December 3, 2002

Most of our Christmas cards will go out in the mail today, and if you receive one, then you know we love you. If you don't get a card from us, it may not be because we don't love you, but you really can't be sure, now, can you?
Anyhoo, here's what I would've written in our Christmas cards if I'd written in our Christmas cards.

Seasons greetings to all you important people!
It's hard to be motivated to decorate or shop for Christmas when it seems like summer's barely over... but them goll-durn calendars don't lie; it's cold and gray outside, and that means it's time to write the Christmas letter. Here's a semi-brief summary of 2002 for the Manullang family, Portland branch.
Our year was off to a rough start when Kathy was in a car accident in early January. As if that weren't scary enough, I almost lost both my parents within a couple months--Mom in a car accident just a couple weeks after Kathy's, and Dad in complications from surgery in February/March. Fortunately, they're all doing better now, though each of them has lingering effects that they deal with daily.
On top of that, we were raising a newborn and trying to get through all that comes with having a second child. We're grateful that Jack was a fairly easy baby, and with Victor's long paternity leave, we adjusted better than we might have otherwise. Now, of course, is a different story. Jack's a typical 1-year-old who tests his parents' patience regularly.
But I digest...
These are some of the things that got us out of bed every morning this year:
Kathy visited in March and August; both were short stays and way too far apart.
Victor had his 20th high school reunion at AAA. Geezer alert!
Deanna and Debi made separate treks to Portland, which I thoroughly enjoyed--I'm so thankful for the fabulous friendships that we've had since our PAA days.
Summer Neil was welcomed to the world on April 22.
April, Debi, and I left our hearts in San Francisco on a fun-filled long weekend in May. More detail about our trip can be found here.
Communicating with Katie got a little easier as her vocabulary and understandability increased greatly (not unlike Mommy's skill of making up words).
We got tons of stuff done around the house: walls painted, backyard landscaped, misc. stuff sold/donated/discarded, shelves built, storage units organized, exterior trim and new garage door painted. We don't feel as productive as we sound when we see that our to-do list is still very long. Either way, though, we're proud of all we got accomplished! After five years in this house, most of the work was long overdue.
Fourth of July was extra special because we had Darlene, Wellington, Mary, Julianne, and Jacob here to celebrate with us! True, we spent most of the day working in the yard, but saved some time and energy for a BBQ and fireworks-viewing.
We had a fabulous summer spent with family and friends. Chris & Sonya were in the states for a few weeks. We had a mini-reunion in Sunriver with Vic's siblings, parents, and Dennis, Dee, and the girls. Got to see Daryl & Sally's beautiful new home and have been green with envy ever since. Made a couple trips to Walla Walla to visit with Mom & Len, Grandma, and the Crofts, one of which coincided with Uncle Paul and Claire's visit. Celebrated Emma's first birthday on a very hot August day in Seattle.
Jack started walking around 9½ months. Yikes!
Drove to Boise and back, and were amazed at--and very happy about--the kids' relatively good passenger behavior. It was a very fun extended weekend with two of my favorite girls, Deanna and Debi, and the perfect way to end our action-packed summer.
Since mid-October the kids and I have been attending a weekly neighborhood playgroup with five other families. It's been an excellent experience for Katie and Jack to get some social interaction (and we moms to get ADULT interaction). I'm so fortunate to have such wonderful neighbors--they're nice people and fun to hang out with.
Halloween? Don't get me started.
This may be the first year in forever that we didn't take a big vacation. That unfortunate trend will end next year, though: we're going on a Caribbean Disney cruise in April 2003 (hopefully that pesky passenger illness thing will be fixed by then). We also have plans to go back to Europe in the fall.
The kids really are doing great. Yep, Jack's a handful right now, but he's also a lot of fun and such a cuddly boy. He's starting to say a few words and learning how to torment his big sister. Katie's a social butterfly and loves playgroup, play dates (favorites are with Jonathan or River), church, and riding in the car with Mom or Dad (but not both--that's not special!). She's enjoying "reading" books, and catches on to song lyrics so quickly, it amazes us! The two of them wear us out, but they're such a joy.
Geez, that sounds trite, but it's true! We still look at them sometimes and can't believe we made them.
Scout is finally enjoying Katie and Jack's playfulness, now that they can actually play with her. She loves to cuddle with Katie at bedtime, and brings her toys to Jack for tug-of-war. Jack usually just puts them in his mouth, but Scout's patient. She's also quite fat--sitting under the high chair is one of her favorite activities. ...mmmmm... floor Cheerios...
Victor's doing well, still toiling away at AMC and trying to catch Mariners or Seahawks games when he can get the remote from one of the kids. His Christmas wish is to get more sleep. I told him Santa doesn't have room in his bag for it.
I'm doing alright too. I'm finally getting some treatment for my migraines and chronic muscle and joint pain. My doctor's still not sure what's causing it all, but some of the remedies have been effective and that's good. I'm working as much as I can (still contract training/consulting), and try to keep just busy enough not to get bored or extra-aggravated being at home with the kids for too many days in a row.
Life in general is not too shabby, and when I fret about teensy things I just have to remind myself that it could all be much worse. We are very thankful for what we have.
Continue reading down this page for more detail on what I've written above--it's copied from the "Latest News" page of the site. Follow the links at the bottom to read last year's stuff if you're interested and have a half hour to waste. While you're here, take a minute to sign the guest book and/or message board, and explore a little--you might be surprised (hopefully not offended) at what you find!
We think of almost all of you often (heh heh). Happy holidays and best wishes to all--

P.S. I think the cruelest Christmas gift someone could give a person is an ear/nose hair trimmer. Why are they "Gift Ideas" in every store ad I see? I didn't get one, or buy any, I just wanted to share that thought. That is all.


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