It’s 6:30 on Christmas Eve morning as I begin writing this. Why am up early on my first of five days off from work? Because my youngest daughter, Ruthie, needed to get to her nursing assistant job at 7, and we had to get a car free from six inches of new-fallen snow. Part of the record cumulative snowfall for December here in southern Minnesota, and further evidence for global warming.
But then again, isn’t everything?
So, as I sip coffee and wait for the snowfall to taper off so I can fire up my newly acquired snowblower (good year to get it, huh?), it’s time to reflect on – and give thanks for – the events of 2010.
I’ll lead with the major life-changing events.
That means starting with Judah, our grandson born to daughter Rachel and son-in-law Kyle on April 9 in Grand Rapids, Mich. Lisa was able to be there just before Judah’s arrival and stayed for 10 days. What a blessing he is! He’s a really happy, good-natured little guy, and while he’s not much of a conversationalist yet, it’s great that we can see and talk with him regularly via Skype:
Judah’s big sister, Evelyn, turned two in August. When we pay too much attention to Judah on Skype, she pulls the laptop in her direction so she can talk. Not that she’s lacking for anything.
The other really big event for 2010 was the marriage of my oldest son, Jacob, to a young lady named Alexi Iler. Our families have a lot in common: Lisa and Alexi’s mom Christie both homeschooled our children (sometimes even using the same curriculum), and Steve, Alexi’s dad, is an ordained Elder in the Presbyterian Church of America (I became one in February.) With all that, we’re willing to overlook their one major flaw: being from Wisconsin.
Here are Jacob and Alexi getting into the getaway vehicle following the obligatory pelting with environmentally friendly bird seed (click the image for full size):
…and a nice photo of our growing clan:
Here are a few more, including me with my bride (we celebrated 26 years together on Tuesday):
…and with my boys:
…Lisa enjoying feeling short:
…and Jacob with his sisters:
Rebekah, my middle daughter, is planning to go into nursing, and has been on a hiatus from higher ed as she waits to get into nursing school next Fall. She has taken advantage of the flexibility to spend extended time with Rachel’s family in Michigan:
…and for a junket of 2+ weeks to Europe with her best friend, Ellen (left):
I also got to visit the Louvre this year, but I’ll talk about that in a bit. She’s working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in the Twin Cities.
Ruthie, our youngest daughter, has been more in “nose-to-the-grindstone” mode, as she is in the tw0-year RN program at our local community college and also working as a CNA. She’s back home with us and concentrating on getting her debt-free nursing degree. We’re glad to have her around.
Joe, our middle son, is a sophomore at Austin High School and on the varsity basketball team. It’s really neat that his cousin Tom, my brother’s son, also is a sophomore, and that they’re both in the starting lineup. We’ll enjoy spending most Tuesdays and Fridays from now through March at the games, and it’s particularly cool for my parents to get to watch their grandsons playing together.
Here’s a newspaper photo of Joe from their last game:
…and some video highlights of Joe and Tom from their December games:
Joe is #55, like his dad was. Tom is #24. The boys have had a tough schedule to start the season, losing fairly close games to two teams ranked in the top 10 in the state, but we’re looking forward to a fun year.
I’m using the SMUG approach to support the team through our Austin Packers Fast Break Club site (a WordPress.com blog) and embedding video highlights shot with my Flip Ultra HD, which I am uploading to my personal YouTube channel. And of course, we’ve set up a Facebook group. I will probably end up doing a SMUG case study on this, showing how it all works together.
I also had lots of fun playing golf with Joe this Summer. Maybe we didn’t play quite as frequently as the President, but we still got out pretty regularly. And we had a good time when I took him on one of my trips, to New York, in July.
Our youngest son, John, is still being homeschooled. He turned 12 last month, but he’s six feet tall. Joe is 6′ 6″ (he’s 16) and Jake is a bit over 6′ 4″. John is about two inches taller than Joe was at the same age, but has no interest in (and little aptitude for) sports. He would be the first one to tell you that; he’s spent his whole life attending his older siblings’ games, and has decided he’s not a sports guy. He’s enjoying Bible Bowl, as Ruthie did, and is starting to show some promise in that. Mainly he’s just fun to have around, and the fact that we’ve seen our older kids grow up so fast makes us appreciate the son of our old age.
Lisa is feeling much more freedom with Joe at the high school and having only John at home during the day. With the wedding in August and her 10-day visit to Michigan in April, along with her joining me in Jacksonville for our Social Media Summit in September, and garage sales at which she finds budget-stretching bargains, and now the twice-weekly basketball games and Christmas shopping…well, you get the picture. She still has a lot going on.
My life is beyond full, and Lisa and I are so thankful for God’s blessings. In addition to everything I’ve just recounted on the personal side, it’s been a gratifying year for me professionally, highlighted by the approval we received to create the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media. It’s been a whirlwind, and adding six members to our team (we still have two to go) will hopefully help us catch up. I’m thankful for our team members and my Mayo Clinic Public Affairs colleagues who have helped us get to this point and for our initial Advisory Board members (we’ll be naming the remaining 12 after the first of the year.) The broad interest in the Social Media Health Network has been exciting, too.
I’ve gotten to meet so many interesting people this year through social platforms and also through travel to Chicago, Boca Raton, San Francisco, Orlando, Boston, Cooperstown NY, San Diego, New York, Paris, Asheville NC, Des Moines, Lake Ozark MO, Washington DC, New York, Sioux City IA, Okemos MI, Jacksonville, Philadelphia, Richmond VA, Chicago, Gothenburg, Sweden and New York. Virtual travel to Zurich, Toronto and Aarhus was fun, too, as were the many presentations within Minnesota and several webinars or webcasts with more widely dispersed groups. My best estimate is that I did 62 external presentations during 2010, whether in person or via the Web.
And then, of course, there’s been this university to run. We have 1,124 SMUGgles in the Facebook group, a 41 percent increase over last year at this time. And for the third straight year, we have no increase in tuition.
I obviously don’t know all that 2011 has in store. Only God does. I can only be grateful for his blessings in 2010, as I was for 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Not that I wasn’t grateful before. I just didn’t have a blog to express it.