Saturday, December 21, 2013

Season's Greeting from the Wicke Family

(As written by Mr. Wicke, who agreed years ago to take the task of the christmas letter.)

We begin our Christmas greeting by sharing some inner workings of the Wicke household. Inevitably our December starts with a discussion along these lines:

Laurel: What are we going to do about our Christmas card picture this year?

Thomas: I don’t know, what do you think?

Laurel: I really want to get a nice family picture taken.

Thomas: Yes, that would be nice….


Laurel: Honey, you have GOT to get on the Christmas letter and we never got the picture taken.

Thomas: I know, I am going to write the letter. I will think of something for the picture…

Since we’ve been married for twenty years now, such trivial things rarely erupt into an argument but there is no doubt that Laurel’s concept of the ideal Christmas picture is more than what I was able to produce with my remedial Photoshop skills. That being said, the moustache craze is sweeping the nation, and we decided to have some fun with it. Much to Laurel’s chagrin, the children were enthusiastically behind their dad’s idea. So, if you find yourself thinking, “Wow, that family has a rather distinguished look to them,” or if the word “debonair” came to mind when our card arrived, you will recognize the power of subliminal messaging. In the end, we just wanted to bring a smile to your face (by bringing a moustache to ours) and whisker you a Harry Christmas! Don’t get us started!

So we stubbled, I mean stumbled, into another year of change but have gotten our feet underneath us after our transition in 2012. In February I received my own campus and began oversight of Everest College, Torrance. I grew to love the faculty, staff and students very quickly and felt like I found a second family. The smaller campus gave me a chance to learn all the details of the position. The 75 minute drive each way on the famed 405 freeway was the only unfortunate element of my job. It would have been nice to shave this off (the drive, not the moustache) but both Laurel and I are finding that driving is very much a part of Southern California culture. A frightening reality when we realize Logan is only four years from driving. Just about a month ago, my commute and my position took an unexpected change as I was asked to take over the much larger and much closer Anaheim campus. I left my Torrance “family” and engaged in new challenges. I look forward to making a difference here.

We might not qualify as an educated family but we are definitely an educational family. Hence the “Wicke Academy” reference. Unlike the fake moustaches, the job descriptions have some validity to them. I may be president of a school and Laurel really is a teacher, but she fills every one of those “unofficial” roles in the laboratory that is life. After teaching music and literature at Carden Hall, she begins her second shift whiskering Logan to young women’s or Griffin to gymnastics. Her constant shadow is Lincoln, who loves being with his family unless they engage in some unappreciated behavior whereupon he is quick to declare “you're fired” or proclaim “you're ruining my life.” Laurel keeps our family running between Newport and Mission Viejo. She was able to chaperon the 8th grade for the second time on their trip to France this past summer. Carden offered Laurel a full-time position, which allowed us to move Logan and Griffin to this amazing school where, along with an amazing character based curriculum including daily French, music and school uniforms, their mother teaches a few doors down the hall. Attending such a school is a blessing we never could have foreseen.

Our family travels provided many memories as we spent two weeks on the east coast. We saw much of Washington D.C. and mastered the Metro when our hotel turned out to be a bit more distant than it seemed from the online travel site. A private tour of the Capital building, the Smithsonians and the Newsuem were favorites (although walking to and from them was not). We spent a day at Mount Vernon, a day at Jamestown and then several in colonial Williamsburg. These all made an impression on Logan and Griffin, but Lincoln was most taken by the many hotel pools we frequented at the end of our long days. We spent a few more relaxing days with dear friends in North Carolina before returning to home sweet home and afternoons on the beach at Newport or Laguna.

We live in a magical place and a prosperous era, to be sure. Not everyone is entirely satisfied with our condition, however. Lincoln, now four years old, is very aware of our proximity to Disneyland and is growing more dismayed with his parents who have not yet provided him opportunity for entrance to the “happiest place on earth.” In disgust he finally declared, “I keep asking and asking and no one will take me!” Somehow he has been blessed with a personality big enough to compete with his older brother and sister. There is rarely a dull or quiet moment in our home. Rather than reading more of my ramblings, I have included several pictures (below) showing some of the activities of the past year.

