Every year my husband writes a letter for our Christmas cards and I design the cards. I absolutely love reading about our year from his perspective. While I've edited this letter a bit, the bulk of the letter is still intact. Enjoy our 2013 recap.
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**It was written in November 2013.
Hello Family & Friends!
It’s been another crazy year for us. I’m not sure where 2013 went, but in looking back it seems to have flown by. Our little family continues to be blessed with knowing all of you, our steady jobs, good health, and quite a bit of fun.
Sarah has certainly had a busy year. She still works as a financial analyst for the same coffee roasting company, and her job has grown in scope and importance. Knowing how hard she works makes her list of extracurricular activities even more impressive. She continues to dance competitively, and won her division in both the spring and fall Arthur Murray invitationals up in Washington DC. I got to join her to watch one evening of the fall event, and boy is that an intimidating environment. Hard bodies, skimpy clothes, judges with piercing looks, constant changing and dancing. I could never do it, but Sarah thrives on it. She’s still dancing between one and three nights a week and I join her once in a while. We’ve made great friends at the Arthur Murray studio. Sarah’s big summer accomplishment was training for and completing her first half marathon! She ran the Rock n’ Roll half in Virginia Beach and survived mostly unscathed, with just some IT band pain that took a few weeks to heal. Her friend from college came down and ran with her and they had a great time. Sarah’s also tutoring occasionally, and for the last several weeks has spent one night a week working with a 9-year-old girl and 13-year-old boy. She was recommended for and recently accepted a job teaching the math portion of the evening GMAT prep course at Old Dominion University, which will start in February. On top of all this, in her “spare” time, Sarah’s become a professional-quality photographer. She created Turnaround Photography and is in the process of gathering a client base and getting the word out. We just heard that she’ll be taking photos for one of our favorite local bands! Most evenings are spent editing photos with the puppy curled up on her lap.
My (husband -Ryan, author of this letter) year started with my back pain intensifying, and once my MRI finally got in front of a neurosurgeon, they made the decision to operate immediately. My bulging L5 disc was “molesting” my S1 (sciatic nerve) according to the doc, and I had a micro discectomy in early February. Recovering from back surgery was no treat, and was probably hardest on Sarah because I was pretty useless for a few weeks. Still, I eventually recovered and thankfully have none of the sharp pain that I had before. I still experience some general lower back soreness, but that has subsided over the year with exercise and stretching. I was back to golfing six weeks after surgery and started working hard to get back to where I left off. I had a very up and down tournament season. On the good side I qualified for the Virginia Tournament of Champions and won my club championship by a landslide. I also had my best ever “major” tournament finish, in the Virginia Public Links Championship at Golden Horseshoe Club up in Williamsburg, where I qualified for match play and then won all of my matches before losing 1-down on the 18th green in the semifinal match. I sort of slumped after that though, and finished middle of the pack in the Virginia Mid-Amateur and missed the cut in the Middle Atlantic Amateur. Still, it was a good year considering the surgery and trying to finish school. On that note, I finished my MBA from Penn State University in August – a culmination of two long years of constant work. I spent a week up in State College doing my final residency and capstone project and had a blast. When I’m not golfing I enjoy cooking, walking the puppy, and date nights with Sarah. I serve as the tournament director and secretary of my golf club’s men’s association, so I’m constantly dealing with issues that come up at the course.
Jared, or J-man as he is usually called, has definitely exited boyhood and is firmly into the preteen years (he’ll be 12 in March). He began the year as a 5th grader and continued to do well, making honor roll every term, and “graduating” from elementary school in June. He played baseball this spring in the pony league and had a much better experience than last year. He’s now playing with 12-year-olds, some as tall as me, so it was kind of funny watching little J-man run around with them. He did well though, and started most games at 2nd base. While hitting didn’t go so well, we learned that the kid is an awesome bunter and with his speed he found the base a good percentage of the time. The sad news with J-man is that we had to give him up to his mother for the next school year, part of a pre-arranged agreement we had, and he moved with her to Southeastern Iowa in late July. It’s been a strange transition, especially when we’ve been used to having kids run through the house for two years. More alone time and more golf/dance time, but I can tell you we prefer to have the kids and the mess. Sarah and I took a road trip out to visit him in October (WAY cheaper than flying, and I have trucker blood after all), and put nearly 2,600 miles on a rental car in five days. We got to play Jared’s golf course, explored Iowa City (home of the University of Iowa), spent time at the Amana Colonies (a former religious colony turned touristy area), and just enjoyed being together. He lives in a very small town, less than 2,000 people, and he can ride his bike through town safely to his joint middle/high school. He’s enjoying the 6th grade, and he’s doing better than we expected. I can see that kind of rural life being good for him for a while. When he comes back depends on my schedule and on when we start producing more mini-Nolan’s. The separation has been made easier by the wonders of technology. We have nightly Skype calls, and he can email and text now, so I’m far more comfortable than with previous separations. Sometimes “Dad eyes” or “Sarah eyes” go a long ways.
By far the most loved and most spoiled member of the family is little Lira. Even though she’s five years old she’s still “the puppy”, and if you haven’t met her, it’s hard to describe her goofy personality. I’ve had some spoiled dogs growing up but this little one takes the cake. She shares our eggs in the morning, peanut butter when I make my sandwich, and darn near eats at the table with us. She likes to prowl the house at night but usually scratches the side of the bed until I pick her up and put her between us, usually around 4am. She lives for her afternoon walks, sleeping in with Sarah on the weekends, and of course food! We love that crazy puppy.
Next year will likely be one of major transition. Most importantly new mini-Nolan’s are on the horizon. None baking in the oven yet, but we’re reviewing the recipe, if you will. Uncertainty has pretty much become the norm for us, so we’re just trying to have fun in the meantime. We have lots of plans for 2014 that we’ll try to squeeze in among the madness. Those include a West Coast trip for my annual golf tournament with dad, the family reunion in Iowa, and several visits up to visit Sarah’s family. As I write this, Sarah and I are four days away from jumping on a plane to Dunn’s River, Jamaica near Montego Bay. This is our first vacation alone together since our honeymoon and we’re excited to soak up the sun and the fruity drinks (and catch up on sleep).
We wish you and your families a safe and happy holiday season. May 2014 be a great year for you all.