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Christmas 1997

Dear Friends and Family,

[ . . . put on your best Gomer Pyle voice and say with a big, wide, toothy smile, SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE! . . ] When we sent our last Christmas letter, we were just a happy family of six, minding our own business. Since then, a little tike got concieved, gestated, and delivered. How do things like that happen? So now we are a frazzled (I mean dazzled) family of seven. TREVOR NIELSON ANDRUS was born on 9 September 1997. That makes five kids over 17 years. He's got blue eyes and a little bit of fuzzy hair. He is already acting like a teenager--he doesn't go to bed until after midnight!

Janet's mother, DOROTHY, came out for two weeks after Trevor was born. She wanted to see if we were still in possession of our minds. We were not, but she helped us through the initial stages of the trauma--withdrawal, denial, etc. We are just fine now, at least that is what we tell Janet's mom when she calls us on the phone.

BROOKE had a great adventure this summer. We put her on the plane all by herself for a trip to Fresno. While she wanted to see her cousins, she really was excited to ride Uncle Allen's horse, Sierra. Brooke will turn 13 right after Christmas, and is in the 7th grade. She loves to play soccer and is a great babysitter--she watches Trevor in the afternoons while Janet teaches piano.

STAN is a high school senior without a cause. He is in the throws of deciding what to do and where to go after high school. Sterling is such a happening town that he is thinking about staying right here and going to the junior college for his first year. We keep telling him that even though it would hurt us more than it would hurt him, he would be better off leaving town for college (or maybe leaving the state, or maybe leaving the country, or maybe leaving the planet)! He becomes an (ir)responsible adult this coming May. Won't that be fun?

CHELSEA, age 7, finally gets to be a big sister. She is helpful with Trevor and likes to dress him up. Chelsea has a competitive streak, which can be good and bad. This last summer, she and her friend Susan were having a contest to see who could read the most library books. She also will not let her older brother Ryan have the last word in any argument.

RYAN, age 14, is a conflicted soul. He recieved his Eagle Scout this last year, but has picked up that teenage boy infection which causes him great embarrassment at the thought of being helpful, courteous, or clean. He brought home a report card which did not reflect his ability. We hit him where it hurts the most--by disabling his AOL access. His grades went up like marshmallows in hot chocolate. You can now find him on-line 'most every night.

Speaking of Internet use--our phone line was tied up so much that one night when Brooke was at a friend's house and had been invited to stay for dinner, she could not get through the busy signal to ask permission, so she logged on to her friend's computer and sent a chat message. It worked, but we now have relented and put a dedicated line to our modem. The bad thing is now we are getting more of those telemarketing calls.

Two of Calvin's sisters, PAM and TERRY, one niece, AMY, and two nephews, MATT and BEN, came out for a visit last summer. We visited dozens of monuments and one evening had a picnic dinner on the lawn of the Capitol. We had a lot of fun--and the dishes were cleaned up so fast after meals, we told them they could come back anytime.

JANET took a one-month break from piano lessons to have the baby. She changed church callings--from counselor in the Relief Society to leader of weekday activities for the 10 and 11 year old girls. Of course, she continues to play accompaniment for ad hoc musical numbers, including this year's Christmas program. When asked what it is like to have a new baby in the home, she just replies that she can tell she is not in her twenties anymore.

They figured that after nearly five years as scoutmaster, if CALVIN couldn't get it right, they might as well find a new one, which they did. He now is on the High Council as an advisor to the Young Women, Young Men, and Primary. He gets to help organize the multi-congregation youth activities, such as the 3-day pioneer trek this last summer, which both Stan and Ryan attended (under duress). He also has assignments to speak in other congregations in the local area.

Calvin has also made a career change. After 14 years as a political analyst covering Europe, he moved to a new position to oversee the development of advanced analytic tools designed to be used by analysts. These tools are implemented through the use of information technology. Bottom line: Calvin gets to play with computers even more!

Just as he was making his career transistion, he went to Denver as part of the President's delegation to the Summit of the Eight. He was issued a Secret Service badge for identification. You should have seen the strange looks he got from the real Secret Service Agents who though Calvin did not look quite lean and mean enough to be one of them.

We have put this letter--along with other stuff--out on our web site. Stop by sometime:

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