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Happy Holidays 2021, Sharing Health and Adventures into the New Year

This holiday season we want to share the warmest wishes of health and peace from our family to yours. 2021 has been a rollercoaster of changes in our lives. Between high school and preschool, trying to potty train Theodore, working from home, and just plain working more, we managed to still find a little time for our family and have little adventures. We have elected for everyone eligible in our home that we have gotten the COVID vaccine, we know it’s a good preventative to hopefully not get really sick.

Eston has been working in person at T-Mobile for the whole year. He finally was promoted to a full-time Mobile Expert this year and is earning the benefits he has worked so hard for. Riley and Basil returned to in-person learning as they both are going into the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School for grades 9 and 12. The last time they will both be in the same school together. Leander is attending ages 4-5 Preschool alongside his age group. He is so ready for Kindergarten next year! I learned that I will continue to work remotely from home indefinitely as Capital One does not plan on returning to the offices for everyone just yet. I’m actually quite happy with the decision as it allows me to spend more time with everyone at home during breaks and I’ve explored more cooking options and ideas. Not to mention, more crafting.

This Summer was the most eventful we’ve had in quite some time. It began with Riley and Basil going to their mother’s every other week to visit. In June we started our summer vacation by trying to spend as much time outdoors or with the windows open, we experienced wonderful sunny and cool weather for many days, which we were very grateful for. We put up the trampoline in the yard which attracted our neighbors, and we picked up a small pool for the kids to play in. Next summer it will find another spot to sit in the yard, not under the trees. My garden did great at first with baby plants. Then the (verb) squirrels put the kibosh on that and I had to figure out a fence to stop them eating the entirety of my tomato plants. Lots of this additional time outside meant the playground that came with our home has seen daily use and adventures!

Celebrating the Fourth of July was amazing and the boys got to see their first big fireworks show from Hester Park! It was a picture-perfect moment and perfect seating.

At the end of July, both Eston and I had a whole week off from work to celebrate our 9th Wedding Anniversary. We celebrated as a family by going out to eat at Red Lobster, the food was absolutely delicious. We spent many days taking the boys to the parks and spending as much time together as we could and then on Friday that week, Eston and I each got a new tattoo. Eston got a new hand tattoo and I covered up the tattoo on my elbow with a better star shape. It was a great end to another year in the books.

The last few days of July and the beginning of August we celebrated the life of our family pet Fester "FatCat" Vogel. Fester was diagnosed with end-stage feline renal failure and stopped eating food, and he barely drank liquids. The option to extend his life with intravenous fluids at home would become too costly and would not have provided the quality of life Fester would have enjoyed. I made the decision to ensure that he would not suffer and have the best of life he could and on August 5th at 3:30 pm Fester was put to rest. Now he gets to wander and catch all the mice he could ever want. We buried him in our yard and made sure his favorite pheasant feather was placed with him. We miss him very much and our home feels very much different without his presence.

Later in August, we celebrated a much happier occasion, Riley finally became a fully licensed driver in our home! He passed with great scores and even has his eye on his first vehicle. Now he has been working at the local Dominoes for about a month now and is really enjoying his new job and the paychecks that come with it. His boss is also very appreciative of him for showing a great work ethic and diligence in his role. We are very proud of Riley's accomplishments. He is in his Senior year of High School and soon enough he will be graduating. We are planning a family and friends get-together at the end of the '21-'22 school year, please keep an eye out for invitations and photos.

September marked the first day of school for Riley (his last first day), Basil (first day of High School), and Leander (last first day of preschool). Our kids are getting so much older now the time just feels like it flew on by that I really appreciate the ability to put into memory books all of the things each of them have done. We love seeing how they have grown and are very hopeful for all their futures. Leander's birthday was just before his Preschool year began and we celebrated as a family together decorating sugar cookies and Leander loves his new scooter! Later this month the boys and I drove to Montevideo MN and attended my brother Jim's marriage to Melissa. Welcome to the Family!

Sometime in early October things came to a culmination of sort and learning more about mental health and specifically ADHD. I started a conversation with our family doctor about recent behaviors we saw Leander showing and the experiences we were hearing about his time in school. Leander couldn't focus on things, he wasn't listening, continued outbursts, and was not being able to sit still for short times. These were just a few of the things that we noticed before we finally started the conversations

I had also begun noticing more of some behaviors in myself that I shared with my doctor. I would lose focus during a phone call during work, being unable to complete small tasks, forgetfulness, and other behaviors. A lot of these things I had been living with for years or my whole life and just never really thought about it. There is so much material out there about ADHD and neurodivergence that I cannot possibly elaborate on in our Holiday letter... but the end result is that Leander and I are on our way to living our best lives a little more healthy and a little more focused.

Halloween in October was so much fun for Leander and Theodore. They both got to dress up as their favorite characters. Leander was a Robot Ninja and Theodore got to be Spiderman! I brought them out trick or treating pretty early as we wanted to make sure we got everywhere first in the daylight. We even went trick or treating at our local Runnings and got to run around the store in costumes. We purchased full-size candy bars and tons of glow stick bracelets and necklaces from Dollar Tree (the best place for cheap treats) to hand out. We probably had between 30-45 families stop by our door. We have a Bluetooth disco light that really helped to set the mood outside our front door!

November was also the month of great celebrations! Theodore turned 3 years old and his birthday was celebrated Spiderman style, with lots of sweet treats, and Spidey decorations. Eston celebrated his 37th birthday and he ended up having to work the whole day. He chose to have steak for supper for his big day so we ordered take-out from Texas Roadhouse and it was delicious!

Now that the end of the year is here again we want to thank you for letting us share our year in review with you and the little adventures we've had all year long. From our family to yours we hope your 2022 is merry and bright, filled with love and adventures of your own. May happiness and health be abundant in your homes too. Merry Christmas 2021 and Happy New Year 2022!

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