Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Newsletter, 2017 edition


Season’s Greetings!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every Kannely Christmas card is in need of a newsletter.  So here I am, trying to sum up our year into a one page paper, single spaced.  (Spoiler alert- I failed to keep it to just a page.  Sorry.  Proceed.)

It’s been a good year.  A little treacherous, a bit adventurous, and full of as many words (both sad and glad) as you might expect from a household of five females and one guy.  The winter of 2017 was as bad as anyone can remember.  Our roof did not fare well with the ice dams that built up, and eventually let in a pretty steady stream of water through the ceiling in our family room.  As long as you don’t count painting the ceiling (which is still waiting), as of Thanksgiving weekend we finally finished insulating, sheet rocking, taping and mudding, sanding, texturing, painting and putting the bookcase and books back in the offending corner.  It only took 42 weeks.  Ah, the joys of DIY.  We are a little wiser, and the proud owners of roof heat tape.  Take that, winter!

Emma is 14 and a freshman in high school.  She’s in Honor’s math, biology and English.  She also is playing the bass clarinet in band, taking PE, and learning French.  In addition, Emma started early morning seminary this year (that is a 6:30 am religion class at our church), and did marching band and was part of the high school’s production of Mary Poppins.  We almost haven’t seen her at all since school started.  Except when she needed to be picked up and dropped off.  Or to bring her dinner in between various activities.  Emma also got her braces off this year, and was the first recipient in our family of an x-ray for a broken bone.

Elizabeth is in 7th grade and is our lone middle schooler.  She’s working very hard at school and managed a 4.0 gpa 4th quarter last school year.  She plays the clarinet in band, takes piano lessons, and is following in Emma’s footsteps doing middle school science fair.  She may learn to type yet!  Elizabeth still loves art in all forms, and has any number of projects laying around the house and all over her bedroom walls.  She loves building things with old cereal boxes and paper, and her favorite decorating mediums are Sharpies and gel pens.

Annie and Maddie are 9 years old, and are in 3rd grade.  They get a great kick out of trying to confuse people on which twin is which, but if mom accidentally calls them by the wrong name, they are mortally wounded.  In my defense, I occasionally call all of my children by another one’s name.  Maddie has taken steps to make herself physically different from Annie, including pierced ears, a palate expander, and being two inches shorter.  The girls played soccer in the spring and fall, with two practices and a game every week.  And even after all of that time spent, I would say their talents lie elsewhere.  They both scored student of the month at school in October, and I had both teachers tell me they did not conspire together.  I am appreciative though.  I didn’t have to listen to one crow of victory and one weepy, “But I’m a good helper in my class, too.”

Ryan is in his 3rd year of being assistant principal at an all kindergarten school.  The school itself had a rough year and flooded 3 times, all within a 2 month window.  Ryan lost all 3 of his beehives over the course of that long, cold, snowy winter.  So he bought two in the spring, and then collected 3 bee swarms for a grand total of 5 beehives.  Our plot of land is well pollinated.  Ryan also realized his lifelong dream (ok, maybe only like 10 years) of growing broom corn.  We didn’t do anything useful like make a broom with it, but it did get tall and we collected some seeds for next year’s crop.  We also grew all of the usual garden stuff, leaving us drowning in produce and able to give away 200+ pumpkins and several gallons of berries.  Ryan also grew a beard for two months on a dare.  The whole family appreciates clean-shaven Ryan much more now.

I tried something new and scary this year.  I took an emergency substitute teacher training class and am certified to substitute in our school district.  I don’t substitute a ton, because it’s a little terrifying being alone and in charge of a class with students you don’t know, who have routines you don’t know, and a curriculum you don’t know.  Especially those few times you arrive and there are no plans to be found.  Ummm….  (Cue panic.  I’m good at panic.)  I also volunteer at school, teach my Primary class of 6-7 year olds at church, and am generally to be found in the minivan, driving or waiting for kids.  My big accomplishment of the year was that I figured out how to change a toilet seat by myself.

We drove to California for a 6 day trip this summer for a Kannely family reunion.  Once we were back from the trip we sent Emma and Elizabeth to Girls Camp, and Annie and Maddie to their grandparents, and then Ryan and I celebrated the end of student loans (for the 2nd time, mind you) by going to Ireland for a week.  We opted for the more adventurous choice, and rented a car and made our own itinerary.  Everything was “lovely” (the favorite Irish adjective) except for driving on those itty, bitty, twisty, turny, narrow roads surrounded by absolutely zero shoulder space and rock walls literally inches from your side mirrors on the wrong side of the road, with the stick shift on the wrong side of the car.  I was so sure we would be returning our pop can-sized car completely scratched up and missing the side mirrors, but Ryan did an amazing job and it looked unscathed when we returned it.  The scenery was “lovely” and very green, the weather was good, the accents made me smile, the ruins were amazing, the cathedrals and castles were spectacular, and the bacon was interesting.  Think thinly sliced ham-flavored pork chops.  After witnessing the majestic Gothic structures of the tourist attraction cathedrals, the only disappointment was finding that the Mormon branch in Galway meets on the 2nd floor in an office building across the hall from a fitness gym.  But it was an amazing trip, and one I’d love to do again.  Our one failure this summer was only going on one mountain hike, and one family camping trip.  We’ll have to do better next year.

We are thankful for so many of our blessings and cherish our moments with family and friends.  We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

With much love,

Ryan, Danae, Emma, Elizabeth, Annie and Maddie Kannely

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Newsletter 2016

I haven't sent this out yet, so this may be a sneak peek for the 3 people who read my blog.

Season’s Greetings!

Welcome to the 2016 edition of the Kannely family Christmas letter.  The ending of this year finds us mostly the same, but perhaps a little older and, in the case of the kids, a little taller.  We have two kids in middle school now and so far, we’ve managed to avoid the Cheese Touch, which is a pretty big accomplishment in my book.  We are a little weird already.  We try hard to teach the girls life skills.  We are hoping at some point they will turn off lights when they leave a room and kill their own spiders when they see them.  At this point we’ve given up on the wish that all puke will end up in a bowl or the toilet.  We seem destined for shampooing a rug when we get sick.  We are trying to raise nice girls, but want them to be well-versed in all aspects of life.  Maddie has become adept at burping on command, and impressed us by doing just that for a minute straight, over and over.  Even she was impressed with herself.  I believe her exact words were, “That. Was. Awesome.”

Emma is 13, in 8th grade, and pretty much knows everything.  She is in a school and community children’s choir, plays the bass clarinet, and is working on another science fair project for the spring.  Thankfully, this one doesn’t involve rotting produce sitting on the kitchen counter.  She is upset she outgrew her Hogwarts sweatshirt, is always reading a book, and played C squad in volleyball.  She definitely inherited her parent’s athletic ability.  Emma did manage to break out of her usual fantasy genre, and read Jane Eyre this year.

Elizabeth is 11 and made the scary transition to middle school in the fall.  She’s funny, dramatic (some might say “angst-y”), is always crafting.  If there is paint, glue, coloring, tape, pipe cleaners, or project involving scissors in the house, it likely belongs to Elizabeth.  She’s taking piano lessons and also tries hard not to squeak Emma’s hand-me-down clarinet in band.  She also made honor roll for the first trimester of middle school, and we are thrilled!  She won’t pick up a book unless it is absolutely necessary and bribes are used, but enjoys the audiobooks we listen to in the car.

Annie and Maddie just turned 8 and are in 2nd grade.  Annie still dislikes displays of affection, but sometime Mom gets a pass and will be allowed a snuggle.  Maddie is carrying on the tradition of sneaking books and flashlights in bed.  The girls both played soccer in the spring and fall, and even made some progress in actually playing, instead of just following the ball around from one side of the field to the other.  The twins try to be different so people can tell them apart.  Maddie went so far as to split her chin open after a game of dodgeball was done and needed 7 stitches to put her to rights.  Annie always has her hair in a ponytail because she hates hair in her face, and refuses to let me cut her hair.

Ryan and I made the 15 years of marriage mark in August.  To celebrate we flew down to Mexico for a 5-day trip.  We didn’t go to one of the usual tourist destinations, but to Veracruz where Ryan served his mission.  We got hit by a tropical storm on our first day there, and I perfected my “smile and nod” while Ryan conversed with people he knew from his mission.  The Spanish words I picked up when I worked at the developmental preschool last spring wasn’t quite enough to get by.  We also wondered if our taxi driver was kidnapping us on our way to the pyramids at El Tajin because that was so not a 90-minute drive.  She didn’t, but she charged about 3 times more than she quoted Ryan.  All in all, it was a never to be forgotten adventure.

Ryan’s job is going well as the assistant principal at an all kindergarten school.  He deals with some interesting behaviors sometimes.  He had an out-of-control kid bite his hand.  The kid lost his tooth during the encounter, and it didn’t even break Ryan’s skin.  He now runs around outside without his shirt, claiming he sparkles in the sunlight and wants to be called Edward.  

Our “farm” is expanding.  We currently have a pig named Percy, two nameless sheep, 6 turkeys, 3 bee hives, one cat, and an unknown number of chickens.  Our feral chickens are always escaping to the neighbors, so it’s hard to count them.  Our garden was grand in size, as usual, and we added 6 fruit trees to our collection.  I won’t mention all the weeds we have, so this makes our yard sound a lot cooler and prettier than it really is.  Also, we are completely self-sufficient in onions.  I haven’t purchased one in two years.

And just because Ryan felt the need to include this fascinating tidbit so everyone, even the people we aren’t “friends” with on Facebook, know we are related to one of the guys who went on the Shark Tank tv show on ABC to pitch their toilet night light invention called the Illumibowl.  We now call Ryan’s brother Michael the Toilet King, and we are so proud the Kannely name is associated with toilets.  If anyone is interested, Illumibowls can be purchased at Amazon.com, many Walmarts, and Bed Bath and Beyond.  Or call Ryan.  We have several.

Well, we are hanging in there.  Sometimes maybe only by our fingernails.  Perhaps you understand the feeling.  But we are thankful for so many of our blessings and cherish our moments with family and friends.  We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year.


Love,  Ryan, Danae, Emma, Elizabeth, Annie, and Maddie Kannely

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Not My Finest Mormon Moment

I hope that when people think of Mormons, they think of someone with a good, moral character.  Today I was not feeling like that at all.  In fact, I told my kids to ignore my behavior because it was just that bad.  

Today I lied, went to the store on a Sunday, and made a drug run.  

Yep.

Pretty bad, right?

Well, Ryan's brother and his family are up visiting from Utah for the Thanksgiving holiday, and his brother chose this time to get strep throat.  Michael had a fever and has been sleeping most of the last two days.  Ryan offered our family doctor as a possible solution for someone who needed a fair cash price, and might even be able to consult on a weekend.  Our doctor goes above and beyond for his patients.  This is nice for us, but I feel for his wife.

Blair was worried about Michael yesterday when she (and everyone else) was down for Christmas tree shopping.  We offered Dr. Weaver, and this morning via text, Blair thought Michael was desperate enough to need medical attention.  So Ryan sent them Dr. Weaver's phone number, and Michael got a phone consult.  There are no pharmacies where my in-laws live (they have a grocery store, a Mexican grocery store, a gas station, a tiny post office and library, and that's the whole downtown area), so Dr. Weaver sent the prescriptions to our pharmacy.  As soon as I heard that, I called our pharmacy to make sure they saw it ("What?  We got a prescription sent in?  Oh, ok, we'll go check on that.") and since I couldn't very well pass myself off as a Michael, I could pass myself off as his wife. (Strike 1)   In-laws know things like dates of birth.  We played phone tag a couple of times while they found it, figured out how much the cash price would be, and when it would be ready.  Ryan pretended to be Michael over the phone too, and asked if his "brother" could pick it up for him because he wasn't feeling good.  Yes, so long as he knew the right date of birth.  Easy peasy.

So we picked up the medicine, at the store, on Sunday.  (Strike 2)  Then Ryan and I drove to the halfway point between my in-law's town and ours for the medicine drop off.  (Hello drug run.  Strike 3)  Ryan's dad drove Michael down, and as soon as Ryan handed him the bag, Michael was into it.  

Not exactly how I was wanting to spend my afternoon and evening, but oh well.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Errands

I don't have a full-time job.  I barely have a part-time job.  I am a substitute for teacher's aide in our district, so some days I work and others I don't.  I look at moms who work with and without kids at home during the day and I am amazed they keep it together.  In my own situation, I think it's good that I have time I spend at home to keep things running smoothly.  Well, not smoothly, but definitely not as crazy as if I worked full time.  This mommin' thing I do already takes up plenty of time.

Take this morning, for example.  Ryan had a 7 am meeting and was unable to take the middle school girls to school, so that was my first trip out this morning.  The second was to take the elementary school girls to school.  The third was to volunteer in Maddie's classroom, then trips to the Dollar Tree and Walmart.  (The twins are having a birthday party this weekend, and I had stuff to prepare.)  Once I got home and my bags unloaded, I got a text from Ryan saying he had blood on him, and could I please bring him some clothes?  It was lunch time, so I glanced wistfully at some left-over enchiladas in the fridge before grabbing some blood and hole-free slacks and shirt for Ryan.  (I found a hole in an important area of a pair of his slacks on Tuesday, and then a kid ripped his shirt sleeve yesterday.  It's been a rough week.)  I put out the big pot on the table just outside the front door for a lady who was supposed to come pick it up sometime over the next hour and sent her a text explaining my absence, and away I went.

I got to the school and sat in Ryan's office until he could find a spare few minutes to change.  I figured it would be best if I stayed to collect the bloody clothes so I could wash them sooner rather than later.  When Ryan finally came, he explained that some little kid had been out of control and bitten his hand.  When Ryan pulled his hand out of the kid's mouth, a loose tooth had come out too.  Hence the blood on his sleeve and slacks.  And Ryan was late for a meeting.

While Ryan was changing, his principal had come in and asked if I had cooked the turkey for tomorrow yet?

Nope.  Haven't really been home long enough to cook a turkey today.

So she pulled me into the office staff food/fridge/supplies closet and showed me how she had carved up the one she had done.  I assume I just look inexperienced and she was trying to be helpful.  I guess the turkey needs to be in smaller pieces and drizzled with the turkey juice so it doesn't get dry.  It would be such a bummer if the staff did not have perfectly done food that no one wanted to sign up to make.  (Are you picking up on my sarcasm?)

Well, I have just two hours until it's time for me to pick up the middle school girls from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and from there my day gets crazy again.  Emma has choir practice, and the rest have primary program practice, and Elizabeth has a piano festival Saturday we are still preparing for.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Style

These girls crack me up.  They have their own definite sense of style and certain clothes that they mostly keep for themselves.  See that black and white striped skirt that Maddie is wearing?  Well, we have two and Maddie alternates them so she can wear that skirt 3-4 times a week right now.  For a little while Annie and Maddie were both wanting to wear that skirt which once belonged to Elizabeth.  When I was shopping at Target for their birthday I happened to see that they were making the same one we had already, so I grabbed another so Annie and Maddie could each have one.  That hasn't worked out so well because Maddie is wearing them both.  But it works out because we have two pairs of the jeggings that Annie loves to wear, and one had been intended for Maddie.

                                                

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cookie Dough

There are times I think we are making progress in treating our family with kindness, and other times I think we've made absolutely none.  Tonight when we were making chocolate chip cookies, Ryan took the beater off the KitchenAid mixer and offered it to Annie and Maddie.  Maddie was in the kitchen, and Annie was slightly further away in the family room.  Maddie was to Dad in about a step and a half and declared, "Annie doesn't like chocolate chip cookies," while grabbing the beater in her greedy little hands.  Annie was in hearing range and was outraged, "I do too like cookies!"

Anything I've ever said about my twins looking out for each other is a lie.  They are happy to throw each other under a bus if it means getting cookie dough.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Family Pictures, part two








It had been about two years since the last time we took family pictures.  Last Christmas I took a couple pictures of the kids myself to send out on our Christmas card.  The pictures up on our wall were reminding me that the kids are changing and it was time to change things up a bit.  Purely for documentation purposes, of course.  Not because I was ready for new pictures on the wall or anything.  It's hard work trying to come up with a Pinterest worthy color scheme.  Not that I do a good job, but it's definitely the trend to have coordinating clothing, not matching, and I do like our pictures to look nice.  I mean, if you are going to shell out the big bucks for pictures, then we had better look dang good.  So I pour over our clothing, try to pick out what we have and how to make it all go together.  Then I give up and go shopping.  Emma, Elizabeth and I all got new shirts, and I bought the two scarves too.  But the sweater and necklace I'm wearing are the same ones from our pictures two years ago.  (Shhhh....)  I think I have a tendency to use similar colors.  You can't really go wrong with navy, am I right?

