As you may know we had just got back from Argentina. And after a whole week of fun and one day in Washington D.C after our 2 hour flight delay and missing our flight going to Buenos Aires. We went to Argentina to visit friends. We went all over the B.A. For a tour we even went on a double-decker-bus. We saw lots of buildings,memorials,and even a cemetery. We also went to a place called the Estancia, witch is spanish for ranch. You can go horse back riding,swimming,and tennis. They have fancy food and a lot of meat. When we were there we ordered hamburger and fries and literally they gave us a hamburger with no bun no nothing and fries. Another good thing we got was stretched out ice cream cone dipped in chocolate. They were tall and good. Well those were some of my Argentina highlights. This is Grace sighning off.
Archive for category Holidays
After a few hours of sleep, we woke up about an hour from landing. Erin and I peered out the window to overcast skies above a lush green countryside. We landed, deplaned and headed to Immigration. The US has a really nice thing going with a few countries where we charge their citizens a fee to enter the US. In return, those countries do the same thing to Americans. Argentina is one of those places. We had to pay $131 per person to enter the country and, in exchange, we each got a nice sticker in our passports which permits us to re-enter the country for the next 10yrs without paying the “reciprocal entry fee” again. Such a deal. $524 lighter, we checked through immigration… learning both the Spanish word for cricket (“grillo”) and that, in the opinion of the immigration agent, Julie looks like she could be an Argentine… and claimed our bags. Proceeding through customs we entered the hysteria of an international airport’s main terminal. After looking around for a few minutes, we found the driver from the car service that our friends and hosts, the Parkers, had arranged for us.
We loaded up and headed into the city. As we drove, the skies became steadily darker. After about a 45min ride, we arrived at the Parker home in San Isidro. Finally! We were extremely relieved to be there. Grace and Erin immediately scampered off with the Parker kids, 3rd grader Lauryn (a one-time soccer teammate of Grace’s) and 6th grader Lyndsey, to explore the house. Meanwhile, Julie and I had a cup of the local coffee and chatted with Doug who gave us a quick tour of the house (we found the girls hanging out in the attic playing games), helped us lug our bags to our rooms and informed us we were having a BBQ that day with some folks from Doug’s company. We all enjoyed long showers, then back downstairs. Kelly had arrived home from some errands and we all caught up, then it was time for Doug and I to make a beer run and try to find the Europcar office where I had arranged a rental car. Renting a car in Argentina is not like renting a car in the US; more on that over on OpenKimono.
Our first stop was the Coto minimercado located near the center of San Isidro. Doug grabbed some of the local Malbec wine while I hunted down beer. I couldn’t find anything in a box or six-pack carton, so I ended up with a dozen loose bottles of Corona. It seems the most common packaging for beer in Argentina is big, 750ml bottles which are shared around like a bottle of wine. Makes sense, but different. It’s funny how mundane things can become interesting.
We then set out for the car rental place which was supposedly near Aeroparque Jorge Newbery. Like some European cities, BA has an international airport (Ezeiza) and a domestic / regional airport (Newbery). These two airports are about 40km apart. Flights from the US, Europe and so forth go to the Ezeiza; flights around Argentina and surrounding countries go to Newbery. Not sure how you’d get to someplace like Ushuaia or Mendoza from the US… possibly a long shuttle ride between the airports.
By the time we arrived at Newbery, the gray skies had turned into a full-on downpour. One of those storms where you are soaked to the skin about 15sec after stepping out of the car. I hopped out of the car and wandered the airport, not finding a kiosk for my car agency. I tried to speak to a person at one of the other rental agency counters, but it was futile as my Spanish is terrible and his English not much better. Doug and I returned to the car. I had brought TomTom with me, with a newly installed copy of the maps for Argentina and Uruguay, so we thought we’d give that a shot. I punched in the address I had written down off my rental confirmation e-mail and we set off in the direction TomTom indicated. 10min later we were in the CBD. After a little looking around, we found the Europcar office. Naturally, the lights were off and the door locked despite it being about 2:00pm in the afternoon (clearly within the office hours on my confirmation). We decided to head home so I could try to make some phone calls and figure out what the next step might be.
As we drove along Avenida del Libertador, Doug pointed out some of the sights. Liberator is the main drag running north from the CBD and stretches for about 25km north; sort of BA’s version of Wilshire Boulevard. Along the street are dozens of high rise apartment buildings where many of the more affluent Porteños reside. There are also all sorts of businesses, including high-end car dealerships, restaurants and boutique shopping.
While we were gone, Julie and Kelly took the girls to an outdoor Sunday market in the main San Isidro square near the Coto where Doug and I had stopped. Unfortunately, the rain forced the market to close early, but they still had fun walking around in the pouring rain.
After we arrived at home, I called the US number for Europcar as I knew I’d get an English speaker. Somehow, I was routed to a call center in the UK. They told me to try back in a few minutes so I could speak with someone in the US. I tried again and got the UK again. This time the person agreed to try to help. I explained the situation and she told me there weren’t any special instructions in the system for picking up a car. Now what?
Then the BBQ guests started to arrive. The first two were colleagues of Doug’s that were visiting from Denver for a work-related project. Next to arrive were Mercedes and Horacio. Our first real interaction with locals! Mercedes works with Doug and is firmly in charge of keeping him out of trouble (she is VERY, VERY good at what she does as apparently she has a lot of practice in keeping Doug out of trouble ). Her husband Horacio works for one of the airlines and is an avid support of the Lanús soccer club. Both of them spoke excellent English and Mercedes offered to make a couple calls to the Europcar office to get the scoop. I was relieved.
Meanwhile, Doug and Horacio were standing around in the downpour looking at the bar-b-que and hoping the food would eventually be cooked. We ended up enjoying a great dinner with the other visitors including the excellent Malbec we’d bought and some of Kelly’s favorite local beer from Casa Isenbeck (this brand is brewed by Warsteiner, so obviously it’s pretty good).
We eventually collapsed into bed after a fine first day. What’s next?
We woke up the next day, got cleaned-up and made a plan for the day. We decided to head down to the National Mall to see the Washington Monument, US Capital building and check out a museum or two. Since it was Saturday, we knew it would be pure insanity to try to drive into the city, so we grabbed the Metro train at East Falls Church and rode into the city. The train grew gradually more crowded and we soon learned pretty much everyone was on their way to a big protest against the healthcare bill. Listening to the people talk, it seems like there’s a whole social group dedicated to going to protests. Some of us go shopping or attend sporting events. These people protest every weekend.
Once at the Mall, we walked around and could see the protesters blanketing the Mall in front of the Capital. We continued east and headed to the National Air and Space Museum.
Apparently, you need to camp out over night to get into that place because the admission line was out the door. We later learned this museum has a massive annex near Dulles Airport called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center which is supposed to be almost as good as the one in the city. Oh well, we end up at the National Museum of Natural History where we saw minerals, mummies, bugs, a T-Rex skeleton, 40ft tall totem poles and learned about early Colonial life in the US. Plus lunch.
Back outside, we cruised towards the Washington Monument for some photo ops, then north to the White House. There must have been a high threat condition because there were cops EVERYWHERE and they had blocked Pennsylvania Avenue off from pedestrian traffic. We continued walking north and ran into another pack of police trying to contain an anti-war protest which was rocking along in Lafayette Park. We grabbed some Starbucks at the corner of 15th & I, then headed back to the Metro.
After some mindless driving around, we enjoyed dinner at Pei Wei in Herndon, VA. It was an okay day, but nothing compared to what we were supposed to have done in Argentina: attend the San Lorenzo vs Colón soccer game with our friends. Seeing a Primera División Argentina match was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us which United had robbed us of. We were all bitter.
We headed off to the airport for our 2nd attempt to fly to BA. This time, it actually worked. Naturally, it was not without complications. The prior evening, they had re-booked us, but had found us 4 seats in 3 different rows. Very convenient when traveling with children. Luckily, we were able to sort that out. We also met again with our fellow stranded traveler. It turns out he was a blogger and behind the top movie review website in Argentina, CinesArgentinos.com.ar. He had been in the US for an interview with Bruce Willis to cover his most recent film, Cop Out.
Once aboard, I settle in with Erin and Julie with Grace. Julie and Grace soon determined their TVs weren’t working. Naturally, when you’re been assigned to sit in Row 39 of 39 (i.e. steerage), one should not expect the in-flight entertainment system to function. We did depart on time, a pleasant surprise, and settled in for the 10hr 43min overnight flight.
