Family June 2014

Family June 2014
After Grandpa Manning's Funeral

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Christopher Jordan Manning June 11, 1984 - July 23, 2015

We are sad at Christopher's sudden and unexpected passing.  Here we break with tradition and post, in addition to our Christmas letters, Christopher's obituary, written by his sister Rachel, and the talks Rochelle and Richard gave at Christopher's funeral service, July 31, 2015 in Farmington, Utah, near the home of Rochelle's sister, Laurie Munson, which is not far from Salt Lake City where Chris lived.


Christopher Jordan Manning left this earth on July 22, 2015, taking his life, after a long battle with various forms of depression. In spite of these challenges, Chris lead a life full of love, adventure, ambition, humor, generosity, kindness, and selflessness. He loved and was loved deeply. His family and friends are heart-broken by his early departure, but find peace and hope in their faith and the belief that he is in the arms of his loved ones.

Chris was born on June 11, 1984 in Chicago, Illinois, where he and his family lived until he was five.  In 1989 his family moved to Provo, Utah where he made cherished friendships and found much happiness. His family returned to Chicago for his sixth grade year, during which he reconnected with old friends, and gained a strong bond with his siblings. When he was 13, his family relocated to New Canaan, Connecticut where he attended New Canaan High School and developed relationships with many people who would shape the way he felt about himself and his future. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and participated actively in the youth activities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Beyond high school, Chris studied Journalism and Communications at Utah State University and completed an MBA at the University of Utah – excelling in both programs. Upon completing his MBA he was recognized in the U of U Alumni magazine for his extraordinary work and creative ideas organizing fundraising for the University

Chris was passionate about his career and threw himself completely into every task he took on. Most recently, he worked for the start-up company, Power Practical, and was proud of the work he did with that team. Chris also specialized in establishing crowd-funding campaigns and was passionate about helping new, innovative companies succeed.

In stark contrast with the depression he battled, Chris had an incredible sense of humor, and was frequently making those around him laugh with crazy antics, hilarious home videos, quick wit and clever jokes. He was also extraordinarily kind, generous and tenderhearted, particularly to those whom he believed were in need of a friend or special attention.

Chris shared a special bond with his dog, Scout, whom he rescued 4 years ago. He took great pride in training and rehabilitating her from what seems to have been a rough past. He frequently stepped away from social outings and activities to make sure he had spent enough time with Scout. Together they took daily walks, road-tripped, hiked, and were nearly inseparable. 

He is survived by his mother and father, Richard and Rochelle Manning, his grandmother, Verda Page, his siblings, Rachel Allen (Shiloh), Arrin Barton (Marcus) and Benjamin Manning, his niece, Harper Allen and nephews, Samuel Allen, Jonah Barton and Magnus Allen and his beloved dog, Scout. He is preceded in death by his grandfathers, Elden Page and Leon Manning, and his grandmother, Gwen Manning.

The funeral will be held on Friday, July 31 at 5pm at the LDS Church located at 1885 N. Summerwood Drive in Farmington, Utah. A public viewing will precede the funeral in the same location, from 3 to 4:45pm. The burial will take place the next day in Pocatello, ID.

Rochelle’s Reflections on Christopher

Christopher entered this world with enthusiasm.  Our beautiful, smiley boy was always on the move.  He seemed to skip the walking stage and choose to run instead.  When he was 2 years old he had a hernia repair.  This didn’t slow him down, the night after having the surgery he was jumping on and off of couches, despite our encouragement that he should rest.  Chris loved running, climbing, fishing, legos, playing with his dog and being funny.  He often would be found doing fun happy dances with his own unique style.  He made us laugh.  When he was about three years old, we were visiting my parents and decided to join their congregation in an overnight campout.  We packed things up and arrived at the location.  Chris was so excited to get outside that as soon as the door to the van was opened, without looking at what was in front of him, he jumped out.  Unfortunately, he jumped onto some sharp sticks that were growing around the tree and one of them punctured through his cheek.  He was so heartbroken that we couldn’t stay for the campout.

A lot of the time he was happy.  And a lot of the time he was sensitive.  He took it really hard if he thought that we thought he might be doing something wrong.  I learned from Chris that life can sometimes be silly, full of adventure, often unpredictable and tender.

Chris was a great example of being accepting and loving.  In Chicago, we had a sweet friend named Jackie Shoto, who babysat Chris and Rachel occasionally.  Jackie’s skin color was black but Chris was certain that she was his grandmother.  Nothing could convince him otherwise. 

After moving to Utah, Chris was in elementary school.  We were reminded of how smart he was and what quick wit he had.  We also watched him feel loneliness and disappointment as he tried to navigate through school with attention and self-worth problems.  I learned empathy and learned to cry with my son as we both tried to figure out strategies to cope. 

On a happier note, Chris was an extraordinary athlete. Through the years he played soccer, t-ball, participated in track, football, lacrosse, and basketball.  In his early high school years, his rec basketball team was very successful, our friend, reminded us that they would put Chris in the game and everyone would wonder where this guy came from.  He was so fast, jumped so high, and played so well that he always took everyone by surprise. 

Then when Chris was a Sophomore in High School the youth from our Stake in Connecticut went to West Point Academy for a youth track event.  Chris had, just the day before, had surgery for a deviated septum and was cautioned to not exercise or overexert himself.  He wanted to go, but for some reason he didn’t want to wear shoes to the event.  I was fine with that since I thought not wearing shoes would keep him from being tempted to run.  I learned when he got home that not only did he participate in the events, but he took first place in the 100 meter dash, 2nd place in long jump and 3rd place in high jump.   He was passionate about working hard in sports and doing well. 

The summer before his Junior year he had to have surgery on his jaw to extend his lower jaw out further.  Chris handled the challenge of eating soft food like a champ.  Instead of losing weight as the surgeon expected, he proudly gained weight, with his idea to grind up hamburgers and lasagna in the blender.  His jaw on both sides had swelled so much that he called himself Mr. Peanuthead and he put together a website called “Does your head look like a peanut?”  He was so funny and optimistic in getting through weeks of not being able to talk or eat normally. 

I learned from Chris that life is more fun if you find humor while going through challenges. 

Chris was in a rock band for a short time, after teaching himself how to play the base guitar.  He later found a beautiful tender touch with playing the acoustic guitar.  And I loved to hear him play.

After graduating from college, Chris lived with us for a short time.   At that time I decided to join with my friends in a Biggest Loser contest to lose some weight.  We were in the kitchen together and he saw me reach for a cookie.  He said, ”Mom, you’ve been talking about wanting to lose weight for a long time.  If you’re not going to do it now, when are you going to do it?”  I realized he was right and, with that statement lingering in my head each day, I ended up winning the contest.  He taught me that if you really want to achieve a goal you should take it seriously.  I often saw lists or signs taped to the wall of goals that Chris had.

