Dad joined us for our annual WDW family trip this year and we went a few days early to finally actually do a day at Universal Studios. Not going all the times we were going to because we thought we'd be disappointed in the Wizarding World turned out to not be too far off from reality, but we did still really enjoy the Hogwarts Express. However, what really made it a worthwhile visit was the fact that Mik could ride the simulator Jimmy Fallon ride without transferring from his wheelchair. Also, we had a lot of fun in the Dr. Seuess themed land, although yet another ride that makes me annoyed they didn't make Dumbo wheelchair accessible when they expanded it because now we can add flying fish to the list of similar rides that manage to make it possible while Dumbo remains unaccessible.
Star Wars Land was the big thing this year. I don't understand it being the one in the group not into Star Wars and always annoyed when yet more rides open that require transfers because it's just more we can't do when Mik and I go on our own, but as much as I think Smuggler's Run could easily have been made to have a non-transfer option at least it is one of the very few rides I could transfer Mik to on my own.
This year's family trip also included Dad attempting the marathon (he dropped out around 20 miles if I remember correctly), Mik discovering candied bacon in the Magic Kingdom, fun Epcot Festival of the Arts photo ops, and ending up with what seems like a posed end of ride photo on Haunted Mansion that was actually because the ride was stopped and we didn't know it took a photo.
Mik and I enjoyed Disney on Ice at Capital One Arena.
Dad, Mik, and I saw The Oak Ridge Boys at The Birchmere. We were also supposed to see Charles Esten at Ram's Head in March, but as everyone seems to say, "2020 happened." Mik was really excited about it because last December when we saw Chip at The Birchmere he came off stage after the first song to say, "Hi" to Mik and Mik was curious if it'd happen at another venue since he clearly seems to recognize him from going to his show at The Birchmere all these years and we always end up right up front.
Mik and I visited the International Spy Museum, which ended up being the last thing we got to do in DC for a long while with everything shutting down a few days later and then my trip to look at houses to move to Myrtle Beach when our DC apartment lease ended in January 2022 turned to me not going back to DC at all.
We lost Grandpa Kjos in March the day I flew down to Myrtle Beach. Thought we'd end up going to Ohio, but then everything was shutting down. Instead I ended up not even taking my scheduled flight home to DC, made an offer on a house, and didn't leave the Myrtle Beach area for over seven months.
March in Myrtle Beach included Uno, celebrating Pi Day, Uno, Nora making a raspberry and pasta taco, puzzles with missing pieces, a Nora mat taco, Uno, building with Jenga, and Uno...oh, wait that was actually Dos.
In April, Kirsten, Nora, and I made rock cacti gardens. For Easter, we made lefse, pierogi, and banana pudding. We also had several evenings that we roasted marshmallows and made s'mores.
Towards the end of April, I closed on the townhouse. The next day was our building's turn for a new roof and my fear of the ceiling fan that the inspection said was loose would fall wasn't entirely unreasonable as a hall light cover did fall during the roof work. I started working on fixing up the place including removing the annoying bi-fold closet doors, painting the kitchen and bathroom drawers, and painting the upstairs trim.
Since Dad was on leave and the house had a lot of things that needed to be done before we could move our stuff and Mik, he came down in May to help with our household projects. Mik's bathroom got pretty much entirely redone including changing from a tub to crawl-in shower, cleaning the dryer vent and replacing the washer and dryer in the laundry closet that is in his bathroom, getting new faucets, replacing the toilet, and putting new handles that had more grip area on the cabinets. Dad built a garden bench incorporating the Chevy tailgate, which I first got to make as part of a planter back when we lived in our Virginia condo. Dad added an outlet with a light to the under stairs closet in Mik's room, which is now his crawl-in closet. And of course, the first thing hung in our new home was the apple and orange painting by Mom that I stole when I moved into the dorm for college.
Upstairs Dad finished the painting and I changed the knobs on my bathroom cupboards. We had the carpet removed and new flooring installed (Dad is eventually going to stain the stairs and I got vinyl stickers for the risers). Moving our stuff from DC had to wait until June, but my room ended up mostly furnished as Dad brought my mattress and my uncle brought my grandma's sleigh bed and dressers.
Adventures with Nora including fixing a fishing game, making crafts, going for walks and bike rides, playing catch and baseball, having a picnic, and building with Jenga blocks. We also went strawberry picking.
Dad returned to DC to pack up our apartment. The packing was complicated by water damage and flooring being replaced.
Mom drove Mik down in the truck and Dad drove a moving truck with our stuff. Kirsten and I with some help from Nora built Mik's barn door, which was one of the projects Dad finished in June. Kirsten and I also put some cube storage on wheels to make use of the odd space under the stairs in the living room.
We celebrated Mik's birthday with cupcakes early while Mom was here when he moved down here in early June. For his actual birthday (and Josh's), I made peanut butter banana cakes and we made a trade for some steak since we couldn't get together due to possible exposure quarantine.
July was more finishing of projects and a lot of hanging stuff up including Dad bringing us our ballpark collections that we had put in Mom's Chicago apartment when we moved on to Monticello.
Since there were no Olympics to watch, we had a family game night playing Mario & Sonic at the 2020 games.
When I first looked at the listing for our townhouse, the one thing that really turned me off was that the laundry would end up in Mik's bathroom. Since Mik's bathroom can be accessed from the kitchen as well as his room, it ended up not being an issue. In fact, laundry now ends up much more efficiently done as Mik will load the washer, especially when it's his bed sheets, and always makes sure I know when the load is done (of course, we also have smart laundry appliances now that could tell us probably, but I haven't set that up since Mik is really good at making sure the laundry gets moved along).
Since we finally had some time with Dad gone, I got my office desks set up in August. Kirsten and I also had to fix Mik's toilet tank leak. August was also when I finally put my Master's of Education with Library Science specialization to use as the decision was made to homeschool Nora for kindergarten.
Homeschooling in September including mixing colors, playing with bubbles, making Nutella mousse, and play-doh. I made Mik a Grumpy soap for his bathroom. Mik learned to roll over the threshold and out the door when going to his pump appointment and I learned to shave his facial hair. Also, had to deal with getting a new battery for the truck.
In October, we had a fun mini golf outing. We really enjoyed the spinners at some holes that gave you challenges such as using the wrong end of the club, having to stay quiet the until everyone finished the hole (Nora got that one), and standing on one foot. The best, though, was Kirsten got the one that said, "stand as an obstacle for an opponent's next shot," and I was up next. Naturally, she had to stand covering her nose because, well, her standing too close when I was using a golf club was how her nose got broken when we were kids.
I finally got out of the state to drive to Arizona with Dad to prepare for sale the house we built when I was a kid and the only home Mik knew until he was 18 and we moved to Alabama. Considering we pretty much never did Christmas at our house when I was a kid and I spent every summer at Grandma's starting at age 4, I'm pretty sure the seven months in Myrtle Beach area is the longest I've ever stayed in one state my entire life.
On the way to Arizona, Dad and I took a little detour on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
My sketches of the house we built.
One of the projects Dad asked me to do was move the rocks enough to dig next to the concrete to put in an edger to keep the rocks off the driveway. Quickly discovered I couldn’t dig there because there was actually six inches of the driveway we forgot about as the rocks had buried the pavers.
I spent many days cleaning up the garden area and then filling it in with wood chips. We took out the toilet since we didn't think buyers would appreciate it as a planter as we did. The aloe vera had survived all these years, so we put it in a pot and sent it back to Myrtle Beach with Mom in her motorhome. However, the aloe vera never made it to our Myrtle Beach house. After several weeks we think we solved the mystery of the missing aloe vera as Kirsten remembered Mom having it out at the campground she stayed at a few days before putting the motorhome in storage and Mom must have left it there.
Before I put the wood chips in our old playground area, Dad decided to try to make it more level and get rid of the concrete spot that had always been there. He ended up digging up a bunch of what would have been part of the foundation of the previous house that burned down in the 1960s, I think. The concrete spot seems to have probably been part of the back steps and was the one part he couldn't remove. We ended up overestimating the amount of wood chips needed, so I put it in really thick where we planted a tree by the garage and we also used it for a new little cacti garden edged with the foundation stones Dad dug up.
One of the things we left in Tucson when we moved to Alabama was the table Grandpa Kjos built me when I was little. It had been moved around several times and I thought it had been lost entirely. And it almost was as it was just the top leaning against the shelves in the garage and was barely noticeable. We never did find the legs, though.
Sitting on my stump one last time...
We brought Mik back a pina colada eegee from Tucson and stopped at a Del Taco in Georgia to get him a fiesta pack just in time for a Taco Tuesday.
Mom, Dad, and I did the Great Christmas Light Show drive through in North Myrtle Beach.
We decorated our new house for Christmas including getting Mik's village set up, putting our wreath on the door, setting up our tree w/ all the Disney ornaments for the first time since we lived in Virginia in 2015, and hanging the stockings by the chessboard with care. We made mushroom as well as traditional potato and cheese pierogi for a family dinner at Kirsten's while Mom and Dad and some other relatives were still in town before Christmas. Mik enjoyed the beef jerky that Dad and I got in Arizona for his stocking, although he did say his stocking was lacking in candy this year since he only got a butterfinger.
While there is still organizing to do in our new home, with the opening of Mik's train box that has been sealed since we moved to Alabama we have managed to unpack/open everything after this move (the boxes of insulators don't count...but really I do have a plan for those). Mik really enjoyed getting to play with his train and is already making plans for scented smoke fluid and more track so he can actually use all the cars next year.
We missed being able to get our traditional Christmas photo of Mik with the Capitol model and seeing the train exhibit at the US Botanic Gardens, but Mik did pose with our tree and his train for Christmas.
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