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Christmas letter

It's my job to write the Christmas letter.  I've actually taken it on my to do this every year.  It's been my one chance every year to do some writing.  And as my wife and daughter tell me every year after they've read the letter, "You should write a book".  Well, this blog isn't that book, but it's my start toward writing more. 

So, following that line of thought (since I can only follow one at a time anyway), I thought I would publish the Price Family Christmas letter.

For your reading enjoyment:

The time has come again for the Annual Price Family Christmas Letter®, now with Vitamin B12. I figure if kids' cereals can proclaim how much healthier they are, it should work for this, too.

As much as 2008 was a year of stability for Susan and I, 2009 was one of change. It began with Susan leaving her position as a district manager for Starbucks and becoming a part-time barista (which sounds really exotic and coffee-like, I know). After four years as a district manager, which came with its fair share of travel, we felt it was a good time for her to step back. She wants to be more available to be a mom. She made the change in late April, which allowed the kids to be at home for the summer, an opportunity they had not had in their lives. But, after several months of 5am shifts, we determined that sucked. So, Susan made another change and left Starbucks following 11 years of employment. She took a position at the Mother's Day Out program in our church and now chases 1 to 3 year olds around three days a week. How she comes home everyday with her sanity, and hair, in tact I do not know, but she is much happier. Susan has also begun volunteering as the art teacher for a couple of the grades at school.

Not to be out done, I felt the need to switch jobs during the year as well. For those of you who don't know, I am a web developer by trade. My programming expertise is in a language called ColdFusion. For the past few years I have used version 5 of ColdFusion. Which would be just great, except that version 9 was recently released. It was like looking at the new Apple iPod through the store window while I listened to my Sony Walkman from 1985. Between that and just general job-related unhappiness, I decided to take a calculated risk and accepted a contract-to-hire position at the Kansas City Federal Reserve. While it was a good possbility that I would be converted to an employee from a contractor, there was no guarantee that I would have the position after the 6 month contract was up (it's looking good right now to happen in January). I think, moreso than the new job, the willingness to take a chance and change a situation I was unhappy in renewed my energy and optimism. It's much easier to get up in the morning now and face the day. At least once I'm awake.

The big event toward the beginning of the year was the wedding of our nephew Mark and his wife Erin. For the second time in two years our kids were the flower girl and ring bearer in a family wedding. We didn't even have to bribe...I mean reward Ian for getting into a tuxedo. He was so excited to wear it, he wanted to sleep in it the night before. So if anyone needs an experienced flower girl or ring bearer, we have reasonable rates. 10% off if you mention this letter.

About a month before that, we all went to Minnesota over Spring Break with friends for some skiiing. The kids and I had never skied before, so this had all the makings of an adventure. The three of us had lessons that morning on the bunny slope and did very well. So, in the afternoon we decided we were going to try some actual skiing (green circle run, here we come). Having never skied before, we had nothing to compare against, but apparently when the temperatures reach 60 degrees skiing becomes more difficult. We had unwittingly chosen the warmest day of the winter for our first ski attempt. Regardless, we still had a lot of fun. And we were amazed at how quickly the kids took to the sport. We figure we'll attempt the mountain ranges of Iowa next.

Olivia's has been enjoyable to watch this year as she continues to stretch her wings. She is now in the fourth grade and turned 10 in November (which is closer to being a teen than I am comfortable with). She continued her drama career with a small, but hilarious part in the school play called "Malice in the Palace", the story of Queen Esther of Persia. She played a beauty contestant, and hammed it up. This summer she joined a swim team at a local pool. Though the early morning practices were often a point of contention, she stuck with it and even won a couple of ribbons at the meet. Later on in the summer, Olivia spent a week at a camp called Kanakuk in Branson, MO. We were very proud of her for simply going, but we were even more proud when she won an award that can be won only once during your entire career at the camp. Once school started back up, Olivia joined band and began playing the flute. It has been wonderful to see her try so hard to learn not to squeak. And Olivia has taken up basketball again. The school team is normally fifth and sixth graders only, but since they had a shortage of players, Olivia and the girls in her class have joined in. The team has clearly improved since the beginning of the season. Susan has also joined as a coach, helping the girls through their plays during practice. I have had to relearn how to sit on my hands and shut my mouth during games.

Ian has grown just as much this year. He turned 7 this summer and began the first grade in the fall. He played baseball in both the spring and the fall again this year. His advance in skills were a joy to watch as both a parent and coach. One of my proudest moments was when Ian threw a runner out at first from right field. This fall also saw Ian start Cub Scouts as a Tiger Scout. With a grandfather and three cousins who have achieved Eagle Scout, there's definitely scouting in the genes. He has recently earned his Bobcat patch, which is the first award possible for a Cub Scout. Somehow, I found myself as the Den leader, which has been one of my most rewarding experiences. And, one of the first opportunities we had as new Cub Scouts was an all-family camp out. Although we were equipmentally-challenged compared with the rest of the campers, the kids had fun. Especially with the activities that were provided by the Boy Scout Troop the following day, like launching paper rockets and playing with catapults.

Our favorite event this year took place over Thanksgiving. Nearly the entire Price family made the trip to Kansas City to spend the holiday together. We had 22 people here for the Thanksgiving meal, which included Susan's parents. It was the first time in several years that so much of the family was together in one place. We were blessed to have everyone make the trip. It was our most cherished memory of the year.

Well, if you're still reading this letter, I can only say, why? Don't you have anything better to do with your time? No? Wow, awkward...So, anyway, I'll end with our usual offer for anyone who wants to take us up on it. The spare bedroom is ready for occupants again, after recently serving as a Barbie playland. Please come stay with us, so Barbie doesn't move back in. Seriously. Please.

Merry Christmas, Ben, Susan, Olivia & Ian


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