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Des Moines, Iowa


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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!


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. 
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


The Year of Our Wood - 2006

Geoff Wood

It worked so well last year that we decided to continue with the e-Christmas, er rather, e-New Years’ letter for 2006.

On the move!
The year started quick as we had decided in late 2005 that after nearly a year in the condo that we were definitely “house people” and needed more room for the both of us and our dogs. In early January we closed on a house on the northeast side of Indianapolis that more than doubled our square footage! We’ve truly enjoyed our first year in the house that is only minutes from Geoff’s work and has easy access to the interstate for Hope to get downtown.

Who's here? Who's her? Hoosier? What the..
2006 was our second year as transplanted “Hoosiers’ and we’ve had a lot of fun getting to know more people here in the city. We’re still active in the leadership group for the Indianapolis Cyclone Club and enjoy regular Iowa State gamewatches with friends we knew from school and other Indiana Iowa Staters we’ve met since we got here. The picture at the right is the two of us with former Cyclone star and current Indiana Pacer Jamaal Tinsley at Iowa State Night at Conseco Fieldhouse. For the second half of the year we’ve been participating in a small group for young married couples at our church and enjoy the bi-weekly bible study and other social functions with the group. We enjoyed hosting many of these friends and their four-legged kids at a birthday party for our yellow lab Levon (4 years old already!) at the Broad Ripple Dog Park.

We’re very grateful to Geoff’s co-worker Chad and his wife Jackie who have integrated us into their group of friends in Indianapolis. We enjoyed many nights barbequing, playing bocce ball or cornhole (back in Iowa we called this “the bean bag game”), weekend days on the boat out at Geist Reservoir and even the few rounds of “flippy cup”. We also had a great time with this group camping and boating on Lake Monroe in August. Not to mention we all play together in an organized adult kickball league! We returned the favor when we hosted Chad and Jackie in Ames for the ISU-Nebraska game. We all had an excellent time (save the game) and the Cyclone faithful really showed this Purdue and IU couple how to tailgate, not to mention introduced them to FAC at Peoples.

Track the Storm!
As you’ve probably guessed we made a lot of road trips to Ames for football games this fall. The scores certainly weren’t what we hoped for but the tailgating was excellent as expected. We’re ever grateful to Austin and Mel, Kerry and Renee, and Chad and Mandy for volunteering their spare bedrooms for such visits. With new coaches in basketball, football and wrestling in Ames for 2007 the buzz for the future is truly exciting for Cyclone fans. After one early game Geoff and friend Justin Washburn met new basketball coach Greg McDermott.

Occupational exploits
We are both enjoying our jobs; Hope continues as ACSM’s Assistant Director for Certification and recently opened a side business “The Fitness and Wellness Company” doing personal training and wellcoaching (you’ve probably already received a letter or card ;). It was a busy year for her group but paid off recently when one of the certifications she manages was accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies, which is integral to compete in her field.

Geoff had a big year at work with two promotions, first as the GIS Product Manager and very recently as the Information Technology Director for a large civil engineering, GIS, and survey firm headquartered in Indianapolis. He’s keeping busy balancing the two positions and working with his developers and pc and network technician staff in Indianapolis, Ames, and Charlotte, NC. The firm is still growing strong, now with eight offices in Indiana, Iowa, North Carolina and most recently Tennessee.

Leav-in' On A Jet Plane...
Work travel kept pace with 2005 as Hope had great opportunities through work to visit Orlando, Louisville, Denver, Charleston, Harrisburg, PA, Westfield, MA and fabulous Las Vegas and Geoff had trips to Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago, Boston and several trips to Southwest Florida (as well as trips to the Iowa office nearly every month).

Hope took a couple days off in December to travel back to Iowa in what became a flurry of visits to her siblings, parents, grandparents and friends.

Geoff enjoyed another “Annual Mid-Summer Get Together” at the cabon in Wisconsin with the boys from back home and its annual precursor gathering at the D’Amico house in Cedar Rapids for the NFL Draft party.

We took a personal weekend trip over Labor Day to Louisville, Kentucky and enjoyed touring the horse track at Churchill Downs and 4th Street Live! complex.

We went to Geoff’s cousin David’s wedding in Washington, DC and had also had a great visit with longtime friend Matt Klinger and his girlfriend Jane. This picture was taken while the four of us were hiking the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (we’re standing in Maryland and Virginia is across the water).

Geoff’s folks Mike and Cathy and his youngest brother Sean have settled in nicely to their new home in Bella Vista, Arkansas and we had the benefit of visiting them for both Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving. Brother Joe and his wife Mary are doing well downtown in Des Moines and his newlywed sister Sara and her husband Ryan Keller are in Montezuma, Iowa.

Dixie and Gary are still on the farm near Westgate but Hope's sister Heidi and niece Bailey undertook an exciting move to Mount Pleasant, Iowa where Heidi took on the position of Career Counselor at Iowa Wesleyan College. Her brother Heath and his wife Amy are doing well in Cedar Rapids with their daughters Lauren and Alli and are expecting a third child later this year.

Thanks again for finding our letter online and taking the time to read what became a fairly lengthy discourse. We wish everyone a prosperous 2007!


Hope and Geoff

The Year of Our Wood – 2005

Geoff Wood

Rather than send out a conventional Christmas letter we’ve decided to embrace technology and post this one online – we’re glad you found it!

