Once again we have come to the last thread of a woven canvas signifying the end of the masterpiece that 2006 has become. Ah, yes, a little to much literary fluff for a 'Friends and Family' Seasonal Letter. I suppose I should just get on with my diatribe. In the beginning, there was darkness. God then made New Years day and the Mrs was wicked torqued at me for drinking so much scotch. And then God made a porcelain toilet so and the Mrs said it was good, for I gazed into the depths of the abyss and let the evil go into the briny deep. Actually, I didn't and got a real good head-banger the next morning. You think that would teach me to mind the bottle this New Years Eve, but I'm not betting against it. We typically spend New Years with the Seligas and watch as the Ever Growing Twin Tyrants obliterate the calm and peace like Gengis and Attila sweeping all of Asia before them. Later on that month, I got together with Pete and his two sons along with Jovial Jacob to go to the annual Sportsman's show here in Philly. Archery, fishing and lots of pretty girls at the Skoal Display for him to flirt with. I'll have to have a sit down with him soon and let him know that his parents will not tolerate him bringing home any tobacco products ... or tobacco product spokes-models. Now the NRA gals and the Remington ladies ... that's another story. Of course, we had to buy a truck-load of jerky for the wimmen folk back at the Manor, and got an earful from the ever Critical Alexis for not bringing her along. And yes, I do realize it is not that she wanted to come along, but rather, she just wanted to opportunity to decline. She's 4 going on 30 and shows every sign of being my inevitable end incarnate.
Speaking of the wonder twins, they seem to be coming along quite nicely. Their 20 year plan for global conquest seems to be moving at the expected pace and they are currently spending their time engaging in advanced combat technique training. As of the time of this writing, Alexis has just earned her first stripe on her white belt in Tung So Do and they are both enjoying the ability to beat the living tar out of Daddy in class. Yes, I joined the class just so I could keep and eye on them and learn some defensive moves. We also go swimming every night before karate for an hour so they are quite the athletic little buggers. They are now at Red Cross Swim Level 3 and we are working on proper breathing technique for the crawl. We have not succumb to very many cases of illness this year so the escalated physical engagements along with the gym membership fees are paying for themselves in less medication ... for them. Myself, I have managed to get some bruised ribs, sprained big toe, wrenched ankle and various soft tissue injuries. Some from Karate, most from chopping fire wood. Oh, and as for that 400$ truck load of logs, yes, we have started using the wood stove. Since it is still blistering hot in the South East corner of Pennsyltucky, the furnace has yet to be turned on. I know some of you folk out in the North West don't see this the way we down here do, but the synergistic effect of El Nino (El Nina?) and Anthropomorphic Global Climate Change has been quite a boon to the micro-economy of the Household Haupertonian. I'm looking at replacing our water heater and the savings in utilities just might be the impetus to do it this year.
Of course, this year has not been all Grins and Giggles. Early on in the year, the SuperSaturn blew out it's transmission. Now, there was a critical choice to make. We were halfway though the car payments on the Chevy Family Tank and I was not really interested in picking up a new loan. On the other hand, spending 2K on a POS 97 Saturn was like giving someone a 20$ bill for 5$ of change. In the end, I lumped it and just had the transmission replaced. It has a 2 year guarantee so, provided that it holds together for a few more years, I'll be vindicated. I'm certainly going to have to buy a new/used car within the near future given that the existing one is held together with spit and grit. This leads me to and extraordinary event for the intrepid adventurers and their sturdy Family Tank. We attended a wedding and on the way from a photo shoot to the actual wedding, we ended up in an accident where the Family Tank (v1.0) came to rest on a it's collapsed roof. The kids fared well as the restraining seats operated precisely as engineered. The Mrs and I got knocked about a bit and had to take a bit of time off to recover. The ever resilient Father-In-Law was in the back seat and manged to crawl out via a shattered side window. It was spectacularly frightening but we had a battalion of guardian angles backing us up that day. Jake went on to be the toast of the wedding reception with his jaunty dance moves and his overflowing affection for anyone wearing a dress. It was our great fortune to have the grandparents at the same wedding with child seats in their car. The Mrs, myself and the ever prescient Big Little Brother took the train back to Philly. This event extended the car loan from 2.5 years to 5 as we are now responsible for paying off the loan on a new Toyota Sienna ... Family Tank v2.0. Bear in mind that this is the first foreign auto (ok, it is 95% manufactured in Indiana, but still) in our fleet so this was a major paradigm shift for me.
Other little hiccups included some stress in my health and the mortal combat of the Mrs's mother's health. It was rough going for 3/4ths of the year with the loyal and staunchly supportive daughter bouncing back between home and NYC at least once a month.
Enough of that kvetching, how about some happy-happy news. Things did go well for us this year in spite of the acerbic experiences peppered throughout. The Mrs bought herself a Tivo unit and we are now officially addicted. Fast forwarding though commercials has made our lives so much easier with the Wonder Twin Tyrants. No more worry about the effects of direct marketing to their developing brains at Christmas. Just a blur and complaints when we don't skip the commercials fast enough. I know that advertising executives are leaping from their corner office windows on Madison Ave just at the thought of it.
This year, we also bought season passes to Sesame Place for the kids. After the first 2 visits, the price compared with a weekend pass was met and we made out pretty good as we came back three more times. This is only during the summer of course. The same time when the garden was going full blast and the kids developed a insatiable appetite for garden fresh peas, beans, cucumbers and other assorted crops. Although the financial savings of this prove to be negligible, the idiosyncratic value judgments of teaching the children where food comes from and engendering a healthy appetite for unprocessed foods has no parallel. At this time, we still have half a row of carrots left to devour. An unprecedented success.
Other success: Both children no longer need the parents to conduct them to the bathroom in the dead of night and Alexis is free from the bounds of an overnight diaper. HUZZAH! More disposable income I can spend on wine ... or invest for the likelihood of braces. The Mrs and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by going out to eat while the Grandparents watched over our scion. It was unnerving how much we had to say outside of 'Eat your dinner, chew your food, don't spill the milk, etc ....'. That, and it's nice to know that after 10 short years, we still can make each-other happy. Speaking of happy and 10 years, I've given up on my consulting job and entered into the stable world of Big Corporate Entity employment. I signed on, most likely as an impetus of the car accident, with a global electronics firm much to the glee and alacrity of the Mrs. I now work 8.5 miles from home instead of 30 and I can both pick up the children and drop them off. The Mrs is free to enrich her career and I can spend much more time with the children (doing karate and swimming every evening as noted above). The savings in gasoline and getting 2 hours of my life back every day is a bonus beyond refute. For the first time in a very long time, I greet the week day mornings as a harbinger for inexhaustible opportunity instead of a portal of torpidity on the way to the weekend.
Ah, yes, the weekends. I've fallen behind in my home improvement efforts. The master suite is nearly done but I have yet to complete sanding Jacob's floor before putting down the usual bazillion layers of polyurethane. He is becoming impatient and insists that I finish the long overdue delivery of his own personal fortress of solitude. We did hire someone to come in an put a shower insert into the communal bathroom though. Took them one day and it look fantastic. The tiles were falling in since the construction was done over regular sheetrock. Not much was happening in the prescient planning department 30 years ago when the developer cobbled together the manor. Less frustrating is my new activity of being an assistant in the Pre-K Sunday School Class. Initially, I was not expecting much of this, but I've fallen into the role as 'Sergeant-At-Arms' quite naturally and seem to be quite effective. Material distribution, door checks, bathroom escorts ... anything and every thing to keep the teacher on task. The children seem to enjoy this much more than trying to sit trough a homily and mass that just does not seem to apply to them. The golden rule makes much more sense when you are not trying to relate adultery and coveting as concepts to a 4 year old.
As a final end-cap to the year, we took the kids to the 'Real Santa' photo shoot shortly before Thanksgiving and were happy to find that our efforts of prepping Alexis bore fruit. She actually did not try to 'Slay' Santa this year with penetrating, angry vibes of animus. No, she sat on his lap and gave us the smile we knew was in her. Jake, well, he was who he is. He damn near speared the poor fellow with a running dive. The terror in Santa's face was as visceral as that of a rebel and union soldier crossing bayonets on the battlefield. Jacob's incorrigible displays of affection for anyone he deems worthy will probably lead him into a career of game show host or politician. Either way, we'll be proud when they unify the world beneath the iron rule of their mighty fists.
Have a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year sans the face in the porcelain receptacle. Love, Hope and Apple Scented Rubber Bands - The Clan Haupertonian
Labels: Children, Christmas, Family