Christmas 2022 Newsletter

Normally I would start this letter with some quip, or a story or something. But there’s not going to be a lot of that this year, mostly because there is just no witty way to encapsulate just everything that happened in 2022. I don’t think our family has seen more change in a single year in a long time, perhaps even ever. So what all went down in 2022?

We started out the year in snow! Yes, it does occasionally snow in Alabama, and in January we were treated to a few beautiful inches of snow. Just enough that we could enjoy looking at it and playing in it, but not enough that it seriously inconvenienced us.

2022 also began on a bit of a down note. The cat we had adopted just a few months earlier in October of 2021, who we had named Eros, developed cancer and rapidly died within a matter of weeks. We were all so shocked and heartbroken to say goodbye to our good little boy so soon, but we are glad he got to experience love and a Christmas a home before his passing.

Some of you may remember our 2021 Newsletter where I discussed how Isaiah Armstrong of Birmingham, Alabama (Armstrong Painting and Construction and Genesis 1:1 Construction and Painting) screwed me out of $1200 and did just the most astoundingly shoddy job pouring a concrete patio extension on our house. Seriously if you don’t believe me, check out these photos of this “professional work” by Isaiah Armstrong. I ended up demolishing it myself but it still left a pile of gravel in our backyard and I still needed the patio built. Being unwilling to trust anyone for this project again, we decided to build the patio ourselves.

So, over the course of two months, we redirected the drainage away from the patio and we hauled over two tons of gravel, one ton of sand, and one ton of retaining wall blocks with my pickup. Then, we laid 225 square feet of pavers by hand. This is the end result, and we could not possibly be more pleased. We are planning to add shade sails this spring to create a super cool outdoor space.

Speaking of outside, this was the year we needed to mulch all the beds. And we have a lot of beds. We decided to challenge ourselves and see if we could get it done in a day. We succeeded, after seven pickup loads, or about three and a half tons, of mulch was done in a very long day.

In May, we were treated to a unique opportunity: the chance to see Presiding Bishop Michael Curry speak in Birmingham. For those who don’t know, Michael Curry is the leader of the Episcopal Church in the United States and is a truly outstanding and inspirational speaker. He’s the guy who spoke at Megan and Harry’s wedding, so getting to see him in speak live was truly a treat. Scarlett also got her picture taken with Bishop Glenda Curry (no relation), who is the first woman to be Bishop of Alabama.

Also in May, I got to go see two nights of my favorite band, Widespread Panic, playing shows at the newly opened amphitheater in Huntsville. It’s a beautiful new facility and I look forward to many more amazing shows there. Even better, we were able to get so close to the stage!

In June, we had our biannual family reunion, this time at a cabin on Norris Lake in East Tennessee. It was a lot of fun getting to see everyone again, and much time was spend jumping off the dock and swimming in the lake along with the usual eating way too much.

July is when things really start to speed up. We had some expiring Southwest Airlines credits from the beginning of the pandemic, so we decided to use them to go to Universal Studios in Orlando! I don’t think Sarah had ever been and I hadn’t been since the early 1990s. We had an amazing time! Scarlett and I got to ride lots of rollercoasters together. We found the food quality to be vastly inferior to Disney, but Universal has come a long was on their theming. Especially the Harry Potter and Jurassic Park parts were so amazingly well done it really does feel real. The only downside was the water park, Volcano Bay. They let so many people in that it’s difficult to walk or move around inside and all the waitlists for the slides were full by noon.

On our return from Orlando, both Sarah and I tested positive for COVID-19. We are all fully vaccinated and boosted so thankfully we had a very minor experience with it. Truthfully, for me, the worst parts were how my ears wouldn’t pop for a few days and how tired I got. Scarlett, to our knowledge, never tested positive.

On the first day of the trip, as we were leaving for the airport, I received an email from a recruiter. This is not an uncommon occurrence, and I usually politely declined them. But this one was different – this one looked interesting. So I tentatively agreed to listen to them when we got back. So after a few interviews and a coding test, for the first time in more than fifteen years, I accepted a new job! I am now a technical lead working for Aledade. It was definitely very bittersweet to leave my Dealnews family behind, but I am very excited to be able to work on making healthcare work better for both doctors and patients.

In August, Scarlett started fourth grade! She is growing up so fact into a beautiful, confident, mature young woman. Right now her obsessions include everything Minecraft, Gacha Life, Keeper of the Lost Cities books, and ocean themed things for her room.

In September, we went to the Knoxville airshow. While the weather wasn’t ideal it was nonetheless a very good airshow and it was great to get to see the Blue Angels perform again.

As part of the new job, I will (apparently) be traveling a bit more than I did at Dealnews. Being that Aledade is an almost fully remote distributed company, we have periodic meetings around the country as intensive work sessions or big company gatherings. Only two weeks after starting I traveled to Washington D.C., where the company had rented out the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium for our all-company gathers if that gives you an idea of just how much bigger the new company is. I’ve also been to Durham, North Carolina for some 2023 planning work, and I will be going to Austin, Texas in January for our department all-staff meeting.

Scarlett is still playing guitar and doing girl scouts. She also took up dance again this year, doing acrobatic dance. We came into the season late and she just barely made the cut to get into the recital, but she did a fantastic job! She also celebrated her tenth birthday in November!

Which brings me to December and the end of another year.

2022 saw a lot of change for our family and a lot of growth in unexpected directions. I had no idea at the beginning of 2022 that we would see as much change this year as we have. But at the end of it I feel that we are closer as a family than we have ever been. And perhaps that was the point of the year. 2023 will probably have changes that we cannot possibly foresee now, but as long as we stick together with love, we will get through it and thrive.