As 1998 draws its final breaths, we look back with awe and wonder at these eventful twelve months which have passed so quickly. We remember the forceful ocean waves breaking into foamy spray upon the craggy coast of Maine; a quaint lighthouse offering a point of focus against an endless sea and sky; bright orange rock formations in Sedona, Arizona, which look as though a child took crayons and gave canyons and mountains their colorful hues; tall, multi-armed giant saguaro cacti marching across barren hills and valleys like an army of spiny green soldiers; and stately rows of castle-like estates nestled in verdant gardens along the elegant coast of Newport Rhode, Island. Best of all we remember quiet times spent in a tall, blue house facing an expanse of woods filled with graceful, whispering trees and an errant, meandering creek. For among all these wonders of God and man, there is no place quite like home.|
As always, Eric's company The Light Source keeps him busy, demanding time and energy, but also offering a creative outlet for his inventive skills. This year, Eric came up with a device which raises and lowers television and theatrical lights so that they can be serviced without ladders and airlifts. He calls his invention the "cranky pole" since it is operated with a long-handled crank.
Recently our church put on a children's musical program in which adorable little children warbled the song, "I just want to be a sheep, Baaa, Baa, Baa, Baa. I just want to be a sheep, Baaa, Baa, Baa, Baa." It was extremely obvious to our family, that whoever penned those words had never had any experience with real sheep. To say that sheep are stupid is really just too complimentary. Real sheep are nothing more than a demented mass of tangled wool on four legs that run amuck for the flimsiest of reasons. Despite the generalizations, the boys have learned that each sheep does have its own distinct personality. Daniel nicknamed the play's sheep according to their dominant character traits -- "Sick", "Stupid", and "Paranoid". However, regardless of the sheep's mental deficiencies, they did their part this year in adding realism to the Biblical settings.
Seventeen years old now, Daniel maintains a steady interest in computers and computer graphics. Using TrueSpace and Bryce, he designs and builds his own computer-generated landscapes and animations. He is presently teaching Andrew the craft. Daniel has done the artwork for business cards.
Daniel's outdoor interests include canoeing, bicycling and playing paint ball. He helps John, who recently turned sixteen, manage his growing paint ball business. This summer they spent a week at youth camp, providing paintball as one of the recreational offerings for campers.
Daniel and John are a formidable duo when they play paintball on the same team, striking fear and trembling into those who happen to be the unfortunate ones playing against them. The big paintball achievement this year was their team of eleven routing a team of twenty that was armed with some of the best, most expensive paintball equipment available. It was a particularly sweet victory for the "under dog" team.
This has been a banner year for twelve year old Andrew. In February, he won second place in a national Lego Block contest for his designs of innovative underwater craft. His awards, which included a certified, numbered piece of coal from the Titanic, are special reminders to him of his achievements.
At last Andrew has found his true calling in life. He loves to sing and often fills the four resonant bathroom walls with his musical outpourings. Drama, too, has always been a part of his life. Winning a game, losing a game, hang nails, his sister's off key, falsetto soprano singing -- these have always evoked very dramatic reactions from Andrew.
Tiny rolls of wrapping paper, strings of little Christmas lights waiting to be put on a miniature Christmas tree, haphazard stacks of brightly colored little gift boxes, tiny shoes and socks left under the table, and a discarded little newspaper create a scene of pre-holiday disaster. In the midst of the chaos, a smartly dressed Barbie doll rests with her feet propped up on the table, a picture of calm in the midst of a domestic whirlwind of clutter. For the last couple of years I have enjoyed piecing together little scenes such as these and photographing them. With Eric's encouragement, I at last submitted several pictures and some articles to the magazine Barbie Bazaar. It was near cardiac arrest for me when the editor called us back, said she loved the material and wanted me to be a regular contributor. Here in one scant year was a third once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a very special moment, and I am looking forward to doing more projects with our growing family of dolls.
May God richly bless you this holiday season.
Love, The Von Fanges