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My soul Sings sunrise

My Soul Sings

Ever since we bought this farm, I have tried to describe the feelings I get. Not too long ago, I talked about my daily walks along what I call The Prayer Road. See my post https://missykuester.com/walking-the-prayer-road-each-morning/.  This morning as I walked and listened to music, a song came on that probably best describes my feelings. It is a song by Maverick City Music called My Soul Sings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNIMIUtz9OE). The lyrics struck me:

I feel Your goodness on the mountain
And I saw Your love down in the valley
And Your grace still surrounds me
God You’ve been good to me
Yes You’ve been good to me .
And my soul sings
My soul it sings

Instantly I knew that was the emotion I had been feeling all along

Psalms 108:2 

Arise, my soul, and sing his praises! I will awaken the dawn with my worship, greeting the daybreak with my songs of light. (TPT: The Passion Translation)
I’m grateful that right now my routine is to wake up, have a cup of coffee and then walk in the morning. It gives me time to reflect and set my mind on being joyful and intentional. Then I get to work. This routine may change in the coming months but for now, I will awaken the dawn with my worship for My Soul Sings with joy, goodness, and thanksgiving.

What do you think?

Consequently, I have contemplated creating a devotional based on this farm. It would be short observations I have here on the farm. Think anyone would be interested?

 

 

 

Air Force

Dear Air Force: Had it not been

Dear Air Force,

Where to begin? How do I put into words how I feel at the end of a 24-year relationship that brought some of the best experiences but also some of the hardest moments? I can remember feeling excited and exhilarated but I can’t ignore all the times you made me feel scared and alone. Had it not been for the highs and lows, I wouldn’t have learned what I have.

Lamenting and thanksgiving

Honestly, I wrote and rewrote this post a dozen or more times. I just couldn’t find all the words nor the right ones. A couple of versions sounded too angry and I don’t want to bow out now with anger. My friend Ashley is a minister and preached many sermons on lament. See her sermon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vv7UxeFzbcU  The Bible has a whole book of Lamentations, prayers of anguish calling out in faith. Part of walking in faith is lamenting. Job lamented. Even Jesus wept. I realize now that had it not been for the lamenting, thanksgiving would not have followed. With pain, disappointment, sorrow, chaos comes praises of thanksgiving in the morning. Therefore, I find thanksgiving in the ‘had it not been’ statements.

Had it not been

Had it not been for Chris washing out of pilot training, he never would have crossed trained into Airfield Management. That career change opened up many opportunities for us. We never returned to a previous duty assignment or location which was a good thing.

Had it not been for his year-long remote to South Korea, I never would have discovered just how strong I really am. I met some of my dearest friends during this time. Even though it was a really hard time, I found out what I was made of. A sweet reward of this remote was that we were handed an assignment to Germany!

Had it not been for The War on Terrorism and living in a foreign country, I would not have experienced childbirth with three of my closest friends. This was by far the scariest thing I have ever gone through. It is a barometer by which I measure all the hard things in my life thereafter. I thought I was strong from that year-long remote, but this made me stronger.

Had it not been for all the moves, I wouldn’t have friends around the world. The friends we have collected are by the far the greatest treasure we have gained.

Had it not been for all the deployments, I never would have known who Missy Kuester is when she is alone. Over the years, I have spent a lot of time alone and I like my own company.

Had it not been for Oklahoma, Germany, and Delaware, I would not have my three sons.

Had it not been for all the places we lived, I couldn’t share those experiences with others. I can say definitely that I have lived there and known what it’s like. I’ve lived in other cultures and with people not like me. It makes me a better human. See my previous post about the exciting life my kids have lived, https://missykuester.com/reasons-i-dont-want-you-to-feel-pity-for-my-military-kids/.

Had it not been for assignments to Germany and Belgium and South Korea, we wouldn’t have traveled and seen places some people only dream of. I have sailed the fjords of Norway, stayed in a home given to General Patton near Normandy, and experienced the 70th-anniversary activities. I have stood on battlegrounds, been to Paris, gone in a boat in the canals of Amsterdam, Venice, and Switzerland. I have eaten whale, reindeer, and a lot of weird stuff in Korea. The experiences are too numerous to list here but I treasure them all.

Had it not been living away from our families, I wouldn’t have been able to show them the world and our beautiful country.

