Dear Friends and Family,
We Are Nashville! 2010 was a year of disasters (both big and small). The Tide rolled in as Alabama flooded Texas to win the national title (Roll Tide!). Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake leaving the better part of the country homeless. February brought in some of the best snow Tennessee has seen in some time. In other parts of the country the snow was so heavy it was being called ‘Snowmageddon’. For all you Conan fans…well you know! If you think Apple is on its way to total world domination the introduction of the iPad could be considered a disaster I suppose. If the Japanese (Toyota acceleration issues) can no longer build cars correctly do we even stand a chance?!?! The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl to help rise from the disaster of Katrina. Full body scanners at the airport could be disastrous if you are shy ‘that way’. The Iceland volcano shut down international travel. Mines collapsed here and abroad with some lucky miners from Chile being rescued after a long stay underground. Probably the largest disaster of the year was the BP Oil Well explosion. The effects of this incident are still unknown for the most part and will be felt for years to come. The smallest disaster…bed bugs…of course!
I always take in the news and somehow the distance of far off things never quite register as much as they probably should. In the first couple of days of May Nashville had its own disaster–a 100 year flood. We got 13+ inches of rain over two days (double the previous record). The Cumberland River went 12 feet over flood stage. My sister works for Gaylord and just about every piece of property they own wound up underwater. The lady who cuts my hair moved here from Eastern Europe after losing everything she owned in a civil war only to lose everything again in Bellevue. My parents had a lady who works with my Mom live with them for over six months as she waited for her house to be completely renovated. The Titan’s stadium, new Schermerhorn Symphony Center, most of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Avenue, Opryland Hotel, Opry Mills Mall all flooded. Interstates flooded and left drivers stranded and washed downstream. Several communities around Nashville lost every home in them. Residents were rescued by other neighbors in their boats. One of the most awesome (in a bad way) moments happened when the Cumberland River filled a local rock quarry. I finished our basement last year only to have it…NOT!!!! ‘The Little Sump Pump That Could’ ran almost solid for 2 days with it’s 3 inch pipe handling everything Mother Nature threw at it. It had only come on twice before in the previous 3 years (for about 10 minutes each time). About half way through the first day I thought about what would have happened if the power had gone out…YIKES! I quickly added ‘Buy A Generator’ to my to do list. The boys and I monitored the situation closely and at one point Max pointed out that it looked like the house was “Peeing”. Classy!!! That’s my boy!!! Folks here in Nashville rallied behind the ‘We Are Nashville’ slogan as everyone dealt with the impacts of the flood. We love Nashville and are proud to call it home! WE ARE NASHVILLE!!!!
I work for a company based in Europe (or did…more on that later) with a liberal vacation policy. They decided we had to actually use all the vacation we were being granted this year. I wound up taking a ton of time off. We started the year off in Florida with Emily’s family. The Grinde’s had what we thought was a grapefruit tree on their property. The boys and I picked one, rode home, sliced it open and were going to eat it. After I took one bite we quickly turned it into a Dean Manly Man competition to see which of us could take it. When Dr. Grinde got home he informed us it was actually a lemon tree!?!?! I’ve never seen a lemon that big…which also explains why I’ve never had a grapefruit that sour?!?!!? (www.youtube.com search “Dean Manly Men” for more fun). For Spring Break we visited Chattanooga with our friends Michael and Robin and their daughter Libby. We hit all the places that you’d want to visit if it wasn’t raining cats and dogs and foggy…but it was so we hit them anyway. Rock City seemed like another planet at times with all the fog/mist. We saw 7 feet in front of us rather than 7 states. Fun times no less! We came home from that and headed directly to Florida with Emily’s family including her brother’s family. Pops took the whole clan on a kayaking adventure in the cypress forest. I still don’t know what was more scary, the alligators or Mimi in a kayak with Emmaline. Actually I do know which is more scary but I’d rather not say…I want to keep my favorite (only) son-in-law status intact! June rolled around and we headed to Land Between The Lakes with my parents and my sister’s family. We boated, slid, swam, and swam, and swam some more. Golfball got in the water for about 30 seconds exhausted himself (another Dean Manly Man Challenge?!?!) and beached himself on the front of the pontoon boat to recuperate for quite some time. Later we hit something more his style since he is more adjusted to eating 2 inch thick (?!?!) pork chops at Patty’s Restaurant. In August we went out west with Emily’s family and rode the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad through some of the most beautiful mountains in the US. I’m not usually an emotional person but I almost burst into tears when the steam train took off from the station and slowly puffed up the tracks gathering speed as it went. Put a piston in anything and I get all sappy…sad I know. We also visited the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings which was pretty spectacular. On the way off that mountain a large tree came tumbling down the mountain and almost took out the car in front of Pop’s and me…which had my entire family in it?!?! Good driving Mom! Later in the year I returned to Chattanooga with Michael again. This time instead of with our wives and children we were accompanied by our good buddy Brent (aka Smokey). A simple guy’s trip (something we haven’t done in many, many years). This trip had a different twist to it than the earlier trip in the year (the one with our wives [emphasis added]). I won’t go into graphic detail (no sense in going ‘on record’ with all that) but somehow lots of flashing lights became involved and we were sent packing home from our friendly hotel in the wee hours of the morning. This is why men need wives/mothers/wardens! Each of us share the suspicion that it will be “many, many, many” more years before we are let out of the house again. Emily’s quote when I showed up on the doorstep at 6AM that morning, “You guys are almost 40!” How big is Daddy? SO BIG!!!
Joey/Emily (Union Station Hotel) – We celebrated our 15th anniversary this year. Several Nashville landmarks hold meaning for us but we especially love Union Station where we had our wedding reception and started off our honeymoon. Our 15th year was filled with getting life back to normal around the house after back to back years of home remodeling. We finished many punch list items on the basement and bathrooms. After that we got busy on many long overdue projects around the house. We were busy building walkways, pressure washing (I freaking love pressure washing), mulching, planting, sealing wood, building rails, adding landscape lights, and sealing the driveway. I could literally pressure wash 24 hours a day 7 days a week until I die. It is the perfect man activity…perfectly simple mindless activity with immediate gratification. Just like we like it!!! Hot…mist yourself down. Dirty…spray yourself off. Thirsty…hold a drink while you do it. By the time I got down to sealing the driveway it was early August. As I lay on hot pavement in 95+ temperatures filling in cracks I swore off manual labor until the temperature started with a ‘7’ again consistently (except pressure washing of course). About this time a new job opportunity came along. I’ve been with my current company since I helped start it 15 years ago. That obviously wasn’t working out (ha) so I decided to try something new. I’m now the COO for a home health care company based here in Tennessee. We have 5 offices across the state and have around 1,200 caregivers working in homes across the state. We are out doing God’s work taking care of people who need a little extra help. The work is challenging and rewarding which is the way it always should be I guess. Hopefully I can settle in for a ‘nice run’ at this company as well. Emily also made a big change this year. She is no longer a Minivan Mom. Our kids are not small little tikes anymore so we had to graduate up to a more sturdy vehicle. No not a tank, bus, or humvee even though those might actually work better. We will miss the minivan days. Minivans are so cool! That statement alone tells you how pathetic the two Dean elders are. Emily spends most of her day shuffling kids to and fro making sure they all get to the many places they are supposed to be. She always puts others ahead of herself…usually without any thanks or gratitude heading back her direction. Emily’s the reason we’ve been together 15 years and none of the 4 ‘little angels’ (and one big baby) have been annihilated along the way. She’s our rock, chauffeur, example, guidepost, instructor, sometimes slave, cook, mascot, referee, laundry mistress, and spiritual leader! Live your dream (?!?!??) woman!!! You Go Girl!
Preston (LP Field) – Poor Preston! He’s had to grow up in the mean streets of downtown Nashville…well at least in the Titan’s stadium for each home game since he was old enough to talk. Preston tags along with Pop’s to the Titan’s home games (his favorite Nashville landmark) and loves every minute of it! This year when he wasn’t fighting his way out of the inner city he was wrestling for the Hillsboro Wrestling team, taking MMA classes, and playing lacrosse. He was a starter on the Hillsboro/Hume Fogg Lacrosse team (the only Freshman to do so). His unofficial title…The Crease Commander! He is really good and enjoys playing. During the summer we barely saw the kid. He toured with the church for several weeks. He went to Chicago on the Choir Tour and then to Glorieta, New Mexico for Youth Camp. He didn’t want to wrestle again this fall so he started hitting the golf clubs more and more. Preston is an easy going kid and rarely gets in too big of a hurry. This sometimes drives me up the wall. Regardless, it makes for a pretty good natural golf stroke. With little training he has a pretty good golf game in him and he played pretty regularly during the summer and fall. I’m horrible at all things that require skill but one day inexplicably landed a 30 foot birdie putt off the cart path with him watching. For about 2 minutes 23 seconds I wasn’t the biggest embarrassment in his life (and actually beat him on a hole). I put my very next shot directly in the river [ding…back to reality]. Preston turned 15 this year and is loving driving…way more than Emily and I enjoy his driving. Who said 15 year olds needed to be able to drive anyway. I’m fine if they do it…in other states…on roads built just for them…with me not in the car…or near them! He actually does pretty good most of the time minus a few near death experiences along the way. He is car shopping all the time and reality is starting to set in…we are no longer shopping for Lambos and Ferraris!??!?! We are now in the world of Toyota and Honda. Even there Preston is about to learn some other terms that are important…JOB, INSURANCE, GAS, MAINTENANCE, BROKE. Enjoy it kid! Soak it up! Savor it!