Our big adventure began on Mar 19th about 12:00pm with Grace and Erin taking off from school at lunchtime so Grandma Cindy could drive all four of us to the airport in a smallish snow storm. The snow had arrived early in the morning, but up to that point, it hadn’t been sticking. We made it easily enough, checked our bags, meandered through security and hung out at the gate. Our first leg was a flight to Washington Dulles to make our connection to Buenos Aires Ezeiza. The plane boarded on-time and we figured we were home free. Not so fast, my friend. About 15min after our scheduled pushback from the gate, the captain announced we were holding at the gate to wait on baggage for one of the passengers. We later learned the missing cargo was also some stuff for the US Mail. 20min later, we finally pushed back, but by then the snow was really coming down, so off to the de-icing pad we went. An eternity later, we finally took off: 2hrs after our scheduled departure time. And what was our layover duration you ask? 2hrs 6min. Gonna be tight.
We ended up touching down about 1hr 45min late. Our connecting gate was on the same concourse and we sprinted to the gate figuring the worst that could happen would be bags arriving a day late. When we got to the gate, there wasn’t a soul in site. Not even a gate agent. As we wandered the boarding area, we noticed the gate agent walking back up the Jetway from the aircraft. We explained what had happened, presented our boarding passes and he told us to hustle down to the plane. When we got to the door we were greeted by a person in plain clothes (very, very weird) who indicated the aircraft was full and the door was summarily slammed in our faces. The gate agent shooed us back up to the boarding area just as another passenger raced into the boarding area. The five of us were told to find our way to United Airlines customer service center. And have a nice evening.
There we were. 10:00pm at night. Julie is crying. Grace is crying because Julie is crying. Erin is standing there going “Eh. Whatever.” I am furious. We marched to customer service where we were greeted with the following options:
- We can get you a flight to Miami, then on to BA on American Airlines. At 6:00pm the next day.
- We can get you on the same flight we were supposed to be on, but 24hrs later.
Some options. We chose door # 2. and decided that if we were going to be stuck in Washington, we may as well make the best of it and enjoy the sights. There are way worse places to be stranded. Once re-booked I inquired about lodging for the evening and was told that our delay was due to weather and not United’s problem. Excuse me? We would have made it in time had they not sacrificed the first 35min waiting on bags and US Mail. All around me in customer service were other passengers that had been on our flight that had also missed their connections and were looking at a long night because there are not many flights to Scranton, PA or Knoxville, TN at 10pm. After 45min of haggling and arguing, I finally convinced the shift supervisor they were being totally unreasonable. Apparently, my United Premier Executive status tipped the balance. (What a dubious thing to have an elite status on an airline that is so clearly out of touch with customer experience. Don’t get me started on what they did to us on our last trip to Maui.)
United ended up giving us a pair of hotel room vouchers and about $50 in food vouchers. Then the supervisor asked if we wanted our luggage brought to the baggage return. It was perhaps the most ridiculously rhetorical question I have ever been asked. We are stuck here for 24hrs and are sweaty / smelly from running all over the place and arguing with airline people. Um, no, we don’t want our stuff. We’ll just wear these clothes for another 36hrs. Gosh. I found a rental car quick on Kayak.com and we prepared to head out to get our bags. As we did, we noticed the other stranded passenger (an Argentine man) from our flight sitting on the ground with his laptop trying to figure out a place to stay (he was apparently unworthy of the “courtesy” we had received). Julie and I decided to offer him one of our hotel vouchers and told him he could go sightseeing with us the next day, but he must have thought we were a family of American-style ax murderers or something and declined. I gave him my business card in case he changed his mind, we said hasta mañana and off we went.
By 11:30pm, we’d made it to the very nice Landsdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA where United had sent us (no kidding… it was really nice and we were very surprised), ate some Panini sandwiches Julie had picked up before we left the airport and everyone hopped into bed. 12:36am. End of Day 1. Yikes.
Somehow we’ve gotten in that habit of taking our big annual family trip during Spring Break. This year was no exception. However, instead of Maui or some other US destination, we headed south. WAY south. Buenos Aires, Argentina where we would be staying with the Parkers, family friends from Broomfield who are on an ex-patriot assignment. Because of the nature of this trip and it being a foreign destination, I have a lot of material to share with readers of this blog as well as my practically defunct OpenKimono blog. I’m going to split the content up and share it across both sites. On this blog will be our daily account of activities. On OpenKimono will be more “technical” posts talking about the challenges and tricks of traveling not only in a country where we didn’t know the language, but also within a massive city with nearly 13M residents in the metropolitan area.
