One Classy Holiday Letter, 2016!



Happy Holidays! Though, at the rate I’m moving, this letter may not reach you until late January…in that case, Happy Valentine’s Day.

2016 kicked off with Collin diving into the Atlantic Ocean for the Bethany Beach Polar Plunge on New Year’s Day. While he flapped around in the arctic waters, we huddled on the sand, wind whipping around us, and wondered “Why didn’t we just make a donation from the warmth of our couch?” Even our 3-legged dog with a coat as thick as my post-Christmas waistline looked miserable.

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While winter is typically a hibernation season for our family, there were some notables.

  • Ana started soccer for the first time, unleashing her inner beast and developing a ‘win at all costs’ attitude that we’ll need to keep an eye on.
  • We were grateful to inherit a back-saving snow blower from my father. After the first major snowfall, we hooted & hollered around that thing like cavemen discovering fire.
  • Collin went sledding exactly once.
  • Brian had surgery (he calls it MAJOR surgery) to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. And just how did he get a torn meniscus? Here’s an excerpt from last year’s holiday letter: “Brian began playing pick-up basketball at the gym twice a week. It’s a bunch of kinda in shape 40 year olds trying to compete with a bunch of really in shape 18 year olds.”  That’s how.
  • Just as we were about to lose our winter minds, Brian won a work incentive trip to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas! He and Ana swam with the dolphins, Collin split his time between the river ride and the Starbucks located in the hotel lobby, and I lay on the beach listening to couples argue over the cost of their bar bill “$24 for a margarita, Debra! Seriously? Wait a second…oh my god, you ordered two?!”

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In the spring, when the ground thawed out a bit, we reemerged.

Ana turned 7 in April. She continued on with soccer but also added intense tree climbing to her leisure activities. The heights she climbed scared me, but it was mostly her traveling through the neighborhood, placing our Squatty Potty stool around the base of Maple trees, that really made me want to cover my eyes. 

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Collin joined a local NFL Flag Football League, and we’re proud to say his team finished the season undefeated! However, their champion status was never acknowledged at the awards ceremony. It seems that until you’re old enough to pay taxes, EVERYONE’S deemed a winner.

Brian and I took a nice impromptu trip to the Poconos area to see Amy Schumer at the Mohegan Sun Arena. I say “impromptu” because I was in charge of purchasing the tickets and I’m terrible at geography.  Brian: Which arena are we going to tomorrow? Me: Somewhere in Wilkes-Barre. That’s near Philly, right?     It’s not.    Turns out it was almost 3 hours away. Who knew Pennsylvania was so big?

This summer was all about the beach and FUNLAND! Mostly Funland. Brian and the kids had a “we must win every stuffed animal even if requires dipping into the college fund” obsession. They were like trophy hunters, always on the search for a new animal to add to their collection. I’m surprised the summer didn’t end with each of them wearing a necklace made of teddy bear ears.

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The kids started school in the fall. Collin turned 13 (a teenager!!!), got braces, and joined the 7th grade middle school football team where he proceeded to get a concussion that gave him a pass on homework for over two weeks. I’m not entirely sure he regrets the concussion. Ana, still into soccer and working on developing her fan base, entered 2nd grade. She loves her teacher, hates the homework. Brian returned to basketball and tore his other meniscus.

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This December we went on a cruise from Miami to Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya, & Cozumel.  Our most memorable moment was visiting the Gumbalimba Animal Preserve in Roatan and having tons of little capuchin monkeys climb all over us and pick our pockets on behalf of their trainer. The cutest little thieves you ever did see.

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This year’s wish lists:

Ana – live puppy, live kitten, live horse, to have her American Girl doll’s limbs reattached.

Collin – every rated M video game he can’t have, cashier’s check/money order

Brian – for me to stop touching the thermostat, massage chair

Kim – Carb of the Month Club, tapeworm, peace on earth

As this year is coming to a close, we want to say thank you for being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2017 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.

Love,  

Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana

One Classy Christmas Letter – A Year in Crappy Pics 2015

One Classy Holiday Letter - Our 2015 in Crappy Pics  www.OneClassyMotha.com

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope you’ve had a wonderful year. While we didn’t take as many trips as we did in 2014, our shared moments and experiences have been just as special.

 

January – On New Year’s Eve, we came across a Basset Hound standing in the center of a snowy PA back road. After exhaustively riding around to look for his owner, we took him home, placed internet ads everywhere, then named him Scout. Unlike our ungrateful dogs, Scout LOVED the kids, and the kids LOVED Scout. And then the owner called to claim “Sparky”…Sparky? Who names a slow moving,  droopy-eyed Basset Hound, Sparky?

