Merry Christmas 2019

Note: This is our annual Christmas card and letter, sent to friends and family each December. Want to be added to the list for future years? Drop me a line!

Greetings to our friends and family,

We hope 2019 has treated you well and that this letter finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying the holiday season. We were blessed to have another year of love, good fortune, travel adventures, and personal growth and wanted to share with you a few of the highlights.

Eric & Katie at the Kohl Center in Madison
Eric & Katie at the Kohl Center in Madison

Happy, healthy, and wise

Katie excelled in her Director of Philanthropy position at UW-Whitewater, where she now has worked for more than nine years. She really enjoys the opportunity her job provides her to connect philanthropic individuals with promising students. If you get the chance, ask her sometime to tell you some of the heart-warming and inspiring stories!

Katie continues her hard work toward a Master’s Degree. She is deep into the UW-Whitewater MBA program, taking two online classes per semester. At her current pace, she will walk across the stage to receive her diploma sometime in late 2021, and we’d be honored if you shared that proud day with us. Stay tuned for details!

Eric continues his entrepreneurial journey as the owner and operator of his home-based website design and development business, Why The Fuss? Technical Solutions. He has several dozen clients across southern Wisconsin and also provides services for a digital agency based in San Diego. He was even selected to speak at a WordPress-focused conference in Raleigh, NC, in April. Eric appreciates the flexibility of being his own boss, but jokes that there are days when the boss drives him nuts!

View the WEAU news story on Ole’s ceremony

An honor four decades in the making

The biggest highlight for us in 2019 was joining Katie’s sister, Jessica Hanson and her family, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, state Sen. Patty Schachtner, an Army Color Guard, and other military officials, to formally present the Purple Heart and Good Conduct awards to our father and father-in-law, Maloy “Ole” Monicken.

Ole earned these awards for his courageous service in the Vietnam War, but due to bureaucratic error never received a formal presentation or documentation. This memorable event took place 48 years after he returned stateside, and was held in late August in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was the lead story on the TV news that night and topped the newspaper’s front page the next day. Thanks for your service, Ole!

On the home front

We are still in our home on Harmony Drive, taking steps here and there to upgrade the mechanicals and areas we have not yet replaced in our 14 years here. We remodeled the main-floor bathroom starting in late 2018 and wrapping up in January. It was a down-to-the-studs job — with all the surprises that entails — and allowed us to add a much-needed closet for storage.

Immediately thereafter we greatly increased our home’s insulation, which helped greatly during the -60 wind chills we experienced last winter!

We spent as much time as Wisconsin weather allows out in our backyard and tending to our landscaping, flower gardens, and vegetable and herb garden. A late, cool spring set things back a few weeks; however, this fall we harvested a stellar crop of tomatoes, peppers, various herbs, and even okra.

Atop the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis

Two wandering souls

We enjoyed a year full of travel adventures spanning from sea to sea, during which we visited a host of historic sites, museums, and natural settings. We often plan our trips around concerts, sporting events, or other special attractions that add additional benefits and fun to our travels.

In late May we ventured on a week-long road trip to the Deep South to experience a part of the country neither of us had seen before and, quite honestly, escape the wet, cool spring weather in Wisconsin. We spent several days in Jackson, Mississippi, where Katie’s hair learned about Southern humidity. We enjoyed the culture and food, while learning about the state at the Museum of Mississippi History and the area’s role in the Civil War by touring Vicksburg National Military Park.

Our trip also took us to Memphis, Tennessee, where we spent a powerful and somber afternoon touring the National Civil Rights Museum, located at the Lorraine Motel. This is a highly recommended destination for those who have not had the experience. Our stop in Memphis also included plenty of fun: We ate delicious fried chicken at Gus’s, took in a Memphis Cardinals baseball game, and fell in love with the Peabody Hotel ducks!

In late September we spent a long weekend on the Massachusetts shore. It was a perfect, sunny, fall weekend to explore Plymouth and Cape Cod, and we took in three days of intimate concerts by The Elovaters held in the “backyard” of the Levitate Surf & Skate Shop. We got a kick out of the local accents and appreciated the kind hospitality.

We apologize if we don’t cross paths with you during the Christmas season. We plan to spend the holidays this year in our favorite place, San Diego, where we have taken many trips together in the past 15 years. It will be a great way to end what has been a very prosperous year for our family.

Good tidings to you and yours

We hope 2019 has treated you as well as it has treated us, and from the bottom of our hearts, we wish you and your loved ones a joyous holiday season and wish you all the best as we enter into a new decade.

Merry Christmas! Winter Solstice Blessings! Hanukkah Sameach! Happy New Year!

With love,
Eric & Katie Kuznacic