For the last post of 2011, I'm totally cheating and not writing an original post which is fitting considering my blogging incompetence this year, not to be confused with incontinence. :) Instead, I present to you the 2011 Koons Zoo Christmas letter highlighting the notable events and happenings from the year. Thanks for sticking with me this year, when I may or may not have blogged more sporadically than ever (hello 2 weeks between posts, I'm so ashamed). The blog's 3 year anniversary is next month and that BLOWS MY MIND. We'll have an anniversary party complete with cupcakes when that date rolls around but for now thanks for reading and here's to 2012. Happy New Year!
Without further ado..
Dear Friends & Family (and Blog Readers),
It's the most wonderful time of the year, time for the annual Koons Christmas letter! Try to contain your excitement. After a brief hiatus last year due to a depressing, craptastic, death-filled 2010, we're back and better than ever. Subjectively speaking, of course. But hey, no one died in 2011 so we're chalking it up a success!!! Always the optimist, aren't I? Also, yes I did in fact, use the word craptastic in my Christmas letter, I gotta be me.
So 2011? It's going in the "Nothing Monumental but No Tragedies so Overall a Great Year" category of years. Hang on to your seats while we review.
January-I have a massive dislike of January and January '11 was no exception. GI Joe worked approximately eleventy hundred hours every week and the stress level of his job as a Recruiter was at a record high. The three bright spots of January were 1) we survived it ulcer free 2) redneck sledding is so much fun and 3) our Christmas in January celebration at a cabin in NE with my side of the family. Listen, you get that much Arnold goodness in one place for any amount of time, fun is bound to be had.
February-As much as I dislike January, I dislike February 10 times more. Oh yes, I AM a ray of sunshine. Stay with me, I promise it gets better. February 1st marked the 12th anniversary of my mom passing away but on the bright side it was also Blade's 9th birthday, which gave me a reason to not have a full blown pity party. Speaking of Blade, 9 has been good to him. He's one of the coolest kids I've ever met and I'm not saying that just because he's mine. Fine, that might have a little something to do with it. Blade is the quintessential All American boy. Good at everything (grades, football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, you name it), Mr. Popularity, teacher's pet, class clown, and just downright hilarious. It's pretty fun being his parents, especially when he tells us things like, "You might want to take a picture of me in this uniform because you're lookin' at a legend," with a twinkle in his eye. And that sentence? Pretty much sums up Blade. So yeah, February was not a complete bust. Thank goodness for Blade....and our snowwoman.
March-We took our annual National LamKoons Spring Break Vacation to visit Hilary and family in TN. We love Tennessee (oh and Hilary, Micah & Bryan and soon to be baby #3 too. Did you catch that subtle announcement?!?). Toyed with the idea of relocating to TN, didn't, the end...for now. Settle down IA friends/family, it's LONG TERM thinking., as in after the kids graduate. I was born to be a southern belle, ya'll.
April/May-The ground thawed, the sun returned, the grass turned green(ish), the livestock auction reopened, my bovine baby Holy turned a year old, Justin shot a big turkey while turkey hunting, Dakota and I had a girls weekend in St. Louis with my sisters and smom, and my birthday happened. All good things, except me aging. Another item of note for the month of May, Dakota graduated from 5TH GRADE and into the world of middle schooldom. And with that, I died a little. SHE'S JUST A BABY!
June/July/August-My absolute favorite time of the year. I love everything about this time of year, except for the snakes. For the full story on that and much more go here http://hillbillyhilarity.blogspot.com/2011/04/snakes-on-plain.html (shameless plug #1). We spent a lot of time fishing, playing outside, hanging out in the pool, and mostly enjoying the schedule free summer. Not sure if you knew this or not but when you have 3 kids involved in all kinds of things, you put more miles on your car seat than you do your couch. So not having to chauffeur kids around to various activities was delightful. Here's hoping they continue to not want to play baseball and put a wrench in my whole schedule free summer. In early July, we also took our annual National LamKoons Summer Vacation to Tampa, Florida for a little beach time. Iowa has great sweet corn and all, but ocean views and salt sea breezes? Not so much and this girl likes to get white sand between my toes at least once a year.
We spent about 5 days in Florida hitting the beaches and Busch Gardens and then a surprise detour in Orlando for a couple days at the Nickelodeon Resort aka BEST 2 DAYS OF OUR KIDS' LIVES THUS FAR. On our way to FL, we made a stop in Kansas to see Heidi, a stop in TN to see Hilary, and a stop in Georgia to see Stone Mountain. On the way home, we made a stop in New Orleans to see..well, A LOT of things, mostly life lessons for the children and an unforgettable stop in Memphis to see some serious police action and to handoff Blade & Ryder to Hilary and Bryan for a week stay with them. They flew home by themselves the following week, another big to do in their book.
