We printed the card out on photo quality paper at home. I don't recommend doing it that way unless you have a faster printer than we do. I loved the result of having the years picture's on an 8.5 x 11 sheet, but it took a long time to print it all (including running out of color ink in the middle of the job).
The .pdf of the card is here.
Here is the letter we sent out:
Dear Friends and Family,
We missed sending out cards last year. We were lost in our house remodel and just trying to get through normal life. The remodel is finished in the sense that we moved into and had the final inspection so we're done with the city (there is always more to do). Because we were able to move our office stuff into our new bedroom, we have room for each of the kids to have their own room and still have a large playroom/guest room. The playroom/guest room works really well because we got a bed that folds up onto the wall (a murphy bed). When its folded up there is lots of room for the kids to play and Timmy to make a mess without disturbing the rest of the house. My brother Paul is staying in the guest room right now until he knows where he will be working longer term.
Remodeling was much more disruptive to our lives than we could have ever imagined. We were our own general contractors with Ralph's Uncle Ralph and Ralph's cousins (Uncle Ralph's two sons Ryan and Mark) doing the vast majority of the work and designing the remodel. We did some things ourselves like installing Pergo floors, putting in closet organizers, some painting, some trim and fitting. I hope never to do such a major construction project while living in a home again.
Kristin, Grace, and Timmy are doing great. Kristin is turning into quite the scholar/athlete. She is keeping up her soccer playing while taking on basketball for Holy Family's 5th grade team. She is keeping up her grades really well even with the pretty demanding homework in the fifth grade. We are just praying this kind of thing continues. Grace also played soccer this year enjoying playing goal keeper in particular. Ralph was the assistant coach for Grace's team this year, so we were pretty wrapped up during soccer season. Grace is also a Brownie girl scout and is doing well in second grade. Both girls were on a swim team in the summer.
Timmy is in pre-school now. Since he was born in May, he'll be younger (5 months younger than Grace) when he starts Kindergarten. I think he will be ready though.
Things at Ralph's company, Sun Microsystems, were pretty tough over the last couple of years. The usual “doing more with less”, downsizing, etc. In addition, Ralph differed with his manager about how to manage his team and areas of responsibility. He tried hard to work it out and wore himself down quite a bit, but ultimately he was laid off in July. He is looking for a position now in marketing with another technology company.
I have been doing a lot of volunteer work at the school including doing a math enrichment program for 4th grade and helping out in the classroom last year. I really like getting to know the kids and parents at the school. I have been trying to find work that would allow me to spend enough time with the kids, but so far haven't found anything. I had an eBay store going online, but haven't found profitable items to sell.
We were fortunate to have two vacations this year. The first was in June with the kids to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. This Fall Ralph and I went to Italy. We were attending the wedding of Dave and Sabrina. Ralph met Dave in college and he has been our close friend since before we were married. They were married in Sicily and are now living in Deruta (in the Umbria region) working in the family ceramics business. We spent a few days in Rome and a few days on the Amalfi coast in addition to the time we spent in Umbria and Sicily. Of course, we ran ourselves ragged because we we wanted to see so much, but it was a wonderful trip.
Ralph has been doing a “blog” where he put up pictures from the trip, trip descriptions, pictures of the kids, and a few political reflections. He is also put links to letters of Christmas past. If you want to read more about our trip to Italy or see a few more pictures, his blog address is:
We are wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season and all the best in the new year.
Michele, Ralph, Kristin, Grace and Timothy