Dear Friends and Family,
Wsup? LTNS MG TOY!
We are now officially parents of a teenager so I’m trying to learn all the cool text message shortcuts (I’m not even sure that is what they are called). I need to do this so my son will actually know what I’m saying to him. Translation of the above for dumb people like me: “What is up? Long time no see. Many greetings. Thinking of you!”
AWHFY? (“Are we having fun yet?”)
In other hip news around the Dean house I must let you all know that I have left the world of four wheels. Yes, I now eat up the asphalt almost exclusively on two wheels. The open road is my adventure. I’ve got my motor running for whatever comes my way. I’m born to live, I live to ride. You see someone like me can only live the family man charade for so long. Khaki pants? Dress shirts? Fluorescent lit offices? Minivans? Kids? Chores? Soccer games? Dance recitals? Football practices? Whatever, I’ve got to live! I’ve got to ride! Four wheels move the body, two wheels move the soul!
So this August I did what any free spirited biker would do. I built a spreadsheet. I mean who buys a bike without first calculating the projected bike payoff from gas savings based on the mpg of said bike to one’s minivan? I would never be able to face my computer programmer friends without this vital information. My motto: Work To Ride, Ride To Work!
Don’t think I fell for one of those high priced, v-twin, gas guzzling, bad boys. My mama didn’t raise no fool. No this free spirited, cost conscious, environmentally aware, rebel went with a different sort of hog. Genuine Motor Scooter’s Buddy 125cc (in orange) is what I carve up the road with! Preston calls it “The Piglet” and then usually mutters something about little hog as he laughs?!?! I call it my “Little Buddy”! Go ahead laugh, most people do! I laugh back each time I pass a gas station and I see some big SUV pulling away with the $75 price tag still showing up on the pump. I usually have to stop ONCE A WEEK myself for my ONE GALLON OF GAS!!! Who’s laughing now? I know…probably still you.
I’ve never been accused of being too cool. Riding around town on my little scooter is not helping my plight. The move from four wheels to two was strictly a cost reduction move. By my calculations the scooter will pay for itself in a little over a year and a half. After that I’m rolling around on pure profit! Having people laugh and point as you ride by them was not really factored into the spreadsheet. Actually most people get a kick out of the Buddy and are amazed at the 60+ mph top speed and 100 mpg gas mileage. I pretty much know where I stand with most folks. I still haven’t figured out where I stand with other ‘real’ bikers. Some give me the “two finger toward the pavement wave” some don’t. The first time a biker waved at me I was so confused I just gave him a little wave back that probably resembled more of a beauty queen wave…YIKES!
I was able to tear myself away from my new biker lifestyle long enough this year to go on a few vacations with the family. We piled in the old minivan after Christmas last year and went to Disney World where we met up with Emily’s family and ushered in the New Year with Mickey Mouse. We visited Mimi and Pops in Vero Beach over Spring Break and Memorial Day. We hit Holiday World to ride that nasty roller coaster, The Voyage. Emily’s Dad and I were trying to see who could get sick first! Then we finished off our year visiting San Diego (pre-wildfires) and New Mexico.
I guess it has been an eventful year for me. Work, work some more, and then go do some more work. I know poor baby! The little company I helped start 12 years ago was sold this year to a British company. Not a lot has changed except the benefit package. It has been an interesting ride to go from a startup with basically nothing (including customers) to being absorbed into a $4 billion international company. I’m not sure they really even know we exist. Regardless, I’ve been working on my Austin Powers impression for any upcoming interactions with the new British management…yeah baby! Any extra time I can find I spend working on the Dean Estate. We have many fun-filled projects. According to Preston none would be classified as fun. I’m actually starting to agree with him. The basement remodel has been moving along. I have almost finished up the framing. I’ve never so much as nailed two boards together before so this has been a learning project from the start. I had to put a hold on the basement to pretty much replace our entire landscape. After a late Spring freeze was followed by a Summer filled with 95+ temperatures and months of no rain the earth decided to created a dustbowl in my once prized lawn. I’m convinced that having a beautiful, manicured, lawn is the most futile endeavor a human can undertake. It is a one acre science experiment that never ends. Emily’s question of “why are we doing this again?” as she pushed the back wrenching aerator around the dust pit caused me to question my own existence. It was a fairly profound moment considering I had already collapsed in the dirt and was wallowing in the mud created from my own sweat.
Emily is a precious soul. I’m a whimp when I compare myself to her. She decided that she needed a little more activity in her life this year?!?! As soon as we got home from Disney she started training for the Country Music ½ Marathon. She and a friend would get together and walk all over Nashville to get ready. Finally at the end of April they participated in the 13.1 mile race and finished in 2 hours 51 minutes. It takes me that long to walk to our mailbox?!? In the best shape ever and with our last little one headed off to kindergarten she was ready for her next challenge. I was prepared to hand it down. Emily had been substituting at Max’s preschool from time to time earlier in the year just to help out. We became accustomed to the extra money that was coming in and I asked her nicely if she could go to work full time. She did and is now a 100% prime grade working stiff. I can tell she loves it from the things she says. Things like “since you made me do it”, “you said I had to”, and “I’m so tired”. Now every day of her life is a marathon! Up at 5:30 to get everybody ready and gone, at work by 8:30, deal with other peoples bratty kids all day, leave work at 2:45, pickup and taxi our own slightly bratty kids around town till 6:30, get dinner, do homework, and do laundry until Midnight. Repeat daily. Emily is a daycare iron-woman working for peanuts while I drive a metrosexual scooter to my cushy, overpaid, corporate job.
