Monday, December 15, 2008

Welcome to “Merry Christmas from the Claytors” 2008 edition!

If you found us on the internet at congratulations, go have a cookie. If you’re reading this on old fashion paper…go hug a tree; one that hasn’t been sacrificed for your reading pleasure.

K…here we go…

As in the past, we start with 2 new additions to the family. First, there’s our ghost, Luther. He’s been living in the house for an indefinite period of time, making his presence known only this year to us. He makes occasional noises in the dining room, and we’re pretty sure he’s stolen our space heater and a bag of green beans from the garden. Almost as exciting was the appearance of Mildred the ladybug…who hung out in the kitchen when the weather got cold, and only came out to say hello to Chris. Raise your hand if you’re creeped out yet…

She spent the summer babysitting and working at the YMCA as an LIT (they say that’s Leader In Training, but my money’s on Little Ingrate Teen.) Caitlin spent a day with Grandpa at the Shedd Aquarium doing the Trainer for a Day program, feeding beluga whales and going in the penguin habitat. One step closer to becoming a marine biologist. She and Dad ran the American Brain Tumor Association 5K race. She’s almost done with middle school, which means of course that she’ll attend High School next year. So six more signs to go until the apocalypse! She’ll continue playing French Horn in the band, and is joining the Prospect High Show Choir.
Show us your JAZZ HANDS!!!

He’s doing great in 2nd grade, and The Boy took his first climbing trip to western Illinois with Dad and fellow climber Ken Carlson. He followed Dad on a 60 foot 5.6 crack, and top roped a series of routes for a full day of vertical fun. Another season of soccer under his belt, plenty of mountain biking, hiking, and some pick up baseball games with Dad and the “big boys” have kept him very active. Perhaps most memorable was the intricate orthodontic headgear he wore for most of the year, which reminded us of a certain Oscar-winning 1991s horror flick (…hello, Clarice…)

What can we say about our wicked step-mother this year? Kelly took advantage of her break from the Land Planning
career, remodeling our kitchen and first floor bathroom. As usual she managed our garden with such finesse that she was in demand around Chicago’s Northwest ‘burbs to design and install several landscape plans through a local nursery. She’s still a prolific route-setter at the climbing gym and joined friend Heidi on a casual “all-girl” ascent of the Sentinel in Western Illinois. Wait…cute climber girls?…I may need a moment…

And now…the dogs!

Sherpa has continued her fierce defense of the homestead (just ask the gas meter reader with the newly “perforated” shorts…) We should have listened more carefully when she barked at whoever stole Chris’s bike out of the garage! Otter completed his training and is now a Certified Therapy Dog. He and Kelly visit nursing homes and hospitals to brighten the days of those going through tough patches, but his favorite is the “Reading with Rover” program for young school kids. Just think…last year he still thought his own tail was out to get him…GOOD DOGS!

Man, oh man it’s been a year for Chris. Still working the same job with the airlines, and once again he hosted a successful climbing competition with a record turn-out and a few grand raised for the Access Fund. Running races with Caitlin, climbing with The Boy, and biting utility employees with Sherpa has kept him busy. He did carve out a few days in the fall to join Bela and the guys on a trip to Colorado, climbing in Boulder, Eldorado, and Clear Creek Canyons. Although the best part of the trip may have been the massage he got from Kristie at the spa…really roughing it these days, isn’t he?

Well that’s about all my feeble mind can relate to the great-unwashed-masses. But now that we’re on-line be sure to check back regularly for more updates and entries throughout the year. You may even see prose poetry and pictures from some of the other members of the family.

The game goes to the brave! Aim small, miss small! What are you looking at? Sorry…We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and safe (but not too safe) 2009!

Hugs and polite gestures,
Chris, Kelly, Caitlin, The Boy, Sherpa, and Otter