Holiday Update.

Every year (well mostly) I write some sort of brief update that we call the Christmas Letter and send out with our Christmas cards. I’ve been madly in the weeds over the holidays and when I have had free time I’ve decided to spend it doing pretty much nothing, since I’ve got to be off to work again in the new year and wanted to relish the remnants of my leave. I will say that I’ve had a lot of time for introspection and self-examination during my leave/the holidays and I’ve really discovered quite a bit about myself and the way I operate. I feel much better for it, and I’ve got some ideas for the new year. No time to delve right now though, so by way of a copout, here’s this years ‘Christmas Letter’ in it’s entirety. Apologies to those of you who received a hardcopy verison, you can go browse for after-Christmas internet deals now…

The Facks, 2008. Colin, Kent, Julia, Olivia, Lyn, Emma

Lyn’s been hassling me for 2 weeks to write the Christmas letter. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with some sort of clever ‘theme’ or presentation and I’ve come up empty, I mean, it’s not like I’m a graphic designer or anything. I started on a few different tangents but wasn’t able to maintain the attention, time or patience (go figure) to see any of them to fruition, so in the end, looks like you’ll get the formulaic rundown of what everybody’s doing. As Lyn says to the kids, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Onward.

We had a new addition to the roster this year. Olivia Lyne was born on September 12th and is doing well. Initially we had some real problems with colic, but we’ve played musical food sources and played with combinations of breast milk, regular and ‘sensitive’ formula, and – of course, scotch – and we’ve finally found the magic formula. She’s finally pretty much settled in and as a bonus, we now have a reason to keep lots of scotch on hand. On the downside, she’s turned out to be a bit of a scotch snob, preferring only older, really expensive double malts. Women. Go figure. She’s a big baby (was 9 pounds at birth) and is already pushing the limit wearing size 6 month clothes at 3 months. It’s probably a good thing, very Darwinian, as she’ll need the size to stand up to her older brother and make it out alive.

Colin is 18 months old now and dabbles with Darwinian theory every day by testing the premise that humans don’t abandon their offspring. He’s a big kid for his age too, and must be advanced, because even though he’s only a year and a half old, he’s already exhibiting ‘terrible two’ tendencies. His favourite pastimes include leaving toys all over the house, removing ALL the cushions from the couch, testing his cranium resiliency by hurling himself from various pieces of furniture and putting all manner of items into the kitchen trash – with the exception of actual trash. His vocabulary is still pretty limited; mama, dada, tantu (thank you), wassat (what’s that). In addition, if you show him a lion or tiger it will illicit a ‘rawwwrrrrrr!’ In keeping with the Darwin theme, Colin demonstrates his ties to his primate ancestors by refusing to wear socks, shoes or slippers of any kind for a period of more than 7 minutes. Anyone needing evidence of our emergence from apes need not look any further than my perpetually barefooted boy.

Emma started school this year (well, full-time school anyway) and is a full blown Kindergartner now. She enjoys being a ‘big sister’ now that Colin and Olivia are around and particularly likes to ‘read’ books and stories to Olivia. Emma digs horses and she attended a week long horse riding camp and is taking riding lessons once a week. The riding lessons will be ending in January, but then we’re looking to get her into some ice-skating lessons. Emma really enjoys drawing pictures and doing crafts.

Julia has entered the world of second grade and is completely into the horse thing as well – probably more so than Emma. She too attended summer riding camp and has been taking lessons once a week. Any and all toys, books, videos that she’s into either pertain to horses, are about horses or feature an image of a horse. She does some other stuff too. She’s in the chorus at school and recently sang the national anthem at a high school hockey game with them. She still loves to draw and do crafts and also has been getting a kick out of helping around the house more, including doing some cooking.

Lyn continues to ‘hang out at home and raise the kids’. When I meet people and they ask me “Does your wife work?” I always say, “She’s a stay at home mom.” They usually follow with “So she doesn’t work outside the home.” I counter with, “We’ve got four kids, there’s PLENTY of work to be done within the home – I don’t think she feels compelled to seek out MORE work elsewhere. I’m glad she’s there to do it. I got a day job so I could get out.” In spite of all the work that she does, Lyn still finds time once in awhile for her more recreational pursuits including knitting, tending to her African violets and working in the garden and around the yard. She’s recently considered picking up a weaving loom to continue weaving (she took a class when we lived in Virginia) and we still banter about the idea of her starting some kind of business of her own selling crafts. I keep telling her she should make hand-knitted sweaters with a pocket in which to grow an african violet or fresh vegetables and a woven, sewn-on napkin/bib for the dinner table. She doesn’t think they’ll catch on.

I’m still doing my breadwinning thang at Goose Lane Editions (a book publisher and graphic design firm) and I also am still turning out freelance work as well. Somewhere in the back of my head I harbour thoughts of opening my own business and saying ‘damn the man’. We’ll see. In the meantime I continue to find various ways to spend free time – when there is some – hockey, the bike (though I haven’t been on as much as I’d like). I’m trying to teach myself to play guitar – and I’m putting my would be beer money into a jar for a set of drums. It’s been at least 12 years since I owned a kit and having one again would be awesome – I just need to finish gutting and re-doing my entire basement to have room for ‘em. Oh well, I can’t complain I’ve got nothing to do.

Here’s hoping that this letter finds you and yours well this holiday season and best wishes in the New Year!

­­— Kent, Lyn, Julia, Emma, Colin & Olivia

9 years.

….7% of 5.02 mb…

I’m sitting here waiting for a 5 MB stock photo to download over a dial-up connection. Yeah. That’s 45 minutes.

It’s not like I can do any other work on the project. I’m waiting for the damn stock photo.

‘Course I can’t surf the web either. That just grinds everything to a halt.

I’m truly in the wrong line of business to be living this far out in the sticks. Why should I have to switch to a redneck vocation just to live like one? Perhaps that’s the key. One facilitates the other. But which enables which?

…24% of 5.02 mb….

So I’m writing and I don’t know what to write.

As far as the baby update goes, Lyn has Gestational Diabetes (Wikipedia it, I can’t right now, doing so would surely cause time to stop all togheter) which basically means she’s got to rest and do pretty much nothing as well as alter her diet and check blood sugar frequently. A drag to say the least, though at least it’s been good that my mom is here to help out, otherwise her Doctor was gonna hospitalize her and yours truly would have had to bail on work even earlier (insert sounds of pandemonium here). Mom goes back on the 5th of September, so assuming I can clear it with the EI folk with a note from the doctor, that’s my official ‘P’ day – the day I start Parental leave – even though actual baby due date is the 27th. No one – doctors included – really think it will go the distance though.

…57% of 5.02 mb…

4 months leave. Sept. 5 to Jan 5. I haven’t had that much time off in at least 7 or 8 years. Even when I was unceremoniously dumped by Kentville Publishing a few years back, I think I was only off 2 months – and it was in a panic – we had to pack up and move everything to the States in short order. I packed our entire house (Lyn was pregnant then with Emma) into 2 Uhaul trucks myself in 24 hours – in the snow. I look back now and it seems odd, neigh unbelievable, like it was someone else that did it. Nuts.

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4 kids, 4 moves – 2 from one country to another. Thyroid Cancer and 2 throat surgeries. A string of unsatisfying and disappointing jobs. A spontaneous firing. Financial distress.

Giggles. Sillyness. Backyard afternoons. Trips for Ice Cream. 1st steps. 1st days of school. Scary thunderstorms and a crowded bed. A secret family vocabulary that only the 6 of us will ever get. One adult and 3 kids watching tv on a couch made for 2 people. Sprinkler runs.

Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. I love my wife, Lyn, and my kids and I know they love me. This renders download times inconsequential. Happy Anniversary to us.

File’s done.

Happenings.

It was the ghost.

The picture above says volumes about what it’s like at my house. Only when you have kids of a small age can you walk around a corner to find this and no one in sight. I think I’m just a tenant here, someone else must be in charge.

Not so angry any more. Not really any time for it. Got emails for that one from expected – and unexpected sources. Thanks to all for the moral support. You can cut it out now. No more goofy dancing animal ‘feel better’ e-cards. I wanna puke.

Huge push on at work to get the big website done…it’s now 2 months overdue with the Fall book season looming. It’s turned out to be a much larger endeavour than anyone involved thought. Just about the best thing to come out of it is my discovery of The Gaslight Anthem via Ryan, the guy who’s coding the whole site, and consequently, probably chewing asprin by the handful. When the things actually done, I’ll post a link here. I’ve yet to determine how I will celebrate it’s successful launch. I feel it defintely deserves controlled substances of some kind.

When I checked in tonite, I’ve got 156 comments awaiting moderation. Safe money is that there’s 156 comments trying to sell me either porn or male enhancement items, but if by some chance you’re in there, sorry, I haven’t checked the comments lately and I won’t tonite on my stupid slow dialup, cause I’d like to get to sleep at some point. I’ll try to remember tomorra.

Freelance is ramping up a bit again. Dollars is good. I’m all about the benjamins. Julia and Emma never put gas in the car when they use it and it’s a drag filling that thing up.

Colin’s almost walking now. He pushes everything around, which is nice. Nothing like stumbling through the minefield of toys in the middle of the night to take a leak. He takes it real personal when you step on one in the night too, he wakes up hollering which doesn’t really improve things any.

Awhile back I had a bit of fun gutting a portion of my basement. Mmmmm, yummy mold growing in the walls on the drywall. Highly recommended for the respiratory system of the buildings occupants. We’ve embarked on quite a few home improvement projects – cause we don’t have enough to do as it is. There’s 3 on the go now…the basement, the terraced rock flowerbed in the back and the bathroom that’s been about 97% done for months but needs a bit to be finished. If I finish it though, that will leave Lyn nothing to hassle me about, so I can’t very well leave her empty handed.

We’re also getting a house energy audit. Here in Canada, a guy certified by the government will come to your house, tell you just how screwed up and inefficient it is, then you have 18 months to fix as much as you can, and they’ll reimburse you a percentage of your costs based on what you get done. My guess is he’ll look at this house and just say I’d be better off starting from scratch – or wait – no, I take that back. I’m sure the dog kennel can stay.