Just a quick note before I jump right in here… We celebrate Christmas in our household. It’s been a part of our collective family since Day 1, and both Kirk and I grew up celebrating Christmas. That doesn’t mean any other holiday is any less important than Christmas-- it only means that we refer to Christmas because it’s what we celebrate. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chaunukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus or any of the countless other holidays that fall at this time of year, we wish you the best holiday you could hope for!
Dearest family and friends,
Season’s Greetings! I know it’s been a super long time since I actually wrote a holiday letter. Things can be a little challenging to keep up with around here, so it often gets put off until I just convince myself that it’ll happen Next Year. So look at us! Living in Next Year like some kind of time travelers! Also, I’m totally cheating by also making this a blog post. I like to think I’m just being efficient.
These letters are always a bit awkward for us… I don’t have tales of awards or activities to share of my kiddo like a lot of folks do. Don’t get me wrong-- I’m fiercely proud of Nolan. But since he’s not involved in a lot of organized activities or sports, our tales tend to be different from a typical family’s letter. He has continued with Music Therapy, though, where we’ve got an awesome therapist. He really enjoys his time working with her (most weeks-- I mean, let’s be realistic… He’s a teenager and he’s going to have moments where he doesn’t want to do anything that isn’t his idea…) Other than that, he attends an after school and summer program through a local organization where he works on things like life skills and social skills. In general? He still works harder than most adults I’ve ever known just to get by in our world. So yeah-- I’m proud of my kid, and not just because that’s my job.
This year’s been kind of a wild ride. At the beginning of the year, our cat Frodo (who’s about 15 and has been with us for nearly 10 years) fell ill with a large tumor on his thyroid. Before surgery to remove it, he was having trouble eating, drinking and even breathing. We genuinely feared we would lose him, but he’s recovered well and is hanging in there.
In late March, we put our house on the market in search of something smaller and easier for us to keep up with. Things happened super-quickly, and our house sold despite the water seepage that was plaguing our basement (along with all the other basements in the neighborhood in this year’s bigger-than-normal spring thaw). The whirlwind from listing the old house to moving in to the new house was about 62 days. Had we been prepared before we listed the old house, it might not have been such a feat, but that’s just not how things seem to work for us. If we’d waited until we were prepared, we would’ve been lucky to list the house some time in 2045 or so. So we leaned heavily on a fantastic local moving company.
We relocated to a smaller home in a different part of town that suits our family almost perfectly. Kirk’s grateful for the time he’s regained by no longer having to mow such a big lawn. I’m grateful for the lower energy and tax bills that this house brings. I think it’s safe to say, though, that we all miss the fence. Nolan is doing a good job of learning where our yard ends and the neighbors’ yards begin, though something tells me we may have to re-learn those boundaries once we’re back outside in the spring. Either way, it’s been a great way to share a little autism awareness with our new neighbors whether we wanted to or not.
We haven’t taken any major trips this year-- that’s always a challenge for us. But we always try to get out and explore the world around us. Nolan and I love to take random road trips to see some of the amazing things throughout the Driftless Region where we live. Plus we’ve joined Kirk for a couple of flea markets as he searches for treasures.
And this year, we were also fortunate enough to see two amazing concerts as a family. Nolan saw his first concert in April when we took Kirk for a birthday weekend to see Billy Joel at Miller Park. We were both nervous to see how Nolan would do with such a large crowd and so much noise, but he was a rock star! Not literally-- that was Billy Joel’s job. After that went so well, we also took Nolan to see Hall & Oates in Madison toward the end of the summer.
Our other cat, Oscar, passed away in early July. He’d been with us for 14 years and was about 17 years old. After several weeks of watching Frodo wander through the house seeming a little bit lost, we (okay it was 98% me) started looking for a pair of cats. We knew Frodo won’t live forever, and we didn’t want to bring home a friend for Frodo only to leave them behind in just a few short years.
At the end of August, we welcomed Jeffrey and Walter into the family. They’re littermates who were about a year old at the time we adopted them. They’ve been a joy to have in our home. Okay, they’ve been a rambunctious and destructive joy, but they’ve been a joy. Unfortunately, Jeffrey became quite ill and passed away this month, but I treasure the time we had with him. For some reason he had a very strong bond with me from the very beginning, and he would always greet me at the door when I came home from work and snuggle my neck when I would sit down at the end of the day. So far, Walter seems to be doing well through the change, and we’re very grateful for that.
Hopefully 2020 will bring more weekend adventures as we continue to settle in to the new house. Nolan heads to high school in the fall, and we’re looking forward to the opportunities our high school’s programs will offer. I have faith that he will adjust well and thrive in the new setting. And hopefully Kirk will adjust without too much stress and panic. A girl can dream right?
Wishing you all the best this season and in the new year!
Kirk, Cindy & Nolan
(And Frodo & Walter)