2103 Letter

                                                                                                                             December 2013
Greetings One and All -

I hope that this letters finds everyone in good health and high spirits.

This year I’ve decided to try something a little bit different.  I’ve asked the kids to give me their thoughts on the past year.  I originally asked them to write their own section, but this didn’t quite work out the way it played out in my mind.  Nonetheless, once they started giving me ideas it was hard to turn the fountain off.  So most of what you are about to read is a re-write of what the kids dictated to me.

We had a pretty busy and productive year.  We once again added to our family.  In late spring we fulfilled a long time aspiration of Christy’s and became chicken farmers.  It might seem like a bit of an overstatement, but we like to consider it farming; there is daily maintenance and care of the animals, it requires their own building / yard space and provides a crop.  We had to do some  construction and yard renovation in preparation which was made dramatically easier thanks to a gift of a coop kit from my grandma.  We created the space next to our greenhouse under the shade of some neighboring trees and built a nice fenced area to keep them safe.  We have a couple of different varieties yielding mostly brown eggs and one green egg.  Given our current trajectory I cannot say what I’ll be writing about next year, a pig or a cow maybe.  I think I need a tractor.  Jade is a real animal lover and has a bit of a horse whisper effect on the birds.  At one point she was able to get them to roost on her head.  Not many others were really willing to even try.

Jade’s been active all year.  She once again played T-Ball, this year graduating to coach pitch.  This is a combination of coach pitched baseball and in the second half of the season player pitched.  She got the opportunity to play many positions but her favorites were shortstop (like her big sister), catcher and pitcher.  She surprised us with how well she did pitching - having a natural motion.  We only had to work with her a couple of nights in the backyard and she was ready.  She got a couple of strikeouts and ground ball outs.  The highlight being the inning where she made all three outs herself.  In the spring she took a gymnastics class that was highlighted by her finally achieving the “pull over”, a move that requires her to pull herself over the uneven bars feet first.  She also mastered the rope climb (which as a parent was not fun to watch, it is very far off the floor).  She is currently taking ballet and tap and is really enjoying learning how to dance.  I must admit that the at-home tap practice isn’t my favorite, my ears can only take so much.

She is also having a good time learning Spanish, geography (especially learning about the Iditarod), going to the library, swimming, playing with barbies and tending to her new Betta fish, Rashina.

Finn was the ultimate hard swinging power hitter this year.  He didn’t always make contact, but when he did it was often for extra bases.  He liked playing second base except when the sun was in his eyes and doing the base races at the end of games.  Right now his favorite things are Spanish, math and learning to read.  His reading of Green and Eggs and Ham is fantastic and gets better everytime.  He’ll often add in some additional commentary that makes each reading unique, keeping the reader interested and laughing.  For him the best reading material is Spiderman and Superman comics.  He cannot get enough.  Luckily the library has a pretty solid selection.  He really liked learning about D.B. Cooper and getting the chance to go the special exhibit at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma.  He keeps others in the family busy with his insatiable appetite for games: specifically Carcassonne, Monopoly (whew...that’s a long game), chess, checkers, and card games like gin, golf and war.  He likes to stay active riding his bike, swimming at the lake, throwing the ball to Memphis (especially when camping), playing with his pal, Zarin, doing Legos and attending ECOS (Environmental Connections Outdoor School).

Ainsley has been very busy this year.  In March she was in the musical Oliver! at the Capital Playhouse.  She played an orphan and the pickpocket named Charlie Bates.  Unlike the productions she normally does in the summer, this was a “normal” production that also included adult actors.  This summer she played a Puerto Rican gang member in West Side Story. She enjoyed camping at Lake Wenatchee and swimming at the pool at the Wenatchee hotel.  In early January she will be getting braces on for the second time, this time being for about a year.  This summer she found the best volunteering position possible:  at the library.  She was able to get second volunteer stint this fall and is really enjoying being part of the staff.   She loved attending Les Misérables at the Village Theater in Issaquah.  Thanks to Pandora she and her siblings are very well versed in all the songs.  The production was great and proved just how special live theater can be.

As you can guess by reading about the three kids’ year, Christy has been mighty busy.  I am so proud of her not just with the homeschooling but as a parent in general.  She is everything I would want my kids to have in a parent/teacher/mentor.  She finds creative and engaging ways to teach the kids things and focuses on keeping them involved in the process.  Just talk to the kids about the Iditarod and you’ll see what I mean.  We, along with another family, have a Spanish instructor come to the house an hour each week.  He’s great and all three kids (plus Christy) are getting a lot out of that.  I don’t know how she does it all:  between the chauffeuring, cheffing, cleaning, food shopping and budget tetrising, teaching, chicken farming, gardening.  She handles it all with grace and patience.  

In February I made my first career change in seven years, I left the State and joined the real world again taking a Database Developer job at Oracle.  What a difference.  While I would never claim to have fully acclimated to working at the State, I can say that I forgot what it was like to work in the private sector.  Obviously I haven’t worked with everyone at the company, but of those that I have worked with are impressive.  They all work hard, care about their work, are very helpful and respect everyones’ time.  In seven years at the State I attended zero meetings that started on time.  Now, you’re late if you get there on the hour.  The team I am on is pretty small, only eight people including myself and my manager.  We support the entire North and Latin American financial groups.  As of two weeks ago we are moving to support on a more global role which should be fun.  It has been a pretty big learning experience.  I still have a long way to go, but it has provided me with something I’ve never really had at a job; confidence that I can contribute and make an impact.  I work from home and am still adjusting to that - I find that having the work in front of me all the time makes it difficult to “turn off”.  I’ll eventually find that balance and hope that it is at least seven more years before I make any more changes.

Love,  Tony, Christy, Ainsley, Finn & Jade