No. 6, Volume 5, December 31st, 2002
Happy New Year and welcome to our 5th annual newsletter! This year we have chosen to let the Chinese proverb "a picture tells a thousand words" dominate the newsletter while going through our year 2002 month for month. Enjoy our yearbook!
Pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them; resting the curser on the picture will show the caption.
On Sunday, January 27th a wonder happened. Little Nina Ye was born to her proud parents Connie Wang and Mark Ye. Lin became her big sister by choice and every step in Nina's development was followed with joy by the Kristensen family.
On February 12 Per Ole and Kirsten had been married 12 1/2 years. That means Copper Anniversary in Denmark. Kirsten tried on her wedding dress - and yes it still fit! The evening was celebrated with an excellent dinner at Joe & Maggie's Bistro and great gifts highlighted the day.
To make up for not being able to celebrate the Copper Anniversary with a party we decided to turn the annual Chinese New Year into a Grand Open House on February 16th with almost 50 guests.
On February 22nd Lin, Maj and their friend Maddy Craig performed the "Upside Down" by A*Teens at the Lip Sync Show at Ocean Township High School.
On February 22nd - 23rd Kirsten went to the 15th annual Phi Theta Kappa Middle States Regional Convention in Newark with her fellow honor society officers and advisors to compete for the highly valued awards and won an "honorable mention" for the Illustory project she had initiated in the fall of 2001.
March 1st was the kick-off day for another Illustory project in the honor society. Kirsten and other members of Alpha Pi Theta met with a group of children from Aslan Youth Ministries to spend the next two months' Friday afternoons writing and illustrating books about health.
At Easter the family was honored by a visit by our former exchange student Nate Goetz from Los Angeles and his fiancée Parul Patel. We all got a lesson in how to cook vegetarian (while drinking a lot of red wine).
On April 3rd - 7th Kirsten went to Nashville, Tennessee to participate in the 84th Annual Phi Theta Kappa International Convention. Apart from spending five days at the gorgeous Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Conference Center together with almost 4,000 other fellow honor society members it was exciting to meet the country singer Trisha Yearwood on fairly close hold while she received the 2002 Distinguished Alumna Award from Phi Theta Kappa as a longtime member of the society (since 1983) and also to meet the speaker, author of "Getting Ahead at Word" and Olympic medal winner, Bonnie St. John.
April opened another possibility for joining an honor society for Kirsten. On April 8th she was inducted as a founding member of Brookdale's new chapter of Psi Beta, the honor society for psychology and was was elected Officer of Communications responsible for creating a new psychology publication, Betanings, and website for the chapter.
May paid off for Kirsten's hard and active work in Brookdale's many clubs and societies. On May 2nd she received a Gold Star Award and a scholarship for extraordinary contributions to Brookdale Community College at the Gold Star Award Gala Dinner at the Grand Marquis in Old Bridge, New Jersey.
May 10th was Maj's 12th birthday. The theme of this year's birthday was make-overs with spa treatment. After a thorough cleaning and a dip in the spa the birthday guests enjoyed a barbeque on the patio.
As the President-elect of Alpha Pi Theta, the honor society of Phi Theta Kappa at Brookdale, Kirsten was invited to attend the All-USA grand finale celebration on May16th in the State Capitol in Trenton, New Jersey. Honored by the President of Brookdale, Dr. Peter Burnham's presence as well as the advisors of the society, Dr. Shahin Pirzad and Professor Barbara Baron, Kirsten made a promise to herself that she would do what she could to be one of the two selected candidates for the highly valued scholarship next year. (The goal was reached on November 26th!) On May 17th Kirsten was sworn in as the President of Alpha Pi Theta with an executive board of 10 other officers.
On 2 Pal Drive major decisions had been made regarding the maintenance and home improvement of the 35 year-old house. Replacement windows were bought from and installed by Asbury Window Factory for the total front facade. The house is now the "House of the Rising Sun".
May 8th was the evening of the Spring Concert at Wayside School. Maj and her friends, Maddy and Madeline were great performers in the chorus. In the last week of May Per Ole had a quick business trip to Ireland for Flarion with a chance of a 12-hours stay in Copenhagen. Just enough time to visit Grandma Hanne and Grandpa Ove and get a ride in their new Suzuki.
May 27th was time for the Memorial Day Parade that Lin had practiced hard for in her twirling team at Wayside School. Aunt Connie and little Nina were among the many visitors with flags and appraisals.
On June 3rd Maj and Kirsten went with Mr. Palermo's 5th grade on a class trip to the retired New Jersey Battleship in Camden, New Jersey. It was exciting to imagine a day on the battleship in action.
Saturday June 8th was a special day for the Aslan Youth children and the officers of Alpha Pi Theta who had worked hard to get the children's Illustory books published and exhibited at the local branch library before the official reading at Monmouth University during the Phi Theta Kappa Regional Middle States Officers Academy and Honors Institute. Eleven books were published and eleven teenagers could proudly add "published author and illustrator" to their resume.