I have learned through Chris, that it takes a village to raise our children.  We have been extremely touched by the acts of love and interest in our son that we have found from incredible friends and family throughout his life.  It was a friend that reached out to him to encourage him to pursue an MBA at the University of Utah.  He and I talked often about how fortunate he was to have friends who were there for him.  He recognized your efforts and felt your love and would say “Yep, I am lucky guy.” Just the Sunday before he died, he told me he felt lucky to have current friends that helped him talk through his troubles.

Throughout Chris’s life and especially in the past few years, I have learned to be humble and have empathy at seeing him confront the challenges of depression.    I have grieved for him as he combated unhappiness.  And rejoiced with him as he had happy times.

I have learned the all-encompassing love of God as I have understood more fully God’s trust and hope for us to choose to follow him and the joy that can be felt when we choose him.

So now we are left with trying to understand this awful thing called Suicide.  So here we have more to learn from Chris. 

What I have learned so far is that I feel that Suicide wasn’t a choice he made, but a choice he happened onto when his pain was greater than his ability to cope.
Someone who had lost a loved one in a similar way had a clarifying experience—an experience that helped him to understand suicide a little better and led him to believe that it is really an expression of the deepest human desire to survive.

His family was watching a documentary on the 9/11 terrorist attacks and for the first time, he saw footage of someone jumping from the window of one of the twin towers.  All at once, he understood that the person was not jumping from the building to die, but rather to escape the intense and consuming flames.  Nobody would accuse that person of being selfish or of giving up on life.

Chris was inside a figurative burning building and he happened upon an exit.  His deep need to survive caused him to take it.  Many who turn to suicide are in physical, emotional or spiritual pain.  I don’t think they seek death.  Instead, they seek escape, so that their identity and intelligence can survive.

I share these thoughts not at all in support of suicide, but rather to encourage loving remembrance and complete forgiveness of those we have lost to it. And to inspire us to reach out and touch with love each person with whom we interact, for God’s love spread through many hands may quench a fire we cannot see.

Our faith, leads us to believe that Chris is in the present, that he now has actively moved onto a new journey where he can learn and progress.  We believe he is in the loving arms of an understanding God and with friends and family who have gone on before. 

Romans 8:38-39 states, “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, or things present, nor things to come.  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  This belief gives us great strength and hope for which we are so grateful.

We will miss Chris.  We love him so very deeply.  We are sorry that he has felt such pain and loss of hope.  I have felt him with me this week.  I know in my heart that he knows how much we all love him and is sad to see us all so sad.  In thoughtful regard for his life, we can continue to cherish those around us and love more.  This is my prayer.

Richard’s Reflections on Christopher

As I’m sure you can understand, I’ve had a lot of complicated thoughts and emotions over the past few days as we’ve approached this event.  As we’ve heard this afternoon, Christopher was a kind, soft hearted person who did a lot of good in the world. 

Let me offer some of my favorite memories:

1.        Christopher’s first Christmas (1984) taught me about the power that a little baby boy had offered the world nearly 2000 years before.  I remember one night in particular looking into his small, peaceful face while he lay sleeping in my arms, and a few lines from Robert Southwell’s poem coming poignantly to my mind:

This little babe so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold
All Hell does at his presence quake
Though he himself for cold do shake

In that season, because of my baby boy, I was taught a new and more complete understanding of the redeeming power of the Lamb of God.

2.        I remember the combination of bravery and tenderness he had as a very young boy.  On one of the several times when we were with him in the hospital, I remember trying to help him be brave under very hard conditions for a little boy.  There were many unknown people, many strange rooms, many unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.  During a pre-operative process they had to take him away from us for a brief time.  I remember seeing the effort to be brave on his young face as he walked hand in hand with a nurse, and as they came around a hospital partition, returning to where I was standing, he saw me.  As I went to him, he collapsed in tears into my arms as he couldn’t be brave any longer.

3.        When Chris was about 5 years old, I guess he wasn’t as happy with the name we had chosen for him, or for that matter with my name.  I guess he would have preferred the name Matt.  Many times, he would ask me to play a pretend game with him.  He would enthusiastically say, “Dad, you be Matt Sr. and I’ll be Matt Jr!”

4.        Chris played little-league baseball for only one year, when he was 9 years old.  He was not the largest of the kids, he didn’t really have the patience for the game and was not the most skilled player on his team.  However, in his most memorable game, he came to bat with the bases empty, with the score tied in the bottom of the game’s final inning.  I’m sure the coach hoped he could just get on base so a better player would have the chance to drive him in. To everyone’s surprise, however, he connected with a pitch and hit the ball far over the outfielder’s head.  The field did not have a home run fence, so the outfielders were able to chase down the ball as Chris excitedly ran the bases as fast as he could.  As he approached 3rd base, the coach signaled to him to stop, but he ran on.  As the ball was relayed from outfield to the infield and then on to home base, Christopher slid into home and was called safe.  He had hit a home run, (which, by the way, is one more than I ever hit in my 4 years as a little-leaguer) and he had won the game.  His team was ecstatic; Christopher’s face beamed with pride.

5.        Chris had a sharp mind.  When we lived in Chicago during his 6th grade year, our family was assigned to speak in Sacrament meeting in the Hyde Park Ward.  Chris prepared his own talk and although I don’t remember what the subject of his talk was, I do remember sitting on the stand watching from behind as he stood confidently and read his talk, and I remember seeing the face of Cathy Stokes, a dear friend, sitting near the front of the chapel as she listened.  She looked with intent, and apparent amazement at the thoughts and capable delivery of boy who in her experience was just a funny little guy.  

I also remember many conversations with him while he was in graduate school (and since then) about the ideas he had for new businesses and ways he could use new technologies and new ideas to help businesses succeed.  He always had sensible answers to my questions and gave me a clear sense that he was just as talented as any other young man I saw succeeding in the world of business.

6.        I have many other memories of fun times with my son.  Just a couple more:

a.         He had a mature sense of humor and enjoyed listening to NPR programs that most kids wouldn’t find interesting.  Whenever we happened to be driving on a Saturday morning, he would want to listen to Click and Clack the Tappet Brothers talk about car repair; and he had a lot of fun with Prairie Home Companion. Once on a drive up Provo Canyon with just the two of us when Chris was in about 5th grade, we heard a segment on Prairie Home Companion of The Lives of the Cowboys, with Lefty and Dusty.  There was a conversation between the two of them about why Canadian Geese are called Canadian if they spend so much time in the US.  It was just a clever marketing ploy, the other responded, because people like Canada more than the US.  Chris thought that was really funny and we laughed about it many times since then.

b.        I enjoy playing golf more than Chris did, but he did play with me occasionally.  Because of his impatience for the game, he would look for different ways to entertain himself. Once, several years ago, he decided to play an entire 9 holes with just the putter.  It was an adventure, especially off the tee.  He would take a full swing and I feared the putter would break as he teed off.  It didn’t, fortunately, but I did get the message that playing golf was not the way he wanted to spend time with me.

