Welcome to our first-ever online family Holiday letter! We elected to offer this through our blog for a few different reasons, namely:
- We are increasingly aware of our global footprint. Somehow, creating our letter on paper, which is then photocopied, distributed and then possibly read before being discarded didn’t make as much sense as putting it online for those who might be interested in further details. And, you will be happy to know that this letter was generated using only recycled electrons. (FYI, the rest of the family allows me only one nerdy punchline per Holiday letter and, sadly, that was all I could come up with.)
- Having our Holiday letter online allows us to use more photos, which typically take up way too much space on a printed page. (Some have even gone so far as to say that the photos are much more enjoyable than my pithy prose.)
- There are people on our Holiday letter mailing list who don’t yet know about our blog, and we thought it would be good to let you know about it. If you’re one of those who are new to the blog- – – welcome! Feel free to look around . . .
(Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, you should probably know that the main reason this letter has ended up on the blog is that I didn’t get it done before the cards were mailed.)
What’s in a name?
For those of you who are new to the blog, each member of our family has a nickname. At the start, this allowed us to maintain some degree of anonymity, but, frankly, it has become a quirky and cherished part of our site. Those of you who know us even a little bit will certainly have no problem figuring out who is who, (plus the photos make it pretty obvious.)
And, now, without further delay . . .
Ms. Plum – her nickname comes from a favorite character in the board game “Clue.” She is actually the one who started this blog and who, in all honesty, contributes most often. We all know her as beloved mother, spouse, teacher, cultural anthropologist and advocate for people the world over. (I also know her as the one who schools me constantly on the tennis court.)
This has been a busy year for Ms. Plum. She resigned from teaching to focus on her non-profit work, not to mention the chance to be home with Blueberry. Her daily workouts at the gym have been interrupted only by trips to far reaching destinations, including two excursions to Ethiopia (as part of her non-profit efforts and some other activities to be described later) and a single stop in South Africa (to visit Twinkletoes, since she was “in the neighborhood.”)
If that isn’t enough, Ms. Plum also started her own non-profit organization, Roots Ethiopia, which provides support in a variety of ways to rural communities in this part of the world.
Needless to say, we are all quite proud of her and the work she is doing. She has also learned to make injera and other Ethiopian delicacies.
Songbird – oldest daughter – – – also talented artist, musician, teacher, student and athlete; (let’s not forget to mention lovely daughter and sister.) Her nickname is a bit of a play on words, given her first name and her love of birding.
Songbird stayed quite busy in 2012, teaching art at Madison School & Community Recreation. She also worked as tutor and a barista (a skill which has, sadly, not translated to foamy, rich coffee drinks each morning for the rest of us. Of course, to be fair, I haven’t yet bought an espresso machine, which she says is a “requirement.” Go figure.)
She continues to exude joy, enthusiasm and positive spirit in all things and our house always seems brighter when she comes to visit. Blueberry, in particular, loves when his sister engages him in an art project.
Twinkletoes – youngest daughter, also a talented musician, student, athlete and beloved daughter/sister. (Okay, truthfully – – – brain power and intellect seem to ooze out of her very pores.) Her nickname describes one of her favorite activities, ballroom dancing.
A big portion of her 2012 was spent with a semester of study abroad, in Cape Town, South Africa. We weren’t surprised that she continued to excel in her studies, however, the fact she took up scuba diving in the frigid oceans around Cape Town raised a few eyebrows here at home. (This is the person who wraps herself in an industrial-strength “Snuggie” every evening during the Winter months.) Still, this new hobby speaks to the adventurous spirit which kind of defines her.
Her time in South Africa was followed by a quick stop in Hungary to visit dear friends. Currently, Twinkletoes is finishing up her last year at UW-Madison and plans to apply to med school in about a year.
Waffles – where to start? Oldest son, also a gifted student, photographer and athlete. After a year at Colorado State, and a lot of time nurturing his passion for social/environmental issues and Ecology, he headed off to Israel to participate in a 6 month kibbutz where he is doing some really amazing work in rural communities, further expanding his horizons and deepening his convictions.
(His nickname, btw, was given to him because of his favorite breakfast offering at the time the blog was started. His experiences and palate have expanded a lot since then, but the name has stuck.)
Waffles also had a chance to join Twinkletoes in South Africa prior to her return and, true to form, made many friends there. We all anxiously await his return from his kibbutz, just in time for the holidays.
Blueberry – named for a favorite food at the time of the blog’s inception, (although he has since decided that apple slices and ice cream are more to his liking.) Now 4, Blueberry continues to be an amazing not-so-little guy (85th percentile for height and weight, for those of you keeping score at home.)
School is “4K” this year, which means he is in the classroom four afternoons per week. His teachers love his personality and happy demeanor and he is doing very well. He has also become more outgoing and adventurous as he grows older. He is funny, happy, energetic, bright and demanding, as all 4-year-olds are supposed to be. Things are great with this beautiful little man, who grows older and somehow more wonderful, day by day.