I had every intention of getting a Christmas letter out this past year, but didn’t. I think I’ve actually hoped to compose one for the past several years, and never got around to it. So this July I thought a few times about writing a “Christmas in July” letter, but then July ended sooner than it was supposed to, and now it is August. Motivated by my rekindled acceptance of Facebook friendships [you are a very select/elect few, the oldies but goldies…(and btw if you are a relative, you are not invited, accepted, or acknowledged, so-don’t-even-try-sorry-kind-of)] from my past life, (and intentionally not-too-recent life because I’m not ready for that yet), then I felt like I should give some sort of update on what has happened to us in the last three or so years so you won’t have to suffer through the ranting of my blog to see what we have been doing. A concise history, if you will.
About three years ago we moved from Leavenworth, KS to Fort Drum, NY. Even though everyone there still speaks English, I think it was a bigger culture shock than we realized. ***Gross stereotypes and generalizations to follow*** Friendly enough, but very reclusive, the locals were content to live just as they had done for the last half century. A generally depressed economy dependent on the fort for growth and livelihood, astronomical real estate prices driven solely by the base, and state laws that smother motivation to improve the general appearance of property made a very unique landscape I felt was more fitting for the Ozark hills. Couple that with overzealous Hoohah-Hoohah attitude at work, and we had a very big change to accept.
That first year (2012) we added Trousers to our family. Two months later we added Greta Mae. They have both made life immeasurably more interesting and dear. *Note to self* Never again acquire a puppy when pregnant, or with a newborn. Bad idea for everyone. The boys attended the local Catholic school, Augustinian Academy, which we loved, and made some great friends.
In 2013, Andy was lucky to deploy two times under two different assignments. Bryce turned 12 and was made a deacon at church, Greta turned 1, Gus 9. Rosie, our family foster dog, whom was with us for a time in Kansas, again came to live with us and help calm Trousers, (still a work in progress). We had a lovely ice storm followed by a heavy winter, all of which Andy missed. He accused me of over exaggerating the weather in his absence. It’s entirely possible, but he has no proof.
Andy returned in the summer of 2014, Greta shortly thereafter broke both her arm and leg on our trampoline. We spent the last year in New York going through the ups and downs of assignment planning and un-planning. For a few days we thought we might be able to go back to Germany (my heart’s desire second only to the Celestial Kingdom), only to find out that all hope of that was inexplicably lost. We accepted an assignment under the assumption that we would be moving close to my sister only to find out that the assignment had been falsely advertized and was actually several states away. I think I’m usually a pretty even-tempered person, but the last few months in NY were very trying for me personally. I’d been frustrated and angry and generally unhappy with the way many things had been going.
By the time 2015 came around and we were locked into our new assignment, (NOT in DC as we had hoped, but SC instead,) I was ready for a change of scenery and pace no matter where that happened to be. Another champion winter helped my feeling that way. Andy somehow decided that we would move ourselves…which meant I would be doing 90% of the prep work, which I started months in advance. I won’t volunteer to do that again. Thank goodness for those few souls who showed up to help us load and unload our moving truck. (The trampoline did not make the move with us.)
We’ve been here in Aiken, SC for two months now. And even though I swore years ago that we would not buy a house until we were ready to retire, we are homeowners, again. Now that I’ve hung some pictures on the walls, it’s starting to feel like home. We’ll be here for a whopping total of one year before we pack up again and move with the Corps of Engineers to New Orleans, LA. It’s taken a bit to adjust to the extreme temperature difference. It is more humid, though not much as we anticipated, as it’s been a very dry summer so far. The sun doesn’t rise at 4am as it does in NY, and it’s often still over 100 at 7pm. But, the people are very friendly and Southern Hospitality is real! We were invited to church by almost every one we met for the first two weeks we were here. There is civilization here, actual grocery storeS, which is a big change from NY.
School will start in a few weeks. Bryce will be starting high school and seminary. He is now taller than me by a few inches, all added in just the last few months. Gus will be in 6th grade. He will be attending a small charter school on the other side of town. It will be a big change for all of us, as we have home-schooled for the last two years. Greta (3 in November) will not know what to do without her two brothers to entertain her. I guess we will have more time to create adventures and write Christmas letters.