Feb 18, 2017

Santa Fe Celebration

2/18/2017 — cori


Even though our 20th anniversary was 5 months ago, we decided to wait and celebrate it in February. We had never been to Santa Fe, New Mexico and thought a little thaw from the Minnesota winter during February would be a perfect way to celebrate. In theory, it was an awesome idea....going to the desert in winter should be a no brainer. We figured it would at least be warmer than we were in Minnesota. However, what we couldn't anticipate was the freak mid-winter warming trend of MN and the freak cool front and snow in the desert on the very weekend we had our trip booked for. It makes the story and the adventure that much more exciting. Here we are still looking half asleep as we wait for our 6:30 a.m flight. This adventure started at 4 a.m. like any good adventure should.


However, even before the adventure began, I already started taking pictures. This beautiful mural comes to you complements of the Minneapolis St. Paul airport bathroom. Is it not beautiful?! So you can understand why, when I went to the bathroom before boarding the plane, I was forced to take a picture of such a beautiful scene before me - even though it was a public restroom. Trust me, it only got better from here (the trip, that is...the bathroom was sparkling clean too).


Within less than 2 hours of disembarking the plane, we were hiking. Obviously, we had to find food first. After eating the best salsa and chips at Sadie's, we booked it straight to our first adventure: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This particular part of the hike was aptly named, "Split Rock Canyon". This was the one perfect day of our entire trip. The weather hovered around 69-70 glorious degrees. The sun was out. Life was perfect.


Breath-taking. I don't know any other way to describe this scene. After some very strenuous hiking and climbing up the equivalent of 65 flights of stairs on the side of a mountain we reached this glorious vista. I've never seen anything like it.


Chuck finding himself in a pickle (as usual) while hiking. He realized (too late) he was up too high to jump and was unsure which side of the cliff side to continue his trek on.


The Bureau of Land Management states: The cone-shaped tent rock formations are the products of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago and left pumice, ash, and tuff deposits over 1,000 feet thick.  Tremendous explosions from the Jemez volcanic field spewed pyroclasts (rock fragments), while searing hot gases blasted down slopes in an incandescent avalanche called a “pyroclastic flow.”


The view from the top. I highly recommend acclimating oneself to the region and the altitude before immediately setting off on a 4 mile, 3 hour hike at a 5,000-6,000 foot elevation. We learned the hard way.

The La Fonda - our gorgeous, historic hotel on The Plaza in downtown Santa Fe. We didn't get to explore much of it due to our aggressive hiking earlier in the day. We were exhausted, sore, and couldn't keep our eyes open - even to watch tv. We were asleep by 8:30 on our first night of adventuring. We are so old. 


This is the famed St. Francis Basilica on The Plaza in Santa Fe. It is an active church and a lovely building. However, I found the two other historical chapels also in The Plaza to be even more beautiful and serene.



This is called the Loretto Chapel. It is now a museum and wedding chapel. When this structure was built in 1878 it was lacking a staircase to the second floor balcony. A mysterious carpenter showed up one day to build what is now the famous spiral staircase.


It is an engineering wonder. There is no center post. The side rails were added much later. It is sturdy and holds weight. It is stunningly beautiful. 


The entire chapel had a peaceful aura about it. The architecture alone was inspiring. The mosaic work on the ceiling left me in awe. The beautiful details in this chapel simply amazed me.



This is the San Miguel Chapel. It is known as the oldest church in the U.S.  It's thought to have originally been built around 1610 by the Tlaxcala Indians from Mexico. Unfortunately, it was damaged during several battles over the years. This current structure dates back to 1710 although there have been many structural changes since then.


This is the inside of the chapel. It is stunning in it's simplicity, lack of ornateness, and rough-hewn architecture. It is still an active chapel where parishioners come to worship each week.


As we roamed The Plaza, we took pictures of random beautiful buildings. I think this is the outside of an art museum.


This is a small alley-way we found ourselves walking down. Just another example of the simple yet beautiful architecture of the area.


Then I realized I had a "thing" for doors. I'll spare you all the door pictures I took, these are just a small sampling.


Technically this is a gate, but I'm adding it to the door pictures since when you open it, it leads somewhere, like to a gorgeous courtyard.



Don't you just feel invited to check out this place? The red door. The vines overhead (which must look and smell beautiful the rest of the year). The textures and colors draw me in. 


