Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cleaning out my e-mail

I was cleaning out my yahoo account this morning and came across this e-mail from a former student, from a couple of years ago. I really liked this kid. Very troubled, bi-polar, but brilliant. I tried really hard to take care of him, as much as a history teacher can take care of a kid. After he graduated from high school, he got in trouble and was sent to prison for 18 months. One of the first things he did after getting out was to come and visit me at good ole' Hunter High. He came just 2 weeks or so before I quit, but I gave him my e-mail address in case he ever needed anything. I had such a strong desire to help this kid that, I'd have let him live in my house, even though I'm pretty sure he'd probably steal stuff from me.

I haven't heard from him since, but I still think about the kid every once and a while and hope he's okay. I thought this e-mail was really nice.

Hello Mrs. Howden

This is Jessy, just sending u an email to let u know my email address, I was so glad to see u finally. Congratulations on your new husband. I hope you guys are happy. I am new at this email stuff. So I really dont know what to say. I am going to do something with my life. I am glad to have had u as a teacher, You taught me alot and i really was excited about coming to your class. Are you still doing current events? those were very intresting to me. You have a very unique way of teaching, i never thought i would be excited about going to history class, but you sure do make it worth going, considering i sluffed most of my other classes. Dont think i forgot that twenty bucks u gave me for christmas. I really appreciated that, you are a very good person, i hope your husband treats you right. Duh, if he didnt you wouldnt have chose him. Anyway I just want you to know that you are a very good teacher, and you have an outstanding personality. I hope one day i can find someone like you to spend the rest of my life with. I probably wont thats a one in a million chance. And know I am not hitting on you I am just being honest i have had a crush on you since 11 grade. I hope that dont weird you out. I'm sorry if it does. Well with that said i hope you dont forget about me, it was just a crush. Well Ann have a swell day.

Your favorite student (i wish)
Jessy

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's just a small obsession, really

Last night at book club, Heather mentioned that she doesn't have any hobbies, at least none that involve her baby at this point in her life. Many of us spent the night suggesting hobbies, but I'm not sure any of them stuck. Occasionally, when I think about how I spend my time during the day, I realize that I am pretty lucky because for the most part, I spend my days doing things I like to do and want to do. As this SAM life continues for me, I'm finding a greater need to remind myself of all my hobbies and interests to keep from getting dull and boring.

Here is a short list of things i like to do, in no particular order:
eat
sleep
be merry (ha, ha)
play with my baby
knitting hats
shower and be clean
go for drives in the mountains, esp. when the leaves are turning colors
photography
taking pictures of my baby
reading
going to book club
knitting hats
baking tasty treats and reinventing cake mixes into cookies
cook (I can't say that I really enjoy cooking, but it's a nice diversion during the day)
mowing the lawn
mopping floors with my swiffer
learning new things
designing online classes
painting walls
working part-time (it generally gives me enough real world w/o reminding me why I dislike but want to be part of the real world)
traveling
knitting hats

Oh, did I mention knitting hats? Um, it's all my sister's fault, but I am now obsessed with knitting hats AND making Elliott model them for me. In two weeks, I've made 5 hats of various size and length. I'll definitely knit until I run out of the yarn I've got and then, who knows. But, it's become a nice, relaxing pastime for me. Something about winding yarn around a little loom and having an actual usable product at the end of a couple of hours of mind numbing work is very enjoyable to me.

Now my model? Well, he's a little too "Zoolander" for my tastes right now but we're working on it. As you view our body of work you'll notice the kids only got one pose but boy oh boy, can he work it!


Monday, September 24, 2007

He wants to suck your blood


6 teeth, originally uploaded by bookemdano1978.

Elliott has never been a puker. He's ocassionally overflowed, but puke hasn't been his m.o. That was the story until he started getting his teeth anyway. In the last 6 weeks or so he's been a puking, grumpy, nightmare of a child. Not all the time, but when one of those teeth wants to show it's face, he's not been a fun baby to be around.

In the last 6 weeks we've gone from a baby to a vampire, with 6 teeth coming in. First, the two on the bottom, then the two incisors, and finally the middle two front teeth. This kid has gotten all of his teeth in sets of two and boy oh boy, I can't wait for the molars to come in. That will be like a trip to Disneyland it will be so much fun.

I spent most of the day trying to document the teeth on film. I followed Elliott around with a camera desperately trying to get him to laugh and take his pictuer at the same time. It never quite worked right. Then Ross came home. I told him of my picture quest and he offered to help - by putting Elliott on the changing table and prying his mouth open so I could take a picture.

