SURPRISE!!! The Haskin Family Newsletter is here and it isn't even February yet. You noticed that we stopped calling it the Christmas newsletter some time ago, since it rarely arrived before Christmas. However, let me wish you a Merry Christmas and begin

Haskin's Adventure Packed Pandemonium, Yearly
Happenings, Other Laughably Insane Deeds, And Yearly Stories

Mom started digging into Dad's past recently and boy did she make some astounding discoveries. Grandpa Haskin had traced the Haskin family back to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower fame; and Mom picked it up from there and ran the ball home. She traced the family back through our English heritage and found out we are related to some interesting folks, like Old King Cole, that merry old soul. And then there were some not so nice people too, like Nero. He and Dad have a few things in common (like fiddling around while everything around them is going up in flames). Anyway, Mom traced the Haskin family all the way back to Adam and Eve where the genealogy makes an abrupt end. We all know that once Mom starts digging she does not stop until she gets to the bottom of things. You should see the stack of paper she generated. Dad thought it would be nice for somebody to put the info on our web page someday but he is not sure how much of his past he wants to divulge to strangers or friends for that matter.

Speaking of our web site, the address is Stop in and check out the family photos and whatever else might be there this week. It changes frequently once in a while.

We are still living in the same house. We have been here for a little over 10 years. That is the longest Dad has lived in one place since he was 12 years old, however, he is getting ready to move again. Mom is hoping he might even settle down this time. This year's prediction is that we will move into our new house in the spring or early summer if not later.

House building is rapidly moving along at a slow pace. Dad's never done anything real constructive before, and not being used to working like this slows him up more than usual. But I expect it will speed up soon because I heard Mom say she thought it was about time Dad learned a thing or two.

Dad has been doing the wiring recently for a long time. Now there is something he knows a little about, pulling strings. Mom and the kids were helping to determine where we might need phones, TV's, computers and so on. By the time Dad had gathered everybody's input he installed 22 phone lines (for Mom); 22 computer lines (for Brian); 20 video lines for James and Grace and he is going to put in a sound proof room for Jessica and Cathy to play in.

Mom has found bargains on tons of stuff; tons of marble, granite and ceramic tile. Dad questioned how great the bargains were when he had to move the stuff. The last time was two full pallets of granite tile. To make the job easier we rented a pallet jack. The idea being that they could pick up the pallet with the hi-lo at the store and put it on our truck. Then we could use the palette jack to move the pallet out of the truck onto the lift gate, lower the lift gate onto the porch and roll the whole thing onto the porch and park it. Sounded easy, too easy, especially for Dad. The store hi-lo driver did his part expertly. Dad drove home and backed the truck up the slight incline to the porch, lowered the lift gate onto the porch, and rolled the pallet jack onto the lift gate. So far so good. With the lift gate back up, Dad pushed the pallet jack under the pallet and worked the handle to lift the load off the truck floor. It seemed like this was going to be way too easy, however, Dad had not considered the gravity of the situation. With the truck pointing down hill, lifting the load onto the jack's wheels did not move the load of granite closer to the back of the truck. Now, somewhere in this time frame Mom began to say that the load was too heavy. I am not sure when she first made this statement but I clearly remember she made it often, and with increasingly more emphasis and volume. All of which somehow translated to Dad that he had to move this granite monster intact. After several attempts the load of granite was moving off the truck onto the lift gate as Mom chanted, "It is too heavy." Which of course to Dad meant keep rolling this monster onto the lift gate, everything is fine. (Sometimes I am not sure Mom and Dad speak the same language.) Anyway, Brian was in the truck pushing, Dad kept pulling and Mom kept chanting, "Um, I think its too heavy." The load moved slowly out of the truck door. "Brian, it is way too heavy." The front wheel of the jack fell off the truck lip onto the lift gate. CRASH! "Honey, it is too heavy." Brian gave a mighty push while Dad let out a grunt and pulled. The front wheel of the jack rolled out a few feet onto the lift gate. At that moment Mom yelled at the top of her lungs, "HONEY!" Dad jumped right out of his skin and landed two feet further back from the lift gave While his skin was still catching up to his sudden move, Dad noticed the reason for Mom's outburst. The lift gate was folding under the weight of the granite monster. Dad calmly looked at Mom and said "I think it's too heavy." Mom fully agreed. That was only the first trip of the day to pick up tons of bargains. Mom is constantly finding bargains and saving money. Dad said that if we really saved half the money Mom keeps saying we saved, the bank would have to start making payments to us.

