2018 Year-End Review

2018 is coming to a close. It was a year of milestone events in our house. Here is some of what happened, some of what I’ve written about, some new adventures, and some familiar continuing ones, too! Looking back, it was a productive year filled with all kinds of ups and downs, alike. But, the end of the year is a time to reflect., keep what works and do away, or tweak what doesn’t.  Like spring, it can be a time for renewal, and fresh starts. Life is a journey and the passage of time, from one year to the next, is one way we mark the trip. These are some of our highlights.


My husband started a new job this month, after leaving one he had for almost 19 years. It meant a new schedule, one without working nights, or shifts, or being in a high stress environment.  It meant leaving the comfort of one setting for another with a new focus, a much slower pace, and new people.  The next few months bring a time of transition for us all.



February brought some comfort to my new role as garden club advisor for a local elementary school with extensive internationally themed gardens. I entered classrooms for the second time this month to do presentations on Carnivorous plants. It was a learning experience for all – including me! I used the Kahoot app for the first time ever to aid my presentation and I cannot say it went as planned in any more than one of the classrooms! What is the saying? Live and learn! I did and will continue to do so!



This month, I spoke at the Spring Into Gardening Conference that our local Master Gardener Group holds annually. Although not my first conference presentation, it was my first for this group, a group to which I belong. I was asked to do two breakout sessions, back to back, on two separate (but connected) topics. One was on Gardening with Children and one was on Monarchs, Milkweed, and the Monarch Highway. My part in the conference was very enjoyable and I was pleased to have a great response to my sessions!


Spring in Wisconsin always brings rain. I’d say this month and November are typically our wettest and most gray. But, that’s just my opinion. Anyway, with the track and field season underway, and with a sprinter in the house, the hope for dry days for meets was had by all. While that did not exactly happen (we had a snowstorm late in the month), we had the chance to see our runner improve on his PR’s, all the while engaging in some fierce competition! It was a fun season, and one that definitely shows that there is great benefit to working hard! Our son was just shy of going to the state competition as a sophomore at the end of May and was the recipient of The Most Outstanding Track Athlete Award at the end of year banquet! We are all looking forward to more track this year!

I also did something I’ve never done before this month. I ran for a vacant seat on our Board of Education! It was a good experience and I was proud of how I portrayed myself and my ideas (all recorded on the district’s YouTube Channel). But, since it was a vacant seat, only the board got to vote.  I lost 2-3 to the person who had been voted out by the public elections.  Unfortunately, the entire board was not even present for the forum or voting.  Still, I’m glad I can speak my mind clearly and articulate visions I have for the world of education. At the time, it was a risk worth taking.


May brought a slew of senior activities for our son who would graduate from high school on the last Saturday of the month. This meant attending the senior banquet, and some well deserved recognition. It also meant the end of a high school tennis career, spanning four years as a Varsity Boys Doubles Player, the last two being ranked first doubles for our school. He leaves behind a legacy of being part of the first boys tennis team to win our conference title, as well as public outspokenness for equity in honoring the accomplishments of ALL sports teams within our school.  Graduation brought family to our house, including grandparents, aunts, and a cousin, who had not been to Wisconsin in years.  Of course, it was about 96 degrees on that last Saturday in May, and our graduation photos testify to that unyielding heat.  Still, it was a joyous weekend, filled with pride for a wonderful young man, and the bright future ahead of him.


This month of summer was spent juggling new work schedules which we found were hard to change and travelling soccer.  For the first time, our youngest was able to get himself to summer practice and home, but the switch from league to tournament play was not easier travel-wise. My husband could not attend two of the three tournaments. But, this made me a more competent big city driver than I had been since our years commuting daily to Philly and Baltimore. And, I had more confidence to navigate the heavily trafficked roads by the end of summer as a person behind the wheel. Moving around in the Twin Cities definitely does not feel like such a daunting adventure anymore.  Our new graduate became an international traveller (he’s been out of the country before), as he travelled to Italy with his Aunt for a week of sightseeing.  His stories, especially about the deal he scored on a leather jacket, will live on for a while!



Lots of gardening got done in late June and early July in the school gardens that I manage as part of my role as the garden advisor at a nearby elementary school. I owe my husband and my boys’ former principal a huge debt of gratitude for making the near-impossible garden maintenance tasks not only manageable but fun as the company was welcome while we pulled the weeds.  Soccer continued with the USA Cup Tournament bringing over 15,000 youth soccer players together on one field in Blaine Minnesota. It was quite a sight! And, playing a team of 19 year olds from Sweden was a great highlight, even though our team could not come close to their level of skill.

In addition, during July I was a featured artist at a juried art gallery in Northern Wisconsin and had to give a five-minute spiel on my craft in front of a live audience for the first time ever! Thanks go to my very good friend, Cathy, who accompanied me on this trip! Her support meant a lot to me.  College preparations also began in earnest, as supplies started to be collected, and plans for drop off were made.


Dating back at least ten years, August has traditionally been a busy month.  With my youngest son getting job in July, captain’s practice for fall soccer starting, a visit home from our oldest, and getting our middle son ready to go to school, it was as busy as ever.  We dropped our 18 year old off mid-month and headed home to watch the soccer season start during the following week.  Again, this was a time of transition and although I do not have records of it, I’m sure I was not sleeping well.  School was starting up again soon for both me and my youngest.  I had a garden to tend, lessons to plan, soccer to watch, and my own grad school courses to study.  I also got to register for my own upcoming graduation!



September brought many classroom talks on Monarch Migration and Habitat conservation in a neighboring school district, tagging monarchs (47) and, a presentation to a nearby community Lion’s Club group.  I started the last of my graduate work, a three credit course in Advanced Educational Psychology which was thoroughly enjoyable. There was soccer, soccer, and more soccer.  My husband had more of his regularly scheduled Tuesday’s off (for once) and our transition to having another son away at college was underway.  I remember the fall weather as being quite nice. But, that could be because I traveled to Southern California to spend some time with my sister! I got to ride in an open air Hummer out to the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park. It was 106, sunny, and quite bumpy, as you might imagine!  Yes, I’m sure that experience is making my perception of our fall weather somewhat blurred or mirage like.


This month was exciting! We travelled to North Dakota for weekend visit with our Freshman. Buying a high quality winter coat and warm boots were high on our to do list there. We travelled to the Northwoods of Wisconsin to retrieve my jewelry, and we travelled to Milwaukee to see the high school soccer team play in the State Championship for the first time in school history!  Lastly, I coaxed a friend into helping with Trick or Treat so Others Can Eat, just because it sounded like a good use of time. Neither of our door bells ring a lot on Halloween night, so why not help to feed those who are hungry?We did very little in comparison to others in our community, but at least we did help.  I was so happy to have my friend’s help! Seriously, she is one of the best people I know!


The beginning of November was quieter. Soccer was over.  It was a great season. I am proud of all the boys, but especially of my own defender who occasionally takes up the ball to score (and, did). We also went to visit our alma mater for a college admissions visit back East, and ended up there on one of the snowiest November evenings in recent history. But, it was so beautiful and brought back so many great memories, I didn’t even mind the snow! Thanksgiving arrived and seemed louder and more chaotic than usual, probably just due to my own recent travel experience. I was, however, thankful we did not have to travel the day before the holiday!  We were home by then. And, both of our college aged sons made it home for the first time since August. I’m glad it was a busy fall; it made missing both of them a little easier.

The Campus Center at AU. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018


The last day of our current month and year is here! This month was not unlike the others that brought changes this year. The job that was new to my husband in January became old this fall. He officially retired last month. Yes, another transition!

I graduated from school with my second Master’s degree this month. I am glad to be finished but am somewhat wary of what will replace the time I spent on classes, for I am truly one that enjoys learning. But, as another blogger reminded me, I have a plan and because of that, I’ll be okay. I think she’s right.

And, through all this, I’ve blogged – almost daily during 2018. I have posted 340 times this year to be exact. During the course of the year, through my writing, I’ve learned things about myself as I had time to reflect.  Writing has done that for me, increased my knowing about life, who I am, and how I fit, as well as how I envision the world and what it can be.

To those who read my blog, thank you!  I have received much support and wonderful, thoughtful comments from my readers both through the blog or on FaceBook or through email. If you like what you have read, consider subscribing to my blog via email. Just click on the link to follow The Apples In My Orchard and complete the email address information it requires. You will then receive my post right to your inbox.

I look forward to a productive year of writing in 2019!  Happy New Year!


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