Merry Christmas 2010 - Happy New Year 2011

We think this is the year to go greener - so most of you will be seeing just this electronic version of our Christmas card - fortunately all the electrons used in making and sending the card will be fully reusable - please use them wisely and thoughtfully...

The word for the year is CREATIVITY - the average loss of such for U.S. school children over the past 20 years having been continuous... Are we a family of average creativity? Better, of course, and to paraphrase Garrison Keeler, we are "all above average, and also good looking": neurological researchers point out that changing dynamics in a person's life, often renews their creative abilities - if that is true, we are well on our way, since the family urges to travel and change never seem to stop: so, read on...

Another eventful year for the Berry families... the birth of grand-daughter #6 - Saskia Rosalie Berry, on the 13th of June in Nico, Sarah and Simone's new home at 98 Newton St., San Francisco (see some pictures below). Originally looking just like her older sister, she is now developing her own inimitable self, alert and ready to grab anything within her reach: in our two visits to San Francisco we found her especially cheerful with her best friend Simone. Sarah is completing her book (almost done, as of this morning) and her second year as a lecturer at Stanford University. Next year may bring changes or another position at Stanford; while Nico works at home and cares for the 2 girls. He and his friend from Minneapolis worked hard for 2 months bringing the house, especially the kitchen plus two roof skylights, into the 21st century - I envy his great accumulation of power tools, now stored in their garage - ready for their plans for more changes to their beautiful home.

Changes for Geb and family: Do those children grow! Hard to believe that Mireille (10) is a serious 5th grader, and wizard Savannah (9) is in 4th grade. We were lucky to have them with us in the midwest twice this year: in August for 10 days, and then a wonderful drive back to D.C. stopping in Fort Fun (Fort Wayne), Indian mounds and a pioneer village along the Ohio river, and the American Taj Mahal, deep in West Virginia. And then at Thanksgiving, he and Alison flew off to a friend's wedding in New Delhi, India, while we got the girls for 10 more days - (more about that later). The girls brought their viola (Mireille) and violin (Savannah), and played/practiced a little - some Berry heretofore-hidden musical talent. Geb has changed jobs, by his own request, to another division within L'Oreale, still at their NY City offices. He (with Alison) is negotiating to buy an apartment (also) in Brooklyn, nestled next to the Williamsburg bridge.

Daniel and Anita remain in Frankfurt, but that does not stop their non-stop traveling for business and pleasure. We were with them for Christmas last year, and then for the New Year together with Geb in London (also to see Phil and JC in Slindon), and a Huddersfield football match with John B (just Gordon and Daniel). Anita's job ended in May, but she has had extended work since then, going to Tanzania & Namibia a couple of times; Daniel teaches English to first graders at a local private school - the work has its ups and downs - and he is likely to change at the end of the school year - the school is new and still going through lots of growing pains, both for teachers and administration. They both go camping in the mountains of southern Germany. They came to Chicago in October, drove our car (with permission) first to Tito an Mary's (Anita's parents) in Las Vegas, New Mexico, then on to San Francisco, and a flight back to Frankfurt - [that necessitated my flying out there to pick up the car] - I drove back to Salt Lake City, arriving within minutes of Mary's flight from Chicago, and we then drove together through the wilds of Wyoming, the netherlands of Nebraska, the i-sights of Iowa, (the Pat Clark Gallery at Iowa Falls), the river town of Savanna, Illinois (could not miss), and Reagan's home town of Dixon (curiosity, not a pilgrimage).

Sebastien and Mia and their two girls are still cheerfully ensconced in Louisville Kentucky. 2nd grader Ava and kindergartner Tyra are changing fast: they loved playing with their Berry cousins in August and at Thanksgiving - we visited them in the spring when the maple syrup was flowing - including Ava's great find of a racoon (or skunk?) skull in the Indiana forest. In January, Mia resigned from her cell phone support company job, to spend more time at home with the children; she has been working part time since the summer. Sebastien continues to help children in great need in the Louisville public schools. His initiative at Thanksgiving resulted in a busy hive of sewing, cutting, glueing industry as all the Berry girls received the home-made Berry soccer team shirts (see pics) - they will need to practice together next year in order to qualify for the Premier League.