Another set of thoughts that have come to me involve the more difficult issues surrounding Chris’ life.  We’ve not heard a lot about those, and this is not where I want to dwell, but accepting those and recognizing what they mean are important to coming to terms with Chris’ life and his passing.

In our church family in Connecticut, there was a family who had a boy who was born with a fairly severe disability.  As a result of his condition, he was physically small and fragile, and it was understood that he was unlikely to live into adulthood.  This boy was greatly loved by his parents, his siblings, the church community and others that knew him.  As I recall, when he was about 10 years old, this little boy passed away from his condition.  His father said something profound at his son’s funeral that has remained with me, and that has been the foundation of how I have dealt with the complications of Christopher’s life and now his passing. 

This little boy’s father said that over the course of his son’s brief life, people had often expressed sympathy for his son’s condition and the difficulties it presented for this man and his family.  His response was that he truly did not feel that there was misfortune in his son’s condition, and there was no need for sympathy.  He said that, on the contrary, he felt sorry for those that did not have the opportunity to raise a child with special needs because of the blessing his son had been in his life.  He had learned so much from life with his son about love, compassion, innocence, beauty and grace, that without those experiences he would have been a lesser man.  He was grateful to God that he had been given the opportunity to be father to such a son.   

Over the years of Chris’ life, and now at this point, I’ve at times thought that we also have had the blessing of having a special needs son.  Now, Christopher’s affliction was not easy to see – and given how talented he was, most people did not and would not have seen his need.  However, the feelings of self-doubt and depression that he lived with, and hid from most, were deeper and more recurring than any of us really knew.  I know he felt great pain many times, but I was always optimistic that a breakthrough would happen and he would be able to see and appreciate his great worth.  Rochelle and I, and others said and did what we could to try to sooth that pain when we knew he was feeling it.

A friend of mine recently wrote that depression is a disease as fatal as cancer. Many people succumb to it, as did Chris.  If circumstances were such that Chris had succumbed to cancer, we would be here with somewhat different feelings, but we would be here nonetheless. 

In this life, Christopher’s disability, as I understand it, was an inability to completely understand the love that his family, his friends and his Father in Heaven had for him.  He was a deeply feeling young man, and in the depth of his feelings he was often unable to see the large picture.  He was deeply affected by the here and now.  He was in many ways deaf to the whisperings of the still small voice coming from his Father in Heaven, and blind to the peace and joy available to him from the love of Christ. 

As I reflect on Chris’ life, and on his passing, I am moved to the conclusion that my son has more than a past. He has a present in the loving arms of his grandparents and other friends and family that have passed before him.  He has been embraced by the love of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and now, freed from the disabilities that he carried through his mortal life, he sees and hears, and understands that love in a way he was never able to in this life. 

I am confident in my belief of eternal progression, and I am persuaded that there will be a time, in another realm, in which I will once again embrace my son, tell him of my love for him, and that he will be able to hear and understand that love and the peace that comes from the love that flows from our Father in Heaven.

As a result of Chris’ life, I am moved by a desire to be less judgmental, to criticize less, to love more.  As he concludes the Book of Mormon, Moroni entreats us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart” that we may be filled with the love of Christ, that we may be like Him.  I pray for that, and hope that the lasting grace of a loving Savior will help me show a greater measure of goodness to those around me.

Finally, I, with Rochelle, am truly grateful for the outpouring of support, friendship and love that has come from so many people we have known across the spectrum of our lives.  I am humbled to know that Chris had so many good friends, and that so many people recognized his talents and his goodness.  I am grateful that he touched the lives of many for good.  

I also want everyone to know that I love Christopher, as does Rochelle and all of our family.  And I know that Chris loves me.  And I am, and always will be, proud to be Christopher Manning’s father.             

Sunday, December 14, 2014

XMAS 2014 Letter and Translation

Each paragraph in white text is as was included in the letter sent out with our card.  Following each is a rough translation in blue text.

Wow, that was fast. Richard must have voted for Pedro. The vampire facilitated visits to my blackfish, but not the one on CNN, where, among other things, he heard some inspiring tunes tripping down a Moorish alleyway of sorts, which caused him to want to imitate the really big wheel cyclist only to learn that it’s a lot harder than it looks, where he saw that Germany is not confined to a place on the map, and neither is England by the way  (did that kid really want pudding?), nor Spain; to that place where they are still working on that big holy family to learn that gaudy is not merely a decorating style, well, actually, they aren’t one in the same; one was around long before the other; they don’t have the Olympics every year but that event isn’t in the Olympics anyway – at least he tried, but he was so mean!; there is also one of those places under  the Y. Richard realized he needed a formaldehyde detector very late in the year (thank you Facebook friends! – good thing you can buy them on Amazon), does anyone have a recommendation for the best type?  But, voting for Pedro does have lots of benefits, even if ultimately becoming an orphan isn’t one of them; which under the right circumstances is not so bad, in fact, a good thing. Being platinum isn’t what it used to be, Mr. Tin Man. He also realized that time isn’t necessarily monotonic, and that it can be mind-expanding and entertaining to contemplate and practice that realization. The bucket list still has three – maybe next year – and the nonsense could go on forever, especially given the nonmonotonicity of time, but probably shouldn’t. When the hive is empty there is less noise so the drone can drone on, you know – good thing? Vampires, unlike pirates, aren’t real, but they can do good things for you. Wear some pants on your head for style, he said. Can anyone help him write a book about hats? Evidently not.

Richard noticed when he wrote 12/13/14 on a check and realized it was the last sequential date for some time to come. Probably last in his lifetime, no? Time flies whether you are having fun or not, but he is (we are) indeed having fun. All his wildest dreams really have come true - well almost all
 : ). Work is engaging and demanding, but  he likes that, and likes the people he works with. Rich and Roch managed to get away to Barcelona and Mallorca. Rich was in Barca on business and Roch tagged along for a few extra days. Barca is a beautiful and fun city, with things like Sagrada Familia being more impressive than expected, and lots of other interesting stuff. Mallorca is cool, but not quite Hawaiiesque; We went there for a weekend and found enclaves from various European countries, dominated by their language and vacation styles. We also accumulated lots of miles visiting existing and new grandchildren in Montana and Walnut Creek, and Rich reclaimed platinum status on Delta, but not Diamond, alas, which is where the real perks lie. In Walnut Creek one visit, we were on hand when Arrin delivered Jonah Carl Baron on March 25 in California. He is a bundle of energy and a cute little boy, often making everyone tired because he's too curious to want to sleep for long. Hopefully he's learning that skill now. Harper and Sam are also tons of fun - cute and smart as can be and no doubt tired of having pictures taken of them all the time. The entire family got together for Thanksgiving in Walnut Creek and most of us ran the Turkey Trot 5K Thanksgiving morning. Rich and Roch alternated pushing the running stroller with Harper and Sam aboard. During the race, upon encountering a group of about 5 high school age girls walking not so fast side by side, taking up most of the running path and asking them if they could let him through, Rich heard one of them step aside, but say, "that's so mean!"  Not certain she was talking about him, but it was California, you know, even if not SoCal.  Well, that's enough of that. On a more somber note, both of Rich's parents passed away this year, his father in June (on Father's Day) and his mother in October. They lived long, wonderful and blessed lives and it was a sweet experience to celebrate their lives with friends and family.   Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas (the last three states on Rich's bucket list) will have to wait for 2015. Rich has a book about a hat that he wants to write, but nobody will help him. Maybe that means they have more sense than he does. But he is pretty good at hat making, just check out some of those photos.

Rochelle looked way up for nearly three hours and said, “Wow, I am really short!” When did that happen? Was it in 2001? She never got into that one so much, but mind expansion is good. How much did she like Seals and Croft? I guess we’ll have to see, but for now, it’s over the rainbow. Sprogs are good enough to keep you busy a lot of the day, or three, she thinks, those of others’ that is. Those of her own sprogs are better in two week increments. Rocket ships are fascinating, especially when they are really water towers, among other misunderstandings. Talent comes in many forms. Some people can sing. Other people can dance. Still other people can be on TV. Did she vote for Pedro?  It isn’t Oahu after all – good thing. Did she want to go to the Olympics, where Rochelle proved her bravery and nearly ended up out there with Will Robinson – good thing the robot was nearby and was that guy really like that? Well, why did they put nuts in that small river and why is the large firmament so cold? Probably because that’s where the best sprogs are – good thing. Where’s Tom Sawyer when you need him? Is he at the beach in the Old Dominion, or is it a Commonwealth? Good thing Martha came along; Washington? It’s never too late for a little education in construction techniques, nursing or elephant riding, or for getting everyone together at the old stomping ground, even if it gets really dark. Is that the Air Force? Real pirates aren’t cute. 

We also went to a few movies, among them Interstellar, which made quite an impression on us. Rochelle in particular, because the only seats left were on the front row of an Imax theater. We both came away with sore necks, but impressed with the show. Rich tried his hand at making a musical instrument, appealing to Rochelle's cousin and master maker, to help make a mandolin for Rochelle's birthday - it's the thought that counts. This was inspired by a lute player we heard on Mallorca. Rich being naive, thought the two might sound somewhat similar.  Wrong.  We spent  a couple of weeks (or so) of the summer at family reunions in Utah, with Rochelle being in charge of one of her family's parties. Lots of work, but a good day with Rich being able to throw water on people like the good old days. Roch almost got lost in Barcelona one day when she was venturing out on her own but found a woman in a grocery store that spoke English so she made it back on the right train. That's good.  Later, Rich heard a story of a wife of one of the people at his meeting that had been assaulted on the street in the city. Good thing for that robot. Rochelle spearheaded staining a new 6' fence that surrounds our back yard. Rich's initial estimate was that it would be a 1/2 day job. Wrong, by a factor of about 20. Fortunately Roch did most of the work. Nobody came by to help. We also went to the beach in southern Virginia with Rachel and family, toppling both Harper and Sam in the surf, which was more fun than they realized at the time. The 12 and 13 year old girls from our church (whom Rochelle teaches) talked us into taking them to the same beach one Saturday. Fun, but exhausting - none of them is named Martha. Rochelle was also recruited to teach part time at a local pre-school, sound familiar? She's very popular. Rochelle spent three weeks in India with Rising Star Outreach, working with people afflicted with Leprosy. It was a world rocking experience, leaving her never to be the same. Among other things, she, helpped dig a latrine, and rode an elephant. 

Rachel, Shiloh, Harper, Sam and the other brother: How close is 5.5/9 to 1.0? Most of the year spent tripping big time, then off to Bobcat land finally. Cool kids: fun, smart, cute, really nice. You have to be there to understand. How did the whales swim? How about sea lions? Does that cross really fit? At least the dog is the same color, but the drive is longer now. Snow, don’t go to China, or Nigeria.

We are so happy that Rachel is expecting a baby boy in April.  Rachel's family spent most of their year in Great Falls, Montana, but recently moved to Bozeman, Montana.  They really do have great children.  They had a chance to walk the hills of Wales on a vacation.  When at home they are both occasionally found at a Cross Fit gym.  Shiloh had work assignments that he thought were going to take him overseas, but they ended up not happening. 

Chris and Kasey: Swimming with sharks to Havana? How about being a Maverick and building a bridge? Stand next to giants and don’t swing. Cook spaghetti and charge a cell phone in the wilderness that is. Still on the farm? Probably not for long. Make a battery out of soap. Can they really do that? It depends how clean you want to get. Do they want pictures of that?

Chris got a job with a company called Power Practical - a startup in Salt Lake that was on Shark Tank recently and made a deal with Mark Cuban. The company makes a cooking pot that generates electricity and Chris has been setting up tests to see how well it will work as a primary power source for people in developing countries who don't have power in their homes - he also helped make the prototype for this battery and wrote the words for the kickstarter page:

Kasey got a job with an engineering firm in Dallas and goes to a lot of Maverics games. She's very happy there and the plan is that Chris will join her there in the next few months. 

Arrin, Marcus and Jonah: Tried to sneak that past the whale. What kind of dog is that? Mind the gap, as they say across the pond, but that pond is really big. Investing, but not in the bank. Mind the gap, I said. Funny that you can see the mountains better from the creek than from the peninsula, and the train ride is shorter, and grandmas live closer, one more-so than the other.

Arrin and Marcus had a son named Jonah. Jonah is a happy, energetic boy who loves the water and their dog, Juno, who has an unusual look. Marcus works for Deloitte, and often travels internationally for work. His passport now has stamps from Portugal, Germany, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, Brazil, The Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. Arrin is no longer working in finance and is now working at Gap inc. in Inventory Management where she's found a work-life balance. They live in Walnut Creek, a train ride away from San Francisco and a short drive away from Grandma and Grandpa Barton.    

Ben: Doesn’t look like he carries a ring in his pocket. How many economists can fit into one family? Good thing there wasn’t any oncoming traffic. He wasn’t on TV; studying too hard. Visits to the vampire provide a little pocket change. Say cheese, and don’t mind that there’s a bush in the way. Philanthropy fits on the map, if you can find it. Profit is OK with me, him?

Ben doesn't have a girlfriend, and dabbled with the idea of studying economics at BYU. After a long night and a day on the lake with some friends, he fell asleep at the wheel while driving on the highway, luckily there wasn't oncoming traffic and escaped just having had an expensive nap. He wasn't on TV in the student section at the basketball game because he was at the library preparing for an exam. He's been working with a company that tracks the locations of international aid projects, providing the information in a format that can be easily accessed for researchers and those responsible for allocating aid funding. He's also been taking photos as a side-profession, but we think he should charge more than he does; you can see his work at

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Letter 2013 with Rough Translation

“Excuse me, are you from Namgoong?” the unknown lady in the lobby of the building asked.  “No, but why do you ask?” he said.  “Oh, just curious I guess.  I thought you looked a bit like that man on The Sound of Music and it is New Year’s Day, after all” she said.  “Ah, I understand” he said, but did he really?  Rich puzzled over that brief conversation for several weeks.  Ultimately, he told Rochelle about it and said it might be a sign that they should leave the hi-rise living behind and look for a house to buy.  The Sound of Music has long been a favorite of Rochelle’s so she immediately started looking at properties in Austria.  Having identified one in Salzburg and another in Vienna that looked appealing, she made offers on each, subject to strict contingencies.  Vienna, won out, but the contingency was that it relocate to Virginia to shorten Rich’s commute. The contingency was satisfied so there we are. Construction zone city, but without five sides, has a slightly longer commute, but is quite tolerable.  And there is the nearby jungle and wildlife sanctuary.  And so we tinker a bit, but not nearly as much as the past two houses.  We don’t have a farm, you know, so we made sure we had our two-year supply of water.  He took note as he wrote 11/12/13.  Rich and Roch hopped a bicycle built for about 1.75 (given depreciation) but they rounded to 2 and went rolling up and down the path.  The weather, beach and scenery were nice; they looked but didn’t find Amelia even though they nearly crashed more than once.  He was driving.  There was some fun involved, but also lots of driving.  It probably is a good thing in the end that she didn’t really want to see the sun come up over Santa Monica Boulevard. Nevertheless, always the more.  Why doesn’t anyone say that?  They say lots of other things.  How about doing the windy city dance and having real deep dish pizza?  It really does get too cold there, global warming notwithstanding, or something without sitting. It’s a good thing Rochelle at least doesn’t tweet.  She and Rich do the T-24, or 23 sometimes – occasionally all the way to 25.  A little rounding isn’t so bad, as demonstrated on the beach; we don’t need to splash.  Children everywhere really love the music, but mostly love feeling loved, and she is a star.

You know, when the kids have all moved out, there isn’t as much to write about so you have to make up more stuff.  Actually, nobody asked about Namgoong or any other such place (actually, there isn't such a place), or the Sound of Music, but there were some rather odd interactions with fellow residents in our otherwise nice high-rise apartment building in Pentagon City.  So after about 6 months of apartment living, Rochelle and I decided to buy a house.  Despite many people urging us to live in the city, we settled on a new house in Vienna, Virginia which is a suburb directly west of the city.  We relocated in March so if you didn't get our change of address card, drop us a line.  The commute is very civilized and tolerable – about 30 minutes by train – and so far predictable and easy to do.  It’s nice to have a yard and a place to tinker, but having a new house means there isn’t much I can do to get my do-it-yourself fix.  We’ve still managed to find some small things to do and reasons to go to Home Depot.  The town has many 1950’s era houses that are being knocked down and rebuilt.  We are in one of those, and have new houses being built on either side of us, and one directly across the street that will be knocked down soon.  So we live in a construction zone. There is a bamboo grove in the neighbor’s yard that houses a large flock of somewhat chatty birds in the evening, and some other local not-so wildlife keeps it from being too quiet.  Most of the travel was to visit children and grandchildren so no globetrotting to report, but we did spend an afternoon riding a somewhat dilapidated tandem bike up and down the beach in Santa Monica, which was fun and educational.  Following the tradition in which Rochelle was raised, we also took two trips to see BYU’s football team lose at UVA and at Notre Dame, the latter on an exceptionally cold and snowy day.  We salvaged the trip by having deep dish spinach and mozzarella pizza at Edwardo’s.  If you haven’t ever had it, you don’t know what deep dish pizza really is – and shouldn’t pretend to know – sorry.  We spent some time doing the Insanity workouts and T25, but our enthusiasm for the latter is limited.  We’re just not young or fast enough.  One day at church I asked a 10 year old girl how old she thought I was.  75 was her answer.  So much for T25.  We’ve gone back to running.  Rochelle has had some very good experiences teaching young children in local elementary and pre-schools on a part-time basis.  She takes an autoharp and a ukulele with her and charms the kids with her tunes.  After one such visit, an 8 year old boy asked if he could “connect” with her online.  She broke the kid’s heart, I’m sure.  She does have an extraordinary talent at helping children feel loved, and the kids love her for it.   

Rachel, Sam, Harper, Shiloh, Atti.  Only one is a dog.  Harper is getting ready for the Kentucky Derby and Sam is about ready for the marathon.  Neither is very close to the triathalon yet, sprint or otherwise.  Living in Montana usually means that there is a tent.  And there is always Grandpa Cowboy with pony rides and other fragrant experiences.  You’ll have to check in with Rachel to see how she feels about tucking and rolling to avoid the face plant. She is brave, and her kids are remarkably good at being have, in addition to being fun and smart and pleasant, mostly, and tall completely; maybe they wear Shiloh’s jeans.  The words are there but not the pictures; Grandpa wishes he could draw.

Rachel and family are still in Great Falls, MT.  We’ve seen them a few times and Rachel and kids came to spend some weeks with us, but we would like to see more of them still.  Fortunately, their other grandparents are close and have lots of fringe benefits to offer – such as a Shetland Pony for Harper to ride, and lots of other cattle auction-related activity.  Sam is a walker/runner but neither Harper nor Sam are much for actual swimming yet.  Rachel accompanied Rich and Rochelle and Roch’s family on a mountain biking trip near Yellowstone and Rachel went over the bars on the way down.  Fortunately she tucked her head and rolled, managing not to be hit by other riders or rocks, etc.  That turned out to be fortunate as two other riders in our group ended up with pretty serious head injuries taking similar spills.  Harper and Sam are both taller than average, so they didn’t get Rochelle’s genes.  They are also very funny, smart and cute.  Harper is adept at politely explaining why things should be done her way.  Sam is learning how to manipulate things in his own quiet way but both are very well behaved.  Rich penned the text of a children’s book based on one visit, but can’t draw well enough to make it real. 

Arrin, Marcus, Juno and 5/9.  Only one is a dog, and the lady of the house/apartment doesn’t evidently believe much in rounding.  The bank required a lot of investment; so will a sprog. One of the 3.556 is lanky and curly, kind of like Marcus, who does the run, splash and roll.  He also does Y-Gnacio regularly, and maybe even goes to Manning’s occasionally – he’s in the right part of the world often enough.  By April, there should be no more need for rounding, some people really are named Gomez, or Smedly, but nobody is really named Enzyme as far as we can tell, so that’s out, so is Chocolate Zane.

