Dec. 24: Neener, neener

Yummy things I won't share

While I was in college I spent several Christmases at my sister's. Her in-laws always Fedex-ed Kringles from Wisconsin, and I learned to look forward to the delectable treats every year. Alas, she eventually stopped inviting me to Christmases at her house. I'm pretty sure I know why.

Imagine our glee when a few years ago we started receiving Kringles at OUR house! This is now an annual tradition and Kathy is no longer allowed to let a Christmas pass without sending them. She knows that, doesn't she? Vic and I turn into ravenous, paranoid recipients, each accusing the other of eating more than his/her share, or suggesting that three were sent but Vic ate a whole one by himself before I got home. He would totally do that.

I shed many tears for you if Kathy is not your sister, or if you've never had a Kringle. You can find all you need to know about them at My favorite is almond, but I like the pecan ones too, and other flavors are probably good too but I haven't tried them all. An important point: these are Racine Danish Kringles, which is not to be confused with "raisin" Danish Kringles, which would be disgusting, as we all know baked "goods" that contain raisins are actually baked "bads." Who came up with that ridiculous idea anyway?

And don't forget this important serving tip: The best thing to eat with a Kringle is...

More Kringle!


Self-righteous pseudo-Brits

The other night I went to the Dollar Tree to get stocking stuffers for the kids. Usually I dread having to go there, but this trip was worthwhile because I saw Madonna's first childrens book, "The English Roses," BEING SOLD THERE!! Madonna and her stupid fake accent, telling everyone she won't raise her kids in the U.S. because of our depraved moral values. To think her rolling-on-the-floor-in-a-wedding-dress performances, sex-with-Jesus videos, nekkid picture books, and "documentaries" have nothing to do with that just proves what a moron she is. So seeing her book for a dollar was such justice, not only that it was so cheap but that it was sold in a store where you know the price will never go up... well, it gave me the best belly laugh I've had in a long time. Thank you, Dollar Tree. I shall return.

Non-neener neener things

Speaking of belly laughs, check out this video my friend Kirsten sent me (right-click and choose Save Target As... to save and view).

Katie and Jack saw Santa yesterday. Pics here.

Time to get Christmas Eve dinner on the table. Have a holly, jolly Christmas!


And a P.S. For Lori, who always loves my holiday-themed animated GIFs, I wouldn't dare forget...

Dec. 22: Gift-giving tips

My friend Becky is the go-to gal for e-mails that'll make you laugh so hard you pee yourself. I received this from her today. Enjoy!



This is the time of year when we think back to the very first Christmas, when the Three Wise Men; Gaspar, Balthazar and Herb, went to see the baby Jesus and, according to the Book of Matthew, "presented unto Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh." These are simple words, but if we analyze them carefully, we discover an important, yet often overlooked, theological fact: There is no mention of wrapping paper.

If there had been wrapping paper, Matthew would have said so: "And lo, the gifts were inside 600 square cubits of paper. And the paper was festooned with pictures of Frosty the Snowman. And Joseph was going to throweth it away, but Mary saideth unto him, she saideth, 'Holdeth it! That is nice paper! Saveth it for next year!' And Joseph did rolleth his eyeballs. And the baby Jesus was more interested in the paper than the frankincense."

But these words do not appear in the Bible, which means that the very first Christmas gifts were NOT wrapped. This is because the people giving those gifts had two important characteristics:

  1. They were wise.
  2. They were men.

Men are not big gift wrappers. Men do not understand the point of putting paper on a gift just so somebody else can tear it off. This is not just my opinion; this is a scientific fact based on a statistical survey of two guys I know.

One is Steve, who said the only time he ever wraps a gift is "if it's such a poor gift that I don't want to be there when the person opens it."

The other is Jim, who told me he does wrap gifts, but as a matter of principle never takes more than 15 seconds per gift. "No one ever had to wonder which presents daddy wrapped at Christmas," Jim said. "They were the ones that looked like enormous spitballs."

I also wrap gifts, but because of some defect in my motor skills, I can never completely wrap them. I can take a gift the size of a deck of cards and put it the exact center of a piece of wrapping paper the size of a regulation volleyball court, but when I am done folding and taping, you can still see a sector of the gift peeking out. (Sometimes I camouflage this sector with a marking pen.)

If I had been an ancient Egyptian in the field of mummies, the lower half of the Pharaoh's body would be covered only by Scotch tape.

On the other hand, if you give my wife a 12-inch square of wrapping paper, she can wrap a C-130 cargo plane. My wife, like many women, actually likes wrapping things. If she gives you a gift that requires batteries, she wraps the batteries separately, which to me is very close to being a symptom of mental illness. If it were possible, my wife would wrap each individual volt.

My point is that gift-wrapping is one of those skills like having babies that come more naturally to women than to men. That is why today I am presenting:

  • Whenever possible, buy gifts that are already wrapped. If, when the recipient opens the gift, neither one of you recognizes it, you can claim that it's myrrh.
  • The editors of Woman's Day magazine recently ran an item on how to make your own wrapping paper by printing a design on it with an apple sliced in half horizontally and dipped in a mixture of food coloring and liquid starch. They must be smoking crack.
  • If you're giving a hard-to-wrap gift, skip the wrapping paper! Just put it inside a bag and stick one of those little adhesive bows on it. This creates a festive visual effect that is sure to delight the lucky recipient on Christmas morning.

  • YOUR WIFE: Why is there a Hefty trash bag under the tree?
    YOU: It's a gift! See? It has a bow!
    YOUR WIFE (peering into the trash bag): It's a leaf blower.
    YOU: Gas-powered! Five horsepower!
    YOUR WIFE: I want a divorce.
    YOU: I also got you some myrrh.

In conclusion, remember that the important thing is not what you give, or how you wrap it. The important thing, during this very special time of year, is that you save the receipt.

~Dave Barry~

Dec. 17: Ho Ho Ho... Pimp

Today I discovered The Red Cup, a web site Starbucks apparently set up for the holidays. Every day something holiday-ish is posted, like games, recipes, funny little cartoons, etc. Check it out.

I'm writing this entry on my new laptop. It's really pretty much the same as writing an entry on my old laptop, but-cept the delete key is on the top (where most are) instead of the bottom (where my old one's was). This is more difficult to get used to than you might think. Or most likely, than you might care.

So why did Jen get a new laptop, you must be asking yourself. Because when Jen ordered her last laptop she got a basic model because she hadn't anticipated the level of programming she'd be doing. That poor thing was finally just tuckered out. It got passed down to the husband. He could very well wear it out with his car-related spreadsheets or Internet porn collection, but that's a whole 'nother blog, I tells ya.

Dorothy Frances has arrived! The lovely Deanna birthed her on Tuesday, December 6. The pictures I've seen say she's adorable, and I hope to find out for myself sometime early next year, once things have settled for their family. Congratulations, Dave, Deanna, and Pete!

Check out some new Presley pics too.

So, you may have received our Christmas card this year, and if you did, you probably received our Christmas letter too. If not, here it is:

Tis the season... criticize poorly-executed Christmas light displays

Once again, Jen writes the annual Manullang family communiqué, but we all hope your holiday season is going well so far, and that you’re taking some time to celebrate this special time of year with family and friends.

Katie and Jack spent 2005 polishing up their basic kid proficiencies. They took swimming lessons and gymnastics and spent lots of time Razor scootering, riding bikes and swimming with neighbor kids. Katie went to "Safety Town," an excellent two-week program focusing on all different types of safety. Other milestones: Katie lost two of her bottom teeth, played in a soccer league and started kindergarten. She’ll be six years old in February. Jack finally allowed himself to be potty-trained (thank you, Grandma Darlene!), entered his first year of preschool, and just recently celebrated his fourth birthday with a pirate-themed party.

A few months ago we were given a stray dog, and after an unsuccessful search for her owners we decided to keep her. One thing nice about a used dog is they come already housebroken, and this one even has a few tricks up her paw, much to the delight of Katie and Jack. Casey is a real sweetheart, with the friendliness of Scout but a lot less bark. The dogs are less than fond of sharing attention, but good companions during the day.

In April, my mom and Len separated after 23 years of marriage. The details of the divorce don’t really belong in a Christmas letter, but I will say that I am incredibly proud of my mother. She’s doing well.

In May we went to Colorado for my nephew Sean’s high school graduation. He was class president and salutatorian; it’s safe to say this auntie was pretty much bursting with pride. We’ll go back again in 2006 for Stephen’s graduation.

On June 7, my world stopped. My dad, Curt Saltmarsh, passed away at the way-too-young age of 63. He was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 1998, and although he had some pretty close calls over the years, most recently he’d been doing well. I always expected to see the end coming, that he would slowly decline and we would know when it was time for him to go. His sudden death, then, (from a pulmonary embolism) was a shock. Like many father-daughter relationships, ours had its ups and downs; however, in the past ten years we found respect and admiration for each other, thanks in large part to Dotti’s determined efforts. Dad passed on to me his looks, personality, sense of humor and obsessive-compulsive tendencies (um… thanks?), but more than anything, he truly left his handprint on my heart. I adored him, and I miss him terribly. Now, adjusting to the hole in the family I’ve known all my life... well, it’s harder than I ever imagined. So, to all of you who have called, e-mailed, and sent cards and flowers, I thank you again; it has meant a lot to hear from you in this very melancholy time. I’ve been struggling to get through a lot of the everyday parts of life since then, and I appreciate those of you who have continued to check in. I feel very fortunate to have you.

It felt wrong to take a vacation so soon after losing my dad, but by the end of July I desperately needed a change of scenery. Months earlier, I had planned a girls-only trip to Los Angeles with April and Debi, so off we went. Our first stop was to see the Broadway show “Wicked” in its Hollywood run, and we busied ourselves in the days that followed with much shopping and eating of cheesecake. And if you need to ask if we spent a day with Mickey Mouse, well, you just don’t know me at all, do you? It was wonderful to get away, especially with two of my favoritest people. Vic was quite envious of the Disney part of our trip—it is the 50th anniversary year, after all—so we may end up going there together this next year.

Soon after my L.A. trip we did a Manullang family weekend in Sunriver for Vic’s birthday. We enjoyed ideal weather for swimming, taking walks and relaxing. The kids rode around and around and around our loop until their bike-riding skills were perfected; the "braking" thing was a big accomplishment for Jack, who until then had been using the Fred Flintstone method.

We painted the master bedroom this year, but otherwise most things in our house stayed as they have been for a while. No, the trim is still not completed, and there’s still a lot of patching to do here and there. Wanna come over for a work bee? I did try to keep our family web site up to date in 2005—you can find my dad’s eulogies there, and be sure to check it for news and photos throughout the year. I’ve been working on my 20th high school reunion duties (memory book, slide show, web site, losing 100 pounds), which will come together in February. Work-wise, not much has changed, for which we are thankful. Health-wise, not one of us sustained a single severe head wound, nor did we break any bones. I am not making up this good news. And finally, regrettably, I must confess that we have joined the multitude of minivan owners. Bleah.

Well, I think that’s just about everything, except for one final thought: this year, especially, we encourage you to hold your loved ones close. Best wishes for a Happy Festivus and extraordinary happiness in 2006—

Victor, Jennifer, Katie, Jack, Scout & Casey

You also may have received our second annual Christmas CD, Christmas Joy, in which case this playlist will be familiar to you:

  1. All I Want for Christmas is You (Olivia Olsen). This is not the Mariah Carey version because I can't stand Mariah Carey's screeching. Instead, I chose a less screamy version, sung by the little girl at the end of "Love Actually," one of my new favorite Christmas movies.
  2. Hey Santa (Ashanti)
  3. Happy Holiday (Bing Crosby)
  4. Here Comes Santa Claus (Elvis Presley)
  5. That Spirit of Christmas (Ray Charles). This is the song that plays while Clark Griswold watches old home movies after getting stuck in his attic in "Christmas Vacation."
  6. Have a Holly Jolly Christmas (Burl Ives)
  7. Last Christmas (Jimmy Eat World). I know, I can't believe I didn't choose the Wham! version either. But this one was a little less, I don't know... Wham!
  8. Snow (Bing Crosby & Friends). Little story here: I love this song performed in "White Christmas" with Bing, Danny, Rosemary, and Vera Ellen's dubbed voice. But in the soundtrack, Peggy Lee takes Rosemary Clooney's place. Apparently Rosemary Clooney was under contract with a different recording studio and couldn't perform on the soundtrack's label. Hm. Well, it doesn't totally ruin it, but nobody does it better than Rosemary. There, I said it.
  9. Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (The Beatles). Although I like the Brenda Lee version, this one is just so "Beatles," we loved it.
  10. Believe (Josh Groban)
  11. Jingle Bell Rock (Bobby Helms)
  12. Christmas Vacation (Mavis Staples)
  13. We Need a Little Christmas (Johnny Mathis). We also need a little testosterone, don't we Johnny?
  14. Mele Kalikimaka (Bing Crosby)
  15. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Burl Ives)
  16. Elf's Lament (Barenaked Ladies & Michael Buble)
  17. Please Come Home for Christmas (Southside Johnny Lyon)
  18. Deck the Halls (Nat King Cole)
  19. Santa Claus is Coming to Town (Frank Sinatra & Cyndi Lauper). In his later years, I think Frank was really beginning to lose it, considering the artists he recorded duets with. We liked this one, though, probably because it doesn't really sound like Cyndi Lauper.
  20. Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time (Paul McCartney)
  21. Frosty the Snowman (Leon Redbone & Dr. John)
  22. Up on the Housetop (Gene Autry)
  23. Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley)

And in case you're interested in what was on our first annual Christmas CD, Christmas Wishes (2004), here's the playlist:

  1. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Andy Williams)
  2. Merry Christmas Darling (The Carpenters)
  3. Home for the Holidays (Perry Como)
  4. Jingle Bells (Bebe & Cece Winans)
  5. Count Your Blessings (Bing Crosby)
  6. Grown-Up Christmas List (Michael Buble)
  7. Sleigh Ride (Andy Williams)
  8. Silver Bells (Perry Como)
  9. The Christmas Waltz (Michael W. Smith & Sandy Patty)
  10. My Christmas Prayer (Bebe Winans & Rob Thomas)
  11. White Christmas (Bing Crosby)
  12. Let it Snow (Dean Martin)
  13. The Christmas Song (Nat King Cole)
  14. The Night Before Christmas (Amy Grant)
  15. Christmas Time (Michael W. Smith)
  16. Winter Wonderland (Andy Williams)
  17. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Rosemary Clooney)
  18. Celebrate Me Home (Kenny Loggins)
  19. O Holy Night (Josh Groban)
  20. Silent Night (Michael W. Smith)
  21. The Happiest Christmas (Michael W. Smith)

If you didn't receive either or both of these CDs and you really want one, let me know. I can probably burn another copy or two. See, I'm a nice girl, no matter what you've heard. I don't know if there are enough Christmas songs left to create an entirely new CD next year, but we'll see.

My sister got a really great gift from Lori this year: tickets and backstage passes to the Journey concert in Denver last week. Lori's brother-in-law is the drummer. It's cool to know Lori. Here's a picture of an ecstatic Kathy with drummer dude Deen, Stephen and Dayna, and Ron:

The Christmas party episode of "The Office" last week was hilarious. If you didn't see it, it's probably because you don't have TiVo, and why you haven't gotten TiVo yet, even though I keep telling you to, I don't know. Anyway, try to catch it in a rerun. You won't be sorry.

I probably won't post again until after Christmas, so here are my parting thoughts for the holiday season:

  • Have a good Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Hanukkah, whatever
  • Eat your vegetables
  • Go easy on the eggnog

And remember, nothing ruins a perfectly good Christmas morning than not getting your wife what she wants. You've been warned.



Nov. 29: Don't miss the Bi-Polar Express

One of the things that is NOT fun about the holiday season is the grey weather in Portland. Bleah. Nothing like taking a perfectly pleasant time of year and mucking it up with blustery-ness.

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was unusual this year. My mom invited us to Walla Walla for the holiday, but a couple weeks ago I realized that Vic would have to work the day after Thanksgiving and was on call for the weekend, so we'd either have to make the trip very short or drive separately. On Wednesday I met my mom halfway between Portland and WW and handed Katie and Jack over to her, then went back home to spend Thursday with Vic. This was the best solution I could think of so we could all be with family for the day. On Friday morning I drove up to WW by myself and spent the weekend at my mom's. We had a good time--didn't do much, but it was wonderful to just hang out and relax together. Katie and Jack love being at her place, visiting Nana, and playing at the great parks in town. Mom had LASIK surgery (she prefers not to say she "had her eyes done") a few days before all this and is doing really well.

When the kids and I got home Sunday evening we were greeted by a house lit up for Christmas! Vic had hung lights on the porch and trees and bought a few new decorative things, and it was fun to see everything all festive. We're no Griswolds, but we have some neighbors that are, and the kids love to drive or walk around our nearby streets to ooh and aah at all everyone else's handiwork.

One of my personal favorite activities this time of year is to make fun of people's Christmas lights. This is definitely not one of Vic's favorite seasonal activities, nor does he really enjoy that it is mine. Nevertheless, I rarely hesitate to comment on the crappy job some people do hanging lights. A whole section of the icicle lights is out? Oh well, hang 'em anyway. Every fourth or fifth bulb is dead? Meh, who cares, it's too much trouble to fix. All the light strings blink except one? Well, I am not going to try to find one of those lights with the red tip, just to make them all do the same thing! Then there are the houses with the light strings that aren't quite long enough (or are too long) for the house line, but instead of trying to even things up, the idiot hangers just leave it, assuming no one will drive by, point, and laugh. They obviously have not met me.

I know I sound witchy, Scroogey, psychotic, shallow, and Grinch-like, but I really do love Christmas. It's just the people that make it ugly that I think should be punished severely.

Cool things I recommend for Christmastime, or gift giving/receiving, or whatever:

  • has some fun and unique photo gifts.
  • TiVo. If you don't have one, get one. Or buy it for someone else. TiVo is the best invention in the history of the world, and I am not exaggerating one bit.
  • An Amazon Wish List is a great way to keep track of stuff you want. And at this time of year, you can direct other people to it when they ask what you want. For the sake of those putting things under your tree this year, make a Wish List!
  • The 2005 movie version of "The Producers" starts in late December. If it's anything like the Broadway show, it is not to be missed.
  •, where you can order postage with your picture on it. No Hitler stamps, please.
  • Starbucks gift cards. You can never have too many, and you can never give too many. If you receive one and you're not a coffee drinker, do not despair; they have a strawberries and cream frappuccino-like drink that is dee-lish. They also sell some decadent treats this time of year.
  • Want to read some laugh-out-loud Christmas stories? Check out "Holidays on Ice," by David Sedaris. You'll pee.
  • Online shopping tips:,,, and other similar sites are fabulous for price comparisons. And check out coupon code sites like for more savings.
  • You've probably seen them already, but they're worth watching again. These are the holiday movies I recommend this year: Love Actually, Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, Elf, A Christmas Story.

