Christmas 2016
Writing an annual Christmas letter was part of my life (Carol speaking here)—up to 1999. For the past 17 years, I've told myself that ‘I'll know my life is back to normal (whatever that means) when I get another Christmas letter out.’ I guess the fact that you're reading this is a good sign!

Seventeen years is a long time to catch up on! This letter tries to cover both my ‘Vreeland/Fisher’ and ‘Burns’ sides. If you want more details, there's an online version of this letter (with active links) at:

First, the sad news—Bob and I divorced in 2001, after almost twenty years of marriage. But, we look back on our years together with love and kindness, and we're good to each other. We're both happily re-married—me in 2011 and Bob a few years later. Our daughter Julia married Antonio Rubio in May 2015, and they live in Tucson, Arizona with their three cats: Mr. Nells, Don Paquito, and Kitsa. Julia got her Master's degree in Statistics from the University of Arizona in November 2015, and is finishing her doctorate in Linguistics.

After leaving Idaho, I taught mathematics for nine years at Miss Hall's School in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. This is where my math web site got started—it represents about 11,000 hours of my life since 1999, has about 400 lessons covering pre-algebra to calculus, and gets thousands of visitors daily (google ‘math cat burns’). After a year in Taiwan, Julia graduated high school from Miss Hall's, got her Bachelor's in math from Carleton College, did ‘Teach For America’, and moved to Arizona for graduate school. I decided to move closer to Julia, took up social dance (you can't spend all day working on the computer!), met Ray Burns through dancing, and we married on September 23, 2011.

Ray is wonderful! Even though he's ten years younger than I am, we have an uncanny overlap in our life experiences. He's a computer guru and all-around genius. He's ranked as one of the best in the world in an area of expertise at Stack Overflow (a computer site). Ray sings tenor, plays many instruments, arranges and conducts music. He does appliance/car repair, architecture, construction, electrical work, law, math, modeling, plumbing, more. Anything he decides to do, he does.

With genius often comes some eccentricity, and Ray is no exception. He has a currently-unconventional clothing preference—he likes to wear beautiful dresses. It's no secret—he wears dresses pretty much anywhere and everywhere. It has been an opportunity for many of our family and friends to practice acceptance of differences—easier for some, harder for others. The most wonderful thing is when people come over, sense our normalcy with Ray's attire, and are consequently comfortable with it, too.

Ray has three fantastic children from his first marriage (his wife died of breast cancer). They have welcomed me into their lives with kindness and patience. Joshua is almost 22, lives in Tucson, works at Arby's, and is an enthusiastic brony (google it!). Marybelle just turned 20, and had been living with and taking care of my Mom in Massachusetts. Marybelle was Mom's angel, and Mom was Marybelle's angel. After Mom died, Marybelle decided to stay in Massachusetts for another live-in elderly care position; she is happy and thriving. Bethany (age 13) lives with Ray and me, is an avid reader, loves animals (she has bred rats), plays the flute, sings beautifully, and does aerial silks and trapeze at a local circus academy.

Ray is Mormon, a convert from atheism at about age 20. For Ray, God is both real and personal. In Ray, I have witnessed true faith. The inner knowledge that God is really real has not [yet?] been given to me. I suspect God is in a quandary: after so many years of prayer, if God were now to (say) offer me even a visitation by an angel, I would likely credit it to a hallucination induced by an over-desirous mind. I am not LDS (Latter-Day Saint), but I happily support my wonderful LDS family.

For those of you who remember the rest of my Vreeland family, both my Dad and Jean died several years ago. With Mom's recent death, we're now selling the family home at Nielsen Lane in Lenox, Massachusetts. My siblings Rick (& Grace), Mary Ann (& Jim), and Sandy (& Francis) are all in New England.

For the past 4+ years, I've had the luxury of not working outside of the house. Besides my web work, I sing and play piano for the church choir. I'm the alto in a quintet performing the Pentatonix version of Mary, Did You Know?   I made about 600 paper flowers for Julia's wedding, and sewed a ‘wedding sampler quilt’ for their first anniversary. I do paper-pieced and traditional quilts, crochet, quill, more. I love having a family to cook/bake for, and we have a glorious dinner together every night.

Our path to a ‘permanent Burns family country home’ has been long and winding. Some highlights:

Long enough! We wish you all love, laughter, joyous music, snuggles, easy time with family, and peace over this season and beyond. My email is, and is the best way to reach me if you want to touch base.