Tuesday, January 1, 2013

State of the Family 2013

We started this blog 2 years ago as a way to keep our friends and family informed about what's going on in our lives. In truth, we haven't been great about doing that, but I'm hoping that will change with so many things happening in our lives. A lot of families send out Christmas newsletters at the end of the year, and we've been meaning to join in that tradition. But instead of printing it out and mailing it, we've decided to just keep everything online. So here is the first of what I hope is many annual online newsletters.

Looking Back on 2012: The Year of the Dragon

2012 was a busy year for us. Kyla continued to pursue a Master's of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She is on target to complete her degree and become a pediatric nurse practitioner in the spring of 2013. It hasn't been easy on her, though. In addition to going to school full time, she's had to complete clinical hours while also working part-time at Dell Children's Hospital, even during the hot summer months.

Our beautiful black labs (Daphne and Lily) are doing well. Lily was diagnosed with an intrahepatic shunt in the summer of 2011, which caused her to intermittently seize. Our vet referred us to the A&M Veterinary Hospital to get it checked out. Instead of a costly surgery that was not guaranteed to fix the issue, we chose instead to try to manage the issue through medication and diet. We are grateful that Lily has not had any visible seizures since. Daphne continues to be in good health as well, though we are concerned that she may have arthritis as once in a while she seems to be in pain when walking.

I (Jake) got LASIK in March of this past year, and it has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I continued to (slowly but surely) work toward my Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree in Communication Design (AKA Graphic Design). Ever since I quit my full time job at HomeAway in 2008 to grow my web design and development business, I've been following a general pattern of attending the Texas State University part-time for one semester a year. Due in part to fatigue of formal education and also out of the need to avoid the embarrassment of my wife getting her Master's before I get my Bachelor's, I increased my hours at school, attending part-time in spring, summer, and fall. I am now on course to graduate at the same time as Kyla in the spring of 2013. Unfortunately, my shift in focus has caused me to have to scale back my work hours.

Some respite came in August, when we forced ourselves to take a well-deserved vacation in Canada. For the better part of 2 weeks we criss-crossed Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island in a series of rental cars. We saw L’Anse aux MeadowsGros MorneOld Town Lunenburg, Grand Pré, and Joggins Fossil Cliffs UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It was near the end of our trip that we learned that Kyla had conceived our first child, a girl. While welcome news, the burden on her body made the fall semester all the more difficult to cope with for her.

We nonetheless managed to get to the winter break. We visited my family in Minnesota for a few days over Christmas before returning home for a quiet and uneventful New Year's. On our trip, we finally decided on a name for the baby: Jaedyn Amara. While we're glad 2012 is over, we look forward to reaping the rewards of our labor in 2013 (pun intended).

Looking Forward to 2013

Our New Year's resolutions mostly center around our physical health as this past year has taken its toll. I was plagued by persistent illness due to overwork and lack of sleep, and on more than one occasion was responsible for getting Kyla sick in turn. While my work habits haven't changed much over the years, my body's ability to cope with them has deteriorated. I will be 30 years old next October, and simply put: I can't keep staying up late whenever I please anymore without consequence. I spent many a late night this past fall working on school projects or work for clients. I also ate terribly, all too often resorting to fast food on my hour commute to and from school. In this coming year, I am going to try to be better about keeping a more regular schedule. Kyla (and my body) will thank me for it, and hopefully I'll be a lot more healthy as a result.

2013 is shaping up to be very eventful for us. We will welcome our first baby into our family, and we will both graduate with the degrees we have long been pursuing -- all within the span of a couple weeks in early May if all goes according to schedule. While neither of us is so naïve to think that being first time parents will be easy, we do look forward to not having to worry about school for the foreseeable future. After Kyla completes her maternity leave over the summer, we anticipate that she will be presented with many lucrative opportunities to put her new title as pediatric nurse practitioner to work. I look forward to refocusing my efforts on growing my business and perhaps hiring on a few employees to help with the workload after the baby is born. Daphne and Lily are eagerly waiting for Jaedyn!

Happy New Year, and may 2013 bring ever more blessings to you.

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