December 2010

Dear Family & Friends,

Some years are boring but wonderful. Some years are horrible and boring. Some years are exciting and wonderful, some are exciting and horrible. This year at the Hughes-Fenchel household has been horrible and exciting, in turns. It's been a year of extremes, of good things and of bad things that turned out okay.

There have been no big career changes this year … so Gary is still (thankfully) at the same job, as is Carolyn. With the State of Illinois racking up huge debt they've been quite late paying their bills, so a paying gig is somewhat more difficult to come by for Carolyn, since speech pathology services for little kiddies is ultimately funded by the state. Gillian is still at Plymouth State in NH, and Ryan is finishing up his senior year at Naperville North. The biggest change with the kids: Ryan is now a fully licensed driver. Ryan will be leaving Naperville North HS this summer and starting at COD; Gillian will be getting her bachelor's degree in a year. Everyone is still pursuing the same avocations – Gillian is very involved with her sorority and various role playing computer games, Ryan with his computer gaming, wood shop, and tech crew at school, Carolyn with Jazzercise and Yoga and her church, and Gary with racquetball, teaching judo, and dog activities.

There has been some news this year, as we have been doing our bit to support the American medical system. Gary had operations on both feet (one at a time) to remove some arthritic deposits. His physical therapist warned him it would be a year before healing was complete, but he's already back playing racquetball, running, and of course mushing. Carolyn's left middle fingers were crushed and broken in an accident in September. She is being treated by an orthopedic specialist and an occupational therapist (who helped a lot) and they are healing with time. Even Zephyr, our Samoyed did his bit, going into sudden inexplicable catastrophic liver failure. After a week in the hospital, including a very near brush with death, he seems to be slowly recovering. Without her running buddy Suki seems pretty uninterested in mushing, and the team hasn't yet been to a competition.

For those who haven't been by for a while we've had the 20 year old carpet picked up in the living room and replaced with hardwood. We had this done in August while we were on vacation in Hawaii … ah, yes, Hawaii. Due to the poor economy we found a bargain price, but this time we went to the big island. We did some snorkeling, surfing, and swam with dolphins (a very cool experience), and walked on an active volcano. In a car, within 10 minutes you can move from desert island to a tropical forest .. and we ate lots, and lots, and lots of sushi. We were careful with the sunscreen, and we all had a wonderful time.

Carolyn's mother Pat and daughter Gillian are with us this again this year. So the year ends much as it began, with an additional year's worth of experience behind us, a bit of additional wisdom, and the kids closer to realizing some important goals.

We hope you & yours have a happy, healthy, and employed 2011.

Gary, Carolyn, Gillian, and Ryan and our furred and feathered menagerie, Suki, Zephyr, Chole, and Vo.