What a year!
While the kids continue to grow, we’ve managed to squeeze in some excellent adventures this past year. Two highlights have been our trip to Germany in July. We spent 2 weeks with Hilary exploring Amsterdam, Cologne, Fussen (Bavaria), and Paris. It was a fantastic trip where we probably drove a little too much, but we ate a lot of pork and drank well, climbed to the top of Zugspitze, and saw the Eiffel Tower lit up with fireworks.
The other highlight was probably our camping trip to Central Oregon to see the total solar eclipse. We camped for several days at Tumalo State Park, played in the water, fished, ran the dogs, and celebrated Ella’s birthday. For the eclipse, we got up early and drove some backroads to get in to the path of totality. We found a nice spot up a dirt road and made breakfast while we waited for the eclipse with about 60 other people. The eclipse itself was fantastic. Waiting as it grew darker and cooler, listening to the birds get quiet, and then the minute of total eclipse was mesmerizing. Hard to fully explain, but well worth the trek.
In other news, the girls have both transferred from Trillium back in to the public school system and I think everyone is happy for it. Both girls are adjusting, making new friends, and doing very well academically. At a recent parent-teacher conference, both of their teachers expressed what a joy it was to have such kind, helpful, and engaged kids in their respective classes. We’re proud.
Ella turned 11 on the day of the eclipse and also got a real cell phone. It’s a new world, but somehow it hasn’t ended yet. So we’re taking that as a positive sign. She had decided to give up soccer after spring season (to dad’s disappointment). However, when starting the new school, she reunited with several of her former teammates and they needed more people on their team. So we (dad here) got to play this fall. Ella did very well as a defender. She also continues to be more mature, thoughtful, and helpful beyond her age. She helps out around the house, decorates her room, and has really started to enjoy cooking with mom.
Madeline is 8 and got her braces off this year. She’s bolted in height and we often forget that she’s only a 3rd grader. She’s also a powerhouse of energy and emotion, and is at times the opposite of her sister. She’s a voracious reader, a talented cartwheeler, and is easily the best singer in the household. She’s made some new friends this year but is also struggling with the age difference between her, Ella, and their bestie Ava, who is entering her teens.
Michelle is in her 6th year of practice and it continues to grow. They added a 2nd associate this year and are already bumping in to the walls of their relatively new office space. This year her annual office holiday party was not cursed with an ice storm, so the turn out and the food was great. She continues to run but has been dogged by a hip injury and is jumping through the hoops of healthcare to treat it. Last year she ran about 6 10ks, and she’s hopeful this year will be the same. She’s participating in a number of boards and committees related to her work which sometimes prevents her from bringing Kona with her.
Kona just turned 3 and is finally maturing to the point where she can go to the park without a leash (so long as the promise of BALL is there). If you follow Michelle on the Facebook, you’ve probably seen many photos of Kona on the bow of a boat, or swimming. She’s a sweet, needy, and clingy dog that brings joy to the family.
I’m a year older, still at the same job, still have the same few gray hairs, and still savoring the time I have playing outdoors and with family. Oh, and I bought a janky old aluminum drift boat this August. It has been a joy to row down rivers, fish, and just savor the sounds of water, the birds, and conversations with friends and family. So far, we’ve taken the boat down the Bogachiel, Clackamas, Cowlitz, Deschutes, Kalama, and Lewis rivers and had it on a couple lakes. I think I’ve found my happy place on the Deschutes, which is just a desert wonderland that also has trout and steelhead. I’m still trying to catch a steelhead on a fly rod and came close this past week on the Hoh river up on the Olympic Peninsula.
We’re looking forward to the coming year to see what other adventures we can have, what learning we can do, what service we can provide, and what enjoyment we can take from each other’s company. While we live in a country and society slowly tipping away from compassion, we will continue to work to make the world a better, more just place.
Peace to you and yours in the new year,
Love the Freeds