Thursday, December 24, 2015

Holiday Letter 2015

We've made it through another year with its own collection of successes and setbacks. Likely the greatest success is that the kids are planning a trip to Legoland, apparently entirely on their own, as we know none of the details. We can only assume they're taking care of arranging time off from work, making all the reservations, and, of course, picking up the tab.  They may not have figured out arranging childcare while we're down there so the adults can have an evening out by themselves, but we can probably forgive them that one.

The past year's weather anomaly seems to have passed, with mixed results. Walker's car and bike saw almost the same mileage over the course of the year, but we didn't get in a single day of skiing. The coming year looks to be significantly different, with great early skiing conditions and Walker's bike flaking out once already due to heavy rain. So much for avoiding strenuous exercise within twelve hours after donating blood. Spoiler: nothing bad happened other than Shannon having to deal with bedtime for both kids and Walker's shoes not drying for twelve or more hours.

This year's vacation trip was to visit Walker's mom in her new home in Trapper Creek, Alaska. We had a lot of fun with the canoes at the cabin where we stayed and seeing the beautiful countryside. We had vague hopes of seeing the aurora borealis, but there just wasn't enough darkness in May to even try. We also walked up to a glacier and took a day cruise to see another one (plus lots of local wildlife).

Moira's interests are focused on dancing and the tablet she bought herself with her allowance. She's picked up a bhangra dance class with one of the children who lives across the street as well as a class with Pacific Northwest Ballet, which she isn't as sure about. Both Moira and Davis have been playing with the kids across the street a fair bit this year, after a couple years of us talking with their parents about getting them to play together. During the summer, this even went as far as all the children playing together in someone else's yard. Hopefully lessons on property law, personal injury liability, etc., are a ways off, but in the meantime, all the parents enjoy the respite.

One thing Moira hasn't been focusing on is her teeth. Honestly, we're exasperated, and are refusing to get her any more until she stops losing them. Despite the timing, she still refuses to sing Nain's favorite Christmas song.

Meanwhile, Davis seems settled on Batman, dinosaurs, and being a shark at memory games. We may have to start making him change into his shark costume before playing so that people who don't live here know what to expect. He's also an aficionado of scary things, like monsters, Godzilla, King Kong, and H.P. Lovecraft stories adapted for children. Moira is still traumatized from half listening to part of Shadow over Innsmouth, while Davis felt the book was okay, but not really scary. We have found his limits, though. Spoiler: There's a scary clown in the movie Inside Out.

This year has been a rough one for Stewie. He transitioned quickly from a middle-aged dog to an old dog with more medications to take and a diaper to wear around the house. After a rough stretch, he's started to bark at Walker's sneezing again, so we're cautiously optimistic for now. Stewie does seem appropriately sheepish about the diaper situation, but this comes with a modest inctraditional defense against hippiesrease in food. We can't really ask him which alternative he'd prefer, but we think we've chosen correctly.

Shannon continues to costume with a group of friends for Norwescon, and there's anecdotal evidence that they are at least local convention famous. When her sister described Shannon's activities to a co-worker, that co-worker said, "oh, like the Skittles?" This is in addition to home schooling for the kids. The monthly cultural parties continue, along with lots of reading, art activities, and some simple engineering projects. Moira is progressing well with reading on her own, and Davis can read some simple words.

After the garage and yard project, this year was supposed to be a break from such disruptions, so we replaced the hardwood on the main floor of the house, which had us out of the house for the month of October and there are still boxes in the garage that should come back in and be unpacked. We spent that month in Belltown thanks to a very generous offer from a friend's parents letting us use their condo. It was difficult to get the kids to leave the house for the first week due to all the new toys and the amazing scenic view. We got nightly updates on the Seattle Eye light displays, and everyone enjoyed the easy access to downtown activities. As fun as that was, it was better to return home and get things back to normal.

In addition to the floors, we also had solar panels installed on the roof of the garage, which was much less disruptive. The install was done by Artisan Electric, which means we're humanely harvesting bespoke free-range photons and sustainably converting them to an organic electromotive force used, among other things, to power our electric car. We'll need to figure out if there's an update to the traditional defense against hippies.

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