the annual REAL christmas letter

The Christmas letter is a dying tradition. I guess everyone is too busy hiding and posing their elf to recap the year. But good riddance I say. Because these letters are mostly a load of crap. Or atleast only a teensy bit like real life. The highs. What we want people to see. Or know. Or be jealous of. Showing off and one upping each other.Years ago, I talked with a friend who had had a particularly rough year and we joked….what if people wrote REAL Christmas letters. What if we said the good things, but also the bad. What if we showed people who we really were…..and then we listed some horrible things, like my son brought home straight Cs, or we have managed to rack up some impressive credit card debt…or I’m not so sure this marriage thing is really for us. We laughed, but I’m thinking those kinds of letters might be a whole lot more interesting to read. So after that I started writing REAL letters. And of course, I still hold a little back…and I’m a pretty positive girl so it is hard for me to not be hopeful and my husband and kids really are pretty great – I'll give you fair wanring that I might brag at least a little.
We had a particularly warm winter, but it still managed to be long and lonely. I am a girl that needs sunshine and people. And my winter was short on both. Work still managed to suck. I spent my spring wondering where I would end up in the fall. I even updated my resume. Thankfully, the sun eventually came out and I stayed put.
 In addition to O’s soccer, both kids played tball in the spring. Owen was a rockstar and was one of the best kids on the team. This might be because they were 4 and he was 6 but please no one tell him that. Tess was a disaster. But so dang cute in her little uniform, which to her disgust was neither pink nor purple. She insisted on a pink bat, a pink ball and a pink helmet. Even pinked out I couldn’t get her to pay attention in the outfield. There may not be any crying in baseball, but there was lots of crying in tball. And after spending mornings racing from game to game to game, I’d come home and want to crawl in bed and pray that I didn’t forget my week to bring the after game snack and could remember to wash all the right jerseys and socks by next Saturday when we would do it all over again.
First grade got even better….in the Spring Owen had a speaking role as a spider in the school play. He wasn’t into the singing and dancing so much, but he nailed his lines. The theme of the play was about manners and I assure you it was all lost on this household.  He also brought home all kinds of awards at the end of the year. And the award for mom of the year will not be heading my way because I missed the ceremony completely. I did however finally figure out the pick up line.  After accidentally driving my car through the garage door – I thought I’d save some money and drop the after school care. Which means long waits behind many minivans and never grocery shopping alone again. I have, however, finally learned to always make sure the car is in park before retrieving my phone out of the backseat.
Shaun ran his first half marathon in the Spring. And apparently has found one more thing that he can beat me at. He also bought tights because running in the cold stinks. I made fun of him of course, and then started stealing them. We have both kept up the running. I run because it is cheaper than therapy and wine and exhausts me enough to sleep at night. I only have a few pair of pants that still fit ….and I split one right down the crotch the other day in the middle of Tess’s dance class. We both have finished multiple halfs this year and just ran our first one together. He better watch it because he only beat me by a few minutes. And this time I wore my own tights. Owen has run a few races as well, 5Ks, and the last one he ran without stopping. Which is impressive when he factor in how short his legs are. Tess on the other hand, only runs away from vegetables and spankings.
I couldn’t have been more ready for summer break. I needed a break from all things school. My kids got their first passport stamps on a trip to Vancuver and the rest of my family got stranded in the airport.  We then did our annual ranch trip to Colorado where Tess had to be peeled off the horses and Owen fished every chance he got.  I spent a lot of my summer on the various lakes with various people and couldn’t have been happier about it. Each time came home a little more tan, stronger, and more confident often after staying up late laughing until my stomach hurt. Owen was busy…off at day camps most of the summer, and I kept a bag packed with swimsuits, sunscreen, snacks and running shoes. Tess got more freckles, Owen perfected his cast and Shaun got up and went to work everyday while we slept in.
The fall couldn’t have been more different than the last. Work was all change. New schedule, new subject, new times, new programs, new kids, new technology. And with new often comes a few kinks. I was just glad to have people off my back even if I meant working through my lunch everyday. The truth is, I should be grading papers right now instead of writing this....but I'll tackle the whole procrastination thing in 2013. Or the next year.
 Second grade started out with lots of missed recess, I thought my son was goofing off or slacking because he kept having to stay in and finish his work. After some investigating he explained that he was having a hard time finishing his beginning of the year assignments that said things like “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and Owen told me, “he just didn’t know yet that he was still thinking about it.” I offered up some great advice and told him to make something up already so he could go outside and play. Figure out your life later. I’m still working on that myself. These days he plays plenty of four square and the only marks he gets are when I forget to sign his folder. Which is more often than I’d like to admit. He made all As last six weeks and was the Champion Cheetah. Again, this mom of the year missed the awards ceremony. But I made up for it by chaperoning his field trip. Which trust me was more than a fitting punishment. Owen is in the 2nd percentile for both height and weight. I tried to sneak him some Ensure but this kid who will eat anything says it tastes like vomit. And I agree. So instead I just pray that he grows, learns how to throw an elbow on the soccer field to even things out and that there are some very sweet, very short girls in his future. For now, he can spell better than me, but unfortunately you can not read his hand writing.  I am also saving up for a 12 step video game treatment center for him.
Tess turned 4 this year and she spends all her spare time watching you tube videos on cake decorating and makeup application. Some days I wonder if they switched children on me at the hospital. She colors inside the line, insists on matching and accessorizing and thinks that glitter is a color scheme. However, when you ask her to do something like pick up her toys and she sasses back, “you’re not the boss of me” and see how stubbornly she loves -  I know without a doubt that she has more than my fair share of DNA. She won’t eat anything except rice and beans, chicken and french fries, pizza and all things made of sugar. So much sugar in fact that my first investment in 2013 will be to pay for her root canal and two fillings. It is only fitting that my princess gets a crown. She still dances and finally stopped wetting the bed. (mostly). I will be even more happy when she can put on her own tights. Which might be right after she decorates a cake and shows me how to accentuate my eye shape with the correct shades of eye shadow. She is still in love with Justin “Beaver” and my sister in law bought her a Justin Beiber toothbrush that plays Boyfriend while she brushes her little heart out. I think we just may have solved all of our dental problems.
 It has been a year of ups and downs and change. But a good one. I have spent more time at home. I have tried to focus on less. Less running around. Less texting. Less spending. Less stuff. Less drama. Less fear. And of course less cleaning (which was not really a stretch for me). My house and car are forever a wreck. I have requested a DNR on my car because 2 weeks shy of the last car payment, the fuel pump went out. We tried to decide on replacing it or replacing the car, and went ahead and wrote the ridiculous check and decided to drive it into the next year. Tess weighed in on the decision by puking in the back seat. Twice. The fuel pump was replaced and I think we even got the smell out. So, if anyone needs a ride anywhere just let me know!
 On a more serious note, Friday afternoon I sat in my classroom and watched in horror the news on my computer. I watched the president pause and wipe away tears as I let my own drip onto the keyboard. I felt the weight of grief strong enough to make me get up and dry heave into a trashcan. And I couldn’t wait to get my own kids safe and buckled into their booster seats that afternoon. (because my 7 year old may not ever weigh enough to outgrow his booster seat until college). This past year, I have stood at memorial services and felt that same kind of grief. But I have also cried in the car for no reason at all. I have said things I wished I hadn’t to my husband. I have lost my patience with my kids and said bad words at bible study. I have forgotten lunches, laundry and homework folders.  Like, Owen I am not always sure what I want to do when I grow up. I am not always the girl I want to be.  But life is not just our best most proud and perfect moments on display in a Christmas letter or a  facebook status. It is also who we are in the worst ones. It is recognizing the people that have seen us like that and love us anways. It is loving others in those moments as well. Knowing and seeking a God who forgives and trusting that he is good even when we don’t understand. Even when we are dry heaving into a trashcan.
2012 was a year of losing things. We lost teeth, weight, shoes, socks, friends, and occasionally my faith as well as our homework. But it was also a year for finding things misplaced. Joy and laughter. Priorities. Perspective. And hope that this year we will all be a bit more like the people that we wish to be. But having the grace to love ourselves and each other even when we are not. So here is to another year. My family wishes you joy and laughter at your best and even at your worst. Maybe even especially at our worst, because that is when we all need it the most.
and it was only fitting that the photographer that talked me into christmas cards was home sick and my kids absolutely refused to play nice with each other for a christmas card photo. this is one of the few photos where they are actually smiling, unfortunatley it is because my sweet and sassy daughter is pretending to toot on her brother.
(if that wasn't enough about my is a link to last year's letter.
and one of my favorite bands of the year...