Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas 2021

We didn't get our Christmas cards out this year. That was on purpose because we didn't have our family pictures taken until a few days ago, so New Year's cards it is! This year has been just as eventful as most years seem to be, although a little less pleasant with COVID and everything surrounding it. We have managed to remain healthy though, so we can't complain.

Clark (Peanut Head to my faithful readers) and I are empty nesters now and I'm not going to lie, I hate the empty nest. Well I don't hate it, I would just rather have all of my people with me. It's selfish, I know. This last week has been Heaven though because both girls are home and I've been focusing on just enjoying them.

My mom, Julie, moved in with us in June and that has helped me with the transition to an empty nester. It's been a lot of work merging our stuff and making decisions about where to put things and what we should get rid of, but we aren't in a big hurry so we just chip away at it as we have time and interest. In the meantime we have a large container on the property serving as a storage unit for everything mom brought with her. Mom calls it her POD and I call it the dumpster. Mom brought her dog, Pamela, with her, so now we have three dogs in the house. I'm here to tell you that three dogs is a lot of poop. Especially with Bane and his horse sized logs. Pamela settled in pretty quickly and claimed her space. She growls at Gunny and Bane when they go into her end of the house. Gunny just ignores her and does what he wants anyway. Bane doesn't like conflict so his body language telegraphs "Yes Ma'am, whatever you say."

Zoë is living full-time in Pocatello where she is a junior at Idaho State University. She shares a large apartment with three other girls and they each have their own bedrooms. It's a pretty nice set up. She is adulting well and is much more responsible than Clark and I were at her age. Over the summer she started working for Fish & Game as a tech/intern in their habitat department, and she loves her job. She's a Nature Nerd. She fixes fence, puts up fence, weed whacks, chases cows, irrigates, fixes stuff, and sometimes she gets to do cool things with wildlife. Did you know that they make weed whackers that operate underwater?! Zoë already had trailer backing skills when she started this job, but her skills are on point now. She makes me proud.

Annika has had a very exciting year. This time last year we were waiting for a congressional nomination for her application to the service academies and she got three of them. It's recommended that you apply for more than one because each senator and member of congress has a limited number they can give out. That and you don't know who has their ducks in a row, so better to be safe. Shortly after receiving the nominations, she received and accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point. The rest of the school year was spent wrapping up senior year courses and other obligations. She spend a lot of hours with the Civil Air Patrol where was was Commander of her squadron, working at Walmart, and taking flight lessons We were hoping that Annika would head to West Point with her pilot's license already completed, but there were many obstacles in her path. The final nail in the coffin was the day of her final flight test, and just days before she was to leave for CBT (Cadet Basic Training which is West Point boot camp), and the plane did not pass inspection. It was a huge let down, but there was no time to dwell on it. She left Idaho Falls for West Point on June 27th and her world changed forever. She survived CBT and her first semester at West Point, and she came home for the first time December 19th. I've been peppering her with questions about her new life ever since. It's going to be hard to let her go with the new year.

I spent another summer working outside in our yard and I shouldn't brag, but I'm getting pretty good with a shovel. Clarkie better not cross me. :) At work I changed schools. Our district opened up a fancy new middle school and I was determined to teach there. Now I'm teaching Pre-Algebra and Algebra to 8th graders. It's my favorite grade and subject. My classroom is beautiful and I have more than three outlets. I haven't tripped the breaker once! My classroom is on the second floor and the flight of stairs is loooooong. More opportunities to trip means I trip more. Tripping going up the stairs is my superpower. Compared to last year, this year is a lot easier, although it's still a lot of work. I like the people I work with and I like my administrators.

Clarkie is still working from home some, but going into the Lab more now. He was one of the first in his group allowed back this last year but it depends on what needs done. More than half his department is still full-time teleworking from home. He earned a promotion this year and is training for new positions, so that means more meetings. His favorite. He's working on his interpersonal skills right now because his boss told him he has to stop growling at people and start using his words. He is traveling more than ever and that's good because we need flight miles and hotel credits now with Annie being so far away.

We're still hard at work on the money pit. We spent most of our late summer and early fall pulling out and relaying the patio at the back of the house so that it slopes away from the house instead of towards it. In other projects, last winter Clark redesigned his closet and made it a lot more functional. All he has left to do now is to add doors to the top to hide all the stuff. Together we redid the laundry room and it is so much more functional because we added upper and lower cabinets as well as a countertop for folding clothes. We also replaced the ridiculous plastic utility sink with a stainless steel sink and cabinet surround. We would still like to add shelving, but that may not happen for a couple years. Next up we have some plumbing and electrical projects to tackle.

There's never a dull moment here, even without the girls to liven things up. We hope this year was as good to you as it was to us, and we wish you a very happy and healthy new year. Take care.

Clark, Jill, Zoë and Annika