Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013

Family and Friends,

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Atlanta waiting for the Christmas Letter Muse to arrive.  She must be delayed due to winter storms.  Sorry, your loss, as the letter must go on.  I just finished face-timing with Lisa and the kids.  She kept giving the kids the phone in a desperate attempt to divert them long enough for her to get dinner on the table.  She is a miracle worker.  Looking through that window into our kitchen made my hotel room seem awfully quiet the moment we hung up.  I hope they know I do miss them. 

My Christmas letters are having the desired effect—my kids are interested in something I say (ok, maybe only write).  Last Sunday while shaving a two-week beard there was more gray hair than I had remembered.  Truth be told, my memory seems to fade more and more so as I write in my journal less and less the Christmas letter will have to be our family record.  Maybe that’s why the kids are so interested. 
   
I won’t forget the trip to Peru with my brother Brad.  Machu Picchu is definitely bucket-list worthy and managed to exceed my inflated expectations.  Every once in a while I can still hear the pipe music that is played incessantly for tourists across the country. Not surprisingly the Amazon Basin is quite wet during the rainy season.  We waded through water that poured in over the top of our knee-high rubber boots, retired several pairs of socks that never came close to drying out during our stay, kept appropriate distances from poisonous snakes but not a small caiman (Crocodilian) that Brad caught on a night time boat ride, and generally enjoyed being boys.  I involuntarily donated my glasses to the Amazon River while taking pictures of macaws and parrots at a clay lick, I hope someone finds them and puts them to good use.

Mandrew (shorthand for Mack and Andrew) and I had two trips to Yellowstone, one in early May with 75 degree weather and one in late September with a tent covered in snow—go figure.  The boys seem to enjoy it as much as I do and are generally willing to hike despite the weather. 

In a story far too long and truthful or justice in the Christmas letter, Lisa and I made a last minute drive (instead of flying—who knew kids need passports to fly to Canada but not to drive?) 14 hours with an infant in one day to Banff National Park in Canada.  The story also involves a sturdy iPhone case, a few large cracks in the windshield, devastating floods that destroyed bridges and caused landslides stranding everyone in the town, and a return trip with two new friends who needed a ride back to the US. 

I couldn’t pass up 25 lbs. of chocolate peanut caramel clusters for $30 at the Sweets Candy factory on a family trip to Utah.  Lisa was tired of me telling her what a great deal it was long before we finished eating them.  Come to think of it there may be a few left for the kids’ stockings.  The only better thing to do in Utah was to watch BYU finally beat Boise State in football.

Natali (11) transitioned seamlessly to middle school.  She hasn’t skipped a beat academically, ran cross country, began viola lessons, and continues to sing in a children’s choir and play the piano.  She’s mostly independent and always helpful.  She’ll be thoroughly pleased with this drab but truthful account of her year (she’ll roll her eyes and say, “Daaad,” when she reads this).     

Mack (10) moved up to tackle football with his friends despite qualifying to play flag football for an extra year because of his girth.  He made a few tackles and thoroughly enjoyed himself.  He also played spring soccer which I coached, indoor soccer, basketball, and golf—who needs video games?  He lasted about 8 months without a haircut—during which time we learned that his hair has more curl and body than is fair for a boy.  He was the only kid on his team who looked better after wearing his football helmet.  His Dame Easton Dame temper flared one day and left his glasses in enough pieces that Duck Tape couldn’t salvage them. He loved explaining why his glasses didn’t sit on straight while he waited for a new pair.

Andrew (8) was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in June.  A few months later he grew out of an old belt.  When we threw it away we noticed the size on the label: 6-18 months.  Sounds like he may get the chance to play flag football again too!  During parent/teacher conference at school his patient teacher told us about his lack of “impulse control.”  That’s not how we describe it at our house…

Kate (6) learned to ride her bike after the summer was over without the help of extended family (my brother had to teach Andrew last year).  To our surprise and excitement Kate has decided that jumping rope is fun—she detests all other activities in her PE class at school.  She decided a short haircut would be better than allowing Mom to comb her hair, so off it went.  When Andrew used a green marker on her hair she tried to use Chapstick to remove the color but it only left a greasy mess.  It is fun to be 6.

Emily (3) found a new favorite book titled The Uglified Ducky about a moose calf raised by a family of ducks.  We made several efforts to find a Gronk Aroo (the noise the moose makes in the story) this year but she’s still looking.  She wakes up each morning with a simple request, “Can you read to me?”  None of us are good at turning her down.   She absolutely refuses to eat fruits or vegetables so we let her eat Vitamin C pills to keep the scurvy away.  We keep thinking she’ll lose her favored sibling spot to Lily, but she’s so sweet they may end up sharing it.

Lily (10 months) —Lily Ellen, the 6th and final member of this Easton generation was born February 4th and after 10 months I’m ready to concede to Lisa that we finally got a little brown-eyed baby to match her (1 out of 6, so much for dominant genes). Though our heaviest child at birth, 7 lbs. 11 oz, she quickly slipped off the growth chart like the rest of her siblings and has since settled in at the 2nd percentile for weight.   After 6 kids I’ve decided that I love the babies best.  Taking baby duty is also a great way to get out of other less pleasant tasks around the house.   

Lisa (33 and decidedly unpregnant!) drove a hard bargain to be excluded from the letter in exchange for her editing contribution…maybe next year.

Greg (35) tried hard not to be a fun vacuum this year but probably didn’t succeed.  I needed the Heimlich maneuver from a swift thinking colleague at dinner on a trip to Brazil—luckily I didn’t need to say “Help! I’m choking!” in Portuguese.

Books of the year—Turn Right at Machu Picchu, 1493, Approaching Zion, If you Lived Here I would Know your Name, Glass Castle, and Gifted Hands.

Merry Christmas with Love,
The Easton Family (Greg, Lisa, Natali, Mack, Andrew, Kate, Emily, and Lily)