A Wedding Story
Not surprisingly, the story of 2005 was our wedding on March 12th. Most of the first quarter was filled with verifying addresses, making arrangements, and telephoning across the pond at odd hours. It was all worth it as the big event took place with sixteen family members and one Irish minister at the Belle Isle Castle near Enniskellen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The trip was perfect (other than one missed flight and one Aer Lingus stewardess cramming Hope’s dress into an overhead bin) and included three days with the family in Dublin and at Belle Isle as well as seven days of honeymooning on southwest coast of the island and celebration of St. Patrick in Dublin. Click here for our snapshots

We followed up the big trip with 200 or so friends and family at the Summerset Winery outside of Indianola. A lot of music was played (by friend Tony Bohnenkamp), a lot of wine was drunk and all had a great time.

We did that?
Hope had a great professional year, earning a promotion to Assistant Director for ACSM’s Certification Department and was both trained and certified as a Wellcoach.

Geoff’s been busy as the GIS Consulting Services Manager for a large civil engineering, survey and GIS company headquartered in Indianapolis. The company is undergoing unprecedented growth and that has made for both an exciting and stressful year with a lot of promise for the future. In February, they opened their first out-of-state office in Charlotte, NC and in May, they bought ProMap the company Geoff worked for in Ames for several years.

"I remember the first time I drove through Indiana…”
Shortly after we made the move last December Geoff’s folks Cathy and Mike and his brother Sean stopped by for a few days on their way to visit Geoff’s extended family in Florida. Hope’s sister Heidi and neice Bailey visited in August prompting us to visit local sites like the zoo and Children’s Museum for the first time. Geoff’s cousin Justin & Leia stopped by for dinner in October and Heidi and Bailey will be returning in a few days with Hope’s folks Gary & Dixie.

Where you been?
Both of our jobs have allowed us to travel and we’ve enjoyed the experience. Hope’s been to vacation spots like Las Vegas and Orlando (two times each) as well Wisconsin and Tennessee. Geoff on the other hand has been to Utah, Minnesota, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and North Carolina.

It hasn’t all been work; we’ve had some fun trips, too. Lots of trips to Iowa and one to Minnesota for friends and family weddings. We’ve also had two quick trips to Cincinnati. In January we took in the Iowa State – Xavier basketball game and in July we visited the King’s Island amusement park.

In June, Geoff had a great time meeting up some of his oldest friends in Minneapolis for the misnamed “Annual Mid-Summer Get Together” weekend at the cabin in western Wisconsin.

“We will fight with might for Iowa State”
Most of the trips to Iowa that weren’t for weddings were for Iowa State Cyclone Football. We’ve had season tickets since graduation and decided not to let a little thing like moving to Indianapolis keep us from the fun of gameday. Geoff made it back for four games (that office in Ames has it’s advantages!) and Hope for two. We enjoyed the regular contact with our friends and the festival that is the ISU-Iowa rivalry (ISU wins 23-3). Hope’s in a unique position to have graduated from both universities and it’s not often we get to see friends from both at the same place.

Indianapolis, you’re our town
We’ve had a lot of fun locally, too. We took in the Indianapolis 500 Parade in May and had a lot of fun people watching downtown the weekend of the US Grand Prix Formula One race (maybe in 2006 we’ll actually get to a race).

We’ve helped to re-establish the Indianapolis Cyclone Club and enjoy gathering with other Hoosier immigrants from the Tall Corn State to watch football and basketball regularly.

We’ve taken advantage of some of the benefits of living in a bigger city this year, as well. In February, Geoff went to his first NBA game to watch the hometown Pacers beat the Miami Heat. We’ve both enjoyed the local comedy scene taking in favorite’s Mike Birbiglia, Daniel Tosh, and even political satirist and anchor of Comedy Central’s the Daily Show Jon Stewart. Hope and some friends had a great opportunity to see country star Kenny Chesney at a distance of only four rows from the stage.

In October, we joined St. Luke’s United Methodist Church and really enjoy the services and activities that family opens to us. Hope’s been involved with the knitting classes, and both wrote the script and acted in the inaugural Christmas Celebration. Recently, we enjoyed a class together studying the Christian themes of the Chronicles of Narnia (not a bad movie – if you haven’t seen it).

How ‘bout everybody else?
For the most part both of our families are doing quite well. Hope’s father, Gary, had a good year farming in NORTHEAST Iowa and her mom, Dixie, continues as a teachers aide at Wapsie Valley. Heidi and Bailey are still close to the family in Sumner. Hope’s brother Heath and his wife Amy welcomed a second child Allison in late October. She’s doing well as is her older sister Lauren.

Geoff’s folks made the tough but exciting decision this fall to leave Iowa for Bella Vista, Arkansas and are moving any day now. Mike took a job with a growing cabinet shop down there and Cathy is to enjoy some time off. Sean will continue his sophomore year of high school in Bentonville. Weddings were popular amongst Mike and Cathy’s kids this year. In addition to our wedding, Geoff’s brother Joe married Mary Beck in Des Moines this summer and Ryan proposed to his sister Sara this Spring.

Our boys, Levon and Dylan, have adapted well to townhome life and enjoy trips to the dog park with Mom and daily walks around the neighborhood (they do miss their backyard in Ankeny, though). Other activities include hiding from storms in the closet, scouting the house for piles of clothes to lay in (clean or dirty) and non-stop wrestling with each other.

On a sad note, Jingle Belle passed recently. She had a good life as part of the Roth-Luck-Wood family since around Christmas 1991 and will be missed.

Thanks for taking the time to read what became a very long Christmas letter. We sincerely hope that you and yours are doing well and having a Merry Christmas or otherwise joyous Chanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, etc.


Hope and Geoff