Photographic diary, Uncategorized

Looking back over 2019.

DSCF1585As is life, 2019 was full of ups and downs, but I am most definitely choosing to focus on all of the best that 2019 bought us… and 2019 did not disappoint…

The year started with lots of snow, and although I am not the biggest fan of winter and being cold, if I have to go through this season living in the cold, snow is the way to go, when it snows the world is peaceful and calm, then the blue skies appear and the snow glimmers, our fire roars inside our house keeping us toasty warm and two little children get so excited, my camera comes out as snow boots are put on and foot prints appear in that newly laid snowed… I’ll take that any day over gray rainy days that go on forever.IMG_3113

The beginning of last year saw most of us revising for our US citizens test, I think I was the most nervous out of everyone, everyone’s appointments were at different times on different days, one by one my children added to the number of Americans living in our house until it was our turn, Paul, Blu and I, I do have to say that I think my nerves got the better of me, I could barely sign my name on the iPad they provided, Paul and Blu took it all in their stride of course… we swore allegiance to the Flag and sung the national anthem, I think that was the moment it really hit me… I was an American Citizen.098D69F8-2EF4-4141-AC87-100896701A30

Around May time, Paul needed a break from work so I booked our little trip to Savannah Georgia… oh my what a wonderful week, we did not hire a car, we walked everywhere, we sampled a few bars, who knew in Savannah you could walk around outside with an alcoholic beverage.  The weather was perfect, although it was warm the outdoor pool in our hotel had not heated up just yet, we did not care, we swam everyday, well that was after it took me 30 minutes to actually get in.  We sat by the docks and watched large container ships travelling through, trying to guess their final destination or where they had come from.  My camera had a field day with all the gorgeous buildings, it really was a perfect week for all four of us.IMG_6784

2019 was a year that academically saw two of my children reach milestones in their life… first came Lewis, the first person on either side of our family to graduate with his Masters Degree in environmental science, we drove into Newark for the ceremony, and for once in our lives we were actually early, we even had time to grab some food and beers for Paul and Lewis before the ceremony began… Jordan joined us after work, and surprisingly the ceremony did not last too long, tears most definitely flowed, we laughed, we clapped and I snapped a few photos here and there… an extremely proud moment in time, held there for just one moment.  Next came Mabel, really High School flew by in my minds eye, one minute she was a freshman worried how she would find her way around the huge new school, the next she was graduating with honors, crazy right? The ceremony was held inside due to construction on the field, but to be honest it did not matter in the end, the pride you feel as a parent is the same no matter where you sit.  The best part of both graduations for me was the fact that they were live streamed and all those people that could not be there in person could most definitely watch that moment wherever they were, including my Mom who was 3500 miles away.

It was around a quarter of the way through the year that our lives got turned upside down… we were told that Pauls job would be moving to Columbus Ohio… at first we thought there would be no way we would ever go, but now… we’ll let’s say things change.GPTempDownload

July saw us packing again, we made a quick detour to Philadelphia PA for a night, we headed into this beautiful city for lunch, then Paul and Lewis headed out to watch ELO in concert, which by all accounts was fantastic, then it was time for our final destination, Delray Beach Florida, a last minute change of location and hotel, left us at Palm beach airport with no hotel booking,  when I changed the booking I had forgotten to press the final confirmation button on my iPad… yikes!  Luckily our hotel of choice had one, yes just ONE double suite left, how lucky were we, I wasn’t panicking at all… ha ha.  The rest of our vacation was one of the best I had ever had, resort hotel, beautiful pool and gorgeous beach literally across the road, why wouldn’t it be fantastic. But let’s just add in a cute little seaside town into the mix, free local bus service and quality family time… why indeed would this vacation be anything other than fantastic!

August was tinged with sadness for me, how could I let my big girl head to college, how was she really old enough to fly our little nest… but the time came, we packed up our car full to the brim and moved her into her dorm room, I left with tears in my eyes… but it’s funny how change becomes our new norm, we adapt much quicker than we think is possible… and to be honest it has given us opportunities to visit her and stay in hotels for a few nights away… which is always a plus in my book._dsc0412

The next few months saw my Mum and Dad arrive… yay!  We experienced Family Day at college, Florrie and Tate’s best day EVER, we went apple picking in October on the hottest day, 90f… we managed a few late season swims in Jill and Bobs pool before it closed… and we simply chatted and chatted. This was also the time Jill and Bob moved back to England, our Monday’s definitely changed over night, no drives to Rockaway and no lunches sat around their table chatting about anything and everything, but as I said before the thought of change is daunting but when it happens it’s funny how quickly we adapt, but in all honesty it really doesn’t mean that we still don’t miss them… 7 years of memories is hard to forget for me, that’s for sure._DSC1496 (1) copy

The last part of our year has flown by, we have have visited Princeton, New Hope in PA, Lambertville, Madison and Ewing just a few times.  We have experienced beautiful sunrises, ice rain storms and a huge amount of snow.  Two of my children have left their jobs and are about to start new ones.  We have reconnected with old friends, which I love… and this year for the first time ever we have changed the Holidays up a little, starting the Christmas Break with a wonderful getaway to Long Branch New Jersey, followed by nine days of nothing, just being in the moment, enjoying our family before our busy new year begins.DSCF1553

Change is inevitable, often the thoughts leading up to that change are far worse than the time that follows… the one thing that I have learned as I get older is to try and stay positive even if you are totally scared of what will come next…

Happy New Year everyone.

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New year…

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I’m not sure it really feels like New Year to me yet, for the first time ever I slept right through it, getting stomach flu on vacation was not quite the plan but it happened anyway, hot, cold shivers, violent headaches, stomach pains, nausea and the dreaded run to the bathroom, all led to me wanting to just sleep in bed for three days, but I didn’t, you are only on vacation for such a few days and I wasn’t going to let this thing keep me from getting out and enjoying Arizona, but I did let it allow me to sink into bed early each night and sleep on and off through each evening and night, including New Years Eve… so there were no tears of something lost and happiness of something new this year, just sleep and then more sleep.

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Although I was still kind of out of it on New Year’s Day, feeling a little better but not even 75%, we spent the day in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been privileged to go to… Sedona AZ… if ever you are lucky enough to travel to Arizona make sure Sedona is on your places to visit list, well that’s if you don’t decide to just stay there for a few days… everywhere you look the views are just stunning and surreal, sit in Starbucks sip coffee and the views are phenomenal, grab lunch at one of the many places to eat and the views are out of this world… my only criticism would be that some of the places are a little too touristy and the shops tend to be a little generic, but I wasn’t there to shop, even though we did do a little, obligatory teenage girl Sedona sweatshirt shopping, Mom and Florrie got handmade healing necklaces, oh and an unexpected find of summer Harlem pants… to just sit relax and take in that fantastic scenery that just surrounds you everywhere you look is just amazing and so calming.

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I don’t know why but I always feel a little apprehensive at the New Year… the thought of what a New Year can bring, has had me a little depressed this year. It is silly because really it’s just another day, but it really seems such a big deal… I was reading all these positive New Year posts on social media and I had to stop and give myself a good talking too, although last year was tough with my Mum getting sick there were lots of positives… three of my older sons all have good jobs now, we have had three vacations, one was unplanned to see my Mum, but we still got to see family and friends and see the new regeneration of a town we grew up in and our older children grew up in, our children are all doing well and are happy, Paul and I are in a really good place with our relationship right now and my Mum is through her chemo now and on the other side, she is the bravest person I know and I am very proud of her. So I think I need to start looking at New Year in a new light from now on… how exciting is this year going to be?

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No resolutions from me this year, another first… just intentions to be a healthier more positive me… I want to continue my healthy eating campaign… get back to the cardio and yoga I was doing until I damaged my ankle, no more excuses though, more meditation and learning to relax… and over this winter I want to stay in the warm hibernate by the fire and fuel one of my passions photography, I want to improve my skills, more reading and practicing, I want to be as good if not better than the talented people of the photography Facebook groups I follow.

But for now I am going to enjoy my last two days in Sunny Arizona… relax in the warmth, soak up as many rays as I can because on Saturday when we arrive back home it will be freezing and I need this warmth to last through until Spring… Happy New Year everyone 🎉

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Can you believe 2015 has been and gone.

