Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas 1995

As I finished up this year's Christmas letter, I stumbled on to some letters from years past. I thought it might be fun to reminisce with a glimpse into our 1995.

"December 21, 1995

Dear Family and Friends,

After having sat through 8th grade girls basketball games, soccer, and volleyball, a graduation, a fortieth birthday, college classes, a death in the family, and dropping off a daughter at college, we hope we are getting better, not just older. We feel very grateful for the blessings of health and family that we have had this year. We also feel optimistic and hopeful about the year to come.

Our year began with a multitude of volleyball games. Maren played varsity and Julie played J.V. One game we will never forget is the match between Helena and Butte. A terrific upset occurred when Helena beat Butte for the first time in 10 years. Maren's spiking was a major factor in that game and throughout the season. We again realized the joys of living in a town that is not too large when KTVH television featured Maren on the sports wrap up on the 10:00 news several times during the season. Western Montana College asked Maren to play volleyball for them, but Maren had already been accepted at BYU. Not even an offer to play volleyball could change her mind. After attending a semester, Maren is convinced she made the right decision.

As well as volleyball, Julie continued to pursue her interest in music this year. She participated in district music festival by playing the piano and a flute solo. During the summer, Julie had a fabulous time attending music camp at BYU. Because the band was short of oboes, Julie decided to switch from flute to the oboe. In March, she is going to Disney World with the Band. Preston, being a self-sacrificing kind of guy, offered to chaperone.

Although we are not all musicians of Julie's caliber, one of the most fun times we had this year was the family band we put together on Thanksgiving. Lisa and Kristy borrowed the band teacher's complete music score. Ione (Preston's Mom) played the piano, Julie-oboe, Kristy-clarinet, Lisa-saxophone, Becky-flute. Preston said we improved significantly from the Thanksgiving before. Regardless, we had a howling good time - well, at least the dog did....

....Julie's band played for Maren's graduation in June....Becky's Mom was to ill to attend the graduation because she was dying of cancer....

...Our family experienced some outdoor adventures this year. On Memorial Day we hiked to Heart Lake in the Scape Goat Wilderness. Glacier Lilies and Fairy Slippers were popping out everywhere....

Another outdoor experience transpired on Labor Day when we tried riding the ridge with our bikes. We struggled up a steep hill with our bikes only to find that some of the slopes were so steep and full of loose rock that we had to struggle downhill with our bikes too....

.....Becky's Dad became ill in the fall...Since he was so weak, he had to move in with us.....

....Since I haven't mentioned Evan in this letter, I had better tell you that he is in fourth grade this year. A month ago, he wrote an excellent report on the Black Mamba, which is considered by some to be the world's most dangerous snake. He insisted on going to the public library since the school library didn't have much information on Black Mambas. When his teacher informed him that the information he had was enough, he refused to write his report until he had answers to all his questions. Evan said, 'But I really want to know!' I sincerely hope this does not mean he is a budding herpetologist.

Kristy surprised us all this year with her flair for writing, not reports, but stories. She entered her story in the P.T.A. sponsored 'Reflections' competition where she placed first. The story went on to the State competition where it won another award. On her second award, one of the judges wrote, 'Keep writing, Kristy!'

Lisa was also full of surprises in track competition this year. She placed first and second in many 100 and 200 meter events. She did very well in the huge city wide track meet with a second place in the 100 and 200. As parents we are realizing how limited our prophetic abilities are. The kids we thought would be primarily musicians turn out to athletes; the kids we thought were primarily athletes turn out to be musicians; and talents we never suspected crop up when we least expect it. Hopefully, our kids have learned not to take us too seriously and try to do everything that interests them!

.....We hope the coming year is happy and prosperous and wish all of you a Merry Christmas."

I'll never be a rocket scientist. I've never had a lot of prestige or a ton of money. I'll probably never have people come up to me in church and want to talk to me because I am so important or such a great leader. But I sure have a great life with great people in it. I wouldn't trade money, prestige, or importance for my life or my family.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Dog Training

There is never a dull moment with Harvey around. Last Friday, I went upstairs to start dinner and found that the two chicken breasts I had thawing out on the counter had mysteriously disappeared. My expensive rain jacket has a two foot tear down the back. My snowshoe poles are missing half their baskets. Right now I am staring at the remnants of a fabric marking pen I purchased to mark my quilt.

Harvey particularly enjoys teasing. Whenever I am out walking or hiking, he gets immense enjoyment out of swiping my hat or glove and running off with it. I usually say something like, “Give that back, you snot!” Well, today I stopped for a minute and unthinkingly put down my favorite winter hat. (My other hat is missing half of its ornamental braid, thanks Harvey). Harvey grabbed my hat and was off. I quietly said to him, “Please give me my hat back. I really need it, and it’s my favorite hat.” Harvey dropped the hat about two feet to the side of my boot. I thought, “I know this game. I’ll reach for it. Before I can grab it, Harvey will snatch it and run.” So I didn’t touch the hat. In a few seconds, Harvey picked up the hat and dropped it on top of my boot. I thanked him and told him how good he was. Maybe I’m getting better at dog communication.