Happy New Year!


Greetings from the Cottage in the Pines!
I’m sitting here on the eve of 2015 enjoying a warm glass of Glühwein and reminiscing over the past year. It seems so very Carolina to enjoy bright blue skies and temps in the 50s as we usher in a new year. All four kids were home for the Christmas holiday and while we were not able to tuck them safely into their beds, we did manage to carve out resting space for their lanky bodies and the assorted electronic gadgets attached to them.
I’d like to say I remember this past year well but from January thru April it’s a blur. May was our banner month as we celebrated Lindsey’s graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill. My parents, Tim’s mom, as well as my sister and her husband came out for the party and it was a grand time of toasts and cheers to our favorite Political Science pundit. Lindsey successfully transitioned to a job in Washington DC where she works for FONA: Friends of the National Arboretum. DC is an easy 6 hours north on I-95 and and it’s been a treat having a local in the city who can provide restaurant and museum recommendations. Summer brought us more sunny skies laced with tropical breezes as we reconnected with our favorite Rietkerks in Hawaii. Tim’s parents rented a party house in Honolulu, which was conveniently situated near three things we love: the beach, Starbucks and Costco. Food and drink were plentiful and each day offered us challenging hikes, breathtaking views and lots of hijinks. When all was said and done, we left behind 7 broken boogie boards, a pair of headphones and 7 cans of trash. Following Hawaii, Tim returned to NC and I stayed behind in So Cal with Lilly and Will. Summer was officially capped off with a road trip to San Francisco. My mom, Lilly, my niece Quinn and I rambled up the highway stopping to visit family in Winton, Oakdale and San Francisco. While in the city, we stayed at a downtown hotel, rode the cable car, ate at Ghirardelli and danced along with dozens of new friends to Pharrell’s Happy. This random street event will likely remain one of my favorite travel memories.
Lauren is in her sophomore year at Azusa Pacific University. She makes regular visits to my parent’s home in Anaheim and seems to thrive in the laid-back California lifestyle—surfing included. She snagged a 5-year-old’s dream job working this summer at Knott’s Berry Farm Amusement Park. Her uniform for Camp Snoopy came with a jaunty scarf and she kept us entertained with stories about enthusiastic kids and their dreadful parents.
For the kids at home, the new school year brought big changes for Will. He’s now a freshman at Pinecrest High, got braces in September and received his driver’s permit in November. He is active in the school debate club and jumps at any opportunity to hang out with friends. Lilly is in 5th grade and does whatever it takes to annoy her brother.
Tim and I joined a delightful church in Pinehurst and are thankful to have found friends who challenge us to think deep thoughts. We miss living in Germany and spend way too much time talking about going back to visit. We definitely have the itch to get out of Dodge and explore the world. For now, we’ll settle for diving into some great travel books and making plans for the future.

Happy 2015!