It has been two years since I wrote our holiday letter. A lot can happen in a life in two years and even more can happen in the lives of five people. So, I think it’s best if I try to take a snapshot of where we are these days with a brief recap of how we got here.
I am trying to concentrate on this letter, but I am distracted by the sloppy flakes sloshing down outside my new office window. There hasn’t been snow since Thanksgiving and I am grateful we are headed toward a white Christmas.
The office view is among my most favorite parts of the house we bought in Menomonie, WI last spring.
The Story of a House in Town
We moved back to Menomonie (for a third time) in August of 2013. Pudge accepted the job as the head boys hockey coach for the MHS Mustangs and we planned to settle into a quiet life on the lake. For some reason, the kids insisted on coming with us, and our vision of a quiet, retired life on the water was anything but.
We locked the storage unit with a house’s worth of things and snuggled into the cabin for what we thought was going to be a few months. Becoming lake residents was our plan. Becoming town residents was God’s plan.
We ran into building restriction after building restriction as we worked with architects and the county to obtain permits to upgrade the cabin to make it a house. Who knew how hard it would be to build anything new so close to the water? (we are 35 feet from the shore)
By November we realized the cabin was going to need to remain a cabin and we were probably going to be better off in town. We resigned ourselves to the reality that living a bit closer to all the places we were driving our children was probably not a bad idea. So, the house hunt began.
We fell in love with the house we bought the first time we walked through it right around Thanksgiving. Our original offer fell through and we figured we would have to hunker down for the winter. We had no idea what kind of winter it was really going to be. “Epic” “Polar Vortex” “The worst winter in nearly 300 years” This was the winter we spent tightly quartered in our one-bathroom-no-dishwasher-no-garage-mice-in-walls-old-furnaced-cabin.
The driveway became glazed with ice just before I ruptured my Achilles Tendon in February. Ice picks on crutches and left-footed driving became the new norm and all the while we bantered back and forth with the home owners about our deep desire to buy their house in town.
We FINALLY made a deal on the house and we were all set to close and move in April 2nd.
Two days before closing the house suffered a sewage back-up that flooded the entire basement as well as 16 other houses in our neighborhood. Closing delayed, move-in stalled and renovation necessary before we finally unloaded the storage unit we had been renting since the previous June and moved in April 6th.
We LOVE the house and I can honestly say I am completely grateful for the year we had in the cabin. It strengthened all of us through humility. We learned to find gratitude in and through hardship and it certainly changed all of us.
The Stories of the Kids
Nate started high school this year and has adjusted well to the tougher work load and varying activities. He played soccer in the fall, is playing bantam hockey this winter, and continues to sing in the chorus. He plans to work out at the festival for the third year in a row this upcoming summer and he also hopes to visit Seattle this spring. (he pictures himself living there some day…he LOVES cloudy and rainy weather)
Haley is in seventh grade this year and continues to stay very busy too. She LOVED waterskiing this past summer and has taught herself to get up on one ski. She played volleyball and soccer this fall, is the goalie for the boys’ peewee hockey team, sings in choir, and she just got herself certified through the Red Cross to babysit. She too plans to work for us out at the festival this summer.
Kiana turned 9 this fall and is in third grade. She had to move schools again, because we moved to town, but she has transitioned really well. Ki likes to tube and kneeboard at the lake, she plays soccer when the grass is showing, is playing hockey this winter on the squirt team (with real games, real offside and real penalties) and is consistently wowing us with her artistic and creative energy.
Dickens turned 4 and is such a great part of our crew. I do wish he would stop stalking the presents under the tree.
Our Marriage Story Continues
Pudge and I are doing great. We snuck away to Bayfield and Madeline Island this past fall.
Pudge continues to work for the RenFest and coach hockey. He completed his Masters in Education last spring and is glad to be done with school work.
I continue to write as often as I can and I have a goal for 2015 to complete a novel I’ve been working on. I am still doing some team building consulting for the women’s hockey team at Hamline University and I write occasionally for the Books Make a Difference magazine. I worked at the festival for my second summer last year and I plan to do it again this upcoming summer. I enjoy all the work I get to do but absolutely most rewarding is my job as a mom.
We hope for all the best for each of you this holiday season and for the coming year. We love visitors and we do hope you’ll consider stopping by if you are in the Northwoods.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and may you live many stories worth sharing!
2 thoughts on “Our Christmas Letter: A Celebration of Stories”
I think I need to hire you to write a Christmas card letter for our family next year! Loved the update. We are excited to visit your family in Wisconsin sometime soon, still deciding if summer or winter is a better time. Miss you!
Merry Christmas to all the Franks! I love and miss you, but cherish our Thanksgiving ‘Chrismas’ last month. Can’t wait to see ALL of you this Summer. LOL and of course LOLove.