Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2007 Holiday Letter

November 2007

To all,

Last year we didn’t send out a formal holiday letter in the mail. Chris wasn’t psyched about sending out my insipid and uninformative draft so it only went to a few of my friends by e-mail and, of course, the Internet where mediocrity reigns.

Chris also wasn’t motivated to send our annual letter because she was having stomach problems at the end of the year.  Although she ended up having a laparoscopic cholecystectomy at the local hospital over the holidays, removing her gall bladder didn’t seem to help.  After more tests and a few more months of pain, it was determined that she needed an endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreato­graphy with sphincterotomy instead.  Go ahead and try to pronounce that.  I’ll wait…

As you might guess from the number of letters in the name of the operation, this required a specialist.  So, in spring, a late night drive to Indianapolis was in order while grandma watched the girls.  We encountered traffic accidents, detours, massive highway construction and heavy thunderstorms to get there. No, that didn’t add to the stress.  Ha!  After three days of shuttling between the hospital for appointments and outpatient surgery and the hotel room at night, we headed back to Columbus.  The third night at the hotel doesn’t really count because we spent that night in the emergency room because it took longer for her to recover from the surgery than was expected.  Chris recovered by the end of spring, but it certainly was a unique way of spending the week of our wedding anniversary.

Our girls are growing up too quickly.  Katie now wears braces and Marissa regularly instant messages with her college-aged cousin. Marissa and Katie are in fourth grade now, with different teachers, and Claire is in kindergarten with Katie’s old teacher. Marissa and Katie joined the environment club at school last year and that warmed my tree-hugging heart.  I also took Marissa and one of her friends to “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day” at Ohio State. We all enjoyed that and I hope to interest Katie next year.

All three girls are still in gymnastics and improving weekly; Katie just mastered a round-off back handspring.  Claire has mastered raising her arms and shouting “TA DA!” after her exercises.  Marissa and Katie continue with their weekly Chinese language classes memorizing numbers and basic phrases.  Ni Hao! They have picked up Chinese calligraphy classes too, which they seem to like a bit better. It may be the candy the teacher hands out.

The older two are also still taking piano lessons and Claire, who desperately wants to be like her older two sisters, is taking informal and largely unproductive piano lessons from Katie and Marissa.  Maybe next year when she can actually read, we’ll subject Mrs. Gardner to Claire’s rambunctiousness.

Our family vacation this year was to Connecticut.  We, like we have in the past, reunited with the group we traveled with when we adopted Katie.  We had a great time with our accom­modating hosts and the other families.  There were day trips to an aquarium and New York City where we saw Rockefeller Plaza and Central Park. For the girls, the highlight of that day was shopping at the seven storey Toys-R-Us store on Times Square and, of course, Chinatown.  I liked visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater on the way through Pennsylvania.

Chris and her mom went to San Diego alone for vacation in October.  I can’t tell you much about their trip but I’m glad they decided to come back as I was a single dad for that week.  She is already planning our big family trip to China and Vietnam next winter.

I had a midlife crisis this year (the year I bought the zippy imported black hatchback doesn’t count because that was before we were married).  During spring, while Chris was writhing in stomach pain, I bought a new road bike for my annual Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure.  It doesn’t emit carbon; it’s made of it. You’d think that would be enough two-wheeled transportation to keep me happy, but you’d be wrong.  In October, Chris relented to my obsessing again and the family acquired a beautiful metallic blue tandem.  Chris has expressed no interest in riding with me, but Marissa and Katie have had a great time the few times it has been warm enough to take it for a spin.  With the trail-a-bike attached, I can take both of the older girls with me at the same time.  It makes for a really heavy three-wheeled bike, but I suppose that is better exercise for me anyway.  I hope to take them on GOBA next year, and Chris plans to hold me to it.

My company was sold to another, so I now work for a private company called Kentrox. The new company name has a nice ring to it, but I’m doing basically the same thing I’ve been doing for the past thirteen years and at the same place. I’m hoping to get a new shirt out of the deal though.  Chris continues to work at Grant for an orthopedic trauma practice, but with Claire’s kindergarten only a few hours a day, her work hours are sporadic.

My need-to-blog phase has passed, so unless you e-mail, call or stop by, this will have to tide you over for another year.  We hope that all of you are enjoying the holidays with your friends and family as much we have enjoyed spending time with all of you this past year.

Happy Holidays,

Ken, Chris, Marissa, Katie, and Claire