The Annual Pelton Holiday Letter - 2009 Edition

Welcome to Christmas, 2009, the year of the uncomfortable pillow cushion. Where public health care is socialism but public education is, well, American. Where trust is just a word on a bank, and where the synonym for cinnamon is spice.

Who dust for art thou?
It was an over stimulating year of excitable expectation for the Pelton family. Keegan and Donovan found video games on where
characters are not ripped limb from limb during the game (it was not easy). Nicole and Brian joined Facebook to hook up with his friend Ben (“Coach” to Survivor fans) and didn’t get any work done the rest of 2009. However, we both know what Starbuck’s drink we would be, what we will be doing when Kanye West interrupts us, joined the group “I rub my belly when I see a monkey shit brown Chevy” and are among 76,000 best friends of Ira Glass.

Another chapter from “A poor man’s shoes”

Angrier than an old man returning his soup at a restaurant is the only way to describe Brian after an old hag/neighbor yelled at Nicole because Pele and Pelota walked on the grass of her front yard. Brian informed the old hag that she would be up the proverbial stream without proper means of locomotion if harsh, unprovoked words spilled from the old hag’s lips again. We did thumb war battles, I beat her 2 out of 3, and we all said Merry Christmas and went on our way! For now……

My left or your left?
Nicole was asked to pack up the stuff she stole from 14 years of semiconductor conferences (including 63 coffee mugs and 36 flashing lapel lights she will never use) and vacate her soul-less cubicle this past February. Except for 8 months of severance and a solar powered calculator, as well as 4 months of paid health insurance, we were left on the side of the road like a full box of Bernie Madoff bobble head dolls.

When in Turkey, don’t try the gumbo

Stumbling down the storm drain of life, the rivulets of water, leaves and candy bar wrappers took us to Salt Lake City, for Brian’s 30th high school reunion (Olympus Titan’s, class of ’79). Also caught in the barricade of leaves, twigs and Sarah Palin 2011 buttons was a week in Dallas for Brian where he helped coach 3 teams to oh-so-moderate
results. After seeing rain, wind, 49 degrees, wind, 85 degrees and more wind, in a city with the greatest number of $10,000 a year millionaires per capita, Brian has yet to experience the paradise of Northern Texas. Nicole visited the Monterrey Bay Aquarium with Keegan and Donovan to see the Sea Otters and have her iPhone stolen. Damn red state tourists. She also got to take the boys to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk for gnarliness and hecka-fun, where everything is hella-tight.
Dabbling in Permitted Fruits
In the escort service we call “Escuela”, Keegan and Donovan are fitting in as well as an age-
challenged Jew from the east coast getting the early bird dinner special in Miami. Their Spanish accent is very good and their math and language test scores, taken in Spanish, hover somewhere between la montana and el cielo (the mountain and the sky). They recently joined the Facebook group “Kids under 8 years old smarter than Sarah Palin” and we have the bumper sticker to prove it. When they are playing soccer after school, Keegan’s nickname is “You are great for a white guy” and Donovan’s nickname is “Look out or I will run you over”.

Thoughts from the Witness Stand

Examining the ever expanding horizon of Keegan and Donovan’s soccer and futsal skills has required an escalation of telescopic range and a battle with the physical limits of light wavelength resolution (i.e. they are getting ridiculously good). Donovan scored 95 goals in 9 games with his U6 Blue Monkeys soccer team, while Keegan scored 45 goals in the 9 games he played for his U7 soccer team, the Pooping Hamsters. However, their favorite thing to do is play soccer in the backyard with Daddy, much to the dismay of our neighbors.

Periwinkle Potter, Harry’s Quirky Brother
Another set of books graced our optic nerves this year, begging the question of why people still read Harry Plopper books. The top of Brian’s pile o’books this year was “The 1st American”, Ben Franklin’s autobiography by Brands. Over 700 pages of information on why Ben F. was the best person in the world to invite to your party in the late 1700s. Wahl’s “The Beckham Experiment” was not really well written, but it did reveal a level of dysfunction, angst and mediocrity wrapped with a pretty bow that only massive amounts of money and an I.Q. of a fence post could create. Shalom
Auslander’s “Beware of God” was funnier than a squirrel in a blender and I highly recommend reading this if you like to laugh a lot. With gusto. And bravado. A lot. Another wonderful book with a great answer to the best solution to fight Al Quieda: education. One man’s attempt to bring peace to the region by creating schools is detailed in “Three Cups of Tea” by Mortenson; A sane approach to an insane situation.

Nicole’s blog “styling’s” brought several new books to our door step, for free, courtesy of desperate publishers and the freedom of press act. Her favorites included “Life of Pi” by Martel and “Saffron Dreams” by Abdullah. She got half way through “Ankles of Cinnamon” by Schilling and “The responsibility of a dead squirrel” by L. Retriever, but they were too dramatically inquisitive for her peritoneal cavity. Her favorite book overall is also in the running for the longest title this century: “Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me?” by Jen Lancaster. Many people need to take a nap after reading the title.

Big Hair, Tight Shoes, Low Center of Gravity

Great music gently floated down to our ears this year like typewriters dumped from a dirigible. From the outstanding melodies from “House” – A Slow Parade by A.A. Bondy and Where Did You Go? by Jets Overhead, to the beautimus “When I’m Gone” by Randy Newman to close out the final episode of Monk. Television is proving to be a great resource for new and old band’s o’music to get their music out there to us. David Gray’s past 2 cd’s “Draw the Line” and “Life in Slow Motion”, as well as Lisa Hannigan’s “Sea Sew” have been exceptional examples of the Irish isle; better than a big glass of low interest home financing options.

Inside the Brain of the Wild-Eyed Child
1.10.09 K: “Coffee cake doesn’t have coffee in it. Try some, Donovan.”

1.30.09 D: “Daddy, you know why the bad guy is losing? It’s because he got a lot of toast on him”

1.30.09 D: [while sitting on toilet, singing] “I don’t want to work, I just want to bang on my drum all day”

8.17.09 D: “That’s not a spider, it’s a moth, and a moth is a kind of bee”

10.22.09 K: “I don’t like green beans because they hurt people they don’t even know”

11.17.09 D: “This ice cube is a napkin killer”

11.27.09 K: “How many bosons would it take to build the Golden Gate Bridge?”

Also, the collective team of Daddy, Keegan and Donovan has submitted 2 inventions for patents: 1] the nose vacuum, and 2] the ear drummer.

The pod is mightier than the sword
The magic of radio has magically been transferred into the bandwidthy of wavelength sorcery known as the podcast, which is short for Precisely Ordered Dialogue Created As Superior enTertainment. As with any medium, some people are able to turn it into an art form, and the ones that we listen to with the
intensity of a black lab-german sheppard-chow mix staring at a used diaper are “This American Life”, “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me”, “Fresh Air” interviews with Terry Gross, “The Ricky Gervais Podcast”, “I Love Movies”, “Never Not Funny” which is crude but tasteful, and the masterful “The Moth”, with stories told on stage without notes or teleprompters. Exceptional stuff for a time when we could all use a good story…….

Heaven is full and Hell won’t take me
With great sadness, 2009 brought an end to our time with Pele on October 6th. His lung cancer was so advanced that by the time it was diagnosed, we only got to spend 8 more days with him. It was impossible to know how to say goodbye to a dog that was much more than a friend for the past 11 years, so I just tried to spend every waking moment with him. The words, experiences, thoughts and emotions of my life left me terribly unprepared to deal with losing Pele, and I welcome 2010 and the distance from losing the first puppy I could call “my boy”.

Vicodeine, when you need the morning cup of Joe with your painkillers

Hi y’all, Brian allows me one paragraph in his annual Christmas letter and I still have a tough time filling it (and I call myself a blogger). While I would not consider myself “Wii-fit” quite yet, I would say my
greatest accomplishment of the year might be rockin’ a bikini in Mexico at the ripe old age of 41. For those of you struggling with the work vs. not work question, being a stay-at-home mom is, according to “ask Nicole”: Awesome! At least until the bills start rolling in. I was home with the kids for most of the year, and while I never managed to join a carpool or find the cool coffee club, I did get sucked into being a room mom, took the kids to play in mud and water and hotel rooms, and forced them to try new kitchen concoctions.

Merry Christmakkah, Happy Festivus and have a spectacular New Year!

Christmas Letter 2008 - COMING SOON!

For those who already got our Christmas card and are checking out the site for this year's brand spanking new letter, well, good luck to ya! Really, count yourself lucky you actually got the card before Christmas. A very merry one to you, or Happy Hannukah, and all that. We promise, Brian is slaving away on the letter as we speak (I mean, as you read this), probably over a triple espresso truffle mocha at Starbucks so slaving may not be the most appropriate description. Rest assured, it will be late but funny, just like our family.

In the meantime, enjoy the cuties below, and feel free to check out my other blogs, Not Just a Working Mom and Not Just a Working Mom Reviews, which of course will also be updated when I have more time, I promise. My three week shutdown just started today, give me a break.


The Annual Pelton Holiday Letter - 2007 Edition

It seems like it was only a year ago that we sent out a holiday letter. Keegan is speaking Spanish and playing soccer like a 5 ½ year old, even though he is only 5 years and 1 month old. Donovan has turned nonverbal communication into an art form and expresses his love like a Mac truck skidding on a wet highway. Nicole is one hyperlink away from BlogHer of the year. Brian, Pele and Pelota have formed a stringed triumvirate called “Johnny Knocker and the Doorslammers” and have taken their act on the road. It has been a good 52 weeks.

