Happy New Year!

Christmas Tree
Our happy little Christmas tree!

Greetings, Family and Friends!

It’s time for another belated holiday letter from the McHardy/Griffis household! (On the Orthodox calendar, Old New Year is celebrated on January 14th, so we’re actually still just barely in the holiday season!) Although 2012 was a very different year from the last few (no international traveling, no big moves, no job changes, etc.), it was a busy year for us here in Denver, Colorado!

Alex celebrated his one year anniversary as a user interface web developer for Beatport, and all his hard work was rewarded with a nice raise! A big success for his team was developing a website for DJs to upload and sell their mixes. He continues to play hockey every week, and his team won the league championship last spring! Alex’s newest hobby is fixing up our old road bikes and tricking them out with colorful tires and accessories. He also became an expert chef and dishwasher while Emma spent her evenings doing school work.

Capstone Project
Emma’s completed MPH Capstone Project!

Most of Emma’s time this year involved studying for her Master of Public Health degree at the Colorado School of Public Health. She completed an internship and final master’s project at Denver Public Health, prioritizing injury concerns for school students (bullying, assaults, suicide, and sports-related injuries). All her hard work has paid off, with a scholarship awarded by faculty members in recognition of her academic and leadership excellence. With just one course left to graduate, Emma’s pretty darn excited to get the degree finished and start making an impact!

Alex gets our campfire going!

Of course, we kept ourselves pretty busy outside of work and school. We joined Park Hill United Methodist Church in the spring, serve as ushers every-other-week, and have made great new friends through our young(ish) adult small group. We also played on the church’s summer softball team and contributed to the team’s “perfect” 0-11 record. Of course, living in Colorado means occasional trips to the mountains for hiking (including summiting Emma’s first “fourteener,” Mount Bierstadt), skiing, and camping. We spent a lot of time on our bikes, commuting to/from work and school and generally just riding around town.

2012 found us mourning the deaths of Alex’s grandparents, Rudy Kunza and Hazel McHardy. Fortunately, we were also able to spend some good quality time with family. Our parents made it to Denver for visits, complete with brewery tours, skiing, and hiking. We also got to spend some time in Missouri and North Carolina with the McHardys and Griffises. Emma’s sister, Anna, moved to Denver in the summer to start nursing school, and Alex’s twin brother Bill just moved to the state with Steph and Jonah. We’re pretty thrilled to have some siblings nearby!

The first pictures of our little squirt!

As for us, we’ll become a family of 3 sometime in late February or early March with the birth of Baby McGriff/Griffardy! We can’t wait to meet the little one and begin the wild and crazy adventure of parenthood! Emma is particularly excited for the kiddo to stop using her ribs as a jungle gym.

So, here’s to a happy, exciting, and fun-filled 2013 for us all! Remember that you always have a home-away-from-home with us. Happy New Year!

Love and peace,

Alex & Emma


2012: A sampling of pictures from the year.

Beaches, SCUBA, flip flops, fevers, and more

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost half-way through our trip already!

Basically, we’ve had:
-3 days in Bangkok
-over night train to southern Thailand (Surat Thani)
-3 full days on the northeast side of Ko Pha-ngan (ferry to and from the island), relaxing on the beach
-two day trip across Thailand to the west coast, with an unsuccessful detour to Kao Sak national park
-day in Kao Lak, which is totally shut down this time of year because of weather, but enjoying a small street festival
-day in Krabi, trying to figure out scuba diving, eating street food at the night market
-week+ in Ao Nang, taking scuba lessons, relaxing on the beach, with a few days break due to bad diving weather and bed rest for Emma who had a bit of a fever

Besides the fever, we’ve had a good time here in Ao Nang. We spent two days getting educated all about scuba diving and practicing in a local pool and then got to go to the Phi Phi Islands to put our new skills to practice. Although a little nerve wracking at first and a little counter-intuitive, it is pretty amazing to be able to breathe and move around so freely underwater. Unfortunately, the weather’s not the best for diving this time of year and visibility was poor, but we got to see lots of cute little Nemo clownfish, bright blue sea stars, a crown-of-thorns starfish, a moray eel, a lionfish, some giant-caterpillar-type sea cucumbers, and the back of a sea turtle as it swam away! We were lucky to have a great instructor, Terry, who taught us the number one rule of diving: look cool! I don’t know if we succeeded, but we’ll keep working on it!

You never know with this kind of traveling, but hopefully we’ll be in Laos a couple of days from now. We’ll take an overnight bus up to Bangkok today, then probably another overnight bus to the Laos border the next night. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly. In Laos, the plan is to spend a few days each in Vientiane, Vang Vieng, and Luang Prabang. If we have the chance, we may go for a ride on the Mekong River.

Finally, we got some photos uploaded! Enjoy!