Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Family and Blog Recaps

Hello friends!

I'm back for my 2014 family and blog recap! You can see last year's edition here: 2013 Family & Blog Recaps.

This year, I'd like to start with some key events, and then I'll share about each of my family members.  We've had a lot of tough challenges in life as always, and I'm sure you can understand that, with the exception of a few items, these are the more positive highlights of our year. :-)

My maternal grandmother passed away in January at the age of 99. She was an amazing lady and is sorely missed. I wrote a tribute to her here: Sweet Grandma, Dorothy Ransom Hess (In Memoriam).

In March, we took a day trip to Melbourne for a Beach Reunion with Thad's side of the family.

In May, our family had a lovely Mother's Day Picnic in the Park. You can see all of the pictures at the link above, but this is the main one that had everyone in it:

At the end of June and on into mid July, I took the four youngest kids on a long road trip to visit relatives in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The biggest event was the Hess Family Reunion in Pennsylvania. 

That same day, at the cemetery where our earlier Hess ancestors are buried, we had a very meaningful ash scattering memorial service for my Grandpa and Grandpa Hess and for my mother. (My grandparents had thoughtfully planned ahead of time to delay their memorials until after both had passed and family members could travel for a summer reunion.) You can see my whole photographic vacation blog series here: Road Trip 2014

A tribute to my mom
While the rest of us were gone, Thad and Andrew did a beautiful job of painting our house yellow.

In November, of my children Lydia, Andrew, and Naomi participated as actors in a tableau vivant of “The Spell” painting at Creative City Orlando, under the artistic direction of Thad's cousin Deborah Knispel. You can see the pictures here: My Kids in "The Spell" Tableau Vivant at Creative City.

The day before Thanksgiving, my father Phil Quarrier married Aneliese Weber, who is very sweet. We had the pleasure of meeting her in September, as you can read here: A Visit with Dad and Anny. I wasn't able to attend the wedding due to short notice and the difficulty of holiday travel, but I am very happy for them.

Julia and Mary with babies
on Thanksgiving

We were very blessed to have nearly everyone in our family over (minus those who were sick) for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can see some of our festivities at Happy Thanksgiving from My Home to Yours, Christmas Lights and a Family Night, Christmas Eve Peace, and Christmas Day and a Family Picture.  

The Seven Sisters (all my daughters) also took a Disney day in December. I'm so glad that my kids love to hang out with each other!


OK, on to each family member!

Mary and Ryan welcomed their third son Ezra in August. She continues to work part-time writing at a public relations firm. Jacob turns five in June and Isaac turns three in February. They are all absolutely adorable! See A Peter Rabbit Baby Shower for Ezra

Mary and Ryan with Isaac and Jacob

Art by Lydia for baby shower

Julia and Alex welcomed their first son Lucas in May. (See Welcome to the World, Lucas.) She will be working part-time, so I get to cuddle the little sweetie one afternoon a week! They love to travel to Higher Ground, their family's cabin in Boone, North Carolina, which is also available for weekly rentals. They are also still organizing a monthly dinner outreach to homeless people in our community. See What Love Looks Like: Reaching Out to the Homeless.  

Alex, Julia, and Lucas
Rachel continues to work as an RN at Florida Hospital and adopted a kitty named Luna to keep her company in her apartment. She enjoys going to concerts, plays, and movies with her siblings and friends. I love the fact that she often stops by after work, plays the piano, and sometimes crashes on the couch.

Joanna moved into an apartment in August, will graduate from UCF in the spring with a degree in Interpersonal Communications, will intern at New Hope Center for Kids in the spring semester, and plans to apply to UCF's grad school for a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She works hard in the research library at Lockheed-Martin, as well as a photographer at Disney World. She loves to hang out with her boyfriend David, and takes her brothers and sisters to fun activities – especially Disney with her free passes. I love her essay The Golden Hour about how she used to tell bedtime stories to her little brothers. Joanna just got a tattoo of the C.S. Lewis quote "Courage, Dear Heart." 

Lydia with her version of
Abbot's "Artist at Rest" at the
Seminole State juried art show.
Lydia graduated with her AA from Seminole State College, where she was active in the leadership of the art club and the SGA, and won awards at the juried art show in the spring. She is currently a manager at Chick-Fil-A, working hard to earn money to attend a private college, probably Ringling College of Art and Design, this fall. Strong in math and science too, she was also accepted into the aeronautics program at Embry-Riddle. Check out her amazing artist page on Facebook.

Andrew is a senior in high school, taking Russian 3, and active in the Navy ROTC program, where he competes around the state with the performance teams. The group also took a several day field trip to the Parris Island Marine Corps boot camp in South Carolina in November. He is considering enlisting in the Navy in hopes of attending the Defense Language Institute for advanced linguistics training. He also worked at Chick-Fil-A for several months.

Micah is a sophomore in high school, doing very well in his first year of public school where he has been taking electives in art, film, and entrepreneurship. He is a walking encylopedia of interesting facts about technology and media, and enjoys playing video games. He has gotten a lot taller this year!

Naomi with her dad
Naomi is all about the treble! We are so proud that she made it into both the All County and All State honors choruses, which took a ton of hard work. She and I will spend a few days in Tampa this month for All State. She is in 8th grade and loves spending time with her friends. After a several month stint as a vegetarian (which she is no longer though there are still some leftover Boca burgers in the freezer), she has promised to help me plan and cook healthier meals this year.

Ben with nephew Lucas
Ben started middle school with a bang this year. After coming home from his first day, he broke a bone in his hand. Then this past week, he broke a bone in his foot while at Busch Gardens. Not surprisingly, Ben enjoys skate boarding, amusement parks, and other active stuff. A talented artist, he had some of his work featured at the Winter Springs art festival in the student booth.  He is a charming and funny kid who, fortunately for me, still loves hugs from Mom.
Tree house by Ben

Melody at Lake Johnson
Melody finished second grade in public school, and at her request, is now back home with me for third grade. She is a giggly, bouncy, and curious child who loves hands-on activities and lots of field trips. She is especially happy when she gets to hang out with friends, so we're working on that! She is very proud of the fact that she stayed up until midnight on New Year's Eve. (We were watching the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman. They took some pretty amazing field trips – back in time.) She is also a big hug lover.

Thad (Daddy) works as a trust manager for a family member. Like me, he enjoys taking pictures of sunsets. He keeps in shape at the Y, and is a huge help to me by driving the kids where they need to go and doing much needed maintenance on the house. 

Virginia and Ezra on Christmas
Virginia (that's me) - I started out the year with an inspirational time at a Refresh Retreat hosted by my friend Sandy, which I really appreciated. In the spring semester, I taught language arts, American history and world geography part-time at a Christian school. I am now teaching a high school American history class every other week for a local home school co-op (for pay). I stopped eating sugar in September (except a bit at Christmas) and I am also planning to eliminate wheat, milk, and most artificial sweeteners as soon as possible. So far I have lost at least 10 pounds. I have a lot of goals for the year, some big and some small, for health, creativity, productivity, homemaking, faith, and family relationships. This year, I am hoping to learn about web design in the interest of free lancing in the future. In the creative realm, I'd like to learn to do chalkboard art. I continue to write both prose and poetry for my own blogs (see Why Do I Blog?), and this year transitioned my “mommy blogging” to This Mom Grows Up to reflect a change in emphasis. I jumped in and joined the 31 Days of Autumn Grace meme with a daily series in October.

Now for the blog recap! As usual, I can't pick just a few of my top posts from all of my blogs, so here are my Favorite Forty for the year, along with some of the photos that are in them.

My Poetry

My kaleidoscope flower
from the Refresh retreat
art session
Advent crosses

Nature & Vintage Homes

Leu House

Rock Springs



Serving at dinner outreach
for homeless friends

Home, Health, and Heritage

Where Beauty Dwells
literary inspiration for
my cottage dreams

Heinrich Hess

Goals and Getting It Done

Family Life and Home Schooling

Nutcracker ballet

I'll close with pictures of two
inspirational Christmas presents
that my oldest daughters gave me.
They will serve to inspire me well in 2015.

Well, there you have it - 2014 in review!
What was your year like?

Virginia Knowles


  1. Sounds like a very full and good year. God bless and thank you for linking with Woman to Woman's Word Filled Wednesday! Please join us again next Wednesday.

  2. It seems to have been a very full & happening 2014. May 2015 hold much for you & yours!


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