Sunday, January 15, 2012

Another Year Wiser

Dear Friends & Family,

As another wonderful year draws to a close, we want to take the time to write to let you know how much you mean to us, and to let you know the highlights of 2011.

In January we celebrated Sheryl's birthday in Northern Ca with dear friends in San Jose and San Francisco. We got to spend time with Jari, Tim, Melanie, Tony, Ryan, Carole, Paula, Teri, Tamara, Margie. We thank you for the special memories we brought back in our hearts. Thanks also to Tony & Ryan for turning us on to some excellent new board games (we LOVE games), and thanks so much to Carole and Paula for your warm and generous hospitality! Now you all owe us a visit to sunny Florida.

Tony & Ryan whetted our appetite to play games more often, and after our visit to CA, we implemented "Game night" at the Cattell household on Sundays! I can't remembering laughing so much and for so long as we do at game nights. Have you ever watched your mom crawl on the floor flipping her tongue out trying to silently convey that she is a gecko? OK - we haven't either - but Toni's son Tom has seen this sight, and he didn't come back to our house for a very long time!?!? Hmmmm… we wonder why?

In April, Sheryl started a new job with a great company - Cross-Country Home Services ( When she left Bluegreen in 2008 she worried that she might never find another company or another team as great as that one - but she loves working at Cross Country and is part of a great group of people. It feels like she has finally found the company she has been looking for! She took time off after leaving Bank of America and before starting at CCHS, and spent well deserved time reconnecting with friends and loved ones in Dallas! She stayed with both Chelly and Kim, who now owe us a visit in 2012 so we can return the hospitality.

In May, Michelle Gosselin celebrated the 11th anniversary of her 29th birthday and the entire family turned out.


Also in May Jackie and Veronique came to S. Florida all the way from Brussels and they enjoyed it so much they plan an encore visit in 2012.

In June, we celebrated Pat’s (Toni's mom) 86th birthday with Toni's son Jerry and his wife Tiffany by sailing on Biscayne Bay on a 41’ Catamaran. It was a beautiful day; we swam in the bay, sighted dolphins playing and spent the day with loved ones. Mom loves boats, the bay and the ocean and we wanted to give her that experience again. We can't wait to do it again.

Later in June, we went to N. Carolina to visit and celebrate our dear friend Julia's birthday. We didn't want her to think she could escape our penchant for birthday celebrations just by living in another state during her birthday month!
In July, we attended SUUSI (Southeast Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute) in Radford, VA for the first time. We had a great time - the only downside was there is so much to choose from there is no way to do it all in a single lifetime. The Mountain Lake area is beautiful - with plenty of opportunities to hike, star gaze and experience nature. In addition to a smorgasbord of spiritual talks, activities and workshops, we experienced some awesome music from the most amazing singer-songwriters. The music alone is reason enough to attend, and we got to experience it up close and personal with suite-mates Amy and Brooke. Brooke taught us Thrifting 101 and we furnished our dorm room for less than $36. We are now hooked on SUUSI and Thrifting with Brooke! To top everything off we got to watch Tret Fure and Amy Carol Webb practice in our suite, it was like a private concert just for the 2 of us. On the way home we stopped in Charlotte to see Sheryl’s Dad and family, making it a perfect end to an amazing vacation. 

Sunday game nights were temporarily suspended at the beginning of NFL football season, which also coincided with a major change in Toni & Sheryl's lifestyle.  We started a pretty extreme macrobiotic diet, which consisted of no meat, no seafood, no dairy, no soda, no wine, no sugar, no processed foods, no coffee, (no "anything") and allowed for only limited types of whole grains (mainly brown rice) and limited selection of northern fruits and certain vegetables.  Also no microwave cooking, no Teflon, no aluminum pans, no electric stoves - Thanks to Toni's Mom for the new set of stainless steel pots and pans! We spent an entire Saturday learning how to cook macrobiotic food with Amy, Brooke and Zeli. We adhered pretty closely for more than three months (no we didn’t buy a new stove) and it made a significant difference in cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.  We've struggled to stick with it during the holidays - but we are committed to getting back to it in a big way next month.

In November, Sheryl and Toni spent a long weekend in NYC and went to several Broadway plays - the favorites being "The Mountaintop" (about Martin Luther King's last night in the hotel where he was assassinated) and "The Book of Mormon"- both were excellent and we highly recommend! The 9/11 memorial was very moving and perfectly designed for a sense that all life is connected and all energy lives on. For the first time, Toni came away actually enjoying New York City, and an appreciation for the "I love New York" mindset!

In December, Toni's niece, Misty, married Dexter Bean in Orlando in a beautiful ceremony! We were so happy to be there and so happy that Misty and Dexter found each other. It was also great to see our family members and meet the Bean family! Even "Big Jerry” - Tom and Jerry's dad- made it down from Lima, Ohio home of the TV program “Glee.” Speaking of family, Toni's son, Tom, once again has used his vision and his talent to remodel the guest bathroom this year to make it more accessible and more stunning. Thanks Tom for all the care and effort and thought that you put into your work- it always turns out beautiful.
We saw Lady Gaga who is an amazing performer and the message to her "little monsters" was all positive and life affirming, except for maybe the f word- but she meant that in the nicest way! :-) K D Lang gave a memorable concert and we think her new CD "Sing it Loud" is her best since Ingénue!

We've just finished the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson - and we both feel that it is one the most fascinating and informative books that either of us have read in a decade. It’s an intimate portrait of an extremely visionary, sometimes enlightened, flawed human being who has "made a dent" in the world with his genius. We handle our iPads a bit more reverently and are contemplating a Mac conversion.
Finally, we feel fortunate that we are able to see our families in FL and NC. Not as frequently as we want, but at least we do get to see Sheryl's mom & Bruce, Tom & Amanda, and Toni's mom and her family who are just a few hours away. And in 2011 we were able to make it to Charlotte a couple of times to see Sheryl's NC family. We flew to Chicago in May, and had a wonderful time with Jerry and Tiffany. Who knew that Chicago was so beautiful when it wasn't below zero? We Are So Blessed.

Just in case you don't know, if you are getting this letter, we count YOU as a blessing in our lives. Come to see us when you can, and we and the puppies and kitties will roll out the red carpet to welcome you to our home. We hope next year we can add your name to our list of visitors.

Love, Toni & Sheryl, Maya & Gabriel, Cassidy & Sundance

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