Greetings from Rainy California!Our children are finally figuring out that itís NEVER going to snow here. Although Ken is grateful for the lack of snow, the rest of us are starting to wish for some (or something other than rain) about now. Of course, we did have some lovely hail recently. We hope that this letter finds you in the midst of a cozy, warm holiday season, and that it finds you before 2002 (which is looking highly unlikely, given that today is Christmas). We are spending our Christmas at home, along with Jenniferís parents, who are visiting from Tucson for a week. Although they did not bring any Tucson snow, they did bring their remarkable ability to play all dayóan art known only to children and grandparents.
You Got a WHAT?This has been a fairly excitement-free year at the Kroner home, with only two exceptions: we got a puppy, and we built a pool. Both caused lots of stress, cost lots of money, and tore up our yard considerably. Both were also more than we bargained for when we began. Taylor, our Golden Retriever puppy, is a Very Bad Dog, in the worst possible sense. He strews diapers throughout the yard, follows behind Jennifer digging up bulbs that sheís planting, chews on the children, frightens our friends, tears up our grass, eats pumpkin pie from the countertop . . . and yet we even like him at times. As for the pool, it took far longer than expected and caused much stress due to various "misunderstandings" with various contractors. Ken has fine-tuned the art of angry fax-writing. Even though the process was painful, we achieved our objective of having a lovely swimming pool. We are counting on summer 2002 being hot! Come visit us!
When, exactly, does "middle age" begin?Ken turned 40 this year, leading him to conclude that "middle age" refers to the middle of oneís adulthood, not oneís life. Ken is therefore still a young man. And Jennifer likes to point out that she is an even younger woman. But none of this changes the fact that Ken is 40. Or that heís a 40-year-old whoís still changing diapers.
Ken cut his travel so much this year that he almost gave up his May-We-Move-You-Up-To-First-Class,-Dr.-Kroner? status with United Airlines and British Airways. In addition to cutting back on travel, he tries to come home early Wednesdays. This gives him more time with the kids, as well as an opportunity to "have a life." This life was to include flying lessons (last yearís Christmas gift from Jennifer), but the flight school went out of business. In 2002, the "life" will include woodworking and race-car driving lessons (todayís Christmas gift). Coincidentally, Jennifer recently upped Kenís life insurance.
Identity Crisis.Not long ago, Sammy asked what Jennifer is, a man or a woman. Jennifer asked, "Do you think Iím a woman?" He laughed and said no. So Jennifer asked. "Do you think Iím a man?" To Jenniferís relief, Sammy thought that was equally silly. "Youíre a boss!" he said confidently. Exasperated, Ryan interjected with, "Sheís a woman AND a boss, Sammy!" and Amber chimed in with, "Sheís a Mrs. Kroner!" So there you have it.
The boss, Mrs. Kroner, has been busily driving our vehicles into the ground, with taking Ryan and Sammy to and from school; volunteering in various classrooms; attending Bible Study Fellowship; leading in an Alpha group (check it out atwww.alphausa.org, http://www.alphausa.org/); being involved in a prayer group; and ferrying various people to various activities (tennis, Taekwondo, swimming, etc.), all while trying to keep the business of home running smoothly. So far everyone is enjoying all of this, including the boss.
Ryanturned seven this summer, learned to ride a two-wheeler, and started losing baby teeth. Heís having a great time in second grade. He loves to read, especially about reptiles of all kindsóthe more dangerous the better. We had to institute a "one fact book and one storybook" rule for library days, as all Ryan was bringing home was encyclopedia-like reptile fact books. The following week Ryan brought home a fact book and a book about the life cycle of the sea turtle; Ryan argued that since the sea turtle book was written in narrative form, it qualified as a storybook. We then instituted a new rule: the storybook must be about people or dressed, named animals. So the following week Ryan brought home a book about a caveman who spends most of his time with dinosaurs. We canít win.
Sammyis a joyful, snuggly, funny and sweet four-year-old. He started preschool this fall two days a week and loves it. Unlike his brother, who knew the alphabet and basic math by this age, Sammy has been allowed to be more "free-range," as it were. Sammyís teachers have sent notes home saying things like "Sammy doesnít know his address and phone number," or, "Sammy
doesnít know his last
name." Weíre working on this. Sammy knows the important things, though, like how to climb our magnolia tree to the top, how to sing "Jesus Loves Me," and how to irritate his brother right out of the room.
Amberis our very own resident two-year-old. She is capable of producing more noise than her brothers combined, which is quite an impressive feat, and yet she is also charming and sweet and affectionate. She causes much mirth around here whenever she refers to Winnie the Pooh as "Poopy." Somehow that never ceases to amuse the 7-and-under and 40-and-over crowd. Amber was the first to use our new pool, having fallen into it a few days after it was filled. In an interesting display of maternal instinct, Jennifer went in a straight line to Amber, through the water, rather than running around the pool and simply fishing her out, which would have been faster (and drier).
When indeed?At this writing, the first anniversary of Kenís fatherís death (even writing or saying that phrase still takes oneís breath away) just passed. It is still almost impossible to believe that he is gone. We know that grieving is a continuation of loving, and he was a very loved man indeed. Sammy summed up the feelings of all of us when he asked, "When will Grandpa stop being dead?"
Happy 2002!So thatís our news. We have so been enjoying hearing yours. We wish you a blessed Christmas celebrating the astounding fact that "God has landed on this enemy-occupied world in human form" (C.S. Lewis). May He be your passion in the coming year. You are His.
Ken, Jennifer, Ryan, Sammy & Amber Kroner
118 Circle Road
San Rafael, CA 94903