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2003 Family and Friends... on a personal note

I count myself among those truly blessed, with wonderful friends and a family I love and admire. At this time of year, we feel the need to revisit the bonds that have grown over the years, and to strengthen those we have recently discovered. In the past year, our family has grown, we have bought a new house, and setbacks seem minor. I have gained a close association with some exceptional clients/friends across the United States, and am working on a writing project I am very excited about! We live in one of the most beautiful places in the universe, in my opinion. We have great neighbors, and wonderful friends, who live very close by. That, along with the fact that Danny and I are truly happily married, and best friends, as well, just makes life all the sweeter.

In January 2003, Joyce and Mark gifted us with my first "genetic" grandchild, Caleb Grant. Although I was already enjoying being a Grandma, I have had the opportunity to relive much of Joyce's babyhood in Caleb's first year of life, as he looks uncannily like his mother. He has been with me two days a week or so since summer, while Mom and Dad work. What a joy!!

Between us, Danny and I share seven kids, Jason, Justin, Jeremiah, Joyce, Heather, Jessica, and Ross. All but two are here in NH (we miss you girls in Michigan!!) and we have six grandchildren, Bridgette, Dan, Stephanie, Ethan, Haley, and Caleb. Our oldest granddaughter, Bridgette, is only ten months younger than my youngest son, Ross, (who is 14) so we have a house full, most of the time. Our beautiful, blended family just keeps growing!

My three sister's families are a great joy, as well, and we are all very close. Family holidays are SO much fun! We take every opportunity to celebrate milestones. Just this last January, my mother (Joyce) had her 70th birthday, where Caleb made his first public appearance, at three days old, (both Joyce's looked "great"!) and then in November, we celebrated my Dad's 75th! We celebrated Danny's birthday in June, (our first party at the new house) Jason's in August, Bridgette just turned 13, and my twin and I celebrated our day on Labor Day weekend! Danny and I have been going overboard having family events at our new house, (just 'cause it's OURS) and the house has accommodated our needs very well! We just had a big family Christmas party, although sadly missing a few folks kind enough to keep illnesses at home! We love you!

The house itself has been a great adventure! We bought it from a family friend in June, no realtor involved, and I actually think it was ENJOYABLE for us, right down to the closing. The moments of anxiety were offset so well by the cooperative nature of the parties involved, that we hugged at the closing! (Well, I did!) It is a 4-bedroom (read three and a small office) Cape on 2 acres of wooded Meredith Neck, (just at the entrance to Spindle Point on Meredith Bay, for those with a visual of the area). We have a beautiful view, with an orchard next door, like a Maxfield Parrish masterpiece. When we moved in, the house had been a rental for a year, the yard was overgrown, and lots of stuff needed to be done... see photos here soon.

Danny and the kids tore down the living room ceiling first thing, and we painted the living room and kitchen before we moved in. Danny's son, Justin, helped put down a beautiful new floor in the kitchen. Since then, small repairs and such have kept us busy, but we are blessed that the house is sound and cozy, leak-free and easy to maintain. We are slowly unpacking, and snuggling in for winter. Danny roofed the big shed in the back yard, and it now houses all the storage I will be bailing out of in the Spring! I am dreaming of a summer studio for Danny!

We love having the deck, and have already done SO much work on the front of the property, thanks to Danny's best friend, Pete Louden, and Tom Zagami, my brother in law, both of whom are GREAT with chain saws and power washers and brush removal. The kids added to the group effort in a BIG way! I have had a forestry specialist, Brenda Brown, who is also a client, working with us on the back woods, paring down the clutter of tiny trees, and it's slowly becoming navigable, useful space. We have enough aged granite out back to build a small barn, but will probably settle for some good old-fashioned New Hampshire stone walls. We have great plans, and will take our time getting there.

Speaking of plans, Danny has been offering private Martial Arts instruction to a devoted group of students, which include Ross, Bridgette and Danial (He may start his own little dynasty, I think!), some local teens, as well as a diverse adult group ranging from ex-military personnel to mothers. We hope, within the year, to open a local studio, where classes can meet regularly. Watch for a web site for Shou Masters.

We had a couple of scary moments and close calls this year, one when Jason had a severe anaphylactic reaction and was hospitalized in the ICU overnight. He was blessed to make it to the hospital in time... they truly had minutes to save his life. His three kids were with his Mom at the time, luckily, and they were able to call his wife, Lisa to be with him quickly, but the scare was a serious one, and we all feel very lucky that Jason is with us today!

Another scare was when Danny (who is a martial artist AND a carpenter) severed a tendon in his left thumb, on Labor Day weekend, and the orthopedic doctors scheduled surgery for DAYS later! I was quite concerned, until they explained that they prefer a controlled environment for such delicate surgeries, and that no further damage would occur because of the wait. (Those of you who know Danny will understand that the NEXT scary moment will probably be when he finds out I just told everyone about his thumb!! ;-)

Always adverse to pity of ANY kind, he, of course, had impatiently assumed he would be back to work the day after he DID the thing (and he was, less than a week later, at full speed, cast and all). There is no keeping that good man down! He has since regained quite a bit of the movement, but there is permanent damage. We were so thankful for all the concern and assistance surrounding that event!

For all of you, I wish a holiday season and New Year filled with the joys of family and friends, and with knowing that heaven is right here, right now, if that's how you live life. I am struck by a story I found while delving into our geneaology (my new fascination).... and that story follows, here.

Love to all, and a wonderful New Year.

~Kim

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