Emmaline (First Baptist Nashville) – Emmaline is almost officially a teenager (she’s 12) but from an old fogy dad’s perspective she’s already there! Texting, Facebooking, Calling, Twittering! It never stops! Buzz, ding, type, type, ding, type, buzz, type, type, ding, buzz…STOP THE INSANITY!!!! I spend my days trying to get away from all that and she does it for a hobby!?! TEENAGERS?!?! Anyone following the happenings of Emmaline knows she has been pretty involved in dance for many years. Dance company, Nutcracker, classes 10 hours a week, trips all over the country, attending summer camps, working summer camps, father/daughter dance, etc. This year she decided to put some diversity into her life (and ours) by cutting back on dance. She now takes a few classes one day a week. It has taken some getting used to for sure but this leaves her more time for other things. She started in the church youth group for the first time this year. After returning from the Labor Day Retreat her major update was that Preston was “nice to her.” Ah family love!?! She has also gotten involved in the church’s Visual FX group which allows her to continue with her stagework. Emmaline is also deputy administrator for the church in our home (and others around middle TN). She polices (instructs) me often when I have ‘lapses of judgment’. She’s like the little angel on my shoulder when the hammer hits my thumb, when I get cut-off in traffic taking her to school, or do anything else halfway wrong. A father could have bigger problems. No really! I greatly appreciate the spirit though not always being scolded by my daughter. In a little bit of payback my alter ego “Hip Pop” came out for the father/daughter dance this year. He is a ‘very cool’ (trust me), little, sawed off, hip-hop warrior, with inexplicably ‘too large/too color coordinated’ outfits who goes around embarrassing daughters to death! Booyah! That JUST HAPPENED!!! Checkmate!!!
Molly (Frist Center For The Visual Arts) – People always say she is my little twin. What a lucky little girl! In more ways than you can imagine. Molly is my little helper. She is always up for a project around the house. She is the only child in the house like that (the rest run for the hills). Planting grass, cleaning, scraping, hammering Molly is there. Following Mom around the house helping her Molly is there. She is constantly straightening and organizing. So I guess she is a little ‘Mini Me’ in many ways. My sister and I have an ongoing contest of who is our mother’s favorite (of course it is I). Emily and I torment the other children that Molly is the favorite. Of course it isn’t true (or is it?!?!) but it keeps all the kids in constant discussion/debate around the dinner table all in good fun. When I’m not keeping her busy she keeps herself busy and always has some sort of creative project going on. She is always painting, drawing, sculpting or doing some craft. She too decided to cut down on the dance in her life. She was doing as much as Emmaline and decided to go a different direction completely and now plays basketball. She always wins the family games of horse and is quite a little shooter. So she took to the court and does pretty well. She scraps it out and scores, gets assists, and blocks shots. It is actually weird to see little Molly in this different light. Her first game was her best one of the year as she was the team’s leading scorer. Defenses must have gotten wise to her as the season went on. We haven’t seen little Molly “LeBron Kobe Jordan” Dean in quite the same form since that first game. She is so cute running up and down the court in her little girly high tops. As you can see Molly has some tough choices ahead of her. Will she choose 1) organized OCD nerd, 2) free spirited artist, 3) straight ballin’ athlete? We shall see!
Max (The Parthenon) – Max has turned into Maxine. For some reason about halfway through the year he decided he no longer was going to do things called ‘haircuts’. I’m a high and tight kinda guy so I don’t even know what to think. When I ask him when he’s going to get a haircut again his response is a short, simple, “Never.” Max has always been a man of few words. I now know he chooses to express himself through his hair (he and Tom Brady I guess)! Max is a two sport guy with soccer in the Spring and Fall and lacrosse in the Summer. With his long hair settling into place by the Fall he spent most of the season running down the field looking up into the sky to keep the hair out of his face. I’m not sure about that strategy but he seems to be fine with it. Max still loves to build stuff. I’m looking for a little engineering or architecture in his future which I guess is why he chose the Parthenon as his landmark. He is constantly building stuff out of Legos. He gets a new set, puts it together, and then the Legos get dismantled into the ‘giant Lego bucket’. When he doesn’t have a specific set to work with he just builds elaborate cities or vehicles from the ‘giant Lego bucket’. Our house generally has no less than 2.43 million Legos on the floor at any one moment in time. If anyone tries to rob us they will probably be taken out by some kind of Lego booby trap along the way. When not building he and I will go on runs and long bike rides together. When we go he is a trooper and can go as long and as fast as he needs to in order to keep up. We obviously don’t go often enough as we are both getting a little extra ‘flab’ in all the wrong places. Resolution time?!??!
Along with all the other disasters this year Emily and I both lost grandparents. Granny (of Granny and Pipa) on my side and Momma Bear and Poppa Bear (obviously they go together) on her side. Our little 15 year anniversary is mere tiddly winks compared to the long marriages these grandparents shared (63 and 65 years respectively). Granny, Pipa, Momma Bear, and Poppa Bear modeled what family was all about for their children and grandchildren. Everyone who encountered them was left with a positive experience. We are so lucky to have role models like this in our family (along with many others) literally showing us how to live, enjoy life, love each other, and their families year after year. Emily and I can only hope to have a funny name and a bunch of grandchildren one day to pass that message onto and to do it half as well.
I’m always amazed each year when I write this ‘little’ manifesto how each year gives us a lesson. This year loss of family and disasters where people helped each other out (friend or stranger) gives us our lesson. Each lesson always points back to the same thing…what is truly important! With loss and disaster all around we count our blessings and are reminded again what truly matters in life. That’s you! Family, friends and our time together! We truly wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season and new year!
Joey, Emily, Preston, Emmaline, Molly, Max, S’more and Jesse James