I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this post for weeks now. But I haven’t done it, because I really don’t want to say goodbye to 2013. It’s been an unbelievable year. We paid our respects in the trenches of Flanders Field. We held pigeons in San Marco square, and waded through the flooded streets of Venice. Mr. Man fell off a dike in Holland (how many children can say they did that?) and spent hours soaking in the beauty of the Louvre. We helped clean a cemetery in the honor of our war dead in Luxembourg, and visited the famous hippos in Budapest. And Dublin…. I fell in love with Dublin, and my sweet husband all over again. We didn’t take the kids, so instead of shepherding little ones through the tours, we got to really relish the food, and drinks, and sights and sounds of Ireland. I sipped whiskey while singing along to “Molly Malone” in a pub, and fell in love with an Irish Cream Cheesecake. Germany became home to us. I no longer feel completely out of place here… unless you stop me to chat. While I may not have the language down, I am comfortable driving, and eating, and exploring on my own; which came in useful for our 52+ day trips we took this year. We explored roman ruins, many castles, and as many festivals as we could; and we are all so much richer for it. The children all grew socially, emotionally, and intellectually this year as well, just as you would expect a child to grow up. Bug has realized he has a voice and an opinion. He’s all of a sudden negotiating, and for the first time in his life, showing an attitude. My compliant little guy has left, and it’s actually really fun to watch. I love that he’s flexing his muscles and learning what is important to him. He’s growing up to be a fine young man, and he makes me proud every day. Little Miss- she’s the sweetest two year old you’ll ever meet. She sings songs everywhere she goes, and says “awwww MAN” on command when you say “swiper no swiping!” She loves to jump and run, and more than anything else, she loves her brothers. She’s compassionate more than I ever knew a two year old could be. She’s always the first to kiss boo boos, and is quick to tell me to “be nice!” when her brothers are in trouble. Mr. Man has changed this year more than anyone else. He’s come into that personality of his. He’s still an energetic, talkative, wired little dude, but now he has a measure of control he didn’t have at the start of the year. Life is so much easier now, and I spend more time enjoying my little wild man, than I do worrying about him. Hubby is doing well also. He got hired for a good job after this one (one that requires a big move from us- more on that tomorrow!) and has been recognized for all his hard work with an award or two. We had the chance to “get fancy” a couple times this year, and just had an amazing good time. And me…. Well, I had a pretty good year too. It started a bit rough. 2013 brought some life lessons learned the hard way. This year, I learned that sometimes, protecting my heart and feelings is the most important thing. I learned that sometimes taking the high road means not “winning”… that sometimes I have to walk away. And as painful as it was, it turned out to be a wonderful thing. I am a stronger person this year than I was last year. I’m a happier person, with less worries. I feel less pressure, both externally, and from myself. My friends have told me for years that at some point you just stop caring what other people think, and for the first time ever, I understand what they mean. I chose myself this year, and I didn’t care what anyone thought. And it felt good. Lastly, there is this blog. It’s grown exponentially this year. It’s given me an outlet for my thoughts, and creativity. More importantly, it’s given me an amazing sense of community, and has made homeschooling so much easier. Thanks to this blog, I always have someone to help me when I get stuck, I have people to encourage me, and the resources I need to get the job done. Thank you so much for being here, and reading this. Thank you for checking back with me, and leaving me kind notes. Thank you for letting me have this outlet. I love having this “job” – it was a MAJOR highlight of 2013, and one thing I am thrilled to be continuing in 2014. Happy New Year.