Christmas 1983

Holiday greetings to you from the six of us!

Cathy started high school this year, and with it have come pep rallies, football games, and dating. Does that ever make a father feel old! She’s up at six and off to school shortly after 7. Between studying and babysitting she seems to have little time left over for relaxation. Cathy was confirmed this year and has become very active in our church’s youth group. She’s looking forward to caroling and going on a hayride during the Christmas season.

Jenny has grown up and out dramatically in the past year, so much so that she has been referred to as Cathy’s older sister. She continues to excel at school, having received straight As on her last two report cards. As a member of Sequoia Singers, a “crack” chorale group, she’s had the opportunity to travel and entertain within the community. Jenny will be confirmed in April of next year.

Brian’s love of sports continues unabated, although he seems to have settled on baseball as his favorite spectator and newspaper sport. This year he played basketball (his team powered its way to a 10-0 record!) and baseball, and he is just now concluding a very wet soccer season. Soccer, he says, is his favorite participation sport. Brian too is doing well at school, although his teacher is challenging him more than he’s ever been challenged before.

David continues to be a delight. He’s three and is now attending preschool five mornings a week. School experiences have given him an entree at the dinner table, where he relates his latest encounters with, among others, Goey (Joey) Martin. One day Joey is the villain (“Goey hit me.”) and the next day Joey is his best friend.

Mary continues to teach English as a Second Language to adults. Through this June she taught evenings, but now she teaches mornings while David’s in preschool. Two years of frequent commuting to take courses at UC Santa Barbara paid off this spring, when she became a certificated ESL teacher. She’s teaching level 3 students, who are moderately proficient with the language. Her students come from far afield — Pago-Pago and Romania, Iran and Viet Nam, Mexico and Germany. The students bring such varied backgrounds to school and such a wealth of experiences that there’s never a shortage of topics to practice English on. The ESL program is in the process of expanding to incorporate the newly-legislated Competency Based Education, which requires that the students be taught not just language skills but Basic Living Skills as well. Mary will be increasingly involved in the implementation of this program within the district.

When Cathy and Jenny visited the orthodontist earlier this year, Mary followed a few months later, and now there are three “metal-mouths” in the house. If she’d put her hair in pigtails, chew gum (which of course she can’t do with braces), and say “Like fer sure,” Mary would have little trouble passing for a teenager.

When I quit my job with Burroughs a year ago to become a consultant at Litton, I wasn’t certain how things would work out. Fortunately, I still remain under contract with Litton, after a recent extension into March 1984. I’m developing software on an HP-9836 microcomputer [on which this letter was written], which is used to test a guidance system on an advanced helicopter. To relieve the tedium of sitting in front of a terminal much of the week, a group of us has informally formed a Thursday lunch group, which samples the offerings of the wide range of restaurants in the San Fernando Valley and occasionally beyond. Each week it’s a different restaurant; we’ve eaten Thai, Indonesian, Philippine, German, Japanese, Indian food, over 40 restaurants in all, yet we’ve hardly scratched the surface. Burp!

Our major activity around the house this year has been the revitalization of our back yard. It started around February when we had a landscape architect draw up plans which included a spa, firepit, a walk-over patio cover, and landscaping of the slope at the rear of the yard. French doors would replace a window in our upstairs bedroom, providing access to the walk-over deck, from which stairs would deliver us to spa-side. The slope, with railroad tie retaining wall and stairs, would be illuminated at night by low-voltage lights, creating a pleasant effect on winter nights when we warm ourselves in the spa. The project is about 75 per cent complete now, and should be finished sometime in February or March. The spa was installed about three months ago, and has proved to be a great place to relax after a hectic day.

During the summer we drove to Seattle to visit Mary’s brother John, his wife Vivienne, and their sons Tom and David. It proved a great opportunity to unwind and catch up on family news and history. Having brought our tent along, we risked camping in the Olympic Peninsula rain forest, where they get in excess of 120 inches of rain annually. We were apparently between storms because it stayed dry; meanwhile Los Angeles was experiencing the worst summer storms in decades.

We hope 1993 was good to you. Have a very happy new year and may God bless you all!