Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The year in review


Springfield, MO --The Houghtons have had an interesting year to say the least. It was the year that saw significant money “donated” to the local health care system. It was a year that felt like a lot happened, and yet also felt like not very much happened at all. It was the year of our first Christmas letter.

The Better Half
Michelle went to full time with her pursuit of a Masters Degree in school counseling at Evangel University. She shifted to part time at work at Burrell Behavioral Health, running the program she started four years ago called KLASS, which is a great program teaching kids in a group setting about, well, social skills. Jeff is too old to enroll as a student. On the Masters Degree front, Michelle slowed down to a more reasonable pace after half of the year spent learning about mental health while injuring her own.

The Other Half
Jeff still works at the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks as a field representative. In that role he sets up blood drives with schools, churches, businesses, community organizations and anyone with blood in their veins that is willing. He then works with volunteers to make the blood drive a success. He has a territory so he is on the road a lot each day getting caught up on many podcasts that he enthusiastically recaps to Michelle each night.

Jeff still performs just about every Friday and Saturday night doing improv with The Skinny Improv at the theater downtown. He performs a lot of traveling shows on top of that too. In addition, his project, The Mystery Hour is still going really well in its second and now third season. It’s a late night talk show. Some people even say it’s the best monthly non-televised local talk show that happens to be downtown in all of Springfield. Even one of the Houghton dogs, Sammy, appeared on the show last month. In addition, Jeff writes an article for 417 Magazine spotlighting one of the guests who will appear on his talk show. He has shot a few embarrassing local commercials, one of which finds Jeff in a housecoat. Oh yeah, and he calls Bingo at a local coffee shop as a grizzled old man named Burt Machowski.

Why Michelle is Not Allowed Around Lawn Mowers in 2009
Michelle and Jeff had a great 4th of July weekend in St. Louis watching the Cubs beat up on the lowly Cardinals (Go Cubs Go!) and having fun at Six Flags. The next day Michelle was at her parents transporting their lawn mower because Jeff had broken theirs with his ‘run mowing.’ It was lifting the lawn mower into the car that proved to be the mistake. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she herniated a disc in her back. After literally laying down for 8 weeks she finally had surgery in late August. She tried her best to keep herself occupied while she and the bedroom ceiling became well acquainted. She had a lot of visitors, books read, websites checked, and pain… oh the pain! Almost immediately after surgery she felt better. Jeff drove back from family vacation in Colorado to be there with her. Noble indeed, but what was he doing out their enjoying himself while she was laid up anyway? Since then she has been easing back into exercise. She and a guy who looks strikingly similar to Jeff now take a Pilates class weekly.

“We do”
In February, Jeff and Michelle’s good friends Jeff Jenkins and Leah Hamilton got married. In fact, they met at Jeff and Michelle’s wedding. Jeff was a good, artificially tanned, best man. In April, one of Michelle’s best friends, Kesha Quigg got married and became Kesha Alexander. Michelle was a more appropriately tanned maid of honor. Then in May, Jeff’s sister, Cari married Bob and became Cari Everhart. It was a fun weekend in beautiful Lawrence, Kansas. Everyone was tan. Well, as tan as Houghton’s get naturally.

Jeff Becomes a Man
Jeff celebrated his 30th this year. Yep, seriously. They celebrated with a barbecue and wiffleball game, just like a 30 year old should.

Jeff Becomes a Man (again)
Onto a subject that should have been highlighted in a Christmas letter in the early nineties… About eleven months was spent with Jeff holding ceramic, rubber bands, metal, and previous meals in his mouth with his adult braces. He talked through them and about them all the time. Then, on the fateful day on November 10th, 2008, a day that will live in famy, Jeff got his braces off! All told he wore them for 2 years. They had become a centerpiece of the Mystery Hour. He is currently searching for new jokes, and sugar, lots and lots of sugar. Feel free to ask him to smile. He will gladly oblige.

Michelle’s twin sister, Jenn, moved back into town and they hang out a lot, along with their other close friends. Yes, they look alike.

The Houghtons can often be seen around town traveling by bike. Michelle got a new basket and a bell for hers but ended up not being able to use it for most of the summer. There’s always next year.

Jeff got poison ivy while Scott was in town in July, which joined forces with the chiggers he got while camping with Bob and Cari, to form an itchiness that proved to be stronger than modern medicine for a good three months. Or as Jeff says, “like a whole year!”

The Houghtons took in a stray dog for what was anticipated to be a short time. He stayed long enough for his named to be changed from “New Guy” to Morris. He was as cute as he was not at all house trained.

The Houghtons started their first garden this year!

Currently, Jeff is facing impeachment after attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.

By the Numbers
5… Number of months the Houghtons cared for New Guy/Morris
43… Number of doo-doos and poop-poops cleaned up after Morris
0… Number of times Morris offered to help
21… Number of times Jeff got knocked over while filming a bit for The Mystery Hour with theSpringfield Roller Girls roller derby team
4125… Times Michelle has said “Good D-O-Gies” to Sammy and Lucy
4… Number of pops Jeff drank in two years while wearing braces
18… Number of pops drank since November 10th

Next year Michelle will be graduating from grad school and looking for a job. The Houghtons look forward to visiting their friends the Swinks in Washington D.C in March. That trip will come after their annual trip to the True/False documentary film festival that they looooove going to each year in Columbia, MO. Jeff will be wearing a retainer the rest of the year.

Hopefully, we’ll be able to spend more time with people like you who mean so much to us and are such a big part of our lives!

The Houghtons

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