Well, it is again that time of year. Christmas cards, family newsletters and people creating the illusion that their lives are perfect. Well, to hell with that! Heather and I are keeping with our wonderful tradition of the realistic family update. And this year, like last year, she is letting me write our Christmas letter to everyone (and adding her own thoughts in the blue ink). Like Ricky Gervais says when hosting an awards show, ‘settle in, be prepared to laugh, and say what the hell?’
In no particular chronological order. Mostly because Doug doesn’t recall our years events in the order in which they occurred.
Heather had a couple of surgeries this year. We won’t talk about them, but one of them resulted in NO MORE KIDS!!! (No, I didn’t get a boob job or a facelift). In celebration, I drank a cold adult beverage and did some dishes after I made dinner and vacuumed the house. Because he is the best husband in the world.
Speaking of surgeries, I finally had surgery in an attempt to fix my knees. It didn’t work. But I do have a nice cane collection started! We are hoping to find a surgeon soon who is willing to do the replacements for him. The argument is that a knee replacement will only last 20 years (+/-). Hello? 20 years is a long time!
So the boy, (otherwise known as Ethan [or Eator when he is in destruction mode]) figured out that laundry baskets make for great step stools (this was in January). In an attempt to get into the cookie jar he slipped, fell, and broke his arm. In his defense, this tactic had worked dozens of times without resulting in Heather coloring a cast to look like Buzz Lightyear’s arm. Everybody wanted one! He was very proud of his Buzz cast and showed anyone he could. Now that I am thinking of it, we really should come up with easy cast skins and patent the idea!
After Ethan’s arm was healed up he had a traumatic dental visit. Poor little guy lost 3 teeth that we had spent the last 12 months trying desperately to save. We were going to the dentist every 6 weeks for fluoride treatments in an attempt to avoid general anesthesia for him. The dentist did his very best trying to get me to believe that I had done everything I could and it wasn’t our fault. Don’t know that I will ever be able to forgive myself for his tooth issues though. So if you have seen any of Ethan’s wide smiles now you know why there is only one big top tooth in his smile. (We just had our 6 month cleaning and the good news is that he doesn’t have any cavities this time, a win for us. Since he will always be prone to tooth decay, so the dentist says. Every visit scares me!)
Tessa, our eldest daughters’ half-sister, came to visit for a few days. Her visit was awesome and a huge surprise for the girls. One that we managed to keep for over 4 months! The only bad part was that it was too short for our liking. The next visit should be more permanent if you ask me. We are trying to get Tessa to move out here so we can help her go to college. We can’t afford to send her to college, but we can feed her and provide her with a place to live while she goes to school.
All four girls combined have no grades lower than a B. That is crazy. When I was their age, I barely pulled off C’s because I didn’t care about my grades. Glad to know they don’t take after me in that respect. We are so proud of them for continuing to do well in school. We do not harp or even oversee homework and such. They have managed to make it a priority on their own, and that’s the great achievement. We want to keep them on track to have college degrees as soon as they possibly can. Speaking of college degrees, on night at dinner we were talking about school since Doug is so close to obtaining his bachelor’s degree. He was telling them how important it is to have a degree and said your mother has a degree. To which Toria replied, “yeah but all she does is cook and clean. So her degree doesn’t count.” Aren’t kids wonderful? Don’t worry, every time she asks me a question (above cooking and cleaning) I respond with “how would I know? All I do is cook and clean”. She keeps telling me it was a joke, “jeez mom!”
Victoria was selected to be on the County Youth Council. It wasn’t an easy process. There was a 6 page application, teacher recommendations, an interview, and then the school board’s approval. She is honing her leadership skill set early! I honestly think she is just practicing for her world domination later in life. (President Victoria Robin *****).
Haley played soccer for the first time this fall. She did well. I don’t mean she was gifted at her physical talents and scored lots of goals leading her team to a championship. What I mean is she put in a good effort, was able to ignore the butterflies on the practice field at least 60% of the time, and had fun. Her team came in 7th out of 8 teams. This was Doug’s first time at being a father in the bleachers. Micaiah (Haley’s step-father) and he only made a referee cry once (high school ref’s). But to be fair for guy to cry that quickly, he really must have had other things going on. J
We finally got a dog. I don’t know what kind of dog he is, so I just say he is a golden brown dog (he is a hound mix. Looks like a Bassett/Beagle face with a coon hound body). We named him, Tucker. Ginger (Heather’s mom) said that every picture she saw of him, he looked tuckered out (and thank goodness, with 5 kids the family dog better not be bored). And she suggested the name (It was also one of the first suggested by Macy). Thanks Ginger! J It only took us 4 full days of discussions, arguments, and bickering to name him. And the kids were almost as bad. Ha ha. We did get really lucky, Tucker is a rescue pup. He is so mellow most of the time. Ethan can be laying on the floor next to him eating a piece of bacon and Tucker will just stare at me with those sad eyes, not trying to snatch the food out of Ethan’s hands. And for those times he does get rambunctious, the squirt bottle works great. I have only caught Doug squirting Ethan 3 times, so far.
So, we had another visitor this year, Ginger, (remember the dog namer ? one of) came to visit. She made me appreciate fresh herbs growing in the kitchen. Believe it or not, it is quite a treat when Ginger is around. (I am so very thankful that my husband and mother get along.) Maybe now that she has the “retired mobile”, we will get to see more of her (and John, her wonderful husband)! J
Macy wore something that wasn’t purple. No, seriously, it was a Tuesday. Any day she doesn’t wear something purple is a calendar worthy event. (Yes, she is still diabetic. I get that question believe it or not. Many people don’t understand that once you have type 1 diabetes, you have it forever. She has been doing well with it though. Our big challenge has been low blood sugars in the morning, she can’t wake herself up and has had diabetic seizures. They are very scary! I am sure many of you have seen all of my diabetic awareness information on Facebook. The FDA is working on the approval of the artificial pancreas! It’s very exciting, even if it is still years away.