We took pictures at a friend's house.  I asked if we could, and Tara kind of rolled her eyes.  Her husband has wanted to do pictures by their fence and by the wheel line, and Tara wasn't keen on the idea.  Now she doesn't want to copy ours (she had to admit that they did turn out nicely), and I told her that as we aren't displaying our pictures at the same location, it shouldn't be an issue.  Besides, we took some of ours at the cemetery too.  Again.  That makes three times.  I think that might make us a little creepy, but it's really pretty there.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Happy Halloween

Spending Halloween at someone else's house makes for a crazy afternoon and evening.  But even still, we spent the evening with Ryan's parents and that was fun.  We've never done that before.  Our ward did their trunk or treat Saturday, and Rick and Kim's did their on Halloween.  They invited us up and since we didn't have any other plans, we went.  I picked Emma and Elizabeth up from school, where we quickly did as much of their costuming as possible: Emma's makeup, braiding Emma's hair, and Elizabeth's makeup.  We discovered that just using a hairnet under the pink wig wasn't enough to take care of the bulge that is Emma's thick hair.  So I did a couple of french braids with the ends bobby pinned out of the way, and that worked a lot better.  Then we made sure we had candy, the rest of the costumes, and headed out to pick up Annie and Maddie from school.  Once we captured them, we drove down to Ryan's school and picked him up before hitting the road to Royal City.

Once we arrived at Rick and Kim's, it was time to put on the twins costumes, help Emma into her wig and freshen her makeup, paint Annie's nose black and we were ready to go.
 Caitlin and her girls came too, with Leonard and his daughter.
 Emma chose not to wear the pink shoes again.
After gathering way more candy than we would ever need, we went back to Rick and Kim's for a tamale dinner and watched Hocus Pocus until it was time to head home again.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Trunk or Treat

Our church Trunk or Treat was yesterday.  The kids were super excited about their costume.  I think Emma was the last one to decide what she was going to be, with Annie choosing first.  Annie knew she wanted to be an Ewok months ago, and Maddie liked the idea of staying with the Star Wars theme.  
 SCOTT STERLING (and yes, you have to yell SCOTT STERLING whenever you say the name), Ewok, Princess Leia, and Jem.
 Maddie is wearing a white bedsheet that I cut into a dress.  I sewed two side seems, and it was done.  Well, done-ish.  I didn't even have a pattern.
 I could not for the life of me find brown sweats anywhere.  So Annie was a grey Ewok.  But a very, very cute Ewok.  Again, I had no pattern at all for the head scarf thing.
 I felt sort of bad painting bruises on Elizabeth's face, and blacking out her tooth.  Emma offered to give her real bruises, but Elizabeth wouldn't go for that offer.  The kindness between sisters never ceases to amaze me.
 And Jem from Jem and the Holograms.  The kids found the old '80s cartoon on Netflix and thought it was great.  I'm pretty sure the '80s threw up pink and Jem was born.  Emma thought it would be an amazing costume for Halloween, and she was right.  This was her second choice, but I couldn't find any Halloween footed pajamas so she could be the Studio C's Kyle at Halloween.  People at church couldn't get over how grown up she looked.  And Emma discovered the painful joy of "cute" shoes.
 Ryan and I handed out candy from the back of his pickup.  This was the first year I let the kids do the loop on their own.  I've always walked with Annie and Maddie.  I was a little sad they are big enough to go without me, but it was nice to sit by Ryan and hand out the candy for the first time ever.
 Found more good uses for the left over pumpkins from our house.
 The carnival was scaled way, way back from its usual size.  Some people were a little upset about it, but overall, I think it was a good way to go.  There was a prize walk, and that was about it.

Maddie, Elijah, and Elizabeth, with Tiffany calling out the numbers.
 Job, Sarah, Annie, Kaylee and Evey.
 Emma and Kendra.
 Ryan dug out that nasty old mullet wig again.  Gross.
 Maddie, Annie, Kennedy, and Salem.
 After the trunk or treat, Emma would not put her shoes back on.  Said they gave her blisters.
And here's who was left when it was time to clean up: