40 is the new 30.

This month we had a blast celebrating the 40th birthday of two friends: Wendy and Tracey. For Wendy’s birthday, we went to Paso Robles for a weekend of wine-tasting. And a wee bit of wine-fueled karaoke. (yes, that is John Maurer of Social Disortion singing Peter Frampton for his wife’s birthday). For Tracy’s birthday, we got to celebrate at a party in their newly-renovated home in Laguna.

We are still a few years away from the big 4-0, but if this is any indication of what is to come, BRING IT ON!



“Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas Letter” 2002

Mark and Kristen Howerton’s
“Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas Letter” 2002
Dear friends,
Well, it’s that time of year again, and so much has happened since last year that it’s hard to know where to begin.[1] We’ve got lots of exciting accomplishments to share in this year’s “Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas LetterÓ” 2002.[2]

Our first bit of news is that we bought a house! Our new house is a brand-new seven bedroom mansion overlooking the shores of Newport Beach.[3] Alright, in actuality, we bought a fixer-upper that required quite a bit of work. So, being the adventurers[4] we are, we donned our overalls and safety goggles and spend the first month in our home ripping it apart. We installed new floors, tore down walls, painted, sanded . . . I even tiled our bathroom shower![5] Best of all, Mark and I completed all of this without having one single argument.[6] Of course, I’ve been completely generous in allowing Mark to have input into the interior design elements of our home.[7]

You may remember in the “Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas LetterÓ” 1999 and 2001 that we had also purchased new homes. As much as we obviously love[8] the home-buying process, we are hoping this place will be where we settle down. In addition to having some feature we felt were missing in our previous homes[9], we have been blessed by finding a home in the same neighborhood as some very good friends. Actually, three couples from our church were living on our street when we heard about the house, and since then, we’ve lured three other couples from Rock Harbor into the neighborhood, giving it the official designation “Block Harbor”.[10] It’s been fun having friends so close by, and we’re excited to raise our kids in this kind of community environment.[11]
Speaking of kids, Mark and I got a crash-course in parenting this summer when my five and seven-year-old nephews came to stay with us for three weeks. We accompanied Mark to Ponderosa Pines for a week, where he was the camp speaker all summer. Then we spent lots of time swimming, going to the beach, riding our razors, and hitting the rides at the fair. The entire time they were here, I remained the model of patience and discipline, and I’m now completely confident in my skills as a parent.[12]
I had an interesting year professionally. First, I took the two government tests required to be licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. It was a piece of cake, since I started studying well before the exams and retained most of what I learned in graduate school.[13] I’ve continued working as a therapist with a group practice here in Costa Mesa. I also auditioned for a local professional theatre and landed a lead role[14] in their production of Sound of Music. It was fun to be back in the theatre again, and of course the offers have been pouring in ever since.[15] I also decided to take a few classes in interior design this semester, since I’m always looking for a way to create challenge[16] in my life.

Mark continues to enjoy working for Rock Harbor Church. Last year, he began the process of creating a recovery ministry for our church, and it’s been fun to see that blossom this year into many support groups for struggles that often aren’t addressed at church. He also enjoys speaking occasionally, heading up the local outreach programs, and just taking care of general ministry needs.[17]

In all seriousness, we’ve had an awesome year, with the blessing of friends, family, a home, and many great memories. We’re off to Orlando for Christmas, and we’re looking forward to a week in New York City for the new year. I hope this letter finds you well and that God blesses you in the coming year.
Merry Christmas, Mark and Kristen Howerton

[1] This is the standard first sentence for a Christmas letter.
[2] This is the first of many lies.
[3] Or a three-bedroom tract home in Costa Mesa built in the ‘50’s?
[4] cheapskates
[5] Actually, this sentence is true!
[6] But this sentence is definitely not.
[7] Translation: You can do whatever you want in the garage
[8] like we love Simon from American Idol
[9] A yard and detached walls
[10] Our neighbors aren’t at all freaked out
[11] Yes, mom, we will have kids someday
[12] Bring on the birth control!
[13] Not
[14] Third nun from the left
[15] BMG offered me 12 CD’s for the price of 1!
[16] chaos
[17] i.e. meeting at Starbuck’s and surfing