It worked. Check out those chompers.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

"Almost as good as Disneyland"

Haley and I decided last night that we've seen Guster perform live at least 8 times. I think we've been fans for almost 10 years or so. We love Guster. This band, for me (and probably Haley) is one of the greatest bands ever and they put on such a great live show. Last night we saw Guster and it wasn't any ordinary concert. It was special for two reasons. One, they played extra long because they were supposed to play in SLC in March and canceled their show last minute. Two, we took Sir William with us last night. This was his first real concert ever! And, it was at a club! And, it totally rocked!

To start the evening, we ate dinner at CPK, one of Sir William's favorite places to eat pepperoni pizza. I got pasta and should have taken some insulin because it sent my blood sugar through the roof (almost 6 hours after dinner and a rocking concert, my blood sugar was 198. That's high). After dinner, we were ready to walk down the street, past the homeless shelter, to the concert. It was at The Venue...our favorite "venue" to see concerts.
before the show

When we got to the club, Opening Act #1 was playing. He was alone w/ his guitar and a little folksy. I can't remember his name but his sound was nice and calming. A little on the boring side which means that when I borrow the CD from James, I'll like it. In between Opening Act #1 and #2, Willie was a little nervous. "Will there be moshing?" he asked me. "No, that's not what this crowd does", I replied. To ease his nerves, we took pictures and he bought a Gutser t-shirt.

a little nervous

Opening Act #2 was a band called "Tally Hall". They were quite amusing, all wearing white shirts and ties. Their songs felt like a cross between the bands "they might be giants" and "the aquabats" with a little electric barber shop quartet thrown in for good measure. They had wonderful harmonies, used a megaphone, and sang a song about a banana. What could be better? Haley bought this CD so I'm sure I'll borrow it from her. Willie liked them so much that after their set, he got one of their t-shirts. 2 t-shirts in one night. That's a concert record.

When Guster finally came out, we moved a bit closer to give Willie a more real concert experience with the usual groups of people: The happy Mormon boys who jump, the fat girl w/ skinny boyfriend who dances like a mad woman, they guy who wants everyone to have as good a time as him, and the couple that kisses, oh, the entire concert.

Because Guster owed us from their canceled show, they played an extra long set and three encores including a song for thier roady boys Scooter and Josh. Not only that, we received an extra special treat, that doesn't happen very often...the Thunder God himself serenaded us with the theme song to cheers. It was great.

As the show grew to a close, I was a little disappointed because the boys hadn't sung one of my favorite songs. But, they must have known I wanted to hear it and brought my goofy little camera that makes movies just in case they decided to sing it. As their final song for the evening, completely unplugged, they sang "Jesus on the Radio." It was a perfect ending to a great night.

haley's feet

We got Willie home way past his bedtime and hopefully he figured out when to shower so he could be clean. Today, I'm dragging. Less than 6 hours of sleep at night and being greeted super early by a baby alarm clock can cause a girl to have a very slow day. It was well worth it though. I've always enjoyed going to concerts with my sister and it was a lot of fun to be able to add "The Boy" to the mix.

video

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sharing Two Years of Love...

Today, is the blogs 2nd anniversary. Well, maybe it's more like a birthday, than an anniversary. I really like blogging. I like that a lot of my family blogs. I like reading blogs and writing on other blogs, besides this one. To commemorate the end of another good year of blogging, here is some randomness...for your entertainment.

Random 1: He chokes like the Jayhawks
Everyone who has ever filled out a couple NCAA basketball brackets knows a simple rule. Never pick the Kansas Jayhawks to win it all. Yes, they put up a good fight during the season, and yes they always enter the tournament with a #1 or #2 ranking and yes, they'll probably make it to the final four. However, when it comes time to put their money on the table and show what they are made of...they choke. They just never pull it out in the end, when it really counts. Ross' dungeons and dragons...oops, I mean Fantasy Baseball hopes were crushed over the weekend. He was in first place nearly the entire season...that's almost 6 months of driving me crazy people, and had a 1st round playoff bye. He started his first week of playoffs in the lead, crushing his opponent. Then the weekend happened. His players started sucking and striking out and by Sunday night, saying Ross was distraught and just a little angry was an understatement. He lost! He doesn't get to be number one. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. (Thanks for that line, Jared.)

Random 2: A knitting we will go
Haley had SUPER SATURDAY! last week and quickly developed what I think will be a mild obsession for the two of us. She started knitting stocking caps. Though she got off to a rough start, as you can see by looking at her blog post (click HERE), she's going blue blazes now. Not wanting to be left out of the action, I went to the "hobby lobby" on Monday night and purchased my own stocking cap loom. Last night, in just over 2 hours, I knitted my first of what will be many caps.

the hat I knitted
Haley and I think that in all our cap making, we'll give them to the Humanitarian Center. Or, I suppose you can place your order now, and we'll have them ready by Christmas. I already know what I'm giving everyone in the family, and the neighborhood, and at work. Get ready! Your cap is coming. But, I've got to head back to the craft store for more yarn. Any color requests?

