2019 in Review

We ended 2019 in therapy, metaphorically and quite literally. (But that’s not saying THAT much as we’ve been in voluntarily couples therapy since before we were even engaged–flexing those relationship brain muscles.)

Can we get the bad stuff out of the way first and end on a happy note?

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Nika, with our 2019 Christmas card from Paper Culture, that we definitely sent out late. 

The bad stuff

We can’t even remember where we started 2019. It feels so long ago because this year has been exhausting. Moving is especially hard for Sarah. Its not just moving from our Gainesville house, its moving all the big animals too from rented property in Whitesboro and foster dogs from Ore City to our new permanent farmstead in Sanger, TX. And unfortunately, we are not moving into 2020 with the same set of lives we had on January 1, 2019. That’s been especially rough for all of us. A cougar, caught on game camera–but never caught in the act, killed Pickles the goat, our four turkeys, and Poppy our one legged guinea. A skunk ate the head off our sweet rooster. Those deaths hit us hard and caused a lot of anxiety. Living 25 minutes away from our animals was already anxiety inducing as we couldn’t keep watch, couldn’t defend them, couldn’t enjoy them. The good news is, we bought a new farm, all our animals are together with us (save for the cows, but they are coming back to us soon and are in a safe place), and that’s hopefully behind us.

We also faced a bigger human death this year. Birdman Dan from Ore City died. This sweet old Navy veteran who Sarah has worked with for 5 years, called Sarah his daughter (despite no relation) passed away from cardiac arrest. Sarah had been bringing Dan and his dogs food for 5 years, bringing 400-600 lbs of donated dog food every other week or so on an 8 hour round trip and helping transport Dan’s dogs ramp to other rescues (like Human Tomorrow in Flower Mound, TX and NovaStar rescue in Arkansas) who could take them up north. We had been working on Dan to convince him to move in with us (the new house has plenty of space). He was softening up to the idea, but passed away before he said yes. Now there is no one protecting the dogs and their puppies dumped at the boat ramp. Even before Dan’s death, it was an especially difficult year for Dan’s dogs. We always knew there was an evil man out in the community setting bear-claw style traps on the deer lease and leaving dogs to rot to death when they got caught. But it escalated. Someone was going around shooting dogs, puppies and bludgeoning any dog they could find to death. Sarah made an especially heartbreaking trip to an emergency vet to humanely euthanize a 6 week old puppy Dan saved that had survived bludgeoning (barely) but had traumatic brain injuries. We ran a clothing drive for Dan, added thousands of miles to our vehicles running him dog food, helped him bury a fellow veteran’s ashes…never did we think this would be the year he passed away too.

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Sarah, Nika, and Birdman Dan February 2019

The good stuff

No real family vacations this year, but…

We had our first wedding anniversary and went to a rooftop restaurant in Dallas to see the fireworks (4th of July!).

Nika turned 6, lost a bunch of teeth, learned to read confidently, and is spelling / writing up a storm. She started piano and has a love/hate relationship with practicing (only if its HER idea on HER time). She continues to do ballet and tap, added Jazz, and does gymnastics/tumbling several times a week. She’s taken off with Prodigy Math app. She got ONE ear pierced (long story) and won’t ever get the other done until she’s adult, she currently claims. And back in August, she ended up in the newspaper with this picture of her and her principle, Mr. De.

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Principal Mr. De Santiago and Nika, August 2019

J R’s side business really took off, and he started his fifth year at Gainesville ISD where he got a raise. He’s been on several work trips that have taken him to South Carolina, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. He continues to be super hardworking and when he isn’t at his day job, he’s hustling, studying, and improving his skill set for his side job. He turned 36 this year and the thing he remembers the most about it was the lavender cake he specifically requested to celebrate. It was delicious!

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J R with his lavender birthday cake, June 2019. 

Sarah started her second year teaching Speech at NCTC, sold about $7,000 of makeup for charities, and coordinated several adoptions for CoPilot Animal Rescue, sending dozens  of dogs up north for adoptions. In January, she coordinated her first Financial Peace University for more than 10 other people. She also started the Fall school year as PTO president at Nika’s elementary school and has helped coordinate several campus wide activites like Coin Wars, Boxtop collections, and several thousand in t-shirt sales. Sarah travled around as an advisor with her Phi Theta Kappa honor society students, including to Orlando for Catalyst 2019. She turned 30 this year.

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Sarah’s 30th birthday shoot courtesy of amazing friend Jessica Ward, September 2019

All three of us danced in this year’s Nutcracker! Nika was a pixie while Sarah and J R were party guests with Festival Ballet and performed at Margo Jones Hall on the campus of Texas Womans University.

We paid off the Prius the sold it, getting rid of car payments altogether, and bought VW Beetle convertible for cash. We also put a down payment on Tesla Cybertruck because #goals and planning for the future.

We sold two houses this year! Both Sarah’s Marshall house and J R’s Austin house are sold. WOOT. Sarah is still looking to sell her Daingerfield house, but we’ll keep J R’s Odessa and Gainesville houses for now as rentals. House rich, cash poor?

WE BOUGHT A FARM/HOUSE. It has its own blog post and we’re pretty proud of it. CoPilot Farms has a flock of rescued chickens, a turkey, three goats (Shadow the Pygmy, BB the Pygmy–Pickles’ daughter, and Slugger the Boer).

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Sarah and J R in October taking selfies with the beautiful sunset on our new property. 

We have a few other things on the horizon in 2020 that we can’t talk about just yet, but we’re working on clawing our way through another year, continuing to get on our debt free journey while improving our lives and the lives of those around us.

Cheers, 2019! We’re ready for 2020.

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