Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Year In Review

2009 --

Ah, it is the end of another year...the end of another decade. Wasn't it just last year that we were all panicking about the world blowing up...or at least the computers blowing up, when the time changed to 01-01-00. The debates on how we would say the years...did anyone ever say "remember when _______ did ____ in ot5"? Or the debates on when the millenium starts...2000 or 2001. Yet, here we are about to hit 2010 (isn't there a movie titled after this year...aren't we supposed to be living in space now?).

It is hard to believe we are hitting 2010 and as 2009 comes to an end, I have received many year end letters via mail and email...all of them interesting. I hear people groan a lot about receiving these letters, but I enjoy them. I like to hear about what is going on in other people's lives. My life is an open book...especially if you are a friend of mine on facebook (I am a chronic status updater). But, this year has been a big one for the Kozlowskis here in Houston and I thought...even if you are one who groans inwardly at having to read yet another letter about another family's year, I would write it here and it could be recorded, at the very least, for my own records.

So...2009. Could it really be over?? I mean, Christmas was just yesterday and it still seems impossible. This was a year unlike any year for us. It has been almost like a rollercoaster, but I will not bore you with the dips...only the ups.

The year started with the birthday of our son, Daniel. He turned 4...stinker. You know what that means...he turns FIVE in just under 2 weeks!!!! That means he starts KINDERGARTEN in AUGUST. But, I is not 2010 I am here to discuss...but 2009. Daniel turned 4 in style...he got his very own Spiderman bike. And LOADS of Spiderman action figures!!

Matt and I celebrated our 11th wedding years. Seems crazy! Our marriage is a good one...strong and stable. My husband is a family man, through and through. There is nothing he would not do for us and he is completely devoted to us. The kids and I are VERY secure which is a sign of a good male figure in the home. He has been a rock and I am afraid I do not treat him very well. He will argue that, but I think he deserves more. BUT, who am I to argue. He is truly the best I could ask for as husband and father to my kids. This is not the best picture...but this is us before going out for our anniversary.

We had quite the adventure at the beginning of the year. We knew we wanted to go to Disney World, but could not come up with a good time to work it in with Matt's schedule. We wanted to go in January, but it just did not work out...then, the second week in February, everything cleared suddenly...Matt found out on Monday that we could go....he got online and booked it.....for later that same WEEK!! We literally booked it and left just 3 days later. We drove all the way down to Orlando. We knew that we wanted to stay in one of the resorts, but being last minute, the only resort that had any openings was The Grand Floridian, their premiere resort. We felt GRAND in this posh hotel setting with the monorail stopping right at our resort. We stayed for almost a full week and had the BEST time was a great time of year to visit...not NEAR as busy as it had been when we went in November and certainly not as busy as SUMMER!! The nights were cool, the days were not too brutal....and the kids had SUCH GREAT FUN!!

When we got home, we only had a few days of rest before Daniel had his eye surgery. He was born with a cataract in one eye and as he was growing, so was the cataract. It got to where it was just obstructing his vision too much and everyone felt that he needed to get the cataract removed. It was challenging, to say the least. No mother wants to see her son go under anesthesia and have surgery....much less ELECT to do it. We (Matt and I) were a mess (well, I should mention that Sierra was beside herself with worry....she is VERY close to her brother and cannot handle him not being 100%). On the day of the surgery, we arrived 4 hours early (as per our instruction). We paid and got ready to wait with a very hungry boy (he, obviously, was unable to eat due to anesthesia)...but the appointment before him didn't show so they whisked him back for surgery. I cannot describe the picture of us standing at the point where parents have to stop while the anesthesiologists walked with our VERY small boy down a long brings tears to my eyes.

The surgery went well. The challenge for the remainder of the year has been trying to strengthen that eye. It is fairly weak, though at his last visit, his vision had gotten stronger. Prayer is appreciated for his continued healing. He wears a bifocal now, and is adjusting to knowing when to use which side of the lens. lol He is a good kid, though...and NEVER complains!!

Probably the biggest thing of the year happened in March. As a short background, you may not know that I was estranged from my mother and her children since I was very small. I was raised by my father (a situation that I was appreciative of). For most of my adult years, I have tried in vain to find my mother and her children (my other siblings). Matt found out a couple years ago (using his work connections) that my mother had passed away. I figured that that was the end of my search, though I still did searches on facebook, people searches, and any other venues. I sent letters...made phone calls...EVERYTHING.

Well, in March, I checked my facebook for updates (probably my hundredth check of the day...Yes, I am obsessed) when I saw I had a little number 1 next to my inbox. I found this odd as most people just email through my regular account. The subject line said "could you be my husband's little sister?" (I have kept the email in my facebook account this whole time as well as copied and pasted the content into a word doc.) Through this email, I was all the sudden back in touch with my brother, John and his wife and their son. I cannot tell you the pitters and patters that were happening in my chest...I could not believe after ALL THOSE YEARS, it came down to a simple facebook email (I had sent similar emails to facebook users that bore the same name as no avail). In that same moment, I discovered my sister Carolyn, who had just created a facebook account days prior.

