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We hope this year’s Christmas season finds you well. We have both been very busy this year, even without any additions to our family.
Pam started a new job in August as the Director of Resource Development for the United Way of Champaign County. She manages their fundraising operations, and is doing an excellent job. She loves the work, the people and the mission, and is very happy she made the move.
I switched roles in July, becoming the Business Development Officer with HDC Engineering/Architectural Spectrum. I market the companies’ services, especially to local and state government, which complements nicely the work I have done and still do in politics and government. In addition, I’m working on behalf of Judy Myers, our candidate for the State Senate. She’s running for the seat vacated by our dear friend Rick Winkel, who is retiring. As usual, I’m also helping a handful of local candidates, and enjoying it immensely.
Our other activities this year have been many and varied. We’ve spent lots of time working on the house, including a complete remodeling of one bedroom into an Illini-themed home office. We’ve added another flower garden into the backyard, painted and welcomed almost an entire street of new neighbors.
We’ve also taken our customary travels this year. In January we went on a cruise with my old company. It was our first cruise, and was five blissful days sailing from Florida to Jamaica to Grand Cayman to Florida. We climbed waterfalls, sat in the sun, enjoyed our companions and generally ate and drank way too much. We spent the day on Grand Cayman driving around the island in a convertible Jeep, revisiting our favorite spots from our honeymoon and cringing at the devastation wrought by 2004’s hurricanes. Many locations that were treasured memories were simply gone, but the island retained it’s intimate utopian feel, and is still our favorite place on the planet. (There’s more pictures here.)
We enjoyed our annual Memorial Day camping & canoeing trip again this year, with a smaller group than we’ve sometimes had in the past. Jen, Lauren, Katie and Nate joined us at Turkey Run in Indiana for three days of roughing it with our gourmet meals, canoeing, hiking and sitting in front of the campfire. (More pictures here.)
A new journey for us this year was a week-long excursion to Panama City in which we tagged along with our good friends Jeremy and Teresa Cirks and their young son, Jake. This is an annual trip for them, and hopefully we’ll continue to go together, as it was relaxing and entertaining. Playing with Jake on the beach and in the pool was a great time, and spending time with parents as wonderful as the Cirks’ are was educating and a heck of a lot of fun. We’re already talking our next trip to “P.C.” with them. (Lots more pictures here.)
Of course, no year would be complete for us without a little bit of Dave Matthews Band. This year, they opened their annual tour in St. Louis, which is a concert I attended without Pam, but with my brother Andy and sister Angela, as poor Pam was stuck working another late evening for her old job. But she overcompensated in August, as we drove from Urbana to George, Washington to camp on the banks of the Columbia River and see three concerts at the Gorge Amphitheater, carved into the side of the canyon overlooking the River. On the way, we greatly enjoyed the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills, a full day in Yellowstone National Park, and hiking and swimming in Washington. The music was great, we met wonderful “Gorge veteran” friends who took great care of us, and generally enjoyed the time together as we saw some beautiful parts of our country that we’d never seen. It was an experience never to be forgotten. In addition, the Band was courteous enough to stop by Champaign on their Autumn tour, and we saw them at the University of Illinois Assembly Hall, about five minutes from our home. (There are hundreds of pictures from the entire trip here – be sure to check out the Badlands photo album.)
We spent Thanksgiving this year in Phoenix with my Dad and Angie and Stephen. We were spoiled by sunshine and shorts and flip-flops, enjoyed their company and their beautiful home. It was especially nice to spend some time with Stephen before he graduates from high school next year and begins college. We also helped Angie hook Dad up with a nice digital camera, so hopefully he’ll be using it a lot and sending out bunches of pictures of all the Arizona things we haven’t yet seen.
Our family is always the most important part of our year, and 2005 hasn’t been any different. We’ve spent lots of time addressing new challenges this year, but those challenges have brought us together in new ways, and we’re growing because of it. We pray for better health for our loved ones and greater strength for us to support them. Mostly, we are thankful for the times we’ve had, the trove of memories we’ve accumulated, and the excessive blessings with which we’ve been bestowed.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas, and look forward to talking with you soon.
Pam and Gordy (and Fonzi, Grace & Chief)
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