2010 Holiday Letter

Dear friends and family,

Gretchen and I hope this letter finds you having a wonderful holiday season, with time to reflect on the good things that have happened in 2010, and to rest and prepare for 2011.

Our year was full and busy with planned and unplanned adventures, visits with friends and family, and various health issues. On the balance it was a very good and exciting year, and we’re looking forward to lots of changes in 2011.

Planned family get-togethers included starting the year with Gretchen’s family on Bainbridge Island and visiting them again in September when we were in the Northwest for a friend’s wedding, helping my brother Matt settle in to a new house in Los Alamos (we organized the garage!), visiting my extended family in Maryland, and having a wonderful vacation in Corea, Maine, near Acadia National Park with my parents, brother, sister, and their families. While we were in Maine, we were able to visit with my grandmother and mom’s sister, which we don’t get to do nearly enough. Gretchen was also able to squeeze in a quick trip to the midwest to visit her mom’s family – something we don’t get to do enough of, either!

We were both really happy late in the summer when we passed a significant academic milestone. We both presented our Ph.D. research proposals, and were accepted as Ph.D. candidates. That means that we have demonstrated the ability to formulate acceptable research projects, and have gained the skills to execute the project. Now, all that remains in our Ph.D. programs is to do the work and defend our thesis. We hope to finish our degrees in spring 2012.

Besides the great planned experiences of the year, we also had some big surprises – the most exciting was in July, when we learned that Gretchen is pregnant! Almost immediately, we began plans to remodel a room to be the nursery, hoping to finish the work before winter’s cold came. Unfortunately, our second big surprise delayed those plans when I broke my leg (I was playing capture the flag, and got tackled. Yes, it’s true that adults don’t normally play capture the flag. Yes, it’s also true that it’s not supposed to be a tackling game. Sometimes, games are just too fun!) Next, I got to have some extra, unplanned time with my family in September when my dad had open heart surgery.

Fortunately each of these surprises has turned out well: Gretchen and the baby are doing great, and we’re expecting him to arrive in early March, my leg is mostly healed now, we’ve been able to get the hard part of the remodeling done with help from friends, and though serious, my dad’s surgery went very well – dad is now “as good as new, or maybe better.”

We had a very sad time after Thanksgiving, when we had to put our dog to sleep. We miss Maddy a lot, and have been really grateful to all of our friends who also expressed their love for her. The community of great friends that we have found in Ithaca has been one of the most fantastic parts of our lives again this year.

Even with the various adventures we have had, our friends are the best part of living in Ithaca. Whether brewing beer, celebrating each other’s accomplishments, mourning lost loved pets, or reconnecting on trips, our connections with the people we love are what made our lives particularly wonderful in 2010.

This holiday season, our wish is that you have a life filled with love and community, through good times and bad, throughout the new year (and many more years, too!).

With love,
Gretchen and Ben Heavner

P.S. feel free to sign up for an account on our blog if you’d like to leave any comments! One of our resolutions for the New Year is to update the blog more often with baby pictures and other excitement in 2011!

At the top of Mt. Marcy - the highest point in NY.

Maddy in the snow!

Yurt trip.

Baby!

Ben climbing in Joshua Tree.

Gretchen climbing at Red Rocks, near Las Vegas.

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