Christmas, 2001

Dear Friends,

(click on the picture to see a detailed view)

2001 has been a great year for us, although punctuated by September's man-made disasters.

Baby Sarah is now 13 months old and is asserting herself as an official member of the family. She was our earliest walker at 11 months and is the only child with blue eyes. She knows about a dozen words now, has an affinity for remote controls, and has learned to turn the pages of books without tearing them. We are so grateful that she came into our lives.

We took several family trips this year. In spring we visited Ellen's mom in Scottsdale, AZ. There we experienced mountain biking and horseback riding in the desert for the first time. In early summer we visited Ellen's dad in Bay City, MI. In July we took a trip to Pensacola where we attended Mark's 30-year high school reunion. In August it was back to Bay City to witness Ellen's brother's wedding. All the traveling has produced enough frequent flyer miles to gain us tickets to Hawaii. We have a trip slated for June 2002.

Mark is completing his third year at CONDEA Vista Company, now called Sasol North America after being sold to a South African company. The job has kept him quite busy with a good mix of capital projects and plant support work. In the fourth quarter he became involved in a large project startup at the company's Baltimore plant and shared time between the two plants.

Mark still rides the Honda ST-1100 to work, weather permitting. This year we experimented with our first ever truck purchase. It was a 2002 Chevy Trail Blazer. We are using it for our road trips and it has proven worthy, combining comfort, good gas mileage, and considerable power.  

Ellen enjoys being a full-time mom again. She has ceased substitute teaching while the baby is young, but is volunteering in the kids' schools. When the baby goes to Mothers Day Out on Wednesdays, she always has something going. She visits the local YMCA Fitness Center regularly and has taken an active role in our Synagogue here.

Samuel (6th grade) is now 11 1/2 and is still playing both soccer and basketball, doing quite well in both. But his real specialty is chess. Through his coaches at school he has excelled to the point where his dad can't beat him (unless he makes a mistake). This year Samuel placed first in the Louisiana State Chess Tournament, winning against higher-rated rivals from the New Orleans area. He received an invitation to play a simultaneous chess exhibition against National Chess Master Bruce Pandolfini. Samuel also competed at the Supernationals in Kansas City (won 5, lost 2) and the Scholastic Nationals in Dallas (won 4, lost 2). He continues his piano and has done well in his competition. His interest in raising plants motivated him to tend a garden this year.

Lisa, now in fourth grade, has joined the Chorus in her school. Her group gave a very nice Christmas concert. Lisa continues with her dance lessons. She has moved to a new studio where she is learning new material. Right now she is practicing for her Spring Recital. Lisa also likes to fish, although she hasn't caught anything yet.

Carrying on her tradition, Lisa designed the invitation to her birthday party for turning 10 years old. We held the party at a local craft shop where she and her friends could make arts and crafts and bring them home after the party. To the left is the cover for her party invitation that she designed.

Joseph and Anthony are seniors in the Chemical Engineering program at Texas A&M and on the verge of graduation. Their course load has left them little time for anything but studies but they have maintained their near-perfect gradepoint average. This summer both Joseph and Anthony took jobs with Celanese, in their Bay City, Texas, facility. Joseph was a process engineer and Anthony a process control engineer. After living in different cities the previous summer they decided to work for the same employer this time. Job prospects are not nearly as good this year with the economy in the tanks, but they are pursuing positions at Shell and Conoco as well as their former employer, Celanese.

Luke the cat is doing well. He has established a close tie with a neighbor cat, Hollis, whose owner happens to be one of Samuel's best friends. Hollis visits us daily to play with Luke and, of course, have a meal or two. But the best part is watching the two of them romp around our back porch, arching backs and leaping into the air. It's much better than TV.

We still have our own domain name where you can find this Christmas newsletter and all those from previous years. Just go to our Web Home Page and click on the Christmas tree near the bottom of the page. Please note our internet addresses below, as well as our street address. Meanwhile, we all hope that the year has been a good one, and that your family is healthy and happy. Please write (snail mail or email) or stop by for a visit if you're in the area. Lake Charles is not much on shopping but the food is great.

We hope you are all healthy and feeling lots of joy. We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Mark, Ellen, Anthony, Joseph, Samuel, Lisa, Sarah, and Luke the cat


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1212 Bayouwood Court

Lake Charles, LA 70605-3340


(337) 480-0625

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