Merry Manic Markleys: 2011

Online Greetings Replaced with Oldschool Solution

(Unless, of course, you are reading this online: this blog entry represents the electronic version of our traditional holiday update, sent out earlier this week) With focus groups and web analytics revealing a less than positive response to their 2010 online holiday greeting, the Markleys announced this week they will revert to their tree-harvest heavy, ridicule-inviting method of correspondence that traditionally ranks in popularity somewhere around Aunt Clara’s Bunny Pajamas and holiday fruit cake: the Annual Christmas Letter.

Jenny Thoma hamming it up with Abe in Boise

The Year of the FES

In early 2011, Jenny Thoma moved in with the family for four months, courtesy of the Rotary foreign exchange student program.  The Switzerland native took Boise High School and Bogus Basin Ski Resort by storm, and flooded the Markley home with more pink accoutrements and strawberry-smelling hair care products than the family had ever experienced.  The Thoma clan descended upon Boise in the spring to buy shoes and a teeny, white Chihuahua they named Bambi and dressed in pink and rhinestones. Jenny departed in June with a newfound affinity for Nerf guns and Star Wars movies.

Henna Altomaa, her family and the Markleys in Helsinki

Henna Altomaa, a Finnish exchange student, is the most recent addition to the family.  Henna is as serious about her studies as she is about sports.  She is nationally ranked in the top ten in her age group in the breast stroke, and enjoyed competing on the Boise High swim team this year.  She will continue with the YMCA Swim Team for the rest of the year, and plans to join the Boise High softball and ski teams.

The Lengths We’ll Go for an Interesting Holiday Letter

Jack looking out over Amsterdam

In July, the Markleys left Idaho to visit Saara Kaijanen and her family in Finland.  Saara, an exchange student from the 2008-09 school year, had subsequently returned to Boise twice, and the Markleys agreed it was their turn to make the trek to her part of the world.

Never failing to pack too much into one trip, the Markleys brought Saara along on a jaunt through Northern Europe, including Tallinn, Estonia; Koln, Germany; Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Brussels, Belgium before returning to Helsinki for an overnight train ride to the Arctic Circle (for which they were horribly under dressed) to meet up with Saara’s parents and visit with Santa. Saara was later renamed Radar O’Reilly because of her uncanny ability to anticipate train arrivals and restroom availability.

Mike and Beth in Old Town Tallinn, Estonia

The Markley children, now famous in multiple countries for various nefarious reasons including inconsistent dinner manners and an inability to quietly appreciate great works of art for more than 75 seconds (Colin’s informal review of the Van Gogh museum: “This is boring!”), are nevertheless up for formal recognition as tenacious traveling companions, who are more likely able to correctly calculate the relative value of the euro to the dollar, read a map or navigate a metro system than their mother.

Hanging out with Saara in front of the Brussles Parliament building

Over the course of the trip, the Markleys visited six UNESCO world heritage sites, and traveled by train, ferry, charter bus, tram, subway, taxi, canal bus and airplane, all the while testing their collective endurance for family time. All survived the adventure (which you can read more about in earlier entries of this blog).

News from Reality

Jack outside the cathedral at Cologne

In the fall, Jack entered junior high school.  He appears to be thriving contrary to social convention that dictates junior high students be abjectly miserable for three years. Colin’s anticipated behavior as an elementary school miscreant has yet to manifest itself as of third grade, leading the elder Markleys to wonder if earlier anxieties about future visits to the principal’s office were mistaken.

Colin and "Snow White" near Rovaniemi, Finland, at the Artic Circle

Both boys are active in sports, with Colin playing little league baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall, and Jack participating in track and basketball.   The boys enjoyed their third season of swim team in the summer and managed to escape serious injury during the ski season, despite firmly held beliefs of their own respective bullet-proofedness, which doesn’t show signs of abating any time soon.

Mike is still managing to balance fun with family and two jobs: teaching two sections of technical writing at Boise State University, and managing technical writers and project managers at the national professional services firm Aquent Studios.

In addition to continuing to provide fundraising and communication counsel for nonprofit organizations, Beth has recently diversified into broadcast media.  She partners with her mom, Pat, to produce a weekly environmental public policy program on Boise Community Radio.

The Handsome Men's Club

Beth and Mike both participated in the Robie Creek and Leavenworth (WA) half marathons, and Mike grew the worst looking facial hair ever as part of the Handsome Mens’ Club of the Sawtooth Relay. Both feel they’ve satisfactorily proved the theory that at a certain age, one must train hard to even approach the level of the mediocre in such event.

In July, the extended Markley clan, including branches of the family from Wyoming and Oregon, as well as Beth’s mom, Pat, and sister, Heather, invaded Stanley, Idaho, for a celebration of Bob and Sylvia Markley’s 60th wedding anniversary.  There was broad consensus on the need for more such gatherings before the next 60 year benchmark, something that remains a possibility since no one gained significant notoriety or was banned outright from the small hamlet as a result of the festivities.

The Markleys, the Bruehers and the Whites at Leavenworth, WA

Mike and Beth later celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, but without quite as much fanfare …they were tired.