2014 Christmas Update

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year greetings from the Inland Northwest!

We've had our bits of fun this year surrounded by the usual work and family activities (not that work isn't fun). Some of my personal highlights from the year are below.

It's the one!

We started the year with a post Christmas gift from our oldest, Allie, for this year's egg nog. It's just a day or two now until I get to use it and I can't wait! I'm sure she'd love some commissions to keep her last few waking hours occupied. (in the words of the infamous TRS, you don't need to thank me Allie, it's enough that I know how you must feel.)

John Spokas: Ski Bum

John had a sseason's pass to Mt. Spokane ski resort and spent most waking hours there or another area ski resort...and I'm totally jealous but isn't that just the way it goes. John and "good friend" Cierra make out to the mountains as often as they can and probably more often than they should but what the heck, the school work will always be there when they get back, right?

State Basketball Championship

In the spring, the Gonzaga Prep basketball boys and girls teams both went to state playoffs in Tacoma, WA where the girls team won. Cathy had the extreme pleasure (I'm sure 'cause I heard about it) of driving the cheerleader's bus through some extreme fog and rain to Seattle which is about 5 hours from here and also requires navigating the Snoqualmie pass. Once they got there however, they had a very exciting time cheering the teams on. Unfortunately, I was on a business trip and couldn't make it. (Really, I did have a business trip. Besides, there wasn't any room on the bus for me.)

In my mind I'm goin' to Carolina...

Last spring, it wasn't just in our minds. We made multiple trips to Chapel Hill, North Carolina for daughter Emily's Senior Recital, Loreleis Spring Concert and finally, the graduation! All trips were awesome and while I'll miss Chapel Hill, I won't miss getting there and back. I'm still waiting on the GEG to RDU direct route. For the senior recital, my brother Dave and sister-in-law Mary Ellen came up to join us. For the Loeleis concert, the whole family came, and, we were joined by Cathy's sister Christy and niece Nicole, my brother Dave and sister-in-law Mary Ellen, my (other) sister-in-law Mary Ellen and niece Laura, good friends from Elmhurst Margie and Joanna McEvoy. It was a real party! The graduation was pretty quiet as it was just Cathy and I. We did transport Emily's college stuff up to Chicago and spent several days there catching up with family and friends.

On the road again...

Or maybe not just yet. We had a great trip to Chicago for a Spokas Family Reunion this year starting with a drive. Several of us drove (yes, drove) from Spokane so others of us could return with "stuff" for Grammie and Bobo along with some of Emily's college clothes and furniture. Emily (seeing as how it was her stuff and all) had the pleasure of driving both ways. I'm sure that's a road trip she'd rather forget. I actually enjoy driving, and, I can tell you that we have an amazingly beautiful country here with wide open expanses that all should enjoy. While it was wonderful, the last hour or so of the trip, which was spent driving around in Elmhurst, we were about to go nuclear. Fortunately the Mannion's back door was open and Lorraine was up late so we could raid the fridge for some badly needed refreshments. (John and Lorraine, we still owe you)

Spuds the Wonder Dog

While we were in the Chicago area, the Baubly family of Elmhurst were gracious enough to let us use their home in Elmhurst while they were enjoying a European vacation. Our host was their dog Spuds. Spuds is a real piece of work and I fondly remember our time with him. I hope he's maintained his vigor. I have several Spuds stories but we'll leave them for another time. I will say just thinking of Spuds brings a smile to my face. You would not believe what that dog is capable of, and that's before you get a look at him in the flesh!

It's all about the family

We had a wonderful family reunion on the 4th with only 2 direct descendants not able to make it. My sister Clare hosted the affair at her house and I'd say the place will never be the same but heck, she's got three kids helping to keep the place in order for her.

When life hands you lemons, drink beer!

We were fortunate enough to spend a weekend hosted by the Jevany's at their lake house during our stay in Chicago. This was most of our former Elmhurst dinner group minus Skyler and Myron Bass. On the drive up, we stopped for gas and locked the keys in the car. Madness ensued, but we can get pretty creative when we're committed to enjoying ourselves. This was a great way to end our trip and as well as a melancholy reminder of the friendships we've left behind.

A new place

At the end of August, we relocated from Liberty Lake to Spokane's South Hill. We live in a nice quiet neighborhood above the city of Spokane. As a result, we got rid of two large storage lockers. Unfortunately I feel like I'm living a constant space puzzle. We are settling in and it's much more comfortable than the old place.

(New address: 1525 E. 19th Street, Spokane, WA, 99203)

Give Thanks

Bob or "Bobo" and Grammie, Cathy's parents made it to our place for Thanksgiving this year. Bob certainly has his challenges, heck don't we all, but it's hard to imagine this guy was laid up after a significant heart attack and cardiac arrest just over a year ago.

The "Phil" dumpling

Most of my family gathered in Lisle for one last "hurrah" at the Spokas homestead for the annual Thanksgiving dumpling dinner. Certain family members felt obligated to memorialize a dumpling for me. I'm not thankful that I didn't get to eat my dumpling. No fair teasing like that!

The Great Christmas Tree Hunt of 2014

On a Sunday early in December, the entire family (including dog Ella) climbed into the car to go hunt for a Christmas tree in Green Bluff. We had a great time even if we did have to wrestle the biggest tree we've ever gotten. The game of "This one or that one" takes on new meaning when you are on a tree farm and all members of your family are playing. We also took the family Christmas picture. All that will drive you a little crazy...if you know what I mean...

Wrap it up

As I look back and reflect on the year, I can't help but feel blessed. We miss the friends we made in Chicago, but have settled in to Spokane and our enjoying ourselves. Our door is always open and we'd welcome anyone willing to make the trek out here.

God bless, Merry Christmas, and our best wishes for a Happy New Year.