2013 was a big year for me. By far, the greatest achievement of 2013 was completing my dissertation, defending it, and walking out of that room as Dr. Amy Casey. There were so many days I just wasn't sure I could complete the rigorous process! The encouragement from family and friends helped to keep me on my path. But it was also the research ~ the moment I realized there was a gap in the literature regarding changing beliefs and attitudes about culturally responsive teaching, I was re-inspired to finish! My research would add to the body of literature and knowledge regarding diversity issues…a subject I am passionate about! There will be more research to come!
Following my defense, I took Mr. Casey and Miss Alexis to Jamaica. It was my way of thanking them both for putting up with my butt being in school for an eternity! Up until May of 2013, Shawn Casey had no idea what it was like to be with me when I was not in school. No joke. And Miss Alexis really didn't know what it was like either. I have been in school since she was 4 years old. And she has seen me graduate three times in her lifetime!
We immediately fell in love with Jamaica. I spent lots of hours right next to the ocean on a hammock trying to recover from the intensity of the previous months. We enjoyed dancing in the evening, beach volleyball and snorkeling during the day, as well as incredible food around the clock! I was so grateful for these two people in my life. It was truly a highlight of my life (not just 2013) to have these experiences with the two of them!
In August, my baby girl became a SENIOR. What?! How did that happen? Then she got a job and then she got a car! It seemed like I blinked and BAM! She is all grown up! She is a good human being. :) She has a heart of gold and a good head on her shoulders. Don't get me wrong. She IS a teen-ager. So…you know. But all in all, I can't complain too much. :)
In September I actually took TWO WHOLE DAYS off from work to celebrate my beautiful sister's 40th birthday! Carrie, Erick, Shawn and I spent four days in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. Once again, the magnificent ocean reminded me to slow down a bit and enjoy a slower pace. Ocean walks, froo-froo pineapple drinks, and a romantic ocean-side dinner were a most awesome way to celebrate a most awesome woman! :) The highlight of this vacation was our excursion to Tulum and Xel-Ha. The ruins and view of the ocean at Tulum were breathtaking! Xel-Ha was just plain fun! We tubed through mangroves, enjoyed snorkeling and zip-lining over the water and watched Erick jump off a cliff! We also enjoyed some authentic Mexican food and Mexican coffee! Yum! Then back to reality.
October brought our annual trip to Herman for Octoberfest. This is always a time of good friends, good food, and good wine! We stumbled across a wonderful find off the beaten path this year! Bommarito Estate Winery had excellent wine and was so quaint! We were able to visit with the owners a bit before packing up for our communal dinner that evening. It was a riot to watch so many couples try to put a dinner together in one kitchen! But success! The meal was incredible and the friendship even better! The bonfire at the end of the night was the sweet ending to a perfect weekend getaway!
Throughout the year on most Sunday nights, I have been amused by the unexpected enjoyment of gaming with a group of fantastic friends. What started out as a simple act of love for my husband Shawn Casey, has led to a new past-time. You see, he is always willing to try crazy things that I ask of him. Additionally, he supports me in my band endeavors, my education endeavors, my work endeavors…get the picture? I knew that in his past he enjoyed a lot of role-playing games that I did not have the slightest understanding of. In an attempt to show how supportive I could be in return, I started playing a Dungeons and Dragons like role-playing game called Pathfinders with my husband at the helm. During this time, I have found just how creative and brilliant my husband is as a game master and otherwise. It has given me a much needed break from reality on several occasions and I have enjoyed immensely the friendship and fellowship of this group.
Last night was a memorable way to wrap up 2013! Cherry Bomb played at The View@Briarcliff and the view truly was spectacular! With the cityscape as our backdrop we rang in the New Year with our spouses and ever loyal Cherry Bomb fans. I danced and sang my butt off next to my partner in crime and best friend, Natalie Wessel as the boys shredded their instruments! I am blessed to be in a band with people I love! After 11 years, it still does not get old! I snuck kisses from Shawn Casey as often as I could throughout the night. Then the after party with the spouses was full of laughs, bad jokes, feet rubbing, scavenged 2 A.M. snacks, yoga and a few more drinks. I really couldn't ask for a better start to 2014! :)
The overarching theme of 2013 was time with family and friends of which I am so grateful! I am not sure what 2014 will hold, but I am looking forward to creating more precious moments with the people I love! <bows in gratitude>