Holiday Letter 2003

(Photo credit: Microsoft)

We’re sorry this is late. Marjie has an absolutely fantastic, but utterly overwhelming new job and didn’t come up for air until the last student left her classroom on Friday.

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2003

10. Our parenting standards sink ever lower. Hailey steals every towel in the bathroom, even recently used ones, and turns them into blankets and costumes. Anna grabs every washcloth, wets it, and sucks on it before turning it into a doll blanket. Our house is covered in damp towels and dripping washcloths. We tolerate it. We have, however, drawn the line at Anna’s water source. When we hear the toilet lid, we make for the bathroom at a dead run.

9. When you make a life plan, remember to tell the baby. Ever since finding out she was pregnant with Anna, Marjie thought this school year would be a great time to start working again. After all, our toddler would certainly be sleeping through the night. The only problem is that someone forgot to tell Anna. She still wakes up screaming, sometimes several times a night, and if David wasn’t such a trooper, Marjie would have to resort to napping in the back of her classroom.

8. Bureaucracies complicate. When she worked in industry, Marjie landed high-paying jobs with a two-page resume and a half page of references. She was shocked when she started filling out teaching applications which were as many as nineteen pages! A friend of ours said it best, “I’m a nurse. I give people toxic substances with an IV and I don’t have to do that!” Despite the paper mountain, Marjie landed a wonderful job as a 6th grade Language Arts, Social Studies, and ESL teacher at a middle school in Cupertino.

7. If anything can go wrong, it will. For Marjie’s first formal teaching evaluation, she stayed up extremely late, writing lesson plans, creating materials, and rehearsing. Nothing, however, prepared her for the immense cockroach creeping across one of her displays. As half of the class rushed forward, the other half neared hysteria. To the cries of, “Is that a cockroach?” she said the first thing that came to mind, “No, it’s a cricket.” Having said that, she was forced to follow through by catching the pest in a cup and releasing it out the back door. Every time she laughs about it, her skin crawls.

6. You wonder if you should worry about your kids. It first happened at library story hour. Anna toddled over to a different daddy and crawled into his lap. Then, in line at Bonfante Gardens, she dove into some other guys arms. Now, everywhere we go, she makes friends with a random man. We sincerely hope that she shows a little more reticence when she’s dating.

5. Recognizing a miracle can require careful listening. Anna babbled and babbled, but never spoke. One day, when her toddler legs couldn’t get her over our giant dog sprawled across the kitchen floor, she kept shoving on him saying, “Daja moo! Daja moo!” Marjie suddenly realized it was, “Flapjack move! Flapjack move!” In fact everything is in complete sentences. “Hi wah da” is “I want that.” “Hi duh no” is “I don’t know.” The more we are able to translate, the happier she is. The dog, however, doesn’t budge.

4.  Dieting starts early. Having two girls makes us especially sensitive to the twisted messages our culture sends, so as soon as 4-year-old Hailey said, “I’m on a diet,” we tensed. We were much relieved when she explained that a diet meant no honey, like Winnie the Pooh. Since then she has put Marjie on a no-tickling diet, Anna on a no-screaming diet, and David on a no-singing diet. Trust us, the latter is a good thing.

3. Husbands are impossible to predict. David reads and reads for years and then suddenly does something dramatic like buy a car or build a boat. Since he started reading again, Marjie naturally assumed that it would be quiet for a while. Wrong. There’s another boat taking shape in the side yard. Her only clue was when David mentioned that he needed to borrow her car to pick up some wood. Home Depot ought to offer witness protection.

2. Never click “Run Anyway,” especially if the error message on the computer says the software is not compatible, unless of course, you want your fevered wife to curse you for losing her thesis while she spends seven desperate hours restoring the hard drive that Customer Support said would have to be reformatted.

1. List making can get out of hand. In order to get Hailey moving in the morning, Marjie started a checklist. It had simple things on it like, “Brush teeth” and “Get dressed.” Hailey loved checking her chores off. She even asked us to add “Play” to the list. We decided the list had gone too far, however, on the day that Hailey said, “Mom, will you put Trouble on my list so I can check it off?”

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, we hope you get lots of checkmarks for Play and not too many for Trouble. Have a wonderful holiday season.

Love,

Marjie, David, Hailey, Anna & Flapjack

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