Monday, January 7, 2013

The end...of 2012

Another year has come and gone, so as seems to be tradition for my blog, I think I'll do another "year in review" post.  I've often thought about the change to a new year and how it's, in reality, rather arbitrary, but at the same time, you have to start somewhere, so why not there?  From an astronomical standpoint, the new  year typically falls right near the Earth's closest approach to the Sun, known as perihelion (which occurred late on January 1st for those of us in the US), so I guess it's not totally arbitrary.  In any case, it's a good time to reflect and organize the events that happened over a period of time.  2012, of course, had some of the build up to the belief that the apocalypse was coming based on a reading of the ancient Mayan calendar (and no, I never thought for a second that 2012 was "the end"), but it had its share of fun times and drama.  All in all, it wasn't a whole lot different for me than 2011, 2010, or even 2009.  I'm still waiting for that good job to come around and set things into motion.  Coming into a new year there's always some kind of optimism and hope that during this next 365-day period things will happen that change things for the better here.  That's how I went into 2012.  Can't say I'm overly optimistic for 2013, but that's not to say I'm just being negative; just more realistic and cautious in my optimism.  Even so, there were still lots of wonderful events that happened in 2012.  Here are some of the highlights:

New faces!

The biggest events of 2012 were the arrivals of a new nephew Ryan, born in January, and a new niece, Evelyn, born in August.  Not only were their respective arrivals exciting occasions for me, even being far distant from them when they were born, but I've had several opportunities to spend time with them this year (and my nephew Nate, born in 2009) both here in Kent and where they live.  As much as I look forward to the day I have my own family, I am perfectly happy in my role as uncle to three beautiful and healthy kids.  I have enjoyed getting to know them so much in 2012 and look forward to being a part of their lives!!
Nate and Ryan during my September visit to Indiana

Meeting Evelyn in September when she
was about 2-3 weeks old

New places!

I certainly haven't gone anywhere as far as a new address, but I was pretty excited when my sister and brother-in-law moved to Indiana this past spring from Utah.  I spent last Christmas in Utah at their house and while it was nice to visit, I maybe saw them once a year if that.  Now that they're only about 5 hours away via car, I have visited them in Indiana twice and they have come to Kent twice.  My trip there in September was particularly fun as I got to tour Wrigley Field in Chicago, something I've always wanted to do, along with finally touring Progressive Field in Cleveland in July.  The Wrigley Field tour was my first time actually going into Chicago beyond the southern suburbs (passing through on I-80) or the airport.  Of course I also made a few trips to Nashville, which I always enjoy.  During my trip there in March, I took a trip to visit friends in Texas and Louisiana, my first time driving in Texas since my mission and first time ever in eastern Texas.  Other than that, after some rather extensive travels in 2011 (New York City and Utah among others), I really didn't go all that many places in 2012, though the year did begin with me in Utah before I traveled home.

Wrigley Field press box
Cubs locker room at Wrigley
Progressive Field press box in July, just a tad larger (and nicer) than Wrigley's, HA!!

Here in Kent there's also been a lot of "new places" as construction was completed on several new buildings in downtown Kent.  2013 will see the completion of even more new buildings and the start of a few more as Kent continues quite the renaissance in the downtown area and on campus.  I've been doing my best to document the progress via regular photography of the area.  On top of that, Kent State athletics went to "new places" in 2012 as the baseball team made its first appearance in the College World Series after beating Kentucky twice in the regional round (along with beating Purdue), Oregon 2 out of 3 in the super-regional (at Oregon no less!), and then beating #1 Florida in the CWS itself to finish tied for 5th nationally.  On top of that, the men's golf team finished in the top 10 at NCAA national tournament and then football had their best season ever in terms of wins (11) and advanced to their first bowl game in my lifetime (last one was 1972).

Celebrating Kent State's win at Bowling Green back in November!
Some of the new development downtown Kent

Professionally, I ended my time subbing for the Kent City School District, choosing to not renew my contract at the conclusion of the 2011-12 school year for a variety of personal and professional reasons.  Instead, I added two neighboring districts, Tallmadge and Stow-Munroe Falls, and continued with Maplewood Career Center in Ravenna.  I have enjoyed my continued association with Maplewood and have enjoyed my new associations with Tallmadge and Stow.  I have subbed quite a bit in Tallmadge, at the high school in particular, and have really enjoyed my time there so far.  They have wonderful students and a great staff.  I have enjoyed my time in Stow too, though I haven't been there a whole lot yet.

I also attended my first Major League Soccer game this year when I went to a Columbus Crew game in September.  I had a lot of fun!

New roles!

A summer just wouldn't be complete without another stint in This is Kirtland!, my 7th time in the show.  In 2012 I played the role of Parley P. Pratt, which I ended up really enjoying, and had a wonderful time as I usually do.  Later in the year, I was asked to be the director for the 2013 show, which will be TIK's 10th season.  That will certainly change things up for me and prove quite a challenge, but one I am ready and excited to take on.

Scene in This is Kirtland! Photo by Rendell Ashton

Scene in This is Kirtland! Photo by Rendell Ashton

I also took on the project of planning and presenting a history program for the Kent Historical Society.  In September, the society celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Davey Elementary School building being dedicated in 1922 as Theodore Roosevelt High School.  The evening included a presentation with lots of photos and open tours of the building.  It was months in planning (like a year) and I felt it went very well.  After that program, KHS asked me to put together a display about the Kent City Schools, which I finished in early December.  I have decided, at some point, I need to write a book about the history of the schools.  It's something I obviously have a lot of interest in and know a lot about.

After my presentation at Davey Elementary School.  Photo by Brad Bolton
No year summary would be complete without mentioning my singing for the Cleveland Indians this past season.  While it certainly wasn't the first time I'd sung for them I sang far more than I ever thought possible.  After singing twice in 2011, I sent in a resume of past performances and the link to my Youtube page, hoping to get a chance to sing in 2012.  It wasn't 2 days later that I got called by the Indians to sing at the end of April.  What was interesting was that my game in April ended up being cold and rainy, so we had a 2 1/2 hour rain delay (I thought for sure it would get canceled) before I could sing.  That ended up being a blessing in disguise because while I waited, I let those in charge know that I could sing on relatively short notice, so they could give me a call if needed.  I didn't think anything of it at the time.  I thought, at best, I'd get one more chance later in the season, similar to what happened in 2011.  Well, I sang at that cold April game and did a decent job.  I got my first call less than a month later in May and ended up singing a total of five times during the season.  I sang almost once a month (April 28, May 22, June 16, August 6, and September 16th) and usually had about 10 days notice.  I was happy not only for the opportunity, but also that nothing in my schedule prevented me from being able to take advantage of each opportunity.  I love singing the National Anthem and it never gets old, but being able to do it for a Major League Baseball game was something else. I hope to continue that in 2013 as well as at Kent State and at other sporting events.  I tried out for the Cavs, but never heard a thing from them.

April 28th game
June 16 game...and yes, my first name is spelled wrong here

Other highlights!

In addition to all the above, some other things that just didn't seem to fit here that I wanted to mention.  First, was a wonderful visit from my aunt Brenda and uncle Rick from Utah!

My aunt Brenda and uncle Rick visited from Utah in September, in between my trip to Nashville for Evelyn's baby blessing and my trip to Indiana to visit Becky and the boys.  It was my aunt's first time in Kent in about 20 years, so we took her and Rick to see the sites in Kirtland and then showed them around all the new stuff downtown Kent
Grandpa showing Brenda and Rick Acorn Alley

I also got to visit my friend Michelle a few times, one of which included a trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan to see the Titanic exhibit on my way back from Indiana in September.  After that we went to the Toledo-Bowling Green football game at the Glass Bowl in Toledo.  I also went to the Kent State-Bowling Green football game (pictured above with Katie) in Bowling Green with Michelle.

Titanic pictures allowed inside (unless you wanted to buy one of you on the Grand Staircase replica!)

At the Toledo-Bowling Green game!
I saw some pretty cool fireworks shows during the year too!
Progressive Field in July

This was a cool fireworks show at Kent State's home opener in August.  They let fans watch it from the field
 And to top the year off, I got to spend it with ALL of my siblings and their spouses and kids right here in Kent!  Who knows when we'll all be together in the same room again, but it was a wonderful way to end the year and celebrate Christmas!
The first photo with the entire family together.  From left to right, back row: my dad Rick, brother Andy, Me, brother-in-law David, and my mom Linda.  Front row left to right: sister-in-law Heather (holding Eveyln), sister Katie (holding Nathan), and sister Becky (holding Ryan).  

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