I finally understand why people write letters, or at least why I must. My lovely wife loves children more than anything. I share her love of the little monsters except for when I start thinking about financing each one’s college experience. My friend Charles Schwab tells me it is going to run me about $250,000 to get each young one through 4 years at the private school of choice. Now I know why Earl Woods slapped a golf club in Tiger’s hand from day one. Regardless, on May 9th of this year Molly Reece Dean joined Emily, Preston, Emmaline and I. Several people commented to Emily and I that crossing the two-child barrier will drastically change everything. One couple (who have 3 children) just laughed aloud when we announced our good news—I felt like I had been left out of the punch line of a great joke. My personal opinion on the subject mirrors Bill Cosby’s, who says when you move from a one-on-one defense to a zone defense your game plan must change drastically. All this rambling to get back to my original point, by the time Emmaline (our night owl) finally conks out, most people who might be interested in talking to Emily or I probably have different priorities. So it comes to pass that at one o’clock in the morning I write instead of talk.
The question remains whether our little clan will continue to swell. We have made several home moves over the years to accommodate the growth and schooling requirements. Emily and I have progressively moved up the automobile chain from 2 door sports cars, to 4 door sedans. In a last ditch effort to “stay cool” we bought an SUV, but Molly forced me to realize every man’s nightmare…the MINIVAN. So now we can seat seven. I joke with Emily that if we keep having children I’ll soon be tooling around Green Hills in a used Greyhound Bus—funny how she doesn’t laugh when I say that?!?!?!?!
Emily claims (I’m not sure where she gets her information) that I’m a work-a-holic and has accused me of never taking vacation. I tried to turn this situation around. For anyone interested I have maintained the supporting statistics in a spreadsheet. We traveled a lot with Emily’s family over the year. We always have fun with Morgan, Lisa, “Cousin Clayton”, C-Dawg (Cameron) and now Olivia. Basically, Molly hit the ground running. We don’t really let new children lay around too long before they have to get going. Early in the year we returned to the Turks and Caicos Islands and I went on my first open water ocean scuba diving excursion. Preston finally made friends with the ocean and we built some cool sand cities. Later in the year we went to Ted Turner’s Vermigo Ranch in New Mexico where Preston caught an extremely large trout and proceeded to remind everyone for the remainder of the trip just how large it was. If anyone ever wants to go hunting or fishing please reconsider asking anyone from our family (except Preston). Emmaline refused to touch the boats, and Emily and I could pretty much hex any boat we were in. I faired a little worse than anyone else and somehow missed seeing the bear, elk, pronghorn, etc. The animals must somehow sense my powerful presence and retreat for fear of their very lives. Realizing that we were not the greatest hunters on the planet we finished out the year in Florida visiting The Bears. On a separate trip, we visited Mimi and Pop’s new house in Port Saint Joe Florida.
Preston graduated from pre-school in June. He attended the brand new Dollar General / Bright Horizon’s facility near Rivergate. We fell in love with the teachers when it was at Memorial Hospital and Preston loved going a few days each week. I literally can’t get one of the teachers off my mind (Ha, ha, Emily substitutes for them fairly regularly). By the time Kindergarten began he was a pro and ready to go. He goes to school at Percy Priest Elementary just down the road from our house. His teacher is Mrs. Austin—who is great. His best buddy’s name is Leland. The two of them have identical personalities and are the two biggest kids in their class. Preston has already lost 6 teeth and should be able to beat his father to a pulp by the time he hits second grade (unless his growth slows down). Granddad and Teresa came down for his 5th birthday and Preston saddled up and rode a Harley for the first time. We expect his first tattoo to appear soon—Morgan and Cameron can lead and guide that project. He gave up soccer for the fall season and quickly realized he had made a mistake. He can’t wait to get back out on the field in the spring. He showed much improvement from his first season to the second one and was pretty much always in the action. Obviously he gets his great athletic ability from his All-American father and mother. Preston is a ball of energy, but can be caught being really sweet to his two younger sisters when he thinks no one is looking.
Emmaline goes to the same pre-school two days a week. She is all girl! Her best friend is her “Friend”—a new white cloth each day that she drags around and cuddles up to in times of high stress. She is light as a feather but tall. We found a picture of Emily at the same age and no one could find a single difference in the two. She is different from Preston in every way imaginable but thinks he is the funniest thing she has ever laid eyes on. Most nights before we can finish dinner the two of them wind up just laughing hysterically at something silly that Emily and I have yet to identify. She can entertain herself for hours at a time armed with a VCR and a single tape. She loves having books read to her after all the other kids are asleep. Preston goes to bed around 8:30 each night and Emmaline would be up with me now if we didn’t force her to go to sleep. I tell Emmaline she is a “progressive” child. She wakes up in a fairly ill mood each morning, as the day goes on her mood improves and by 10 PM at night she is peaking laughing and giggling like crazy. Emmaline enjoys clothes—she changes shoes about 20 times a day and usually has at least one item of dress up clothing on. She mostly enjoys being a princess. Being a middle child and having a brother with such a strong personality brings out another characteristic that causes me to chuckle (or sigh depending on my mood). She will absolutely put Preston in his place—if a situation seems to be moving in an undesired direction she will quickly rectify that with some form of (usually loud) SNAP!!! A loud “No Presty!!!” usually does the trick. Emmaline is everything I think a little girl should be to a Daddy.