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After the alleged owner submitted the required vet records, pictures of him & Sparky together, and a preliminary DNA sample, I reluctantly handed him over asking, “Are you sure he wouldn’t be happier with us? I mean, he did try to run away from you.” But he couldn’t hear me over the wails of our children.

That was Day 1 of 2015.

February – After a 12 year maternity leave, I finally returned to work at my family’s tire & auto business. Because I’m gone from 7:30am-6pm each day, Brian has taken on some of my family responsibilities, like getting Ana on and off the bus everyday and staying home with her when she’s sick. As for Collin, he’s 12, we gave him the garage code and a copy of Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival by Denise Long.

March – We went sledding once, on a hill by our house. After peeling off our wet clothes with burning red hands and mopping up the laundry room floor, we took a vote and agreed it wasn’t worth it. So we bought one of those clear acrylic birdfeeders with suction cups and placed it high up on our sunroom window.

We then spent the rest of March watching two squirrels desperately flinging their bodies at the feeder. We named them Dumb Squirrel (he had zero street smarts) and Smart Squirrel.  Smart Squirrel was clever, quick, and stealthy. He was superior to Dumb Squirrel, and us, in every way- we were annoyed by his greed and put off by his confidence. But Dumb Squirrel…now there was a rodent we could root for. Oh how we loved to watch him! He’d circle under the window, staking out potential launching points, usually all poor choices. Then he’d momentarily give up, looking on the ground, perhaps for fallen seeds or an elevator. We’d cheer him on “You can do it!” “Believe in yourself!” “You got this!” And he did believe in himself until {{smack}} he didn’t. By the end of March, we had removed the bird feeder out of concern for Dumb Squirrel’s safety

Not so coincidentally, this was also the month that Brian’s obsession with bourbon based craft brews really took off.

April – Having just started horseback riding lessons, Ana decided she wanted her birthday party to be held at the stable. So naturally I spent most of April on Pinterest.com planning for this glorious event. It wasn’t until I yelled at Brian for blocking the monitor while I was trying to read user reviews on two competing disposable fork manufacturers, that I realized I was drowning in the details. But in the end, I think we can all agree it was worth it.

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We spent Easter with family at Brian’s parent’s house. A wonderful dinner that ended with an impromptu Easter Egg fight. We pelted each other with plastic eggs for over 30 minutes, and proudly ended it before anyone lost an eye.

 

May – Our family decided to try something outdoorsy again. We received a flyer that our neighborhood lake was having a fishing contest in an attempt to thin out the overwhelming Carp population. So I got the kids all excited (Brian remained appropriately pessimistic), called my brother to join us, then went down to Walmart where I bought 4 fishing rods, bait, and an honest-to-god fishing license.

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Despite the association’s “we have too many Carp in our lake” claim, Collin and Brian caught nada, I got my line tied in a tree, and Ana hooked a snapping turtle…twice.

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We repacked our tackle box for the first and last time, and went home. My brother stayed behind to enjoy the peace and quiet. It was a fun time, just one we won’t soon be repeating.

June – This was the end of Kindergarten for Ana, and Collin’s last year of Elementary school. Collin made us so proud by winning The Principal’s Award at school, which represents a well-rounded student, both academically and socially. And Ana made us proud by finally working out a window-seat rotation plan with her bus nemesis, Julianna. Never mind it was the last week of school.

July – Brain, myself, Collin, Ana, and my mother-in-law Pat, packed the car with vodka and board games and set off on a 1,500 mile trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Chicago and Wisconsin. Seeing aunts, uncles and cousins was definitely the highlight of our summer! While there, we went tubing, paddle boarding, jet-skiing, visited Millennium Park, saw the U2 concert at the United Center, and ate at a really good “I’m surprised a health inspector hasn’t shut this place down” dive restaurant.

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Shout out to “BIG & LITTLE’S” where the tacos are worth the risk!

 

August – Ana participated in several day camps and Collin started tackle football with practices four nights a week. We also finally met our new next-door neighbors when Ana sent their 8 year old daughter home with a ziplock bag full of dead hamster meant for burial. “What’s wrong with that?” she asked, “Her parents probably want to see it.”

Needless to say, they came over pretty quickly to see US.

September – The kids went back to school, Ana in 1st grade and Collin in 6th grade. Our lazy Saturdays were now replaced with travel football games, which I wasn’t crazy about until Brian introduced the idea of checking out local pubs or BYOB restaurants after each game. GO, TEAM, GO!

