Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Happy Birthday! Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on the birth of your child, on your graduation, on your promotion! Our warmest wishes go out to you for the celebration of the milestones in your life that we missed this year. We can't seem to get anything out on time (or sometimes at all), including this Christmas letter. We have hope next year will be better.

Nevertheless, we want you to know you have been in our thoughts often, even if we have failed this year to tell you. You have been the highlight of our year. Our lives have changed drastically in the last 12 months, and we have more changes ahead. Through it all, you have been there for us, cheering us on, helping us grow, lending a listening ear, challenging us to go further and even coming to visit. We cherish our relationship with you and are grateful you are part of our lives.

As we write this, we also are preparing for our second major move in as many years. It is unbelievable to us that Brandon already has finished the coursework for his master's degree in Cinema Studies from New York University. It really does seem like this all started yesterday. Now we look forward to moving back in together, this time in the nation's capital. In January, Stephanie's dream to work for the space program took her to a job in Washington D.C.. She has been commuting back to New York most weekends. In 2008, we look forward to spending less time on trains and airplanes and more time attending to our relationship with you, with each other, with those we love.

A few quick highlights from our year:

New York, New York. We have fallen in love with this city. We have been so blessed to have many friends and family come visit and be willing to share our small living quarters. It truly was a pleasure to host many lovely guests and get the chance to show you a few of the reasons we love the city. What are those reasons? Broadway. We've seen 13 shows since moving here. Central Park and Shakespeare in the Park. Museums. We visited the American Museum of Natural History at least five times. Fabulous food, whether take-out, kosher, coal fired brick oven pizza, or the few fancy meals to which we have treated ourselves (minus the one instance of food poisoning – we don't recommend it).

On of the supreme joys of living in Manhattan has been our proximity to Brandon's cousin Monica, her husband Haim, and their children, Ezra and Avner, who was born this February. Just four blocks from our apartment, we’ve loved spending every moment with them that we can.

In 2007, we also were lucky enough to take several trips and visit several new places. In January, we stayed with our dear friend Molly in Chicago. We spent five amazing days in that breathtaking city, enjoying the architecture, the aquarium, the fabulous art museum, good times with a friend, and, of course, the classic cold of that time of year. In October, attending the weddings of friends took us to the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina and the turquoise water of Cancun. In North Carolina, we enjoyed the breathtaking drive of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the overwhelming size and grandeur of the Biltmore Estate. In Cancun, well, we really just laid on the beach when we weren't involved in wedding activities. Trips in May and July also took us to see family and friends in Colorado and Portland, Oregon.

Brandon: The Cinema Studies MA has been a bittersweet undertaking — far more theoretical than practical and, as such, it often has been a more frustrating experience than I ever anticipated. However, the friends I’ve met, the connections I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, and the doors that have already been opened to me as a result of being here are priceless.

One of the most exciting developments has been the beginning of my career as a film critic. While I always reviewed films for fun and started a Web site of film criticism with several other NYU classmates early last year, this summer I began reviewing film professionally for the Colorado Springs Gazette, my old hometown newspaper, and Christianity Today magazine. If you’re interested, you can read all of my reviews at brandonfibbs.com.

Stephanie: Being at the nation's space agency has been an exciting and frustrating journey. I am excited to work directly for our nation's space exploration efforts. Working at a government agency has given me an amplified view of bureaucracy, helped along by my colleague David, who has been an incomparable guide, with such useful advice as my allotted space (75 sq. ft.) and accouterments (two file cabinets: one with two drawers, one with three), and which forms to fill out for a badge, a trash can, official travel and my paycheck. On behalf of civilian employees everywhere, I ask you, taxpayers who support us, would you really be bothered if the government bought me a box of tissues to keep on my desk? Just in the last few weeks, I have moved from my initial role in the newsroom to an embedded position. This means I am one of two public affairs specialists working directly for the part of the agency responsible for building the next-generation rockets, crew capsule and other spacecraft and systems to get us back on the moon by 2020. The job has stretched me professionally and personally.

Spending the majority of my time in Washington has had other benefits, too. I had the pleasure of spending the first several months living with and reconnecting with my dear childhood friend Erica and her wonderful husband Seth. I also joined two soccer teams, a co-ed recreational team and a more competitive women's team. Being a part of these teams has broadened my circle of friends and helped to keep me healthy and reduce my stress.

The year ahead… we are excited about being together again, despite the coming readjustments, such as the chirpiness Brandon displays at the crack of dawn. We are thrilled to return to two incomes and only one rent payment. We eagerly anticipate enjoying small luxuries like a full size washer and dryer (in our apartment!), a balcony, the ability to control our own heat, a real door on the bedroom (and space to walk around the bed), and a kitchen conducive to cooking. We think D.C. will be a fascinating place to be for this presidential election year. And we have many friends in the Washington area and look forward to spending more time with them. We also intend to make several trips up to New York.

We welcome visitors. Please let us know if you are in our area; we would love to see you.
Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus