The Finnegan's 2014

…whence begins the emptying of the nest

Exploring strange new platforms...
In year's past we sent you all holiday greetings via a custom web page. Since Emily Post, Dear Abby, and the ghosts of Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rodgers all agree that it's OK to send holiday cards electronically, we thought we try something a little different this year, so here you are reading it on something called Tackk.

Seeking out a new life...
It's been a year of transitions for Mom and Dad, with one daughter ready to graduate college next year and another one making the transition. But we all had no idea how big some of the transitions were going to be (queue suspenseful dramatic pause and continued below...)

Must have Voodoo Doughnuts
Coach Greg, Riley and Abi (the state finalists) and Head Coach Hal

Mom and Dad didn't do much traveling that wasn't related to one or the other girl's college, college plans, or adventures. The whole family rendezvoused in Southern California the weekend before Thanksgiving for Greg's sister's wedding and had a great time. And Mom, Dad and Riley spent some time over the summer volunteering at Carmel Youth Camp. There were also many conversations about downsizing the house and a few bursts of activity to get the house ready to sell.

And new civilizations…

This was a year of transition (and a surprise or two) for Riley. She completed her senior year in high school and continued her cross town commute attending both Medford high schools in order to attend classes not offered at her primary school. She competed in Cross Country in the fall and Track and Tennis (much to her dad's pleasure, as he got to coach her one final year) in the spring (running/training for an hour after school for distance track and transitioning right into tennis practice). All that work paid off because her and her freshman partner, Abi, qualified for the State tennis championships by playing two amazingly tense matches at districts. She also had time to perform in the chamber choir and was a Link Leader, helping a group of students better acclimate to high school.It was also the year of applying for and visiting colleges.

Ironically, the first school that she was accepted to, but never made it on to her top 3 list, was the eventual winner after a visit to Salt Lake City during Spring Break. Westminster College is a school with a strong service-oriented focus that aligns with Riley's passion for service in the community. Riley and Dad spent 3 days touring the city and getting the grand tour. Everything just clicked (almost like it was scripted) - cool science faculty (and building), an amazing choir, a great cross country coach, intimate campus (smaller than her high school campus), and great vegan food in the surrounding community. Riley was all set in early August to fly to Utah to attend cross country camp in the mountains and then a funny thing happened…

Both girls had the wonderful opportunity to attend one of the 114 worldwide Baha'i Youth Conferences (Riley in Tacoma, WA and Delanie in Oakland, CA). Riley called home the last evening of the conference and firmly stated that she was going to defer her college plans for a year and volunteer somewhere in the Northwest. After her parents picked their jaws off the floor and a little conversation with Westminster College (no problem they said - the deadline for deferral was still a day away!) Riley changed her plans and flew to Tacoma for 3 weeks of training.

Eventually she was deployed to a wonderfully diverse community in South Seattle called New Holly. She is one of over 50 youth in the Northwest who are trying to build better communities, primarily through the establishment of middle school youth groups. And then just after a couple of road trips by Mom and Dad to Seattle to help Riley and her two roommates furnish their apartment…Riley was asked if she would consider moving to Salt Lake City since she will be starting college there in the fall of 2014 and Salt Lake needed more volunteers. Now she has two new roommates and is starting fresh in a new neighborhood (cue trip back up to Seattle to move back down everything that was just moved up there). And she has Mom and Dad peeking at Zillow to see what it might be like to move nearby for a few years.

Boldly going…

Something strange happens as your children get older and independent. You notice that your photo library includes very few shots of one or more of the kids. And you finally get to feel how your parents felt when you skipped a holiday or two. Delanie is now in her second year at Oregon State. She loved living in the private women's dorm off campus last year and wanted to live there again - this year she is the house Resident Assistant. She is still studying criminal justice (although she's following in her dad's footsteps and fits in 2 or 3 PE classes each term), and she had applied for a summer abroad program in Spain to help with her Spanish minor, but those plans were set aside when she applied for and was accepted for a paid position at the Bosch conference center she volunteered at after graduating high school. Needless to say the siren song of the Santa Cruz mountains, free room and board, and her first significant paychecks won over. The result is that she hasn't spent more than a few weeks at home all year. But she's learning valuable administration skills assisting with the various programs at the center, and even better, mediation and cooperation skills dealing with all the center attendees.

Where no one has…

Mom is still working at Sacred Heart and loves working with the students, both as a grief counselor and aide (creatively utilizing some of the same skill sets in both settings). She has also served as the adult supervision for Riley's middle school youth group, so much so, that since Riley has moved (even more on that below), she is now working with a team of adults to do the work of one high school student.

Dad has been through a year of transitions at work. The first half of the year was spent on looking for even more ways to save the company money, including helping with the divestiture of the Florida Flyer (audible gulp). Then there was a transition to a new CEO (teeth gnashing), but things looked positive. Then the new CEO decided to divest the California PennySaver (hand wringing) to an investment group, but things sound good. Then the company president resigned (remaining hair bails), but a new president comes with great potential (temporary sigh of relief). After all this he still has his job and his health (oh, wait… there's that calf pull and glute/hamstring strain).

The dogs are both fine - Maddy is getting older and now refuses to participate in the farce that was the Christmas letter from the dogs, and Putz is, well, Putz. They are doing their best as surrogates for Mom and Dad when they miss their girls.

Gone

We all hope that you have a a joyful New Year.

Greg, Geralynn, Delanie, Riley, Maddy and Milfred Putz

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