Greetings from the Fillmores during this wonderful season! We hope you are able to find some relaxing time over these few weeks to reflect on 2009 and prepare for a new decade! It has been a while since we sent out a real family update, so here goes…..
Our year started in Boston (with a snowstorm and a broken down car) and has ended in Switzerland (with snow everywhere and no car at all!).
In June, we bid a fond farewell to Harvard and the many incredible friends we have made over the past two years…and promptly embarked (in a car packed full with camping gear, clothes, food, our daughter Ella, and our dog Sierra) on a three week camping trip across the country to get back home to Oregon. We loved visiting family in Wisconsin and our many stops including Yellowstone, the Tetons, Tahoe, Crater Lake and (especially) Bend. Our first grocery store with agood selection of Oregon beers (near Idaho Falls) was a definite highlight, having our tent literally enveloped by Mosquitoes on Yellowstone Lake was definitely not (though Ella sure thought it was a riot to see mom and dad shaking off the bugs while taking down the tent ).
We spent a wonderful few months staying with Kim’s family in Oregon, where we were able to celebrate several weddings with our dear friends from college (I LOVE MY DUCKS!!!!) … Congratulations to Molly & Myron, Katie & Scott, and Wendy & Jon. Ella celebrated her 2nd birthday with grandparents and loved getting to see her family, and still frequently informs us that, “I’m going to Nana’s house today!” For us, the time “back home” was a perfect ending to a summer where we were blessed not just to spend time with wonderful friends and family, but to introduce our daughter to so many of the important people in our lives.
Alas, the summer flew by far too fast, and before we knew it we were saying our goodbyes to family (including Sierra, who Jon & Wendy graciously (insanely??) offered to keep for a year), and packing once again – this time for our one-year move to Zurich (courtesy of John’s new job at Bain). After spending a week apartment hunting while living from a hotel (the kind folks at the front desk took pity on us and, after one look at all the bags we had brought, immediately upgraded us to their largest suite), we found a nice little flat up on one of the Zurich’s many hills and gradually settled in for the ride.
Life here in Switzerland has been an unbelievable adventure. Kim and Ella have been adopted into a playgroup of American and German families and have explored more of Zurich and the neighboring towns than most natives. John has loved both his new job at Bain and the diverse people he’s met: right now he is working on a team of 2 Swiss, 2 Americans, 2 Germans, 1 Italian, and 1 Bulgarian.
We are consistently awed by the stunning natural beauty of this region and have greatly enjoyed traveling (nearly every weekend) both within Switzerland to the surrounding countries. Our highlights have included spending a wonderful “American-style” Thanksgiving with our friends Justin and Courtney (whom Ella has adopted) in Rome, hitting up Oktoberfest (of course!), visiting several little Swiss mountain villages, and enjoying the French and Italian countryside. Of course, as is almost required by law for every family at this point, Kim has started the blog to keep everyone updated on our travels and all the little cultural differences that make Switzerland so special!
We are thankful (almost) every day for the incredible opportunity to live here, but we miss you all dearly and are greatly anticipating stepping back onto American soil, seeing everyone, speaking the local language, being able to drive to the nearby Costco and Target, and drinking some fine American microbrews (John has developed such an aversion to Swiss beers that he’s even taken to drinking wine)!
As it seems to do every year, life has distributed more than its fair share of blessings to our little family, as well as a few moments of sorrow. We have been fortunate to have a happy and healthy toddler running around, and have celebrated with several friends welcoming pregnancies and newborns into their lives. Yet we have also mourned along with loved ones at the loss of grandparents and close friends, and we pray for the speedy recovery of those battling illness. Ostensibly, we know it is this ephemeral nature of our time here on earth which compels us to embrace life and to appreciate the countless blessings God provides to us each day; still it is with bittersweet spirits that we welcome Christmas into our home and anticipate the new year while remembering those dear to our hearts with whom we cannot share this special season.
Yet throughout the whirlwind of ups and downs that has become our life, nothing has played a bigger role than our beautiful little girl. Every day is a new blessing with Ella; regardless of the circumstance, she constantly amazes us by being an absolute firecracker of joy, laughter, and wonder. She has charmed everyone who meets her (taking much more after her mother than father in this matter), has LOVED exploring new places and meeting new people, and has a memory like an elephant (which certainly keeps mom and dad on their toes). And, much like the family of strong women from which she hails, Ella is determined to chart her own course – frequently telling us “Ella will do it HERSELF” (while we have no idea from where such a stubborn streak may be inherited, we’re pretty sure that John’s mom Dorothy has a hearty laugh every time that line comes out).
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
John, Kim and Ella
Ella in front of Lake Zurich and the Alps