Greetings friends and family,
‘Tis I, the Mom and Faithful Narrator of this, the Christmas family newsletter. I find myself at the computer again, attempting to compose an interesting narrative. Well, here goes.
Ryan finally decided he’d had enough of being a (working) student, and got a job as an assistant principal at the all kindergarten school here in town. This is 526 five and six year olds in 27 classrooms, and a 95% female staff. If he didn’t get enough estrogen at home, he might get his fill at work. He did wait until nearly August to get a job, leaving us an anxious mess from May until he signed his new contract. Ryan now comes home almost every day with stories that include tantrums or poop. He jokes he needs one of those “Days Since Our Last Accident” boards in his office. He also planted so many seeds this year. We spent the summer and fall trying to share all the veggies and berries Ryan grew. After eating what we could, and what we didn’t manage to give away we gave to the sheep, turkeys, and chickens. We put in a laughable amount of effort into trying to keep the one acre garden weed-free, and totally failed. Ryan is still in the bishopric at church, and we like to make faces at him and sign “dirty pig” to him in sign language. It’s a game to try to get him to laugh when he’s sitting on the stand.
Emma (12) got really tall this year and has enlarged her wardrobe by “borrowing” my clothes. Her 7th grade band teacher convinced her to switch to the bass clarinet, and she rarely can be found lugging the giant case home. When she is not doing volleyball, science fair, robotics club, and after-school choir, Emma can be found avoiding cleaning her room with her nose in a book.
Elizabeth (10) is also growing, and can (it’s so close!) wear Emma’s and my shoes. She is always in the middle of an art project- you can count on her to have a pile of paper, cardboard, markers, tape, glue, and cut pieces spread all over the kitchen table. When it’s time to clean up, she happily transfers those piles of cut pieces, markers, tape, glue, and scissors from the table to the counter. She also loves to help in the kitchen, making food, but finds herself anywhere but in the kitchen when it’s time for cleaning up. Creative people need their messes around them to support their genius.
Annie and Maddie turned 7 last month. They are not in the same 1st grade classes, but still manage to confuse people about which twin is which. They have stopped being mortally offended when called the wrong name, and now try to confuse people on purpose. Having them both on the same soccer team, wearing the same jerseys, made it a little tricky for their coach. They are learning many important skills at this stage of their life. They can use the toaster and microwave, but we are still waiting on them to master putting used Kleenex in the garbage. They can also use the phone, to tattle to Dad when I am being “mean.”
Then there’s me. I find myself busy with keeping everyone doing what they are supposed to, and getting everybody where they are supposed to be. I volunteer at the schools, but rarely find myself IN the classroom. Usually I am in the hall testing, helping the struggling kids read and count, reading with the high readers at Ryan’s building, or just laminating and cutting in the workroom. I also get to teach the 12-13 year old girls at church, which doesn’t seem to embarrass Emma just yet. I rediscovered my love of singing in a (church) choir, after a nearly 13 year my-kids-are-too-young-and-crazy hiatus.
Our family vacation found us at a KOA near Yellowstone National Park. Somehow I missed the “cold and rain” part of the forecast, and we traipsed around the park huddled in our sweatshirts on day two. A high point was standing under a tree in the pouring rain on a trail, waiting for a slow-moving buffalo to pass. We also had great timing, and got front row seats to see Old Faithful erupt. (We missed the previous eruption by about 5 minutes.) I also left our nice Nikon camera sitting by the piano at home, and I was left to pestering my family by taking a bazillion pictures with my cell phone. After getting our fill of the beauty of Yellowstone, we drove down to Salt Lake City, Utah and did a fair amount of sight-seeing there too. We did feel the heat of July in Utah might be a bit much for sleeping under the stars, so we slightly illegally parked the 6 of us in a hotel room. I guess no one expects a family with 4 kids to want only one room?
After a 7.5 year run, and many prayers later, we traded our sometimes working minivan in for a brand new Toyota Sienna in September. The kids love all the cool features and buttons there are to push, and we are working hard to keep the kids from completely making it over into a crumby mess reminiscent of the old one. We are hoping this van makes it through all 4 kids-worth of drivers-ed. (Heaven help me- I am less than 3 years away from the first one…) Ryan is hoping his “Warrant Wagon” (named by one of the resource officers at his school) truck will be there for the kids to learn on as well. ’88 Mazda trucks with a coat hanger for an antenna have a certain allure to teenage girls, don’t they?
We wish you peace and love and laughter this Christmas season.
With much love, Ryan, Danae, Emma, Elizabeth, Annie, and Maddie