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 www.oliviaswish.com. 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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