Merry Christmas Emily Post

Dear Friends and Family, and complete strangers who read this blog (don’t worry, there’s only one of you, so I’m not too worried about you spreading state secrets about our fascinating little tribe),

I’m sorry to inform you that you’ve just stumbled across our family Christmas letter.  I know, I KNOW!!  You’re thinking, “This is SO TACKY!  Using a BLOG to send out your annual Christmas letter?  How gauche!”.  Yep, that’s me, up to my ears in gauche.  So sue me for using technology the way Tim Berners-Lee intended for it to be used (he’s the inventor of the internet, by the way).  I promise this won’t be one of those “tell all” tales that leaves you wanting to shower afterwards.  Neither will it be tales from the “My kids are so perfect, you must be so jealous” pile of dreaded Christmas tomes.  Pu-leeeeze.  No, this will be real stuff from a real family, hopefully written in such a way that you won’t want to toss your cookies.image

Let’s take this from the top down listing the major highlights:

JEFF:  Started coaching baseball at his high school alma mater.  Finally.  So exciting to see something you KNEW was going to happen someday really happen in real life.  (Little back story:  when Jeff & I started dating 147 years ago (by the way, we met when I was 12 and got married when I was 15, for those of you wondering how someone could still look so awesomely amazing after all these years.  Either that, or I went to one too many Botox parties during our time in LaLaLand.  I’ll never tell), I remember telling him on one of our first dates that he should coach baseball.  He balked at that idea (get it–he “balked”?  Am I a baseball wife or WHAT?  Too late to turn me in for a trophy wife now, because I drop lines like that AND “61 in 61″ on a regular basis…….but I digress), but I just knew somehow, some day he would be coaching.  Of course he’s loving it, of course his guys adore him.  He coached the Junior Varsity last year and taught them the finer points of balance points, release points, and “throw the ball, catch the ball” about a gazillion times each practice.  We went to as many of his games as possible and I’m sure we’re well known around town now as the mom of The Boy Who Spends All His Time Lying On The Cool Dirt UNDER The Bleachers, and the mom of The Girl Who’s Getting Frequent Flier Points At The Local E.R. getting stitched up from one of her many mishaps while hurtling herself against sharp objects while Dad’s team is playing a game.

Jeff continues his incredible work rebuilding the basement (and other improvements) at his late grandmother’s house.  For the first year or so of this endeavor we all stayed at his mom and dad’s house while he worked at his grandmother’s house, but I think one too many dinners featuring quinoa (or was it handmade mushroom raviolis, or bean burgers, or kale and spinach soup?) did them in.  We began sleeping over here in May and Jeff continues his work downstairs.  It’s crazy good work he’s doing down there and the thought is that we will live here after the reconstruction (but if you’ve followed our lives for any length of time you know we no longer make predictions on how things will turn out).  In the meantime, 99% of our lives remain in the storage-garage-of-love and I’m still wearing the same six shirts that I wore when when our happy little caravan arrived here in OurTown in March 2012 (sad, I know, and I apologize to all who have to look at me in public).  In the course of this little epic undertaking we have had the socks blessed clean off us by a couple of men from our church who are incredible craftsmen:  one of them is a drywall WIZARD and he came toward the end of the summer and wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am helped Jeff finish putting up wall board in about two and a half days.  This, after he and his wife had helped us paint the upper level of the house (including the ceilings) which helped us get moved in here to begin with back in May.  The other man (also named Bill) is a retired cabinet maker who just whipped out a plumbing clean-out cover-box-thing for the main living space downstairs last week.  It’s like watching one of Santa’s elves:  he comes in, takes some measurements, chats for a few minutes then he’s off to his garage workshop.  Bam!  We get a call a few hours later….the box cover-up thingy is done.  Like a boss!!  So we are super thankful that these people have appeared in our lives.  Not only do they do fantastic work that’s going to last for the life of the house, they’re experts in their field and have been highly complimentary of Jeff’s expert work.  Always nice to get that pat on the back, ya know??

GIGI:  I continue to oversee home schooling for the both the kids (more on the details of that later), am the palace chef, and chief groomer and dog walker.  Oh, and I knit whenever I get the chance.  And I may or may not be addicted to social media with my various blogs, on-line listservs I either moderate or participate in, and a Western Slope of Colorado group I’m trying to grow to help parents of kids with disabilities get and stay connected on this of the Continental Divide.  Some of  the books I’ve either recently read/listened to or am reading right now include (because I know you care) “In The Company Of Newfies” (a dog book–shocking, I know), “The Night Circus”, various cookbooks, and I’m working my way through the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child.  I’m in the middle of some ridiculous on-line exercise program where they try to kill you with sit ups, leg lifts and some weird thing called a “plank” everyday.  I did 85 sit ups today and if I had the strength to crawl to the freezer to get myself a bowl of ice cream as a reward I would.

HAYDEN:  The Dude.  BIG year for The Dude:  he played basketball (for the first time) with the local Special Olympics team and managed to pick up an adoring fan named Savannah.  He wants his dad to build a wing onto the house just for her.  She’s a wonderful (and pretty, did I mention PRETTY??) high school student who’s been spending extra time with him walking at the mall (and when the ice melts off the sidewalks, the park) to get him exercise.  He also played a little thing in OurTown called “Challenger Baseball”.  It’s pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread for kids with special needs and their families (if you want to read more on that, it’s here in my blog      ).  He was on the Special Olympics soccer team, but I hesitate to say that he actually played.  Two reasons:  VERY PRETTY junior high age girls were there to help the kids so he spent 99% of his time literally hanging on their arms flirting up a storm, and secondly, his policy on soccer seems to be this:  “Yes, I’ll kick the ball.  There, I kicked the ball. Are you happy?  What?  You want me to kick it again?  And then over and over?  Why would I do this?  I’ve clearly demonstrated that I can adequately kick the ball once.  My work here is done, now where’s that cutey-pie Katie?”  But he does get out there and move, ever so little, so we may sign him up again.  If nothing else, just to torture him by not bringing home the pretty junior high school girls home with us afterwards.  Listening to music is his number one reason for being on planet Earth right now, and his favorite past time is lie on the floor with headphones on connected to the radio.  I use that to my evil advantage during school time and only let him listen as a reward for jobs well done.  I have my ways.

In November of this year he again had to have a tympanomastoidectomy, this time on his right ear.  Big. Fat. Bummer.  Another major MRSA infection.  The E.N.T. (whom Hayden calls “Dr. Friend” because he’s just that awesome and he adores The Dude) is confident that they got it all.  Please pray that they did; these surgeries are a big hairy deal and this was number eleven.  While we were in the hospital we were taken care of by an anesthesiologist who has a child with special needs, and our favorite pediatric nurse who took care of us during his two surgeries a year ago, was there for the two days Hayden was there this time.  God’s provision.

DELANEY:  Our little Whovian isn’t so little any more, or maybe she doesn’t seem so little any more because she’s almost as tall as I am now–so that puts her at @ 4’10″…….OOOOOH!  (Ya, I’m that short.)  But back to her:  She’ll be 14 on January 10th (please send any an all unwanted and unused Legos to her), she’s been super busy and active, especially since moving over here to Grandmother’s hood:  she’s the Queen Of The Street with a band of little minions from the neighborhood in tow where ever she goes looking for spiders, praying mantises, building forts, and patrolling the mean streets of Our Town (okay, just this street and one street over) with Nerf rifles and bandoliers slung over their shoulders.  Since we’ve had snow on the ground since Thanksgiving they’re spending all their time on a hill near the local hospital just a couple of blocks away, racing down the hill on sleds and having a great time.  So far no trips to the E.R. (just fifteen feet from where they’re sledding), although we’ve heard reports of  her getting her head stuck under the fence after a particularly speedy descent down the slope, and her sticking her tongue to a metal pole (yep, I’m “that girl’s” mom), which is nice.  She continues to play her violin, somewhat under duress, although she’s lately been awakening to the fact that maybe it is kind of nice to hear something being played on a CD or the radio and then be able to play it.  She turned her head quizzically when I informed her recently (for the 500th time) that it’s very rare that a person can do this and that her musical abilities are like she’s sitting on top of a pile of gold bullion.  Right now she’s endearing herself to her violin teacher by pet sitting her menagerie of pets for her while their family is out of town.  She may want to continue playing, just so she can pet the chickens and play with the dogs, who knows?

Home schooling this year is taking her to exotic places like Middle Earth with Bilbo Baggins and across Alegasia with Eragon.  During the summer she went to a science camp (in the real world) for a week, because who WOULDN’T want to dissect sheeps’ brains for fun?  (Wait, do sheep even have brains?  Maybe they were playing Halo the whole time and we, the parents, never knew better.  Never mind).  She’s participated in a couple of science webinars where she built a solar oven, and something with LED’s and circuits, and she’s built a few things on her own with her science kits too.  In between the regularly forced sessions of handwriting and grammar (and she just started a Latin word roots program), and math, we just try to keep her supplied with K’nex and Legos building materials and plenty of physics and chemistry activities.  For Christmas she wrote a book for us that she wrote and typed entirely on her own.  (I’m pausing to beam with pride….and to gloat a little that all those forced handwriting sessions, grammar lessons, and keyboarding practices written into her daily schedule are paying off.  Done gloating now…..)  The title of it is “Lost”.  I think she may be doing a little more editing on it and then she may reprint it.  I’ll let you know where you can pick up your very own copy when it’s released in its final form.

This past Fall she played on a soccer team for typical girls and seemed to enjoy it.  The girls were a couple of years younger than her, but it was a pretty good match ability-wise.  Size-wise, that’s when we starting cluing in that she is still much smaller than girls of her own age (she was only taller by a few inches of a couple of the ten and eleven year olds she was playing with).   Jeff’s blaming my side of the family, I’m blaming his…..go figure!!  But back to soccer:  she had a really had a good time overall and once we told the coaches that she’s wired a little differently, she got private coaching lessons before each practice and they made sure that she understood what they were saying, instead of just assuming that because you’ve told a child something, they get it.  The entire team improved quite a bit over the season and it was fun to watch.  Hopefully she’ll make an appearance for the Spring soccer season too.  You never know.  You truly NEVER know.  Never a dull moment!

LIVESTOCK REPORT:  We are down one, as Angus, our much beloved, yet very evil, Cairn terrier went over the Rainbow Bridge in July.  He was at least 13 years old and gave us every ounce of orneriness, trouble, plotting, and joyous fun any Cairn terrier can claim to have.  DP is working on an Angus-themed scrapbook, the supplies for which she received for Christmas, which I think will continue to help her.  We all miss him every day.

Mimi The Wonder Cat is still accounted for in her cell, errrr…I mean “bedroom” where the girl-child has her secreted away both day and night.  Every once in awhile we see her in the common area of the upstairs living room/eating area, parading around in a winter sweater or a kitty-size (albeit a LARGE kitty-size) Dodgers baseball shirt.  She is the best cat who’s ever lived and has DP convinced that she can talk and ask for food, though we think it’s more like, “Please!  Release me! Now!”

She-who-holds-down-the-floor is still awesome and wonderful.   Weighing in at 120lbs, Shalom our Newfoundland, is doing great.  She’s the belle of the ball getting brushed a few times a week, getting all the leftover cinnamon & almond butter toast a girl can ask for, and a couple of weeks ago she discovered the benefits of learning how to open the door under the sink where the REAL banquet awaits:  the TRASH.  In a matter of days she’s managed to erase not only her spotless behavior record, but also much of Jeff’s Black Friday carpet steam cleaning work.  And yet, she still lives.  Usually on top of us when we’re trying to watch a movie on the TV.  A testament to our good will or her hypnotic abilities over us?  We may never know.  She is a love and we’re all hooked on her.

Well I think in terms of squandering away the precious hours of your day, this is right up there with “Candy Crush” or “Words With Friends”.  You’re welcome.

Happy New Year!  Hope you’re so busy looking for the great things in your life that the hassles and problems that will inevitably come your way will pale in comparison!  Please stay in touch and thanks for being our friends!!

Much Love,

The McLaughlins

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1 Comment

  1. Glynismm

    Loved it!

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