Friday, January 2, 2015

My 2014 at a Glance and Happy New Year!

This year has been a whirlwind. We didn't have any major life crises, just plenty of busyness and a few rough patches. I have to say, I was more than happy to send 2014 off. A new year, a new beginning. 

It started back in the spring with a reoccurring illness. This time it hit me hard - one of the worse "episodes" as I like to call it, that I've ever had. I spent a few months in a lot of pain and going for various doctor's appointment and tests. All of the tests came back negative which is a good thing except for I was dealing with the pain. We all have pain right? But this was debilitating. I felt like I had become a very, very, advanced aged, senior citizen. Through process of elimination, my doctor determined that the pain was being caused by my reoccuring illness. It was nothing more.  It was just worse this time. I began medication, started taking Motrin, and started doing Yoga. This was a first for me and I have to say, I am really enjoying it. 

I've since gone off all medications because I still have high hopes that there will be another precious child added to our family. Keep that in your prayers and that I stay in good health!

The next phase of the year brought upheaval at work. I've been at Rowan University 10 years this spring, most of which has been good. Really good in fact. I have quite a history there - I achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Arts in Writing there. My mom went there in the 70's and now I've worked there in a professional part-time role for nearly a decade. I think you get the picture. I really like it there. 

If you haven't heard the place is growing just a bit. They have ambitious plans to increase their existing 13,000 student population to nearly double that (25,000) by 2023. With that comes change. A lot of it. We're dealing with reorganizations, building relocations, new employees (one hiring phase brought 24 new people!) I am amazed that they were able to find places for them all to sit!

I became affected personally when it was required of us two part-times to change our schedule to five days a week. We were both working three days a week and were quite happy about it. I took the job with the intention of having flexibility so I can maintain a place in the workforce and still have time for the family I hoped would come. So far I have my precious Dante and I am adamant about spending time with him so I knew if this didn't change I'd have to move on. I had interviews at the college for other positions (they were three hours long for a part-time job! Help me!) and after talking with them I knew they weren't the answer to my problem because they both were more days that I want to work. 

At that point I made a plan of all the things I could do if I quit: blog more with the intention of making money, because a virtual assistant, go to Bible study, take Dante on more "field" trips to help him learn, work on my hobbies, etc. But I decided I had to try one more time before giving up so I went to talk to my boss and kindly explained my situation. As much fun as the above list sounds, I really didn't want to quit. Remember, I said I actually like it there. I think if it was any other ordinary job I would have outright quit but I just couldn't do it with Rowan since it holds such a special place in my heart. 

Thankfully my boss was supportive and told me that I wasn't being unreasonable. I was thrilled. She even wrote a letter of recommendation to send to the higher up bosses which was much more than I was hoping for or expecting. It was noted at "trial" basis which is good enough for me. So for now, I am back to my three days of work and am able to focus on my Dante on the other four days of the week, and who knows, now that I wrote myself a list of things I would have done had I quit, maybe, I can tackle them when Dante is at preschool. And at least I have a full agenda to keep me busy should I have to revisit leaving again! 

Whew! Was that a busy and stressful time! I am so glad that the dust is sorta settling and I can somewhat be happy at work again. I am looking forward to having lunch with friends on campus again (when I was working 5 days a week I worked short days and didn't get to take a lunch), and checking out campus events that I was too sore with the place to go to. The planetarium is having a kid friendly event, The Secret of the Cardboard Rocket, in February, that I know Dante will love, and I am on the look out for some music event that I can go to. My husband and I have always loved jazz. We'll see! 

Oh, and now that I am less cranky about my job, I finally got the chance to go check out the new Rowan University Welcome Gate Arch. It's beautiful! My husband said he actually saw it disassembled on the highway en route to the college. He knew about it before I did! Check it out! Welcome Arch.

Once things got settled with the job, things became unsettled with my mom. She fell on a shopping trip on a VERY uneven sidewalk crack she didn't see. Yikes! The poor thing tore a tendon in her right knee and fractured her left ankle so she is completely out of commission at the moment and has been since two weeks before Thanksgiving. I have to give her credit. I don't know HOW she being tolerant of sitting and going absolutely no where. She's a lot like me in that we like to go, go, go (when we're well that is!) At this point there isn't much for mom to do but just sit and wait for the healing to take place. She's gone to a few very casual physical therapy appointments where they stretch her legs a bit, but it's going to be a quite  a while before she can do any intense physical therapy or be up and around in any way. I feel bad! Sometimes, though, God sits us a down for a reason!

