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The Year of Our Wood 2011

Geoff Wood

Dear Family and Friends,

Welcome back to our annual holiday letter, The Year of Our Wood 2011!

Sure most people do their holiday letters for Christmas but we’ve never been conventional, typically opting for New Years. However, this year time got away from us and next thing you know it’s February. So, in that spirit - Happy Valentines Day!

Last year our holiday letter was filled with catching you up on two of the busiest years in our lives. A new baby, new jobs, law school, and a new house and more made that letter cover a lot of ground. 2011, by comparison, was a pretty slow year (and we like it that way).

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The Year of Our Wood - 2010

Geoff Wood

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!

Love,

Hope, Geoff and Graham Wood

The Year of Our Wood – 2008

Geoff Wood

This post was written well over a month ago and was intended to coincide with our annual New Year's card. Due to a variety of circumstances we didn't get around to putting together the card - but that doesn't mean we shouldn't proceed with: 

Edition #4 of The Wood Family’s Annual New Year’s letter: The Year of Our Wood 2008
We Have Big News!
We suppose we should probably start off with the big news of 2008 – we’re having a baby! We found out in October that we’re due for a baby in late June 2009. We’re very excited and plan on keeping all-things-baby a bit mysterious as we’re not going to find out the sex of the baby ahead of time and we’re not letting anyone in on our choices for names. We have agreed to names for both genders (with relatively little arguing and need for compromise) and will let the rest of you know on or about June 25, 2009. Until that point, we’ve nicknamed the kid “Baby Blueberry” (due to a reference to the size of the baby found in a Mom’s book a few months back) and you’re free to use that name as well.
Life in the Hoosier State
The end of 2008 marks the end of our fourth full year of life as Hoosiers here in Indiana. We both continued in the same roles at our respective employers, Hope at the American College of Sports Medicine and Geoff at The Schneider Corporation. Geoff is still pursuing his MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business and is on schedule to graduate a semester early in December 2009.
Work, school, and baby preparations have kept us pretty busy all year and unfortunately, we haven’t had the chance to see our friends and family as much as we like. We had the opportunity to meet up with Hope's parents in Houston, TX in March for a weekend visit to Hope's Uncle Kelly and Aunt Bonnie. We enjoyed hosting our friends Eric and Jen from Omaha and Geoff’s brother Joe and his wife Mary for the annual Indy 500 race festivities in May. Geoff’s parents and his brother Sean visited in November and we made an icy trip to Iowa over Christmas to see Hope’s family and stay with Geoff’s Uncle Dave and Aunt Sue for the Roth Family Christmas. 
Travel
Outside of the usual work travel and visits to Ames for Iowa State football, we enjoyed a fun weekend in Washington, DC for the wedding of Geoff’s long time friend Matt Klinger to his fiancée Jane and a great weekend with old friends in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the Annual NFL Draft Party hosted by the D’Amicos. We also spent one week-plus cycling in the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) with our friend Kerry McGuire’s Team FUNK. The RAGBRAI experience dominated our Spring and Summer, including new bike purchases for the two of us, nearly a thousand combined miles of training, and lots of fun. We both turned the big 3-0 in 2008 and we celebrated each in our own ways. For Hope’s birthday, we made the trip to Newton, Iowa to take in the “Iowa Corn 250” Indycar race. For Geoff’s birthday, we made the trip to Las Vegas (Geoff’s first time) to watch the Cyclone’s take on the UNLV Rebels. On one trip, we had the opportunity to meet the 2008 Indianapolis 500 champion, who later went on to win the 2008 Indycar Series, Scott Dixon, at the Indianapolis Airport. 
Our Family
For the most part, each of our families is doing well. We live far enough away that we don’t get to see our parents, siblings, nieces, or nephew very often but we’re very proud of the successes and growth that they’ve all had in 2008.
Unfortunately, we lost Geoff’s grandfather Davis Luck (age 93) unexpectedly in August. In recognition of his service to the Navy and our country, he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in December. It was certainly a sad circumstance but we enjoyed the opportunity to spend so much time with Geoff’s extended family in Florida in August and in Washington, DC in December.
2008 was certainly a great year for our family and with Baby Blueberry on the way, we expect 2009 to be that much better!
Happy New Year!
Hope and Geoff

 

The Year of Our Wood - 2007

Geoff Wood

Happy New Year 2008!


In reflecting on the past twelve months, we think the best way to characterize them may be as “the year of travel” for the Wood family.
The highlight was definitely our ten day trip to Europe in July. We split our time between London and Rome with a day trip by train to Bath. In London we took in historic sites, more than a few pubs, walked through Notting Hill, visited Abbey Road studios, saw the West End production of the musical WICKED and read the UK release of the final Harry Potter novel. In Rome we took in even older historic sites, visited the Iowa State studios, and ate a lot of meat-free pizza (and we thought pepperoni was Italian). In Bath, we took in – well - the baths (if you’re ever there don’t try the water). In each city we took trolley/bus tours which we recommend to everyone.
As usual we spent several weekends road-tripping to see the Iowa State Cyclones football team play. There were highs and lows in this first season under new head coach Gene Chizik and we were fortunate to see another win over the rival Hawkeyes along with a few unfortunate losses. We hosted each of our parents for a game which was a lot of fun. It’s just our luck that as we were planning our schedule at the beginning of the season we decided not to go back for the typically cold weather November games, that turned out to be not so cold and wins as well. We also had the good fortune to take in the Cyclones game at Toledo which was a tremendous time and only half the distance of driving back to Ames for a game. It did end in what must be a statistically improbable loss but otherwise was a great day trip.

 

Thanksgiving was a bit of a whirlwind. From Wednesday to Sunday, we spent twenty-four hours on the road between driving from Indianapolis to Arkansas for a visit with Geoff’s family, then to Cedar Rapids for Geoff’s ten year high school reunion (almost eleven years to the day from his last high school class – don’t ask) where we also were able to visit with Hope’s family and then back to Indianapolis.
Hope’s work kept her on the move as usual, with visits to Charlotte, Dallas, Orlando, San Francisco, New Orleans, San Diego, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Portland, Hershey, and Providence. Geoff joined her at the end of the trip to Florida and we stayed over for the weekend with Geoff’s Aunt Sarah and Uncle Louis and had a good visit with his grandparents Davis and Alma. Hope’s last work trip of the year was a big one – she spent five days in Tokyo, Japan.


Geoff started graduate work this summer after he was accepted into the evening MBA program at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. The program is two nights a week for five semesters (and two summers) and he did well enough in the first semester that they’re willing to let him back for more. It’s a big commitment of time on top of his full time job but Hope and his employer are supportive of it.
For the first time in several years we didn’t have any family weddings in 2007. Sadly, we lost Geoff’s grandmother Betty Gilbert late last Spring. The circumstances were unfortunate but it was good to reconnect with a part of the family that we had not seen in several years. In better news, we did welcome our first nephew this year when Hope’s brother Heath and his wife Amy gave birth to Austin Seegers.

When we’re not traveling, at work, or in school we’ve enjoyed getting closer with our bible study group and playing in another season in the kickball league with our friends. We were able to take part in a Hoosier tradition for the first time this year by attending races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We made it to two, taking in the Indy 500 from the “infield” and US Grand Prix from a skybox. It’s a contrast in styles but both were good times none-the-less.

We look to stay a little closer to home in 2008. However, we have already determined that we will be among the riders in the RAGBRAI 2008. Hope has ridden twice but Geoff never has and we figure 2008 is as good a year as any for that Iowan rite of passage.

Happy New Year!

Hope and Geoff