Throughout the year Aikido was once again a significant feature of our lives: teaching, training, and maintaining the dojo; hosting, attending, and teaching at a number of seminars, and serving in various roles for the California Aikido Association. In July, Danielle received a phone call from our teacher, Frank Doran, Shihan, 8th Dan. He was calling to let her know that he was formally recommending her for the rank of 7th Dan! We were both overwhelmed. This is the second-highest level black belt, achieved by very few in the art. Ranks of this level are only awarded by the head of the art, Moriteru Ueshiba, each year at the annual kagami-biraki ceremony in Tokyo, Japan. In late December, Danielle received word that the recommendation had been accepted and on January 13th, 2018, it became official.

With the kids and grandkids now living in Auburn, we have fewer opportunities to spend time with them than in previous years. In June the families gathered at Jaclyn's parents' house to celebrate several birthdays, including Brennan's 2nd birthday. With temperatures in the high 90s I'm sure some of us secretly envied Brennan's response to the heat!

In late July, we welcomed the birth of our 4th grandchild. Her name, "Keva", comes from the Irish "Caoimhe" meaning "gentle, beautiful, precious" and she is certainly all that. The two older girls, Aria (7) and Kara (5), visited several times – staying over for several nights on each visit.

On the afternoon of September 23rd, while Colin and Jaclyn were taking an afternoon nap with their two youngest children, their rented house in Auburn caught fire and was completely destroyed. We are grateful that the family was unhurt, but they lost virtually everything they owned. With much help from friends, family, and the community, they are rebuilding their lives in their new location just east of Sacramento. In previous years, during Christmas the kids/grandkids would travel to spend time with each of the grandparents. This year each of the grandparents travelled to visit them – it was such a joy to see 4 young children excitedly gathered around their very first Christmas tree, and to share a Christmas dinner. 

(left to right, below: Our 4th grandchild, "Keva" - Birthdays party – Brennan birthday - Halloween with Kara and Aria)

This year Danielle celebrated her 70th birthday. It seemed like a good enough reason to finally follow through on a much dreamed about vacation – a Baltic cruise. Much to our delight, Rita and Jordan agreed to join us on our 12-day, round-trip cruise: Copenhagen (Denmark), Oslo (Norway), Warnemünde (Germany), Tallinn (Estonia), St Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), and Nynäshamn (Sweden). Too many highlights and pictures to insert here, but plenty (with comments) here: Baltic trip photos. Among the highlights were celebrating Danielle’s birthday in St Petersburg and seeing a performance of "Swan Lake" at the Alexandrinsky Theatre.

(left to right, below: Akershus Castle, with Rita & Jordan, Oslo – World War 2 submarine, Tallinn – Church of the Spilled Blood, St Petersburg – Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen)