year, and our time in October was the 3rd time we had all been together. Not all happy occasions, but together regardless. The 3rd was also the day that the City of Kewanee honorarily renamed one block of a city street to honor Schuyler. The block of Willard Street that Wethersfield School sits on is now knows as Sgt. Schuyler Patch Way.

After the street dedication we went to the Welcome Home party for the troops that was organized by several wonderful people in Kewanee. We got to meet some of the guys from Schuyler's unit that he was friends with. It was good to meet these guys and laugh and share funny "Schuyler" stories.

After heading back home it was time for some SIU football weekends, carving pumpkins, finding the perfect glass pumpkin, and other fun fall activities. Halloween is a family favorite also! That's Jeff's time to shine!

November 2009
Jeff and I started out the month with a trip to see a production of "To Kill A Mockingbird" at the Carson Center in Paducah. It was great. Amber and I met on Veteran's Day in Tuscola for some shopping and fun. I had a "Girl's Night" and fixed an Italian Feast for a group of friends. Thanksgiving was fun with both my family and Jeff's family joining us at our home. Jeff and I planned a wine tour on Wednesday, complete with a babysitter for the kids. That was a fun day and possibly a new tradition! John, Amy, Seth, my Dad, Greg, Doug, Jen, Katie, Allie, Wanda, and Al were all able to spend Thanksgiving with us. Amy and I got up and did some fun Black Friday shopping and scored some sweet deals!

December 2009
The very first Patchy's Red White and Blue Christmas toy drive was held on the 12th. Over 800 toys were collected for the Kewanee Salvation Army. What a blessing to be able to use Schuyler's name to benefit so many. Simply amazing. The kids and I had a good time in Kewanee for the toy drive. The kids got to go sledding! It must've been a memorable experience because every time they see even a few snowflakes Avery asks if we can go sledding soon!

And that about gets us up to Christmas. My Dad came on the 23rd. We mainly hung out here, played some cards, drank a bottle of wine or two (ha ha) and spent time as a family. The kids had a great Christmas (shock of shocks).

And so we come to tonight...New Year's Eve...December 31st...the end of 2009. As I've said, I'm quite glad to see it go. I'm looking forward to a less emotionally draining 2010. I hope to set and accomplish some goals (kinda like resolutions, but without the whole "resolution" thing!). I want to continue to spend time with my awesome friends and family. I want to entertain, have fun, and be around fun people. I want to spend fun times with my kids...less time yelling and more time laughing. I want to spend more time with my hubby...less "work" talk and more "*$&#" talk...ha ha!

I hope 2010 is a memorable year...I know 2009 sure was. I hope the disappointments are minimal and the laughs are plentiful. Until next year....


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Bye 2009!

Never before in my life have I been so glad to see a year come to an end! This year has been especially trying on our family and I am honestly glad to see it gone. In my first blogging experience I am going to do a 2009 recap and try to highlight the good things that happen in our lives, even during difficult times.

January 2009
Jeff's birthday was the 8th. On the 1st of the month I began a workout program. It was totally self-guided. I determined goals that were realistic and tried to stay on track. I also did not beat myself up if I did not meet a goal, but realized that it happens and the hard part is to keep with it. Everything went well...I not only met my goal of working out 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes, but exceeded it by working out EVERY day of January 2009! I was mainly doing the Wii Fit, but also using the Elliptical trainer.

February 2009
Keeping with the exercise goals I set some new goals for February and kept with things. On Tuesday mornings Avery would go to a preschool program at a local church for a few hours. On these mornings I enjoyed coming home and loggin on and Instant Messenging with Schuyler in Afghanistan for a little while. It was great to talk to him every time. He joked with me that when he was home for his leave he and I would go jogging. He was very encouraging on the exercise program and always asked me how it was going. Tragically, a week after his 25th birthday, he was killed in action on February 24th. The following days and weeks were a blur. I drove to Kewanee on the 25th and met Dave & Kathy at the airport. My parents and brother Jeff were able to get to Kewanee shortly after that.

Several things can be said about this period of time. The best thing I can say is that my incredibly close family became even more so. We stuck together and helped one another get through, minute-by-minute, and day-by-day. Friends stepped in and helped out Jeff and the kids while I was gone. The friends and family in my life simply rock and I am so incredibly thankful to have them.

March 2009
The beginning of March was spent in Kewanee. I can't even really remember how long we stayed, but I distinctly remember not wanting to leave. The pain was somehow eased when we were all together. The rest of March was spent finalizing preparations for True Realm. We had decided to hold our True Dungeon event locally. Once I returned from Kewanee there was much work to do. Again, the details are hazy and I don't remember much, but I do know that a lot of awesome people stepped in and helped me out...Thank you all.

April 2009
My parents visited early in the month on their way back from their winter in California. As always their visit was spent with fun times with the kids, delicious meals, lots of wine, and many fun card games in the evening.

I was starting to fade I think. All of the craziness from the last 2 months were taking their toll. Jeff, being the wonderful husband that he is suggested a vacation for the family. We're notorious for doing a lot of talking and planning but never pulling the trigger. Well, he didn't give me time enough to think about it too much...we talked to a travel agent and got some information. I said we'd take everything home, talk about it, and decide and he said "nah, let's just book it". So, we did. The end of April and the beginning of May was spent in Orlando at Disney World. Jeff, the kids, and I had a great time. It was much needed!

May 2009
Early in the month (the 8th) our area was hit with a horrible storm. Initially called an inland hurricane, it was later determined that we had experienced a Derecho. Whatever it was, it was horrible. We had many trees downed in the back, and damage to our roof. One of our light tubes was shattered. The storm brought out the BEST in our neighborhood! First everyone helped check on everyone to make sure all were OK. Then the cleanup began. That night, with no power, we had an impromptu BBQ in the street! We rolled the grills out and everyone brought out the stuff they had in their fridge and freezer. Ice cream was getting soft, so the kids were allowed to have dessert first! Leery that we would be without power for an extended time Jeff and I decided to bail! We drove to my parents! About an hour after we got there a neighbor sent me a text...the power was back on! It was Mother's Day weekend, so we got to unexpectedly spend that with my Mom. What a blessing that was...hindsight is 20/20!

After we got home from Disney World it was time to get busy again! August would be here before we knew it and there was a lot of work to be done for True Dungeon. May, as always is the end of another school year and the start of summer vacation. We spent Memorial Day in Kewanee with family. Losing Schuyler put a new look on Memorial Day for our entire family. It was important for us all to be together.

June 2009
On the 10th Jeff and I celebrated our 14th anniversary. Where does that time go? Seems like just yesterday we were dating! On June 7 a group of friends from my Bunco group hit the Wine Trail on the Wine Bus! What FUN!

Mid June was Drake's 3 day Cub Scout Day Camp. Unfortunately the weather was a bit uncooroperative and these kids were skittish after the May 8th storm. I think Drake made it through 1 1/2 days of camp. He refused to go one day that was stormy in the morning and asked to leave early one afternoon when it started thundering. But, on the plus side, he got to shoot a BB Gun, do Archery, and have lots of fun.

Jeff went to Columbus, OH on the 23rd for the "Origins" game convention. At the last minute I decided that I'd pack up the kids and head to my parents house. John and his family, and Amber and her family were able to join us. It was a great weekend. What a gift that weekend was. It was pretty much unplanned, but Thank God we went.

Well, that's the first 1/2 of the year...the rest of the recap will have to wait for tomorrow!