Perhaps I should reintroduce myself, I once upon a time we use to be your friend and communicated on a semi-regular, though generally late basis.  Somewhere in the living of daily life, I managed to fail miserably as a correspondent.  However, each of you live in our hearts and thoughts.  We love to hear from you, and I wanted to assure you that we are still alive and located in Hiram, Ohio!


Talia, eleven, continues as a voracious reader finishing several chapter books a week.  In the vein of another small girl some of you may recall, she loves to play teacher.  She has incorporated her daddy’s technology, using her laptop and dry erase board to “help” her students get it all right.  That her best friend’s mom is also a teacher, with a copy machine provides her students with limitless educational opportunities, unavailable to my lot of stuffed monkeys.  She has also inherited her mother’s door slamming gift, and several of her looks and remarks – check in with mom and dad, they love the chance to smirk! Her status as a fifth grader has also provided her the opportunity to join band.  With great joy we announce that she has taken up the trombone.  Call Chris’s parents, they would also like a chance to giggle! Talia has also grown into a political activist this year.  It has been a long learning process with the results being, that even hard work, prayer, and wishing does not always result in your dreams coming true.  Talia pushed to see John Kerry in person, and Kate Edwards when she came to our small college town.  She had on her own, prepared a question about school funding that amazed Kate Edwards, and our college audience.  She gave up Grammie time (a true sacrifice) to participate in a Kerry for Kids rally, and when the college kids didn’t show up on Election Day to call people and remind them to vote, she spent 5 hours working the phones.  More than that, she defended smaller children, including her sister, from bigger Bush supporters that were verbally and physically threatening.  She also found ways to support her candidate, without insulting our president.  She has also learned to walk the line respecting that people she loves, do not always view the world the way she does.  We are very proud of her!


Olivia is eight, and continues to surpass her early promise of being a thoughtful and gentle soul.  Small children at church (and just about anywhere else we go) follow her about like the pied piper!  We get requests to bring Olivia to meetings to amuse and ‘watch’ younger children.  Several Sunday School teachers elected her to play Mary in the Christmas pageant this year, because she could ‘handle’ a real baby.  Her insight into complicated issues, often leave me and other adults speechless.  She is in third grade this year.  Our local elementary school (in the backyard- literally) has been consolidated with 3 other elementary schools, resulting in 2 new schools located in the next town over.             The move to the new school has been difficult for her, being one of 45 third graders is a lot different than being one of 200 third graders.  She quietly fights the injustice she encounters in this new large space, and carries the pain of others with her.  She loves her teacher though, and is doing well academically.  She is the proud owner of her own harp now, and has her own Brownie troop (and I’m not the leader!) 


Sophie is Sophie.  She is five, and continues to cultivate the gift of focusing on an objective and pursuing it undeterred by all outside forces.  This is a gift that will serve her well in life, but often leaves her parents very tired.  She is in preschool, and made several friends her own age.  While she celebrates all that is purple and pink and frilly, it does not deter her from climbing trees, and participating in extended exploration through mud, water, and general filth!  She is a demon on her pink princess scooter with matching helmet, knee and elbow pads.  She also loves to ride the tag along, shouting to me, “Faster, faster, faster!”  When left with Daddy, she has also learned to be quite self-sufficient making her own sandwiches, lemonade, and securing the all important Ranch dressing.  She is still identified by many as, “The little girl that doesn’t wear shoes.  Even following a bout in the hospital with pneumonia this fall!  While adhering to her own agenda, she is very thoughtful and equally willing to lobby for treats and privileges for her sisters and friends as well.


Christopher is still at the same company, though it is now owned by Philips.  He has become the ‘boss’ of a new group, that appear to enjoy practical jokes, and middle school humor, all of which have added to our children’s general precociousness!  He tried working on his MBA for a class, and though he did very well, the time requirements were not family friendly!  This summer we attended his 20 year high school reunion.  It was fun to put faces on names and stories I have heard over the years.  Through attrition, Christopher has become the head of the Board of Public Affairs.  There are days that sorting out our water department, and negotiating the political storms created when one asks questions, takes up more time than his “real” job.


