Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Letter 2011

Warmest greetings to our family, friends, loved ones, and even the people that no one is quite sure who added them to the address book but we are afraid to remove;

The tree is up, lights are strung, presents have been ordered from the internet, eggnog is in the fridge, and we have even had a few flakes of that frozen white death coming down.  It must be time once again for our annual letter letting everyone know that yes, Virginia, we are alive and well in the wilderness of Ohio.

So how did 2011 start?  For me it was therapy.  Now quit getting your hopes up, it wasn’t that kind of therapy.  I started out the New Year getting physical therapy for my hand, because, after our exciting missive last year, I had carpal tunnel surgery on my right hand.  It went off without any problems, well except for getting the flu on New Year’s Eve and not being able to keep anything (including the pain meds) down or in.  The frequent trips to the bathroom were made all that more fun by not having the use of my primary hand. J  Other than that excitement, I continue to work at The Design Knowledge Company (which has nearly tripled in size since I started almost three years ago – a good problem to have); I am working (ok, more like coasting through) my last year as Band Booster Treasurer; I continue to brew beer (with three kegs ready to take to my company Christmas party next week!) and play with toy soldiers (winning General’s Choice at the Buckeye Battles – basically being voted favorite army from nearly a hundred competitors).  So the geek continues to be turned up to 11!

Diane started the year celebrating her birthday birthMONTH (she somehow managed to extend the celebration for the entire month of January) with a trip back home to Minnesota.  If you are looking for any greater expression of affection I would challenge you to find one like voluntarily going to Minnesota in January.  Maybe I do need that kind of therapy after all.  Her health has been improving, but then we have figured this is her ‘off’ year for hospital stays (I write that with a little bit of dread for 2012!).   While the real estate market continues to slump, she has been very busy with the Women’s Council of Realtors and the Dayton Board of Realtors.  She can’t deny that she has enjoyed some of the travelling that she gets to do for these (including visiting her brother in California). 

Becky continues to love her chosen profession of Interpreting for the Deaf, still doing freelance work as well as working at Sorenson’s and picking up a government job covering for a woman on maternity leave.  Burr-d and Lou continue to be the loves of her life, and despite living in the frozen wasteland of Minneapolis still enjoys her life.

Jon continues to face challenges in his academic career, and hopes to move back to the Dayton area in the summer, and eventually get back to school to finish his degree.  He continues to sport the chemo-patient look, keeping his head shaved (and he used to tease me about losing my hair).  He also has realized that despite being the oldest boy, he is now shorter than both his brothers.

Katlyn continues to live in Albuquerque, celebrating her first year out there by moving out of her mother’s apartment.  Not too far, as she is a live-in babysitter for a family she met through her church, just a few doors down in the same apartment complex.  She is enjoying getting involved in the local Mormon Church, and may finally be realizing that at 21 she is, indeed, responsible for her own life.

Erik continues studying Computer Engineering at the University of Dayton.  While he and Emily have grown apart, they remain friends.  In January he will be starting a paid internship at Regal Beloit (formerly A. O. Smith) in Tipp City, the largest North American manufacturer of electric motors for residential and commercial applications (or so their web site says).  He is really looking forward to doing this for both the spring and fall semesters (going back to school in the summer to keep studying).

Matthew has been enjoying his senior year of high school, with a fall highlight taking 4th place at the MSBA Class A Marching Band Championship, the best that West Carrollton High School has ever done.  He is currently taking drafting courses, and has applied to both the University of Cincinnati and Miami University (in Oxford, Ohio, not Florida) where he is interested in studying architecture.  He is really looking forward to graduating in May.

Scout continues to protect us from any varmint that may dare to enter his yard, or even have the audacity to walk within his sight, including a kitten he caught in the back yard.  The only thing keeping him from constantly patrolling is his overwhelming need to sleep most of the day away.  His sighs of exasperation as he moves from the couch to the floor are sometimes overwhelming.

