Holiday Greetings from the Stutz Family!

Dave, Alea and Breck at Puget Sound
Susan, Alea and Breck play in the Pacific
 We have had a wonderful year in Rochester, Minnesota and hope that is the case for all our friends and family around the world. Each of us has lots to share, so we'll start with the youngest and move on up:
Breck is almost four and really likes this age. He goes to pre-school two mornings a week and has made many new friends. He also took ballet this year. He wanted to go last year with Alea, but there wasn't a class for his age group. He does really well. He is the only boy in classJ and can plie, revele, sache and lots of other cool French stuff. His favorites are frog hops, bear walk, back rolls and marching. He is taking a break from ballet over the winter to try a turn with gymnastics. Dad and son still play hours and hours of baseball, football and Star Wars. Breck can make every spaceship sound from all five episodes. We went on a great summer vacation to the Ocean this summer. His favorite parts were climbing drift logs in Puget Sound, Washington, chasing gulls in Lincoln City, Oregon and tracking moose in Kemmerer, Wyoming.

Alea is five and is going gangbusters in kindergarten. She attends Lincoln Choice School every day until 12:00. Mom gets to volunteer in her class four or five times a month; she loves her time with Alea's class. Alea loves all subjects, but likes science best. She is really reading well. She sounded out Pakistan and Minneapolis the other dayJ . She is a writer, too. She wrote her own book, 'Princess Leia's Christmas', the other day (the Star Wars thing runs strong via Dave's genes). Alea also enjoys swimming lessons at the YMCA. She is in the "ray" class and can back-stroke the entire length of the pool. She is just getting brave enough to do the front float the entire width (a huge accomplishmentJ ). She starts a tap class in January and is very excited about that new adventure. Her favorite books to read are Frog and Toad. Our friend Nancy gave us four and we have read nothing else since getting them. Her favorite chapter is 'The List'.

It has been another full year for Susan. January brought her back to the high school classroom as a long-term sub with the Rochester district. She taught geography and world affairs and enjoyed it tremendously. In between classes, she hauls the kids around town in a new Saturn VUE. The train park and Quarry Hill Nature Center remain favorite destinations. Down time finds her reading, fuming over foreign policy, drying herbs, and crocheting rag rugs (a fascination ever since the Frontier House series on PBS). The year has been one of growth for her extended family: Carla had another baby boy and both Mark and Bill jumped the broomstick. We welcome Aiden, Jennifer and Nancy to the family!

Dave continues to work at John Marshall High School. This semester he taught sociology, ESOL government, and US history. Next semester brings a whole new gamut of material. He is webmaster for the school's webpage and also hosts the web club. While loving his work, he finds lots of time to spend with the kids. He goes to 'Dad and me' sessions with the kids through community education and plays hours of dress-up, football, wrestling, Barbies and (recently discovered) computer games. Blue's Clues pizza is their favorite.

The whole family went on the vacation to end all vacations this summer, driving through MN, IA, NE, WY, UT, MT, WA, and OR. Whew. We camped 15 days, stayed two days in a fire lookout (6700 feet Cougar Peak in MT), and hung out with family and friends the rest of the time. We hit five major national parks and dozens of smaller state parks and recreation areas. We saw most every Stutz family member there was to see and great friends, as well. We say 'thanks' to all those who hosted us and helped make a wonderful summer. Our home project this year was the lawn. We killed the entire lawn in May and re-seeded right before going out west for the month of June. We came back to a jungle: three feet high grass, pumpkin vines crawling into our neighbors' yards and batches of bunnies hiding everywhere. We are convinced we did our fair share to restore air quality to the areaJ . Our garden kept us in peas, tomatoes and pumpkins and our Minnesota prairie wild flowers all took beautifully. Fall has us in the school routine. Breck has blossomed in preschool and Alea loves kindergarten. We are so fortunate to have the educational opportunities we have. We spent the holidays with family in the Twin Cities area. Lots of love, laughter, ping-pong (great games, Dana and Jon!), presents, talk, food and fun.

Many hugs and warm wishes for a terrific New Year.

Dave, Susan, Alea and Breck