Yes, folks! It really IS that time of year again! Ground Hog Day!
And let me make a prediction... by the time you read this, the Seattle Seahawks will have won 2 superbowls in a row! Yes, I actually did write that, and I did it at 2:39 MST, Friday, January 30th!
If you're new to my Ground Hog Day Letter, let me explain... I don't do Christmas letters... Gosh, I stopped doing those back in 1993 I think? Some 23 years ago... Why? Because at Christmas time, everyone in the world is too busy to read those things, yet, as a culture we spend the busiest time of the year finding photos, writing stuff about our families/kids/grandkids and for me, I got off that train and now spend my holiday season building toys at the North Pole, feeding my reindeer, sipping cocoa stuffed with mooshy, mushy, yummy marshmellows and snapping my red suspenders against my chest just before I hop on my sleigh and deliver toys to all the good little girls and boys around the world... Oh, and just this year I ended the mid-east war, have stopped poverty, world wide hunger and I found a cure for diet coke cravings that also help you lose weight in a single bound. That is, if you are bounding down the face of the red rocks in Southern Utah!
And if you are used to my GHL's then... sit back, relax, and enjoy this year's issue... Hopefully, you have this laminated and it stays by your toilet for your company to enjoy when they sneak off during dinner parties to rummage through your medicine cabinets!
I'm sure you have probably heard (I mean if you are an "Earthling" chances are you did) that I got married the end of last September. More on this later on in the GHL, but lets just say that, for you to get an idea of the who I married, what it feels like to be married, if you are the me in the equation, well, I won the powerball lotto! If you are Jackie, you got sentenced to managing a toxic wasteland and it ain't all that pretty! Poor her, seriously... I should start a website called, "Save Jackie's Sanity dot com" - the comments from observers alone (if somehow their comments could be turned into some new tech geo therm power base) would provide enough power to eliminate all 3rd world energy shortages. Who needs the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation? So more later on the Dan & Jackie crazy world... And now, its family braggin' time!
Duff & Keirra
I find it quite amusing that Duff is the "Petticoat Junction" father of 5 girls! I laugh when I think what it must be like for him to keep up in all their hair products, makeup, but most of all how with a family of 7 women (counting their dog Millie Jean) he has to take a number to find and use a bathroom!
Duff has somehow found a way to squeeze 48 hours into a single day. When you work for yourself, you keep up with your family stuff and all your church and civic contributions of time and energy, you can only do so when you make 2 days fit into 1! And that's what he and Keirra do. In a few days they will have been married 20 years. 20 years ago... The greatest event that ever happened to our family! Oh how I recall that fateful night in Midway, UT when we all met Keirra! So glad! She's so wonderful, she organized her own 1/2 marathon with all her pals!
Emma (17) who is a junior in HS. I simply cannot believe in just 18 months she will be off to college... She played Liesel and last summer's Sound of Music production, she has a beautiful voice and is a great natural talent for acting. Bella (14) who long jumped into Jr HS this last fall is as steady, happy, caring and kind as she was since the day she was born. She is 14 going on 21! Lilly (12) can spin basketballs on her fingertips and is an excellent golfer. She smile is gigantic! Then comes the "hat girl" Sophie (10)... Though she is a sample sized athlete, but don't let that fool you!
Anna & Brandon
The Parkers shipped out of Tacoma this past July and moved to South Jordan, UT. I thought my world was ending! Anna has this amazing talent for scolding me, keeping me in check, aligning my weirdnesses back to some normalcy and to hear Brandon was taking a new job away was pretty tough news for me. That said, if you know me at all, and you know my quilted life's work of doing different things, being the addicted entrepreneur that I am, how could I ever do anything but to encourage them so that they may spread their wings, reach for the sky, explore, even if it meant I would feel things again that I didn't wish to feel. (Like when Kjrsten and Peter moved to London)
Brandon's company is exciting, they are global and it has something to do with educational tech, software and sounds pretty amazing for what little I know. They have an adorable home in South Jordan and Anna of course has made it look like its a model home right out of Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware.
Isla (11) hides from her two brothers in her room. She so sweet. When Jackie and I visited there in December, Isla took Jackie into her room and showed her all her special things. She's way to hip for any girl her age! But then, I just forgot all that stuff as girls merge from their childhood into free thinking, spirited people unto themselves. Macrae (8) is the king of one arm/handed pushups. He is also the fascinated one when it comes to lizards, dinosaurs and weird animals. Half the animals he tells me about (like Lemurs) I haven't a clue what on earth he is talking about! Rhett (7) is Macrae's best buddy and shadow! I swear these two will set the world on fire someday, I pray there is a fire dept large enough to put it out! What one doesn't dream up, the other does!
Kjrsten & Peter
Our "Londoners". Peter and Kjrsten are such free spirits! They live to see the world and boy they do! We're all seeing their latest pics from Macedona or skiing in the Alps, or wherever! I cannot pronounce a tenth of the places that they have been! Peter is the managing partner of a hedge fund based in London. If you happen to have $5-10M burning a hole trying to get out of your piggy bank and you want to become the next Warren Buffet, give Pete a call. He can hook you up! Kjrsten is a professional photographer who takes engagements across the world. I couldn't help but think of the role Sean Penn played in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" a famous photographer who is more an artist than someone who snap pics!
Sonja Raquel (15) has blossomed into a fine, beautiful young woman overnight! The downside of your kids living abroad is that you miss so much. I marvel at how their London experience has been so terrific for them! Sony takes the tube everywhere, manages her own life pretty much... There won't be a single thing she will be trepid about. Stella (13) is into theater, dance and acting. She is the lucky sister who doesn't have to wear a private school uniform! MeMe (11) showed Jackie and I while skyping that she knows how to "walk down imaginary stairs"... She's the hilarious reprieve for the PK's, as we call them.
Keith & Jenny
Keith and Jenny are the sweet, tender Provoians who moved back to Tacoma last January. Keith too owns his own company which is in the home security industry, and works extremely hard (especially in the summer months) with hi crew throughout Washington state. He's busy with his church service and with Jenny raising two of the most hilarious little boys I've ever known! Jenny is a "Jill (and Master) of all Trades"! There isn't a single thing this girl can't and won't do. I am so gratified whenever I run into friends who tell me they've been out with K&J, or had "playdates" with Jenny and the boys and I always hear how kind and nice they are.
Josh (4) is the funniest little guy! For his birthday Jackie and I gave him a flashlight that had a laser control on it and somehow (Intentionally, he's inquisitive that way)while he had it on, he shined it into his own eyes. All of a sudden he seemed dazed and confused and while turning his head sideways he said to Jackie, "You're purple." Baby James (1) is the giggly, squeezable chunk-a-chunk-a "burning love"! He's gentle and as a dear friend of ours once said about Andrew when he was about this same age, "This child is much loved."
Andrew & Alexis
With Keith and Jenny pulling up stakes in Provo and coming back to Tacoma, they left behind their best friends and beloved Andrew and Alexis. Andrew is finishing his degree at UVU in graphic design and is in the very tip top of his class! He's already taking work in project design for clients, he's so talented. He and his band mates of Parlor Hawk had several tracks from their CD chosen as background music for the TV show "Sons of Anarchy". He and Alexis are collaborating on an album together and we all can't wait to hear it! Alexis graduated a few years ago from BYU and she continues to use her degree in music in a variety of ways. I see things on Instagram or Facebook where she has been singing someplace and her voice is so beautiful, I wish I could be a fly on the wall at each event. Mostly though, she is a fulltime magna cum laud mommy. How she manages such a busy life is something I probably won't ever understand. I was lucky enough to be in Provo for the birth of our 15th grandchild, baby girl; Ramona, on July 1st. Oh is she ever the most precious baby ever!
Rafael (4) is our little monster truck buddy. I taught him the song, "The House in the Middle of Woods" and his eyes light up when I start humming it while we are rolling around on the floor together playing with his collection of monster trucks! I went with he and Andrew to the Provo dinosaur museum and I don't think I have seen a child's eyes so big and in such awe as his were as we wondered that place. He's so smart and inquisitive! Ramona Elise Mowatt (means ocean, I hope I spelled that right!) is the most beautiful, treasure our family was blessed with last year. She became our 15th grandchild. Oh and you should see the rolls on her legs...
Marion & Nick
Well, "Wonders of Wonders, Miracles of Miracles, But of all God's miracles large and small, The most miraculous one of all, Is the one I thought could never be: God has given you to me..Marion and Nick got married last April. When they got engaged in November of 2013 and Marion selected April 12th as her wedding day, to say the least it was a bit unnerving as it was going to be the 1st anniversary of Val's passing. Her thought was, "Mom would have wanted us to all be together in the temple that day and this is the only way that can happen, especially with Kjrsten living in London." See, Marion knew that Kjrsten would never miss her sister's wedding (heck, Kjrsten didn't miss little Mo's baby blessing!) and as it turned out, Marion was "right". And that's another good reason she has earned the family moniker of "Business Manager". It was a great, beautiful, touching and tender time for our family to welcome Nick, making him the final piece of our kids' getting married. Nick and Marion live in Dallas, TX and he is also in the tech/software field and Marion has a great job too. Since I was born in Texas (once a Texan, as they say) I am a bit partial to them making their home there.
This year has been a year of many new things; "change and big ones at that" are about how I would sum up 2014. Kids moving around. Jackie and I got married, which meant, I too, moved.
Jackie has 6 kids too. Since I deeply love and consider my in-law children as my own, Jackie and I have 18 children and 15 grandchildren. I tease her and say, "Hey look, it says on the can, just add water and you get a small town of 37 people!" We always consider our numbers to include Val and Clint. The veil to the "flipside" is thin and us both being widow(er)s means we embrace our devotion to our past marriages and since our Mormon theology teaches us profoundly that "Families are Forever" its as "how we roll". Which I cannot believe I just wrote that. I hate clichés almost as much as my disdain for Rap music. (Seriously, do I look like I can Rap? I'm old, I'm white and I snore.)
I don't want to digress (sorry, though, I can't help myself. I really was going to try to keep this all in a somewhat normal GHL, semi-sober mode, but alas...) While I am on this topic, may I just share with you some other clichés I think its time to retire? I think if you just read them, I won't have to explain myself, because I might just get too carried away... Okay, here we go: Rad, Beast Mode, That's How We Roll, Bro, Literally, Dets/Tots/Whatevs/Delish, and my all time favorite: Think Outside The Box. I am yet to hear someone say that who has ever thought outside of any box. Unless they were thinking while placing an order OUSTIDE Jack in the Box's drive thru lane. Okay, enough of my 2014 trendy rant about things that bug me. Which is a bit hilarious and ironic because Jackie loves Top 40's music and that includes Pit Bull and Beyoncé (to name a few. By the way spell check just added the é thingy to my spelling her name. I guess that's how you know you've hit it big!) and I haven't found you can listen to that genre of music without being pummeled to death. Bro.
Anyway, on to Jackie's family... So one night in December, Jackie was writing her annual Christmas letter. And may I say, she doesn't just write a Christmas letter, hurry off to Kinko's and use some Christmasy paper to run off 200 copies and pop them in the mail. OH NO! She orders special mailers, stickers, glue (some poor dead horse gave its life that Jackie and make little scrap booky type gluey thingys so she can cobble all of this together. NO WAY man! (Hey at least I didn't say Bro. Bro.) If there is something she can think of to add to her Christmas letter for zing, I am telling you by time that baby hits the post office, it zinged and zanged! So I was listening to her read back to me what she had written in her Christmas letter and seriously (Okay, so maybe I should include seriously into my cliché category) I saw her pain from writers cramp. So, I offered, "Hey honey, would you like me to write that for you?" She melted and said, "YES!" So what you are going to read below about Jackie's kids is what I wrote. And, I may add a few things, but you will get the idea.
