Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas and New Year 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

This is the latest I have ever sent out a Christmas letter, which at this point qualifies more as a New Year’s card.  I could come up with heaps of excuses, but the truth is that I just didn’t do it until now.  I hope honesty is refreshing enough to keep me on your Christmas lists.  I love getting cards, both real and electronic. 

I expected 2013 would pale in comparison to 2012, and it did.  (Tough to beat three weeks in France).  However, I got to travel for Cisco to Denver, New Orleans, and London and left a few days early to visit a friend in Amsterdam.  My sister Jessica and I spent ten days in Japan.  As a family, we went to San Diego, took several ski trips, and an impromptu road trip to Whistler when Tracy’s sister got married in Seattle on short notice – lots of camping and mountain biking.

This is the first year we have three kids in three different schools.  Fortunately, they can all get themselves there and back, so if they’re late, they can’t blame it on anyone else.  

Skyler started high school this year.  He shocked us by getting into classes we didn’t think he had the grades for, and despite his haphazard approach to turning in homework, he might survive ninth grade.  He is nearly as tall as me and can cycle faster, but I’m sure I’ll outweigh him until he graduates.  He’s still fencing, playing tennis, programming, and hanging out with friends in his own little man cave or as far away from the house as possible, especially if there are girls involved. 

In seventh grade, this year Liam joined the El Camino Youth Symphony in Palo Alto.  As the only baritone player in their intermediate band, he was in high demand before he even auditioned.  Liam also spent two weeks living in the rain at caveman camp at Turtle Island this summer, where he got to meet my cousins in North Carolina.  This fall, he joined the Mountain View junior development tennis team.  I think both boys just like sanctioned hitting things.    

This is Hadley’s last year in elementary school, and she is still packing her schedule with as much soccer and dance as she can.  Her affinity for horses has not faded, so in the shrinking soccer offseason, she’s fitting in some horseback lessons.  At eleven, we get glimpses of a drama queen we’ve never met before, but most of the time she’s enthusiastic and easy going, especially if her brothers are elsewhere.

I converted from a contractor to a Cisco employee in July, so I’m learning the tricks of navigating a large company.  Working full time has done nothing for my tennis game, French fluency, or social life, but it’s hard to beat the paycheck, and I enjoy the work.  I sprained my ankle in March and it was nine months before I could comfortably run and play tennis again.   Ouch.

Lockheed is still stumbling along, so after 18 years, Tracy has reasons to stay.  He’s been helping the American space program by working on Orion, the human space travel capsule, and was instrumental in fixing part of the launch structure – makes the astronauts breathe easier.  He also placed third at a national fencing tournament that boosted his ranking.  I’ve been dragging him out onto the court as my hitting partner, but I haven’t beaten him yet. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We are so happy you are part of our village, both near and far.  One more time around the sun… here we go!
With Love,
Tracy, Julie, Skyler, Liam, and Hadley
Flynn and Pixel (the cats)
Yuki (the bunny – we lost Xavier to a raccoon :( 
The geckos of shame who have no name