2018 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2018

It’s the holiday time of the year again and keeping with tradition here’s our newsletter outlining what we Windstrups have been up to. Let’s start with the kids. Gabrielle is now in her third year at La Sorbonne studying French literature and communications. She is doing well there and is already planning on continuing her scholastic career beyond her current bachelors. We sort of expected that. One thing we didn’t expect was her interest in learning Italian. Two years ago, she went to China and took Chinese classes. Now she is dreaming of studying in Italy. We were in Italy some for vacation this year, talk about that in a bit, but she didn’t seem overly interested beyond your average tourist activities. Now however, she is very seriously learning Italian and will be applying for an exchange program in Florence, Italy next school year. I hope she’s accepted because this is one of her life projects but neither Jeff nor I are wanting our little girl to move out for a school year. I guess we’ll just have to accept they are getting older. David too is growing up. He is now in his last year of high school at Notre-Dame du Grandchamp. He’s doing alright and is preparing for a month long work study program in Dublin, Ireland. He has already done several smaller internships the last couple years that he’s truly enjoyed. He’s eager to finish school and join the work world. He’s also thinking about pursuing his future in the good old USA. Maybe living with grandma. David, our youngest, like our oldest is wanting to expand their horizons; wanting to get out there; wanting to grow up. We don’t want them to leave the nest but we want them to follow their projects and dreams. That said, we don’t want them getting out there too soon or not being entirely prepared. We’ve been encouraging David to continue his education further. He’s looking into a 2 year degree at the private school he is currently attending. He’ll apply early next year and since he is currently a student at Grandchamp there’s a good chance he’ll be accepted. Fingers crossed.

Jeff is doing well and still playing airsoft with the guys. Actually, Gabrielle, David, and I tried airsoft too on “family day”. It’s fairly physical and it’s exciting to play. Don’t think we’ll be out there every other weekend like Jeff but why not every now and then. He’s also still playing with his gadgets in the forest and campground. He fancies himself a bushcraft / survivalist. That did give me a gift giving opportunity to send him off for a survival initiation training in the Alps close to Annecy. He came back all pumped up about purifying water, tying knots and making feather sticks whatever that is. We had a few camping trips this year. Once in Rambouillet for a couple nights close to home. David spent one night and Gabrielle spent the following night. I just came and visited… Jeff, David and I also pitched the tent to camp with friends from the Netherlands in the Loire Valley. And finally Jeff and I had an extended weekend camping trip close to the Guédelon Castle. Jeff and I also had our weekend getaway this year on Jersey Island. It’s an English island just off the Normandy coast of France. We stayed in a nice hotel, toured the island, and went ocean kayaking. I didn’t see the elusive puffin but I did enjoy the island’s pretty gardens and plants. We’ve all been keeping busy. As most of you know dance is really my thing. I still go to my weekly lessons. This year I went with a friend to study for a week with one of my favorite dance teachers and choreographers in Lourdes, France. It was great. I love his dynamic style. That said, my girlfriend and I noticed 3 intense hours a day with lots of low to the floor and high in the air activity really had us tired out and sore. We suffered a bit but it was worth it. I guess we’re not 20 anymore. Then again I didn’t think I would go back to school at 47 and get another master’s degree but I did. I was proud of myself despite how stressed I was during the school year with the pace of study and all the exams. Now after getting my masters in professional training this year I’ve started teaching classes on social work as that is my area of expertise. I plan on extending my “train the trainer” type trainings beyond social work next year.

On to vacation time. In addition to the weekend trips I mentioned we went on a great week long Mediterranean family cruise. Gloria, Jennifer, Josephine, Jonathan and the 4 of us had great experiences together on the ship and visiting Venice and Bari in Italy, Dubrovnik in Croatia, The Blue Eye Spring in Albania and Athens, Olympus, and Mykonos in Greece. It was an action packed week of incredible fun. Check out the video. Preceding the cruise we spent a week together including Mike. We went to Dunkerque in the north of France, crossed the English channel to see The White Cliffs of Dover and its Castle. We even set foot into Belgium for a Geocaching trifecta. Check out the video. Gabrielle and David had their own trips this year. Gabrielle went to both Naples, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal with her girlfriends this summer. David had his first solo trip to Chicago this year. He loved it and he confirms that he is really thinking about living in the US in the future. Finishing out 2018 we were very happy to spend Christmas with Jeff’s sister Mary Jo and her husband Tim from Florida. They got to see Paris for the first time and we spent the holiday together. We also squeezed in a day trip to Brussels, Belgium that was nice. Those were the highlights of another year for the Windstrups. Hope this finds you well. All the best in 2019.