Monday, December 17, 2007

'Tis the Season to be Green...

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy new year!This year we're trying something new for our annual holiday letter: we're posting it online rather than printing and mailing it. Most likely, if you're reading this, you already received our annual family photo (a tradition that just won't die!) and were directed to this page for additional photos and updates.

Think of it as one more step in our effort this year to go green.

Little gardenersOther steps range from small (replacing most of our lightbulbs with compact fluorescent versions), to medium (planting a vegetable garden -- a few zukes and lots of tomatoes), to large (composting!), to huge (installing new low-e/argon/Energy Star-rated insulated windows). Not sure how much money we'll save in the long run, but we've cut down on our trash output by about 60%, and we now have "brown gold" for use in our expanded garden next year. (Listen to Tom Chapin's "Brown Gold" ยป )

We knew our various efforts were successful this summer when Jonah saw some melon rinds and said he wanted the melon. Monica said, "No, sweetie, that's just trash." And Jonah replied, indignantly, "No, Mommy, it's not trash. It's compost!"

But enough trash talk. (Sorry, had to say it.)

Grandparents have a snowball fightThis year has been a good one for the Hertzman family. We were blessed with many visits with family, including for various birthdays and holidays. Monica's folks flew out to the 'Burgh for two weeks in February, arriving just in time to enjoy the worst winter we've yet had (including a week-long period when our driveway was a solid one-inch sheet of ice).

Boys in SantoriniOur remedy for that experience was an early spring vacation to Greece that also included a quick stopover in London, where we visited Monica's LSE friends Linda and Maddy and took a quick ride on the world's largest ferris wheel (the London Eye).

All the CousinsIn July we headed to Massachusetts to meet our new niece, Rachel. Along with a trip to the Boston Children's Museum and to see the Hopper exhibit at the MFA, Noah was able to see his first live (and loud) fireworks display.

With Grandma, Grandpa, and the train The boys also experienced their first full week of Grandma and Grandpa Camp at Adam's parents' in Maryland, and we were able to visit with them for a weekend in October in Cumberland, Md., where we took a scenic ride on a historic, steam-powered locomotive.

Thanksgiving in Chicago Thanksgiving in Chicagoland was fun and exiting (except for the drive) and we enjoyed our visits with GGMama, Uncle Larry and Aunt Bobbie, Uncle Lee, Monica's cousins, and more.

But, our many travels aside...

Monica and Adam celebrate their 9th anniversaryAdam's job at PPG continues to go well, and he now has three associates reporting to him in market research. His work now takes him to such far-flung locales as Eau Claire, WI, as well as the old standards: Mooresville, NC, and Louisville, KY.

Monica's workload at RAND increased substantially in the late summer and early autumn as she and her colleagues rolled out a new design and features for the company's intranet (internal, employees-only Web site), but her work was met with many kudos and things have now returned to a normal pace. Thankfully!

First day of KindergartenThe biggest change for the family is that Noah began kindergarten this fall (after graduating from Bright Horizons preschool in June and attending summer camp in July/August). The increased logistical challenge led Adam and Monica to bite the bullet and purchase a new (used) car this summer for Adam's commute. (Perhaps our composting, etc., was a subconscious attempt to make up for our increased carbon footprint?)

Kindergarten is going well, and Adam and Monica couldn't be happier with the school, the faculty, and Noah's social and educational progress. Noah attends additional reading classes led by one of the school's gifted coordinators and goes to one of the 1st grade classrooms for math. He's made many friends in both classes.

Noah's Karate testNoah also loved summer camp and has since begun swim lessons (with Jonah, too) in preparation for our trip next summer to Hawaii. His schedule is rounded out by twice-weekly karate classes that he began in May. He recently tested up to the rank of orange belt -- a process that included breaking a board with his hand. As we expected, karate has been a great experience for Noah, and Jonah is eager to start as soon as he can -- probably this summer.

Jonah celebrates his last diaper!Jonah did his part to reduce our carbon footprint, too, by becoming fully potty trained this spring. In June he got his own big-boy bed (a bunk bed, though he's on the bottom "under the sukkah"); he and Noah enjoy occasional weekend "sleepovers" in each other's room. And Jonah is now in the same Bright Horizons preschool from which Noah graduated this past spring. He is doing as well as his brother did, and we couldn't be happier with his teachers; Miss Janice is a gem. Of course, he can hardly wait until he's big enough to do everything Noah does, from taking the bus to camp and kindergarten, to taking karate.

Our former bunny, PandaSome of our other activities this year included babysitting a piano (for our friends Jenny and Mike, who moved to Pittsburgh and needed a temporary home for their Steinway while they house-hunted), adopting a bunny for a month (sadly, we discovered that Adam was allergic, so we had to return "Panda" to the shelter), and taking up swing dancing again.

Our Pirate ShipWe also participated in PPG Place's annual Gingerbread House competition for the second year in a row, and this time received an honorable mention (and, to continue with the color theme, a green ribbon!) for our "Pittsburgh Pirate Ship" entry -- complete with billowing sails, gummy-shark-infested waters, and a Teddy Graham pirate forcing another Teddy Graham to walk the plank.

We hope you also had a happy, healthy, and fun 2007, and that the coming year is even better. Please keep in touch and let us know how you are doing, and we'll do our best to do the same. You can always email us at Monica's yahoo account (monicahertzman) or Adam's (ahertzman).

Best wishes,
Monica, Adam, Noah & Jonah

PS -- You can see these photos (and more) in an online Best of 2007 slideshow at © 2009 | Email Us | Home | Family Pix | Movies | Trip Pix | Blog