Somehow life seems to continue at an ever increasing pace. At times… no, very often, we feel like we can’t keep up. As we enter the thick of life we continue to be amazed how quickly it is passing by. Our failure to stay connected to our friends and family as frequently as we would like is not our intention, and we beg your forgiveness. We are weighted down more than you know when we hear of your struggles and sadness’s. Your successes bring great satisfaction and happiness to us. We love you, and we cherish the experiences we have shared with you. Life is about people because people make our life meaningful. You make our life meaningful. At this Christmas time, we thank God for the gifts of family and friends. Laurel and I are better people, we are a better family, because of your influence. Our home continues to be open to you whenever you can come to visit and our hearts are open all the other times. May God bless you this season and throughout the year.

All our love,
Thomas , Laurel, Logan, Griffin, and Lincoln

The family at Mount Vernon

Logan at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Wicke, Griffin, and a tired Lincoln at Arlington

Griff at the Library on Congress

Attending an outdoor symphony concert

Enjoying the Pinewood Derby

Lincoln at play

Still willing to give kisses.

Laurel and Logan were both in a production at our church.

Griff was the big winner at Pack Meeting!

Another fun day at the beach!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheers to the Writers

There are writers out there. 

Real writers who will never, in all liklihood, write a book or find a publisher or top a best-sellers list, but they're out there nonetheless, writing, experimenting, thinking, and expressing.  And when I'm lucky enough to run across them, I feel something in my brain and heart expand, connecting me to a thought I wish I had thought on my own, or a feeling that I never knew how to express, like this one.

Or sometimes I just laugh until tears run down my cheeks, like this one.

I'm so thankful to those who write.  God bless 'em.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Yesterday, dropping Griffin off at school was a sweet experience.  It is not always so...actually, it is not usually so.  Most of the time it is hectic and rushed with a dose of tongue lashing thrown in.  We are dealing with my Griffin, after all. 

My Griffin who marches to his own drummer.  My Griffin who would rather be in the present moment than preparing for a future one.  My Griffin who has trouble staying on task.  My Griffin who forgets important details--alot.  Details like--oh, I don't know--lunches, homework, jackets, books, underwear...those sorts of details.  My Griffin who, by the time we reach school, makes me want to pull all my hair out, dance crazy on it, and take a Xanex.

But that wasn't the case yesterday.  Yesterday, when he got out of the car after his sister, he said, as he usually does, "I love you, Mom,"  and as I watched him walk away, the view of his untied shoes, legs that are quickly outgrowing his pants, and that rooster tail on the back of his little red head pierced my heart with an aching tenderness.  Before I could stop myself, I honked the horn.  He turned, his face a question mark until I blew him a kiss, and fast as lightening his hand shot out to grab it, his expression turning to delight.  Our little sign from preschool days, remembered.

In that flash, I glimpsed that little person, my baby boy:  He is still there.  I could see him.  And he is, always to be, My Griffin.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Old Friends (Without Air Quotes)

This medium is still strange to me in many ways.  I feel as though I know people whom I've never met, as least not in person.  But I feel like I've met you.  We share deep thoughts and experiences through blogs.  Thoughts that are fully developed or are in the process of developing... oftentimes things I don't have time or place to share with my proximate friends who accompany me in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  I think it is possible to know someone through blogs and to know them intimately.  But here is the strange part:  Just as quickly, as life gets in the way, we can disappear.  Check out.  Step away from the computer leaving nothing but a post whose poststamp gets more and more ancient.  I got irritated with one blogger who quit writing just like that.  No explanation.  No winding down.  Just stopped.  I was irritated because I wondered what happened to her.  Where was the end of the story???  But then, it isn't a story, is it?  It's just life.  Busy, crazy, ongoing life.  I still wonder about her.  And every now and again I check her blog, just to see if she's come back.  And when she does, I'll try to welcome her as kindly as my old friends welcomed me.  Thanks.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I'm Baaaa-aaaack.

This year has been bananas!  And I wrote none of it.  Not one word.  I'd feel worse about it, but I can't.  I recognize that it was all I could do to just live it, let alone set it down and make sense out of it.  My husband's job search and ultimate hiring, the 6 months of single parenthood that followed, the move (oh, the move!), two months of living out of suitcases, finding a house, switching kids' schools, a job offer for me, moving in (finally), and taking a part-time job after 10 years of stay-at-home mothering.  It's been A LOT.  Oh-so-much that only now do I feel like I'm getting my feet under me.  And perhaps I'm ready to write.

I feel rusty and don't know where to begin...

How about here?  We sold our house in one day.  ONE DAY!  For that we were not prepared.  It took me two weeks of mad work to get it show ready.  Me alone, because Mr. Wicke was working in California already.  It was a crazy amount of work, but I had the place looking pretty swanky, if I do say so myself.  Still and all, I was not prepared to sell it to the first guy who walked through the door.  But we did.

