Wednesday, December 19, 2012

In the Nick of Time

Laugh at me if you want to, but I'm just now getting my Christmas cards out in spite of the fact that I ordered them before Thanksgiving. It's usually the last thing I do to get ready for Christmas, because the entire month is generally just a panicky whirlwind of "Oh crap, I still have to do this or that thing that I forgot about!"

I'm guessing you can relate.

I always put the card off because it involves writing a yearly letter which generally takes a couple hours to write--about as much time as it takes to write a post for this here blog which, as you can see, has been neglected these last few months.

If you loathe the yearly Christmas letter I won't be offended if you click on out of here, but I promise if you stick around you'll probably read a thing or two that I haven't had the time to post about on the blog.

I should probably say that in my yearly letter I always force myself to refer to Peanut Head by his given name, Clark, since to his family that is his name. Weird as it is. However, to me, as to you, he is Peanut Head, so I've used his rightfully earned name as well as Stink-a-Tink's for your reading comfort and so my right eye will stop twitching violently.

Without further ado, here's the verbiage . . .

Dear Family and Friends,                                  December 2012

Another year has come and nearly gone, so here I sit on my couch having taken a personal day off in an attempt to get this letter out before August. It's good to have goals.

So much has happened here, it's hard to know where to begin, so I'll resort to my usual format to make sure I hit the highlights for each of us.

The girls continue to grow and change. Zoe is 11, in sixth grade and in her last year of elementary school. It hardly seems possible. She is still dependable and conscientious, and as sweet as ever in spite of the frequent moodiness and irrational meltdowns that come with her age. It seems that she is securely entrenched in puberty and all the awkward pleasantness that comes with it. She tends toward the dramatic anyway, but can I tell you how much fun we've been having with her up in here? So much fun. Let's share the fun, shall we? During a recent meltdown Peanut Head calmly sat Zoe down to explain her up and down moods. "Zoe, you should know that you are going through a lot of changes right now, and in the spring you are going to feel a need to start frolicking with the butterflies. Don't be alarmed though, it's just your inner werebutterfly trying to get out." That got Peanut Head a smile and a big punch in the arm, as they watch their fair share of werewolf and vampire movies together.

In April, Zoe scared us all with a mysterious pain that landed her in the hospital. What I was afraid was going to end up being just a bout of very expensive flatulence actually turned out to require surgery to remove her perfectly normal appendix and what the surgeon called a decaying "accessory ovary," but we jokingly refer to as "her absorbed twin."

Zoe took up the violin this fall, so the screechy new sounds of a practicing beginner quite nicely match her awkward age. She also started swimming with the middle school swim team and is really enjoying all the time in the water.

Both girls recently started taking horseback riding lessons. I put it off long enough, hoping the passion for all things horse would wither and die. No such luck, so in October I started searching for a place where they could casually take lessons. I started my inquiry process with "The Barn," because I liked the name and they taught Western riding. The only other place in town is the "Equestrian Center" which teaches English riding, and not to be snotty, but it sounds very fancy to me, and we're not a fancy people. Well, Zoe is, we're not. Sadly, "The Barn" was full up so it was the fancy place or nothing. I have to admit, I don't regret the decision as the girls are learning so much and having more fun than I've ever seen them have. They look forward to their Monday lessons and are constantly moaning "I wish it was Monday noooow." Now that's just not right. No one likes Monday. Zoe has been riding a big white horse named "Jupiter," and she would scold me right now for not giving his proper breed and color name, but I know that it is a white horse and you probably don't really care what kind it is anyway. The Equestrian Center was fresh out of mules, so Stinkerbell is bee-bopping around on a cute little Shetland Pony named Doodles. See I know a horse breed. There's no one else around small enough to ride him, so she is charged with the task of exercising him until she becomes too gangly for him to haul her gnarly carcass around. I giggle every time I see her riding him because they bounce-bounce-bounce around the arena, Doodles' fluffy white bangs (mane, whatever) bouncing in his eyes, Stinkerbell bounce-bounce-bouncing atop him with the biggest grin plastered on her face. One time she tried to squeeze him through too tight of a spot at top speed and he abruptly stopped, dug in, and sent her sailing, limbs flailing, over his head. Now this is one smart little horsey because he had the brains to look ashamed of himself. I love his sweet little heart, and I'm not even a horsey person.

Stinkerbell is 9 now and in fourth grade. She is still very much a tomboy. Yesterday we were talking about how we were going to spend our Christmas vacation and she informed us, "My idea of a perfect day is getting up and putting on sweatpants with no underwear and then spending the day shopping at Toys-R-Us." Sadly we are still doing the daily underwear checks on the way out the door. In other news, she took up wrestling early this year, and just finished her second season. Her first season she got her butt kicked a lot. Most of the boys could care less that she's a girl and they wiped the mat with her. At first. There were a lot of bruises and skin burns, but she's turning it around and starting to kick some boy butt at least as much as she gets her butt kicked by them. She's a scrappy little thing. It thrills a mother's heart and makes her Daddy puff up with pride. Both of them wear their wrestling hoodies everywhere they go, and I have to threaten them to put the things in the laundry. Wrestling is over for this year though, and Stinkerbell is about to try her hand at basketball. She's a little short, but what she lacks in height she makes up for in spunk. Plus she has all those wrestler muscles now and if someone could just lift her up to the hoop, she could hang there for an impressive length of time.

Peanut Head is still at the lab and every year I write that, I marvel that we can still say so, and I am so incredibly thankful that he still has a good job. Even if it may only last for another minute. He's always learning new things and expanding his skill set, so I think they would be crazy to let him go, but it's the government, they don't have to make rational decisions. Did I just say that out loud? Peanut Head still enjoys tinkering with guns, and if it's a nice day, you can be sure to find him at the range.

After several tortuous months studying for the Math PRAXIS, I became certified to teach math in Idaho as well as California. For the life of me, I don't understand why one state's certification is not good enough for another. Especially considering Idaho's lack of emphasis on education. Anyway, I moved to the middle school with the new school year and I'm enjoying teaching just math now. Although the new age demographic has taken some adjustment on my part, and it has been a difficult and stressful transition, I think I've got it figured out now, and I'm really starting to enjoy it. Well, as much as you can enjoy a job anyway. I'd still prefer to stay at home and eat bon bons all day, but this is reality and I'm in it.

We had some new additions this year with chickens and all of their accompanying chicken poop. We started with four sweet little baby chicks in May, and they quickly grew into creepy looking chickens that poop everywhere, kick up more dirt than our very skilled dirt throwing dog, and best of all, deliver fresh chicken eggs. We have eggs coming out of our ears now, and Stinkerbell has quite impressively learned how to cook fried eggs on demand. It's awesome. At first we didn't let Gunny out with the chickens on account of he lacks impulse control. However, with winter settling in, I'm ashamed to admit that it wouldn't be so horrible to have one less chicken's poop to clean up, even if it isn't my job, and I let the dog out to see what he could do. Ahem, would do. Well, he sniffed around and he goosed a couple of them, but then they turned right around and let him have it. And now they live in harmony, ignoring each other and pooping everywhere. All of them. The end.

The cats are still fat and happy, as are we, and life is good. We are thankful to be together, happy, and healthy, and we wish the same for you and your family. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Peanut Head, Jill, Zoe Bug, and Stinkerbell

And that's it. It's super long, I know, but I had a lot to share this year and moderation is something I struggle with. Who am I kidding? I don't struggle with it, I just don't exercise it much.

I should probably confess that originally I didn't even have Zoe's horse's color right and I said he was brown. She proofread the letter for me and she also informed me of the correct name for a horse's bangs but it done left my head already. Google it if you're dying to know. I'm not.

I'm happy to report that I'm settling into my job much better now, and I'm feeling less stressed and like I can get back to being creative again. That means you should be seeing more posts from me. Not anything crazy like multiple times a week, but the goal is that there won't be weeks without posts like you've been seeing. For that I apologize, but I know I really couldn't have done any better given my state of mind. When I'm stressed I have no brain space to accommodate creativity and I just go into survival mode.

Before the month is out I have a post planned for The Year of the Chicken and another post giving you the low down on the ridiculous amount of baking ingredients we've used since Thanksgiving--complete with a spread sheet that is guaranteed to have Peanut Head and I committed for baking excess.

Stick around, I'll be back . . .