Every year, since Andrew was one, I sent out a photo Christmas card.  I stopped in 2002 because Andrew and Jarrett were never photo-ready at the same time.  Still, it was a wonderful 15-year tradition.  I'm SO GLAD I put the pressure on myself to do it every year.  Most  years, it took an entire roll of film to get the "perfect" picture.  I'd also write a Christmas newsletter mainly for Bob's fraternity brother, Uncle Dave Silverman.  I'm going to retype those letters under each Christmas card.  We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the snow.

CHRISTMAS 1986 - Andrew with Christmas candle

Christmas 1987

MEMORIES FROM 1987:  I didn't write a newsletter this year because I was pregnant with Jarrett and he was due on December 20th.  Of course, Jarrett waited two weeks to be born - January 3rd.  It was the second longest two weeks of my life.  The first being the two weeks that Andrew was overdue!


This year, I didn't go to the Eby-Brown Christmas party because I was so huge and uncomfortable.  But, I just remembered something.  This was the year that Ron and Liz met at that same party.  They came over to see us after Jarrett was born.  Yes, that's right.  Plus, I remember taking that picture of Ron and Liz holding the boys.  How sweet.


Also remember this year as being full of Andrew fun.  We went to the park a lot.  We rode the bike path from North Aurora up to Batavia every week.  Bob put a kid seat on the back of his bike (which I was very nervous about - afraid Andrew would fall off)!!  We'd go up to McDonald's for breakfast.  It was great fun.  Plus, it was a beautiful ride along the Fox River and wonderful exercise.


We watched Sesame Street non-stop.  I remember one night about 3 a.m., Andrew came into our bedroom and woke me up with, "Mom, gotta see Big Bird."  What?  "Gotta see Big Bird."  He's not on right now.  "No, gotta see Big Bird."  (actually it sounded more like Bood)  Okay, so I got up and went out into the living room and put on a tape of Sesame Street and we watched Big Bird.  After a while, I was beginning to nod off, so I told Andrew that Big Bird had to go to sleep now and so did he.  And he did, thankfully.


Every time we went to the store (the two of us spent a lot of time at the Kmart in North Aurora), I bought Andrew a toy or a book.  Our living room was affectionately called Toys R Us West.  We had everything.  It was fun to spoil Andrew.  He was never really a rotten little kid, he was just full of energy.  Full of life.  It certainly kept us moving.  We could never relax with him around.


As the year progressed and I got bigger and bigger, Andrew and I would play Hi-Ho Cherrio every day before his nap.  Oh wait a minute, I'd also take an afternoon nap!  We'd go to Geneva to buy coffee beans at that bean store.  My doctor told me I could have one cup of coffee a day, so I figured I might as well have something good.  In those days, none of the grocery stores had the special flavored coffee beans.  Isn't that a hoot?  Well, we didn't have the internet either!  That was the "good old days."


These are some of the memories that stand out from that year.  I'm sure Bob was playing tennis.  Obviously, he was going to work every day at Eby-Brown.  But in those days when Eby was in Aurora, he'd come home for lunch.  In the summertime, that involved a dip in the pool.  In December, the electricity went out during a big snowstorm.  We eventually went across the street to Stacy's house (Andrew's first girlfriend) to keep warm and Sandy fed us pork chops.  That was when Andrew started playing with Stacy and Michael (her brother).  If I keep at it, I can remember everything from that year!  haha  That's all for now.


God bless us all.  MERRY CHRISTMAS * HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Love from, Donna, Bob and Andrew (Christmas 1987)

*    *    *    *    *

Christmas 1988 -- I don't know WHY I didn't choose this picture?

Christmas 1988

GREETINGS TO ALL:  Since Jarrett was born on January 3, 1988, Bob and I have been totally immersed in parenthood.  Having one child is like having one child.  Having two children is like having 10 extra munchkins move in while your back was turned (most likely picking up toys off the floor).  I can't imagine what someone does if they have more than two they grow another arm??


By the way, Jarrett is on the verge of learning how to walk.  Andrew is on the edge of the toilet - learning how to sit on the edge of the toilet.  HEY!  These things take time....they're the nitty gritty adventures of the youngsters.


Jarrett has finally stopped putting everything in his mouth and now insists on shoving his slimy ABC food (already-been-chewed) in my mouth with his fat little baby fist.  It is SO-O-O cute.  Andrew does so many cute and smart things, I can't begin to tell you all of them in a mere letter.  He must be seen on videotape to be truly appreciated.  (Please contact me personally to borrow the videotapes of Andrew.)


You know I'm kidding about the videotapes.  Although I do make tapes for the folks in Florida, so they can see their precious grandchildren up close and not in person.  I once taped Andrew:  1) before eating breakfast; 2) while eating breakfast; and 3) after eating breakfast.....and on and on.  After watching the tape for a while, EVEN I WAS BORED!  Can you imagine that???!


No, I don't spend ALL of my time photographing kids, changing diapers, washing clothes, cleaning food off the floor, watching Sesame Street, picking up toys, searching for mittens, hats, shoes, etc.  I have other interests.  Some people might assume that I have become forgetful or absentminded, maybe even single-minded or simple minded and now have a short attention span...........what was I going to say next??????  I can't remember, but I think it begins with the letter P which rhymes with B.


In fact, I DO have an oil painting partially completed, and it is very lovely.  I wanted to take another oil painting class but our teacher decided to pursue a different creative line of work (she's got her nerve) so we're left in the lurch - adrift in a sea of turpentine.  Did Rembrandt's benefactor leave him out in the cold?  Did Georgia O'Keefe leave the COLD and go to New Mexico?  Well yes, she did, but that's beside the point.  She was so happy that she started painting cow bones!! 


Speaking of sore aching bones.  Bob is still playing tennis as much as he can......about twice a week.  His opponents are getting younger and younger.  He would love to play every day, but that's still a dream.  Besides, his poor, aching muscles are very glad he only plays twice a week.  Bob still works at Eby-Brown as their Corporate Computer Manager.........of course, I DON'T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


We've been staying fairly sickly.  Any time we hear the word COLD, we all start sneezing, coughing and running from the nose.  After Jarrett was born, I noticed that I couldn't see well enough to cut his little fingernails because I need BIFOCALS!!  oh my!


Hope you and yours are happy, healthy, wealthy and wise, or any combinations thereof that you choose.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS * MERRY CHRISTMAS * FELIZ NAVIDAD * FROHES WEIHNACHTEN * BUNO NATALE * ho ho ho * ha ha ha * and a couple of la dee das.  That's how we spend the days away in the merry old land of North Aurora.


God bless you all and Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Baby Jarrett (Christmas 1988)


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Christmas 1989

GREETINGS:   I hope you are all enjoying life.  It's been a l-o-n-g year....especially if you count all the times I've had to get up during the night to the strains of "ma-ma-mama."  It's music to my ears....most of the time.  Can you believe that they knocked down the Berlin Wall??!!  (and I thought turning 40 this year was a big deal!).  Personally, I attribute all the chaos over there to the proliferation of the fax machine.  Think about it....I'm pretty sure I'm right.


But closer to home, fairly soon, little baby Jarrett will be the tiny 2, and Andrew will be the huge 4!!  The other day, Andrew asked Bob if he was 100.  Didn't we ALL think our parents were ancient when we were little?!  (I still think I'm young because my gray hair doesn't show yet.  Plus, it helps to hang out with people under the age of five!)


