Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Year of the Coon Hound

The 2009 Christmas Letter
The 2010 New Year's Letter:
The Year of the Coon Hound

One week after Arby spent the weekend camping with General Mayhem’s Boy Scout troop early in December, in a foot of snow with temperatures well below zero, he developed a poison ivy rash on his forehead. If there is a poison ivy plant within a mile of Arby, he develops a rash. If there is a spot on the human body for a poison ivy rash, Arby’s had it. Do you have any idea how hard it is to scratch your duodenum? Poison ivy in a December snow storm…that about sums up 2009, a year that will always be known as the year of the coon hound.

2009 began innocently enough with Major Havoc and The Boss starting Karate classes alongside General Mayhem. General Mayhem, in his sixth year of studies, is a red belt studying for his brown belt test in March. Once he achieves that he will begin his black belt studies. Major Havoc asked Mom to take him to classes after she returned from Iraq last December, an event for which we are all grateful. Together, they have achieved the rank of blue belt. The Boss’s lethal blue belt hands have yet to be put to the test. We wish we could say the same thing about Major Havoc.

A somewhat quirky child, Major Havoc’s imagination doesn’t always allow him to mentally remain in the same world as his physical body. So when his kindergarten teacher gently grabbed his wrist in an effort to get his attention refocused during a class lesson last April, Major Havoc executed a near perfect escape maneuver for getting away from Stranger Danger. Escaping from Stranger Danger is one of the focuses of his Karate studies. Major Havoc’s execution was near perfect because while he did escape the grasp of the evil Miss Wormwood in a manner taught by his sensei, once he was free he added a Karate chop to his teacher’s neck for extra credit, a trick his sensei definitely did not teach him. “You’ve been stranger-dangered,” Arby laughed, when Miss Wormwood explained what had happened after school that day. This elementary assault brought to a close Major Havoc’s short and tumultuous trip through the public school system. He returned to homeschooling and appears to be much happier for it.

General Mayhem spent four months in our local middle school at the end of his sixth grade year. For a variety of reasons, we needed an academic change after four and a half years of learning at home. General Mayhem seemed to enjoy himself and his classmates. He even caught the attention of a cute, blond haired and slightly jug-eared young lady who made it clear that she enjoyed his company. Unfortunately for the blond, she wasn’t fluent in Star Wars, dodge ball, and the latest video games, so she failed to capture his attention. Academically General Mayhem did well, but he never adjusted to getting up before nine a.m. In a desire to resume math in his jammies, he requested a return to homeschooling half way through summer vacation. So, we went from homeschooling two to having all three children in public school and back to homeschooling two in one short year.


Captain Chaos spent last year and is spending all of this year in the same pre-school class where she receives speech and occupational therapies. Last April she had her second angiogram, a procedure that still gives mom and dad a severe case of the willies. Let’s face it; her first angiogram didn’t turn out all that hot. This year was different. Mom and dad were nervous, but Tater sailed through the procedure. It produced fantastic results. We learned that while Captain Chaos still needs a second surgery to address her cardiac needs, she will not need it for several years. We thought she would need it last summer.

Shortly after our family’s January vacation trip to Florida but before the medical testing and juvenile assault charges, we stopped at the local animal shelter during a moment of sheer stupidity weakness and fell in love with a cute, little, energetic, three month old coon hound pup who appeared completely sane and eager to be a part of our family. Appearances can be deceiving. This dog was anything but sane. Yes, we successfully trained her to stop chasing the chickens in the backyard. That ended our need for the avian defibrillator that we had installed in the hen house. Those paddles are mighty small!

The coon hound rarely remained in our yard. Since she could clear a four foot chain link fence by two feet from a seated position, she spent four or five minutes each day in our back yard out of simple courtesy. That dog spent so much time in front of our house that not only were neighbors knocking on our door to return the errant chicken or two who enjoyed the occasional foray to greener pastures and chubbier worms under our maple tree, but they frequently stopped by to inform us of the current speed and direction of the coon hound. She outgrew eating the legs of our kitchen table, Captain Chaos’s foot orthotics (if there was ever a justifiable reason for poochacide, that was it!) and the odd assortment of children’s toys, but we never could get that dog to relax and enjoy something as simple as scratching her ears without her getting worked up like a hummingbird on speed. She had absolutely no appreciation for personal space, so there was no place in the house that we could sit without finding a wet coon hound nose in our faces. How she got the bathroom door opened is still a mystery. She lived with us from January through October, but we ultimately gave the beast to a local farmer who needed an outdoor dog to chase off the critters raiding his feed shed. We were telling the truth when we told the children that the dog went to live on a farm.

The end of the year finds us as busy as ever. Major Havoc and General Mayhem continue their home studies, scouting, and karate. General Mayhem enjoys our church’s youth group. Captain Chaos looks forward to preschool four days each week. The Boss is learning a new position after getting a promotion last summer. She just celebrated her tenth anniversary with TRAC at Fort Leavenworth. Arby is desperately clinging to whatever remains of his sanity as he pretends to be in charge of this mess. He volunteered to be the cub master for Major Havoc’s Cub Scout Troop after the current cub master steps down in March, when his son crosses over from Webelos to Boy Scouts. Dad just didn’t have enough to do.

As we look forward to a busy and fun 2010, we hope that you have had a happy and blessed holiday season. May your blessings continue in the New Year!


Oklahoma Granny said...

In 2009 I discovered interesting people around the country who share their daily lives, thoughts, dreams, passions, etc through the blog world. Sometimes challenging, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tugging at your heart, sometimes humorous, the blogs I read have brought me many blessings. Boarding in Bedlam is one of my very favorites.

Michelle said...

I have to concur with OK Granny. I always look forward to you to cover sensitive material with grace or make light of your day with your witt. God bless you and your family this coming year!! I look forward to reading more of your posts!

therextras said...

ditto them two.


brownie said...

oh you know, me too! I love reading your blogs.

This year I should make a resolution to improve, or at least be more consistent, in my blogging. I aspire to inspire in my blog! One can dream?

Kathleen said...

You win the award for the most interesting Christmas or New Year's or Whatever letter I've read this year!

And how on earth do you get poison ivy in DECEMBER? Isn't it a dormant plant at that point??

CrossView said...

Ok, I commented. I know I did. And it's not showing. So did I leave a comment to this post on another blog where it will make even less than my usual (non)sense?

Short version: If I do a leter it may just read:
We survived.

CrossView said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teacher Mommy said...

Good review of the year. I think I'll spare my readers one of mine. Yours is funnier, anyhow.

TobyBo said...

DH is not a blogger. He is not very interested in blogs. However, he is laughing his head off over the "stranger danger" story.

Linda said...

You and my husband. If poison ivy is anywhere near (any time of year, Kathleen) he get welts that require steroids.
I am thankful for all the obstaclles you overcame this year. Happy and blessed new year.