The holidays never used to be this calm at our house. Maybe it's the empty nest, or maybe we just don't take things so seriously anymore. We giggle at ourselves and delight in simple pleasures.
The highlight of our year was our trip to Europe in April. We hung out in Switzerland and Provence with our good friends who moved to Lausanne a couple of years ago. We also visited John's niece Kimberly and her family in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, a small medieval town on the French Riviera. We particularly enjoyed visiting the Roman ruins in France. A bonus for Susie was finding the small hotel she stayed in when traveling to Interlaken in 1967.
John has taken on a couple of leadership roles, such as the president of our neighborhood association and the co-chair of the technical transfer committee of the San Jose chapter of ASHRAE. He maintains his consulting gigs, but he allowed time this year to oversee several home projects. Years of deferred maintenance led to replacing our 23-year-old roof, refinishing the fir floor in the kitchen (hidden under layers of linoleum and vinyl), and swapping out an aging asphalt driveway for travertine pavers.
For Susie, the workplace has always been about relationships. As F5 Networks continues to expand, the tech writing group in San Jose is growing, too. The resulting interaction and collaboration enhance her work experience enough to push out our retirement timetable. Susie's volunteer work with AFS broadened to include the role of liaison for a student from Japan. The student, Miharu, lives with a family in the foothills, attends a local High School, and does competitive break dancing.
Eric is thriving just up the road in San Francisco. Growing restless in a start-up of 15 employees, he became the first employee at another high-tech start-up. When the company (called 2bkco) was in stealth mode, Eric couldn't even tell us what product he was developing. Now we know it’s a social application. In the meantime, Eric's long-distance relationship with Anna will get even longer in January, when Anna moves to Switzerland to complete her undergraduate studies at EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne). Eric's latest hobby is ham radio, an activity he hopes to share with John.
Ava, now a second-grader, is becoming an avid reader. She continues her Mandarin language studies after school, but she still finds time to draw, her specialty being horses. Tiffany has again found her groove in the business world, which includes monthly travel to Chicago. The stability of Jason's job provides continuity for the family and plenty of time with Ava. He also joined the Masonic Lodge in San Francisco.
The kids came to our house for Thanksgiving this year—what a treat! (We hadn’t hosted in many years.) When the turkey was done two hours ahead of schedule, they pitched in to put dinner on the table in record time. We also celebrated Ava's November birthday, with a nod to John's birthday in October. They spent the night, and we reveled in the warmth of the fireplace and family ties.
We send you the warmth of friendship and family, and we wish you joy and peace in 2012.
Love, Susie, John, and Eric