Holiday Letter 2013

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

Photo Credit: Steven Depolo

Another year has flown by, the children have grown taller, and it’s time for us to own up to…

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2013

  1. School cafeteria food hasn’t improved. After an extended food shopping at WalMart one night, Anna complained that her legs felt like Jell-O, “And not the good kind, but the school kind that tastes like cough syrup.” This set both of the girls off on a riff, “They make it so hard in the cafeteria that you can’t cut it, you can only bounce your fingers on it like a trampoline… In the junior high, they keep us from doing that by cutting it up for us, then dribbling cream on it. It looks like cat barf… That’s the green kind… The red kind looks like guts.” The conversation wandered into the wisdom of providing sporks on Jell-O days, “We can’t eat it and we don’t have anything else to do. What do they think we’re going to do with it?”
  1. Kids get it. Grandma Barbara had lived with Scotty for fifteen years when he died one night. She wasn’t certain if the girls were going to attend the funeral when Anna replied, “Of course I’m going to the funeral. He was my grandpa even if he wasn’t my relative.” We love you, Scotty. Rest in peace.
  1. Authentic lessons have unexpected benefits. All teachers make kids practice writing letters, but it is tough to come up with meaningful lessons like, say, apology letters to substitute teachers. Hailey’s 8th grade English teacher assigned a real letter to be sent somewhere. Most students wrote to colleges, but Hailey wrote a complaint letter to Electronic Arts. She wrote that Sims 3 crashed so often that she finally gave up and uninstalled it. She was especially disappointed because she wants to work for them some day. A few weeks later, a box arrived in class. It contained five Sim expansion packs, a t-shirt, and an apology letter expressing the hope that she might join the team someday. That seriously beats college pencils and stickers.
  1. Set lofty goals. Hailey endlessly annoys her teachers, not with her behavior, but with asking to go to the library. She checks books out in 3rd hour and finishes them by 7th. Honestly, she has made candy last longer. Marjie finally asked if she intended to read the entire library. Hailey paused for a moment and replied, “Only half. There’s a non-fiction section.”
  1. Having smart kids is not always helpful. The girls love checking out the museum garden on the way in to pottery class. They call it organized chaos. “It’s my favorite form of organization,” explained Hailey. “It’s my favorite form of chaos,” replied Anna. Well, that does explain your bedrooms.
  1. Times have fundamentally changed. When cousin Kaylee, who now drives, asked now-freshman Hailey if she was going to work in high school, Hailey nodded. This surprised her parents. “You want a car?” which was why most kids in our generation got a job. “No. I need to pay for unlimited data.”
  1. You can lead a horse to water. Hailey took a school trip to Washington, DC, and visited the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, the International Spy Museum, and “a whole lot of other monuments.” Her favorite memory? “Sitting in a shopping mall with a bunch of my weird friends and watching them eat real, not shopping mall, wasabi.” Anna’s choir took a trip to New York and saw the Statue of Liberty, visited the 9/11 Memorial, and sang in two cathedrals. Her favorite memory? “A bulldog licked me!” She still recites those words with reverent joy.
  1. We have been married for a long time. After 21 years, we often think alike. We even knew what our anniversary cards said before we opened them largely because we bought the same card for each other. Then David and Marjie’s mom got her the same birthday present. Love those K-cups.
  1. The interview process never goes smoothly. After our ancient cat died, Anna really wanted a dog. We employed David’s method of visiting the pound until we begin to wonder why our dog is behind bars. On one trial walk, Anna sat down to pet Lemon the hefty basset hound. Lemon promptly tackled Anna, sat on her chest, and gave her a thorough licking from the neck up. Anna’s glasses were so full of steam that she couldn’t see to save herself, Hailey was so shocked that she forgot to pull on the leash, and Marjie was laughing so hard that she needed to find a bathroom. When we got home, Anna ran for the shower.
  1. Dogs aren’t the only pets that need saving. Marjie’s 3rd grade class asked for a pet. Due to allergies and lack of space, they settled on a goldfish. Marjie scooted into the fish store just before closing only to find it was a saltwater only store. Refusing to give in, she saw feeder fish and bought one for 11 cents. Score! Cheapest class pet ever. When Anna heard this, she wanted a fish of her own, set up a bowl, and nagged David into taking her. She was a bit chuffed to find that her silver goldfish fish cost 22 cents. She wants to know who taught them math, but she’s still happy that two goldfish get to live long and carefree lives.

We hope that your holidays are happy and carefree, and that there is someone in your life that gives you enough kisses to steam up your glasses.


David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna, & Shimmer the goldfish


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