December 21, 2005
From the Palmer / Rauterkus home: Mark, Catherine, Erik, and Grant.
108 South 12th Street Pittsburgh, PA USA 15203-1226 412-298-3432
For the first time, this Christmas letter comes on paper and CD. Play the CD both in your computer and on an audio boom-box/car stereo. On the CD this letter (as PDF, .html, and OpenOffice.org document) comes with underline links to treat you to plenty of pictures from the past year. If you're without a computer, just read and know that the kids are taller, Catherine and I are older, and everybody looks happy. Another first for our family Christmas letter is a supplemental, political call found on the the flip side.We enjoyed two trips to Asia this year. Catherine was invited to Chengdu, China, for an advanced class. The highlight was purchasing a rick-shaw, a three-wheeled bike. With the boys in the back seat, we biked around Chengdu. The bike was sold the day we departed, sadly, but for a fair price. We felt like we were going to our second home in Chengdu and the boys once again swam at the provincial facility. The boys learned lovely Chinese folk songs from a Chinese violin teacher. Plus, we hired a splendid art teacher and got into ink paintings of bamboo!
This trip included visits to Shanghai and Thailand.
Upon our return, another invite came for teaching in China, but from Hong Kong University for two weeks in October, 2005. Catherine and two different graduate students commuted to class by ferry from Discovery Bay, Landau Island. Meanwhile, we played and explored, plus cousin AJ came along, too.
Mainland China and Hong Kong are quite different. We loved these educational experiences. The boys made terrific presentations for their classmates and teachers after each trip.
Voters saw “Mark Rauterkus, L,” on the ballot for Pennsylvania's Senate in a special election on May 17, 2005. As a Libertarian in a 3-way race, I garnered 7% of the vote, 2,542 to be exact. These terrific results came as each old-party candidate burned nearly $1-million in negative campaigns. Elect.Rauterkus.com raised $3,400 (more on the flip side). So, I was out-spent 500-to-1 by both the Democrat and Republican, but was only out voted 5-to-1 by the “R” and 7-to-1 by the “D.”
Currently, another race for public office, City Council of Pittsburgh is brewing. This district is much smaller, just 1/9th the size of the city. I'll continue to be a political advocate and a dad you can count on to go on field trips. There is plenty to do to improve Pittsburgh, so we're expecting another busy year in 2006.
As planned, I'm coaching swimming again, and the boys are both competing, with the same team. I was on the board and coached with Green Tree in the summer. Winter coaching and swimming is with the Carlynton Swim Club, just south of the city. We pulled together an elementary school team for the kid’s school, Pgh Public School's Phillip’s Elementary. About 15 kids participated. We practiced for five weeks on Sunday nights. They all loved it. Erik took first place in the breastroke. Everyone was pleased.
Erik continues to play violin and continues to be a terrific student (5th grade). His passions are politics and traveling. He has enjoyed the church choir and got a lead and solo in the school holiday musical. Erik has several violin solos for this year’s school concert as well. Although he swims seriously, his fun sport is ice skating with Grant and Catherine. The three hit the ice at an outdoor rink in a park every Sunday afternoon throughout the winter.
Grant is an excellent student in 2nd grade. He joins Erik at the Gifted Program on Thursdays. Grant seems to enjoy those challenges. He too plays violin and joined the school orchestra a year early in order to play with his brother before Erik moves on to middle school next year. Grant still loves Star Wars. He saw Episode III in China. Anything that includes violence as a critical element plays well with Grant, a joke on peace loving Mom and Dad. Grant is also into long hair and eating ham. (The joke continues.) One of Grant's weekly joys is spending time alone with Grandma at Grandma’s house (right across the street) -- a real treat.
We celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary by returning to Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern Univ. invited Catherine to return as a visiting scholar, so the timing was perfect. We dined at the Davis Street Fishmarket where we enjoyed our first date, wedding proposal and 15th anniversary.
The family spent a week in D.C., while Catherine chaired an audiology conference for 7,000+ people. The boys had a wonderful time meeting senators, congressman, and seeing the sights.
Summer included another wonderful week at SUUSI (church camp) and a yearly tour of New England with visits to Catherine’s family and surfing.
We fit in a week long trip to Southern California in August and had wonderful beach time and catching up with some west coast friends.
We're lucky all year seeing Pittsburgh family for various holidays. Fourteen cousins populate the Rauterkus side.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!
Blog visitors, the links internal to the letter above, do not yet work, yet. I'll post the PDF or do a re-do with active links for the photos. But, there are so many images, I'm not sure I'll have enough space on my webserver. It might just stay a CD thing for now.