Another year goes by and what do I have to show for it? A few less hairs on my head, a few more pounds around my waist, and not as much money in our retirement account. My brother saw me last week and was shocked that I’d lost so much hair . . . . until he met my kids. He’s bald too, so I guess that means chasing girls can be as stressful as chasing little kids.

The big question from everybody is, “How’d you do this summer?” My answer is, “Not too bad.” When I think back to last winter I was sweating bullets and wondering if anyone would come to the Outer Banks, much less, spend any money while they were here. Fortunately, by the time summer rolled around people were feeling okay about the economy and willing to go out and have some fun. For once in my life the timing was pretty good. Summer went smoothly without us once pulling the boats out of the water for a storm which means next summer we’ll get hammered. I finally learned to catch a wave on a surfboard and already have a few amusing stories, one of which is simply me surfing while Cam was in preschool, getting dressed in the public bathroom at the beach access and going straight to school to pick up Cam. Some days it’s great to be a stay-at-home dad. Other days, not so much. The other morning I got an ear full from Bonnie who can’t find her jeans. Apparently, the closet that’s full of her clothes and the two dresser drawers that are so full I have to stand on top of them to create more room didn’t have any acceptable pants. And still, I can’t seem to get fired. Last spring Alivian won a photography award, placing second in the state for her age group. When we gave her the choice of playing in a lacrosse game or going to Raleigh for the big awards ceremony, she chose the game. Speaking of lacrosse, the OBX Lacrosse club started two girls teams last spring and they did quite well. The amusing thing was when Alivian scored the first goal of the first game. Everybody acted like she was my little protégé. Well, she must be using mental telepathy to receive my instructions because I’m not allowed to coach her per Alivian’s request. Alivian is now in middle school and doing well academically thanks to Bonnie’s effusive patience and hands-on tutoring. And when I say hands-on I mean Bonnie grabs her by the arm and forces her to finish her homework.

Brady is the cerebral one, tops in his class for reading. On the basketball court for 7 and 8 year-olds, if I need Brady to do something important I only have to tell him once and he does it. Being the middle child he always seems to get caught in the cross-fire, whether he instigates it or not. I know when I hear my two boys crying that there was some kind of chain-reaction and Alivian is usually the last one standing unless she’s coy enough to fake her own injury hoping that I can’t point the blame at one person and drop the subject. Brady is also becoming notorious for his one line zingers and sarcastic comments. A chip off the old block.

Cam has one more year of preschool and then he’ll be in elementary school. Hallelujah! Cam is the wild one and voted “Most Likely to End Up in Juvey Hall” by his siblings. Like most younger siblings he’s tougher because of the rough housing and he’s more advanced academically due to the vacuum they create. I started comparing him to William Wallace (Braveheart) when during my preschool PE class he stands up in the middle of all the seated students and yells at the top of his voice, “FREEDOM!” Fortunately, 4 year-olds can’t focus their attention too long and the revolt was squashed. Like most state employees, Bonnie is being asked to do more with less pay. (Note: when the nimrods want to cut taxes can’t they see we’re going to have to cut something out?) As usual, the state of Virginia (Bonnie’s employer) is clueless on how to pay the bills. Like everyone’s job, Bonnie’s has its challenges. She just wishes her leaders had a little more common sense. I guess that’s the funny thing about common sense, it’s not too common. As an aside, in previous Christmas letters I’ve alluded to Bonnie’s lead foot. Well, ever since I got her a radar detector for Christmas she hasn’t received a single speeding ticket. I hope you enjoyed the letter. I’ll be here all week. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,