Christmas, 2003

(click on the picture to see a detailed view)

Dear Friends,

As you can surmise from this letter’s late arrival, 2003 was a busy year for the Congiundis. Although the world political climate has given us some tense moments this year, we remain healthy and happy to live in a small town like Lake Charles, Louisiana. Here’s a summary of the year in our family.

We took a very special family trip this past August – to Anchorage, Alaska. This trip used up the last of our frequent flyer miles, but was well worth it. We got to walk on a glacier, picnic near Mt. McKinley, view some breathtaking scenery complete with amazing wildlife, and just had a great time in general. If you have some time, the pictures from this trip are available online. They are quite interesting. In November, during Thanksgiving, we visited Ellen’s mom and step-dad in Scottsdale. While there we experienced the fun of riding a Segway scooter for the first time.

Sarah is 3 years old now. We’ve told her she is not a baby any more, and that seems to have had a positive influence on her behavior. She still knows she’s the cutest member of the family, but seems content not to wield the power that comes with that too often. Sarah knows the alphabet, can recognize her name when written on paper, and has become very interested in books. Sarah has been involved in first-year gymnastics and is doing quite well. She also shows an aptitude for drawing, taking after her big sister. Another thing she has in common with her sister is a love of Sponge Bob. She has grown fond of movies, too. Her favorites are Spirit and Finding Nemo. But, most of all Sarah loves getting her nails done.

Lisa, now in sixth grade, has moved to a parochial school and is doing very well. She enjoys the challenges that her teachers present to her and has responded accordingly with straight A grades. Lisa joined the school band, playing the actual flute instrument that Ellen used as a child in school. Lisa continues singing with Les Petites Voix, an elite choral group in the community. This year the group gave a very nice Christmas concert for the mayor and others at City Hall, and gave other concerts at UL-Lafayette. Lisa still takes dance lessons and gave her usual great performance at the Spring Recital. She’s also been pursuing her strong artistic interest. Carrying on her tradition, she designed the invitation to celebrate her 12th birthday, an arts and crafts party with a Sponge Bob theme, of course.

Samuel has become a teenager at 13, and is now in 8th grade. The big event this year was his Bar Mitzvah this May. Relatives from all over the country witnessed Samuel’s rite of passage, and he did not disappoint. Everyone agreed that his recitations were exemplary. Samuel still plays sports, remaining competitive in soccer. This year he played all different positions and is grateful for the opportunity to be versatile. Samuel’s interest in chess remains strong. He competed at the state tournament in Baton Rouge and finished well in the standings (4.5 out of 7 points). He beat several players rated much higher. This year Samuel and his dad both played at the local Lake Charles Open chess tournament; both finished with a respectable 3 out of 5 points.

Samuel’s piano training is ongoing as he continues to progress. He is taking on more difficult pieces from classical composers such as Bach and Khachaturian, and gets good marks in his competition. Samuel’s interest in developing Web pages has pushed him into being the resident expert both at home and at school. Check out his personal Web site some time.

Ellen is still a happy and busy full-time mom, keeping up with all the children’s lessons and practices that have to be attended. She’s volunteering in Lisa’s new school as the Room Mother. She continues to keep up with her fitness program at the local Curves Center, and has been active in the local Synagogue as well as the Lake Charles Newcomers Club.

Joseph and Anthony now have over a year under their belts working in industry. Joseph continues working at Foxboro (Invensys) in west Houston as a process control engineer. He has proven his value to the company by creating an innovative DCS user interface for a client that required very stringent performance and functional specs. After working for Celanese Chemical for over a year, Anthony found himself the victim of the company’s efforts to trim staff. Following a brief job search he accepted a position at a small automation contractor named The Automation Group (TAG). He’s working as a process control engineer, too. TAG is located also in west Houston, near Joseph’s office. Still in an apartment, last October they decided to move to that western area of town. They now rent a beautiful, spacious house for about the same money as the apartment. They love their jobs and are very happy.

Mark reached a milestone of five years with Sasol North America. Though the business was a little slow earlier in the year, things have picked up considerably. He worked a major turnaround that consumed the entire month of October, and since then operations have been at full bore to fulfill customer orders. There has been no shortage of interesting and challenging projects, so life is good.


Luke the cat is still with us. These days he can be spotted ambling around the house looking for a softer location. Lately, he’s shown some interest in Lisa’s new hamsters, but he hasn’t figured out a way to get through the cage yet.

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

E-mail address:

Web Home Page:

Christmas Newsletters Page:

Samuel's Web Page: