Tuesday, March 13, 2018

McAnulty Christmas Letter 2017

Hello, Friends and Family. Welcome to the McAnulty Christmas Letter 2017 (With apologies for the length of this missive…when Will saw the printed edited final version and said “Gad zooks is it long enough” and I defensively replied, “hey I cut out one of your paragraphs and shortened some of your run-on sentences.” (but failed to mention I may have added a few of my own)…oh well, if anyone can get through the whole thing it might be a Christmas miracle!
Looking back, it has been a pretty busy year.  That might explain why it went by so fast.  Or…it might be explained by the perspective of old age.  Without boring the reader with abstract concepts about time and old age that I don’t understand myself, I will just prattle on about the year we are reviewing.
In January we took a vacation to Kauai with Galen and Carol.  This was a lot of fun, but honestly I have never seen so many chickens running around EVERYWHERE.  The weather was great and the condo provided ocean views and easy access to the beach as well as trails on oceanside cliffs.  We were privileged to see the Waimea Canyon without cloud cover.  LeAnn was able to scare other tourists with a bit of bizarre behavior related to the cliffs.  (Now those were some cliffs! So thrilling…but bizarre behavior? Not sure what he’s talking about, it all seemed perfectly normal to me.)

We were able to eat at the most expensive places possible, shop for things we didn’t need, and relax at a pool that was warm and bathed in sunshine.  Daily walks for the normal people, daily runs for those possessed by the fitness bug.  Every morning at sunrise, while on vacation, tell me that’s not some kind of illness. (Why would anyone want to sleep through even one gorgeous tropical sunrise?)  
I think Will forgot to mention the dear litle 70-something lady who he rescued when she got tired and disoriented while snorkeling!
Aside from spending the vacation with some pretty nice people, it was relaxing and once again very hard to leave.  I kept remembering all that snow and ice we had preceding the vacation.  And then there was all that rain for months after we returned home!

 After returning from Kauai, it was time to settle into the old grind and daydream about the next adventure (that word always worries me a bit).  So it was off to Seattle by train in late March.  Our usual habit is to go camping in March, but this year we tried something different.  If you haven’t ridden by train in awhile (or ever) it’s worth the time.  We drove five miles to the train station, hopped on the train and went to Seattle.  

Stayed two nights in a nice hotel next to Safeco Field, used their shuttle to get around and saw the sights.  We were able to spend some time with old friends Steve and Jan Buckley (who are not old and actually seem sorta ageless), and then took a nice train ride home.  No worries about driving the freeway, finding a parking spot or figuring what exit to fight about taking.  I highly recommend this sort of adventure.

 April found us on another one of our family traditions – a weekend with the kids, grandchildren and all, to the rented house at the coast.  It wasn’t the best house we have ever spent the weekend in but I expect it might be the quietest weekend in the foreseeable future.  You see, this weekend marked the month before the number of our grandchildren doubled. 

Stella was born to Molly and Eric on May 9th.  What a lovely little girl, with a ready smile and a curiosity that keeps her on the move. She was here last Saturday and LeAnn remarked how nice it was to have a little one who didn’t go around and mess up the place. But there went Stella, crawling over to the fireplace ledge where she pulled herself up and tossed all the Christmas stuffed animals to the floor!
With one grandchild born in May, we were determined to go camping over Memorial Day.  It was not too far to get back if the next one came a few days early, and we took Kamden, our oldest grandson along just in case his brother decided to make an appearance while we were camping with Galen, Carol, Doug and Anisa.  Also present at Casey’s RV Park were a host of sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters from Galen’s group.  A great trip with an on-site soft ice-cream machine (which was taken advantage of to the fullest) and a Memorial Day bicycle parade enjoyed by all.  
Ice cream with Kam's "friends", Jody's Jenna and Brenden.
We returned from that trip to the birth of our fourth grandchild, Raylan, on May 30th. Good-looking boy, second son of Nick and Christina. It’s so much fun watching Kam be a big brother to this adorable little guy. Kam is now 3½, in preschool, ready to be a real grown-up police officer and put all the bad guys in jail. Never a dull moment!

Craig and Steph’s little Evy, now 20 months old, also keeps us entertained, repeating everything we say and constantly fearlessly climbing everything in her path.  She’s enthralled by the Christmas lights, saying “Cool!” over and over.  

           We absolutely love every minute we get to spend with these precious grandchildren. We kind of enjoy their parents too.  Every Sunday that they come over to hang out with us is such an honor and a privilege and we are very thankful.

July brought with it a really cool vacation to Canada, a two-week road trip with nephew Duane (who had just graduated from George Fox College) and his parents, Doug and Anisa.  We took our new Suburban, staying in motels en route and with LeAnn’s brother John and Betsy in Fort St. John, BC.  It was a lot of driving but well worth the time.  Duane turned out to be a pretty good navigator. His father and my wife still have a bit of improving to do with that skill set.  It appears Doug’s fingers are a little too big for data entry on the GPS.  LeAnn, although very skilled in so many things, occasionally struggles when pressured to find North on a map.  (Not true. I can find north. There just seems to be technology glitches when I’m the navigator!) 
Duane is the king of the selfie stick!
Those Canadians know how to picnic and are never afraid to drive for hours to find the right spot.  I was amazed at the organized way they all threw open the doors of their vehicles at the same time, got out, ran every direction, man woman and child, and within minutes a fire was burning, food was cooking and laughter was king. (And sometimes the kids were off climbing the highest peak they could find.)  
We spent nearly a week with our Canadian relatives in and around Fort St. John B.C. and had a great time, with activities from fishing to running to hiking to eating to lolling around enjoying the views. (Our Canadian family is super fun, which includes my brother Mark and Paula and their son Daniel, who we also got to see along the way.) We also got to see our long-time friends Gene and Debbie Wark in their new home town of Corvallis, Montana as we passed through.

So with all that travel and with fire danger very high, I considered just staying home for a while but it was not to be.  Linn County Parks had just recently made some big improvements to a campground East of Sweet Home and the word was not out yet.  With millions coming to Oregon to see the eclipse in August, every other campground was full up. The ones that weren’t full were on fire. We settled into the nicest two campsites near Green Peter Reservoir and brought the boat for good measure. Had a great time watching the eclipse with our kids and grandkids as well as some quality time on the lake.
Grandpa and Raylan
Eric and his baby Stella
Excited about the fish!
Fun with goggles after the eclipse!
            September brought a last minute, unexpected trip to Houston with another guy from church to take some things down to the flood victims. We took the long way there via Porterville California, Burbank, Albuquerque, and then Huston. It was quite a trip in a 26-foot U-Haul.  We flew back. While we were gone, LeAnn and her niece Faith ran a half-marathon and they claim they had a really great time. Go figure.
Mid-September we took another fun camping trip to River Bend Campground near Sweet Home with Galen, Carol, Doug and Anisa. Close to home, it makes it easy for our kids/grandkids to come for the day. 
Evy is a great little hiker!
Gotta love my brothers!
As it turned out, this was the last trip out in our Cougar 5th wheel. Logging over 500 days in the past eight or is it nine years, it was time to look for something that would fit into a Forest Service campground. But first I made a few improvements to the truck - after all you wouldn’t want me to pull a new 5th wheel with the same old set up.  I put in a spray in bed liner, new 5th wheel hitch, toolbox, and cab rack. I think it looks pretty good now. 
Duane’s wedding to Rachel in October brought Mark and Paula for a visit and also necessitated a trip to the coast for some crabbing.  More great family times.  Kam was awesome in the role of ring bearer. Though he had a hard time figuring out whether or not he also got married to Rachel, whom he adores! (“She’s so pretty!”)
So after thinking about it for several months, we traded in the old trailer on a new one at the end of October.  This one will be easer to get into Metolius River sites and perhaps other forest service campgrounds we haven’t been able to get into.  It is shorter than the last 5th wheel but I think nicer.   We took it to River Bend and out to the coast on two November weekends and are looking forward to another coast trip late in December.
I am trying not to end the letter on a down note, but November 21st was Zeek’s retirement date.  He was a great dog but his health this past six months led me to make the tough call and end his duties to the family.  The next pet will be LeAnn’s  choice.  For now I think its best to follow my sister’s advice and stick with stuffed animals.  Zeek is missed. 
Our last family picture with Zeek, June 2017
He was so gentle with our babies. Evy loved him. 
Kam pretended to be a dog with him!
Always ready and willing to clean up Kam's crumbs!
Just hangin' out.
            Gee thanks for writing this letter and ending there, Will! Now I’m supposed to bring it to a cheery conclusion? Life is filled with ups and downs, with joys and sorrows, and we are very thankful that the joys greatly outnumbered the sorrows this year. For our many friends and families that suffered loss of loved ones and difficult tribulations in the past year, we pray for comfort and peace. We are so thankful for the love, health, family, and friends that we enjoy and we count each day, each friend, each family member, as a special gift to be treasured.  We wish you all a joyful Christmas and a new year filled with the satisfaction of knowing the source of true joy and strength…Jesus, the reason we celebrate Christmas.

Love,   Will and LeAnn

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kamden's Third Birthday Week

 Oh Kamden.  As Mother's Day once again approaches, you celebrate your 
third birthday.  Thanks for making your first appearance in the world on 
Mother's Day; a grandma couldn't ask for a more wonderful gift! 

You're pretty stoked to turn three, 
even though you can't always get the three fingers up just right. 
You recently got on your little training-wheels bike and told your mom, 
"See you later, I'll be back when I'm three years old!"

