Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Christmas Letter

Dear Family and Friends,

This is awfully late for me, isn’t it? I’ve been meaning to write the annual Christmas letter for weeks and it just didn’t happen. Usually at this time of the year I’m excited to have an opportunity to write but since I started a blog in April and haven’t missed a day since, the urge to write isn’t pushing me along.

So, let’s see. Michael is still at Washington River Protection Solutions in the Hanford area as the Mechanical Engineering Discipline Lead. This means he owns the standards for the mechanical systems and anything to do with it requires his review and approval. This involves multiple cell phones, near constant meetings, and hours and hours of work even after he finally comes home. I know one must be grateful for any job IN THIS ECONOMY but this one? Well, it’s insane. His work has tripled but the pay remains the same. It’s this administration and all the stimulus money flying around. They’re going like gangbusters out at the tank farms trying to accomplish all the tasks they’ve been given money for but no matter how many more people they hire or assistants they give Michael, he still must review and approve EVERYTHING. There’s time for nothing else but church and this year I can finally report that he has a different calling. After many years of being the Gospel Essentials teacher, he is now the Elders Quorum Secretary.

Me? Oh. Hmm. Okay, I am still on the Enrichment committee at church so nothing’s new in that department. Oh and this fall I climbed Badger Mountain for the first time. I’ve seen it every day from my front yard since we moved here but it never occurred to me to actually climb it until my neighbor Tia challenged me. I’ve done it a few times since and although it’s hard, it’s an awesome feeling every time. Let’s see. What else? I pulled Michael Jr. and Sierra out of middle school in November and have begun homeschooling. With the best of intentions we began public middle school but I finally made the decision that the atmosphere wasn’t good for my kids. The constant stream of profanity and Axe body spray (sort of kidding there. Sort of) was too much. So far it’s going well.

Here’s the part where I brag on the kids and leave out most of the unsavory bits you all know are part of the whole parenting thing:

Michael Jr. is 13 and in the 8th grade. He’s still interested in everything to do with the natural world. He finally got a room of his own this year and I think he’s enjoying the peace. Michael loves puzzles (not jigsaw but the brain teaser kind) and recently he taught himself to solve the Rubik’s 4 x 4 and 5 x 5 cubes as well the V-Cube (a 7 x 7 cube). It’s hard to believe he’ll be in high school next year. Soon he’ll be applying to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) high school down the street. Delta High School opened this year and it seems like the perfect fit for him.

Sierra is 11 and in the 6th grade. This fall she took the Good Baby Sitter Course at the hospital down the street. Sierra’s a good little babysitter and also works as a dog sitter when our neighbors need it. I asked her what else she’d like me to add but she said I’m not authorized to share any more. Clearly she feels she’s a woman of mystery…

Kenny is 8 and in 3rd grade. He was baptized on July 26th , the same date I was 17 years ago. What a special day and one I hope he always remembers. Kenny still enjoys drawing and LEGOs and has finally found books that he likes to read. Specifically, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Encyclopedia Brown series are his favorite and generally speaking, he loves scary stories. Kenny is a great big brother and doesn’t grumble much about sharing a room with his two younger brothers.

Sam is 5 and in kindergarten this year. He loves school and has made some great friends this year. At home he refers to himself as “The Good One” and takes pride in making good decisions. It’s actually kind of hilarious. He’s become completely taken in by Pokémon this year (the cards, not the show as we don’t have any channels that carry it) and could speak at length about it without interruption. And he does. Often. I’ve found that if you smile and nod, you never have to actually understand a thing about it. Thank goodness.

Josh. Oh Joshua. Our Josh is 3 years old and needs constant supervision. He’s the cutest thing EVER with beautiful green eyes and a beguiling smile but just ask anyone who’s been around him five minutes, there is nothing this sweet thing won’t get into. I never would’ve considered having more than one child if he’d been our first. Josh definitely keeps us on our toes. This summer we found that Josh needs glasses and he would’ve had them on in the photo except he left them on the floor to be stepped on. Earlier this year Josh moved in with Sam and Kenny and he loves sharing a room with his brothers. They are a little less excited about it because he lays waste to the room on a regular basis. But did I mention he’s cute? And smart as a whip. He knows his ABC’s and colors and shapes and plenty of numbers. He can operate my iPhone with ease, playing games, watching “The Mr. Men Show” on YouTube, and playing songs by Weezer and The Black Eyed Peas when it suits him. I think he’d do fine in kindergarten with Sam if they didn’t mind the fact that he can and will turn ANYTHING into a weapon. With a smile.

This season has been frenzied and busy, busy, busy for me and I know it’s probably the same with you. I had this big plan to get the house completely tidied up and laundry done so tomorrow could be more relaxing. It’s Michael’s day off and early release for the kids. Packages need to be sent, etc. I really wanted to get this done. I’m turning 40 in a day or so and just hoped to wake up to find my chores magically checked off the list. I was well on my way to accomplishing this today when I received a call from school saying the heat was off and parents needed to come collect their children. We woke to -1 degrees so heat is sort of important. Anyway, I arrived at school and realized I had three friends who were either at work or school and wouldn’t have received the message. I found each child and brought them all home. By noon, all ten were sitting around my kitchen table. The chaos and mess that ensued was the stuff of legends. We’ll be straightening up for days.

Had this happened yesterday I think I would be frustrated about it. Cursing Murphy. Not today though. I’d been struggling with the Christmas spirit as I do each year. All the very early Christmas sales and displays, the ads and fakey Santa/Frosty the Snowman/Rudolph/Coca-Cola polar bears sort of stuff wears me down. I need to work very hard to remember what it’s all about. Something I did this year to reinforce the reason for the season is to read from a book I made at church several years ago. There’s a scripture, a song, and a story for each December day before Christmas. Maybe you have a book like this as well. Last night I skipped back a few days to read a story we’d missed because Kenny loves to be read to and was asking for one more story. He sat next to me in a chair in his room and I read the story of “The Cobbler and His Guest” (I was going to add a copy but I think I’ll save a tree and tell you to Google the title). A lot of the stories pull on the heart strings but this one was different. By the time I got to the scripture at the end, I couldn’t continue. Tears poured down my face and I could not speak. Without skipping a beat Kenny gave me a hug and a smile and finished:

“Whosoever shall receive one such in My name, receiveth Me… For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in… Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”
Matthew 25: 35 & 40

This is what Christmas is about. Recognizing that Christmas is only about Christ and loving each other and Redemption with a capital “R”. It was the only Christmas gift I need and I hope you too can have those moments this season when you feel it and cherish it too. Very best wishes for an amazing Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Tiffany

(& Michael, Michael Jr., Sierra, Kenny, Sam, and Josh)
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