A year in our life is much like training for a marathon.  A grueling, sweat filled, meticulously planned and agonizingly trained for 26.2 mile dash to a ribbon-draped photo finish for your holiday card.

To get to your marathon finish line, you start out the year with a plan, you’ve got a flow sheet to guide you, shiny new tennis shoes, and a route to follow. If you are Chr’s and Julie, you start out the year with the flowchart listing the last undone details from the remodeling project started in 2016.  Just the finishing touches, like the tub hook up, the baseboard trim, heat, curtains, and a gourmet kitchen to admire while imagining gourmet food being prepared there by someone with more skills than Yours Truly, and Mr. Yours Truly, who thinks he knows it all, but we know differently.

Then your marathon training might get sidetracked when random obstacles are added to the course because, for example, MnDoT discovers your training route, and they decide to throw a little road construction in your way.  No sweat, you find another route. If you are Julie and Chr’s, sidetracks come from your kids – none of whom work for MnDoT. We strapped on the sunglasses, stepped outside to train, and BOOM! Liz and AJ are engaged! Then BOOM! Shannon and Ryan are engaged! BOOM! Lightening hits the gas line! BOOM! You’re moving where, and you want us, and the pickup truck, when?

You knock your marathon down to a half marathon, because, well, that MnDoT construction is making training really rough, ankles and gravel and all, and you want to be upright in your best form. So you revamp your flow chart and get a new reflective jacket. If you are Chr’s and Julie, that form is getting older, so you get those hernias fixed and the stitches out from the carpet buying injury. Bandages don’t reflect, but, they are meant to be unobtrusive and hold everything in after all.

You plod along smoothly with your new training plan, and the kitchen appliances arrive and get lined up neatly in the cupboard-less kitchen, and then BOOM! Hannah and Riley announce that they have decided to be parents! BOOM! Our old exchange student Naomi gets engaged! BOOM! “Mom, we want to get married in the yard, OK?” BOOM! “Dad, I’m going to get a master’s quick before we get married, OK?” BOOM! Julie, listen, they want me to keep working for another year in California, OK?” BOOM!  Chr’s, I thought about it, and I think we should rethink that kitchen plan, and by the way, we need to redo the girls’ rooms since we seem to be on the grandparent wagon train, OK?”

The half marathon training is just killing your endorphins, the blisters are popped, and you have to get some sleep between dress fittings. Really, who wanted to go 13.1 miles anyway? Modernize, embrace the metric system, and sign up for a 10K. Chr’s and Julie spent a lot of energy trying to meet wedding wishes for fair rides, and art deco sparkles. We invested hours practicing our in-law voices, and sanding window trim until Julie couldn’t even turn on her phone with her touch ID. (She had a very special word for the window project but this letter is rated ‘G’ and we can’t even spell *&%!$#.)

The year comes to a close now; the eldest child started a Facebook group to work around the schedules of everyone so they will overlap for a few minutes over the holiday. Furniture moves are charted. The room in the house that gets most used is the “furniture holding room” since it now stores wedding décor and a folded porta-crib along with spare chairs and china hutches. Chr’s needs to get that trailer. Who has time for a 10K for Pete Blooming Sakes?! Listen, we can swing a 5K in between pizza and a run to Winona for Thanksgiving. Got Hannah a shirt to stretch over little unknown gender McManus, picked the Northfield Turkey Trot because Shannon wanted the glittery shirt, and Liz needed to get back to her part time retail job and class so it had to be close. Chr’s and Julie – they are still eating breakfast at Nick’s Diner because they somehow didn’t find time to finish the kitchen (what? why?) It couldn’t be because they skipped a couple weekends to go to book sales, beach houses, stalking Bon Jovi across Julie’s lawn and North America, giraffe births, baby clothes shopping, Xmas decorating, etc…so that little 5K just fit our sweat filled, meticulously planned, but not always perfectly executed, wild, wonderful, kitchen-less for the foreseeable future, LIFE!

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