Dear Friends and Family –
It’s that time again – the world according to Robb. It’s a dark and bleak place. For our newer friends, let me explain. Robb opposes holiday letters that spread cheer and happiness. He insists that people really want to hear bad news. I relented, no longer writing our joyous happenings, and now relay only the really crummy things that have happened to us so that, in comparison, yours might be a brighter and happier holiday. It is our gift to you.
I sprained my ankle in March chasing after Tommy when he was in his phase of breaking out of the house and running to the creek. It still hurts today. Katie got bucked off of our horse, Star, and still carries a scar on her back. We are lucky she was not trampled. Sosi (our lab mix) died, and, very recently, I discovered that Pete, our new black lab, has been eating Nala’s incontinence pills. So, she’s pee peeing in her sleep, and he’s turning into a camel. Kerri caught me creeping into her room acting on behalf of the tooth fairy, and Tommy has discovered that if you spray enough Windex on something it turns blue. We are all finally recovering from some kind of horrible sickness that went around our small town. Tommy went to Emergency twice with pneumonia, and Robb was the most sick I have ever seen him since we’ve been together. But just one day after his fever broke, he wanted to go fishing. To test whether he could stomach a car and boat ride, he smeared a four-inch-thick layer of peanut butter on a pancake and chased it with a Dr. Pepper. He became ill – but still went fishing. He still hasn’t really recovered. We all call him “Lunger.” (Still, his non-vomit streak holds from 1991).
I got a phone call from a publishing house that wanted a book about out of control puppies. I agreed to do this, but it occurred to me that I needed an out of control puppy. Robb opposed this idea. That was how we got Pete. He sleeps on Robb’s side of the bed.
I wanted a horse to ride in our corral; Robb wanted to use it to ride his dirt bike. I found a horse named Star. Star has been with us for about six months now. He is so cool. But he seemed a little lonely, so he came to us with one of his goat friends. I thought it would be a good idea to get another goat. While Robb opposed this idea, we let him name the goats as he is a pretty good animal name giver. Their names are Zipper and Cookiedough. Cookie is pregnant, so we should have one or two little kids running around soon enough. We also have a barn cat and two guinea pigs. Robb made me swear to no more animals. I’m thinking a pony will be good for the spring.
Two different neighbors have been robbed while I was home. The neighbors are thinking about starting up a Neighborhood Watch, but I don’t think I’m invited.
Zipper rammed Kerri in the tummy, and now she won’t go into the corral alone. Star bit Cookie on the rear end, and she turned around and hooked him in the eye with her horn. It was a bloody mess. Just try to find a veterinarian who makes house calls on a Sunday in the Bible belt. Then, two weeks later, Star was down with colic. I learned how to use a twitch stick and put a tube down a horse’s neck filled with mineral oil. Star is clean as a whistle. Inside and out.
Nala and Pete caught a skunk. Before I realized what happened, they were all over me. I had to give them three baths each with De-Skunk shampoo and a tomato bath. They still stunk. I managed to inhale some of it and then had to go teach kickboxing. It was okay until I started to sweat. I kept asking everyone if they could smell me. Initially, they’d said ‘no,’ but as I began to move around, I was politely asked to stop doing so and instruct from the other side of the room.
Tommy knocked over a display of videos in the grocery store when he took off with the grocery cart and rammed it. He thinks he’s a goat.
Our trip to Yellowstone and the Allred family reunion were combined. The sites were amazing; seeing family was great. But Robb determined that we could save a bundle of money if all we ate were sandwiches from a cooler. For 10 days, 3 times a day, all we ate was bologna. Katie actually started crying at one point when she thought she was going to have to eat another sandwich. It was then that Robb picked up his current favorite phrase, “We’re not the Rockefellers,” because I finally had enough and tried to buy something other than a sandwich at a gas station. Yet on the way home, he stopped and bought himself some jerky. (“This is the good stuff, Alex!”) Seven dollars for a tiny bag of “good stuff.” That little pit stop cost him a steak dinner for me and chicken fingers for the kiddos at the very next restaurant. Six months later, Katie still won’t eat a sandwich.
I got a bunch of beautiful candles but can’t ever keep them lit because Robb doesn’t like candles and blows them out then plays with the wax. I swear, he’s worse than Tommy. He won’t eat at Chili’s or Olive Garden or the International House of Pancakes because their commercials are wayyyyy too happy. Also, he has a severe distrust of men with beards and couches with floral print.
I got such a bad case of poison oak I had to get two steroid injections, and my right arm still has scars. It was three weeks of agony. But in the throws of my discomfort, I was able to rethink the entire U.S. prison system. As I lay awake at night in extreme agony, I realized this is what we should be doing to our worst prisoners—roll them in poison oak, turn up the heat, and offer no comfort. Then, years later, as a repeat offender is being chased down by cops and finally cornered, instead of cuffing him, a big baggie of poison oak and sumac shall be pulled out and smeared all over his face. Take that!
Robb hooked Pat (Robb’s brother) in the back while fishing, and the two still carry the belief that if they go off fishing for eight hours but it really only feels like an hour then, by golly, it is just about an hour.
Pat is really no different from his brother and has been involved in a series of events at work he and his buddies call “Feats of Strength.” This involves contests between those who can grow the most facial hair, shock each other with electric prods, or hold up 20 pound weights for extended periods of time. Pat has put his tongue on a 16-volt battery and gorged himself all in the name of becoming “Feats of Strength Master.” Robb isn’t much better. He’s trying to bring back the Box Hat –a look that immediately drops his IQ 20 points, causing small children to stare and women to snicker.
Potty training Tommy was no fun, Pete keeps bringing me dead snakes, and we’ve had a large coyote stalking around our property – I think he wants my goats. It is very distressing. I’ve tried to convince Robb that he needs to run around and urinate on all the trees near the barn to ward off any coyotes.
Finally, I am being sued by a kid on a motorcycle who had no motorcycle license, didn’t own the bike, wasn’t wearing a helmet, lied to the cop, was actually ticketed for the accident, has four witnesses who are testifying AGAINST him, and has a prior record of assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct. Ah, the U.S. legal system at work!
I’d like to tell you that we love Midlothian, my dad and uncle built an awesome barn for Star and the goats, and that things are great, but that would break from tradition. Let’s just leave it at this: Have a better year than we had!