Soule Family Christmas Letter 2012

It's been a rapidly changing past two years for us, and we regret the lack of opportunities to connect with our friends as much as we would have liked last year.  Major events for us were Beau graduating from High School in June, and Ralph retiring from his 29-year career in the Navy in November.

Of course we moved again in 2012; that usually goes without saying.

 

This past March, Pam traveled with Ralph to one of his work conferences in Phoenix, and also visited her sister Nancy who lives in the southern part of the city.

In June we met up with our high school friends Mike and Jeanelle and toured Oregon; a good time was truly had! Pam also visited friend Jane, and sister Bonnie. With both of her parents gone now, Pam doesn’t make it west as often now, so this trip was extra special for her. Pam had never been to Crater Lake, so this was one of highlights of our trip!  And, in September we visited missed family members in California.

Pam's desire to be west was only slightly assuaged by these trips, so Ralph is still on the hook to move west.

 

After Ralph's retirement last fall we moved out of our home in Yorktown, and took a Celebratory Trip to Europe late November through Christmas of last year (highlights of our trip are on this blog where you'll see separate posts for each major country: Spain, France, England/Wales, and Germany). Once back from Europe, we found a place to live in Norfolk, Virginia. Not too far from Yorktown, but closer to Ralph's work at the Norfolk Naval Station. We live in an older neighborhood and have been getting to know Norfolk through this past year.  We were, luckily, only slightly affected by Hurricane Sandy. 

 

Pam has been busy helping Beau with his job searches, transportation, etc., but is also managing to revive her massage practice. It is still in starts and backfires, but for the most part is starting to lift off the ground. 

As part of this, she's rejoining the massage therapy community by participating in various events like the annual AMTA (American Massage Therapy Assoc.) Conference, which this year was held in Raleigh N.C. and local AMTA events. Her focus in massage therapy is working with the elderly, which takes extra training and patience, but is what she enjoys the most.

 

Ralph also enjoyed the trip to Raleigh and noticed that massage therapists seem to have lots more fun at their conferences than engineers.

We also used the trip as an opportunity to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and to visit friends Steve and Suzanne in Charleston SC. Pam had never been to Charleston, so Steve and Suzanne gave us a very nice tour of downtown.

Along with Pam's business, she volunteers for an organization called the Citizen's Committee to Protect the Elderly. She works in their main office, but is also a humanitarian visitor who visits residents in nursing homes.

 

Ralph began his doctoral studies in the George Washington University's Human and Organizational Learning Program. He attends class on a Friday and Saturday each month, twelve hours each day, at the University's extension campus in Ashburn, VA (next to Dulles airport). The formal classroom sessions extend for two years, seminars the third year, and dissertation work thereafter (duration varies). When he is not in Ashburn attending classes or at work, Ralph is either playing soccer or studying. He does not have time for much else.

 

Ralph had two job changes in the past twelve months.  After retiring from the Navy, he worked with a company that provides engineering support and 3D visualization services. While working with this company, he traveled with a team to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to brief the Royal Saudi Naval Forces on maintenance management software. On the trip, he learned the perils of not making sure your cab driver knows how to get to your destination when wearing a suit in 125F heat as well as what yoga position is required for the last person to get into a compact car that already contains five adults plus driver (you don't want to know). Ralph changed jobs again in August to work for the Naval Sea Systems Command.

 

Nineteen-year-old Beau lives with us and is working at building job skills when we can pry him away from his Xbox. He is becoming more mature, but still cannot understand why no one will hand over the keys so he can run the world.


Our son Bryan lives in Jacksonville Florida and works for Lions Gate Technologies.


Ralph's parents still live in Virginia Beach, now about twenty minutes closer since we moved from Yorktown to Norfolk. Ralph's father had a pacemaker installed in October, which the doctors think will go a long way to keeping him from careening off furniture as a result of blackouts (scary!).

Our Norfolk address is is available if you request it via email (posting it on this blog is probably not a good idea) or just send a comment to me via the website.

(We expect to remain in Norfolk, until Ralph defends his doctoral dissertation, which he estimates will be in 2016).

                                                          Then we will finally be headed west!