2003 Year in Review

Alan & Brenda Brandhofer, 2002 at the Getty Museum

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holly This has been a busy year for us. This was our first winter living in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and just our luck, the worst winter in decades for this area. By springtime, Alan's back was ready for warmer weather and some relaxation. Then came hurricane Isabel. Isabel, again, was the worst hurricane to come to this part of the U.S. in decades. Sound familiar? Alan's back STILL hasn't recovered from battling the 60-mile and hour winds. We had two big cedar trees fall down in the backyard, the shed ripped off its foundation, ending up in the middle of the yard. Thank heavens nothing hit the house! We went to bed in the middle of the hurricane and woke up early in the morning to see blank spaces where there once were trees. The power was out for three days, so had to give away a freezer full of food. We were able to spend the rest of the long weekend with Brenda's family in the Shenandoah Valley. They live about 90 miles from us and they did not loose power. It took about three weeks to get rid of the trees in the yard.

We've also had a year that's been full of vacations. In July we went to Anna Maria Island on Florida's west coast. Our family decided to drive, which I doubt, we will ever do again. It takes a long time (about 15 hours) to get from Virginia to Florida in a car! Anyway, we had loads of fun for about 10 days, in our own rented house a couple of blocks from the beach. Brenda's mom, dad, sister, niece, and very good friends went, and it was fun for all. We did a lot of things while on the island such as visiting the Dali Museum, Jet Skiing, and watching some excellent sunsets.

Four weeks after that trip, we packed our bags for Las Vegas, baby! First we flew to Los Angeles and went to Alan's parent's house in Orange County, California for a couple of days. Alan set his mom's computer up so she could keep in touch with us and have Internet access at her fingertips. She's learning how to use her email now and is communicating like a champ! We went to Alan's favorite eating place (Hooter's) in Santa Monica with a friend there, then the next day we were off to Vegas. As we've pretty much learned in the past, Vegas is just a place to dump your money. We never come out of there with much left, but it WAS fun! We stayed at the Excalibur Hotel which is Alan's favorite (because they have a Krispy Kreme bakery).

In-between those two vacations, we started looking at real estate. Our realtor printed us a listing of 40 properties that met our criteria and we looked at 35 of the houses. We hadn't seen one that really caught our eye until the last one we saw, then decided we had to see it on the inside. We called our realtor, and the family just happened to be on vacation that lived there. We saw it and decided it was the one for us. The people that lived here needed two months to prepare, so, meanwhile, we were busy fixing our other house up to rent out to someone else. We found a family that wanted to rent it and were able to wait for two months to move in. Now we have a lovely second home with lots of trees in the backyard and a creek running behind it, that we own. To top it all off, we have great neighbors on both sides of us who have already gone out of their way to welcome us to the neighborhood.

Alan is still working for Computer Sciences Corporation but is now on site at a General Dynamics facility in Woodbridge, Virginia. He takes the train to work each day, as it is 40 miles north of the house. Brenda is working for Smith Thompson in their customer service department. They sell toy train and collectables. Their office is only six miles from home so Brenda has a short commute.

Health wise, just two items to share. Alan had surgery at the end of May on his throat. This surgery was needed to help him with some problems he was having during his sleep. He was off work for two painful weeks but the surgery completely healed and without complication. Brenda's big health event was the result of an accident. We were in the garage building some new shelves to store stuff on. Brenda was helping move a rather heavy shelf and accidentally dropped it on her left little toe. It "shattered" the bone according to the doctor. We spent five hours in the local emergency room. The first few days were very painful for Brenda but by the end of the week she was walking without crutches and doing much better.

So that is our year in review! New house, two vacations, broken toes, etc; It has been a good year for us overall and we are very blessed to have what we have. Our wish is for you too to have a great 2004. Please stay in touch. You can email Alan at alan@brandhofer.com or Brenda at itzmebrenda@excite.com. Hope to hear from you!

Alan & Brenda Brandhofer