**I still maintain that my seniority in the field makes me right on all issues in our marriage
Congratulations to Bonnie & Josiah, Jen & Bobby, and Michael & Jamie!
“Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas Letter” 2002
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. We’ve got lots of exciting accomplishments to share in this year’s “Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas LetterÓ” 2002.
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. Alright, in actuality, we bought a fixer-upper that required quite a bit of work. So, being the adventurers 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! Best of all, Mark and I completed all of this without having one single argument. Of course, I’ve been completely generous in allowing Mark to have input into the interior design elements of our home.
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 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, 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”. It’s been fun having friends so close by, and we’re excited to raise our kids in this kind of community environment.
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.
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. 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 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. I also decided to take a few classes in interior design this semester, since I’m always looking for a way to create challenge 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.
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
 This is the standard first sentence for a Christmas letter.
 This is the first of many lies.
 Or a three-bedroom tract home in Costa Mesa built in the ‘50’s?
 Actually, this sentence is true!
 But this sentence is definitely not.
 Translation: You can do whatever you want in the garage
 like we love Simon from American Idol
 A yard and detached walls
 Our neighbors aren’t at all freaked out
 Yes, mom, we will have kids someday
 Bring on the birth control!
 Third nun from the left
 BMG offered me 12 CD’s for the price of 1!
 i.e. meeting at Starbuck’s and surfing
“Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas Letter 2001”
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. There is so much to tell about our Fabulous, Fabulous Lives in this year’s Fabulous, Fabulous Christmas Letter 2001. We enjoyed the opportunity to travel this year. We started in San Francisco, where we rang in the New Year. We took a trip up the coast for a friend’s wedding, and of course stayed at one of the best hotels of the city.  Believe it or not, this was my first time driving up the California coastline. We also took a road trip to the Monterey/Carmel area for another friend’s wedding later in the year. In February, we went on a mission trip with our church to India. While we were there, we took part in local customs, learned age-old Indian traditions, and sampled exotic cuisine. Also, I caught a nasty bug that kept me close to my bedroom for about a month. So that was fun. This October, we took a trip to New York with some friends to catch up on the Broadway shows. We stayed at the finest hotels, ate at the best restaurants, and enjoyed a week of romance away from home. Then in November, we went back to New York City to serve with the Salvation Army for a week, and served food to the people working at the tragedy site.
Mark continues to work at Rock Harbor Church, though he transitioned to a new position this year. He has left youth ministry to serve as the Director of Spiritual Formation, where he oversees some small groups, seminars, does occasional speaking, and is starting a recovery ministry. We’ll definitely miss the many nights a week we spent at youth group and having our house toilet-papered on a regular basis, but I believe that this new position is going to really stretch Mark. Yes, our Mark is growing up, and I can assure you that since accepting his new position he has been the model of maturity and propriety. This year saw some career transitions for me as well. You may remember that this time last year I was enjoying the challenge of working three jobs. I finally left my research position at UCI in order to pursue counseling on a full-time basis. I am still with Journeys Counseling, and we recently moved off the college campus and into an office suite.
Oh, I almost forget – the kids are doing great. Our three-year old triplets Chelsea, Amber, and Tiffany are growing up so fast!. Chelsea was recently accepted at Dartmouth. Amber just got her MENSA card in the mail, and Tiffany will be playing violin for the LA symphony this year. And we can’t forget our feisty pure-bred golden retrievers who sleep at our feet every night.
But seriously, we continue to enjoy this time in our lives when we can focus on our marriage and continue to learn more about ourselves and each other. As I write this, I can’t help but think how blessed we are by our friendships, and we hope this letter and the coming year finds you healthy and happy.
Merry Christmas, Mark and Kristen Howerton
 Statistics show that this is the best way to start a Christmas letter.
 This is the first of many lies
 San Francisco Youth Hostel
 That’s the bathroom?
 You use what for toilet paper?
 Let’s hope that’s chicken.
 Best Western
 Street-side hot-dog vendors
 Shared a room with our friend Isaac
 Like you miss a bunion after it’s been removed
 Today is opposite day.
 Stress and chaos
 Full-time meaning as few hours a week as possible
 Okay, so we don’t have kids yet. Back off.
 But seriously, how much would you kill us if we named our kids Chelsea, Amber, and Tiffany?
 I know, it’s a little much. But you were kind of impressed for a minute, right?
 As if. We can’t even keep a fish.