Welcome to the fifth annual installment of the Bucher Family Christmas Page! As usual, click on any small picture for a larger version.

This summer marked the tenth anniversary of Eric's graduation from medical school and ten years since we had been to Chicago. So, with our usual disregard for personal sanity, we loaded the three kids into the van and drove forty-some hours round-trip to Illinois. We spent a day in Evanston at the Northwestern campus, ate dinner at the pizza place where Eric & Elaine first met seventeen long years ago, and then spent a few days in Chicago going to the Shedd Aquarium, the zoo, Medieval Times, and (shudder) the American Girl Place (Eric's nerves and wallet are still trying to recover). For the curious NU alums or masochists among you, you can find pictures from our NU/Chicago trip by clicking this link.

In July Eric was offered (and accepted) the opportunity to buy in to partnership in his pediatric practice. While temporarily making us somewhat poorer, in the long run it will be a great opportunity. Mostly that means Elaine has promised Eric a big plasma TV and new table saw next year when the last of the loans is finally laid to rest. He also created and maintains his practice's web site and has continued with woodworking projects at home, this year building several bookcases, a nightstand, a headboard, and some picture frames. At that rate it should be only another forty or fifty years until all those power tools pay for themselves.

Elaine has become increasingly busy with her own and the girls' activities. She started back to school, taking some courses towards a second master's degree with the plan of teaching high school English some day if we can ever get Rachel into first grade. She also got an unexpected offer to teach a freshman composition course at Salem State College which may happen in 2006. Elaine added knitting to her growing domestic hobby list that already includes sewing and cake decorating. Now if there was only some way of getting house cleaning onto that list. . . As usual she made the girls' Halloween costumes this year, with a little assist from Eric on Hawkgirl's mace and eight-foot retractable wings. The other costumes are Dorothy and Poison Ivy (the Batman villainess, not the dermatitis-inducing weed).

Laura turned nine in October and celebrated by hosting her first slumber party. It's unclear how much actual slumbering occurred, but it did manage to scare off her father for the night. Last spring she convinced Eric to take her to the father-daughter dance at her school, and he's still trying to figure out how he's supposed to take two girls this year (and let's not even think about Rachel waiting in the wings). Laura is now a Junior Girl Scout, takes swimming lessons, piano lessons (hear her play by clicking this link), and started chorus. In her increasingly rare spare time it's rumored she occasionally attends third grade.

Tina started kindergarten this fall and turned six in September. She also swims and was one of the youngest students invited to play piano in her music school's spring recital (hear her play by clicking this link). Last year she decided that she wanted to swim with live dolphins at Discovery Cove in Florida. Forgetting that he was speaking to miserly Tina and not spendthrift Laura, Eric jokingly said he'd take her if she saved the money from her allowance. Fifty-two weeks at two dollars a week later, a sadder but wiser father is starting to look at air fares for next summer.

Rachel turned three this past April and started preschool two mornings a week. With Eric's current work schedule, this puts all three kids in school and Eric and Elaine and their Jacuzzi tub home all alone every Thursday morning. We'll say no more than that. Rachel has also started swimming lessons and no longer screams bloody murder at the first touch of water, clinging for dear life to the nearest adult. And yes, this summer she swallowed a penny.

Hope this holiday season finds you all well, and we wish you and your families a blessed and joyous New Year.

Eric, Elaine,

Laura, Tina & Rachel Bucher

10 Old County Road

Amesbury, MA 01913

(978) 388-6789