THE YEAR: 2001. A year whose events make letters like this seem pretty trivial; yet we carry on. Barbara feels both really grateful that her family in New York was not hurt (her brother works across the Street from the World Trade Center but, miraculously, didn't go to work that day) and very emotional about it because of her ties to New York despite current geographical distance.

THE PHOTO: Pondering, along with Rodin's "Thinker," at Stanford University. We spent this year's summer vacation visiting friends and colleges in California.

THE PARENTS: Burr has an exciting new job: strategic planning manager for the whole Port of Seattle (seaport as well as airport) -- great "big picture" work that's right up his alley. He's really enjoying the new focus. Barbara's still doing freelance work and taking advantage of a flexible schedule for family, exercise, school activities, and singing in a chorus.

THE KIDS: Robin is a thriving and busy high school senior, with college applications now on the front burner. Other activities still abound, like cross-country running, singing, and many computer projects (check out his website at Laurel is now a high school freshman (where did time go?) and is having a ball if not much sleep. She continues to sing in a chorus and school shows, and play the violin in a Youth Symphony orchestra. This year's extraordinary theatrical experience for both was being in the very entertaining musical Little Shop of Horrors.

THE MODEL RAILROAD: Progressing in sporadic bouts of compulsiveness. Burr's finally working on scenery (after 17 years of track-laying), and some engines now have incredibly bright headlights.

THE WISH: Happy holidays and steadfastness in the new year to push through to better times again.

 Burr, Barbara, Robin, & Laurel

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