As we were aimlessly walking through town, we stumbled upon the Chuck Jones Gallery. I knew nothing of him, but Chuck was super excited. Come to find out, he was the creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Wily Coyote. Chuck has a deep affection for all things Looney Tunes. This gallery was a must see. It really was a spectacular exhibit. The curator was very generous and explained so much to us. He was having a Dr. Seuss special exhibit the following weekend and so had much of his art and sculptures also about the gallery. 


This was my favorite artwork of the exhibit. "Fox In Socks" was one of the first Dr. Seuss books we read with Gavin when he was still a mere 3 months old. He grew up on Dr. Seuss since we were diligent parents and felt the need to join the Groiler Book of the Month Club upon having a newborn. This particular book is a complete tongue twister and had us in stitches for years.


The next gallery we came to was the Monroe Gallery of Black and White Photography. This particular display featured the works of Steve Shapiro. It is called "Eyewitness" as he was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s photographer. These images were haunting, depicting the stark reality of the life and times of being black in America, especially during the racially charged 1960s. It was beautiful work.


This is what it looks like when you're 44 and tired of walking for 6 hours around a city. We had just finished our tour of the History Museum when Chuck found this couch and collapsed. It's hard getting old and having so much fun.



This was the night we decided to go out for our belated anniversary dinner. We made reservations for 6pm at this fancy French restaurant called Chez Mamou. It was a little embarrassing to be the first and only customers at the restaurant at 6 pm. On the plus side, we had our choice of seating and fast service. On the down side, 2 other couples came in shortly after us - but they were old. Yes, we now eat at the same time as old people apparently. 


One of our favorite discoveries were the two fireplaces located throughout the hotel. We used these to our utmost advantage. We read our books by the fire. We played cards by the fire.


And we warmed our cold bodies by the fire.



The third day we woke up to snow on the ground. It was cold. We had to document the winter weather while on our walk to breakfast. But as you see, nothing could dampen our spirits. We were happy because snow is pretty and we came prepared...just in case.



This was our view while driving back to Albuquerque for our return trip home. 




We arrived home on Valentine's evening. Chloe planned a super special dinner for us. She even dressed up as an Asian hostess to give us a hint as to what our meal would entail. It was soooo sweet! We had sushi, a palette cleanser of lemon-lime sorbet, fried rice and cookies. 



Lastly, the evening came to a perfect close when Bennett showed us what he creatively made for us with the materials we had available in the house. He got a cookie cutter, poured sprinkles inside it, then removed the cookie cutter to reveal this work of art. He had them waiting on our place mats when we arrived home. I love our kids so much! 


Feb 6, 2017

I Need To Exercise Alone

2/06/2017 — cori

One of the perks I get working for the school district is the use of their huge cardio room after school hours. Bennett stepped in as my trainer and showed me exactly how to use each machine. He instructed that I should do interval training. He advised that I spend 7 or 8 minutes on each of the four machines. I was to be careful of my heart rate, making sure it didn't go too high - you know, cuz I'm old now. 

That lasted one whole day.

When my heart rate soared upwards of 180 (its supposed to stay around the 140-160 range) and I thought my heart would explode and I was only on the second machine, I decided this was for the birds - or the teenagers. Whoever was more in shape. Bennett was putting me on his exercise routine for basketball players. He failed to notice that I was not, am not, and will never be a basketball player. I don't need to sprint up and down a court for an hour at a time. I don't mind watching him do it, but that's not my intended goal. 

My goal was to increase my metabolism and stay fit and healthy while winter ruled outside and took away my daily 2-3 mile walk/run. Next time I'm going to tell my "trainer" my goal beforehand. So, I invoked executive privilege and altered my workout regimen a wee bit.

I now stay only on the elliptical machine for the full 30 minutes. I still do the interval training every 3 minutes. But here's my secret: the only way I can do this is to sing at the top of my lungs while I'm exercising. Even when I run outside, I sing. Exercising = singing. Also, I'm not really a singer, but I sing. I have no clue what I sound like because my ear buds are in.

I try to go to the gym when no one else is there because I need to sing. My workout is so much more productive. Think of it as karaoke on the elliptical. It's a mentally freeing, physical release that helps me keep my mind off the fact that I hate working out. It's all mind games with me. Always.

After the first night of belting out my tunes like a rock star, I realized that maybe there might be cameras in the cardio room. Ooops. That could be bad. That would be social suicide for the boys if the cameras caught their mother making a complete moron of herself on tape and played it during morning announcements. So I non-chalantly asked the boys what was on the morning announcements the next day. Thank God it wasn't me! 

I have since looked for cameras and if there are any, they are well hidden. So I continue onward and upward with my exercising goals all while belting out Katy Perry, Maroon Five and Tim McGraw hits. Unfortunately, I can't ask people to leave and once in a while there is a lone exerciser in my cardio room. That is when I commence whisper singing. It's not quite as effective and sometimes I forget to whisper but I can still give it my all - you know, like eyes closed, mouth wide open, head tilted back and random arm motions for emphasis kind of singing. 

Go hard or go home. That's my motto.

Jan 27, 2017

Motivational Speech for Teenagers

1/27/2017 — cori

Our school district has this nifty little app called "Campus Portal" where parents and students alike can check their grades at any time. How cool is that?! To have had this gift as a high schooler would have been invaluable to me. Bennett, apparently, doesn't share my excitement for this wonderful little tool. He doesn't make as good of use of it as I would have imagined.

The other morning, after making lunches and waiting for the kids to wake up, I was perusing this important, data-filled site. I made an interesting discovery while looking at Bennett's grades. He got a 40% on an assessment. Not cool. And it was in a class he actually likes and is good at. Armed with this new knowledge, I asked Bennett, "Um, Honey? Why did you get a 40 on a test?"

"Um. I don't know."

"Ya. That answer's not gonna work."

"Um. What class was it?"

"Food and Nutrition."

"Ya, it wasn't a big deal. Don't worry, I've got it all under control."

"Um, no. It is a big deal to me. If you keep this up you're going to end up being a factory worker and you will not like that!"

I was upset if you can't tell. Plus, factory worker?, what hat did I pull that out of? That's the worst possible job I could think of? Granted, it was early morning, but usually I'm on my "A" game at that time of the day. Its the kids who aren't cognitively functional before the sun comes up.

The threat of unfavorable future employment didn't seem to affect Bennett. He just shrugged it off. My little motivational speech went over like a lead balloon. I was going to have to change my strategy.

The whole thing is actually a little ridiculous if you think about it. Bennett is a good student. He has A's and high B's mostly. Every once in a while he'll bomb a test. I'm not a Tiger Mom. I want them to enjoy learning, see the gift that it is, and take advantage of the opportunity to increase their knowledge base. I also know that alot of what schools call "learning" is actually just repetition of facts thrown at them and does them little good in the scheme of things. I always encourage my kids to do their best and I'll be proud of them. I'm not hung up on their grades. But a 40% - that's just not trying. That's give up.

Since my earlier prophecy of future factory employment didn't seem to motivate him, I tried a different angle. I told him of a quote I'd recently heard. He likes quotes. Then I told him how it affected my life. He loves to relate to others and see that he's not the only one who screws up.

"Buddy, remember this: 'The way you do anything is the way you do everything.' So if you cut corners on your math homework, you're cutting corners on the basketball court. If you're not giving your all to physics, you're not giving your all to basketball. Do you understand, Sweetheart?"

This time he actually looked at me, nodded his head and agreed. Everything in his life goes back to basketball. If he thinks he's not doing his best on the court, it really upsets him. His hardest battle is his mind-game. And this quote plays right into that. I told him that I wanted him to repeat that quote every time he walks into a new class, when he runs up and down the court, when he's doing the thing he dislikes the most. Remember.

So he made a screen saver for his ipad with his new mantra on it then headed off to school.

This just goes to show that I still have no clue what I'm doing as a parent. I'm making it up as I go. I always say the wrong things at the wrong time. I don't think of good come-backs till its too late. And as I just proved, I come up with the worst examples when its crunch time.

I honestly have nothing against factory workers. We need them. Thank you Industrial Revolution. And unfortunately, in our current era, most factory workers are being replaced with robots and/or being automated. Sadly, it is no longer an upwardly mobile career option in the U.S.

But my point to him was, you may very well end up in a job where you have zero control of your own time and have to do only what you're told to do. This is not the path you see yourself on but the one your actions are going to bring you down if you don't try your hardest at everything - even a stupid test. It was the mindset I was trying to point out - not the job. I'm sure I could have picked 100 other jobs that are 10x worse than a factory worker. But you know, that's me - always sticking my foot in my mouth.

