My wife's letter to family and friends:
One of my resolutions for 2008 to was refrain from complaining about being busy. That’s a surprisingly hard resolution to keep, I discovered. Like many people I know, I like to brag about being indispensible and overworked, so when people ask me what I’ve been up to lately, I have to bite my tongue to curb my own self-importance. And just like dieters who find that people urge them to have one more helping just-this-once, I kept bumping into well wishers who fondly greet me with a, “So, have you been very busy lately?” I finally learned to respond, “My life has been rich and full.”
Which it has.
This year I taught a bunch of fun courses, ran a summer workshop, organized the Grand Opening of Bonchek College House here at Franklin & Marshall, and did other things at work that made me happy and kept me out of trouble. I have one more semester as the don of the House, and then I’ll go on sabbatical. In spite of the fact that I promised not to complain about being too busy this year (Is it 2009 yet? Can I complain now?), I admit that I’m looking forward to May when I’ll have time to read, spend time with friends, and do math again. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to be grateful that my life is rich and full.
Children one-through-four are doing well. Lauren and Io have gone their own ways. In the order that I listed them, but not the other way around, they are halfway through their sophomore years at Juniata and Bryn Mawr; they are majoring in social work and classic languages; they are playing soccer and acting in the “Rocky Horror Club”; when they’re home for the holidays they enjoy shopping in New York and going square dancing with their fathers. No, definitely not the other way around! Lisa is running fast, perhaps to catch up with her sisters. She’s applying to colleges and enjoying her senior year of high school. And Nigel is wiggling and squirming his way through third grade, learning his multiplication tables and telling anyone who asks him about his favorite subject: “Math”. So I must be doing something right.
Greetings, and Happy 2009!
The quest for child number five in our family is still plodding along. We’ve filled out all the paperwork, including financial statements, life histories, and a dozen criminal background checks. We attended classes, photographed our family as it currently exists (see the picture here), and had our home study. When they ask us what kind of child we’re looking for, we say “hyper, to keep up with Nigel.” Now we’re just waiting for the social workers to type up the final reports and enter us into the system. The wheels continue to grind slowly.
Neil and I took an inadvertent one-year break from reading books to each other, because we got caught up (I am embarrassed to admit) in watching DVDs from two old television series. We have also been spending time running and walking together in the evenings, which is less embarrassing to admit – or it would be, if I were in a little better shape. I pretty much manage to keep up with my guy, and that’s saying something because keeping up with Neil isn’t particularly easy to do through all the plot twists in his life.
If you recall, when we last left our hero Neil, he had recovered from a devastating bicycle accident and joined the Pennsylvania National Guard. In this year’s series, Episode 1 opens with Neil getting news that his unit will head out for Iraq in January 2009. There ensues the physical fitness test, which Neil passes despite his advanced age and recent injuries. In Episode 2, Neil, who joined the military partly to escape materialism, gets a packing list for overseas and realizes that he can take two bicycles and his espresso machine. Jubilation follows. Then, in Episode 3, our hero begins to have shoulder problems—his loyal viewers discover that the old bike accident tore up his shoulder more than his doctors originally realized, and he has surgery to repair his rotator cuff. He heals well, and is running and on the bike again in no time. Episode 4 opens with a new physical fitness test. Can Neil pass? Alas, no: he’s declared “non-deployable” because his shoulder isn’t yet healed enough to do 22 push-ups. But wait! He’s actually “temporarily non-deployable”! He gets a chance to try again on January 20, just before his unit heads out. Like any good television show, the season ends on a cliff hanger: will Neil go to Iraq? Will his espresso machine go, too? If so, will he leave it there and come back as frugal as his wife? Tune in again next year to find out!
Lancaster has been a hot-bed of political activity this year; our little Norman Rockwell-esque town got to host many visiting political dignitaries, including Chelsea Clinton, Barack Obama, and the team of McCain/Plain. Nigel spent the year doting on Obama, and in fact he goes to sleep on an Obama pillow at night now, and Nigel’s mother (me) was so inspired by Obama’s acceptance speech that I memorized the Gettysburg Address, even though the world will little note, nor long remember, that I did so. Rather, it is us who shall be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us: that our Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. Three cheers for government of the people, by the people and for the people!
Hugs and kisses, and wishes for a rich and full New Year!
That's it! Best wishes for the New Year.