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Reflection of 2011

We’ve almost completed another year.  Another year filled with memories and moments.  I’m sure we all had high moments and low moments.  Feel free to share yours here, in the comment section.

As I sit here looking back on the year that’s passed, I can’t help but feel so fortunate and realize how truly blessed I am.  I know that there are others less fortunate, so I try not to take anything for granted.  Here are my reflections on the year:

1) This year we were able to support more charities.  Our first event was in February, The Bacchus Foundation’s yearly ball.  I posted about it earlier this year and posted photos from the event.  Then in June (my birthday month!) we went to Jazzoo again.  Instead of presents, this year I asked for donations to the Kansas City Zoo.  They currently don’t have penguins, which are my favorite animals and I think it should be a crime to not have them!  I also posted about this earlier in the year.  I am happy to report, however, that construction for the penguin village has begun and penguins should begin arriving around 2013!  I can’t wait.

Also, this year we went to the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers (NAIFA) first annual charity gala.  The theme was a throw back to the old days of glitz and glamour and had a casino.  The proceeds of the event went to Operation Breakthrough, a local charity that supports children.  To learn more about their work visit their website. Finally, we also attended NAIFA’s annual Firefighter of the Year banquet; an event held by the Greater Kansas City chapter to show appreciation for the brave men and women who put their lives on the line everyday.  The honorees are amazing people, doing amazing things within their communities and it was awesome to be a part of it.

2) There were some sad moments throughout the year.  My grandmother in Philadelphia passed away in March, and Brett’s uncle   in October.  Throughout everything, we were reminded that we have the best people in our lives.  Thank you to anyone who said a prayer; sent a card, text message, phone call; or just stopped to ask us how we were.  We appreciate you all more than you know.

3) There were some amazing adventures in 2011 as well.  This summer we spent a lot of time at the lake house.  The expansion is complete and it looks amazing!  It’s nice to have a place where the whole family can come together just to be together.  We also got to take a HUGE family vacation to Mexico.  There were 17 of us.  We threw a surprise birthday party for Brett’s aunt.  She has no idea we were all going to be there and was so surprised to see everyone there when she arrived.  It was a wonderful week, full of wonderful memories.  One of the coolest adventures we took this year was going to the freaking World Series!  We went to Game 7 in St. Louis!!!  It was so much fun (even if the Rangers lost) and possibly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

4) Last year I mentioned that there were lots of weddings, babies and engagements.  Well this year we celebrated those things.  My brother and sister in law welcomed another daughter to the family in August, Scout Marie.  She is adorable and looks like my brother.  My sister Janine got married in August and my cousin Elyse tied the knot in October.  THIS year saw more engagements and next year is going to busy with weddings.  By my count there are six!  Congratulations to all our friends and family that will be wedding within the next year!  We look forward to celebrating with you!

5) I wrote last year that I had started school again and that I was hoping to report that I’d be finished by now.  Well, I’m not finished yet, BUT I believe I will be finished in May!  I couldn’t be more thrilled, so start looking for graduation announcements in the spring (be sure I have your email address, phone number or home address so you can get an announcement).

6) Finally, like last year, my favorite thing from 2011 is that it’s another year Brett and I spent together (number 5!).  I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true.  Each year we spend together just reaffirms what I already know; I love our life.  He makes me happy and was an amazing support when my Grandmom died.  I couldn’t ask for a better partner!

So, that’s my year in a small recap.  I hope your 2011 was everything you dreamed it would be.  And, if it wasn’t, I hope 2012 is the year of YOU!

Happy Holidays and a truly Happy New Year!

We Should All Be Thankful for Our Veterans

I probably don’t say thank you to our veterans enough.  None of us do.  To many, just saying thank you probably seems so empty.  It feels like it has lost some of it’s meaning.  It can come off as hollow.  “oh, you’re a veteran?  Thank you for your service.”  It seems like such an automatic response.

I read an article recently, which I want to link to but can’t seem to find, by a veteran who said he wishes people would stop thanking him.  For all the reasons I mentioned above.  At first, I was really irritated by the article.  Especially because my brother is currently deployed.  My sister in law served in Iraq.  My father was in the Air Force.  My grandfather fought with the Navy in WWII.  My uncles went throught Vietnam.  I have had cousins in the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard.  Members of my family have served in every branch of the United States military.  But as I read through his points, I understood what he was getting at.  He didn’t want someone to thank him because they felt obligated to.  And that makes sense.  But I fundamentally disagree with him.

We should not stop saying thank you.  What we should do is start meaning it again.  I always try to say thank you to someone who has served or is currently serving.  Because I truly mean it when I say “thank you for your service.”  What I’m really saying is, “thank you for protecting me.”

Because that’s truly what our men and women who serve are doing.  They are protecting us.  From dangers seen and unseen.  Known and unkown.  They are voluntarily giving up time with their families to ensure that I have the safety to spend time with mine.

And I’m a complete stranger to most of them.

That’s why I think it’s important to say thank you.  Because we are all strangers.  Yet they serve for us.  Because of them, I know I don’t have to fight.

And for that, I am eternally thankful.