Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Weldon Christmas letter 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! It’s time to get out a magnifying glass and feel good about your life. We are blessed as always but there have definitely been some speed bumps in the road of life this year. Alan's dad's appendix ruptured and he had emergency surgery. His mom's breast cancer recurred and she is undergoing Chemo therapy now as is Robert's wife Elizabeth who was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Mac hit his head playing football(not the real thing but the fooling around after lunch kind) and had an MRI which was fine but his nose continued to bleed daily until he had it cauterized and then it still bled daily for another week or so. Polly and Mac probably had Swine Flu, (Alan thinks this is because their rooms are pig sties). My sister-in-law Pam has a mass on one of her heart vessels and Alan has now forbidden me or the kids to see any doctor for any reason until 2010 (since I'm overdue for both a colonoscopy and a mammogram I am very happy to wait)! We went to Cumberland, took a cruise in March, went to Canada for a veterinary meeting in May, took a vet school cruise in June, stayed at the beach and the mountains this summer, took Sarah to Wash U and visited Providence and the CGA with Murph, went back to Wash U for parents weekend, and did Halloween Horror nights at Universal. Alan lost 2 associates this year and has hired another part-time so he is crazy busy. He is Captain of Revellers(Jacksonville's only remaining Marde Gras krewe) this year which means he has to write, direct, and produce an off-off Broadway type theatre production ending with the presenting of the court (Sarah is his Queen but that's another whole story), a dance with a big time show band, and open bars! He has to hire the place, arrange decorations, tables, chairs, table cloths, the bars and booze, hire security and everything else I can't even remember. He has arm twisted every friend and relative either of us has to join so they could vote for Sarah. I feel like I'm married to an Amway salesman! He says it is the funniest thing he has ever done. He is excited and VERY STRESSED pegging it as a “number 9 pucker factor”. He is still playing great tennis, doing yoga sporadically, and hitting the gym in spurts. He loves his Thursday morning men’s Bible study (how anyone can enjoy anything at 6 AM is beyond me).He does ultrasounds for the zoo and went to Disneyworld to evaluate some critters for cardiac problems (we were “On Show” with a large crowd watching which made Alan happy until he saw the glare from his head on the monitor). He has interns train with him occasionally and enjoys life. I work at Merrill Animal Clinic 3 days a week and Parkway 1 day monthly. I love my job and that's a real blessing! As I tell my kids, I feel there are 3 critical choices you make in life: your faith, your spouse/partner/family (someone to share life with), and your profession (and by that I mean what you are passionate about and what makes you feel fulfilled and useful in life). Most people are lucky and happy if they have 2 out of 3. I have been blessed with all 3! I am consistent with my exercise and spend 30 minutes 5 days a week on the elliptical, yoga 3 times weekly, and play doubles tennis once weekly on Monday nights with Alan and many of the rest of my family. My biggest challenges this year entail preparing my various children to leave the nest. Sarah is a serious rule follower and I did not want her to go off without ever having a drink. I told her she needed to have a few drinks while still at home. She went to school and told all of her friends that her mom wanted her to get drunk and told me that she refused to break the law. We went on a cruise for spring break and while we were in Mexico we went to lunch with all of the kids and we ordered Sarah a frozen pina colada and a margarita with lunch because she was 18 and it was legal! She had her 2 drinks, did not fall apart and I was satisfied. I realized after prom that Sarah was not ready socially for college and took it upon myself to decree that she had to have 10 dates before she left for school. She had a blind date to Revellers the year before and her prom date thanks to mom so she needed 8 more. She set up her usual squawk but I told her I would pay $10,000 of her student loans if she would go happily and make sure that both she and her dates had some fun in the process. She immediately told her friends that I was paying her $1,000 a date for 10 dates! Now that she had agreed, I had to find 8 more dates. I hit up my friends with sons the right age and most said "here's his number. Good Luck!" I called each guy and said "I'm a friend of your parents and my daughter is headed off to college and I think she needs some dates before she goes. Would you be willing to take her out?" Each of them paused and then either agreed outright or asked a few questions and then agreed. I was so grateful and impressed that these young men were willing to help a relative stranger even though it put them in an awkward situation. None of them would even let me pay for the dates! They made me feel good about young men today. I am still working on the last 4(any takers 18-20 please let me know) but even Sarah has grudgingly admitted that it was something she needed and she had had fun with each of them! Sarah’s tuition is a bit of a stretch for us so she had to take out a loan for$10,000 each year that she will pay back (except for the 10 I am paying in date bribe money). To help her pay her loans, I decided to breed 2 of our Italian Greyhounds and apply the puppy money to her student loans. Kiwi is an experienced, great mom but I was worried about Netty so when they came into heat together I figured that we could breed them both and if Netty was a bad mom, then Kiwi would be happy to raise her pups and Netty's too. Both got pregnant and were due 4 days apart. 3 days before Netty was due she was out in the yard and I was doing laundry when I looked out of the window and saw Momo had gotten out of the yard. I went searching and found a huge hole and no Netty! I sent the kids out into the neighborhood and scoured the yard and started making flyers and signing in to lost dog websites. After no luck, I told Murphy to go fill in the hole and we had dinner and went to bed with no Netty. The next morning bright and early I went to all of the nearby vets and put up signs and went to Animal control and searched the runs and the "Dead Dog Log" with no luck. When I got home Patty was still there cleaning and asked how many dogs were in the yard. It was summer so all kids were still in bed and only Munchie was out and I told Patty this. She told me that she had seen 2 grey dogs in the back yard. We went out and looked thoroughly with no results again. I went out front to see if she had gone in and out of the hole that Murphy had NOT filled in. Patty called and I returned and Netty was emerging from the hole! Unfortunately, she was no longer pregnant. I told Patty I couldn't stand to see any puppy carnage and she offered to look. We got a flashlight and the hole was so long she couldn't see all of the way in but said she could hear puppies! I ran and hauled Mac out of bed since he was the skinniest and shoved him in the hole. He wiggled in so that only his knees were showing and yelled back that the hole/den took a turn to the left and the pups were at the end of it but his arms weren't long enough to reach them. Patty and I pulled Mac back out and now the hole was big enough for Patty to wriggle in (she's nice and thin) and she could just reach the pups. Badger, Meerkat, Moley, and Mako (it was shark week and Polly insisted) were all fine despite being born underground with an inexperienced mom. I have never been so thankful that Murphy is not always diligent in his assignments! I could not believe that Netty had dug a den 4 feet out and 3 feet to the left in an "L" shape and delivered her pups and stayed outside all night with no food or water! Turns out she's a pretty good mom too! Sarah is a sweet, considerate person who is somewhat shy but bold at the same time. She throws herself fully into things that she is passionate about and wears her emotions on her sleeve for all to see. In some ways she is very confident and worldly and in others perhaps too sheltered. She rowed crew last spring and started to row at Wash. U.until she got a cold and started hacking and the coach suggested she take a few days off and the few days became 6 weeks! I think that she is finally getting back on track. Sarah loves Washington University and although I was a little anxious about her going I was also excited about taking her up and settling her in. We arrived in St.Louis late, got up early the next morning, settled Sarah in her room, unpacked, had lunch, and made the mandatory trips to Target and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. At 4:00 we were to leave Sarah for a dorm meeting and pick up pizza to have with Cate, Carlos and the kids before returning at 7 for the Chancellors talk. At 4:15 Alan was still puttering around Sarah's room trying to get her printer set up. I had to physically grab his arm and drag him out of the dorm. As soon as we got outside, Alan said "I need a drink, I feel like I've been punched in the stomach!" He looked a little peakish but I thought he was kidding. We went to the nearest pizza parlor and ordered the pizza and I pointed out that they had beer. Alan informed me that beer would NOT do. The pizza man pointed to the bar next door and told us the pizza would be ready in 20 minutes. We walked next door and Alan ordered a double Bourbon and told me he hadn't felt this bad since he found out that his dad had cancer! I was so busy worrying about my own concerns that I hadn't even noticed Alan's misery! I tried to explain that it was familiar to me because it reminded me of my own college experience to which Alan muttered " Yeah, me too, I'm paying for college all over again,only it’s a lot more expensive this time around and I don't even get to attend” . Dani is at Florida and has enough AP and IB credits that she is already a sophomore. She is studying and doing well with her grades but still works too many hours. She is learning how to budget and what is important in life and that sometimes