2011 has been a year filled with both good and bad times.  It is hard for Diane and I to imagine this big house being empty in just a few short months, and we continue to argue about which room we want to turn into the ‘naked room’.  We hope that everyone has a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year filled with love and joy for all.

May the blessing of light be on you –
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

Mike, Diane, Becky, Jon, Erik, Katlyn, Matthew and Scout

Occupy Wall Street - explained

A great article by  Marybeth Hicks.

Call it an occupational hazard, but I can't look at the Occupy Wall Street protesters without thinking, "Who parented these people?"

As a culture columnist, I've commented on the social and political ramifications of the  "movement" - now known as "OWS" - whose fairyland agenda can be summarized by one of their placards: "Everything for everybody."

Thanks to their pipe-dream platform, it's clear there are people with serious designs on  "transformational" change in America who are using the protesters like bedsprings in a brothel.

Yet it's not my role as a commentator that prompts my parenting question, but rather the fact that I'm the mother of four teens and young adults.  There are some crucial life lessons that the protesters' moms clearly have not passed along.

Here, then, are five things the OWS protesters' mothers should have taught their children but obviously didn't, so I will:

* Life isn't fair. The concept of justice - that everyone should be treated fairly - is a worthy and worthwhile moral imperative on which our nation was founded.  But justice and economic equality are not the same. Or, as Mick Jagger said,  "You can't always get what you want."

No matter how you try to "level the playing field," some people have better luck, skills, talents or connections that land them in better places. Some seem to have  all the advantages in life but squander them, others play the modest hand they're dealt and make up the difference in hard work and perseverance, and some find jobs on Wall Street and eventually buy houses in the  Hamptons .  Is it fair?  Stupid question.

* Nothing is "free."  Protesting with signs that seek "free" college degrees and "free" health care make you look like idiots, because colleges and hospitals don't operate on rainbows and sunshine.  There is no magic money machine to tap for your meandering educational careers and "slow paths" to adulthood, and the 53 percent of taxpaying Americans owe you neither a degree nor an annual physical.

While I'm pointing out this obvious fact, here are a few other things that are not free: overtime for police officers and municipal workers, trash hauling, repairs to fixtures and property, condoms, Band-Aids and the food that inexplicably appears on the tables in your makeshift protest kitchens.  Real  people with real dollars are underwriting your civic temper tantrum.

* Your word is your bond.  When you demonstrate to eliminate student loan debt, you are  advocating precisely the lack of integrity you decry in others.  Loans are made based on solemn promises to repay them. No one forces you to borrow money; you are free to choose educational pursuits that don't require loans, or to seek technical or vocational training that allows you to support yourself and your ongoing educational goals. Also, for the record, being a college student is not a state of victimization. It's a privilege that billions of young people around the globe would die for - literally.

* A protest is not a party. On Saturday in New York , while making a mad dash from my cab to the door of my hotel to avoid you, I saw what isn't evident in the newsreel footage of your demonstrations: Most of you are doing this only for attention and fun. Serious people in a sober pursuit of social and political change don't dance jigs down Sixth  Avenue like attendees of a Renaissance festival. You look foolish, you smell gross, you are clearly high and you don't seem to realize that all around you are people who deem you irrelevant.

* There are  reasons you haven't found jobs.  The truth? Your tattooed necks, gauged ears, facial piercings and dirty dreadlocks are off-putting. Nonconformity for the  sake of nonconformity isn't a virtue. Occupy reality: Only 4 percent of  college graduates are out of work. If you are among that 4 percent, find a  mirror and face the problem. It's not them. It's you.

Marybeth Hicks is a weekly columnist for the The Washington Times and editor of Family Events, a weekly e-newsletter and blog site for women from the publishers of Human Events. She is the author of Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid: Confronting the Left's Assault on Our Families, Faith, and Freedom (Regnery Publishers, 2011), Bringing up GEEKS: How to Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow-up-too-fast World (Penguin/Berkley, 2008) and The Perfect World Inside My Minivan–One Mom’s Journey Throu gh the Streets of Suburbia (Faith Publishing, 2006).