Now, without further ado…
It’s that time of year… welcome to the Fuller’s 3rd Annual end-of-year recap (2007, 2008)! This year Julie and I were so busy leading up to Christmas break we didn’t even have time to send out regular greeting cards in the mail. So don’t feel snubbed if you didn’t get one from us since nobody did.
However, we did receive an array of cards and letters from friends and family and enjoyed them all. But even the best of those cards pale compared to the multimedia extravaganza you are about to experience: if it wasn’t for Avatar, surely the critics would be calling this post 2009’s trend setting, technological entertainment marvel. Probably. And now for our last post of the decade…
The year began quietly enough with January and February quickly rolling by with school, the girls playing basketball and some family visits from Omaha. My work with Point B transitioned from one client to another and Julie helped to put the finishing touches on another Bal Swan Children’s Center fundraising event. Julie and I welcomed a well earned ski weekend away in Breckenridge, CO leaving the girls to enjoy time at home with Aunt Kris and Grandma Cindy.
By March, the pace had started to pick-up. With the commencement of soccer practice, our 6-day-a-week soccer habit was reinstated. Between weekday practices and weekend games, it seemed like there was hardly time for anything else. Still, Julie and I found time to attend the Bal Swan Ball together while Julie continued her tireless support of PTA activities. At the end of the month, we jetted off to paradise to enjoy spring break at our favorite spots on Maui.
April and May continued with more soccer and I managed a few work trips to Hartford, CT. The girls hit the books and finished their school year ready for the summer holidays. Meanwhile, I became more and more engaged in extracurricular Point B activities. With a tough economy, it was all hands on deck to help drive the business. While a lot of work, I learned quite a bit about networking, consulting and it created opportunities for me to spend more time with a fantastic group of colleagues: I can’t say enough nice things about the great people I work with these days.
In June, I gathered a new soccer coaching credential, sacrificing a weekend in exchange for my USSF State E-License (following the NSCAA State Diploma I’d earned in March). Meanwhile, Julie and the girls began an action packed agenda of soccer camps and summer leagues, CARA Track at the high school, summer reading and math programs and near daily trips to the neighborhood swimming pool. We hit the road to spend Independence Day in Bismarck and made time for an early August weekend rendezvous in North Platte, NE with Julie’s family.
In between, Sam the Dog celebrated his 13th birthday (oh my!) and the whole family took part in supporting the Courage Classic, a multi-day charity cycling event which raises money for The Children’s Hospital in Aurora, CO. Each year, Point B sponsors a rider’s aid station at the top Vail Pass (elevation 10,662’). Julie played a major part helping with preparations this year’s station, covering my butt while I was away with client related travel. The girls had a great time greeting hundreds of riders as they finished the long climb up the pass.
In late August the girls also returned to classes at Aspen Creek K-8 School: Grace to Mrs. Dery’s 4th Grade class and Erin to Mrs. Kallsen’s 1st Grade class. Grace is showing a real talent for research, which dovetails nicely with her love for science and writing. Erin, meanwhile, has become a legitimate book worm and has been part of the advanced math group since early in the term. Late in the month, Grace celebrated her 9th birthday with an outing to Boulder’s Northern Colorado Fencers. She and her gang of musketeers learned formal techniques like lunge, parry and riposte followed by a traditional “spazz-out berserker” style battle commonly seen on the school playground. No one was injured, so we considered it a highly successful outing.
While September was pretty quiet, a clear hi-lite was seeing Jason Mraz play a sold out Red Rocks Amphitheater. The tickets were a late 11th anniversary gift Julie and I gave ourselves. The venue was cool, the music memorable and my date was a babe. Would could be better?
In October, Grace’s soccer team competed and earned the U10 Girls “Bronze” division championship at the annual Colorado Youth Soccer (CYS) Cup soccer tournament. Also, at the end of October Erin celebrated her 7th birthday at the local roller skating rink. Erin’s crew swarmed the concrete to display their mad skating skillz (ahem), then attacked the birthday cake with vigor. After more than a 25 year hiatus, Julie and I found our return to roller skating sort of like stepping into a time machine. Very little has changed aside from the emergence of in-line skates. Everything else from the music to organized games (skate limbo!) and snack bar was pretty much as we remembered it being in junior high school. Scary.
