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Eight things we're looking forward to in moving back to Iowa

Geoff Wood

As we were packing up last week and getting ready for one last, great trip across the I-States(1) we started brainstorming a list of things we're looking forward to in Tall Corn State:

  1. Cheaper mid-grade gasoline (cheers to ethanol subsidies)
  2. Grocery shopping at HyVee (Marsh and Kroger don't provide friendly smiles in every aisle)
  3. Evening news at 10:00 PM (it is as it should be - 11:00 news always felt wrong)
  4. Correct placement of the Mississippi River (this one is me more than Hope, but I'll always orientate myself off the Ol' Mississipp' or the coasts...having the big river west of me confuses me all sorts of directions)
  5. Acknowledgement of the Big XII Conference
  6. Sidewalks and curbed streets (urban centers grew slower in Iowa and thus the sprawl is prettier, more controlled, and pedestrian accessible).
  7. Proximity to RAGBRAI (we loved RAGBRAI last year but it's tough to drive 8 hours, ride a bike 500 miles, drive 8 more hours and call it your vacation)
  8. License plates (in this state they're on the front of the car and the we have the ability to get Cyclone plates, I wonder if Hope's old one is still available?)
(1)Sorry, Idaho, you're always left out of our trips.

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


Facebook's 25 Random Things

Geoff Wood

There’s been an interesting phenomenon spreading throughout Facebook the last couple weeks called “25 Random Things About Me”. Cleverly named, it’s a list of 25 random things about me (or the person writing it).

You become aware of the list when one of your Facebook friends creates a 25 Random Things list and then “tags” you and 24 other people. You are then given the following instructions:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

In effect, it’s a combination of the chain letter that’s been around for centuries and the odd e-mail “Get to Know Me”-surveys that were bouncing around collegiate e-mail directories in the last 1990s. However, unlike chain letters, there is no ill will set to fall upon you if you don’t pick up the challenge and unlike those surveys there are no common questions asked of each person.
After being tagged three times by co-workers and once by a family member I decided to capitulate and, since I took the time to create the list I figured that I should also share it here:
  1. I know the difference between a Monument and a Memorial (as in Washington and Lincoln).
  2. I will one day have a job where I can take my dogs to work.
  3. I’ve had the same seats at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa since I graduated in 2000 even though I've lived in Indiana for four of the those years and Nebraska for one.
  4. I still consider myself a “Chevy Truck Guy” even though I’ve happily owned an Acura sedan for over a year. The power of branding is strong.
  5. There is a bit of a strained dichotomy in my life in that I love history and tradition but constantly seek change.
  6. I’ve become a big enough fan of IndyCar racing in our time in Indiana that I was able to recognize 2008 Indy 500 and Indy Car Series champion Scott Dixon when he walked past me in the Indianapolis Airport this summer (we have a great picture).
  7. I have cousins named Rustin, Justin and Dustin (in three separate families).
  8. I pay for a home phone but don’t know the number.
  9. I don’t understand people who have a non-geographic loyalty to a particular professional sports team.
  10. I like to know as much as possible about the sports teams that I follow and as a result I have a hard time just turning on the TV and enjoying a casual NFL or MLB game (unless it’s the Vikings or Twins).
  11. I visualize a map of the United States when thinking about cardinal directions (such as the Atlantic Ocean is East and the Pacific is West). Ever since moving to Indiana, I’m at times confused since the Mississippi River is now West of me.
  12. I think that umbrellas are not masculine but have no problems with scarves and earmuffs (at least the wrap around ones). My opinion has been disputed several times by a few of my MBA classmates.
  13. Other than at the office, as many of my friends refer to me by last name as do my first
  14. I still refer to most of my female friends from college by their last/maiden names (only) even though several have acquired new ones for themselves.
  15. In the last few months I’ve become an avid user of Twitter.
  16. I met Dave Matthews at my first ever company holiday party and no holiday part since has been as exciting.
  17. I never drank coffee until I started graduate school in August 2007, now I drink it a lot. I drink as much of it after 6 PM as I do before 11 AM. I only drink it black – no mochochocalatte-ish drinks.
  18. My greatest athletic accomplishment is somewhere between riding all 471 miles across Iowa in RAGBRAI 2008 and making “Pro” in Wii tennis. Middle school basketball (2 years), high school tennis (2 years), and Iowa State Rugby (1 year) were not quite as successful. I also like to play kickball but we didn’t field a team last season.
  19. After the first time that I went out with my wife, Hope, (we were already friends and she didn’t know it was an “exploratory” date) I decided that I wasn’t going to her ask her out again; she called and asked me out instead.
  20. Hope and I started to a tradition of going to movies every weekend when we first started dating (March 2002); we still see 2 or more per month.
  21. I was the first person I knew to have a CD player when my folks gave me one for my birthday in 5th grade. Everyone bought me CDs that they wanted to listen to: my Sister Sara - Paula Abdul’s “Shut Up & Dance”, my brother Joe – Bell Biv DeVoe’s “Poison” and my folks - Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open”. I listened to all of them at the time but Tom Petty is the only one that I’d still like to have today.
  22. Over Christmas this year, I visited the neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, Iowa that I grew up in and it still looks like Post-Katrina New Orleans from last summer’s floods. The recovery needed from that disaster has been grossly under publicized. 
  23. I firmly believe that almost all recommendations are crap.
  24. Even though I’m not a Colts fan (like most folks around these parts), I think Peyton Manning is hilarious.
  25. The tater tot is my favorite form of potato. I love the fact that I can order them at The High Life Lounge in Des Moines (though I haven't been there in a few years). 
At first I thought the 25 Random Things list was fairly silly but now I kind of dig it. One of the greatest uses of Facebook for those of us over 22 years of age is to catch up with friends from long ago (like the elementary school classmate who “friended” me this evening). What better way to learn about what they are up to then to view the 25 Random Things about their life that they’ve chosen to share with the world?

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