We are all safe and sound, but much has happened since you last heard from us.
I know on the outside we look like we’ve got it all together and for the most part, we do. We don’t mean to brag about ourselves, but is it really bragging if it’s the truth?
This time last year I would have never imagined that we would have the opportunity to move out west to Wyoming and that I would be able to pursue my lifelong dream of being a rancher.
When most people think of ranching they envision vast golden prairies tamed by barbed wire fences and strong, calloused men who won't be told what to do—grisly cowboys riding horses, and stirring up large plumes of dust while wrangling large herds of cattle.
Well, that's exactly what I do, except there aren't really any cows or horses involved, and we mostly just have a front and back yard of dead brown grass with a dilapidated chicken coop and a dozen hens.
But it really is true what they say about ranching: "It may not be the easy way, but it's the cowboy way."
I am the luckiest man in the world to have landed my trophy wife, Kate. My little wonder woman is always in perpetual motion and dancing through life while loving others with a generous disposition.
You'll be happy to hear that as a result of being the First Lady of Big Dub's Chicken Ranch, Katherine is pretty popular in town. I must admit that it's flattering when everyone is staring at us with big grins on their face. When we get into our pickup truck, we always remark about how people can't seem to look away and how it won't be long before this newfound popularity starts to pay off in egg sales.
You've probably already connected the dots and guessed that Kate did in fact begin writing a new cookbook this year dedicated to egg preparation. It's called, Eggs: The New Wonder Fruit and we think it should be completed in time for next Christmas. It will be self-published and you will be able to find it at Border Books and all other fine bookstores.
Katherine would be the first to say that she loves being married to a rancher. While she doesn't like me trackin' chicken manure across the carpet, she does find my new manly style to be quite alluring. But enough about that.
I once had a mentor try to encourage me by saying "the kite that pulls the hardest is the kite that flies the highest." Call me a skeptic.
Every year I launch into our annual Christmas letter trying to think of how how to brag on Daphne and I always draw a blank.
Daphne (or as she likes to be called, Nightpain) has not adjusted well to our move to Wyoming. We thought we could minimize the trauma of moving her away from her "posse" by enrolling her in a 4-H club.
Kate and I believed that if we could just get her around livestock and country kids that she would start wearing wranglers and flannel and embrace a wholesome western life. Boy...were we wrong and quite embarrassed when the 4-H leader called and said she was no longer welcome at the monthly club meetings. Apparently, she took a wire coathanger, made a homemade brand of some gang symbol, and was trying to brand one of the goats.
A Free Parenting Tip: When your child is in a foul mood or being destructive just think of something that will distract them. For instance, when the drama flares up, I remind Nightpain that Wyoming is more relaxed with their conceal carry laws and that once she turns 19 she'll be able to get a permit. This usually puts a wry smile on her face and brings calm to the situation.
Probably the single biggest concern we had when contemplating our move west, was how it might throw off Heath's sense of fashion. He has always worked so hard to be a trendsetter which caused us to agonize over whether it would cramp his style or whether he would adapt. Welp...you can tell from the photo that he made the transition like a rock star.
Heath still hasn't landed his dream job (or really any job for that matter), but he has a new friend, Mike Rawlins, who is taking online YouTube classes to become a life coach. It's a perfect situation because Mike is couch surfing in our basement and he and Heath usually get up around noon, eat Lucky Charms and strategize about Heath's career path. It's just so neat to see how things are falling into place for our son.
One of the highlights of the year was when Heath walked into the house and showed us his new tattoo. It might sound a little "over-the-top-patriotic", but we often sing God Bless America when we see it. Our boy has embraced his inner redneck and we couldn't be more tickled.
While most of our children are pretty easy to figure out, Laurel remains an enigma to us. She is like a fairy princess whose wings don't work.
When we sat the family down and told them that we would be selling the tanning bed and liquidating other assets to move to Wyoming, Laurel flopped face down on the couch and started pitching a fit. The rest of us took that as our cue to go into another room.
Later when I went to check on her she was gone and there was a tear-stained note on the side table. It said that she was boycotting the move and that she had run away to pursue her lifelong goal of starting a "dreamer's truck" and that we would never see her again.
(For those of you who don't know, apparently a "dreamer's truck" is like a food truck but instead of food, they sell pottery mugs, 80's vinyl records, macrame owls, diaries, calligraphy pens, hoop earrings, and anything paisley.)
All of us shrugged our shoulders and true to form, two days later she was found napping on the couch.
2020 will go down as the year that Hazel got her first smartphone and it will also be remembered as the year we had to replace her screen five times.
Hazel has been a tremendous help this year around the ranch and seems to have really found her calling as she finds great satisfaction in collecting eggs. The only downside is her ongoing tendency to fall down which never ends well when she's carrying the eggs into the house.
All of the chickens really seem to love Hazel except for Rusty (our Rhode Island Red rooster). One afternoon he was copping an attitude and coming at Hazel which caused our fragile little girl to fall backwards into the woodpile (and of course, break her phone again).
The terror that was on our baby girl's face was something I will never forget, but fortunately, Kate was nearby and went into UFC mode and promptly punted the rooster about five feet in the air—suffice it to say that Rusty ended up in the soup pot later that night. He was delicious which made the whole traumatic event not so bad.
Simply put...we never saw this coming, but our sweet Juniper was wed this past October.
We always knew that her blog on reviewing kitty litter would pay off. Initially, we thought it would be through advertising, but what happened instead was even better.
One day she received a note through her contact page from a dapper young fella named Duncan Douglas and what ensued was a whirlwind courtship that ended in holy matrimony.
Duncan is currently in vet school and his goal is to specialize in cat colonoscopies! So, part of his studies includes the science of kitty litter and bada bing bada boom he struck gold when he found Juniper's blog. He immediately reached out with his intentions and called me to see if he could court my daughter—I said, "yes please!"
Kate and I are so over the moon thrilled that our daughter has married a man with such a prestigious career path. A side benefit is that it's also gonna save us a heap of money because Juniper promptly dropped out of homeschool college. Now she makes bread.
So, if you're ever passin' through the great state of Wyoming, visit us at Big Dub's Chicken Ranch and we'll grill ya up some yummy yardbird and watch the sunset together.
Suffice it to say that we aren’t all that we could be, but doggonit we’re pretty pleased with being the McAllisters.
Whoopie Ti Yi Yo
Keeping it Real.
Walter, Kate & Kids
P.S. Merry Christmas