October –  For Collin’s birthday, we took a bunch of kids downtown to Exodus Escape Rooms. That’s where each rooms has its own specific escape plan that requires puzzle solving, clue finding, and teamwork to find your way out. It’s the newest trend in team-building. When we pulled up, I was dismayed to find that the business occupies the once residential house I partied in during my college days. I looked down at the brochure in my hand “Every room provides the most entertaining experience.” Sounds about right.

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Brian began playing pick-up basketball at the gym twice a week. It’s a bunch of kinda in shape 40 year olds trying to compete with a bunch of really in shape 18 year olds. As a result, his ankles killed him all month.

Also in October, sadly, Mr. Bojangles passed away. He wasn’t the best dog or even the almost best dog. He was a food thief, a chewer of Barbie doll heads, and he’d tear the eyeballs out of a stuffed animal just for looking at him. But his love for his family was unwavering and true. He was quite a character and we miss him dearly.

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November – With Mr. Bojangles’ weak bladder no longer a concern, we replaced our living room carpet and area rug. Then we all laid on the floor and rolled around appreciating both the presence of DuPont Stainmaster chemicals and the absence of urine.

On Black Friday, Brian’s beer obsession hit its peak when he bundled Ana up and they headed off to Liquor World at 7:30 in the morning to be the first in line for the 2015 release of Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout. While I was at work, I received the text “I’m the only one here with a kid. Strange.”        Is it?

Brian was still playing basketball. The pain now extended to his shins.

December –  This month has been a bit of a blur as we try to get ready for the holidays. We saw “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Everett Theatre. Brian’s brother, Kevin, played Sawyer, and he was awesome! The kids loved it! In fact, our Christmas Card picture was taken there. And the Santa in the picture actually played Santa in the play! And speaking of this Christmas card, I think we all know it’s not my most photogenic moment, but everyone else looked so nice I decided to use it. Talk about being selfless around the holidays!

And Brian’s still playing basketball. He just sat down and placed a bag of frozen peas across his kneecaps.

 

As this year is coming to a close , we want to say thank you for being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2016 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.

Love,

Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana

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Our 2014 Christmas Letter: a year in crappy pics

Dear Friends & Family,

2014 was a year of accomplishments for our family, beginning on January 1st, when we woke up without headaches, nausea, or pastry induced sugar comas. Honestly, we owned 2014 right then and there.

In January, I finally got around to ordering our 2013 Christmas cards (note: both 2013 & 2014 enclosed- feel free to display the one that best matches your home decor). We also completed the basement wainscoting project and put the finishing touches on Ana’s under-the-stairs playhouse, which she then refused to play in because “I’m not going under the stairs!”

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February plunged us into a very cold and a very dark Polar Vortex. I entered a winter depression, marked by an obsession with Florida real estate and an excessive consumption of simple carbs. Meanwhile, Collin stayed in the basement playing Xbox, Brian frequented any and all restaurants advertising pork belly, and Ana played with her toys…but not the ones in the playhouse.

March saw the birth of my Spicy Jalapeno Margarita! When we weren’t going to Oasis Family Fun Center or watching Brian eat pork belly, I was at home using the freshest ingredients to create the perfect drink to welcome Spring. Nailed it!

In April, Brian won a work incentive trip for two to Mexico! So we hopped a plane to Punta Mita where we soaked up the sun, drank margaritas, and ate fish tacos and nachos until the elastic in our bathing suits threatened to rip. Ahhh! It was a much needed and super relaxing trip…except for the part where we accidentally walked onto a private beach and were chased by security guards protecting the Mexican Secretary of State who was responsible for the recent capture of “El Chapo”, the kingpin of the Mexican Drug Cartel. But in our defense, the “No Entrar” sign was really tiny.

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It became apparent in May, that our 12 year old dog, Mr. Bojangles, had become almost completely deaf. I was sad at first, but now that the doorbell no longer elicits a Cujo response from him, I find that my fight-or-flight response towards guests is dissipating.

We checked two things off our bucket list in June– we took our first cruise to Bermuda! It was awesome! Bermuda was stunning, the Norwegian Breakaway was gorgeous, and miraculously no one went overboard.

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In July, I once again hosted another week of Camp Cheapo. 12 neighborhood kids, 25 cans of shaving cream, 2 slip-n-slides, 15 Frisbees, lots of bad choices, and very little supervision. It was another cheapo success!