At the end of July, Dakota made her 4H debut at the Madison County Fair showing chickens and art work. Highlights include bathing chickens in preparation for showing them (a vinegar rinse makes them super shiny!!!) and bringing home a blue ribbon for her chickens AND her artwork. Now that we know the lay of the 4H/County Fair land you can expect to hear much more about this in future Christmas letters. Blade is also now a 4H'er too so it's safe to say that one week every July will be dedicated to the county fair cause. And that's fine with me because those are my people and I feel right at home there. Not to mention the corndogs and the animals galore. In August, we celebrated Ryder's 8th birthday, for approximately 5 days because that's how he rolls. I have no idea where he gets it. EIGHT? Can you believe it? He'll always be 5 to me so whatever, eight. He's grown a ton this year and is now just millimeters smaller than Blade. In addition to his norms, wrestling and soccer, he got to play his first year of tackle football this year and is currently in his inaugural basketball season. He loves his sports, although in a very different way than his brother. He's in it for the camaraderie, the hanging out with his friends, the having fun part of it. Blade, on the other hand, well, it's serious competitive business to him. Oh the joys of boys. Ryder is a lot like Blade in that he makes friends easily, has the teachers wrapped around his finger, and pretty much breezes through life. He still has the laid back surfer boy look and attitude going on, it's part of his charm. Although don't let that charm fool you because under that blonde exterior is a spitfire just waiting for the right moment to rear it's precious head. He's been keeping us on our toes since the minute we found out we were having him (surprise!) and is still doing that 8 years later. Man, I love him. Wow, would you look at that, I just spent a whole page talking about 3 months. And I didn't even tell you how the kids started back to school and how Dakota is now a MIDDLE SCHOOLER! Or that we had a beautiful, adorable, sweet smelling addition to the extended Koons clan when Miss Lyla Jean was born to GI Joe's brother Brian and his wife Lindsay at the end of August. It's been awhile since we've had a baby in the Koons family so it's been so fun and she really is cutest thing ever. Moving on....only 3.5 months left!
September/October-All I remember about these 2 months was the vast amount of football we watched. Between both boys playing, the Hawkeyes, and the Detroit Lions, every weekend was filled with approximately 70 hours of football. Both boys' teams ended the season with the exact same record of 3-1-1. GI Joe was able to get tickets to a couple of the home Hawkeye games and memories were made at those games. The home opener of the season he took his dad, my dad, and Blade with him and it was pouring rain the entire time. But the Hawks got the win and the boys got some new Hawkeye ponchos. Score! GI Joe also turned 34 in October, and shortly thereafter dislocated a rib while doing a home improvement project that I had requested. Old age isn't for sissies! Oh, one other fun tidbit for these months was the start up of my new venture.."Suck It Up Cupcakes". You know, because I have a ton of free time and all, I thought it would be fun to bake gourmet and delicious cupcakes for people as a little side biz. It's going great and I'm as busy as I want to be with it. The best part about the whole thing, besides the baking of 37 varieties of cupcakes (so far) is the logo.....
I mean, have you EVER?!? There's a facebook page dedicated to it if you're in the market for cupcakes www.facebook.com/SuckItUpCupcakes
That brings us to November, the end is in sight!!!!
November-November the month of big dates at the Koons Zoo. The first being Dakota's birthday. She turned TWELVE you guys, TWELVE!!! You know what that means right? She's officially a tween and a mere 11 months from being a TEENAGER. WAAAAAAAA! The great thing about Dakota is though, she remains unchanged by the fact that her peers are starting to get into boys and setting up facebook accounts and other such adolescent nonsense. She openly admits that she does not really enjoy being around lots of people or big cities and dating, especially in 6th grade is overrated and silly. Umm yeah, I'm thinking farmgirl forever and if we can just keep her thinking that dating is overrated until, oh I don't know, say 42, we'll be just fine. Dakota is still Dakota in that she likes her peace and quiet in the country, her ability to roam freely while hunting birds and rabbits and whatnot, her kitties, and her chickens. Her artistic and creative abilities continue to blossom as evidenced by her blue ribbon showing at the county fair and her academic excellence is only dampened by her ability to organize and her natural dizzy blondeness. She couldn't be more opposite than me (except for the dizzy blonde thing) which has been a good exercise in patience and humility for me. I've never met another kid like her and probably never will. Her potential in life knows no bounds and I cannot wait to see where it takes her. Probably not New York City, I can tell you that. :) Also, in November, GI Joe and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. How do you like us now haters of 1997?!? I tease. It's flown by but on the other hand it seems like we've been a part of each other since birth. Of course I still love him but I still really really like him too AND think he's even better looking now than he was when I first laid eyes on him in the fall of 1994, and believe me, high school junior me would have never believed that could happen. I know, gag me, but it's true. Throw in Thanksgiving and Black Friday and you've got a month for the record books.
Are your eyes tired yet? I should've included bookmarks. I promise, we're almost done. What Koons Christmas letter would be complete without the annual Koons Zoo count is so here goes: 3 horses, 1 mini horse, 2 mules "stupid" donkeys, 3 llamas, 1 cow (love of my life), 1 pot bellied pig, 1 "real" pig for eating...seriously!),
1 fainting goat, 1 peacock, 2 bunnies, 1 turkey, 1 ewe (not me, EWE), 5 dogs (I forgot to tell you that we are a foster home for the Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue and yes, I HAVE been able to give them up after fostering them), a whole lot of chickens, and a few kitties. We've lost some animals this past year and have slowed down on our animal acquisitions as of late. But don't worry there are some exciting acquisitions planned for spring of 2012, so stay tuned!
Congrats! It's now 2012 and you deserve an award for making it to the end of this letter. I apologize for the length but we had some major catching up to do. Life is good, God is great, and people, namely us, are crazy. From our zoo to you, Merry Christmas (belated) and a happy New Year!
The Koons Zoo