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December 2013

Greetings to all of our friends and our wish for a wonderful, blessed holiday for all of you. 2013 was actually a fairly good, and eventful, year for us.  We only lost five friends this year, compared to 13 last year, which makes this a banner year, for sure.

For ME, this was the year that I turned 70 and there was a wonderful party at a local watering hole here.  It was a really fun day and one friend actually flew in from Denver that morning, and back to Denver that afternoon.   Jeri and Phil had also flown out from Boston to be here, which was so special.

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It was actually a birthday party for myself and two others who were also celebrating birthdays, but the cake was a Wizard of Oz cake, and the decorations had an Oz theme, so I take possession of the birthday. The kids also wrote and performed a song for me, and I even took the microphone to make a few comments, proving why I should not be given a microphone, since I tend to get emotional end end up blubbering instead of saying what I want to say.

AtriaPOTD.jpg (39801 bytes)One of the biggest things that happened this year was moving my 94 year old mother to Independent Living in Davis.  She swore that she would never live in Davis, but when the time came that she felt ready to give up her home and move somewhere smaller, I talked her into checking out a facility here and she liked it.  She has her own apartment, which opens out onto a garden, which is just wonderful for her. She lives independently, but when the day that her worsening dementia will require additional care, Assisted Living is part of the program and she won't have to move to a new facility, or even move out of her apartment..

She's been there for six months now, has a small circle of friends, and seems very comfortable. Best of all, I only have to drive 5 minutes, compared to the hour and a half it had been taking me every time I went to see her. (Of course I don't get to listen to as many audio books now!)  I get to see her almost every day and we have lunch together at least once a week.  When Walt and I went on a 3-week vacation, I felt SO much more comfortable knowing that she was somewhere with people watching out for her, not living alone.

Jeri was here to help her move and will be here for a late Christmas this year, so things seem to be working out for her to have maximum visiting time with not only Walt and me, but also the grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Cousins and friends have also stopped by.  She says she is never lonely there and is very happy with her new location. Amazing, but once she moved in, my insomnia, which I'd had for the year before, almost completely stopped.

Walt and I took another big trip with the Blackfords this year, this time to Ukraine (cruising from Kiev to Odessa), and 3 days at the tail end in Istanbul, the most "foreign" city I think I have visited.  We saw lots of interesting things in Ukraine, including the famous Potemkin Steps (all 192 of them) in Odessa, and we toured Livadia Palace  in Yalta, the last home of the Romanovs and the place where the famous Yalta conference among FDR, Churchill and Stalin took place.  I had to have our picture taken in the same place where the famous conference photo was taken.   The other picture is one of the worst pictures of Char and me, taken in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

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There is not much new with Walt and me.  He still volunteers one day a week in his old office and is still on the board of Citizens Who Care, which advocates for the frail elderly.  He helps run the February concert, and the beer fest, the two biggest fund raisers.

I am still a theater critic (reviewed about 50 shows this year) and still volunteer at the used book store which donates its profits to Doctors without Borders and Save the Children. It's my favorite day of the week, surrounded by books and lots of time to read them.  I recently joined a support group for people dealing with Alzheimers and Dementia, which I think is going to be very helpful for me.

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The above photo was taken at a Davis "event" -- the celebration of the opening of a new wall on the bathroom of Central Park.  This is a town that will celebrate anything!

OnOurWay.jpg (45187 bytes) Jeri and Phil are still in Boston, and at the moment helping their dog Lester recuperate from expensive leg surgery.  We hope that Lester will soon be able to go on long walks again.  Jeri also ran her first 10K this year in 1:09:01, a respectable first try..  She cut her hair for the first time in years and donated it to Wigs 4 Kids, which provides wigs for children who experience hair loss from cancer, alopecia, trichotillomania, lupus, hydrocephalus, burns and other disorders.

Jeri and Phil both came out here after my mother was settled, to take possession of her car and drive it back to Boston.  My mother had told Jeri for years that when the time came for her to give up her car, she would give it to Jeri.

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Sunday brunch at the facility where my mother now lives.

Ned and Marta celebrated their anniversary in Hawaii this year.   They also joined most of the rest of the family (except us) in Washington, DC for the wedding of their cousin, Ernest Kevin.

Ned was invaluable to me when Walt and I were on our vacation, going to visit Grandma several times, so I knew that she had family with her while I could not be.

Their status remains unchanged, Ned still working at Jack-FM and Marta still has her massage practice.  Ned recently had cervical spine surgery and is recovering at home right now.  He won't be able to go to Santa Barbara for Christmas, but we will have a late Christmas with Grandma and Jeri.

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TomFamHaw.jpg (132803 bytes) Brianna turned 5 this year, learned to ride a 2-wheeler, and started Kindergarten.  Lacie celebrated her 2nd birthday (we were sad that we were unable to attend Lacie's party because I had to review three shows that weekend).  Brianna participated in a lot of programs this summer, including a week learning about Dinosaurs.

The family also had a trip to Hawaii, before "real" school started.

Tom and Laurel ran a half marathon in November and decided that was more pleasant (and possibly more rewarding!) than the full marathon they ran last year.

We look forward to spending Christmas with them, as well as Walt's sister and her husband.

My group of sponsored children has grown to 14.  Some of them I am only a correspondence sponsor for (which means I write to them, because their financial sponsor, for whatever reason, has made the decision not to write).  We are so concerned about Fred, my favorite kid, who lives in the Philippines on one of the islands hardest hit by the recent typhoon.  Because of the enormity of trying to find everyone, I know nothing about whether they survived the storm and what their housing situation is.  Compassion tells me that it may take months before I know, so in the meantime I just pray that they are all right.

We send you greetings from our house to yours, for a happy, blessed season, whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or don't celebrate at all.   May 2014 be a good one for all of us.

~ The Sykes Family ~

Walt & Bev ** Jeri & Phil ** Ned & Marta ** Tom, Laurel, Brianna & Lacie
Sheila, Lizzie and Polly
and, in absentia, Paul and David

Bev's daily journal:  Funny the World

Our International Family

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Top row:   Anjali (India), Fred (Philippines), Shallon (Uganda), Briana (Haiti)
Second row:  Emmanuella (Ghana), Henrique (Brasil), Leniel (Dominican Republic), Banesa (Dominican Republic)
Third row:  Theresa (Ghana), Wainaina (Kenya), Lovson (Haiti), Josphat (Ghana)
Bottom row: Miche (Haiti), Navya (India), Fred (Philippines) and his family