2014 brought us many changes: new jobs, new critters and a new school for Jacob. 2014 also was the year when both our kids officially grew over our heads. Jacob is now taller than I am, and Julia is taller than Laura.

henry3Right at the beginning of the year, Henry the cat moved in with us. He was an indoor cat all his life and the great outdoors was a bit daunting for him. However, recently he has started venturing out more. He seems to like hanging out on the deck, and sometimes he follows me out to the pasture and watches me feed the horses. Still, his favorite thing is sleeping on the couch. Henry is an Abyssinian cat and we got him from Laura’s brother Peter, who moved to Costa Rica.

Emus in the snowIn January, we also had quite a bit of bird-related drama. A dog killed most of our neighbor’s chicken and chased our emu Sidney out of the pasture. I had to drive around during a snowstorm looking for the bird, and for a while, a Sheriff’s deputy even tried to help. After several days we found the emu and managed to catch him and take him home in the trunk of the Mercedes. In February, during yet another snow storm, Sidney got out again, and we had to chase him down and catch him, again. Later that spring, we got another emu, Darwin, but then Alice got out and we did not manage to catch her, so we were down to two emus, again.

ACTHA_Laura1On March 28, we bought another horse – a 5-year-old Rocky Mountain mare by the name of R U Madison Saint. Our elderly gelding Wally has ligament problems, and we can’t ride him much any more, so Laura got herself a healthy, young mare, whom she can train and push to do more intense stuff, like hunter paces and endurance rides. In the nine months Madison has been with us now, Laura has turned her from a good, but “green” horse into an excellent, well-trained trail horse. She trailers easily, she is confident and relaxed on the trail, and she is now fit enough to keep up with our older mare Cleo, who is a real speed demon on the trail.

Sassy and SnoopyWell, and then there are the goats. In August, we bought two goats, Sassy – a Kiko mix (the brown one) – and Snoopy – a Boer mix (the black and white one). Snoopy was a wedding present to our neighbors, who got married August 30th. Our neighbor Nick and I built an enclosure out of an old horse shelter on their property, and we keep both goats there.

The two goats are quite a dynamic duo and they love climbing on stuff and Snoopy especially loves to jump over, onto and off of anything. They are quite bonded to me and when I am out, working around the house or the pasture, I often let them roam freely, so they can browse on whatever tasty plants they can find, like tree saplings (they love the pine saplings) or ferns or acorns or just some grass. And sometimes we go on walks in the woods or in the neighborhood.

So lots of excitement around the animals this year. But we had other excitement, too. Laura quit her job at Duke in June and spent a few months consulting and growing our own start-ups, 11foot8 and Heathenn Lamps into small, but profitable businesses.

Laura also took Julia on a tour of several universities this fall. They visited Duke, the University of North Carolina and American University. Julia liked American best and we really hope that she’ll getsmallIMG_8417 in and can study there. But of course, Duke or Carolina would be great, too. The college selection and application process is really pretty intense and complex. It was (and is) stressful, even though Julia has excellent grades and Laura was really able to guide her through this process. I can only imagine how hard it must be for some kids whose parents can’t help them with this, or have no interest. Even with help, this process is challenging.

smallIMG_8297During the summer, Julia also had a bit of a dry-run for the college experience. She spent 5 weeks at the Governor’s School, which was fun for her because she got to hang out and study together with smart kids from all over the state. And it gave her some experience with campus life, having a room-mate and living in a dormitory.smallIMG_8055

Jacob started High School this fall and after a week at his assigned school we got a call from DSA that he got accepted off of the wait list! So we pulled him out of Northern High and he had to do 2 days of placement tests and then he started classes at Durham School of the Arts. Besides DSA’s status as one of the best High Schools in the state, it is nice that Jacob can play the bass in a good orchestra program and it is really nice that classes start at 8:45 and not at 7:30, like at his assigned school.

On November 16, Jacob and I went on a little road trip to Washington to meet with an old friend oJacob and Lincolnf mine and his wife and daughter. They were visiting New York and Washington from Germany and I had not seen him in almost 10 years. Jacob is studying US history, and he had never seen the capital, so this was pretty interesting to him and he agreed to keep me company during the 9-hour round trip that day.

Me? Well, work has been super-busy, as we are building the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. My boss of 13 years, Dr. Angold, is retiring and as of today, I officially work at the Autism Center under Dr. Dawson. That’s pretty exciting! I ran another Bull City Race Fest half marathon in the fall. That was fun. On Nov. 28, I had my traditional Black Friday party – albeit without a keg of the usual Sexual Chocolate Stout. Still, a good crowd showed up and fun was had :)

All fall we were quite social, going to Halloween parties, anniversary parties, baby showers, and hosting and attending several neighborhood bonfires.

However, my favorite social event and historic occasion of this Year of the Lord, 2014, took place in June and July.

All I can say is  W E L T M E I S T E R !!!


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