Arrin and Marcus moved from Mountain View to Walnut Creek, CA midway through the year.  They got a puppy (Australian Shepherd/Standard Poodle mix) named Juno.  Juno is a lanky dog who loves being with Arrin and Marcus. Arrin and Marcus take her to the dog park often and she is pretty well behaved.  Arrin also expect to add to the grandchildren in March of next year, but is showing absolutely no externally evident signs of that.  She hasn’t been sick, and the ultrasound confirms that there is a little Marcus cooking, but you wouldn’t know it.  After a little more than a year, she decided the investment banking world wasn’t for her so she is looking for a more family friendly place to work.  She seems to have some interesting prospects, but no deal yet.  Marcus is doing well at his job, traveling a great deal to Asia and other places (Mannings, by the way, is a pharmacy chain in Hong Kong), and earning lots of frequent flyer miles.  He also runs marathons and triathlons regularly.  I don’t understand how he manages that.  They are stumped for names for the bun, but don’t seem very impressed by Rich’s efforts to help on that front.

Chris, Kasey, Banjo, Scout.  Only two are dogs, but one was an Eagle.  Where does he live?  Sodium Chloride Big Hydrogen Dioxide Body, The Old Dominion (that was a really big storm that wrecked that game), That City That Might Be In Maine?  Take your pick, depending.  He got the red to go with the dark blue and hopes to add plenty of green to go with them.  He talks to a lot of people, helps with the homework and cleans up some, especially after the Scout. Kasey spends a lot of time with Gru, Cmu and Gre. She's almost done being red, and is deciding what color to be next and for how long. Banjo is better than Scout, but that depends on whom you ask.

Christopher finished his MBA at the U of U in June and has moved from SLC to Virginia to Oregon and back to SLC over the months since.  He was profiled nicely in the Eccles School Alumni Magazine and has had several interesting job prospects, but hasn’t found the right one yet.  He is doing part time work for a couple of start-ups while he continues the search.  He and his dog, Scout, traveled the country together, with Kasey (Chris’ girlfriend) and Banjo (the other dog) staying put in SLC.  Kasey has been very busy at school and working as a nanny. In May she will have completed her degree in civil engineering and is applying to PhD programs now.  Scout and Banjo are relatively good dogs who listen to their owners most of the time. 

Ben.  None is a dog.  He’ll be taking off the tag before 14, actually probably on 17. He’s been quiet for so long that it isn’t clear what Harper will think when he starts talking.  How will he adjust to the cold, the snow and the letter on the mountain?  Will they still use the same colors, the same light, the same numbers? Will it be an all-boys school? I guess he’ll just have to find in or out?

Elder Ben Manning returns from his 2 year mission for the LDS church on December 17.  A full-sized cutout picture of him has been standing in the corner of our house for the past two years and it will be great to see him and have him home in the flesh for a few weeks before he goes back to Provo to continue school at BYU.  Harper (remember she was just barely 2 when he left) has commented on Ben’s cutout by saying, “Ben is being quiet, he’s on a mission” – funny.  Ben will continue working on a photography degree and thinking about other majors to go with it to broaden his appeal on the job market someday.  Will he find a girlfriend on a campus with lots of girls his age out on missions of their own?  Stand by till next year.
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The Green version is really boring, but Merry Christmas anyway.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

XMAS Letter 2012 with Rough Translation

Twenty dozen.  Richard drove halfway around the world without getting wet once.  If you check out Google maps, you’ll see what a feat that is.  He stopped just outside the nation’s capital but goes inside most days.  Halfway up the mountain was good enough for a first try, and the trees really are tall.  The roof is also a lot taller than it used to be, the lawn doesn’t need mowing, and the pool is shared with any number of his closest friends.  At least he doesn’t have to clean it or worry about a bear taking a swim with him, but there was the Binjabed Man.  He hasn’t exercised in about 203 years, but he keeps saying he will start again soon.  If you lose a ton on your house, you don’t have as much to lose elsewhere.  We’ll see if he dies first or becomes an expert.  When the kids are all gone, there isn’t as much to write about, but who advises him on his wardrobe? 

2012.  Richard took a new job at an economics consulting firm in Washington DC beginning the end of January and drove back to NJ most weekends until August when the house was finished and sold  (big loss) and Rochelle moved down to DC to join him.  They are living in a nice hi-rise apartment building for the time being just outside the District in Arlington, VA.  The commute on the Metro is wonderful and a nice shopping mall is just across the street so XMAS shopping is pretty easy.  He and Rochelle went to visit Arrin's in laws this summer and they took him biking halfway up Mount Diablo.  He didn't die, but will someday.   Harper and family enjoyed coming to the building to swim in the pool and otherwise enjoy the amenities while their house was under construction in advance of their sale - more below.  Driving on the weekends put him in a sedentary habit that he hasn't shaken yet.  The new job is good, but his first gig as a testifying expert ended with the client winning the case before he testified. Harper provided frequent insightful commentary on his clothing before moving away.  Once when I walked into her house wearing a new shirt, Harper (then about 2 1/2) looked up and said, "nice shirt Grandpa."  I was impressed.

Rochelle didn’t kill or do bodily harm to anyone but herself, but she was tempted.  At least we sold the house before Sandy came to visit.  She vows never to do that again.  Irene and previous visitors left enough of an impression.  The basement was cleaned out, the leftovers were sold on the webbernet, and it was full time grandma for a about a quarter until Hanna called and took them all away.  Does she want a house?  If so, where?  Does she want to sing or cook again?  She can barely resist the temptation to eat those greens before the go into the machine thing.  The party was the most fun she had all year, and then there was that guy without a head in the magazine that could also play the drums.  The pomp was sufficient for the circumstance, and there weren’t leftovers to take out in the snow.   

Rochelle spent much of the year overseeing yet another remodeling project with many frustrations with our builder and subcontractors.   A project that was supposed to start in July (2011) and end before Christmas, began in September (2011) and came to a merciful end in July (2012) just in time to put the house on the market.  At least we finished with the same contractor we started with - small consolation.  We will not undertake a major remodel again.  The hurricaines and other storms that came through during the year proficed interesing opportunities to serve others and to see the destructive power of nature.  She was glad we were gone before Sandy came along.  After spending most of her life downsizing - selling and giving away much of the stuff that fills a big house - selling the house in August and moving to the Arlingotn, VA to join Richard in a 2 BR apartment, she spent a lot of time being grandma to Rachel's kid(s).  Shortly after arriving in Arlington, however, she learned that Rachel and Shiloh were going to be moving to Montana.  She was sad that day.  Now she tries to decide whether to buy a house or stay in an apartment, whether to eat food or drink vegetable juice, whether to sing or dance like a psychotic.  Earlier in the year, in addition to doing the house, she did the wedding planner thing for Arrin and Marcus.  Multiple venues, but it was a lot of fun, and better planned (especially the weather) than Rachel's SLC reception so not so much food left over.