Random 3: Do you have your FBP?
Last night, after Elliott went to bed Ross decided it was time to clean the bathrooms. You see, I am often times (well, most of the time) a very superficial cleaner. Windex fixes and disinfects everything, right? Well we haven't used the shower or bathtub in our master bathroom for over a year (long story, want to avoid) and thus, haven't cleaned the tub or shower in, well, never mind. As Ross prepared to tackle it last night, I asked him if he had his FBP, just in case. "My What?" he asked me. "Your FLEA BAG PROTECTION", I offered back, just in case the bathroom is worse than anticipated. This got me rolling on some of the yucky children of my elementary school years. The booger eaters, lice carriers, and generally crusty children I went to school with. Now as an adult, I feel sorry for those kids and the lives they must have led to come to school so yucky all the time. I taught a lot of those kids in high school and tried to be nice. However, there are still vivid memories floating through my mind of the Stephenson twins, one of which pooped his pants during 5th grade math class (yes, 5th grade!) and of Todd (last name has been changed) Smith, who EVERY SINGLE DAY from Kindergarten through 6th grade peed his pants, at his desk, right after lunch recess. How do I know this? He was always in my class, and I was generally lucky enough to be assigned to sit in his general pee area.

Random 4: Elliott is cute

video

I told you that was random! Have a great day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Passing Afternoon

There are times that walk from you like some passing afternoon
Summer warmed the open window of her honeymoon
And she chose a yard to burn but the ground remembers her
Wooden spoons, her children stir her Bougainvillea blooms

There are things that drift away like our endless, numbered days
Autumn blew the quilt right off the perfect bed she made
And she's chosen to believe in the hymns her mother sings
Sunday pulls its children from their piles of fallen leaves

There are sailing ships that pass all our bodies in the grass
Springtime calls her children until she lets them go at last
And she's chosen where to be, though she's lost her wedding ring
Somewhere near her misplaced jar of Bougainvillea seeds

There are things we can't recall, Blind as night that finds us all
Winter tucks her children in, her fragile china dolls
But my hands remember hers, rolling around the shaded ferns
Naked arms, her secrets still like songs I'd never learned

There are names across the sea, only now I do believe
Sometimes, with the window closed, she'll sit and think of me
But she'll mend his tattered clothes and they'll kiss as if they know
A baby sleeps in all our bones, so scared to be alone

I've owned the CD (Iron and Wine, Endless Numbered Days) with this song on it for some time but I've just recently discovered this song. Don't you love it when, you listen to the same songs for a really long time and then suddenly, for whatever reason, one just jumps out and gets you? That's what happened with this one. It just jumped out and got me. I love the lyrics, how it feels like a whole life is being drawn out in the song and when you listen to it (if you choose to find it online and listen), you'll feel the same way...like you are just being drawn into this beautiful song.

And, it's a new peaceful, camling song for Elliott (s0metimes), so that might have something to do with it, too. This song beats the Dixie Chicks, "Over the Rainbow" any day.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

They finally won a game



The Might Mites have gotten off to a rough start. They beat Copper Hills in their exhibition game and have stunk it up against East and Granger. Lucky for them, South Summit dropped out of their league at the last minute and they were replaced by Grantsville. The Grantsville team was tiny and timid and, well, Hunter won a couple touchdowns to nothing.

Willie had a great game. I think that the itty bitty kids he was playing had something to do with it, but he did have a good game tackling 2 or three kids at a time. I'd like to see him go at kids his own size with such enthusiasm and panache, but he's getting there.

Good job wolverines. Let's win a couple more now.

I accept the tag challenge

Makayla did it on her blog and offered up a general tag. I'm accepting the tag and challenging all you other bloggers to do the same.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Fish Touareg

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Moose Tracks Chocolate Chip

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)
A-How

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Red Moose

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Ann Salt Lake

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)
How-El

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Green Coke

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
DeWayne Edward

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Burberry Red Chocolate

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Ann Dale

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Whirli Washington (D.C.)

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Fall Hydrangea

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Pineapple caprie

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Cinnamon Twist Aspen

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Photography Thunder Tour

Thursday, September 13, 2007

7 months and 3 weeks

Yes, I'm a week early, but I felt like posting about the crazy baby that lives in my house. Yes, Elliott, you are a little goofy, but we love you just the same.

