My friend Deirdre is still posting 2014 roundups so I decided I had a few days left before February rolls around and 2014 becomes 2000-late.
Oh, 2014... you taught the Dillows many things. Character-building things, lessons about patience and adaptability, the importance of breathing to avoid frustration-induced head explosion... but many happy things, too. Here is an incomplete list of some of the more lasting lessons we learned:
1. If you see tracks that look like little pig feet at a nature preserve, turn around and go home.
We hiked at the Red River Natural Wildlife Preserve last January and we're pretty sure "Natural Wildlife Preserve" is a euphemism for "place you'll encounter feral hogs." I have seen bits and pieces of those horrid nature channel shows about feral hogs, and all I can say is that my family better be really thankful we only saw their fresh hog-prints and not their fresh hog-selves or else I would have pushed them all down in my shrieking sprint to the car. Also, there were 50 million burrs so we had to carry the dog after we finally gave up trying to pick the burrs out of her paws every six feet. She ended up with a tick as her prize for gracefully surviving the indignity of being carried. It was not our finest outdoor adventure.
1a. We should be far more aware of FORESHADOWING.
2. The optimal Dillow Commuting Distance is 15 minutes from work/school/gymnastics.
Anything more than that is grounds for meltdown. I think we put as many miles on the van in 2014 as we did the previous three years combined. Different decisions will be made in 2015, I can assure you.
3. Sometimes you just can't change things, even if you try really, really hard.
That's all I'm going to say about that here.
4. Mardi Gras is a season, not a day.
Where I'm from, Mardi Gras is a day. Maybe, if you remember. In Louisiana, Mardi Gras is a season—one that begins in January. People decorate their houses, schools decorate their buildings, and people dress up their pets. Seriously, this was eye-opening new information to us.
4a. Gracie is always first, and always holds the prize. (This was a confirmed lesson, not a new one)
She caught the special Mardi Gras doll at the Krewe of Harambee parade as well as the baby in the king cake at our friend Heidi's house. Of course she did.
That's pretty much all I'm going to say about that too, though Matt would add that a well-timed TimTam direct from Australia is a powerful thing to comfort one's soul. : )
6. Silver linings are still real.
Thank you, Jill's Gymnastics, for being the most silvery-silver lining we could ever hope for.
7. Texas is the place to go.
Well, in 2014 it was: I went to Texas five times in the first half of 2014 (and once in 2013). It's a land of extremes, I've decided, but once I got where I was going I had a fantastic time every single trip. (Thanks, Texas!)
8. Do not hike in secluded parts of Louisiana.
It's a story best told in person (if you're really lucky) but I'll sum it up this way: Matt was stung by something akin to a Giant Asian Hornet (a European hornet? A Giant Cicada Killer Wasp?) in June. It was awful and horrible and all the nightmarish things you might think getting stung by something this big would be. We took to calling it his trackerjacker sting, because it was just that surreal and scary.
(Actually, maybe just give up hiking in Louisiana altogether what with the chiggers and the feral hogs and the ticks and the trackerjackers).
9. If you're going to Disney World, you should have Nancy Marquette plan your trip.
Because Nancy Marquette planned our trip, we had 3000% more fun than we would have had if we had tried to do it ourselves. On paper, a group of four adults and six children moving through Disney World for an entire week in JULY sounds like the worst idea ever, but in reality it was perfect. The worst thing that happened? I lost my beloved prescription sunglasses that were totally worn out anyway. Well, and Molly got a little sick the last night (but recovered quickly). Tackling Disney pictures/ephemera is on my list of unfinished projects to tackle in 2015.
10. 4th grade in Alabama is no joke.
Gracie is getting a PhD in 4th grade. Her sisters look wide-eyed at her project load and breathe a sigh of relief that 2nd grade and 7th grade are full of regular, expected workloads. This will no doubt be a life lesson in 2015, too. She has to make it to May first though.
11. Check the weather and the water temperature.
12. Books and friends make the world go round.