Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 was full of big changes and bigger adventures

Sometimes changes are expected, the rites of passage that come with flipping the calendar. Others come at you right out of the blue, setting your life in new directions and with new, unexpected adventures.

We experienced both in 2013.

Let’s start with Andrew. He’s now entering his final semester at Grand Valley State University, wrapping up his degree in social work.
Andrew's GVSU dorm room has a great view of the downtown campus. He's not excited about the trains that pass by early and often, calling it "The Iron Rooster of Pew Campus" for its 5 a.m. whistles.
He enjoys the coursework and his internship with the Grand Rapids Housing Department, where he helps residents with their assorted needs. After living on the main campus in Allendale last year, he moved to a dorm on the Grand Rapids campus, closer to his classes. He’s right in in the heart of downtown, in the middle of all the action.

When he’s not at class, Andrew is usually across the street from campus at the YMCA, where he works as a lifeguard. It’s a busy place, and he had a dramatic water rescue this month.
Andrew enjoyed a trip to Florida to visit with Poppy and Grandma.

He’s also grown a beard, which some people think makes him look like a hooligan. But his mother and sister approve. They must like hooligans.

Despite the hair issues, we’re very proud of him and know he’ll help many people in his chosen career.

Speaking of his sister, Caroline turned 16 and got her driver license. She’s a good driver, approaching her driving exam with the same determination as her studies. There was a lot of parallel parking practicing!

Caroline is a junior at Rockford High School, taking Advanced Placement and honors classes. Dad can boast a little, but cannot take credit.
Caroline was very excited about passing her driving test!
The Rockford High Homecoming Dance was a big deal with an Epic Dress Hunt.
Do we know this wild girl? Caroline and other members of the "Footloose" crew took part in a flash mob during lunch to promote the show.
Caroline loves playing flute in the Mighty Rockford Rams Marching Band. Students start practicing early in the summer, then spend a week in July at band camp at Andrews University before marching right into a busy fall. 
Caroline and friend "Maddie P" practiced all day in the rain for the Ford Field performance.
Caroline lows to draw, depicting band life and business cats.

The band performs before a packed house most Fridays, at least until the football guys want to start playing again.

Many fall Saturdays are filled with band competitions. This year’s schedule included a regional event in Toledo and the state championship competition at Ford Field – practicing in a downpour in a Comerica Park parking lot before kicking butt in performance that earned third place! 

The national competition was in Indianapolis. The band fell short of the semi-finals this year, but it did a great job and had fun with students from other Grand Rapids-area bands.
Dave and Caroline like crossing the finish line toether.

Caroline has joined Dave in some 5K races, joining the masses in the Fifth Third Riverbank Run in Grand Rapids and Mitchell’s Run through downtown Rockford.

She’s also started attending college fairs, asking about academics – and marching bands.

Julie spends a lot time at college. She loves her job in the communications department at Grand Rapids Community College. 

She maintains and monitors the college’s many social media sites, and writes press releases and speeches for college leaders.

Julie took advantage of Andrew’s transition to transition his old room – technically Caroline’s old room before she claimed Andrew’s larger room – into a crafting and scrapbooking room. It’s pretty neat.  She’s also an avid knitter, working on scarves, sweaters and other clothing for people who are knit-worthy. Someday, Dave will be knit-worthy.

Julie did a lot of knitting on the massive family road trip to South Dakota. Dad Nelson had, for years, talked about taking the entire family – the Murrays, the Horves and Jeff and Lori – to explore Mount Rushmore and the other amazing sites.
Glorious Mount Rushmore

The Mitchell Corn Palace is decorated entirely with ears of corn!
Wall Drug is a crazy place. This is the Jackalope that slayed -- temporarily -- the Gnome of Victory and Celebration.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is controversial and far from being finished.
Part of the fun of a road trip is taking time to see things like Iowa's largest frying pan.
We lost Dad in 2011 and miss him dearly. Mom Nelson decided we should take that special trip this year in Dad’s honor.

And it was an adventure like no other. We vowed to select special places to see – and stop along the way when something looked interesting. Those side stops included the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, Iowa, the South Dakota Hall of Fame and the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
Tug leads a life of luxury. He hogs the heat.

But the main attractions were incredible! Mount Rushmore is fascinating and moving. Crazy Horse Memorial is tremendous. And there are presidential statues all over downtown Rapid City. We tried to pose with them all! Plus, there was the famous Mitchell Corn Palace and the infamous Wall Drug.

A good time was had by all. We enjoyed the sites and each other’s company. I think Dad would have approved.

There are lots of details and photos about our adventures on the Mets Guy in Michigan blog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

Andrew was unable to take part in the South Dakota trip because he was working, but he did get a special vacation in Florida with Poppy and Grandma.

It started out a little rough, arriving in Florida around 5 a.m. after the flight being delayed at least three times.

But there was still plenty of time for spoiling. We went to the beach, to the pool, to Miami to see the Marlins' new ballpark and to Port St. Lucie to see one of the Mets' minor league teams.

Plus, we were able to spend time with Jenny and Neil -- and the adorable Katie, Ellie and Diana -- and John.

Dave returned from the road trip and stepped into a whole new world.

He loved his job at MLive/Grand Rapids Press, becoming the community engagement specialist right after the elections in 2012.
The MLive Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board was asked to take part in a portrait shot by Brian Kelly to promote LaughFest. That's Dave with Julie Hoogland and Monica Scott. Note our friend Joe the guard getting in the act.
Julie enjoyed attending the galas, like this opening night celebration at the Grand Rapids Auto Show.
The job is like the digital-age version of the opinion page editor, getting readers involved in the news through columns, social media and events. He was able to represent MLive at galas – Julie liked that! – organize a film festival and write editorials – topping the Detroit newspapers with a First Place honor in the Associated Press Awards. The website even let him run wild with a popular weekly column about bad postcards.

But a call came out of the blue with a question: Would he be interested in working for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder? Dave has always been interested in politics, had once covered the governor and admired his efforts to reinvent the state.

It was a tough decision, but he made the jump from being the person asking the questions to being the person answering them.

As deputy press secretary, Dave gets to travel with the governor to places near – Detroit and Grand Rapids – and far – Toronto and New York. He also gets to help determine how we can tell people about Michigan’s comeback.
Dave's new office is in the Romney Building, across the street from the State Capitol.
Dave's never had his own office before!
The Detroit News captured the deputy press secretary in action!
Caroline worked with Gov. Snyder at Focus: HOPE in Detroit, loading boxes of food for senior citizens.
It is a fascinating new world with many adventures and people. It's been a whirlwind -- the first week on the job was spent with Detroit being authorized to file for bankruptcy.

Dave has learned a lot, and has a lot to learn. It's an honor to be a part of the governor's team and know the positive impact his policies will have on Michigan for decades to come.

So as our year comes to a close, we look back at some special times with special people. The Lord has truly blessed us.

We’d love to hear from everyone. Each person in the family has a Facebook page (Dave actually has two; one is for work-related adventures) and our email address is dmurray08@comcast net. The bad postcard stories continue on the Mets Guy in Michigan blog, amid the baseball rantings.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a blessed new year.

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