From Jackie's Christmas Letter:
It’s a new world. And I’m not talking about whether Columbus was in illegal immigrant or if he was a terrorist of some kind of a new world. I am talking about my leaving the greenest state in the whole USA (ok, due to the rain, I get it) and moving to a land whose license plates are artfully decorated with Aztec renditions of the sun and whose temperatures rival those of hell for most of the year. No, I am talking about getting married “at the” age when most people are settling into their Charles Schwaub monthly statements and going to various clinics and doctors, just to have something to do. I mean, you did hear I got married right? Well, I did. So let me describe for you what this may feel like, so you can try and relate.
First, Obama has done nothing to revive the economy, but I can tell you who has. Jackie and her kids. Last night while hanging out, Joey asked me about my first job, which I articulated and waxed long regarding my paper route when I was a lad. I told him I made $90/month. But this was in 1966. To which he asked, “When were you born, like 1900?” Its ok, I am used to looking old for my age. For an aging man of 114, I think I look pretty good. So exactly how is this economic boom taking place? Well, I did a little math and think I am close when I say, this family spends about $14,738/month on fast food. And, I’m not talking one particular place. No! This gang can’t agree on where to go, so we hit ‘em all! It’s a lot of work to hop to, when all you’re doing is ordering plain burgers or quesadilla’s without cheese.
Did you know Jackie runs? I had no idea someone could run as much as she does. I mean I have friends who run, walk, play racquetball and golf, I’m no stranger to healthy discussion and pursuits, but this woman begins her day in running clothes and about 11pm after her last run of the day, which takes place at this tall and spacious building (I’ve learned is called LIFETIME fitness, because you spend your lifetime there) where I truly believe zombies live and vampires thrive. My new favorite song is “You call it Jogging, I call it running around” – and around, and around!
So I have new relationships; what they should be called I’m not sure yet. Who is? I don’t know.
Paige who resides as a successful hippy in Portland, Oregon (Oh Oh… kind of close to WA, where all the land is so lush and green from the rain!) is a very happy hippy, nice girl. My how she loves her family and some nice guy named Alex, who seems to always be at her side? I have some hippy kids, so I get the vibe.
Ali, I mean Hermana Blaser, is off communing with the Chilean folks as a missionary seems to be about like all missionaries who have found purpose, love in the Lord and wants to have 30-40 people over when she Skypes for Christmas. I’ve had 4 missionaries, so I know this drill pretty well. She comes back to earth in July 2015.
Travis, let me see, how do I sum up Travis? Well, how about I just drop some key words. Suns, Cardinals and venom for the Seattle Seahawks. I love a great loyalist! He’s off (to the Philippines via Tucson, while he awaits his visa) to begin his own time in the Lord’s vineyard in early February. He is a very nice, thoughtful guy and his laugh is contagious!
Lily, oh poor Lily. Lost in a sea of brothers. 500 pounds of long hair. Eyes that are laser sharp when she wants to tell you, “OMGosh!” And, she has a depth of love for ONE DIRECTION that rivals that of Alice Lubener’s over the top passion when in 1964, screaming her head off in Shea Stadium, Queens/NY, when the Beatles invaded the USA. Actually, I think Lily beats poor Alice out! Near as I can tell, and I am purely basing this on the weight of Lily’s backpack, I think she is a straight A student.
Then I come to Joe. Joe the dry wit humorist who can size up any situation in a nano second and if you don’t listen to his take on things, he will wrinkle his nose up and roll his eyes, as if to say, “Ha, no, you don’t have this!” How do I know? I have watched him play trivial pursuit! Joe has style and he’s pretty thoughtful about what he goes out the door looking like, is his hair right? Do I think his oxford shirt and khakis are cool? (I told Jackie these are clear cut signs that a kid is noticing the opposite sex and that afternoon Joe told me, “Uh, its not one, its more like 9.” When I asked him if “any” girl thought he was cool?
And finally to round the kid section of this letter out, I bring you to Michael. Michael who singlehandedly can fix anything, build anything, outsmart anyone and can draw a schematic of a computer in his head while I can barely spread peanut butter without tearing the bread! He saved Thanksgiving for my family by piecing together a 20 year old race car system of track, cars, gears, power source and controls! And by piecing together I mean getting it all not just operable, but having the track run up a wall where he achieved the “Cool Uncle Mikey” stature from all of my 15 grandkids.
I am sure you, and we do too, wonder how all this works and we are on a journey where every day we find stuff to laugh about, poke fun at, because it is all so new, different and yet we’re excited about what we are experiencing. I think Jackie loves being the Guinness World Book of Records “youngest Grandmother with the most grandkids” award. And whether you want to scoff at her defacto achievement of that by marrying me or not (I’m sure there’s a rule book on such a pain free way to gain such a brood!) I can tell you that she is full of sincere love and care for my clan as I never would have imagined. Not an easy thing, when as a Dyer, we generally take all the oxygen out of any room we walk into!
So, you want to know how it’s going? Well, we are getting ready to organize, promote and take our show on the road under the banner moniker of “Time Out from Life”, the world tour! For a mere $1,995.00 per person we will tell you everything you ever need to know about how to make someone (besides yourself) happy every day! It’s really easy. But come to our workshops, pay the money (Checks made payable to the: “Jacqueline Dyer Freedom Fund”) and see just how it is that people who have such diverse backgrounds and cross common demographics can with the Lord, find happiness and joy post a lot of sorrow and trial in their lives. It’s a gift. One we both appreciate and respect so much. Love and marriage aren’t 50/50, they are 100/0. You give 100 and anything that comes back feels like 100. Soon, and I mean like fast, 100 going out and 100 coming back in feels pretty good. Love, laughter equal LIFE! It’s a miraculous thing we have found together. Who knew?
Midgey? Yes, Midgey moved to AZ with me too... She is now more loved than any dog ever could be. Hey 3 dozen some humans waiting on you hand and foot is pretty cool status for a dog.
Dan & Jackie
So, that should give you an idea about the new world that Jackie and I both now share. While I cannot tell you where you find you are able to lose the spouse you cherish to them being called home to that God who created us all, to finding someone new to share your life with and how that all works, because intellectually, its just too opposite from how you may think you can deduce an outcome, I can tell you that in the heart it is a very, very easy thing. I was listening to the "way old" song LOVE AND MARRIAGE (please don't tell Jackie, she thinks when I have my head phones on I am really getting down with Maroon 5 and their current hit ANIMALS. I am so not trying to dig her favorite music! LOL! Oh geez, another cliché we should all shoot NOW!) and the simplistic message of that quaint old song about marriage and love going hand in hand. (I'd bring up the connection metaphor about the "horse and carriage" but these days unless you've been to Central Park, most people today have no idea what a horse and carriage even are!)
So let me just say finally this...
I never thought I would ever find joy and happiness again... I've not only found it, its not like an old friend has come home to stay, its more like the expanded fulfillment of what life is all about. Jackie and I try to get to the temple each week or so... It is there that we learn how "this" all works... Our friends constantly comment, "You guys look so happy together" - "Its good to see that you are happy again" - "You give hope to so many who have lost the loves of their lives and feel there is no purpose anymore" And, see, that's the thing... There is purpose, even greater purpose... We are all meant to love, have joy and rejoicing... Here are the synonyms for "rejoicing" - exhilaration, jubilance, delight, celebration, festivity, triumph, elation... And I have learned in life there verb or do part of the word triumph is the "umph"!
May this GHL find you all happy and peaceful in your lives... God bless you each and all in 2015 in all of your endeavors, in all of your families, you relationships, how you work and play and may you have health and a life rich with many experiences of love and care, all year.
Dan & Jackie