she has to do unpleasant things because I feel they need to be done even if she doesn’t (like talking person to person to a Teaching Assistant before dropping a class, etc).She is a wonderful young lady who is maturing nicely and making good decisions. Alan had Dani helping at the Revellers fall party and she was wearing Cat ears and a snug black top and jeans in keeping with the cat woman theme. She did a great job and her tip jar was full at evenings end. Polly and Katie were at the sushi bar and their tip jar was not as full (somehow the Kimonos were not as tip inspiring). When Polly and Dani were on their way home, they decided to stop at the Gate station for gas, a soda, and a snack. When they got back in the car, Polly was snickering and Dani wanted to know why. Polly informed Dani that she had forgotten to take her ears off and had paid with a fist full of ones and the guy behind the counter thought that she was a "dancer" and was pointing her out to the other attendant! Murphy is a great young man. He is kind, considerate, fun, bright, entertaining and has no ambitions or passions (at least that he will share with me.) I worry about him being able to self-motivate next year at college. He was Captain of the Boys JV Tennis team this year (which I didn't know until the tennis banquet where the Girls JV captain’s mother told me!). I was watching one of the his matches against a much weaker opponent and when it ended the boys started talking and instead of coming off of the court, Murphy started helping the other young man with his serve and coaching him! The people sitting next to me asked me if I knew who that boy was who was so nice that he was helping their grandson who had not been playing tennis for very long. I was very proud. Murph is a senior and as far as I can tell the only reason he has applied to any colleges is because on 2 occasions when he wanted to go out with friends I required that he finish at least 2 applications before he could go. Those are 4 of the 5 schools to which he has applied. FSU, UCF, UNF, USF, and my personal favorite the Coast Guard Academy. When I mentioned the CGA to Murph he waved me off as usual and I thought that was the end of it. The next day he came home from school and told me "I've been thinking about it mom (another surprise) and maybe the CGA would be good for me. I don't know what I want to do and they will tell me what to do. I will have a guaranteed job when I get out of college and 85% of the Coast Guard re-up after their 5 year commitment so they must like it." Unfortunately the freezing rain and snow when we visited the school in Connecticut was not encouraging (Murph hates the cold) and I think the CGA is in his #2 spot right now (which may be good because he's a long shot to get in). Murph is a techno kid and doesn't go anywhere without his cell phone (kind of like Dani and her lip gloss which she tells me is now chapstick). The only way I can get him to do his chores promptly is to take his phone and threaten to read all of his text messages until said chores are done! Turns out he's a pretty good worker under the right circumstances. Alan was sitting at his desk the other day when he received a text from Murph "Dad stuck on the toilet please bring toilet paper!"No more yelling at the top, of your lungs praying that someone would be within hearing range and not extract too heavy a deal for the needed rescue! These kids don't know how easy they have it! Polly runs cross country, plays soccer, fosters any injured or orphaned animals that get dropped on our doorsteps, and works Saturdays at Parkway. She is a pleasant kid with a really quirky but superb sense of humor (I know exactly where that gene came from!). To celebrate getting out of school last spring we all went out to dinner. Mac had just found out that he was taking Chinese the next year and was bragging about how much Chinese he already knew from Catherine (who speaks fluent Chinese). Polly was annoyed by his bravado and blurted out "Then how do you say ‘I like to eat dogs’ in Chinese" loudly enough to make the patrons at the nearest tables in our Chinese restaurant turn around and stare! Another example of her humor happened 2 weeks ago on a Sunday. I woke up to find Alan in a foul mood and when I asked him why, he told me that he had had a bad dream (I'm still trying to figure out why it wasn’t a nightmare) that I was cheating on him with a fat construction worker who lived in Callahan. I laughed until I realized that he was really annoyed. "But I didn't do anything!" I complained. To which he replied "I saw you!" He then proceeded to describe how he had tracked us to a hotel and gotten video that he was going to put on You-Tube and send to all of my friends and family (probably the same ones he made join Reveller’s this year) with a "must watch really funny" tag on it and he was even going to send it to our minister. By now all of the kids were in on it and putting in their 2 cents worth. At the mention of our minister Polly piped up "Yeah, you could put a notice in the urgent prayer request part of the church bulletin saying" please pray for Alan Weldon whose wife is a cheating whore!" Then they all discussed whether or not the church bulletin people would notice it and print it or not. I'm still trying to figure out how Alan had the dream and I took the heat! Polly’s poodle Fou escaped (again) 3 weeks ago and poor Polly cries herself to sleep every night. He usually turns up in the first several days but I feel certain someone has adopted him and is keeping him confined. Pray that he turns up. Polly (still) wants to be a veterinarian and I think that's a great fit for her. Mac is even more different than the rest of the crew. He has his father's confidence perhaps to a flaw. He wrestles, plays football, and hopes to make the tennis team this year. His grades are great when he applies himself but that is a bit iffy. He is wrestling Varsity and he is only in the 8th grade but he's the best 1 small enough to wrestle the 103 weight class. He got 3rd place in the Varsity tournament this weekend and got a medal so he was very pleased. Mac joined the church this year and dad was his mentor. Robert shot some video of the new members for the presentation in church and he asked each new member their favorite flavor of ice cream. Mac immediately replied "Neapolitan because you get the 3 best flavors just like the Holy Trinity". Here is Alan’s Mac story he insisted on including in his words (minus the stuff I thought absolutely had to be edited). “After the Margarita lunch episode in Mexico, the three girls went back to the ship because Beth wanted to go shopping and I needed to find a special bottle of Tequila for my buddy Eric Peterson. Mac decided it would be more fun to go with me (and Beth thought Mac would make sure I was on good behavior Ha!), so we started down the crowded back streets of the tequila trail. We went from shop to store looking for the particular bottle but weren’t having any luck. Unfortunately, when you go into these Tequilerias it is customary to sample all the tequilas via paper shot glasses and of course I followed custom (when in Rome and all of that). I had shot after shot of some of the most God-awful liquids you could imagine as I searched for the Holy Grail of Tequila. Needless to say I was getting progressively hammered at this point and a little bit vocal (not Alan!). As we continued on our trek I began to tell each shop keeper explicitly what I thought of their Tequila. Mac now interjects that he thinks Tequila makes me mean and incoherent and Beth interjects at least I wasn’t driving anywhere. My lower lip is numb and I think I might be having a stroke as I keep rubbing it with the back of my hand and drool keeps rolling out. The sweaty Mexican woman behind the counter says “try deez juan senior, it’s berry smooth” 3 other guys step up to try it as well. At least I think it was 3 but can’t be sure because I didn’t cover one eye to see if it was double vision or not. It was absolutely ghastly, kind of a cross between diesel fuel and a lime someone wiped their@$$ with. Mac flattens himself to the back wall as I spit spray it across the counter….”OMG..WTF..I’m positive the back of my throat now has a gaping hole in it that you can see through” and there’s a high pitched whine in my ears. The 3 other gringos start swearing at her. She starts sweating some more. An old woman comes out of the back with a bottle of “aged” tequila. (Note- you know it’s good when it is aged in months) I’m starting to have the shakes and I can’t even feel the fluid in my mouth anymore as it dribbles down my chin. The whine won’t go away. As we/ I stagger down the street Mac convinces me to loan him $20 to buy a knife. We are now moving down the center of what was once a crowded street as everyone now has moved to the sidewalks to let us pass. The whine in my ears is replaced by the rhythmic click…snap….click…snap… of Mac repeatedly opening and closing the 6” switch blade he just bought. Miraculously, coming down the street towards us out of the sun was Beth…it was like a scene from a Clint Eastwood western (am I Clint or the bad guy?). I’m beginning to think I’m actually saved and will make it back to the ship before it sails. We tack into the last store and a large woman with a mustache said “how much do ju want to speend, deez juan is mucho expensivico”. I said “what”. Mac translated “it costs a lot of money”. I’m not sure I can actually get it up to my lips at this point and the burning in my throat has now migrated southward, a harbinger of something truly horrible to come. Everyone is staring at me as rivulets of sweat pour off my bald head “are ju OK senior?”, I have an intense sense of warmth rush over my body …and bright lights are popping in my peripheral vision. “Wow…That’s a really good tequila” I said. Mac is shaking his head in disbelief (but not as much as Beth shook hers when she found out that I not only let Mac buy a switch blade but also gave him the money!) as I hand her my credit card …I bought two. While our lives may seem hectic to some, we wouldn’t have it any other way. God continues to smile on us and for that we are truly grateful. Merry Christmas all!
Alan, Beth, Sarah, Dani, Murphy, Polly & Mac (the switchblade kid)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Really weird lights in the sky

I saw this reported yesterday about this bizarre light that appeared over Norway. This would absolutely freak me out.

Anyone for some Arctic roll? Mystery as spiral blue light display hovers above Norway

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 12:53 AM on 10th December 2009

What's blue and white, squiggly and suddenly appears in the sky?

If you know the answer, pop it on a postcard and send it to the people of Norway, where this mysterious light display baffled residents yesterday.

Curiously, it appears to be unconnected with the aurora borealis, or northern lights, the natural magnetic phenomena that can often be viewed in that part of the world.

Strange spiral: Residents in northern Norway were left stunned after the lightshow, which almost looked computer-generated, appeared in the skies above them

Strange spiral: Residents in northern Norway were left stunned after the lightshow, which almost looked computer-generated, appeared in the skies above them

Curious: A blue-green beam of light was reported to have come shooting out the centre of the spiral

Curious: A blue-green beam of light was reported to have come shooting out the centre of the spiral

The mystery began when a blue light seemed to soar up from behind a mountain in the north of the country. It stopped mid-air, then began to move in circles. Within seconds a giant spiral had covered the entire sky. Then a green-blue beam of light shot out from its centre - lasting for ten to 12 minutes before disappearing completely.

Onlookers describing it as 'like a big fireball that went around, with a great light around it' and 'a shooting star that spun around and around'.

The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with telephone calls after the light storm.

Confusion: The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with calls after the light storm

Confusion: The Norwegian Meteorological Institute was flooded with calls after the light storm

Totto Eriksen, from Tromsø, told VG Nett: 'It spun and exploded in the sky,'

He spotted the lights as he walked his daughter Amalie to school.

He said: 'We saw it from the Inner Harbor in Tromsø. It was absolutely fantastic.

'It almost looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally down the heavens.

'It looked like the moon was coming over the mountain, but then came something completely different.'

Celebrity astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard said he had never seen anything like the lights.

He said: 'My first thought was that it was a fireball meteor, but it has lasted far too long.

'It may have been a missile in Russia, but I can not guarantee that it is the answer.'

What could it be? Astrologists say the spectacle did not appear to have been connected to the aurora, or Northern Lights

What could it be? Astronomers say the spectacle did not appear to be connected to the Northern Lights

Air traffic control in Tromsō claimed the light show lasted 'far too long to be an astronomical phenomenon'.

Norwegian defence spokesman Jon Espen Lien also said the lights were probably from a Russian missile test claiming it was normal for Russia to use the White Sea and the Barents Sea as a testing ground.

Tromsō Geophysical Observatory researcher Truls Lynne Hansen agreed, saying the missile had likely veered out of control and exploded, and the spiral was light reflecting on the leaking fuel.

But the mystery deepened last night as Russia denied it had been conducting missile tests in the area.

A Moscow news outlet quoted the Russian Navy as denying any rocket launches from the White Sea area.

Norway should be informed of such launches under international agreements, it was stressed.

The Russian Defence Ministry was unavailable for comment.

Read more: