2014 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2014

We would like to wish you Happy Holidays with this our twelfth Christmas season newsletter. It gives us a chance to keep you updated on some of the things we’ve been up to.

We had several vacation opportunities this year. In February we spent a week skiing in the Alps. David and Gabrielle improved their already good skills. David progressed to the coveted “troisième étoile” or 3rd star designation and is now able to tackle the more exhilarating and technically difficult black diamond runs. So now, Gabrielle, David and me are at a similar level and go pretty much where we want. Jeff, not to be left out, does get out there with us as we leisurely explore the green and blue slopes. He enjoys all of us participating in the same activity and in fact is quite a good skier as he stays upright and dry all day. We started summer vacation with a family oriented long weekend with friends. Adults and kids combined all 16 of us explored the southwestern coastal tip of the Netherlands and spend a day in Bruges, Belgium. Right after our weekend adventure the kids went on to spend 3 weeks in the US to spend time with grandma and the rest of the family. We heard that Gabrielle had her first behind the wheel driving experience and David probably played too many games with grandma and the others. The kids wanted a shout-out and thanks to their cousins Josephine and Jonathan, Uncle Mike and Aunt Jen. Not to mention second cousins Kevin, Karin, Catlin and Tommy. Let’s not forget first cousins once removed Dean, Dale and Russ. And cousin-in-laws Mary Ellen and Gloria. Probably should mention that Dale serves double duty as Gabrielle’s godfather too. I think I got most of that cousin stuff right. When the kids came back we went to visit mamie and papi in Arcachon close to Bordeaux. On the way there we spent a night in this really cool multi room treehouse in the woods. A Disney World Swiss Family Treehouse dream from Jeff’s childhood I think. We also fulfilled our dreams of an Italian vacation by spending more than a week visiting Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, and Venice. We didn’t just take a gondola ride on the canals, we learned how to navigate as apprentice gondoliers! “Splendida Esperienza!”

Speaking of experiences, Gabrielle and David continue with their guitar lessons, girl scouts, and handball respectively. Jeff and I signed up for golf lessons while the kids were away. It was fun and we both got our golfing “green cards”. Basically it’s just a certification that we know basic etiquette and have an idea how to hit the little white dimpled ball down the fairway. Jeff is into it way more than me. I’ve seen him go at the crack of dawn even when the temp is just above freezing. I think he is addicted to golf. I have recently taken up yoga in addition to my old stalwart of dance. The dance is great though the yoga helps with stretching and increased flexibility to avoid some of the pain that has crept into some of my dance routines as of late. Oh well, I guess we are all getting older.

David is now in 8th grade and Gabrielle in 11th. I guess that makes her a junior now. She’s in a literature major program and loving it. Getting very good grades and it’s obvious that she really enjoys what she’s learning. David’s grades are good too in spite of the increasing workload this year. He has to learn Spanish this year. “Buena Suerte!” In addition to this year’s vacations, activities, and school we had a nice visit from Julia, Ben, Liam, and Samantha. Also, it was great that Iwona, Krystian, Zenon, and Maria could make it from Poland for David’s “communion solennelle”. After mass we all had a wonderful lunch in an old nicely restored abbey.

We really enjoyed seeing and hearing from friends and family this year. We’re especially thankful that Grandma Gloria is doing well and recovering from her serious health scare earlier this year. We look forward to all the best that 2015 has to offer and wish you all the best.

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Italy – Summer Vacation 2014

20 10 2014
Tuscany – Pisa and its famous Leaning Tower, Florence with the Uffizi Gallery and its Duomo, Venice with its canals and gondolas, and the scenic Siena. Cinque Terre and its port towns on the Italian Riviera. Now that’s an Italian vacation! Tag along with us as we treat ourselves with gelato ice cream, eat real Italian food, learn to row a gondola. Throw in some museums, parks, shops, and some interesting photo opportunities and see how we spent our vacation. Also, let there be no doubt who the best photographer in the family is as Gabrielle and I go head to head with a photo competition.




Les Alpes – Geneva Winter Vacation 2014

22 02 2014

Snow packed mountain peak vistas and well groomed blue, green, black and red ski slopes awaited us for winter break. Skiing in Morillon, France and a day trip to Geneva, Switzerland was a nice way to spend the break together. Gabrielle was pleased to celebrate her 16th birthday in the mountains. Sweet-sixteen is one of those milestone birthdays. It’s a coming of age birthday for an American though here in France we don’t usually make such a big deal of it. Christine and I decided that such an important birthday should be marked with an appropriate gift. Something age appropriate and something that would coincide with our little girl growing up. We will get her enrolled in driving school and her license to drive will be just around the bend.





