This year has flown by so quickly that the newsletter writing is a bit behind schedule, as is just about everything else. As we sit and reflect upon this past year, we do have to comment on what a wonderful year it has been for us all. Periods of scurrying about to finish tasks and meet deadlines have been balanced out by calm moments of quiet comfort.
     Because little news of an extremely exciting nature has occurred this year, we have decided to spice up the letter. From this point forward, all text in blue (not green)is fictional. We’ve just made it up to make our lives sound more interesting than they really are.
     We started off our new year at the coast in Newport, Oregon. Michael, Deena and Vesper joined Deena’s parents, Judy and Ron, there. Deena’s sister, Donette, her husband, Jim, and their children, Julianne and Erik, were also there. The adults played cards and watched the clock tick closer to midnight. We finally dressed Vesper warmly and headed down to the beach just in time to hear the whoops and hollers and watch the fireworks of others around us. We opened our bottle of champagne on the sand and poured it into our "2000" glasses given to Deena by her grandmother. A toast and a kiss followed to usher in the new year. Deena’s dad cooked "millennium steaks" on the Hibachi and that delicious fare was waiting for us as we returned to the condominium.
     January brought us our first far-away visitors of the year. Dr. Chad Colvin and his wife, Jennifer, from Twin Falls, Idaho joined us for a weekend of visiting and fun. Jennifer and Deena have been friends since meeting at O.S.U. in 1985. It was a welcome reunion!
     March carried with it the culmination of Deena’s efforts in putting together Errol Hassell’s (J.J. and Justeena’s elementary school) annual Science Festival. Deena has, for two years, been in charge of the evening portion of the event. She likens it to organizing a wedding reception for 1500 people on an $800 budget.
     March also brought us an opportunity to see another visitor, Barb Johnson, from Weston, Florida. Barb is Michael’s aunt, and she was visiting Michael’s mother in Eugene. We always enjoy our time with her!
     In April, John and Bonnie Severson, longtime family friends of Michael’s from southern California, arrived for a week. What fun that was, traveling to see the local sights and playing Bridge at every opportunity! We laughed and played until it was time for them to head home.
     Michael and Deena managed to plan and execute a romantic little weekend get-away in May, heading to the quaint, sleepy little fishing town of Winchester Bay on the coast. We fished, crabbed, rode quads on the sand dunes and found a little nightclub for listening to music and dancing each night.
     Later in May, we made our annual family trek to Plush in southeastern Oregon, where we mined Oregon sunstones and visited with family and friends. Thunder accompanied us this year, and he probably wondered why we spent so much time just sitting around doing nothing in the desert. It wasn’t intentional, but the first day out to the mines the power steering mount broke in Deena’s Suburban. Just cutting the belt wasn’t an option due to the difficulty involved in maneuvering that tank (affectionately dubbed "Fruck") on the loosely fitting term for roads down there. We had to wait for Deena’s uncle to arrive to weld the mount. The next day, one of the tires blew, so there was more sitting around while Michael changed it. The kids have all decided never to ride in our truck, as it’s always breaking down.
     June brought the relative calm of school ending and the beginning of the lazy days of summer. This year, instead of scheduling every free moment, Deena left the summer open. It was a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the school year.
     Michael’s cousin, Rick Johnson, and his wife, Brenda, arrived from southern California with their family in late July. Bailey and Colby made fast friends with J.J. and Justeena. The children had a wonderful time together, and were all so very well behaved. The only regret any of us had was that it was all over with too soon.
     In August, we attended the annual Brown family picnic, which was hosted locally by the Mock’s. They have a gorgeous home on a beautiful piece of property. It was as if we were all gathering at a park!
     Later that month, we went as a family to the State Fair in Salem. The kids had a good time exploring 
the midway, and we adults ate too much fair food. It was also in August that we received notice of an IRS audit pertaining to our 1998 tax return. Now that was a gigantic headache! We are pleased to report, however, that the final ruling was in our favor, so all is well.
     September brought with it the start of school again. J.J. began his fifth grade year, and Justeena started third grade. Vesper even enrolled in classes through Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District this fall.
     Michael has spent this year working for Xerox, as his printer division of Tektronix was purchased in a sale that was final at midnight on December 31, 1999. He has moved from medical imaging products to the solid ink department and really enjoys the challenges of his job. Michael also defeated the iron chef with his indisputably brilliant preparation of llama kidney flambé. In his spare time this year, Michael has worked on the playhouse construction and has set up a computer network server in our home. He still loves a good game of chess too. He had to put a new engine in his 1965 Ford Mustang in June. There was much rejoicing when the car (affectionately dubbed "Freck") actually started when the key was turned in the ignition.
     Deena ran the evening portion of the Errol Hassell Science Festival in February, as mentioned earlier. She also finished up her two year term as P.T.O. President in June. She was elected to the position of P.T.O. Secretary, and now serves in that position while also serving her third year as Cub Scout Pack 292’s Secretary. She volunteers at the school in the classrooms as a room party coordinator (with another mom) for both classes, classroom coordinator for Justeena’s class, and "Book Order Mom". Deena, in her spare time, has been developing her psychic powers. She can now levitate small objects about the room. She’s also been working in an administrative position for an internet game. In addition to these duties, she helped Michael with the playhouse, including the painting of the seascape mural in it and the interior decorating.
     J.J. is ten years old. This year he has participated on teams for both of his favorite sports, basketball and soccer. He is now a Second Year Webelo in Cub Scouts and will soon be crossing over to Boy Scouts. He is a T.A.G. student and continues to do very well with his studies. J.J. built his own, personal helicopter in the garage, but he still has to wait six years before he is allowed to obtain his pilot’s license. He was asked to represent his school on the Thinkquest team. This team of five fifth graders is putting together a web site for Errol Hassell which will be entered into a national competition this coming spring.
     Justeena turned nine last month. She has been taking a ceramics class for quite some time and is a very creative child. She enjoys drawing, reading and writing stories. Justie sang back-up for Britney Spears during her European Tour this year. She loves her Brownie Girl Scout Troop, and really looks forward to the troop activities and meetings. She played soccer this fall, and her favorite position was goalie. Justeena is a always smiling and has continued to develop her very social nature and her sense of humor. She does extremely well in school and she is always ready to lend a helping hand.
     Vesper turned four last month as well. With her birthday being the twenty-fourth of November, she is convinced that Thanksgiving is just an excuse to have a big party for her. She is inquisitive and observant. She talks constantly, and sings when she isn’t talking. This year Vesper provided legal council for the Republican party after the election. She started preschool this fall, and she absolutely loves her class. She’s becoming very social in nature, always wanting to play with friends. She’s still bossy and more moody than the older two, but her stubborn streak has waned a great deal over time. Vesper is very, very funny, though she doesn’t always mean to be.
     At the risk of over-using a cliché, life is good. We are all healthy and extremely happy. We wish the same for you and yours as we all close out this year and head into the next!

                                                          - The Stevens Family 
 

Email Addresses: 
Family – family@DeenasZoo.com 
 Michael – michael@DeenasZoo.com 
 Deena - deena@DeenasZoo.com 
  J.J. – jj@DeenasZoo.com 
Justeena – justeena@DeenasZoo.com 
 Vesper – vesper@DeenasZoo.com 

Family Web Site: 
www.DeenasZoo.com