Yesterday, we were doing laundry. This has become one of your more favorite activities. You laugh and flail your arms when I take the warm clothes out of the dryer and pile them around you. The clothes however, are not nearly as exciting as watching the front loading machines run. When both washer and dryer are going at the same time, you don't seem to know what to do with yourself. Yesterday, we just watched the washing machine. You love it!

video

Lots of other exciting things have happened in the last few weeks. You now have 5 teeth, with three coming in just recently. This means you've got two on the bottom and three on top. You look like our little vampire, as your fangs came in first, but now your two front teeth are starting to show their faces. You have also become an excellent ambi-roller. You are not interested in crawling, or being on your knees at all, but you sure can roll to any place you need to be.

You took your first road trip this month and experienced your first car breakdown and subsequent purchase. I think you were the sweetness that got us a good deal on the new car. They couldn't resist your chubby cheeks and your clever little smile. In Jellystone Park, you were an angel. We couldn't have asked for you to be any better on the trip, or on the hotel bed that was yours for the sleeping. Your dad was so nervous you were going to roll off in the night that he barricaded you with every chair and couch cushion he could find. I was so happy to be able to take you to one of my favorite places, and I think that you had a great time, too, just hanging out with all the crazy family and your handsome uncle Willie. The two of you were definitely the best looking boys in the Park.

This month you also experienced your first major scare...you rolled off the bed onto the floor. I set you in the middle, turned around for a second and heard a THUD! You were more scared than anything and thank goodness you had that stupid helmet on or we might have been in bi trouble. The upside to falling off the bed? It was the first time you actually let me hold you without trying to squirm away for as long as I can remember. You are more independent that I care for, but sometimes, even if it's when you fall off the bed, it's nice to know that you'll still let me hold you and give you kisses.

Speaking of your helmet, everyone in our house is done with the helmet, even though we've got a few weeks left. You've started to roll over in your sleep and with the helmet on your noggin, you wake up on your tummy a little disoriented and very grumpy. At 8 weeks old you were sleeping through the night and in the last 3 weeks or so, you're up, crying, 3-5 times a night. Mom and Dad are a little tired of the dramatics, but hopefully (cross fingers) we're almost done. Yeah!

And, with James as the new cameraman in the family, someone besides me has been taking pictures of you this month and a couple of them were sooooo good! Especially this one.
Kiddo, you are getting to be a pretty amusing and fun guy to have around. I think that we'll keep you, and look forward to many more fun and interesting things you'll do.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Best Good Friends

Codi and I have been friends since 7th grade French class. Yes, that was many, many years ago. I'm not quite sure how we went about becoming friends, since I'm not generally one to be nice to people, but we did and have remained friends ever since. Codi's family moved after 7th grade but we've always managed to stay in touch. It seems, that we would run into each other downtown, or manage to get together once a year or so for dinner at the Rio Grande. Codi is one of those really great friends that you manage to find a couple of in your life. One of those friendships that no matter how long it's been since you have seen each other or talked , once you get together, it's just like old times.

We also shared some similar experiences over the last year or so. Codi found out she was pregnant not too soon after I found out I was. We comiserated with each other over the phone and through e-mail quite a bit. Codi and her sweet little baby however, unfortunately ran into some problems and little Lucy was born very early and very tiny. Both of us had challenges in our pregnancies and both of us had babies that spend time in the NICU. Lucy has Elliott beat though with 78 days to his 10. The time at the hospital hasn't slowed Lucky down however, and she's doing great now and is just about the cutest thing you'll ever see!

I'd been putting off visiting Codi and Lucy (and Blake. Yes, they do have a dad whom I've also been friends with since 7th grade) because Lucy was so tiny and Elliott is such a giant slobering, grumpy fool. However, we finally got our visit in as we headed in the family truckster to Yellowstone over labor day weekend.

Codi e-mailed me the pictures of our visit today. We'll make sure that our kids are as best good friends as possible since they are only a little over 2 months apart in age. However, there is a bit of a size discrepency between the two of them right now.

Biting the bullet, part deux

As my mom said when I called her last night to tell her we bought a new car, "Oh, you've made your second major purchase as a married couple...how special."

Yup, we did it! We bought the car. And, not a moment to soon as Ross car is in the shop, waiting to get the transmission flushed. We were on the verge of desperation last night, pulling up to the dealership and luckily, things worked out.

