Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It's late night on the 23rd/ early Christmas Eve, and I thought since I last wrote on Thanksgiving, I'd better do a little December update. I'm sure I'll post more after Christmas (with some pictures), but for those of you who care enough about me to be checking my blog, I wanted to make sure there was at least a message wishing you a Merry Christmas!
December so far has been busy and eventful. I've mostly just been working at Midwest and enjoying my time with the boys there. I'm at a place now where I feel like I know what I'm doing and have developed some pretty good relationships with many of the students and staff and hopefully are getting down to some good work in improving their lives. Iowa has been cold and I'm learning the meaning of freezing rain. If you've never experienced your car getting literally covered in a 1/2 inch shell of ice, it's something.....I wouldn't recommend you ever do. But life is good out there.
At the beginning of December I also had the opportunity to spend 5 days in Chicago attending a work-related seminar. You need to understand though that these "seminars" are in NO WAY anything close to what you would expect from a "work-related seminar". They are actually really powerful, life-changing meetings that make you really do some deep introspection into why you are the way you are, and then build a foundation from which transformation can take place. They are designed not just for the students in my school, but their families and anyone else who wants to attend as well. In fact, when parents and family and staff go through, we don't even talk about the students...it's all about YOU, and what you can do to tranform your own life in a way that will make you a better and more effective person and improve your relationship with yourself and others. For those who know what's going on with me, it's probably needless to say that at this point in my life it was a very beneficial seminar and really opened my eyes to some things about myself that I want to change and do differently. So, I was excited for that opportunity and am anxious to start truly living my life in a way that I want to.
I also got lucky enough to take 10 days off to be with family for the holidays. I flew into Albuquerque on Saturday night (with a 3 hour delay in Denver because of the crashed plane there), and got in late for a BYU football game party I planned but never attended (and a game I never watched...not even on DVR...boo Cougars). But it was really fun to see Mom, Dad, Kellie, KC, Isaac and Eliza as well as a friend and his wife and children who came down from Santa Fe to visit. Sunday night I flew up to Salt Lake City for some business I had on Monday, and while there was also able to see Aryn and Quinn during the afternoon and evening, as well as my dear Grandma, before flying back down to Albuquerque early this morning. I'll stay here in Albuquerque until the 26th and then drive back up to Utah to spend a few more days with my kids before heading back to Iowa. It has been and will continue to be a bit of a whirlwind, but it's great to be able to be with loved ones during the Christmas holiday.
Finally...it's probably appropriate to include one last note... the "business" I attended to in Utah yesterday was a mediation date for Sara's and my divorce. It has now officially ended, and although I have a lot of really mixed emotions about it all, it resolved quite reasonably and peaceably and we're both relieved there is finally some closure. We know we need to continue to work together to ensure our wonderful children are well-cared for and that they are very aware that they have two parents who care for and love them deeply. We are committed to that, and so far I think we are doing a pretty good job at it. And hopefully, both Sara and I can also now move forward with our new lives in a positive and productive way. I believe that we will.
Merry Christmas and may the spirit of this wonderful season rest with you all!
Friday, November 28, 2008
1- My children. I love Aryn and Quinn so much! It's very hard to be away from them and when I think of them a tear (or more) usually wells up in my eye, but I'm so grateful they are healthy and well, and I get a chance to see them as often as possible. They truly are my little angels...in every sense of that word.
2- My family. Like many others, I feel like I am the most lucky person in the world to be born into a family that is so awesome! I know they can't all be the best, but I'm certain that mine is....so it must be a tie at least. This year I've learned even more just how wonderful it is to be unconditionally loved and supported and I've leaned on that love and support a lot. Thanks Dad, Mom, Chris, Ellie, Brooklyn, Dave, Kellie, KC, Dane, Emily, Grandma, Sam, Sophie, Maggie, Cambria, Maya, Isaac, Eliza, Eden, Zia, and the two little ones to come. I also have some wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins, and ex-in-laws who expand my family network even further. It's such a comfort to know I have such a strong support structure and big safety net underneath me of caring, thoughtful, talented, and loving family members.
3- My friends. Similar to my feelings about family, I have some wonderful friends. When you go through some tough times you realize who your true friends are and the people you can really trust and rely on. I have some amazing ones who I know are always there for me, even if I don't communicate with them often, and see many of them even less. I often feel quite lonely and isolated out here, but I appreciate the connection I have with many good friends who help remind me that bonds of friendship transcend proximity.
4- My health. I'm very grateful that my health is reasonably good. I'm certainly on the decline as far as my athleticism, speed, "hops", recovery time, etc, but it's good to still be able to run and hike and play with relative ease. Nothing reminds me of how grateful I am for good health more than getting injured or sick, and since both happened to me in recent weeks, I'm especially thankful for my health.
5- My job. I have some ambivalence at times about my work...as I think most people do. It's hard to be away from family and friends as well, but I am very grateful for my job. Considering my circumstances, I think it's very important that I be doing something from which I find meaning and gain fulfillment. Working with the boys here has been rewarding and I feel like I'm developing some good relationships with them and assisting them as they embark on this pathway of change. Of course there are always lessons I'm trying to teach that are relevant to me also, so it's therapeutic in more ways than one.
6- Technology. I was reading a friend's blog and poached this idea from her, but it rang true to me when she said how thankful she was for technology...in particular, everything DIGITAL. I'm old enough to remember having to do research at the library on microfiche, look in yellow pages for buisness addresses, and actually send hand-written mail in the pre-internet days; having to use typewriters and write drafts of things by hand first; having to be selective about taking pictures because of the cost of film and developing it and never knowing whether or not your pictures were going to even turn out or whose eyes would be closed when you finally saw the final product; replacing your cassette collection with a CD collection and then having to tote around your big CD collection everywhere, where now you can just stash your little IPod in your pocket and it's got your entire music AND photo collection conveniently organized on it; having to use pay phones, or better yet, manipulating the collect call system to get a quick message to mom without losing your quarter, and then having to have a different, expensive long-distance plan for your phone or call after 9 or 10 at night so it wouldn't cost so much. Oh, so many things that have progressed and improved with technology!
Anyway, my list could and probably should go on and on, but that will have to do it for now.
Hope you all had a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING. I love you all.
One more note...I was thinking of the many times I've had to be away from my family for Thanksgiving, and realized it has been way too often. If I remember correctly, here's a list of places that I've spent Thanksgiving away from home:
- MTC in Provo, UT
- Fresno, California
- Hanoi, Vietnam ("Where is the damn cranberry sauce?" inside joke for Brooke)
- Boston, MA
- Philadelphia, PA (twice?)
- Park City, UT (I think actually we were on a road trip with the kids in the school to either Bend, OR or the Grand Canyon and Moab)
- Seattle, WA (twice?)
- Hualien, Taiwan
- and now Keokuk, IA
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Oh, I'm heading out to Utah to see the kids tomorrow morning. Can't wait!!!! It's been since the first weekend of October since I last saw them, so I'm very excited. I'll post pics and an update upon my return.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
I often hear my siblings or others say how "lucky" I am, or how "nice" it sounds to live such a simple life free form the nuisances of technology and busyness. I'm not sure I agree. If you think so, here is my challenge.....
Let's see how long you can live without the following: 1) TV (shouldn't be too hard for many of you); 2) Internet (now we're getting a little more difficult); 3) Turn off your cell phone and see how long you can go before turning it on, and 4) When you think you're OK with any one of the previous three, do them all at the same time, and see how long you last. Yeah, it's really "nice". haha
I've got my money on Dane and Emily to win this one.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
My parents and I, along with a support team that included an Ironman triathelete, an English Channel crosser, and the world-record holder for most miles swam in one month, were all there to cheer him on and provide motivation, direction, and nutrition. Because I wasn't as experienced of a kayker as others there, I was told to not go out at night...when the ocean was so dark, vast, and formidable. But at about 6:00 am, when the sun crept over the wet horizon, I went off the boat onto my ocean kayak to paddle up to my brother who was still just moving along with a rhythmic cadence.
For his swim to be officially recorded and accepted, he had to have an observer there to "officiate" the swim. He was not allowed a wet suit, or any kind of physical assistance at all (no one was ever allowed to touch him, or him use the boat or kayak for support). Every 30 minutes he would have a "feed" where the kayaker would reach out a water bottle and a little "gu" (power gel) to him. These feedings would last all of 15 seconds before he would get back into his stroke. They were told to be so quick for two reasons, because they didn't want to add on any extra time or have him expend any extra energy that wasn't propelling him towards his destination and safety; and secondly, so that his metabollic heart rate would not lower which would cause his body temperature to decline. The water was usually mid-60s and any stopping would cause his temperature to drop quickly, in which case he would be at risk of cramping and even hypothermia.
Eventually we saw the coastline and the beach-front hills began to get a little bit larger and larger. My brother continued to go strong, with his arms churning in a steady motion like an oil rig, moving up and down, up and down, for what seemed like an eternity. We all worried about him, considering how long he was in the water and how much energy and strength he would be able to sustain, but his stamina and perseverence were incredible. We finally made radio contact with an on-shore lifeguard to help us find a place he would be able to safely come into the coast since his landing spot had been changed multiple times to account for the current and conditions. He helped us find a little cove in which he finally, almost literally, crawled ashore....25 miles and just under 15 hours later.
I was truly amazed and inspired at what he had just done. He became the 156th person to successfully cross the channel since 1926. His feat was the equivalent of running almost three marathons back to back to back. I felt blessed to have been able to assist in some way and to share that incredible accomplishment with him. Way to go, Chris!!!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I think it's a no-brainer that seeing my kids is always the highlight. It's been really hard being away from them, but fortunately I've managed to get out to Utah to see them fairly regularly. They're doing really well, and Sara has got them comfortable in their new home in a great little neighborhood in Alpine. Quinn is growing up so quickly and is now crawling everywhere, climbing up stairs, pulling himself up to anything he can, and walking along, around, or pushing it. He has a wonderful, easy-going personality and is almost always smiling as the pictures show. He likes to laugh, stick things in his mouth, play with his big sister, and from what I hear has been a relatively easy child to raise. His health has improved substantially and hasn't proven to be too much of a problem (other than some expensive medicine he has to take).
When asked how old she is, Aryn now consistently answers "eleven"...and in some ways she acts it. :) She's very intelligent and continues to amaze people (at least me) with the things she does and says at such an early age. Sara has her enrolled in gymnastics classes, and she also gets to have Sara practice music lessons on her, and is doing really well in both. In fact, she has repeatedly assured Sara in all seriousness that she is ready to perform a piano number in sacrament meeting. She loves playing with her neighbors and having friends and cousins over to play. She likes hiking, especially in the "high, high, high mountains", and is a great big sister to Quinn.
Playing at Sliding Rock with her friend, Brinn, during my last visit out September 11th.
Other than going out to Utah to see Aryn and Quinn, the highlights of my summer were definitely being able to have guests come out and visit me. I've felt very blessed to have already been fortunate enough to have several people go out of their way to make a visit to Keokuk, when there are probably a lot more exciting vacation destinations.
My guests started on the 4th of July weekend, when my best friend from my freshman year of college, Bob Neal, drove up from Lexington, Kentucky to spend the weekend with me. He works for Lexmark and had a few days off, with his wife and two daughters in Utah, so we took advantage. It was so good to catch up, and we had a great time riding around on four-wheelers, playing a lot of basketball and showing a few of the students here that a couple of old guys still have way too much game for them. haha The 4th of July is also a big event here at the school, and an annual tradition has been started to have a barbeque in which many former students come back and visit, followed by an impressive fireworks display that easily surpasses the city's fireworks show. I'm appreciate of Bob for taking the time to swing up here in a time when I could use a friend.
Kellie, KC, Issac, and Eliza
At the beginning of August, KC and Kellie and their kids drove from Albuquerque all the way out here to see me and visit Nauvoo, Carthage, and other historic church sites, along with whatever other random place of interest Kellie could "google". They got to see Historic Nauvoo, and Carthage, where Joseph Smith was jailed and killed. We saw the Nauvoo Pageant, which actually wasn't too cheesy (KC was a little disappointed I think in the lack of cheese). We all developed a better appreciation for our pioneer heritage and church history, as well as the way kids played back then (and I think Kellie thought that this "country living" wasn't too far different from how the pioneers did it 160 years ago). Isaac and Eliza were great spending all day in Nauvoo, but their favorite day was just hanging out at my house and playing with their cousins, riding bikes, riding 4-wheelers, jumping on the trampoline, and having acres and acres of open area in which to explore, run, and feel free. Thanks KC and Kellie for making the sacrifice to come out...it was a lot of fun! I should have at least let you beat me in golf, right KC? :P
Chris, Ellie, Sam, Sophie, and Maggie
In the middle of August, Chris, who had been training in Chicago for his new job, came down with his family to visit. It was so fun to see them all as opportunitites to see all of them have not been too frequent. I wasn't sure if these Southern Cal kids would be down with the midwest, but they all loved seeing the church sites, and also playing around the school. We spent a day in Nauvoo learning, playing, and seeing various shows. We also spent some time here at the school. Maggie got a "scared straight" tour of the school; Sophie was in butterfly heaven and literally could have spent weeks chasing bugs and butterflies in the fields out here; Sam discovered a new love on the four-wheeler and was a real natural talent; and Chris and Ellie were the best and helped me to celebrate my 36th birthday with family and a birthday cake with candles. It was so fun to be able to spend some time with them before the embark on their family adventure for a few years in Abu Dhabi. Thanks guys!
I'll stop there for now, but stay tuned...I'll try to get up at least one more summer events posting. Thanks to everyone who still periodically checks this blog, I appreciate your dilligence. :)