Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - My Cousin Laurie

Christmas 2005 - A Letter from Paul & Laurie Loken

FELIZ NAVIDAD

Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice and another traditional "do we have to read this" Christmas letter to send to you.

So, let's start with last Christmas and the return of Stephanie to the U.S. after spending 4 months studying abroad in Italy. We gathered many family and friends to greet her when she arrived, very worn out 1 must say, on terra ferma USA. We managed to embarrass her properly and life went on. She was glad to be home and to re-acclimate herself to life in the U.S. And yes, she did have to do some of that. Since she didn't drive the whole of her stay in Italy it took her a number of weeks before she felt comfortable driving here. Stephanie noticed things that had taken place during her absence, even minor ones like her favorite radio station having disappeared!

She had one more semester of college and graduated in May 05. She now runs the small restaurant in a little shop called Tarlton cafe in Hillsboro, TX.

Andrea is now a senior in college (where does the time go?) she is a Social Work major/Sociology minor and loves her field. This year began her internship which she does at the Presbyterian night shelter in the Women/children division. She is there two days a week and now has 3 clients she works with. She also has classes two days a week and so spends the rest of the time writing her research papers and studying (at least that's what she tells us) We catch glimpses of her on occasion. She plans on graduating this coming summer at the earliest or December at the latest. After that, graduate school and I am afraid that might take her away from us here in Texas so I won't think about that right now.

This summer we took another family road trip and headed our ship (ok, our Toyota, geesh do you have to be so literal?) to Branson, MO. And then down to Arkansas to a beautiful lake to spend some quite time boating and tubing. (oh and ganging up on Mom playing UNO) It's funny, but even after all these years and with our girls being 23 and 21 (oh yeah, did I mention that Andrea turned 21 this year also... sigh and gasp!) for some strange reason, they still like taking the family road trips. Their friends don't get it, but that's just cause they haven't experienced anything quite like it. And maybe that's a good thing?

Paul is still working at Lockheed Martin, this is his 22"d year there. He is also still working on the remodeling. I know you keep hearing about it, but it is a rather large undertaking and he has been doing it mostly on his own contracting out only what he really cant do. He hopes to have it finally finished here in the next couple of months. This final phase is our bedroom/bath. We have now seen the completion of 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms from the ground up.

Me, I am still out at TCU in the department of Religion. I love it and enjoy what I do and being surrounded by the students. Thank goodness they like my eccentric personality too! (nice way to phrase that don't you think?) I continue to work out vigorously and now that I hit a mile stone age      Oh, I didn't mention that one? Yes, I did turn a particular age and my family decided to throw me a birthday party. My sister Martha and Stephanie went all out and planned the most amazing party/ roast! Yes, I said roast. You know, when people gather and say all sorts of wonderful things about you.... Ah, good times, good times.

We also acquired a new member to our family.... Jack. He is a kitten (3 mos.) a brother to our other cat Robie (3 yrs). He is the exact twin, a mix of tabby and rag doll sort of a blue point Siamese look with striking blue eyes. Like you really care        

Anyway, the rest of my family Mom, Dad, Bob and Chris, Martha, Jeff and Barbara Marie, Barb and Trish are all doing well.

I will close with a quote that I think says it all for me right now. "The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. " -Unknown

Laurie Loken
12/19/2005