I totally did it again, guys. I wrote and sent out something that could reasonably be termed a holiday letter. Boom! Three years in a row is a world record, right?
If 2012 was a calm(ish) year for us, 2013 was full of big changes. Chief among them was moving from bustling Orange County to a small town in the mountains north of Los Angeles. We live in the Los Padres National Forest near “the Grapevine” for those familiar with So Cal freeways and traffic reports. To say that this is a big change is probably an understatement: the population of our town is about 2,600 people, smaller than the number of fans Neal’s blog has acquired on Facebook over the last year. There’s no stoplights, though there is one very useful blinking red light. Bears, racoons, squirrels, and feral cats abound. For fun, there’s hiking. Or hiking. Or sledding when it snows. Neal has truly fallen in love — because this out of our front windows:
And despite Addison’s initial protests that she “just can’t handle it anymore because there are not so many people here,” she is beginning to love it as well.
As for me, I really love our little mountain cabin, but still need to work on getting out of the house. Between a very busy semester of teaching and taking on a new role as a supervisor over other online instructors — and the inevitable dip in my health after the demands of moving — I was pretty home-bound for the first few months in our new digs. But my goal for 2014 is to go on at least one hike! Or a walk to the post office. One of those.
Neal has made good use of the hiking trails as well as taking Addison to our nearby park and library nearly every day. When he’s not busy collecting firewood along the paths near our house, he became one of the Babble 100 — Best Bloggers of 2013. No big deal. I was pretty surprised at the award considering he’s had very little blogging time for the last half of the year, but clearly, he made what little time he did have count. Addison and I are very proud!
Addison’s even more proud of her daddy’s computer game skills. They’re fond of playing “the pirate game” together. I’ve grown accustomed to hearing exclamations like these while grading papers: “Let’s steal some trade goods! We need to go to Tortuga! We got some plunder! Why we hit a sandbar?!” Despite the piracy, she has become an increasingly loving and affectionate almost-four-year-old. She’s taken to giving us spontaneous hugs while saying, “I love you, mommy. I love you, daddy. . . . But we will not always be together because we will die.” Clearly, death continues to be a favorite topic of conversation, rivaled only by her growing love of sparkles and princesses and accessorizing. Heaven help us.
We hope 2014 is good to you and yours!
And my favorite Neal comic of the year — I can’t wait till she’s actually a teenager and we can compare her anguish then and now: