Friday, December 25, 2009

In the St. Nick of Time

Merry holidays! I was going to send out physical cards this year, but with the economic downturn, it seemed like a showy display of excess, so I’m back to email. Let’s just jump right into things.

This year Harper turned 3. She spent a lot of the year avoiding the potty (STILL) and depositing fecal matter into any public pool that was made available to her. I will need therapy to get over the trauma of some of those diapers, and I don’t believe for one second that any of those “accidents” were truly accidents. She finally decided to use the potty about 14 minutes before she started at a new school that required potty training; just to prove a point, I’m sure. Harper also spent a lot of the year being petulant, stomping her foot, looking sullen, and screaming at her brother. As a result, Harper spent a large portion of the year in her room in time out.

To nobody’s surprise, she also gave us our first broken bone from the kids. We took Aaron out for his first soccer practice late in the summer, and within 15 minutes, Harper had fallen on a soccer ball and broken her arm. Over the next 8 weeks we went through 3 casts (pink, purple, and blue), one arm re-setting, and extensive eardrum damage to anyone in a 50 foot radius at the orthopedist’s office. She still has a weird bend in her arm, which they assured me would correct itself over time, but honestly, I think they were just sick of her screaming. She’s actually sustained a lot of injuries this year- most of the spring was spent with a good portion of her nose missing after she face planted on the pavement. It’s not so much that she’s accident prone as she’s kind of insane and has no idea what the words “be careful” mean. A week after she broke her arm, we looked over to find her 3 feet off the ground, scaling the nets on the soccer goal (pink cast and all). Harper’s favorite activities include asking for junk food all day long, making messes, stealing things from Aaron and lying about it, watching television like it’s a religion, and playing on the computer. If she’s not on the computer or in front of the TV, she is adept at making your life miserable enough to just give in and turn on a movie to keep her quiet. She has demanded for the past few months that we call her “Pink Ballerina”, has walked on tiptoes for 6 months straight, and can be found dancing in any place where she hears music (or not) (my apologies to the Panera patrons who were subjected to the 3 year old performing some sort of wildly age-inappropriate Solid Gold tribute). She is obsessed with princesses, fairies, pink, glitter, and weapons of any sort. When she’s not being awful, she’s actually, well, asleep.

Harper pretending she's not evil

Aaron turned 6 this year and started first grade. First grade has been a dramatic improvement over last year. Even though there are still plenty of issues, we’re well into the school year and have yet to get a phone call from the principal or a note from the teacher asking us to have a conversation about keeping his private parts private. In my book, that’s a success. When Aaron isn’t hitting Harper, flicking her in the head, or telling her to “SHHHHHH!”, he finds really creative ways to spend his time. These include building any imaginable object out of paper and tape, reading, writing dozens of books, and building objects out of Legos that are more complex than my car. When I can’t figure out the DVD player, Aaron is the person I ask to make it work. In an effort to make sure I use my children to benefit me, I’ve decided this mechanical affinity is best served by learning how to work the washer and dryer, and with each new chore he gets, my life gets a little bit easier. I need to find a lightweight vacuum cleaner. He remains annoyed at our bumbling incompetence and ridiculous rules, but seems relatively content to live here until he figures out a better plan. When Aaron’s not drawing or writing, he likes to spend his time refusing any food that isn’t a chicken nugget, coming up with moneymaking schemes (losing teeth, setting up a toll booth on the street, etc.), or asking questions. Oh, the questions. I tried to write them all down one day, and I am not even kidding when I tell you that by noon I had already filled up an entire sheet of paper. The questions range from the banal to the existential, and more often than not, my answer to them is “I don’t know”, “it’s magic”, or “because God made it that way”.

Aaron being pensive

In July of this year we had to put down our 13 year old lab, Storm. That was awful, of course, but our remaining dog, Babe, has really enjoyed being an only dog. She’s now the bus stop mascot and considers it her God-given right to climb into the back of my car for any possible errand. If she’s not allowed, she takes advantage of our newly non-baby gated home to climb into our bed and shed on the pillows. She’s a black Chow, and our sheets are white, so it’s not like she’s even trying to hide it.

Jason and I are same old, same old. I started work early this year working for a defense contractor, which is a far cry from drawing buildings, but really interesting. Jason is still working “drawing pipes”, and we both love our jobs, so what more can you ask for? In our spare time, (haha! Spare time! Good one.) I lift weights and run, mostly to accommodate my bacon habit. Jason runs, mostly to get away from the insanity that is our house. I also still enjoy coming up with new house projects, purchasing all of the supplies, drawing a few details, and then giving Jason a deadline. It’s been working for 10 years now, so why mess with a good system? In fact, as I write this, it’s 6:30PM on Christmas Eve and Jason is frantically sawing, hammering, and drilling to complete Aaron’s big Christmas present, a loft bed (and Harper is yelling at him to hush it, because she’s trying to watch a movie. Isn’t she God’s most precious little angel?) I bet right now Jason’s wishing we had just gone to Ikea. I think we’re going to have to leave out some Red Bull and No-Doz for Santa tonight.

This letter is pretty indicative of our life this year. Down to the wire, completely slapdash, and just kind of getting things done, although maybe not as well as they should be done. I’m still in awe of how much time and energy (and MONEY!) two little kids can suck from two grown adults. Here’s the obligatory “but we wouldn’t have it any other way”, mostly because the offers we’ve gotten for them on eBay won’t even cover the cost of shipping them.

We really hope all of you are having a wonderful holiday season and have a great 2010. As a shout out especially to people in design and construction; this past year (and a half) has been a terrible one for our field, and our thoughts are with every one of you- and anyone else who has had a rough go of this year. I don’t know a single architect, designer, or contractor who hasn’t been negatively affected by the economy, and we’re hoping and praying that the industry (and the country) sees a little more life next year. I know it’s not just building that’s getting hit hard, and I hope that things look up for everyone.

Thanks for putting up with us for the past 12 months and we hope to see each and every one of you sometime in the next 12!

Much love,
Sara, Jason, Aaron, & Harper (and mangy Babe)