Holiday Letter 2002

(Photo credit: Microsoft)

What a busy year! The only problem with retirement is that you never get a day off. But we did make time for our annual attempt to entertain you…

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2002

10. Don’t let the first child name the second. We excitedly told Hailey she was going to have a baby sister. What would she like to name her? “Elmosuki.” What? “Elmosuki!” Hailey, where did you get this name? We can’t name the baby Elmosuki. “Her name is Elmosuki!” Hailey steadfastly clung to this name for over six months, an amazing feat for a three-year-old. Fortunately, she switched to Anna as soon as she saw her. Thank goodness. Anna would never have forgiven us.

9. Being mistaken for homeless can be disconcerting. There we were, having a picnic lunch near Mission Santa Cruz. A middle-aged lady comes by, coos over the baby, and then says kindly, “You know, that church over there has a Families in Transition office that may be able to help you.” David manages to sputter, “Oh, no, we’re on vacation.” She nods sympathetically. Okay, so it was the middle of the week. And we had been camping. Nonetheless, we had showered and our clothes weren’t that dirty. Or so we thought.

8. Drama queens develop early. When David told Hailey she was using too much chocolate powder, we were caught off guard. She suddenly started shrieking, “You ruined my life! You ruined my whole life!” A few days later it was, “You can’t do that to me!” We weren’t expecting that kind of drama for another ten years. But at the rate she’s going, we’ll be immune to it by then. Deaf, too.

7. Some of the best family traditions start with bad planning. Marjie forgot to order a cake for David’s birthday so she bought a blank cake and a tube of decorating gel. After carefully writing “Happy Birthday,” Marjie surrendered the tube to Hailey. Who knew there was so much gel in those things? The idea caught on. We used three colors on Grandma Barbara’s cake. For Hailey’s birthday, we put out sprinkles and gel and let the whole party get in on the act. By the time we were done, no one had any idea that the cake had suffered a serious accident on the way home from the bakery.

6. Teachers can do wonderful things. One of Marjie’s jobs while student teaching was to give five or six kids some in-depth help at a separate table. One little boy was a regular customer. One day, after he had tried exceptionally hard, Marjie complimented him and pretty much forgot about it. But he didn’t. He told his mom, his teacher, and anyone else who would listen. He was amazed that someone was proud of him. Then he decided that he could do third grade after all. Before he moved away, he drew a picture of Marjie and wrote the date of the compliment in her good-bye book. All of this just because she managed to catch him being good.

5. Some traits skip a generation. Years ago, Marjie’s parents would stuff the freezer with ice cream bars before they left on a trip. Within hours of their departure, Grandma Hover would inevitably insist on defrosting the refrigerator. Nothing would dissuade her. Our hearts would break as we watched all of those beautiful ice cream bars turn to soup. So imagine Marjie’s distress when, after fully stocking our new refrigerator, Hailey decided that everything needed to be rearranged. Our only consolation is that we won’t be around to watch Hailey torture her own grandchildren.

4. We can’t get anywhere on time. The more kids we have, the later we get. David wanted to leave for our car trip to Vancouver on a Friday morning. We finally hit the road on Sunday afternoon. Before our Big Basin camping trip, we had to buy a refrigerator and have it delivered. The old one had died in the midst of trying to freeze everything for the cooler. Marjie’s mom used to add half an hour of prep time every time she added a kid. We need to add something like half a day.

3. We shouldn’t have bothered to name Hailey. It all started innocently enough. She would say, “You be me and I’ll be you.” Then she branched out. She’s Barbie, Blossom, Jane, Princess Fiona, Boo, Piglet, or Lilo, among others. She turns us into the story’s other characters. Even Flapjack gets re-christened. And heaven help us if we get it wrong. “No, you’re the Professor!” or “ No, she’s Stitch!” Even worse, she rearranges our names every couple of hours. Marjie is chronically confused. She expects this state to last for at least twenty years.

2. Never negotiate immediately after giving birth. David’s mother Shan didn’t get to name her children. She kept choosing exotic names that David’s dad vetoed. (It is hard to imagine David as “Ian Tyson.”) We politely ignored her suggestions for Hailey, but she never stopped lobbying to name her last grandchild. As Marjie went into labor, we still couldn’t agree on Anna’s middle name. But after birthing an 11-pound baby, Marjie was a little euphoric. She might even have gone for “Elmosuki.” Instead, we let Shan have her way. Anna Paige joined our family on May 23rd.

1. We have a whole new view on 7:30 a.m. Before children, we thought 7:30 a.m. was too early for any civilized person. Now staying in bed that late is a warm slice of heaven. It’s funny how children can shift your perspective on the simplest things.

We wish you the best for the holidays. We hope that your new year contains all of the joy of sleeping in and your own warm slice of heaven.


Marjie, David, Hailey, Anna & Flapjack


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