As previously mentioned Preston is a teenager and has had a busy year. He is now in 7th grade and in the youth group at our church. He has the ladies fooled and they love him. He left to go to church camp with a local girlfriend and while there met some girl from North Carolina. He dumped his back home girl and now has a girlfriend out of state. He doesn’t have her phone number, address, or e-mail address. I asked him how this relationship was going to work out being that there was no way to contact the girl. He said maybe he would see her again sometime. Ah young love. Preston is 12 and as tall as I am. I still weigh more (pretty sure that isn’t a good thing). Preston has played football for years and this year he played for his school. His school’s team hasn’t lost a game in something like 8 seasons so as a 7th grader he rode plenty of the pine pony. This year he also played lacrosse in a summer league and at school. Last year I made him play on the 12 to 14 year old team (even though he was only 11). This year he was legal and looked very impressive. He’s a beast. “Beast” evidently is a word that means “really, really awesome”. It is the word de jour around the house with Preston. So-and-so is a beast, this Big Mac is a beast, the Wii is a beast, beast, beast, beast, the word beast is a beast?!?!?
Emmaline is our 4th grade drama queen. As a matter of fact as I write this paragraph she is having a dramatic meltdown over something really important?!?! That aside she is our most popular child. She has some sort of spell that she cast on almost everyone she meets. Teachers love her, classmates love her…and of course she loves herself. Confidence is not a problem with this one…I wonder where she gets it? She has had the attention of one young man, Garon, ever since he laid eyes on her in kindergarten. This year my daughter was the subject of some playground graffiti. This is nothing a father is ever proud of. “Garon loves Emmaline, but they didn’t kiss.” The last part has since been scribbled out (not sure what that means). Did they, did they not?!?!?! I’m on the trail and will find out. She is still focused squarely on dance and takes ballet, tap, lyrical, jazz, hip-hop, and acro. This year she added pre-point classes as well. She has two other little friends that are in her dance company with her and they are inseparable. During this year’s dance recital I was invited by Emmaline to participate in the Father/Daughter dance again. This year we danced a slow dance and then kicked it up a notch to some 70’s Motown tunes. I try to dance with great skill so I will continue to be invited. After spilling the beans on the drama queen and graffiti stuff I may not be.
Molly is in 2nd grade and is currently being accused in Dean circles of being a teachers pet. She knows more about Mr. Tanner than I think he knows about himself. We really started becoming suspicious when she came home from the latest class field trip and said she had sat with him on the bus. She knows about his wife, what kind of earrings she wears, his parent’s name, his favorite color, his allergies, favorite cartoon character and on, and on, and on. They have a pen that they share. I’m not sure if she is trying to keep the old grade point average up or if there is a little infatuation involved. She doesn’t really need any help with her grades because she is quite a student. She is a math wizard. Emmaline has been said to be pretty smart as well and Molly can beat both of us in our little amateur math contests that we hold from time to time. A few weeks ago Molly popped in and told us to listen. She rattled off the alphabet in lightening speed…backwards! I guess she is ready for a field sobriety test if the need ever arises. Molly takes all the same dance classes as Emmaline. She still hasn’t invited me to participate in the Father/Daughter dance with her. She is probably waiting to invite Mr. Tanner?!?!
Hi, I’m Max and I’m addicted to video games. Max is extremely handy with the game systems. Mimi and Pops think he is developing his hand/eye coordination to follow in Pops’ footsteps to become a surgeon. I’m not sure he has life planned out to that level yet. He can definitely do surgery with a light saber, ray gun, steering wheel, or whatever else a game throws his way. He can kick my guts out in most any game that we decide to play. I love getting the smack down from my 5 year old. He started kindergarten this year and we were a little concerned that his speech was not up to snuff. After about ½ year in speech he is now talking brilliantly (everything except the ‘L’ sound). When a boy can’t say his favorite thing on earth we knew we needed to help him out. ‘Playstation’ is now almost perfect and no longer ‘Pwaydagun’. This year Max moved up to play with the bigger kids in his soccer league so he didn’t mop the field with everyone like he did last year. He was still right in there with everyone else so I’m sure next year we will have to reinstall the reigns so some other kids will get to touch the ball. He is still the strong silent type. Emily and I had no clue how school was going to work for a little boy who refused to talk. I was at school one day for a field trip and he was ring leader and actually speaking. I immediately called Emily and let her know he was cured. He is your typical, rambunctious, rough, tough, kindergarten boy.
Every year things seem to happen that cause me to put things into perspective in our life. A couple of times this year we have been close to situations that have dramatically changed lives. The closest was when Emily’s older brother, Morgan, was involved in a car accident back in June. As we shared Thanksgiving with him and the rest of her family it was hard to remember the dire situation he was in earlier in the year. A few other times we have had friends or the news tell us about situations where an individual or family’s life was changed in an instant in a tragic turn of events. Accidents, acts of violence, natural disasters, or illnesses can all remind us of how fragile our lives are and how blessed we are when things are just humming along. We have been blessed this year for sure. We wish the same for you in the upcoming year.
Joey, Emily, Preston, Emmaline, Molly, Max and S’more