Monday, December 7, 2009

End of Year Update for 2009

In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!' ~Dave Barry, "Christmas Shopping: A Survivor's Guide"

On that note we would like to welcome you to the 2009 edition of the Allan Family Christmas letter. Another year has come and gone. Some events in our lives were happy, some sad. We have again persevered, and hope the same holds true for all of you.

Life here in Lakewood continues to exemplify the dream that is Southern California; traffic, noise, shopping and nonstop coming and going. All of us here have a lot going on, and a lot to be thankful for. We all still like (or at least tolerate) each other and in the end that’s pretty good!

Rita continues her Girl Scout mission which serves to get Anne and Emily out of their bedroom at least occasionally. Nut sales have wound up for the year, and cookies are getting ready to crank up. They are saving up for a troop cruise in a few years, something to look forward to. Caltrans work is still keeping a roof over our head, but Gov. Arnold has seen fit to put Rita on “Furlough Fridays” three days a month, which does eat into our savings a bit. Hopefully that will all end by June 2010, we remain optimistic. The rest of Rita’s time is spent reading with the Kindle, her form of escapism. Recently she relayed the floor in the kitchen and installed a dishwasher, all in one huge day of effort, which her back muscles didn’t appreciate.

Chris still has a few projects in the works. The locomotive restoration in Portola, Ca. (his form of escapism) continues. Sadly he lost one of his best pals, Dana Greeley, this past spring. Dana was a great guy Chris has known for most of his adult life, and was of late helping him out in Portola. Another smaller narrow-gauge locomotive is being restored for a private individual here in So Cal. This one is named “Apollo” and was rescued from an abandoned gold mining operation in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Due to financial constraints not much time has been spent on his own projects unfortunately. He takes joy in driving the girls back and forth to school, and looks forward to a trip up north to Concord right after Christmas. Other activities include honing his cooking skills, and internet-scouting various possible locales for the move to up north after the girls are in college.

Anne is now 13, and is in eighth grade at Carmenita Middle School in Cerritos. She is doing very well grade-wise, and is active in other activities there including leadership, and tutoring. There is lots of homework during the week, but enjoys her Sims computer game, and of late, oil painting during her brief periods of downtime. Anne also helps out at the local county library on Wednesdays after school reading to the little kids, and helping the librarian organizing things, etc. Her summer highlight was summer surf camp in Huntington Beach. Anne is quite adept in the water, and even got good enough to stand up on the board a few times. Next fall she enters high school. Yikes!

Emily is (until January) eleven years old, and is in sixth grade, her last year at Nixon Elementary. Next year she will take her sister’s place at Carmenita Middle. She enjoys a lot of the same things her sister does. Emily is Dad’s “sous chef” in the kitchen most nights, and has learned to make a mean hollandaise sauce! She enjoyed a week at horse camp this past summer in Bonsall, in northern San Diego County. This was her first long trip alone away from home, and she did great.

For the first time in many years (if ever) we took a family vacation together. After some deliberation we decided on a few days over on Catalina Island. The whole adventure can be perused in our summer update blog post. Suffice to say it was a relaxing time away from home, which we all needed. A nice change of scenery was a good thing.

Aside from some other omissions that may have escaped our frazzled brains, that was about it for 2009. We look forward to another busy year in 2010. We send our love to all of you, and hope to see many of you soon. Missy the dog would really like that too. She loves visitors, as do we all!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all,

The Allan Family
Chris Rita Anne Emily Missy

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