Christmas 2008

To our friends and family: Greetings!                                       

2008 was a pretty boring year. Until we hit the road.

In January, Mary Margaret went to a conference in New Orleans and also got to see Terri Antholzner (35 years seemed to melt away), and her nephew Marc and his wife Irma Nuar. In February, Mary Margaret headed to Maryland for a Board Meeting for Camp Mark 7, while Jim stayed home and practiced with the choir.  

In April we went to Ireland with the St. Joseph (Lee Center) and St. Mary's choirs. We chartered a bus and toured the south part of the island from Galway Bay to Cork to Dublin.  Mary Margaret enjoyed staying in Limerick to see where her Great-great grandparents (Fox) met & married.  Jim enjoyed the beer and whiskey. The scenery, people, history, architecture, and shopping were pretty cool too. The Rome Observer story tells some of it; our photos tell more.

We had a “120 year” (the sum of our ages) birthday party for the two of us in May. In June we went to Boston to see Marieke walk in the graduation ceremonies of Harvard University. We were there to help celebrate her masters' degree (December 2007, actually), and enjoy speaker J. K. Rowling. Oh, the pageantry!  

In July we drove two Deaf students to Michigan to a Leadership Camp in the Irish Hills, and visited some of the family.

After years of planning by Mary Margaret, the Van Hout family International Reunion happened August 1-3 in Rhode Island and was attended by over 90 people from Belgium and across the US.  It was a grand, fun time.


In mid-August, we were off to Madagascar to see Kateri. We lived among the Malagasy for a week, and as Vazahas (tourists) for two weeks, so we got to see many aspects of the island. We came back with lots of stories, souvenirs, photos, and memories, and no malaria.  Glad to rest our heels awhile.

Leo's family went to Wilmington NC for the baptism of their Godson, Christian Clinch, in January.  In May, Leo and Katie headed to Las Vegas for business & pleasure, while we had fun with the little girls.  In August they joined in the reunion and planned the BBQ finale. Katie was in her friend Sue's wedding in October.  Leo judged an apple pie contest (tasting all 42 pies), and insulated his attic (Jim helped, and MM tended the girls). The girls are growing fast. Avery had her 3rd birthday in November and Annika will be 2 in January.

Jan-Luc had the best year ever - and it started with a fire in the new apartment he moved into! He overcame this setback by building an authentic German Beer Garden in his backyard straight out of the middle ages. That took some time but he also worked on several documentary, narrative and commercial pieces. He's currently writing an Alternate Reality Game and has his toes in other mind bending, cross-media endeavors. He lives in New York City with his roommates' cat Fera. Check out his blog and his movie company.

Marieke's 2008 has been a year to remember. She continues work in downtown Boston at The Bostonian Society as Collections Manager, researching and caring for the museum's object collection. She also moved back into Boston from the suburbs and happily dumped her car for public transportation. In May she participated in a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar and visited friends in London. Other trips this year included New York City, Rochester, Chicago, and Acadia National Park with her boyfriend Curt. Highlights for this year include graduation, greeting family at her museum during the Van Hout International Reunion 2008,  and having a blowout party for her 30th birthday. She does a great walking tour of Boston, so come visit!

Kateri is still in Madagascar, teaching English, and will return next summer. The Rome Observer is there with a front page story.

Kateri Van Damme
Lycee Victor Miadana
Mandritsara 415

She has a blog which describes her activities; Marieke controls access to it, so you need to write her (or us) to see it. She checks her e-mail and Facebook only occasionally when she gets to the capital, but has good cell phone reception (except for the 1 second time delay, and 7 hour time difference).  Texting works pretty well.

Mary Margaret still is the Director of the Syracuse Diocese’s Deaf Ministry.  It's part-time, so she has taken on other part-time jobs as a free-lance interpreter. So now she's working more than full-time.

MC, our old deaf cat, still complains about everything. So does Jim, who still works as a consultant  at the Air Force Research Lab. He tends our asparagus patch and websites, and sings and plays guitar in St. Mary’s choir.

E-mail us at vandamme (at) juno dot com (no forwards or hoaxes, please) and be sure to see the rest of our news, pictures and stories of Madagascar, Ireland, the reunion, our kids and grandkids, starting on our home page. We hope you are healthy and happy. Best wishes for 2009!

Jim, Mary Margaret/Tunkin, Leo & Katie & Avery & Annika, Jan-Luc, Marieke, and “Miss Kateri”

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Last polished on 7 December 2008