Well, another year (if not the world) is about to end, which means you’re wondering by now what on earth the Barnes family has sort of been doing with its time since the last time we sort of explained it in a yearly missive not unlike this one. Tell you what, that makes two of us. Best I can remember, here’s how it’s been:
January. Oh, man, January. The days were getting longer, and that was good for our seasonal affective disorder, but it wasn’t enough to keep Julie from crying about not being able to find a counseling job. Good times. To our relief, February brought some reprieve in the form of a trip to San Francisco to visit with friends and generally pretend to be way hipper and more cultured than we (or anyone from Pittsburgh, for that matter) really are. Viva la Ritual Roasters, if you know what I mean. As long as you’re maybe wondering what I mean, let’s pretend March isn’t even a real month.
In April, the newest member of the Barnes family (pictured partially above, and in a thousand Instagram photos) was born. On April 24th, to be exact, the little puppy we would come to name Winston Severus Moltz Barnes was born. So it was probably in May that we struck a deal with his breeder to adopt him. I say probably because, as exciting as deciding to adopt a new puppy is, May was also the month that Julie launched her counseling practice, so May was kind of a blur of website-making, business-card-printing, phone-number-getting, and explaining to Alex how much a fifth of mayo really is.
Next thing you know, summer was here. Winston arrived in Pittsburgh not long after we picked him up in Ohio and drove him here, and then there was the potty-training. He was a good dog, so it was only a couple of weeks before he was peeing mostly outside in non-edible-garden areas of the yard. That’s the apparent exchange rate for constant vigilance these days, in case Leonard H. Courtney is posthumously curious. Also in June, Geoff turned 40 and decided to take up the banjo. There was a party. There was a banjo. There were a lot of “lordy, lordy” jokes. You can imagine.
In July, Pittsburgh set records for its hottest summer in decades, and our house’s AC broke like something out of an Onion article. On the upside, we saved money on our electric bills, lost about a bazillion pounds of water weight, and Julie became particularly skilled in the genteel art of blotting her forehead with a handkerchief. The kids went to summer camp, Geoff went to New York for his friend Jon’s bachelor weekend, and Julie went to her parents’ house where the stinkin’ AC worked at least.
In August, we sent the dog to stay with our friends Trish and Ryan in Ohio, and the five of us loaded into our car and drove to Maine for a week’s vacation. Two days there, two days back. For a week. Yes. Exactly like you think it went. And they say getting there is half the fun. Thankfully, while there, we were graced with a stunning meteor shower which caused amnesia. The amnesia buoyed our spirits, but not our sense of adventure: Julie tried water-skiiing for the first time, Conner went tubing for the first time, and Geoff’s dad turned 70. August turned out to have been not only a month of firsts, but a month of lasts. From now on, when we take the family to Maine, we’ll fly.
In September, Julie and Geoff celebrated their first year’s anniversary. We did the traditional stuff: ate the cake topper, went to a nice dinner where Julie felt kind of sick and we had to leave early but filet travels pretty well, at least better than you might think, and it makes a great breakfast if you reheat it just right! The same month we celebrated our marriage’s first milestone, all three kids started “playing” musical instruments. Alex chose the trumpet, Jack chose the violin, and Conner opted to begin pursuing his lifelong dream of becoming a guitar virtuoso. Not to be outdone, Julie and I enrolled Winston in canine obedience training.
In October, Alex began to fall in love with the trumpet, Julie’s practice started to take off, and our friends Jon and Kammie got married in a ceremony that saw Geoff serving his first stint as “best man,” a title the absurdity of which he now understands firsthand. In November, Conner plugged away at the guitar, and we enjoyed a truly harmonious Thanksgiving with Julie’s family in the midst of a weeklong “staycation” during which Geoff finally accomplished nearly 10.2% of everything on Julie’s modest honeydo list.
In these last few weeks, December has seen Jack make peace with that violin, and Geoff’s mom Kay is about to take her turn celebrating 70. As Julie and I prepare to fly to Dallas to celebrate Kay’s birthday, we carry in our hearts both mourning and celebration for Julie’s dear friend Rob Herniman, whose life was cut short when he unexpectedly passed away earlier this month. Life is long, but life is also short. Everywhere are reminders to cherish one another while, and however, we can.
From all of us, we wish you and yours the happiest holidays and the richest 2013 imaginable. Hug one another often, and enjoy every minute of what - if the Mayans turn out to have been wrong - holds the promise of being the best year yet for us all.
Merry Christmas and Happy 2013 from Geoff, Julie, Conner, Jack, Alex, and now Winston Barnes!