Monday, December 17, 2007

Our 2007 Christmas Letter is about to hit the mailbox

Rauterkus Family

108 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh, PA, USA 15203

(phone #s nuked for website)

Dear Family and Friends:

We hope this letter finds you happy and healthy and reflecting on a great 2007 while looking forward to more growth in 2008.

This year began with time, visits and energy devoted to the Maine/Boston area as we said goodbye to Catherine’s father. Two memorials celebrated Grandpa's life. Later in 2007, we celebrated the other end of life's spectrum a birth and baptism. Our sons have 15 cousins now.

We lived in Christchurch, New Zealand throughout May and early June. Words and pictures can barely describe the beauty and our excitement for New Zealand. Catherine taught (assisted by two Pitt graduate students) at the University of Canterbury. I got to coach "full time" for the Wharenui Swim Team (pronounced "fair –a –new–ee"). Erik and Grant swam and competed for this team. We rode bikes everywhere, saw penguins walking on the beach, and enjoyed multiple Lord of the Rings Tours! Visit for some pictures of the NZ trip.

This was a massive year for home renovations. The roof and entire 3rd floor room and deck was taken off and replaced while we were in New Zealand. Catherine’s Mom was 'project manager' and her overseeing this project from across the street was a huge help. The new third floor gives us a “Great Room” to match our view that overlooks Pittsburgh's skyline. The whole house (siding, some interior walls, flooring, kitchen, lights, paint) has got attention. Uncle Bob and cousin AJ were wonderful to help with insulation and office area floors. Come by and visit with us, and get a tour this old house. Catherine’s Mom had us at her house for a month of meals as the kitchen and dining room were being recreated.

Politically, we worked hard to build "opposition" and insure few would get elected without opposition. Libertarians with various running mates, (myself in two ballot positions) built teamwork. My goal was to give voters a choice and to create an atmosphere that would demand debates with discussion of issues. All in all, many goals were largely met, including the netting of 7,000 votes within a frugal budget.

It was fund to help organize and celebrate: 30th reunion of the Penn Hills High School, three weeks water polo camp, a July 4 biathlon (5K run + 1K swim); local swimming (of course) and more personal fitness for myself as we are now members at the JCC (with a health club).

Both of our boys are in the double digits: Erik, 13; and Grant, 10. Both doing well with great schools, great friends, swimming fast, and home in newly renovated bedrooms! On Saturdays the boys take their violins to Xtreme Strings to play rock, jazz and fiddle tunes with some electric and improv. Both love it.

Our very best wishes to you and yours in 2008!

Mark, Catherine, Erik and Grant

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