Dear loved ones,
Merry Christmas, everyone! What an amazing year this has been, full of the Lord’s blessings and joys, and even some unexpected surprises. We hope your year has been blessed as well, and that you’re already enjoying the season and its reason.
We are happy to announce that our family expanded again on August 27 with the birth of Leo Joshua Wiese, who entered the world at 7 lb. 9 oz. and 19¾ “ long. He is a beautiful, healthy, robust young man who captured our hearts from the moment we first saw him. Erika and Josh are instinctively great parents already, and they are unabashedly in love with their son. We are all enjoying our family’s first baby boy and the promise of trucks, trains, cars, sports, and dirt to come.
In early April, our 9th family member is due—Jenni’s and Dave’s little boy or girl. Again, they’ve chosen not to find out the baby’s sex, and we’re all looking forward to meeting the next Leo grandchild. Zoey will turn 2 on Dec. 28 and is very enamored with her cousin Leo, so we have no doubts she’ll be an excellent, loving, helpful big sister. She is such a sweet little girl, funny and bright, and it’s an amazing experience to once again discover the world through the senses of this unconditionally loving child. Best of all, she LOVES her Papa and Didi!
Our first surprise of the year was new kitchen appliances! We had talked on and off for several years about replacing our 24-year-old original appliances, but they just wouldn’t die. We finally just decided to go ahead and do it, replacing our dishwasher, oven, microwave, and cooktop with stainless steel gas cooktop, double ovens, over-the-cooktop microwave, and large-capacity dishwasher. It’s like a whole new kitchen, and I love cooking more than ever. Now we just need to accelerate the demise of “Gordo” (Tony’s term), our huge white refrigerator, so we can replace it with a smaller, stainless steel model, although Gordo is showing no signs of slowing down. Humphh.
Our second, even more significant, surprise was Tony’s retirement from IBM in April after 34½ years! He wasn’t completely ready to retire, but things were getting more and more difficult at work, and his blood pressure was steadily climbing, so he decided it was time to leave on his terms. He was fully vested, and pensions had been frozen at the end of last year, so there really wasn’t much of an incentive to stay. He has fully embraced retirement, enjoying the ability to increase his running program, helping me around the house A LOT, and engaging in lots of projects he never had time for before. He also recently completed the H&R Block tax preparation course, so in January he will be working part time for Block. I’m still working from home as a medical transcriptionist and plan to continue at least until we are eligible for Social Security. I still love my work very much, although I can no longer type a full 8 hours a day because of my troublesome wrists. One of these days the pain will get bad enough for me to seek treatment, and then hopefully I’ll get back to full-time typing. I’m also working a few hours a month at the Curves where I work out, one Saturday morning and an occasional evening as needed. I love being part of the Curves sisterhood!
In September, my sister Lisa, our cousin Pat, and I surprised our sister Alix with a 50th birthday trip to New York City. We had a ball together, and the most fun part of all was watching Alix as surprise after surprise was revealed to her. We took the “Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour”, saw “Wicked”, wandered through the Festival of San Gennaro in Little Italy, ate plenty of NY deli and Italian, and worshipped Sunday morning at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, home of the famous gospel choir. What an awesome experience it was to praise the Lord in harmony with our multicultural, multiracial sisters and brothers! It was a memorable trip for all of us, and the most wonderful time of sisterly bonding.
This Christmas will be a little different for our family. Jenni, Dave, and Zoey, as well as Erika, Josh, and Leo, will be spending Christmas with their other families, so Tony and I have decided to take Millie in the Suburban and head down to Corpus Christi for a few days. We’ve never been to the Texas coast, and Millie has never been to the beach, so we’re hoping for a good time of R&R. Of course, we first need to find a hotel near the beach amenable to a very energetic, 80-pound, 17-month-old Great Dane mix puppy. No problem, right? I’d better get working on that right now.
Here are some fun family blog sites to peruse when you have the time and inclination. There are many great pictures and diaries of what’s been going on in our respective families: www.lucysmamamia.blogspot.com (Mona’s blog) www.thecribbies.blogspot.com (Jenni’s, Dave’s, and Zoey’s blog) www.casahice.blogspot.com (Alix’s blog) firstname.lastname@example.org (Mona’s e-mail) email@example.com (Tony’s e-mail)
May the joy of the season bless you and yours with much health and happiness. Christ is born!!!