(Auf Deutsch hier) Most of 2016 unfolded more or less quietly for us with some new beginnings, changed expectations and gradual growth and adjustments. Laura settled into a new job, Julia’s journey took some unforeseen twists and turns, Jacob is just growth all around :-) and I experimented a bit with changing my diet and life habits and bought a “new” car. At the end of the year, we were also touched by the resilience and courage of some good friends who were dealt some really intense challenges by life.
Over the last few months, the daughter of a good friend has been going through cancer treatment and so Barbara has been traveling a lot to be with her daughter’s family. So while she is away, we have been taking care of her dog. It’s not much, but it’s one thing they don’t have to worry about.
Last week, we saw an entire community of colleagues, friends and neighbors rally around the family of our good friends Bill and Ashley when their 5-year-old son died in a freak-accident the Monday after Christmas. Friends and family organized a meal train and a go-fund-me campaign to make sure to take care of their food and financial needs in this difficult time. At the memorial service on Friday, the community came together to honor Everett’s memory and to embrace and support his parents, his sisters and the entire family. As we go through our daily lives, it is so easy to ignore just how quickly lives can be turned inside out by tragedy, and this was a painful wake-up call to not take anything for granted.
In April, Laura started working for the Life Skills Foundation, a local non-profit that provides services to youth aging out of t he foster care system. She is in charge of development and fundraising, and she loves it. It’s a tough mission and a challenging job, but the team is very tight-knit and a good fit for her. Otherwise, the horses have kept her really busy, especially our old gelding Wally, who had serious hoof trouble and required daily treatments for weeks and weeks.
In the spring, Julia did am internship at Step Up – another local non-profit. Step Up provides employment readiness workshops for folks who have trouble finding jobs because they have a criminal record or they have been unemployed for a long time. At the end of the summer, she headed back to D.C. to start over at American University. But once she arrived on campus, her health problems resurfaced and it became clear that this was not going to be a good route for her to take right now. So we decided to bring her back home and re-focus on helping her improve her health and general outlook So she spent the fall helping Laura take care of the horses and working on small projects.
Jacob is now a Junior at DSA High School (11th grade) and he is really into computer gaming and he takes an advanced game design class at school. He also took his driver’s ed class this fall and got his learner’s permit. So now we have to practice driving with him for a year, so he can get his license. Over the summer, he spent several weeks with John and Vikki in New Hampshire at their new home. Julia joined him for a week and then the two flew home together, since he is still too young to fly unaccompanied. He is now 6 feet tall and he got a razor for Christmas :-)
As for myself, I ended 2015 recovering from pericarditis and acid reflux problems. While recovering from my illness I started experimenting with my diet and ended up changing my diet to a low-carb high-fat diet. I cut out all potatoes, pasta and most rice and I eat lots of eggs (free-range from the neighbor), nuts and avocados. I am not real dogmatic about it, either, so small amounts of sugar, some bread and liquid carbs :-) are still on the menu. Yet, I managed to really improve my acid reflux problems and lose 25 pounds since 2015. At my last physical in December, my blood panel looked really good and I feel healthier than in a long time. In addition, I have been meditating regularly in order improve my stress management and mental health.
In April, I was rear-ended in my 1991 Mercedes on Guess Rd. I was not hurt and the damage to the car was not bad, so I took the insurance payout and bought another, very similar Mercedes: a white 1992 300D. The car is in great shape and Julia now drives the black Mercedes.
Sienna, the dog, Sidney, the emu and Snoopy the goat
Our menagerie has increased yet a bit and continues to be a major part of our life. In June, Mel, the emu joined the gang. It has been an interesting challenge to 1) keep her in the enclosure and 2) to get her acquainted with the male emus. We were really counting on finally getting some emu eggs with a female in the mix, but so far no luck, even though we’re halfway through mating season and she has been hanging out with Darwin in her enclosure. Apropos “mating” … in the spring we tried to have Cleo covered by this nice fella, Apache, but that also did not work out so well. At least Cleo seems to have enjoyed her time with Apache :-)
Sienna has been staying with us on and off since August, whenever Barbara and Gail have to travel. She is a good dog and she loves to chase a laser pointer or a flash light beam at night.
Our newest addition is Azi the kitten. Laura brought her home after she found her basically living behind a dumpster at work – where she was probably born last spring. We had her spayed, vaccinated and checked out by the vet and now she has become a very energetic part of the family.
All the best to all of you for a great 2017!
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