This is the time of the year when Bonnie gets upset unless our house has so many indoor and outdoor lights that we finance a power company for most of a year. Yes, she got her way. We managed to disrupt Bonnie's shopping (the next priority after decorating) for a few days while we visited Universal Studios and Daytona Beach. And - in a similar fashion to our on-time taxes each year, we finally found time after the 25th to launch our annual Christmas Letter.
Well, the election is over and we have good news: There were no hanging chads in Florida! In honor of Veterans Day I decided to write the Braden Doctrine on Peace Keeping.
Heard some scurrying in the attic and determined it was too early for Santa, so it had to be mice. Not sure how they got there but positive that this was going to be the Right War at the Right Time at the Right Place. Using upon my vast combat engineer experience with explosives and demolitions, I purchased two mouse traps of the spring-release variety. The functioning was similar in many respects to the M5 anti-handling device for M15 anti-tank mines, so I was able to become comfortable in their usage right away. A bit of Internet research revealed that mice seem to have a taste for peanut butter. An inspection of the attic determined possible travelling routes for these miniature insurgents. After a relative short campaign I was able to declare that major combat operations were over and that it was "Mission Accomplished." (Four mice learned that eating peanut butter can be hazardous to your health.) Ah, another pleasure of home ownership.
Hurricane Charlie - Hurricane Frances - Hurricane Ivan - Hurricane Jeanne. Maybe Florida needs some new bumper stickers. How about, "Florida - an entire state of waterfront property?" Or perhaps, "Florida - Category V weather, Category AAA fun!" Well, there is also, "Florida - Even with its hurricanes it's better than where you are." Similarly, "The worst day in Florida is better than the best day in Wisconsin." Thankfully we have been only windblown and wet - no damage. How about seeing if : you might be a Floridian?. Since we spent a lot of time inside, we re-built our home office.
Robert is back at Georgia Tech as an intern at CCF and is enjoying it. Anne is off with another Kindergarten class and has a much better "draw" of kids than with her first year. She loves it. Bonnie is in most days to help and my Mom tries to get in weekly to read to the class. Hurricane Charlie took a right turn and missed our area; we hardly got and rain or wind. Oh, yes, we dominated the church volleyball; watch for us on ESPN highlights. Bonnie's Mom Claire stayed with us for a while, but has returned to Ormand Beach to be with Bonnie's sister Kim. Kim must cook better.
This month we continued with the church volleyball league. This included Robert, Sandra, and Steve. Good fun, even if not great volleyball. Anne enjoyed her last month of freedom before going back to school. Robert continued with his job. Sandra and Anne introduced Savanah and other disinterested children to soccer. We made a second voyage on the Sensation and enjoyed another brief trip to the Western Carribean. Cruises spoil you bad. Savanah and Seth each graduated from swim class; strange but great to see a two-year-old who can swim. When we weren't watching it for about a nanosecond, all the grass in the front yard turned brown and died. Nothing that new sod and many heaping bags of lawn medicine won't fix - we hope. For now, however, there are homes in Bagdad with better front yards than ours.
Anne is enjoying sleeping in and getting paid for it - well, that's how she sees it. Robert is alternately challenged and bored at his summer job. (I say good practice for what you'll experience for the next 40 years.) Bonnie, Anne, and Sandra are getting geared up for Vacation Bible School. The way I see it, the goal is not to educate kids but to see who has the best-decorated room. Eddie (Anne's serious friend) and Robert have each tried to take me on for racquetball but the ol' man prevailed. Seth and Savanah are in swim classes. Watched more hockey in June than in the last ten years: Go Lightning!! Steve and Robert concluded their church basketball league by winning the end-of-season tournament. Not bad since they only won one game during the regular season. Made one our regular trips to Perrys at Daytona Beach.
Culminating four years of Intramural Sports achievements, Robert graduated from Georgia Tech. His final GPA was 3.14659, which means he missed graduating with Honor by 35 ten-thousandths of a grade point. Where is Robert now? Trying to find a soft-hearted professor to turn a B into an A. The graduation ceremony was very nice. Robert was the one wearing five "championship" medallions. One for Flag Football, one for Powder Puff Flag Football, one for Racquetball Doubles (he had an awesome partner), one for Co-Rec Basketball, and one for Co-Rec Softball. No medallions for his “also ran’s” in Softball, Dodge Ball, Soccer, Inner Tube Water Polo, and Basketball.
Some people have to plan extensive and expensive trips to meet strange and wonderful people. Bonnie and I do it each year near midnight on April 15th. This year the only open post office was at the Tampa Airport, about 20 miles away. The crowd was awesome. I wish so many people wouldn’t procrastinate so the roadways wouldn’t be so choked with traffic. For the record, Bonnie and I submitted our returns relatively early; I think my watch said 10:52 p.m.
Anne is now going with a fellow teacher from Yates Elementary. His name is Eddie Laugen. Shhhhh! They want to keep it quiet, ‘cause people at the school will talk. Like they don’t know anyway; even the Kindergarten students have that one figured out. Well, Eddie is pretty active in fitness and sports. Hello….. Meet -Life -Time Movie Channel guru- Anne Braden. Hence, Anne has done more tennis and other fitness activities in two months than she has done since her high school sports days. Since Anne and Eddie can’t beat Bonnie and I at doubles this relationship is okay for now.
For the most part we've competed our move North. (Well, it was just 700 feet North, but still North.) Anne is still Kindergarten teaching with Bonnie helping out almost daily and my Mom coming in the read to the kids weekly. The school thought it was getting Anne, but - even better - got a package deal for the same price. Robert says he is working on his Senior Project, which I think must have something to do with talking his parents into a truck as a graduation gift. LOL.
The New Year is certainly upon us. Robert is back at school in his LAST semester at Georgia Tech. This semester his extracurricular activities include intramural dodgeball and basketball; probably softball later in the semester. Oh yeah, he is taking Senior Design, Spanish, Computer Communications and Behavioral Management. Anne continues with her 18 daily challenges, also known as Kindergarten students. She had a panic attack when the County School Board called and observed that her FSU curriculum didn't cover all the required teacher studies and the word "termination" was used. However, in but 10 days she studied for and passed one of the Florida certification tests so she's good-to-go in teaching and pursuing permanent certification. Whew!!! Grandkids Savanah and Seth continue to be great 99.9% of the time, and when they have bouts of the terrible twos or whatever, we just smile and hand them back to Sandra saying,"Payback!" Broke away over the MLK holiday for a family ski trip to Colorado. It was great! Not crowded, good snow, not too cold. Came back to find that Tampa had 18" of sunshine, as usual.