The first annual thackerberg holiday letter

What have we been doing in Texas for three years?

We’d like to say this is coming relatively late because we were preoccupied being very busy executives navigating the complicated, glittering world of boozy holiday parties, but really we have been mostly binge-watching The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) and Making a Murderer (Netflix), both excellent. 

Our first year of marriage was a series of adventures. Much has transpired since many of you joined us at our Kansas City wedding in October of 2014, enhanced (not ruined, though ask Jenna again tomorrow) by the KC Royals’ first attempt at a World Series win. Have you seen the wedding highlight video? Here is the video. Cherish the images as we do, because we've already grown considerably wrinklier and have lost some hair. We looked so great!

Anyway, this is a Christmas letter -- so onto the highlights.

The Great Real Estate Adventure

We had one goal this year: buy a house. Which seemed easy enough; we have good credit and are not criminals. With high hopes, we moved out of our rented Dallas townhome and posted up with Jenna's parents while we wrapped up wedding festivities – and in the fall, we kicked off the search.

The short-term boomerang living arrangement turned into an 8-month residency. Mark, known nemesis of cats the world over, grew despondent; Jutta retreated to Colorado.

Why'd it take so long? The Dallas real estate market is bananas. It’s not, like, San Francisco or Manhattan levels of bananas, but the market is intense – and to a newlywed couple looking for an affordable suburban starter home built prior to five minutes ago, Dallas is remarkably unkind.

Our search started out like House Hunters: pleasant, optimistically picky and unrealistically hopeful. How hard is it to find an open concept (yeah we said it), a decent shower, a kitchen without wallpaper and no faux finishes? Very hard, indeed. From November to February, we toured and scowled at upwards of 75 properties (many of which went under contract before we even left the premises). Most were heinous, but five were not. We put down five offers, and our dreams were dashed as we lost one after another to cash buyers. Cash buyers! Who even are you, cash buyers? Admittedly, we were also exactly the people on the HGTV shows who express genuine, repetitive shock each and every time they discover that the type of house they want is like five million dollars more expensive than their budget.

But it all happened for a reason, as they say.

In the spring, we stumbled on a sweet five-bedroom 60’s ranch home with a red door before it hit the market. It needed some cosmetic work, but it appeared to have walls, plumbing and a roof – which became the comprehensive list of criteria by then. It had big huge trees, a giant yard for Eva, and a vibe that reminded us of our favorite homes in Kansas City. We closed in February.

Thus began the Great Renovation Adventure. 

The Great Renovation Adventure

It should be noted that prior to taking on this project, our collective experience with home renovation was this: we had both painted interior walls at some point; Aaron once fixed a faucet. We had also been married for like 30 minutes, unsure exactly why a general contractor was a thing, and had expectations re: costs of things that were set by the Property Brothers.

Luckily, the roof, windows and other expensive important things nobody wants to deal with were in great shape, so we could focus on appliances we didn’t care for and walls we didn’t want.

The singular thing about Property Brothers that is totally accurate: Nothing goes according to plan. For example, the hardwood floors that we thought could just pop up easily and replace? They were actually laminate – and they fooled us into thinking they were solid wood because every inch of the material was glued directly to the subfloor. Later, the granite countertops in the kitchen arrived and were installed with the wrong edges; the discount shower marble we bought at an outlet cracked within days of installation. But after many tiny catastrophes, a small claims court settlement (REALLY! So adult!) and 50 shades of grey paint, we came out with new wood floors, a big open living room, a new bathroom and an almost-brand-new kitchen. We absolutely love our home, and are in the process of furnishing and decorating slowly. Check the before (top) and after galleries below. 

And no, your eyes do not deceive you: Aaron even has his own Chiefs-themed gaming room.

careers: house of carbs

In January, Aaron left his post as the Social Media Manager at Travelocity and moved on to greener, carbier pastures as the Digital Marketing Manager at Midwestern bagel favorite Bruegger’s Bagels, which recently moved its HQ from Vermont to Dallas. He sends emails re: bagels all day long, and digs working for a mid-sized food brand. Crossfit keeps him from getting squishy, and he continues to maintain his hotpocket-esque figure despite the boundless free baked goods. 

Jenna is still at Pizza Hut – the job that brought us down to Dallas – and wholeheartedly enjoys the fast-paced drama of QSR. Her role has evolved from Associate Manager of Social Media to the Sr. Manager of Digital Engagement, where she’s responsible for digital brand campaigns, videos, and all social media channels. The gig has offered tons of travel opportunities and she's been focused on building her personal brand through industry speaking engagements; this year has taken her from LA, San Francisco and Vegas to Austin, Kansas City and Knoxville. Check out some of her work here and here.

The Year of Vacations

We’ve had so much to celebrate this year – so we did lots of going places and doing stuff. The front half of the year was packed with work travel and house nonsense, so we enjoyed July through November with entirely too much leisure travel.

 Thanksgiving with the fam

Thanksgiving with the fam

We visited Romance Ranch outside Steamboat Springs, CO for ATVing and horse-ing. 

We re-honeymooned for our first anniversary in Mexico, which was a glorious whirlwind of Pina Coladas.

We flew to St. Thomas to celebrate the marriage of our friends Jackie and Matt; highlights included iguanas, snorkels, buckets of rum and catamarans.

Mike, Sarah and Mira (our 2 year-old niece) came down from Canada for Thanksgiving. Turkey and lentil loaf were enjoyed by all.

Best of the year: A list of Things the Thackerbergs Wholeheartedly Endorse in 2015

 Romance Ranch - July

Romance Ranch - July

  • Mimosas with a splash of amaretto
  • The Nest thermostat
  • Foot Duvets from Restoration Hardware
  • The Walking Dead
  • A big-ass TV on a swivel arm so you can watch it from the breakfast table
  • The Vitamix
  • NFL Sunday Ticket
  • Jumpsuits 
  • The French Dip Sandwich at Houston’s/Hillstone
  • Renee Rouleau skin care products
  • Caymus Pinot Noir, but not too much
  • Better Call Saul on AMC
  • Pizza Rat
  • Black Mirror on Netflix
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Owls with hats on
  • La Croix
  • February 26th, the greatest day on the Internet with the escaped llamas and The Dress
  • Taylor Swift’s 1989 (even Aaron enjoyed the concert)
  • The Kansas City Royals (this time)
  • The Today Show
  • Refrigerators that play photo slideshows for you
  • Snapchat
  • That cat in a pirate costume
  • This cat also
  • Toddy cold brew coffee
  • Rosé
  • Amazon PrimeNow – amazing!
  • That beer that tastes like root beer.

Thank you for all your love and support with our new lives in Dallas, our careers, our home and our first year of marriage. 2016 is shaping up to be transformative for us; we can't wait to share new adventures with you this year. 

Happy new year to you and yours!

 Mexico - October

Mexico - October