Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Anne, now a senior in high school, got to sample college life when she attended the California State Summer School for the Arts, at the Cal Arts campus in Santa Clarita. She spent an entire month sleeping in the dorms, and took art classes 6 days a week for a month. The program is quite prestigious, and we are very proud she made it in. All she needs to do is hang in there for another six months and it is off to college, wherever that may be. There are still several options open to her. Anne’s driving skills are improving, including learning to drive Rita’s Escape with the stick shift. She hope to finally get her license on her 18th birthday next February.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
|The girl's troop at the Disneyland Girl Scout Birthday Celebration.|
|Off to Seattle!|
|In the queue for the Haunted Mansion for Dad's 50th.|
|The barn at Pine Grove is almost done!|
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Greetings to all of our family and friends! Once again we turn around and another year has passed us by. Time flies when you never stop moving.
The Allan Family of Lakewood: Chris, Rita, Anne and Emily continues with the day to day struggle to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak, and life is never boring. With numerous Girl Scout trips and events, long weekends fixing up our property in Pine Grove, and just the day to day, a dizzying vortex of activity is the dominant theme in our world.
Rita continues to have the shortest commute in LA County, from the bedroom to the upstairs office. Her work for Caltrans takes up her days, while Girl Scouts, scrapbooking and various crafts take up the rest of her time. She has been fixing up the 10 foot by 10 foot square “boat house” (so named because it is like staying in a tiny boat) in Pine Grove to make for comfortable accommodations while we work on the property. So far she (and Chris) have installed a wood stove, shower, water heater, kitchenette, indoor and outdoor sink, and have the paneling for the upstairs loft all stained and ready to nail up. She has even begun transplanting some greenery from Lakewood to up there, including a heirloom rhubarb plant. Sisters Mary, Patty, and cousins May, Lauren and Christopher came up at the end of the summer and hung out for a day with the family, it was fun having them there. The highlight for the kids was the Slip and Slide built by Rita, which worked great until the well ran out and only gave us pumpkin colored muck for a couple of hours. Rita also spent a harried month of October turning out costumes for the girls and their friends to wear to the Disneyland Halloween party. They were very detailed and everyone loved them.
Chris had quite a busy year, at one time making four separate round trips over the Grapevine to Northern California in one month. Work continues on the steam locomotive at the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, California. Much was accomplished this year, and there is a whole load of work yet to do. He also started a new project in Arnold, California; a logging locomotive restoration for the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, which should last until 2014. Not much progress on any of the 15” gauge projects this year. He sold off his steam shovel build to help fund the remainder of the parlor car project, which was sad and a relief all at the same time. The highlight for Chris’ 2011 was a rail cruise up the scenic Feather River Canyon, from Oakland, California to Portola aboard Roger and Gloria Stabler’s private railcar, the “Two Rivers”. Five days and nights enjoying the Pullman accommodations with good friends, sumptuous meals and tasty cocktails made for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Various other activities fill in his “spare time” including trying new recipes to cook that the family will actually eat, and driving the girls back and forth to Disneyland on a regular basis. Chris is enamored of the new Tiki-themed bar at the Disneyland Hotel: Trader Sam’s. He wishes he could spend more time there.
Anne is a sophomore at Whitney High School in Cerritos. The course load is tough but she is doing well. Pre-calculus was especially difficult but she is gradually improving. Her artwork is also improving as she studies different styles and has joined the Lakewood Art Guild. Anne has become a Disney-o-phile, spending a lot of time at Disneyland with her “gang,” the Peter Pals. She hopes one day to get a job at Disney Imagineering. She was able this year to interview Imagineer Ray Spencer for a school report, which was a real highlight for her. She is starting to work on her Girl Scout Gold Award, a project for the City of Lakewood Pan American Association, and has become a real fan of sleeping in.
