Advance Preview Christmas Letter – 2004

For family & friends following the site here is an advance preview of the annual Christmas letter that just went out in the mail.

This year the online edition of the annual Christmas letter will beat the snail mail version by at least a week.  This is a typical occurrence because Steph and I always seem to be late in getting our act together.  The big change this year is no email with a large file attachment.  So here goes….enjoy the letter and check out the Photo Link for all the pictures that are typically included.

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s hard to believe another year has passed us by and in particular, how fast it’s slipped away.  Ben celebrated his 2nd birthday this year with his friends and family at The Little Farm in Berkeley’s Tilden Park.  He finally understood what it means to celebrate as he ripped open his presents and asked for seconds and thirds on the cake (he is truly his mother’s son).  This year has been amazing in terms of transitioning into toddler hood.  Ben has truly turned into a little boy and has a ton of energy.  He’s been singing and dancing while playing his guitar (loves the Christmas tunes) and always wants to sit down and read his many books.  His language has really developed and we can actually have real conversations with him now.  Our dialogue doesn’t always go they way we’d like as the “terrible 2’s” sneak in but it is still a lot of fun.  

Earlier this summer, we took a 2 week vacation to visit Spain and Italy with the entire family, including Todd’s parents and sister, Tracy.  We spent a week at a resort in Marbella as we settled into the time and culture change.  The first week consisted of day trips to surrounding cities, bull rings, markets, festivals and we even had a chance to enjoy the local cuisine.  (ok, there was some pool and beach lounging somewhere in there) Todd, Ben and I then took a train to Seville, which was my favorite stop of the trip.  We had a chance to eat lots of Tapas and toured amazing historical sites like the Plaza de Toros, Royal Alcazar, Cathedral and Giralda.  We’ve never seen such beautiful architecture.   The trip wouldn’t have been complete (at least according to Todd) without dragging us to a real bullfight.  He convinced me it was part of the culture and we had to sample everything.  Needless to say we left early; I don’t recommend it to anyone.  

Our last stop took us through Rome and on to the Amalfi Coast where we hooked up again with Dave, Peggy and Tracy.  The coast is truly one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen.  We stayed in a small quaint town called Positano virtually built into the side of a mountain.  The roads were steep and narrow and all I can say is it’s a good thing we weren’t driving! We took a ferry over to Sorrento and were able to visit Pompeii before finally having to return to the States.

Although this year has been filled with wonderful memories, we did face our share of challenges.  Todd’s Grandmother Louise “Nana” was 94 and passed away earlier this year.  She led a wonderful life and was so excited to see her great-grandson grow-up.  We also had a very close call when Todd’s dad had a heart attack in September.  After quadruple bypass surgery and a prolonged bout with double pneumonia, Dave is finally home recovering and doing really well.  We are so thankful he’s on his way to a full recovery and have reaffirmed the true importance of family and friends this holiday season.  

Careers are going well for both Todd and I.  We’ve been able to balance both work and family which has been an important goal for us.  I changed positions within my agency in August and have become the interim director of our therapeutic preschool program while still working only 3 days a week.  The position has been a challenge and great learning experience, but I plan to return to the public school program in January when the new Director comes on board.  

We hope everyone has a truly wonderful holiday season and best wishes for 2005!

Love, Todd, Steph, Ben & Cooper



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