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!