Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy New Year! Another year has gone by, we’re all another year older, and it’s time to break out that eggnog and size up 2010 for the holiday newsletter.
Marc’s job has undergone something of a metamorphosis recently as his department at MITRE for the past several years was re-organized. He is getting to know his new department and learning what his roles and responsibilities are in his new position, but as with every change like this, there are lots of interesting possibilities for challenging work. He attended several conferences this year in California and Las Vegas, and travels to MITRE’s Washington campus from time to time as well. When he goes to DC in the summer, Ruth and the girls are often able to join him. On a day that he had to work, they visited Luray Caverns—it was beautiful, but they were sad to leave him behind! He was able to join us for other expeditions, though, including the highlight of his trip: The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air and Space Museum in Virginia, where you can see, among other things, the Enola Gay and (Marc’s favorite) the space shuttle prototype Enterprise. When Marc is not at MITRE, he is often found watching the birds at our bird feeder, which he always makes sure is fully stocked, or anxiously watching the bird house he installed, hoping someone has moved in—probably more luck with that in the spring, but he is an eternal optimist!
Ruth continues to enjoy her position as an instructional assistant at Windham Center School. This year she is in a classroom for the first time and is really enjoying working in that environment; she is in the fifth grade in a classroom that is piloting a technology program for the district, so in addition to working with her students in more traditional ways, she is working with them with laptops and software designed to assist them with reading, writing, note-taking, and so on. Ruth is happy to have landed in a classroom full of creative and fun kids with a dynamic teacher; it makes for a fast-paced, interesting day. After school, there are all of the usual “Mom” things to do—these days, that largely encompasses a) helping Laura with homework, and b) driving the kids to places they need/want to go. Ruth also continues her own “me” time activities—singing in the church choir, serving on the music committee at church, and participating in book club and knitting club. She also joined a “Covenant Group” at church this year, which is basically a monthly meeting of a small group of friends who get together to support each other and discuss a topic of mutual interest.
Courtney, who is now in tenth grade, has a full roster of classes at school that keep her busy with homework. She is busy with flute playing in the concert and pep bands, and takes private lessons with a college student who is wonderful enough to come to the house. Windham High School is now in its second year, and there are starting to be more opportunities for the students; the concert band had an opportunity to travel to Boston to have an all-day workshop with the Boston Pops, tour Symphony Hall, and attend a Pops concert with John Williams conducting an all-Williams program. It was a lot of fun to watch John Williams conduct Star Wars and Raiders and Superman! Courtney is an active member of her youth group on Sunday nights. In her free time, she loves making animated music videos using anime (which is Japanese animation—she is a huge fan). She is doing babysitting gigs when called upon, and she has a regular job doing daycare for the children of choir members during rehearsals at our church on Sunday which supplements her all-too-meager allowance. And she’ll need all the money she can get—because in New Hampshire, the learn-to-drive age is 15 ½ … and she has arrived. Marc has started taking her out whenever they have time (Ruth hasn’t ventured to do this yet!), and driver’s ed will be in the spring. She is doing really well so far—but the whole concept is doing a good job of making her parents feel properly good and old. Weren’t we just watching her learn to walk? Yikes!
Laura is a busy bee. Now a full-fledged, card-carrying Middle School student, she went to sleepaway camp for the first time this past summer for a week and had a blast; then went to another one in the fall as part of the sixth grade curriculum with her sixth grade class (which is part of the curriculum at Windham Middle School). She had all the usual worries about Middle School—would she be able to figure out how to open the combination lock on her locker? Would she get lost trying to find her classes? Would she be able to figure out how to manage having six or seven teachers? But like many middle school students before her, she has mastered these skills and more, and is doing great. She is singing in the sixth grade chorus at school and at the Youth Choir at church, and she was especially happy to be chosen for the Select Chorus at school through an audition process. She also continues to take ballet lessons, and she participates in the school’s Game Club.
We had a wonderful year in terms of being able to visit with friends and family. Things of note: For the first time ever, we attended the state-recognized, legal wedding of friends of the same gender. We attended the 40th birthday party of an old friend (Debbie Rifkin, who is pretty much responsible for introducing us to each other!), and at the same party, we rode our first zip line (at Cornell University); we attended a gathering of college friends, enjoying each other’s company and the hospitality of our hosts; we were grateful to experience our annual visit with the Mouse in April; we were sad to say good-bye to our parakeet, Melon, who went to the great bird beyond in the early fall.
A mixed blessing was the largish amount of repairs we discovered that needed to do to our home, hidden in the form of slowly creeping water damage. We made lemonade out of that and added a screened-in porch to the back, which we love. We love the bill slightly less, but them’s the breaks.
The greatest loss to us this year by far was Marc’s beloved Cousin Valerie, who died in March. She was a dynamic, vibrant, amazing wife, mother, and friend (and cousin) and we miss her very much.
To all of our friends and family we wish a happy and healthy 2011. May your happiness be great and your sorrows be few.
Ruth, Marc, Courtney and Laura