Hello out there,
I am half way around the world as I write this annual missive – is anyone out there? If you are reading this maybe you received our annual Holiday Card? When we ordered the card online we thought it came with a red background (at least I did) but Karen informed me that it is orange. So in honor of the card background – Go SF Giants, 3rd World Series win in the last 5 years (we are very casual fans but always enjoy when a Bay Area team wins)!
Another year of milestones and changes, happiness and sadness, but also another year to count our blessings. We hope you too have many blessings to count. This year we will start with our sad news.
Marc’s mother Gloria passed away in June, just after her 87th birthday. She had been in failing health the last year, and had a hard fall in April that she was unable to recover from. We shed a lot of tears as we helped guide her to the end – she passed away at home with both her daughters holding her hands. As everyone who has cared for an aging parent knows, it is difficult and sad to see their decline but a gift to come together as a family. We did our best for her, just as she did her best for us during her life. She is missed every day.
Next news is about Karen – she retired from Kaiser! How did that happen, before Marc retired? Unfortunately, due to a painful back. Karen had her 4th surgery in spring of 2013 and it did not resolve her issues, so she applied and received medical retirement. We had hoped once she was retired it would be easier to manage the chronic pain – that has not been the case. We are fortunate that we have good medical insurance but as anyone with severe chronic pain will tell you we wish we did not have to use it. Karen is managing it the best she can but expects more surgery sometime in the future.
Zack is enjoying living in Santa Barbara – this is his second year at Santa Barbara City College. He is zeroing in on Film Studies, enjoys his writing classes. He is about to move to another apartment in December with a couple of buddies; in Isla Vista where most of the UC Santa Barbara students live. He finds school challenging and the social experience excellent. He tells us all the time he loves living in Santa Barbara – who wouldn’t?
Grant had a busy year, finishing up his college applications in late 2013 and a round of college visits in spring of this year. Grant and Marc visited University of Colorado and University of Washington where we fit in a weekend skiing at Keystone outside Denver and visited our friends the Kachmers. Both Universities were impressive but he chose UW because of the higher ranked Computer Science program. We had a nice HS graduation for Grant – most of our family attended including Karen’s father.
Grant spent the summer working as a camp counselor at Galileo in nearby Lafayette – he gave it his all and came home tired every day (but never too tired to hang out with friends that night). He moved up to UW in September and pledged Alpha Delta Phi fraternity – he lives on the top floor “porch” of the dorm with 26 other freshman. He too finds school challenging and the social experience excellent – the fraternity does have its parties but they also have scheduled study sessions each week. As he finishes his first quarter it appears he made a good choice.
Andrew is a sophomore this year, enjoys his computer science and Algebra / Trig classes the most. He was a Junior Counselor at Cal Berkeley Strawberry Canyon Camp in the summer – we observed him grow in leadership and responsibility, at least that is what the camp administrators told us. He is planning on going back next summer and looking forward to the pay increase.
Claudia continues with her dance, has been going to the same studio in Concord (about 30 minutes away in normal traffic) for 4 years now. She has classes 4 nights per week and once or twice on weekends. The competition season will occur in the spring with the national event in the July – this year it was held in San Diego; next year it will be in Vegas. Claudia has several close Dance Friends, and Karen is close with their parents – known as the Dance Moms. It is nothing like the reality shows – just a lot of young teenagers who enjoy a variety of dance styles. Claudia has developed a lot of discipline between dance and school – it’s a pleasure to watch her grow.
Our extended families are all well – Karen’s Dad Dick Weisbaum and wife Cynthia continue to travel and enjoy living in Sedona – they visited a couple times this year. Her brother Bruce, with Courtney and Copper, are all well in Portland – Copper graduates HS next June.
Marc’s sister Robin is contemplating retirement from Kaiser, and visits her children / grandchildren as much as possible. Her daughter Lauren (Jamie, Rose and Beatrice) is busy with her family in Vancouver, BC and continues to visit the Bay Area a couple times each year, always a treat. Her daughter Alison has connected with a special guy – Graeme – both live in SF.
Marc’s sister Joanne and brother-in-law Steve still have the doors of their business Claas Concepts open but are contemplating their future retirement. They are always working on something, including managing the remodel of Marc’s mother’s home before it goes up for sale. Their son Kevin (Tina, Christopher and Carson) live nearby – Joanne & Steve enjoy visiting their grandsons frequently.
As for Marc, I continue to work in Kazakhstan – will be 3-1/2 years at the end of 2014. My plan is to continue at least through 2016 as we have large turnarounds planned for 2015 and 2016 that I would like to see through to completion. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in July for a recruiting trip – you can find some pictures on my Flickr account.
We hope this finds you and your family well. We wish you the very best in 2015 and beyond.