This week, I’m re-purposing (I love that word, it sounds so much better than saying that I’ve found a way around doing more work) our 2014 Christmas letter as my blog post.

If you follow my blog, (so you’re the one!) thank you for the time you haven taken to read my ramblings and hear about the happenings in our household. I wish you and those dear to you a very Merry Christmas.

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope this letter finds you enjoying a happy, healthy, and not too crazy holiday season.

Speaking of health, that’s a subject we don’t take lightly as we begin a new year. Steve knew he had some heart disease but when he went in for a stent last March, the cardiologist discovered that his arteries looked like the LA freeway system on a Friday afternoon before a three-day weekend – clogs everywhere. It was either schedule the surgery ASAP or make sure that he had 911 programmed as a “favorite” on his phone.

So in April, Steve had triple bypass surgery and eight months later he’s doing great; he dropped 20 pounds, went through a cardio rebab program, and recently resumed his workouts at the gym. We feel so blessed that it wasn’t an “event” – the euphemism for a heart attack – that put him in the hospital, but instead, we were able to schedule the surgery around our kids’ graduations.

First up on our graduation trifecta was Ethan’s in early May when he graduated from his 18 month Korean language program at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey.  Following graduation, Ethan spent the summer getting additional intelligence training at an Air Force Base in the Middle of Nowhere, Texas. Then it was on to Korea where he is stationed at a huge Army base in the heart of Seoul. Because it’s the army, he says there’s the usual amount of make-work projects, but he continues to be enthusiastic about his decision to enlist and the opportunities available to him. As long as Kim Jon-un doesn’t go totally wacky, Ethan has his day job on the base and the weekends to explore the second largest metropolitan area in the world. Let the adventure begin.

In mid-May, we drove to Orange, CA for Valerie’s graduation from Chapman. After initially feeling that she wasn’t “blonde” enough for Southern California, Valerie found her place in the graphic design program at Chapman, thanks to a wonderful department chair who nurtured her talent, developed her marketable skills and also welcomed her into his family. Right now, she’s wrapping up a short term job at a law firm – not related to graphic design but it pays the rent – and looking forward to expanding her free lance clientele. She hasn’t changed from when she was a preschooler drawing at her Little Tikes table; she is always creating art. Since she’s not a big self-promoter and I’m a proud mom, I will add that you can find some of her delightful art by searching for her name on Tumblr.

And last but definitely not least, at the end of May, Jennifer Lynn graduated from Montgomery High. What motivated her during her senior year to get out of bed, work hard to pass her IB diploma exams and keep smiling at cranky customers during her shifts at Starbucks?  The dream that her efforts would result in the opportunity to escape our condo in Cotati and go away to a four-year college right out of high school. We consider it nothing less than divine intervention that her dream became a reality when Pepperdine in Malibu offered her a full tuition scholarship. Gauging by the infrequency of her calls home and the frequency of her Instagram postings with friends at the beach, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and Bevery Hills, she has had a wonderful first semester. She assures me that studying does happen in between the SnapChats.

While Steve keeps Rustad Marketing chugging along, I spend my days managing projects for a branded promotions company. Hard to believe I’ve been there a year because the days absolutely fly by. We work with a lot of great clients including developing products for museum stores. S o remember, always exit through the gift shop!

We wish you and your family a joyous holiday season and very Happy New Year.

Love, the Rustads