Andrew attends pre-school two days a week.  He LOVES it.  In fact, he's already written a couple of computer programs for the school...(haha - just kidding).  Mostly, they play, eat cookies, go to the bathroom, and glue pasta and cotton balls onto flimsy pieces of paper.  I think he enjoys being able to look into the eyes of someone his own size (they're all so cute).  We've been playing a lot of games lately, e.g., Candyland, Uncle Wiggly, etc.  Andrew wants to play Candyland 256 times.  I'm not sure if that's in a week or in a year?


Jarrett has recently crossed the threshold to the "terrible two's" with a vengeance.  If he wants something, he doesn't take NO for an answer.  "Want some milk, Jarrett?"  "NO! want pop!"  "How 'bout some juice?"  "NO.  POP!"  This dialogue continues until I give him POP (soda to those of you who don't live in the Midwest) or tell him he's getting juice, but it's really the same as pop.   He's recently begun to speak English in complete sentences.   My go bye bye car daddy.  I want more cookie, mom.


We didn't see much of Bob this summer and early fall.  He spent countless hours at work and lots of time in Michigan and Indiana.  It was a "lost" summer for Bob.  However this January, WE will reap the rewards for his hard work - we get to go on a deluxe cruise in the Caribbean.  Will it compensate for those endless hours of work, work, work?  From what I hear, I think it will.  On the Sea Goddess they say, "We may temporarily run out of toast, but we never run out of caviar."  Not that I would EVER eat a fish egg on terra firma, but you never know what might happen on the high seas.


In August, Grandpa and Grandma Berg came to visit us.  The first part of their visit was very quiet, and then all of a sudden one morning (Bob was out of town), Grandpa started knocking down our "yukky" shower in the laundry room with a SLEDGE HAMMER.  This unleashed a flurry of home improvement activity that has yet to cease.  It's so much fun to caulk and paint and lay tile, etc.  But no one ever mentions the splinters and hits on the thumb with a hammer - the blood, the gore, the bruises.  I'm here to say that renovating is brutal.  But the new laundry/bathroom is now tastefully gorgeous!!!  And ready for your use when you come to visit.


During my yearly pilgrimage to Florida, I painted three oil paintings.  However, since then I haven't painted at all this year (except for the eaves and the trim around the windows - haha).  Recently, I was able to have five hours of uninterrupted quality painting time (that means the boys were gone with their dad).  I painted a country scene for Bob's brother for Christmas.  It is lovely, though rustic.  Before I know it, I'll be the next Grandma Moses....I'm already the next Whatshername.  In fact, this summer I took a drawing class from a very talented artist/mom.  Mostly, we drank wine and talked but I did draw a very nice egg.  It looked just like an egg!!  Of course, it took me three hours to draw it...hard to draw with a wine glass in your hand.  haha


Please excuse the length of this, but if I had more time, I'd certainly write MORE.  I hope you and yours are happy and healthy and are enjoying life to the fullest -- not unlike a lite beer commercial.  MERRY*CHRISTMAS.  HAPPY*NEW*YEAR.  PEACE*JOY*LOVE. 


Write soon.  Love, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Jarrett (Christmas 1989)

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Christmas 1990

GREETINGS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS from western Kane County - where the deer and the cougars* play.  Where seldom is heard a discouraging word and we're cutting the grass all day.  haha


We moved out into the country this summer - near Fisherman's Inn (with the spring-fed trout), near Elburn and far from the "maddening crowds."  We love it here.  Bob's favorite room is the deck off the master bedroom.  It has a panoramic view of the lake and the valley which includes lots of trees and forests (I guess that's what a forest is -  lots of trees!)   We have 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 45 trees, an acre of land and lots and lots of grass.  Living here is like being on vacation.


The boys really enjoy being in the country.  When we first moved, I put their cute little turtle sandbox and the indestructible swimming pool (with the built-in slide) in the yard anticipating that they would spend numerous idyllic hours frolicking in the water.  WRONG!  They captured 20 frogs from the lake and put them in the sandbox.  They turned the swimming pool into a MUD pool.  I don't even know how many tree frogs and worms we've saved from extinction.


Andrew is still attending preschool in North Aurora.  We thought he had enough trauma moving to a new house, so we didn't want to change anything else.  Besides, he's known his preschool teacher for 3 years, and he loves it there.  They do everything they did last year, PLUS use scissors!  Andrew also loves math, just like his dad.  His incessant counting of everything in sight has finally passed, now he wants to ADD everything in sight.


Jarrett "I'm not a Butt-Boy" is quite grown up now.  He told me he will NOT wear a diaper at night because "Superman doesn't wear a diaper!"  So there.  I had absolutely nothing to do with any of this, he basically potty-trained himself this past March - mostly fueled by a desire to mimic Andrew.  At Halloween, he BECAME Superman.  In fact, he wore the costume for the entire two weeks prior to October 31st.  It was a pajama costume, so he could even wear it to bed.  The first time I washed it, he kept asking if it was dry yet.  Reminded me of Linus in the Peanuts cartoon.


Almost every night, Bob and Andrew play a game or two of checkers to get their brains "warmed up" for chess.  It looks quite impressive seeing this little person pondering his next move on the chess board....until I ask him what the names of the pieces are and he calls the knight a "horsie."  Bob said that he'll get out the chess books if Andrew ever comes close to really beating him...which hardly seems fair since Andrew can't even read yet!


I'm searching my brain trying to think of something interesting or noteworthy that I might have done this past year....and I did think of one thing.....two of my 10,000 photos I've taken over the years were chosen as "best of the breed" during the local KINSA (Kodak) contest.  I was (and still am) thrilled!!!!  Of course, I wasn't chosen for the BIG contest in New York, but I probably couldn't have found the negatives anyway (does that sounds like sour grapes -- well, it is!) haha  There's always next year.


One of my winning photos was taken on our cruise in the Caribbean....what a TRIP!!!  It was everything they said it would be and more!  We dropped anchor at one of the most beautiful beaches I've EVER seen -- the water was warm and very clear - indescribably  gorgeous!  Of course, while we were there, the waiters kept serving us champagne and it's SO hard to hold a champagne glass while one is swimming -- that doesn't happen every day, and it sure was fun!




God bless you all.  Love, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Jarrett ( Christmas 1990)



*A cougar was allegedly spotted in DeKalb County earlier this summer and has been ravaging the farm animals.  NOW, it's supposedly headed east - TOWARD US!!  uh oh.  We'll have to bring the pig and the cow into the house!!!!!  hahaha  hohoho

*    *    *    *    * 

Christmas 1991

GREETINGS FROM THE COUNTRY:  We did have lots of snow, but it all hoo.  This has been an extremely weird year weather-wise.  However, we witnessed the most beautiful, most spectacular, most extraordinary, most excellent display of nature that we have (individually and collectively) EVER seen - the NORTHERN LIGHTS!!  It was awesome (and I don't mean cowabunga, dudes.)


Speaking of little dudes, the boys are growing like crazy!  Andrew is finally in kindergarten, and Jarrett is just beginning preschool.  Bob is still the boss of computers at Eby-Brown, and I'm still an itinerant artiste, unemployed secretary and retired teacher.


Each day, Andrew's odyssey begins at 11:35 a.m., when the bus picks him up at our driveway.  The "yellow submarine" is a gigantic figure in the lives of school children around here (both literally and figuratively).  In fact, when school first started, Andrew claimed that his favorite part of the day was RIDING THE BUS!  haha.  Unfortunately, there are 30 children in his class (about 25% more than optimum)...which makes me completely crazy, but I'm not prepared to start my own school YET!


When Jarrett first went to preschool, he did NOT want to stay.  However, it didn't take long before he was asking, every day, "Is THIS the day I go to preschool?"  He's at the Magnet Schoool at Waubonsee Community College.  It a wonderful place - very child-oriented.  In fact, it's so nice that Bob decided to be on the Board of Directors for the school (he's the treasurer).  It doesn't take much time - one meeting per month.  But then we have more of a clue as to what's going on.  I don't know if that's good or bad.


