Dear friends and family,
It’s been another
year of trying to guide our stubborn children, earn a living, write
fiction, and volunteer at church.
About the children:
The older son, Erik, now age 19, seems to have settled down a bit
and is less intent on shocking his parents. He’s already in
his third year of college at the University of California at San
Diego and has chosen a major: economics. So, he’s challenging
He’s also challenging his body. As a tennis player, he’s
competed for his school since his freshman year, but he suffered
a wrist injury at the end of his first season. Surgery before his
second season seemed at first to have cured the problem, but before
the end of the school year, his left wrist was bothering him so much
that he was unable to hit a two-handed backhand, and thus was unable
to play tennis. His coach, most graciously, offered to teach Erik
to play one-handed tennis. His mother encouraged him to accept this
offer, giving him a “don’t give into defeat” speech.
She should know by now that teenagers don’t listen to their
parents. Instead, Erik quit the team and headed to Northern California
to work for the summer in a lumberyard owned by a classmate’s
mother. He returned with all fingers (a co-worker lost two! but they
were successfully reattached.) Erik’s mother suggested that
now that he had his forklift operator’s license and all this
free time without sports, he should get a part-time job to help pay
for his college education. Again, the do-the-opposite rule of teen
think kicked in: Erik rejoined the tennis team determined to learn
one-handed tennis. Within two weeks, he discovered that his left
wrist had apparently healed after all, and he’s now playing
a strong, two-handed tennis game. Overcoming adversity in sports
is easier to do when faced with the threat of having to get a real
On a proud-parent note: we were very pleased that Erik stuck with
his summer job. After the first week, as he now admits, working outside
all day in a physically challenging job had him dreaming of quitting.
But instead, he stuck with it and even earned a raise. And even more
amazing: he did some cooking for the family that he spent the summer
Our younger son, Justin, age 12, appears, at least so far, less determined
than his brother to forge an independent identity by testing every
one of his parents’ rules and beliefs, or so we thought.
But early this school year we found out that this good-natured
child, without a word of warning to his parents, had decided that
homework was optional. By the time the notes from teachers started
flooding in, he was well into the second month of school. This
called for emergency measures, which meant disconnecting him from
all computer and PlayStation games. He went through a rough period
of withdrawal (maybe he’d previously been so good-natured
simply because he’d been drunk on electronics!) As with most
addictions, it took more than one attempt to get him back on track.
But now even he’s noticing how much easier it is to get decent
grades if he simply turns in every assignment.
When not avoiding homework, Justin paints and continues tae kwon
About the parents:
Gene is the least rebellious of our family members and holds the
family together. His water-truck business was great until the rains
in late October. The ground stayed wet enough from subsequent rains
to keep water-truck demand low. He’s been helping out weekends
with the swap meet, setting up the display for Judy’s brother’s
(Mark’s) custom-wood-furniture business.
Gene’s doing this weekend job because we lost the man in charge:
Judy’s dad. It was such a shock, on June 13, to find out that
her dad had died suddenly of a heart attack. He was sitting in church,
after a morning spent setting up the swap meet, joking with friends,
singing hymns, and giving a speech at a congregational meeting about
the future opportunities for the church. He was only 72 years old
and such a vibrant person. The family has no doubt where he is right
now, but we still feel so sorry for ourselves.
In April, Judy got laid off (again!) from Fluor and decided to take
off six months from corporate writing to spend more time as a fiction
writer (no, still not published). This also gave her some time
to mourn the loss of her dad. She exercised two horses and watered
plants at an antiques shop. She wasn’t a complete hippie:
she worked on a web site for her brother’s business and collected
some overdue money for Gene’s business. When the garden at
the antiques shop went out of business (not her fault!), and her
self-imposed deadline for getting a job rolled around (she’d
promised Gene she’d be working for more than minimum wage
by November), she registered with a temporary placement agency.
She’s now back indoors, working on a web-site writing assignment.
With Judy back at work,
Gene’s looking into a career change,
selling for Mark’s business (see www.woodworkcreations.com).
Gene’s both excited and nervous about this opportunity.
So, we feel like old dogs,
but we’re learning new tricks.
We have to, to keep up with our boys.
May you experience God’s
love and peace this Christmas,
Judy, Gene, Erik, and Justin Alexander