2013 Christmas Newsletter

25 12 2013

Time really goes by quickly. Christmas is here and the New Year following right behind. As we’ve done for more than a decade now we would like to give you an update on what we’ve been doing. We visited and were visited several times this year. In March Jeff’s mother came to visit. Gloria has always wanted to experience Lourdes so we took the opportunity and made the pilgrimage together. On our way south to Lourdes we visited the WW II martyr village in Oradour-sur-Glane. On the way back we visited Cordes-sur-Ciel a picturesque medieval fortified town built high on hilltop. In May we went to Poland for my godson Krystian’s communion. It was really nice because celebrating this event brought all of my French and Polish family together for a family reunion. In July my friend Cheryl visited us. Her family of 4 and ours visited Paris, Fontainebleau, and we watched all the hype and excitement of Le Tour de France as it passed through our town.

Our big trip this year was 4 weeks in the good old USA. We split our lengthy summer vacation in the US into 2 parts. For the first two weeks we were on a classic American driving vacation. Our road trip out west allowed us to visit and enjoy the splendor of Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite, and Redwood National Parks. To balance out mother nature in the parks we did some cityscape traveling in Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland. As usual now Jeff documented it all for posterity’s sake in quite the home movie. The 2nd part of our tip was devoted to family time in Chicago. The trip from beginning to end was nonstop adventure and fun. After seeing all the sites and spending quality time with family and friends we needed to head back to France and prepare for the school year.

David progressed in junior high to the 7th grade and Gabrielle moved on to the 10th grade in high school. So far this year in school they are both holding their own. It’s a bigger change for Gabrielle this year than David as she’s in a new school where she has to take the commuter train every day to get to and fro. This along with her age is propelling her toward wanting more independence. We accommodate within reason. David is now the typical teenager with the typical teenage attitude. Again, we accommodate as we can. David continues with handball and Sunday School and Gabrielle continues with music, drawing and Girl Scouts. She’s reached the highest scout level of Ambassador now. My babies are growing up.

Jeff and I are still working and keeping our same activities as before with the exception of dance for me. This year I thought I’d take a break from modern dance. Might have been a mistake as I miss the balance it used to bring me. Good thing I still have tennis and belly dancing. The balance scale can tip in both directions. This year I pushed the envelope quite a bit by trying overcome my fear of heights by going on a hot air balloon ride. It was actually a birthday gift I offered Jeff. The gift was an hour long initiation ride for both of us. What was I thinking. After the initial trepidation and fear I have to admit that I enjoyed the experience. Jeff too offers gifts for two. This year he gave me a get away weekend in La Baie de Somme in the Picardie norther cost of France. We stayed in a nice bed and breakfast and explored the area for a few days while the kids were visiting mamie and papi. We saw the rocky cliffs along the English Channel, the WW I trenches, and a splendid ornithological park. I think I may take up bird watching one of these days.

We wish you a Merry Christmas now and happiness and health for the coming new year.





Filmed In The Audience Of iPad Today

8 08 2013

We went to see the filming of iPad Today. We were caught in the filming of it at the end during Leo’s “App Cap”. Scan ahead on the video to about 1:07:30 if you want to see David and me, Christine and Gabrielle in the audience on the Double Robotics Telepresence demo.

http://twit.tv/show/ipad-today/160

Cool stuff if you have $2,500 to spend. I cant wait until the price of this thing comes down.





United States – Summer Vacation 2013

28 07 2013

Take a look at the highlights of our most excellent adventure in the United States this summer. Our vacation and our video are in two parts. The first part shows our classic American Drive Vacation out west and for the second part we’re in Chicago with family and friends. Come along with us as we explore the splendor of Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite, and Redwood National Parks. See how we balanced out the nature of the parks with the cityscapes of Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland.

The second part of our tip was with  family in Chicago. Come with as we celebrate Gabrielle’s graduation, enjoy rides and thrills at Great America, ponder the complexity of various works at the Art Institute, bounce, jump, and play games like silly kids, go to a ballgame, have a “Summer Christmas” party, learn about police work, and just visit with family and friends.





Hot Air Balloon Ride – Up, Up And Away

13 07 2013

Interesting experience and exhilarating ride in a hot air balloon. Montgolfière as we French call it. Christine offered me this first flight experience as a birthday present. Nice gift indeed. www.aerfun.com

Makes me think about “Up, Up and Away” in my beautiful ballon…  a song I must have heard 100s of times. I think it was on the same album as Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In by the The 5th Dimension that played in my childhood home daily there for awhile. Wish I could have incorporated the track in my video but I would have no doubt gotten a take down notice.