Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays 2014!

This year was pretty tumultuous for team Nyers-Petersen. Still, all things considered, we have it good and I can't complain.

One day in February we were having a really great day when we received a phone call from our landlord, telling us the owner of our house was selling it. We loved the place but had no intention of buying it, and our lease was up in June. So a mere 15 months after moving into the "house in the country" we began looking for another place to live.

We really loved this house. Here's a picture of the bunny who lived in the brush at the side of our drive:

And here is Alexandra helping Penelope learn to ride her bicycle in the turn-around, one of those rare moments where they were not bickering with each other!

And playing on the tire swing:

Shortly after we found out the house was up for sale (it went on the market the day after we were notified) the real estate agent asked if they could start doing showings. This was extremely stressful for us, on many levels. We were under no obligation to have the house pristine, but knowing how hard it can be to sell a place, we didn't want to leave it a mess, either. It's also very weird having strangers traipsing through your home.

The day after the first showing, our house was robbed. This really freaked the kids out - especially Penelope, as the burglars had moved a few things around in her room in stealing their iPod, and that was how I first discovered what had happened. She talked about "the bad people" for months afterwards.

The burglary had nothing to do with the house showing, but after that we decided to ask that they hold off on showings for a while and let us out of our lease early. We began looking for a new place and found a rental from a nice couple just outside of Corvallis.

Several months later, we got a call from the Albany police station asking if some of the items they had in evidence were ours. It turned out they had caught our thieves the day after they had robbed us, but they were being charged for other crimes, and there was nothing to tie them back to our report. They finally pieced it together because they found a video camera of ours and on it, Alexandra was saying her full name. Anyway - long story short, we got all of our stuff back except for my wedding ring and a couple of necklaces (and the iPod, darn it).  It was a surreal experience.

As you all know, my dad, Bent Petersen, passed away in April. He was unwell and had been hospitalized a couple of times before that, but it still seemed very sudden. I was reminded many, many times this year how amazingly wonderful my family is. In the summer, we held a party to celebrate him, and everyone was there. I think my uncle said it was the first time he had met my cousins from the other side of the family (I *think* that's what he said - this was after we had both had quite a bit of wine and beer, so I'm not entirely sure).  It was amazing to see all the countless ways that my father had influenced other people's lives.

One of the best moments of the party was when my Uncle Dal brought out his bagpipes and started giving lessons. This became a sort of test (one I was too chicken to try!). Melanie killed it!  By which I mean, she was great!

My cousin John played some great music, and there was much food and fun. Dad really would have approved.

Summer was busy. Wonderful things grew in our garden, without any input from us (remnants of the previous tenants' efforts).

We had a lot of fun watching different things spring up all over the garden. As it was our first year here, we had no idea how many flowers are in this yard. Whoever planted them all did a great job of making sure something is blooming, pretty much all the time. It's wonderful.

In the summer, Alex went with his mom Lorraine to New Jersey to help his grandmother Frances pack up a lifetime of belongings and move out to Oregon.  It was a whirlwind of change, and deserved some celebration once complete - so we celebrated:

Penelope's birthday was a pretty quiet affair, but she had a good time.

In July, we went to the La De Da parade in Yachats, and I took the kids down to the beach (July 4 is about the only time you can play on the beach in Oregon) and we all got sun-burns. Whoops.

Alex went to Idaho for the archaeology field school again, so he was gone July and August. The girls and I made the 1,000 mile round trip to visit him. We worked hard to find all the fun things there are to do in and around Cottonwood, Idaho.

 We made Alex a banner covered with ponies and butterflies when he came home. :)

Before summer ended, we took a little family trip to Astoria, Oregon, and visited the Enchanted Forest, Powell's bookstore, and the Columbia River Maritime Museum (where you can tour a once-operational light ship).  Penelope also overcame her fear of swimming in the hotel pool, by jumping into it over and over again for about 2 hours straight. She's such a Viking!

Other random stuff that happened this year:

In January, I went to a conference in Arizona. I had a good time, learned a lot, and was photographed (slightly tipsy) with this cute donkey:

And a giant rabbit cut-out, because...

In April, Alex and Karl presented a poster on their project Archie at the SAAs in Austin, Texas, which is a pretty groovy place:

Alexandra continued to be a fashionista and book worm. Also she grew some giant mushrooms:

We took off for a long weekend to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to celebrate how awesome she is, and she discovered that: a) she loves clams, and b) she knows as much about seaweed as the aquarist who grows it and gave the tour we took (which is to say: a lot).

 Penelope drew and painted A LOT. Every day, for hours at a time. And when she wasn't drawing, she was building things, or destroying them. Whatever.

Alexandra had an awesome Halloween-themed birthday party, with numerous friends dressed in crazy costumes:

Alex did lots of SCIENCE:

And I started drawing a lot and built a webcomic site:
In other random news, I paid off my student loans, which was a huge relief. Alex got funding to work full-time as a researcher at OSU. Penelope started Kindergarten. And Alexandra learned how to sew. I am too lazy to go look for pictures to commemorate these events.  :P

So, there's our year in review. It takes a huge amount of effort to put this together, so I hope you enjoyed it!  :)

Happy holidays, everybody.

Love you, Dad.