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Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says... 'Oh shit....she's awake!!'

""Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!""
— Unknown

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2008 Annual Letter

Once again 2008 has brought change on National and personal levels. In September, my position with SPi was eliminated; October brought a new position with LexisNexis; and in November we celebrated a historical Presidential election. Ann is currently working at LexisNexis as a Project Manager in a contract-to-hire position learning new technologies and no longer traveling. On the other hand, John continues working for Sierra Nevada Corporation in Business Development and has been traveling almost every week since May.

Our family is all doing well. Grandma fell in February and broke her femur. It was a tremendous inconvenience for her given all of her volunteer and social commitments. In true style, she was walking again by May and has resumed all of her commitments. Dad and Carol celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this year. The "kids" hosted a surprise party for them at El Meson with about 60 guests. It was a great time! Jason graduated from Northmont and continues working at Complete Pet Mart. Sydney, a senior this year, is thrilled to have her own car and a new puppy, Pongo. She’s also been exploring her college options but plans to spend the first 2 years at Sinclair. Matt continues to work for his father when he is not running back and forth to Columbus to visit Stacy, his girlfriend. Caleb and Henry continue to grow like weeds and when Jenny married Greg Muhlenkamp earlier this year, we added Luke and John to the family. Brian, Jennifer, and new daughter Allison recently relocated to Colorado Springs thanks to the Air Force. John and Elizabeth are living in Dallas as is Sara. Laura, Jose, and Alex are still in Houston and survived Ike. Laura was just accepted to nursing school. We hardly get to see Julie and Ben these days…even though they are just “up the road” in Columbus.

So much work travel left us wanting to stay home instead of traveling for vacation. However, we did manage a few trips. In March, I joined John in California for a wine tasting trip. In August, I took my Grandmother to her niece’s 50th wedding anniversary in Boise ID. There’s a lot of stress ensuring that the 91 year old Matriarch makes it safely. Particularly when I agreed to take her I assumed we were headed to Cleveland. However, I was thrilled to make my first trip to Idaho and I also got to meet Bob Feller, former Cleveland Indian and oldest living member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Check out my photos from this trip at Stanley, ID Travelpod. Also in August, we took Jason on his High School graduation trip to Washington DC and environs which I called the Magical History Tour. Gettysburg was way better than I expected but one can really stand to only visit so many battlefields. Grass, hills, rocks…it’s really all about the same. Of course, Jason also experienced some exceptional food.

We are still holding at 5 cats. Our oldest, Momcat, is 17 and amazes me every day. She is deaf and has only one functioning kidney. While she moves slower, she shows no real sign of slowing down. Of course, none of them move as fast as our youngest Harley…even his heart murmur doesn’t slow him down. Namir, Lola, and Kirby continue to tolerate us and the other cats.

We continue to be actively involved locally. As usual, we hosted several fundraisers. I am starting my second year on the Board of K-12 Gallery, a nonprofit arts organization located in the heart of downtown Dayton, offering a wide variety of classes, workshops, exhibitions and special events for children. John and I both served on the Masquerage committee for AIDS Resource Center Ohio.

People frequently wonder why we are still in Dayton OH. While Dayton is struggling economically, it continues to be an amazing place with great arts and entertainment and very special people. Last year I joined a group called 100+ Women Who Care. Dayton Women Who Care was the third chapter. It is the best 4 hours and $400 that I spend a year. The concept is simple: each quarter the group selects an organization, each member writes a check for $100, and a non-profit organization reaps the benefits. For more details, see my blog post “We All Give What We Can.” The Dayton Chapter has now over 180 members and since it’s inception in April 2007 this amazing group of women has donated over ?? Probably more interesting to me is that these chapters aren’t showing up in “major” cities…they are showing up in places like Dayton OH, Jackson MI, Dupage County IL, and Albion MI. And now Dayton will boast the first 100+ Men Who Care group, which will include John. John (aka Stella Artois) also performed in his third RubiGirls show at Club Masque on November 29 to benefit ARC Ohio. It’s always a great time for not-easily-offended adults only! All this and more is why it is still GREAT in Dayton.

An update on the Smith-Roberts Annual Holiday Party. Recent news stories have indicated that many companies are pulling the plug on holiday parties because of the economy. We think this sends the wrong message to employees and is bad for morale. While Viacom gave 2 additional personal days to their employees, we intend to move forward with the 18th Annual Smith-Roberts Holiday Party. However, we thought we would take a page from a company we heard about who instead of throwing their office holiday bash will be donating to charity. So with that sense of holiday spirit and hope, we are asking you to bring a contribution (whatever you can afford to give) to The Other Place, a homeless shelter here in Dayton.

Wishing you a HOPEFUL 2009!

Ann and John