Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Holiday Letter Post

Hello New Readers (joining us from Holiday Card Referral Land)! And also; Hello Faithful Readers (my Loyal Internet Lovelies)!

Now is the part where I recap the year with pithy (yeah, right) commentary and glowing reviews of the family's many stunning accomplishments (i.e. Ribh Wallis speaks! Gabe is in college! Quin won Darling Southern Belle of the Year! and so on). So, get a stiff drink (or a big glass of water for you healthy types) and enjoy: The Flannery Year in Review.

For once I'm not going to blather on about how we've moved/are moving/are settling in. We live in Georgia. We know it. You know it. Okay. Moving on.

The kids are HUGE. Not compared with other kids or anything. (In fact, they definitely take after the Maurer side and tend to be diminutive in comparison to the general population, but they make up for it with their enormous brains!) The are HUGE in comparison to the last time you likely saw them, (whenever that was) because they are kids and they grow, like, ALL THE TIME. Duh.


Gabe is in second grade and recently moved into his own "Private Boyland" bedroom in the basement, far, far from the rest of us, which seems to suit him just fine. He freaks me out in his bigness when he goes on the internet and downloads episodes of "I, Carly" (horrible pre-teen Nickelodeon crap) by himself, and then watches it. Ugh.

Happily, Gabe also checks out Monster Joke books from the school library and obsesses over Star Wars and graphic novels. So, his future "Cool Nerd-dom" is secured (says his mother, herself a cool nerd). He loves to read, play video games, play in complicated imaginary worlds in the backyard, go to Boy Scouts, talk about taking a TaeKwonDo class someday (I know, I gotta get on that), and he generally acts like a seven-year-old wonder boy.

Quinlan is in pre-K, which means she goes to school every day, but not at the elementary school with Gabe. Her program is attached to an independent childcare center, which means no buses and an extra stop for daily pick up and drop off. Fun. She seems to be really enjoying the social aspect of school and especially enjoys the daily art projects. And nap time. And snack time (because they give her junk she seldom gets at home).

Quin took ballet classes this spring, which in theory (she says) she enjoyed a lot. In actuality, she cried most days while being pushed into the classroom and then when she finally decided to participate tended to lag about and show extreme confusion regarding the notion of synchronized activity put to music (aka: dance). She did however get to wear pretty costumes and ballet shoes, which was a big hit. I'm considering trying again this spring. Maybe. I'm also considering swimming lessons, which seem far more practical given the logistical torture of three kids and after school commitments.

Quin loves all things girly. She loves clothes, shoes, hair, hairstyling, lip gloss, toe nail polish, dresses, ribbons, shopping and coloring pictures of princesses, fairies and kittens. It doesn't get any girlier than that folks! She is also a tremendous helper who loves to help me clean and cook and boss around her siblings. She is very loving and patient with her sister most of the time and a lot of fun to have a spa day with.

Ribh Wallis. I barely know where to start with her. I've said it before and I'll say it again, because it bears repeating: That girl is made out of stubbornness. Every molecule of her three-year-old body is innately attuned to the frequency of "having her own way." At all times. She breaks all norms of parenting tactics and strategies that we have painstakingly learned over the past seven years. We thought things might get easier when she learned to speak. Not so much. Now she can more clearly refuse to cooperate in something she would actually enjoy simply because it wasn't her idea in the first place. It's like that.

Surprisingly, she generally plays well with her siblings. This is because somehow she is (marginally) okay with them bossing her around (to a point), because she gets the value of being part of all the super cool stuff they are creating and doing. She is funny and silly and loving and loves to sing and color.

I have high hopes for her. For example, she helped me snap asparagus the other night for dinner and was quite cheerful and cooperative (it was her idea to help, after all). Once we/she figures out how to harness her strength of conviction, she will be a powerful creature indeed. And she's cute as hell to boot, of course.

Brian is enjoying his new position(s) at Life (Coordinator of Clinic Marketing and Patient Education/Lead Instructor for the Second Year Business Program) and has been doing some guest speaking this year to rave reviews. He won an award while speaking at the Sherman Homecoming/Lyceum. He also gets rave reviews from the students taking his class at the College. He has really found his voice in the public speaking arena and is enjoying spreading his wings a bit.

We co-presented a paper on natural birth (Innate Birthing) at the ICA Philosophy Council in Vegas just last week and enjoyed working together again. (We also went to the rodeo finals, drank often and had some amazing dining experiences while other people kept our children alive for four whole days! Huzzah!)

Brian ran quite a bit this spring (ING Atlanta Marathon) and volunteered as a medic for the Western States Endurance Run in Tahoe in June, but has been sidelined by some chronic overuse issues (shocking, no?) and currently gets his adrenaline fix off watching the Packers. It will be interesting to see what he does in February when football is over. He doesn't typically go long without a sporting obsession.

I continue in the Director of Recruitment position at Life and with that continue to travel quite a bit. This year I was in: Orlando (four times I think!), Tampa, Miami, Dallas, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Buffalo, Vegas (twice), and I'm sure a few more that I am forgetting. Attached to each of those trips imagine three or more days when Brian is home alone with the children. Yes, he is a saint. I already have slated for January and February 2008; trips to San Diego, Orlando, and Puerto Rico. Send warm thoughts to Brian.

I've not had time for any crafting or hobbies outside of finally getting addicted to the gym and losing 20 or so pounds. Which has been more fun than you might think. And I have a new hairstyle that I am somewhat attached to, surprisingly. I guess my life isn't that exciting when you have to write it down. Hmmpph.

Lastly, we have had two new family members join us this year. We adopted a puppy in August. She is the granddaughter of our beloved Esste and shockingly (and wonderfully) similar both in physical characteristics as well as personality. Her name is Clementine but she is almost always called "Doodle" or "Puppy."

We also adopted an adult cat just last month. His name is Tuxedo and he is gorgeous and fluffy. (You can see a photo of Tux one post down.) He is fitting in our household beautifully, now that he has convinced the kids and the puppy to give him the respect that any alpha male cat deserves. (He might even be more strong willed than Ribh.) Even Brian grudgingly admitted recently that he really likes him. (Shhhh! Don't tell anyone or Brian will lose street cred.)

That's it. As always, we invite you to visit us, call us, befriend us on facebook, or simply think of us fondly, as we think of you! Have great holiday and a Happy new Year!


The Flannerys