Molly…well Emily and I have decided that she must be happy because she is the laziest baby alive. Every once in a while she’ll grunt real loud about something but is generally content to drink a bottle, sleep, and (when she’s really crazy feeling) sit in her bouncy swing (see picture) and jump up and down. I think maybe she is just simple. Since her namesake is “Golfball” we think that has something to do with it. The two of them could sit and coo at each other all day. I think she looks just like Preston; everyone else thinks she looks just like me. Not much else to say about her…what do you expect she’s a baby?!?!?
Speaking of Golfball…we will never know why Preston named him that. I have successfully gotten him to let go of the hope that the Atlanta Falcons will ever be worth anything. He is officially a Titan’s fan—I don’t know if I’ll ever get him to admit that Eddie George does anything but “dance around” but if they can win the Super Bowl my argument gains additional merit. He is a good man who let the college season pass with the Alabama Crimson Tide successfully winding up in the toilet without rubbing it in too much that Tennessee is still ranked. My mom caught the entrepreneurial bug and is pursuing her true passion, sewing. I will not use the medium to promote her business but the woman is for hire. The only time she is unavailable are the “too numerous to count” times the two of them journey to our house to allow Emily and I to nurture the storybook romance we share. Gran and Golfball usually come with food and a “project” for the kids to work on. No one deserves what we put them through but they never complain (well they did once).
As for Emily, she works on laundry basically every waking moment of her life. We recently re-engineered her laundry room. I managed to get her to believe all my process engineering I do at work could “easily” be applied to her laundry processes. She and I spent the better part of a day trying to get the “solve all the problems shelf” installed in the room. We still have some technical documentation to finish up but have released the beta version and all is well. Honestly, I don’t see how Emily does all she does. She can handle more noise pollution and chaos inside our home than I believe my body will allow me to handle. She is built to be a mother in every sense and can handle most situations that I simply screw up. We have been in our house for two years now and I have officially gotten the “ok” to have friends over. Up to this point she has told me that I was not to invite anyone because the house wasn’t done?!?!? Since no contractors have been in our house for some time I don’t really believe her but she has the place looking great. My only problem now is getting her to stop. I joke that every time she walks out the door she comes back with another piece of furniture. Anytime she goes to the flea market or mall I remind her that we don’t “NEED” anything else. This letter is your official invitation to visit us anytime, so if you make it to our part of town give us a yell. If the Dean family can be accused of one thing it is we go out to dinner way too much, so join us anytime.
Me, all I do is work at work, then I come home and work some more (poor baby). Investment Scorecard is doing well, we have a little over 60 employees and over 400 clients. My position has changed. I no longer run day-to-day production. I’m back to doing what I’m good at and what I love—designing systems. I work with the same guys that I started with 5 years ago and we figure out what the problems are and figure out what we can do to solve them. Although I enjoyed managing the group of guys in Production I figured it was time for someone else to work the trenches and for me to move on. The change of scenery is nice. I’ll probably be working at Investment Scorecard when I’m 60—maybe I’ll get a gold watch or something. Emily (and everyone else who knows me well) makes fun of me…well for many things…but mainly for my list. Preston and I have been working on getting my 2 page To Do List under control. Every time we get anything done 3 more things get added. We seem to be conquering it and have it down to half a page. We try not to have an all work / no play mentality. Preston and I leave the girls at home sometimes and we go hit golf balls at the driving range and we roller blade. I almost killed myself back in April so roller blading tapered off about that time. Once I reattach my arm correctly we’ll get going again. We all try to spend as much time at the pool as possible during the summer—but my incredible body usually draws a crowd and forces us home.
You probably didn’t want the novel you just read but hopefully this will let you know what we are up to (and that I’m long winded and like to ramble). Now it’s your turn to fill us in on what it is that keeps you so busy that you never call us. I’m thankful everyday for all the things that I have that I don’t deserve. I am blessed in so many ways with family and friends and look forward to Christmas each year when I can come together with so many of you. We keep you in our thoughts even when the phone is not ringing and hope everything is well with you. Merry Christmas and have a Great New Year.
Joey, Emily, Preston, Emmaline, and Molly