Yep, that is our eldest being put to work this year stringing lights. Though she offered, and she loved helping out!
Merry/Happy Christmas/Holidays! We Cutler's (read: Danielle) decided to say goodbye to the paper and go internet for our holiday greeting. This way I can still write, and I don't have to print out 50 copies to mail. AND I get the added benefit of linking you over to an album with a selection of photos from throughout 2010. You can also get there if you click on the picture of Allison!
2010 was a year of milestones and changes for the family. Let's start with the youngest, at least of the humans in the house.
Samantha turned the big 10 this year, and is in 5th grade at the Montessori school. She is an avid reader- we can't seem to keep up with how fast she consumes books. At times it's difficult to find things for her, she reads a few years above her age but the comprehension is still on track for her age group. She has also developed a love of Greek Mythology after having lessons at school, which helps in the book department (thank you Percy Jackson!) She also really enjoys playing football and soccer, and keeps asking if she can play football in High School. I love that she has an interest in so many different things!
Allison turned 13 this year, and with that the rest of Bret's and my hair went gray. I think she had more changes than any of us this year. Unfortunately the Montessori Middle School needed to close due to budget cuts, so we had a bit of a last minute scramble to find a school for her to attend the next year. Allison was just as involved in the process, researching schools and talking with her mentors about it. We decided on a great Preparatory school, and so ended and began a new chapter. One adjustment was the uniform requirement, which she was/is not happy about, but is adjusting. Not a big sacrifice to make though for such a great school. She jumped right in, and yes, it was a bit stressful for the first month or so, but she transitioned really well.
The new school also opened up the door to what was not offered at the old school: extra-curricular activities. One semester in and Allison is all ready participating in the Yearbook Club, and was part of the Volleyball team. Now for winter she is playing soccer, and in the spring she would like to join the Archery team. What's great is the school has an open policy, you don't have to try out for a team, and there are no cuts. It has really given her a chance to find out what she is interested in. What we're realizing is that she can excel in just about anything she puts her mind too. The biggest problem is deciding which activity to cut, because there are just too many!
During Allison's down time (ha!), she is still active in Girl Scouts, enjoys reading/watching anime, attending Anime/Comic Conventions, and has even discovered a little romance too. It's not going to slow down any time soon, is it?
Bret also had a milestone this year, the big 40. For him it really wasn't a big deal, but we did celebrate by doing something he has always wanted to do. Skydive. Turns out he wasn't the only one who wanted to do this, so we spent the weekend in Sedona with my brother Andy and our friend Rob and his family. Then the three of them jumped out of a plane. Bret absolutely loved it, a great weekend to celebrate a great guy. :-) He's still working for Intel, and just started a new project where he is working with the AZ colleges and universities crating a program for Intel employees to advance their education.
I'm still working for KWSS Radio, a local independent station, and loving my position as the mid-day announcer. I'm also still podcasting my politics with Truth Seekers. Haven't done much voice acting this past year, though I have read a couple of stories this month for some science fiction podcasts. I'm still enjoying the audio world very much. Sometimes talking politics all the time weighs me down, but I try and give as much of a positive spin on things as I can. And take plenty of breaks, which helps my sanity!
I've also discovered a new passion this past year, running. It began a year ago when I started training for Pat's Run, a 4.2 mile run named for Pat Tillman, the football player who gave up his contract with the Arizona Cardinals football team to join the military after 9/11/2001, and was killed by friendly fire. I had no idea that running would have such a profound effect on me. The sense of accomplishment, feeling my body becoming stronger- I was hooked! Now I can't stop running! In January I'm participating in the PF Chang's half-marathon. When I turn 40 (not all that far off!) rather than jumping out of a plane I'm going to run a full-marathon. Where and when are yet to be determined, but my birthday is the end of April (2012) so there is time to plan. I'm very grateful that I have the time and ability to train the way I have, but I think the benefits have gone way beyond a healthy body. You know, if I'm happy, then the whole family is happy! I've been blogging the progress in my training, so if you are interested to see how it's going, come by any time.
Last but not least, we should introduce the new addition to the family. My brother and his friend were on vacation in Mexico last Christmas, and found an undernourished barely 5 pound puppy on the side of the highway. They took her in, but realized that they really didn't want to leave her at a shelter. So, using the Extreme Awesome power of the mobile upload, they sent out a pic of her with the call for a home. Yep, I was hooked. Showed the photo to Bret, and though he won't admit it, he was hooked too.
That's how Lizzie came into our lives. She's a terrier/poodle thing (Terrioodle? Snickerdoodle?), and now she is full grown at nearly 20 lbs. She's a bit tenacious, and loves to dig. She is also still wary of other humans, and will pee when frightened or excited (who doesn't?). But she is an absolute sweetie, and we all love the little ball of fluff. I'm just happy to have a dog in the house again, it had been lonely since our previous dog Sandi passed.
So there is The Life Of Cutler. Thank you all for reading, and I hope everyone enjoys this holiday season with family and friends. Know that you are all in our thoughts at one time or another, and always in our hearts.
Danielle, Bret, Allison, Samantha, and Lizzie
PS: Don't forget- PHOTOS!