Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another year... poof!

I had an awesome idea this year for the annual letter. See, some of you might not know this, but I'm a big social media nut. Love Twitter, love Facebook, love connecting with others online. I know- total news to you, right? Anyway, so what a great idea it would have been to have this post be a year of Facebook status highlights, right? RIGHT?

No. Talk about a lot of noise to sift through. Don't try it- really, don't. Though not many over share the way I do, so it might be easier for you to try this yourself. Only I want credit for the idea! I did manage to get highlights of the last year in a photo album, so we can thank Facebook for that. Click right HERE for it!

So, how has your year been? If you've followed this place even a little bit, you get an idea of the busy year it was. Well, at least for me. How about the rest of the clan? Let's break it down!

Samantha is now 11 (though she will throw the half in there). She had a good year, with some changes. Before school ended, she performed with her class in a wonderful show and they were amazing. She loves to sing and dance! We also found that she really loves to be active, and enjoys football and basketball. I'm excited for her to move to her new school next year, where she will be able to take on some extra-curricular activities and really find out what interests her.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sam is now in the middle of her last year at the Montessori school she began attending in preschool, which makes me feel quite old. It's been quite the ride, but even with the bumps she has managed to persevere and shine through. At the end of this year she lost one amazing teacher, but fortunately the replacement is just as amazing! She just goes with the flow, and it only adds to her growth. She sucks up learning like a sponge, but the sponge never fills up! She just wants more, and I hope she never loses that. We can't fill up that brain fast enough! It also makes me confident that when she begins Middle School in the fall she will only continue to progress.

Allison has "smoothly" made the transition into teenagerhood, now 14. Earlier in the year while finishing up middle school she found another love in Archery. In March she participated in the statewide competition and did quite well for a first-timer. She has taken it up again this year, and knows she will do even better now that she knows the way it all works. As an incoming Freshman in High School (seriously- whose kids am I talking about?), she also became a mentor for other students just beginning at her school. She will also be playing soccer again in the spring, and has also taken up choir this year. She is continuing Girl Scouts as well, and in her free time (ha!) you can find her drawing and watching and listening to anything anime-related. Or at an anime convention. Or sleeping.

In June she had an extra special adventure: a two-week hiking/camping trip through Denali National Forest in Alaska! This was a trip she took with her Uncle Andy and Grandma Tari. She had an AMAZING time. Hiking, kayaking, glacier-climbing... so many experiences and memories. We feel very grateful that she had this opportunity, and she will never forget it.

Bret is still slugging away at Intel, and has been key in setting up a continuing education program for employees. The tech changes fast, and it's good to be on top of it. He's also become quite the green thumb too- and loves spending time in the vegetable garden. We love eating what he grows too! He also had a solo trip with Alli and Sam this October and took them to Disneyland where they had a blast!

As for me, it seemed to be the year of coming out of my shell. In January I ran my first half-marathon, and pretty much survived. February I spoke about podcasting to a room full of tween girl scouts. I also wrote my first freelance magazine article for Homeland Security Today, on border security in Arizona. This year I once again participated in PodcampAZ, not just as an organizer but I ran my own session as well. I enjoyed the experience of Podcamp so much this year, I decided I might as well run the whole damn thing next year. Ok that's an exaggeration, but I think I'm going to be the one everyone can blame for anything that goes wrong with the unconference this year. I'll keep you posted. I also became a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for children in the foster care system. I've always wanted to become a foster parent, and we're not quite to that point in our lives yet to bring in more children, so this is a way I can pay it forward and help children in the system now. It's so far been a very rewarding experience, and a very personal journey for me too.

2012 is only proving to continue my "coming out" streak. This is very exciting, as I look to get back into actual employment again and put all of these talents I've been practicing to good use.

As a family, we did many things together. In March we went to Las Vegas to see my brother Henry and his wife Maria renew their vows. It actually was a lot of fun, and the kids enjoyed seeing the adult playground. In which we only took them out in sparingly, and for very specific things. Bret and I also enjoyed seeing the Cirque Du Soleil performance of "Love" with my sister and mother. In April we participated in Pat's Run again. This time the whole family ran the longer portion, which made me beyond happy! In June my sister Jenn and I threw a surprise 60th birthday party for our mom Regina, which really did surprise her! I'll never forget the look on her face, it was awesome. She had no clue it was coming, nor did she know we were able to get some very good friends of hers to fly in for the occasion. In July we made our nearly-annual trek to the east coast. Spent a good portion of it in NYC this time. We saw Lady Liberty up close, and also enjoyed seeing a TON of family at my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary. We also spent time in Massachusetts too, and celebrated my sister Katie's 40th birthday with a fancy dinner. This Christmas the foster-family clan is traveling here to spend a warmer holiday season, and we can't wait!

So that is it, another year complete. 2012 is looking to be another crazy ride, and we are very much looking forward to seeing what it will bring. May the new year bring all of you nothing but joy, in your family, in your friends, and of course, in yourselves.