I apologize to all factory workers out there. I'm a moron.

Jan 16, 2017

Teamwork

1/16/2017 — cori

We've been watching the same group of boys play basketball together since they were in 4th grade. We have never been the winners. We've always been the losers. We got very good at losing. We never seemed to find our stride, get our groove, learn how to play as a team. There were a few games that stood out as highlights where all the stars aligned and the boys played like a team, but for the most part, it always seemed to be 5 kids on a court all trying to get a basket.

But this has been the year everything changed. The boys are all in 9th grade now. These same boys I've known since they were 9 are all taller, sweatier, and more muscular. But the one thing they have now that they've never had is teamwork. Gone are the days of each kid wanting to play the hero. These boys have learned to play unselfishly. Wow! A good coach makes all the difference! This coach pushes them beyond their limits. He trains them hard. He follows through on threats. He pulls kids out when they do it wrong. He's taught these kids the benefits of playing as a team.

And as a reward for all their dedication and hard work, we are now undefeated in our bracket. These awesome kids are on an 8-0 streak! We've never experienced anything like this. They win big too - most games are won by over 20 points. The boys have learned how to respect each other instead of feel jealous or competitive against their teammate. They've learned to see and admire the skill the other has and how best to use it to the team's advantage during time on the court. Their confidence in their skills and what they bring to the team has increased dramatically.

As a parent this is a beautiful lesson to see your kids learn. This has been a long, hard road. I love the way the coach speaks into their lives and all they learn from him. I don't want Bennett to be a superstar, I want him to be a team player on and off the court. This year and this coach are enforcing this beautiful life lesson in him. Winning is just a nice added bonus.

Jan 12, 2017

A Reflection on 18 Years of Gavin

1/12/2017 — cori



Eighteen years ago
There was no way to fully know
How completely you would steal my heart
On this journey we would start
Together as a new family
When your birth now made us three.

We couldn't imagine what you'd be like
this new human, keeping us up at night.
Making it through the first few weeks
Definitely brought us to our knees
Learning humility, sacrifice, and responsibility
Of caring for you during your fragility.

Together we learned and grew
Wanting to understand what made you, you.
Intense, active, determined and kind
Wishing we could read your mind.
Always eager to learn new things
Excited about what each day brings.

Imaginative beyond compare
In your brain, many worlds lodged there.
The books we would always read
Sparked your deep curiosity
For how the world around you worked
Keeping you always on alert
To learn as much as you possibly could
And share it with me once you understood.

The way you smile with your eyes
Brightens up all our lives.
Your smile is genuine, big, and bright
An outward show of your inner light.
You laugh at yourself with grace and ease
This my friend, makes you free.
Your humble, gentle, sensitive heart
Is the very thing that sets you apart.

Loyal, considerate, smart, and wise
There's so much lurking behind those eyes
The person you are evolving to be
Has left a deep impact on me
With you I learn new points of view
I watch you listen and think things through.
All of life's mysteries I see you ponder
Oh, the depths that your mind does wander.

Logic, math, languages too
These things always came naturally to you.
You learn these skills all by yourself
By watching someone or from a book on your shelf.
There is nothing you will not know
Because your drive and intensity push you so.
The joy of learning was evident in you from the start
You follow your passion straight from the heart.

You showed me how to me a mom,
You've been my teacher all along.
 Listening to your mind and heart
I'm thankful to play a very small part
In raising you to be a humble man
Willing to reach out and give others a hand.
Patient, gentle, cautious too
These are traits I cherish in you.

Always sensitive, polite and kind
Filtering new ideas through your mind
Until they sit upon your heart
As you meditate and do your part
To help those around you know
How they can also learn and grow
And participate in the circle of life
Doing their part to make things right.

Your convictions are the deepest part of you
They're what you contemplate and decide to do
Pursue your dreams with all your might
Yet always remember to never loose sight
Of who you are and where you stand
In this beautiful circle of man
This life is more than just about you
Please remember the outcasts and marginal few
Because when they do well, so do we all.
Do your part, no matter how small.

Being your mom has been my life's joy
Watching you grow to a man from a boy
You've always stayed true to who you are
That is the most important knowledge by far.
Staying true to yourself in this journey of life
Will cause you less stress, fear and strife.
When people tell you what you do is grand
Remember it's on the shoulders of giants you stand.


