The weather outside is spiteful, but the year was fairly delightful.

Christmas in my Living Room

It’s December 23.  Christmas Eve Eve.  And it’s only one day into meterological winter.  

But you’d never know it with the way things have been in Chicago lately.  

No dreaming about a White Christmas this year.  We’re gonna have one.  Plain and simple.  We’ve had more snow and cold already… pre-winter… than in any year I can remember.  It’s caused tons of accidents, a few cold-related deaths, and lot of bursted pipes and radiators throughout the city. 

But thankfully, around here it’s been pretty nice.  The radiators work great, the hot water flows freely, and everything is warm and cozy.  

I guess there isn’t too much to complain about then, is there?

Truly, this winter – and the year that preceded it, has been pretty good.  Oh sure it had its rough spots (as all years do), but for the most part I look back on 2008 with a sense of happiness and fondness.  

As the year started, I decided it was time to concentrate on friendships.  I felt that I had not been a good friend to the ones I had, and did not open myself up to new friendships nearly enough.  As the year closes, I feel closer to my friends than ever before, and am proud to include a new group of people in my life as friends.  I have also reconnected with a lot of old friends (thanks mainly to Facebook), and have rekindled some friendships that never really died in the first place– but were just on hold for the past 10 or 15 years.  

Family has become even more important as well.  With the birth of my twin nieces, Abby and Emily, in February, my family has found a new reason to celebrate and love.  Their presence in our lives has given us such great joy, and watching them grow has already been so much fun.  As a result, my family is closer than ever, and it’s been incredibly rewarding.  

With the collapsing economy, I have become ever more thankful for the presence of work in my life.  I am thankful I am employed, and by such a good company.  I am treated fairly and paid well.  I can’t complain about that at all.  It’s a blessing to be employed.  

Money, however, has been my one major shortfall this year, and that is of my own doing.  In the next year, I need to trim the fat and live leaner and more within my means.  It’s going to be hard, and may require a lot of sacrifices, but I absolutely need to do this in order to survive into the next year with my head above water.  

All along, this blog has been there.  And while I haven’t been writing as much as I used to, it’s been a comfort to know that I can put my thoughts here and share them with you.  Thank you for all of your kind words and encouragement over the years.  I really appreciate you, too.

So with that, I am signing off for 2008.  There’s lots of things going on between now and the New Year, so I don’t anticipate that I will post again until 2009.  

I wish you and your families and your friends a safe and wonderful holiday season, and a delightful new year.  Salute!

Happy New Year!

I’m back from my little holiday break– finally!

It wasn’t supposed to last this long, though. I was sick again over Christmas with a really terrible cold/flu/whatever. I think I caught it on Christmas Eve because the next day I woke up with a terrible sore throat and cough and was sneezing like mad. Merry Christmas to me!

Beth and Geoff, side viewBut that didn’t stop us from celebrating Christmas at my sister’s house. I loaded up my car, mom included, and drove to Round Lake. We had a really wonderful visit. Beth is (now) at 28 weeks and is, quite literally, huge. But it’s a good huge. She’s been keeping her own blog on MySpace where she has been recording her experiences with her pregnancy, and she wrote that when Mom entered the house, and Beth went to give her a hug, Mom hugged her belly first and said hello to the babies. “I have no problem with playing second fiddle to our babies,” she wrote. “These are my mom’s first grandchildren, so I completely understand her excitement.” I missed this because I was outside bringing things in, but I really wish I had seen it.

The gang at the start of the partyFor New Year’s Eve I went out to dinner with my friends, then to my friend Adam’s place for a crazy and awesome New Year’s Eve bash. I had a really great time. It was one of the best New Year’s Eve celebrations I can recall in recent years. I consider myself lucky to have such great friends and a pretty darn good life. Click here to see the pictures I took that night. My friends are so crazy. 🙂

I’ve been playing with my new camera and taking some really fun pictures. A sampling of them are included with this post, but you can click over to my Flickr account and see more. I can’t wait to get out and take some really great new shots. I’m getting the hang of it pretty quickly, and I’d like to do more “semi-professional” photography in the future. We’ll see what 2008 has in store for me in that area!

Be sure to visit and listen to the Feast of Fools Podcast today and tomorrow– I taped two shows with them where we talked about my upcoming Hustle up the Hancock, New Year’s Eve, 2007 in review, and whatever else we could think of. It was a really fun time!

Me on New Year's EveFinally, I want to thank you for joining me here at the Launching Pad for another crazy year. 2007 was definitely a better year for me than 2006. There have been a lot of good things in the last year, and I feel like 2008 has a lot more of them in store.

So I hope the new year brings you all joy, prosperity, health, and exciting new things. And hopefully, since it’s an election year, things will go well in that department as well!

Happy New Year, everyone!