Of course, Bob is still playing tennis about once a week.  There is some sort of age-warp that happens at the tennis club, because although Bob keeps getting older, the other players keep getting younger and younger AND much faster on their feet.  But he loves his tennis.


And I love my oils.  In fact, during the past year, my painting output increased dramatically.  Of the 7 paintings I finished, 6 are hanging on our walls.  I take classes at the Darflinger Studio in St. Charles.  The experience is perfectly blissful.  When I smell the oil paint and the "odorless" turpentine, I'm transported to paradise -- if only in my mind.  (Admit it, you wonder where that other painting is, don't you???  haha)


Although the boys are not involved in "organized" sports yet - they do engage in free-style wrestling EVERY day.  However, this coming summer, we're going to try T-ball, which seems as competitive as we can stand.  (Everyone plays - no one loses.)  Would that life were like that, eh?  And who knows, maybe some day, Andrew (aka Bjorn) will play tennis.


BOY BLURBS - Andrew can whistle, snap his fingers and wink, ride his bike without training wheels, but he can't skip.  Jarrett can skip, but he can't do any of the other tricks.  Andrew lost his first baby tooth the day before Halloween, and he lost his second baby tooth YESTERDAY when Jarrett accidentally kicked him in the mouth (I am NOT kidding!)


EXCELLENT ADVENTURES - The boys and I drove to Florida, then Bob flew down and joined us.  Bob and I went to Phoenix for four days, and it really was a DRY HEAT!  Bob had an all-day conference in Chicago, and I spent the afternoon wandering around the Art Institute, the big Kroch's bookstore, and that big music store that has sheet music whose name I can never remember. 


GROWING UP - This past summer, our garden grew and grew (so did the weeds).  The tomatoes were the BEST EVER!!!  My flowers grew and grew, however, the only flower that Bob requested (cannas) refused to bloom.  Isn't that a kick in the bulb?!  We'll try again next year.  I've already planted a couple hundred bulbs for next spring.


Hope you are healthy and happy, clever as ever, snug as a bug in a you think I spend most of my day listening to RHYMES --- no way, Jose.  MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY NEW YEAR, and (just in case I forget to send a card) HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!


God bless you.  Love, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Jarrett (Christmas 1991)



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Christmas 1992

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE COUNTRY:  Before you read this letter, please match the boy with his song:


1)  I'm Gettin' Nothin' for Christmas                                            a) Andrew

2)  All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth                     b)  Jarrett


We had been pretty healthy this year -- of course, now the germs are invading so we're going to escape to Florida soon for the yearly trek to visit the Florida Bergies.  I do LOVE the snow (we recently got about 6 inches of the lovely white stuff)...but the kids always get sick in January.  In fact, they were sick last week, so we might as well go somewhere warmer.  Besides, Andrew needs to go south for spring training for T-ball before the season opens in May.


Jarrett is almost 5 years old (January 3).  He's in a different preschool this year which we really like.  It's a much happier place, located in Kaneville - an even smaller town than Elburn.  They can walk all over town in five minutes.  They especially like to go to the cemetery and look at the tank!  Plus, he's fed when I pick him up, so he doesn't want candy.


Speaking of candy, Andrew will be 7 the day after Valentine's Day.  First grade is just like kindergarten, according to Andrew.  They can't teach him to read because he taught himself.  He can compute any numbers as long as they're related to $money$.  haha  I've been helping in his classroom one morning a week.  It's helped me realize that I will NEVER go back to teaching.  The kids keep getting young and louder, and I keep getting older and crabbier...


Can you believe that Bob's still at Eby-Brown and is still Boss of the Computers?  But NOW, he's got his own office/cubby AND his own door (not bad after 18 years).  Mercy!  He still plays tennis once a week.  And you might wonder if he's still "on top of his game" -- well, he is.  While playing the young club champ at the tennis club, Bob intimidated him so much that he fell and broke his ankle....the other guy, not Bob!  (Although, Granny broke her elbow, but that's another story for another day!)  Now, no one wants to play tennis with Bob...haha - just kidding.


I haven't done a single thing all year - in the painting pictures department.  I did draw a pink daylily.  Wow!  This past summer and fall, I was a Story Lady at the library.  I "thought" I was volunteering, then much to my complete amazement, amusement and delight, they PAID me!!!  Now, I can add THAT to my resume.  I helped with the Library book sale during Elburn Days and managed to get lots of cheap books....just what I needed - more books!


We still love being out in the country, although the dreaded yuppie invasion is OH-SO-CLOSE.  You can always spot the yuppies in town because they don't have any poop on their Frye boots.  I must confess that I do make fun of them.  Why do people want to live next door to a farm with cows (and their pies) and then COMPLAIN about the smell.  duh!


BOY NEWS - Jarrett started riding his bicycle on August 1st (no training wheels).  He has such good balance that he could be a tightrope walker - if he weren't afraid of heights.  Andrew lost two teeth on Thanksgiving Day.  Jarrett had nothing to do with it this time. 


OLD PEOPLE NEWS - Bob needs glasses, and I need bifocals.


WEEDS & SEEDS - The day before the snow, I planted 64 daffodil bulbs....they were on SALE, so I had to buy them.


WILDLIFE - We saw 4 deer walking leisurely through our yard one night this fall.  Awesome!!!  We rescued a baby raccoon but he died - then I found out that I could fined $500 for harboring a fur-bearing mammal (not to mention rabies, dreaded raccoon fever, etc.).




God bless you all and Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Jarrett (Christmas 1992)



Call 1-800-BLAKJAK if you think the boys look like blackjack dealers on a riverboat casino.


*  *  *  *  *

Christmas 1993

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL:  I wrote another letter whining about everything that happened to me last week, but it pales next to today.  HA!  It's my eighth day with sick children home from school.  It's changed from FLU LITE to FLU BARF....even though they were taking antibiotics, the flu barf totally ignored that and attacked my little darlings.  Plus, the cold that they "shared" with me last week has yet to go away.  If I ever get my Christmas cards mailed on time, it will be a miracle.


We sure had an interesting year....when you consider that in kindergarten, Andrew got an Unsatisfactory for not being able to skip and then two years later, he skipped second grade.  So, I guess he really did learn how to skip after all!  Andrew's group of third graders are doing fourth grade math and he loves it.  His teacher is a witch -- I mean WAS a witch at Halloween.  His homeroom teacher is so very nice, and his cursive handwriting is better than mine.


Speaking of being Dracula at Halloween -- the Count, I mean Jarrett, is the MODEL student.  Yes, it's true.  He lives in fear that if his teacher ever finds out that he fights with Andrew, it would break her heart.  She is such a doll.  The PERFECT kindergarten teacher.  Jarrett started reading to Grandma Berg when they were here in September.  I would've thought that he was faking it and had memorized the book, but it was a book we hadn't seen before.  Of course, Grandma was suitably impressed.


Bob is still at Eby-Brown.  He's still BOSS of the COMPUTERS.  Maybe you've noticed that this letter has been printed on a laser printer.  After 19 years of working at Eby-Brown, Bob finally got his first computer at home!  Not only do we have a computer in the house, we also have a 20 gallon aquarium.  What does a computer have to do with a fish tank?  Absolutely nothing.  Bob bought the aquarium on March 1st (which is our wedding anniversary).  Isn't that romantic?  It reminded him of Maui.  I think the 8th year is a FISH present, isn't it?  I know 25 is, right?  (If you were 5 or 7 years old, you would think that was HILARIOUS!)


Speaking of wildlife, we've had lots of deer in our yard this year, and totally enjoy watching them.  We still love living in the country and haven't ventured too far away since our annual trip to Florida last January -- which was a complete fiasco (e.g., the boys and I got lost in Nashville, headlights burned out, antibiotics, grumpy grandpa with a bad back!)  Speaking of Bob's parents - they moved to Port Charlotte, FLORIDA in October.  We'll be visiting FLA in March.  Instead of going to Arizona on the work-related getaway, we went to St. Pete (and the Dali Museum) in May.  Next year, we're going to ACAPULCO.  Do I have to say Mexico?  Oh please.


I'm still Story Lady at the Library for the little munchkins.  They're SO funny.  And, I'm also doing Picture Lady at school for Jarrett and Andrew's classes.  I totally LOVE it.  I've done Mt. Rushmore (wanted to go there immediately) and some CUBISTS (they were very square).  I become totally and completely immersed in art and no one cares because it's my job.  I will never be a classroom teacher again....but it's nice to stay on the edge.   This past summer, I was able to trace my family roots back to 1774.  I'm at an impasse right now until I get some more information.  Then, maybe I can continue the search backward.  These old buggers are hard to find but it is SO interesting.


The boys learned to swim, played T-ball, played soccer and will play basketball this winter.  We're hoping to get a swimming pool next summer.  That will be so much fun!!  Please come by anytime for a dip, and we will definitely have a slide.


HOPE YOU ARE HEALTHY, WEALTHY AND WISE --- or some combination.  We are berserk, bogus and batty....


HAPPY HOLIDAYS.  LOVE and PEACE, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Jarrett (Christmas 1993) 


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Christmas 1994

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!  ho ho ho!  I keep trying to write this Christmas letter and I don't know if I'm losing my mental edge or we just didn't do anything worth writing about.  We still don't have a pool but did get a new deck (so we've got that goin' for us).


...earlier this same year.  Andrew and Jarrett played basketball during the winter.  It was wonderful for them to have something to do during the COLDEST WINTER EVER!  They were both on the same team, so that eliminated some of the extra-added running around (for US, not for them - haha).  They got much needed exercise and had lots of fun (the games are hilarious!!).


I had even more FUN as the Coach of Andrew's baseball team.  (Yes, you are reading that right.)  They asked Bob if he wanted to coach, and he said that he wouldn't be able to get to the games on maybe I'd be interested.  I stated that if they weren't able to find anyone else, I'd do it.  Little did I know - after I said that, they STOPPED LOOKING.  It was a lot of hard work, but whoever said, "winning isn't everything, it's the ONLY thing" was right - much more fun to win the game!!  (Ice cream all around at Alice's.)  Jarrett decided to play T-ball instead of being on our team.  He enjoyed it, but he certainly could play with Andrew's team next summer.  However, he still wants to play T-ball - so he can hit the ball out of the park over their heads!!  So much for modesty.  No soccer or football this year.


Bob (still Boss of Computers) has moved to the new Corporate Headquarters of Eby-Brown in Naperville - city of 100,000 suits.  It's quite the la-de-da place compared to Aurora.  He even has windows in his own private office after 20 years of working at Eby.  Isn't that incredible?  It's a little bit longer commute, but he's got a CD player to listen to while he drinks coffee made from freshly ground beans...  Uncle Ron moved to this place, too.  It's quite a drive for him, but he leaves early and goes to the health club.


I've been doing the same old stuff - Story Lady at the Library, Secretary of the Homeowner's Association, Idiot Savant, Nosy Neighbor, Volunteer at School, Genealogist, etc.  I have so much information on the Nolans (Granny's kin folk) that I can't believe it.  Of course, we desperately need the burial records from St. Patrick's Church.  Don't know if we'll EVER get them.  Can't imagine what good they're doing sitting in a basement in Rockford, but who am I to question the SMART people.


INTERESTING TIDBITS:  Our lady swordtail (fish) had 26 babies and 1 survived... We drove to Florida in 24 hours (not a good idea)... Pixie and Big Boy (cats) came to visit.... Grandpa & Grandma Burkholder came to visit (celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Rochelle)...  Howard & Irene, along with Chris and Patrick, came to visit (Howard's 30th reunion from RTHS)... and we had a mini-family-reunion picnic.... We saw Alan & Veralee at Rosita's (Margaritaville West)... Grandpa & Grandma Berg came to visit (Granny's 50th class reunion)... Bob & I went to Acapulco (very good idea)... The boys took classes at Aurora University... Bob bought himself a leather jacket for Christmas... Bob's grandmother will celebrate her 100th birthday on 2/22/95 (now THAT's incredible)... We don't have a dog yet, but we did get a keyboard... (oh GOOD, more noise!)


We're basically the same as ever.....a little older and somewhat wiser....  Of course, the boys are doing well in school.  Andrew's in 4th grade and Jarrett's in 1st grade.  We wish you all HEALTH (lots of garlic & red wine), HAPPINESS (insert smiley face) & HUMOR (ha haha - laugh and the world laughs with you).


God bless you all at Christmas and always.  Love from Donna, Bob, Andrew & Jarrett (Christmas 1994)


*   *   *   *   *

Christmas 1995

GREETINGS from the Land of the Free and the Home of the Knights.  We had quite a year this year!  Last January, the boys were playing basketball in different age groups, so on Saturdays, Bob would go one way with Andrew and I'd go the other way with Jarrett - sometimes we'd meet at the same gymnasium....sometimes, NOT!  It was always COLD regardless of where we were.


In February, we ventured up to the FROZEN tundra of Minnesota for Bob's Grandmother's (Andrew and Jarrett's great-grandmother) 100th BIRTHDAY PARTY.  It was quite the FUN party.  One of our highlights of that trip was a visit to the Mall of America and Camp Snoopy.  It was a total blast -- roller coaster rides and a splash ride and many other rides.  Jarrett got so drenched that I had to buy him some DRY clothes.  [No, I'm too wet, Mom (squish, drip, splash!!!)]  Shopping...what shopping?  We want to play more video games.


On March 1st, Andrew broke his RIGHT thumb trying to hit Jarrett....he missed and hit the sofa (underneath where a hard board resided).  OOPS.  In April, Andrew fell off a cooler while trying to slam-dunk and got a concussion.  He had already had an X-ray on his foot in February.  It wasn't broken, but he had to wear a type of walking cast for a while.  After the concussion, things quieted down for a long time.


....and I went to some meetings for BASEBALL.  Yes, I did COACH a baseball team again this year.  It was quite an excellent adventure because both boys were on the same team....which made life a LOT easier in many ways.  Except for the fact that Andrew has made it his mission to "tease" Jarrett constantly!!!  Andrew was a pitcher and Jarrett was THE catcher.  He caught every inning and even caught a fly ball for an out.  Andrew was pitching so hard that I wasn't able to catch the ball (which was why I convinced Jarrett that he should be the catcher.)  It worked out great.  It was FUN.  (Don't tell anyone, but we had the best record.)


In May, Bob and I went to Scottsdale, AZ, for the annual Eby-Brown business trip/golf outing/vacation.  I decided that we should play golf.....and WE DID!!  It just so "happened" that I was on the winning was BEST BALL, and I couldn't believe how much fun it was.  (And, I'll never play again.)  We also saw Alan, Veralee, Jason and Gayla.  That was fun, too.


In July, we finally went on a real vacation to the Wisconsin Dells.  The Dells are SO beautiful....we did take a Duck Ride through the Lower Dells....but we're saving the Upper Dells for next time.  Our hotel had mini-water-attractions, e.g., a pirate ship, a hidden cove, etc.  I think they had 7 different areas....oh, of course, water slides, too.  We also went to one of the big water parks...with the HUGE water slides, wave pools, etc.  It was LOADS of fun.  I've always loved being in Wisconsin.


Meanwhile, we spent the entire summer waiting for our pool and deck to get finished.  Hey, guess what?  It still isn't finished.  But at least during the HOTTEST, record-breaking days of July, we were able to swim and stay somewhat cool....I mean, less HOT.  At the end of the summer, we finally got the water slide put up for the pool, so we're anxiously awaiting next summer.  Oh boy.


In August, I was diagnosed with a condition called ITP (Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura).  It means I had low platelets (less than 20,000).  In fact, I had 6,000, which is considered critical condition and life-threatening (I was in the hospital for 5 days).  Normal people have between 250,000 and 400,000.  Okay, so I never said I was NORMAL.  Once they get back up (right now, I'm at 77,000). I'll have to have my spleen taken out.  My spleen is destroying my's a very confused organ.  Other than possibly bleeding to death internally, I feel extremely tired all the time.  My only hope is that one day soon, I'll feel somewhat peppy again.  Of course, I'll never be perky, I just want to be healthy!  Bob's only illness is a severe case of CHICAGO BEAR-ITIS.  He can't get over it.


Jarrett had a piece of his artwork chosen for the Silent Auction at the Elburn Christmas Walk.  It was quite beautiful, and we are so proud of his artistic accomplishment.  He won't sell it though.....because it is "priceless" according to Jarrett.


.........from my new perspective in the Waiting Room, HEALTHY is definitely way better than stay Healthy, be Wise....and we wish you LOVE and PEACE in the coming year. 


God Bless You One and All.  Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew and Jarrett (Christmas 1995)

*   *   *   *   *

Christmas 1996

MERRY CHRISTMAS and SNOW, SNOW, SNOW.  This year started out on a cold note and then it became discordant.  On January 6th, I had my spleen taken out at Central DuPage Hospital.  They started laparoscopically and then had to do an emergency incision because they couldn't cut the artery or vein or whatever it was - maybe it was a steel cord!  whatever.  It was supposed to "cure" my ITP (low platelet disorder).  Unbelievable is the only way I can describe the entire fiasco.  Instead of compassionate conservative care, I had a nurse who made me CRY!!!  Oh please, where is Florence Nightingale when I need her?  Andrew and Jarrett would come in with Bob to visit me.  They made me cards and bought me cards.  One card was so funny that I couldn't read it all the way through because it made me laugh too much and hurt my stitches - no, make that STAPLES, not stitches.  ouch.


The boys missed me so much that Jarrett said, "Mom, please come home and I'll take care of you."  And he did.  It was so sweet.  He sat in a chair by the bed with a pad of paper and asked me what I'd like for dinner.  Oh by the way, he said, "Here's what we offer at our restaurant."  It was so cute.  Then, when he'd get up, Snowball the cat would sit in the chair to keep me company.  It was a long, slow and painful recovery.


The boys played basketball during the winter.  This was the year Jarrett was on the same team as Chad and Clyde was the Coach.  I couldn't go to any of the games because I was incapacitated.  This was also the year that Andrew won the HUGE trophy in the three-point shooting contest.  The trophy was almost as big as he is!


Six weeks after my operation, we went to Florida for Grandma and Grandpa Berg's 50th wedding anniversary party.  The week before we got there, Grandpa had open heart surgery.  Also, Aunt Helen had surgery for her breast cancer.  We were the feeble ones.  It was a fabulous party and totally fun to see everyone.  We were ALL there for the first time ever.  I even have the pictures to prove it.  Andrew and Jarrett had fun playing with their cousin, Patrick, and also Diane's kiddies, Caroline, Alex and Breece.  Except this time, no one wore a Barney hat!


In May, Bob and I went on the yearly Eby-Brown trip that took us to Mobile, Alabama.  It was probably the worst place we'd ever been.  Can you say, "brackish water?"  Can you say, "musty-smelling room?"  Although once the meetings were over, we had a great time driving over to a nearby mall and we shopped til we dropped.  Then later that night (it must've been cinco de mayo), we found a Mexican restaurant in town that was having a fiesta.  They had a band outside in the back patio playing music for the assembled masses.  Very nice.  Quite enjoyable.  And it was the only place in town where we could buy a beer (dry county).  haha


Since I'm writing this from memory, I can't remember exactly which baseball teams Andrew and Jarrett were on this summer.  I know I wasn't the coach because I resigned from the baseball business.  We did a lot of swimming though.  Plus, I went to the doctor's office a lot.  This was the summer that we hooked up with Judy's boys, Joseph, Philip and Anthony.  They were living in Carol Stream, right down the street from my doctor's office.  So, when I'd go in for a gamma globulin infusion, Andrew & Jarrett would go over and play with the boys.  I'll never forget the first time they all met.  It was like instant recognition.  It was like, "Hey, you're in my tribe.  You're all right."  Judy's boys all came over on New Year's Eve and spent the night celebrating Jarrett's birthday, playing video games and watching movies all night long!  Of course, we had to toast with sparkling grape juice at midnight!!


After my splenectomy, I was supposed to be cured, but it didn't turn out that way.  At first, the platelets went up to 600,000.  Then, after I went to the stupid HMO dentist, he gave me penicillin and it wiped out my platelets.  boom!  gone.  hasta la bye bye.  Maybe one of these days, I'll be healthy again.  Hope so.  It's a drag being sick all the time.


HAVE A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS.  God bless you all.  Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew, Jarrett and Snowball (Christmas 1996)

*  *  *  *  *

Christmas 1997

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BABY JESUS!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Ho, ho, ho.  It's already that time of year again when we get out the artificial tree....break a few ornaments....and I sing Christmas carols out of tune.  Let it SNOW***  This Sunday, we're going to the high school to hear Andrew sing obscure Christmas songs with the rest of the Middle School chorus.  Andrew's in the front row, so we can finally see him!!


Speaking of seeing things....  I'm trying to get this finished during the next few days because I have a limited time frame until I go under the laser again.  It's been a week since cataract surgery on my right eye.  Next week, I have cataract surgery on my left eye.  To say that I could not see would certainly be an understatement.....and the fact that I was driving at all was pretty hilarious (there are a lot of grey cars out there on the grey roads!!)  Now, I can see out of the right eye....just stay away from Elburn for the next few days.....


Let's see, what did we do this year?  Andrew played basketball in January and Jarrett took a pass and said he'd play next year.  They both played baseball this summer -- Andrew pitched and Jarrett caught (on different teams).  Speaking of academics....of course, they both perform extremely well on those standardized tests that everyone else hates.  We always pretend tests like that are actually practice for Jeopardy.  Isn't that right, Alex?  A game invented in Scotland............What is GOLF? 


YIKES!  I forgot the most important sport of our lives:  GOLF!!  Bob is edging toward berserk about it.  On Saturday, November 1, he and Andrew played ONE LAST ROUND OF GOLF before the snows came on November 2.  Jarrett had the good sense to take a pass on that outing.


Bob is still at Eby-Brown.....Boss of the Computers and Computer Nerds.  We're extremely glad that someone has a job to keep this boat afloat.....otherwise, we'd be living in a tent.  Besides, no one really understands computer-speak, so Bob has it made in the shade.  At least, that's his story and he's sticking with it!  Besides, they always send us on such great trips every year.  This past May, we went to Amelia Island in Florida.... our suite was right on the ATLANTIC OCEAN.  What a beautiful view!!!  I fell on the boardwalk but didn't break my foot.....did visit the local hospital for an X-ray and was treated to impeccable Southern hospitality.