Jan 6, 2017

Tea Kettle Magic

1/06/2017 — cori

We're used to snow and cold up here in the arctic circle (I jest, we're 1,493 miles from the actual circle...I googled it, just to make sure because some days I'm not so sure we are). What we're not used to is ice. This past Monday, we were expecting a snowstorm. Instead, we received an ice storm. It was very unwelcome. It was accompanied by a lot of wind and the polar vortex. In the course of a day we dropped over 30 degrees. This was the beginning of that day.

This happened to be the first day back to school after a glorious, restful winter break. Bennett usually goes out to warm up the car before getting ready for school. During this time of winter it takes a good 20-30 minutes to get the car inhabitable by humans and workable. However, on this fine day, we were still unaware of the previous night's ice storm until Bennett headed outside to do his typical morning routine. He came back in stating that there was no way he was going to get into the car, the doors were stuck shut with ice. 

Hmmm...that is quite a conundrum. But what am I supposed to do about it? I'm just the mom. I'm not equipped to solve problems of this nature...usually. The "call a friend" option was out because Chuck was not available. Darn. Now I really have to start thinking of a solution. Then a little light bulb went off inside my head *ping* heat up the tea kettle and pour boiling water over the ice. It felt like a message from heaven. I was rescued and could now rescue my poor, befuddled children.

I got my trusty tea kettle filled to the brim and set it to boiling. In the mean time, Donald Duck (aka: Gavin) wakes up and is all in a huff because the car is not on or ready and they are going to be late now. Good thing he woke up 10 minutes before he had to be out the door. I say that to explain the duress I was forced to work under. I had to stay extra calm because everyone around me (Gavin) was falling to pieces, if not literally, at least mentally. The worst possible scenario for him is to be late. Unfortunately, we were all working under a time crunch...I was also late to work.

Do you see the black driveway I'm standing on? That is a sheet of ice. I had Bennett go salt the driveway so I wouldn't fall down while carrying boiling hot water out to the car. In hindsight, that wasn't my best decision. The kid who just busted his thumb, broke his pinky and has a basketball game that night is the one I send out onto an inclined driveway covered in black ice. Like anything good can come from that. But I was laser focused on getting the car doors unstuck - I was liable to make some errors in judgement. Remember, I work best under perfect conditions and these were less than ideal.

I slip and slide my way outside (forgetting my coat), while holding boiling water in my very full tea kettle (after all, I needed enough water to pour over both doors). After only a few seconds, we found that my method was indeed successful. What do you know, I actually can problem solve while under stress. I learn something new everyday.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the end of our problems. Bennett was able to get in and get the car started, but they were still late and still needed time to warm up the car. And then there was the little matter of a windshield covered in a sheet of ice that was not going to defrost in less than 20 minutes. We didn't have that kind of time people. Our collective ETAs were negative 10 minutes. We were working on borrowed time. 

So I figured I could just repeat the tea kettle magic on the windshield. There was no time to think through this. Donald Duck was not happy. He didn't even give me enough time to bring the water to a full boil. I skimmed back across the ice a second time to pour my magic water over the frozen windshield and watched as the ice disappeared. The boys were off as soon as they could see through the glass.

I have to admit, I was rather proud of this moment of clarity and ingenuity. This doesn't happen often for me. I like to bask in success when I get it. I'm normally "learning from my mistakes" and "putting my foot in my mouth". I'm not usually lucky enough to save any days or solve any of life's bigger problems. But this one put me on the map....until I told Chuck.

It was then that I find out what apparently everyone else already knew....you're not supposed to put boiling water on a frozen windshield because it could 'supposedly' crack the glass. It was at that point that I became grateful for a flustered Donald Duck hovering over me and not giving me time to bring the water to a boil. Apparently my water was warm enough to melt the ice, but not too hot to crack the window. Whew! Disaster averted. I didn't even know I was about to cause a disaster. Things could have gone a lot worse this morning had my water gotten to a full boil. Then things would have been out of the scope of my ability to fix. As it was, I think we averted disaster effectively, if not only out of sheer luck. What I previously thought of as an ingenious plan where 'desperate times call for desperate measures' was actually another case of me "learning from my mistakes" again. If I haven't learned humility by now, I never will.

Jan 1, 2017

Walking On Water

1/01/2017 — cori

You know you live in Minnesota when....you hear yourself saying, "It's going to be warm today guys (30 degrees), we should go do something outside." I cannot believe I actually uttered those words. Back when we lived in Texas, we were donning our winter coats in 50 degree weather. Now, living up north, coats are optional in 30 degree weather. It actually never got to 30 degrees today, that was just what was forecasted. I think it was around the 22 degree mark when we decided to take a little family jaunt to the lake to check on the ice thickness.

I'm always a tad bit leery of walking out on that lake. It's hard to know how many inches of ice are between me and the bitter cold water lurking just underneath my feet. Caution is a good thing in these matters. But when you live with a pack of risk-taking boys, you learn to meet risky adventures head-on. In the above picture, I'm still standing on solid ground, while my crew are already risking life and limb 5 feet out onto the ice.  Since no one fell in yet, I deemed it safe enough to traverse. However, I stayed very close to the edge of the lake, you know, just in case.


Even Ninja got in on the fun. She LOVES this weather; it seems to invigorate her. She would have found the one part of the lake that hadn't yet frozen over and found her way through it, thus, the leash. None of us were in the mood for a sub-zero water rescue mission today.


And here is proof that we all made it onto the ice and lived to tell about it. I have no idea why Chuck is wearing a monkey hat. This was a fine way to spend the first day of the new year. It's nice to be outside during the winter whenever we get the chance. 

Dec 31, 2016

Injury Prone

12/31/2016 — cori

The other day after basketball practice Bennett came walking out holding onto a bag of ice. Oh no! I thought, I hope he didn't break his pinky again! Bennett slides in the car, sees my questioning eyes and explains that he dropped a 45 pound free-weight on his thumb right at the end of practice. 

Deep sigh.

Poor kid. He is so injury prone. He is always the one to get hurt. We have banned him from trampolines for this very reason. At 7 he already twisted his knee and ankle while jumping on the trampoline. While hiking, he's the one who trips over roots and scrapes an entire side of his body. While canoeing, he's the one who gets a leech attached to leg after swimming in the river. After wrestling with Chuck, he's the one who gets a tooth knocked out. While playing hide and seek in the woods, he's the one who gets poison ivy over his entire body. Luck is not on his side. 

The scary thing was, the wound wouldn't stop bleeding for an entire day. He had ice on it most of the day; had it above his heart, and had pressure applied. Still, the bleeding wouldn't stop. We went through an entire box of gauze. Finally, by day two the bleeding subsided and the swelling went down a bit, but the throbbing and pain persisted. 

Bennett learned two valuable lessons from this experience: 1) always take safety precautions when moving free weights - don't be in a hurry and 2) never take opposable thumbs for granted - they are awesome and life is hard without the use of them.



Dec 30, 2016

Reading Together

12/30/2016 — cori

This Christmas Gavin bestowed upon me the gift of books. He knows me. He loves me. He understands me. He even went so far as to check what books I had waiting for future purchase on my Amazon Wish List. That's devotion right there. But he didn't get me any of those books. Instead, he got me two of his personal favorites, Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby.

I must confess, I never read those books in high school nor for personal pleasure. I applaud Gavin's English Literature teacher for making such old, difficult books appealing and applicable to his age and era. Good literature usually is. 

Ever since the kids were born, I've been a huge believer in reading aloud with them. It's as natural to us to sit down and read a book aloud together as it is to watch tv together. So I asked Gavin if he wouldn't mind reading aloud the books he gave me. Can I just say how awesome it is to be the one read to instead of the one reading aloud?! I just love hearing him read and letting my imagination wander to wherever the story is taking me. No wonder the kids have loved it all these years. I also love that the tables are turned and Gavin is doing the reading. I only have 9 months left with him living with me. This is special time together. Time listening to my sweet boy's voice calms my soul. 

He admits he also enjoys the experience because it helps him better understand things that slipped by him on his first reading. Reading aloud also brings the characters to life. You read slower when you read aloud and are forced to work through harder passages that you might have easily skipped or skimmed through if reading to yourself. 

Whatever the reason, Gavin is speaking my love language right now and I am basking in the love!


Dec 28, 2016

Growing Up In The 70s

12/28/2016 — cori

Tonight at dinner we were reminiscing about the 70s. Why? I have no idea. For the life of me I can't figure out how our conversation digressed to that period of history. My only positive connection to that era is that I was born in it and had to play with the toys available to me at the time. And yellow was the decade's favorite color (apparently avocado green as well).