Rachel got a Ram Sam Sam now to go with the Binjabed Man.   Oh, Shiloh got a call from Hanna so away they ran from the grandparents.  Probably because they wouldn’t adopt the dog.  The Ram and Harp are pretty entertaining.  The Harp can’t get Rochelle to guess what, but she knows when her birthday is and last we heard, she wants to go home now.   The Ram eats and grows, is sparing with words, but does get that goolie goolie type look on his face from time to time.  Rapunzel and Eugene got some candy, but the hair was itchy.  
July 5 Rachel gave birth to Samuel Frederick Allen.  Sam and Harper (the Binjabed Man is Harper's version of Gingergread Man - long story).  Shortly after the grandparents relocated, Shiloh got an opportuinty to transfer to Montana, which he (and Rachel) obviously accepted.  Harper is learning to tell jokes, pretty funny.  She just turned 3.  Sam still looks kind of goofy, like most baby boys do, but in a charming way.  He's tall and eats much.  Wants to stand, but not yet.  Harper is in love with all things princess.  She has several, of which her favorite seems to be Rapunzel, whom she dressed up like for Halloween.  Euguene is a useful tag along.  The kids are very entertaining.  The parents are good too, but not nearly as interesting to talk about.  They live in Great Falls Montana; we don't.   

Chris spent the summer flying the alphabet.  The rest of the year, he did other stuff, like played with his dogs, typed on a computer, talked to people and ate bread.  Working on the railroad, working all day long, working, working, working, working, working, working, working!  Pancakes cooked in cabbage juice, those guys just think it’s swell, but if you ever eat the stuff, you’ll think you’ve gone to Toledo.  Which football team is really better, U or Y?  Does he know Tommy Smothers and e-commerce?  What’s the negotio?
Chris is now in the second year of his MBA at the U of Utah.  He had an interesting summer internship at a financial holding company.  He adopted a second dog, worked hard at school and at the internship and worked and worked more.  In addition to the official student duties, he worked on some volunteer things that have benefited the university and community, and he put together a football game between U of U and BYU MBAs.  If I recall, the red won, and there was typical pleasantness and good sportsmanship on all sides - did you ever see a church basketball game?  The first game ended (2011?); that was good.  The second (2012) was snowed out - at least until it could be rescheduled.  He has an intersting idea for starting a new business.  We're all excited to see his enthusiasm and anxious to see how it goes!!!
Arrin became a Barton, but not a Dumb one.  She crosses that bridge when she gets to it.  Riding to the top of the mountain in the rain, not the chocolate type.  Why doesn’t Marcus have a head in that picture?  Is that really her father’s daughter?  That’s what being an econ major will do for you.  How’s the sour dough out there?  Is there anytime to play in the sun after the work is done?  Seems not so much.  She always did want to go to Crete, but the rattlesnake wasn’t part of the plan.  She made the party lots of fun for all. 

March 23, Arrin married Marcus Barton and relocated with him to the Bay Area after graduation (she in Econ) from BYU in the spring.  She works in Palo Alto and he in San Jose or San Francisco depending on what is going on at the firm he works for.  She drives across various Bay Area bridges from time to time.  Do you know their names?  One of them is the Dumbarton Bridge.  She rode to the top of Mount Diablo in a driving rain storm, she was put on the cover of the BYU Bridal Guide - quite a nice glossy photo - greatly resembling her father : ), who thought she ought to be on the cover of the Econ Department Magazine too : ).  She works very hard and long hours.  Her parents wonder if they would be able to do it if they were her.  They had a nice honeymoon cruise and she was attacked by a baby rattlesnake outside the in-laws' house - thank goodness for thick jeans, which saved her from being bit.  And she made the wedding reception(s) a ton of fun for all.

Ben is in the burbs of Sin City.  He’s not oldest, and not youngest, so kind of like older the way the dragon was named.  He wears a tie, he carries books and doesn’t get paid.  Learning a lot and helping people is a great deal.  He appears to love what he’s doing, and so do we.  Snail mail occasionally, email most of the time.  Give us another year or so and a couple of phone calls.

Ben is serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in the Nevada, Las Vegas mission.  We get weekly email updates and occasional letters.  He is having a wonderful experience.  We're all happy for that and look forward to talking to him on Christmas day. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Xmas" letter 2011 with translation

OK, OK, OK, so you didn’t get this letter in 2011. We understand the disappointment. Hopefully your misfortune wasn’t compounded by being in an earthquake, being flooded out, having your dog get stuck in a vat of glue or burning your toast in the morning. Who liked eleven anyway? Did we even go on vacation? On to 12 we go, and if you are lucky, you won’t be in a hurricane and you’ll receive another fine letter in December of this year. As always, Rochelle wants you to see the translation at: it should be there in a few days.

As they often do, things got crazy toward the end of the year, but this year crazier than ever before so we just didn't write a Christmas letter. We also didn't have a Christmas tree in our house, and Richard had to stop Rochelle from selling our artificial tree online. We didn't go on a vacation that anyone can remember, but we did spend a week at the beach in Delaware, and we drove the length of North Dakota, and we had lots of fun in various places, including home. We had lots of interesting weather events during the year, including a hurricane, major rain storms that flooded areas around us, but fortunately not us, an early heavy snow that dropped some limbs off trees, etc. We were able to join others in the Mormon Helping Hands effort to clean up after these events and found that interesting and enjoyable. Some of the homes we worked on had been in 10 feet of standing water for extended periods. Sheetrock and other building materials don't do well in such conditions. If you are reading this, you have already made Rochelle happy.

The walls creaked, the desk kind of wobbled and he got kind of dizzy. Later he heard the bells were ringing in DC.     The new C guy sent a video.   As a consequence, Richard joined the 9% in November and then got on the phone, the train and the airplane. Lots of meetings. Two people named Mike, but what happened to the other three?   Come February, will it be Idaho Avenue without a coat having fun until the sun comes up, or taking the risk of being buried yet again in white, this time following the Snow?  Let’s hope he likes it. In the process he got a close up look at the 99% and wondered what they wanted. Who needs a vacation when you can spray the guests in the back yard? Who needs to pay too much for a house when you can dump money into a renovation? Did the Archer shoot at you?

Richard felt the earthquake from his office at the major pharma company located in Whitehouse Station, NJ (he has learned that he shouldn't put company names in his blog so he doesn't). For as minor as the shaking was it was interesting that it made him queasy, almost nauseous. Earlier in the year, the company's new CEO announced a new round of cutbacks and corporate restructuring. Richard naively thought he would be safe, being the only one doing what he did, and having been recruited to the company just over a year before to do just what he was doing... WRONG. The day before Thanksgiving was his last at that company so he started calling people he knew, traveling a lot talking about new opportunities, etc. and landing some interesting offers. He also got a close up look at some of the "occupy" encampments. Interesting, to say the least. The most interesting jobs turned out to be in Santa Monica, CA and Washington, DC. He chose one in the latter - he'll be a partner in an economics consulting firm in DC. Let's hope we don't get stuck in the snow down there like we did this past year. We hope Rachel and Shiloh don't tire of us being too close. Moving there also reveres a long trend of a friend from grad school who formerly had followed Richard to three places of school/employment/residence. This friend (nameless out of respect for privacy) also works at the firm. Richard started writing the novel he has long thought he would write and learned that it is a lot harder to write fiction than he realized. He decided to just stick to nonsense - his standard genre.