With November’s arrival, another festive holiday season kicked off by a Thanksgiving dinner attended by Denver-area family members Kris, Scott, Denise and Cindy as well as long time friends Raghu and Maruthi with their daughter Laya. For the second year in a row, we had vegetarians in attendance, but that didn’t stop me from tackling my first deep fried turkey out in the driveway. It was good, but not great. However, I learned a lot and I’m looking forward to my next fry attempt.
Which brings us to the end of the year. As I look back, perhaps I spent a little too much time working this year, but that’s life sometimes. I’m optimistic about the future and looking forward to a year that was better than the last (which wasn’t too bad).
And now a final holiday message from Grace and Erin (the aforementioned “multimedia extravaganza”):
Season’s Greetings including Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Muharram and Joyful Kwanzaa.
Another Halloween has arrived and we’re enjoying it so far. Devil’s Night came and went last evening with no noticeable ruckus (no burning cars, no riots, just a couple knife fights in our driveway, etc). Erin is a bumblebee, Grace is some sort of ghoul with a Scream-style mask, Julie pulled out her Snow White ensemble and I’m a shifty looking maintenance man. My costume was sort of derailed when Julie said I wasn’t allowed to carry an axe (nor a hatchet) around for fear of scaring the kiddies. No fun.
We hit a party around the corner at our neighbors John and Tinna, then roamed the neighborhood tricking and treating for several blocks. After a 24″ snow fall earlier in the week, the weather has warmed up nicely and it’s a clear sky for the full moon.
So, a thousand pocks upon your countenance and may your path be filled with black cats!
For the first time in years, the Fuller posse made the trip north to Bismarck, ND for the July 4th holiday weekend. We left immediately after one of Grace’s Five-a-Side soccer games, grabbed dinner on the road and finally stopped for the night in Gillette, WY at about midnight. The only remarkable part of that portion of our journey (which is typically as unremarkable as one can imagine) was a spectacular lightning show as we drove through a downpour heading north on WY-59. I wish I had been able to take a picture: with every flash, the horizon lit up edge-to-edge. Really amazing and something you’ll only see on the Great Plains. But I digress…
We finished our drive on Friday morning and rolled into my parent’s place on the northeast edge of the city. After a tour of my dad’s new detached garage / shop, Grace and I did a hot lap of town in dad’s Mazda Miata. Past Simle Junior HS, by the old homestead on Bitteroot Ave, past Rita Murphey ES and then a cool cruise down Main St. Top down, Y-93 blaring on the stereo. Looking cool. Reminded me of the endless laps with my high school buddy Brad (RIP 2006). But I digress…
Amazingly, I was spotted on the drive around town. By the time I got back to my dad’s, there was a message from Facebook on my BlackBerry from someone that had seen me driving by Simle. Small town.
After dinner, we ran over to the fireworks tent down the road and stocked up on explosives. Fireworks are legal in unincorporated parts of North Dakota, so we grabbed a few things to shoot off in the yard. I discovered later my younger brother Kyle had procured enough stuff to hold off the ND National Guard and my meager stockpile was sort of an afterthought.
We goofed around on Saturday, hit the big parade across the river in Mandan, ND, then prepped for the fireworks. We started with my little stuff, then Kyle got out the serious artillery. At one point, some sort of 21-shots-in-a-box type thing fell over in our direction during it’s launch cycle. Kyle and I hit the deck while Roman candles fired over our heads. Oops. Grace and Erin thought it was hilarious, while the grown-ups scowled at me and Kyle.
Sunday we wandered over to the Dakota Zoo. It had probably been 20 years since my last visit and it had grown to include a big cat area complete with Siberian Tigers and a Snow Leopard. They’ve also got some monkeys, moose and a couple different wolf species along with the usual crowd of species indigenous to the Dakotas. I’d actually recommend it if you find yourself in Bismarck with a few hours to kill. Not bad.
We saved the big attraction, Ft Abraham Lincoln State Park, for Monday. Toured the Custer home, explored the reconstructed enlisted barracks, wandered the Slant Village and rode the trolley back to town. Good times, good times.
Tuesday was the long drive home and first hand evidence of ARRA stimulus at work. At every turn, we hit another blacktop crew grinding down the road or applying new asphalt. I think about the only beneficiaries of ARRA thus far are the handful of companies that reseal highways, something that keeps them busy every summer anyway. But I digress…
Another fine Independence Day weekend.
Happy Easter from Broomfield!
In what has been a tradition for the last several years, we had our annual family portrait taken before brunch at the home of our longtime friends Brooke and Randy. To the left is my vote for the best picture of the bunch.
After pictures, we hunted down some eggs in a light mist, enjoyed a brew, ate too much and generally had fun a good time with our hosts, Brooke’s folks, her grand dad and my mom Cindy. That’s all I have to say about that.
P.S. Why are deviled eggs such a popular part of the day commemorating Jesus’ resurrection? Obviously, there are typically a good pile of Easter eggs to dispose of, but one can deal with hard boiled eggs in many ways such as egg salad, Cobb salad or Scotch eggs. It’s not like Jesus was heading to Hell or anything and we eat deviled eggs to celebrate old Lucifer‘s failure to capture this particular soul. A mystery I guess.
Curious about the origin of the “deviled” food style, I did some Googling around and found a reference. According to the Oxford Companion to Food:
Devil–a culinary term which . . . first appeared as a noun in the 18th century, and then in the early 19th century as a verb meaning to cook something with fiery hot spices or condiments. . . . The term was presumably adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell.
I guess the paprika is supposed to be the spicy part.
As has become tradition (2nd year in a row!), the Fuller holiday missive will be published on-line so friends and family far and wide can get the scoop without relying on the US Postal Service. Plus I can write way too much and have links to other websites and all sorts of good stuff that I can’t do in a paper letter. Huzzah for the Internet!
Where to start? Well, we moved in January. After a decade on Monarch Trail, Julie and I decided we’d finally outgrown our home having collected two children and a metric ton of stuff over the years. Of course, we’d fallen thoroughly in love with Broomfield and didn’t want to leave the area. After a couple months of searching, we had the good fortune of finding a home in a neighborhood nearby and within our same school’s boundaries. We’re now residing comfortably in a bit larger home (that includes a REAL office for daddy) and we’re only 1 block from the neighborhood swimming pool, 2 blocks from school and 3 blocks from a large park with a soccer pitch, roller hockey rink and basketball court. Ideal.
In February, I began an interesting personal / business adventure when I took on a consulting project for a client in South Africa. I began a 7 month commute between Denver and Johannesburg, which I chronicled over on my OpenKimono blog so I won’t repeat it here. In all, I made 7 trips to South Africa, racking up about 135,000 frequent flyer miles and viewing 26 movies along the way. I made a number of new friends and learned a lot about both business and life in the developing world. I can’t really explain the impact this project had on me personally, but I can say that EVERYONE should go spend time in Africa, South America or some other developing region of our world. It’s an eye opening experience and it will forever change your view on America’s influence in the world and it’s responsibility to become a more engaged and thoughtful member of the global community.
In April, a musician joined the family as Erin began taking piano lessons. For as long as I can remember, Erin has been into singing and dancing, often howling along with the kiddie pop music singers on XM’s Radio Disney. Over the months, Erin’s piano skills have improved to the point where she had a couple break-through “performances” in December. First, she auditioned and was selected to perform in the talent show at Aspen Creek K-8 School, where she and Grace attend school. One of only a handful of kindergartners, Erin performed in front of several hundred audience members across three different shows. Even though she was pretty nervous (and I may have been even more nervous), Erin did a great job. Check out a video from one of her performances below. A few days later, Erin acted in the role of accompanist during a piano recital held at a retirement home when all the kids from her piano classes took a break from playing to do a couple Christmas sing-alongs. Not bad for a 6 year old.
In the last couple months, Grace too has become interested in music. While she doesn’t care to learn piano, she’s obsessed with guitars, drums and singing off-key. I guess that makes her a budding rock n’ roll musician, but it’s hard to tell at this point where she’ll end up. She does seem to have a penchant for writing lyrics: she has already penned a number of songs with a surprising amount of angst for an 8 year old. And she’s a natural organizer having already formed a band with her 3rd grade school mates, including auditions for band members via teleconference. At some point, they may actually have to learn to play instruments and maybe get some voice lessons, but the gang is having fun for now.