I was telling the children of my very favorite show: Buck Rogers. I had never seen Star Wars and had no idea it was a copycat of that show. I remember being outside playing with my friends but when it was time for Wonder Woman and Buck Rogers shows on TV, I would sprint home and sit in front of our fuzzy, rabbit-eared tv that only had 3 channels with eager anticipation. I even had Wonder Woman underroos. If they had Buck Rogers underroos for girls, I so would have had those too.


Then I got to thinking about my Holly Hobbie oven. I remember sitting in my room stirring a packet of mix and water with a little plastic spoon into a teeny, tiny pan and shoving it in my "oven" so that the mixture could cook from the heat of a light bulb.


This brings up a multitude of questions. First of all, why in the world would my parents allow me to have an oven in my room? Second, how can anything legally be cooked using a light bulb? Why was this my introduction to cooking? I was doomed to failure from the start. No wonder it is so hard for me now-a-days - I began this whole cooking adventure using miniature kitchen tools, in my room, with an electric oven that "cooked" food (cakes and pizzas) using a 60 watt bulb. Whose genius idea was this? Everybody knows real cooks cook with gas.

My failure as a home cook can be traced back to this lame "oven". I remember thinking even at the tender age of 6 and 7 that this couldn't possibly work. It just didn't seem right to me. I was infinitely more interested in my Barbie townhouse.


No, this isn't a picture of me, but it may as well have been. I spent so much time with this amazing toy honing my inner interior designer. My Bapchie even crocheted rugs for every room in the townhouse for me. I decorated it to the 9s. The only down side was that when my brother (4 years younger than me) played with me and insisted on using his Tonka Truck men, it was a little embarrassing. That's cuz those guys were like 3 inches shorter than Barbie. Granted, he willingly spoke the narrative I explicitly told him to say word for word so the relational interactions would make sense, but it was just awkward with the height difference.

I spent most of my time outside, however, playing until the sun went down. When I wasn't riding my bigwheel, I was roller skating right down the middle of the street, or jumping off of swings, or making floorplans of houses with grass clippings, or laying in the grass watching the clouds roll by, or playing school in my friend's basement, or playing at the park. None of this happened with a single parent around. A ragady group of kids would just roam the neighborhood. Everybody's mom was your mom. You could get in trouble with any of them and they would spank you too! Everybody's mom could also kiss your boo-boos and adhere necessary band-aids. Everybody's mom would also feed you and tell you to put your coat on so you don't catch a cold.

It's funny the few memories that actually stick from childhood. I wonder what my kids will remember from their childhoods? I'm sure it will be different from my memories, but that's the beauty of it. We all see the same things from different perspectives. This makes the world a more beautiful place. It rounds out all of our memories for the better.

Dec 14, 2016

What Love Looks Like

12/14/2016 — cori

Today was the last day of class with my Somali students before winter break. I have such a faithful group of students. A student/teacher relationship grows through-out the school year and often becomes very personal. The students grow to trust you, depend on you, and show their vulnerabilities. You open yourself up to each other and often-times a great bond/attachment is formed. 

This is the case with several of my students. One student in particular, Habiba, showed her great affection for me by braving the -17 degree temperature today. Halfway through class we have a 15 minute break. In that timeframe, she bundled up and walked a block away to the Somali Market to buy me this delicious sambusa. It is a pastry filled with meat and spices. She got back to class and presented me with a warm bag. I asked her what it was. She couldn't stop smiling. She said, "For you good teacher, sambusa. Eat." I had 6 students today and they all told me, "We will wait while you eat. Enjoy." It was as if all of my students shared in the giving of this precious gift to show their deepest gratitude. I tried to share them with the class, but they would have none of that. 

I was overwhelmed and so very grateful. It is a universal human trait to give what we have (or value) to those we love and appreciate . It just so happens, my students love me enough to give me one of their favorite foods. I am honored. I have received many unique gifts and trinkets from multiple foreign countries through-out my years of teaching. But this simple, loving gesture humbled me the most.

Dec 4, 2016

Christmas Palindrome

12/04/2016 — cori

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care....
because of the way Gavin put them there
He taped and taped so they wouldn't fall down,
secure in their spot so the parents wouldn't frown.
When asked why they spelled JOYOJ, Gavin replied,
"It's a Christmas palindrome" with a sparkle in his eye.


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