Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Warning: The Boss asked me to tell you that if you are on our annual Christmas letter mailing list and you want to wait for its arrival (it is coming…probably after the first of the year), don’t read this. For the rest of you,

Merry Christmas from Bedlam!

Nothing says “welcome to the new year” like hanging sheetrock! That is exactly how we celebrated the first day of 2010. That pesky room in the basement, the one underneath the kitchen, the room that has been a storage room, a classroom, and a swimming pool, was completed again early this year and turned into a playroom for the kids. We also accidentally remodeled the basement bathroom. It was one of those projects that began with a simple “Hey, let’s…” A few days later the room was gutted to the studs, in part due to Arby’s inability to hold on to heavy metal tools. Wow, porcelain toilets shatter easily! When The Boss said, “Let’s move the sink to another wall,” the project became slightly more complicated. Now it’s one of the nicest rooms in the house. If it were a bit larger, we’d probably spend time in there as a family.

We gained a second dog this year when Reggie, a three-year-old black lab/plecostomus mix, came to live with us. She was a part time resident until her owners decided that she was better suited for life in our house than theirs. They worked all day, which allowed Reggie to roam their house and eat things, like expensive leather biker jackets. Reggie is a great addition to the family. She came with a leash, a bowl, some toys, a ten gallon aquarium, and a homicidal plecostomus named "Jack the Flipper." Jack kills any other fish placed in the same tank.

In March, we increased the size of our flock. Unfortunately, one of our young pullets fell victim to Susie-the-Chicken-Killer, a friendly neighborhood dog that escaped from her owner at precisely the same moment Tetrazzini jumped our fence. Susie said, “Oh, look! A squeaky toy!” and the bird said…well, the bird said nothing because chickens can’t talk. A couple of quick squeezes and the squeaker was broken. Susie’s owner was very concerned about the welfare of our bird. She returned to our house with a copy of Susie’s vet record to show us that the dog was properly vaccinated. We needn’t worry about our fowl contracting rabies. Arby assured her that rabies were the least of our chicken’s concerns, and asked instead for a packet of instant gravy.

Eight-year-old Major Havoc finished the second grade in December. His homeschool year follows the calendar from January to January. He recently announced that he wants to be a stay-at-home dad when he grows up. “My wife can earn the money,” he wrote on an assignment. “I’m going to raise my children and cook dinner.” If it were only that easy! Major Havoc is a Bear Scout, wears a Karate purple belt, and reads voraciously. After becoming captivated by the History Channel series Top Shot, Major Havoc started archery this fall. The series was a shooting competition where contestants fired a variety of weapons, both modern and old. William Tell originally desired to try his hand with a shoulder mounted surface-to-air missile, but we convinced him to downsize. He won a trophy in November. During one particularly frightening period this year he attempted to eat as much food as his older brother. He nearly succeeded, but that effort stopped when his growth spurt ended. We briefly considered buying the second half of our cow. The first half is already in the deep freeze. The second half is leaning against some famer’s fence.

General Mayhem now wears men’s sized clothing and spends his day grazing through the contents of the refrigerator. Successfully completing five algebra problems appears to burn enough energy to demand a four course meal. He turned 14 last month and is in the eighth grade. General Mayhem earned his Karate brown belt in December. The only color left is black. He still enjoys Boy Scouts. Currently, General Mayhem is a Star Scout. He should be a Life Scout early in 2011 and begin the final steps towards Eagle Scout. General Mayhem learned to Scuba dive last summer while participating in his fourth space camp at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center. He loves it! We’re proud of him. He’s becoming a fine young man.

At six, Captain Chaos continues to hold the world in the palm of her hand. She will tell anyone who is interested in listening, and quite a few people who are not, that she is a white belt in karate. “My name is Captain Chaos,” she tells strangers. “What’s your name?” This is an improvement over two years ago, when she looked at a bald guy in Target and yelled, “Hey mister, nice head!” Our girl received a positive heart check-up earlier this year. She’s not due back to her cardiologist until March. You’ve never seen anyone work a room until you’ve watched Captain Chaos meet new people and immediately identify her marks. At a birthday party in June she managed to spend 20 minutes in the lap of one of The Boss’s coworkers, snuggling up with a soft-hearted grandpa before convincing the hostess of the party to allow her to take a nap, complete with pillow and blanket, on the living room couch. Captain Chaos spent five minutes crouched down with her sensei at the end of class a few weeks back, discussing a karate homework assignment. She emerged from that conversation wearing a medal on a ribbon around her neck and holding her teacher’s heart in her back pocket. The Boss is convinced that our girl will marry rich.

The Boss is in her 11th year working for the Army at Fort Leavenworth. She is taking more job related trips, mostly to the east coast. The Boss enjoys the escape from the chaos she finds at home, like the day before Thanksgiving, when she awoke to find that our living room looked like a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie. She found the Big Fuzzy Dog sitting next to the kitchen door, wagging his tail. His head had exploded. We called the vet only to discover that they did not have any open appointments. Honestly, who schedules a veterinarian appointment the day before thanksgiving? Turkeys? Luckily, they fit him in and sewed his head back together. A clogged hair follicle has swelled to the point of bursting. BFD had scratched until he tapped a vein. You can see why she enjoys her paid get-aways.

Arby is well. He lost thirty-five pounds in 2009. Someone must have been praying to St. Anthony on his behalf, because he found them this year, and he wasn’t even looking. He’s losing weight again, and hoping to forget where he put it. In his limited spare time he enjoys shampooing the carpet and removing blood stains from the furniture.

So, we’re hanging fresh sheet rock in that pesky room in the basement, underneath the kitchen. Remember the room that has been a storage room, a classroom, a swimming pool, and a playroom for the kids? After five years of living in this house we decided to stay for awhile. We hired a contractor to cut a Hagrid-sized hole in our foundation and install an emergency egress window. That room is being converted into a bedroom for General Mayhem. We’ll move Major Havoc into General Mayhem’s old room and keep Captain Chaos in her current bedroom. This change might allow Mischief and Trouble to fall asleep at a reasonable time each night rather than staying up late for the behind-closed-door hi-jinks that highlight their normal bedtime.

I am grateful for each and every one of you who takes the time each day to visit this blog, spend a few moments reading, and has a laugh.   It's fun because of you.  I hope we can enjoy some more fun throughout the coming year.  May the peace and blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ visit you now and throughout the New Year.  Merry Christmas from Bedlam!


S.K. said...

Hehehe. I have to come back and finish this later, but I wanted to comment while at a real computer. Merry Christmas!

The_Kid said...

You and your family have a great Christmas, a great 2011, and a spectacular 2013!

Brownie said...

Loved the Christmas letter.

Merry Christmas to you!

Linda said...

It seems strange to consider someone you've never met a good friend, but you fit into that category. I hope someday to be able to meet you and Melissa in person!! God bless...and have a VERY merry Christmas!

Now, on to "It's a Wonderful Life"....

Marlis said...

Arby, to you, your amazing wife and your ever entertaining troop of kids, the Merriest of Christmases ever. May the tree stay upright and escaped pigs stay far from your yard.


Marlis and Crew.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I came back today! Thank you, Arby! Congratulations on your family's successes and blessings! Merry Christmas! Barbara

Kathleen said...

Loved your letter...even though we have seen many of these scenes up close and in more detail, it is fun to hear a condensed version of the year!

Merry Christmas to you and all the rest of you in Bedlam!!

Some Guy said...

Merry Christmas to you too!

Subvet said...

Merry Christmas, sounds like a busy year. Maybe next year you'll get some rest (yeah, right!)

ComfyDenim said...

And Merry Christmas to you, too. ^_^ What a fun letter.

jugglingpaynes said...

LOL! I'm so glad I waited until I had time to leisurely read through your letter. It's a good one! I'm so thankful to know such good humored people like you. Thank you for the laughs this year, I look forward to lots more in the new year!

Peace and Laughter!

tsinclair said...

Merry Christmas! We can only wonder what the new year will bring. :-)