2014 - Year End Recap

This year started with our family sharing the new year with Koharu, our exchange student from Japan. She was a wonderful addition to our family even if only temporary. She was our second exchange student. Ben was our first exchange student the year before, he is from Belgium. Writing this makes me wonder how he's doing too. If you have the ability and opportunity to host an exchange student, I would say to do it... it's a wonderful way to experience another culture with your family in your own home. Not to mention to make a friend and an addition to your family for life.

Alyssa's freshman year wound down as summer approached and Alex graduated with his Associates degree in technology. Koharu went home, Alyssa completed driving school and Alex started an internship at a local programming shop. You've probably heard the saying, "they're growing up so fast" before... but it's true. It makes me proud and sad at the same time that they're starting their own lives. 

Brandi and I got a couple scooters this summer and had a lot of fun scooting around town together. We're keeping our eyes open for a two seater sporty convertible or something similar. We think that'd be something fun to do together, although I think that Alyssa has her hopes up that she'll be allowed to drive it around, if we get one.

All summer Brandi was feeding the local ducks. Eventually she had more than 100 ducks waiting for her to feed them everyday. They begin to arrive just before the sun comes up each day. We would go through two 50lb bags of feed a week. Walking by the window is a sight to see, they begin marching in unison towards the house when they see someone walk by a window. Every time I see them hurrying towards us like that, it's like a bad movie, "Attack of the killer ducks!" 

Eventually we noticed a few domestic ducks that were apparently abandoned. So, as the summer came to an end, we found ourselves adopting two ducks. Henry (a Muscovy) and Lilly (a Pekin). They weren't easy to catch, but since they weren't able to fly, we didn't want them to fall prey to coyotes or some other predator. We built a habitat in the backyard for them and a small barn too. Its been fun to have them, and I think that Brandi especially loves having them to care for. We occasionally refer to Brandi as the Duck Whisperer. Oh, and Lilly leaves us an egg almost daily.

As winter came another significant project was building a new hutch for our three rabbits. They had proven that they could not share one so we got them each their own cage and built a shelter that would protect them from the elements and also provide us some shelter so that the cages could be cleaned easier. We let them in the yard often, so they get lots of chances to dig holes and hop around. It's interesting that they will dig and fill the holes so often. The female will get angry with you if you try to fill in her hole, to the point where she'll chase you off. She's pretty intimidating, for a rabbit.

Sadness hit our family this year again too. Brandi's father Jim passed away unexpectedly at the end of October. He had just retired 5 months prior. It's sad that he didn't get to enjoy his retirement. We will miss him and I regret not getting to spend more time with him. It's a reminder to all of us about what's most important. Take time to enjoy life. And it's not about money, cars, or our jobs... it's about friends and family! Spend time with your friends and loved ones whenever you can, you never know when it'll be the last time you get to talk to or see them.

The Christmas holiday was a good one. I especially enjoyed that my mom came and stayed with us for a week and she was here with us for Christmas day. When she arrived we went to Leavenworth, a Bavarian town where the buildings are constructed and outfitted to resemble those that we saw when we were in Germany. It snowed the day we arrived, which made it especially cool, if a little treacherous driving and walking around. No one fell, and we all had a great time visiting the shops, experiencing the town, and watching the tree lighting that occurs during the Christmas holiday there.

I hope that my short recap of the 2014 finds you in good health and good spirits. Happy New Year!

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