Thankful Thursday for 2015

I'm ending 2015 by joining Knit by God's Hand for Thankful Thursday. I'm looking back over the year for giving thanks for a year that wasn't spectacular by any means!

 For being able to take a couple of trips with CH. We started out the year in The Keys:
And went to The Outer Banks in July:
 For the best weekend of the year: I got to visit my sister at Texas A&M and really experience the "Aggie Spirit" first hand.
I also experienced "cousinpalooza": I got to see some of my cousins from my mom's side, and 1 from my dad's side:

(We saw more cousins, but somebody *ahem....if he's reading this, he knows who he is!* hasn't sent me pictures yet...or put them on FB!)
Honestly, this was hands down the best weekend of the year. It was surreal being there; it felt like I was going home. It was so cool to see signs to my mom's hometown as well as other towns that we traveled through on the way to see relatives during our visits as I was growing up.
 For having 17 years with this old girl:
  And 31 with this guy:
 For another year with my Daddy (who turned 90 in September):
 For seeing my babies all grown up:
 For my sisters:
 For comfort when I need it:
 For relaxation:
 For rides in the mountains:
And on the beach:
 For "Speech Besties":
(I swear we only had 1 drink!)
 And for coworkers who are willing to present at conventions with me:
 For fantastic co-workers (and a couple of awesome principals):
 For keeping up with old loves:
 And discovering new ones:
 For being an American. Our country isn't perfect, but it's the best we've got!
 I think that covers my year! What is something you're thankful for this year?

Adios, 2015 Hodgepodge!

It's time to say Adios to 2015!  Thank, goodness! Joyce is helping us ring in the New Year with one more round of Hodgepodge Q&A.
1. Share a favorite memory/moment from the week of Christmas.
We had our traditional Christmas Day Brunch. All 3 boys were here, plus my dad, and one of my sisters & BIL. This was the first year my sister came, and it was great fun! I hope we can do it again next year.

2.  If someone wrote a book about your life based on the past year, what genre would it fall under? What would the title be?
Drama. I have no idea what the title would be.

3. What made you feel patriotic this year?
Going to Texas A&M and taking a self-guided tour of campus. That is such an amazing place that honors veterans and traditions like no place I've ever seen.

4. What experience from this past year would you like to do all over again?
A Texas A&M Game. OMG, it was just so amazing! I'd do it again in a heartbeat! It was definitely the best weekend of the year.

5. What song lyric sums up or is a reflection of your 2015?

6. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate 2015?  (10=stellar) Why?
5. It was just so-so. At first I was going to rate it a "2", but then I thought about the good things that happened this year; they brought it up to a "5".

7. What part of the upcoming year are you most excited about?
Not knowing what's in store for us. Hopefully it will be a good year; much better than last. CH & I will be planning a summer trip soon...time for me to check out Trip Advisor to see what I need to make sure I don't miss!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
It's really sad to see pictures of people taking down their decorations already. You spend all of that time putting the decorations up, why be in such a rush to take them down? Leave them up until Epiphany (or at least until the New Year) and enjoy them a little longer!  I was sitting on the couch yesterday and the sun started shining through the kitchen window, hitting the Christmas Tree in 1 spot. I grabbed my camera (of course!) and got this shot:
I'm going to cheat and sneak in another random thought. The other day, I saw that a radio personality from The Catholic Channel (Sirius Radio) has a Saint's Generator on her website. You click on a button and a saint for the year is randomly selected for you. I got Saint Peregrine, who is the patron saint for cancer patients. My first thought was that I hoped it wasn't an omen, followed by maybe I got him for Thanksgiving for a few family members who were diagnosed in 2015 (and are all doing great). Then, the next day, I got an email from a blogging friend to let me know of her diagnosis. So, my friend, this year is dedicated to you! May St. Peregrine intercede in your behalf to receive healing!
You can find the Saint's Name Generator here.

It's a Wrap!

WHEW! It's over. Christmas Day, anyway. The season continues until January 6th, so my tree & decorations will stay up until at least then. I usually keep the decorations up until the weekend after Epiphany. Growing up, Daddy wanted everything back to normal by New Year's. I didn't take my school decorations down before I left for break. We have a couple of Admin. Days next week, so I'll take care of it then. I always think it's a little sad to take those decorations down before Christmas actually happens.
CH & I went for a ride in the mountains on Saturday. I have to tell you, it definitely cures what ails you! I felt revitalized after watching the swollen river (from all of the rains we've had) and all of the waterfalls. The air was so crisp and clean; it definitely gave me new life!
I got to play around with some tricks I learned from my photography class I took last summer, too. I'm definitely going to get some of these pictures printed & framed!
 I like how the following one is an optical illusion: It looks like I'm at the top looking down (except the water would be flowing the wrong way!) when I'm really at the bottom looking up.
 The water was really up on Saturday. We saw a few paddlers with their kayaks:

 I loved the fallen mossy tree in the middle of this cascade:

 OS said this was his favorite picture:

 When we went up to the same spot this summer, all of the rocks were visible.

 I tried something new as we were leaving the area:
Laika had a good time stretching her long legs:
 And taking in the fresh mountain air:
So...favorite presents this year. 
Hands down, this is my favorite. This is a present from my SIL who went to Ireland a few months ago. She visited Knock and brought back Holy Water from the Shrine, as well as a beautiful runner:
 The gift we get from CH's Uncle & H never, ever disappoints. 
 I didn't check the mailbox on Christmas Eve. If I had, I would have found this:
I don't know who it's from (although I have a pretty good idea!), but it was so incredibly thoughtful! The "Comfort Cross" will stay with me (at least until I find that someone needs it worse than I do), and the bracelet is just beautiful with crosses around it. 
CH renewed my Amazon Prime for me, which was perfect (and just what I asked for!). Oh, how I love Amazon Prime! :)
The boys all scattered on Christmas Day to see friends or paddle. CH & I debated about whether or not to go out for dinner to support those who had to work, or to boycott the places that were open on Christmas. We decided to go out, and CH gave our server a nice tip. 
We opted to not go to The Keys this year. With the weather being so warm, I'm glad we decided not to go. The pictures on FB from our friends who went are killing me, though! Hopefully the sale for the campground won't go through & we'll have the chance to go next year. I think I'll be ready to go back then.
I hope everyone had/will have the chance to spend time with family & friends over the holidays. 

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