Christmas, 2002

(click on the picture to see a detailed view)

Dear Friends,

We have survived 2002, an interesting and exciting year for us. Although the world is vastly more complicated, we are happy remembering what our family means to us, and being thankful we are all in good health. Here's a summary of the year in our family.

We took some very special family trips this year. This June, we used our frequent flyer miles to take us to the big island of Hawaii. There we rented a condo for one fantastic week. We saw Kilauea, the newest volcano in the Hawaiian chain, and swam in the finest beaches on the Kohala coast. This truly was a vacation we didn't want to end. We took a brief trip to Pensacola to visit Mark's brothers and sister. Mark's brother, Peter (the dentist) invited him to New Orleans and the ADA convention. The highlights were a comedy act by Jay Leno and a wonderful speech by former President George H. W. Bush. But the best was saved for last. Ellen's mom took her entire extended family on a Caribbean cruise during Christmas week (the reason why this greeting letter is so late). We saw the ports of Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel, and experienced some of the best entertainment on board a ship. At the end of the trip we vacationed in Miami Beach for some more relaxation.

Sarah, now 2 years old, has become the dominant member of the family. She has figured out that it is a powerful position having four, and sometimes more, people around to serve her every need. If she doesn't get satisfaction from one, she simply moves on to another person down the pecking order until she gets compliance. Because she gets so much attention she has learned her numbers all the way to 14. Samuel taught her from a deck of cards, so she knows aces, jacks, queens, and kings, too. She is beginning to talk sentences and can recite the alphabet using the familiar tune, but only recognizes about a dozen letters yet. We are happy to report that she is through her Barney phase (she has access to an extensive Barney library inherited from her siblings), and is now focusing on Pinocchio, the original 1940 version. To serve these needs, she's learned to operate an impressive array of video equipment, including televisions, VCRs, and DVD players.

Mark now has four years under his belt at Sasol North America. The company is doing well enough despite the hard economic times, but the U.S. plants have experienced some reductions. His job still has an abundance of capital projects, and plant support work has become more intense as the operations are pressed for greater efficiency. In the fourth quarter Mark made another visit to the sister plant in Germany to exchange information and promote some improvement projects.

Ellen continues as a full-time mom, keeping up with who has to go where at any given moment. She is volunteering in Lisa's school as the Room Mother. When baby Sarah goes to her Mothers Day Out, Ellen often substitutes as the caregiver. She is keeping up with her fitness program at the local Curves Center.

Samuel (7th grade) is 12 and still playing soccer as well as basketball and baseball. This year he spent some time as goalie but that's not his favorite position. Samuel still loves his chess and competed in several tournaments at various levels. He went to Atlanta for the National Scholastic tournament and scored 3 wins and 3 losses, so the competition was quite tough. In the third round of a local tournament open to all players, he was paired against his dad. It was reported in last year's letter that dad could no longer beat Samuel, but this round proved to be an exception. Samuel still plays the piano and has done well in his competition. This year he has been studying intensively for his Bar Mitzvah coming this May. And Samuel has a new hobby developing Web pages for his personal Web site.

Lisa, now in fifth grade, has shown an aptitude for singing. She was admitted into Les Petites Voix, an elite choral group in her school. Her group gave a very nice Christmas concert and other concerts at UL-Lafayette. Lisa continues with her dance lessons and had a great performance at her Spring Recital.

Lisa has a strong artistic interest. Carrying on her tradition, she designed the invitation to her birthday party for turning 11 years old. This year she opted for a skating party. To the left is the cover for her party invitation that she designed.

Joseph and Anthony both accomplished the feat of graduating Magna cum Laude from the Chemical Engineering program at Texas A&M. Shortly after graduation they took a well-deserved vacation in Europe. Upon returning they started their new permanent employment. Anthony went with Celanese, in their Clear Lake City, Texas, facility. He's working as a process engineer. Joseph took a position as a process control engineer with Foxboro (now Invensys) working in West Houston. Although their jobs are in locations 45 miles apart they decided to live in the same centrally located apartment to save money. Both have purchased new vehicles, Chevy Trailblazers, and are doing well. They love their jobs and are very happy.

Luke the cat is doing well but his good friend, Hollis, moved away. He has slowed down a bit and has beefed up to 14 pounds, but who's counting.

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. Please write (snail mail or email) or stop by for a visit if you're in the area. 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


Our mailing address is:

1212 Bayouwood Court

Lake Charles, LA 70605-3340


(337) 480-0625

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