Happy Holidays Everyone!

New Year's greetings to everyone. We now present a recap of 2011, just for you.

We began 2011 with Rhiannon finishing her winter break at home after her first semester at the University of Maryland (UMd) where she is majoring in Chemistry, minoring in piano performance, while following a pre-med track. It's great to have her home for 1 month out of the year.

Cindy's brother, John spent a day with us while he was here in D.C. for an annual conference. We took him on a visit of the UMD campus, but school wasn't in session so Rhiannon didn't get a chance to treat him to some of that delicious college diner food.

As usual, Rhiannon had the most interesting year. During Winter Break, she worked on applications for summer research positions. She continues to be in University band in the percussion section. The band performs 2 concerts per semester. In the Spring semester, she actually had a small piano part in one of the pieces; she's always ready to play piano. She also came home for Spring Break. The semester ended in May, just in time to pack up for her next adventure/experience.

Rhiannon accepted a summer position in the 10-week Gateways to the Laboratory program, sponsored by the Weil Cornell/Rockerfeller/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program in New York City (Manhattan). So, we loaded the necessary belongings and drove to NYC, arriving on June 4. As we were driving, we contacted Cindy's great-uncle & aunt who live in Flushing, NY. Our unplanned visit was met with a warm welcome. We had lunch and spent Saturday afternoon visiting with them. Cindy had not seen them in almost 30 years. Overnight, we stayed a few blocks from the complex where Rhiannon would be working/living, in a quaint bed & breakfast. It was a small one bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchenette. During the weekend, we walked around the area, took pictures and ate at interesting looking places. We went to Bloomingdale's where Cindy found the dress she's wearing in her picture.

While in New York, Rhiannon made the most of her summer program. She spent most of her time in a research lab at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, working more than full time to get a taste of the life she will have in graduate school (only a few years away!). The research culminated in a final paper, and the project is being continued by graduate students in the lab. Additionally, the program included opportunities for clinical shadowing. Rhiannon and other students observed doctors at work, seeing patients and doing surgeries. During limited leisure time, she and a few of her closer friends in the program went for numerous excursions around the city for shopping, real New York pizza, ice skating, 4th of July fireworks, and a late-night trip to Time's Square.

In August, Cindy & David returned to NYC for a 2-night visit. This time, the program paid for 2 nights in the hotel on campus. On Friday, a full day of activities was planned. We began with a continental breakfast where the parents, students and the program administrators mingled. The students each gave a presentation based on their research that summer. A 2 hour break for a buffet lunch and poster session occurred about halfway through the presentations. Rhiannon is pictured with her poster. Principle investigators and members of the various labs joined the lunch session. We finished the day having dinner with one of Rhiannon's friends and her parents. On Saturday, we packed up her belongings and headed home. Rhiannon had a couple of weeks to relax before packing up to go back to the UMd campus for the fall semester. Rhiannon was awarded the Martin L. and Sarah F. Leibowitz Fellowship for outstanding achievements in the Gateways to the Laboratory Program.

Cindy's brother made a 2nd visit to the area in October. This time we took him to Adele's, UMD's on-campus restaurant, staffed by students. We all had a wonderful meal that was concluded with a giant, shared ice cream sundae served in a large, souvenir goblet. Also in October, Rhiannon was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. The family photo was taken after that ceremony. In November, the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) honored several students at a dinner with their parents. Rhiannon was invited for maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her first year. She participated in 2 more University Band concerts where she was the featured soloist on xylophone for one piece.

Cindy's year was not nearly as exciting, but she did do a bit of traveling for work. In March, she and two colleagues traveled to Georgia for meetings with customers. In June, she traveled with 3 other colleagues to the UK. They went to three different cities for business meetings. At each city, Scarbourough, Harrogate and Cheltenham, they had time to have a nice meal and brief walk around the area. In Cheltenham, Cindy was able to visit with friends. Cindy and one colleague spent the weekend in London, before continuing the trip into Germany. They went shopping at Harrod's and saw the play, Mama Mia. It was great! In September, she took two colleagues to San Antonio, arriving early to visit with family and friends. She showed her colleagues some of the sites, including a Riverboat ride, dinner at Mi Tierra and dinner at Schilo's. All the trips were very productive but tiring.

David continues to refine his investment techniques. He typically meets his self-imposed weekly goals. David is also becoming an expert in the medical school application and admission process. He participates in several discussion forums.

David also instigated some needed home improvement projects. In January, a contractor was hired to remodel the master bathroom. He also researched and hired another contractor to redo the driveway, porch and walkway with stamped concrete. Stamped concrete is concrete that has been colored, then stamped with a pattern to look like other surfaces. In our case, the driveway is a brick red, herringbone brick pattern. The walkway and front porch are a gray slate pattern. The carport was also redone as a slab to support a future kitchen expansion (which has stalled, since we haven't decided on the new kitchen layout). Another project involved painting all of the wood trim and replacing/reinstalling the gutters. Many neighbors have complimented us on these improvements. Some research was also done on window and siding replacement.

The year ended with Cindy taking 2 weeks of vacation. Cindy and David had a couple of dinners at the on-campus dining hall to help Rhiannon finish spending her meal plan. Rhiannon returned home on December 21. School resumes on January 25, But Rhiannon will be starting work at a lab on campus on Jan. 9th. We spent a lot of this time cooking: baking cookies (bonbons – shortbread-like cookies wrapped around a treat [e.g. nuts, chocolate chips]), roasting the stuffed Christmas goose, frying latkes and making nachos. Our last project was designing, ordering and mailing our New Year's card, and writing this letter.

We hope your year was happy and fulfilling. We wish you the best for 2012.


Cindy, David and Rhiannon

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