Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2004 Holiday Letter

December 2004

To friends and family, near and far,

While driving home from the older girls’ gymnastics class this past week, Christmas tunes were playing from Chris’s radio station and I, in an impish mood, began singing along with Bing Crosby. As I pulled the minivan into the garage, Marissa announced “You can’t sing… you’re a daddy.” Well if I cannot sing, at least I can type. Think of this as your holiday spam.

We took the girls ice skating in February and Claire wore the tiniest pair of ice skates they had. I dragged all three around the rink while Chris watched from outside the glass. They have since been to ice skating camp and will go back for another session over the holiday break. With Claire at grandma’s this time, we took the older girls to a state park for a summer weekend again this year. We went fishing (worms aren’t their thing), caught crawdads in the creek (crawdads aren’t their thing either), and watched ancient animated Disney movies in the park’s amphitheatre each night. It turns out that flashlight beams on the outdoor screen are their thing.

This year’s social calendar included a princess sleepover (except that most of the kindergarteners went home at the end of the evening), a mother/daughters tea, a father/daughters princess outing, a bumpers-in-the-gutters bowling party, and a run to the state fair. Lots of gatherings with our fellow adoptive families were sprinkled in between. Over the summer we had a vacation with all of the families in our China travel group when we adopted Katie. We shared a gigantic house in Gatlinburg and every night gave way to wall-to-wall cartoon-themed sleeping bags in the great room.

Marissa and Katie were briefly members of the Hilliard Junior Drill Team. This consisted of a few short practices in the evening learning how to mimic the moves of the instructors. They did perform in a few school gymnasiums and participate in two parades. For both parades, they got tired after a few hundred feet and rode the bulk of the route in the team’s support van. They remain motivated with their gymnastics classes so we continue with those.

Marissa has expressed a tiny interest in learning piano like her dad. I am delirious at this news. I hope to inflict encourage them next year. In my book the essential early age life skills are: walking, talking, potty training, and playing piano. I suppose I should put the 3 R’s in there somewhere too.

Claire is growing up. The changing table is gone from her bedroom, and the high chair is gone from the kitchen. The baby gates and those aggravating plastic covers to the door handles are headed to the second hand store. She’s managed to circumvent them all. We’ve even switched to egg substitute in cartons because she was destroying the eggs in the fridge. Her vocabulary is growing slowly, but what she lacks in vocabulary she makes up for in volume. She is into mimicking her older sisters and because Katie feeds the fish, Claire managed to dump a lifetime supply of food in the aquarium and kill every last one of them. I blogged the occasion on only after she killed a second tank full of them. Claire insists on sitting on the potty right after she has announced her diaper is full. Brushing her teeth has become an ordeal. I sing “open, Open, OPEN …” to the tune of the alphabet song nightly as she bites down on her toothbrush. Her highest priority though seems to be running around the house after Katie.

The older girls are now in first grade. Katie has missed several days so far this year due to tummy problems. She once asked her teacher “May I be excused to go to the bathroom and throw up?” We have yet to hit upon the exact cause despite a myriad of tests and medications. With missed days, Katie is facing challenges in a few subjects. That fact that Marissa picks things up quickly doesn’t help with Katie’s self-esteem either, but she glows when sharing for show-and-tell. Chris has demanded that I lose to Katie in checkers so she doesn’t feel bad afterwards; a bigger person would be less reluctant to throw the games her way than I am.

Marissa has a voracious appetite for books. We are reading the multi-volume Junie B. Jones series books to each other. It appears to be this generation’s Ramona the Pest books. Being a compulsive person, I am correcting the atrocious grammar of the kindergarten lead character as I read to them. Just can’t let it slide.

I mentioned last year that I was threatening to take Chris on a 10-year anniversary honeymoon. That turned out to be an idle threat as our life never settled down to the point where we could plan anything. Chris did manage to go on a short vacation with her mother and I did the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure again this year.

I took another trip to the Republic of South Africa for work for a development opportunity that promptly went nowhere. There was another layoff at Applied Innovation too, but I was spared yet again. Chris continues to work for her doctors on two all-too-abbreviated days a week while Claire socializes in daycare. This is good for the mental state of everyone in the family.

Hoping your year was enjoyable as ours has been (dead fish notwithstanding),

Ken, Chris, Marissa, Katie, and Claire