Happy Holidays and welcome to the Bucher Family Christmas Page for 2008! For those of you just tuning in (or those who want to relive the thrills), you can catch-up on the past seven years of the astonishing Bucher saga in the archives by clicking this link. As usual, you can click on any of the thumbnails for larger pictures.

2008 brought a few big changes to our family. We kicked off the year on a snowy day in January driving around and looking at houses. On an impulse, we attended an open house and unfortunately loved what we saw. By the next week we had put in an offer on a new house. We stayed here in Amesbury, MA (even the same side of town, which kept everybody at the same school) but traded up  to a somewhat bigger house and, more importantly, to a nice big back yard and a driveway that is nearer to horizontal than vertical in orientation. Other than learning more than we ever wanted to know about French drains and sump pumps, we have been very happy with the move, which we expect to be the last until the girls cart Eric off a few decades from now. There were a nerve-wracking couple of months when we were paying the mortgages on two homes until we lucked out and sold our old place in July, just before the bottom completely fell out of the housing market.

The other big news this year is that Elaine went back to work after more than eleven years at home with the girls. Regular fans of the Christmas page will recall that this time last year she was finishing up her student teaching. She spent the spring substituting and this summer landed a job teaching junior English at Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School. She tries not to think about the fact that after taxes, pension plan contributions, 403B, dental insurance, etc. her paychecks as a full-time teacher are smaller than those she brought home making minimum wage in high school. Although she claims to enjoy it so far, Elaine is looking forward to having two weeks off over the holidays and not being buried under a mountain of papers to grade.

Much to his chagrin, trying to invoke the "Law of Conservation of Working Spouses" didn't let Eric stay home starting in September. His pediatric practice has continued to thrive--apparently people still procreate and their progeny still get sick even in poor economic times. Sometimes you've just got to love biology. Due to work obligations, Eric missed his 20th high school reunion in Pittsburgh in November and, due to his vomiting children, missed Elaine's 20th reunion the same night in Concord, MA. As a consolation prize, that same weekend he went to his second pro football game and was treated to the Steelers whipping the Patriots in Foxboro. If the Steelers clinch the division with a win over the Ravens this weekend it will have been an overall good football year for Eric with the Steelers going to the playoffs, Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl, our local Amesbury High School team winning its first state Super Bowl ever, and even his fantasy football team going into the playoffs as second seed. Now that he has a large (and finally dry) basement, Eric has an entire slate of woodworking projects for the new house planned for 2009. Elaine says she'll believe it when she sees them.

Laura turned twelve in October and is continuing to wend her way through middle school. Last Christmas her grandparents gave her the Twilight series of books, and since then it has become her chief obsession. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past year, the books (and the movie that came out in November) are about a dreamy, sparkly teenage vampire and the regular old teenage girl who becomes the love of his un-life. Over the summer she and Elaine went to New York to meet author Stephenie Meyer at one of her rare book signings. Once again, Eric was stuck home with vomiting children. He's beginning to think that Elaine shouldn't leave the house without him any more. . . Laura continues to sing in the chorus, play summer soccer, play piano, and generally frighten her father with her burgeoning hormones.

Tina turned nine in September and celebrated the following month with a joint party with Laura at TSNY Beantown, the same trapeze school that nearly killed her father through his exertions a year or two before. Both Laura and Tina were able to get down the routine and go to a catcher by the end of the two-hour party. Tina also became a pet owner with her own (small) tropical aquarium in her room. With her usual interest in animals, she hopes to spend some time later next year at the local alpaca farm (no kidding). She continues to play in two soccer leagues, sing in the chorus, play piano, and sell cookies for her Brownie troop. This spring she hopes to add stage magician to her resume at the spring talent show at school. Details to follow.

OK, sing along with me now: "All I want for Christmas is my two front. . ."  Yes, the picture really is Rachel this December, but despite the song, she also wants a drum set and amplifier from Santa this year.  Guess it's not such a good idea to interest your six-year-old in playing Rock Band with the family after all. Shortly after her birthday in April she invited Eric's brother to be her escort to the annual father ("or other special man in your life") dance at her school and, fool that he is, he accepted.  At least the memory of the chaos of hundreds of shrieking girls ought to scare him away from a revisit any time soon. Rachel is in first grade and is also a Brownie, a soccer player (after a fashion) and a piano player.

Hope all of you are well, and we wish you and your families a blessed and merry Christmas and all the best in 2009. By the way, in a fit of post-reunion nostalgia Elaine and Eric are both now on Facebook and would love to hear from you there or elsewhere.

Eric & Elaine

Laura, Christina & Rachel

35 Riverfront Drive

Amesbury, MA 01913

(978) 388-6789