Reflections on 2012 and a look forward to 2013

2012 brought many changes to our lives, both positive and negative, which is how most years turn out. In this posting I will discuss those changes, some I’ve written about before, and some that will be new to readers.

The early part of the year was fairly routine, with teaching classes at church two evenings a week, seeing K (#2 daughter) and the munchkins on a regular basis, and getting seeds started for the garden. Other “spare” time was taken up with planning for A’s (#1 daughter) wedding that took place on June, 23, 2012. Denise’s health was a bit of a concern during this time, and that concern increased in March, leading up to her surgery on April 19th, and six weeks of recovery.

During the time of her initial diagnosis (possible cancer), the trips to the surgeon in the Cities, and her time in the hospital, there was a palpable sense of God’s presence. The first experience was when she was anointed by our priest, who then prayed over her. I felt the presence of God envelop us and sensed that the outcome would be a good one. Of course, we had many others praying for her, such as our bishop, various priests and deacons, wives of our deacon friends, and many others whose names I don’t know. While she was getting prepped for surgery a Catholic chaplain visited with us, and when she prayed for Denise, God’s presence descended over us once again, to provide strength and healing. To God’s glory, no cancer was found during surgery or in the tissue examined later. Denise recovered well, and went back to work for a week, before taking time off for A’s wedding.

IMG_0085While everything was going on with Denise, new garden beds were added and the whole garden planted, with a lot of help from K and the munchkins. In this picture, Denise is supervising the munchkins planting one of the new beds.



IMG_0106I also took vacation the week before the wedding and had lots of things to get done, and errands to run. C (#3 daughter) and her best friend flew in from New Orleans to help with preparing for the wedding. They were a great help and contributed, along with many others to a very wonderful day for A and her new husband. This is my favorite picture of my three girls. A, of course, in the middle, K on her right, and C on her left.


IMG_0137Here they are at the reception, with C’s best friend in the yellow dress. She worked most of the day at the reception site, helping my youngest brother, our chef, his son, and my other brother get the place set up, food prepped and cooked, and ready to serve. Everyone loved the prime rib and the rest of the food they served.



Here is a good picture of my brother, the chef, his wife, and my other brother wearing the Hawaiian shirt, who was simply functioning as “eye candy” (his words) at this time. This will be test to see if either of them actually read my blog.


We moved back to this part of Minnesota in April 2008, after I was given the “opportunity” to take a supervisor position back here, as we were expanding the locations for having call center people to other areas of the country. The primary reason I took the transfer back here was so Denise and I could help take care of the munchkins, and God has shown us too many times to count, why He brought us back. We had built a house in Madison, WI and tried to sell it in the declining housing market. We ended up trying to do a sort sale on it, but that fell through, due to the lack of urgency on the part of two financial institutions for getting their part of the sale approved. The house was foreclosed on the Tuesday before the wedding, adding to the “excitement” of that week.

Once the wedding was over and the “other” house gone, I began wondering what the “new normal” would be in our lives. That wondering lasted until the middle of July, when K told us she and her husband were separating and she would be moving in with us later that summer. Fortunately, the house we bought when we moved back has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Not a very large house, but plenty of room for Denise and I, and occasional guests. We had turned to of the bedrooms into offices, and over the next few weeks, cleaned them out so they could become bedrooms for the munchkins, whenever they are over here, which is at least half time. All of them moved in Labor Day weekend, and the new normal began.

With kids once again in the house, and all the business with school, homework, etc, the Fall just flew by. The munchkins started attending the public school in this area, and having the schools close by does help. #1 munchkin ran track this Fall, and I would pick him up after work once or twice a week, since his school is next to my workplace. We attended his band and choir concerts last month, and Denise and I laughed about how many hours we had spent in that same auditorium when the girls were attending there.


Princess in one of the guildsThe only really bad thing that happened last year was the death of our dog, Princess. She was only six years old, and losing her has left us heartbroken. We miss her dearly and are slowly adjusting to this most unwanted new normal.



IMG_0257The plan, since last Christmas, was for C and her best friend to come up here for Christmas. They had quite an adventure driving through the aftermath of the pre-Christmas blizzard, but made it up safe and sound. We had held off on doing a good part of the baking until they got here, so they could enjoy helping. This picture shows C, with the apron on, her best friend next to her, and granddaughter getting ready to put powdered sugar on the rosettes being fried in oil by C.


IMG_0256Their next big project was to cook the lefse. C had used an old recipe that called for lard, and everyone thought they were the best we’ve made in many years. There is one munchkin next to C, and K is the one with the glasses on. We did a lot of cooking and eating while they were up here, and really enjoyed ourselves.


While cooking the last big meal before they left last Friday, I told them how much I was going to miss cooking with all of them. If plans hold together, all of us will be able to cook together in two years, when the New Orleans gals return for Christmas. K drove back to New Orleans with the girls to spend her birthday, New Year’s Eve, with them in New Orleans. She has had a great time and I just got a text from her at the airport, getting ready to board her flight home in a little while.

Once the girls left, the house was very quiet, as the munchkins were with their father. Denise and I had a relaxing weekend, not doing much at all, and I even was able to read some books. We celebrated New Year’s Eve quietly, as usual, and were asleep when 2013 began. Tomorrow brings a full scale munchkin invasion and busyness will return to our home.

While Denise was in the hospital, I was able to finish reading two books by Fr Walter Cizek, a priest that spent 23 years in Soviet prison camps and gulags, until being released. From his writing I learned more deeply the importance of turning all my life over to God and letting His perfect will guide my life. Everything that happened last year, good and bad, is part of His plan for my life. I know I won’t understand why it all happened until I meet Him in Heaven. I have only to trust and have faith.

I have plans for 2013, such as expanding the garden, growing plants in my greenhouse, adding more fruit bearing trees and shrubs, and other improvements on our property. We are planning a trip to New Orleans before Spring, to see the girls and eat some great food.  I also hope to take an early retirement in April 2014, assuming I have something to retire to, meaning some other type of work. Hopefully, I can keep everyone updated more frequently during 2013, and show how we’re transforming our one acre lot to produce more food for us and also be a place where munchkins can roam and enjoy themselves.




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