Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Official Williamsfam5 Christmas Brag Letter 2010

I've been receiving a lot of family Christmas letters, you know the kind, where you get a little snapshot of each member of the clan and who they are. I feel the need to join in...

is still the dad, and husband of our family. He still loves to snowboard, but he rubs his knees a lot more than he used to when he gets home. His career in Real Estate is pretty crappy. He still works hours and hours for clients, but the deals don't close for one reason or another and that equals $0. Not fun. So he has picked up a seasonal job at the Bogus Basin ticket office and for the first time in his working life is experiencing the "perks" of being employed. Our whole family gets free passes to the mountain this year. We had an EXCELLENT day sledding on the Bogus Basin tubing hill (which I HIGHLY recommend) and we even got a free fancy dinner last night at the holiday party. His Real Estate brokerage also has a holiday party, but they charge $20 a head, so we skipped out on that one. Outside of work, he is the best dad in the world and enjoys helping Ian with his cub scout achievements and "organizing" the garage (aka shifting junk from place to place). Does anyone want a 1990s jet ski, a TINY motorcycle, or a ping pong table? And for the right price, he might even give up his recently acquired dune buggy. I love this man. He is my best friend, and although he spends most of his days trying to figure me out, I think we are well matched and he puts up with me quite well.

is 10 and AMAZING! She is one of the most pleasant, kind, intuitive and genuine people ever made. She has many friends and talents that keep her busy. She continues to play with her band at Boise Rock School and has sung, played guitar, and debuted the bass at gigs this year. She started playing the cello at school and loves to sing with the ward choir and at school. She also joined the YMCA swim team this fall and is working her way toward swimming in a meet soon. (Be aware - their big fund raiser is starting, so you may get hit up for a donation soon.) She has a wonderful group of girls at church that are in "Activity Days" together, and they have the best leaders ever that are always coming up with fun things for the group to do. And, the snowboarding season is upon us and she'll be heading up the mountain over winter break. With all of that, she keeps our whole family on the run!

is 8 and had a very exciting year. He was baptized in September and joined Cub Scouts. He passed his Bobcat rank in only a couple of days and was the first in his pack to get his Wolf. I am going to have to quit my job just to keep up with the sewing it will require to get his patches on, at this rate. Besides Scouting, he is our bookworm, mad scientist, genius boy. He reads better than anyone in our family, including his parents. He is in the highest level literacy group and is currently finishing the last book in the Harry Potter series. He skipped a grade in math this year, so although he is in the 3rd grade, he attends 4th grade math. He suffers a bit from the "mad scientist" demeanor and his teachers and parents exercise patience, while encouraging him to pay attention to getting papers in his backpack and looking up from his book to hear instructions. He loves playing with his brother and sister, and is especially fond of his friends that are in his "Spy Club". Aaron took him up the mountain last week and he is now able to ride his snowboard without assistance. By January he'll be up on the big runs with his sister and dad!

What to say about Lucas? He gets in some trouble, and is the more irresistible kid there is. He is EXTREME in everything he does. There is no mid-range for him. He is 5 and started kindergarten this year. Our school has all-day kindergarten, and sometimes that's long for a little guy. But, he is always doing his best to keep up with the pace of the rest of the family. He still laughs like a pigeon cooing and is the sneaky joker of our family. He makes us all laugh and sometimes drives us to the point of insanity. He won a coloring contest and his prize was to be able to run in the "Beat Coach Pete" race. He got to go to the Boise State football field and meet Coach Peterson. The Broncos are HUGE here in Boise, so it was pretty exciting, but I think his favorite part were the free snacks! He is following his brother's footsteps in math, as his teacher has placed him directly in the 1st grade math group, skipping the kindergarten level all together. He is learning to read, and especially loves snuggling in his bed at night and reading with his family.

I am pretty busy. I work full time, teaching Spanish at a progressive private school in downtown Boise. I teach preschool-9th graders, and it's pretty much the best job I could think of, short of not having one at all. The entire faculty is wonderful and it is great going to school with my kids everyday. Although it is a bit spendy, I would rather pay to have them there with me, than have to work without them so close. It is the best going to work with my kids in tow everyday. I am also working on my teaching certification for K-8th grades, so that is hanging over my head this year. I'll be glad when I'm finished and I can go back to simply teaching and not being the student. My family will be glad too. I'll probably be a little nicer, but no guarantees. My favorite things are hanging out with people I love, the idea of playing the guitar and singing more, planting and playing in my yard, flowers, my new camera and the memories it captures, and thinking of why my life is pretty great.

2010 was a rough year in many ways. We were optimistic it would be much better than 2009, but alas, here we are at the end and we're still treading water. I think a lot of families feel that way. This "economic downturn" seems to have morphed into a sinkhole and I'm not sure when we are getting out. HOWEVER, Aaron and I are not letting it keep our family down. We took the LONGEST road trip we have ever done last summer, and made memories that will last a lifetime with our kids. We took advantage of an otherwise difficult real-estate transaction, and got to go to Hawaii for free, while meeting up with Aaron's brother Jared and his wife Caitlin while we were there. I get three weeks off work, for Winter Break, and I intend to recall what life was like as a stay at home mom and bring some of that "homeiness" back to the Williamsfam5. In fact, just today I made Christmas cookies and forced, by threat of ground-ation, the kids to come and help me decorate them. Ah, the sweetness of being home!

I hope this has been a satisfactory update. In case you've missed my posts this year - now you're all caught up. MERRY CHRISTMAS and here's to an improving 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010



Here is your virtual Christmas card. Feel free to print it out and hang it with the rest of your cards. There just isn't anything quite as touching as a 21st century Christmas greeting.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Cards Are Ordered

I get to pick up our annual Christmas card from Costco today. (Yes, I am still shopping at Costco - despite the dead tree needle experience. See last post.) I mention that our family adventures can be followed on this blog, so I guess I will be making an effort to be a more diligent blogger. It will be pretty lame if people decide to look on the blog and don't see anything posted since Halloween.

School is out this week so I plan on blogging over the 3 week break...

I anticipate a lot of talk of snowboarding, Christmas adventures, and anticipation of goals for the new year. (My pants are screaming for a new year's resolution to get back on the treadmill.) Any ideas for topics?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Real vs. Fake

I have never in my life had a fake Christmas tree. Even while I lived in Chile, and Christmas is celebrated under the hot summer sun, I still sought out the local tree lot and bought a tree.

Since marrying Aaron in 1998, the tree has been a huge undertaking to begin the holiday season. Our first year together I had visions of a romantic, quaint holiday celebrating our first Christmas together. Instead, I saw Aaron mad for the first time. I hadn't realized that it was the first Christmas tree he had ever been "in charge of" and while doing all he could to get the tree up our blasted, crappy, plastic stand, it was more than he signed up for. That's when I heard the first swear uttered from Aaron's lips.

Often we have gone to cut our own tree in the forest. Usually, near the Williams family cabin in Smith's Ferry, ID. Those trees are tall, with branches a bit on the sparse side, and magnificent, if you have the right ceilings. Which, lucky for me, I had homes with vaulted ceilings from 1999-2007. Perfect for a fresh tree from the forest.

Then there was the tree of 2008. Remembered by me as the grand finale of the worst week ever. Since moving to our present home, we no longer enjoy the luxury of vaulted ceilings nor what I like to call "the Christmas Tree Room", so those enormous forest trees are not suited quite so well. We have gone the Costco route for the past 3 years. Unfortunately, in 2008 the tree stand we had just wasn't man enough for our tree. It fell over the first night we set it up, but luckily we hadn't decorated it yet. Later that week, while Aaron was enjoying a week away at an Arizona Suns game with his generously cool friend Nate, I was in Boise with the kids, working, with a sinus infection, in charge of the ward Christmas program, and when I came home from the doctor I found the tree on it's side AGAIN - ornaments shattered everywhere.
That's all I want to say about that year. Moving on...

2010 - I bought our tree at Costco 2 nights ago. It is a Noble Fir, but at Costco you can't see what the tree looks like when you buy it because it's still wrapped in twine. You just trust that Costco is known for good products and hope they have pre-screened all trees before allowing them on their lot.
Plus, you can't beat the price.
The kids and I chose the one with the straightest top. Had them toss it on top of the Sequoia and headed home. I picked up Pappy on the way, to help me get it off the top. (This is what happens now that Aaron is working at the Bogus Basin ticket office full time. I have to bug my dad a lot more often.)
This morning Aaron and I hauled it in and stood it up in the stand.
(Note - NOT the same stand as 1998 or 2008.)
It looked like the letter C, or a bow without the line and arrow. "Hmmmm. This better straighten out when I take the twine off."
After letting the snow melt off and dry out a bit I removed the twine to find a WHOLE FOREST'S WORTH of PINE NEEDLES! I don't even know where they came from. They were just tucked in the branches - brown and dead. Keep in mind this is a LIVE tree that is green and recently cut. It must have lived below a dead tree that had been shedding it's needles below for ages. NOT FUN! I ended up vacuuming, sweeping and vacuuming again and again for TWO HOURS. Yes, you read right - I had to vacuum my Christmas tree. All this before I even hang the lights.I filled an entire tall kitchen bag full of dead pine needles and went through 3 hand held vacuum bags.

While watching Aaron and I stand up the tree this morning I asked the kids if they know the meaning of the Christmas tree and what it symbolizes.
Boys repied, "No."
Brooklyn sweetly states, "Eternal life. But wouldn't a fake tree be a better symbol because it will last forever and this tree will die? In fact, now that it's cut, it's already dead."

So I've now invested approximately 4 hours into this dead tree, and it's not even decorated. Should I watch the day after Christmas sales for a fake tree for next year?