DSC_5627Like many people at this time of year I am not only reflective but also hopeful for a simple new year with lots of love and happiness around me.  As we enter 2016 I am thinking about how to improve my life, my list is as always, be more organized, spend lots more time with my family and friends and learn to move on, I always linger in the past wishing for simpler days, when really I should, look to simplifying my days going forward.

2015 bought many good memories along with some not so good ones, fortunately last year the good out weighed the bad, so I consider myself very lucky.  The year started with struggles in life in general, but there was hope that things might improve,  I am a firm believer in what hurts us only makes us stronger, and this is so true in my life, as I get older I definitely learn by the mistakes of the past.

The beginning of last year was brutally cold, our sad propane heating struggles to heat our house at the best of times, but last winter it failed miserably, but looking at the positives, meant it gave me determination to resolve the situation with a beautiful wood burning stove that heats our house perfectly now.IMG_0639

March bought about two special Birthdays and a new job in our house, my little Tate had his first Birthday  and two days later Paul turned 50 with a bang, a few days after that and after 29 years in his previous job, he very bravely started his new job, which so far seems to working out.IMG_0962

Our Easter tradition seemed to have started with our second Easter Saturday at the shore in April, it was very windy and chilly but it didn’t stop my Florrie from getting on the sand with her Dad.  May is always a busy month in our house with two Birthdays, an anniversary and of course American Mothers Day, but last year we added to our busy month with two graduations resulting in new degrees and then eventually two new jobs later in the year.  Florrie had her fourth Birthday, it seems hard to believe that this year she will be five, has it really been five years since that little ray of sunshine entered our lives.IMG_0751

Mabel graduated from Middle school at the end of June and we enjoyed a beautiful summer before she became a High School student, although I considered not letting her go, she is growing up so fast.  Summer flew by in a blink of an eye, but this year we managed to get away for a week to Cape Cod, a much needed break for Paul and myself.  We finally managed a trip into New York City to meet up with an old friend and his son,and we finally walked along the High Line, a trip we had been planning for a couple of years. August was filled with High School Soccer, heat week training, early morning practices and the start of the freshman and JV games for us, busy, busy, busy.IMG_1189

I have mixed feelings about Fall, on the one hand I love all things pumpkin, the beautiful Fall colors, warm soups and casseroles and apple cider donuts, but on the other hand, Fall means that we will be entering my least favorite season, Winter very soon, this year we have been very lucky though the weather has been mild and beautiful on many days leading up to Christmas, we even managed a day at the beach in December then sat outside a small coffee shop sipping coffee into the evening.  Fall brings along the pumpkin patches, corn mazes and lots of fun for Florrie and Tate, I love this season for all of those reasons and this year has been no different for me.DSC_3034

I consider myself a vey lucky ex-pat, I get to spend almost 3 months at a time with my parents, I love the time I spend with my Mum, but when she leaves it is the hardest part of living here.  Just before Thanksgiving, both of my parents arrived to spend a lot of this winter with us, Christmas day was in my opinion one of the best we have had for a few years, the day was so mild, my Mum and I drove to Starbucks for a quiet while after a very busy few weeks, we drove home to have a champagne brunch, opened presents, cooked and ate more food, my children all played board games, we then played Yankee Swap and then some more board games… just perfect.IMG_1431

We are very lucky to have some very kind friends both here in New Jersey and far away, this year we got to celebrate New Year in style with our very kind friends who live a 45 minute drive away from us… we love their family and their friends, it was so much fun to see them… thank you, you know who you are.

Life has its ups and downs for all of us and of course the past year was no different for us as a family, one of my children was diagnosed with an illness that can only be managed, and although as a mother I struggled and still do with the thought that I can not change this, I am learning to deal with it day by day and I think he is learning everyday too.  This year also saw the loss of a friendship for me over something so silly, if anyone knows me well they will know I do not give up on any of my friendships easily and this one was no different, but unfortunately she did not feel the same so I have had to move on, it makes me sad that this friendship came to an end, I miss her and her family a lot, but I have had to learn you really should not stay up until 5am drinking with friends, because some things that are said can never be taken back, even 2 years later.

I have no resolutions this year, I find I never stick to them so I just have hopes and goals… my one hope is that we all stay healthy and then the rest will hopefully fall into place… Happy 2016 to everyone, lets hope it is a good year filled with lots of laughter for all of us.