Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Back on 2014 - Part Two

This is the continuation of "Looking Back on 2014 - Part One."


I can't write about July without a mention of Independence Day. For the second year in a row, we had an amazing, fun fourth of July picnic party at my good friends John and Sue's house. They have the good fortune of the fact that their house is not officially in the city limits. And they have a huge backyard, so we can blast off as many fireworks as we want. My mom, aunt and uncle, cousin and her boyfriend, father-in-law, two of John and Sue's sons and their wives, their grandson, and of course, me, my husband and two boys were all there. There was a ton of great barbeque and other food. I was in charge of dessert. I made this beautiful red, white , and blue trifle: white cake cubes layered with strawberries, blueberries, and a delectable whipped white chocolate cream. I was pretty proud of it. We had a TON of fireworks, and it was awesome.

After participating in the African drum circle at my church on a pretty regular basis, and making friends with my fellow drummers, it was fun to find out that we had a gig... kind of. Rebecca, the lady who led the drum circles, had been contacted by the public library about performing and teaching some children for the Summer Reading Program. The library's Summer Reading Program included a performance by a magician, a robotics club demonstration from a local college, and a professional storyteller, among other things. It was a really neat opportunity. So we dragged all the drums, some of which are very heavy, up to the second floor along with our "fun basket" which is full of percussion instruments like maracas, rail road spikes to clink together, tambourines, and medicine bottles filled with beans. We had a lot of kids there that day. There had to have been about 50-ish children in that room, in addition to my own two boys. I did a quick spiel about the history of the djembe drum in Africa (with maps!) and Rebecca did a short introduction to the three main drum sounds. It was very noisy, but fun too. I wish I had some pictures of that event because it was a blast.

August to September

August was a slow month for me. It was also not the best of times for me either. I have struggled with depression for a very long time. I've never been to a psychiatrist and been officially diagnosed, but depression runs rampant in the females of my family. So, it's pretty obvious that I'd have to deal with it at some times in my life. I can usually feel it coming on. There aren't really any words to describe what the onset of depression feels like, but for me I can feel something slowly change in my mind. It sort of creeps up on me slowly over the course of a few weeks, and I descend into this dark place where I don't want to do anything or talk to anyone. I'm also pretty good at keeping up appearances in public, so for the most part I can keep it to myself. Kaleb's homeschooling came to a standstill while I dealt with my melancholy. I spent the majority of my time zoned out watching my shows. I let the housecleaning go, and the house fell into chaos. For a long time, I felt incredibly guilty about it, but I now know that it isn't anything to feel guilty about. I spent the better part of two months stuck in this deep rut, but I eventually overcame it on my own, with the help of good friends and family being around me and giving me support. Now this isn't to say that I won't come down with my depression again. I have been told that it would benefit me to see a doctor about it. I may see one in the future if my depression gets severe enough. Now enough about depressing things. ;)


After finally kicking my depression, I involved myself in more activities including volunteering for the annual Downtown Ghost Walk as a tour guide. It is a unique storytelling event with actors telling ghost stories based on actual local events in historical buildings. My job as a tour guide was to bring groups around down town Bartlesville and give a little historical spiel about each building we went to.

A few of my favorite things about the Ghost Walk were the zombie actors, and the final location on the walk: the old hospital. That has to be the creepiest building in town. Personally, I'd love to get in there and do some ghost hunting. A local ghost hunting group actually did a little "mini ghost hunt" with our tour groups... kind of. (It was actually just a short EVP session.) They later told me that they'd been trying to get in there for years. Apparently, the owner of the old hospital building didn't want ghost hunters there, but allowed Downtown Bartlesville, Inc. to use it for the Ghost Walk. Unfortunately, the building is slated for construction projects in the next year or so. I think they intend on making it an apartment building. (Not sure how that'll work out for the future tennants...)

It being a Halloween themed event, of course I dressed up. I splurged a bit and bought this beautiful Victorian style black dress. I did my hair with some spiral curls and put on some dark makeup. I looked good... or at least I hope I did.


