Archive for December, 2001

Around the Table 2001


Another year has passed, is coming to a close and I am feeling kind of introspective.  I’ve been thinking about what sticks out as important over the course of the year.  Each favorite memory seems to involve conversations with our kids around the dinner table, or conservations with our friends and extended families around various tables.  Many of you have been with us here and know that we like to spend our time in the dining room over a good bottle of wine or on the deck in nice weather discussing all things big and small.  Discussions have ranged this year from silly (just WHO did let the dogs out?) to the Electoral College and politics, religion, American foreign policy and other varied topics- most of which were of little consequence, but all together made up the mosaic of the year.  Family, good friends, and laughter are what is important to us, and if we didn’t know and appreciate them before September 11th we are tuned in now!  Aren’t you?

The kids are all doing fine.  Will is ten, in fifth grade and very interested in computers.  Emily is seven, in first grade and loving her “Dribbler’s” basketball program.  Abby, three, is in her first year of preschool.  Abby is gone for three mornings a week and while it was a little sad the first day that she went, I have never looked back.  She obviously loves going and I love her being gone.  I mean it and I’m not ashamed!  Now the house remains clean three mornings a week and for the first time in ten years I am starting to get a handle on the laundry!  Oh, to have peace and quiet so that I can hear myself think!

Mike is in “the learning curve” of a new position at Rockwell-Collins.  Isn’t that just the current way to say, “He’s clueless and trying to learn what the heck to do?”  I don’t know why business people in general, and engineers in particular, have to make things sound like more than they really are.  He continues to speak in engineering acronyms and many discussions around the table with work friends are virtually unrecognizable as English; one needs an engineering degree to understand!  He has been very busy this fall, but he is not traveling as much due to budgetary cutbacks.

For some other interesting, yet further unrecognizable discussions around the table, this June we had a great time when my French friend Regine and her husband Jean-Louis visited us for a few days.  This was payback for the engineering-speak he uses because the closest thing to a foreign language Mike can speak is pig latin.  We spent the majority of the time around the patio table eating, drinking and laughing our heads off over various important international issues.  You know: translating dirty words into French and English, poking fun at each other’s cultures and just enjoying each others differences. Since September 11th our differences have made for some interesting and heated discussions, but they remind me that different opinions, while often fervently and defiantly expressed, can still be in the support of the same goal.  International relations as a subject is always an interesting discussion around the table!

On the home front the kids have been after us to get a pet again this year.  Now, in theory I have no problem with this, but in practice it is a different story.  In general, Mike and I are not opposed to animals; we just prefer them in other people’s homes. We have too much other chaos to deal with around here!   However, Emily is always acquiring various slimy creatures from the dirt and water in the vacant lots near us.  Her first pet came in the form of “Speedy” the frog that she caught in a puddle after a big rainstorm.  Emily had the crazy idea that if you catch a frog and kiss him; he will turn into Prince Charming.  Darn those Disney people anyway!!  If I believed it would work I would have tried it long ago, for my Prince Charming walks around the house in his underwear, screams obscenities at Iowa State ball games and does other various crude guy stuff that should never be spoken about in a holiday letter.  But, I digress…returning to our story, I caught Emily not once, but several times kissing Speedy to see if magic could be made.  At this point I remembered something that I had read about salamanders, turtles and the like being the source for Salmonella and I made her wash the germs off of her hands and leave Speedy alone. (WARNING: if you are a PETA supporter read no further)  The kids decided that in order to safely play and love their pet in the necessary manner it was time for Speedy to have a cleansing Dial Antibacterial bath.  The next morning Speedy no longer lived up to his name; in fact, “STIFFY” would have suited him better.  Apparently, to a frog antibacterial soap is the wash of death.  Please remember this in the coming year in case your child wants a germ free amphibian.

Unfortunately, because I didn’t see Speedy’s demise coming, and because I was feeling guilty about him, they talked me into three goldfish (total value 36 cents).  We had Bubbles, Pom-Pom and Harry Potter in a lovely $25 tank, with a virtual sea floor of vegetation ($3) and a castle ($5) fit for a really high classed fish ($??).  (What, a tuna???)  Well, in a period of two weeks time the fish became sick one by one.  So, because I wanted to show my kids that I cared, (deception has its price) I spent $13.50 on antibiotic fish drops, and  $7 on water purifier drops or some such nonsense.  Well, our 36 cents worth of fish croaked and we are pet free again.  Maybe this is better for the safety of animals everywhere!   If you turn me in to PETA I will deny every bit of the above saga.

We went on two great vacations this year.  The first was a history trip to Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland in July.  The kids were a little history-ed out by the end of the vacation, but we made sure that we did several things not related to history.  We visited Kings Island in Mason, Ohio; we saw Luray Caverns in Virginia, the aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland and visited with our good friends Amy and Eric Tich and their family in Ellicott City, Maryland.  In between were Antietam, Harper’s Ferry, Colonial Williamsburg and a brief trip to Gettysburg, PA.  (Note: if you pull into the parking lot of the main visitor’s center at Gettysburg and there are at least seven or eight Greyhound buses parked there with banners reading “Gettysburg-Boy Scout Jamboree” you know you’ve chosen the wrong day to visit.  I think we’ll have to make another stop there again when we have checked the next jamboree date for the Scouts!)  We also visited my parents in Phoenix, Arizona with a side trip to San Diego, California in November.  The kids were thrilled with visiting both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans!

We are trying to follow President Bush’s wishes by “going about our business and enjoying our country’s great destinations”; we hope you will, too!  We’re also planning on spending and enjoying more time around the table this holiday season.  Our goal for 2002 is to appreciate more the times spent together with family and friends and to take nothing for granted.  As you sit around the table this year, please drink a toast to friends and family and remember to laugh at the small things.  We need more laughter in 2002!   Best wishes for a safe and happy new year!