Heather started a garden this year. I built her two huge planter boxes out of 2X6’s, stacked 4 high. Her garden is about 24 square feet. We got about 6 cherry tomatoes out of the whole lot. WINNING! Hahaha. They are wonderful boxes. We grew more than 6 cherry tomatoes, but I will agree that I need some gardening knowledge. I am hoping this next year will be better.
Ethan is officially allergic to peanuts. He went through the allergy testing at the beginning of this year. Regardless of how that sounds, it wasn’t all that fun. We now have to carry an epi-pen everywhere. So far peanuts haven’t been completely banned from the house. I made a deal with the girls and Doug. As long as they treat anything with peanuts in it like they would Drano, then it can stay. So now we have type 1 diabetes, asthma, and a peanut allergy in our home.
Ethan and Haley got a huge play structure thing with a fort, slide, rock wall, swings and a cabin. I decided to put it together the day before I had surgery. While working on it I managed to lop off the top of my finger in the process. My loving wife bandaged me up and opened the door for me and said, “Get back to it”. Needless to say I didn’t finish it before I went under the knife. So I hired an incompetent handy man. (Though, I didn’t know he was incompetent when I hired him.) I had 1/3 of it put together in 4 hours with one hand. It took these guys over 16 hours to finish it, and they didn’t even fully finish. Haley and Ethan love it though, and the other kids get to enjoy it too. When they come out of their rooms on those oh so rare occasions and go outside that is. The swing set was for Haley and Ethan’s birthday. There was a lot of combined help from grandparents which we really appreciated. Our next goal is to build a fence. Once we have a fence I won’t have to worry so much. That’s what I do, I worry.
Victoria started “dating” this boy Greg last year. They are still “dating”. It’s very weird to me. Haley has 2 or more boyfriends at any given time. Jessie has yet to meet a boy worthy of her time and Macy, well Macy isn’t too impressed with the local choices. Daddy needs a shotgun! Greg is a good kid and he has a nice family, but it is scary to have Toria dating the same boy for over a year.
The Steelers lost the superbowl. L Ah, it was still fun to watch.
Ethan has taken to stealing Heather’s Iphone and plays on YouTube all day long. If she has ignored all of your calls since March, that is why. He is amazing on my iphone. He can navigate youtube and play games, while he does all of that we have an opportunity to watch things like football. I just received my new iphone from Fed-ex today. The ringer hasn’t worked in over 6 months. So, that could be another reason I may have missed your call. I am so excited to have a completely working phone! Give me a call.
Speaking of phones, Jessica’s phone committed suicide. It jumped into a toilet. I laughed really hard until Heather reminded me that it costs money to replace it. J then L We are still working on getting that replaced, maybe for Christmas. Thankfully we have insurance on all of them. So it’s just a $50 fee to replace that one. We do need to get Macy a new phone, she has had the same one for over 2 years. That deserves a fancy new one (well no smart phones, yet.)
This next one I will never understand. All the women in the house have colored their hair at least 6 times this year. Pinks, Blues, Greens, Whites, Blondes, Purples….. Yet I can’t find a nice shade of grey. Yes, we played with hair color. It’s much better than body piercings and/or tattoos. At least it slowly washes out. Jessie’s hair was my favorite, all of her hair was smurf blue. Haley has pink streaks in the front and for some reason it has lasted forever. Thankfully it’s adorable and it matches her personality.
The two movies that Heather and I saw this year were Cars 2 and Cowboys vs Aliens. Both were amazing! We don’t go to the movies very often, it’s just too expensive. For the cost of 2 tickets we can buy the movie when it comes out and everyone can watch it as many times as they want. Cars 2 was Ethan’s first movie. He loved it almost as much as the popcorn and soda he worked on during the whole movie.
As a father’s day gift, I got to go to the Baltimore Comicon, VIP style, where I met Stan Lee. Stan Lee created the X-Men, Spiderman, Avengers and thousands of other comic book characters. I got some memorabilia signed and my picture taken with him. Doug wasn’t the only one who got the VIP service. His truck might as well as had its own room for the parking charges he incurred. But he had fun and got to do something he has always wanted to. Can’t get much better than that for a Father’s day gift.
And now I have saved the best for last. The coup de resistance. My adoption of Macy, Victoria and Jessica went through! I am so very happy about this! They are mine in heart, spirit, law and name! We still haven’t gotten their new birth certificates yet. I envision one elderly lady in a back corner, who is responsible for all birth certificate corrections/changes in California (hopefully before they turn 18 we will have the right ones). It was a huge relief to have the adoption final. The girls did very well with their name change. Everyday for the first few weeks they would come home with a new way to make fun of ‘*****’. There wasn’t one that Doug hadn’t heard before. We are still working on Tessa. Doug told her she was welcome to change her name too. I think Tessa ***** has a lovely ring to it.
Well, that is about it for this year. As always, have a nice day, holiday that is! We love you and miss you all. Have a wonderful holiday season!
~Douglas, Heather, Macy, Victoria, Jessica, Haley, Ethan and Tucker ~
P.S. We would have included Tessa’s name here, but she went back to California and didn’t stay…. Yet… J