Dear Friends and Family –
It’s that time of year again. If you’ve never received a holiday letter from us before, the rules are this: in the spirit of giving, we won’t tell you how amazing and perfect our lives are (as this would be a complete work of fiction), but we will make you feel so much better about your lives by relaying the bad, the ugly, the disturbing.
We decided to wait until the U.S. housing market hit an all time low before trying to sell our house. Next, we set up a schedule so that with our own insane schedule we would have to be out of the house at a moment’s notice or when the house was always in chaos. About this same time, Robb began growing out some weird beard that made him look like a Puritan because, I later found out from a friend, he knew it was driving me crazy. And he never quite got the concept of selling a house. It was very annoying to him that people would call and actually want to see the house … without him skulking about with his brooding manner and strange beard. After six months of driving dogs around in the car when people came to look at the house (I was starting to cough up hairballs) and with Kerri’s senior year of high school approaching, we pulled the For Sale sign. In hindsight, we probably should have removed Tommy’s arsenal of hand grenades and world domination maps before putting the house on the market.
Tommy was attacked by a pit bull. An infection set in, and he had to be transported by ambulance to Children’s Hospital where Tommy was given a bed with its own television remote attached to the bed! By Tommy’s standards, the attack was almost worth it. Another cool offshoot of the dog attack is that when Lego found out that while a pit bull was busily tearing open Tommy’s arm, he refused to set down his Lego helicopter he’d just completed; Lego sent Tommy the super deluxe Star Wars Battleship model. Lego – you rock!
On the downside, while we were in the Emergency Room for the second time, Tommy and I were on a gurney awaiting the ambulance. The place was packed, so we’d been left in the hallway when an enormously large, hairy man in a bathing suit was brought in. He was parked just in front of us. There was some story about him falling into a pool and having to be fished out. Tommy and I stared – transfixed by Sasquatch. I’d never seen so much hair on a human body, and as I sat pondering his exact DNA, Tommy spoke. “When I grow up,” he said. “I am never going to shave.” Um …Huh?
We went paintballing, and it turned violent. Michelle got shot in the mouth by Tommy and could not fully formulate the words, “I’m hit,” so I shot her in the ribs. Tommy shot me at very close range in the ear, so I shot him in the ribcage. Tommy is 10. I feel no remorse. Katie and Tommy like to pretend they’re vomiting, but because that is insufficiently disgusting and disturbing, Katie also likes to pretend she is a dog and hikes her leg on things. She is 14. We’re not worried about Katie acquiring a boyfriend any time soon. Meanwhile, Kerri had her first boyfriend – which was troublesome to her because he actually wanted to hold her hand.
I woke Katie early one morning, and she said, “Show thyself the door, ye wench.” When I walked into the kitchen, I found Tommy’s head in his bowl. No spoon. “Buddy! Use a spoon!” To which he replied, “We don’t have those where I come from!” When did we become pirates?
I helpfully suggested to Robb that he might want to trim his eyebrows, so he decided to shave them himself. It was pretty hard to keep a straight face when he came in the room and asked if I noticed anything different. Other than not having any eyebrows? Mostly, he just looked really surprised for a couple of weeks.
I tried to help Robb with buying new shirts, which was very difficult as – apparently – all the shirts are “gay,” making it a challenge to find a shirt that will not result in him accusing me of trying to emasculate him. I know it’s not PC to use words such as “gay,” but with Robb it really is okay as he is equally prejudiced against all groups of all people everywhere. He now includes anyone who sits in a coffee shop, reads the New York Times, or likes to dance. No one likes to dance, he says.
Kerri finally got her driver’s license and was never nervous until it was time to sign her license and she promptly messed up her own name. Yes, her official license has a scribble on it. I followed her to school for almost two months. One time I was driving Kerri and lecturing her on the importance of keeping “eyes on the road!” – okay, so technically I was not watching the road when WHAP! this oversized raccoon committed racoonacide. I never saw him! Kerri threw her hands up to her face and screamed, unable to speak for some time. It was horrible, but I rallied. “You see what happens when you don’t pay attention, Kerri!? Raccoons die!”
