Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Update

McFarlands Month by Month: 2014 edition

January: Rob gets a nose job, surgery # 1 of 6 for the year (Roto-rooter on the nose plumbing). Barely out of his nose patch, he then meets with other film professors for a working weekend in a swanky cabin. He and MA attend the Sundance Film Festival. Mary Ann makes a graceful exit from the film industry after a year of playing Mom to a film crew. Joss gets a cookie-as-big-as-your-head for learning all of his phonemes.

February: Will and Sebi rip up the slopes at Sundance ski resort, and later participate in a wicked “Hunger Games” contest up Rock Canyon.  The odds are not in their favor.  Maddie fares better at a ballroom competition.  She and the waltz were made for each other.  Joss is at BYU and Wasatch Kindergartens; most days he has lunch with his buddy Zinnia in Dad’s office.

March:  Mary Ann takes over in the presidency of our congregational women’s society, looking after the temporal and spiritual welfare of a group of remarkable women. Sebastian turns 10, invites his friends on a wild intergalactic mission at the space simulator.  He saves the day by ramming into an enemy starship and thrusting it out of orbit.  Renegade! Scoutmaster Rob and Life-Ranked Will camp with the scouts in the West Desert, facing their claustrophobia head-on in an elbow-powered, harrowing trip through Antelope Springs cave. 

April: Rob and Mary Ann barricade themselves in a hotel in Salt Lake City to madly write online German courses for BYU.  Romance is not dead, evidently.  Joss contributes the following line to a class poem at BYU Kindergarten: “And the Crocodile, he say: OW!  That hurt me biscuits!”  Rob and MA combine forces to celebrate their 46th and 44th birthdays, respectively: a 90th Birthday party to remember!

May: Maddie trains for and begins work as a lifeguard at the Provo Recreation Center. Hanging out with college boys in a swimsuit and talking to EMTs was more intense than we remembered our first jobs, but she seems to love it. Joss parties like a pirate with a great and dreadful treasure hunt; the Honey Bucket nearby has been referred to as “Ye ‘Ole Poophouse” ever since. The family spends Memorial Day weekend camping with friends in Canyonlands. The kids of five families run wild over the sandstone hills and cliffs. All of them survive. 

June: Rob flits over to Vienna for a conference and an opera and theater binge. Rob, Will and the scouts then go to Goblin Valley. Joss joins the club swim team. “He’ll be fine if he wears his fins” says the coach with a wink. Mary Ann sits at the deep end for the first few months to watch him as he paddles away, sure that he’s going to go under. But he doesn’t. He somersaults and dives and plays tricks on his coach as soon as her back is turned.

July: The whole family heads out to California to celebrate July 4th at the Piedmont parade, a beach reunion in Monterey, and Ron and Nedra’s 50th wedding anniversary with family and friends. It is wonderful to see siblings and spouses and cousins cavorting. Back at home, Maddie celebrates her Sweet 16 with 40 guests at a pool party, then heads to girls’ camp, and dates loads of dudes in quick succession. We buy a sweet (old) red Acura named Stella.

August: Rob and Mary Ann spend 10 fantastic days eating French pastries, exploring Switzerland, and settling BYU students into their Tübingen classes. Sebi and Grandpa hunt down Consuela the Tamale Lady and change the radio presets to mariachi bands, country western channels, and preachers. Joss begins his Mandarin immersion program with a week full of paper plate pandas and “umpteen million” friends. The kids return to school, and Maddie and Will begin commuting between Provo High for ballroom and swim team, and Maeser Prep (or Hogwarts Without Wands, as they call it) for the balance of their classes.

September: Labor Day weekend begins with a hike, and ends with a strange ailment that bedevils Rob’s shoulder and neck. He spends the month trying to keep classes afloat while juggling pain meds and doctor appointments. He loses 20 pounds and gets down to his mission weight—a number he thought he’d never see again. Joss loses his first tooth. Finally, our neighbors who are doctors get Rob the right diagnosis: an abscess in his clavicle and a resulting blood clot in his right arm. He spends a night in the ER, six days in the hospital, and has five surgeries over two weeks. Maddie attends her first PHS date dance with “SuperAbs” from swim team. The grandparents fly back up to manage the kids and their breakneck schedule. Thanks to Ron and Nedra, we all survive a scary and unsure time in our family.

October: Rob begins to recover once his surgeries are over. He has amassed an impressive amount of medical jargon, knowledge, and equipment: about 10 doctors and specialists, two incisions, a wound vacuum, a picc line, JT drains, IV antibiotics, and blood thinners. The boys are overjoyed that Grandpa and CheezWhiz are back in the house so soon. Grandpa does all the driving and shopping while Grandma cooks and cleans and checks the kids for emotional scarring. Neighbors and friends take over carpools and bring food and treats and mitzvahs of all kinds. Will starts spending his Saturday mornings at rocket club where he finds his people and his calling in life. Rob begins to take back his classes and reassure the freaked out students; his stitches come out just in time for Halloween. Our dressed-up kids--a go-go girl,  a zombie hunter, an afro-ed disco dancer, and a warmongering hippie--didn’t get a single picture.

November: Maddie and Will start high school swim meets—tornadoes of noise and excitement as the team gets closer and closer to breaking the PHS school records. At this writing, Maddie’s relay team is 13/100ths  of a second away! Will turns 14 and is ordained a teacher (the next office in our church’s lay priesthood). We celebrate Thanksgiving with a renewed fervor, Mary Ann making sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, Rob and Maddie doing pies. 

December: We’re starting with our gingerbreadapalooza so we can watch it congeal into inedibility enjoy it all month. We will celebrate the 40th annual Adventsingen with the local German community. Sebastian and his pal Tomas are going to sing a solo with the men’s chorus, and the whole family is dressing up in their Trachten outfits. Will and Sebi are looking forward to breaking in their season passes at Sundance. We’ll attend some parties, exchange some gifts, but there may be some rough edges and traditions left undone. It’ll be just fine. We’ve got our most treasured gifts by our sides: our friends, our family and each other. We are so, so thankful for the help we’ve received this year: prayers, fasting, Facebook comments and messages, hospital visits and meals and long distance phone calls. Through a crazy experience that upended our existence, we were buoyed up by the number of dear friends we had pulling for Rob all over the world. We are so grateful for that love. May you have a wonderful holiday and may you feel our love and friendship as well.