With these formal salvos and unabashed bragging out of the way, we will scurry asunder with potentially (always) objectionable categories describing our 2007. Let the espresso-laced-egg-nog-induced teeth gnashing begin!

The Ferber Method of Discipline

It seems as though threats of kicking the boys in the armpit and/or being forced to attend Harvard are successful methods to subdue the crazier moments of Keegan and Donovan. However, sometimes sterner measures are required. Therefore, we have started giving them 50 lashes with a wet poodle for their more heinous offenses (the SPCA be damned). Things are calm in the Pelton household.

Did we forget to celebrate Thumbsgiving?

Yes. Keegan’s parents displayed a sad level of phantom digit amnesia, but will make it up for him next year with an opposable thumbsgiving to end all previous opposable
thumbsgivings (of which there were none).

“I See!” said the blind man as he walked into the wall

Travel both near and far, covering distances both short and long, happened to us this year. Sometimes we were even aware of where we were. It appears as if we visited Kansas City (where soccer coaches go to learn and farm implements go to die), Dallas (soccer and Easter), Memphis (to drive a new Malibu), Manchester, CA. (to go where abalone eaters have gone before), Salt Lake City X 2 (sanity check), Los Angeles (Futsal national championships), Chicago (BlogHer conference), San Francisco (soccer), Austin (semiconductor manufacturing marketing), and Tulsa (as in “stuck in”). We also frequented the separate state of realities of 3 and 5 year old boys, but it was under cover of night and we can not reveal the true location. Kind of like Springfield in “The Simpsons”.

What is the difference between an AYSO soccer coach and a dog marking his territory?

Apparently, as Brian painfully discovered this year, nothing.

My dog’s brain is smaller than your dog’s brain

It looks like Pele narrowly squeaked past Pelota for bottom honors after pulling two full chickendrumsticks out of the kitchen sink. He swallowed one whole and was well on his way to finishing off the second one before I was able to Greco-roman wrestle it out of his mouth. It never did actually “reappear”, suggesting that it is A] still inside of him, B] dissolved courtesy of Mr. Gastric Acid, or C] reincarnated itself as the mythological creature known as a “Gnork” (head of a lion, body of a certified public accountant) and is currently filling in as president of the PTA at Keegan’s elementary school.

Oscar Wilde wasn’t
Another wonderful year of words on papyrus. Martha Peake by Patrick Mcgrath was extra okay. Hemingway’s first 49 short stories is mucho muy bueno, and Bill Bryson’s In a sunburned country and The lost continent were great books about Australia and small town America. Who knew how common it is to drink urine when stranded in the Outback and that the name of the perfect small American town was “Amalgam”? I knew not. A very funny personal history was written by an Englishman that bounced around the various levels of professional soccer in England
(pun intended). Check out Kicked into touch by Fred Eyre. Nicole loved The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan and The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger so much that she was willing to marry them both (i.e. book polygamy). She laughed until she stopped while reading Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen, and her first book club book, The Namesake: A Novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, was better than a big glass of milk. Furthermore, she’s willing to testify to all of this in a court of law. Finally, it was learned this year that the last words of Oscar Wilde was reportedly (actually a week before he died) “Either this wallpaper goes, or I go” while sitting in a cafĂ©. You go, Oscar.

My life making sandwiches for Elvis

This was a great year for new music (at least new to us), with Tunes-R-Us awards given to My Morning Jacket for their cd It still moves. Regina Spektor had the top lyrics of the year with her very moving song informing us that “nonbelievers get to eat dirt and believers get to spit on their graves”. Although they are not new, Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Fairytales, On and On, and In Between Dreams were discovered in 2007 and are very rhythmic, well phrased cd’s, proving that Hawaiians have moved past the era of Don Ho. However, Tom Waits’ new 3 cd set titled Orphans (Bawlers, Brawlers and Bastards) was easily the best of 2007. He wrote all these songs while his mom was dating Wayne Newton (that’s a lie), and all other musicians are pretty much amateurs compared to him. Really. Listen to it before rounding up the posse, pitchforks and torches and showing up outside my door. Also, remember that Pele and Pelota have been trained by the Knights that say “Nee” and protect us with an almost evangelical zest.

Special homage must be paid to the songs that end each episode of the TV show “House”. Go to your favorite music website immediately and (pay to) download Good Man by Josh Ritter, Rainy Day Lament by Joe Purdy, Ain’t no reason by Brett Dennen, and Waiting on an Angel by Ben Harper. Do it now, or soon thereafter.

****This following new podcast section is sponsored by Red Bull and Peet’s Coffee, because sometimes too much caffeine and sugar really isn’t enough. Really.******

Nicole and Brian have decided that the free podcast downloads from NPR (This American Life, Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me!, Satire from the Unger Report, and Car Talk) are better than air. Also, the three “seasons” of The Ricky Gervais Show have been awesome, as Ricky and Steve Merchant delve into mind of Karl Pilkington, the man with an IQ of a fence post. Listening to free podcasts sure beats paying attention to the road while we are driving……or paying.

Adrian Monk for President

Keen observational skills, honed by hours on the playground, in the kitchen, and around the electron microscopy lab, have produced several inventions in 2007. For some reason, Brian was awarded another U.S. patent for his Ni-Ti-W alloy (#6,776,795), although it was already patented with the exact same title (#6,569,194). I think they added some brand new words with the same old letters. He also invented a new airbag for his car. It appears that if you are carrying 40 soccer balls and 25 futsal balls in the back of a Jeep, it is effectively an airbag, manufactured by Adidas.

This year’s list of inventions by Keegan and Donovan has been far longer then their parental units, and include ketchup popsicles, the opposable thumb butt hug, answering any question with “cuckoo in the head”, wearing underwear on the outside of their pants (or as a hat), and tennis shoes that automatically fill themselves with any piece of sand/tan bark theytouch. They have also co-authored their own personal national anthem sung before our soccer practices (in the key of C): “Poop can’t fly, but it can roll”, and have developed a proprietary method of converting dry dog food into a gun. My guess is the Nobel Prize is certainly in their future, or at least high scores on the GED.

Holy Pachuca! What’s stuck to the bottom of your shoe?
Brian’s soccer and Futsal coaching business, Creative Soccer Instruction, has seen another good year. Brian now has a U13 boy’s team to coach, a U14 boy’s team to train, and 42 players that he is training privately. He is also having a great time running 3 v 3 soccer games twice a week for the kindergartners and 1st graders at Keegan’s elementary school (no coaching, just refereeing and breaking up fights). Everyone thinks Brian is wonderful for donating his time for the kids at the school. However, Brian just wants Keegan to get some games in as part of his master plan to have Keegan and Donovan become the first professional soccer players who know how to correctly use “metastable” and “microstructure-property relationships” in a sentence. He is also working with a “foreigner” (i.e. an Australian) to rework his website ( She has done a wonderful job with my friend’s band ( Hopefully she can give some creditability to a short white American soccer coach who doesn’t have an accent, didn’t play professionally, only has 24 years of experience, and has earned some of the top soccer and Futsal coaching licenses in America and Brazil. I need her help because God is away on business.

Can you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?

2007 has been a rich source of verbiage from Donovan and Keegan, and we have found that strip mining techniques work best when tapping this resource. Please feel free to reuse any of the boy’s “word droppings” at public gatherings and around mixed company:

  • D: Daddy! Stop looking at Keegan’s face!
  • D: When I grow up, I want to be a baby
  • D: Daddy, I’m not going to bite you anymore
  • D: Daddy, you’re not stupid anymore
  • K (counting): penis, penis one, penis two…..
  • K: Mommy, you’re disrespecting Donovan. I’m not talking to you.
  • K: Daddy, I need to inform you that none of your weapons can kill me.
  • K: Pluto’s not a planet anymore, it’s just a big ball of ice…..but it’s too heavy to lift it.
  • K: Nothing beats the sun, except maybe a supernova explosion

And finally, the top exchange of 2007:

  • K (age 4 at the time): Daddy, I put together the lactricity (electricity) set but it doesn’t work.
  • D (age 3 at the time): Maybe you have to change something.

Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does what ever a Spider Pig does

Hope this letter finds you well, grateful for what you have (and don’t have), and frequently experience with “tres ja vu” (that feeling you have been somewhere twice before). This year was filled with some moments of uncontrollable laughter and some difficulties, like trying to sell our house at the worst time possible. However, all my personal strife and the sadness in this world are silhouetted for me with the glow of Nicole, Keegan and Donovan (and Pele and Pelota, our role models for unconditional love). Every day, the boys’ flames burns brighter and the joy of having them in my life grows (using a Fibonacci numerical series). I hope you all have some light surrounding you, and that you always keep a diamond in your mind. This world needs it, and Tom Waits wants it that way.

She smelled like kerosene and root beer fizz, and she was stronger than any man alive

Despite living in the dotcom world, Nicole’s still at the same company, but has risen once again to the role of manager. While her experience with toddlers did a world of good working with new college grads, turns out real life employees are a whole ‘nother ball game. Wish her luck.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah/Hanukah/Channukah, Feliz Festivus, and may all your Thumbsgivings be bright!

Love, Brian, Nicole, Pele, Pelota, Keegan and Donovan Pelton