Merry Christmas to you all from the cold and wet northern Puget Sound region, the jewel of lovely Western Washington and the place we like to call home. If you’ve seen our fair state on the news lately because of all of the flooding, you can rest assured that we came through just fine. We are grateful for that; many roads up in our area took water damage and there are portions (such as Lewis County, where Stephanie was born) in which recovery will be a very long time in coming.
Speaking of recovery, we’re pretty sure that most of you who know us are either shocked or awed at several aspects of this newsletter. Allow us to assure you of the following items:
- Yes, we actually managed to get a Christmas card in the mail before Christmas, not sometime between Epiphany and Spring Break like we normally do.
- Yes, we actually had family pictures taken. They’re relatively good pictures, taken by a paid professional rather than some sad quick last-minute snap from whatever cell phone camera is handy.
- Yes, we are all smiling in them (and yes, for Devin, that’s as goof of a smile as you can hope to see when there’s a camera around). We even did the whole sappy arms-around-everybody pose.
- Yes, we actually used this group-hug family portrait and had the studio make up a bunch of pre-printed Christmas postcards so we can send them out to all of you.
- Finally, we are hoping it isn’t a fluke; we constantly receive requests for pictures, pictures, and more pictures. Devin even had professional headshots taken earlier this year for his editors.
We aren’t huge fans of creating the stereotypical end-of-year family newsletter (although we love getting them from our friends!). We feel like our efforts usually either turn out being some sort of twisted cross between a travelogue, a résumé, and a rap sheet. However, it beats writing a quick note for each of you – when we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pictures going out, there’s no way we’re going to be able to do a hand-written personalized note. This is our compromise – we’re crafting up this article, giving y’all a much more comprehensive peek into our lives than we’d have time for with the traditional approach; in return, you agree to not get mad at us for losing the personal touch. Everybody gives something up, but everybody gets something (which is the sure sign of a good compromise) – and we’re even trying to be ecologically friendly by keeping this online.
Without further ado, let us launch into the meat of the tale. Rather than follow the typical laundry list of who did what (and to whom), we’re going to skip around by theme.
This has been a big year for everyone in our family. Steph, as the heart and soul of our family, continues to apply her organizational and hospitality skills to ever-better use around the home, giving the rest of us the foundation we need to get out in the world and do what we have to do when we’d rather just sit at home playing Xbox all day. She’s motivated several waves of de-cluttering and furniture rearrangement, which has resulted in a cleaner and more comfortable home than ever before. We’ve even managed to get the front room cleaned out so that we have a real guest room now, with a super-comfy Select Comfort bed that she snagged from the Internet for a song.
Unfortunately, the rest of us constantly challenge Steph’s quest for ever-increasing efficiency. Devin, currently in the home stretch of his fifth year with 3Sharp, is putting the finishing touches on a new technical book he’s authoring with fellow 3Sharpie Ryan Femling; this book has eaten up way too much of his evenings and weekends for most of the year. Combine that with a busy travel year (speaking engagements in Anaheim, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando, and Phoenix) and being awarded as a Microsoft Exchange Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 2007, and we’re really glad he’s had a great year at work, because he’s been this close to useless around the house. (Okay, he did finally get an entire carload of obsolete computer gear turned in to the recyclers, but that was just a couple of hours one afternoon.)
Speaking of useless around the house, our cunning plan to continue introducing the kids to increasing levels of fiscal responsibility has met with mixed results. Rather than do a typical
extortion allowance scheme, we’ve settled on feeding their collectable card habits (Transformers for Alaric, Bella Sara for Treanna) in return for their timely and adequate execution of a list of duties. We’ve got two lists – “Mom’s Kitchen Helper” and “Everything Else Including Covering For Dad’s Lazy Self” – and they switch them off each week.
Treanna is flying through her 5th grade year, her last before entering the mean streets of Girl World in middle school, and Alaric is enjoying his 3rd grade year. Both kids are excellent readers, far beyond the typical grade-level expectations, and continue to make significant progress in mastering compensatory behaviors and strategies for their Asperger’s Syndrome. This gives them several steps up on their father; we regularly receive compliments on their behavior, and Devin rarely ever gets compliments on his.
In the Ganger household, 2007 is the Year of the Xbox. Devin has plotted all year long to use revenue from freelance writing activities to fund the Christmas purchase of an Xbox 360 system, accessories, games as the family Christmas present – and this plan, we must admit, has actually worked pretty much the way he intended. He did, however, also step into the world of console games for his birthday in September, thanks to a sweetheart deal on an original Xbox console (with two controllers and nine games, including one on his “Your Wife Wants These Games, So Buying One Might Convince Her To Say Yes To Yours” list) that Stephanie found on the local craigslist. The blame for even wanting a game console can be properly assigned to three events:
- One of our family friends for let us borrow his Playstation 2 for several months, thus exposing Devin to Need For Speed: Most Wanted and allowing him play it all the way through.
- Alaric bought himself a copy of Lego Star Wars I for the PC. Alaric, Devin, and Stephanie all finished it; Treanna was diverted by Bella Sara part way through.
- The kids bought Devin a copy of Lego Star Wars II for the PC for Father’s Day. Again, everyone but Treanna finished it up. To this day, Treanna claims that she has better ways to waste her spare time.
The kids were making significant progress with last year’s major Christmas presents, their mountain bikes, and had participated in several supervised cross-town trips to the library and friends’ houses. Unfortunately, this enjoyable and pleasant pastime was cut short when persons of unknown identity decided that our entire household was no longer in need of our bikes. We’ve held off replacing them until we have a better security solution in place.
2007 is also the Year of Swimming; both kids were able to get three hours of private instruction at our new YMCA facility, thanks to an inspired birthday gift by their godmother Mickie. They both had earned their basic swimming bracelet, signifying that they could swim 25 meters in proper YMCA-approved fashion (face down in the water) and were thus allowed to use the waterslide. This newly acquired comfort in the water immediately turned useful when the whole family accompanied Devin to his conference in Las Vegas; our hotel had excellent swimming and beach facilities that we all enjoyed.
Steph had no fun this year, unless you count the hours of enjoyment she derived from bossing the rest of us around and rearranging the furniture.
Much to our surprise, neither child occasioned any middle-of-the-night visits to the emergency room this year. While we enjoyed Alaric’s 2005 “Swallowing of the Key” or the always-classic “Alleged Hobo Spider Bite Incident”, not having anything new to add to these cherished family tales was a new and, we must admit, enjoyable twist to the year.
This is not to say that we were able to avoid doctors (and their ilk) this year, oh no! Far from it:
- As we write this very missive, Devin is recovering from the extraction of all four wisdom teeth. We hope and trust that while the teeth are gone, the wisdom – such as it is – may remain.
- Alaric received reading glasses approximately a year ago, but has recently graduated to needing them full-time. This is a relief to all of us, because it reduces the number of times he can lose them.
- Steph has dealt with the identification of a new food allergy that has made meal planning even more of a challenge than it already was, with three picky eaters in the house.
- Treanna is now over 5″2′ tall, clearly on track for her stated goal of being as taller as her Grandfather Ganger. Other than the usual colds and preventative maintenance, she’s as healthy as a horse.
Both kids are sprouting like weeds. It has been an expensive year for clothes, and only Steph’s mastery of the Art of the Bargain has kept the children from wandering Monroe in a naked condition.
Editorial note: this section falls under the jurisdiction of the Clinton-Murdoch Blog Fairness act of 2009 for discussing “emotionally charged topics” and has applied the suggested redactions of the central Blog Opinion Committee. For a full copy of this section, please send a SASE and $5 to cover the legal filing costs to the author of this article.
This has been a —– year for us in the spiritual arena. While we —– —– all of our friends and —– —– at —– —– —– —– —– —– —–, we don’t feel that —– —– —– —– —– —– —–. Devin has been conducting some reading, based on —– from —–, and is currently exploring the —– —– phenomenon. —– —– —– —– —– —–?
While there is certainly more that we could say, both our time constraints and our interest in retaining your friendship would suggest it is time to bring this to an end.
Let us instead close with these words from Devin:
Our thanks for reading this far,
Our gratefulness in having you to help bring and share in the joy of our lives,
Our best wishes for you and your loved ones in this upcoming year.
Not bad for someone who’s on pain medication, no?