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Collin started tackle football in August, which totally freaked me out. However, when I saw how substantial the protective gear was, I relaxed a bit. Then I saw the 6 days per week practice schedule and tensed back up.

In September, Collin started 5th grade with his favorite teacher, and Ana excitedly entered Kindergarten! Although she loved school, the first couple weeks were rough for Ana. She was tired in the mornings and had zero interest in getting dressed, brushing her hair, putting on her shoes, etc. No surprise, this led to her missing the bus quite a bit. I tried rewards, threats, bribes, pleads, and just as I was about to home school her, I came up with an idea – completely dressing her the night before. And it worked! Just today, I successfully rolled her from bed to bus stop!

Also in September, Ana and I completed our first and last 5K together!

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Technically, she only completed one mile because I carried her the other two. Later that afternoon, while icing my arms, I received the race stats via email letting me know that I placed last in my age group. And because I was carrying her in front of me, Ana beat my time.

October was Collin’s birthday month and a trip to Disney World with Brian’s family! It’s our favorite time of year in Disney –  Halloween and Epcot’s Wine & Food Festival! Talk about gluttony!

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The Polar Vortex returned in November, sending us back into hibernation mode. So while everyone else was updating their Facebook status with “Our family just completed another 5K today. Woohoo!”, we were busy running our own race- to Costco, the bakery, the liquor store, and back – all before Mr. Bojangles could pee on the floor. And Ana made some interesting new fashion choices. She now wears her knee socks over her pants and has adopted the motto “The more contrast, the better.”

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Things going on this month (December)

Brian – One word, CUPCAKES. He will not rest until he’s found the world’s most perfect cupcake. I believe he’s even created a mission statement to that effect.

Collin – Says he would like either a desktop computer for Christmas or a pack of gum. Hopefully Santa will bring him better negotiating skills.

Ana – LOVES her Elf on the Shelf and she’s grateful he didn’t arrive on the scene until after she hit that boy on the bus.

Mr. Bojangles – Deaf, incontinent, but will still sell his soul for a cookie.

Buddy – Our 3-legged adopted dog, thinks the sun rises and sets on me, and merely tolerates everyone else.

Roxy – The cat continues to mark her territory under our pool table. She may have a larger territory this Spring.

Blaze – The hamster Collin just HAD to have still does nothing but sleep all day. Why did anyone think a nocturnal animal would make a decent pet for a kid that goes to bed at 9 pm?

Me – It’s taking everything I have to get our Christmas cards out more than 48 hours before Christmas. Nailing it!

 

As this year is coming to a close, we want to say thank you for a being a part of our lives, whether near or far, yesterday or yesteryear, you are always in our hearts. May your 2015 be filled with an abundance of love, laughter, health, and happiness.

 

Love,

Brian, Kim, Collin, & Ana

 

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Looking for an awesome stocking stuffer, a gift for your bunko hostess, or yourself? Check this out this hilarious book that sets the ridiculousness of suburban life to haiku!

Suburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence  by Peyton Price

Notes from Camp Cheapo, Day 3, Season 2

A letter to the Camp Cheapo parents:

 

 

Dear Camp Cheapo Campers,

It’s with a heavy heart that I say, the garage doors of Camp Cheapo are officially closed for the remainder of the week.

It seems that one of our campers brought more than her enthusiasm with her on Tuesday afternoon.

Yes, by now you probably realize that Camper X was teeming with, not only excitement, but with a vicious influenza related virus waiting to attack your little camper bodies.

Out of respect and privacy for the family (who single handedly shut down Camp Cheapo merely by showing up), I will not reveal the identity of this camper. After all, crushing the summertime dreams of neighborhood friends must be a hard thing for a little, blonde haired girl from Rosewood Street to live with.

Last night, as I was feverishly measuring out 2 tablespoons of Tylenol, I couldn’t help but to think how Camp Cheapo could improve in the areas of hygiene and illness prevention. So after speaking with our Camp Director, Events Coordinator, and Lead Counselor (me,me, and me), we decided that next year’s activities will be expanded to include Delousing Powder Relays, Surgical Mask Art, and water balloons filled with hand sanitizer.

I’ve enclosed a group picture from the first day of Camp for each of you, as a memento of our brief, but good times together.

I urge you to please let go of any resentment that you might hold towards your fellow camper (who shall remain nameless, because that’s the right thing to do). Besides, it could have been any one of us.

“My favorite part of Camp Cheapo was the the Dunk Bucket! My least favorite part was the sore throat and raging fever.” – Collin, age 9

Sincerely,

Kim

Camp Director

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