Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Boyacks Annual Report, 2009

Forward and Acknowledgements: Since this dang thing is long enough to be a book, it may as well have a forward. And it’s time to acknowledge that John has gone completely cuckoo for Coco-Puffs and is no longer respecting the bounds of Christmas Letter propriety. You know: one page, two sides, lots of photos, short blurbs about the family, hardcopy delivered by the 15th. None of that from me - just one long, long, electronic letter. If it were hardcopy at least you could put it next to the commode and read at your leisure. I hope you’ll forgive the length and format. Since it will take superhuman endurance to read to the end of this letter, I’m prepared to offer a small bribe. Read on and in the letter you’ll be given a code which can be redeemed for a home made cookie – no matter your location. Now how much better does it get?

Hi, everyone! It’s that time of year again! Set up the tree, dust off the angels and elves, hang up the stockings, gather around the fireplace, snuggle up with someone you love, and read the Boyacks’ Christmas letter! These and other time-honored and family-friendly traditions will push away the stress of modern life by reminding you that if your trials this year were too difficult to laugh at, then cheer up! You have friends to laugh at!

What’s new this year? First the dreadful news: I’m being treated with physical therapy for a mass discovered in my midsection. I first noticed it when I took up bicycling on my lunch breaks. Every time a knee came up, there was a big squishy blob getting squeezed between my leg and my chest. It made the bicycling that much more challenging, as I trailed along behind a group of guys ten years younger than me – OK, in truth, they’re not all younger, but they’re ten years “fitter” than me.

Humiliating. But . . . I am a father – I can blame “baby fat”, can’t I?

So, as you would expect, the physical therapy is the treadmill, some weights and calisthenics, and more bicycling. But I am not a willing patient. I need more than a spoonful of sugar to make this medicine go down. WHY ARE THERE SO FEW DONUTS IN MY LIFE THESE DAYS?

Ahem . . . I will have you know that as hopeless as it seems, I did lose three pounds, and I will NOT gain them back (the three I gain back will be completely different).

Meanwhile, in a fitness challenge, Chad is cleaning my clock. He played JV football this year and lost about 10% of his body weight. The competition doesn’t end until New Years Day, though, and football is over, so I still have a chance. I’ll win if he gains, oh – about 20 pounds – in the next two weeks.

It’s time for me to add a few special treats to his Christmas Stocking.

Meanwhile, I’m seeing much success in combating the other effects of middle-age. My short-term memory is improving, thanks to my Blackberry, (A.K.A Tricorder, A.K.A. Liahona). My efforts toward hair-regrowth are paying off, at least in the ears, nose, and eyebrows area. And the top of the head is going to come around soon – I can feel it! And one youthful trait that is not fading into the middle-age sunset: my gift for romance continues to bless our marriage.

Just last month I was on my way to the bathroom to trim my eyebrows , and Wendy suggested we snuggle up and watch a romantic movie together. Thanks to my quick thinking, what could have turned out to be a boring evening turned into something we’ll both remember for a lifetime. I put on some soft music, turned down the lights, and asked my dear Wendy to trim my eyebrow hair. The bonding time was beautiful, and my left eyebrow has almost completely grown back now.

At church I’m the Primary chorister (Primary is the children’s group, and I teach them songs and lead the music). This is normally a woman’s job, but I don’t mind going where no man has gone before. I absolutely love it – it’s my favorite assignment so far (and I have had many). I have made friends with 30 people from ages 2 to 12 who I didn’t know before, and I have two daughters in that group, which makes it even better.

Well, as for the little things: I’m still employed at Merix as an Oracle Business Analyst, which is, in fact, a legitimate way to make a living and not a job title I just made up; I’ve learned a little about finishing wood; I really stink at fishing but I keep going back, and I tried geocaching, Facebook, and blogging.

I write on my blog very infrequently, so it’s more of a periodical than a blog. I do try to make it humorous enough to be worth your visit - hence the infrequency. The problem is I tell all the funny things that happened to us that we didn’t find funny at the time. Some times it takes a few weeks to see the humor! I’ll appreciate any readers that come my way, so please stop by and leave a comment. http://www.trustyplummet.blogspot.com/ is the place to go.

Wendy has been up to her customary multi-tasking. No – that doesn’t quite express it. Let’s call it “omni-tasking”: she teaches the following: Seminary at the Mormon church, voice lessons at home, technical theater at the high school, musical theater at the Dance Studio and, of course, home school to four of our kids. Throw in some child care, intense workouts and daily blogging, and she almost has a full day.

She blogs on Sparkpeople.com, where she has been named a “Motivator”. Her writing is funny and spiritual, and makes you want to be better today than you were yesterday.

She has had a hobby developing over the last fifteen years which is really picking up now: she is an amateur masseuse / chiropractor / therapist, and she gets plenty of practice. She really enjoys it, and so do her “clients”, who now include a professional masseuse and a chiropractor’s wife. She also adjusts attitudes, but those customers – who all live here – aren’t quite ready to give public endorsements.

One thing that I find completely amazing is that she can prepare lessons or write at the same time she is enjoying some random TV murder mystery on streaming video (Netflix). She likes the TV shows OK, but she mostly just does it to show off to me. I can do two things at once as long as one of them is walking. If one of them is TV I pretty much shut down all brain activity . . . OK, and most bodily functions.

Wendy took the lead on many family activities, including canning, gardening, once-a-month cooking, and packing up Sayaka’s stuff and moving her out.

  • We canned spaghetti sauce, three flavors of salsa, (ALL are muy caliente), four or five flavors of jam, two kinds of pie fillings, grape juice and peaches, and the amazing home-canned tuna. I know what you’re thinking, and I’ll just say “Let the salivation begin!” There was a couple of minor incidents this year involving heat and pressure: One where seven jars of spaghetti sauce exploded into thousands of marinara shards; another which singed McKay’s bangs and eyebrows. There were no injuries, but all the same, don’t try these at home – at least not more than once.
  • We grew our most productive garden ever! You name it, she grew it. McKay is an excellent assistant gardener. And we planted grapes and blueberries for the coming years.
  • Once-a-month cooking is just what it says. Introduced by Wendy’s friend Char, she does a month’s worth of work in one day and throws it all in the freezer. Yummy and convenient, except for one pan of lasagna that has been stuck to the bottom of the freezer since March.
  • Sayaka has moved. Long, funny story told short and boring: after four years with us she left without notice. So we packed her room (80 plus boxes from a 10x10 room, which we did not know was possible) and sent it away. We now have a workout machine, a TV, sewing desk, and a massage table in there. No, I don’t know how that is possible either.
Wendy has one more assignment at church: in addition to Seminary Teacher, she is also the Primary Pianist, which makes Sundays really fun for me, because we get to spend all three hours of our church time together, the last two singing songs with all the kids.

Wendy anchors the faith in our family. Her determination to constantly do works of goodness is an inspiration to me. Her knowledge of the scriptures is a godly gift she shares freely with anyone who asks.

Kimber (18) is all grown up (frownie face from me about that). She finished her home schooling, completed her GED testing and in January she’ll start full-time college classes at Chemeketa Community College. She’s teaching dance classes at the Dance Studio, which keeps her doing what she loves and earns a little cash. She is very good with kids. Her goal is to graduate in Dance from WOU. This is good because she’ll be nearby for at least four years.

She’s instructing Lillian to take over as the primary caregiver of one of the dogs and all three cats, and is the official cat wrangler when there’s a vet trip.

She got glasses on her eyes to replace the braces on her teeth, except the braces aren’t quite off yet. She’s coping with that, and having a blast in the local YSA ward (young single adult congregation of the church). Her assignment is to lead the weekly Monday night activity. Weirdly, they call it Family Home Evening, because many of these kids are living away from home anyway. She’s making new friends all the time.

One of the most amazing, artistic things you will ever see is a spray-paint shirt designed and made by Kimber. She has always had an creative streak in her, but this is in the next class up. Last year for Christmas she crocheted winter hats for everyone. This year, perhaps with a hint, I’ll get a spray-paint shirt of – oh, I don’t know – an outdoor activity theme?

Kimber has a new grace and confidence, and her kindness continues.

McKay (16) is growing up too fast. She seems to have her life planned out, which means she’s in for some fun surprises. She’s considering a career in massage therapy, in which she has some talent, like her mother. Whatever she does, she’ll make the most of the blessings God has given her – she’s that kind of girl.

She got her braces off, didn’t get glasses, and grew her hair out to approximately eighteen feet. Just Kidding – she’s growing it out for two years, ending next May, to give to Locks of Love. The two-year span coincides with our friend Raymond’s mission service. Come to think of it, Kimber and Hannah also grew their hair. Hannah gave up first and in November cut off a long, fat braid to donate.

McKay is a great driver. At my insistence, she and Kimber both got their permits last year. They have driven the required amount of hours and waited the prescribed twelve months, only to discover that they don’t know anyone who is willing to pay for their insurance. Alack and alas! Oh, the Angst!

I don’t know how they are so patient. In my day driving was a right and a rite of passage. I couldn’t have imagined waiting years for a drivers license as seems to be so common in Oregon these days. Days after was sixteen I was rolling down the road on my own. Then again, at seventeen I was rolling down the road with the top down – and the wheels up.

She takes some classes at the high school, which lightens the load of the home-school teacher.

McKay’s a great singer - she sings in the high-school choir, and some solos. She was way funny in “The Sound of Music” (the lady who bows ten times at the end of the talent show). She got a great part in the upcoming school musical, “Starmites”, which, as it turns out, is NOT actually about giant singing insects that eat space rockets made of wood. It’s about a huge inter-galactic conflict between women and men, and it’s playing in February 2010.

She has been bow hunting for four years, and this year got closer to the deer than ever. She’s learning that it’s a joy to be out in the wild enjoying nature, and a bonus if you get the kill. . . . OK . . . that’s all I should say, but let me just tell you there is a really, really funny story here that McKay will absolutely double over laughing at – in about three decades. . . . But back to the point, she’s got the stealth and know-how, and her accuracy with a bow is absolutely deadly up to 35 yards – which, coincidentally, is the reason I’m not going into any more detail at this time.

McKay is a special person who loves the Lord Jesus Christ. She is not afraid to share the Gospel, and is true friend to all whether they share this interest or not.

Chad (14) and I have done lots of things together this year, including sleeping in a pine scented snow cave, watching Central High’s winning football team, and floating down the Willamette River – sometimes in the canoe, sometimes not.

He had a great time playing on Central’s JV team, which has a tendency to shut out its opponents. He worked hard, had great fun, made friends, contributed to the team, and tore some ligaments in his tailbone. The tailbone injury slowed him down some. But, on the upside, it’s a great reminder of the importance of tying his shoes. Plus, he got to sit on a donut.

We also went fishing together. This is not something we do too often, because, even though he LOVES fishing, and has been trying to learn it for about twenty years, he’s lousy at it, and he never showed me how to catch a fish, and I can’t stand sitting there doing nothing. I’d rather poke sticks into my eyeballs. So when he begs and begs for me to go fishing with him I tell him no way. Take Lilly – she’ll go.

If you’re wondering, Chad took over writing that last paragraph.

But we did go fishing. Actually we went on a week-long canoe trip down the Willamette River. This was the Scouts’ “High Adventure” trip, and it was very adventurous. I was fishing as we paddled our way downstream. Just like driving, you have to keep both eyes on the road, because one log lurking just under the surface can give you quite a surprise. On the second day I was SLAYING the fish, and since with Chad there I could have TWO lines in the water, I started setting up the line. It seems to have slipped my mind to mention to Chad that I wasn’t steering . . . or paddling . . . or watching the river.

Our life jackets were on and tight, our gear was tied down good, and our clothes were double-bagged. So when Chad yelled, and I noticed that we were floating sideways down the river and about to hit a submerged log, I was calm as could be. I did NOT blurt out my favorite potty-mouth word, but jumped gracefully into the water as the canoe tipped, and laughed through the whole thing.

Actually that was a lie, but Chad did laugh. I think he laughed at the shock on my face. But it is true that the gear was tied in well. We kept our beds, clothes, kitchen equipment, food, chairs, even a plastic grocery bag with my shoes in it. We only lost two things. . . . Sigh . . . two fishing poles.

That evening, with a rain shower soaking the camp as we sat inside our tent, we discovered that Chad’s clothes bag was perfectly dry. Mine wasn’t. That morning I had volunteered to put the second plastic bag on each of our clothes bags, and it turned out my clothes were wet inside of only one layer of plastic, and Chad’s were safe and dry inside three. What a great dad I am.

Another activity we enjoyed together was shaving. This month I coached as he shaved his moustache for the first time, and there was hardly any blood. The only shaving he had done previously was the back of my neck with electric clippers, late one memorable evening when everyone else was asleep. As I recall we collapsed into a heap of laughter after he showed me how straight it wasn’t.

Chad is taking three classes at the high school – which is a big change from home schooling through the 8th grade. It’s especially challenging that he has to get up at 5:30 for seminary at the church, when his previous habit was to sleep from midnight to ten in the morning. He’s taking choir and welding – both of which are difficult teach at the kitchen table, as well as algebra.

Chad and I have made a lot of great memories this year, which I will treasure for a lifetime.

Hannah (almost 12) is becoming quite the young woman. She recently got glasses, last month she cut her hair short, and with her own money bought heels and a dressy coat (to wear to church in the winter). So a person (dad) would hardly recognize her for all the changes. But she’s still daddy’s girl, and I still get to tuck her into bed sometimes, and she asks me to listen to her sing and watch her dancing.

She’s a great singer – she is not afraid to sing in front of a big audience, and the audiences enjoy it. Like her sisters, she dances a lot at the Dance Studio in town. In fact she’s an assistant teacher in a beginning class.

She did the most amazing thing this year. She took a cake baking class – for grownups. She had always loved cooking and baking, and the stars lined up so she could take this class. She made some more grown-up friends (which is not hard for her to do) and she now makes the most delicious and beautiful cakes! She hand-made Frogs, swans, butterflies and mice, along with hundreds of flowers and lacy patterns. Some of them were funny, like the “spaghetti cake” she made for Chad’s birthday – it looked like a big plate of spaghetti with meatballs and sauce on it. The meatballs were fudge! She won two blue ribbons at the county fair for a small wedding-style cake and some chocolate cookies.

You can look at our brood of children and definitely say we are blessed, but how lucky can a guy get, to have his daughter make him a cake every week! Unless . . . those were meant for me, weren’t they Hannah? I am very blessed to be Hannah’s daddy.

Her two favorite foods are potatoes and ice cream. In fact, she has extorted ice cream from our home teacher from church. Tricky girl!

Lillian (6) is another singing Boyack girl with dance in her pants, and the youngest to perform in a high-school musical. Which, by the way, is a movie trilogy that got way too much play time at our house this year.

This year the high school performed “The Sound of Music”, and Lillian was cast as Gretyl, the youngest singing Von Trap child. This became a family event, as McKay also had a role, and Hannah sang in the nuns’ choir. Wendy was the stage manager, etc., etc., etc.; Kimber ran sound, and Chad operated the spotlight. My job was to go watch the show every night, which suits my skill set.

It was funny that Lillian was the youngest person in the cast but could make her voice heard throughout the auditorium better than most. The director held her up as the example of how to “project”. Her daddy’s favorite part of the show was “Do, Re, Mi” where she gets to sing “Do” by herself about ten times – at just the right timing, and with her head bobbing to the side. Maybe you had to be there to appreciate it, but let me just say that no head was ever bobbed to the side with more serious conviction – a little furrow in her brow and everything. And sometimes the music would overcome her and she’d add a special toe tapping or shoulder twist.

Lilly does well with her schoolwork. She’s learning to take care of the animals and do her chores, and she loves her baby dolls Patrick and Emily Elizabeth (a big doll hand made by Kimber for last Christmas).

Lilly is learning how much Heavenly Father and Jesus love her, and she is trying to do what’s right.

Other highlights this year were three visits from the Tapasa family, and once when we got to visit them on the Northern CA coast. We toodled there by way of the Wildlife Safari park, and South Umpqua falls, where Lilly found a tick buried in her shoulder. She was very brave, and though we had an unexpected delay getting a doctor’s help, we still had plenty of time left for fun with Taps, Joanna, and the kids.

Last New Years we had the Hewitts visit us from Idaho, and they learned that the phrase “when it rains, it pours,” actually originated to describe the western Oregon weather in winter. We took them to the coast, the aquarium, and the cheese factory. Next year we pack up and head east to Utah for the Boyack reunion. It is wonderful to be with family.

We have been sharing our weekly family home evening with a couple more families in our ward – once or twice a month. It has helped us maintain the habit and brought us new friendships, so thanks to the Earl, Thurston and Depuglia families. 

Well, there was so much to be thankful for this year! One letter can’t possibly contain it, but it sure seems like I tried, doesn’t it? Those of you who read this far are gluttons for punishment! Did you find the secret cookie code?. Writing once a year is kind of a lame idea for the reader, but it sure was fun for the writer. . . Tell you what, if you want the cookie deal, send us the code word “three pounds” by letter, email, phone, or canoe.

The most valuable thing we have to share is our testimony. I love the Christmas season because it reminds me of the love God has for us. The miracle of Jesus’ birth is a precursor to the miracle of his atonement for our sins, and his death and resurrection. The celebration of his birth reminds me of the new life he brings. He has certainly blessed me and my family this year, and I give thanks for his blessings and his care.

We love and appreciate all of you. Please accept our sincere wishes for a happy Christmas and a successful new year.


shar said...

i lost three pounds reading your letter, because i missed breakfast and i was laughing alot! i love your family.

Adam said...

This was so fun to read John. You and Wendy are such good parents and a great example for the rest of us. Thanks for sharing! I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

Alli said...

Things I learned reading this:
Eyebrow trimming can be romantic, if not totally successful
McKay is an archer - wow.
I am not the only one Hannah can extort ice cream from ;)