The year 2014 was a marvelous year for me. As with all years of life, there are always ups and downs, and this year was no exception. But, I always strive to take a positive vent on things (as much as possible) and there was much positive that happened this year. Following is my retrospective view on 2014…the Good, the Bad and the Wonderful (no Ugly here…sorry!). I really was living the dream!
Celebrated my 35th Wedding Anniversary
July 15, 2014 was a momentous day in my life as I celebrated the 35th anniversary of wedded bliss with my sweet eternal companion Julianne. Even now I am awestruck at how she has put up with me all of these years. My quirkiness, my playfulness and yes, my more often than occasional thoughtless foot-in-mouth disease.
Julianne has been a wonderful example to me and, in the words of my favorite musician Antsy McClain, I truly “Married Up, my life is sweet as a daydream”
First grandchild baptism
In late May we got to go to Montana to attend the first baptism of any of my grandchildren. This was a wonderful event as Kade Matthews was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am proud of this little guy with a big heart and wonderful spirit. There will be more baptisms coming in the future, but the first is always wonderful
Seeing ALL of the children and grandchildren
Our family has spread out across the United States (literally coast to coast!), thus making it difficult to see them all at one time. Not since Christmas 2012 have we all been together. However, as of Christmas 2014, we were able to spend time with all of the children and grandchildren at one point or another.
- Amaree – Our oldest was living in Shelby, Montana the last time we got to visit her and her family (including husband Aaron and four children – Kade (8), Charlie (7), Olivia (5) and Benson (3)) We were blessed to visit them in May for Kade’s baptism and also spent some time traveling in Montana with them. It was a wonderful time. In October, they moved further west to Port Orchard, Washington in a job transfer for Aaron. They are loving their new place and I am hoping to be able to go out there and visit in 2015 for Charlie’s baptism.
- Marissa – Our second daughter Marissa still lives nearby in Lexington. It is always fun to see her sweet family (including husband Adam and three children – Joselyn (7), Landen (6) and Lyla (3)). It has been a blessing to have them nearby and have the opportunity to hang with those sweet grandkids! Marissa’s wonderful talent as a photographer and videographer always continues to impress.
- Chelsea – Our third daughter Chelsea also lives in Lexington and we get to see her and our oldest grandchild Autumn (9) quite often. Chelsea recently became engaged to Jorge Mendez and is excited about the opportunity to go to Mexico and visit his family in 2015. She continues to do well on her job as a manager at a local Wendy’s restaurant.
- Seth – Our oldest son Seth lives in Vernon, Connecticut. He and his wife Holly and son Rockwell (4) have been busy in life, Seth with his engineering job at GE and Holly with her business “Cutting It Cute.” We really had lost hope of seeing them in 2014, but, they surprised us in late December with a Christmas visit and it was amazing to see us. They shared some other exciting news (coming soon). With their visit we finally got to see ALL of our children and grandchildren this year.
- Solomon – Our youngest son Solomon moved out to Colorado to join some friends in a joint business venture. Though times have been challenging, the business seems to be picking up steam. Sol visited us earlier in the year for a couple of days. It was good to see him and hear of his progress. He has remained upbeat and seems to be finally finding his pathway in life. We are proud of him.
Kravetz Family Reunion
Another great highlight this year was a Kravetz family reunion, held in Galveston, Texas in late June 2014. Though not all were able to attend, I was happy to meet with my sister Sherry and her family, my step-dad Joe, my Uncle Lou and his wife Toni, and many of my cousins. It was a wonderful four days on the beautiful island of Galveston. On the way back home I spent an evening at my Uncle Lou’s house in Houston and then a day with my cousin Lewis in Austin, finally finishing up in Keller, Texas with my sister Sherry and her family and my dad, before heading home.
Extensive Travel Opportunities
As noted above, in 2014 I was able to travel to Montana and also to southern Texas. As is typically the case, I drove and made a vacation/blogging trip out of these. During the year I visited 18 states and drove close to 10,000 miles in road trip travel (not counting local Kentucky travel). Detailed blog posts on my travels can be seen on my Less Beaten Paths blog (see actual post HERE). But, I will note below some of my “Bucket List” locations that I was able to check off.
- Paul Bunyan Statue in Bemidji, MN – I have wanted to visit here since I was 8 or 9 and first saw it in a LIFE travel book back in the 1960s. Finally made it in May 2014! (see blog post)
- Beartooth Highwayon the border of Wyoming and Montana – Supposedly one of the most spectacular mountain drives in America, it has been on my list for many years. I made it (just barely) on Memorial Day weekend in late May 2014. I got there a couple days after it was opened for the season and there was still piles of snow. It will leave me with everlasting memories of the beauty of this earth. (see blog post)
- Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska – One of the “Car Sculpture” places I had hoped to visit, I was able to get here on my way from Montana in late May. It was a fabulous visit! (see blog post)
- Traversing US Highway 2 across northern US – Though this is still a Bucket List item (since I have east coast to Michigan and then western Montana to Washington coast remaining), I was able to knock off a big chunk of the 2,571 mile highway as I drove from Ironwood, Michigan all the way to Browning, Montana (about 1,171 miles) (see blog post)
- Travel the “Blues Highway” in Mississippi – Another of my “Bucket List” trips, I had hoped to someday travel US Highway 61 north to south in Mississippi. I was able to do this (see blog post)
Meeting New Friends and Old Friends
This past year provided me with the opportunity to visit a couple of old friends from the past and also opportunities to meet a few “new” friends from Facebook and otherwise. Also wonderful and fun to continue old relationships and to also create and foster new ones! Here are a few:
Building My Own Business
As reentering the work force has gotten more difficult for me due to my age and extensive experience, I really dug in hard this year to build my own business, Sumoflam Productions, and really strived to make it on my own (coupled with Julianne’s work at University of Kentucky). After learning WordPress through my blogging, I have been able to expand my expertise and indeed was able to build the business throughout the year with new clients and partnerships. I worked hard to learn more skills and have successfully built a number of sites this year in the WordPress platform. Following are a few of the sites I have done and manage now:
- Antsy McClain (music and art website)
- VYPE High School Sports Magazine
- Fieldhouse Media Group Multimedia Management Site
- Texas Legacy Volleyball Club site
- Matt Warner (musician site)
There are a number more and all can be seen listed at My Sumoflam Productions Site
And America’s largest marketing producer of high school rivalry football games, The Great American Rivalry Series contracted me to manage their social media, arrange and monitor broadcasts and also manage and update their website during the 2014 high school football season. We did 100 games this year and that made for a busy few months at the end of the year. It was a wonderfully busy time.
Sumoflam in the News
In 2014 I was asked to write a couple of articles for local press. These were both fun adventures. The first one was about the playground at Jacobson Park. (See Entire Article here). I wrote the article and also provided the photos.
In November I was asked to write an article about the murals and wall art in Lexington for Ace Weekly magazine. This article was posted online in December and may appear in their end of the year issue. They also included a complete photo gallery of my photos of Lexington’s amazing street art.
Also, in December, I was involved with Lexington Nativity Festival, which was sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I managed the website and the media relations for the event. The Lexington Herald-Leader photographer Pablo Alcala out to do some shots and I was included in this and the newspaper gallery in late December.
A Few More Odds and Ends
I got to visit with my cousin Lewis Goldstein a couple of times in 2014. Once was a sad affair at the loss of my uncle Jay Goldstein, who passed away in Louisville. I also got to spend some time with Lewis at his home in Austin after the family reunion in Galveston. Always good to visit with one of my favorite cousins!
In 2014 I really kicked my blogging and photography into full gear. I had 38 posts on my Less Beaten Paths blog (and over 50,000 page views during the year). I also posted 20 posts on this blog and have had nearly 5000 page views this year. Between my travel photos and local photos, I had nearly 500 selfies (HA HA….I love these iPhones!). I also took well over 5000 photos of travels, family, sunrises and sunsets, birds, squirrels, bison, antelope, murals, wall art, sculptures and more. I had nearly 3700 views of my photos on my SmugMug Photo site. I will be doing a post about my favorite photos of 2014 in early January 2015.
Overall, this was an amazing year. I am grateful for all of the blessings, all of the adventures and all of the family and friends.