Christmas Letter 2000

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Beloved Ones,

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…maybe that's a bit melodramatic but there's no denying it: we're living in Arkansas, and we're starting to like it. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In June John finished his internship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. In no time at all we were on the road to scenic Pine Bluff, Arkansas, affectionately known by the locals as the "murder capital of Arkansas." (We soon learned that we would be doing the bulk of our shopping 45 minutes north in Little Rock, which is known as the just plain "Capital of Arkansas.") All kidding aside, the City of Pine Bluff has seen better days. Fortunately for us, we live on a golf course in an exclusive gated community called "Pine Bluff Arsenal." John is the "Installation Medical Authority" responsible for the health and well being of the Arsenal's 1100+ civilian employees. The Arsenal's two main missions are to maintain (and starting in 2002 to destroy) about 12% of the nation's chemical weapons and to produce an assortment of conventional munitions and pyrotechnics for the U.S. and our allies. Less than a mile from our house thousands of rockets and land mines filled with nerve agent are stored (not to mention hundreds of ton containers of mustard--and it ain't for hot dogs). Though this all sounds like fun and games, in reality John spends most of his time seeing military retirees who need their hypertension and cholesterol medicines refilled.

Rachel loves Arkansas and is constantly saying how it reminds her of her childhood home in Thousand Oaks, California. Okay, I completely made that up, but Rachel has really been a trooper. While we both hated to leave Washington, Rachel has quickly made good friends and carved out a niche for herself by being closely involved with our Church and by volunteering at Dunn's school and with local organizations.

Dunnington, 6 this year, started first grade this fall. It was apparent that he was experiencing a bit of culture shock when he asked us why his teacher always makes him call her "Ma'am," as in "Yes Ma'am" or "No Ma'am." He loves his school and is usually the one who reminds us that he needs to do his homework. He was reading to us from the Book of Mormon the other day and after sounding out a particularly difficult word jumped up and exclaimed "YEAH!!! SCHOOL REALLY DOES WORK!!!" It's nice to see him appreciate the value of an education at his tender age. Dunn has started attending "Tiger" Scout meetings and had no comment when asked his opinion on the controversy surrounding that organization's decision to prohibit gay leaders.

Zachary, 4, thinks he is a Tiger Scout and is in general blissfully oblivious to the laws of reason that govern the universe. Had we stayed in Washington he would definitely have started kindergarten next fall, but it doesn't look like he'll make the deadline for turning 5 in Arkansas. Ray is considering appealing to the Florida Supreme Court for an extension of this arbitrary deadline.

Chase will turn two this January and has made it clear his Mommy is HIS. He is the cutest kid you've ever seen (though he won't smile for photos), and is very popular at our Church, where I am known as "Chase's Dad." No matter how much trouble our Momma's boy is during the day, he has the singular capacity to transform himself into a cherub in the hour immediately preceding his bedtime. By means of this cunning his hapless father is hoodwinked into letting him stay up just a few minutes longer. How can you put to bed a chubby two-foot-tall elf that says in a deep little voice "HO, HO, HO!" and then chuckles like a tiny evil genius?

For those of you that we've thoughtlessly not already told, early May of 2001 is the anticipated release date of the first Westhoff to be born in Arkansas! We are all excited, except for Chase who has no interest in sharing his Mommy with any wet-behind-the-ears-rookie.

Congratulations, you've read almost our entire Christmas letter. Before you go dismissing this last paragraph as the obligatory sentimental fluff, keep in mind that only a select few get this letter each year, we don't go around mailing these things out to just anyone. When we say Merry Christmas, we mean it. We don't have to say it, but we do. We really do hope that you'll have a great 2001, and we'd love to hear what's going on in your lives. Please stay in touch.

Love, John, Rachel, Dunnington, Zachary & Chase

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This page contains a single entry by John published on December 25, 2000 12:00 AM.

Christmas Letter 1998 was the previous entry in this blog.

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