Christmas Letter 2010

Happy holidays to all of our dear friends and family! Another year has come and gone and what a year it’s been.

Our grandson, Andrew, brings us so much joy and laughter. He is so smart and beginning to talk in 2 and 3 word sentences. He’s an incredible mimic, so you know what that means, watch what you say! He’s discovering Cars and Toy Story and all those other movies we’ve been collecting in our movie library for our grandchildren. Thea is still playing in the Tempe Symphony Orchestra so we get to have him on Monday nights while she goes to rehearsal. He’s so much fun and so well behaved that we ALWAYS have a blast when he’s over. And he’s still young enough that he wants to crawl in our laps to go to sleep when he’s at our house – we LOVE that!

The furbabies are all doing great. Sheba has perky days and not so perky days. She still jumps on the bed and the couch and plays with the puppies, and we’re grateful that she’s still around. Jake and Ruby have become really nice pups and we enjoy them. They got to travel with us this year and attend some dog shows. They are really sweet ambassadors for the breed and I’m proud of them every time we take them out.

I’m still working at Arizona Higher Education Loan Authority (AHELA) as its Sr. Accounting Manager. My job hasn’t changed, but a bill passed along with President Obama’s Health Care Reform Act  discontinued the disbursement of student loans from lenders in the secondary market (like AHELA) and brought all the student loan lending back to the Department of Education. In effect, our manner of making money by disbursing loans and collecting interest from borrowers was stopped by the stroke of a pen. We still have a source of income from our previous borrowers and that is currently sustaining us, but the goal is to grow, not to become stagnant. AHELA is currently in the process of redefining its part in the student loan industry and we plan to have a new business plan in 2011. Bottom line – we’re not going away and that’s GOOD!

Tom has a new job!! In April, completely out of the blue, Coulter Cadillac laid him off - after 15 years! We knew the auto industry was in trouble, but we also thought the worst was past us, so we were totally blindsided when they laid him off. I have always believed that things happen for a reason and it was proven again with this situation. He started babysitting Andrew (which I think would be his favorite job in the whole world if it only paid better ;-)) until Thea was done teaching in May. Everyday he would comb the want ads and submit resumes, but never even received a phone call! To help pass the time and to bring in some cash, we started a photography business called Palo Verde Photo (www.paloverdephoto.com). During his unemployment we traveled to dog shows and took candid photos of dogs and handlers in the exhibition ring. It was so much fun and we met so many wonderful people! It was hard work and we wound up losing money overall, but it was awesome! In July, our friends Jan and Bruce called and told us that there was an opening at Bruce’s company, GHD Environmental Services, for a certified water technician. In 2009, Tom spent part of the fall getting his Water and Wastewater Certifications in the hopes of getting a job like this if the Arizona economy ever turned around. Well, it did – Arizona Department of Transportation reopened the state’s rest areas and GHD won the contract on maintaining them. He also works in the water and wastewater plants at an Arizona state prison and just loves his job. He works hard and it’s mainly outside, so the heat just kicks his butt in the summer, but he enjoys not having to deal with Cadillac customers! He also feels like he’s doing a part for the environment with this job and that is very rewarding! In November he took the Grade 2 certification exam in water treatment and passed! Now he’s prepping for the waste water and distribution exams. I think he has a new career! It’s nice to see him come home and happily talk about his job!

I guess that’s about all for us this year! We hope and pray that 2011 is an awesome year for you! Stay healthy, stay happy, and may God bless each and every one of you!