Rochelle doesn’t remember the first half of the year because she was up before the sun, but not after June, for which she is grateful – even if the building didn’t start until September. She got to see the harp more often that way. She really must like dust and mud, and sheetrock soaked in water, and the sound of hammers. She is really not a hoarder; how much stuff can she sell? Sing a solo, do a dance for old folks – no problem. Make spaghetti? Well, that’s another matter. Decorate a Christmas tree? Forget about it. Let the trucks keep you up at night? No thanks. Some challenges are difficult, and the accompanying miracles small and large difficult to describe. Sometimes listening to your husband is actually a good idea. Let’s hope they are done before February ends.

Rochelle was freed from the responsibility of teaching early morning seminary (religious instruction for high school kids in our church) as of June. She has few memories outside that experience (which she says she enjoyed) due to sleep deprivation.   One reason she quit teaching is that we were supposed to start construction on a major renovation of the house in May or June to be completed in November or December. It actually didn't start until September and is still going on. We live in dust, we have no kitchen (hence no real cooking), no oven, no stove and only partial bathrooms (some with water-type facilities, others with lights, but none with both - until yesterday. Our family room is a construction zone and our living room is full of furniture from other rooms. No Xmas tree. Sounds kind of familiar.   Hopefully we're just a few weeks from the end of it all. Then do we sell the house? Maybe. What a drag.  She continued singing with a group of friends at retirement homes, this year featuring a solo performance that made some of the men in the audience swoon.  Arrin took a look at the basement and asked her mother if she was a hoarder so Rochelle started selling some stuff on various websites that exist for such purposes.  In the summer, Rochelle's father passed away after a difficult final few years. Richard convinced her to go spend some time in Pocatello with him and her mother when things were difficult and she was able to be there when he passed. She experienced some tender moments better left to her to discuss in person.

Rachel, Shiloh, Harper, Atti. The singing harp watches the show and dances and shops and loves noodles and manages the iPad. Now the dog is in the back yard, but the big gate thing is stuck in place, just like Harper sometimes. The jobs seem the same to an outsider, but then, we’ve never been to Manassas on the one hand. On the other hand, there is about half the pay but apparently more like ¾ of the work. Is that a good deal? Maybe if they give you some free spaghetti. Atti is still the dog – but it’s getting lonelier because grandpa is no longer the food wizard and grandma’s affections have gone elsewhere. The basement is becoming a zebra – slowly.

Rachel and family are frequently visited by the grandparents. Even more so toward the end of the year. Harper is hilarious, just like her grandfather. She turned 2 at Thanksgiving time. She sings and dances and says "outta here" with a wave of her hand when you are sitting where she wants to sit. She is a master of Apple technology, knowing how to operate an iPad and iPhone (at least the photos and video components) better than lots of adults. As for Rachel and Shiloh, they seem fine, but really we tend to ignore them anyway. They both work hard, Shiloh and friends/cousins built a nice fence so Attie can spend her days there. Poor Atti is largely ignored by the grandparents now that there is a small human to talk to. Rachel started painting the basement an interesting and attractive pattern, but progress has stalled in recent months.

Chris got into the red, fulfilling a long time dream of beating the blue on the gridiron. Did you see Groundhog Day - how long can you stay 21? Until about mid year, it turns out. In class to make the brain work – going well, and not folding shirts any more. The red car still chugs along – how much longer? Let’s hope there is a car payment on the other end. What is the summer like in NJ by the pool? Why does dad do those things? Chris was an Eagle, but his scout is a dog. It doesn’t look like a sheep. Has it been to Perth? How long can he live in a house? About three months. Then back to an apartment with a pretty good friend and a scout.

Christopher left his job in management at a clothing retailer whose name seems to suggest one can never get to age 22 (remember, no corporate names) and started the MBA program at the University of Utah (I guess it's OK to identify nonprofit organizations).  Still driving the red Passat.  Hoping to get a good summer internship and a good job on the other side of the program.  He has been very involved in student activities, including arranging a football game between the MBAs at the U and the Y (BYU).  The U won.  Evidently there were some hard feelings but that isn't much of a surprise if you have ever seen a Mormon church men's basketball game (the joke is: church ball is the only place you can see a fight start with a prayer).  Chris spent some of the summer with us in NJ, tending to the pool, having a party, being puzzled why his dad can't resist the temptation to spray visitors at the pool with water.  He started the semester living in a house near campus but got an Australian Shepherd named Scout and moved into a new apartment with a friend named Casey.  He seems pretty happy.     suggests

Who is that guy Arrin? At least this red car doesn’t have a NJ license plate – and she doesn’t have to have a NJ drivers license. Working in the man’s hat was fun sometimes, interesting other times, successful all the time, but also a long commute sometimes so NJ wasn’t so bad – especially on the hot summer days by the pool. What is that thing on your finger and why does your class care it was your birthday? What does X’X-1X’Y mean? Is there such a thing as leptosis? Where did Leland J. live? Does he know the way to San Jose or San Juan? You know they don’t have a man’s hat in the Bay. Maybe that’s why the hotel is in that state.

If you look closely, you will see that we have added a new face to the enclosed card. We hope it's not premature. Arrin was engaged to Marcus Barton just before her birthday in November. That allowed her to show off her engagement ring in her econometrics class on her birthday. Her professor isobviously a very friendly fellow. She marries in March, graduates in April and starts a job in Palo Alto, California in July (?), working as an analyst for an investment bank. Marcus is a great guy - a little less noisy than some in our family, but we'll get him used to us. He also graduates in April and has a job in San Jose. So where will they live?

Summer in Perryville, Ben. Not a ton of cash, but a few tips: buy low, sell high; wear black shoes with black pants; take pictures if that’s what you do and they’ll pay you for it, but charge more; get a scholarboat; make friends even in the Garden State. New roomie, new ward, finish the summer and go back to school for one more half – then do the mister merry thing at Xmas time. No more teachers’ dirty looks, no more of many things, but much more of other things for two whole years. What does that camera do? Why do they call it Sin City? Where is Winnemucca? Will he need his coat or his umbrella? We’ll miss him but are happy for his service.

To begin the 2nd semester of his Freshman year, Ben moved down the hall to a new dorm with a new room mate and was in a new student ward (church congregation).  Funny how that works at BYU.  He came to NJ for summer and tried his hand for one day working at a plant nursery but settled in as a member of the wait staff at a swanky restaurant in a town nearby.  He made some money and learned some important life skills - like which spoon  goes where.  He got a scholarship for his photography work, and returned for the first semester of his Sophomore year before leaving on Dec 21 for the Nevada, Las Vegas West mission.  He'll be gone for two years.  The mission includes the western half of the city (clever naming, no?) and about the western half of the state, plus slivers of California and Oregon.  We miss him already and pray for his success and happiness.

To keep Rochelle happy, etc....

That's all there is.  Happy New Year!!