Dear Friends and family –
For more than a decade, we have made it our mission not to report the happy happenings of our lives but to spread misery. It was something that Robb demanded after Tommy was born, letting me know that people don’t want to know that we have cute kids who do cute things. But what the original Grinch could not know was how much more people wanted to laugh at us … and so began the letters.
Robb started out this new year by walking into the study with a strange expression on his face. “This egg nog isn’t right.” I had no idea what he was talking about. In the 18 years we’ve been married, I’ve never purchased egg nog, but there was much finger waving toward the refrigerator. Upon investigation, it appears he chugged Egg Beaters. However coincidentally, he was sick a few days later and regretfully and violently ended his nearly 19-year-no-vomiting streak. We are all so sorry. No … really.
No sooner did he recover from this that he needed to buy new slacks and a jacket for a funeral but was so determined not to spend more than $25 on the pants that he opted for larger pants when they didn’t have his size. He went up two waist sizes and one length shorter but, by golly, he got his sale. Later, he would say (as though truly perplexed by this new condition), “I feel like I got shorter and fatter.” He thinks that because he periodically makes pancakes (yet never cleans up) this makes him “the best damned pancake maker in the world.” Most recently, because he has no clue how to look for a kitchen appliance he screwed one of my beaters into his Black and Decker drills and made pancakes.
Katie has some new obsession with expiration dates on food and responds to questions to which she doesn’t know the answer, “What am I? Abe Lincoln?” This can also be effectively used when she doesn’t want to do something. Sammy, our large, sometimes frisky paint horse burst out of the gate and ran across the driveway. “Katie!” I yell. “Run over here and keep Snow [other less adventurous horse] from escaping so I can get Sammy!” Katie: “What am I? Abe Lincoln?”
Kerri continues to ask for more patience, saying no other sister has to deal with Katie, who periodically pretends to be a T-Rex, drawing up her scrawny little arms toward her chest and leaping out at people at the most unexpected times and screeching at us. Katie also says one of the reasons she likes not shaving her legs is that then she can pet her own hairy legs. “It’s like having a little pet cat and I never get lonely.” The girl is insane. But she has created her own jingle for a dog food company she wants to create one day – Kibble My Bowl – so maybe all of this will be worth it one day.
After yet another doctor appointment – Kerri was on crutches, Tommy’s ankle was messed up, Katie and Tommy were busily taking turns converting my new cell phone into Spanish and taking pictures of their armpits. This time, Katie had to see Dr. Jones because her eyes have been crossing when she tries to sleep and she’s had some heartburn issues. She was only half listening while we talked about the retinal issues and seeing an ophthalmologist. As we were walking out, Katie said, “Okay, let’s make sure I got this right. I have esophagus spasms and my eyes have something to do with my rectum?” Dr. Jones has asked that we never leave him as we provide far too much entertainment.
A stray rooster has suddenly taken up residence at Michelle’s house. We wonder if the rooster knows she’s a vegetarian. Across the country, Robb’s cousin, Tami, rescued and nursed back to health an abandoned rooster who now lives with her and rides along with her in the truck when she goes into town. His name is Chester.
Kerri got a new job at the gym where I get to get on the elliptical at night and watch her vacuum! I loudly cheer her on and welcome other gym members to rank her cleaning abilities yet she does not appear to appreciate this.
Katie has announced that she wants to be Buddhist. I bite. Why is that? She said, “Because they’re very peaceful people and I like that.” Are you aware of the fact that they don’t eat beef so you’d have to say goodbye to your beef lasagna? She and her buddy, Macy, an equally skinny little kid, eat entire family sized lasagnas for breakfast when allowed. She also listed “eating” as one of her hobbies in school. She said, “I didn’t say I would be a perfect Buddhist.”
Tommy, who loves school, begged to stay home from school one day. There had been a big build up to the film for boys on puberty and Tommy really didn’t want to go see the “poo-berty movie” for fear that upon sight, unspeakable things would happen to him. They didn’t. Now, in the 6th grade, boys are expected to change into their pre-athletic clothes. It took us about a month of convincing Tommy not to sleep in and then put school clothes on top of his gym wear. But unspeakable things could happen at any moment.
Katie has taken to having picnic dinners in her room in which we are to sit on a blanket on her floor every Sunday to enjoy different exotic sandwiches and dips she discovered in “Cooking Light” magazine. She’s a chef in the making and we are her guinea pigs. But we can only enter her room by way of invitation. If we do not have our invitation in hand, we are not allowed to go into her room. Twice, Robb had stolen other people’s invites so that he could stand first in line at Katie’s door. It’s gotten ugly a few times, what with his insincere protests that the invitation clearly marked “Tommy” is his. Always centered in the middle of the picnic is a jar marked “Ford Focus Foundation.” Katie wants a Ford Focus as her first car and requires tips for her services only I’ve ceased offering tips because she is slowly destroying the little Corolla we have. Some of you may recall after only owning the car for one week, Katie unlatched the hood, thinking it the trunk, causing the hood to slam backwards at 55 miles per hour, cracking the windshield, denting the hood and giving me a heart attack. Just after getting her permit, she had an accident with an old woman. Fortunately, because the other driver was 90-years-old and Katie had the reflexes of a 102-year-old, allowing me to compose this letter while the accident was occurring, little damage was sustained. She stained the seat with upside down fruit juice, cracked part of the interior and broke the inside door handle so that now whenever I want to get out of the car, I have to roll down the window, open the car from the outside to let myself out. Oh, yeah … her first car will be a doorless, dented Corolla.
Our world is changing as we are preparing college applications for Kerri. She’s got an impressive resume with all her classical music and fiddling and artwork but apparently she thinks her job is done as she likes to tell me that all the other parents in the world fill out college applications for their kids. What am I? Abe Lincoln?
We are told, by Kerri and Katie, that Kerri is the only 17-year-old in the world with an 11 p.m. curfew and is not allowed to watch R rated movies and Katie is the only 15-year-old (and 8 months) in the land without a cell phone. This last one is made worse by the fact that Robb likes to call out to Katie as she is leaving, “Okay, Katie, just text me when you get there!” which only enrages Katie. These social constraints do not affect Tommy who mostly runs around in his drawers, twisted sideways at the waist, with some sort of weapon in his hand.
For Kerri’s birthday, she wanted a cello. Tommy wanted an Uzi. Katie asked for a vacuum. She is a serious neat freak. To counter Katie’s extreme neat-ism, Kerri is a slob. How does a beautiful girl live like a disgusting little hog in her own room? I can’t run a vacuum in her room for fear of destroying it. Kerri has a mentor, Ms. Worley, whom she adores and I must wonder … is she, too, a slob? (Hmmm, Ms. Worley?) Not to be outdone, the little feller and his obsession with Lego’s continue to cause bodily damage to all. Stockpiles of army and Star Wars warfare are everywhere. And you can never know what will happen with Tommy and his laundry. Any idea of what a Tootsie roll looks like after it’s been through the wash. People will say, “Imagine if you had two or three more boys!” I don’t have to. Tsunami Tommy = four normal boys. And with Katie and Macy’s obsession with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (something I turned them on to after getting a glimpse of the Twilight craze and I pointed out how obviously the author copies the Buffy series), Tommy has taken to whittling (with his trusty little Boy Scout pocket knife) wooden stakes – just in case. So, I don’t question while making beds and I stumble upon a wooden stake by Katie’s dresser, on Kerri’s desk, under my bed …
Robb has decided that he needs to do the grocery shopping now because I waste too much money on fruits and vegetables and healthy foods. On one such trip, he coerced Katie to go with him and they argued over Swiss cheese – which she loves. Later, I would ask, “Why? We can afford cheese, Robb.” “Yeah,” he says, “but we don’t have to be extravagant! We don’t need to pay an extra 35 cents for Swiss!” Finally, he relented but bought the block kind and told Katie she would have to slice the cheese herself because he would be damned if he was going to go as extravagant as getting SLICED Swiss cheese!!
He literally triples the time I take in the grocery store and comes home with Shrek – green crème filled Twinkies, which, by the way, no human in my house is allowed to consume. We could not wait until he went elk hunting only because he was walking around the house blowing his elk horn – which the rest of us agree is poor sportsmanship to call a little friend over to you just so you can kill him. He says he’s “providing” for his family. Ahhh, because clearly he has no idea how to navigate an actual grocery store.
Hunting also gives him the excuse to wear clothing that we otherwise will not allow him to wear. [Please see our BONUS page in this year’s letter because sometimes you just have to see it …]
We went camping – sort of. Kerri, Katie and I kept crawling into the Yukon for heat and drained the battery. When we went white water rafting, Katie tried to pull Tommy into the water as she was falling out of the boat. And much to Robb’s dismay, Kerri has a new adorably cute and sweet boyfriend named Kyle. Robb, who is still refusing at admit that Kerri is going away to college, calls the kid “Lyle,” “Tyler” or “Skyler,” but these are vast improvements from what he was calling him. He does NOT like the idea of ANYONE dating his baby. And speaking of babies … When Robb and I both had an ear ache, I tried to share my medication with him but he refused saying, “I don’t know what girl things are in those ear drops.” He won’t see doctors as they might actually touch him and he doesn’t trust vitamins ever since he found out certain ones are beneficial to women – something unspeakable might happen to him. He said he thinks he’s going through “mental pause.”
In just one day, the dogs escaped while I was mending from pneumonia. The A/C was out, the cable out, I couldn’t stop coughing and a book deal I thought I had locked up went south, when I called Dish Network about our cable. I was told because I’m not Robb – I don’t have “permission” to have a tech come out to the house. What? Am I Abe Lincoln? So, I said, “What do you think the probability is that I’ve broken into this house to watch TV and upon discovering that it is out have decided to call to have it fixed?” Nothing. Grrr. I tried to call Robb who was on a conference call in Virginia, hung up and called back. This time when they asked my name I said, “I’m Robb.” A thick Indian accent asked in surprise, “You’re Rrrrobb?” “Yes, my name is Robb. My parents named me Robb.” Pause. “Rrrrreeally? I am Rob, too.” And the reality that this outsourced Indian and I were both named Robb hung over us both for a moment. I said, “Hi Rob.” He said, “Hi Rrrrobb.”
Our horse tried walking into our house, we had not one but two Copperheads in our garage and Katie is going to have to have surgery on her head. She asked if they could use a tazer gun on her to knock her out. Later, we found out that they will have to do some liposuction on her to use the fat to fill the cavity in her skull. While there are some issues about where they are actually going to find fat on her skinny little body, Robb is delighting in the fact that he will forever now be able to call her “fat head.”
The only family that could possibly rival us is the Dunegans. Their son Sam, while under anesthesia for neck surgery, asked the doctors if they could make his scar a big “S” on his neck. One week later, daughter Macy had a 7 ml kidney stone blasted with sonar. Macy wanted to name the stone “Earl” and when it passed, she wanted to play the Dixie Chick’s “Goodbye Earl” in tribute.
Some really wonderful buddies (and one sister) and I have trained for the White Rock Marathon. In that time of bonding, Linda’s been stung in the face, we’ve run through spider webs in the dark, screaming through cemeteries, faced attacking squirrels, a rogue bobcat, leapt a snake and Jill had a skunk actually run over her foot. She still contends that it was a possum. Because of the extreme heat, we were forced to run in the early hours and often had no idea what we were running into. But after enduring dehydration, road raging drivers, pneumonia, various injuries, delirium and more, we are set to run December 5th.
Meantime, Robb’s very busy schedule limits our time together. He suggested we travel together. As of this reading, he will discover that I have entered us into the Amazing Race show. My pitch is this: an active, social butterfly marries a social misfit who dislikes most people. With my uncanny ability to get lost and his unfathomable ability to dicker with the cost of everything on earth while scowling at anyone with a beard – though he has one – we could make an entertaining couple AND we could spend time together. Meantime, I’ve been contacted to do a “Sister Reality” show with my very camera-shy sister. You can’t make us up! We’re stranger than fiction.
Finally, after years of horrible school pictures, my children have decided, “Why bother?” and have opted to have a contest for who can have the worst pictures possible. And this is how it goes at the Allred household.