Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Claytor’s 2014

If I had a dollar for all the Christmas Letters I’ve composed for you people over the years, I’d have…like…Thirteen dollars.  That is a much less dramatic statement than I thought it would be.  Just humor me though, please?  Seriously.  Don’t make it weird.

The Boy has had a one track mind all year.  All. Freaking. Year.  He and a friend started up a classic rock band “The Difference” and since their debut at the Lincoln Junior High Talent Show have been crushing all year, playing gigs at parties, summer festivals, and taverns around town!  He found some time to join the King’s Players production of Bye Bye Birdie, and finally earned his Taekwondo Black Belt (testing started with a 5k run, followed by 6 hours of mental and physical torture.)  He’s really looking forward to starting High School in the fall, but otherwise can be found in his basement rehearsal space tuning his guitars, tightening his drum heads, setting up mic stands.  One track mind.  I just can’t even.

Caitlin started off the early part of the year having the time of her life with the Marching Illini St. Patrick’s Day Parade tour in Ireland (see earlier post.)  She finished her first year at the University of Illinois majoring in Music Education, and dropped right into the flow at Dad’s office for summer work (gotta build that bank account back up!)  In her spare time she served as a junior producer for The King’s Players production in Bye Bye Birdie.  She must have done OK as a freshman, because the university let her back in for another year (woo hoo!)  All we hear about are her shenanigans with the Marching Illini so we just have to “assume” she’s going to her classes?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?   

Although we lost Sherpa this summer (see earlier post.) , Otter is adjusting to being the sole dog of the house.  Not hard to do, from all the spoiling he’s been getting from Kelly!  He gets his pick of the couches, eats organic raw foods, and gets tucked into bed every night.  I’m not even joking about that last part.  He has regular play dates with Riley next door, and is otherwise living the good life (says the additional pounds he showed at the vet’s weigh in!)  Good Dog!

Kelly once again flexed her inner travel agent muscles and created an AWESOME trip to Ireland for us to see Caitlin for St. Patrick’s day and tour some of the country.  Of course that wasn’t enough “green and wet” for her, so a trip to Seattle and Pacific Northwest was added in September to satisfy her travel desires (see earlier post).  Work on her writing project has occupied most of her free time, and a new promotion has her busier at the hospital.  Otherwise, she continues hoping for more and more travel, particularly pining for Scotland.  So 2015 will likely see her returning for a visit to do some research and whisky tasting (ya wee bastards…!)

Chris celebrated a 10 year anniversary at work, which included a super quick trip to The Netherlands (barely had a chance to adjust to the time change) and had a great time seeing Caitlin perform in the St. Patrick’s day parades in Dublin and driving through Ireland with Kelly (yes on the left side, nay there were no accidents.  Roundabouts are awesome!)  He’s been rehired (yes, again for like the sixth time) as an instructor and route setter at the newest Vertical Endeavors climbing gym, and also joined Chicago’s Baron’s Noyse Recorder Consort.  No, he will not be wearing tights at the Ren-Fair.  That only happened that one time in college when he was…ahem…”experimenting.”      

See, if I complained about the pace of our lives, they’re all “first world problems” anyway.  And even if there was a pill for it, the side effects are nausea, loss of appetite, and thoughts of bumpercar sabotage.  Consult your doctor if you have itchy armpits.

As we gaze lovingly and practice our beauty pageant wave: Merry Christmas and Happy 2015!

Chris, Kelly, Caitlin, The Boy, Otter, and Sherpa one last time! 

Dad's Day at Illinois, Antartica

Remarking on what pure luck it was that we would be able to go see an Illini football game for Dad's Day when it was such a lovely 20 degree fall day, we head south one fine, "Crisp" November day to meet up with Caitlin.

Wearing 87 layers, (actually, I wore 18 articles of clothing in total) we head up to the "band family" section of the stands which adds a few hundred feet in elevation and therefore subtracts a few degrees from the balmy 20 or so it was.

Chris rehearsed his dad's day dance in the morning, one of the highlights of the day. He shakes his a$$ on the 50 yard line with reckless abandon.

(He's front row, immediately right of the guy in the bright orange sweatshirt, working it like he owns it.)

Ninja Claytor

Colin aka "The Boy" aka "The Ninja" Claytor has been busy. Real busy...kicking a$$ and taking no names...

Cause Ninja's don't take names.

White Belt
Deputy Belt

He's now has his first degree black belt in taekwondo, going from wee boy (wait, he's a Scottish Ninja?) to a tough young lad (Yup, totally a Scottish Ninja).

Blowing the Popsicle Stand

There comes a time, in any midwestern transplants life, that a sudden and unquenchable need to see topography occurs. Now, before all you suburban farmers start throwing pitchforks at my house, let me provide you with an inarguable argument as to why one must, occasionally, blow this Popsicle stand:

1. Goddammit this place is flat.
2. There's more to vegetation than corn and prairie grass.
3. Water flows down hill, but you don't know that cause you got no hills.
4.  Conifers, people. They smell nice.
5. Sometimes you just gotta get your crunch on.

We packed up, and went west. Way west, to Seattle & the Olympic Peninsula for labor day weekend.

My criteria for vacation was: not here. Chris's criteria for vacation was: cabin and beer.


We stayed in Seattle a few days before heading to land of the big trees, wandering around Hurricane Ridge, Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, Cape Flattery, & a little day trip to Victoria, BC, to get our Canada on.

Will let the slide show do the rest of the talking...