Monday, January 24, 2022

What Happened in 2021

 It's hard to tell if 2021 was better or worse than 2020. And since I haven't written anything here since the pandemic started - Jan 2020 last post - there's a lot of comparison to get through.

Pandemic aside, I finished the porch, herniated the L5-S1 disc in my back that required surgery to repair, and bought some land in Boone to build a house on so I can AirBnB it. The surgeon said I would never be able to run again, but the physical therapist said I would. Now, a year and a half later, I am actually running some again, but only maybe 3x a week at most and nothing long yet. And I still haven't broken ground on the new house, but Kelley did convince me to hire a mason instead of pouring the foundation myself after hurting my back pouring concrete. All of this around the lockdowns, and the pandemic, waiting on the vaccine, and the election. 

2021 started better (after Jan 6 of course), we all got vaxxed in the spring as soon as we could and I got to spend time with my family again visiting them in Greenville some. In August, my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary, then the kids started back to school in 9th and 11 grade. It's so nice to have them both in high school, and yet so hard to believe that Ella graduates in only a year and a half. Kelley also went back to grad school, she got into the Marriage and Family Therapy program at App State and started in August. She finished the first semester with straight A's, and they did actually still have her on academic probation from her first attempt at grad school when we met at App State back in 1996. So she's doing a little better this time around. We bought a townhouse in Banner Elk so she'd have a place to stay locally while attending classes, and I absolutely love having a place in the mountains again. The land is great, and eventually (hopefully in 2022) I will actually break ground and start building my house there. But this townhouse really brings a great local connection. 

The holidays started getting rough. My dad's health has been declining, first by Parkinson's disease that he's had for several years, then diabetes which he doesn't manage very well. Right before thanksgiving, they found pancreatic cancer. The surgery was not successful, and he's not going to get strong enough again to try chemo or anything, so this is terminal. He turns 75 in May, which is still pretty young for a cancer patient, and we all hope he'll make it to his birthday. Everyone, including Dad, is at peace with it, but it is still something incredibly difficult that I know we're having to get through. 

Also, I changed jobs a few times. After 4.5 years I left my tech lead role at a great company for an architect role at another fantastic company. It turned out to be not so much of an architect role as a developer position, so I only lasted about 6 months there. I also finished grad school with an MBA in Finance while I was there, with the objective of getting a management role at a financial company. Instead, I got a management role with a small consulting firm, which turned out to be absolutely awful. I had some reservations about getting into consulting again, and I don't know why I just couldn't handle the stress of a small operation like that anymore. It was awful. So I got out of there after a few months and did end up managing a team of software developers for one of the largest financial companies in the US and is really is everything I was looking for. Such a cool company, I have a great team of developers, and the work is interesting. I am planning to stay there until I retire in about another 6-10 years. Single dad-ing it while Kelley was in the mountains 4 days a week was really hard while I was at the consulting firm, and much easier now.

Christmas was kind of tough as Dad was in and out of the hospital. Now I'm trying to get down there as often as I can to spend time with him while he's coherent. The kids had a good time though. 

Also, I started an LLC for my woodworking business. I got to build some great furniture last year, my instagram (@flynnstagram3000) has all of those pictures. 

Pictures? Sure. Here's from the 50th anniversary and Christmas at least.

My kids came out of the pandemic looking like grown-ass adults. The little girl is Michael's kid and those curls are Morgan's first kid. His incredible wife gave birth in early Jan 2022 to their second boy, we are so thrilled. I haven't gotten my hands on that new baby yet but we're all super excited.

Ella is visiting colleges already! This is at Lees-McRae in Banner Elk

I built a kayak. It's super cool

July 4 at Sugar Mountain

First day of school!

First day of school!

Christmas in Raleigh

All of the grandkids in Greenville

Morgan's family

Michael's family

My Family

Ponder the track suit - I'm entering a new phase of dad level comfort

My brothers - Morgan, Michael, and me


Maybe I'll write another post in a couple more years. Thanks for catching up with me!

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Holiday Wrapup

 This Christmas was totally 2020. The kids had a good time, all of our travel was gone, none of the big family celebrations happened. I did make it down to Greenville for one day just to spend a few hours with my parents - it was the first time I'd seen them since last Christmas. We got our tree on a day trip to Boone, it was really pretty. 

too cute not to share, but this was not how our holiday went down

The farm where we got our tree

ready for some presents

We had a fun time in Boone on a day trip

We all had on our App State sweatshirts

The reason we've been making so many day trips to Boone recently - we bought some land up there! 1.09 acres of raw dirt is now ours, paid for in cash. We closed on the 21st, and Lena and I made a trip up there just before that to check out our dirt, thinking we had clear traveling from the snow. Instead, we got this:

That's our dirt!

It was cold. She didn't think she needed a jacket when we left the house.

Cool tree on the next lot

For actual Christmas it was very different, the first Christmas day ever we didn't have to travel. We did get to pull together an outside, social distanced gathering with Kelley's sister and father. 

We had a nice setup for some outdoor Christmas

It was cold, but that blanket is fire

Taking a selfie

Telling the kids I was just taking a selfie

Then the Sunday after Christmas, I went down by myself to visit my parents. It was the first time I had seen them in person since last Christmas, which was strange and incredibly difficult. We stayed outside, but still got to have some semblance of a normal holiday gathering. 

My dad and his 3 sons

My sweet nephew Archie

and that was our holiday!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Recent picture update

 Just so you know we still exist, here's some proof of life (if you can call it life in the middle of a pandemic and election season). We're all doing pretty good. I'm 6 weeks post back surgery, so I can finally lift more than 10 lbs again. Kids are finishing their first quarter of the school year in the virtual academy, looks like the entire 8th and 10th grades are going to be online. Kelley is kicking ass and taking names, as usual.

Kelley putting in the last of the landscape lighting

The finished product of which is a well lit front yard

She added the lights on the right side of the steps to finish it off

The volume of meds that I have to take while my back was out and for the arthritis

Evangeline the cat is quite comfortable on the new bean bag body pillow

I got a new laz-y-boy recliner, super excited about that

Graduation day picture from my last day of grad school

Found one of these mugs from a business I used to own back in SC

Bunk beds with a climbing wall, slide, and drawers I built and sold

All of us at the state fair - it was only food this year

This was my first hanging couch, installed for a customer. Turned out really cool

Carving pumpkins for Halloween