Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Year in Review: 2010

I have been writing about the past year every New Year since we were married and I have noticed a pattern. It probably seems obvious to most of you, but I think I naively thought that there would be some years in which I didn't wax philosophically about joys AND sorrows. I think I assumed that some years would be all joy....and probably some all sorrow. But... it hasn't happened yet. 
And here we are again..reflecting on 2010 and recalling the joys and the sorrows.  

And so we began 2010 in Aberdeen, Scotland. 
In January my Dad's failing health failed more. He really did slip away so quickly.  Around January 3rd or 4th came the urgent call "You better talk to Dad." So I did. I cried. He tried to say something. I cried some more and tried to say helpful and important things. He tried to speak more, but I couldn't understand him. And that was it.  Within a day or two came the middle of the night message. He had died in my night. My brain remembered the day as January 6th. It was actually January 5th.

A week later we had flown home (thanks to the expat benefits that Chevron offers---last minute plane reservations for 5 would be very pricey!).  It was a very beautiful funeral Mass. At the reception afterward my siblings and I were able to say a few words about my Dad. I spoke about how his death gave me hope....he really did die well. He died with the sacraments, with his family by his side. He knew it was coming. He chose Jesus even in his suffering. I admire him.

But, what I wasn't able to share at that time, and I am not sure I have ever shared, is my admiration for my siblings and my mother. They were there. They stood vigil. I will be eternally grateful for the gift of their courage and fortitude. It was very difficult to be far away, but I knew at the time, that the far more difficult task was to be there and watch it all first hand.

This video was taken in 2008 when Dad was going through chemo. He actually felt awful and it seemed we had little quality time with him that visit. But, I caught on tape a classic Dad game---he played catch with all of us and all of his grandkids, I think. 

February was when the speculation of when and where we might go next began in earnest. On the outside life was quite normal. The kids continued to take weekly swim lessons and go the Tae Kwon Do twice a week. We enjoyed following the World Cup and any number of teams we could root for. Once the U.S. was eliminated we could choose from any of the countries we all or Jim alone had visited. 

The month ended with our little A. turning four amongst horse decorations and horse toys. For the first time in her young life she remains attached to a toy longer than a few days. She still loves all things horse to this day. It is a wholesome, yet expensive, hobby, so right now it is all about toys, books and imagination.
In March we THOUGHT we were going to know where we were going. But instead we were told that most likely....almost positively...we were going home to California...but we didn't know to what job yet, so we couldn't be sure.

In the mean time, M. turned 8 in the midst of more wild horses. Her affection for horses is closely connected to a favorite movie for the year (The Man From Snowy River) and a new interest in the American Girl books (Felicity). 

in April Jim’s brother Tom and his family visited from Chicago. It was quite the Kennedy family gathering with a house full of Kennedy kids ranging in age from 4 to 17. 

We had a Seder Supper....
and spent a day together in Edinburgh. 

Later in the month we took yet another day trip St Andrews, the home of golf and the beach from Chariots of Fire. 

Since we knew we were leaving the UK soon we decided to plan one last trip to Rome. We were excited to visit St. Peter’s Basilica again, and we even planned an overnight trip to Assisi. The day arrived for the trip and our taxi arrived early in the morning, in the dark. As we navigated the traffic between our house and the airport, our driver gets a phone call. Something about a cancelled flight and a volcano?!? By the time we had arrived at the airport it was closed and we were turned away at the door. The next day and half our suitcases sat in the doorway and were on teh phone and the internet trying to reschedule, trying to predict what the volcano would do. Finally we gave up on Rome and planned a road trip south to the Yorkshire Dales. We had become fans of the James Herriot story and the TV show called “All Creatures Great and Small” so it was another perfect last chance trip. 
And what a trip it was! 

In May we took a day trip to Balmoral Castle, where the Queen spends her summers. It was a beuatiful setting, and it is obvious why she chooses to be there for so long each year. 

