the McAllisters!

Merry Christmas from

We are all safe and sound, but much has happened since you last heard from us.

I know on the outside we look like we’ve got it all together and for the most part we do. We don’t mean to brag about ourselves, but is it really bragging if it’s the truth?

Daphne

Kate and I finally relented and gave Daphne permission to get her first tattoo this year. Initially, she told us she was going to get a small bumblebee just above her ankle bone, but when we picked her up from Ozzy’s Ink Parlor, she refused to let us see it. We thought she just needed some space, but later that night when Daph took off her hoodie, we saw that her entire left shoulder was covered with a neon green tattoo of the Monster energy drink logo. Welp...we thought we had raised her better, but what’s done is done. On the bright side, it’s brought her some street cred with the other kids at the skate park.

One of the many struggles we’re having with our baby girl is that nearly every night she is demanding that we let her drop out of school. Because we hold to old-fashioned values, we have stood our ground in the face of her persistence—our education mantra in the McAllister house is “No offspring left behind. EVERY child WILL at least finish Middle School.”

We have been encouraged by Daphne’s recent interest in Fine Arts. We were so thrilled when she wanted to try out for the role of Beth in Little Women in the school play, but when she found out she would have to stay after school and wear a dress she bailed on the idea. I’m just glad we’re making progress. #smallwins

Heath

It’s official. Heath landed his first job at the Golden Corral buffet and we think they are really lucky to have him! It has been a dream of ours to see him get a job with career possibilities. I think the management was pretty impressed with his interview and saw his leadership potential because they immediately offered him 12 hours a week and a pretty sweet financial package (he’s making $8.25 per hour).

Getting a job isn’t Heath’s only step into manhood—he has also begun to grow facial hair and it’s lookin’ good! Both of these things are reminders that Kate and I probably only have five or six more years before he leaves the nest. Where does the time go?

We were concerned that our little man might overwhelm himself with his job responsibilities, so we encouraged him to relax a bit by going to the tanning spa with me. He has really taken to it and has seen how a good tan makes people stop and take notice.

Laurel

As you know, Laurel graduated high school two years ago and has been busy publishing her sunset videos on YouTube, drawing wild flowers in her journal, and growing her bangs out. Because her dream has been to travel the country in a VW van, she would spend hours a day searching Craigslist for anyone to hitch a ride with.

Lo and behold, last April she found a listing of a group of girls from the city planning a cross-country road trip to Portland. The listing had a picture of the girls and the van they were driving. It wasn’t the cute Volkswagen she hoped for, but instead, it was a mostly beige 1987 Ford Econoline with “Free Candy” spray painted on the side. Laurel was on cloud nine! Finally, an opportunity for friends! And so, her adventure began. 

For nearly six months we didn’t hear a word from Laurel until just a couple of weeks ago when she came strolling in the front door. I must admit we were a bit surprised to see her back so soon, but we were thankful she could come home to do her laundry and be in our family Christmas picture.

Hazel

Hazel tries harder than anyone I know to better herself, but her zeal for improving is always a little puzzling since she never really seems to make any progress. This year (as is the case most years) her actual self-improvement has been lagging behind her ambition which actually causes a number of unintended consequences—not the least of which is she is still having problems walking on uneven surfaces.

She quit the yoga class we enrolled her in because she thought that all that meditation stuff is for losers and she didn’t feel like the poses allowed for enough creative expression. So...she tried zoomba and pilates and to our disappointment, the staff at the local YMCA told her that for her own safety and the safety of others she would only be allowed to take water aerobics.

 

Unfortunately Hazel struggles with aquaphobia which means she is going to have to continue getting her exercise in the basement.

 

As a result of her passion to encourage young people who also struggle with falling down, she is presently planning to write a self-published book called “Yoga’s for Losers: and Other Things to Avoid on the Journey to Self-Discovery” followed by a motivational speaking tour of local home-school co-ops. Despite Hazel’s many shortcomings she still puts a smile on our face.

Juniper

Juniper has always been the over-achiever in the family and this year was no different. Some of her accomplishments include building a 4-foot model of the food pyramid out of styrofoam, starting a podcast dedicated to reviewing different kitty litters, rearranging her room and learning how to paint Pooh Bear in watercolors.

She is still busy with her studies in home-school college and hopes to get her certificate in a few more years. We’re pretty sure she has no intention of leaving home, but that’s okay with us because she is really improving in her culinary skills and has recently learned how to make egg salad sandwiches. 

We had a big scare earlier this year on our annual family trip to IKEA when Juniper got lost. It wasn’t until we were enjoying our Swedish meatballs that Hazel noticed she was missing. We finished our lunch, did a bit more shopping and then started looking for her. Two hours later we received a call from the manager at the Panda Express nearly a mile down the road letting us know that while Juniper was unharmed she was a bit shaken up.

Kate

Kate is my little spark plug and I adore her despite the sad fact that she hoards cooking magazines while not knowing how to cook. It doesn’t really matter to me now that she has the Taco Bell mobile ordering app on her phone coupled with Juniper’s ability to craft hard boiled eggs into sandwiches.

 

This year Kate has taken her passion for dance to a new level as she has been studying Latin movements. In addition to her new moves, she has incorporated instrumentation into her artistry. What comes out is a spicy blend of dance steps mixed with the mesmerizing Latin rhythms of her maracas. Interestingly, her YouTube channel has gone international and has exploded to 47 followers and 8 subscribers—mostly from a couple of remote towns in Guatemala.

 

One of Katherine’s greatest qualities is her chill attitude and hands-off approach to parenting. She doesn’t believe in being a helicopter mom and is convinced we should let our kids become whomever they wanna become without pressuring them in any way. Sure, we don’t always know what our kids are doing, where they’re at or if they’re coming home, but we’re okay with that because we live a pretty stress-free life.

Walter

2018 was the year I personally had to come to grips with the reality that building my real estate fortune in Amish country was not going to materialize—my ambition to become a real estate mogul was dead. But, the dream of making it big is alive and well. In my interactions with the local men, I have noticed that there is another burgeoning market in our community—men’s jewelry!

I can’t believe the other big players in the jewelry business (eg. Kay, Zales and Costco) haven’t seen the potential. What a break for me! So, I took the plunge and launched a new company: Jewelry by Walter, LLC. We specialize in fashionable custom jewelry for the Amish gentleman.

Next year I’m anticipating big things for our family! We know from experience that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and our quest for success is something we all have in common (except maybe Daphne...). Another year has passed and our optimism for greater things is stronger than ever. Bring it on 2019!

 

Suffice it to say that we aren’t all that we could be, but doggonit we’re pretty pleased with being the McAllisters.

 

Keeping it Real.

Walter, Kate & Kids

P.S. Merry Christmas

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