Swing in back yard near the end of March. Winter month this year.
I’ve seen many Facebook friends post their “year in review,” with a heading that goes something like “2014 was a great year, thanks for being part of it.”
Of course, as part of the Facebook user base, I’ve seen my own year in review that Facebook prepared, but I’ve not posted it for others to see because I didn’t choose those images.
But, still, thanks for being part of 2014 anyway, if you in any way chose to interact with me and shared any good thoughts or energy. However, if I am to sum up 2014 and look ahead to 2015, what would I say?
2014 was a year of transitions. Jon and Nalena finished the Peace Corps and are in the UK even as I write this, on to some time in Portugal. She is in graduate school in Pennsylvania studying human-computer interaction or world domination or something, and he is along for the ride and doing various projects. Nina finished her tenure as a social worker in Omaha, and was off in fall to Baltimore and law school. Ben graduated from Iowa State, but stayed there to pursue a combined master’s and PhD math program.
I wish them all the best in their new adventures. While it didn’t change my life right away, graduate school nonetheless opened to door to the life I live now, and I hope it does the same for all of you.
In professional terms, 2014 was mixed. The newspaper at Mount Mercy, which I guided to a weekly publication some years ago, is again now published every other week. I hope that it can thus become more multi-media and web oriented, but our moves in that direction have been tentative, so far. Well, if more than a decade of college teaching has taught me one thing, it’s that change is usually not easy nor swift.
But this was also the year I coordinated a fall semester World War I remembrance event, which brought lots of communication attention and people to campus. That was nice.
It’s also the year that I’ve branched out, just a bit. Besides starting to learn to play the piano, I’ve also begun writing a media column in a regional weekly newspaper, The Corridor Business Journal. I hope some of you have seen my monthly missive, which began in November and continues in 2015.
Anyway, what were the major events of 2014, tracked partly the trail of images I posted on Facebook?
January—sometime in the previous year, Amelia had discovered scissors. After a cutting incident in February of this year, where she apparently decided her short hair was not short enough, throughout the rest of 2014 a truce prevailed—she agreed not to use scissors to cut her own hair, if her mom agreed to regularly take her to have her hair cut at a salon. (Katy reports this kind of dialogue ensued: Hair cutter at salon attempts small-talk with Amelia. “Do you like princesses?” “No, I like fish.”) The truce has held, so far, but we hide all scissors whenever Amelia is around.
Amelia in January–sporting the short hair she insists upon. And remember. She is not into princesses. She likes fish.
Nikayla and Amelia are super heroes in January.
February—winter is cold and snowy, so a lot of indoor play is in order. Hide-and-seek is an ever popular game, but only for the older grandchildren. It seems to be around age 3 or so when the whole idea suddenly becomes attractive and the child has an idea of what the game is about.
Tristan’s reaction in February to being “found’ during hide-and-seek.
It’s hard to believe when playing with the little girl today, but in February Relena was a baby just learning to walk.
March–it was around this time that I began to take piano lessons. Progress has been slow, but I’m an old dog learning lots of new tricks. I can slowly read music now. This was a very cold March, almost a second February, but by the end of the month was finally getting warm enough to play outside and visit parks, which was nice.
By March 30, the cold March was finally giving way to spring. Flying kites at C Avenue Park.
April—spring semester, as it always does, is getting into chaos. But the weather is turning nice—finally the world in Iowa is greening up and blooming. Audrey and I take some joint bike rides, a nice trend of 2014, although I doubt I’ll ever talk her into RAGBRAI. Well, maybe a day of it, we shall see.
Audrey and I ready for an April 11 bike ride.
April 21–the long winter is now well gone, spring at Mount Mercy campus.
May—Graduation, a bittersweet time—time to say farewell to some talented students. We had a nice Sheller family picnic and began to enjoy more “normal” warm weather. I still haven’t replaced a dead crab apple tree in a back garden. The Hawthorne tree in front is declared dead and replaced by a new redbud tree. Transitions begin as I think it was near the end of the month where Nina joined us for the time between her job and starting law school.
More MMU flowers, on May 2.
Dinos line up at sandbox to celebrate Mother’s Day, 2014.
Maddy and Tom, two very talented students who graduated in May form MMU. Both were editors on the student newspaper.
May 24 Sheller family picnic , organized by Nichole Ose while her sister Barbara initiates the series of UK visitors we enjoyed in 2014.
June—we take pleasure in a visit by our oldest daughter and her daughters. I don’t recall that we “did” that much, but hanging at home and enjoying their company seemed quite a treat, a highlight of the year. Also in June, Cate and I ride the Raccoon River Ride with Brigid and Eldon—and since Francis was in the shop, I rode that 100-mile, two-day ride on The Beast. Cate saw, and I photographed, a monarch caterpillar, and that prompted a project later this year, where I collected milkweed seed and scattered some in my gardens. We’ll see if any come up in 2015.
Relena, already looking more grown up, ready for her first bike ride on my bike’s toddler seat.
June 15–Raccoon River Ride. Eldon’s bike has a custom-made “pod” which holds lots and also improves airflow around the trike.
Baby Monarch seen on ride–Cate pointed it out.
June 24–visitors from the East. Juliet and Amanda from Norwich, England.
June 27–Elizabeth and Juliet enjoy some water play on the back deck.
July—early in the month, we bid farewell to the Moscous, who are back to Norwich. Skype is a good tool for touching base several times a month, but there’s no doubt it’s great to see people in person. This is RAGBRAI month, and the ride this year is sometimes a challenge, with one of the worst rainstorms I’ve seen on the ride (fortunately on a morning when I had a driving shift).
July 2–some smiles shortly before return to England.
July 20–Team Joe is about to start RAGBRAI.
July 20–the Roccas on the road during the first afternoon of RAGBRAI.
July 22–Cate and I tackle the excess sweet corn problem.
August—Nina is off to Baltimore. Katy and Wyatt kindly volunteer to move her there, which means some extended play time with grandchildren. School starts at MMU, and the WWI series also kicks off and proves, right from the start, to be popular.
Reading on deck Aug. 9.
September—Nalena and Jon come home for a quick weekend trip to attend a wedding. She has already started graduate school, and is busy with homework. Well do I remember those days! My life now can get very busy—and in academia, as a professor, I still feel like I’m in that campus rat race at times, but frankly, I don’t miss the stress of being a graduate student.
Sept. 9–Grandparents Day at Novak School, where Tristan is in preschool. He shows us how to play with LEGOS
Sept. 19–Nikaya seem to be helping Nalena with some graduate school homework.
October—we do a breast cancer walk with a niece, and we attend the wedding of one of Nina’s close friends. Brittany and Steve Hoover have a very nice ceremony at a celebration barn near Solon, and Audrey is treated as a featured guest, escorted in and seated in the front row, as the official stand-in for Nina. During fall break, we visit Ben in Ames and have a lovely bike ride there, too.
Oct. 5, Niece Marina takes selfie with Audrey at start of Especially for You breast cancer walk.
Oct. 10–Audrey dances with groom at Steve Hoover at his and Brittany’s wedding.
Oct. 17–fine fall day in Ames–bike ride is followed by dinner with Kate Hunter and Ben Sheller.
Oct. 25–visited pumpkin farm with Theresa and her kids, here two of Katy’s kids make some noise.
November—a nephew, Matt Schultz, gets married near Des Moines, continuing the nuptial theme of the fall. Audrey and I introduce Theresa to Zombie Burgers in Des Moines. Jon and Nalena manage to make it home for Thanksgiving, and we enjoy both a traditional turkey dinner and a spicy, slow-cooked pork dish.
Nov. 23–Ben and Audrey visit Shirley.
Nov. 29, wedding near Des Moines.
Nov. 30–Jon and Nalena at mall in Des Moines on morning after wedding.
December—Christmas finds the family celebrating on two continents. Nina travels to England for the season, and Jon and Nalena make a stop there before heading to Portugal. Early in 2015, Audrey will be in England too in January, but it remains to be seen if she can manage to meet Amanda and the girls. Nikayla performs in her First Grade holiday concert. The last surviving brother of my mother died at the end of November, and in early December, we attend his funeral in Illinois. On the last day of the year, we have a big outing to the Children’s Museum, followed by a sleepover party for Katy’s four children.
Dec. 4–Nikayla in Wilkins Elementary School Holiday Concert.
Dec. 6–O’Mahoney family picture at Uncle Jim’s funeral. My mom is on the right.
Dec. 13–Chris and Michelle and Audrey visit Shirley.
Amelia gets the last word. She is at the Children’s Museum on Dec. 31, 2014. She knows what she is doing, she ordered me back into a room so she could set up the photo.
Well, it is fun to look back on 2014. Much happened in our little corner of the world. It took me longer than it should to write this post—I thought I would have it done before the New Year’s Eve party, and here it is Jan. 2 as I wrap it up.
Maybe I should have let the Facebook robots handle it. But it was also nice to actively look back.
What will 2015 bring? Well, we know one thing for sure.
A new season of Downtown Abbey!
Good luck to all of you, especially family members who have started new adventures—may you find the path that you are on leads you to a good place. For any who mourned a loss in 2014, I hope time heals. For those who in 2014 started a new chapter or a new family, best wishes and good luck in 2015 and beyond.