Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Christmas letter

Written by Mark

Is it just me or does a New Year start out at a snail’s pace and continually accelerate to break neck speeds by the end? The second half of the year is always a blur and before I’m aware of it Christmas is here and a New Year comes and goes.

That again seems to have happened to our 2013; although we did have quite a few big changes this year which seems to add to the quickness of the year. We began 2013 by traveling back to the US from Italy to go house hunting. Monica and I left the kiddos with a really good friend (thanks again Brittney) in Italy while we looked for homes to buy near Luke AFB. During that time we lost a very good friend in a tragic aircraft accident; it was a somber beginning to a new year. Not a day goes by that we aren’t praying for him and the family he left behind.

The time we had left in Italy was short, only 2 months. During that time we packed up our house, shipped our belongings, shipped the Volvo, bought a home in Goodyear, AZ, out-processed Aviano AB (no small feat), traveled when we could, and shipped the Passat. It was a busy 2 months, followed by an even busier Spring and Summer.

Once we made it safe and sound to Arizona with our 2 kids, 2 car seats, 2 dogs, 2 dog crates, and 25+ pieces of luggage (yeah no exaggeration) we began the fun filled task of moving into a home while remodeling said home. We still haven’t quite completed the remodeling task…or moving in task to be honest. But we love our home and couldn’t happier to be home owners.

I started my Instructor upgrade training in April and remained busy with that until I completed it in mid-July. Since then I’ve been flying with students and having a great time in my new job. The pace of life here at Luke is certainly more manageable and I love getting the family time I routinely missed out on in Italy.

Monica has been busy since we’ve gotten back. She has been working for our real estate agent doing data entry, emailing clients, and obtaining leads. Our real estate agent recognized Monica’s planning and organizing skill as well as her ability to quickly learn the business; so she hired her as soon as we got back. Monica began taking real estate classes in September so she could sell homes or rentals as well and she successfully passed the exam in November. Hopefully, Monica can earn us some additional income by taking advantage of the rebounding housing market in the Phoenix West Valley area. She has done a great job of balancing motherly duties and the duties of her job.

Like I said, this year has been pretty busy. In early summer, Monica got the idea that she would like to host an exchange student for the coming school year. So one thing led to another and before we knew it we were picking up Emily from the airport. The first few months were difficult as we learned how to handle the new dynamics in the house. Ben took to her quickly but it took Abbie some time. Over 4 months later and Abbie and Emily are real buddies.

We haven’t traveled this year nearly as much as last, but we did make a few trips. We’ve been to Sedona and San Diego twice, and Las Vegas. I think a trip to Disneyland might be on the books for next year.

Overall, this has been a wonderful year for us; we have a lot to be thankful for. I’m sad at how fast time goes by, especially watching how quickly the kids change, but I’m also excited for what a new year will bring.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us!!

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