Merry Christmas Everyone! I actually got my Christmas cards out earlier this week and now that all my friends and family have (hopefully) received them by now, I'm safe to post my Christmas letter here without taking the fun out of getting my Christmas card. There was lots to share in our Christmas letter this year, although it's maybe not news to you, my Internet Friends.
Before I begin though, I feel I need to remind you that Peanut Head is not my husband's real name. Hard to accept as it is, his real-life name is Clark, and I know, Peanut Head is a much easier name to remember, as many of my friends can attest to.
What a wild and crazy year 2016 has been. Whew! We are exhausted. That’s on account of we moved out of our house and into a farm house ten miles outside of town. For years Clark has said that he wanted some land. It was never something I wanted because . . . dirt . . . and outside. Although I wasn’t against it per se, I just didn’t have any interest in pursuing it. Well, we’ve been married for 25 years now and we have two horse crazy girls for which we were paying way too much money for weekly English riding lessons, and one day we just got on the internet and started looking at property. We were looking at houses with five to ten acres where the girls could have a couple horses. Within a week we made an offer on a place and started frantically getting our house ready to sell. It’s been a whirlwind ever since. Our house sold in two weeks and we moved into our new (old) house in June.
So, a little about the new house . . . the original house was built in 1954 by a contractor, and it has beautiful crown molding in the living room. It was a teeny, tiny house with just two bedrooms and one bathroom. Technically there are two additional bedrooms in the basement, but there’s no bathroom down there and it smells like grandma, so we’re not using it for much. The original kitchen was about six feet by six feet, and has since been turned into an office. I’ve had small kitchens before, but I can’t even imagine cooking in a kitchen that small!
In 2006 the house was added onto and it basically doubled in size. Thankfully, a huge kitchen was part of the add-on, and we are loving that part. The rest of the add-on, however, is a little hokey. Also added was a family room, which is much too skinny, a mudroom, a three quarter bathroom, a strange room that could be called a den but we call the hub, a master bedroom, a laundry room, a sewing room, and a garage. The master bedroom was originally a detached garage, and the house was extended to meet that garage. Then a new garage was built on, which added the laundry room and the sewing room. The former kitchen window looks out into the garage. It’s bizarre. This house has character for miles, let me tell you.
There are also two outbuildings. The former owners ran a saddlery business out of one of the buildings and the other was a barn. Both outbuildings have been added onto, trailer park style. This is how I imagine DIY went down in la casa before we moved in:
“We need another room on the barn, Vern, let’s just nail up some plywood and slap some paint on it.
This door doesn’t fit my new wall. I’m just going to saw the bottom two feet off of it. So what if the doorknob is positioned for Hobbits? We’ll get used to it.
You say you want electricity? Here, let me just install an outlet on this pole, right here, out in the open and exposed to the weather. GFCI? What’s that? Heh! We don’t need no stinkin’ GFCI.
There’s a hole in that exterior wall, let’s just nail the Ping-Pong table to it. We’re not using it anyway, and it’ll keep the rain out.”
All of the repairs and improvements are like that. It’s terrifying. Clark is at his wits end, and his former dream of owning land has turned into a living nightmare. I feel bad about it, but ironically, I love it here. I love being out in the country. My doorbell never rings and I’m okay with that. I can put my jammies on at 5:00 p.m. and nobody cares because nobody knows. It’s a beautiful thing. And it is beautiful. There’s so much beauty that I never noticed before, and now it’s all around me. I enjoy looking at the countryside as I drive to and from work. I love coming home.
The girls love it because they can ride horses whenever they want. We’re boarding some horses and taking care of them, and the girls get to ride them whenever they want. Their chores have increased exponentially, however, and they have very little free time. They still manage to work in plenty of time for riding on the weekends though.
Personally, I’ve never been much of a horse person, but that’s probably because I never spent much time around horses. I have fallen in love with these horses though, and I thoroughly enjoy their unique personalities. They’re practically people, but better!
|Bo aka "Mr. Bo-Jangles|
|Sweets aka Sweetie Boy|
|Bo-Bo and PJ aka Mr. Pajama Pants|
We also have two Nigerian Dwarf Goats. Zoe volunteered at the zoo all summer and she insisted that we must have these goats. Oh my goodness, goats are basically creepy looking, pot-bellied dogs. The girls walk them on leashes while they wag their curly little tails. They run and chase after the girls, and they jump and climb on everything. It’s bizarre. They also cry like babies when you walk away from them. It’s enough to break your heart.
Since we moved out to the country, we accidentally got a second cat. I fell in love with a big, two year old Tom Cat at Petco, and I named him Barnaby Jones on the spot. After several weeks, and much dickering, we had finally settled on Barnaby Tiberius Jones for his name when the news came that he was a she. This threw us into a state of confusion and he/she was briefly Catlin Jenner while we sorted the whole name thing out. We finally decided on Cecilia or Ce-Ce for short. We spend a lot of time singing the Simon and Garfunkel song to her, and she knows that she has been adopted by crazy people. She is easily the most laid back cat we have ever had. She sleeps only on her back and with her entire body stretched out to its maximum length of two and a half feet. It’s a sight to behold.
Gunny is still alive and kicking, although he has had a rough year. At this time last year, Zoe was setting up obstacle courses for him to jump through and making videos of him, happy as a clam, jumping whatever jump she set up for him. Well, come spring we found out that Gunny had a torn ACL and he had to have surgery to repair it. This happened the week of our move, which we are calling the beginning of our season for hemorrhaging money. It’s been a long season.
In addition to Gunny being laid up, I had rotator cuff surgery three weeks before the move, so I was practically useless for all the packing and moving. Thankfully, both Gunny and I have healed and I’m happy to say that it was worth the pain and suffering. I like to pretend that I have a bionic shoulder now. I can even hear the Steve Austin music playing in my head.
Clark is still working for the Department of Energy and he has been doing a fair amount of travel this year. He even got to go to New York City and I was super jealous! The travel makes things extra challenging with us living farther away. The girls are waivered into our former district, so they don’t have the luxury of going home on the bus if one of us has something going on after school. I am also still working as a Math Specialist for the secondary schools, and I enjoy what I am doing. More importantly, I’m really enjoying my free time outside of school.
The girls and I are very happy, and we are working on slipping some relaxation and fun into Clark’s schedule. He is pooped. He is such a handy guy though, and there is much to be done . . . We hope this letter finds you all happy and healthy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Clark, Jill, Zoe, and Annika
Thanks for stopping by!