Lin had continued her ballet training at Margery Carroll's Ballet School on her 4th year and performed excerpts from "Coppelia" on June 14th at Meadowbrook Elementary School.
On June 23rd Flarion Technologies Inc. hosted its annual picnic for employees and their families at Basking Ridge. The caricature artist was busy this year capturing all members of the Kristensen family.
Having had all the windows at the front of the house replaced the back was now up for consideration. After a couple of checks of the wood condition Per Ole soon realized that the job was to be more extensive and time-consuming than first thought. Windows and doors were ordered from Andersen and Pella and from June ALL Per Ole's weekends were to be spent on wood, framework and window replacements.
The week of June 24th Kirsten was sent to Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina to attend the 35th Annual Phi Theta Kappa Honors Institute. Seven days were spent studying the Honors Study Topic "Dimensions and Directions of Health: Choices in the Maze" and the International Service Program "Conquering Cancer: A Prevention and Awareness Program with the American Cancer Society." Besides participating in lectures, group sessions, and fellowship gatherings, there was also time to see the Vanderbilt family's beautiful Biltmore Estate and the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
July 3rd marked a special day at Flarion Technologies, Inc. This was the day when the first PC card was received from the manufacturer and brought to full functionality within a few hours! That called for a celebration. Kirsten and the girls brought a magnum bottle of champagne and pleasantly surprised management and staff at Flarion.
July 8th Per Ole finally made a decision to have the wart on his left cheek surgically removed. None of us had any idea that this would need full anesthesia, but Per Ole survived the operating table and looks handsome after the stitches and scar has disappeared. On July 20 our goddaughter, Thea from Denmark, visited us for ten days which were spent at the beach, in the pool, and in New York trying to cope with the hot and humid weather.
On July 27th a happy Nina and friends celebrated her first 1/2 year birthday. No doubt she is a party girl. And everybody liked the ice-cream cake.
One of the benefits of being in the honor society is the Annual Hershey Park picnic in Pennsylvania and on August 2 our advisor Barbara Baron filled up Brookdale's minivan with members and friends and off we rode to a fun day with amusements and lots of chocolate.
On August 10th Lin became a two-digit girl. Her 10th birthday was celebrated as a Dance Show Party in the garden with parents and neighbors as an entertained audience before the barbeque was served.
On August 14th we got a very pleasant surprise: Kirsten's cousin Jeannette and her 12 year-old son Jessiah from Toronto, Canada paid us a few days visit - with just enough time to go searching for million-year old shark teeth from the Jurrassic Period (yes, we found some!) and a "cool" day at the Jersey Shore.
August 16th was a very sad day - although it doesn't show on the pictures. Little Nina did not feel sad at all, even though this was the last day of her American life so far. Our very good friend and the girl's chosen "Aunt" Connie left for China for good, leaving a deep wound but also many memories of happy times together during the last five years.
August is also vacation time! This year we had chosen to visit California - Los Angeles and San Diego before attending Nate and Parul's wedding on September 1 in Los Angeles. A great day was spent in San Diego Sea World enjoying the spectacular killer whale Shamu showing off her power in the water, feeding dolphins, and watching all kinds of water animals in beautiful settings and environments.
Another wonderful day was spent in San Diego Zoo studying the koalas and enjoying the beautifully landscaped zoo with thousands of different animals and gardens. We sure don't disagree with the promise that this zoo is the most spectacular in the world!
Per Ole's former colleague from Hong Kong, Tao Ling Fu and his wife Debbie gave us another unforgettable day when driving us into the extremely hot and bare Anza-Borrego desert. Getting closer to the valley's visitor center and leaving the air-conditioned car we learned that there is actually life in the dry and gray sand vegetation. And how quiet and peaceful it is!
Spending time in a wine producing state of course we had to try out the local wineries. Temecula valley is San Diego's answer to this, but also orange and grapefruit groves alternated the wine fields. Our favorite winery (after many tries) was definitely Hart Winery.
After five exciting days in San Diego the tour went to Los Angeles where we had booked a nice little hotel, Hollywood Hills Magic Hotel, in the middle of Hollywood within walking distance to the star-walk on Hollywood Boulevard and all the other world-famous sites of the movie world. Very important for the girls was a visit to the Charmed House - where their favorite show The Charmed Ones were filmed.
Of course we did the "must-see" in Los Angeles, went shopping on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, spent a wonderful day in Disneyland and dipped the feet in Pacific water.
September 1st was a very special day - a day that the girls had been waiting for with excitement for years! "Brother" Nate and Parul had decided that this should finally be their wedding day. Maj and Lin had been asked to be flower girls and after we learned that the wedding would be Indian after Hindu traditions the excitement grew to ecstasy. The wedding was held at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, Los Angeles and everybody enjoyed an unforgettable day.
September will always be remembered for something else, too. On September 11 many memorials were done and in our neighbor town, Tinton Falls, at the fire station, local patriots had donated a copy of the remarkable twin towers in memory of the original World Trade Towers. In Sandy Hook, our national park near the shore, a group of artists had been working on memorial towers symbolizing the towers and the people who were lost in them. A beautiful set of memorabilia. Now they only have to decide where to place the towers on a permanent basis.
Here is a typical weekend situation in the fall of 2002. Per Ole spent countless hours working on the house. Two patio doors, one balcony door, and six sets of windows were replaced or put in.Yes, we have the best possible contractor and handyman, but don't even think of it - he would be much to expensive for anyone to hire ...
Lin and Maj therefore spent most of the weekends with Kirsten - who spent them with her honor society! On September 21st the Higgins family in Colts Neck kindly opened their house and huge property for Alpha Pi Theta's annual fellowship picnic and we were happy to be able to welcome friends from our sister chapters at Hudson and Ocean County College. Lin had the accident of the year when the metal ring of a swing hit her forehead. Luckily it looks more scary than it was. After an hour with an icepack the swelling almost disappeared and she was fine. Next day she didn't even have a coloration. Weird but true.
October is the month of Halloween and a witch "came" to live in our front yard. Lin and Maj wanted to paint their costumes this year, Lin as a window to our town, Ocean Township; Maj as a mega-container of milk. In our local supermarket, Foodtown, they were lucky again and won 1st and 2nd prize - Maj a $20 giftcard to Toys R'Us; Lin 4 tickets to the movies. Maj couldn't resist comparing her outfit with her 'mates' at the milk rack.
On October 30th Kirsten had been invited to a taping at ABC News in New York for a 20/20 program called "Culture and Obesity". It was a fun session being able to speak freely about our reactions to the growing Americans and their problems with fast food, fat and laziness. More than 30% of the American population is obese. Kirsten's fellow "actors" were from Japan, China, and Switzerland. Interesting how we all felt the same about the Americans and food. As far as we know the program has not been broadcast yet.
On November 23rd the entire Kristensen family was busy working at the Christmas bazaar in the Danish Seamen's Church in Brooklyn, New York. Per Ole, Lin and Kirsten worked most of the day selling Danish candy (liquorices and marcipan), Maj helped out with the Danish open sandwiches.
December 1st was a very busy day for the Kristensen girls (Per Ole worked on the house of course!) Breakfast was eaten with Santa at the fire station. This year Lin's friend Nina Pirzad was invited and Santa had a candy for her, too. After a good meal of American pancakes, sausages and scrambled eggs, we picked up Per Ole to go cut the Christmas tree at the Lincroft plantation. In the afternoon the girls went with Brookdale on a 3-hour bus ride to Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, to spend the rest of the day at the DuPont Longwood Gardens enjoying the beautiful Christmas decorations and spectacular illuminations and water fountains.
On mornings and during lunch recesses Lin had practiced hard with her fellow 5th graders and finally the hard work paid off. On December 3rd parents, family and friends all enjoyed a beautiful and entertaining concert by the Wayside School Chorus. On December 5th the girls' dream came through. Imagine waking up in the morning ... too late ... why didn't anybody wake us up ... maybe there is ... yes! SNOW outside!!! With the right to stay home and just enjoy every single snowflake falling down from the sky, decorate the Christmas tree, drink hot chocolate, and sneak outside to make snow angels. Per Ole felt different about the cold weather. Another corner turned out to have had visitors: termites. After a thorough repair Per Ole could happily call our siding company and announce that we were finally ready to have them come and do their job.
Christmas was celebrated in the Danish Seamen's Church on December 24th as usual. For the girls they have celebrated Christmas in seamen's churches more than anywhere else in the world (3 in Hong Kong, and 5 in New York). For Per Ole and Kirsten we have spent more years (8) outside than in Denmark during our 15 years together. When people ask us if we ever plan on coming home again, our answer is "Yes! We are home!" The crew from Total Remodeling was busy working on our house getting rid of the asbestos shingles replacing them with new vinyl Alside siding. Also the gutters were up for a change. A few days before New Year we got another quick but very pleasant visit by our Canadian family, Jeannette and Jess on their way back from a vacation in Florida. 300 miles off the highway to visit us is nothing for an inveterate driver!
And suddenly came the last day of a busy and eventful the year. We were happy to spend it with good Iranian friends, the Pirzad's in Toms River. Our biggest project of the year: our house! was done in 2002 (at least outside) and we (or Kirsten!) has another extensive list ready for Per Ole to begin in the new year! More about that to follow in the next issue of New Jersey News. Take care and enjoy 2003!
Lin, Maj, Per Ole & Kirsten
Visitors since December 31, 2002