Greetings. As some of you know we typically send out a “newsy” holiday letter, enclosed in our annual holiday card. When the kids were little we were hard pressed to keep up with this but the last few years we reestablished this family tradition. I’m excited this year to do this on-line; always wanted to have the option of tweaking the “letter” after the cards went out in the mail. So anyway, here goes:
As you can see, the kids are getting big. The picture is from our summer vacation (late June) where we visited NYC and Washington DC (vacation pics posted under links in this blog), just before I departed for my first trip to Kazakhstan. We enjoyed the tour of the Mint, purchased a few trinkets in the gift shop, and then took pictures of each child in front of the “growth board.” Please note that both Grant and Andrew cheated a bit – Andrew is actually a 1/2″ shorter than Claudia.
Zack: senior year at Miramonte High School. He got his driver’s liscense at the beginning of the summer and returned as a camp counselor at UC Berkeley Strawberry Canyon summer camp. He drives himself and brother Grant to school each day, plus helps with drop-off / pick-up of Claudia / Andrew (this 3rd driver in the house is essential when I am away working in Kazakhstan). Zack has lots of friends, does well in school, and is enjoying his senior year including his Sports Medicine and Physiology classes. He has already been accepted to four PAC 12 universities (did not apply to the UC system) and is close to accepting addmission to the University of Arizona.
Grant: sophmore year at Miramonte High School. Gets along well with Zack (finally), also has many friends and does very well in school. His favorite sport is lacrosse which means he goes to summer camps, plays box lacrosse (indoor) in the fall and field lacrosse in the winter/spring (February to early May). 2012 will be his second year on the Miramonte JV team – there is a great group of kids and coaches involved in Miramonte lacrosse – and we have become friends with several families we met through Grant’s participation.
Andrew: 7th grade at Orinda Intermediate School (OIS). His sport is also lacrosse. Andrew plays for a local club – they have four teams in his age bracket this upcoming season. He also goes to camps in the summer, participates in a once/week skills and scrimmage training in the fall, and then practices 2/week with 1 or 2 games on weekends during the season (again, Feburary to early May). Andrew can do well in school, but he sometimes lets his responsibilities slip without constant “encouragement” from his parents (and with four kids and a half-time single parent household he sometimes is able to dodge our check). He really enjoys reading – we both got Kindles this year and share books.
Claudia: 7th grade at Orinda Intermediate School (OIS). Dance, drama and shopping – Claudia has lots of activities and probably spends as much time in the car going to/from than the other three kids combined. She was in both the fall and spring productions (Snow White and The Wiz) while in 6th grade and fall production of A Midsummer Night/s Dream in 7th grade at OIS; we expect she will try out for the 2012 spring play which has yet to be announced. Claudia really enjoys dance, having taken classes the last couple years. This fall she joined a new dance studio, takes classes three evenings per week and will start paricipating in dance competions in 2012. Even with this heavy activity load she does very well in school – our last child is very responsible.
As far as Karen and I, we are both doing well. Karen’s physical ailments are at bay this year, both her back and foot are repaired. Together we joined a health club a few miles from the house and enjoy working out together when I am home.
Karen continues to work at Kaiser in Walnut Creek – still at an 80% schedule. She volunteers at OIS once per month plus handles all the house / kid duties of our family without complaint. Karen typically handles the many dentist/orthodontist/doctor visits but I help when I am home (4 visits alone this recent rotation home). She has also had to step up and deal with computer, car and furnace problems while I am away. The flip side is when I am home I help get the kids out of the house in the morning, pick them up after school, and get them to / from their various activites – all without the distraction / stress of juggling work responsibilities. Plus I get to work on “weekend” home projects throughout the week when I am home – this last trip home completed what it probably would have taken me three months to do. I know this may come across as sexist as Karen and many other working moms juggle work/life responsibilities without complaint, but for me I am much more engaged with my family when I am home off rotation.
Extended Family News
Karen’s brother Bruce and family (Courtney and Cooper) are well in Portland. We all got together in October to celebrate Karen’s father’s marriage to Cynthia Bishop (he met her in Sedona after Karen’s mom passed away in March 2009). Her father is in good health after two knee replacements and continues to travel extensively.
My mother continues plugging along – she is now 84 and had a pacemaker installed this summer. With my rotation schedule I am able to take her many medical appointments – we joke that I see her more now that I am working in Kazakhstan. My sisters Robin and Joanne and their families are well and continue to grow. We currently have two grand-nephews (Christopher and Carson) and one grand-niece (Rose).
Well that’s it for now. Wishing each and everyone who reads this far a happy holiday season and a great 2012.
Marc and Karen Evans