December 31, 2011

2011 Year in Review

2011 began for me with life as I knew it in Hungary continuing along fabulously. Matt's deployment was a little more than half over, and I was loving every minute of my life in Hungary.

Towards the beginning of January, I had to move out of the Bridge building {where I had my own living space}, but was so infinitely blessed to be invited to live with the Szasz Family:

Even in the three months I lived with them, they made me feel like a true member of their lovely family. And those precious girls became like sisters!!

Also in January, my dear friend Sarah came to visit me on her way back to study in Scotland, and we had all sorts of glorious adventures in Budapest:

February kept me busy with all my "regulars" in Hungary--teaching in the high school, spending time with the church youth, teaching my many private English lessons, and taking my own private Hungarian lessons.

I also went to my first-ever water polo match--Hungary versus Canada:

The Magyars (Hungarians) totally whipped the Canadians. Ojra Magyarorszag!!

March was such a whirlwind month. It was very bittersweet for me; I never imagined how difficult it was going to be to leave Hungary. I had spent eight months there, and even though they were difficult because Matt and I were apart, God blessed them in such a way that I count them as some of the very best months of my entire life.

I had to say goodbye to my students at the high school:

One of the four classes of students I taught.

And I had so many, many dear friends to which I had to say goodbye. These goodbyes were some of the hardest of my life, to be honest, and there were so many tears.

But again, March was bittersweet; the sweet being because not only was I coming home to family I hadn't seen in eight long months, but God provided a very unexpected and utterly wonderful surprise for me and Matt:

A two week-long reunion for me and Matt in El Paso, Texas, while Matt was still on deployment! He was
one of a handful chosen to come back to the US from Afghanistan for two weeks on a special assignment, and I was able to meet him in Texas. We actually had more free time together than expected, but I lounged at the pool when Matt was working. :)

After our two weeks in Texas finished in April, Matt had to go back to Afghanistan for a few more weeks, and I returned to Michigan to find us a new place to live {in a whole new area of Michigan} since we'd be relocating for Matt's new job when he returned.

I found a perfect little apartment, and both my family and Matt's family undertook the big job of pulling all of our belongings our of storage and moving them into our new place. I had just enough time to get things all unpacked and settled at the end of April/beginning of May.

The view from our patio.

And then, on May 9th, Matt's deployment finally ended!

Also in May, we celebrated Matt's return by taking a week-long trip to Orlando with his family. It was such an amazingly fun week, complete with Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Sea World, a day at the beach, Medieval Times, and swimming with manatees!

Since Matt wasn't required to return to work until the middle of June, the two of us went on a little getaway to the Smokey Mountains at the beginning of June. We rented a private cabin with a view {and a hot tub on the deck!} and enjoyed hikes in the mountains, as well as the touristy areas in Gatlinburg.

Then our dear friends, Nick and Jaela, got married in June and had a gorgeous beach wedding at Lake Michigan:

In July, we had a couple of little getaways.

First, we were able to spend a weekend in the gorgeous Amway Grand hotel in downtown Grand Rapids, courtesy of Matt's National Guard Unit holding the post-deployment gathering there.

We also went to Shipshewana, Indiana {Amish Country} with Matt's parents and JJ and Jennie. We stayed in a cozy Bed & Breakfast, did some shopping, and enjoyed good 'ole-fashioned Amish cooking.

August began with the good and the bad; Matt's Grandma passed away suddenly. She was a beautiful woman inside and out, and we miss her a lot. Just about the same time, the MOST wonderful, exciting thing happened on my side of the sister Erin and her husband, Dan, adopted a beautiful, newborn baby boy! They named him Will, and oh boy, is he ever a heart-breaker.

I then jetted out to the city that has my heart, Portland, Oregon, where so many of my family and friends live. I stayed with my brother Brandon, his beautiful wife Karyl, and my niece and nephew, Krista and Sam. I was relishing the time with hurts me to only get to see them every so often. I had the perfect excuse to fly out there--I was a bridesmaid in my best friend Katie's wedding! {sadly Matt couldn't get the time off of work to come, too}

Sam and Krista.
In September, Matt and spent much of our free time taking our dog, Annabelle, on hikes at a State Park. It was the perfect was to enjoy the gorgeous fall weather.

October brought a visit from my very-pregnant best friend, Laura, and her darling little girl, Eden:

I also got to see baby Will again at his baby dedication:

And October wouldn't be complete without a Halloween party with friends and a trip or two to the local orchards:

November was a bit quieter, but we had a lovely time celebrating Thanksgiving at my grandparents' home in northeastern Ohio.

I know this is random, but did anyone else see Daniel Radcliffe singing and dancing on TV at the
Macy's Parade? It kind of weirded me out!

And December has brought so many lovely Christmas traditions, celebrations, and fun times with family.

To say that 2011 was a memorable year would be a tremendous understatement. God blessed it beyond our wildest imaginations and filled it with love and happiness.

We joyfully anticipate 2012 and whatever it may bring, knowing that God holds our future in His perfect plans.

Happy New Year, everyone!

{be sure to check out my "Delighted Archives" to read more about 2011's adventures...}

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