Dear Friends and Family,

Our year has been pretty boring by comparison…no new kids, no new house.  This is the first Christmas letter that did not contain news of one or the other.  Gran and Golfball sold my old house, does that count?!?!?  For some reason they found it time for a change, they had lived in the same house for 30 years.  They are now close enough for us to pop in on them with little notice.  We pull in their driveway and it’s like the D-Day invasion, we unload and invade their home, they are helpless.  We have settled into the new house, and 4 kids have us hopping…so much for major life changes.

This year we took several trips…three trips were to Mimi and Pops’ Florida house. We went in March, over July 4th, and over Thanksgiving.  We have hot dog cookouts on the beach with the dolphins, build sandcastles, eat plenty of ice cream, and go kayaking in the bay while we are there.  On the March trip Preston, Pops, and I went fishing.  As usual Preston caught the most fish and I cursed us with bad luck—nothing new.  Before the July 4th trip, Pops fell off his boat and broke his leg, which put him on the sidelines in a wheelchair.  I’m not sure who was more disappointed about this, Pops or the kids.  Momma Bear and Poppa Bear drove up and spent the 4th with us on this trip as well.  Maw Maw was with us for Thanksgiving and I’m sure she was glad to get home because Molly ran her ragged.

The 8-hour drive from Nashville to Florida easily turns into 9 – 10 hours with a minivan full of us and all the things we need to survive the drive together (luggage, books, movies, snacks, drinks, backpacks of toys, television, and accumulated trash).  I’ve always wanted one of my kids to say something worthy of one of those ‘kids say the darndest things’ shows.  One morning in Florida Mimi was cooking breakfast for us, which is always a hectic time (I usually hide under the covers).  Someone mentioned that the biscuits would be finished in “a few minutes”…Emmaline in all her seriousness said, “That is how long it takes to get to Florida.”  Needless to say we are always glad to reach our destination, whether it be Port St. Joe, Florida or Nashville, TN.

We also went to Mimi and Pops’ New Mexico house in early August, which is near Las Vegas, NM (east of Santa Fe).  Both of Emily’s brothers were there with their families.  We stayed in Santa Fe at the La Fonda hotel two nights.  We flew on this trip, the Dean’s flying is fun in a nutshell.  Actually the kids do extremely well on our trips that require air travel.  They did so well on this trip that I thought we would leave the rest of the extended family for an afternoon for a little mini trip by SUV to Los Alamos, NM and to visit nearby Bandelier National Monument (which was used by Indians around 700 years ago as cliff dwellings in the volcanic rock cliffs).  We left from Santa Fe for the short drive and visited our sites.  The road home to Pendaries Village presents two options, 1) an interstate (the way we came), or 2) a scenic drive through the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.  Hey, the kids were doing great, let’s see some of what America has to offer.  We wound up on a dirt road (literally), wow New Mexico’s state highways could use some work?!?!?!  When we passed some horses in the middle of the road we stopped an oncoming car for some help.  Just so I don’t look too stupid, there was another car in front of us that missed the same turn we missed.  This tacked plenty of unwanted time onto our little adventure.  Funny how when we finally got back to the house no one gave dad a big hug and thanked him for the fun trip…I was left all alone to clean out the car and “think about what I had done” (this is a dad’s version of being grounded and sent to his room).

Both the Florida house and the New Mexico house have had major additions to accommodate the growing family.  For a while “the Dean clan” got blamed for crowding the place.  Emily’s oldest brother has two children and her other brother just had a little baby—we can now distribute blame more easily.  Mimi and Pops are brave folks to host us so often.

Preston is 7 and in 2nd Grade at Percy Priest Elementary.  Man is 2nd grade hard for a little boy who absolutely cannot sit still to save his life, and from what we hear 3rd grade is even worse.  He works so hard on his schoolwork, and seems to be best at math and memorization.  Writing takes too long for someone with so much to do?!?!?  Preston is still one of the biggest kids in his class and a sensitive guy most of the time, a gentle giant.  Other times he is just plain rambunctious.  He is a man who wants to look good.  Earlier in the year while we were in Florida he opted for a short haircut, which he thought was cool.  He continues to play soccer and loves to describe how he looked “when he did this” or “did you see how I looked when I did that”.  He tried his hand at wakeboarding on my co-worker’s boat this year and with one person driving, one in the water helping him get up, and one person on the back of the boat directing him he was successful.  Once up, he lapped the lake several times and continued until it was too dark to go anymore.  Like fishing I didn’t fair so well…which he continued to remind me over and over.  Preston and I took Golfball to the Firestone 200 Indy race at Nashville Superspeedway for Golfball’s birthday present – a three generation Dean manly man event.  None of us had ever been to a race but we now understand the fascination with it.  We will be making this a regular event and look forward to our first Winston Cup event.  I also finally have a chess buddy, he is in the chess club at school and is coming right along.

Emmaline is 4 and goes to day care two days a week at Dollar General Daycare in Rivergate.  The engagement she had going with Landon last year didn’t work out so she is still a single woman.  They send pictures home and she is always working hard on an art project or on the computers.  Emmaline is a very focused and patient worker.  She will sit down and work puzzles by herself (and I’m not talking about little 20 piece ones), and draw and paint elaborate pictures.  She is very selective in her words and actions and everything has to be just right with her or we will hear about it.  Emmaline also takes dance lessons one day a week at Green Hills School of Dance.  She takes ballet and tap and in the spring had a recital.  She was a butterfly in the recital and got to wear makeup.  She was in the second youngest group and they did well, no stage fright, and it was a very large professional production.  The usually shy Emmaline might be a performer at heart.

Earlier this year we went up against Emmaline’s strong will when we finally forced the “potty training” issue—she was 4 and not interested in potty training at all.  I call it the ‘Ranch House Potty Incident’ and it is so horrifying that one day it may be made into a major horror motion picture with 15 sequels (and possibly a guest appearance by Freddy Kruger or something).  Emmaline is in her new “undies” but not liking it at all.  Our new house is a ranch, so it is a rectangle with the long hall.  Emmaline and I are in the den at one end of the house, the potty is…well, you guess where.  I’m at my computer and I hear her scream.  I turn and see the beginnings of a growing puddle.  Without a thought (and that is important to the story) I spring into action…I’ll get her to the potty so she can finish up there and we can commend her on a job well done—I’ll be the hero.  Emmaline doesn’t share Preston’s size, she is all of 35 pounds, but it was like trying to wrestle an anaconda—she didn’t want to go to the potty.  About halfway through the kitchen, I thought to myself that this is more than I had bargained for, but no turning back now.  We rounded the corner to head down the hall to the bathroom pee-pee flying…a rug?!?!?  OK, we are on the hardwood floors I’ll get my speed up and go over the rug quickly to minimize the damage, make the quick turn into the bathroom and plop her on the potty.  Again I thought to myself…never mind…no turning back now.  We got to the rug in front of the bathroom door; at this point I was hoping to find an open door.  We are now square on the rug, I’m down to one hand opening the door, she latches onto the other hallway door, and by the time I get the door open and her unlatched from the adjacent door she is hovering over a pee-pee puddle on the rug and she was finished.  By this time mom had appeared and quickly made me realize that all this had occurred because I hadn’t done one thing at the very beginning…remember “without a thought”.  She took Emmaline to get her cleaned up and left me to the rest of the house.  Again I received no thanks for my heroic efforts but found myself banished to the “think about what you’ve done” land.  That’s twice this year, and that is just the ones I’m telling you about. 