It's kind of a funny thing buying a car past the monkey's bedtime on a Tuesday night. The process was a little slow, Elliott was very good (no puking or pooping as he had done the previous night) and I was very glad that I had a baby to distract me from the haggling over prices, interest rates, and discounts. Elliott and I wandered around the dealership while Ross had it out with the VW finance guy. At one point when we wandered back into the room both Ross and the guy were red faced, flushed, and a little sweaty. Ross was sweaty with excitement at being a smart consumer, knowing how to play the game and the guy, well, let's just say he got more than he bargained for trying to do the typical sales tactics with Ross.

In the end, we got an interest rate, sales price, and monthly payment we were comfortable with. And, a full tank of gas on the way home courtesy of VW. I'm not sure if they were quite as pleased as us, but they sold a car so all ends well.

I got to drive it home last night, but Ross drove it to work today. I hope he called the insurance company as promised. I hope I get to drive it again...it's a pretty sweet ride.

As we got home last night and I was a little sad. My wonderful little Golf didn't get her sweet spot in the garage last night. She had to face the bitter fall evening alone, outside, because her big sister took over her spot...at least until we get the garage cleaned out tonight for both girls. Cars are always girls, right? I am one of those dumb people who gets a little sentimental about cars, houses, books, all that inanimate stuff and last night, I almost got a tear in my eye because my trusty little car has been replaced.

We are now a two Volkswagen family. I'm not sure what that says about us, but it probably says something.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sometimes, you've got to bite the bullet



It's already been mentioned on the blog that Ross' car is sick. He's still driving it every day, but it's inevitable that we've got to move on. This past Saturday, we went car sitting after Willie's football game. We had 5 cars in mind and were determined to sit in each to allow a natural process of elimination to occur. That process occurred rather quickly as we didn't fit in a whole lot of the mid-size SUV's we were looking at. However, we did fit in one, the VW Toureg.
Not only was the VW dealership easy going with clean, respectable salespeople, but as we were there looking around, it just so happened that Tyler, the kid helping us, knew that they had just gotten a Toureg on a trade-in that was in pretty good shape. We talked to the GM, got some details about the car and promised to come back on Monday for a test drive.

We did the test drive last night. We like the car. We'll probably buy the car, maybe even today, unless something dramatic happens.

Here's the thing...buying a car is such a sucky experience. Dealing with salespeople, price haggling, the cliche' phrases, the taxes and fees and credit checks. It's all a little much for me. As the "no-pressure" sales pitch was getting thrown at us last night, we got the standard, "what do I have to do to get you in the car tonight?" line. Well, Tyler, there isn't anything you can do to get us to buy a new (used) car at 8:15 pm. Sorry, it's not going to happen. When I bought my VW 7 years ago, I just walked onto the lot, gave the guy the vin number, and within a few hours, my dad and I drove my new car home. This process is a little bit slower because Ross is so, "thorough", but I just wish it wasn't so painful.

However, I guess the flip side of the whole car buying process is that the car we are currently driving could die on us at any moment...or blow up or something terrible like that.

I am just ready to have a car I feel safe in. I just don't want all the hassle.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

In need of some cuteness

Things on the blog have been a little bit heavy.

It's time to cute things up with some pictures of the monkey.

Enjoy!


IMGP6496, originally uploaded by bookemdano1978.



IMGP6512

IMGP6511

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How do you measure a life?

My favorite musical is RENT. I remember reading about Jonathan Larson and the tragic story of his death right before the opening of the musicals Broadway debut. I remember when Haley and I went to the local music store owned by a guy in the neighborhood and bought the soundtrack. We started to play it in Haley's bedroom as soon as we got home. The lyrics were a little harsh and I remember being nervous about mom's thoughts on the subject matter: AIDS, drugs, transvestites, gay and straight alike, struggling to live in NYC. But, as soon as mom heard the music, she too, grew to like RENT as well. Mostly because of one song, "seasons of love," the three girls in the family have a soft spot in our hearts for this musical. The key line from this song being, "how do you measure a year in the life..."

A little while ago my dad called me to tell me that his uncle, my great uncle, my grandma's brother had passed away. I've spend the last couple hours debating with myself what to think of his passing and whether or not to blog about it, potentially sticking my foot in my mouth and rocking the familial boat. As is my nature, I opted for foot-in-mouth.

My great uncle, Bevan Chipman, died today, after what was for him, too long of a struggle. Regardless of all of his health problems, I think Bevan died because he didn't want to live anymore. Just as people will themselves to live, I think he willed himself to die. In the end, Bevan didn't particularly care to have his family around him. He preferred his friends and acquaintances from the SLC art community that he so cherished to those that have loved him his entire life. Even though my uncle Paul did everything for him in his last few months of life, I'm sure Bevan didn't say thank you. Even though family was visiting him and calling him as often as possible, he didn't want them around. My aunt LeeAnn said it best when she wrote on her blog that Bevan lived two lives and never wanted the two to mix. I think he was a little mixed up on which life was more important.

My uncle Bevan was many things, but probably would like to be remembered as a painter. In fact, I think he was a pretty well known artist around Salt Lake for his watercolors. The SLC airport even has 5 of his paintings of Sudanese women hanging in one of the concourses. As a child, Bevan would take me and my sister, and my cousins Melanie and Jodi to ballet performances and he always gave us savings bonds as Christmas gifts. In fact, many of those savings bonds are now Elliott's because we used them to start his savings account/college fund a few months ago. Bevan shares the same birthday with my brother Willie and at Christmastime was always remembered in the family gift giving circle by everyone, generally leaving with the biggest haul of festive sweaters and ceramic penguins (one of his collections).

As I got off the phone with my Dad tonight, I started to wonder. I wonder where Bevan's spirit is. I wonder what he is thinking, and who was around to welcome him into heaven. I wonder if he is in heaven and if now he realizes that he ended his life shutting out the one group of people who cared for him the most - his family. In the last year, Bevan missed three weddings and a baby, countless holiday celebrations and family get-togethers. Instead, he sat at home in the dark, heavily medicated feeling sorry for himself.

If there was anyone who seemingly wanted to die, Bevan was one of those people. He was done and went pretty quickly, which was probably best. I hadn't seen him in a year, at least, and never went to visit him during these last few months. And now, knowing that he's gone, I hope and pray that he's where he wants to be.

So the song, right? What about the song? I always think about this song, "seasons of love" because it's beautiful and poignant, and gets my heart in a soft little spot. If I've learned nothing else from my great uncle Bevan, I've learned that I want to live, and I want to live a life surrounded by family, and friends, and the values and faith that I love and cherish and I want to embrace every single minute I've got because I have no idea when it will all end.

So, like the RENT song admonishes, I'll measure my life in love!



Friday, September 07, 2007

Because I'm a hisory nerd...


As the quest to no longer be boring continues, I went out with Haley last night to the City Library to listen to the keynote address for the state historical society annual history conference. The keynote was the author James Loewen, made famous for his book, "Lies my Teacher Told Me." I first learned of this book the year I started teaching and not only was fascinated by the text, but was so moved and motivated by what I read I swore at that moment that I would not teach history from the crappy text book I was provided with. I resolved to do my best to teach real history, not the sanitized and biased history of book makers. This approach served me well in my 5.5 years in the classroom and as I left for greener pastures, I was very proud of the curriculum I created and in all the "true" history I shared with my students.

James Loewen has recently published a new book and this was the theme of his keynote address last night. His new text titled, "Sundown Towns", is about all of the towns from the past and the present in the United States that are still heavily racist and prevent African Americans from living in them by "any means necessary".

Because I'm a nerd, I took notes in my planner during the lecture. I guess that I thought I was still teaching, because I was feverishly writing and running out of room in the 45 minute talk. I wanted to share with you, my limited blog audience, some of the very interesting things that I learned last night.

Professor Loewen says that there were 3 events that caused the nadir of racism in America, which he claims was the period between 1890-1940. The first, the Massacre at Wounded Knee; the second, the Mississippi Constitution; the third, the failure of the US senate to pass the Fair Election Bill. These three events, according to Loewen, opened the door for the South to win the Civil War in 1890, even though it ended in 1864. At this time, the South "won Kentucky" (Kentucky started putting up monuments to confederate soldiers), got the Civil War renamed (unofficially) to "the War between the States", and the KKK saw a rebirth and resurgence of hatred and racism nation wide.

All of this stuff led to the approved distortion of American history where we decided to start being really bad and mean and excluding people and their stories from our history books and our lives. Not only did history become distorted, but in many parts of the country, people started to make it up. For example, Loewen cited an historical marker in the state of Idaho in the memory of over 300 pioneers who were killed by American Indians in the 1840's. Well guess what! The massacre didn't ever happen, just a bunch of freaky people who hated the American Indians made it up to cause a fuss.

The biggest side effect of of this time period is Sundown Towns. These are towns that existed and still exist in the US, that don't allow African Americans to live in the communities and warn them that they better get out of town by "sundown."

So, this is where things get interesting...we live in a nation that is supposed to be this "melting pot" where we all get along and we've got these stats looking us in the face.
  • in 2007 there are still 500 sundown towns in Illinois, more than any other state
  • estimated that there are a minimum of 10,000 sundown towns in the United States right now
  • Mississippi has 5 such towns as compared to Oregon, which has 300
  • 75% of 20th and 21st century American presidents were born and raised in sundown towns, including our current president. Highland Park, TX, where Dubbya was born and raised, just allowed it's first African Americans into town as homeowners 2 years ago.
Fascinating stuff, right? It definitely gives one something to think about, doesn't it? All this information falls along the lines of a lot of what we can read these days along the lines of Blink, Freakanomics, and the Culture Code. I'm not sure what it says about our nation as a whole, or what we can do about it but things are definitely not what they seem.

Loewen ended his lecture with a couple key thoughts. First, he said that that one of the reasons he does the research that he does is in hopes that, "telling the truth about the past helps bring justice in the present." Additionally, citing the reparations paid towards the descendants of those Japanese-Americans interned during WW II he said that "justice in the present sometimes allows us to fact the past [honestly]."

If you actually read this whole post, thank you for indulging me. I had a great time writing it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

simple pleasures

  • I ate a good steak for dinner last night. I know that one should not consume mass quantities of red meat but by golly, the steak was good. So were the potatoes I ate with it.
  • I found a pair of jeans that fits. On the recommendation of a book club friend, Tiffany, I tried Eddie Bauer. They have a new fit for "women with curves". I got my jeans over the weekend and the actually fit and are even a little big. yeah! I've got a pair of pants that aren't stretchy. I'm happy.
  • Ross' car is working enough for him to drive, even though it smells a little burny, and I think is still spitting oil out the back exhaust. I think we're going car shopping this weekend. The idea of a new car is a fun one...the idea of visiting dealerships and having a car payment again isn't. Wish us luck.
  • Elliott has 4 teeth and I noticed another one popping through this morning. He's just growing so quickly that I think if Ross and I turn around too slowly, we'll miss something and he'll already be 12. At the helmet doctor yesterday, we discovered that Elliott's head has improved another 3 mm to a 7mm differential. The goal is to get his head to 5 mm or less so we've got 4 more weeks of the helmet and hopefully by the beginning of October, we'll be finished.
  • In other Elliott news, we discovered a new toy today...the washer and dryer. I'm still trying to catch up on vacation laundry and the boy has been helping me. At one point, the washer and dryer (they're front loaders w/ big windows so he can see them working) were both running at the same time and it looked as if my baby boy was watching a fast paced tennis match. His head was turning and his eyes were darting so quickly that I thought he might explode. He didn't. Instead he just got really excited and threw his arms in the air.
  • Cherry diet cokes from Hires. Sometimes, there isn't anything better on a day off from school than Mom and Willie showing up at my door with a drink in hand for me.
  • It's the fantasy baseball playoffs for the next 3 weeks and this week, Ross has a bye. I'm so happy that it is almost over and that ever time I turn any computer in my house on, I'm not confronted with up-to-the-minute stats. Ross didn't seem to know what to do with himself last night with no updates so he actually sat by me on the couch. Holy cow, I can't tell you the last time that happened.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Meet the Griswalds. Part Three: the slow sojourn home

Ross and I love to eat. Ross particularly loves to eat breakfast, mostly omelets. He ate a great one this morning in Ashton, ID. If you’re ever headed to West Yellowstone, we highly recommend stopping at Chriswells (or Chiswell’s) Trails In to eat. The prices are reasonable and the food is excellent.

We made it to Pocatello fast. We were in the fast car. We caught up to and passed the rest of the family in our fast car. We got the family truckster out of short term rehabilitation at the Pocatello airport and played on the grass for a while. Elliott needed some time to stretch his legs, eat a little grass, and drink a bottle. He did all of his assignments very well. He is a good boy. Ross stepped near a praying mantis and it flew at my head. I screamed. That’s twice in a few weeks that I’ve been attacked by a praying mantis.

Now, we’re driving home and so far, so good. It’s a little scary driving a car that might drop it’s transmission, but we’re being careful and we’ve got the rest of our caravan behind us.

Our little trip to Jellystone park was very short. Too short to see everything but long enough for a little baby. I can’t say that Ross and I are ambitious enough to take the baby boy anywhere for a while. He wore us out. But, we had a great time and an uneventful trip home! Thanks mom and dad.



Sunday, September 02, 2007

Meet the Griswalds. Part Two: going the way of the buffalo

We made it to the park in record time once the family truckster was put in a short term rehabilitation facility – the airport long term parking lot. From there, we flew to West Yellowstone and bedded down for the night in our hotel. Lucky for us, Dagmar, the German, was working the front desk and she was not only waiting for us, but she saved our rooms. We were a little nervous that our late arrival would have led to hotel cancellations, but…it didn’t.

The morning started off with a tasty breakfast served to us by a boy from Slovakia at the Running Bear Pancake house. The old ladies working at the place were in love with Elliott and came over to talk to him several times and ask us if he 1) needed a kids menu and 2) if he could have some markers to draw with while we ate. Um, no. He’s 7 months old. We know that he’s a giant, but he doesn’t need any markers.

We had a great day in Jellystone park. It was in the mid 80’s and a little warmer than we anticipated, but overall we had a really good day. The north-west area of the park is where we seemed to spend most of our time, and we did a lot of driving throughout the day. The temperatures in the park seemed to deter animals from coming out to visit or even moving when they were visible, but we still saw a lot of sleeping buffalo, sleeping elk, and sleepy water.

Elliott and I hung out and played in the dirt while everyone went down the Jacob’s ladder hike to see the Yellowstone falls close up. I was happy to have my sweet baby as an excuse not to climb down 320 steps that jut out of the rock. The two of us had a grand time staring at all of the strangely attired people who only braved the lookout over the water falls,like us.

video

After the hike we discovered our only tragedy of the day. James’ memory card bit the dust and it was full of the pictures he’d been taking all morning long. I hate it when that happens! I may times have had film destroyed and had a similar digital incident so I could feel his pain. I think he compensated for it throughout the rest of the day.

As we were leaving the Norris Geysers heading towards Old Faithful, we had our second casualty of the day. The monkey baby, who had been so good he could have won a Guinness world record for “goodness” as a 7 month old in the car for an extended period of time, started to melt down, poltergeist style. He started screaming, and was on the verge of spinning his head all the way around and vomiting green goo on us so our little family, in the rental truckster, headed back to the hotel while everyone else went to see Old Faithful.

At the hotel, Elliott wore us out trying to entertain him. When the fam got back from Old Faithful, who isn’t nearly as faithful as he used to be, we headed to Pete’s for, yup, you guessed it, Pizza. I opted for pasta, and the tired baby, who’d been screaming at me and Ross just minutes earlier was in baby heaven with lots to look at in the very noisy and crowded pizzeria. He was in baby heaven. Walking back to the hotel from dinner, which was just across the street, he fell asleep in Haley’s arms.

We had a good day in the Park. Traveling with a monkey is hard. But, he is cute and everyone who took the time to notice, told us so.

video

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Meet the Griswalds. Part One: death of the family truckster

Long story short, my dear dad has always been known in close family circles as Clark W. Griswald. He struggles with family vacations, dislikes taking Aunt Edna places, and sometimes gets a little out of control with the outdoor holiday lighting. Regardless of how “Clarky” my dad can be, today, on our way to Jellystone Park, Ross and I far surpased any true Griswald moment.

You see, Ross’ car has been on it’s last leg for some time. We’ve declared it terminal and are just patiently waiting for it’s passing. Well, today may have been the equivalent of us pulling the plug and now we’re just sitting waiting for it to stop breathing.

As we were on the road driving to West Yellowstone, the transmission light came on in Ross’ car. Now, Ross isn’t one to worry about warning lights so we kept driving. We had to, we were in the middle of nowhere Idaho. Where were we going to stop? As the hills got more hilly and the light continued to burn red, we decided to stop in Poke-your-fella (Pocatello) to get gas, stretch our legs and check out the potential transmission issues. Luckily, Clark and crew were behind us and they exited the freeway to help us out.

This is where the fun begins. The transmission fluid is supposed to be a pretty shade of pinky-red. It was a nice sludgy brown. The car was giving off the smell of a cooking car and the back window was wearing a nice film of oil. At this point, I got on the phone w/ Haley and James and Ross called his brother Craig. Both of our car experts told us we were in trouble. We could keep going, but probably risked some serious damage to the car and a potential “transmission drop”. I wasn’t interested in a transmission drop today so we decided to try our luck renting a car.

There are a few minor problems with renting a car in Pocatello Idaho on the Saturday of the final weekend of summer. The rental car place in town closed at noon. The jiffy lube (for a potential transmission flush) closed at 5:00. We rolled into town at 5:15. Business establishments were closing on us left and right but luckily we found an open gas station with a phone book. The airport (did you know Pocatello has an airport?) has rental cars and Ross spoke with the owner of the Avis rental and he said he’d meet us at the airport and rent us a car.

The airport is small, the white chevy impala ss is fast and cheap (only $42.99 a day), and once we got everything loaded up we were on our way.

If this is how our weekend jaunt to Yellowstone is starting out, we’re in for the trip of our lives.

Here’s the real question though. How do we transport the terminal truckster back home for internment?

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