Monday, December 08, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

November 26th, 2014

Friends, Relatives, Countrymen, Citizens, In-laws, Out-laws, documented, undocumented, legal, illegal and you, yes, you, there in the corner, hiding out on the mailing list pretending like we don’t notice, with Mike thinking “this is Diane’s friend”, and Diane thinking “this is one of the kids friends” and the Kids thinking “not another Christmas letter, we barely know any of these people” and Scout not caring who you are as long as you scratch his butt;

Once again it is time to greet you from the untamed wilds of Ohio, where men are men, women are women, and the Buckeyes try to pretend they are actual “amateur” athletes.  It has been another year, so come on in and enjoy the madness that is the Carter Clan!

As a family things seem to actually keep getting quieter around the house, what with the kids finally being shoved out of the nest, leaving us to turn the entire house into one big “naked” room.  Because we all know you wanted that image in your head at the beginning of the Holiday season.  We did have a big trip to Northern Illinois this summer where we met up with the Fullerton’s for a long weekend of drinking, Cards Against Humanity, drinking, eating, drinking, boating, drinking, Corn Hole (yes, in Ohio they call that bean bag toss game Corn Hole, and it is a big thing.  Now where I grew up corn hole meant something entirely different, because you need yet another image you can’t get out of your mind’s eye) and drinking.  Mike, Diane, Jon, Matt and Erik made the trip, as well as Becky and her beau Eric – and somehow with the name confusion we still managed to keep everyone straight.

Mike continues to fiddle around with those new fangled computer things (it is just a fad, really) during the day and somehow manages to get people to pay him to do it.  Once again his company (The Design Knowledge Company) was awarded one of the Best Places to Work by the Dayton Business Journal, and for the first time by the Dayton Daily News as well.  So he plans to stay there as long he can keep them fooled.  In his spare time he is still playing with “ugly little monsters” as Diane so ‘lovingly’ calls his miniature addiction, but as always, it keeps him out of the girly bars. The home brewing has slowed down a bit, but he still enjoys sharing his concoctions with those brave enough to try them.

Diane has had a mixed year.  On the good side, her health has improved so that she is no longer on oxygen at all, and thus no noisy machines running during the night.  She was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia along with the Pulmonary Hypertension, but is responding well and feeling much better.   She did have to make the unfortunate decision to hang up her hat as a Realtor, and though she enjoyed it, she is moving on with her life.  She has taken over the large bedroom on the second floor for her quilting and other crafts, and is actually selling a few items on that internet thingy all the kids are talking about.

Becky continues to be successful up in the frozen north of Minnesota, and took the big plunge to consolidate bills, dogs and closets with her boyfriend Eric.  Diane seems to approve, and Mike hasn’t pulled out the shotgun yet (nor has Eric run screaming into the night after meeting his not-quite-in-laws and the rest of us crazy Carters and Fullertons) so he seems to be a keeper.  Becky did have some minor health issues, but in the end it was just a pain in the butt and she is once again sitting pretty.  Her latest adventure is coaching volleyball for the team that she used to play for when she was younger.

Jon may have actually stumbled into a career (as opposed to just a job) as he was promoted to manager at the call center where he works, with a salary, benefits, paid time off and all the trimmings like adults actually have.  Things didn’t work out with his roommate, so he temporarily moved back with Scout (when he gets on the bed he takes it over, no matter what Jon does) while he is looking for a new apartment.

Katie is still the only one to have reached escape velocity to get away from Ohio, still living in Oregon with her fiancĂ©e Sam. Planning for their August wedding continues, and their cats look forward to becoming legitimate and not having to explain the two last names to all their feline friends.  And if they aren’t enough, apparently she has opened up her own frog sanctuary complete with cricket consumables for the new inhabitants.  Katie’s dragon sculptures are starting to gain some traction (don’t you hate when they slide all over your desk) and she did very well with them at their (somewhat) local comic convention this past summer – selling out all she had brought and even gaining some commissions.

Erik is quickly preparing for that which has been long anticipated – graduating from the University of Dayton in May with his degree in Computer Engineering (though we still aren’t sure how those gizmos and thing-a-ma-bobs help him drive a train).  He is also still interning (is that a word?) at Regal Beloit, where after four years his coworkers figure he is there to do more than make copies, and he hopes to make it a permanent job after graduation.  He is still dating Z, whose volleyball team is doing very well, and is off to the big final tournament.

Matt is finding challenges at Miami University (of Ohio) down in Oxford, though he did get an off campus apartment with some friends (and just about anything is better than dorm living).  He is looking into alternatives for his major as he and engineering (what is with these boys and trains anyway?) doesn’t seem to be the best fit.  He has also been promoted to Student Manager for the University food services, where he is a bit too harsh with his employees (as opposed to Jon who is a little too soft with his).

Scout is unfortunately just getting older, slower and bumpier.  At 14 there isn’t much to be done but keep him happy and comfortable (which as ruler of the house he enjoys tremendously), training Diane to lift his royal butt up onto the bed at his request.  He acts just like his younger self when he sees the cats from next door daring to enter his yard – for about five seconds after which he remembers that he can’t run that fast and jumping off the porch really isn’t a good thing anymore.   But he continues to keep his domain varmint free!

2014 was a year of ups and downs, but then that is to be expected of life.  Life isn’t about the destination but about the journey, and may all of you have happiness, success and health to balance out the dips in your road.

May there always be work for your hands to do.   
May your purse always hold a coin or two.
May the sun always shine on your window pane.   
May a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.
May the hand of a friend always be near you.        
May God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

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