Molly is 2 and goes to day care two days a week at Dollar General Daycare in Rivergate.  She has had a very busy year, she learned to talk, and has gotten rid of her bottle.  She is making signs that she is headed towards potty training and getting rid of her “pappy”.  Molly is the only one of our children who will go and play by herself for any length of time.  She has imaginary friends who we catch her talking to and singing to from time to time.  The whole reason we moved to this house was for the yard, so we could have a swing set and Molly will swing for as long as I’ll push (regularly for 30 minute intervals at a time).  She is the family’s party animal and is always wanting to dance (she calls it “shaking her booty”), sing, and play loud.  She is almost constantly running around the house giggling about something.  Both Emmaline and Molly had wedding duty twice this year.  They were flower girls in my sister’s wedding, which we had at our house, and again in another wedding at Cheekwood for Emily’s cousin.  Emmaline and Molly share a bedroom and are different in almost every way.  For example, there is two years difference in them and they both weigh the same.  Emmaline usually assumes the responsible role while Molly just follows along doing Emmaline’s bidding, with an “ok” as she does it.  Molly is good-natured, pretty much always ready for fun, and a good snuggler…because of this I call her “my Molly Bear”.

Max is 1 and was born last year on 12/21.  He learned to walk over Thanksgiving and can now keep up with the big kids much better.  All of our babies have gotten progressively easier and “Big Max” is the easiest going kid around.  He is a little loud at times, but is only letting us know what he’s thinking (which usually is that he feels left out of something).  He paces himself but sounds like he might surpass Molly in his “party-party” attitude.  He already knows how to dance and stomp his feet.  He is constantly running from one side of the house to the other screaming with a big grin on his face.  He is on a schedule and each night about 8:30 we lay him in his bed and he puts himself to sleep, and now sleeps in his bed all night.  He shares a room with his big brother.  Emmaline loves him so much and plays with him more than the others do. 

Emily conceded!!!  Our anniversary rolled around and she hadn’t gotten me a gift.  I got a gift certificate from her confirming an appointment with the urologist for some good old ‘permanent male sterilization’.  I’ve always wondered how Emily could keep a level head with all the “kiddy commotion” that goes on in the house.  She is just built with some internal tool for dealing with anything they could dish out.  Finally she has hit some sort of threshold and we decided 4 would be enough.  So it is finished!  She admitted after seeing her brother’s new baby recently that she wished she had just bought me a present instead.  To late now, I’m not going back under the knife!!!  Emily stays extremely busy getting kids where they need to go, doing our laundry, and cleaning up our messes.  Sometimes I think she does more homework than Preston.  She is rewarded for all this effort by spending her days on earth with me, who could ask for anything more?!?!?!?!  She also has a strange obsession with Sonic ice, and I always catch her going out of her way to stop by and get a giant Sonic Diet Coke with extra ice.  It’s the little things that make life worth living (my own obsession involves a Classic Coke around 2:00 PM each day).

Me…recently Preston was asked why I didn’t do something he wanted me to do and he said because he’s too busy “working on his computer and eating a big ‘ol plate of food”.  That pretty much sums up my life…work, eat, repeat?!?!?  Not really but at times it feels that way.  Emily and I joked that we hope our lives boil down to more than laundry, work, eating, and cleaning up messes.  In addition to my previously mentioned blow to my manhood I had one other devastating blow to my male ego…the second minivan before the age of 30!!!  We had to take Emily’s minivan to the shop one day for service…oops, two adults and 4 children won’t fit in a two door Acura Integra…who knew?!?!?!  We wound up having to drop one kid off at Mimi’s and drive with three in the back seat.  That was the longest drive of my life.  There is something to be said for “needing your space” and 3 children in close proximity to one another in stop and go traffic is not a recipe for success.  No man wants to drive a minivan, but when faced with the possibility of being crammed in a car with 5 other family members like circus clowns in a Volkswagen–I’ll take it!

So another year behind us and we are lucky to be here with everything we have.  About the only thing we could ask for is more time to spend with our family and friends.  If we haven’t heard from you in awhile give us a call or come by the house, we’d love to hear from you.  We hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

God Bless,

Joey, Emily, Preston, Emmaline, Molly and Max

Published by deanorolls

Well, if I told you that you wouldn't need to go to my would you?!?!

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