Throughout the rest of this year, I have built a relationship with both of these siblings (I still have not spoken with the rest of time). Carolyn even came to visit us (she lives in California) with her husband ( INCREDIBLE man) and her two kids Nate (future president of the US...military bound...HS track star) and Sami (a super sweet daughter whom became best of friends with Daniel). It was such a short, but incredible visit. Carolyn and I have a lot in common and spend as much time as we can chatting online (though, sadly for me, haven't been lately with busy schedules). This was a HUGE thing for me after SO LONG of searching....especially having lost my father just months prior. This has been the pivotal part of my year.

For Sierra's part...she turned 10 in May...double digits...the beginning of the end. She also completed her last year of elementary school. Her summer vacation was the busiest it has ever been. She spent many days, weekends at friends houses....went to Splashtown lots....movies...mall FLEW BY. She also went to summer camp with our church kids group. I was SO excited about this as our church runs the whole is not run by outside people. They rent the grounds and the people who run the camp provide the food and activities (The Blob, fishing, etc), but Woodsedge does all the worship and devotionals. It was dedicated to Jesus and they spent more time in small groups and worship than playing. Sierra came home GLOWING from her experience and she rededicated her life to God.

She also participated in the church's summer music program and performed in their production called "Shine!". It was a beautiful performance....and her grandparents even came down to see her!! *Her hair is sun and chlorine*

Sierra also started Intermediate school this year...and is LOVING every minute of it. She is doing VERY well in her classes...she is in the best hall and has the very best of teachers. She is in Student Council...on the Environmental Committee...and is in Choir. She LOVES school more than she ever has and we have seen a lot of growth in her since starting. Her teachers have all told me how great she is and how she enhances the learning environment for the whole class. She just adores them and it is amazing the opportunities she has had in this school.

Here she is with her favorite teacher...her social studies teacher...who said to her on meet the teacher that it was his goal to make Social Studies her favorite subject by the end of the year...and he has SUCCEEDED!!

And than there is the hair....I had about 13 inches cut off and sent to Locks of Love...and you know what...I like it better. You may notice the change from the anniversary pic to the last pic shown. It was hard to do....getting all that hair cut off. I did have a pic of the braid, but cannot find it now. The upside of long hair is less need to get haircuts (cheaper). I went from getting my hair trimmed once or twice a YEAR to getting it trimmed once every 6 weeks or so. Sierra also got her hair cut shorter and we have started going together. But, as hard has it was to do, I REALLY do LOVE it!

One of the biggest potential changes for the year was our almost move to North Carolina. Matt posted for a job change to Charlotte, NC and he came very close to getting close, that I proceeded with making some improvements on the house to put it up for sale...he ended up not getting the change. It was a disappointment, but we had put it in God's hands and felt it was not our time. We have made it our goal to move to North Carolina and hope to make that move over the summer...if he can get a job move there. Matt's parents are moving there early in the year and his grandmother lives there. Matt has always wanted to move to the east coast.

So, it is the end of the year. Matt is working very hard at Hewitt. He is on a new team that is proving to be challenging, to put it nicely. The job is not much different, but the boss is a lot different and I will stop there to keep the tone of this light (if you get my drift). Sierra is half-way through 5th grade and Daniel is getting ready to read and start school. I have had a year (or so) of inspiration from crafty friends and have built up a lot of crafting toys (cricut expressions, bind-it-all, rotary cutter, and a number of other treats!!). I have enjoyed making many things and new is fun!!

So, what is in store for 2010. We are planning our vacation for Spring Break this year. We will, probably, head out to to San Francisco, see the sites there, rent a car and drive the pacific highway down to L.A. and do all the touristy stuff there, and, if we can manage it, head to San Diego for a couple days before flying home. That is our plan...we'll see. I am hoping to plan on having jaw surgery at the earlier part of the year. My headaches have increased and after trying to get around having surgery, we have concluded that we have reached that last resort of surgery. We will see Daniel turn 5 (he is SO excited about it). We have it in our plans to move to NC, but that will depend on Matt's work. Daniel will enter Kindergarten (sadly). I, under order of the kids and my husband, will remain at home (well, not literally). I will have to figure out what I am supposed to do without any kids to care for during the day. I am not sure if there are any other goals. I was going to say one of our goals was to eat better...lose weight.....HOWEVER, my WONDERFUL husband bought me a KitchenAid for Christmas......which means I will have to play with it....which means baking!! YAY!!! BRING ON THE POUNDS!!

I hope 2009 brought you great joy and growth and that 2010 will continue to be a blessing to you all.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rock and Roll Monkey's Christmas Party