Friday, January 1, 2010
Rustlin' in a New Year, a New Decade
It's hard to believe that not only have we seen another year's end, but that we've also put the cap on another entire decade while we're at it. On the other hand, once you've seen the end of not just a year, not just a decade, not just a century, but a millenium, it all begins to pale, doesn't it?
It's been an extremely full decade for this household, though, so I thought I'd review the craziness that has been our lives.
This was the year: Y2K, the big change-over, a presidential election...a high school graduation and a wedding? Yes, this is the year that started it all for this little family. My husband and I met, I graduated from high school (gasp! No wonder I feel so young sometimes!), and we married in December.
In a follow up to the previous year, my husband graduated high school against the odds laid by friends and family. It takes an iron will to be a married adult, working full-time, and still complete a high school diploma. Thankfully, my husband thinks of himself as Iron Man, so he had this mission well in hand. This year also carries over into the next because...
I found out the day after Christmas that our little family would be growing. Although she was unexpected, our beautiful daughter was a welcome surprise. Our apartment was full with a Pak-n-Play, swing, bouncy seat, and all the other little not-quite-necessities that babies attract these days. We spent the fall and winter bundled up cozily in our nest, but knew we would soon be outgrowing it. The house hunt began in earnest this year, and two 20-year-olds found out very quickly that finding a place to call their own within a shoe-string budget would not be easy. In the mean time we built relationships with our neighbors in the apartment complex and watched our little one learn to crawl and walk beneath the sheltering branches of old oaks and new friends.
In spite of quitting work thanks to a particularly nasty bout of sickness during the first part of my previous pregnancy, we were able to slowly sock away funds toward a place to call our own, and our dreams began to come alive this year. In July we closed on a little house that needed (and still does) a lot of work. In August I reawakened my desire for a college education and started classes at the community college while my mother happily indulged her grandaughter's every whim. In December, after much wrangling discussion, the hubby signed up with the National Guard to pursue his lifelong dream of military service. And so a new chapter began.
This was a trying year for many reasons, some apparent then, some only seen in hindsight. I continued to take classes and found them a welcome break from the loneliness of life at home once my husband left for Basic Training on March 24th. That morning was seared into my memory as one of the most difficult of my life, although there have been others that were just as hard. The rest of the semester is a blur in memory, shot through with small shafts of sunlight: my daughter sitting on the counter in front of the mirror for her first hair trim, sparkling with laughter; the green of the cornstalks in our summer garden; the moment when I recognized my husband amid that sea of brown and green uniforms and flew across steps and into his arms. We found ourselves making new military friends and surrounded by the love of our old friends and family. If only we had seen then the struggle that was being waged within my mother's mind.
My mother's troubles with sleep and emotional stability began to insert themselves ever more into our lives, disrupting our family and concerning us all. A bright spot in her year as well as mine was the birth of our little boy in August. Along with an SPCA adoption of our first puppy, the growth of our family again brought hope and cheer to what was becoming a dark, nightmarish struggle. I took a sabbatical from school to care for a colicky baby and reassure a sweet preschooler while her beloved grandmother became more and more distant.
The year rolled through unremarkably. Both my husband and I took night classes and cared for our family, worked more on our house, his vehicles, and our lives.
The National Guard, in its unknowable wisdom, transferred the hubs to a different unit and sent him to yet another school for recertification. Although our daughter had a vague recollection of a length of time without her father, our son had never known more than two weeks' separation as a baby. We weathered the time apart in order to watch our soldier march across the front of the chapel and receive another certification. The man whom everyone doubted would graduate high school had now graduated from not only that, but also Basic, Advanced Individual Training school, Air Assault school, and now a secondary Military Occupational Specialty. To say we were and are proud of him is a gross understatement: he may as well have hung the moon and stars. His pride was just as large as we sent our daughter off to her first day of kindergarten, full of wishes and hopes for her future.
This year brought my own graduation as I finally received my Associate of Arts. The entire family claims they've never seen me smile so largely as I did on my graduation day...I'm sure they just missed the smiles when reality hit on our wedding day and after the births of our children, but this was certainly a high-water mark for my life thus far. The smile may have been so large because my husband was present to see it: he received definite orders to deploy this year, and our summer was spent with him at various prepatory schools and temporary duties. In August the unit left the area for a full preparation period. In October they were able to come home on leave, and we received a gift from the hubby in the form of a new puppy: a mastiff-airedale mix. Imagine the joy as I stared down a deployment with a first grader, her border collie-chow mix, a preschooler, my year-old Jack Russell, and a horse.
Our decade draws to a close. I transferred my credits to a nearby university and whiled away the long hours of deployment with research, writing, blogging, and packing a care package every time I turned around. My birthday present was the hubby coming home for R&R, as we took our little ones to the beach, up in the mountains, and wading in rivers to catch crawdads. The little man began full-day preschool in the fall and his sister became a second-grader. The dogs grew, as they're wont to do. In September our family turned red, white, and blue with glee as our soldier returned home, and we began the work of becoming a family once again. We brought our year and this decade to a close with one last event: the adoption of another SPCA pup into our family pack. [Not so] little Rustle is our New Year's boy, a lab mix with paws the size of Texas. What better way to bring in a new year than by spreading a little more love around?
May each of us have a renewing, refreshing, rejoicing, and regenerating New Year!
Happy New Year, 2010!