Friday, 23 December 2016

7 Quick Takes 46: An Open Christmas Letter

1.Welcome to the curious (or bored?!) friends and family who followed my invite here! Quick and obvious explanation: Seven Quick Takes is a Friday blog link-up (where bloggers, ahem, link up) with, amazingly, seven quick mini posts on whatever. And it's all steered by the capable helmswoman Kelly Mantoa at This Ain't the Lyceum.
So why have I brought you here, apart from an ill-disguised plan to up my visitor numbers and avoid handwriting Christmas notes? Well, this is how I've been reflecting on my life, life around me, or the random things that pop up in my head for the past couple of years. However, being a dedicated introvert, I manage never to actually talk about me or my family in plain detail. So it struck me that it wasn't an entirely hokey idea to use the blog to share news with family and friends, and to pull back the curtain (just an inch or two) for those who check in on my random musings  - and even sometimes post a comment.

I also, by the way, turn the introduction into post number one when pressed for ideas :)  So onto #2 and an actual round up of our year.

2. Alcuin has graduated from baby to toddler - he's nineteen months old. I love the toddler years so much more than the infant stage. I love the dialect each child develops. I love the mobility. He basically lives outside, which keeps him happy but the house not very tidy. He is obsessed with foxes and the moon. Of course, he's emperor of the household. Beatrice recently pointed out his close resemblance to Napoleon: short, not much hair, pink, plump, prone to digestive upsets, thinks he should rule the world. But he doesn't have a Corsican accent. In fact, curiously, despite being brought up in Mississippi by an English mother and Texan father, he seems to be spontaneously developing a Welsh lilt.

I wonder why "doo" was one of his first words?

3. Beatrice, Beatrice, Beatrice. T.E.E.N.A.G.E.R. Or is that spelled S.N.A.R.K.Y. ? Smart, sharp, all-around favourite big sister. Currently wants to be a paleontologist. Plays oboe and violin, and sings soprano in a concert choir. She was also part of the brains behind the marketing and writing teams for her Robotics club, which made the regional semi-finals in the annual BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science, and Technology) competition. In her spare time, she earned a gold medal on the National Latin Exam, and published fan fiction. Now I've put that into writing, it makes me wonder why she gives me the impression she hangs out in her room all day, wasting time. She's within a hair's breadth of being my height (which is five feet one and a half, if you want to know), so spends a lot of time hanging on my shoulders, trying to crush me a little shorter.
Update: In the two weeks since I drafted this, she has overtaken me. I'm now second shortest in the family, which isn't saying a lot since my competition is under three feet tall.

Trying to pretend she's also taller than her sister.

4. We only have one teenager now that Magdalen has reached the ripe old age of twenty (which makes us even riper and older). She has basically moved to Boston. She's only been back to Mississippi a few weeks this year, and met us in England over the summer. Having a child of legal drinking age was fun. We started a game of taking as many photos of her in a pub with her baby brother as possible. MIT seems a wonderful fit for her. If Alcuin is running with chickens, she is running with nerds. Plus, I get to go to Boston once a year to visit the city my daughter :) She began the year down on the Texan border aiding a Teach For America teacher, and spent the summer working on a research project for an MIT Math(s) Professor. She has moved into a women's cooperative dorm, where she gets to indulge her love of organization and cooking, as well as find out what shovelling snow is really like, because it's just a wee bit colder than Mississippi up there.

Fuelling up for a clifftop hike on a drizzly summer afternoon.

5. As for Ted, if it's Thursday, it must be Novosibirsk. Ted (a mathematician for those who don't know) has been zipping about this year. He's been to Slovenia (as usual), Italy (usually as usual since it's on the border with Slovenia), Croatia (ditto), Hungary (ditto), the UK of course, Siberia... I'm getting jetlag just thinking about it. He just got back from three weeks in the smog of Beijing, where he perfected his skills in haggling over everything, from the taxi ride from the airport onwards. He's probably looking forward to going nowhere over Christmas.

No prizes for guessing why I chose this photo.

6. What, me? I think I'll be writing a book entitled "My Year of Doing Nothing", which has been a lot more fun and time-consuming than it sounds. I'm taking a sabbatical from the workforce - with the arrival of Alcuin, we found ourselves pretty blindsided, and sanity had to prevail. I've been blogging, taking stock of my life, sending out birthday cards on time for once, making foundational plans for a home-based business (aka thinking), and generally chasing a toddler in and out of puddles. And actually reading books I don't have to teach. And sometimes blogging about those, too.

We don't take photos of us. This is the best of 2016 :)

7. Finally, as this is seven quick takes, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Cool Yule, Io Saturnalia, Serene Solstice, Seasons Greetings, Jolly Crimble, and (from my inner chinchilla) a Hap-py New Yeaaaar.


  1. Very nicely done. Came out of your introvert shell and shared with us. I feel honored. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday.

  2. Great photos, Susan. I loved reading this.
    Amy J.

  3. Well helloooo - I loved this, and the pics...blogging huh?

  4. What a lovely blog - I shall return...

    1. Thanks, Jennie. I still feel I'm trying to find my voice after two years of it!