We also took another one of those “we-must-do-this-before-we-leave” trips to Loch Ness. What a beautiful place!! Though we didn't take in much of the usual Nessie tourist spots, we loved our boat ride and the drive along the coast. But a real highlight was one we didn’t really know about before--Urquhart Castle. An incredible location, very well done museum presentation including a fascinating video. 
The month ended with a graduation. M. went from yellow belt to orange belt. And D. went from orange to green belt. Both had to work hard to reach the next level and were very proud of their accomplishments. 
One weekend late in May we FINALLY visited the famous castle just down the road in Stonehaven. It is the location used to film Mel Gibson's Hamlet and is called Dunnottar Castle.

In June we took a trip south to the Isle of Mull and Iona, islands in the Inner Hebrides off the western coast of Scotland. We stayed near the seaside town of Oban and took the ferry to Mull. From there we took a bus ride to the other side of the island. The views were incredible, but photos seemed futile from the inside of a huge tour bus that winds along narrow mountain roads. At the other end of the Isle of Mull we took another short ferry ride to Iona, which was the center of the evangelizing mission of St. Columba (an irish monk who brought Christianity to Scotland around 563). 

We spent an hour or two walking the island and then the bus ride back to the ferry to Oban. The next day we took our car to the Isle of Mull and drove north to the picturesque town of Tobermory, well known in the UK because of a popular children's show that our kids watched some when we lived in England. 
The colored houses you see in the background are the hallmark of "Balamory".
This was our last road trip in Scotland and it left us with some wonderful memories of the beauty we found during our time there. 
July was a big month for the Kennedy family. After years of preparation and wondering when and where M would finally receive her First Holy Communion, the day finally came, but with an added and very unexpected surprise. Read about it here. 
This was the month of lots of "lasts" since we finally had our date for moving home. You can read about and see those days here
After lots of boxing up and moving out and living temporarily, we flew to LA to live temporarily some more. 

One of the perks of expat life is flying first class when you arrive and when you finally leave (in between you fly coach with all the regular folk). This particular flight was a really cushy one...those seats lay out flat for cozy sleeping! 
"Look Mama, I can press here and watch ANY MOVIE I WANT!"

By August we were here: 

We got to relax....for what felt like a few hours...then started the getting-up-and-going-again-tasks like buying a car. With that task done we were free to enjoy a week of hanging out with Grandma and the California Cousins. 

Finally we took the old familiar drive north, only this time we weren't going to be there on vacation, and we weren't going to be living in our own house (yet) either. Instead, we spent a good six weeks or so in an apartment near our neighborhood, until mid September when the truck arrived. 

This day seemed a long time coming. We spent so many other days waiting for workmen, or watching them do their jobs. We were so happy to be finally moving out of the apartment. 

The only picture from our time in the apartment was from Jim's birthday early in the month. 

By October we were ready to begin school and one of the first things we did was join some new homeschool friends at the pumpkin patch

We also attended our first political event as a familywatched the World Series, and went trick or treating.

The month of November began with my birthday, 

followed by the best birthday present I ever got...a new homeschool room finally finished.  

Finally, we had our first house guests with which to share the blessing of our new home. My family (with the exception of my youngest brother) were able to come up and celebrate Thanksgiving with us. 
The cast of the semi-annual Thanksgiving play. 
It took three large round tables to seat us all. 

In December we ended the year with the season of Advent and Christmas. Thankfully, I have already blogged about those days, because this post is waayyyytooooloooong.


  1. Oh,Carol. What a beautiful summary. I cannot believe how much you packed in before you packed up! The video of you dad, priceless. I could imagine my own father doing the same thing. God bless them!

    Your house is absolutely gorgeous!!! And so is your school room. I had a school room in our last house. Was so sad to leave it behind :( But I'm glad you are enjoying yours.

    Thank you for sharing this with all of us! Thank you for your kind words about Sally's writing as well.

  2. Carol,

    What a great summary! I am so happy to read it all; I have been wondering how you were doing and where you guys were you guys were living. Are you happy to be back in the States? Or mixed?

    I particularly loved the story about D receiving his first communion! My Connor is 6 and I cannot wait until he receives. What a beautiful day it must have been for you to have 2 of your kids receive in one day! What graces!

    We are down in So Cal (for now), so hopefully we'll have a chance to see you guys at some point!

    God bless,