Looking back on the year that will close its eyes in a few days, I am pleased to say it was eventful and uneventful in all the good ways a year should be. Charolette had a successful surgery in March and even though we have held our breath and kept our eyes peeled for any change, the cancer remains absent from her after a year of treatment. Victoria started high school, Aaron started driving, and they each grew at least five inches. We bought Aaron’s senior ring in November, after which I hid in the bathroom and cried like a baby.  What is it about that boy growing up that turns me into such a puddle?

Mid-year, a new heartbeat entered our home in the form of a husky/lab mix, and Mabel was so insulted she almost renounced us all.  Max has gone from being the “narcoleptic puppy” (as the vet called him) to being the in-your-face-all-the-time puppy.  He talks. Like, a lot. (My mom told us Huskies are like that.  Can’t say we weren’t warned.) And he uses his front paws for everything from holding down his own tail to slapping us in the face if breakfast is late. (Jerk.)  With his heavy-eyeliner Alice Cooper look, his my-way-or-the-highway attitude and his fuhget-about-it expressions we decided he must be a member of the mob.  Two seconds after that announcement, he grabbed his tail in his teeth and nearly fell on his head trying to tug it away from his body. We decided then that he could still be a wiseguy, but he’d have to be Luca Brasi.

OK, enough with the intro. In our customary DomAndLori fashion, I now present the 2016 pictorial year in review:

January

One of my favorite Christmas icons is the Old World Santa.  From the bygone days of her ceramic painting business, Charolette’s garage had a plethora of fired but unpainted Santas, and I set my sights on collecting and painting them in the late ‘90s.  Then I took a sixteen year break from all relaxing hobbies before finally returning to this pastime last year.  My favorite is the jovial Mardi Gras Santa who gets to hang out on the shelf until Lent.  As I packed up the decorations after Christmas, I felt compelled to line the finished ones up for a picture. I just realized they are posed so that it looks like one Santa’s hat is picking another one’s nose. I think it’s safe to say I will never be hired as a photographer.  There are twelve more unpainted Santas waiting patiently in the room upstairs. This is one of very few photos taken in January, so it kicks off the show:

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February

On my way to work one morning, I sat at a stoplight and pondered the bleakness of me and everything around me.  Admittedly I was feeling more than a little sorry for myself.  We’d had a rough couple of weeks and Charolette was back in the hospital on the day before her birthday.  My spirit felt drained and I really just wanted to pull into a parking lot and cry. I stared at this tree for what seemed like an eternity, comparing myself to its barren branches, pitying our shared emptiness.  Out of the corner of my eye the light turned green, but my attention stayed on the tree because it was at that moment I recognized the sun sparkling behind the branches. I made the turn and pulled over for a photo.  I spent the next week writing about the feelings I had that morning and how the realization that the sun was shining through such a cold and prickly image reminded me that there is always hope.  I wrote it all out, read it and re-read it, then re-read it again before gagging on the Pollyanna sentiment of woe-turned-to-hope and silver-linings and promptly deleted the spewed words.  I sort of wish I had kept it because even though it was corny and ridiculously hopeful in the face of all hopelessness, well…that’s me. The words are gone, but I remember with absolute clarity the empty feeling suddenly replaced with swelling comfort, and the tears that stung my cheeks on that February morning as I conceded that there are a million things in this world that I will never understand.  And that’s okay, ‘cause look…sunshine!

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March

As the days began to warm up we found reasons to be outside.  Here are the kiddos on the four-wheelers, roughly ten minutes before Victoria accidentally plowed into the back of Aaron’s vehicle, sending his four-wheeler into a ditch where it overturned.  It’s a slow-motion, heart-stopping story that aged me about five years in two minutes, but all ended well with Aaron dusty and shaken but otherwise unharmed. I notice they haven’t ridden much since then, however.

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April

Aaron and I spent the better part of one morning coming up with rap names for Victoria, much to her chagrin.  “Tupac Sha-Vic” and “Snoop Vickie G” had us rolling. I continued the hazing well into the school day.  Hey – what are moms for?

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May

For the second time, a yellow-tailed furball padded his way into our hearts.  At first, I thought he was a replica of Mason’s spirit because he was so sweet and snuggly, but that turned out to be a case of intestinal worms. Once cured, his independent and demanding personality emerged. Er-ma-ger, he was so stinkin’ cuuuute!

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June

Of course, he grew…

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July

And grew. (Although, he still hasn’t grown into those satellite dish ears.)

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August

Just when I wonder if I will ever do anything right in this life, my children redeem me. Aaron announced that he wanted to join me in donating at our church’s blood drive. Watching him give blood for the first time I was the proudest mama on the planet, and I told him so on the way home. “There are a lot of things that define ‘adults,’” I said, “but giving part of yourself to save someone else, in my opinion, that’s what makes you a man.”

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September

How could we possibly have a 2016 post without Eddie?! It’s not every day (thankfully!) that a pig wanders onto our property and mates with our electrical box.  The sight, the videos we took and the twenty minutes I spent doubled over in my driveway howling at the absurdity of it all will never be forgotten.  Eddie (short for Edison…get it?) made numerous trips to our yard over the next several days before the Sheriff’s office determined where Eddie lived and returned him to his home two streets behind us.  Eddie’s owners must have fixed whatever passage he was using to escape, because we haven’t seen him since mid-September. I thought I smelled him the other day, but no. It’s just as well…every time Eddie visited, Pop started talking about bacon.

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October

As we entered the month that kicks off the snowball of holiday celebrations of which I am SO fond, my body orchestrated its own small-scale revolution.  I had just completed my Master’s degree, Charolette was holding her own, and my body said, “Ok, school is over and things have settled down for the moment.  You need to rest.”

“Sure, I’ll take it easy now,” I promised with my fingers crossed behind my back.

My body apparently doesn’t like me lying to placate it, because lightning struck somewhere nearby, polar ice caps instantly disintegrated and Gotham City went dark. So, by “rest” what my body really meant was, “go to the ER and get admitted to the hospital for four days.” I complained that really, it didn’t need to be so pushy.  But those who know me best gave each other sideways looks that said, “Uhh, yeah, it did.”  And that was that.

Hospitals suck, but my family makes it as fun as possible.  My Dad would determine my pain level and then draw it in on the nurse’s board each day.  Three days and several rounds of pain meds later, I was apparently doing much better.

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October ranks two photos, mostly because I feel cheated by the month in which I had planned to party-hardy-marty. At the end of the month while Dom and I were flying to DC to attend a conference, our babies (ahem!) were getting ready for Homecoming.  We hated to miss it, but our moms made sure we had plenty of pics. I do believe this is my favorite.

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November

Here are all the Louisiana Mainieros in a family pic after Thanksgiving lunch.  Who could ask for a better day? And why am I the only one who brings wine to photo ops?

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December

You know this one had to end on a Max note.  Here he is on Christmas morning, having just opened his presents.  He was fascinated with the unwrapping of everything, but more fascinated with this super-cool chew toy!

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Of course, Mabel appreciates her gifts, too.  Can’t leave out our sweet girl, so December also gets two photos…

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So long, Sixteen.  It’s been lovely having you here.  May 2017 follow your lead. (Well, except for the hospitals…)

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