Emily is in 8th grade, also at Whitney. She has taken to drama, and was in a school play last spring, and most likely another one this coming spring. She is also studying hard and is making very good grades. Emily remains a Barbie enthusiast and everything pink. This year she adds Monster High to her list of favorite things. She completed her Girl Scout Silver Award, developed and ran a Harry Potter Girl Scout camp. She enjoys hanging out with her circle of friends. Emily is quite keen on Christmas coming, and has led the charge to get the decorations up, which is good, since her parents are getting more tired as the season wears on.
Missy is slowing down, she is we estimate around 9-10 years old now, but still excited to walk around the neighborhood, or ride in the truck. She is quite good at taking care of us.
That’s our year in a nutshell. 2011 went quick, and there is no indication that we will slow down any time soon. 2012 promises to be a banner year, with a barn raising in the summer and only 4 years until the big move to Pine Grove. We hope all of you have a wonderful season and a happy, healthy New Year. Please keep in touch, and stop in if you get the chance, we might actually be at home!
All the best,
Chris Rita Anne Emily & Missy
Thursday, November 25, 2010
As the girls get into their teenage years, life becomes increasingly hectic. Both Anne and Emily are now attending Whitney Academy in Cerritos. Their school is part of the local school district, and focuses on college prep. Another benefit for Chris and Rita is the school bus transport provided, so no more multiple daily driving trips across town.
Rita consented to move her Caltrans office into what was the master bedroom, and the bedroom is now on the ground floor. Chris suggested this arrangement because less noise from the street gets through to the back of the house. The move, which took place over the summer, involved a lot of painting, new carpets, windows, and other improvements that were put off for too long, like central heat downstairs. The new office also includes homework areas for both the girls. Rita continues to be active in Girl Scouts. She led the annual campout to Newport Beach over the summer, and keeps busy organizing other troop activities. For her Mother’s Day in August she received a baby dragon sculpture for the garden, and for her birthday she loved the ”Harry Potter” themed Jelly Belly vending machine we bought surplus from a candy shop in Jackson. At Halloween she added a large inflatable skull to the roof of the house; she affectionately refers to him as “Achmed”.
Anne’s highlights for the year included her East Coast trip with her 8th grade class, from Washington DC to Boston in less than seven days. She also was treated to a “backstage” tour of Disney Imagineering from a friend of ours. Anne hopes one day to become an Imagineer, and the tour, which was incorporated into a school career report, was quite inspiring to her. She graduated with honors from Carmenita Middle School in June.
This year also marks the first year both the girls have Disneyland Annual Passports, so they can take advantage of our proximity to the Park and visit as much as they both can stand. Anne is a rabid Disney fan, and Emily loves Tinkerbell, and they both love a few hours a month running around Disneyland parent-free.
Summer Camps for both girls this year included Surfing at Huntington Beach, improv/theater camp at the local Community College, and of course Girl Scout camps both in Long Beach and up in the mountains near Idyllwild.
Emily finished up 6th grade and took part in the school play and the talent show, and did a wonderful job with both. She was accepted to Whitney school and decided to go, reluctantly at first, but she now loves it. She was encouraged to attend the same school by both her parents, for the reasons previously mentioned (there’s a bus!)
The really BIG news is the purchase of Chris and Rita’s retirement property in the town of Pine Grove, California, in the northern part of the state, about an hour’s drive southeast of Sacramento. There is not much on the acre-and-a-third parcel except for a couple of shacks. One of these “outbuildings” will become a bunkhouse of sorts, someplace to stay while we are working on the property. Chris is quite excited to get out of the greater Los Angeles area after the girls are out of High School. The property purchase gives him some hope this may actually happen! The land is wooded and lies at the 2300 foot level. The well, septic, and power were put in by the former owner, so all we have to do is drop in a house and shop in the future (among other things).
Chris continues to restore the steam locomotive in Portola with his team. It will be a long term job but one he enjoys. Every so often he even makes it out to the garage to work on one of his projects, or somebody else’s. He has several more lifetimes of projects ahead of him.
Missy continues to take care of all of us, and enjoys napping and barking at the UPS truck.
That’s about it for now. We wish all of you a joyous Christmas, and a happy, prosperous, and safe 2011.