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 – 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 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 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 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 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 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 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: