Holiday Letter 2008

(Photo credit: Microsoft)

12 thousand pounds of household goods, 11 little 2nd graders, 10 trips to Anna’s new tree swing, 9 almost as little 3rd graders, 8 thousand dollars of raccoon damage, 7 days of flooding, 6 days of house hunting, 5 hundred boxes, 4 days to prep a new classroom, 3 days in intensive care, 2 broken ankles, 1 fractured skull… It’s been quite a year!

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2008

10. Sometimes it takes a whack on the head. Literally. We had been discussing leaving California for years, but it wasn’t until Marjie had a terrible ice skating accident that we finally decided on Missouri. There is nothing like a frightening few days in intensive care to realign priorities. We are near family now. It is wonderful.

9. Internet shopping can get out of hand. Once we decided to move, our lake house in Missouri flooded. Twice. So Marjie spent her spring break looking at eighty new houses. None of them worked out, and we ended up shopping from California via internet. Marjie’s mom visited our favorites, and we bought our new house sight unseen. It’s gorgeous by the way.

8. You can buy a bit more house in the Midwest. Our new home is stunningly huge, but our kids still leave their shoes lying around. This behavior now has unusual consequences. Shortly after we moved in, Anna said, “I know what room they’re in. I just can’t find it!”

7. Even moving has its good points. Summer was mostly a painful blur of too many boxes, too much junk, a cat whose plane ticket kept getting canceled due to the heat, and raccoon damage so pervasive and filthy that it very nearly got our new house on Dirty Jobs. Seriously. Still, we dug up some fun mementos of times past including David’s hand-tooled leather belt from high school. Impressively, it still fits. He needs to change the buckle, though. That leaf from the seventies is out, way out.

6. Kids can crack up total strangers. Before we left California, we spent one last day in San Francisco. The steep hills presented a challenge since Anna had a broken ankle. As we stood at a corner debating, Anna shouted, “I’ll crutch all the way to San Francisco if I have to!” “Anna, you’re in San Francisco,” Hailey drily pointed out. Nearby pedestrians literally doubled over laughing.

5. Years of agonizing decisions can sometimes work out well. For five years, David & Marjie have struggled alongside Hailey. We knew she was smart, but school was seriously painful for her, for us, for her teachers, and for her classmates. We couldn’t figure it out. Over the years, we have had after school tutoring, changed her school twice, got counseling for her, had her evaluated by an educational psychologist, put her on ADHD medication, written a 504 plan, moved to a state with much smaller class sizes, and even had her repeat a grade in order to match up with her age group. Every decision was heart wrenching, but finally, we can say, “Hallelujah!” Guess who has nearly straight A’s? We are so proud… and happy for her.

4. Sisters can sometimes explain things better. We were visiting Hailey’s summer camp in the redwoods near the ocean, but Anna was terrified about being eaten by a bear. Nothing would calm her. Finally, Hailey explained, “Anna, there are no bears near the ocean because bears are really fat and don’t want to be seen in a swimsuit.” Of course! Why didn’t we think of that?

3. And sometimes kids just need space. Marjie’s mom volunteers a ton in Marjie’s new 2nd/3rd grade class. Since Marjie broke her own ankle, Mom has been even more invaluable. But after getting some intensive writing help, one 2nd grade boy decided he could do with a little less and told Mrs. Barbara, “I need to stop and think. Sometimes you help me too much.”

2. Angels come from everywhere. Marjie’s new school is so different. Some of the students are homeless. Nearly all get free breakfast and lunch, and many get clothes from the school nurse. On the weekends, teachers send a few food bags home from local charities. When a wonderful lady read Marjie’s posting on the internet, she started mailing boxes of shoes, jackets and other goodies just in time for winter. The kids are overwhelmed with joy, Marjie with gratitude.

1. “Your baby’s first kisses last forever.” Anna told us this so we could stop worrying about how tall she was getting. That, and the fact that she now drives the lawn tractor. Still, she’s only six years old and reminded us that she needed help. “You know what small hands need? A big hand to help them.”

We hope you always have a big hand to help you and that your holidays were happy.

Love,

David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna & Harley

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