Friday, November 28, 2008


I spent the day at work yesterday for Thanksgiving. As you probably know, my "days" at work consist of a 6:30 am to about 11:00 pm shift. It was interesting to me to read students' "reflections" last night before I returned home. So many of these students--many of whom have been in this program for over a year, and many others who have not seen their families for several months--write something to the effect of..."I was thinking today was really going to suck. I woke up, realized it was Thanksgiving, and thought of how crappy it was I was in a program. But I was surprised that I ended up having a really good day." I found myself last night thinking similar thoughts. To maintain my own family's tradition, I had each student say something they were grateful for at dinner. Surprisingly, they took it seriously, and each student shared several things they were grateful for. For most of them it went something like this..."I'm grateful for my family, for being sober, and for having a second chance"...or some version thereof. As I tried to get through sharing my own thoughts of gratitude with them I couldn't help but choke up as I thought of my many blessings and found myself with similar thoughts to them once again. I figured since I wasn't able to be around loved ones yesterday, I would at least share some of my thoughts with you through here. So, here is my gratitude list for this year (both serious and a few a little less-serious):

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 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 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 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 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

Visits to see the Kids

October 4th - 7th
I never posted about my trip out to Utah to see the kids in October during conference weekend, but I figure it's better late than never. This trip was especially fun because my Mom and Dad met me up in Utah so that I could see them and they could see Aryn & Quinn as well. We had so much fun together! Thanks Mom and Dad for making the trip and helping out so much while I was there. Here are a few pictures from the trip including a few from a little trip to Cascade Springs Sara and I made after Mom and Dad left.

November 15 - 18th
I just went out to Utah to see the kids again and had such a wonderful time with them. They are as adorable as ever and we had so much fun together. The weather even cooperated and gave us warm sunny days to spend out at the park, in the yard working and playing, and at Grandma's house jumping on the trampoline, swinging, and exploring. We went swimming one day, did some Christmas shopping, and had some yummy meals together including a great Sunday dinner Sara made that we ate with Grandma-Great (my Grandma) along with Grandma and Grandpa Clement (Woo-hoo Grandma, as Aryn calls her). Big thanks to Jed & Megan Beck for continuing their hospitality to me while I'm out there, and thanks to Sara and her family for being so hospitable and kind as well. It was a great trip!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Quick Update

So after 9 days of hobbling around, and taking in all the comments from friends and family that I should "get (my ankle) checked out", I went and had it x-rayed. Turns out I have a "chip fracture". There's nothing they can really do it about it, so I'm back hobbling around the school; and, as is typically my experience with doctors, I'm out a few bucks in order to know something that I pretty much already knew and can't really do anything about other than wait for it to heal. But I guess it's "peace of mind", right? Yeah, right.

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


I end up doing a lot of activities with the boys at the school on my days off. (What does that say about my social life?) Yesterday morning I played basketball with a bunch of the seniors at the school while everyone else was taking tests. At the end of the game a few of us were playing "21" when I came down and landed on a kid's foot. My ankle rolled hard and I heard a pop, then my knee kind of buckled the other direction. I hit the floor in pain and had a bad feeling this was more serious than other times I had rolled my ankle. As I squirmed around on the floor, with the boys just kind of watching with concern and not knowing what they should do, I tried to figure out how I was going to get the boys' back to the facility and get myself to the doctor. A few minutes passed, along with the initial pain, and I decided I would try to get up and put a little pressure on it and see how badly it was hurt. Fortunately, it seemed to be OK and I walked the kids back to the facility and hobbled home to put some ice on my ankle and try to stay off it. The swelling started to go down a little bit, and I went and voted and got things ready for an election night activity I was doing with the boys that night. It's still swollen now, but I don't think it's as serious as I initially thought it might be, so that's good....probably just not much ball for the next week or two.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Technology Challenge

Sorry for the lack of blogging and blog responses...I've been a little out of the loop lately. For about the last two weeks I've been without internet for the most part. Occasionally it will come up-- sporadically and slowly while I'm at work; but the problem with that is sporadic, slow, and I'm at work. From what I hear, the problem stems from our provider. Since Keokuk is in the middle of nowhere, and since the school is on the outskirts of "the middle of nowhere", our options for internet pretty much comes down to one satelite provider. Apparently, sometimes this provider/server seems to not pay its bills, and when it doesn't, they get shut off and we are left high and dry and with no other options. Quite frustrating. Additionally, my satellite TV was down for about 2 weeks a while back, so for a period of time, I was without much contact with the "real world". Fortunately, my school-issued phone worked, least until it's battery would die, which usually occurs about 8:00 pm.
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.