It’s the End of the Year as We Know It and I Feel Fine

It’s as cliche’ as cliche’ can get but I’ll say it anyway: this year absolutely flew by. A year ago we loaded the moving truck and were on our way to NC from Oklahoma. 2021 ended with us coming home after 5 years, and though we were sad to be leaving family and friends behind, we were excited about what the future would hold. What follows, if you’ll indulge me, is a little recap but is by no means comprehensive.

2022 came out swinging with a hard right hook: Covid hit my wife and kids as the year began. Thankfully they all had mild cases, but what a way to start. We put all our stuff in storage in my in-laws garage, the same garage it was housed in when we sold our digs and moved west in 2017, while we looked for a place to call home. After two months living with my parents (who says you can’t go home again?!!) we were fortunate enough to find a rental house one neighborhood away. We moved into our new digs the first week of March, the same week Amanda began a new job, her first working outside the home since 2006. Lots of change happening all at once!

We were overjoyed to have our own place (with a front AND back porch we’d come to love) as well as finally have our Chewy back with us. Little did we know he would succumb to a rapid illness just a few months later, leaving a very large hole in our home and our hearts.

In June I finally managed to catch Covid the day before my oldest turned 16, thereby cancelling her Sweet 16 birthday party (way to go dad!). To say that week sucked would be an understatement. She had already learned that NC didn’t honor OK driver’s education, so she was retaking driver’s ed. At least it’s done through the schools here and we didn’t have to pay for it again, but hey, she should be well informed behind the wheel!

Summer brought the vacation I’d been waiting 6 years for: a trip to the NC Mountains. We spent our days lazing on the porch, reading, hiking around the lake, playing games and guitar, and just enjoying being back in the embrace of the mountains. To say it’s my favorite place on earth would be correct. You can have the beach and the sand…give me the mountains and the trees. Honestly that was one of the sweetest trips I can remember with my family, and I’m so very grateful we were able to make it happen.

The scariest stretch of summer was when my folks contracted Covid. It hit them hard, my dad especially. One positive, besides the Covid tests, to come out of my own bout with Rona being I was able to take care of my folks and not put the rest of the family at risk. There were some hard days but they made it through, and no one else came down with it. Whew!

August came quickly with yet another milestone for us: our middle child, our baby girl, was going to test the difficult waters of 8th grade in…gulp…public school. Her sister had shifted from homeschool to public in 9th grade, but this kid wanted to give it a go in middle school. And though I tried valiantly, I couldn’t talk her out of it. 😉 We always said we’d take it year by year with each kid, and suddenly it was just myself and my boy at home during the days. It was quite an adjustment for all of us, and a good bit of culture shock for her, but she weathered it quite well. In fact she had a moment early on where my daddy heart grew 3 sizes in one day. A young buck decided he wanted her social info, which she informed him she didn’t have. He proceeded through the list: snap, insta, FB…nope. Then he asked for her number, to which she replied, “Uh, no. I don’t just give out my number to anyone.” Yessiree, that was a proud dad moment for sure.

Watching your kids face the challenges life throws at them has got to be one of the toughest yet most rewarding things for a parent. I couldn’t be more proud of all my kids. But I digress.

My boy is still homeschooled, and since I’m working from home, I’m running point on that for the first time. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to be with him each day as he grows and learns.  Long-time readers know I missed a good bit of his early years due to my former profession, and I can’t help but feel as though this is just one more way the “locust years” have been returned to me.  We’ve had our moments to be sure, but I’m grateful for the time we’ve been able to share.  If nothing else, his knowledge of classic rock has been expanded greatly. 

He also got WAY into soccer, playing his first two rec league seasons and loving every minute of them (even the losing ones).  We had a ball (see what I did there?) watching the World Cup together even though the USA bowed out early. Honestly, he’s managed the unthinkable: he made a soccer fan out of me.  I’d hated the game since one ill-fated season playing as a youngster, but when your kids get into something your view tends to change. Or it should.  So yeah, I’m a Soccer Dad now, minivan and all. I’m also learning to bite my tongue during games.  

In the midst of this year Amanda did something she’s dreamed of for years: she started Sojourn Living, her own business named with a nod to our time in OK but also to the reality that we’re all just passing through, just sojourning here. She loves going to thrift stores and finding vintage items which have a story to tell, things others have cast off which she can then spruce up and resell (or, as often happens, put in our house!).  I couldn’t be prouder of her!  This was a huge leap and she jumped in with both feet!  It’s also been fun for me to get to do “pop up” events with her on weekends, meeting new people and watching her do her thing.  If you know her, seeing her succeed isn’t surprising, yet I never cease to be amazed at how she continues to grow and push herself as a person, mom, friend and wife. She’s amazing.

I also would up doing something I’ve needed to do for years: exercise on a regular basis.  After a friend kept badgering me about getting up early and going with him to workout, I figured I’d go once and get him off my back. It was ann exercise group called F3, and though I was pretty dang hesitant, I’m so glad I finally went.  Not only am I in my best shape in years, I reconnected with some old friends from high school, and made a ton of new friends as well.  When I couldn’t walk after the first day, I’d never thought I’d end the year as “all in” for F3 as I am, but here we are.  5:30 workouts? In below freezing temps?  Or the wet blanket humidity of August? Yep.  I’m in. Who am I?

December came in and I edged a year closer to the end of my 40’s. I took take a quick trip to Oklahoma for work and was able to visit family, friends and our old church while I was there.  Going solo was hard, especially this time of year (and for the record I HATE flying) but it was good for my soul.  The day after I got back my daughter FINALLY got her NC driver’s license.  Taking her that morning, watching as she left for the drive test itself, and seeing her come back giving me a big thumbs up while knowing all she’d been through to get to that point…well, yeah, it got a little dusty in that little DMV.  On Christmas Eve we were able to bring home her first car, following us with her sis riding co-pilot, all the way home from Raleigh.  In Raleigh traffic.  Baptism by fire, indeed. For the record, she said I was speeding the whole time. I wasn’t. She needs to learn to flow with traffic. 🙂

Which brings us to this week.  The last week of 2022.  Unfortunately Covid has reappeared, but so far, only hit Amanda and thankfully fairly mildly (though she might disagree).  And as much as it sucks to end the year stuck at home dealing with this nonsense again, there is one thing I’m grateful for: we’re all home together. We’re on the very cusp of the shift where the kids are gone more than they’re home (at least the girls), we’re both working again, everyone is busy and life is full-steam ahead.  So sickness or not, I’m grateful to have this time.  

Just reflecting back has been good for me, so thank you for reading along.  It’s easy to forget all the good in the midst of the hard, all the fun in the midst of the day-to-day, all the great moments which I tend to let the admittedly fewer bad overshadow, all the answered prayers and fulfilled hopes which vanish in the midst of the next thing you face. Yet even now as I type I’m remembering more things I could share, more good than bad, and what a gift it is to write that!

It is the end of the year as we know it, and I truly do feel fine. I’m grateful for all this year was, grateful to be home after 5 years away, and I’m hopeful for 2023.  Thanks for reading!  May you have a very Happy New Year!

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