Christmas, 2005

(click on the picture to see a detailed view)

Dear Friends,

To say 2005 was an eventful year is indeed an understatement. As everyone is now aware the year brought record-setting hurricanes to the Gulf Coast, one of which struck our community. Although Rita destroyed or damaged thousands of homes in the Lake Charles region this September, ours was spared any major damage, just a large tree striking the back corner of the eaves. Here’s a summary of our year in Lake Charles, Louisiana.


Our vacations took us to Scottsdale, AZ, in April to visit Ellen’s mom and step-dad. There we spent a relaxing week hiking and biking in the wonderful spring desert climate. Then, in late July we spent a week in Bay City, MI, visiting Ellen’s dad and step-mom. While there we attended a very special surprise celebration of her dad’s 70th birthday. We had a wonderful time.
Our last vacation was an unscheduled one. On September 23 in our first ever hurricane evacuation, we traveled to Mark’s brother Peter’s house in Pensacola to weather the storm. After a couple days it was apparent that we would not be returning for at least two weeks. So, Mark traveled to Sasol’s Baltimore plant to continue a project he had been working on already, while the rest of the family returned to Scottsdale to hang out with Ellen’s mom and step-dad. Eventually we all reunited in Lake Charles. [Thanks again to all those who offered their residences to us during our time of need.]

Five-year old Sarah is her usual assertive self. She has developed into a very particular and routine-oriented child. Everything needs to be in its place for her. This is her last year in preschool which she attends three days a week. She’s progressed well in gymnastics, and continued taking dance lessons until the hurricane destroyed the studio. We expect them to resume in January. And she loves doing artsy things just like her big sister. Sarah has learned the alphabet and can write her name and the names of all her family members. She also was fond of her sister’s two hamsters, Petite and Baxter III, who both passed away this year.
Lisa, now 14 and an 8th-grader, is enjoying her last year at parochial school. She’s keeping up her straight A grades, even in Algebra class which she finds most difficult. Lisa’s headline event was her Bat Mitzvah which she conducted in March. Her chanting was the talk of the night, a result of her beautiful singing voice. It was truly a remarkable day for her. Lisa’s still doing well with her flute, making the Honor Band, and getting another Superior rating on her Solo and Ensemble. She’s joined the Bulbor Youth Orchestra which is a bit more challenging than the school band. It has different instruments and carries higher expectations of music skill. Lisa still sings in the choir Les Petites Voix which gave their annual Christmas concert recently. It was excellent as usual, but especially with Lisa accompanying the choir on her flute for a couple of songs. She is still keeping up with her art skills as she takes lessons once a week. Last summer Lisa donated her hair to Locks-of-Love. The picture to the left was taken just before the cutting.
Samuel, now 15, is a sophomore in high school. He has started driving, and currently has his learner's permit. His chess playing excelled to new levels this year. He defeated people he never could have imagined defeating. In June, he attended a one week chess camp in Atlanta where many world-class grandmasters served as instructors. This past December, Samuel participated in a national tournament in Houston to take 10th place (5 out of 7 points) in his division. Samuel was very excited about accomplishing one of his major goals–bringing home a trophy from a national tournament. Samuel’s piano training will be coming to an end after his sophomore year. He has decided that piano isn’t a major priority anymore and he has other things he’d much rather be focusing on. Samuel’s interest in computers is growing. He has enrolled in a JAVA programming class at his high school. He still develops web pages, and you can see his personal Web site if you have time. He is currently in the process of redesigning his dad’s web site.

Ellen remains a happy and busy full-time mom, keeping up with all the children’s lessons and practices that have to be attended, as well as tolerating Samuel’s driving. She has started to work full-time at a privately owned toy store, and she loves it. She keeps up her fitness program at the local Curves Center and continues to attend weekly playgroup sessions with Sarah. She is still very active in the local Synagogue, teaching Sunday School and helping kids prepare for their Confirmation. She also socializes in the Lake Charles Newcomers Club. Earlier in the year she and Mark attended their first Mardi Gras ball.
Joseph and Anthony have enjoyed another fulfilling year at their jobs in Houston. Joseph is still with Foxboro and has been working on several projects for Valero. Anthony still works for TAG, a control systems contractor. His latest project is with Lyondell in Channelview, TX, a plant where his dad used to work in the 1980s. The project is to replace the Distributed Control System that his dad installed 17 years ago. How’s that for irony! In the picture at the right, the brothers set out for a Halloween party dressed as Mario and Luigi.

Mark has had an interesting year at Sasol North America, branching out to other plant sites. In March he spent 3 weeks working on improvements at a Sasol facility in South Africa. While there he got a chance to view the beautiful countryside and its splendid wildlife.

The company also has been needing assistance at their Baltimore plant, so he worked there about 25% of the year. And there were many capital projects at Sasol’s plant in Lake Charles to take up the remaining time. In his spare time, Mark enjoys his newest two-wheeled machine, a 2004 Honda ST-1300. Hopefully, a cross-country trip is in the near future.

Luke the cat is doing well although he became disoriented through the ordeal of hurricane Rita. After traveling to Pensacola with us we took him to a Kitty motel until we could return home safely with him. Once home for a few days he was back to normal, begging for attention by putting his paws on someone’s lap or licking someone’s leg.

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: