"Daddy," said Brie, jerking her head away, "Stop that!"

"Brie, sweetie, I'm trying to comb your hair. You don't want it to be a rat's nest, do you?"

Brie blinked, and looked at me wide eyed. "Rate are going to sleep in my hair?"

I nodded absently, still trying to comb the snarls out. "That's right sweetie, if I don't get your hair nice and straight, rats will sleep in your hair."

Brie jerked violently away. "Daddy, I want the rats!" she exclaimed.

I looked at her in confusion. "Huh?"

"Don't do that! I want the rats to sleep in my hair!" she said again, adamantly.

"Brie, that's just a figure of speech. Rats aren't going to sleep in your hair."

"Mommy! Mommy!" wailed Brie suddenly, "Daddy is scaring away the rats!".

Which just goes to show you, you can have a life, or you can have kids and a



Basically, life is the same, in that we still have jobs and two children, except the jobs and the children are two completely different entities from the ones we had a year ago. The jobs are different because Kate and I both moved to new positions, the children have changed by virtue of being older; just based on the activity level, the noise level, and the state of disarray of the house, sometimes it seems like we must have at least six children.

Kate is still at MITRE, but has moved to a new position with more responsibility. I've moved to a different company, cutting my commute in half and sticking a "Vice President" in front of my name. It seemed like a good move at the time, but having been at the job long enough to find out a little more about the company, I now know the situation is fluid (by which I mean they are losing money rapidly and massive layoffs are in the works).

Will is in the explosive vocabulary stage of development (a substage of the "whirlwind of destruction" stage). It seems like he understands and repeats back an amazing percentage of the conversation he hears. He likes to screw up his face into the goofiest expression possible for photos; for the shot adorning the front of this card, we had to resort to my snapping pictures while Kate beat me over the head with a box, something the kids thought was hysterical (WHACK, "OWWW," "HEE HEE HEE," CLICK). His favorite activity this summer was waterplay, specifically squirting his unsuspecting preschool teachers with a hose, then exclaiming "What happened?" with a big grin on his face.

Brie is still the chatter-box, and engages parents, teachers, strangers, stuffed animals, and small pieces of toast in lengthy conversations. The opening of this letter is a typical and quite real example of the directions these conversations can go. She has shown a tenacity and attention to detail that Is amazing for one so young. One night, she decided she wanted to help make the coffee. When I explained to her we made the coffee in the morning, she nodded In understanding and went to bed. I was unpleasantly surprised when she woke up at four in the morning to make sure she didn't miss her opportunity to help in the kitchen. In retrospect, of course, it is almost amusing.

Our extracurricular activities have been relatively subdued, although we did get a chance to take the children for a vacation in sunny California during the summer for a couple of weeks. Kate still does an exemplary job of doing healthy, fast, gourmet cooking for our meals, taking classes occasionally to Improve her repertoire, while I keep plugging away at my games (if you have a World Wide Web browser and some time, try http://world.std.com/~ddickie/).

We are looking forward to the holidays and the new year. Will is old enough to have a much greater comprehension of what is going on during the activities, and we are anxious to see how he reacts to the Christmas tree.

Drop a line (or stop by to visit - we have lots of space!). We would love to know how things are going for you!

Best Wishes for the Holidays....