I still have Chronic Idiopathic Thombocytopenic Purpura (ITP).  My platelets finally reached a new LOW this year:  ZERO!!!!  That occurred on Memorial Day weekend (actually I had 2,000).  Right before we were taking Andrew and Jarrett to the mall to play video games, I decided to get my CBC (complete blood count).  Yikes!  No, mall.  Bob and the boys took me to Elmhurst Hospital where an incompetent, crazed nurse came in on second shift tried to kill me!   I managed to just barely get out of there alive!  Couldn't wait to get home.


We enjoyed our pool when we could, although the summer was not pool friendly.  The spring was cool and my flowers looked spectacular.  (I took pictures.)  The pump to our well burned out, however, so I had to dig up a bunch of flowers.  It was very, very sad.  It did teach me a lesson:  Don't put poppies in water.


Hope you and yours are healthy and happy.  I am nuts most of the time.  Right now, I'm taking the wacky medicine (dexamethasone) which makes me slightly psychotic (who can tell??!!).  I have managed to irritate (or should I just say piss off) most everyone I know.  But I have learned one thing in my psycho state of mind, there is only one lesson to learn on earth and that is LOVE.  If we don't learn that, we've completely missed the point.  I pray every day that I will be able to learn that lesson in spite of everything that's happening to me. 


GOD BLESS YOU & PEACE ON EARTH.  Love to you all, Donna, Bob, Andrew, Jarrett and Snowball (he did not want his picture taken this year - something about his hair - or maybe it was a hairball?)  Christmas 1997


*  *  *  *  *

Christmas 1998


Since I'm quickly running out of time to compose a full-scale newsy Christmas letter AND you all are certainly TOO busy to read a long and boring letter, I'm going to hit the highlights and hope for the best.  I've asked the boys to help me.


The Top Ten Memorable Things about 1998 (that I can remember) - Donna Jean


1.  I lost 50 pounds* since Elburn Days (August 1998) on THE DIET.  My thanks to Sue, she is an angel.

2.  I had only two intravenous needles stuck in my hand this entire year (both in March)!!  That is so fantastic.

3.  Since my cataract surgery last December, I now have 20/20 vision and only need reading glasses.

4.  I got a new car (not a van or a RED truck) - Honda, dark green, large trunk, drink holders and good gas mileage.

5.  Unless specifically asked how I am, I don't go into detail about my disorder (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura).

6.  We all went to Orlando - Bob and I stayed at Bay Hill Golf Course - the boys stayed at Grandpa & Grandma Berg's house.

7.  Because of El Nino, my early flowers were spectacular....everything came up early and lasted a long time.

8.  I especially enjoyed the Berg-Erickson reunion organized by Aunt Gladys.  It was a hoot to see everyone!

9.  The Senior BERGS came for two visits which was very nice...and the second time they got to deal with Hobbes!

10. I'm going to be a great-aunt in June thanks to Gayla and Brandon.  No, it's not twins.


*insane weight gain caused by prednisone and dexamethasone (one makes me crave sugar and the other makes me crazy!!!)


The Top Ten Things that JARRETT wants to Remember about this Year:


1.  In July, we adopted a 10-week old cat from the animal shelter and I named him Hobbes.

2.  It is my first year of playing the saxophone, and it's fun!!

3.  Finally, after waiting for TWO year, Zelda finally came out (video game for Nintendo 64).

4.  I got on the "A" honor roll for the first quarter.

5.  Pokeman (video game for Game Boy) came out.

6.  I went to Disney World with my dad and brother.

7.  I went to Universal Studios with my brother and Aunt Diane.

8.  In September, I went to White Pines Ranch and was away from home for 3 days.

9.  I started going to Kaneland Middle School (same building as elementary school) for the first time (5th grade).

10. We started playing with yo-yos, and we love doing tricks and stuff.


The Top Ten Things that ANDREW wants to Remember from this Year:


1.  In March, our 7th and 8th grade basketball team won the Championship.

2.  In baseball, I pitched 16 strikeouts in an 18-out game.  It was awesome.

3.  I got on the honor roll for the first quarter.

4.  I played golf at 6 different golf courses last summer (approximately 700 holes).

5.  We now have our own Middle School (we're not at the high school any more).

6.  I got a 10 gallon fish tank.  My fish are colorful and they like to fight (ciclids).

7.  See #1 in Jarrett's list.  Hobbes keeps wanting to go outside to see the birdies.

8.  I bought a laser pen in Florida.  It helps catch Hobbes when he escapes.

9.  It was fun going to Disney World AND Universal Studios in Orlando.

10. I had a yo-yo class at school (saw a video).  Now I can do lots of tricks.


Bob's Top Ten Musings:

                                               up         up

1.  The Stock Market has been ^ down ^ down (maybe I really can retire some day)!

2.  Can you believe it, another BULLS championship?!?!

3.  Can you believe it, yet another BAD Chicago BEARS team?!?!

4.  This year, I've been at Eby-Brown for 24 years, and I still have an office with windows.

5.  Speaking of Eby-Brown, we're leasing a warehouse in Orlando - I must go visit soon.

6.  I played golf as much as possible - not as often as Andrew but I'm getting better.

7.  Our lawn tractor almost bit the dust, but I fixed it (and they said it wouldn't last).

8.  I didn't travel as much this year, but I saw GA, TX, DC, OH, MN, FL (not CO).

9.  A couple of times both boys had sleepovers somewhere else, and I got the remote!

10. I'll be glad when DJ gets to be 50 so she'll get the AARP mailings that I get now.


Sad Events, but Life can be sad sometimes:


1.  Bob's grandmother (Eva Gulso Leigh) who lived in Minnesota passed away in January (102 years old).

2.  My aunt (Sister Herman Joseph) who lived at St. Mary's Convent in Notre Dame, IN passed away in August. 

3.  Snowball (our white cat) disappeared in April (coyotes? catnapping? ran away?).  We'll never know.

4.  My vegetable garden was perfectly pitiful.  Just like the Cubs refrain:  "Wait 'til next year!"

5.  My weed garden was full of it.  Why can I grow weeds so well!?

6.  Once again, we did not win the Lotto.

7.  I "almost" got organized - I came t - h - i - s close...

8.  Bob's folks (and Ted & Vada) went on a cruise to Alaska and got the flu.  It was just unbelievable.

9.  I still have to take steroids for my ITP, but it's easier than 8 hours of intravenous gamma globulin.

10. Our 12th annual Christmas card picture looks strange - is it the camera or is it US?


Once again, we had a great and delicious Thanksgiving super-duper feast at Ron & Liz's house.  No turkey leftovers, but then I don't have to wash dishes either!  Oh boy!  I made lefse for the Berg Christmas get-together at Avis & Denny's festive house.  The first time I tried, it turned out like a gooey glue and looked like a potato frisbee.  So, I threw away the recipe and made it from memory.  The second time it turned out great!!!  Ya sure, ya know, the Norskes get unruly if their lefse tastes like cardboard.




God bless you and all of your children and grandchildren, in-laws and outlaws, neighbors and friends, and remember to always be nice to others because they could be angels in disguise.


MAY THERE ONE DAY BE PEACE ON EARTH......Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew, Jarrett and Hobbes


*  *  *  *  *

Christmas 1999


BOB'S BIG YEAR:           1)  Golf in Tucson, AZ

                                            2)  25 years at Eby-Brown in September

                                            3)   Golf in Elburn at Hughes Creek

                                            4)  Same car

                                            5)  Golf in Geneva at Eagle Brook (la de da)

                                            6)  Same wife and kids and cat

                                            7)  Golf in Geneva at Mill Creek

                                            8)  Same house

                                            9)  Golf at Prestbury near Sugar Grove

                                           10)  New office at work (more windows)

                                           11)  Golf in Florida


So, it's been a golf year for Bob because not much has changed except for Bob's SLICE!

*                 *                *                *                *                *                *                *                *                *

ANDREW'S BIG YEAR:  1)  Played basketball in the Elburn league - lost every game

                                             2)  Completed 8th grade at Kaneland Middle School

                                             3)  Played baseball on the Elburn pony league team

                                             4)  GOLFED at:  Hughes Creek, Eagle Brook, Mill Creek, North Aurora, Prestbury, Yorkville, Marengo

                                             5)  Started his freshman year at Kaneland High School

                                             6)  Played on the Kaneland Golf Team as Captain of the JV team

                                             7)  Finally got the ciclid tank going again.  They look good.

                                             8)  During the last golf game of the year, hit a ball 300 yards!

                                             9)  Plays computer games with people all over the world!

                                            10)  Got a paintball gun.

*                  *                *                *                *                *                *                *                *                *

JARRETT'S BIG YEAR:  1)  Played basketball in the Elburn league - didn't lose every game

                                             2)  Completed 5th grade on the high honor roll for the entire year

                                             3)  Went to science summer camp at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

                                             4)  Talked his mother into buying him a ferret (named Sable)

                                             5)  Has become quite a roller blader and skate boarder

                                             6)  Spent most of the summer on e-Bay buying Pokemon cards

                                             7)  Has been finally cured of Pokemon fever

                                             8)  Started 6th grade at Kaneland Middle School

                                             9)  Plays computer games with people all over the world!

                                            10)  Decided this month that he wants to become a doctor

*                     *                *                *                *                *                *                *                *                *

Well, if you've read this far, thanks.  1)  I turned 50 this year;  2) Gained back 20 of the pounds I lost last year but I don't care because I'm 50;  3) Since I turned 50, I've become invisible because I'm no longer a babe and I don't know anything because I'm old; 4) Actually found my paints and painted two oil paintings;  5) My flowers were extremely beautiful this year (took pictures so I could remember how they looked;  6) I lost my favorite camera;  7) Got a new camera but I can't figure out how to work it yet because I'm 50 and I'm going downhill fast;  8) I wish no one else would move to the country, i.e., Elburn, and then say that we should do things the way they did them in the town they left BUT they didn't like it there which was WHY they moved here in the first place, so why don't they just move back and quit trying to change us....anyway;  9) I'm really not as crabby as I I?  10) I'm VERY thankful for all my blessings and I hope and pray everyone has a wonderful, happy and blessed Christmas and a joyful and rip-roarin-riotous New Year 2000.


GOD BLESS YOU ALL.  Love & peace, Donna, Bob, Andrew, Jarrett, Hobbes, Sable & fishies


  *   *   *   *   *

Christmas 2000

* * * MERRY CHRISTMAS * * * ho ho ho * * * December 2000 * * * * * * * * * * *

Greetings from the country:  Last Christmas, we escaped the cold and went to Orlando for the Eby-Brown-Orlando Christmas party, then stayed on to visit with the Bergs and also the Burkholders down in Port Charlotte.  To my way of thinking, it was just short of a disaster (I had a horrendous sore throat).  In Bob's view, it was just fine (of course, he brought along his golf clubs!!).  Andrew and Jarrett got to go on a fishing boat out on the Gulf, so they were happy.


We drove down to see Bob's folks south of Tampa for a few days and Bob's brother, Bill and his family were there.  Of course, this year, no one is visiting his folks for Christmas so they're going to go north to the south to Atlanta to see Bob's brother, Jim, his wife, Joan, the Dixie darlings and the Dixie dandies (and their Southern accents are so cute!).


In May, I went with Bob on the annual Eby-Brown trip to California this time (I have never wanted to go there because of the earthquakes).  We had the plane ride from hell, of course, it was United (late, later, latest) but Napa was absolutely gorgeous.  At O'Hare, Bob's luggage and golf clubs got locked in Dick's trunk (the key to the car was already sent on to California), so Bob and I had to go shopping for all new clothes for him in downtown Napa....very fun.  Plus, I went on the "wine train" and there were NO QUAKES!


In June, we drove up to Minneapolis for the 50th wedding anniversary party for Bob's Aunt Vada and Uncle Ted.  It was a two-day deal.  We drove up on Saturday and came back on Sunday - with the boys protesting the whole way:  "Do we HAVE TO go?  (It was the "whine car").  It was a very nice party at Ted and Vada's son's idyllic farm - reminded me of Colorado.


Andrew was on the Kaneland golf team again.  He played some good golf and enjoyed playing on all the different courses.  After helping me shovel 9 inches of snow out of our driveway the other day, he wants to move to Florida.  Hates snow!!!  Jarrett has become quite the in-line skater.  He and Bob built a "grind rail" that he slides on with his skates.  Very cool.  Now, we know where all the skate parks are - the best one is in Woodstock (indoors) - straight up Hwy. 47 for 45 minutes, turn right, you're there!


My own health is still a darn roller coaster.  I hit close to rock bottom on Tuesday (11,000 platelets - that's VERY critical - should be at least 150,000).  So, I'm back on the wacky medicine (dexamethasone) once again!  Today, my platelets are up to 42,000!  Hurray!!  Bob has to use the glaucoma drops - he had an allergic reaction to sulfa after getting bit on the eyelid by one of those nasty Asian ladybugs.  It's a medical nightmare around here!


Bob's still at Eby-Brown, and I'm still a bum, Andrew is a sophomore at Kaneland High School and Jarrett's in 7th grade at Kaneland Middle School.  As you can see from the card, we haven't lost Hobbes (the cat), and we still have Sable (the ferret), along with other assorted frogs, toads, but no snakes!!  I hope you and yours have a very nice holiday.


God bless you all at Christmas.  Love, Donna, Bob, Andrew, Jarrett, Hobbes, Sable & all the Other Critters

*  *  *  *  * 

Christmas 2001


It's the last week before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring because I gave Sable the ferret to my cousin Erin.  Hobbes keeps looking for her but she is now living in DeKalb.  Rumor has it that she's going to NIU next semester for her D.F. (Doctor of Ferrotology).  Erin called her "Miss Sable."  Isn't that sweet?


I wasn't able to write much a of a letter this year, so this is pretty much off the top of my head.  What have we been doing?  Well, Bob and I have been teaching Andrew to drive.  It's very wild out there in the streets.  Everyone speeds, no one uses their turn signals, most everyone tailgates, and no one seems to know what a RED light means.  You mean, I can't pass on the right and drive on the shoulder of the road when someone is stopped for a left-hand turn - like everyone else does???  Yikes!


Earlier in the summer, Jarrett and Bob built a quarter-pipe....that's one of those things that the young hipster dudes skate on with their in-line skates and skateboards to frighten their parents and get some air under themselves.  I'm not hip to their jargon, so pardon me for being an old unhip chick (I don't think they even use that word anymore).  But we did spend a lot of fun times going to the skate parks this summer.  Jarrett is doing very well in school this year which makes us all happy!


Andrew was on the golf team again.  They had a great team this year.  I went over one time and got a golf cart to follow Andrew's foursome but I made him nervous and then a big thunderstorm came, so I guess I won't do that again.  Bob played a lot of golf this year.  Every time it was a nice day, he'd leave work early and go out and play 18 holes.  He also played different courses and has really improved - so he says!!!


I planted hundreds of tulips in my various flower beds and just finished planting them on December 5th.  Now, I'm hoping all the bulbs I planted this fall don't sprout too early because it's been so warm, they might think it's already spring.  This has been some weird weather.  I just hope it doesn't start snowing non-stop for the next month.


Hope you all are doing well.  We had an hour of flurries last week.  However, we've had days and days of sickness....flu, flu, colds, aches, pains, etc.  I still have a cold and it's so annoying...sniff...sniff...sniff...


Have a wonderful Christmas.  I almost didn't get the picture taken in time this year because the boys are completely "over" it.  Incredibly, this marks the 15th consecutive year of my photo Christmas card.  It's hard to believe, isn't it?  And every year, they act like, "WHAT, you want to take our picture?"  duh....hahaha  very funny, boys.


God bless you all at Christmas.  Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew, Jarrett and Hobbes

*   *   *   *   *


Greetings to all:

For some reason, I can't find the Christmas newsletter from 2002, but that's okay.  As I recall, I didn't say too much about the boys.  It seems strange now that I babbled on about something or other.  Some mundane chit chat.  Now, when I look back from my lofty perch on top of the 20/20 hindsight bus, I'm struck by the fact that I never did brag about my children as much as some people do.  I always found that type of newsletter extremely annoying.  However, I think I will brag about them in this letter that was never written until now -- two years later during the Christmas 2004 holiday season.


Andrew was such a gregarious person from the time he was a little guy until he left the earth.  He had so many friends.  He was a genius who got C's if he was lucky.  Mostly, he finessed his way through school.  His teachers always said that he was joy to have in class.  He was a sweetheart.  Who knows what he would have done if he had lived.  I know that I would have done my darnest to make sure that he succeeded.  I loved him so much then and I still do.  I miss him more than I can ever say.  It's hard for me to believe he's gone.  It's just an unreal reality that I live with every day.  He did live each day though as if it were his last, so maybe he knew that he wasn't going to live a long life.  He had joy, he had fun, he had seasons in the sun.  God bless my sweet Andrew.


Jarrett was another genius but he got straight A's.  Funniest kid ever.  He made me laugh one night so unexpectedly that I spit the water I had in mouth all over the steering wheel.  He decided that he was going to be the best chess player in high school and as a freshman he succeeded in doing just that.  We weren't surprised though because once Jarrett set his mind on something, he usually achieved it.  He was the one who never had a demerit, never got in trouble in school (Andrew accumulated a stack of golden demerits which I still have).  When Jarrett was home, he could be quite a handful, but he was always sweet to his mom.  He always told me he loved me.  Andrew did too.  That's one thing I miss the most - hearing my sons tell me they loved me.  God bless my sweet Jarrett.  


Before Christmas 2002, Andrew only wanted on thing:  a CAR for Christmas.  That's all I want, he said.  It only cost $30,000.  Bob told him that he didn't even have a car that was worth $30,000.  Don't think you're going to get that, Andrew.  He was emphatic that was all he wanted.  We just ignored him.  Instead, Bob went out and got him the cell phone that he wanted.  It was quite a nice phone for the time.  No camera phones in the olden days, but it was very nice.  In the picture above, he's talking on it.  Quite thrilled to realize that we ignored his wacky car request.  I also got him a blue down comforter.  He was very happy about that, too.  I've used it many times since he died,  and it is very warm and cozy....and now that I think about it, very comforting.


That year, Bob got Jarrett a regulation chess board and timer.  I have the picture of them sitting at the kitchen table trying to figure out the timer/clock.  It was very confusing.  The chess board and pieces were awesome.  It was like the one that the International Chess Master used when he had the chess lessons with Jarrett and Eric.  They both did so well.  They were both excellent chess players.  After Jarrett died, we gave the chess set to Eric but he can't bring himself to play chess with it.  I wish he would.  I think Jarrett would be very happy if he did.  I'm sure he'd sit on Eric's shoulder and whisper in his ear which piece to move. 


I got Jarrett a white down comforter just like Andrew's.  We always had to get them comparable gifts.  Always.  Forever.  I don't want to sound morbid, but even their caskets were the same  (sorry if I offend anyone).  When they were younger they didn't notice but as they got older, their presents had to be almost exactly equal to the penny.  That's how they were.  We never could change them.  We just gave them whatever they wanted.  Everything except that sports car.


We did have a nice Christmas that year in spite of the fact that Andrew was out of control some of the time.  We learned a lot about how to be better parents.  No matter what they did, we still loved them.  I guess a lot of times we hated what they did, but still loved them anyway.  That's what you have to do.  In hindsight, I wish I'd been kinder to them.  Some people tell me, "No, you were a great mom."  Yes, I suppose I was, but I still wish I had been nicer and kinder more often, but I don't think I could have been more indulgent.  We gave them everything.  They gave us love.


One last thought, just remember this:  Be nice to your kids.  You'll never, ever regret it.  Because I said so that's why.



*  *  *  *  *


(picture taken on Andrew's 17th birthday)


This is the last picture of us all together.  We had such a wonderful time that night as you can tell from our smiles.  Jarrett had played in his first real chess tournament earlier in the day and skillfully beat three older guys.  It was so exciting that he was positively floating on air.  Andrew was equally thrilled because it was his birthday and he wasn't 16 anymore.  After we finished eating, he was going out with his girlfriend (Shawn) in the new car - the one with the CD player in it.  What a great celebration we had!


It is comforting to Bob and me to have a perfect memory of our family happily enjoying an evening out and a perfect picture of it, too.  My advice to everyone at Christmas isn't unique or earth-shattering, it's just a reminder that what you hold dear should have nothing to do with money or status or power.  It does have everything to do with the REAL reason for Christmas.  How many of us would actually give up EVERYTHING to follow Jesus?  How many of us forget the lesson that love is more important than things?  When our children died, they didn't take any money with them, they only took our love.  They truly are forever in our hearts.


I continually told Andrew and Jarrett that God loves you both.  Be nice to everyone.  The Christmas spirit has nothing to do with how much stuff you get, but how much you GIVE selflessly with no expectation of anything in return.  Always be kind to the ones you love.  Believe me when I say you never, ever know when it might be the very last time you see them.  Once they are dead and gone, you don't get a second chance.  It's over.  The boys taught me the most valuable thing any of us can learn, and that is the lesson of unconditional love.  No matter what they did, I always forgave them and always loved them.  I received priceless wisdom from my two precious gifts from God.


On that cold and snowy day in March, our children went to school like every other day, but they never came home again.  I still remember them saying, "Love you, Mom."  Tell your friends and family and loved ones that you do love them.  Make amends.  Be kind.  Be nice.  Forgive and forget.  Do a good deed for someone.  Remember that any time, anywhere, you might be entertaining angels unaware.  God bless you at Christmas and God bless you always.


May the saintly boys, Andrew and Jarrett Burkholder, watch over you from heaven!  We send our best wishes for a blessed Christmas, hope for a happier new year and our love to you and yours, Donna and Bob


*   *   *   *   *







"Twas three weeks before Christmas

when all through the house

not a creature was stirring

not even a mouse

(he'd been caught in a trap).


The stockings weren't hung

by the chimney with care

'cause we knew that our boys

wouldn't be there.


Two red candles were lit

in the yard all year

to honor their lives

that we hold so dear.


Whenever we see them

shining bright in the night

we think of our boys

and their lives so bright.


This is not meant to be sad

please don't shed a tear.

Andrew & Jarrett are spending

Christmas with Jesus this year.




God bless you at Christmas 2004 and always,

Love from, Donna, Bob, Andrew & Jarrett (the saintly boys)

and Hobbes the cat