Seasons greetings to our friends and family! The letter we sent in our Christmas cards this year was very brief and, in some places, a teensy bit fabricated. Here is the non-sweetened, non-condensed version.
A few highlights of 2006 from the House of Manullang:
Darlene and Wellington joined us for an adventurous week in Disneyland last February, where we celebrated Katie’s sixth birthday. One of my favorite memories is attending the Princess luncheon with Katie; watching Katie meet each of the Disney princesses in person was absolutely magical. One of my least favorite memories is driving (yes, DRIVING!) from Portland to Anaheim and back. I must’ve been totally drunk when I agreed to that. I was awake for much more of the trip than I had hoped to be, and the kids wouldn’t share their DVD players with me. The good news is that we survived and Victor did not file for divorce the minute we got home. In fact, there was really only one disappointing thing about the trip, and that was not being able to see our southern California friends and family—there was so little time, it seemed, for us to travel out of Anaheim.
Later in February we attended my 20th high school reunion at PAA. It’s hard to believe 20 years has gone by! I know everyone always says that, but it’s just so strange that in some ways it feels like yesterday, and yet life has changed so much for all of us that it seems like ages ago at the same time. It’s funny to look back to those angst-filled high school years and remember how seriously we all took ourselves. Ba-ruther! Oh, and it was also pretty cool to see how many of us still live in the Portland area. I’ve gotten together with classmates a few times since then, and we hope to plan some semi-regular get-togethers in the next year.
Jack went to Medford with Grandma Mary on a bit of a house-hunting trip last spring. She’ll be moving there after her retirement from WWC in June. I doubt he was much help with the house-hunting, but he did have a great time learning to ride a horse.
I had LASIK surgery in March. Results were amazing—I could actually see quite clearly for a few weeks. For any of you that know about vision stuff, I was almost a -10 going into surgery, so this was a huge change. After a month or so, my vision began to deteriorate and I got glasses with a -1.5 prescription. Eventually I needed a -3, and after about six months my vision stabilized. It took a while to get used to the “halo” effect but it really doesn’t bother me at all anymore.
I went to Boise in April to meet Gwen Nelson, my friend Debi’s first baby. I also met her cousin Dorothy Frances, who was born almost three months earlier. Both girls are beautiful and such sweethearts!
In May, my nephew’s high school graduation took us to Colorado. He graduated with all sorts of honors (I’m still trying to find a way to take credit for his smartitude). Sean and Stephen’s band performed, and Jack got to sit in a little. It was a really fun week of family stuff—my aunt (Curt’s sister) and favorite cousin came, as well as Mom and her brother Paul. Kathy’s best friend Lori and her family were there too. Big crowd = big fun + lots of memories. We had family portraits done with a very creative photographer.
Stephen’s school’s FFA Clean Barn Award + cowboy hat rack = many laughs for me and Lori.
We spent a few days at Sunriver with Sonya’s family in June. Although it rained a lot of the time, we didn’t mind the excuse to stay indoors and relax (gotta love the vacation rentals with wireless Internet!). When it wasn’t raining, the kids had a great time playing on their scooters and bikes. Each visit to the resort pool was cut short by evacuations due to gross bodily functions (for which no one in our party was responsible, I might add). Of course, not having gone to the pool myself, I found the experiences hilarious!
Daryl, Sally and Presley were here for the summer. Sonya and her family were here briefly, between their move from France to China. Katie and Jack loved having their cousins around so much.
Katie started first grade in September. She adores her teacher and classmates and loves to read. While her soccer skills had improved since last year, she decided the games aren’t fun because she can’t play around with her friends like at practice. She got up to Level 3 in swimming lessons over the summer. Her piano repertoire is finally getting beyond “Hot Cross Buns,” for which we are very thankful. And if you come near our house this holiday season, expect to hear “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth”—Katie’s got quite a gap.
Katie's first day of school
Jack is in his second year of preschool. He didn’t take swimming lessons this year because he refuses to get his face wet. And when I threatened that all his teeth would fall out if he didn’t brush them, he decided that would look awesome, just like a pirate. Even though he likes the new pirate decor in his bedroom, he will sleep in Scout’s crate if we let him. Needless to say, he’s our special boy! Truthfully, he’s revealing quite a sense of humor, and we have to try to suppress our laughter as we threaten to wash his mouth out with soap.
My niece Erin got married in September. She was gorgeous. I can take absolutely no credit for it, no matter how hard I try. (At least Stephen and I are related by blood!)
Mary and Erin
In October I had a LASIK “enhancement,” which is essentially a do-over. Again, I had great vision immediately after. Again, it has already begun to deteriorate. I’m not sure I want to go in for a third surgery, but stay tuned to next year’s letter for the (hopefully happy) ending to this saga.
Disneyland was our destination once again in November (we flew!), where we partied like it’s 2006 for Jack’s fifth birthday. Mary came along on the trip—she hadn’t been there since 1980, when our family went for the first time—and she was as enchanted by the Disney magic as the kids were. Also, I think she appreciated that my behavior had marginally improved. We got to ride the new and improved Pirates of the Caribbean (A+) and loved seeing the attractions decorated for Christmas. One of my favorite memories of this trip is the snow on Main Street—fake, yes, but a beautiful sight nonetheless. It really did look real, but when it landed on my tongue it tasted a lot soapier than the snow at home does. Hmmmm…
Victor and I subscribed to the current “Broadway in Portland” season and are enjoying an excuse to have a date night every few months. This past year we saw Hairspray, Wicked and Sweet Charity, and there are four more musicals scheduled for the first half of 2007.
How are we celebrating our tenth anniversary in February? How nice of you to ask! We’re going on a Western Caribbean Disney cruise—kid-less!—and hope to spend a few days at Disney World before or after. I know what you’re thinking: two trips to Disneyland + a Disney cruise + Disney World = TOO MUCH DISNEY! But you’re wrong. You’re very, very wrong.
Two years ago I wrote in our Christmas letter about my little friend, Olivia Medici, who was about to undergo treatment for a rare disease. I know many of you followed her progress, which is why it breaks my heart to tell you, if you haven’t already heard, that she passed away November 12. You can read her story at www.oliviaswish.com, as well as her parents’ plan for The Olivia School. They are nothing less than AMAZING.
Sonya, Ted and Daryl, along with their families, will be in the Portland area for Christmas this year. It’s the first time we’ve all been together for the holidays; with everyone spread over the world, this is quite a feat. You can be sure there will be much taking of pictures and covert counting of gifts under the tree.
Best wishes for a very happy holiday season—
(and Casey and the fish, Flush1 and Flush2)
Our family photo, taken in front of the Disneyland Christmas tree: