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The Freeland 2021 Christmas Letter

While the world around us still feels different than it did 24 months ago, our family had a fairly uneventful year in terms of major events.  A highlight was our vacation to South Dakota in the spring.  We headed west right after the boys’ spring semester ended.  We broke up the drive by visiting art museums in St. Louis and Kansas City on the way out and Omaha on the way back.  It is a lot of fun to do that now that A.J. has several Art History classes under his belt.  It’s like having a personal docent in the family.  We really enjoyed South Dakota.  We did the traditional touristy things like The Corn Palace and Wall Drug.  We had beautiful skies the morning we went to Mount Rushmore and thought both Badlands National Park and Custer State Park were really spectacular.

A.J. is in the middle of his Junior year at Hillsdale College.  He finished up his chemistry minor this fall semester and is considering combining his love of art with his interest in chemistry by pursuing a Masters degree in Art Conservation.  There are only a couple of schools in the U.S. that offer programs specializing in that and two of them are out east.  One is in Buffalo, NY and another in Delaware.  So I think we have a couple of stops on next years family vacation already identified.  He continues to work in the Theatre Dept. and as part of the team that installs and takes down art work in the school’s gallery.  Over the summer A.J. interned at the Johnson County History Museum which he really enjoyed.

Jacob surprised us by enrolling in choir last school year and sang in Hillsdale’s performance of Handel’s Messiah which the college puts on once every four years. This past fall semester he dropped orchestra but continued with choir.  Jacob had planned on just volunteering at the Expungement Help Desk over the summer, but they offered him a full-time job instead.  This past fall semester he really scared us when he enrolled in Hebrew, Latin & Ancient Greek all at the same time.  To our relief his professor, who teaches all three languages, says Jacob really has an aptitude for languages and he did quite well in all three.

When Wendy began working full-time for the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic last year, she was splitting her time between the Expungement Help Desk and the Immigration department. Early this year the Clinic received a very large grant which allowed her to work full-time at the Help Desk and the Clinic hired three additional full-time paralegals to help with expungements. The Help Desk resumed seeing clients in person two days a week in the summer at the same location in the City-County Building. Wendy works downtown one to two days a week and the rest of the time from home.  A really exciting development for us is that the Clinic will be offering employees medical, dental and vision coverage in January.  It will be the first time in 20 years that we will have group rather than individual health insurance and any type of dental or vision coverage.  At our age, these are the things we get excited about.

Covid and social unrest have been very good for business.  John worked more days for network TV in 2021 than in the past two decades.  The year started with a week for CBS Sports before the Super Bowl.  Fortunately the Buccaneer’s won and he got to go to Tampa for a week.  If the Packers had won, he would have gone to Green Bay instead.  He then went to Minneapolis twice for the Chauvin trial.  John spent a lot of time in Chicago doing mostly Covid related stories and was in Wisconsin twice in the same week.  First for the Rittenhouse verdict and then 30 hours later the Waukesha parade tragedy.

We took a couple of vacations without kids this fall for the first time in what seemed like forever.  After Parent’s Weekend we headed north in Michigan visiting Mackinac Island and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula.  Then in November we headed south to Charleston, SC and Jekyll Island in Georgia.  A fun and unplanned surprise in Michigan was the discovery that there is still a Ben Franklin store in operation in East Tawas, MI.  John struck up a conversation with the owner who remembered Wendy’s dad who worked for the Ben Franklin corporate office for most of his career.  The corporation went bankrupt in the mid-90’s but somehow Mr. Mooney continues to operate a successful store which has been owned by his family for three generations.

Samson, a stray John caught last November, is now our only indoor cat.  He has no manners.  He walks on the stove and kitchen counters and will eat any unattended food that strikes his fancy.  We lost Nishibi in May.  In addition to her kidney disease, the vet thinks she might have had cancer based on how rapidly her condition deteriorated. Munch, Nala and Scarlett continue to be the most spoiled barn cats in Johnson Co.

Happy New Year!

The Freelands

John, Wendy, Jacob & A.J.