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!


Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Thank you for posting! I miss seeing what is going on in your life! I'm off social media indefinitely so I really miss seeing far-away friends and what is happening in their lives. But overall, I decided social media is a net negative contributor to my life right now so I'm on a prolonged break.

I am so sorry to hear about your dad. 75 is YOUNG. My parents are 74. And I really view them as young because they still seem "young" to me. I am glad you are all at peace with what is to come but that is still a bitter pill to swallow.

Your family is my my older sibling and I'm like Morgan in that your kids are so much older than their nephews! I have some in between nieces and nephews, but they range in age from almost 8 to one who will turn 18 this summer! Then my boys are 1 and 4, and my sister had a baby last Feb and will probably have at least one more. So we've got a barbell going approach to grandchildren (you may remember that term from your fixed income classes - it's a set up where you have longer maturities and shorter maturities and not much in between). I feel like my nephews prepared me for parenting in a special way since I spent so much time with them, especially the 2 who live local. So I am less fazed by the tantrums and such. Phil was never around little kids since he's the youngest in his family and his friends just started having kids a few years before us, and you don't really see the crazy behavior around friends like you do at family gatherings. But things are getting easier for us now that Paul is almost 4. The crazy tantrums are pretty much over for the most part. He's the easy one and Will is Mr. Mischief and gets into everything!

Keep posting buddy, or drop me a text or email with updates. Congrats to Kelley on pursuing her masters. I can see her being an excellent therapist. She has that calming vibe going - or at least that is the vibe I got when I stayed with you guys!

Kyria @ Travel Spot said...

I was going to comment on your post but first I read Lisa's comment above and...NERD ALERT! I cannot believe she used the "barbell approach" comparison. That cracked me up.

Anyway, it is so good to hear how you have been doing; it seems like there have definitely been some ups and downs in your life over the last couple of years. I am sorry to hear about your Dad; we had several things like that happen (fires destroying land and property, death in the family) and it is a part of life but some days it feels hard. I am glad your Dad is still coherent and hope that you have many good days in the near future.

That's cool that all of your family have been in school over the last couple of years. You guys are a very studious family! I spent a lot of time studying over the last four years, but somehow I sometimes still want to learn more stuff! I guess I am a glutton for punishment.

One of these days I am going to come and run the Umstead 100 and I will be calling you to join me, so I hope that your running goes well until then!