At the beginning of November I went on a hiking trip with my friend, John and my son, Kaleb at Woolaroc. Woolaroc is an amazing place to visit, if you ever get the chance. It has a cultural center and museum, a collection of animals like bison, deer, ostriches, etc. and beautiful, well maintained hiking trails.
It was the first time I really got a good chance to use my telescopic lens on my camera. I've been trying to teach myself photography with my Canon Rebel T3i camera that I received as a gift for Christmas last year. I know I have the eye for it, but getting the camera to do what I want is another thing entirely. Here are some of my favorite photos from that hiking trip. There are a lot more photos at my photography blog:



December was another exciting month for me. Between parades, gift exchanges, Christmas and birthday parties, drum circles, church, etc. I was kept pretty busy. I took the boys to go see Santa Claus on the 6th. Cameron hid in the corner, and Kaleb kept a foot and a half distance from him and would only whisper what he wanted for Christmas to him. It is a bit sad, but I have never been to our local Christmas parade, and I'd never taken the boys either, so I checked that off the to do list. We went the same day right after we saw Santa. The boys didn't know quite what to expect and weren't that excited about sitting in the cold, but they loved it. Especially the part where they got to take home the wads of candy thrown from the floats.

My husband, Greg's company Christmas party is always a big deal and is something I always look forward to each year. It is one of the few times a year that I get to dress up and look fabulous. If you know anything about me, and you've probably noticed from reading my blog, but I love to dress up (even if it's not in costume, and it's just a fancy dress). Every year, Greg's company Christmas party caters in fantastic high quality food and gives out nice (and expensive) prizes. One of the employees also dressed up in this amazing Jack Frost costume. This year Greg actually won $500 from the prize giveaways! We ended up using it on Christmas gifts and bills, but it sure was nice to have that extra money.

My birthday was also this month. I turned 28 on Sunday the 14th. My sister-in-law, Kaitlyn's birthday is the day before mine, and every year it has become sort of a tradition to celebrate our birthdays together. We went on a double date to the Melting Pot on the Friday before our birthdays and completely splurged. I am still in shock about how expensive that place was, but man, was it tasty. I still have fantasies about how tasty that duck was. The fancy mixed drink wasn't too bad either. Kaitlyn gifted me a beautiful hardcover edition of Grimm's Fairy Tales, and I gifted her a pair of nice knitted fingerless gloves from a cute local shop and two giant bags of Twizlers and Hershey's Pot of Gold candies.
I also signed up for the reddit Secret Santa gift exchange which was tons of fun. We had a gift exchange with my mom, aunt, and my friends John and Sue the Friday before Christmas. It was even better than Christmas. I got an amazing sweater jacket, a book with create your own Shakespearean insults (which is awesome), a couple necklaces, and a warm and fuzzy blanket. Oh yeah, and dark chocolate. We can't forget that. ;)

Christmas itself was anticlimactic, but nice too. We rushed around like headless chickens and finally Christmas arrived and then it was over. I freaked out and worried so much about the state of our house being in the midst of renovations, but in the end it didn't even matter. We had Greg's brothers and their families over along with his dad for a gift exchange and board games for a couple hours. Greg's sister, Kaitlyn, stayed and joined us for dinner along with my mom, my sister and her boyfriend. I made orange glazed roast duck, loaded mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and some other sides for dinner. Afterwards, we strapped ourselves in for a marathon board game session. We played Ticket to Ride, Apples to Apples, and 7 Wonders. It was a lot of fun, especially to spend time with my sister who I don't really see that often.

And now as December and the year of 2014 comes to a close, I'll be soon leaving with the boys in tow to a party at my friend's house. It is the first time we'll be doing New Year's Eve with John and Sue. Usually, we do something here at my house with board games and wine. ;) I'm looking forward to it quite a bit. My mom, sister Kathryn, aunt Brenda, and friend Michael, in addition to John and Sue's kids, were all invited as well. I'm really glad to have all these interesting people in my life.

I hope to continue to spend time with these people and meet and make new friends as well. You never know what's ahead, and I hope that I have a lot of new and exciting adventures in the year to come.

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