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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?

DAPHNE

Kate and I are not too proud to admit that with each successive child we got just a wee bit lazier in our parenting, but we never expected our little Daphne to turn into such a firebrand. There are times we contemplate what we did wrong raising her but then shrug our shoulders and go back to binge-watching This is Us.

At 14-years-old Daph still loves to shred it on her platter but her new love is ESports. Because of this, she insists that we call her an "athlete." Often we walk into her room where she's been "training" for days for the next League of Legends tournament. 

 

Kate worries that Daph isn't getting her proper nutrition but I always tell her to quit hovering—that she'll come out when she gets hungry enough. But despite my leadership, my caring wife will inevitably sneak a four-pack of Red Bull and a bag of Funyuns into her room.

HEATH

As you know Heath's career was starting to take off working at Golden Corral last year, but he decided after a month that they were holding him back. So, he took a short six-month sabbatical to contemplate what his next step toward a career would be. 

One day in July, while he was on the couch thinking, his sister, Hazel, was walking through the living room and tripped for no good reason. Having seen her fall many other times, he decided he wanted to help people like her build their core. It was his eureka moment—he decided he was going to be a professional Planet Fitness trainer!

A couple of weeks later, he borrowed my car and drove over to Planet Fitness and turned in an application. It's now December and we haven't heard back on the job. While most people pursuing their dream would grow impatient, Heath isn't bothered at all. He just pops another frozen pizza in the oven and says, "Don't worry dad. They'll call if it's meant to be." 

Sometimes a wave of conviction comes over me when I get frustrated with circumstances knowing how my 19-year-old son is so relaxed about the future.

LAUREL

We're happy to report that Laurel returned from her trip to Portland, Oregon.

 

She spent a total of 14 months with her new friends living in a van. It was truly the adventure of a lifetime and she was finally able to find her "authentic self."

Laurel is a napper and often just before she dozes off on the couch in the afternoon I gently suggest she might think about getting a job. Without fail she sits up and reminds me with great conviction, "Dad, I cannot! I will not! work for "the man" and do something unless I love it," and then lays back down.

Because of her time in the great northwest, and like everyone else who spends more than a couple of weeks in Portland, she is determined to open her own coffee shop. What can I say? We are so proud of her intentions.

In her free time, Laurel likes to take naps, journal about her dreams, and stare at the stars in the night sky.

HAZEL

What a year it's been for our little girl. Hazel has decided she wants to be an activewear model and nothing we say will stop her.  

 

She has filled out applications to companies like Nike, Addidas, Walmart, and Aldi and is convinced her big break will come—and, as you can tell from her photo, she has an edgy style about her that we think will get noticed.

 

Kate's been trying to help Hazel be more balanced in how she walks. Together they have been enrolled in Yoga classes (the non-cult kind) at the local Y and we think it's helping her—even though there are times she gets stuck in a pose...which reminds me of the time Hazel played Twister and we had to call emergency services...but I digress. 

For all of Hazel's awkwardness, we still love her!

JUNIPER

One word that would characterize Juniper's year is—Hard Work!

Kate and I were initially disappointed when she dropped out of homeschool college to pursue a career in babysitting, but boy were we wrong! You see, Juniper is not a dreamer...she's a doer. She's the entrepreneur in the family and loves to show off by making mobile deposits at the dinner table. 

Her podcast on reviewing kitty litters has really taken off and her popularity is rising. We now have nine cats in the house and her bedroom smells like death but that's a small price to pay to know we have a YouTube star in the making.

 

On weekends you'll find Juniper at the sewing machine. She likes to express herself by sewing her own clothes. We've noticed that she particularly likes making skirts and jumpers out of denim. She is even considering opening an Etsy store to sell her creations.

I know, right? What can't this girl do!?

KATE

Kate is never one to sit still and 2019 has been no different. 

One of her greatest accomplishments came sometime last April when she received a free one-time pass to Costco and discovered their rotisserie chickens. Let's just say that we are now platinum members and I think the only thing she's ever bought are these big, plump, delicious birds. Overnight, my wife became a rockstar meal planner!

Katherine (as many of you know) used to be a very free spirit. She was someone who would twirl about in public without a care in the world...that was...until she was turned on to British dramas on Netflix. Since then she has become quite formal in her ways and I often have to look up such phrases as, "fancy a cuppa?" or "honey, you're such a bog-standard." 

But one thing remains—my sweet Kate is my best friend and the girl of my dreams. She supports me, loves me, and always wears smokin' hot shoes!

WALTER

Welp...you guessed it. My venture into men's jewelry (Jewelry by Walter, LLC) where we specialized in jewelry for the Amish gentleman crashed and burned back in June. 

It was a great run and I really felt like my designs were cutting edge, but apparently my Amish neighbors just didn't get it. So, I'm sad to say that I'm currently unemployed.

A wise man once said, "Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor."

 

I have no choice but to believe this as all my ventures here in the Amish community have failed. But I'm happy to say I have a new idea that's gonna have lots of flavor.

I thought long and hard about what I do best and after months of contemplation, I've decided to borrow some money from Juniper and launch . . . Amish Bronze—a tanning salon for those who want to even out their farmer's tan or get some color when they have family photos taken.

I used to wonder if we were a successful family but then I read a quote on facebook that changed my perspective and has become our family mantra: "Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." 

It's because of this that I can say with certainty that success is on the horizon for our family! Suffice it to say that we aren’t all that we could be, but doggonit we’re pretty pleased with being the McAllisters.

 

Keeping it Real.

Walter, Kate & Kids

P.S. Merry Christmas