Holiday Letter 1999

(Photo credit: © Royalty-Free/Corbis)

I know some of you object to these holiday missives, but if we don’t do it this way, we’ll never send cards. For seven years, we’ve hung on to that fantasy of personalized, hand-written notes in Christmas cards. We managed to send them once. Now we have a baby. We consider it a valid excuse. Not for you, for ourselves. So here goes…

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 1999

10. When traveling with a baby, always carry ample towels. Even if she hasn’t spit up in months. Even if the one in the diaper bag has slipped to the bottom from disuse. Even if you can’t stand the thought of lugging another ounce. This will be the trip where she throws up on the way to the airport, on takeoff, on landing, in the rental car, at the cabin, and everywhere in between.

9. Don’t bother asking the flight attendant for a towel. She will give you three cocktail napkins. They will be completely insufficient for the swamp that was your lap. Use your extra t-shirt instead. Or see #10. Instead, bless David’s dad for reserving a cabin with a washer & dryer. Bless your DeWilde cousin for visiting the Parker reunion, washing the same five baby outfits multiple times, and taking the night shift. Bless the rest of the Parker clan for their sympathy when Hailey won’t let anyone except Mommy & Daddy hold her – for the entire reunion.

8. When your baby starts daycare, plan on being sick, really sick, multiple times. It was only four days before she had her first cold & fever. It was only a few more days before we had them. We have missed many visits with friends, two Thanksgiving dinners, and two birthdays. If Marjie’s fever doesn’t break soon, we’re going to miss Christmas. Experienced parents tell us that if you don’t go through this with daycare, you will for preschool or kindergarten. They also say that it lasts about a year. We have three more months. Assuming that we live that long.

7. Never, ever ask your husband to miss an autocross. Even if your fever is 102. Even if the baby is also sick. Even if you managed to at least get him to the first day of the event. He will get desperate. He will suggest that his sister or his mother come over. He will try to talk you into feeling better. Most important, he will never forget. He will mention it several times, especially when the results are posted on the web, then sent in the mail, then printed in the newsletter. Despite the missed race, he will still be the season points winner for his SCCA class. He may stop mentioning it at that point.

6. Before giving up on your camera, try reading the owner’s manual. We really liked the lightweight little Vivitar, except every photo of Hailey made her look like a red-eyed devil-child. So for her birthday Marjie got a very cool Olympus with no less than six flash settings. While reading the owner’s manual we realized, “Oh, that’s what the eye symbol is for.” David now has his own camera. It’s a really cool little Vivitar. And it has red-eye reduction.

5. Parents can still scare the heck out of you. Plan a nice Sunday brunch. Be late because you had to wait for the dryer to produce clean underwear. Arrive only to find that David’s mom has been struggling to breathe for three hours. Take her to urgent care. Watch them call 911. Visit her in Stanford hospital for a few days. Be astonished at the pile of drugs and devices that come home with her. Make her swear to never, ever sit there and wait for you again. Swear to yourself that you won’t wait for underwear next time.

4. When the baby breaks out in spots, stop the medicine.  Even if she’s had amoxicyllin before. Even if you know she’s been exposed to chicken pox. Even if it’s time for her chicken pox vaccine to show a reaction. It’s not chicken pox. It’s hives. She’s allergic to penicillin. By the time we caught on, she had welts all over her body and her beautiful blue eyes were almost swollen shut. Cancel the Christmas photos. Poor baby. Dumb parents. What can we say, it’s our first time.

3. Chocolate ice cream can work miracles. Over a week in Missouri and Hailey still wouldn’t let her grandma hold her. This distressed Marjie’s mom greatly. After all, she is a professional. No child has withstood her charm for more than minutes. And here her own granddaughter had been holding out for ten long days. Until Hailey caught Grandma eating a chocolate ice cream cone. Problem solved.

2. A home in heaven does wonders for your attitude. Even if you can’t live there yet. In April, we bought a cozy two-story right on Lake Taneycomo. Walk out on the deck and breathe deep. See river otters, herons, eagles, foxes, Canadian geese, trout, and all sorts of ducks. Then walk down to the boat dock and fish. Rest. Relax. Feel the tension wash out of you as the water flows by. If you get bored, visit Branson (by car or boat) or visit David in one of the two huge garages. If you don’t believe us, visit Marjie’s mom. She’s living there now. She sends us pictures. We sigh.

1. Retirement is grand. Marjie retired only a week ago, but our lives are already much saner. It could just be the season, but David got four home-cooked meals in a row. He’s still reeling. Even better, all were edible and no one got sick. Of course, Marjie has now run through her entire repertoire and is desperately searching her cookbooks for tomorrow’s dinner. Never fear, she has many cookbooks. She just hasn’t read them.

Well, we hope you enjoyed our annual report. We wish you all the best for the holidays and in the new year. We send our love and hope you  have lots of fun learning whatever lessons life has in store for you and your family.

Love,

Marjie, David, Hailey & Flapjack

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