 You love balloons. At the sight of them, you are likely to exclaim, "It's a party!"
 Your mom and dad planned a family party for you that was held last Saturday, a few days before your birthday, and we were so glad to have it at our house.
 You enjoyed some playtime outside with Cousin Evy.
She loves to drag your little car backwards. 
You politely say, "But I want to go the other way!"
 You loved opening presents as well as looking at the cards. (You have recently become quite interested in letters and words. Unfortunately, the only example your Nana can think of right now is when you said, "Poop starts with the letter E." )
 Another super-soft Paw Patrol blanket! 
You are exceedingly fond of snuggling with soft blankets! 
 When your mom asked what kind of birthday cake you wanted, you said, 
"A brown one."  She was happy to grant your wish! 
Great choice, Kam, Nana's favorite is also chocolate!
 You're so proud of yourself, clapping when you blow out the candle! 
 Nana and Papa love you and enjoy your company SO much! 
 Papa is teaching you how to use tools! You know just where to find your 
"Kamden tools" when you come see Papa. 
 "I can fix anything with my Kamden tools!" you declare! 
You work mostly on your car and tow truck, and 
you love to use the pliers to pick up small toys. 
You are so much like your daddy as a little boy!
 When it's time to go, you give Aunt Molly and your soon-to-arrive cousin a hug.
 Aunt Stephie gets a hug too.
 And of course you must hug Baby Evy. 
(Although we're noticing she's really not a baby any more!) 
You make the rounds and hug everyone.
Of course, Nana doesn't photograph every single one. 
(She's not totally crazy, really, no matter what the family 
says about how many pictures she takes!)

The next day, we celebrated Mother's Day with Nana. 
(A week early to honor all the other mothers in the family 
with a day of their own on the official Mother's Day.)
 Look at the cute handprint planter these two helped their mommies make!
(Those moms say the experience confirmed that they are not Pinterest moms. )
But the planter turned out absolutely beautiful and I love it!
(Apparently footprints are harder!)
(And Nana tried to do some photo editing to tone down the gleaming bright whiteness of your skin, dear Kam, but instead it appears she only made her face look freakishly pink in comparison. Oh dear.)
Your Nana's boys and their babies - her pride and joy! 
And by now, you were growing weary of picture taking!
(Just so you know you weren't totally faultless!)
Nana loves her beautiful girls too! 
We all enjoyed getting pedicures while you and your daddy hung out with Papa!
This was the day that your funny Uncle Eric 
broke through the little table he was sitting on, 
about two seconds after this picture was taken!
 Two days later on Tuesday, May 9, Uncle Eric and Aunt Molly
became parents when your sweet baby cousin Stella
 joined the family, just two days before your birthday!

The next day when your mom and dad took dinner to them,  
you got to stay with us because you had a slight cough and sniffles. 
 But you were able to climb the slide at the playground, 
warning Nana almost every time, "This is very dangerous."
 Hey buddy, your poor Nana is getting blamed for this protruding tongue thing 
you keep doing. Just stop it, ok? It's a very bad habit and 
will cause chapped lips your whole life long if you don't stop it NOW!
Trust me on this!
 Yep, you said it was dangerous! There you go, back down the slide!!  

You love the steering wheels at the park and pretended you were driving a firetruck, then you would go down the slide and say, "I'm gonna rescue people in need!" 
You'd jump off the slide and pretend to spray, "I'm putting out the fire!" 
Then climb back up the ladder saying, "I'm so brave!" 
 Back at Nana's house, there you go with the bird bath again! 
It's been one of your favorite things ever since you could reach it!
You had the hippopotamus (which you call your triceratops) 
from your Tupperware Noah's Ark, and you were very careful 
that it never stayed under water long enough to drown. 
Nana realized she didn't get any pictures of you with your dad 
or with both your parents at your birthday party, 
but we did take some lovely family photos at Easter a few weeks ago!

Oh Kamden. You inform us, "I have so many questions." (Yes, we were all quite aware of that.) You want to know why and how and what. Last week, it took you forever to finish your dinner at Nana's house,  as you ate lettuce and spinach, one leaf at a time. You want to eat ketchup as if it were pudding (again like your daddy when he was little), but you'll dip your meat in it when reminded. You like to run to the park with Nana, although you have been known to tell her, "Not too fast, honey!" You love to go look at the bear carved out of a tree trunk on the other side of our neighborhood. Last night when we looked at it, you insisted it was made out of brass. What?!

You love Thomas the Train, cooking dinner in your little kitchen and sharing it, playing outside, climbing into Papa's boat and declaring "We're in the deep blue sea!", playing with cars and trucks, and pretending all kinds of things, including crawling around with Zeek and acting like a dog. You adore your dad's young cousin (age 7 I believe), who you call "Aunt Serena", and a few weeks ago when I asked how old you were, you replied "I was 60 points when I got married to Aunt Serena this afternoon." (You hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks!)

 Your speech is still not quite perfect and the way you say some words is so cute. However, when Nana recently agreed with you and repeated your pronunciation that something was "doity", you gently corrected her, "No, dir-ty."

I am constantly amazed at all the things you know and say and do and remember. You are loving and sweet, and give the best long hugs a Nana could ask for. Your compassionate heart is evidenced in many ways, but most adorably when Papa's chocolate lab is lying down and you squat down to look him in the eye and inquire, "Why are you sad?"

In a few weeks, your life will change in the most wonderful way, when your loving mommy and daddy will present you with the best life-long friend a boy could ask for, a little brother.

Happy Birthday, Kamden! I know your mom and dad have some more birthday adventures and surprises planned with your daddy and your other "Grammy". You are a very special little boy, and we celebrate your  beautiful spirit, your happy personality and all the love and joy that you bring to this world!