Time to write about our family's accomplishments this year, making special care not to mention any disappointments or setbacks, yes, it's the Christmas letter, 2011 edition!
Honestly, this was a pretty good year for us. We went on some nice trips, we tried new activities and skills, and some of the new things we learned last year became annual activities by dint of doing them again.
The big trip we went on was to the Canadian Rockies and the national parks of Banff and Jasper. The parks were spectacular, the company (Julie's mom and stepdad and her sister's family) was excellent, and we were luckier than most when it came to spotting wild animals. We saw a grizzly bear, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. We also got to walk on a glacier and took a white water rafting ride through a glacial river (yes, it was cold -- ask Austin, who jumped in for a dip).
We visited eastern Canada, too, on our annual pilgrimage to Toronto. My parents took the kids to African Lion Safari, Julie and I took in the AGO and went shopping. We also hit Ontario Place, the ROM and ate lots of delicious Chinese food.
We also visited Florida and went down to NYC for a beautiful second wedding (renewal of vows). Closer to home, we went to a lovely wedding at Harvard Square. Soon it will be unremarkable, but this was the first gay wedding we attended, and it was so lovely that our only conclusion is that it must have strengthened our own bonds of marriage.
Mari is getting big and starting to occasionally get into that zombie reading state that has afflicted Austin for a couple of years. It is possible to pry the book from her fingers long enough for her to eat, but only just (she loves the Mercy Watson books -- thanks for the recommendation, local independent bookstore!). Mari had a spring dance recital, played soccer in the fall, felt confident enough on her bike to ride the Minuteman Trail and can do a pretty good cartwheel. More gymnastics are in her future! Mari also learned to knit this year and is working on a scarf. Pretty neat!
Austin is getting big, too. In the spring and summer, he played Little League and had a lot of fun. He went to a tennis camp this summer and played soccer in the fall. One highlight was that he passed the deep end test at Hale Membership Beach, meaning he spent the next few weeks clambering up (and splashing down from) the Aquajump, a floating trampoline. He climbed Mt Monadnock with Julie this summer! Among the books he enjoyed this year were Tom Sawyer and Hatchet (the latter inspired some experiments in fire making using flint -- turns out the key is to have a lot of dry, fluffy tinder).
Julie swam/rode/ran the Hale Triathlon again this year. This time she placed 2nd in her age group! She's continues to teach the communications seminar at BU Med School and has taken on running M&Ms and all sorts of academic responsibilities. She still practices medicine at Dorchester House. We're still part of the Newton Family Singers and Julie has really stepped up; she organized and conducted our carols in front of the Waban Tree Lighting, and is a featured singer on a number of songs in our winter concert. She's still too shy to play the accordion on stage, but it's just a matter of time.
[transition into third person mode:]
Jack is now teaching at Dorchester House! The Clemente Course is being held in the new wing of that building and Jack is back to directing the course, too. He continues to do some freelance writing, and this fall worked as an intern at the public radio program Here and Now at WBUR. Fun! Being such a BUR uber-fan, it was a treat to learn that the people who work there are as nice and sharp as he hoped -- maybe more so. He's still playing guitar (and mandolin) with the NFS, and played bass at the Lowell Fiddle and Banjo festival, accompanying his friend Andy on banjo (trying to channel Victor Wooten). (if you're wondering what the festival is like, here's a video page)
We had lots of houseguests this year, including Pauline, Emma and Val, Amy and Aaron, Edie and Bill, Amy, John and Lucia, Hadas, and my parents. You're welcome, too!
Stay in touch, be healthy, and have a great 2012!