Friday, December 26, 2008

The day after Christmas

I sit is a quiet house. I can breath, listen to silence and allow myself to be washed in the memories of the past few days.

Our kids are home. Last year we drove through a horrific blizzard from our house to O’Hare airport and back arriving around 5 am to snow over the hubs. This year we went to the daughter’s new home in Iowa, enjoyed a quiet supper, Mass and Christmas Day present opening. Then, a trip to our home, Christmas supper, more presents and then today. Slower, enjoying the time together. Tonight the kids are at a college friend’s house, our son is at work, my wife is at work and my Grandpa duties completed – Emily fed and in bed, Addie the same and now it is quiet.

This is Christmas, this is family, these are the truly important things in life – faith, the love of a family and time to enjoy.

I pray you all had a loving and joy filled Christmas. Take time to carry that feeling into every day of the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas 2008!!!

I always seem to start these letters out in wonderment of how fast the past year has passed – this year is no different. It has been a year of big and wonderful changes. Let’s see if I can bring you all up to date.


Susie continues to support her “habit” by being a pharmacist. But, during her down time she hones her skill as a rider with weekly lessons and quarterly trips to see a Grand Prix school horse near Milwaukee (working in a visit to see her brother Bob as well). Her most recent visit earned her kudos from her riding coach who also happens to be an international dressage judge. To say her head was a bit big might be an exaggeration, but the new, extra wide front door seems to be doing the job.

Her second job is that of Grandma! I must say she is a true pro – DSCN0242 (Small) (2)speaking babble talk, changing  diapers, reading, playing, helping with dress-up, she is a sight to behold! And, she does it with a smile on her face and true Grandma in her heart!


Susie has had a very good year!


A big part of the wonderful news for us this year revolve around family 3 (Small) Chrissy and Jeremy. In June they (and we) were blessed with a healthy, bouncy, giggly baby girl – Emily! She has grown into a 6-month old ball of fire with two teeth and the urge bounce across the floor towards the family kitty.

Addie continues to be the princess that she was born to be. Fancy DSC_0008 (Small) dresses, tutus, shoes – the works. A true girlie girl!! She has certainly found the key to Grandma and Grandpa! She is truly a lot of fun!

And, best news of all for the kids, they moved BACK TO IOWA!!!!! Yep, they now live Emily,move,andhalloween 259 (Small)an hour away rather than 23 hours – much, much, much, much, much better drive!!!!

Jeremy took a teaching position at a regional Catholic Seminary as their art department. Chrissy is being a stay-at-home-mom but being driven slowly insane. She  is looking for substitute work after the first of the year. But, they have purchased a nice little starter home, Jeremy has his in-home studio up and running and they are making good friends in their new community of 450 people. Life is good!


For Mike this was a year of discovery at ISU. After 2 semesters he was clear on one thing, he was not going to be a Chemical Engineer! So, he moved home, started at the local community college and promptly (the day after he got back home) found a DSC_0017 (Small) job at the Olive Garden in Cedar Rapids. This fall semester has seen him working 35+ hours per week and taking 15 credit hours as well. No moss growing under his feet! Best of all for him, he gets to play “Uncle Mike” each Monday while Chrissy volunteers at the local Catholic school. He is a great uncle and Addie has taken no time at all to wrap him around her little finger!! “Mike, Mike” is all she needs to say and he is hers’! He has even become a trained diaper changer!! Such talent! January will see Mike enrolled in culinary arts with an eye towards managing/owing his own restaurant! MMMmmmmmm – free food!!!!


Our family creatures have had a fairly uneventful year. Thumper turns 34 this year and still taking care of his very own little 3-horse harem. He had a bout of ear infection that affected his balance in February. But a weeks worth of antibiotics seemed to do the trick and all is fine with the old boy.

As for Daisy, she continues her on-going training of her humans. She DSC_0021 (Small)is a little skittish around Addie and Emily but has plenty of hiding  places to confound their efforts to seek her out. This time of year she is always quite happy that her own personal “forest” reappears so she can lurk and attack from under the tree.


We have heard from a host of our exchange students. Sophia is expecting her third child. Daniel is working on space probes to measure the magnetic fields of Mercury. Sandra moved into a new apartment. Sini is getting married this coming August. Sabrina continues to expand her photography business. Femka is finishing her masters in theater arts in England and will complete it in May. All seem busy, happy and enjoying life.


As for yours truly, it has been a busy and exciting year. We have created a number of very nice relationships with companies selling management software to hospitals and nursing homes. This has been our best business year in the last 20 and next year looks even better!

Our efforts is Haiti had two tremendous set backs this year. In August our interpreter of the last 2 years, Mark, took a woman into his home to help her get her life back in order. She stabbed him to death. The loss was tremendous as he had been such a great resource for our efforts and his love of Haiti was deep and heartfelt. Then, in September Fr. Antonio, the priest of our villages, was visiting a priest friend. One morning he was found dead in his bed, dying of an apparent heart attack. I am not sure I can adequately explain the devastation to our efforts in Bel Fontaine. Just this month – December – we received word a replacement has been appointed. A small team of us – 4 guys – are headed there is February. We want to just find out how things are. They took three direct hits by hurricanes this year so we have real concern of getting to our village. We have received word of lost souls, lost livestock and lost buildings. And, there are security issues since they were hit so badly, the entire country is in disarray. A group of four is a little easier to handle. While there we hope to find out the direction the new priest wants to go and see how we can get our efforts in education and health care back on track. Then, we will try to go back in August with a full team.

And, of course, I am enjoying being a Grandpa! I say, without DSC_0023 (Small)hesitation, that I have the cutest little granddaughters on the entire  planet! Nothing melts me more than Addie running up to me yelling “Ganpaw!! Ganpaw!!” Very nice feeling!!


So there you have it, 2008 in the life of the Keller/Rudd clan.

We wish you peace, joy and prosperity!

All our love!

Susie, Bill and Mike

PS: We have started two blogs to keep everyone up to date:


Sunday, December 7, 2008

You just sit right there!


We are all around the table, finishing off an excellent meal of beef stir-fry, with the exception of Addie. Supper is near its end.

“You all just sit right there!” she says, from a far corner of the kitchen. She has an odd face on, a bit on the red side, wrinkled brow, drawn up cheek and lips as though she is straining.

Pandemonium explodes!!

“SHE’S POOPING!!” yells Chrissy, as though a grenade has been rolled in the room. She scoops Addie up and runs to their bedroom, the closest entry point to the bathroom. One problem though, the door to the bathroom is locked!


Jeremy, loving husband and father, scrambles to the other bathroom door so he can open the door into the bedroom for Chrissy. “TELL HER TO HOLD IT, I’M ALMOST THERE!!!’

Tick, tick, tick, tick – the timer on the “grenade” continues its count.

“TAKE OFF THE TU-TU!! ( the one over the jeans – Addie is nothing if not fashionable). I THINK WE CAN STILL MAKE IT! GET HER ON THE POT, GET HER ON THE POT!!” Chrissy screams in desperation!!

“GET THE DAMN DIAPER OFF!! GET IT OFF!!!!!!!!!” she begs!!

Tick - - - BOOM!!!!! The grenade had gone off!!

“EEWWWWWWW!! LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT LOAD!!! WE ALMOST MADE IT!!!!!” Chrissy is standing holding a diaper in her hand with a “grenade” the size of a grapefruit rising from its folds.

“Addie, why didn’t you just say you had to go potty?!?!?!?” Daddy shows an odd combination of frustration and belly laughs obviously reflecting on the just completed Keystone Cops routine.

“I don’ know” says the cutest little granddaughter on the entire planet?? “I’m done!”

Somehow I don’t think so

Friday, December 5, 2008

Daddy – Daughter Chat

Hey there!

Hey sweetie, what ya doin’?

Not much, how about you? Let me help you with your shirt Addie! No sweetie, it’s on backwards!

Not doing much, just finishing up for the week! How are the kids doing!

Good! ADDIE! Just a second babe!

Addie being good for you today?

Yep, she got her pants on all on her own today!! SAMUEL JAMES!! GET DOWN!!

Cool, how about Emily?

She’s sitting on the floor trying to get to Sammy! She’s moved about a foot already!! She’s leaning out, scooting towards him! YUCK!! She just barfed all over the place!! She’s such a barf bucket!!

Ah yes, well, once all the kids are out of the house, you can replace the carpet!!

How’s the potty training going?

Going to be awhile, still dropping loads while she’s hiding on us!! Just a second Addie, let me put your hair in a pony tail!!

And so the conversation went. Updates of diaper content, meals eaten, play-date results, number of times Emily has barfed, what the kids ate for breakfast or lunch. A Daddy-Daughter chat - it really feels nice!


I was thinking about the "Trees" post and though you might all enjoy some of our many ornaments. In no particular order, here they are:

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DSC_0037 [640x480] DSC_0029 [640x480]
DSC_0024 [640x480] DSC_0023 [640x480]
DSC_0040 [640x480] DSC_0036 [640x480]
DSC_0031 [640x480] DSC_0032 [640x480]
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A life time of ornaments, each with their own time of creation and story. I look forward to this each year! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Trees

We put up our family tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Quite the family event; Susie, Michael, Chrissy, hubby-Jeremy, Addie and Daisy the cat supervising. Brings back 50+ years of tree memories.

As a child Santa put the tree up Christmas Eve. Mom, Grandma and I would go the candle light service and my dad put the tree up. I honestly have only a couple of Christmas memories of him as well as the year he died, Dec 17, 1957. I can look to my left as I type this and see his last present to me sitting on our china cabinet. A metal globe that was to be some kind of game. I never played it, but I seem to have a real need keep it around. It’s a little late in life for me to run that by a shrink – just one of my many quirks I guess.

Anyway, my mom always bought pine trees, put them up Christmas Eve and took them down right after Easter. Yes, I said Easter. By that time you could run your finger along a branch and the needles would cascade to the ground.

After I started dating Susie, their family used firs. Long, soft needles. It was a nice change and her family always included my mom as well.

The next weird little tree was the little 2-footer that mom and Susie sent to me when I went overseas. Nothing odder that a little decorated tree on a table that I leaned my M-16 up against.

For years, after we were married, we continued to buy real Christmas trees. Usually firs, with their needles getting into everything imaginable. Finally, we decided to go “artificial”, “fake”, “un-alive” (Susie’s contribution). We quickly settled into specific tasks. Susie sets it up, puts the branches in and does the “fluffing”. Her purpose, to make it look real – she does a great job. Then, I do the lights. Testing, fixing, swearing and finally stringing. Next, Susie and the kids (now grandkids) decorate it while I document the process with camera and video. And, finally, Daisy examines, reviews and tests her proper place under the tree in her own private one-tree forest.


Decorations have grown. We have an eclectic mix of home made, school made, family made, purchased, gifted, found ornaments that is strangely comforting. I can see my daughters kindergarten career, her ballet years, our exchange kids (all 13 of them), aunts, my son’s school career, my child hood, Susie’s childhood and now the beginning of grand kids. The tree is our life, our history. There are decorations that bring to mind gut wrenching Christmases that I did not know if I would survive. Christmases simply filled with peace. And Christmases filled with laughter, song and fun. Our entire life together as the Keller family. Amazing.DSC_0008

I pray all have the opportunity to build this type of tradition. Life is filled with memories - when better to review our lives than at the birth of our Lord. I pray your tree is filled with a deep, loving and rich history.

OK, what Grandpa can resist posting a photo like this!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"I've still got it!!!"

These words sprung from Susie's lips as I told her a story as she was taking her coat off after coming home from work around 1AM this morning.

The story begins with me visiting one of my local customers yesterday afternoon to replace an ailing computer monitor.  Kathy the accountant and I were chit-chatting while I was removing/replacing/connecting - doing my geek thing.  And, naturally, the conversation turned towards kids.  She and her husband do not have children but, being in her lat 30s, she is still thinking very hard about it.  If not their own, then adoption or foster children are in consideration.

Suddenly she asks me how old my youngest is - "he will be 20 in May" I said.  A puzzled look came over her face.  "How old is Chrissy then??"  "She's going to be 31 in February, Addie is 2 1/2 and Emilie is 6 months."  A much more puzzled look appears on her face.

"Well then, how old is Susie??"  OK, I'm NOT stupid - so I reply:  "How old do you think she is??"  Kathy scrunches up her brow, thinks a moment and says"  "43??"

I let the cat out of the bag - "Nope, although I'll share with her your wonderful guess - she's going to be 58 in January."  At this point, if I would have been thinking, I would have whipped out my cell camera and captured the tremendous look of surprise on her face!!  "I never would have guessed that!  She looks SO YOUNG!!"  However, sans camera, I tuck the memory away in my heart to share later in the evening.

1AM - the door opens:  "Helllloooo??"  she calls.  "Hey kid", I reply.  "I have the greatest story to tell you" and so I do, leaving out no detail.

A smile shoots across her face, a little fist pump occurs and she says:  "Giggle, giggle - I've still got it!"

Yep sweetie - you do.

You've still got it!!

A week! Really ?!?!?!


My lovely daughter has me as a favorite on her blog.  It tells me how remiss I have been in posting - kinda like a nagging parent in reverse.  (Is this the "child's curse"?:    "someday I'll nag you like you nagged me through school!!")  Heavy sigh.

A few thoughts on Thanksgiving.  There is much to be thankful for.  A wonderful wife, great daughter and son, great son-in-law that treats my daughter the way I always prayed her husband would, and, of course, grandkids!!  Miss Adeline and Miss Emilie provided much entertainment this past holiday.  Susie and I are truly blessed.

It's odd how holidays are forward looking - the anticipation of the meal, sitting and talking, wiping baby barf off your clothes - pumpkin pie - mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm - pumpkin pie!!  And then you blink and it's nearly a week later!  My mom always used to say: "Willie, when you get older, time will fly by!!"  I would listen and look at her through the eyes of a youth or teenager and say "sure ma" not believing a word.  I am sure she is laughing her butt off at me even as we speak.

So now the focus is on Christmas.  I pray that for just a few weeks I can remember the trick of slowing time, enjoying each and every moment and thanking God for his many gifts.

A little slower please, a little slower.