Well, here we are again. I know we are fast approaching the end of another calendar year when I sit down to write the annual Tysowski Christmas letter. This is the 13thanniversary edition, so I’m pretty sure that means the entire year was chalk full of nothing but bad luck! Am I lying? Keep reading and you’ll soon find out.
2018 started off with a relatively uneventful January, with one big exception. Abby secured her learner’s licence and I almost had a heart attack as she drove 5 km/h in an abandoned parking lot for 34 minutes.
Spoiler alert: I survived.
In February, I finally completed the incredibly frustrating and harrowing process of recording and editing the audiobook version of Dad@Home. Was it worth the pain? Well, I’ve only sold three, so you tell me.
Spring arrived, and with it a couple of March birthdays. Daniel’s transformation into a fine young man has begun, as he became a TEENAGER, turning 13. Wow, now we have two edgy teens under one roof! (Lord help us.) As for Abby, she turned 15 and has already become a lovely, young (edgy) woman. Speaking of Abby’s birthday, we celebrated it far, far away, as we spent spring break across the pond in beautiful Italy! For a week and a half, we hit all of the hot spots.
We landed in Milan, but immediately travelled to Venice for three wonderful days of sightseeing. From there, we made spectacular stops in Florence, Tuscany, and Pisa before we set up shop in Rome for a few days. The highlight had to be celebrating Easter Mass with 50,000 people in St. Peter’s Square with the Pope!
The next stop was the summit of Mount Vesuvius and the incredibly preserved city of Pompeii. We finished our Italian tour where it all started, in Milan, where we had a very special viewing of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece The Last Supper. On the way home to Calgary, we decided to spend a 24-hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany, where we explored the city centre and ate way too much sauerkraut, sausage and schnitzel.
Spoiler alert: we all survived the ultra-heavy meal.
The rest of spring 2018 was filled with Abby’s club basketball season, Daniel’s volleyball and a very gutsy performance from our son in the school production of The Lion King. Why was it so gutsy? Well, the day before the show opened, Daniel rolled his ankle HARD in gym class, but the show must go on! So, they wrapped up his left foot with more sports tape than you can shake a stick at, and he still knocked it out of the park as young Simba. After Daniel finished three performances in two days, we finally took him to the hospital, where x-rays revealed he had a fractured foot!
Spoiler alert: he survived.
With the arrival of summer came another epic family vacation, and for the first time in five years, we did not team up with Mark, Dona and family. This time, we journeyed to the motherland! That’s right, we hooked up with Angie, Erika, David and Gaeil for a very special visit to Ukraine. After spending three days touring and watching Erika’s dance troupe perform in beautiful Lviv, we rented a car and headed to the Carpathian Mountains for a couple of days in the picturesque Bukovel region.
Then, it was time to visit my peeps in the small village of Bobulyntsi! The main reason we made this Eastern European trip was to meet up with relatives who still live in the village where my grandparents immigrated to Canada from over 90 years ago.
You know what? It did not disappoint. From the second we walked through the door, we were showered with love and hospitality. We ate, we drank… we then ate and drank some more. Then we toured the church where my Baba and Dido were married. It’s a very special day when you can connect with family half a world away. It’s also a very special day when you can knock back multiple shots of crisp Ukrainian vodka and still see straight.
Spoiler alert: I barely survived.
We bid Ukraine goodbye and hopped on a train to Krakow, Poland, where we spent five days exploring this vibrant city. There, we toured the Old Town, churches, museums, castles, and the former Jewish ghetto. The highlight of our stay was a very emotional but very important visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp and Birkenau death camp.
Then came the relaxing part of our Eastern European adventure, as we made our way to the gorgeous coast of Croatia. There, we enjoyed the beautiful beaches and warm waters of the Adriatic Sea for five nights.
The highlight was a day trip to Dubrovnik’s old town, where we inadvertently visited multiple shooting locations of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Our vacation finished with a one-day stop in London, where our whirlwind tour took us to the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, where we viewed the Crown Jewels. What a trip!
With the arrival of fall, we all turned our attention to the beginning of a brand new school year. Abby was beyond excited to start her first year of high school in a new school, after attending the same one from Pre-K to grade 9. Meanwhile, Daniel was also eager to kick off his second year of junior high. Another round of piano lessons, debate club, volleyball, basketball, hockey and cosplay made sure our kids are well rounded, and also totally exhausted by the weekend. (Apologies, as this tired, recycled line is still considered a Tysowski Christmas letter “classic”, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The kids won’t be involved in this many activities for that much longer, so take heart.)
For those very few of you looking for an update on my beer league hockey team, here it is: Mark and I spent months and months organizing and executing the rollout of brand new home and away jerseys. With the re-branding of our team came a new tradition of winning and we are enjoying our finest season in franchise history. That is the power of new jerseys! (Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that we also recruited a few new ringers.)
And that brings us full-circle to December where we already have the mid-winter blues and are desperately waiting for Christmas holidays to save us all.
Unfortunately for us, there will be no winter escape this year but we are already looking forward to another summer adventure… we just don’t know where it will be. I guess you will all have to keeping read this blog to find where we go this year. And while you’re here, you might as well buy my book on paperback, kindle or audiobook.
OK, I apologize for the shameless book plug, but remember I’ve only sold three copies of the audio version! All right people, that’s enough yammering from me. We hope you had a wonderful 2018 and look forward to hearing from you in 2019. All the best this holiday season!
Love, Greg, Lianne, Abby, Daniel, Domino & Sasha (the G.L.A.D.D.S. family)