From our Family to You . . . 2007

 “Man crowned by Christmas tree exercising on treadmill” the headlines might read . . . in the vein of other, notable, newspaper lines like “Milk drinkers are turning to powder”, or “Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers” . . . that is if Barb’s Christmas decorating, my basement ‘gym’, and the fates collide.   We’re putting up ‘the decorations’ if you haven’t guessed . . . Yes, -that- yearly struggle.  
Hello again everyone.  Barb notes that, ONCE AGAIN, I failed to write last year and an update is “long over due” (I remember the librarian in our town – ‘Conan the Librarian’ :-) – glaring over the counter, and saying much the same thing to me as a kid).  With that ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over my head (“may my hand not tremble”) I offer this humble update.
First, after much criticism from the boys (i.e. Nick & James) for my treatment of them in last – oops, I mean, two years ago’s – letter (I believe I characterized them as being “addicted to computer games” . . . calling them 'Ragnar the Odious' of the Alliance, and 'Throckmite the Vile' of the Horde, respectively, somewhat after their on-line avatars) I hereby repent (what I said then was entirely true, BTW, I just didn’t present -all- that was true) by noting that:
Nick is a senior in High School, doing very well, looking forward to graduation in May, and after a long summer toiling away battling Heating and A/C (hard, sweaty work, by the way, but very useful to a distressed homeowner in a snowstorm or a heat wave :-) ) with Jon’s company – Fremont Heating and Air Conditioning Inc.   He plans to major in Mechanical Engineering at WSU (Weber State University) with perhaps an emphasis on computer aided design.  Nick is a fine young man, with a great future ahead of him. 
So too, is James.  Sophmore in H.S., somewhat like the proverbial sailor (‘a girlfriend in every neighborhood’ . . . or so it seems because I often have to drive him thither and yon), doing very well scholastically, and outgoing to boot.  You can’t beat that.  He is taking Drivers Ed.  You’ve been warned!  :-)  Utah has this ‘strange’, new decree that students must drive with their parents 40 hours (10 at night!) before they can have their license (and in James’ case, even before they have taken Driver’s Ed).  I’m not sure if this is to scare -- to death -- the parents, the driving public (also known as ‘the other guy’), or, perhaps, to increase Valium sales in Utah . . . but you can imagine (“Slow down!” . . . ‘Red Lights!’ . . .‘ ‘I see Red Lights!’ . . . ‘THAT was a stop sign!’  . . . :-)  ) 
Patrick – you won’t believe this! – is a Peace Corps Volunteer, 9,000 long miles away in darkest Africa . . . well, it gets dark at night there :-)  . . . in Kenya.  He is, technically, the volunteer furthest north in that country . . . only 20 miles from the ‘restricted’ Turkana zone, inhabiting a tin shack (literally!) just 12 miles or so up from Lake Baringo, smack-dab in the middle of the Great Rift Valley, and in the Tugen hills (“there are lots of Green Mambas here”, a villager warned him on first arrival . . . No, not the dance! ;-) ).   ‘Mr. Patrick’ (Yes, that’s what the villagers call him) struggles to help those living there (a small village, no electricity except by solar panel, and those far and few between, no clean water, etc., etc. ) to improve their prospects and lives.   One time he organized some of the village’s young people (All had promised to come. . . ‘cross my heart and hope to die’) to shore-up an irrigation pond (mud of course) only to have a single person show up (late).  That person noted “Mr. Patrick, they accomplish much with their mouths” . . . ;-) . . . such a nugget of wisdom there.   Pat is an excellent, excellent writer and updates a blog with poignant, gripping, tales . . . you are on the ground, in Kenya, seeing what he sees, and feeling what he feels.  Not to be missed.  If you have a desire, send me an email ( and we’ll get you invited to the blog.  BTW, Pat graduated from WSU magna cum laude in Poli Sci, and plans to attend grad school on returning stateside. 
Christie & Jeff (Peterson) moved to an even prettier (and better) home in North Ogden (again, not that far from us) with the world’s best backyard (no kidding, shaded by a neighbors huge pine trees, it presents a wonderful view from deck).  Jeff works at Quick Turn Precision Machining and Christie continues to be a stalwart employee at Little Audrie’s Health Spa, with a side job in Real Estate.  We love that all our family lives so close to us and we can gather them around us . . . a “covert from the night storm”.
Melissa & Trevor (Black) live in a new house in North Ogden too.  Their most exciting news being Ronin Brian Black (aka ‘Ro’) . . . our latest (and brand new – Oct 4th of this year) grandchild . . . and ‘cute as a button’.   That night, we got this  phone call: “Mom, my water broke, and we are on the way to the hospital” . . . just before bed . . . and its back on with the clothes (in a big hurry!), into the car, and off to the hospital for an all-nighter (there is a surprising amount of activity at a hospital at 2:00 a.m. in the morning :-) . . . especially in this case) and I got to help the nurse wheel Lissy to her room after the birth (I did OK, the nurse said, but I need to watch those corners . . . sort of like James (above) ;-) ).   Trev is still at R.C. Willey, and Liss is still working for the State (a case worker for the Department of Recovery Services).
Jon & Misty moved from our house (they were between houses and lived with us for a year and a half) to a rental house and are in hopes of building their new home this next year (i.e. Real Estate prices being such a ‘crap shoot’ . . . it’s hard to know when to ‘jump in’ :-) ) )   Jon works very hard growing his business and Misty works for the IRS as an input clerk .  Haylie is now 9, MaKenzy is 6, and Connor is 3.  They are growing up fast . . . but not so fast as to shun giving us hugs and snuggles when we need them.   We took them to the Willard Bay Christmas Light show last night (a drive through display) . . . once around and they all had to go to the bathroom (never fails :-)  ) . . . then on the 2nd go-round Connor had to go again (What!   You just went!  :-) ) . . . they are great kids and we love them. 
Barb is still a stay at home Mom (we’re not ‘empty nesters’ just quite yet ;-) ; we’ve got some parenting still left to do) but works hard at volunteering and serving others (Relief Society President . . . well, former . . . more about this in a moment) and working at her dog training and breeding hobby (She is a certified dog trainer and hopes to grow the hobby into a business).   BTW, being a grandma is hard work too, but very rewarding!  Now to that ‘former Relief Society Pres thing:  The strangest thing happened to us at church just a couple of weeks ago.  The stake president stood up and said, basically, “you’re all released from your callings . . . all of you . . . you’re now in another ward . . . all of you . . . and you’re in another stake”.  It was the weirdest feeling . . .  our whole ward dissolved within about 10 minutes.  No more Relief Society President for Barb, and no more Gospel Doctrine Teacher for me.  Bad?  No, not at all, just a peculiar happening . . . but good in that Barb and I were scheduled to talk in Sacrament Meeting on the 30th (we had already started to worry about that . . and to scramble to prepare) and that went away instantly too. :-) Whew!  We’ll take as many blessings as we can get!  :-) 
Me?  I do the same things.  I work at ATK Thiokol (bringing Space to you one rocket at a time . . . AYRABTU (‘all your rocket are belong to us’  ;-) ), play Celtic finger-style guitar (not well!), look at really bizarre creatures under my microscopes (yes, I have some fine instruments and with them chase amoebas and their ilk . . . they’re not very fast, you know, and I can easily keep up with ‘em :-) ), and continue to be an ‘armchair’, or nearly so, amateur astronomer.  Debates with Patrick, now Nick, and just beginning with James, about life, politics, the universe, and why hot dog buns come 10 to a pack, while hot dogs seem to come in 8’s, has awakened a nascent ‘activist’ lurking within (Horrors!  Run! . . . Dad’s suddenly interested in more than science, math and computers!  . . . He’s A L I V E! )   Bottom line:  All this intellectual calisthenics has caused me to widen, and quicken, my reading pace, so that I seem to consume books like chocolate (the latest one being ‘Three Cups of Tea’ . . . you should read it!  I recommend it).
One parting shot:  That ‘new dog’ Molly that Barb got last letter?.  . . Now it’s three:  Molly, Dickens, and Shakespeare (Molly’s puppy).   She is actually trying to find Shakespeare a home, but until then, look for the funny headline: ‘Mom helps dog bite victim’  :-)
You like good writing? You like good humor? Then don’t visit :-)
Merry Christmas!! and have a Happy New Year!

  Wise Men Still Seek Him

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