2007 Christmas Letter now New Year's Letter
soon-to-be Valentine's Letter

It’s that time of year again.  Merry Christmas.  Happiness.  Cheer.  Glad tidings.

The "Kubo" Family
Jake (21months), Scott, Gabby, Audrey (6 wks),
Josh (14), Kerri, Jack (2 3/4), Owen and Abby (12)

And dread… as you open another Dannemiller Christmas/New Year’s greeting/update that weighs as much as a holiday ham.  Each year we resolve to be more brief in our communications, but such things tend to get forgotten amid the rush of everyday life, much like Martha Stewart’s stint in the pokey.

Jake, hearing the Christmas letter
was being read aloud, responds.

It’s a good thing.

Not that our lives are all that interesting.  We simply enjoy torturing friends and family with the drivel of our everyday existence.  So, let’s not dilly-dally!


Our biggest news (all 7 pounds 15 ounces of it) was the arrival of baby #2, Audrey Christine Dannemiller on November 13th.  We prayed for a happy, healthy, good-sleeping kid, and the Big Guy upstairs delivered.  We’re being totally objective here, but she is the cutest baby ever made.  No offense to our other friends with offspring.  If you have an issue with the final outcome, take it up with the judges.  That’s just how it turned out. 

For middle-of-the-night feedings, we negotiated that Gabby would be responsible for all things input, and Scott would be in charge of all outputs.  After some deliberation, Scott was of the opinion that the outputs (i.e. poop, pee, snot, burps, etc) far outnumber the inputs (milk).  Though he secretly wanted to unload (pun intended) some of the duties/doodies to his wife, she reminded him that his responsibilities didn’t require excruciating pain, major surgery, or turning his body into a dairy.  Now he is happy with the quality time with Audrey, and is thankful for his loving wife who does it all solo when he travels for work.

Audrey, 8 weeks old

(Note to Scott’s work friends.  If Gabby asks, business trips consist of eating week-old sandwiches from vending machines, and staying in motels infested with bedbugs and surrounded by loud, scary biker bars).

Jake, another heavy “output producer” in our li’l poop factory, was 19 months old when Audrey was born.  He absolutely loves his little sister.   He calls her “The Audee”, which gives her an air of importance, much like “The King of England” or “The Godfather of Soul.”  He is constantly asking to hug her, kiss her, and spread his twice-weekly day school germs all over her.  So far, he is good at sharing with his little sister.  His cars.  His books.  His nasty chest cold complete with smoker’s cough.  It’s all in the family.

Jake eating eggs with his spoon and fork

The biggest news with Jake is that he talks more than any kid alive (his mother’s son), and loves to play his ukelele (which we call his guitar) and sing for an audience (his father’s son, too).  He is going to school two days a week from 9-2.  Here he has learned to sleep on a mat on the floor and to love washing his hands.  Always the opportunist, his ears perked up when he heard that Celine Dion would be closing the curtain on her Vegas show at Ceasar’s Palace.  But alas, he wept huge tears when he learned he can’t do Ceasar’s until he reaches the legal drinking age.  ‘Til then, Bette Midler will have to keep the stage warm for him.

This year also saw the Dannemillers doing a fare bit of travel.  Since we have the “free lap children” traveling with us, we have to strike while the iron is hot.  It makes travel cheap and snappy that way.  Just follow these 12 easy steps.  

  1. Enter airport sweating bullets as you lug multiple car seats, strollers, video cameras, pack-n-plays from hot summer parking lot
  2. Hold up airport security line trying to shove aforementioned contraptions through the x-ray scanner.
  3. Drink milk to prove to TSA that it really is milk and not a liquid explosive.
  4. Get on plane first!  (Preboarding rocks!)
  5. Take up more than your fair share of overhead bin space.
  6. Set child on your lap, and wrap seatbelt around yourself and child.
  7. Endure screaming.
  8. Fix screaming with half-finished sippy cup of milk.
  9. Smell waft of poo soon after takeoff.
  10. Change baby diaper on tray table using the still-lit “fasten seat belt” sign as excuse to not walk to tiny airplane “bathroomlette” to change child on wet toilet seat.
  11. Watch guy sitting next to you eat entire menu of airplane snacks without any of it touching his own tray table after witnessing what you just did.
  12. Sweep up crumbs and bathe seat and tray table in Purell hand sanitizer as you exit the aircraft.. 

Once we have to start paying for flights for Jake and Audrey, it’s all road trips from then on - lots of license plate bingo, “I Spy”, 99 Bottles of Beer On The Wall sing-alongs, and “Are We There Yet?”   Still, our 2007 trips had us visiting loved ones in Nashville and Ohio .  We also spent a week in Seaside , Florida with Scott’s family.  Yes, 14 people and 1 pregnant Gabby in a big beach house.  We all lived to tell about it, and all still love each other. Believe it because it’s true.  It was fabulous!

The Dannemillers: back: Scott, Jake (hidden), Papa, Jeff
middle: Mia, Gabby, Nana, Laura, Chris, Victor
front: Michael, Cori, Ryan, Joey, Julianna

After the beach week, we headed to Colorado for a week with Gabby’s family.  Unfortunately, they never showed up due to some Ebola-like virus they caught in South Texas .  At least that’s the story they provided to avoid hurting our feelings.  It was fun, but not as fun as it could have been had the Brands not nearly died and been able to come with us.  

Jake feeds a chipmunk

On top of that, we flew to D.C. for our friend and fellow Guatemala volunteer Jen’s wedding.  It was a really great love-filled, tradition-rich celebration, and we were glad to be a part of it.  

As for the adults in our clan, Gabby spent the year as super-mom.  She also considered the prospect of going back to work when a truly incredible opportunity came up.  Unfortunately, the timing was a bit off.  She was one of the last candidates in the running to become the Executive Director at a local non-profit serving the Hispanic community.  She would have had to start work in September, with Audrey scheduled to show up in November.  As we expected, getting three months off after being in the job only 8 weeks was a hard pill to swallow.  While it felt like a call that God asked us to respond to, we were grateful for his answer.  The organization has a great new Director and the Dannemiller kids still get to hang out with Mom everyday.  The Board seemed interested in future opportunities, so we’ll see what comes of it.  Until then she’s going to volunteer and try not to warp the kids.

Scott’s business continued to grow this year.  He spent the majority of his time conducting management development workshops, team building sessions, and problem solving programs for a variety of different companies.  However, since about 70% of his work was with one company, he set a goal to branch out and work with different organizations.  After a slow couple of months at the end of this year, the first half of 2008 looks really diverse and exciting.  In addition to the normal work, there are lots of new opportunities to train other facilitators how to use an assessment called the MBTI, to coach people one-on-one in communication skills, and to travel internationally doing some conflict management work.  The challenge in 2008 will be to manage the travel schedule so he gets enough time at home with the family!  

Otherwise, all is well at our humble little abode.  The interior repairs are nearing a close after only 18 months!  Next, we try to pretty-up the outside of our 1300 square foot mansion!  We’ve done our best with paint and a few Christmas lights, but there is so much more!

BEFORE:  March 2006

AFTER: September 2007

As for 2008, we’re starting to look out at the next few years to see what life has in store.  We’re toying around with some fun ideas.  With new business opportunities, we may even have the good fortune of being able to plan 2-3 months off every year or two to volunteer internationally with the kiddos.  Who knows?  It’s always fun to think about what’s to come.

So, until next time, we wish you all the best the world can offer you in 2008.  May God bless each of you with joy, peace, and good health!  So, from our house to yours…  Merry Christmas and a Poopy New Year!