Monday, December 15, 2008

Merry Christmas 2008

We find it is easiest to use the kitchen calendar to help us write this letter, and as we flip through the months we have realised that one half of the family dominates the calendar (Cub Scout activities, birthday parties for friends, swim practice and meets, basketball games, etc.) We also find the occasional cryptic note: "dumplings, 11:00." Apparently back in February someone had a date with something delicious.
All we know is the dumpling meeting ushered in a visit from Gramma and Papa Butler in March. We were lucky enough to have them here over Easter weekend and even squeezed in a quick camping trip to Lake Somerville! (The boys camped; Gramma and Rebecca went to the movies and slept in). In May the boys participated for the first time on a nearby neighborhood swim team, The Windsong Wavebreakers. Ian distinguished himself as "a natural" on backstroke (according to Coach Jim), and Quinn swept the 5 year-old heats in free style and back stroke. They also took part in the "Swim Across" Red Cross fundraiser, swimming nonstop for dozens of laps and passing out on a pool chair afterward.
In June we took a weekend trip to Port Aransas with our friends the Phillips family. On our first day at the beach, despite many applications of sunscreen, we all got very sunburned and spent the remaining time having fun indoors and not touching each other's backs at all. In July our dreams came true...some of our family moved to Texas! Mindy and Don had considered Hawaii, but after seeing the Killeen Wal-mart, they somehow engineered a move to Texas. They are only 3 hours away and we're finding all sort of excuses to get together.
With the majority of the grandkids in one state, we lured the rest of the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents here for a family reunion in Austin. We had a great time at Sea World, except for the Shamu show. Our boys hated it. Yes, we were sitting on the front row. Yes, it smelled like a Port-a-Potty. And yes, the emcees were obnoxious. So I guess we can't blame them.
In July Evan also took a personal "vacation" (work trip) to Michigan and got to see his family and escape the heat.
In August, Quinn (age 6) started kindergarten. He liked his first few days (especially the bus) but was horrified to find out that school is every weekday, all day. For 9 months. (We haven't told him about middle school, high school, and college). He is very quiet and obedient at school, leading us to believe that there is Valium in those little cartons of milk in the cafeteria. He loves to draw and practice writing. He is also a very competent chef. His signature dish is salad, which he makes all by himself. He is also reading now; Dr. Seuss is in heavy rotation and also a book about pregnancy (?).
Ian (age 9) is in 3rd grade, effortlessly making straight As. He likes to read and ride his scooter and is very, very interested in something called Bakugan. If you ask him about it, he will refer you to this website. Suffice it to say that there are cards and collectibles involved (ala Pokeman), not to mention a great deal of allowance and birthday money.
In September Hurricane Ike came to call. Our house is fortunately situated right in the middle of lots of other (very similar) houses; the only damage it sustained was a few cracked fence slats. We were without power for about a day, but figured it was worth a trip to Harker Heights to see Mindy and Don for a few days. It was a surreal experience to drive back into a very dark city with so many damaged roofs, fences, and signs. We didn't even realize the extent to which Galveston was damaged until our power came back on and we saw footage of the area. We realize how blessed we were and our hearts go out to those still dealing with the aftermath of Ike.
Although this has been a tough year for our city and for many people, we are full of hope for the coming year and wish you a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Love, Evan, Rebecca, Ian and Quinn