Due to an busy schedule and an amazing lack of motivation I am writing our annual Christmas letter on the blog. Last year I was so swamped I didn't even get cards out! Sorry it isn't very personal but I'll be logging almost 1000 miles for work this week so this is as good as it gets for now.
2006 has been an amazing year for us. Hunter has lost a few teeth and grown an unbelievable amount. It seems like every time I turn around he is just a little bigger than he was 5 minutes ago! Hunter has enjoyed a busy year with swimming lessons in the summer, soccer in the fall, and a recent round of basketball. Swimming is coming along nicely...having a bouyant bottom does wonders in that department! Soccer would have been great had the team coach actually been committed to showing up and holding practice. Basketball was much better so we'll keep at that for a while.
Jay continues to teach part-time at the local community college and works as a substitute teacher for our school district on an infrequent basis. His latest project has been putting together a community website which we hope to turn into a full-time job for him. www.quincyareaevents.com has been fun for him to build and tracks all of the local happenings. Please feel free to check out the site and shoot some feedback in this direction if you have a minute. Check out the next entry on the blog to see his huge summer project.
My work schedule has taken me all over again this year. Only 8 states left to go and I've seen them all! I spent the last week of February cruising down the east coast and seeing as much as I could. The trip started with the Manhattan skyline and concluded in Atlanta. I walked the entire mall in Washington D.C. in one day (don't try this at home, folks...it's farther than it looks), saw many of the sights in Philadelphia, and concluded the trip by watching the whale sharks at the new Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta (http://www.georgiaaquarium.org/) which is well worth the trip, by the way. Detroit was just as nasty this year as it was last year so I won't be going back there unless someone abducts me and duct-tapes me to something really solid for transport. California was just as wonderful this year as it was last year and I hope to go back many times. Along the way I've caught up with some old friends and hopefully made some new ones and took my son on quite a few adventures.
Hunter wanted to spend Spring Break in Chicago at the Aquarium and Field Museum so we started our travels off there. We saw a special exhibit on dinosaur bones and had quite a day waiting for Hunter to sketch everything he saw in his notebook.
In July we ventured over to Cincinnati so I could do an inspection there. We stayed across the river from the baseball stadium in Newport, Kentucky so we could go to their aquarium(www.newportaquarium.com) . Hunter was absolutely thrilled to bits by all of the exhibits but fell in love with a bizare creature called a shark ray which the aquarium has dubbed "Sweet Pea". We had to research and learn everything we could about this creature AND bring home a stuffed replica. This stuffed "Sweet Pea" goes with us just about everywhere and has become Hunter's favorite toy.
On the way home from Cincinnati we stopped at the Childrens' Museum in Indianapolis. Again, well worth the trip if you're over that way. We didn't spend an entire day at the museum but it made a really nice break in the 8 hour trip from Cincinnati to Quincy. You know you've found the museum when you see the life-sized replicas of a mother and baby dinosaur bursting from the corner of the building.
Later on in the year Jay and Hunter joined me in California for a mini-vacation. We spent two exhausting days at Disneyland and had a great time. Hunter was brave and rode all of the rides in spite of the fact that some were a little frightening. He never complained about being tired either day but managed to fall asleep in the restaurant booth after leaving the park both days. We also managed to visit one of the best kept secrets in the Los Angeles/Orange County area...the Long Beach Aquarium. Yes, we did a great deal of aquarium stuff this year.
Lately I've been considering myself to be quite lucky in the work department. At the tail end of last year my friend John (God BLESS him!) hooked me up with a new company. These guys handle much smaller jobs than the company I have been dedicated to for the past 2 years and they also keep me much closer to home. I must say it has been nice to have the time at home although most days I'm not sure precisely where all of my time went! That must be what it's like to have a normal life(what??? there's no maid service here????)! I still work for the other company but have to take advantage of the work so close to home because it won't last forever!
This year we're also blessed with good health. A biopsy scare last month came close to jinxing that but all came out in the end. Thank God for the marvels of modern medicine! My friend Alisan is working in Namibia and has sent me photos of homemade billboards touting the abilities of the local "doctors". Most of these folks are more "witch doctor" than medical doctors and claim they can cure anything from bunyons to bad luck! It just makes me more and more thankful for living in an advanced nation in spite of all the political stuff that ruffles our feathers. The cure for ruffled feathers may be to hang a chicken's foot around one's neck for a week in some other parts of the world so I guess I can live with it here.
I suppose that's about it for now. More adventures will be following in the next year as I'm determined to get to those states I haven't seen (which include Alaska and Hawaii). It's doubtful that I'll manage all of them in the coming year but it will be fun trying. Please keep in touch...you never know when I'll be in your neck of the woods!