December 2013



Happy Holidays!  It’s unusual to bring this up in a Christmas letter, but I think we know the main topic that we all have been talking about this year…no, it’s not Miley Cyrus, Fifty Shades of Grey, or twerking.  It’s Health Care.  I think that this Christmas letter would be the most perfect place to talk about my version of the Affordable Care Act, don’t you?

I’ve thought the matter over quite a lot this year and I have decided to take matters into my own hands.  I am going to need to create my own health care program.  That way if they cut our current plan I will know how to do our own surgeries and such.  I’ve been a Girl Scout, a Camp Fire Girl and also a Boy Scout, for goodness sakes, I guess I can do my own darn procedures if this health care thing tanks anymore than it already has.  I am Prepared!  Government scuzernment, who needs ‘em?

My Plan’s new slogan is “If you like your own health, you can keep your own health”.  To accomplish this all you have to do is buy some stuff at Wal-mart; they have many interesting products there for all your health care needs.  They have vitamins specifically designed for Healthy Legs.  Yogurt now contains something called,  “Bifidus Regularis” if you eat the kind like Activia.  What is Bifidus Regularis anyway?  The term alone is enough to make me contemplate eating the yogurt but if it’s good for my aging colon count me in!  In the TV commercial a gaggle of best friends dine on Activia in a restaurant.  How convenient, it’s group health care!  I like it!  There is a provision for Bifidus Regularis in my plan.

We went to a dinner party this year and one of the before dinner snacks was “Planter’s Digestive Health Mix- with Fiber to promote digestive health”.   Something has drastically changed with the friends we run with.  These are the same people who I know back in the day power slammed, with wanton abandon, entire bags of Flaimin’ Hot Cheetos and then chased them down with Grey Goose vodka.  Hmmmm.  I wonder if they have discovered Bifidus Regularis?  That’s gotta help cool things down a bit.

This year, I consistently heard phrases from my friends and my health care professionals like the more birthdays you have, or as you mature or as you age.  I am on to their shenanigans!  These hints are supposed to be diplomatic and polite ways of communicating that you are getting old.  They always qualify the procedure they are suggesting you consider, like, “Well, do you really need teeth on that side of your jaw?  At your age, you have to ask yourself is the cost of replacement really worth the benefit.”  So, for example, if you enjoy a great steak you might actually enjoy the experience more if you can chew the food yourself.   Instead of putting the meat through a food processor to turn it into a Filet Mignon Smoothie, here’s a novel idea: let’s use our teeth to chew since at my age, I still think teeth are a want AND a need.   In my version of dental health care it’s off to Wal-mart to get some dental floss, fluoride rinse and Anbesol to ward off an emergency.

Anyway, enough about health care, here is our news for the year:  we traveled all over the globe in 2013!  In June, Mike and I, Emily and Abby took a much anticipated trip to Europe to visit France, Switzerland, Austria and Germany.  Will had been offered an internship position at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington (Seattle) so he made the decision to stay behind to work and earn some experience.   You and I would call that staying behind to earn some money.  We were sad to not have him with us, but it was a great opportunity for Will.

We had spent a lot of time and effort planning the best sights, museums, and cathedrals to visit but the girls will both tell you that the best thing that they saw in Paris was Conan O’Brien.  Emily is well known in our family for her prowess in sighting animals in the wild – deer on the edge of a forest, eagles hidden in a tree, and 6’4” tall, red-headed talk show hosts walking under the Eiffel Tower.  He was stealthily disguised by wearing dark sunglasses so he blended in with all the other deer and eagles that were lurking there.  He was really friendly as he posed for pictures with our girls; at their ages running into Conan was the highlight of the trip.

Will graduates from the University of Iowa on December 21st, 2013. His majors are Computer Science and Political Science; miraculously, he is graduating with Honors.  Soon after graduation he will be moving to Seattle to begin a full time position with Microsoft.  He is quite delighted for this new opportunity and of course we are equally delighted to get him off of our dole and to get his stuff out of our closets.  Woohoo!!  One down, two to go!

Will is pictured on our Christmas card as a water skier, but again, let’s be clear: he did not accompany us to Europe and he is not actually a water skier, although he looks very professional on the Christmas card, if I do say so myself.  He requested that I remove him from the family card since he is starting his own life now; in retaliation I am not above using Photo Shop.  Yeah, this is what happens when you ask your mom to cut you from the family photo. I just want you all to know that we still have a first-born child; however, apparently moving forward he will not be appearing with great regularity on the family holiday card.

Emily graduated in May and started college at Iowa State University in August.  After graduation, she took a trip with her friend Mali and her family to stay in a condo at Estes Park, CO.  I had the pleasure of answering the phone when she called me screaming, “Bearrrrrrr!!!!”   It turns out the girls were sitting one evening on the condo’s front steps when they were surprised by an approaching large black bear.  What should you NOT do in this case? Take the time to CALL YOUR MOM!!!  Anyway, she wasn’t mauled or anything so please don’t worry, that would be an entirely different kind of holiday letter.  Since I’ve matured as a mother I’ve learned that once the screaming stops it’s still probably okay as long as you can hear running noises.   Obviously since I am unaccustomed to dealing with bear maulings it would test my ability to apply some in-home health care.   There are challenges to every system.

Abby is a sophomore in high school this year and she is glad that Emily has gone to ISU because Abby now has a car to drive.  I think she enjoys being the only child at home but since she is never home I would not know.   Abby is involved in many clubs at Linn Mar and she volunteers at the local hospital.  She enjoys girl’s track and she recently started weight lifting to train for the track season and to tone and sculpt her bony 96 lb frame.  At her age she is burning more calories than she can possibly take in; I just try to have a food handy in the fridge for her whenever she decides to appear.  I know that she still lives here because the food disappears, the laundry piles up, and the money that I keep in my purse vanishes.

As many of you know, my parents now live here in Marion and we spend a lot of time with them.  My mom fell twice this year and it was decided by her doctors that she needed to have two new knees.  If she had just taken those Wal-Mart brand vitamins for Healthy Legs we might not be in this situation, but you know how parents are: the more birthdays they have the more you can’t tell them anything.  She had her first successful knee replacement on October 18th and she is scheduled to have the second surgery on December 11th which happens to be my dad’s 82nd birthday.  They will stay here with us while she recuperates- specifically so I can dose her up with some of that Bifidus Regularis.  I’m into the whole body approach of healing in my health care program.

As he matures Mike is doing well.  He still works at Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids and he and I continue to enjoy traveling and wine as hobbies.  When we can marry those two interests we are deliriously happy, such as our France trip or a wine vacation that we took to the central coast of California in October.  We look at Will moving to Washington as a way for us to have a west coast base to explore the second largest wine producing state in the country.  Life is good!!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year!

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