An excerpt from our Christmas Letter 1999
This year we are a bit behind and did not get a picture taken in time to send out before Christmas, but rest assured, we mostly look the same.
This summer we had a vacation like we’ve never had before. Mary Ellen planned a Westward Ho, Colorado River vacation. Here are some pertinent numbers to snapshot the vacation. Thirteen states in 13 days in a Ford Econoline (use of the van was a gift of our friends the Singerlines!), that took us 5,304 miles roundtrip from home. Six nights in our dome tent and 6 nights in hotels. We were able to attend mass 7 days, (once in Spanish!) The highlights were hikes through Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park, a train ride to the Grand Canyon, a tour of the mighty Hoover Dam, swimming in the pools of the famous Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, observing the stars from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, a trip to the up thrust edge of Meteor Crater in Arizona (4,100 feet across, so big you have to see it to believe it) a family reunion in Phoenix, winding down old Route 66 through desert in southern California, and on the way home up 670 feet to the top of the St. Louis Arch. Mary Ellen had the vacation well planned out so the kids were always busy with reading, writing or games. We even had Spanish lessons twice a day with books, videos and audio tapes. Que bueno! Tim’s parents met us for the Arizona leg of the trip and we had a great time together in Arizona and Utah. Wonderful.
A sweet son was born to us on November 16th. John Bernard is five weeks old today and is a great joy to the whole family. We celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary in the dining room over dinner with our six children. So, life goes on! And God sends his blessings! Rebecca, Gabriel, Daniel, Monica, Gregory and John bring us joy. Necessity keeps us active and prayerful.
[2012 notation – This letter shows we were not always focused on Monica’s development, family life went on for all of us. Monica loved hiking the national parks and was able to navigate the trails pretty well. In Bryce Canyon we did use the child harnesses for Monica and Greg because in sections the trails were narrow and the drops steep.]