Had it not been for the 7 deployments, I would have never experienced the homecomings

Had it not been for all the goodbyes, I never would have had the hellos.

Had it not been for all the heartache and loss, I never would have known how truly blessed I am.

Had it not been for the Lamenting I wouldn’t have Praises of Thanksgiving.

Who holds the future

When I started this blog, my friend Angie asked me what I wanted to write about. She asked if I wanted to write a military blog. My answer was a resounding, “No!” As I explained to her, I want to be something other than a military wife. It has defined me for the past 24 years. It is time to be someone else. I don’t yet know who that will be but I’m looking forward to meeting her. I don’t know exactly what the future holds but I know who holds the future.

It’s been an honor.

It’s been hard.

I believe those two statements best describe our years as a military family and go hand in hand with one another. I’m glad we did it but I’m glad it’s over. I’m tired.

So, to you, Dear Air Force, thank you, for making me who I am. While you didn’t always live up to your end of the bargain, I know I gave you everything I had. 

Thank you Air Force, had it not been for you my life would be profoundly different but in the end I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now, off we go into the Wild Blue Wonder…….

 

 

 

Practical advice for graduating seniors of 2021

I was inspired by the tv show American Housewife on ABC. https://abc.com/shows/american-housewife  The parents, Katie and Greg give their oldest daughter, Taylor a list of things she needs to learn or do before she graduates high school. It got me thinking about my son who is a senior. With the help of crowdsourcing on Facebook, I compiled a list of things for him and any kid to know before they head to college or life on their own.

Here is our best advice for graduating seniors as they head out on their own.

Things every graduating senior should know how to do

  1. Iron a shirt
  2. Sew on a button
  3. Find a doctor, make an appointment, fill out necessary forms, handle insurance, fill a prescription or transfer a prescription
  4. Prepare to plan…have a plan to plan
  5. Time management, it’s everything
  6. How to do laundry
  7. How to call and set up utilities or transfer utilities (electricity, water, driver’s license, insurance, and cell phone)
  8. How to file taxes
  9. How to write a check (paper or electronic). How to pay a school bill for example.
  10. To get a credit card if they choose and use it responsibly. (Pay off the balance every month)
  11. How to mail a package
  12. Make a budget and stick to it
  13. Boil water, cook simple things.
  14. Change a tire
  15. Find a church
  16. How to make a bed
  17. How to fold a sheet
  18. Cook ramen on a hot plate
  19. Where to buy their favorites i.e shampoo, beverage, snacks, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.
  20. Set an alarm
  21. Write a letter, buy a stamp
  22. Basic first aid
  23. Get themselves out of a predicament
  24. Know an emergency number by heart
  25. Advocate for themselves
  26. Turn off the water in case of emergency
  27. Basic car care: fill the gas tank, check the oil, put air in the tire, fill up the washer fluid tank, etc.

Advice for anyone leaving home for the first time

  1. Have a contact list with names, phone numbers, and emails
  2. Don’t eat yellow snow
  3. Find friends slightly older than you to be mentors
  4. Shower regularly
  5. Call your brothers
  6. Don’t get tricked into gimmicks such as credit cards
  7. Have fun-enjoy every minute
  8. If you fail at something, learn from it
  9. You can always come home
  10. Stay away from trouble
  11. Don’t give in to peer pressure
  12. Careful of what you post on social media
  13. Mom knows best, dad knows second best
  14. Always do the right thing and good things will come to you
  15. Call your dad, he may not say it but he misses you too especially when he needs someone to help him move something heavy.
  16. Call your mom, she’s trying to let you do what is best for you but she wishes she could keep you forever.
  17. Protect yourself, know when people are lying, your safety and well-being are important.
  18. Sleep! Sleep deprivation leads to mental fatigue and poor choices
  19. Learn to talk to your professor or boss. Ask for help when you need it. Let them know if something is going on that may affect your performance, grade, schedule, etc.
  20. Weed, alcohol, recreational drugs make people fat and lazy, and unpopular.
  21. Never drink something that came from someone else. Only drink unopened alcohol.
  22. The only reason you should be in the news is for doing something good.
  23. Watch out for your friends.
  24. Do things that scare you but first decide if it scares you because it is unknown or because it is dangerous.
  25. It’s okay to say no

Final words for my graduating senior

Just some final thoughts for my graduating senior and all the other seniors. Be safe, be smart, be kind. Remember all of these things and more. You’re going to do amazing things and we get a front-row seat!

From the song by Mark Hariss, ‘Find Your Wings’, remember these words:

I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I’m here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXofFc3BBpA to hear the song.

Please visit missykuester.com for more stories.

Military kids at Utah Beach

Reasons I don’t want you to feel pity for my military kids

My thoughts on April, the Month of the Military child as it comes to a close.  Don’t feel pity for my military kids or feel sorry for them. Additionally, don’t point out the fact how hard moving so frequently has been for them. Why? Because for what they have lost they have gained so much more. I know it’s a tough life, that is not lost on me. However,  they are fine. Our family’s philosophy is we don’t concentrate on what we leave behind but instead on what we gain when we move.

Reasons to not pity my military kids because they have:

Met superstars, athletes, military heroes and seen Presidents in person
Waved at the British Royal Family
Seen the cherry blossoms in Washington DC
Been invited to Constitution Hall
Ate real pizza in Italy and rode in a gondola
Been to Austria where they took the Sound of Musical tour
Ridden in trains, planes, buses, water taxi, English taxi’s, trams, streetcars, horse and buggy, and cars, lots of cars
Experienced Normandy on the 70th anniversary and stayed in a house owned by the Patton Family
Visited Monte St. Michele
Lived in Germany and Belgium
Traveled by plane to a high school football game in Naples
Visited numerous military cemeteries including Arlington where they got a behind-the-scenes tour by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sentinels
Been to many military ceremonies in Belgium and stood where battles took place and heroes were honored
They hiked in Shenandoah
Played on the beaches of Destin
Went to Kennedy Space Center
Vacationed at Disney in Florida and Paris
Traveled to South Korea and ate things they couldn’t pronounce
Ate reindeer and whale in Norway
Sailed the Narragansett Bay at sunset
Visited the USS Gerald Ford before it set sail
Saw Niagra Falls, camped in Canada, and went to Toronto
Lived in 8 different states
Been to the real Eiffel Tower in Paris
Took a field trip to see Phantom of the Opera in NYC.
Visited Gettysburg
Went to the Zugspitz, the highest point in Germany
Went skiing in the Alps
Visited Alahambra in Spain
Stood on Rock of Gibraltar
Had an entire island beach to themselves in Portugal
Know what moose milk is
Seen the fjords of Norway
Had VIP access to an Air Show
Swam in the Rio Grande and visited Gruene Hall
Stood in a bullfighting ring in Spain
Visited the Dutch Royal Family’s stables in the Netherlands
Visited Threaves Castle in Scotland and Edinburgh Castle
Went on the Royal Brittania in Scotland
Lived on an island in the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island
Took a ferry to England
Been to the Neuschweinstein castle
Lived in Mount Rainier’s backyard

Hail the Military Child

These are just a handful of the experience my kids have had. Consequently, they have gained more than they have ever lost. Instead of your giving them your pity try talking to them and asking them to share their experiences. Give them a chance in your group, club, or on your team. Offer them their first job. Welcome them into your home. I want you to be their friend. Have empathy or compassion or be jealous of all that they have seen and done. What I never want you to do is feel pity for them, that doesn’t help them and quite frankly they don’t want it. Hail the military child may we not pity them but follow their example.

ambulance

Back to your regularly scheduled programming

I want to apologize for being away and I hope to get back to your regularly scheduled programming on a more consistent basis.

First off, I was hospitalized on February 25th.  The diagnosis was hepatitis (liver injury) caused by an adverse, allergic reaction to Augmentin I took for a sinus infection. I had stopped the Augmentin 10 days prior so it took the experts a while to figure out the culprit. But here I am feeling much, much better. I’m working on getting my stamina back but all my liver panel tests have returned to normal and I should have no long-lasting effects.

Read this medical journal entry. It describes much of what I experienced. I did not have hives of any kind. And as stated, it can be fatal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK548517/

I did lose my sense of time at one point. While I was heavily medicated, I was transported from the ER to a larger hospital with a GI department and where they could run further tests.  Trust me, I had rather have stayed in the ER.  Weeks later, I found these pictures on my phone and do not remember taking them. I also asked a good friend if she could spare part of her liver if I needed it. She was so sweet to say yes.