Here are pictures of Jack's fourth birthday party. Can't think of anything else for now.


Nov. 2: And on your left, Memory Lane

Man, I was doing so well for a while, writing more often and feeling like I'm not totally wasting web space. Bleah.

Well, Halloween is over for another year, but here are pictures. It took weeks of preparation this time, because for the first time Katie & Jack both totally "get" the holiday. Jack decided with the arrival of the first Disney costumes catalog a few months ago that he wanted to dress up like Captain Hook--or as he says it, "Tackin Hook." Katie took longer to decide and I was trying my best not to influence her too much. I loved the JoJo costume, and it would've been nice and warm, but Katie didn't like it. She ended up choosing the Dory (from "Finding Nemo") costume, which was also very cute. Lots of people thought she was a bird, but she still looked cute. Now both kids are having a ball dressing up and pretending to trick-or-treat. I keep telling them I've run out of candy but they won't go away.

Check out the page of the kids on their new scooters.

Can you believe I'm old enough to be attending my 20th reunion? Me neither! As Ralph Wiggum says, "It's unpossible."

It's a girl! It's a girl! My friend Debi is having a baby girl! Pretty cool that she'll have a cousin so close in age; they'll probably grow up like sisters. I can't wait to meet them both.

I took a trip to southern Oregon a few weeks ago with my mom, grandma, and sister. We had a delightful time visiting family and friends. My mom pointed out all the houses she (and we) had lived in, the schools we went to, and other points of interest. It was a lot of fun to see these places, even though things have changed a lot in 30 years. One of our favorite parts of the weekend was getting to see my uncle perform in a musical, "The 1940's Radio Hour" and attending the cast party afterward. The other was getting to see our aunt Hazel and our favorite cousin, Deanna. Our least favorite parts of the weekend were, well, never mind.

I just finished reading the sequel to "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West." It's called "Son of a Witch," by Gregory Maguire. Now I'm reading Amy Tan's newest novel, "Saving Fish from Drowning," and I'm enjoying it very much, as I have all of her books. It's not getting great reviews, but so far I don't see why.

Sarah Vowell was in Portland last week, and Ed and I went to see her. She was hilarious! I haven't read much of her stuff--mostly just heard her on NPR--but I've ordered all her books. She's fabulous and her humor is similar to David Sedaris--you just can't lose.

And speaking of funny things, here's a graphic from today's edition of The Onion: tonight's TV schedule.

Vic and I had our first parent-teacher conference a couple weeks ago. Katie's teacher said she's doing well and is impressed with her drawing skills (obviously inherited from Auntie Sonya). She also said she has "leadership potential," and Vic said, "Oh, Jack's gonna LOVE that." It went so much better than the only parent-teacher conference I remember being part of, which was when I was in 5th grade. Mrs. Webster said I rolled my eyes when she asked me to do things sometimes. I don't remember doing it, but I remember thinking she was ridiculous, so I probably did. I fully expect to have a similar conversation with one of Katie's teachers someday, and I fully expect my mom to sit back and laugh when I tell her about it.

Coming up in the next few weeks: Debi's visit, my mom's visit, Jack's pirate-themed birthday party, a "family night" at Katie's school, and Thanksgiving in Walla Walla. The coming holiday season seems a little early; didn't we just do Christmas?



Sept. 27: One more mouth to feed

No, we're not having another kid, unless someone's invented something more powerful than a Prozac-Xanax-Vicodin cocktail for Mommy. Last weekend our neighbor brought us a stray dog (a Rat Terrier, just like cousin Shelby!) and we haven't had any luck finding her owners. That's actually not too upsetting for us because she's turned out to be a real sweetheart, and we're hoping to keep her. We've been calling her Casey, as in "at the bat," or the famed Yankees manager, not K.C. as in "& the Sunshine Band." Just to clarify.

I've added a couple new pages to the site. There are pictures of Katie and the first tooth she lost here, and another couple of pictures from soccer practice earlier this month. I'll add pictures of our sweet Casey once we're more confident she's here to stay.

Sally and Presley are visiting next week!

Hooray for the new TV season making my TiVo useful again. Now I can watch all that crap whenever I damn well please.

Time for a survey for you parents out there. Every once in a while I hear myself saying something to my kids that I never thought I'd need to say. This goes beyond "Don't run into traffic," and "We don't need to see the food in your mouth, thank you." I know I'm not alone, and I want to hear some of the things YOU have surprised yourself saying. For funsies, I'll start:

1. Do NOT take things out of the toilet.

2. Please don't spit on the dog.

3. We don't pee in the front yard.

4. Who left their sandwich in the bathroom?

Now it's your turn.

Sept. 18: Another year wiser?

Victor got me a great birthday surprise: a wide-format inkjet printer. It can print on paper up to 13" x 19" so I can use it for scrapbooking and other paper crafts. I love the gift, but I also love the idea that my husband was actually paying attention to me a couple weeks ago when I mentioned I wanted one. What a good guy. I received lots of cards, e-mails, and phone calls from my favorite people over the past few days. The kids are headed to Grandma & Grandpa's while Vic and I enjoy dinner this evening at Ruth's Chris (thank you, Daryl & Sally!!). Not too shabby a birthday for this 37-year-old, all things considered.

I think we might be starting another house project. Vic and I have decided to re-claim the spare room upstairs since the playroom thing just hasn't really thrilled K&J. Vic also wants to switch our family room/living room back to the way it was originally, which is no easy task because it will involve much gnashing of teeth and painting. You'd think we would learn. But you'd be wrong.

I just heard about another Dine For America event coming up October 5. The restaurant associations ran this the first time right after 9/11 and raised $20 million, and this year it'll benefit Katrina victims. Here's a list of participating restaurants in Oregon and here's the DFA web site. Be sure to dine out that evening--you'll see even fast food restaurants are participating. If you've been looking for a way to help out, it doesn't get much easier than this.

Jacob had a heck of a start to school when he broke his wrist last week. Poor guy; that wasn't the worst of it. Here's the latest from Sonya's last e-mail: We went to the hospital this morning to have a second routine x-ray to check that things were healing properly. Unfortunately, things weren't healing well at all, so the doctors admitted him immediately into the pediatic ward for an evening procedure. Basically they needed to straighten his wrist by pulling (sort of re-breaking) it straight. Yikes. Gives me the creeps thinking about it. This was a big surprise for all of us, and as Jake had assumed he was going to be back to school by lunch recess, the news of a procedure/surgery and then a hospital stay was quite shocking. At first Jake was really concerned about the general anesthetic and being put asleep. Then he was worried about how much blood they needed to draw for a test. Finally in the evening, when his only concern was worrying that people could see his "buns and crack" (sorry, his words not mine) with the hospital gown he was wearing, I knew he was back to his old self and would be fine. The procedure went well; he and Chris called around 9:00 pm and I should be picking them up after lunch tomorrow.

"Yikes" is right. That oughta learn ya how dangerous playgrounds can be.


Sept. 13: Life's more painless for the brainless

It's official, I'm a soccer mom™. Katie joined a soccer league a few weeks ago and had her first game last weekend. It was at 8:30 on a Saturday. Yes, you read that right. 8:30! No one in their right mind should be up at that hour! If I had known there would be games that early I wouldn't have signed her up. I mean, it's not like the kids play an actual game. They're spending too much time finding bugs in the grass, and waving to their parents on the sidelines to follow a soccer ball around a field. Actually, it's all very entertaining, though I think Vic is going to play "single parent" the next time we have a game that early. Bleah.

Katie started kindergarten last week and loves it. Jack's in preschool two days a week and is doing well so far, but then, he's only gone 1½ times.

We painted our bedroom last weekend. It had been navy blue for a few years and I was looking for something a little less dramatic, so we went with a soft bluish-green ocean-y color. I changed the curtains and all the bedding to white. We assembled the nightstand lamps we bought at Ikea a hundred years ago, and I can also finally display the beautiful spring water candle lamp I got at the last candle party I went to. The room has changed so much; it's calming and lovely and bright and makes me feel happy. Vic doesn't get how a room color can do that, but he knows better than to make fun.

My friend Debi is having a baby! She's ten weeks behind Deanna's pregnancy, and I think it's safe to say those sisters have made their parents giddy with grandparently joy. Now, as a public service, I offer the following name suggestions for the new additions, courtesy of the Cornwall Records Office researchers in London:

  • Abraham Thunderwolff
  • Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane
  • Boadicea Basher
  • Philadelphia Bunnyface
  • Susan Booze
  • Elizabeth Disco
  • Edward Evil
  • Fozzitt Bonds
  • Truth Bullock
  • Charity Chilly
  • Gentle Fudge
  • Obedience Ginger
  • Offspring Gurney

And then there are Ed's favorites, Syllabi and Memoranda. Yes, Debi and Deanna, you're welcome. You know you can always count on me to help with the important things.

I don't have much else to say, but want to share some silly stuff with y'all. First, a joke:

Bad Dog!

One day I noticed my dog dragging something under the fence. To my dismay it was the next-door neighbor's 10-year-old daughter's rabbit. For years I had watched her come home from school and head straight to its cage, free it and play with it in the yard. I knew today would be no different, and fearing for our dog I had to think fast. The rabbit was quite dirty, as if it had put up quite a struggle, so I washed it off with the hose, combed it with the dog brush, and blew it dry with the leaf blower. Upon finishing its grooming I hopped the fence and placed it in its cage, hoping its death would be written off as "natural causes." Within the hour the neighbor's car pulled in as usual and out popped the little girl. As usual, she headed straight for the cage, only this time she stopped about six feet away and screamed, "DADDY!!" Her father, panic stricken, stood looking at the cage. Being the good neighbor that I am I rushed to the fence and asked if there was anything I could do. Her father less than calmly blurted, "What kind of sick individual would dig up a little girl's dead rabbit and put it back in its cage?"

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all of the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were three finalists: two men and a woman. For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun. "We must know that you will follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill her!" The man said, "You can't be serious. I could never shoot my wife." The agent said, "Then you're not the right man for this job." The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes. Then the man came out with tears in his eyes. "I tried, but I can't kill my wife." The agent said, "You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and go home." Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the same instructions to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots were heard, one shot after another. The agents heard screaming, crashing, and banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow, and said, "This gun is loaded with blanks. I had to beat him to death with the chair."

If you've ever had a bad seat on an airplane, you'll appreciate this complaint letter (thanks, Deb!). I checked it out at and it appears to be authentic, but even if it wasn't, it's still pretty darn funny. View the PDF.

Thinking of joining a cult but just can't decide which one? Here's something that might help you narrow down your choices (because who wouldn't want magic unders???): Cults: A Handy Reference Guide

OK, that's enough silliness for today. Feel free to forward more to me at --


P.S. Almost forgot! Here's a pic of our country's fine leader during Katrina coverage:

Couldn't have said it better my own damn self.

Aug. 16: Not all of us can come and go by BUBBLE

Welcome back.

It's been more than two months since I lost my dad. My heart still feels so heavy. For my sanity, I've tried to make myself grasp that he's no longer a phone call away, or across town waiting for a visit from Katie and Jack. There are so many things I want to tell him about, stuff he's missing out on. House stuff he could advise me on, like he was always ready to do. I guess I never realized how much he still took care of me.

I feel incredibly selfish to say that Dad was too young or that he wasn't sick enough to die. I know he was tired of dealing with all the side effects of his medications, tired of medical appointments and hospital stays. He hated feeling like he wasn't in control of, well, everything... but especially his health. But I really don't think he was ready to go. When I talked to him the Sunday before he died, he was wanting to come over to see Katie and Jack in a few days. He sounded so energetic, so happy, so full of life. And I wasn't done with him yet.

Kathy and I had small medallion-like pendants made with Dad's thumbprint embossed on them. We both have said that when we wear them we can't stop running our fingers over the texture of the print, just to feel--literally--a part of him. I put another pendant on my chain that holds some of Dad's ashes. The urn (a silver heart) and thumbprint make a very soft "clink" together, so even if I'm not touching them I have a quiet little reminder that they're around my neck. It's eerie to think they made the print just before they cremated him, so we decided to believe that they got his fingerprints from his stint in the CIA or his years as double-oh... um... eight. If anyone suggests that it's more probable they came from his police record, you can expect a good shin kick.

I'm doing my best to pick up the pieces and get to what is the new normal of life, but it seems too soon to do the proverbial "moving on," as though I'm cheating Dad out of time that he deserves. People say that burying our parents is part of life, and I know that's true, but the hurt of losing my dad is so "mine" (and Kathy's, of course) that it's hard to believe it happens all the time, and to so many people. Of course, knowing that it happens all the time is not at all comforting either. Something that is comforting is to talk to others who have been through this before; many have good suggestions for ways to remember my dad, ways to commemorate the anniversaries of his life. I appreciate that very much, and I thank you for being willing to share that with me.

As un-fun as it is to feel such sadness, I'm also frustrated at my lack of concentration. It's been difficult to get back to work, and even if I have the energy or desire, programming a database feels next to impossible. Usually when I haven't been doing a lot of complex work I'll do crossword puzzles or play Scrabble against the computer, just to keep my brain sharp. But I can't finish a puzzle anymore, even those easy ones in the Oregonian. I'm just not me. I know grief can change a person, but I hope it doesn't make me stupid.

I've made some efforts to let myself enjoy life a little, no matter how guilty it sometimes makes me feel. I had a trip to California planned since last April, and forced myself to go (admittedly, it did not take much convincing).

Girls' Weekend

April, Debi, and I spent four days in Los Angeles in July. It had been three years since our trip to San Francisco, so this getaway was long overdue, but well worth waiting for. The highlights:

  • Seeing the touring production of the Broadway musical Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, or as April and I called it, "The Wizard of Oz 1½." It was fabulous. The music was incredible, the story was fascinating, and the choreography was weird. We were most thankful for the problems with Glinda's bubble vehicle that stopped the show and allowed us to get to our seats, missing only the first few minutes. Hollywood Blvd. traffic totally sucks.
  • Our sexy rental car, for once not a seafoam green Grannymobile
  • Shopping at Fashion Island, Santa Monica, Venice beach
  • Lunch at The Ivy in Santa Monica, a great place for spotting celebrities
  • What has become a tradition: eating cheesecake in our jammies while making calls home
  • A day at Disneyland, California Adventures, and Downtown Disney
  • When it comes to Disney souvenir shopping for our kids, April's as big a sucker as I am


  • The hours we spent looking for a parking space in Venice
  • Dinner at Ralph's (yes... the grocery store)
  • Our sexy rental car's teeny tiny trunk
  • Not spotting any celebrities during lunch at The Ivy
  • Flying out of LAX. Between the 3-card Monty gal with the important task of relieving escalator traffic (oh, thank god for her!) and waiting 15 minutes in a line just to say "Yes, my luggage is unlocked," I have realized that no sane person would ever fly through that airport by choice.

Other things

My nephew visited for a couple weeks. I wasn't sure how I'd keep a 17-year-old entertained, but I don't think he had too terrible a time. I showed him some of the sights of the city, and he also spent some time with Mom in Walla Walla.

We celebrated Victor's birthday over five days in Sunriver. It was hot indoors but mostly comfortable outside, making all of our bike-riding, swimming, and walking quite pleasant. I love Sunriver, but it still always brings back the so-so memories of my high school senior class trip. A bunch of girls (not me, and I regret this greatly) froze the guys' underwear, and the guys got back at ALL of the girls (me included, and I regret this greatly) by filling our suitcases with each other's clothes, rocks, and deer droppings. For the next week at school we were trading shoes and unders until everyone got their own stuff back. Stoopid boys.

Two of my good friends are pregnant. One is Deanna (not my cousin!), who just found out she's having a girl. Just for Dave, I have added these pages to Application to Date My Daughter, and Daddy's Rules for Dating. Enjoy.

Our Explorer lease was up in July. After many months of research and Excel analysis, Vic made a decision on a new vehicle: a Mazda MPV. Yes, this is a minivan. Yes, I also cannot believe it. Yes, I still insist on driving my Passat. And yes, the practicality of a minivan is almost worth having one parked in our driveway.

Chris, Sonya, Julianne, and Jacob are in the U.S. right now. Katie and Jack have been spending quite a bit of time at Grandpa & Grandma's playing with their big cousins, whom they completely adore. Vic's uncle and his family just arrived in town too, so there have been lots of family gatherings, and the kids just love it. (We big kids do too.)

I've finally been to a rheumatologist for my chronic pain. Turns out what I have doesn't really have a name. I suggested to Vic that maybe they could name it after me, but he said that's not usually a good thing. Anyway, the closest thing to describe what I have is lupus, but I don't have enough of the symptoms for an official diagnosis. I'm on several new medications and so far they just make me feel like I'm gonna puke, which sucks, though it does take my mind off pain in the rest of my body.

Big event in the Manullang house on Sunday: Katie lost her first tooth! The Tooth Fairy brought her a book of princess paper dolls. It's really strange to see her without that gap and makes her look like such a big girl. I took pictures, of course, and I'll try to remember to post one here on my next update

Things that have made me laugh

  • Kathy unknowingly drove around for two days with "I am an X-Man" written in the dust on the back of her minivan, courtesy of Stephen. But this story trumps it: I came up behind a Fedex van and someone had written in the dirt on the back door, "Driver is wearing no panties."
  • The best-of-craigslist.
  • The quiz at AllLookSame. The quiz ain't so funny, but my husband's low score sure is!

It's taken me nearly two weeks to finish up this blog entry, and it's time to just call it good and publish. There are some changes to the Shop with Jen and Fun Stuff pages, but otherwise there's nothing new on


June 16: Farewell, Dad

I got a very early morning phone call on June 7 with the news that my father, Curt Saltmarsh, had passed away. He had awakened around 3 a.m. having trouble breathing, and Dotti called 911. Apparently he had a blood clot in his lung and died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Ron and Kathy flew to Portland immediately. My mom drove down from Walla Walla to help out with Katie and Jack. Arrangements were made with other friends and family members for their arrivals, and we began preparing a memorial service.

Kathy went to view Dad's body on Wednesday. I couldn't go. The thought of seeing him like that, touching him and feeling how cold he would be, was unbearable. I last saw him fairly recently, but Kathy hadn't seen him since last summer so it was important to her to get one last glimpse. Afterward she was glad she'd gone but said it was very difficult.

We began to scour our photo albums and scan pictures to put in a slide show for the memorial service. We chose three songs and organized the pictures around them. The show came out to about 10 minutes long, I think, and I've posted it to the web site so you can download and view it. It should run automatically. Be sure you have speakers turned on.

Assembling the slide show was cathartic, I suppose, but also very, very sad. It was hard to cut down a person's life into such a short amount of time. Kathy and I each wrote a eulogy to be read at the service, and they became complements of the slide show, in a way. Anyone who didn't know Dad well before the memorial service would certainly know him after!

The memorial service went as well as it could have. Mark Winkelman (Dotti's son-in-law) read our eulogies. Wellington sang "The Lord's Prayer" and it was absolutely beautiful. There was a time for people to share memories of Dad, which was very special for us to hear. We closed with the slide show. There was a reception afterward, where Dotti served a bunch of my dad's favorite cookies. I couldn't help but think how much he would've enjoyed being there.

It's really unbelievable that he's gone. Just when I think I'm okay I'll remember something and burst into tears. Poor Katie and Jack can't figure out what's wrong with me; although they understand that Grandpa Curt is gone, they obviously can't comprehend the permanence of death. They just know that Mommy and Appie and everyone else who was at our house this past week couldn't stop crying. And still can't.

If you never met my dad, please take a moment to get to know him by reading our eulogies and watching the slide show. Kathy and I have both said that we suddenly feel this great desire to share our dad, so indulge a couple of proud daughters, won't you? We'd love you to share any special memories of Curt Saltmarsh, so please leave them in the comments area below. Thanks.


Apr. 26: Doot-in' doo-doo, feelin' o-old


Here's why I've been feeling more like 86 than 36 lately:

  • Last week I ran out of moisturizer. I remembered getting a free sample in the mail a while ago, so I dug it out of my junk mail basket and used it. And I liked it, so when I went to buy a big bottle I looked for the same kind... and found a little more information on the full-size: it's some mega-anti-aging, wrinkle releasing, skin restoring, cell regenerating serum. I bought it, but I know people were pointing and laughing.
  • My recent eye exam showed that my eyes haven't gotten any worse in the past few years (hooray!) and that my reading glasses can be purchased at the dollar store (not so hooray). I went to Wal-Mart where I splurged on a pair for $7.84. What made me feel like I deserved a senior discount was the style: for working on my laptop, the best type seem to be the ones that sit way down on my nose. If Vic keeps calling me "Granny" I'm going to hit him with my cane.
  • The rain makes my shoulder hurt. It starts to hurt before the weather cools, and makes me gripe until the sun comes out again.
  • I went to Clackamas High School today to get tickets to their upcoming production of "Disney's Beauty & The Beast." Just seeing the students made me feel out of it, but then when I realized I'm actually closer to being their parent than I am to being one of them... where's my wheelchair?
  • I've got my eye on a housedress I saw in the Fingerhut catalog.

Okay, I made up that last one, but the rest are true. I'm a geezer! When'd this happen???

Techie stuff

I got a new printer that's super-cool. It's a Hewlett-Packard All-in-One 1315. What I like is not just that it prints, scans, and copies, but that it's a flatbed scanner/copier. If you've ever tried to photocopy your passport or a page from a magazine on a sheet-fed copier, then you know why this is such a great design. I don't much like the scanner software HP sent, but it lets me use the Windows XP scanner wizard, which is cake. And YES, I realize I'm way too excited about this.

We moved our cell service to T-Mobile and got a coupla fancy new phones. Mine is a Motorola A630, which flips open to a QWERTY keyboard. It's perfect for text messaging and e-mailing. Of course, I don't text message or e-mail over the phone. I do, however, like the idea of a PDA phone, which I was led to believe the A630 almost is. But it turns out this ain't a PDA phone. It doesn't even pretend to be one. It doesn't hold mailing addresses, and e-mail addresses create duplicate phone book entries; that means you scroll through them until you finally find what you're looking for or crash your car. Calendar entries work well, though recurring entries don't sync and that sucks. There's picture caller ID (fun), lots of polyphonic and "real" ring tones (lame), ability to edit MP3s and make them into ring tones (haven't tried it yet, but I can't wait to hear "Springtime for Hitler" telling me I have voice mail!), and Bluetooth (very cool but still not working correctly on my laptop). Victor's phone doesn't pretend to be anything but a phone, and it's good at what it's supposed to do. He always has to be better than me.


  • Pictures of Presley. Is she the cutest thing in the world, or what? Are we the proudest uncle and auntie, or what? Daryl, Sally, and Presley will be here in a couple weeks. Are you jealous, or what?
  • Katie's class picture for this school year. Don't know why they have them done in the spring and not the fall like most schools, but whatever. She was adorable then and she's adorable now.
  • More pictures of Cooper Bissell. I love that giggly stage!
  • I'd show my nephews' prom pics but they turned all squirrely when they were e-mailed to me. If I get viewable versions I'll post them.
I can't think of a single other thing to say.

Apr. 2: Common Sense & The Living Will

There's nothing new to share since my last entry, I just want to post an e-mail I received today. It's a good'n.


I, _______________ (fill in the blank), being of sound mind and body, unequivocally declare that in the event of a catastrophic injury, I do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.

I hereby instruct my loved ones and relatives to remove all life-support systems once it has been determined that my brain is no longer functioning in a cognizant realm.

However, that judgment should be made only after thorough consultation with medical experts; i.e., individuals who actually have been trained, educated and certified as doctors. Under no circumstances -- and I can't state this too strongly -- should my fate be put in the hands of peckerwood politicians who couldn't pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it.

Furthermore, it is my firm hope that when the time comes, any discussion about terminating my medical treatment should remain private and confidential.

Living in Florida, however, I am acutely aware that the legislative and executive branches of state government are fond of meddling in family matters and have little concern for the privacy and dignity of individuals.

Therefore, I wish to make my views on this subject as clear and unambiguous as possible. Recognizing that some politicians seem cerebrally challenged themselves (and with no medical excuse), I'll try to keep this simple and to the point:

  1. While remaining sensitive to the feelings of loved ones who might cling to hope for my recovery, let me state that if a reasonable amount of time passes -- say, ____ (fill in the blank) months -- and I fail to sit up and ask for a cold beer, it should be presumed that I won't ever get better. When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my spouse, children and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.

  2. Under no circumstances shall the members of the Legislature enact a special law to keep me on life-support machinery. It is my wish that these boneheads mind their own damn business and pay attention instead to the health, education and future of the millions of Floridians who aren't in a permanent coma.

  3. Under no circumstances shall the governor of Florida butt into this case and order my doctors to put a feeding tube down my throat or through a hole into my abdomen to keep me alive. I don't care how many fundamentalist votes he's trying to scrounge for his run for the presidency in 2008, it is my wish that he plays politics with someone else's life and leaves me to die in peace.

  4. I couldn't care less if a hundred religious zealots send e-mails to legislators in which they pretend to care about me. I don't know these people, and I certainly haven't authorized them to preach and crusade on my behalf. They should mind their own business, too.

  5. It is my heartfelt wish to expire quietly and without a public spectacle. This is obviously impossible once elected officials become involved. So, while recognizing the wrenching emotions that attend the prolonged death of a loved one, I hereby instruct my relatives to settle all disagreements about my care in private or in the courts, as provided by law. If any of my family goes against my wishes and turns my case into a political cause, I hereby promise to come back from the grave and make his or her existence a living hell.

IMPORTANT: This email is intended for the use of the individual addressee(s) named above and may contain information that is confidential, privileged or unsuitable for overly sensitive persons with low self-esteem, no sense of humor or irrational religious beliefs. If you are not the intended recipient, any dissemination, distribution or copying of this email is not authorized (either explicitly or implicitly) and constitutes an irritating social faux pas. Unless the word "absquatulation" has been used in its correct context somewhere other than in this warning, it does not have any legal or grammatical use and may be ignored. No animals were harmed in the transmission of this email, although the poodle next door is living on borrowed time, let me tell you. Those of you with an overwhelming fear of the unknown will be gratified to learn that there is no hidden message revealed by reading this backwards, so just ignore that Alert Notice from Microsoft. However, by pouring a complete circle of salt around yourself and your computer you can ensure that no harm befalls you and your pets. If you have received this email in error, please add some nutmeg and egg whites, whisk, and place in a warm oven for 40 minutes.

Mar. 29: A few thousand words

I think all of us are just now feeling mostly healthy again. Over the past few weeks Vic had the flu, I had a bad cold that turned into laryngitis, and the kids both had 2-week colds. We've successfully infected everyone we've come in contact with, and our work is done.

Not a lot to say here, but I did update several pages on the web site. Here are changes you might want to check out:

I just heard that Jerry Falwell is critically ill. Boy, that's a darn shame. And yes, I know I'm going straight to hell for even thinking such a terrible thing. But he thinks he's God and I know he's the Anti-Christ, so either way, the guy ain't a real human being. I can think of many farm animals or body parts he might be though...

Because I love you all so very, very much, I'll share with you my joke for the day:

How is an elephant like a tomato?
Neither one can ride a bike.

Somehow I forgot to include one of my biggest pet peeves in my last entry, so here it is. It is not Nordstrom's, it's Nordstrom. It is not Meier & Frank's, it's Meier & Frank. It is not Fred Meyer's, it's Fred Meyer. It is not J.C. Penney's, it's J.C. Penney. No one says Costco's, or Safeway's, or Target's, or Eddie Bauer's, so why do people insist on tacking an "s" onto the end of all those other store names? I don't get it. Something else I don't understand is why people say The Wal-Mart. We don't say The Target, or The Safeway. But instead of irritating me, hearing The Wal-Mart mostly just makes me snort. I have to remember that The Wal-Mart is from the land of The Piggly-Wiggly, also known as the part of the country where family trees have no branches.

My my, I'm sounding quite snobbish today. I'd apologize, but I don't wanna.

Burgerville started serving their fresh strawberry milkshakes on Saturday. If you haven't had one before, you really should. They're the best. Vic and I just couldn't wait to have our first one of the season, so on the way home from Walla Walla the other day we stopped in The Dalles, wherein lies the east-most Burgerville. We're trying to figure out what part of our regular diet will need to be swapped out so we can have several shakes a week. We should probably try to figure out what bills we'll stop paying to afford them too.

One more recommendation: "The Incredibles" on DVD. Love it, love it, love it.

More next week or whenever I get around to it. Lovies!

Mar. 8: Restraining Orders, or "get out of my dreams and also out of my car"

You know, it's very easy to criticize. Fun, too.

Today, for your reading pleasure, I'm going to share some of the things that really bug me. Because it would be impossible for me to rate these things by degrees of annoying-ness, they're in no particular order. You'll notice that many of the things that bug me are writing- and grammar-related. My sister's list is identical in that way; blame our perfection-obsessed parents.

My Airing of Grievances
with apologies in this non-Festivus season

  • Incorrect usage of your and you're, it's and its, their and they're and there, to and too. A typo is one thing. If you really don't know the difference, though... did you pay no attention in grade school English class??? Sheesh.
  • Watching my mom prepare her coffee. First, she waters it down, and then destroys it further by adding powdered creamer, even when there's the perfectly good liquid kind in the fridge! And then she DRINKS it!
  • Over-using exclamation points!!! If I do it, it's because it's necessary. No one else has a good excuse.
  • People that don't signal when changing lanes; I want to know that you know where you're going. People that try to merge on the freeway at 40mph. People that go the speed limit in the fast lane; first, it's there for passing, not for driving, and even if you think you're forcing everyone to obey the law, you're really just a traffic hazard and the source for much road rage. Someday when someone shoots at you it will be because you deserve it.
  • Inconsiderate neighbors (not just mine). You know who you are. Actually, you probably don't, but if you did you wouldn't change. You're just that way, aren't you?
  • That more people don't listen to my brilliant ideas. I have many.
  • People using apostrophes where they don't belong, as in, "Lot's of people have brilliant idea's, but not as many as my friend's and I do." Also incorrectly using plurals, like "skys" or "sky's" instead of "skies." Have you heard the good news about spell-checkers?
  • Not using spell-checkers.
  • People that don't take responsibility for their actions. "Ouchie, I spilled coffee on my nether regions because I put it in my lap even though I knew it was super hot. Now McDonalds must PAY!" Because of you, food packaging now says things like, "Warning: Product will be hot after heating."
  • Houses painted in hideous colors in neighborhoods of houses painted in non-hideous colors.
  • Return envelopes that say, "Tampering with this envelope or its contents will result in legal action." I don't know how serious the threat is, but it interferes with my habit of returning crap mail to senders just to show them how annoying it is to receive crap mail. A Sharpie used to be enough to fix identifying info on the outside of envelopes, but now I'm too a-scared!
  • Web sites with ridiculous shipping rates. They suck. Also, poorly designed shopping cart systems on store web sites. Ya gonna have a web presence? Make it work.
  • Reruns in prime-time.
  • Bad tippers. Like it or not, in this country, it's customary. Don't embarrass your dining companions by being cheap.
  • That annoying shortcut language that's become popular and accepted thanks to chat rooms and messaging. You know, using "u" instead of "you," "2" instead of "to" or "too," "b4" instead of "before." The abbreviations don't bother me--LOL, BRB, IMHO, etc. It's the weird Prince-like spelling that gives me the shivers.
  • That Crispix is so expensive. Other cereals are expensive too, but Crispix is my favorite. Seems every time it's on sale the store has, like, four boxes in stock. Stooopid store.
  • Expiration dates.
  • The dash lights in my car. Too much red! It looks like a freakin' cockpit at night. As much as I love Volkswagens, it's always something with them. At least everything is still working in the Passat, unlike my Jetta, which had odd little electrical problems from the start.
  • The fact that if not for Hitler, Volkswagen might not even exist. I just found out, thanks to Yahoo!'s question of the day, that that German Ethel Merman ordered development of what eventually became the Beetle. I blame my goofy dash lights on him.
  • Putting two spaces between sentences or between the state and zip or after a colon. The "two spaces" rule went out with typewriters and fixed-width fonts. Stop it.

That's all for today, kids. Maybe tomorrow I will share a few of my favorite things, like raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, and warm woolen mittens.

Or not.


Mar. 3: Pope-y peed on my sofa

My step-sister Cindy got married the other day. It was fun and celebratory, as weddings should be, but everyone there was nice and mostly normal; this was disappointing to me and Erin. Who could we gossip about? We were actually exchanging recipes at one point. I did, however, get a good pic that makes my mother look like she misbehaved much more than she actually did. Blackmail via blog!

Here's another pic, one of my mom and Len at Cindy's wedding.

Vic's and my eighth wedding anniversary was on Wednesday last week. We celebrated by me getting sick early that day and not improving much as the day went on. I moved our Morton's reservation to Friday night and spent the evening watching my ever-helpful husband assemble our new bookcases. On Thursday we moved the kids' toys, etc. to their new playroom and tried to clear out what had been in there before. We worked hard and got a lot done but there's still an ungodly amount left to do. Friday was more of the same, 'cept it ended with a fabulous dinner at Morton's. Over the weekend we were back to cleaning, organizing, and simplifying, and finally found a good stopping place so we could welcome Katie and Jack back home to show them their new playroom. Slowly, things have begun to come together. After a trip to Ikea I've planned for next week I should have the tools I need to finish the organizing part. We really are trying to get rid of stuff as we go along, and it's a lot more difficult than I expected. I don't know why we hang on to some of the things we do, but we're both packrat-y.

Me and my ever-handsome husband, fourteen years after we first met and about three years before we had a garageful of crap.

Why, oh why, won't they just let that poor pope dude die??? The guy has nine toes in the grave. He's gotta be miserable. I admit, I don't exactly understand the "holiness" part of the pope (or "Pope-y," as my ever-respectful husband calls him), but PLEEZE, just appoint another one and let this guy go. Sheesh.

I have few good things to say about the Adventist church, but one is that no one person is more holy or closer to God than the next. 'Course, lots of them think they are, and that they have the right to criticize others... Oh, don't get me started. That's a whole 'nother blog.

I'm a little worried Debi might never come back from Scotland. Her trip has been extended at least a few weeks. For me, though, the worst part is that she has inconvenient Internet access and we can't have our daily e-mail conversations. Poor me. What about my needs???

Seems as though Martin might be my only friend, as he's the one regular comment-leaver on this page. I mean "regular," as in "consistent" or "frequent," not any other kind of regular, though that may also apply to him, but I don't really know and I'm not going to ask. Anyway, shame on all of the rest of you! (If he'd e-mail me some new pictures I could probably update his page... hint hint...)

For a certain someone or two that might be dying to post a comment but something's holding you back: remember, you can post anonymously and without registering. Just an idear.

I got a butt-load of free software when I bought my tax program today and I gotta get it set up. I wonder how many hard drives this round of installations will kill.

With a love that will echo through the ages--


Feb. 19: Everyone's a critic

Busy week. Between working--both at home and at the hospital--transporting children, rearranging rooms in our house, and coddling two still semi-sick kids, I'm exhausted. Vic probably is too, though I'm guessing. Our paths haven't crossed much in the last few days. I hate that. Next week is our anniversary (#8!), we're both taking a few days off work, and Katie and Jack will be at Grandma and Grandpa's.

I've made a few changes to the site, mostly to the cascading style sheet. If there's anything that looks really "off," please let me know. I didn't take the time to check every page.

Tried a new restaurant on Wednesday: Vitis Enoteca. Not your standard Italian fare but absolutely delicious. My salad was watercress, prosciutto, and pear--wonderful! The pizza I chose for my entree was prosciutto, potato, fresh mozzarella, and pesto on a thin crust. I had a fabulous dessert; a poached pear cored and filled with mascarpone, then drizzled with caramel. Ed's walnut popovers were tasty, and one of the main reasons I can hardly wait to eat there again. We also had antipasti, and Ed and Stefan shared some of their dishes with me too, so I feel well-qualified to highly recommend this place, especially if you enjoy wine. Dana, the owner/chef, is friendly and obviously very skilled. Vitis Enoteca is just over 405 from the Pearl. Go. NOW!

Olivia is being released from the hospital on Monday! Her body shows all signs of reproducing the cells from the transplant, so things are looking good. There's still a long way to go for them, and they'll stay at Duke for at least another few months. The silent auction and benefit dinner that was held in Enumclaw this month was a HUGE success! Read more detail in the journal Mark and Annalee have been writing on her web site (, and please keep Olivia and her family in your hearts.

I just shake my head over why gay marriage is such a controversial issue. Besides the fact that it should be a religious issue, not a political one, it's simply unfair. Allowing gay couples to marry has NOT ONE EFFECT on me or my marriage. It changes nothing about my life. It takes nothing away from me. How could I be against it? love is love is love has some important and eye-opening info. If you've never given this issue much thought, please do.

Oh but wait, I'm not off my soapbox yet. I hate bad drivers, tomatoes, clowns, loud TV, and when people don't smash big hairy spiders. And I'm not too fond of poodles.

There, I'm done.

Katie, Jack, and Jonathan posed for some fun pictures the other day. Check them out. I'm sure there'll be more to come, because today Katie got four more outfits in the mail from Appie, and as soon as Jonathan sees them...

Vic and I had a decent Valentine's Day. He gave me a bouquet of flowers (gorgeous!) and I gave him a Starbucks gift card (yawners!). Darlene offered to watch Katie and Jack so Vic and I could go out for dinner that evening, which was such a treat. It was so last-minute, though, that we had no reservations and were too hungry to wait an hour for a table anywhere. We ended up at a quite desolate Burgerville. No matter, it was still nice to have a quiet meal together away from home and the hospital cafeteria. Besides, V-Day just isn't as big a deal for us because our anniversary is nine days later. Seems odd to make a huge thing of it when we'll be celebrating again so soon.

We're in the middle of our room transitions project in the house. What a lot of not very fun work. We've decided to keep the front room as a family room and subtly add some of our office furniture and stuff. If it doesn't work we'll do the bookcase divider thing. However, the upstairs room is still being converted to a playroom for Katie and Jack, and we've got tons yet to do in there. Our motivation is the lofty dream of toys and all the rest of the kids' stuff being on ONE floor. Having a place for everything. Being able to truly straighten/clean to make the house presentable.


Vitis Enoteca:

Olivia's Duke University medical team:

Opponents of gay marriage:

Kids giving me belly laughs:

Valentine's Day:
(I still love the holiday even if we don't celebrate much)

Mile-long to do lists:

People who visit

Feb. 10: I Need More Cowbell

New pictures from Katie's big day yesterday are on her Fifth Birthday page.

I was on my way out the door this morning when Katie and Jack both said they weren't feeling good. Since they'd been coughing for a couple days (but showed no other signs of illness) I thought maybe they were finally truly sick. I called Kristine to say I wouldn't be bringing them over, and the hospital folks to say I wouldn't be coming in to work, and within a half hour my "ailing" children were asking if they could play outside, or at McDonalds, or with neighbor kids. I said, "But I thought you were sick," to which my brilliant daughter replied, "I was, but I feel better now."

I tried to keep them busy at home but they weren't too interested in any of the super-fun activities I suggested: laying down, sitting quietly, resting, napping, dozing, being quiet so Mommy could do those things, etc. Who said kids are easy to please?

A fun web site to check out: PseudoDictionary. Click one of the letters on the light green bar along the top, or use the search box to find new and exciting words. Or, if you don't have time, just check out this goodie: Wanna go out or stay in? (Betcha never knew how to spell that one, hm?

Know what tastes yummy? Shasta Tiki Punch. Mmmmmmm...

Know what'll make you bounce off the walls? Shasta Tiki Punch and birthday cake. It's like drinking a Squishee made entirely of syrup. ("Let's go crazy Broadway-style!")


Feb. 7: Mid- Katie's Birthday Season

Well, I'm just mad. Some tiny little man has taken away all my fun. The Voss Family.

Mom and Len were here this past weekend. Mom and I got some rare shopping time, and Vic and I had a no-kids afternoon that we greatly enjoyed too. Mom made Katie a gorgeous princess dress for her birthday, complete with sparkly shoes and fun accessories (photo here). She loved prancing around and showing it off (um... to clarify: Katie pranced, my mom did not, though she would probably not turn down an opportunity if presented). A lot of Katie's birthday gifts fit into a dress-up theme: Darlene made her a bride ensemble, Appie is sending a very cool Disney princess costume trunk, her friend Eliza gave her beautiful wings, a tiara, and a magic wand, and we got her a fairy princess outfit and a chef uniform. She's also getting a 3-panel room divider with a mirror, hooks, and organizer boxes for keeping all her dress-up things in one place. Well, my plan is for it all to stay organized...

Katie's birthday party was yesterday--read all about it here. More celebrations are to come this next week. Wednesday is her actual birthday, and as if Daddy having the day off isn't special enough, she also is quite proud to get to choose where the four of us will have lunch. I'm betting/hoping it'll be "Passagetti" Factory--that's her favorite, and we think it's more than pretty okay too.

Valentine candy corn just isn't the same as the stuff at Halloween. Bleah.

We're about to make another major change in our house. Since it may not work for the long-term, we're trying to do it in a very temporary way so we can change it right back if we need to. We're thinking about moving the office to the front room downstairs and then making the upstairs room into the kids' playroom. We're so tired of the constant mess of toys up anddownstairs, and hope this will relieve some of that. To separate the two areas of the front room, we're looking at putting up a wall of bookcases. If it works and we like the arrangement, we'll probably make things more permanent and put in French doors to the office. If this move is successful you can be sure to find before-and-after photos on

Debi seems to have made it to Scotland in one piece. She said she's having fun, but that was before she'd tried driving. Yikes. I haven't heard much else and am anxiously awaiting more details.

Not that writing about Debi reminded me of this, but I watched "Mean Girls" last week. I think Tina Fey is hilarious, and this movie was pretty funny in parts, but it didn't have the charm of, say, "Clueless." I give it 2.5 stars out of 5.

And another movie theme that did not make me think of Debi... I watched one of last year's HBO films, "Normal," with Tom Wilkinson and Jessica Lange. Interesting. This guy decides, after 25 years of marriage, that he wants a sex-change operation. What makes it interesting is that his wife--after going through a predictable reaction to his announcement--actually accepts it and they continue to live together. I thought the movie said a lot about love: we find it where we find it.

I wanted to get Katie's party pictures posted, so it's just a quick update for now. I'll post the other pics and write again later this week.


Feb. 2: Heil Myself... Heil to Me...

Know what? I'm so darn smart I can barely stand myself.

Problem is, today my noggin just gave up. It's full. The "No Vacancy" light's blinking, and if I could think of any other metaphors I would. They say beer kills brain cells, and drugs kill brain cells, and TV kills brain cells. I know for a fact that thinking too much kills brain cells too. And it ain't as much fun as that other stuff neither.

Anyhoo, I can tell I've exhausted all intelligence because I can't think of anything to write and also because I said "anyhoo." But has that ever stopped me before? I think you know the answer to that one.

Today is Sean's birthday. It's hard to believe my nephew is already 15! Just kidding, I know he's actually 18. Yikes-a-hootie, I 'member before he was born. It's actually just as hard to believe he's 18 as it is that my sister has an 18-year-old kid! Geez, she must be really old, like FORTY.

And speaking of important birthdays, there's one coming up in our house too. Yessiree, Katie will be 5 years old next Wednesday. Her party--this year, classmates only--is Sunday afternoon. She can't stop talking about it. I can't stop stressing about it. It'll be fun, I'm sure, because our parties always are (I hear--I don't attend them all). One of the plans is for the kids to play "Hullabaloo," a kid game from those brainiacs at Cranium. If you haven't played it, you should--it's really fun, kind of a combo of Twister and I don't know what. Just trust me.

My little friend Olivia is doing very well post-transplant. Read Mark and Annalee's journal entries at Olivia's Wish. Warning: Jan. 30 will make you cry.

Well, it seems my blog has finally seen some action! This is quite exciting, though undoubtedly only to me. I liked that "Anonymous" made a worthwhile contribution as she always does, and was not surprised that Martin's entry was mostly just making fun of things I say. If he continues this pattern I might have to make use of that little garbage can icon underneath the comments... but not yet, I'm just so thrilled to know someone is actually checking in to!

And Lori, the motherboard episode got me too--that was the turning point, when I went from sorta liking the show to really liking the show.

So now that you kids have checked in, it's only a matter of time until Kathy contributes, isn't it???

My friends Kristine and Michael just crack me right up. I want to share a couple of their recent e-mails with you, my Jenketeers (The Onion reference... I promise, it'll never happen again):

Yummy Chinese Food!

And y'know how your monitor can get so grimy? Here's a little help getting it polished up: Mr. Clean

In the ancient words of the ever-eloquent Taylor Lassen, "No more words."


Jan. 20: SATC on the brain

A couple years after "Sex and the City" started there was a whole bunch of hype about it. I've been a Sarah Jessica Parker semi-fan since her "Square Pegs" days, so when Season One of SATC was released on DVD, I rented it. At first, I honestly could not understand the hype. Except for the shock value, there was nothing very interesting about the show. The premise itself was shallow at best, and the writing seemed awkward. The acting wasn't much better. However, the characters were amusing. I rented Season Two.

In my opinion, almost everything about the show improved after the first season. I started to like it better and I started to care what happened to their characters. As with any TV show, you get to know the primary characters and you can't help but feel they're friends of some sort. So as each new season was released on DVD, I was eager to watch. It became such a fun show, full of surprises, humor, and unexpectedly touching moments. The second half of Season Six (the final one) was released a few weeks ago. I already knew how the series ended--everyone does, unless you were living under a rock last year--but I still watched with the hope that Carrie and Big would finally end up together.

Let me quickly admit something embarrassing: even though I've seen "The Sound of Music" a million times, during the dance at the ball I still hope the captain and the governess will eventually realize they're in love. I know, I'm a dork.

Anyway, last night I reserved some TV-and-quiet time to watch the finale, and I cried my big fat eyes out. During the show's run the girls had their individual lives and their lives together, and they were, for the most part, kept separate. But in the last few episodes there was a lot of overlapping, and it seemed so much more like real life. I loved that.

One of my favorite moments was when Miranda said to Big, "Go get our girl." It made me suddenly wistful. I missed my girlfriends. I started to reminisce to myself about my single days, when my girlfriends and I would stay up all night chatting in the dorm, or during our angst-ridden post-grad lives, when we'd talk and talk about anything and everything important to us. But my reminiscing didn't last long... our lives were really nothing like "Sex and the City." No one would ever consider writing a TV show, or a book, or even a newspaper column based on us. Yes, we're that boring. And actually, I don't think I have a problem with that.

Um, I don't know where I'm going with this. I think my original point was that:

  1. The SATC finale was better than I thought it'd be
  2. I cried big ol' alligator tears like a big ol' Charlotte
  3. Now that the show is over I'm surprised how much I miss it
  4. I can't decide if I was happier about the way their friendships grew over six years, or how each girls' story ended (a little too predictably, maybe, but happy happy happy)

If you've never seen "Sex and the City," let me say this: I don't recommend it for the faint of heart. Or my mom. :) It's raunchy, even filthy at times. The characters are flawed and not always likeable. But if you're still curious like I was, give it a couple seasons' chance before you give up on them.

Oh, here's my plea for comments! Which one are you?

  • Carrie
  • Miranda
  • Samantha
  • Charlotte


Jan. 17: New page format

Okay, I'm trying out this new blog software to see if it'll integrate well with the web site. If it's clumsy I won't continue using it, so please let me know what you think--you'll see there's a place to add comments below each entry.

Besides that, I have little to report. The ice storm is over and the city's mostly back to normal.


Jan. 15: Complaints and other nonsense

I hate technology.

My laptop's hard drive crashed last weekend. I'd been getting the BSOD so I quickly backed up most of my data, but a few VERY important files I didn't get a chance to back up are now completely inaccessible. Well, if I was willing to pay $700-$2300 to have my hard drive disassembled in a clean room then I might be able to get them. Let me tell ya, if Outlook runs your life and you haven't backed it up lately, DO IT RIGHT NOW! That's one of my new resolutions. Make it one of yours too. Have I told you lately that I do not love technology?

My friend Debi has the coolest job. Well, I don't know if the work itself is so cool, but where she gets to do it is pretty fabulous. Next month she heads off to Scotland for several weeks of "work." You just know she's going to be doing way more than that though. Sheesh. All I know is if you want a kilt or pictures of Nessie, you better tell her soon. (Insert your favorite Groundskeeper Willie quote here.)

I watched "Napoleon Dynamite" last week. I thought it was pretty dumb, although I did laugh out loud a few times. But since then, any time I've talked about it with someone else (mostly Alisa!) our guts ache from laughing. So I'm guessing it's just one of those movies that's way funnier to talk about than to actually watch.

If you've been to our house in the past six months or so you've seen how perfectly organized our office is kept. I spent most of one day this week getting all of it re-organized and--sit down for this--I CAN SEE THE FLOOR. I can also see the desktop. And I can open the closet doors on BOTH sides. I know, I know, you can't even picture it. It's a shock to me too.

Today Portland had its first real storm of the season. Two little ones in our house were awfully disappointed to wake up to sheets of ice outside instead of fluffy snow. Okay, two big people were bummed over it too... we got spoiled last winter with two pretty decent snowfalls.

I've made a few more changes to the web site. The Shop with Jen page has been updated. I combined the Fun Stuff and Time-wasters pages, removed the dead links and added some new ones. I also updated my Jen's List page and added some pics from the preschool party last week. Hey, this is my second update of 2005... I'm already doing better than I did in 2004!

Jan. 2: Happy New Year!

One of my new year's resolutions is to update the site again before December 31, 2005. Before you get too excited (you know you are) remember a few things: I rarely keep resolutions, all the things that kept me from updating more often last year are still very much a part of my life, and I rarely keep resolutions.

We had a great Christmas this year. Dad & Dotti celebrated with us on the 22nd. My grandma and mom came down for a few days (Len was on a mission somewhere building something). Darlene & Wellington joined us all as we borrowed the Voss family tradition of having Chinese take-out for Christmas Eve dinner. They came again the next day for a delicious traditional Christmas feast. We spread gift-opening over the entire day, and that turned out to be a very good thing for the kids; they opened gifts a few at a time and enjoyed each one for a while before opening more.

Besides that, there's not much to say that wasn't in our Christmas letter this year. For those of you who might not have read it, here ya go (and if you don't want to read it, scroll beyond it and you'll find more words):

Seasons Greetings!

Yep, it’s another one of those impersonal annual letters for our family and friends. Jen writes this one because no one else would or could.

I guess 2004 could best be described as a year of home remodeling and me recuperating. Not that other stuff didn't happen too; those are simply the things that stand out most. In the spring we replaced all of our carpet and vinyl downstairs with wood flooring. Sounds good, hm? Well, it looks good too, but I found out just how slick these new floors are when I slipped in water and cracked my head open. The good news is that for once I didn’t break either of my feet (that happened later in the year). After a couple weeks of rest I got back to work around the house. I repainted the entire downstairs. With Daryl’s help we did a little remodeling—replaced the vanity in our half-bath with a pedestal sink, installed new light fixtures, put up crown moulding in the front room, and made lots of little improvements everywhere. It was fun and I can hardly wait to start on the upstairs, after I get a helmet.

In July I was down again. What I thought was probably a kidney infection was actually E.coli poisoning. By the time I was diagnosed I was in unbelievable pain and pretty much bed-ridden, and the timing could not have been worse: Vic and Kathy’s 40th birthday bash was two days away. I am forever grateful to my mom and auntie Donna for dropping everything and driving to Portland to prepare for and host the party in my place. Everyone says it was a great evening. It sure sounded fun from upstairs.

Summer was busy busy busy, between trips to Walla Walla and the Oregon coast, house guests, swimming lessons, and lots of Manullang family activities. Sonya and her family came "home" from Paris for several months. Daryl, Sally, and Presley were also in the Portland area for quite some time. Katie and Jack loved having their cousins around, and with Grandma & Grandpa just a couple miles away they got to play together almost every day. Vic and I loved getting to know Presley a little better—she's gorgeous, and such a sweetheart!

And speaking of Darlene and Wellington, they invited us to join them on a trip to Florida in September. We had to reschedule because of the hurricanes, and still caught the end of Ivan on our third day there. Daryl, Sally, and Presley drove from St. Petersburg and joined us in Orlando. We did the Disney World thing, of course, and it was an absolute blast! Quick review: Animal Kingdom, more fun than we expected. Disney-MGM Studios, a lot like California Adventures—so-so. Epcot, totally overrated—too much like that cheesefest "Mini-Europe" in Brussels. Magic Kingdom, magical! Philharmagic, the new 4-D movie, is a must-see! Our favorite moment of the trip was when Jack suddenly took off running and tackled Mickey Mouse trying to give him a hug.

Jack celebrated his third birthday in November. He's turning out to be very much like a younger version of his cousin Jacob—if you’ve heard the stories, then you know what that means. Jack spends his days looking at books, tormenting Scout, cuddling like an angel, breaking only the most expensive of his toys, running cars and trains up and down the hall, and being the stereotypical annoying baby brother. We'd say, "He's such a boy," but then we remember how much he likes to wear Katie's nightgowns and dress up her Barbie. We're okay with it, though. We'll love him no matter what… we'll love him no matter what… we'll love him no matter what...

Katie may look just like her dad, but she's showing clear signs of becoming a nerd girl like her mom. She fights for computer time—though not often, thanks to our 3-PC network—and can surf the 'net as well as Grandpa Curt (ha!). She's loving her second year of preschool, especially because her best friend Jonathan is in her class. Her fifth birthday is coming in February and she's already decided on the party theme, the cake design, who will be invited, and what she's going to wear.

Nowadays Scout's primary interest is eating people food whenever and however she can. Thanks to Jackson's absent-mindedness, she's the roliest-poliest beagle ever and can no longer jump on the bed.

Work-wise, all is mostly the same as last year. Victor’s still doin' that radiology thang at AMC, and I’m still contract programming, consulting, and training. I love the flexibility of my schedule, and the programming work keeps my mom-brain from going too mushy.

Our web site is hopelessly out of date. I didn't keep up very well this past year, but I plan to do better in 2005. Either way, you can usually find semi-recent pictures and news there. Please stop by!

I also invite you to visit Olivia Medici is the daughter of my friend Annalee, and she was recently diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome, a mucopolysaccharide disorder. They have just begun treatment at Duke University. If you have a prayer list, please add Olivia to it. If you'd like to help in other ways, you'll find information on her web site. Anything you can do would be greatly appreciated.

We extend our best wishes to you and your loved ones for a happy holiday season and a joyous new year!

Victor, Jennifer, Katie, and Jackson Manullang
and an "aroooooooooooo!" from little Miss Scout

We recently lost some very special friends, both the four-legged variety. Bailey, Daryl & Sally's beagle, died last month. I know a lot of you met her and remember what a sweetheart she was; in fact, we got Scout because we adored Bailey so much. When they lived in Portland we would occasionally keep her while D&S went out of town, and even though we loved having her visit us, I'll never forget how sad she always was right after they left, just sitting at the window and staring out. I think it was mostly a plea to take her away from Scout, who was quite the pester-er then. She is missed very much. Our other friend who crossed the Rainbow Bridge is Nakita, Scott & Jenny's Siberian Husky. She had tumors in her brain, foot, and backside and it was time to say good-bye. For most of our friends (and us), our dogs were our children long before we had human ones; losing them really is like losing a child, and it makes me sad that people aren't allowed to grieve as if they had. Daryl, Sally, Presley, Scott, Jenny, River, and Summer: we're so sorry, and so sad. We miss your girls too.


These are some of the site changes I've made:

If you didn't get a Christmas card from the Rehling-Manullangs, too bad for you. They sent out a great family photo. If I weren't so lazy I'd scan it in for the world to see. My mom said she was going to send them one of her Christmas cards, not because she thought they'd care to read her family news but because she wants to get on THEIR Christmas card list! Everyone wants pictures of PQ! (And you too, D&S)

My point is this: Daryl and Sally, you could never send too many pictures of that girl of yours! I need recent digital family pics from Kathy, April, Lori (cruise photos, please), Ed, Jenny, Sherrice, and anyone else who can take a minute to e-mail them to me. If your page is out of date only YOU can change that. I'll try to update again soon.


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