Baby on the Way & Year in Review

Mojave Preserve
Season's greetings from the Porters!

Time has really been moving along quickly for us and it's hard to believe that it has been a full year since our last update. I can't resist starting off with our biggest news of the year, which is that we are expecting a baby girl! She is due May 3 so we are starting to think about painting and getting a nursery ready. We can hardly wait and look forward to the new experiences to come.

Since our last update we have been busy as usual. Brenda continues to thrive at her job as a school counselor and I have stayed very busy as a network engineer. In the past year at my work we have hired around 20 new employees and launched residential TV, internet and phone services in our community. At church Brenda has been le
ading the deaconess ministry and I have continued to be involved with the webcast team and the personnel committee.

We have also stayed busy with travel and other fun activities. In the first part of the year I had a work trip to Dallas, Texas and got to attend a hockey game while there. A couple weeks later I joined friends for some winter hiking on the Cumberland Trail and then we traveled to California for Brenda's spring break. Unfortunately Brenda came down with a second case of mono early in the year so she missed some work and then really had to take it easy on our trip. We enjoyed spending time with family in California though and also got to take an overnight trip to Catalina Island aboard a friend's sailboat. It was fun to introduce Brend
Independence Pass in Colorado
a to sailing and to be on a boat again, although most of us got rather seasick. For the second part of the trip we drove to Las Vegas with a side trip to the Mojave Preserve. The desert views and blooming flowers were a sharp contrast to the busy streets of Las Vegas, but we did have fun seeing many free sights and shows there while pushing Brenda around in a rented wheelchair.

After our trip Brenda was able to return to work and gradually gained her strength back. In the spring we joined my parents for the weekend at Callaway Gardens in Georgia and then were treated to a visit from Brenda's brother and his family. They came back to the US from Cambodia for the summer to have their second baby. In June we celebrated our two year anniversary by spend
Esther Memorial Weekend
ing a weekend away together at a bed & breakfast and then later in the month we went camping with friends.

In July we traveled to Colorado for a memorial service for my great aunt Esther which turned into a family reunion with family coming in for the holiday weekend from all over the country. We really had a great time together visiting, hiking and remembering Esther. From Colorado Brenda traveled to New Mexico to meet her new nephew while I went back to work in Chattanooga for the week. I then flew back to New Mexico where we spent almost a week with Brenda's family. Our main focus was on meeting the new baby, but we also got to visit some cliff dwellings near Lo
Pewitt Family
s Alamos and took the kids to the Albuquerque Zoo while there. In August we went camping at Whigg Meadow where we were able to pick nine pounds of wild blueberries while enjoying a panoramic view of the surrounding valleys. The first night we survived a powerful thunderstorm but then on the second night we were treated to an amazing view of the stars on a moonless night away from all the light pollution. Another activity for us this summer was boating on Lake Chickamauga on a friend's boat several weekends. I especially enjoyed the wakeboarding although tubing and just being on the water were fun too.

We started off the fall season with a trip to the Northwest where we visited the Columbia Gorge with friends and then attended the annual Huckleberry weekend family gathering organized by Brenda's extended family. The weather was not ideal so we were glad to be camping in a dry van. In spite of the cold weather we were still able to bring a few quarts of berries home with us which I picked in the rain
Cliff Dwellings at Bandelier National Monument
and sleet with a large group of Brenda's family. After the huckleberry weekend we visited my aunt Janette who lives on a boat for a couple of nights. By then the weather cleared up so we had a perfect day of cruising on the river. Later in the month my sister Sarah came to visit for a few weeks and then in October I got to go hang gliding for a delayed birthday present. It was an awesome experience to soar over the fall colors and to finally take advantage of the world class hang gliding school less than an hour from our house. In early November we spent a weekend at a mountain cabin with friends and then rode on a scenic railroad along the Hiwassee River where we caught the tail end of the fall colors.

The holiday season got off to a good start fo
Whigg Meadow
r us with a Thanksgiving visit from Brenda's parents. While they were in town we visited the International Towing and Recovery Museum which was entertaining. We also took a ride on the Tennessee River Gorge Explorer boat operated by the Chattanooga Aquarium. We then took an overnight trip to Asheville, NC. On the way there we took the scenic route and stopped for a picnic at Fort Mountain in Georgia and then toured the Biltmore House the next day. We especially enjoyed all of the Christmas decorations and several newly restored rooms in the huge house. We also made a stop at the farmers market which was much larger than we had expected. They have several large warehouses which you can drive through to purchase all kinds of fresh produce as well as two buildings full of arts, crafts and food. On the way home we took another scenic route since both of the regular routes were blocked by landslides. For Christmas we joined my dad's side of the family at my
grandparents' house where we had a good time playing games, eating good food and spending time together. As I write this we are on a plane headed to California for a few days with my mom's side of the family. We are looking forward to our first baby shower this week and some more down time.

We hope that this holiday season finds you well and we wish you all the best in the new year! We plan to post updates here more often in the year ahead, but you can also see what we are up to between updates via Facebook.

Until next time,

Andrew & Brenda