Merry Christmas 2011

December 3, 2011

The halls are decked, the gifts have been ordered from amazon.com, and I sit by the non-working fireplace reflecting on another year gone by, suddenly seized by unspeakable panic. I have not written the Christmas letter. I have toyed with and dismissed several format ideas, none quite worthy of my readers’ high expectations. The pressure to perform is intense.

This has been a year of many gifts for the Milhizers, I think best expressed in song…

Not exactly, but I would like to take this opportunity to revisit a song that I feel is long overdue for some refreshing: “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

Really, disease-ridden birds, all that mess of milk, and needy musicians who are probably union and expect tips? And all of the leaping? That would put me on edge. True love? What a jerk. How about a storage unit to go with all of that? Anyway, “The 12 Days of Christmas” as retold Milhizer style…

One Job in a Tough Economy

I’m one year into my new job as Partner at PeopleResults. It’s the perfect combination: the team is fantastic, the clients are a mess (good for business), and they pay me to be bossy. (Family, take note). I’m in my element. This year I’ve gotten to do quite a bit of blogging and speaking on social media. I’ve gone viral once or twice too (that’s a good thing).

Two Parents Traveling

Eric and I celebrated 15 years of marriage with a two-week trip to Turkey. I did all of the planning, and Eric showed up. It was the perfect location with historical wonders, beautiful terrain, amazing food, and friendly people. The highlight for both of us was hot air ballooning over Cappadocia – for me because I was in the balloon, and for Eric because he got to sleep in and look at the pictures afterward.

Three Boards A-Breaking

Gus capped off 5 years of practice, earning his First Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. His test involved some very involved sequences of moves, called forms, breaking 3 boards with his elbows and feet, and scampering up a wall doing all manners of kicks and turns. Weighing only 50 pounds has its advantages; he was able to do 2 full turns and 2 back kicks before coming back to earth—the most the instructor had seen from a student.

Four Families Gathering

This 4th of July we headed to beautiful Torch Lake, Michigan with Eric’s mom and dad, older brother, and sister. We had the usual lake activities: swimming and boating as well as water gun fights, campfire stories, and the annual cousins’ talent show. We even experienced the Floating Burger Barge at the sand-bar. We introduced a new activity with the boat: tubing. The kids took to it right away. The adults, well, let’s just say there was often a choice between hanging on and keeping your swimsuit bottoms.

Five Years to VP

After 5 years as Director, Eric got a much-deserved promotion to VP of Marketing Operations at MetroPCS. He’s been working on data analytics and determining the most effective marketing strategies based on customer profiles. He’s a numbers genius, and as a result we were rewarded with tickets to the Super Bowl in Dallas. I forget who played, much less who won. I do, however, remember the mud, the lines, and the $23 hamburger.

Six Hands A-Playing

Gus, Nate, and I continue in our piano lessons. This year Gus and I took on real challenges. He played Für Elise, and I played a Chopin waltz and prelude at the recital. Gus was amazing and commented that “No one appreciates classical music anymore; it’s all this rock stuff.” He’s decided to take on more Beethoven this year. Meanwhile, Nate is a stealth performer. We practiced and practiced, and right up to the spring recital it was touch and go. Nate, however, was completely cool. He owned “The Muffin Man” like it was Carnegie Hall. Apparently all he needed was an adoring audience.

Seven Seconds Balancing

I still teach yoga twice a week, and as I’m approaching my 40th birthday decided to challenge myself with a few elusive poses. One involves balancing on your forearms with your feet in the air overhead. Not so hard to do, but hard to maintain. I’m up to seven seconds before rolling out of it. It’s critical to perfect the exit strategy first.

Eric has also been upping his game: hitting the elliptical machine, coaching Nate’s soccer team, and playing in an over 30 soccer league. No need to point out just how far over 30 he is. He’s down about 12 pounds and will be asking for belts for Christmas before he’s cited for indecent exposure at work.

Eight Skis Sliding

A spring break trip to Michigan had us all on skis. Eric rented the demo skis, and miraculously decided he needed to buy a pair. Gus and Nate participated in ski races and took 3rd and 4th places respectively. This year, we’ve decided we are ready for Colorado and have planned a trip to Steamboat in March. Given we are used to 15 minute runs at sea level, we may never make it all the way down the mountain and will likely still be there come spring break 2013.

Nine (and a half) Spins Accomplished

Gus is in his third year of Breakdancing, this time in the Intermediate class. He’s moved up to spinning on any part of his body imaginable. He boldly volunteered for a head spin contest, the youngest and never having done it before. He made 9 turns on his head and one on his face. When asked his lesson learned, it wasn’t about courage or confidence in yourself; it was, “Stop spinning when your neck starts to bend.” He has a career in fortune cookie writing.

Ten Years A-Passing

On December 20th, Eric and I will celebrate 10 years of parenthood. Gus turns 10, and a month later Nate turns 6. They are simply amazing kids. Gus started public school this year, and for all my fretting about it, is having a great year. He loves his teachers, friends, and the special classes called Encores. His Thanksgiving letter to us included,  “I love you more than the Chemistry Nobel Prize.”  High praise, indeed.

Nate is in Kindergarten at The Spanish Schoolhouse, which is 3 days taught completely in Spanish and 2 in English. He’s reading, adding, and growing up way too fast.  He is a fast friend of Seamus, our one year old lab, and their method of playing would probably have both Child Protective Services and the SPCA frowning.

Nate decided the training wheels could come off his bike this year, and he pedaled away so fast that Eric never could run along behind holding on. He’s a born salesman and the family comedian, recently trying to convince us that Gus agreed to a plan of his making. He finally admitted, “Ok, I’m accidentally lying, but…” Got to admire that kid’s creativity.

Eleven Hours Flying

Having missed out on Turkey, the boys decided they were ready for a big trip. Hawaii was considered too dangerous—active volcanoes and all. After intense negotiation between them, they settled on seeing castles in Europe, and Germany was judged the winner. Having lived in Munich in college, I decided that was an excellent base for Castlepalooza 2012. We plan to visit Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest this June.

Twelve Followers Following

I restarted my personal blog this year: www.snootycall.com. At press-time, I have 12 followers who receive email updates when I post an entry. Hey, Jesus started out with 12 and look where that went. I have 100 or so regular readers, but I understand they can’t commit. No offense taken. I’ll just continue to toil, and they throw me crumbs of attention when it suits. I have kids, I’m used to it.

The blog originated from my travels to Colombia adopting Nate and has turned into an outlet of sorts. It’s usually about things that are annoying. But I feel that may give a negative (if not accurate) impression. That’s why I have brought you here this year to experience it for yourself, clear up any misconceptions, and to cleverly inflate my readership.

So there you have it, the Milhizer year in review set to a Christmas standard. Again, we have been given gifts beyond measure and look forward to what 2012 brings. We wish you all of the best of the holiday season and in the year to come.

Love,

Eric, Barbara, Gus, Nate, & Seamus