In July, we hosted a semi-annual gathering of Fuller family members. We had a great turn-out with Grandpa Dennis, Grandma Rita, Brother Kyle and Cousin Darian making the trek from North Dakota; Great Grandpa Fred and Great Grandma Dottie joining from New Mexico; Aunt Nancy flying in from California and Brother Scott, Sister-in-Law Denise and Sister Kris entering the fray from here in Denver. It was finely tuned chaos with croquet, bar-b-ques, July 4th fireworks and buckets of frozen mojitos. Check out some photos from the weekend here. After 4 days of festivities, we were glad for things to quiet down, but it won’t be too long before we rally the troops for another Fuller assault.
At the end of the month, we took our sole vacation for the year, heading west to San Diego. We rented a house in Ocean Beach and hit the sites including SeaWorld, San Diego Wild Animal Park and, of course, the San Diego Zoo. We also got a lot of quality time with Aunt Nancy including a couple dinners with Cousin Sean and a surprise encounter with Uncle Phil who was working in San Diego on a company project.
Also in July, our senior citizen Sam the Dog underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean out bone spurs in both front elbow joints. Sam is literally on his last leg having had the canine equivalent of a blown right rear ACL a few years ago. Sam turned 12 this past July and it’s hard to tell if he see his 13th birthday. But he’s shown a lot of resiliency over the years, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself commenting about him in next year’s holiday letter.
In August, I decided it was time to call an end to my journeys and put my business, NaviGo Global, on hiatus (see September below). This same month, it was back to school for the girls: Grace entered the 3rd grade while Erin made the big move from pre-school to kindergarten.
In early September, I joined Point B in their Denver office and I couldn’t be more pleased so far with the firm. Good people and a positive, open culture. Point B is a project leadership consulting firm with expertise in a lot of areas (M&A Integration, Process Improvement, Major Business Change and more) and emphasizes execution, problem solving and knowledge transfer back to our clients. It’s really great to be home most nights in time for dinner because Point B only works with clients local to their offices. It’s also meant I could commit more time to family activities like coaching soccer.
Speaking of soccer, it’s now become a four season sport for the family. Both Grace and Erin competed on teams during the spring and fall seasons this year and each attended soccer camp during the summer. Now that winter has arrived in Colorado, the games move indoors with Grace continuing to play weekly with her teammates in an indoor league. While Erin isn’t playing in a league, her team is going to participate in a tournament over the holidays. Both girls enjoy their games, but strangely, seem to enjoy practices even more. I guess that’s a sign of good things yet to come. I’m also playing these days. I started with pick-up games a year or so ago just to learn more about soccer so I could improve my coaching. I’ve really grown to enjoy the sport and have graduated to a more formal setting to play on an indoor team this winter in an adult CoEd league.
In November, we hosted another gathering, this time a mix of family and friends. Sister Corey, Brother-in-Law Alex and their son Jameson flew over from Edinburgh and spent Thanksgiving week soaking up some gorgeous Colorado weather. Alex, a son of Scotland and a lifelong resident, was basking in the sun and I think maybe he didn’t really want to return home to the soggy weather at the end of the trip. Also joining us were Corey’s friends Cindy and Christian, who traveled from Seattle for the festivities. Grandma Cindy, Scott, Denise and Kris were also able to make it and rounded out our dinner guest headcount at 13 . Accompanying our turkey was a dizzying array of side dishes, so even the vegetarians among us (there were three) found a way to achieve the requisite food coma. Check out some photos from the week here. Erin and Grace also put on an impromptu musical performance showcasing their dance moves and singing abilities. All in all, we had a great week and perhaps it will even become a tradition.
Through-out the year, Julie has remained the anchor of our family. While I was jetting back n’ forth to the other side of the world, Julie was holding down the home front, hustling kids to soccer and other activities, continuing her work as the secretary of the Aspen Creek PTA, expanding her volunteer time in the classrooms of Grace and Erin, as well as a myriad of other things that came with relocating our household during the spring. Her flexibility and energy enabled all I was able to do career-wise over the past two years and I can’t imagine there are too many other spouses out there that would survive, and in fact thrive, in such a situation. I am truly blessed and thankful for her support.
I think that about covers the hi-lites. A busy year and I expect another busy one to come in 2009. To all our family and friends we wish you the best of health and the best of luck during trying economic times. Keep your heads up and pushing straight ahead as things will improve eventually, they always do. Cheers!