Christmas 2002

Greetings from the Parker Fergusons: Byron, Toni, Nolan, and Kyra.

A few nights ago, the Ferguson’s visited their favorite Chinese restaurant- Wonton AMayo. Both Toni and Byron were surprised to learn from reading the informative paper place mat that the year 2000 was the year of the dragon, 2001 the year of the snake, and 2002 the year of the Kindergartners.  Kindergartners?  What a coincidence- Nolan and Kyra are Kindergartners this year.

In preparation for Kindergarten, Byron and Toni discovered a group trying to start a new charter school in Parker and quickly signed up. Challenge to Excellence (the new school) hoped to incorporate back to basics education, smaller class sizes, and a smattering of technology into our children’s education- something that was important to both of us. Nolan and Kyra’s concerns of “would there be any other kids, snacks, or recess?” were also easily met. The kids get dropped off at Challenge to Excellence two and one-half days a week; and love everything about it except for “nap time.” Why do kindergartners who hate nap time get nap time, and beleaguered computer professionals who want nap time never get nap time? Maybe someday the unions will finally figure out what is important to today’s workers.

The good part of charter schools is parent involvement. Unfortunately, the bad part of
schools is also parent involvement. So, Byron and Toni have found themselves … involved.  Byron sits on the governing council of the school (ok, mostly it seems he’s in charge moving furniture.) Toni is organizing the school’s drama program. By May, our kids will be starring in Charlotte’s Web. I mean, auditioning for Charlotte’s Web. I’m sure other kids will have a fair shot at the leading roles.

Fortunately, there has been time for a few non-school related activities, too, this year. Before the start of school, Toni surprised Byron with a combination birthday-anniversaryand-Christmas-for-the-next-12-years type present- a trip to the Mexican Riviera in Mexico. The four-day, ali-inclusive, grand opening special was just to tempting for Toni to pass up. Byron and Toni entrusted Nolan and Kyra to his sister and mom while they jetted down to Mexico. Yes, we know we’re bad parents for leaving them behind- however, Nolan and Kyra simply wouldn’t have benefited from the all-you-can-drink swim up bar.

While in Mexico, Byron and Toni used a rented top-of-the-line 1962 Volkswagen ($50/ day)
to visit Xel-ha, an ecological park famous for aquatic life and crystal clear snorkeling. (The spelling involves accents and umlauts to difficult to produce on the computer.) Xel-ha is a lush jungle paradise, complete with chattering parrots, jung:e greenery, and … iguanas. Lots and lots of iguanas. Really, really, BIG iguanas. Toni DOES NOT LIKE iguanas. Byron took it upon himself to turn and point out each barely concealed iguana on the path, invariably just as Toni walked by it. Byron tried hard (ok, not that hard) to contain his laughter as Toni yelped and jumped. Toni almost turned around and went back home  efore
getting to the water’s edge.

Also this year, Toni began her own home-based high-quality digital photography business (she takes pictures.) Toni has always been interested in photography, and has been pretty darn good at it. Now she’s turning her hobby into a business with the help of a new digital camera. Digital allows the pictures to be manipulated after the fact to produce a wide variety of effects and even combine perfect faces from various shots into one perfect family photo. One of Toni’s first forays produced a beautiful and touching black and white photograph of a friend’s pregnant sister-in-law, which took best in show at the county fair. If Byron looks like Pierce Brosnan, and Toni like Halle Berry in this year’s Christmas photo, its through the magic of digital photo retouching. (Update: As you can see from this year’s photo, neither of us got touched up. However, we did digitally change our pet Chihuahua into a St. Bernard!)
Ok, ok. Gus our male St. Bernard was never a Chihuahua, and is insulted to be compared to a small hairless rat with a furry tail. He’s much more like a very large and very slobbery sloth. Actually , Gus won Best-of-Breed at several area dog shows this year, beating out some stiff competition. As a result , Gus ranked in the top 25 of all St. Bernards in the country and received an invitation to the Eukanaba Cup in Florida. Byron evaded the cost of sending the two by spuriously reporting that there are even more
iguanas in Florida than Mexico.

The Toni taxi service cheerfully drives our kids to various extracurricular activities. Kyra joined Daisies (Girl Scouts for Kindergartners) this year. Toni is actually an assistant troop leader! Toni brushed up for service by watching “Troop Beverly Hills” at least 22 times maybe more. Toni pouted for a week on learning that the Girl Scouts of America only approve of official uniforms- none of them pink. Toni refuses, however, to give up on the dream of earning “shopping at the mall” badges for all the girls. Heck, Byron gets lost at the mall, he votes yes.

Nolan continues to play and practice hockey this year. During a scrimmage, Nolan noticed a fallen player on the ice. In an apparent attempt to keep the fallen player from getting up again, Nolan gamely skated over, fell on top of him, and started hitting away. Nolan is now the first and only kid on his 5-year-old team to be sent to the penalty box. Byron and Toni called family and friends allover the country to tell them the exciting news. I mean, ahem, we’re mortified , and Nolan’s been instructed that if he ever does that again there will be no pickled beets for a month.

Byron & Toni took great pleasure this year in seeing lots of friends and family- many at Rick’s (Toni’s Brother) wedding. We hope the rest of you are doing well, too, and hope to see you in the upcoming years. Feel free to call, write, or even visit. If you do, we’ll even buy you an egg roll at Won-Ton-A-Mayo.

P.S. 2002 is actually the year of the horse. I just made up the bit about year of the Kindergartners.
Merry Christmas