Dear Family and Friends,
Thanks for finding our holiday letter online!
You might have noticed that there was no card or letter last year, so this post will have to count for two! We've been busy and you probably know a bit about what we're up to but we'll still hit the high points:
In June 2009 we welcomed Baby Graham to the family! He's a healthy little boy who just turned 18 months old on Christmas Eve. Graham was obviously a major change in our life and not the only one we undertook in 2009.
For a variety of reasons we decided that summer that after nearly 5 years in Indianapolis, it was time to move closer to our families. In August, when Graham was a mere six weeks old, we moved to Des Moines where Hope started on her path to an eventual career as an attorney. She's now half way through her studies at Drake University Law School. The course work is challenging; she's a bit unique amongst her classmates in that she's already had one successful career prior to law school and that she's a Mom. Despite those challenges, she's been able to make the Dean's List, join the staff of Drake's Journal of Agricultural Law, and publish an ebook about her experiences called "Law School Mom".
Geoff's been pursuing his own second career, now working with technology startups in a variety of capacities. In December 2009, he finished his MBA coursework at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and in March 2010, he helped launch the company VolunteerLocal which provides an online management tool for volunteers at events. On January 1, 2011, he'll be joining Silicon Prairie News, an online media company and event producer who covers the startup space across Iowa and Nebraska that he's been working with since we moved here, full time as their first Chief Operations Officer.
Graham seems to love life in Iowa. For the first six or so months after we moved here, he spent his days hanging out at home with his Aunt RaRa (Geoff's sister Sara). At the beginning of last summer he started at an in home daycare where he gets to play each day with several kids and seems to come having learned a new word or animal sound that he uses to impress Momma and Daddy. He loves to play with trucks, watch and sing songs with Elmo from Sesame Street and build with blocks (more accurately, he loves to knock over things he builds with blocks).
This past June we bought a house in the Windsor Heights area of Greater Des Moines. It was built in 1939, which makes for a new set of challenges for us, since our previous houses have always been (relatively) new construction. We love our new neighborhood which is filled with houses built in the 20s-40s; each is very different yet they all fit together. Over the holidays it's been particularly picturesque with amazing Christmas light displays on almost every house (other than ours - but that's on the list for 2011!).
Living in Des Moines has allowed us to see our family so much more. Hope's family lives up and down Eastern Iowa and we're now able to make time to visit her parents, Gary and Dixie, at the farm near Westgate, or run down to Mount Pleasant to celebrate Thanksgiving at her sister Heidi's place. With her brother Heath, his wife Amy, and their now four kids, it seems there's always a birthday or baptism going on in Cedar Rapids and we've been lucky to help celebrate with them whenever possible.
A lot of Geoff's family live in Des Moines so we're blessed to get to see them quite often. Also, they've all played big parts in Graham's life so far. Geoff's brother Joe and his wife Mary are quick fill ins whenever we need a date night and sister Sara still get's in her "Grambo-time" whenever she can. Many of Geoff's cousins, particularly Hannah, Shelby, and Alisa, help out a ton with Graham, too. Geoff's folks, Cathy and Mike, live in Bella Vista, AR, but make it to Des Moines all the time (after all 3/4 of their kids - and their 1 grandchild - live here). Geoff's youngest brother, Sean, joined the US Navy last Spring and is currently stationed in Chicago. Even he gets to Des Moines when he gets "liberty".
It's been an amazing two years for our little family and we hope that things are just as well with you!
Cheers to an even better 2011!
Hope, Geoff and Graham Wood