I did finally graduate and spent last year working as an adjunct at my alma mater.  I found that good teaching principles remain the same from preschool through college.  It was a childhood goal, set from watching my Granddad, to share with these young professionals reaching for their dreams.  I am working on a new project attempting to unite our teachers in the consolidated schools with the gifts of parents and community resources.  Perhaps a good thesis project?!  I am also helping plan and plant several gardens at the new schools for future teaching opportunities.  Volunteering in the girls’ classrooms has been like old times as Talia is now in class with some of my former co-workers, and the large building incorporated teachers I use to sub for back in the day.


Our travel schedule was jammed packed once again.  Last summer the girls and I spent 3 weeks on the east coast visiting old friends from NYC to Philadelphia, followed with a week in Rochester.  Later in the summer we spent a week camping in Allegany State Park, where my cousin Lory and I officially moved from being one of “all those kids”, to being the ladies “with all those kids!”  Both Aunt Evie and Aunt Carol laughed as the torch was passed.  We spent Christmas break at Disney World with my extended family, thanks to my parents.  In the spring the girls, my mom and I traveled to Savannah, Ga. to visit Juliette Loews home, we continued on to visit my grandmas at the beach front condo my parents and Uncle Mike purchased.  It was conveniently located where Hurricane Fran and Jean came ashore.  This summer we were privileged to have 2 of my cousins, Christina (from NY) and Johanna (from Seattle) spend time with us.  We did most of our site seeing closer to family.  Johanna joined us at Allegany for a week, followed by a trip to Rochester including amusement parks, and visits to the Eastman House (I’ve never been in all my years in Rochester) and a stop in Niagara Falls on the American side; we had always visited the Canadian Side. We did Maid of the Mist, and crawled down on the hurricane deck and looked up at the falls, and hung over the top and looked down, and finished our day eating dinner looking at the horse shoe falls.  We also spent a week in Dayton, visiting areas of interest, including the opening of the Underground Railroad museum.  This fall we returned to Dayton, where Biz and I completed the USAF marathon, behind our father, but walked it in a respectable 6 hours and 20 minutes (we shaved almost 25 minutes off last year’s time!)  We also hung out with my Aunt Patty and cousin Alecks who were visiting from Oregon.  Next year we are hoping that Talia and Aunt Patty may help us form a relay team for the marathon.


On the home front, Christopher and I have added several gardens.  As the yard is a swampy shade land, this has involved a lot of dirt moving and drainage pipe.  The girls have gotten in on the action, planting and caring for their own ‘fairy gardens’.  Sophie recruits strangers off the street to come admire them!  We added a real drive way, so no more shoveling stones with the snow!  Christopher has continued digging out part of the basement.  My friend Lee was worried for a while about his digging goals, but though he tried on several occasions to get her to call the police – so they could finish the digging for him – he has persevered and should soon be ready to pour a cement floor.  This Spring I painted Olivia’s room (blue sparkles), the front porch (blue&white with dragonflies), the living room (sage green), and the dining room (eggplant).  I also discovered the great magic of spray paint and painted all the plastic furniture, the porch wicker set, the wrought iron set and umbrella, and the picnic table, and several benches.  My mother and sisters helped by taking the girls for a week – I think they may have been worried about me painting them too!  Christopher has also been working on several boy things like gutters, the roof, plumbing, electric and all those other things I don’t get excited about!  Despite our status as official cable modem and TV supporters, we also have added an analog antenna so Christopher can receive HDTV and I still have to call him at work to change the channel.


Since our last letter, our own mortality has aged us with the loss of loved ones.  Both of Christopher’s father’s parents died.  I watched my cousin, a year younger than me; powerfully eulogize his father, dead at 58 of brain cancer.  My uncle was sick for months, a painful experience but one that allowed us all to say goodbye.  My brother’s Godfather, a constant in my youth, also died of cancer.  My youngest Walsh cousin, Aric, died in a car crash this spring.  As the constants of our youth pass the torch of mortality to our generation, I find that I need to stop and examine the people in my life more closely.  What I have found as I look at my generation is that there are fewer differences than I once thought.  That there is a magic thread among family and friends that I want to celebrate and cherish.  So forgive my long silence, you have been thought of and loved, (I don’t make resolutions) but I want to attempt to hold you all closer with better communication!


Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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