Friday, December 17, 2004

Christmas letter, 2004

All on Earth can all take credit for another trip around the sun. Hope yours was exciting, joyful, peaceful, or whatever you wanted it to be. Our trip around the sun had some extra zig-zags around the planet as well.

We're thankful for many things and find that we don’t say “thank you” often enough. Consider this holiday letter as a thank you as you've touched our lives in special ways this year.

We are thankful for:

Beautiful places and splendor magisty as witnessed on a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The family soaked up one of the most beautiful places and the boys and I spending several days in Yellowstone. Amazing – bison, moose, eagles, elk. Grant went over the edge of the raft to cool his head and dunked into the Snake River. Snatched back into the boat by quick hands, Grant was the only one all season to topple out of a raft. Later with mom, the boys took their first horseback ride – up into the Rockies. They look great in their cowboy hats.

Catherine took both boys to Arizona for a weekend adventure that included horseback riding and lots of cactus.

DC trips have been fun. Catherine is planning the American Academy of Audiology 2005 convention. One adventure included meeting Congressmen, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Globetrotters.

Two trips to Chicago. One included a fun visit with Meryl and family. Thanks for the hospitality everywhere.

Catherine was awarded the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology honors. (Many thanks. Humbled by this.)

Catherine made a productive writing trip to Nashville. We've become country western fans and particularly enjoy singing “It’s only Monday Mr. Mom.”

An adventure in Vermont that included a wonderful family visit with nephew Cameron at Middlebury College and sugar on ice.

Erik got a $500 prize for the best essay for Black History Month in his age group in the city.

Many wonderful winter days ice skating.

Another great ski/snowboard/sledding weekend at Margie’s Hidden Valley House.

Another caring year being involved in our church community. Both boys sing in the choir.

A remarkable five week trip to China. Thankful there for wonderful tour guides, two terrific Pitt grad students who traveled with our family, and the people of China who made us feel welcome. We visited Beijing, Chengdu, Xian, Hong Kong. Catherine lead a month long course. We purchased new violins, had lessons, joined a swim team, and turned badminton into our newest family sport! An invite has been extended to a return trip in 2005.

Teachers at Philip’s Elementary School and the teachers at the gifted program are talented, patient people.

Nephew/cousin, Cameron, spent the summer in Pittsburgh, His presence was a treat for the whole family.

Aunt Debbi came to Pittsburgh and Uncle Bob made several visits throughout the year.

We rented a car and drove to Maine to visit Grandpa, Jay, and Jim and the exciting Atlantic Ocean. This year we kyaked in the ocean and Catherine went shopping.

We visited with Uncle Charlie, Aunt Pat, Sandy, and Steve, and enjoyed delicious lobster, for the first time.

Another week camp with a life affirming SUUSI and many UU friends. Thanks to our musical friends who take time with Erik, he wrote another song this year. Our year was full of music with visits from Mindy Simmons and Amy Carol Web – thank you so much!

A four day trip among family at Aunt Pinky and Uncle John’s youth hostel in eastern PA. Each year we are grateful for the Rauterkus family and once again celebrated with many of them at Nana’s annual cousins’ party.

Another undefeated summer swim season for the Green Tree Great White Sharks. The boys swim. I coach.

Year-round swimming started this fall for the boys. I'm coaching Grant as part of my duties with a club team a few nights a week. Both boys are swimming well and enjoying it.

For Grandma, she's still right across the street.

Red Sox crushing the Yankees and taking the World Series.

Others who care about the city too. Some advisors meet each morning after walking the kids to school. I've accepted the nomination to run for PA's Senate in a special election this spring.

Our old house is still standing. Home improvement is on our list for 2005.

Grant finds himself drawing in his free time. He creates a cartoon series that makes us all giggle. Dang it, Dangy. Dangy is a superhero who rids the world of people who do stupid things.

Erik currently is reading the Constitution because he finished the Declaration of Independence. It doesn’t give all the details (all inspired by the movie “National Treasure” – go see that one!).

There is so much more. We hope you have too much to be thankful for too.
With love – Mark, Catherine, Erik, and Grant

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