Sunday, January 6, 2008

2007 Christmas Newsletter

January 6, 2008

Happy New Year!!! Please forgive the lateness of our holiday greetings. I was struck with a stomach flu that lasted through Christmas to this week that I am still not over, but am now able to get to the computer. 2007 had been a very busy year in the Fortney household. As you may have noticed, we did not send out our annual Christmas newsletter last year as we were recovering from our respective surgeries. We were the walking wounded at Christmas, hobbling around like the geriatric couple we are becoming. If you did not receive our email anecdotes of Jimmy’s hip surgery or you just want to relive all the fun again, you can go to my blog on Blogspot at

While Jimmy was recouping, he had the Matt’s working their tails off around the house. As Jimmy was convalescing in his Lazy-Boy, he would come up with all kinds of chores that he wanted done and every morning he would enlist the Matts, giving them instructions for the day. Both of them were quite happy to see Jimmy go back to work in January.

Though we loved having the kids around, we were envisioning Autumn, Matt (son-in-law) and Matthew (son) living with us for … well … forever. You can imagine our surprise in March when Autumn and Matt bought a house in Marietta, PA and moved out that same month. Then the week before they moved, Matthew (son) announced that he was joining the Marines and leaving 2 weeks after the wedding in May. Wow … in a few short months we went from 5 adults and 2 dogs to 2 adults and 1 dog living in our house. It is completely different and definitely quieter. Though we are enjoying our “empty nest”, I have to admit that I do miss the kids and Riley (Autumn’s chocolate lab).

The wedding on Friday, May 25, 2007 was fabulous. The ceremony was beautiful and the reception was so much fun. For their wedding gift, the parents got together and sent Autumn and Matt on their honeymoon - a 7-day cruise to Bermuda out of Philadelphia. They had a wonderful time. We certainly did our best to send them off into their new life together in grand style.

The video of the ceremony and reception turned out fantastic! I am trying to figure out how to convert the video so I can post it on Webshots for everyone to access.

The week after Matt and Autumn returned from their honeymoon, we had Matthew’s going-away party and the next thing we knew … we were driving him to the Recruiter’s office to send him off to Parris Island. Matthew flew through boot camp with flying colors. He loved it, which just goes to show you that this was definitely the right choice for him. Except for the obligatory 1 phone call announcing that he arrived – which we couldn’t say anything to him and he could not deviate from the script he was reading – our only contact was through letters. No phones, no email. Just hand-carried letters by the post office. I had to restrain myself from accosting the mail carrier every day hoping for a letter from Matthew. Surprisingly, he wrote 3-4 times a week. I wrote him every day and sent him printed pictures of what we were doing and old pics I scanned from our photo albums so he would have some pieces of home with him. It was such a comfort to hear that he was actually enjoying his experience at boot camp. The summer seemed to drag on forever, but soon it was Labor Day and we were driving down to South Carolina to see Matthew graduate and bring him home for 10 days. Graduation at Parris Island is simply amazing. The DIs (Drill Instructors) take these young boys and girls and turn them into Marines in 13 short weeks. We were fortunate to be able to meet 2 of Matthew’s DIs. I was expecting
screaming, growling, foaming at the mouth monsters. I was quite surprised to find they were polite, soft-spoken men who had great respect for Matthew. Of course, we are so proud of Matthew and everything he has accomplished. He had matured into a man over the course of the summer and walking taller than ever before.

The 10-day leave flew by in a flash and we were soon driving him to BWI for Matthew to fly to Camp Lejeune for his next session of training, MCT (Marine Combat Training). For three weeks, we did not hear from him. He was living and training in the woods and not able to receive mail. It was so great to hear his voice when he called after returning to camp. He loved MCT and shortly after began his training for his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), which is Basic Water Support Technician better known as WATER DOGS.

Over Thanksgiving, Matthew was allowed 4-day leave (Wednesday to Sunday) and we enjoyed him being with us to celebrate. Leave at Christmas was touch-n-go for a while and we were not sure if he was going to be allowed to come home. Finally, on the 16th, he was given the okay, but by then the airlines were booked solid. So on Thursday, Dec 20th, I drove down to Jacksonville, NC, stayed overnight at the Comfort Suites and picked Matthew up at Camp Lejeune when he was dismissed on Friday, Dec 21st and got on the road at 2:30 pm and we arrived home at 9 p.m. in record time – and no speeding tickets! Then on the 2nd of Jan I drove Matt back down and turned around and came home the same day – We left York at 10 am and I got home at 1:30 am. Again, no tickets! My guardian angels were riding shotgun!

In addition to Jimmy riding with his biking buddies, he set another goal for himself in 2007, he road across Iowa in the middle of July. In April, he was asked to be a member on TEAM LIVESTRONG. Team Livestrong, of course led by Lance, joined RAGBRAI and raised over $300,000 in the team’s efforts to raise cancer awareness and support of those living and surviving with cancer. Through the support of our friends and family, Jimmy raised over $2,500 for Livestrong. RAGBRAI, is the Des Moines, Iowa newspaper sponsored annual ride. RAGBRAI – Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa – originating in 1973. Since then, every year over 20,000 people ride across the great state of Iowa just for the fun of it. There are hundreds of teams, all with many different themes. (You really need to go TEAM LIVESTRONG 2007 to our Webshots page and check out the pictures!!!) It was Team Livestrong’s first year participating in RAGBRAI, but it will not be their last. Jimmy has already been asked to rejoin the team and he will once again be riding across Iowa in July. Over 500 miles in 7 days - in 100o+ heat and 100% humidity - camping out every night in his little pup tent on a blow up mattress - standing in line for port-a-showers set up in the middle of fields. It is Mardi Gras/Spring Break on bicycles. Jimmy made many good friends on Team Livestrong and is looking forward to riding with them again this summer.

On Easter Monday, my mom had several mini-strokes and ended up in the Lancaster Hospital. After several weeks, she was discharged to skilled care at Garden Spot in New Holland, Lancaster PA – her retirement community where she lives. After a few weeks in skilled care, she was able to move back to her apartment. We are so thankful that Mom is doing so great and her recuperation has been nothing short of a miracle.

The week before the wedding, 3 of the 5 staff members at PCA were permanently laid off due to a huge drop in membership. Through the summer, I have been taking a paralegal course online and will receive my paralegal certificate in January. Though I have been sending out my resume for any secretarial position I could find – there have not been many and I have not been contacted for an interview. Though it is hard not to get down, I have been trying to focus on the future. Hopefully after the holidays, I will find a job that suits me to a T! However, the time off of work has enabled me to spend more time with my mom and enjoy many weekly lunches with her and her girlfriends, which has been a wonderful time!

Since you are getting our card after Christmas, after the presents have been opened, after the food has been eaten, and after everyone is heading back to your busy lives, take a moment … Remember … that what is left is the most important thing … your family and friends. We think of you often and hope for peace, joy and love to be with you all through the year and we pray for you to have a healthy, happy and prosperous 2008.

Please send us your email address so we can stay in touch. Pammy is and Jimmy is Also, throughout the year, check out our picture albums at at