Christmas 1995

Greetings of the Season!

We’ve survived the deluge and accompanying floods (not to mention the ants) of last winter and the flea and weed invasions of summer, got through two graduations, and launched one kid into the world of work, but the verdict’s not yet in on whether we’ll survive the remodeling projects on the home front.

Cathy graduated from the LAPD Academy in January and has been keeping the streets safe in Southwest Division (near USC) ever since. She could not have been assigned to a tougher area, and has taken to the policing profession like a fish to water. “I can’t believe they pay me to do this job!” she says.

When she finishes her probationary period she will be reassigned and has expressed an interest in becoming a traffic investigator. It sounds a lot safer to us, so we’re silently cheering her on. She’s now on a well-deserved four-week vacation that will end the day before Christmas.

Jenny continues to travel the country cajoling high school kids to enroll at U. of Dallas. She came home for Cathy’s graduation in January and again for Brian’s graduation from UC San Diego in June. In between she stopped by during a business trip to California, and she’ll be home for a week the end of this month—a great treat because she cooks! We’re so grateful for the variety she provides, we hardly notice that she’s feeding us vegetarian meals and all kinds of healthy stuff.

Dallas had an early taste of winter a couple weeks ago when it was dusted with snow; here she’ll have to be content with the sight of distant mountaintop snow seen from our front window.

Brian discovered in June that his sixteen years of schooling had not been in vain. His B.S. degree in Computer Science yielded three job offers before graduation. He feels he made the right choice when he joined Intuit, a software company whose stock is very hot now due to a recent move into Internet banking. They make Quicken and TurboTax (MacInTax for the Mac).

He accepted a job with the San Diego TurboTax division and was given the task of developing the installation software for all their products. He said, “It’s great knowing that millions of people are going to be seeing the screens I created when they install TurboTax on their PC.” October to April, tax season, is their busiest time.

There are no vacations, and to keep the troops happy, dinners are catered at 6 pm, ideal for a bachelor who loves to eat but not to cook.

His soccer team provides a good outlet after eight hours of sitting in front of a computer. And knowing that work can underwrite play, he has already planned the next three years’ vacations.

Dave continues to play soccer and roller hockey and eats everything in sight. He’s taller than both of us and gaining on Brian. He’s reaching that stage where his muscle can actually be put to good use in the house remodeling that’s going on. Although it seems he spends most of his time responding to Mo-Doom (Doom via modem) challenges from around the US, sports have him in good shape.

School seems pretty easy for him in spite of one Advanced Placement class in European History that keeps him busy reading. It’s hard to believe he’ll be halfway through high school in June and will need to start deciding where he’ll go to college.

He’s playing high school soccer at the moment and is thinking of running track in the spring. His food input guarantees that we keep that part of the American economy booming—the supermarket manager welcomes me (and probably other moms of teenage boys) with a delighted smile and a waiting shopping cart.

We had great vacations this year—a July East Coast tour where the guys decided to visit sports history sites (Boston Garden, Fenway Park, Veterans Stadium) as well as some of the more usual places in Boston, Amherst, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C.

Our NY hotel was a couple blocks from Times Square and an equal distance to the theater where we saw Miss Saigon. I had forgotten the smells and sounds of NYC in the summer and the feel of 90% humidity in D.C. We saw thousands of Korean War vets in Washington for the dedication of the new Korean War Memorial, and were moved by the sight of the Wall (Vietnam Veterans Memorial).

In August we camped at the beach near Santa Barbara with family and recharged our batteries for another year. We saw dolphins almost every day swimming close to the shore—what a beautiful sight they are!

This has been the year for remodeling projects on our 15-year old house. The kitchen and family room got a facelift with new paint and wallpaper and new french doors. Almost all of the outside landscaping was torn out in the summer; new sod was installed, and ground covers were planted. We’re redoing bathrooms now and have no sinks upstairs, so we're pretending to be camping. Everything should be fully operational by Christmas.

Wallpaper stores have big discounts this time of year; they no doubt feel sorry for us since only lunatics remodel during the holidays. When the bathrooms are finished, we’ll do the living room and hallways, putting off the inevitable really big job—the kitchen cabinets and countertops.

This year I’m out of the classroom, so to speak, but still working at the same school. This is the second year of a 3-year grant to improve math and science education for immigrant students, so I'm in a lot of classrooms and pushing papers around and going to meetings and doing staff training.

I really enjoy the challenge of not knowing what’s going to happen any particular day, and being able to solve problems for kids and teachers—and I love not having stacks of papers to grade at night. The family is a little uneasy with my more regular hours: “Are you sure you’re not supposed to be grading papers tonight?”

Larry’s still at Litton Aero Products as a contractor; he presented himself with a five-year pin in November. The engineering staff is now about half what it was at the start of the year. The reduction is due to a combination of layoffs and people deserting what they perceive is a sinking ship. As more people leave, his position might even become more secure, because he is now one of the most experienced software engineers remaining.

He’s waiting for that elusive “big project” to reappear, but none is on the horizon. In the meantime, he fills the time helping out on a number of small projects.

We wish you every happiness of the season and send our best wishes for a healthy and safe New Year.