So, enjoy these pictures.

emergency

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This is a view of my Emergency Department room

In the midst of all of this, I was pretty much bedridden and sleep-deprived. I also was preparing our house for packers and movers to come and take away all my earthly possessions for our move to Utah. I’ll share more of what we got done the week we were in Utah in another post. As always you can find my stories at http://missykuester.com.

.There is so much more I want to share with you! Stay tuned.

Utah house in winter

Quirkiness is the new trend in today’s homes: Inside Edition

Watch any home show on HGTV and you will see decorators using today’s hottest trends to remodel, update or create new homes. The only problem is that there isn’t one on the quirkiness of a home and how to embrace it or turn it into the hottest new trend. Where is that show? What Joanna Gaines did for shiplap, I could do for quirkiness. That’s the show I need. I may just have to embrace the quirkiness of our old house. Truthfully, we may have to gut the entire thing and start over. What quirks, you ask? Let’s look at some of the quirkiness things we discovered. But promise me you’ll abide by our farm rule. You are not allowed to ask why things are the way they are. We just don’t have the answers.

Quirkiness or Character

Oxford Languages defines quirk as “characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits.” That would definitely describe our house. However, Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines quirky as “unusual in especially an interesting or appealing way.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quirky  Our house is interesting but not necessarily appealing. 

Stairs to Quirkiness

Let’s start at the stairs because it’s fascinating to me. At some point, the owner diverted the stairs. According to the last owner, the house was two living units at one time with the stairs running up along the exterior wall of the house. Later, they turned the stairs to come out to its existing spot but left the old stairs. It is currently a closet in what used to be a foyer but then became a bedroom and is now a room in question. Are you following? This spring we are going to open the wall up and see if we like the original route of the stairs.

New stairs going up

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Can you find the water heater?

With everything, I am sure that at the time it was the best option. Now, it just perplexes me. Somehow I didn’t get a great picture of our living room. Our hot-water heater sits in a closet in our living room. Everyone notices it because it’s that quirky. The goal is to relocate it because we want to tear down the adjacent wall. But in order to move the heater, we have to move it to the other side of the wall in what will be the laundry room. To do step C, we have to do steps A and B.

It won’t always be like this, right?

This entire room is full of quirkiness. We will remove the carpet to see what is underneath. The whole back wall needs to be redone. The “bay” window is three different size windows. Behind the curtain is the world’s ugliest sliding glass door. As we understand it, the original kitchen was here which would explain some things. 

back living room
You can see the edge of the hot water heater closet to the left of the couch

While we are in this room, look up. Let’s see if we can get one light for this small room instead of four. It will require moving the fake beams and the ceiling that seems to be lower than the rest of the room. Quirky!

Living room ceiling
These beams are probably decorative. But what is more troublesome is the many light fixtures. This will be rectified once we figure this room out.

Goodbye awkward Sauna

While a sauna sounds like a good idea, we found the one attached to the back of our house to be dangerous. It was close to setting the whole place on fire. The wiring was questionable. And as you can see the only creatures using it were the birds. It was ugly as well and was not appeasing. It had to go.

Goodbye awkward, quirky sauna! It looks so much better.

sauna1

Image 1 of 4

A better solution for storage in eaves

I appreciate that someone removed the knee walls of the attic to make the bedrooms larger. My quandary is what to do with that space. Thank God for Pinterest and all the amazing ideas I have pinned. https://www.pinterest.com/  

Here is our current situation upstairs in two of the bedrooms.  I have included ideas of what to do with the space.  Also, can you spot the hidden hatch in the floor? That secret storage may very well be the reason the ceiling is so low downstairs. We shall see!

This website has a lot of great ideas as well for building dressers into the space. I really like these ideas for added storage.. https://diyprojects.ideas2live4.com/knee-wall-storage-dresser/

Closets where all the answers to why are stored

We obviously need to rethink this situation. Here is a fine collection of our closets:

upstairs closet. The second smaller door is what was the original attic access

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Windows

We need all new windows but that will be one of the last projects along with exterior work. But this one window is always the subject of dinner conversations. It’s two storm windows used to make one window. You promised not to ask why!

Window
A double-pane window? I don’t think so. ©missykuester.com

Adventures in quirkiness

There is a long list of things that aren’t quite right but this blog only has so much room. I will include and explain the wall we took down in another post.

This can all be fixed. When we change things it gives us a sense of accomplishment. One day this blog will show us how far we’ve come. Thanks for following along and not asking why.

In the meantime, revisit some of my past blogs on Haulin Kuester Acres. https://missykuester.com/renovation-update-outbuildings/ Next time we will talk about the quirks of the outside. 

Haulinkuester house

Haulin Kuester Acres

Happy New Year! We are excited about 2021. I wanted to update all of you on our farm. Ideally, I consider it a hobby farm as we don’t plan on using it for large farming or animals. As a family, we decided to name it Haulin Kuester Acres. It was the name all 5 of us could agree on. You offered many amazing suggestions. We felt this best reflected our homestead and would maybe help people remember the correct pronunciation of our last name.  Thank you for sharing in our enthusiasm and watching along.  Due to weather and other commitments we are not currently undertaking any projects until the weather improves. Also, we currently maintain two households so fiscally we are trying to be responsible.

Please check out our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/haulinkuesteracres.  And if this is your first time here please read our last renovation update on this blog: https://missykuester.com/renovation-update-outbuildings/

Additionally, my talented sister, Larissa designed our logo. We wanted a logo that could stand on its own but also be identifiable and unique. She accomplished that. Next up will be to get some swag with our new logo. 

Haulin Kuester Acres Logo
Haulin Kuester Acres logo created by Larissa ter Veer ©missykuester.com

In my next blog post, find out the reason you are not allowed to ask “Why?” on Haulin Kuester Acres.

Christmas letters

21 Christmas letters that won’t bore the readers

I am one of those people who writes a yearly family letter every year. Somewhere tucked in a draw in someone’s house are all the Christmas letters I have written. I just know it! I hope I have evolved over the years. So, in the hopes of helping reinvigorate the art of Christmas letter writing and to help another soul looking for more creative ideas, I am sharing my past letter ideas here.

The tried and true Christmas letters

Christmas past, Christmas present, and Christmas future. At the time, I claimed this letter was not as boring as the others they would receive. It was my first attempt at writing a Christmas letter. All these years later I realize that the letter is indeed boring. Example: Christmas past was about what happened in the past year. Christmas present was where we were working and such. While Christmas future was about our upcoming year.

Written by our dog, Fletcher. Creative at the time but everyone has done this idea. Example: “Hi, my name is Fletcher. Mom and Dad are too busy doing human stuff. So, in between naps I will try to retrace some of the past year.”

Baby Makes Three. Written from the view of our newborn baby. Again, a tried and true version of Christmas letters. I at least used some pretty winter scenery paper. Wonder how much that cost? Example: “I must turn this over to Mom. I don’t remember the first part of my life and besides, I must nap now.”

Improving on the Christmas letter writing

Movie Titles. I started to stretch my creativity a bit. I used movie titles intermingled in our end of the year recap. It’s also fun to see all these years later what movies popular. Example: Chris, the star of An Ideal Husband and his driving could best be compared to Eyes Wide Shut, without the raunchy parts.

Top Ten List. At the time we lived in Idaho so the list was ‘Top Ten Things to Do While living in Idaho.” You could easily write about your own town. Again, I was getting more creative, or so I thought. Here is an example: 1. Ski, Hunt, Fish. 2. Flying: Chris has completed his private pilot’s license requirements.

NewsletterIt’s a cute, short, and easy way to share your thoughts. I’m sure at the time it was a lot of work and I was proud of it.  Example: It announced the birth of our second-born son. Also, a Sightseeing section showed a trip we had taken that year. I have done the newsletter a couple of times. One time I used fancy parchment paper, included lots of pictures, and featured my third kid that was born that year. I was probably tired and desperate and this was a quick and easy way to get a letter written while kids napped. Some of the sample headings were: What we did this year. A year of blessings. What we learned. It includes some fun facts based on events from the year. 

Stepping up the Christmas letter game

Review in Pictures This one is really simple for busy parents or folks that just don’t want to write a lot. I did this one when I had two kids, lived in a foreign country, and my husband was deployed. I included nothing but pictures along with a short summary. It starts off: We realize how busy we all are this time of year, so here we have put our past year in pictures. 

Kids Answer Questions. I probably was desperate when I asked my kids questions for this newsletter. My kids’ answers are hilarious. I then give a recap and provided a picture of us. Example: The question was ‘Do you like your new house?’ Trevette’s response was “Yes, I like that it has an island in the kitchen.” Guthrie’s responded with “Time to eat!” Again, this is a simple Christmas letter if you have smaller kids.

