Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2000 Holiday Letter

December 3, 2000

To all,

I write this letter as our little family is having a pleasantly low key Thanksgiving. The girls are their room trying no to nap while Chris is taking this opportunity to resume her holiday shopping at the only store open today: Odd Lots. Hmm. Perhaps it will be an irregular Christmas for me. If the girls emerge in a good mood later this afternoon, we’ll attempt their second movie theatre outing ever. Perhaps a Rugrats expedition. Later this weekend we’ll visit Chris’s parents in Upper Sandusky for an official turkey and last week we flew down to my Mother’s winter home in Florida for an early holiday. After burning out on science museums, nature trails, and the teddy bear museum during the first half of the week, we discovered the girls were just as content to scoop up sand on the beach, to swim with the help of inner tubes and to hunt for seashells.

Our girls will turn three next year; Marissa in January, Katie in April. They are always a handful. In January, we finished off half the basement so we could get our family room upstairs back. The basement has wall to wall toys, although I must admit, most of the toys in the new finished office are mine.

There are small but noticeable signs that the girls have grown up over the past year: the crib side rail has come down, the highchair is nowhere to be seen, and we retire toys that can no longer hold their interest. Clothes migrate from the right side of the closet where Marissa’s clothes are hung to the left side where Katie’s belong. We hope the trend can continue despite the fact that Katie is growing at a much slower pace than Marissa (about 3 inches for the entire year). Marissa can now reach the pedals of a tricycle while Katie still scoots her smaller tricycle around with her feet. Katie is well below everyone else on the growth charts and her doctor’s have given her a handful of tests, but there nothing to attribute her short stature to other than presumably petite parents. Katie’s frequent ear infections from last year continued into this year, so this past March her adenoids were taken out and she’s been trouble free ever since. We’ve also had a temporarily incontinent cat, but we won’t go there.

After the girls finally learned each of the characters names (including “Nu-nu” the vacuum cleaner) the Teletubbies seem to have become yesterday’s news. It now mostly and Little Bear and Blue’s Clues with a bit of Big Bird thrown in for good measure. They have acquired a working knowledge of Barney as well. We evidently cannot shield their fragile minds sufficiently. Their vocabulary has exploded as well. They have a particular fascination this month with the word “boing” and “boo boo.” Perhaps this is because we’ve enrolled the girls in tumbling class at daycare. I am hoping they will end up less of a klutz than me. They have also mastered the use of the words “booger” and “poopy.” We dabbled with potty training this year, but we’ve come to realize that they are drawn to the one-on-one parental attention when sitting on the toilet more than the thrill of actually making use of it.

We attempted a seasonal photograph at Sears with limited success. We have firsthand knowledge that getting two rambunctious toddlers to cross their legs, look the same direction and smile is about as likely as having lightening strike. If a photograph of two Asian cherubs comes your way, just visualize very frazzled parents just off to the side pleading for cooperation.

We have continued the sporadic letters to Marissa’s birthmother in Vietnam. We learned, much to our pleasant surprise, that Marissa has a teenage brother back in Da Nang. He is a handsome soccer player who is very much interested in news of his little “Huong.” They seem to be doing well also.

To our chagrin, the year passed without the Immigration and Naturalization Service ever successfully setting up a time for Katie’s final naturalization ceremony. In the meantime Congress passed a law making the waiting period moot. Effective next February 27th, every child who is adopted by an American citizen and emigrates to the U.S. becomes citizen automatically. This common sense law applies to us retroactively in the case of Katie.

Our work continues to go well, although there never seems to be enough time in the workday. My attempt to resume my position on the Picnic with the Pops Board of Directors fell flat as I just didn’t have enough free time to devote to the Symphony. Chris has been able to continue her involvement with the Columbus Ohio Families with Children from Vietnam but not as the coordinator. We do however live for the times our girls can get together with their Chinese and Vietnamese toddler friends. We seem to manage an outing, Asian holiday or gotcha day celebration every month. At this point in their young lives, these times probably benefit the parents more than the children as it gives us the opportunity to share the joys and pressures of parenthood.

We certainly have reason to be thankful. We hope the past year has brought you more joys than sorrows and that the next year is your best yet.

Ken, Chris, Marissa and Kaitlin Huffman