Brian Jr. stays pretty busy putting out fires and handling all kinds of emergencies that come up. Like, Dad's computer, Mom's printer, Dad's computer, Jessica's scanner, Dad's computer, Grace's mouse, Dad's computer.... Well you get the picture. Brian is working in the family business and as you would imagine he is a valuable asset to the company (they use computers). He is also on the fire department and this year was elected Captain at Battalion 8. He is also still the Safety Officer for the Battalion. Last month Brian received a call that a school bus was over turned just north of our house. Rather than go to the station and come back, Brian drove over the hill to the scene of the accident. It turned out to be a school van without any children involved and nobody was hurt. Brian had parked our car off on the side of the road and was talking to the people from the van when a lady came over the hill and lost control of her car. Brian and the others dove for safety as the woman drove very close to where they were standing and bounced her car off of our car. Our car was totaled and the woman broke her wrist but Brian and the others were not hurt. Brian says those accidents are easier than dealing with Dad's computer emergencies. You can see a photo of his badges on our web site. Oh, the other badges there? Those are Dad's. He was asked to be the chaplain at Battalion 8 this year. While he was strutting around and gloating about the great honor that was bestowed upon him; Brian Jr. told him that in the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City, 100% of the chaplains were killed. Dad seemed to deflate for a minute there; but he came right back with his usual brave heroic attitude and said that he was not the least bit afraid of terrorists in New York City, as long as they stay there. Dad has been doing a great job as chaplain. Of course his only official duty so far was to put on his uniform and go to the Christmas party to eat and he did a great job of that, without the least bit of fear or hesitation.

Cathy has been baby-sitting and teaching violin lessons. No, not at the same time! That would get crazy wouldn't it? Although some of those high pitched noises have a lot in common. Cathy's students had a recital but they never recited anything. They just stood around and played their violins. But it was good music. Cathy's students ranged from a 2 year old child to adults. Some of them are very good. She also teaches Grace. Cathy attended a fiddle club meeting and ended up being interviewed and having her picture in the local paper. So I guess she is now a well known fiddler (must be the bloodlines from Nero.) Cathy has also been working with the children's orchestra as a mentor; which is a person who sits nearby and tells another person what to do. Mom said that meant Dad was a mentor too; but then we found out that a mentor is actually a wise and trusted counselor. While Cathy was baby-sitting last month she and the children went to Kalamazoo... No, she didn't kidnap the children. The parents took the children and Cathy was baby-sitting so they took her too. You know, she was a baby-traveler, or traveling baby-sitter, or something. Anyway, Cathy does well with children and children seem to really like her as well. Between her teaching, baby-sitting and mentoring Cathy, works in the family business and is often called on to hold down the fort while the others are building the house, running into town, or are out of it ... town that is.

James and Grace were in two different youth orchestras; but in January Grace may be advancing into the same group as James. James plays cello and violin; and Grace plays violin and piano. Grace was the concert mistress in her group which means she gets to sit in the first seat in the first row. I think it also means she is one of the best violin players in her group. I know she is one of the best computer game players in the house; but I don't think there is any real correlation. James is very artistic and is more often seen with a paper and pencil in his hands than with a violin and bow. They both are a big help with the business and house chores.

Mom and the three girls have been taking quilt making classes. Up until now I thought quilt making was something that was soothing and calming to the soul. But I have now had my eyes opened to the truth. Quilt making is a hectic frenzied affair. This is how it works. The class is held once a month where the students are given instruction on how to make a certain type of quilt block. Then the students go home and make one to bring to the next class. However, with our schedule or lack thereof, this is what happens. Once a month, sometime around noon, one of the girls will say, "Isn't quilting class tonight?" That is a cue for Mom and the three girls to go into the monthly quilt square panic mode. It makes a shark feeding frenzy look calm. In a matter of minutes the sewing machine is hauled up from the basement and set on the dining room table. Material is spread out. Scissors start flashing like the glinting blades of steel from the swords of King Arthur's knights. The air is filled with the distinct metallic sound of sharpened steel blades rapidly slicing through material. Pieces of thread and material are flying everywhere, while four ladies all chatter questions and answers to each other. Then almost as quickly as it began, the sound stops, the flurry of motion ends, the chatter ceases, and out of the silence and the cloud of floating thread particles come four smiling faces and some gorgeous quilt blocks. They all go merrily off to their class, leaving Dad and the two boys scratching their heads and wondering what happened.

