2013 started out with fireworks and tropical temperatures in Florida, where I rang in the New Year with my husband, daughter, parents in-law, an aunt of my husband’s and cousins. It ended quietly with no fireworks in a fairly cold Toronto and I rang it in with just my husband and a soft, “Happy New Year!” We spent the last few hours of 2013 with some dear friends at their house – the first New Year’s we have celebrated in Toronto since my daughter was very small. For a few years now we have been in Florida a few days after Christmas and often ring in the New Year with anticipation of a long day on the beach when we awake. Tomorrow we anticipate a lovely day at Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto, thanks to a generous gift. For the first time in a few years we will be shoveling snow instead of sand. And I couldn’t be happier. We have been so blessed the last few years and this year in particular. I don’t remember all that has happened chronologically, so please bear with me as I write out a bit of a status update, in no particular order.
2013 saw one of the largest typhoons in history hit the Philippines, with disastrous results. Near the end of this year, Toronto and the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) saw one of the worst ice storms in history, where many people lost power, some for almost ten days! Power lines fell due to heavy ice and a few people died, either from exposure to the cold, or due to carbon monoxide poisoning from using outdoor heat or cooking sources indoors to keep warm. In many ways, Christmas 2013 was a very dark, bleak one for many people. We were blessed to have family to stay with while our power was out, and to be one of the very fortunate to only lose that power for fourteen hours. Amazingly, our beta survived the cold and his water never froze. I wonder if cold blooded fish feel the cold at those temperatures. Several people commented about their homes dropping to zero before power was restored.
This year my husband and daughter were in a car accident where, miraculously, no one was hurt, but our car was written off and the warranty on my daughter’s booster seat voided, even though there was no damage to the seat itself. Apparently, if a car seat is in a crash, even though the car seat is not damaged, this voids the warranty. This turned out to be a huge blessing, as the car was worth more to the insurance company after the accident than it would have been if we simply tried to sell it. With the money from the insurance company, we were able to get a smaller car seat in pink (my daughter’s favourite colour) and replace our old car with similar model four years younger. Where our old blue Sable was a 1998, the new, silver Taurus SES (yet to be named) is a 2002. And it has great heating and no rust. Two definite pluses for this car lasting us awhile.
This year I took Kickboxing for a few months and enjoyed it so much that I will be using it as part of a storyline in my fourth novel. The skills I learned will stick with me, I hope, for a long time. I really enjoyed learning new things and the social aspect was wonderful. Speaking of novels, I was blessed with the opportunity to go to ‘the cottage’ (what I call my Aunt and Uncle’s home because it’s an oasis where I get my best work done) for the weekend before Christmas to do a huge edit on Dreams Come True. Several factors pushed my deadline back (originally planned for December 2013) including increased hours at work, old fashioned writer’s block and feeling more tired than usual all year. I feel it is well on its way though, and hope to release it in various forms sometime early 2014. While visiting my parents this past weekend, I spent time working on another novel that I’ve wanted to write for awhile, a stand alone novel that I hope my readers will really enjoy.
I saw a tree full of robins just seven days after the first official day of Winter, which gave me hope that Spring is not that far off. Many of my friends either had babies or announced that they will be parents in 2014. A cousin of mine and his wife welcomed a precious baby boy into their lives around my birthday. Another friend of mine gave birth to a baby girl on my birthday. Thanks Moira-Ann, for making your Mommy wait so you and I can be birthday twins. 😉 Some friends lost loved ones, some lost jobs. I personally lost a great Uncle but God gained another precious soul into His Kingdom. My sister and brother in-law lost a wonderful mother in-law and mother but again, God gained an amazing soul into Heaven. Some friends lost family and some lost pets that they had loved and cherished for many years. Our church gained a new pastor and his wife, after we prayed that God would lead the right pastoral team to us after our former pastor moved on to where he felt God calling him. I look forward with excited anticipation, to a great year with them, starting officially this Sunday.
This year my daughter lost her two front bottom teeth and now has the cutest smile I have ever seen. This year a wonderful, male student teacher entered her life and the lives of her fellow students, giving me hope that men may be returning to the teaching profession, mostly of the younger grades, giving our children male role models – something sadly missing from the education system. This year, at the semi-annual parent/teacher meeting, I was encouraged to hear that, not only is she well liked by all her peers, but my daughter is the top reader in her class. This year she participated in the Christmas play at church and sang her heart out. This year she and I held tightly to our tradition of having a movie and popcorn, just the two of us, on a Friday night, and as a result, I’ve seen our bond grow.
This year I was able to plan and book a cruise to the Bahamas, set for January 2015. Thanks to God’s incredible blessing and the wonderful help of a friend of mine who happens to work for a travel agency specializing in cruises, my husband and I will be celebrating our tenth anniversary aboard the Norwegian Sky, well below budget. I have a whole year to get excited about this incredible opportunity. And I can’t wait to sketch out ideas for a novel based on our trip.
And this year, I had the wonderful opportunity of being interviewed on Get Behind Me, Now Stay there, a radio program on KSKQ 89.5 FM in Ashland, Oregon by a wonderful host by the name of Edward Stanton. It was an incredible feeling, knowing thousands of people listening to their program would be hearing the interview, where I discussed The Heart’s Discovery, Worlds Apart (the first and second installment in The Hope Valley Saga) and my plans for Dreams Come True (the third installment in The Hope Valley Saga). That was a wonderful interview and I’m looking forward to the next one, when Dreams Come True is ready for publication.
Well, I’m sure a lot more happened this past year that I’m missing, but 2014 is almost an hour old, and I’m more than ready to go to bed. So, until my next post…Happy New Year, and may God bless you all richly in 2014.