Katie has entered a new phase where she pretends to be dead – eyes open, sprawled out. So each time I enter a room, there she is. I don’t mean 3 or 4 or 40 times. Every time I come through a room, she is there – sprawled out on the island in the kitchen, across my bed, on the floor in the hallway.
Elbows out, hunched over her plate, Katie eats like a crazed hockey player. This, combined with the strange blend of a Southern/French accent she now affects all the time (when she’s not dead on the floor), has led me to the conclusion that she really does need to go to charm school. At the same time she is trying to convince me that she can act ladylike, she’s been repeating French phrases to me. So after hearing the same one over and over again, I asked what “J’aime beaucour a la pét!” means. Katie smiled, “Doesn’t that sound so elegant? It means, ‘I like to toot.’” Oh, yeah… charm school, here we come.
Tommy keeps taking my stuff and tries to sell it back to me. How does he think it fair that I buy back a skillet??
I’ve complained of this before, but this year, I really mean it … our ‘vacations by Robb’ need a serious overhaul. If we’re not experiencing altitude sickness, sleeping outside slaughter houses, or having to rotate shower days for everyone, we’re enduring long-term kidney damage. Our last trip to Wyoming had me heading into town so I could find a toilet. Kerri ran at me. “Where are you going?” When she learned that she could use a gas station bathroom, she was elated! “I’ve been holding it for two days! Please! Take me with you!” When an Exxon potty looks good to you, you need to reprioritize.
Recently, a bunch of us entered the Muddy Buddy race, which was a 6 mile race with an obstacle course and a mud bath that you have to crawl through at the end. Extreme muddiness is guaranteed. Kerri and her buddy, Cheyenne, won 1st in their division while Michelle and I (with a combined age of 90) beat out Katie and her buddy, Macy (c.a. 28), and you better know we are not letting Katie live that down! All the mud broke my washing machine.
While Kerri continues her passion for music, playing the fiddle, classical violin, piano, mandolin, and viola, we have desperately tried to garner that same interest in Tommy and Katie. Finally, we enrolled them in violin lessons together during which they spend much of their time giggling, but at least they are having fun. Still, we worry about their poor instructor. What kind of headaches must he have??
One day we drove by a neighbor’s house who had tied a donkey and a cow together. There is a Future Farmers of America reason for this, but at the time, I asked Katie, “Geez, what kind of conversations do you think those two are having?” Katie didn’t miss a beat. “You’re such a cow…Well, you don’t have to be an ass.” She may not have a career in music, but she is definitely headed for the stage. While making their Christmas lists, I heard Kerri and Katie berating their little brother. I came into the kitchen. “Whoa. He can write whatever he wants… he may not get it but that’s the fun of Christmas.” Kerri rolled her eyes. “Momma, he’s asking for a better banking interest!”
Tommy decided to relieve himself outside at boy scouts behind some bushes and right IN FRONT of a church window. A rattlesnake fell at my feet when I opened the barn door, the cats have taken to hacking up giant hairballs on the vent of Kerri’s new little car, and we’re pretty sure it was the dead/reincarnated raccoon that came back and mixed a can of paint with bird seed on the back porch. It looks like he was trying to spell out “You’re next.”
Finally, an ode to our Shep/Boxer mix, Nala. After 12+ years, her hips gave out on her, and before the pain was too much, we put her down. After Tommy was born, she became his watchdog, and when I would not immediately respond to his cries, she would punish me by not allowing me to touch her for a day or so. She will forever be remembered as the softest-furred, sweetest-natured, thumpingest-tailed pup in the world! Heaven just got a little bit softer!
Agnes Pharo once said, “What is Christmas? It is the tenderness of the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.”
Yeah, well, look. I just want people to use indoor plumbing and preferably not the Exxon station. Body hair should be kept to a minimum, and I don’t think livestock should be tied together. Never try to play “freeze tag” on ice skates and just know that the term “hairball” is misleading. It’s not just hair. But in the spirit of the season, let us say this to you: “Pouvoir Paix est sur vous et n’a jamais laissé un jeu de accoon avec la peinture rouge.”