As I finished writing our annual 2018 Christmas card letter to friends and family, I realized that we had an exceptionally great year. Admittedly, I missed the mark on many of my goals, but the primary reason for failing to reach my targets was unanticipated vacations and days spent with family. I was fortunate in 2018.
We started 2018 with Felix ( my step-son) visiting us from Sweden. It was a very last-minute trip, but wonderful. We took him to Las Vegas and Palm Springs, where we experienced unseasonably warm weather and spent the winter holidays swimming. We rang in the new year with local friends and witnessed the Big Bear torchlight parade, a mountain tradition where skiers come down the mountain with torches. It was beautiful.
Dan had to work in Portland over Valentine’s Day, so I traveled with him to be together for the holiday. We flew back in time to catch a Miranda Lambert concert near the Ontario airport! In March, we took a trip to Washington, as Dan considered a job offer near Seattle. My high school friend Valerie and her family spent the weekend with us. It was wonderful to catch up and to have her young daughters experience snow! At the end of March, I left my marketing position with a local home rental company. It was a good experience and I made several friends at the company, but even with a flexible schedule, I felt tied down. In April, I spent a week in Las Vegas enjoying the pool and visiting with friends, while Dan attended his annual trade show ( where he works very hard!)
At the end of May, we went to England. I stayed with my mother-in-law, while Dan had business meetings all over Europe. I had quality time with family, which is the theme for 2018. I treasure that this was my big take-away from 2018. After a week with my family, I joined Dan in London. Dan had to work the entire time, but I was able to sight-see. I had spread-sheet and walked London until my feet felt like they were going to fall off. London is such an amazing city and even though I’ve been fortunate to visit several times, there is still so much more to experience. On this trip I took in two shows, Young Frankenstein and Killer Joe (starring Orlando Bloom.) I also fulfilled a teenage dream of going on a “Jack the Ripper walking tour.” It was not all that I imagined it to be, but it was a fun night out with my niece Pippa, who was a good-sport for coming along!
A week after returning home from England, we saw that our senior cat, Nicolette, was not doing well. She was a rescue and was at least nineteen years old. We made the very tough decision to have her put down. It was the hardest part of 2018 and her presence is missed every day.
In June, we drove to the Bay Area, so that Dan could attend a NASCAR event for work. I went to a baseball game with my high school friend Bekah and her two kids. I had not seen Bekah in many years, so this was another day to treasure in 2018. Even better, we did not plan it in advance, so it was spontaneous! This was also my first trip back to the bay area since the late 90’s.
Zoe and Felix visited for a month in mid July-August. We had a “stay-cation” with a focus on pool time= three trips to Las Vegas and two to La Quinta. At the La Quinta resort, we were able to get an enormous casita with a backyard and private pool/spa. It was incredible.
In late August, I started working as an online ESL Tutor. This new job is rarely dull. I’ve met people from all around the world ( although mostly from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Brazil) and it has completely opened up my awareness of different countries and cultures. I’ve met amazing people and have quite a few crazy stories to share. Mostly, I feel inspired by students who are attempting to master a new language and their stories of why they wish to learn English.
My mother-in-law visited us for three weeks in September. It sounds a bit like a broken record, but we also took her to Las Vegas and La Quinta. A funny highlight was taking her on a bizarre walking tour of the Vegas arts district, an “up and coming” area, with an emphasis on “coming.”
In September, I accompanied Dan on a conference in Los Angeles, where we stayed at the Bonaventure Hotel. The Bonaventure has a rotating bar, which I used to frequent with my friend Luke in our early 20’s. I had not been there in years and it was hilarious tor visit it. It so retro 70’s and not in a good way. This trip was a delight for me, as I played a tourist in my hometown. I went on an architecture tour of downtown Los Angeles and I visited both, The Broad and The Grammy Museum. I walked around downtown in a way that I had never quite done before and it gave me a huge appreciation for Los Angeles. I love LA and I miss living near the city. It made me homesick.
On November 2nd, we celebrated our fifth anniversary with a stay at the La Quinta Spa and Resort. If it isn’t already clear, this is our new favorite vacation getaway. It’s a magical place and we always leave feeling refreshed.
In early December, I traveled with Dan to Portland to see friends and have all of our annual doctors appointments. We still don’t know where we will be living long-term and we just love our doctors in Portland.
Christmas has been very exciting this year. We have both Zoe and Felix with us for the holidays. I flew from Las Vegas to London to Stockholm to pick them up, the first time that I’ve made this journey. I spent one night in the airport in Sweden and returned to Vegas with them. It was exhausting, but worth it. In early January, I will repeat the journey, but this time i will spend a few days in England to visit family. We had a spectacular Christmas day, which included snow = my very first white Christmas! It was also the first time that I had Christmas morning with excited children in the house. We woke up early to dive into a giant pile of presents. We have many other fun activities planned, but mostly it is just about enjoying the family time.
If you add up all of the time that was spent with family and friends in 2018, we are very wealthy! I hope this trend continues into 2019.