Rocky Mountain Snyder Family XMAS | 07

Dear Family and Friends:

In March, I turned 44, marking the end of the first half of my life. Kind of a big deal, when you think about it. In going over the first half, I realized that I’ve pretty much accomplished everything that anyone could ever hope to experience in three lifetimes, so I was left wondering, what’s next?

I started a new job in February at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and in August we opened our new building, a $28.4 million renovation and 48,000-square-foot expansion. At our big Grand Opening, we had a few special guests, including Joel Grey, the Oscar and Tony award-winning actor. I saw him in “Wicked” on Broadway. Carli fell in love with the musical and a couple Christmases ago, I got her a book about the production called the Grimmerie. At the FAC Opening, Carli and I got to meet Joel and he signed Carli’s book. That was pretty cool.

Carli has perfect attendance at swim practice and it’s paying off, she’s qualified for state in nine events. She likes texting her mom from science class. We discourage that. She likes boys. We discourage that too. Carli made her dad proud by quoting jokes from a Brian Regan CD. Her new deal … scrapbooking.

I ran like Forrest Gump this year. I just kept running and running. I was running so much that I decided to run in the Denver Marathon, which I did. It was a cold, rainy day, a lesser man, possibly a wiser man, would have slept in.

Sam also ran this year for the Landshark Running Club and will play basketball in 2008. He rides his skateboard, rocks the video games, hangs at Wahoos and knows more about Star Wars than George Lucas. Sam and I took a few bike rides together this year. His new deal … “The Simpsons.”

I grew my first beard in 2007. It came in grey, predominantly. Speaking of grey hair, Rose had another bang-up year.

She quit her job at the resort to concentrate her time and energy on TIVO’ing her favorite soap operas and cooking shows. All of that “research” paid off when she won the “Iron Chef” competition on a culinary cruise she took with her mother. Rose also did some consulting. Her consulting career is blossoming. She recently spoke at a USOC National Team coaches’ conference and a group of Olympic sport membership directors. She is developing the USA Triathlon strategic plan and is restructuring USA Volleyball’s Board of Directors.

Gina had a different sort of bang-up year. She fell off her scooter and broke both of her arms. Out of the three kids, she has taken the most interest in the NFL, whether it’s watching the Broncos with Dad on Sunday or asking Dad how he is doing when he’s playing Madden. So this year, Gina moved to the top of the “Dad’s Favorite Kid” rankings. Notice how she’s getting more ink in the family Christmas letter? Just one of the “favorite kid” perks. Gina swims and likes experimenting, usually with liquids. One thing that sets Gina apart from her brother and sister … if I give her the ’99’ she tries to give me the ’99’ back. If I throw her up against a wall and give her a reverse knife-edge a la “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, she tries to give me a reverse knife-edge. She’s a lot like Mary Richards. She’s got spunk, as Lou Grant would say.

Okay, now that I’ve talked about all of the kids and the wife, I can write about the big news from 2007: Kirby and Rocky, our two little seven-months-old Miniature Schnauzers. Best $4,000 we’ve ever spent.

We picked up the pups at a home in the middle of Nowhere, Colorado. We’ve only had the dogs for a few months and already I am so attached to them. I would probably trade one of the kids before one of the dogs. Gina gets immunity, of course.

Growing up, both Rose and I had Miniature Schnauzers, so when we were out at the house with the litter of weeks old pups, it didn’t take us more than a second to decide to get two. I’m surprised we didn’t consider getting more than two. I selected the salt-n-pepper runt of the litter (Kirby as in Puckett). Rose picked out the cutest of the black-n-silver pups (Rocky as in Balboa). They are two little handfuls of fun.

Naturally, Kirby had to have diarrhea when he first came home. Nice. We took them out to go potty every hour and just like babies they had to go potty in the wee hours (so to speak) of the morning. And Rose and I would both go out into the backyard and accompany our little guys, because they were so small, they could go under the fence or fall in a hole or get attacked by a fox or something. One night we went out several times and with each potty break I would put on fewer and fewer clothes. I was sleepy. So there we are at 3 a.m. I’m just wearing boxer briefs, Rose is illuminating the yard with a penlight and the dogs are prancing around, when the sprinklers pop up and blast me in the back with ice cold water. As I tried to escape the water works, I stepped smack dab in the middle of a fresh pile of puppy poop.

It squished in between my toes.

That was pretty funny.

Rocky is bigger than Kirby by a third, which means when Rocky weighed 15 pounds, Kirby weighed 10. They like playing together; some would call it “rough-housing.” Last night they were going at it like Simba and Scar from “The Lion King.”

If Kirby ever gets the upper hand, Rocky simply throws a hip check. Kirby has learned where all of the good shelters are in each room, usually under a chair or bench, any place where Rocky can’t pounce on him. Rocky behaves more like a cat than a miniature Schnauzer. He stretches his back like a cat. He not only pounces on Kirby, but also on the snow with his front paws, like he’s trying to capture some small varmint or something. We’re not sure what he’s doing. He looks like he comes from the Build-A-Bear Workshop; he has soft, curly fur and is very adorable. His nickname … Gigantor.

With all due respect to Rocky and any other dog living or dead, but Kirby is the cutest. He just is. His nickname … El Guapo.

Kirby is a little more levelheaded.

Rocky shows a wider range of emotions. He’s happy. He’s mad. He’s sad. He’s glad. He is a great fit in our family. Rocky does most of the barking during the day. Kirby does most of his barking at night, like when he hears a twig snap in the street in the still of the night. Then he becomes ferocious.

Outside in the backyard, Kirby runs Rocky from one end of the yard to the other. He’ll wait on the fence line, patient like one of those predators you see on Animal Planet.

We’ve taken the dogs to a couple dog parks. There is a really cool dog park near the Bear Creek Nature Center, where they have a special area for little dogs. But our dogs are no strangers to running with the big dogs at the dog park by Rampart High School. Some of those big dogs “play” rougher than others. Whenever some dog is picking on Kirby, Rocky comes to his rescue. One time a bigger dog was playing pretty rough with Rocky. He was just playing, but when you’re three times the size of someone … well, Rocky was getting rolled quite a bit. A little later, that same bigger dog started getting hassled by an even bigger, and nastier, dog. A nice life lesson, if you ask me. Rocky even came to the rescue of his former tormenter; showing me that Rocky has the heart of a lion.

We are lucky to have Rocky, Kirby and Honey, Gina’s hamster, in our family. And to Manitou, Sam’s gold fish, who passed away this year, God rest his soul.

Merry Christmas.

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