Rebus Christmas letter. This was fun! I replaced some of the words with pictures. Each of my kids is represented by their faces. Other words are replaced with little clip art. For example, I included airplanes for when we flew and clipart for activities. See abcteach.com for examples and ideas to get you started: https://www.abcteach.com/directory/subjects-language-arts-reading-rebus-2280-2-1   

Rebus Christmas letter
Here is a general example of a Rebus letter. ©www.havefunteaching.com

Imaginative Christmas letters

All I ever learned I learned from Country music. The year was 2008. I guess I liked Country Music because the letter is based on the titles of country music songs. I use song titles to share our monumental events. You could easily pick your favorite genre and do the titles of popular songs from the year. One example is ‘Fall by Clay Walker’, as it shared the time that our kid fell out of a second-story window.  

I share more about that experience in another blog post: https://missykuester.com/the-one-time-my-kid-fell-out-of-a-window/

A Fairy Tale Christmas Letter. I decided to use my title of Princess to write our annual letter. The letter used royal titles and a storyline. You could use any story to write your letter. How about a superhero letter or from your favorite tv show. Example: Upon arriving in their new village they were given new responsibilities. The Prince was tasked with watching the skies. (Chris was an air traffic controller and airfield manager at the time.)

The best and worst of 2012. I shared things such as The best family vacation, Favorite month, Happiest Homecoming (because Magnum was deployed yet again), and Best News of the year….that we were moving to Belgium. 

Thinking outside the box for Christmas letters

Facebook Status Update Christmas. I remember I was new to Facebook. I used status updates for the letter and then explained each event. The descriptions were short and to the point. Again Magnum was deployed so I was probably pulling my hair out. Example: Received my Princess Crown which told about the time my friend Lisa took pity on me and threw me a princess-themed party.

Bumper Sticker Letter. For this idea, I am sure it came to me as I stood at my freezer wondering what I was going to make for dinner. Each event starts off with a bumper sticker I have on my freezer. Each side is covered in bumper stickers so there is a lot of material to work with. One such sticker read, Yes, this is my truck and no, I won’t help you move. Then I wrote about how my husband bought a new truck.

Freezer with bumper stickers
Here is a recent picture of our garage freezer adorned with hundreds of bumper stickers. ©missykuester.com

A Review told with memes. I was pretty proud of this one. It was at the height of the memes. I used the memes to set up poignant events that had happened throughout the year. For example, I used a meme that said “We’ve decided moving is the easiest way to clean your house” and then I shared about our move to Belgium.

Epic Christmas letter ideas that will surely impress your family and friends

Season in Review: Football theme: This was the first year I did a photo card. In our picture, we are football players and referees. The theme of the letter is also football and breaks our year up into Quarters. I also used football verbiage and jargon. Example: Final Score: Kuesters crushed the Year 2014.

Comical Year. I really kicked it up a notch. This time, I made ourselves into comic characters and created a comic strip using a free online comic strip maker. storyboardthat.com It was visually pleasing and easy to read for sure. Example: One picture was me sitting in a hospital bed because I had ankle surgery at the beginning of the year.

Comic Christmas letter
This is the comic I created for a Christmas letter one year.

Quotable Christmas. I have a book of zany things my kids say so I resorted to those quotes for a Christmas letter. Example: “The Beastie Boys fought and possibly died for my right to party” a quote by Trevette. I used it to share news about his senior year and graduation.

Random Facts. For this letter, I invoked the help of my family. They always have these random facts. I asked them to share facts based on what I was writing. One such great example: We moved from Maryland to Washington so one of the facts was “It was 2, 837, 015 smoots from there to here.”

This year’s letter is canceled. Even though it was the 2019 letter, it was probably best suited for the following year. I laid out all the reasons we couldn’t write a letter. For example, I thought I would have some time in August between trips to…..and so forth.” By the end of the letter, I had given all the reasons we couldn’t write a letter.

BINGO! This year’s Christmas letter idea

I’ve been writing these letters for Twenty Five years. It is the Silver Anniversary Edition of Christmas letters. A couple of years I repurposed ideas. This year it is…Bingo Christmas. I used a Bingo card generator at http://spark.adobe.com. Lucky for me 2020 gave me a lot to work with. I marked off the things we actually got to do. Consequently, there were things we didn’t get to do and I left those events unmarked.

Bingo Christmas
Kuester Bingo Christmas Letter ©missykuester.com

Now you try it

These are my most epic Christmas letter ideas that are sure to not bore the recipients. Each year I try to outdo myself from the year before. I hope this inspires you to write a better Christmas letter that shares your yearly events in an entertaining and interesting way. Good Luck!

Pilgrims at Thanksgiving did not go home

That time the Pilgrims didn’t go home for Thanksgiving

Several years ago, I wrote a response to an article on Military Spouse Magazine in regards to going home for the holidays. The article felt judgy and unnecessary for military spouses who want to go home but for reasons cannot. My response was hasty, brash, and resonated with other military spouses. If you google it you can probably still find the original article at https://www.militaryspouse.com/magazine/. I decided to edit and share with you my thoughts about feeling guilty when you cannot go home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other important times of the year. So enjoy this revamped and retitled article, That time the Pilgrims didn’t go home for Thanksgiving. Here is to another guilt-free holiday!

Released from guilt

Two significant times in my life I was released from guilt for living so far away from family. The first was when my mother told me to get out of our small, rural, Indiana town. Then my 93-year-old grandmother told me as we prepared to move to Germany, “If anything should happen to me while you are gone do not haul those babies back here for my funeral.” She released from the guilt I had for not attending her funeral. You see, I am married to a military man but I live with less guilt because of the overwhelming understanding of my family for missing out on holidays back home.

My husband Chris has been in the Air Force for over twenty years. We have spent five years overseas and moved fourteen times in total. Currently, my college kid has never come home for Thanksgiving. I would be a hypocrite to insist he come home for Thanksgiving. In the meantime, I have prepared myself for the future. As the mother of boys, I may spend future holidays without them. Our military lifestyle has always been about creating new traditions. Holidays at our house don’t always look traditional and we are okay with that.

Many times it is just not fathomable to return to your parents’ home for the holidays. Air travel, car rental, hotel stays, boarding of pets, food, and the list compiles and before you know it, you are so in debt you cannot travel the rest of the year. There is also the stress factor, the inability to get enough time off, and a plethora of other responsibilities. Let us not forget those that are deployed and cannot be home for the holidays.

Random thoughts about going home for the holidays.

1. If it is so important for your extended family to be together, invite them to your place. Two years in a row, our families traveled to where we live and we rented a house large enough for all of us. It relieved me of doing all the cooking and cleaning.
2. Delay holiday for cheaper times of the year or plan a destination holiday where you all gather in a central location. I dream of having a vacation in a cabin in the mountains one day surrounded by my boys and their families.
3. Talk to your extended family. Let them know how you feel. My hope is that your family is understanding and if not that is on them, not you.
4. Coordinate with local friends to gather for the holiday or serve in the community in some capacity. In years past, my family and I are served dinner to inmates in a halfway program on a farm.
5. Create your own traditions. My husband and I have created our own family holiday traditions. We look forward to carrying these out every year.
6. Above all, do what is right for you and your family. In the meantime, release your family from that same guilt. And do not judge other military families if their choices for the holidays are different than yours.

The 2020 holiday season is different but still guilt-free

The holidays should not be stressful or filled with guilt. My kid is doing what I taught him to do by making a life of his own. If his adventures lead him far away at the holidays I will survive just like my mother has done. She is a great example of how a mother can release her children and adapt through the holidays. Listen, this military life is hard enough on good days so the last thing you need is to feel guilty for not being able or wanting to return home for the holidays. Instead, embrace your new home, make new traditions, and if someone tries to make you feel guilty remind them that the Pilgrims didn’t go home for the holidays either. I release you of that guilt. I’m not saying to never go home for the holidays but when you can’t that’s okay too.

The 2020 year is bizarre, to say the least. We are being told by health professionals that it is best to not gather in large groups or with those people who have compromised immunity. This year we all are relinquished of any guilt about not going home for the holidays. We can claim that we love our families by staying away and thus keeping them healthy.   

Have a happy, guilt-free holiday season!

The top three names for this unnamed farm

It’s come down to the top three choices as voted on by the viewers. Thank you all for your interest.

The top three are:

Flying K Ranch

haulinkuester Acres

ChrisMis Farm

We hope to decide this week when we are all together for Thanksgiving. Until then enjoy these pictures.