Huffman Coding

… with a bunch of Family Stuff too

2012 Holiday Letter

December 2012

Chris deposited several boxes of holiday cards on my dresser a few weeks back and has now addressed them, so I guess there is no way to get around writing the annual letter.


Our big activity of the year was a trip out west to the Four Corners area in July. For a change, I picked the itinerary for the vacation instead of Chris. This is aside from the decision to wake up at 4:45am the first day to catch the flight to Phoenix. We rented a minivan and visited, in a counter-clockwise route, the Petrified Forest National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, Four Corners Monument, Glen Canyon Dam, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, and the Sedona area.


While we were expecting terribly hot weather in Arizona, it wasn’t too bad aside from a couple pop-up rain and dust storms. The daily dips in the hotel pools helped the girls’ attitudes immensely.

I did not blog this year’s trip, but there is a Facebook album with a bunch of snapshots. While we were visiting Mesa Verde, my mother emailed photos to my cell phone of when my family was at the same location 44 years earlier. I hope my daughters take their families someday and that they also experience driving the twisting mountain roads that kept my knuckles white for hours on end.


The girls liked Zion the best because the pool was just outside our hotel room door and it was there that we went river tubing. I, riding in the water a little lower than my skinny daughters, kept on having to roll my pale self off the tube when it got stuck on the rocks every 100 yards in the shallow bed. They were long gone ahead of me when we were only halfway down the river. I had better luck kayaking with Marissa just above the Glen Canyon Dam. No rocks there.

We also visited the unnatural beauty of Las Vegas. I’m pretty sure I liked Penn & Teller more than my daughters (“The tall one talked too much”), but we all liked the Cirque de Soleil show. The girls quickly got spoiled by poolside smoothies and frozen snickers bars charged to the room.

Right before our flight home, we visited an animal park just outside Phoenix and hand fed carrots to long-tongued giraffes. Claire made friends with a family of prairie dogs with her hands full of rodent kibble.
Speaking of rodents… the hamster that we got last Christmas did not last. Nor did the next three we got as replacements. So we’ve decided to remain hamster free for the foreseeable future. The cats are doing fine though, albeit not agreeably with each other.



The older two are in high school and seem to have adjusted to it swimmingly. Chris and I can no longer help them with their homework so we just wish them well. Marissa tried out and made the gymnastics team so she now has 2½ hour practices five times a week and squeezes homework in between. Kaitlin went to the homecoming dance during Hilliard Darby’s very successful football season and has taken up ice skating weekly and will be taking lessons this winter.


Claire is keeping up with gymnastics although she is resisting my suggestion that she follow in her sister’s footsteps and compete at the Prep-Opt level. Perhaps this is payback for all those years when she was bored silly watching the other two girls perform. Claire is now officially taller than Kaitlin and now has glasses that she wears for her fifth grade classes (or so she tells us). She has dropped piano lessons, but I have yet to get the clarinet out of the basement for her as a replacement. This is my last chance to have a musical daughter. Perhaps that will wait until next summer after I’ve warmed her up to it.

Kaitlin and I did the hilly 2012 Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure on the tandem. It is supposed to be flat in 2013 so I’m hoping to take both younger daughters for the entire week next year; something we have yet to accomplish. In the meantime I’m hitting the stationary bicycle at the Y; deluding myself into the idea that the last fifteen pounds aren’t a permanent addition. Guess I’m enjoying some holiday traditions too much.

I hope your family is also enjoying the holidays, but perhaps with more self-control.

With warmest thoughts,

Ken, Chris, Marissa, Kaitlin, and Claire