Reflecting back on our year this past weekend, MiniSir and I realized that it has been a full and hugely significant one for our family. There has been so much going on since the year started, neither of us feel like we’ve been able to really catch our breath. It will be wonderful to spend the holidays at home, and I think we are already relaxing a little because the pressure is finally easing.
Let’s look back on the year together now with what I’ll call “The 12 Months of Christmas”…
12 Stressful Months: seriously, there isn’t a month that we can recollect in which there wasn’t some sort of hamster-wheel frantic running about. January through March, it was clearance interviews after daycare interviews after deployment prep, meetings with lawyers and realtors, doctors appointments, pre-sale house prep… the list goes on. Everything we were focussed on was centered around getting ready for the rest of the year. So when April landed, MiniSir deployed, I started my new job, and Grunt started daycare, we thought we were prepared. Things fell apart rapidly after that, and that month was lost scrambling to get our footing back on the ground – thank goodness for Goma. In May, we accepted an offer on the house and realized that the buyers had given us just 30 days to vacate. June was lost to purchasing our new home, packing, moving, bank meetings, and lawyers. In July, I had the most wonderful adventure with my husband in the Mediterranean and then promptly got lungus from the wildfire smoke when I returned. School meetings, more paperwork, and preliminary psychological assessments for Grunt in August. September was just a gong show of school, daycare, and buses adventures, interspersed with more sickness and interviews for Mummy. October blew in with force, and MiniSir finally came home to us; we took a moment to celebrate with a family trip to Walt Disney World (we even brought Goma with us). In November, we struggled to find our flow again as a family. And December has been a whirlwind but, as I mentioned above, is winding down – can’t wait for Christmas Eve in front of the fire with my boys.
11(th) Hour Plane Travel: Goma saved us in April with her 24-hour turnaround, flying from Ontario to Alberta to take care of Grunt when our initial day care plan fell through. MiniSir also struggled with finding flights in and around Europe, with all the unrest that was happening over the summer, which resulted in more than a few tickets being re-routed at the last moment.
10 Happy Helpers: counting all the health care professionals as well as his aide at daycare and his team at school, there are currently 10 people that Grunt regularly relies on to help shape him into the little man he is going to become, and we are grateful for every single one of them.
9 Days in Europe: a much-needed trip to regain my sanity in July; I flew across the Atlantic to meet MiniSir in Barcelona. We embarked from there on a magical Mediterranean cruise that neither of us wanted to end. MiniSir liked that we were one of “those fun people” on our ship, as we went to nearly every party, saw the dancing show twice, and spent a lot of time in the jewelry shop looking at sparklies as well as the art gallery looking at art. We saw historic Naples, a vineyard and farm in Tuscany, fancy Cannes, the beach in beautiful Palma de Mallorca, and of course, walked Las Ramblas and took in Familia Sagrada in Barcelona. It was incredible.
8(00) Square Feet: that’s what we downsized to this year (832 sq ft, to be exact) from our 1100 sq ft townhouse. Why? Because it made sense for us. I’m often going it alone as the adult in our household while MiniSir spends time in exotic locales like rural Alberta and urban Ontario, and now that I’ve jump-started my career again, I’m tired in the evenings. Taking care of all that house, hauling laundry up flights of stairs, chasing Grunt up and down and up and down… it was exhausting me. This change has been so wonderful for all of us; in the evenings now it’s so easy to fold the laundry while Grunt plays in the tub – it’s 15 feet from his bathtub to the living room. And he has his own bath now, which means I have my own bath now, which means more alone time for Mummy if she needs it. I can cook and talk to MiniSir from the kitchen, or enjoy the fire from the dining room table. It’s heavenly. One of our young friends commented on how it feels like home when he visits, and that’s exactly what I wanted. No cold, extra space; just warmth and love all around.
7 Days of Disney Magic: early on in his deployment, MiniSir expressed a desire to take a family trip to Walt Disney World upon his return. Furthermore, he wanted to go for Hallowe’en AND Christmas. There is only one Magical week in which they both exist in WDW, and that’s the stretch of time between the very end of October and the very beginning of November. We invited Goma with us, because she deserved a trip as much as we did after the rough deployment period, so we met her in Toronto to start our adventure. We stayed in the Caribbean Beach Resort in one of the Pirate themed rooms (so much fun), and spent 7 magical days exploring the Resort. We attended Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Hallowe’en Party on November 1, and when we woke up on November 2, the whole Resort had been transformed into Christmas! I still hold out that elves did it all while we were sleeping.
6 Months Deployed: and it was a very long 6 months too. However, MiniSir got the opportunity to work with the American Thunderbirds out of Oklahoma and really enjoyed their company. He made some fast friends and we have several offers to stay if we ever find ourselves down that way. I swear that when we retire we are just going to spend our lives in a motorhome travelling from town to town so MiniSir can tell war stories with his buddies. I’m actually okay with this plan.
5 Wedded Years: it doesn’t seem that long, but MiniSir and I celebrated this marriage milestone while we were together on the cruise as we knew we were apart for the actual day. Pro tip: if you’re marrying into the military, never ever get married in September.
4 New Jobs: MiniSir has held two new positions this year, one overseas and one at the Regiment. By the end of the year, I will also have held two positions in my new career as a public servant: the one I started in April, and the one I’m starting next week! I’m so excited for the new opportunity – it’s exactly what I was looking for, it’s long term, and it’s actually a shorter commute. We are an ecstatic family now that I will be indeterminate, which means I become a priority hire wherever we go when we are (eventually) posted out from here.
3 Races Run: while overseas, MiniSir was able to run in 3 separate races – two half-marathons and a 10K – which makes him incredibly happy because he loves running. He was worried that, by missing Mountain Man this year in Edmonton, he would fall out of shape for long-distance running. Luckily, this will not be the case at all. I’m still trying to convince him to register for a race in Walt Disney World some day, and so far, I have him convinced.
2 Kia Souls: we bought a brand new Kia Soul in early January, and it became my car. When MiniSir came home, he decided he liked it so much that he traded in his Fiesta for a second one. That one also became my car (it’s got a heated steering wheel!). Now we are a family of Kia Souls: Zuma and Blue. (Yes, one is named after a Paw Patrol character, and one is named for a Voltron Lion; don’t judge.)
1 Happy Family: despite all of the struggles this year, we are a stronger family unit than ever before. Grunt’s diagnosis has made the way forward for us clearer. My career has taken the weight of being financially burdened away for good. Our new home makes our work-life balance much easier. We feel like a unit because we are all moving in the same direction. Sure, there will be separations ahead for us (which have been confirmed), but we feel more prepared for them than we ever did for the deployment. And yes, I’m sure there will be unforeseen struggles ahead, but the lights are on to guide us back to the path if we slide off.
2018 promises to be another year of firsts, but we can make this work. We got through 2017, after all, and that was a very long, very hard path to navigate. Cheers to 2018 and happy holidays, y’all!