Welcome to Anne & Stewart's 2016 Year In Review.
Hope everyone is having a fun holiday season. We pick up this year's newsletter where we left off last year, just before Christmas 2015. Sadly, Trina's husband Steve passed away after many years of chronic pain. But the family gathered and spent the holiday celebrating his life. Such times put in perspective how lucky we all are to have each other.
2016 opened celebrating young lives. Twice we traveled to Houston for our great-nephews' birthdays. Sons of Russell & Glenda, Everett's 4th birthday was in January, Auggie's 1st in April. We had such fun watching them eat cake and open presents, with parents trying to assemble the toys with pliers and screwdrivers.
In April, we again met up with our friends Kim, Todd, Beth, Jackie, John, Julie, Evan, Dave, Niles, & Charisse, in Kerrville, TX for the Easter Hill Country Bicycle Tour and two days of fantastic biking. Cool weather, good friends, great food and the hills made for another memorable experience. Jackie & Beth, with the Ft. Worth Bicycle Club, did a great job hosting one of the rest stops. The Texas Hill Country is chock full of great venues, including wineries, German restaurants, B&Bs, and RV parks.
Anne's sister Kathy graduated college in May 2016 getting a degree in Cyber Security Management. Brenda, Ben, Tom, Elizabeth, Trina, Glenn & Minako, along with many of Kathy's friends all gathered at Washington University in St. Louis to celebrate with her. It was a nice ceremony on a fabulous campus, including an inspirational commencement speech by civil rights champion John Lewis, as we all applauded Kathy's success. Kathy had several celebration dinners and a few impromptu parties at the Hampton Inn where we got free cookies from the Cookie Lady!
In June, we joined friends Kim & Todd to see famous PBS chef Jacques Pepin in Austin, TX. He talked about the fun and difficulties of a chef's training. On Saturday we headed to Texas State University to visit with niece Emily. Lunch at a local coffee shop was followed by a crazy rainstorm that blew through quick then a beautiful walk around campus, checking out the turtles in the campus moat and trying to photograph the Barn Swallows flitting everywhere.
In late June niece Emily started her first of four clinical education experiences at a Physical Therapy clinic in Frisco, TX. This is the portion of a doctoral student's professional education involving applying classroom knowledge and skills in real world situations. Emily spent two months living with us. We had a fantastic time hosting her, seeing the Monkees play in Dallas, exercising together at LA Fitness, working crossword puzzles, watching Buffy on TV, helping move her sister Mia into a new apartment in Denton (on the hottest day of the year!). We even talked her into going on a bike ride with us. We were sad to see Emily move on in August to her second clinical in Austin, TX. She did two months in Austin, then two months in Houston, then has three months in San Antonio in 2017 to complete the clinical experience. She will graduate from Texas State University next May as a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
During Emily's stay with us we hosted 4-July at our house. Trina, Doug, Manasi, Emily, Andrew, Mia, Brandi & Bobby came for dinner, games of 10,000, and jigsaw puzzles. We tried a couple of Jacques' recipes, Doug and Manasi made some Indian for our dinner enjoyment, and we visited Kula for conveyor belt delivered sushi lunch. Anne's brother Tom had some unusual good luck this year that he was able to pass on to his girls Emily & Mia over 4-July. It is wonderful when good luck can be passed on to others, expanding opportunities and making lives easier, especially after many challenging years.
In September we did our 11th Backroads bicycle vacation in Nova Scotia, Canada. Flying into Halifax, we bicycled around Lunenburg on the eastern coast, then along the Bay of Fundy on the western side. We love bicycling Canada in the summertime, avoiding Texas heat while enjoying the Canadian hospitality. It was 5 days of challenging biking, good weather, and amazing sights.
Anne had been dreading this for 2 years now. In October Texas Instruments transferred her from her local worksite (5 minute drive!) to the main TI campus at the intersection of Central Expressway & LBJ freeways, AKA The High Five, a major congestion site in the DFW area. The transfer ended up being mostly okay. She leaves home at 6am to miss some of the traffic, works out at lunch at the local TI athletic facility, and is home by about 4pm every day. And her new office is nice, quiet, roomy, with the site having many beautiful mature trees, and nice atriums inside the building.
Halloween was crazy fun this year with a record setting 225 trick-or-treaters. We added some new decorations and used Anne's DLP projection system to project ghouls on the window which screamed at the kids as they came up. The young ones would cry and run away, then gather themselves, get their friends, and come running back. Success! Our neighbors kids walked the neighborhood then came to our porch to help us give out candy and keep track of the count. Three 200-piece bags of candy were all gone by 9pm.
Thanksgiving was a blast this year in Houston. We got a chance to visit with Anne's brother Tom & Priscilla to see their beautiful remodeling. Niece Melanie and partner Brad hosted a feast at their house with 26 different foods and drinks. Guests included Trina, Doug, Manasi, Russell, Glenda, Everett, Auggie, Brandi, Bobby, Joanie, Kacey, Emily, Andrew, Mia, Jonathon, Anne, and Stewart. We had an insane amount of food. They set up tables and chairs outside under the large covered patio where we ate and watched kids (and adults!) go crazy on the trampoline. An after dinner walk to the park, unicycle hoverboard rides, Brad's drone strafing the kids, giant Jenga, and conversation made for a memorable Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving we visited with Doug and Manasi at their house, knocking off a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle in 3 hours, then enjoying a wonderful Indian Restaurant. We also got a chance to visit Stewart's brother Morgan and Mary Jane in nearby Friendswood before heading home.
We continued our amatuer hobby of bird watching in 2016 taking several bird walks to the Connemara Conservancy and Heard Natural Wildlife Sanctuary near our home. Stewart had to set up automatic birdseed purchases because the Finches, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and some others are such piglets at our bird feeders and birdbath. It is a wonderful hobby for sitting on the front porch, and taking long hikes through the prairies and woods on weekends.
We visited with our friends the Gants several times, seeing Samantha get awarded her black belt in karate, Ethan's marching band contest, & another fun Weird Al concert in downtown. Our neighbors provided welcome entertainment and companionship through the year with "Breakfast for Dinner", water balloon fights, Anne's Seeport Darlins women's group, neighbor kids helping refill the bird feeders, Halloween, First Friday picnic parties on the green.
Our cats Tootzak and Seebie, brothers from the same litter, are 11 years old now and going strong. Tootzak loves climbing into our workout bags, going from Anne's to Stewart's, back to Anne's, getting his pets at each station. Seebie loves to jump onto the counter when food is being prepared to sneak a few bites before brother can get to it. Trina did two beautiful paintings of the two of them and now they think they own the place (they do). They are crazy and we love em!
We hope you have a great holiday and peaceful 2017.