Holiday Letter 2009

Hi again, this is the 2009 online holiday letter!

2009 has been just as exciting as every other year.  We’ve learned a lot and done a lot.  Much of it is recorded in the blog, and on flickr.

2009 is the year we started learning JapaneseWe haven’t gotten very far since we are not taking any actual classes, but we can both mostly read the kana (the syllabic “alphabets” used in Japanese) and say simple things like “Buzz is a cat” and “Today is Sunday” and “I am not energetic (I am not feeling well).”  However, we’ve spent a bunch of money on J-Box, and I have acquired a textbook, a grammar, many flashcards, and most recently I treated myself to a hanko!  That is a Japanese name-stamp that can be registered as an official signature if you live in Japan.  Mine has the katakana for “fu-ra-n-pu” on it.  It was custom-made in Japan.

I also went to Sakura Sunday in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia with one of my good friends (who DOES actually speak Japanese) and had a great time watching and learning.  Keiko has promised to take us to Japan someday, and says she is saving her frequent-flyer miles with that in mind!

Another joint project new for this year is our vegetable garden.  Greg planted it, I pickled it.  We both cooked it.  We had sugar snap peas, string beans, many cucumbers, some adorable mini-pumpkins, only a few zucchini, and some giant mystery squash.  In addition to making bread and butter pickles and dill spears, we both gave away lots of cucumbers to friends and colleagues.  Everything was planted in our rose bed, which is the sunniest part of the garden since we are surrounded by trees.  My additions to the garden were some largely unsuccessful radishes and artichokes, which turn out to be biennial and may produce artichokes next year if they survive the winter.  Greg has already planted garlic for harvesting next summer!

We also went berry picking over the summer, and made numerous batches of jam, learning a lot in that process as well!  We’ve never canned until this year, and I for one am very pleased to have so many jars of home-made good stuff to give away this holiday!  School keeps me very busy anyway, but I also had a bad cold and sinus infection starting right after Thanksgiving, which slowed me down a lot.  I did not have time for shopping!

We finished redecorating the guest room in the spring, a project that we began last year.  I had removed the popcorn ceiling in 2008, and painted the walls, but Greg painted the ceiling and did the floor.  We collaborated on hanging Grandma’s quilt and putting in the furnishings.  Now we use the room in various ways: reading, studying, doing puzzles, taking naps.  Only one guest has actually stayed in it so far!

We rarely have guests, even for dinner or hanging out, but when we do we like to play Rock Band.  Especially now that Beatles Rock Band came out in September, and more of our friends actually know the songs!

The other big “joint” project for the year is getting the ball rolling on re-doing the kitchen.  We are currently stalled on this project (the contractors did not get back to us with estimates in a timely manner, and we did not follow up properly) but we have an architect and plans and have chosen materials and colors.  We hope to finish this one in 2010!

Of course, we have our individual activities as well.  Greg has enrolled in the EMTM (Executive Masters in Technology Management) program at the University of Pennsylvania, which has three terms of four courses per year.  He is in his second term right now, and the classes meet all day Friday and Saturday every other weekend.  He’s been podcasting/writing about his experiences at What Greg Learned.  Every so often he still discusses games at PositivelyGaming.

My school activities keep me as busy as usual.  Physics Olympics in February, Science Bowl in March, the trip to Hershey Park in May.  Then in the fall, more Physics Olympics!  I have one of my largest and most enthusiastic Physics Olympics teams in years, but unfortunately they are not particularly skilled…yet.  Since many of them are juniors, I have high hopes for next year’s team!  At school I have been honored twice this fall for my spirit and enthusiasm: once as “Staff Member of the Week” and once as a “Viking with Pride.”  And I have a great AP Physics class this year with 12 students, six of whom are girls!

Finally, there is the electric car project.  The Honda Civic I bought from Melissa over the summer is sitting in the middle of the driveway, partially deconstructed and immovable.  I’ve had some former and current students work on it on occasion, and I have also done some work on it, but it is a long way from completion.  Some people have asked me, wouldn’t it be cheaper and quicker to convert it to biodiesel?  Well sure.  But that isn’t the point.  The point is to learn a lot, and to have a zero-emissions second car for running local errands.  This project might get finished in 2010…or maybe in 2011!

I hope you have learned some new things this year, and will learn more new things in 2010!  Best wishes for the holidays and the New Year!  Feel free to get in touch with us on our blogs or on Facebook!

8 Responses to “Holiday Letter 2009”

  1. WT Says:

    Love the photos. Happy Holidays!

  2. Anne Says:

    Thanks! I want to learn more about that electric car. See you soon!
    Love, Anne

  3. sarah Says:

    Thanks for the updates. I’m glad you seem to be having a great time with all your life’s work.

    We are off to San Francisco for Christmas in just a couple of hours. I will be in Philadelphia for a national exam on March 1st and would love to see you. If you have space, I could use a place to stay the night before. I’ll be in touch later about that.

    Happy Holidays!

  4. Pam Says:

    Thank you for including us in your addressees. The letter is very interesting and, of course, we enjoyed pickles and jam while you were at camp. Congratulations on all you and Greg have accomplished this year. Talked to your mom yesterday so know about your Christmas plans; have fun and some rest!
    Can’t believe this year has zoomed by so fast…. Happy 2010, see you then!

  5. Seth Says:

    Why the interest in Japanese? Very cool. You know I spent my junior year of undergrad in Japan, right? It was a great experience. Nihongo o benkyoo koto ni ganbatte! (I think that’s mostly right — the particles were never my strong point).

    • teawithbuzz Says:

      It all started when I got the DS at Marisa’s party. Greg told me that in Japan, people use them to learn English. So I replied that if that was the case, then I ought to be able to use the DS to learn Japanese! So when I learned My Japanese Coach was available, I got it! It doesn’t hurt that Greg is actually half Japanese, so there is some actual reason other than a whim, but mostly it is whim. Arigatou! We say ganbatte a lot! It is one of the words we know and we can just say it without having sentence structure or particles!

  6. Harley Says:

    Thanks for the letter and update of your activities. your busy schedule makes me tired. Happy Holidays.

  7. Mark Says:

    You leave me breathless! Our granddaughter is also learning Japanese, at Knox College in IL. Good progress with the redecorating. The electric car sounds ambitious! We’re keeping our eye out for red balloons…

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