Besides our visits to the East Coast, to San Francisco and to Louisville, Mary and I restricted most of our travel to weekends between Chicago and South Bend. Our alternating houses and democratic marriage seems to suit us well, relaxing at shows in Chicago and at house auctions in Indiana. Gordon's 70th came and went peacefully in July. A reminder that brother Godfrey was 80 in November in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and even twin-brother Philip has also reached 70! While brother John soldiers on alone in Ossett, Yorkshire - his children are urging him to move south, closer to them, but he is unwilling to give up yet on the neighborhoods of his whole life - a difficult decision on moving - try to be creative John!

Not to forget of course, Mary's creativity and productivity! Her final chapter written, THE BOOK, "Don't leave the story in the book" went off to the publishers in late November - it will be a best-seller, but that story is in the future...even so, she had time in September for a fabulous two weeks in China, on a people's education tour, to Beijing, the Great Wall, the terra cotta soldiers in Qian and ending up with her favorite place Shanghai, where she was able to stay a few days with Tian, her Chinese "daughter" who had stayed at our home in Chicago in the Spring of 2009 for 12 weeks as she worked at the Erikson Institute. Gordon's Notre Dame semester had just begun, so he was unable to leave 300 sophomore engineers dying to learn about the intricacies of Coulomb, Biot-Savart and Maxwell's equations.... Next time, we shall both go - if for no other reason than to keep our creative juices flowing....our professional work seems to be coming together - helping teachers at all grades (PK to 12 and beyond) understand benefits of the child-centered classroom.

We are having our coldest and snowiest December for 30 years, so the claims that global warming is a myth keep coming back into public consciousness. A physicist asks - why don't people just look at the data? The measured increases in all relevant parameters - amount of CO2, average temperatures, thickness/loss of the polar icecaps, loss of glaciers - all track consistently since the beginning of the industrial revolution 150 years ago - no need to have a degree even from highschool to understand the connections (unless you are a politician) - and the number of electrons remains the same!

Hope your boundless energies are driving your creativity too...

Love from Mary and Gordon

5411 S. Harper Ave., Chicago IL 60615, [Note email change] h=773-241-7219, cell=773-412-7219
917 W. Washington, South Bend IN 46601 h=574-282-2430, cell=574-514-4009 Website:

Pictures follow...

Click (once or more) on any of the pics below for bigger versions..
Loving sisters - Saskia and Simone
Two pioneer ladies at Roscoe Village, Coshocton, Ohio
Deep in the heart of Southern Indiana
Anita and Daniel - New Year 2010
The London underground gang
Geb, Mireille and Savannah at a London wall
5 cousins drawing at Harper
Allison and sons
Simone showing Anita and Daniel her treasures
Saskia trusts Anita
Ava with fircones, Tyra on the bridge
Gogo and the girls, at Wells on the Ohio
In the Berry soccer team shirts
Fort Bridger, Wyoming
Hyde Park London group
Mary, Tian and Riyu, Shanghai
The lion has company - Taj Mahal, West Virginia
Mia, Ava and Tyra
Mary and MaryO (Yeager)
Savannah and Mireille and their Christmas decorations
The Dinner-in-Arlington gang
Savannah, Mireille and their cousin Hynes Tran
Mary Hynes-Berry, ready!
Mary on the Great Wall of China
Saski relaxing with her parents
Savannah at the Ohio river
Mary, Mireille and Savannah at Wells on the Ohio
Simone, Nico (& Saskia) and Sequioa at the front door
Talking to the dragon at Slindon
Proud makers of a fairy bower at Slindon
Knocking each other off a log
Sebastien helping(?) Ava
Sebastien Ava and Mireeille in the Harper kitchen
Simone and Mary waiting for the San Fran bus
Robin on the South Bend back porch
Tyra under the 3 riding horses
Making maple syrup with hot stones
Downtown Savanna on the Mississippi
Savannah and Peter Rabbit playing Asterix chess
Anita and Daniel with Christmas stockings
Winnemucca and mountain, Nevada
Old radar at the top of Winnemucca mountain
Near the top
The storm approaches in the scrub of western Wyoming
Wyoming deer