Mom made Jessica get her head examined this year because she got her nose out of joint when Dad had her shoveling manure. Some of you may remember that Jessica used to make money shoveling manure. But now she is getting paid to write articles for the local junior hockey team and is having them published in the local newspaper. I guess that makes her a professional published journalist. Not bad for a girl that used to shovel a 5 gallon bucket of manure for a quarter. She really did! When there was manure to shovel it didn't matter how tired she was, little Jessica would slide off the couch and drag her big bucket out to the field. Then with a shovel that was bigger than she was, she would struggle to lift the manure high enough to get it into her five gallon bucket; and when it was full, she would drag her bucket over to the manure pile and dump it. Every time she performed that feat she would get 25 cents from her dear old dad. Things are different now though, she has really progressed since then. She still shovels manure with a shovel that is bigger than she is; but she has replaced the bucket with a tractor and trailer; the biggest difference though is that she no longer gets paid to do it. However, that is not why she had to have her head examined. It all began while Jessica was out shoveling manure. She was driving the tractor across the pasture when she thought the mower was making a funny noise, so she reached over to pull the hydraulic lever and raise the mower deck when ... well, the world suddenly went black. Now, let me replay this for you in slow motion. Jessica is driving the tractor through the yard. She is heading directly at an old tree stump that has been cut down "almost" to ground level. She hears a funny noise as the front wheels straddle the tree stump. As she reaches over to raise the deck, the moving tractor slams the deck into the tree stump, causing the tractor to make an abrupt and complete stop. However, since Jessica did not see the tree stump; and she had no idea that the tractor was going to stop, she didn't. Somewhere between leaning and blacking out, her face came in contact with the stationary and solid windshield, dashboard and/or steering wheel. We don't know which one because at this point, the only person there is Jessica and she is not all there... I mean she is not all there mentally... Oh, you know what I mean, she has been knocked silly. As Jessica comes back to reality she realizes she is trying to turn the tractor off with the gear shift lever, which is not getting the job done. When she finally turns the key off and tries to walk, Jessica realizes just how dizzy she really is. Staggering to the house, she leans against the wall and hears Mom call, "Jess, somebody is here to see you." Believe me, Jess was in no shape to be seen and in no mood for Dad's jokes either. Later that night Jess said she was dizzy; and Dad agreed with her. Then Mom said she thought Jessica should have her head examined; and Dad agreed with her too. But when Mom said to get ready to go to the hospital Dad asked, "What for?" Anyway, in the hospital they took x-rays of Jessica's head; and when the doctor looked at the x-rays he said there wasn't much there to see, and of course, Dad agreed with him. As it turns out, Jessica broke her nose. Proving that indeed there IS something harder than her head or at least harder than her nose. Jessica has been a great help with the family business and house building. She and Brian are video taping the junior hockey team's home games for weekly broadcast on Traverse City TV2 again this year, as well.

There was one sad note to our otherwise cheerful year. Diane's father passed away. James Savoyard, a great husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather and friend. He was the essence of what made this country of ours great and what has sustained it for over 200 years. He was a farmer. Oh sure he worked for Chrysler, and was a carpenter, and handyman; but that was merely how he paid the bills. That is not what he was. He was a farmer. He was raised on a family farm. He married the girl around the corner. He built his house on the same land he was raised on. He lived on that land his whole life; and is now buried across the street from his farm. He loved the land and he loved farming. He never tried to avoid work, he went looking for work. After working all day at Chrysler's, out of necessity to pay the bills; he came home and worked the land out of love. And as much as he loved to work, he faithfully took his day of rest each Sunday and worshipped God. As much as James loved the land and farming he loved his wife and children more. He was a man of strong family values, a man of honesty and integrity, a man of his word, and a man who chose to do what was right. He never served in congress or the senate. He never served in any public office; but he served his country in a way that very few politicians ever accomplish. He never served in the armed forces. He never received a purple heart or congressional medal of honor; but he was more of a hero than most soldiers ever dream of being. He lived a God fearing life and raised an honest, self supporting, loving family that can be proud to be related to him. James Savoyard was indeed a national hero who served his country well by being the kind of man that he was. He will be missed by those who knew him, as well as by the country he served so well. I am thankful to have been blessed by knowing him.

In closing let me say that we appreciate all of the cards and newsletters we receive from so many of you. Mom is always so touched that so many people still think of us and take the time to send us cards and newsletters. Dad on the other hand, can't figure out how you can get those things written and sent out so early in the year. It is hard to believe, but most of them even get here before Christmas.

We hope you have a Happy New Year. If you were already planning on having a Happy New Year, please disregard this notice.

Love The Haskins - Brian, Diane, Brian Jr., Cathy, Jessi, James, and Grace

P.S. In keeping with the latest trends in movie making the following are out takes and bloopers.

Items that were deleted from the newsletter for various reasons.

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