Well, now that I am married I suppose I am obligated to start the tradition of putting together the yearly letter. Rather than following tradition and sending one out in the mail, I think I will just stick with my blog. So ... lets get started.
All in all this has been a pretty hectic year for Janel and I. About this time last year I was packing up my stuff in Champaign for the short move back up to Chicago. After a busy holidays, Janel and I got married and went on our honeymoon to Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. Baja was very nice ... I would definitely recommend it to anyone (particularly those on the W coast because it is so close). I still think that Kauai (Hawaii) and Virgin Gorda (Caribbean) are my two favorite beach destinations.
After our honeymoon, we came home for ~3 days and then headed on out to Portland to begin our new life as a married couple. I had three weeks before my job started, during which we spent almost all our time getting situated (and in the process spending a lot of money). The job at Intel started well (and continues to go well). My bosses are both good guys and I enjoy both working and screwing around with my co-workers. February and March in Portland were mostly spent continuing to settle in. This was good timing since the weather was not all that great. We did do a few nice hikes, including one to Multnomah Falls when everything was still frozen. I would highly recommend checking out the gorge in the winter -- the waterfalls are great when covered with ice. We tried to do the loop trail @ Multnomah but had to turn back after a couple of miles because the trail was iced over in a dangerous place.
Winter Multnomah Falls Photo
Janel started subbing for the Beaverton School District around March I believe, and landed a full-time subbing position for a girl on maternity leave at Aloha High School in April. This eventually turned into an offer for a full time position there which she gladly accepted. Janel really likes the administrations and her co-workers in the math department. There are a few younger people in the department who are a lot of fun. More on Janel and teaching later ...
This summer was a lot of fun. We went hiking what seemed like every weekend. The northwest is a great place in the summer for people like me :). We also went on a trip to France. I had a paper in a conference out there so I got work to pay for part of it :). We spent a lot of time up on the NW coast (on the English Channel) and a few days in Paris. France was great. I was a bit worried that the French might be a bit unfriendly to us ... but we only felt that way one time while we were there. We tried to speak our terrible French with them ... and I think they found it amusing and therefore liked us. It did get a bit old after a while though. One funny example: whenever I went to a gas station, I would have to go to pumps 1, 2, or 3 because those were the only numbers I knew when I went inside to pay. Oh well ... small price to pay :). Paris was a lot of fun. We did all the standard tourist things ... and were also there when France upset Brazil in the World Cup. Needless to say ... it was pandemonium afterwards :). Here is a picture from the palace of versailles:
France - Versailles Photo
Before the summer came to a close, I went on a backpacking trip to Mt. Rainier w/ Allen, Jame, and Todd. We did the Northern Loop (~38 miles) in 3 nights. It was a great hike, although Jame hurt his knee and had to go out early w/ Allen. I would highly recommend this trip ... but keep in mind that it has a lot of brutal elevation changes ... and is a bit harder than one may think. With that said ... it was not that bad of a hike :). The last two days Todd and I were able to finish before lunch time.
Mt. Rainier Photo
The one bad part of the trip (for me) was that I pulled my groin. I have never done that before ... and it is not a lot of fun. Janel and I have been playing a lot of soccer (well ... Janel has at least ... I have been playing some) and I tried to go back to it after a couple of weeks but that was not a good idea. Soccer has been a lot of fun though. I have been playing one night a week on a co-ed team w/ Janel, and she has been playing on 2 women's teams in addition to that. We have mostly been playing indoor (it is a lot easier to find 7 people than 11+), but Janel has also played a bit of outdoor.
This school year Janel is teaching Adv. Algebra 2 and Algebra Survey. She is enjoying parts of it, but is really busy and stressed at times. This is totally normal for first year teachers ... and I am looking forward to things settling down a bit next year when she does not have to prepare new lesson plans for two different classes each night. I would say more ... but I feel like I should keep my comments to a minimum in case any of her students ever happen upon this page. She has lots of good stories about the crazy things students do :) ... it would make a great blog :P. Too bad that probably would not be very professional.
In September I climbed Mt. St. Helens (which just reopened in July) with some co-workers. It was a great hike ... although a lot more treacherous than I had anticipated. The fact that I was still nursing my afore mentioned groin injury did not help matters. I would highly recommend this scramble.
Mt. St. Helens Photo
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer this fall. She is currently on round 4 of 6 of chemo, after which they will take a look at the size of the tumor and decide what type of surgery to do. My Dad and her have been holding up pretty well ... but it has been tough.
The fall has been pretty uneventful out here. We have been making sure to catch every bears game (I am sick of BW3's). Soon we will be heading home for Christmas. We are looking forward to seeing our families and friends again. Both our parents visited over the summer, and I made a weekend trip home to see everyone in November ... but Janel has not seen anyone in her family (except her parents this summer) since the wedding.
Hope all is well with you! Merry Christmas.