The Freeland 2016 Christmas Letter

2016 ended up being a rather rough and stressful year. (And that’s NOT taking into account the election!) Wendy started the year by turning 50 on January 1st. Emotionally that didn’t seem to bother her too much, but… her body didn’t seem to be on the same “it’s no big deal” page. She almost feels like 50 is the new 70. One of the ‘joys’ of turning 50 is that your doctor wants you to have a colonoscopy. If you’ve never had one of these, let’s just say “ignorance is bliss.” Anyway, this is one of those procedures where they put you completely out which is a pretty big deal considering they don’t put you under during a lot of heart procedures these days. Well, they couldn’t find a vein in Wendy’s arm. They poked and they prodded and almost had me run home for a cordless drill. They finally got her stuck, but needless to say, she didn’t wear short sleeves for quite some time after because her arms were so black and blue. And, if that wasn’t enough they did find some stuff that wasn’t supposed to be there. Nothing tested scary, but she has to go through this routine again in three years instead of the normal ten.
But wait, there’s more! In the spring, she developed plantar fasciitis in BOTH feet. This has happened before when she was doing a lot of cycling. She really loved cycling, but gave it up so that she wouldn’t injure her feet again. This time we think it was brought on by all the walking, lifting and climbing that came with moving two houses and doing home repair projects over the past year. After a couple of months of hobbling around on feet that always felt like she had golf balls under her heels, she developed a neuroma in her left foot. (That’s a pinched nerve to all us non-medical types.) By the July 4th weekend, she was wishing she was a horse and someone would just put her out of her misery. Fortunately, she has a great foot doctor who has been able to get her back to walking almost normally.

One thing that did go well for Wendy this year were her plants. She planted a few things the year we moved in, but this year she added significantly to the flower beds around the house and things have flourished. We are certainly grateful to Judy and Bev who donated plants and lots of advice. When we lived on Pioneer Drive, Wendy was convinced she had a black thumb, rather than a green one, so she has been quite excited by her successes.

One of the highlights of my year came in the middle of all this when Wendy came to the conclusion (and actually told me) that something she didn’t think we needed but I bought anyway was actually a good idea! Wendy’s plants needed almost daily watering and because she couldn’t walk, I put a 25 gallon water tank with an electric pump on the back of the golf cart that she didn’t think we needed to buy. She no longer had to drag hoses or walk around with watering cans.  She was able to drive from plant to plant and sit while she watered them. I can now die a happy man.

Another thing that was new and something Wendy had long been interested in trying was canning. While we don’t really have a garden yet, she was able to can some pears and make pear butter from the one tree that produced usable fruit this year.

It was a good year for my business both in terms of volume of work and interesting projects. I did audio for quite a few political TV spots for gubernatorial, US representative, and senate races. Proving once again that it’s a small world… the attorney who talked John Gregg into attending law school once owned the house we now live in. The week leading up to Muhammad Ali’s funeral in June was both interesting and a nice check when it arrived. And, a project that some of you may watch is a documentary about the ’76 Hoosiers basketball team that will air on Showtime next spring. I was the videographer for the interviews shot in Indiana including a short sit down with coach Knight.

I also turned “the big 5-0” this year and Wendy outdid herself making me feel special. It started with an opportunity to drive a race car around Lucas Oil Raceway (the old IRP for those who can’t keep up with all the name changes) and then threw me a surprise birthday party. Actually, it was a surprise for only about 72 hours (and I was out of town for 48 of those hours.) A career in professional poker is not in her future!

Jacob has decided that the move to a new school has been a good thing and has gotten involved in a number of activities. He and A.J. both participated in a citywide language contest with their Spanish class. Jacob is a member of a social studies academic team and was chosen to be part of the school’s annual trip to Boston to participate in the Harvard Model Congress in February. He has also started doing the class work for drivers ed.

Both boys did marching band this year. Jacob is still playing the trombone while A.J. played the xylophone. Marching band is a lot different than the early ’80’s when Wendy and I were both in high school. There are large props on the field, and schools use sound systems for playback of sound effects and other recorded elements. They had three weeks of band camp over the summer and considerably more after school rehearsals than either of us remember doing. Although they both struggled with the demanding schedule, they decided that it was fun and were glad for the experience.

A.J. has really taken to playing mallet instruments and participated in Solo and Ensemble contest. He decided that marching band wasn’t enough torture and is now doing indoor drum line which started right after marching band finished and runs through early spring.

A.J. continues to do pottery and puppetry. He is now a senior apprentice at Peewinkle’s Puppet Studio and is able to assist with all levels of workshops and summer camps as well as running the lighting for public performances of the theatre’s shows.

We have been kicking around the idea of getting some farm animals, but for now we have just cats, mice and moles. The former were supposed to reduce the number of the latter, but as you can see there has been some fraternizing with the enemy going on. The barn cats bring us joy. The indoor cats are free to a good home. (Seriously, they are like small children who can’t do anything for themselves and won’t even let us sleep through the night!)

So, while we hit a low during the summer months when Wendy’s feet were at their worst and the boys were thinking that marching band camp and Army basic training probably aren’t all that different, the year is ending well. We are happy and know that we are blessed.

I’m sure a few of you have faced much more trying and painful experiences in this past year than we have. If that is the case, we hope that you have a relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ and that you have experienced the comfort of God’s love. “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”  Psalm 9:9-10  

We hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a safe and healthy New Year.

The Freelands

John, Wendy, Jacob, A.J., Kyoke, Nishibi, Munch, Holly, Nala and Scarlett