I hate to sound like "Denisey" downer! There were plenty of good times throughout the year. My favorite was our trip to California. We wanted to go somewhere that was kid friendly and a place that Dante hadn't been yet (he must be well traveled!) We also wanted a warm climate. Since we had been to Florida recently, we opted for California! It was awesome! We spent about eight days there in Anaheim and down to San Diego and back. We tried to go in the spring but since I wasn't well we postponed it until September and I am glad we did. I never would have enjoyed it with the way I was feeling. 

Postponing the trip until September meant that I would fall right within the week of Dante's 4th birthday! What a better way to spend a birthday than traveling, well, in my opinion anyway! 

Look!  We decorated the hotel room for his birthday so he could see it when he first woke up. He loved it! 

We started off at Disneyland and it was so fun! There were in the midst of putting up Halloween decorations when we got there which was extra cool for me because I've never been to any of the Disney parks during a holiday. The only problem was, and you'll never see this in Disney World, I don't think, was they closed many of the rides to enhance them with holiday decor. I thought my husband was going to cry when he found out the Haunted Mansion was closed! It ended well though. More on that in a bit!

One of the highlights of our Disney visit was Cars Land at Disney Adventure Park, particularly the Radiator Springs ride. Oh my, was that fun! You  must, must, must FastPass it if you go. I think the wait was like, three or four hours! Whoa! And remember, that was in September when all the kiddies were already in school. I can't imagine what it would have been like during busy season! Either way, we did it twice, once during the day, and once at night to experience the neon lights in the dark, and was it amazing. The ride itself was well thought out, entertaining, and fast! Loved it and so did my four year old. He's going to take right after his momma - the wilder and faster the ride, the better!

Once we had our fill of Mickey, we headed down to San Diego, the usually moderate weather place. Unfortunately this time, they were having a killer heat wave that even the locals were complaining about. It was in the low 100's. We still had an amazing time even though we were baking! 

Here were are in La Jolla. It was so beautiful and what the weather being what it was, can you blame us for taking a dip? 

One of my favorite things we did on the trip, though, was a helicopter ride. It was part of my Bucket List (ya know, things ya wanna do before you kick the bucket). I've always wanted to do this but since it's a bit expensive I've been stalling. Back in July when the hubby asked what I wanted for my birthday I decided enough of materialistic things - let's go for the Bucket List! A helicopter ride it will be! And since we were heading to California, where it is much more beautiful than NJ (ahem!) we decided we would wait until the vacation. 

I really enjoyed it and could have stayed up there all day. It was beautiful! And I really liked checking out attractions up close and personal and then viewing them from an aerial view later. If you've never been on a helicopter you should check it out! 

Later that week after during Dante's actual birthday we had plans to take him to Legoland. I was sorely disappointed with them. Months, and even weeks, before the trip we checked their site numerous times to make sure they would fit into our plans. Thankfully the day before we were supposed to go I checked their site one last time only to discover that they were now randomly closed. Be warned! If you ever plan on going, apparently they close on a whim and post it on their site last minute. Just sayin'. So we went back to Disney Land for his birthday and saw a whole other set of attractions we missed the first time (a week before) including the Haunted Mansion I mentioned earlier. This made the hubby happy!

Well that's a wrap for 2014! Bring on 2015! We can't control our lives and things that happen to us but if I had my choice, this is what my 2015 would look like:

  • A new Ruggieri would come on the scene (yes, that means I'd like another baby before I get too old!)
  • Mom would get better and back up on her feet. Literally. 
  • Our house would sell (we're putting it up for sale in the spring.)
  • We'd figure out where we're heading (that's right. we have no idea!)
  • I'd have more time for blogging or figure out a way to work it in to my existing busy life and make money for donations and extra cash for our family. 

That's enough aspirations for now! What will you be up to? What are your plans?

Happy New Year! Have a blessed year!

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