Then we were homeless...because we still didn't know exactly where in southern California Mr. Wicke would be placed.  We waited...and waited...and waited...still no final decision.  And it was July.  School was starting in a month and a half.  The kids were asking where they were going to live.  "I don't know," didn't feel comforting--to them or to me.  We came to stay in temporary housing for a week and a half, and I was determined to find our home come hell or high water.  Hats off to our real estate agent.  She was a gem and took us to about 8 different cities, giving us an overview of the area.  Then magically, one Sunday afternoon we found our home.

It was a surprise.  We were just about to sign papers for another property.  The almost house almost met all of our criteria, but there were a couple of concessions that didn't sit well.  The foremost being that it didn't have a downstairs bedroom for my mom when she comes to visit.  She just can not do stairs anymore with her back.  So we were hesitating, yet we hadn't found anything better and would have hated to pass it up only to be disappointed later.

"I want you to see one more house," our agent said over the phone.  She was out of town on business, "but the owner has agreed to let you in tomorrow, so we can make it work."

To tell the truth, I wasn't very excited about it.  The pictures on line were underwhelming, but when I walked in I actually said, "Is this the same house?"  It had a great staircase in the entryway and a see through fireplace between the living room and dining room, neither of which had been featured.  It had vaulted ceilings and a fireplace in the master bedroom.  Didn't see those in the pictures either.  It had three french doors that opened to the back patio.  A gigantic bonus room and a surprisingly huge closet in a secondary bedroom.  It had a laundry chute and a three car garage.  It had a downstairs bedroom, and it was in our price range.  Where do we sign?

Still, we didn't know where Mr. Wicke would be placed, and I should interject here that we still don't.  He has been kept busy doing interim work but has yet to be assigned a specific campus, so there is a possibility of a commute in our future.  I hope not, but only time will tell.  In the mean time, we are settling in.  The kids' school, which was priority number one for us, seems excellent.  Our neighborhood, while older than our last, has been very friendly and welcoming.  Our church has made us feel at home, and I have been offered a part-time teaching position.

But that is a story for another day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Love 'Em and Leave 'Em

I am in the middle of a love affair.  It's true.  And it's breaking my heart because I know it can't last.  I guess we just got the timing wrong...

See, the thing is, I really love my house.  I do.  I fell even more deeply, head over heels in love during the holidays when I saw just how much it could do.  It can wrap its arms around a lot of people and give them all a place to rest.  It can invite a crowd around a dinner table.  It can encourage people to lay back, put their feet up,  and take a nap.  It can let the adults talk downstairs while the kids get as squirrely as they want everywhere else.  It's a good house, and I love it.

Maybe I love it even more because I know we are leaving.  In about 5-6 months we will be driving away from Mesa onto new adventures.  My Mr. Wicke has a new job that looks to take us to Southern California (placement to be determined around May) and I am a little broken hearted.  This was supposed to be our forever house.  The one where we stay and put down roots.  That was the plan...

That just isn't how it's going down.  And I know it's a good job.  It's a good opportunity.  And I love California.  But I can't help being a little sad for us.  Because I'm in love, and not just with the house, but with the people that come and go through its doors.  The people who have made this house our home.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Would-Be Christmas Card

Something had to give this year.  I decided that back in October when, on top of an already crazy holiday season, I was asked to plan and direct our church's Stake Christmas program.  Yeah, I said October.  Not a lot of time to start a program from scratch, and I mean scratch.  They wanted something brand new and "QUALITY."  That was the word I heard over and over again.  Quality.  In two months.  Okay...

So something had to give...and it wasn't going to be my sanity.  Although that was sometimes questionable between choosing music, writing a script, rehearsing a 60-something voice choir, designing a slide show, lighting, costuming, advertising...oh, and you know...Thanksgiving and Christmas--that stuff.  So, after considering some of the items that had to be done, Christmas cards didn't make the cut.  After 17 years of consecutive card sending, 2011 feels a little naked, undone, unfinished, if you will.

And then, look what Mr. Wicke went a did.  He designed the cutest card we've probably ever had.  (Guess what's on his list of to-do's next year?)  Except he just did it two days ago.  And just for his facebook page, I guess, so you won't be getting it in the mail, but if I post it here can you just pretend you did?

And if I push hard enough, I may even get him to write a Christmas letter.