Sunday, December 13, 2015

College, careers and an empty nest in 2015

We are adjusting to life as empty nesters.

The holiday season finds Caroline off at college and Andrew with a job in the real world -- just two of the transitions we celebrated in 2015, which, as it comes to a close, we recognize as a very busy year.

Caroline wrapped up her senior year at Rockford High School with all the traditional activities – prom, graduation, open house – and moved ahead to her freshman year at Central Michigan University, where she majors in economics.
From prom to commencement to college, Caroline had a super-busy year.

Brother Andrew helped with the big college moving day.
Some aspects of the college world are familiar: Caroline plays piccolo in the mighty Marching Chips. You can catch the band and the football team on ESPN2, playing in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 28.

She’s also involved in the college version of the Rotary Club and student government. Her neighbor and best friend, Jordan Hill, also attends CMU, so campus is never a lonely place.

But Caroline is also learning about living away from home and sharing a room. CMU is located in Mount Pleasant, which is about an hour north of Lansing and about 80 miles from Rockford -- easy for Mom and Dad to head over for football games, concerts, supply runs and visits.
Every time we think about grumbling about the distance to CMU, we remember Caroline’s second choice was Michigan Tech University in Houghton, which, while still in the state, is about eight hours away at the farthest end of the Upper Peninsula. What’s the weather like in Houghton? The mascot is a husky named “Blizzard” and students have free access to a ski hill. We visited in February – during the spectacular Winter Carnival -- and were touched by the kindness of the people, struck by the beauty of the region and impressed by the programs. But CMU’s Business School was a better fit for Caroline.
Caroline also sparked a family vacation. Despite much photographic evidence, she claimed to have no memories of going to Disney World. We drove to Florida in early January, heading to Orlando with Poppy and Grandma for new and refreshed memories in the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT.

Andrew had an exciting year, landing a full-time job with Maple Creek retirement community, where he gets to use his experience assisting the senior population. We’re very proud of Andrew, and it’s exciting to think about the many people he’ll get to help during his career.
Andrew showing off his new sweater, one of Julie's projects that was discussed on a knitting podcast.
Nephew Zack Horve spent a day in Lansing with Uncle Dave to work on a Boy Scouts merit badge. It ended up being a pretty eventful day, with the U.S. Supreme Court announcing a ruling that affected Michigan. We later went to see the Lansing Lugnuts play the West Michigan Whitecaps, where Zack won a television. Pretty good day!
Julie enjoys her job in the communications department at Grand Rapids Community College, sharing the news of the college’s success through social media, speeches and media relations.

Her knitting has drawn some attention. Commentators on the podcast “Ladies of the Knit” twice discussed some of her projects. She also chronicles the family’s adventures in scrapbooks and takes part in the church’s new book club. 

Julie also basks in unconditional adoration from Tug, the family cat, who apparently has a following on Facebook and beyond.

Dave is excited about his November promotion to press secretary, working with an awesome communications team to tell the story of Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan’s comeback.

Press secretary in action.  Here's Dave conducting a "scrum" press conference after Gov. Snyder signed the bill that sets aside money to better maintain Michigan's aging roads and infrastructure.
We frequently travel around Michigan and sometimes pop into other states. But August brought the adventure of a lifetime when Dave was part of the Michigan delegation on an investment mission to China. 

We visited five cities – starting in Beijing and ending in Shanghai – meeting with government and business leaders and lots of reporters along with way. Highlights include visiting the Great Wall and West Lake, formal dinners and the ceremony involved with signing a memorandum of understanding at the Ministry of Commerce.

Every step brought something different and exciting. To visit China is to be awed by its modern and ancient architecture, fascinated by its history and warmed by the hospitality of its people.

Sometimes we go to other countries to tell the Michigan story, and sometimes  people from other countries come to Michigan. Dave was able to be part of the team that worked on the visit of the King and Queen of the Netherlands to Grand Rapids. Dave helped King Willem Alexander conduct a press conference before getting on the plane. And they needed to get on that plane on time -- it was the day of Caroline's graduation.
And, while the World Series didn’t end quite the way we had hoped, the Mets presented us with an incredible season, and there was at least one Mets flag flying proudly in Michigan throughout the fall.

One of the most exciting nights of the year: Dave and Will Christensen  met up in Chicago to see the epic Rush R40 concert. They wrote about the event and their favorite band for months prior on the Mets Guy in Michigan blog.
Looking back, we treasure the opportunities to be with our families and friends as schedules fill up and there are increasing demands on everyone’s time. This holiday season is a reminder that the Lord has blessed us with busy and exciting lives, and we are always appreciative of this.

We love to keep in touch. Everyone has a Facebook page. Dave actually has two – one for friends and family and one for people who like hearing about our adventures in Michigan’s reinvention. The family email remains

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and a very healthy new year. 

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