Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What's a Little Christmas Newsletter between Friends?

I interrupt the riveting Gidget and Moondoggy Go West series to bring you this special announcement.  I seriously cut down my Christmas card list this year and thus; am posting my annual newsletter as a blog.  I'd like to think it's because I am deeply involved in elimating my carbon footprint but the truth is. . .I got a cramp in my hand and don't feel like addressing envelopes anymore.

Happy Holidays to Everyone!  Judi, Dave, Drew and Jeff

This was supposed to be the year. The one event that every parent who has the opportunity waits for. All of our children graduated this year (all both of them.) Which meant that we would finally be facing the proverbial empty nest. And we were EXCITED! At least that was my plan. To truly describe how my plan was supposed to go down, I have to go back in time. . .

Every August from the time both of my kids were in school, we looked toward the first day of school with a mixture of excitement and dread. At least that is what the kids thought. It was hard for Drew and Jeff to imagine what my pathetic little life would be like all day without their constant company. And every year I would solemnly assure that them that I would, somehow, manage. Along with my next door neighbor and BFF) Cindy, we would slowly walk the kids to the bus stop and sadly wave our babies off into another year of school. And when the bus was safely out of site, Cindy and I would allow the smiles to creep across our faces as we danced, DANCED back to our houses, put on a Springsteen CD and toasted our freedom with mimosa’s and cake (Yes! Cake!)

Flash forward to the proud day this May when Drew walked across the stage at the U of I and into the real world. It really is something to realize that this truly is IT. At 22, Drew had college under his belt and a job on the line. Life is good. Two weeks later, Jeff walked across the stage at the high school and into college mode heading to the University of Illinois in Chicago thus; rendering our nest empty - which we were both really looking forward to. Yeah, yeah, you miss the kids and all but come on. . . .the house empties by 2 full people! Fewer clothes strewn around the house, one less bathroom to CONTINUALLY clean, and a grocery bill that diminishes by over HALF! Yep, that was my plan.

So, imagine my surprise when Drew moved home at the end of July because his job with Norwegian Cruise Lines (based in Hawaii, poor boy) would not begin until late September. There we were, all 4 of us in 1200 square feet. Fulltime. That was not my plan. However, I quickly found out that this arrangement came with perks! Drew did the grocery shopping, meal planning and he did a lot of the cooking. What a gift! I could hold off on my plan for awhile.

Jeff headed off to college in mid August learning to navigate the city by public transportation in short order. He quickly became attuned to city life; shopping, going to concerts and the symphony. Drew got the call to head to Hawaii to begin his job in September. I took him to the airport in the early hours of Friday September 25 knowing that I would come home to an EMPTY NEST. Imagine my surprise when, as he got out of the car and hugged me goodbye, I began to sob. SOB. And I sobbed all the way home putting countless drivers in untold peril as I accidentally missed my exit and headed toward Wisconsin. That wasn’t part of my plan at all, My nest was FINALLY empty and here I was crying. Sheesh

After a good cry, I arrived home (and managed to not take anybody out on the way) with a renewed energy. I planned a date night for Dave and me right at home complete with a nice dinner and wine and no one to interrupt our complete sentences. So, imagine my surprise when Jeff walked in the door at 5 p.m. asking what was for dinner. Home from college on our first empty nest weekend? This was not part of my plan. What could I do? I set a place for him too and marveled at how mature he seemed after 1 month of college. His quick wit and biting sense of humor cracked us up all weekend. What a gift!

Luckily, Dave and I secretly implemented a back up plan last June that entailed building a house in the California desert (yes to you all - we finally did it! Shameless plug: Lovely 1 bedroom, 1 bath condo on golf course with million dollar view of Santa Rosa Mountains, pool, tennis and all the free golf you can play FOR SALE) And so, we really do have an empty nest. . . 2 of them in California and we get to go visit every once in awhile until Dave retires ( 3 years 9 months but who’s counting!) At least that’s OUR plan - for now. Because what I have been reminded of from all of this? I don’t really make the plan at all.

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Judi, Dave, Drew and Jeff Coltman

If you have any interest, I began a blog last June entitled, My Life in a Nutshell. I try to publish a weekly piece but sometimes that plan doesn’t pan out either. You can read these snippets at . I am also on Facebook much to my kids’ disgust and can always be emailed at