Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hazel Jane

I had a wonderful surprise in my email today! My friend Jill found this old photograph recently and sent it to me. I am so grateful! It was taken in 1967 and one of the ladies in it is my mom, Hazel Jane Butler!
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Isn't it exciting to have the unexpected opportunity to see an old photo of a loved one that you've never seen before? I wanted to share this as quickly as possible with other members of my family and good friends, so here it is. Hopefully those who'd like a copy can get it from my blog.
Mom is second from the right, in the pale yellow dress. I do vaguely remember that dress. She looks so young and pretty. She would have been 29 or 30 there, depending upon whether it was taken before or after her birthday, Sept. 29th.
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I'm very curious about the setting. It was obviously a church gathering, since these ladies were all from church. From left to right they are: Jill's mom Gaynor Rozier; our friend Carol's mom Artell Wardell; Lois Olsen Booth; my mom Jane Butler; and Maxine Davies. Jill points out that Lois and Maxine are the only two attendees still living.
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It looks like the scene outside the window is the Fresno Airport, which seems like an odd location for a ladies' church luncheon. Maybe someday I'll get more information.
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Speaking of my mom, my niece Ashley has a new online shop that I hope you'll all have a peek at. It's called Hazel.Jayne after my mother Hazel Jane and my niece, Ashley's sister Callie Jayne (who was named for my mom). Mom would be so pleased and proud!
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Check it out!
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Your Wish Is My Command

When I mentioned in my last post that I was at Disneyland in 1955, the year it opened, my good friend Jill commented, "Too bad you didn't have a picture of you at Disneyland at 9 months old."
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Guess what I have? This one is for you, Jill!
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I must confess, I was wrong on the date. I had written that we were there in June 1955, when I was 9 months old. Actually, it was August 1955 and I was 11 months old. My bad.
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My dad, Myron, that young James Dean-look alike, was just a few weeks away from turning 21. His birthday is 3 days after mine.
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You may recognize where we are standing in this larger version of the photo. That's the big wood stockade wall around Frontierland.
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Oddly enough, there are only 2 photos from this Disneyland visit, probably because my parents were very much into home movies at this time.
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There's oodles of footage from this trip on my parents' old reels of film. In fact, I get a kick out of the old movies, because every time a plane flew overhead, my dad stopped filming Disneyland to film the plane!
Planes weren't all that new and fascinating in the 1950s. It was probably because my dad built planes for North American Aviation at that time.
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Here's the other picture, taken on Main Street. I'm the fuzzy-headed blonde in the stroller at bottom left.
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The little boy conducting the marching band is prominently featured in our home movies!
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No wonder I love Disneyland. It's part of my heritage!

Friday, May 29, 2009

California 1994

Our first family vacation finally happened in June 1994. We went for the annual Butler family reunion in Fresno, CA (I think it was actually held in Visalia) and then extended it a few extra days.
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Sadly, I have no photos of the reunion, but I took loads of home videos! Not that it helps, since I still don't know how to convert them to digital. But we saw plenty of family while in town.
We went to see my grandmother, Myrtle Butler, at her nursing home. She was just 2 months away from her 99th birthday. I'm not sure how well she remembered me, but she loved my children!
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It was Sarah and Jacob's first and only time to meet their Great Grandma Butler. She died a year and a half later, a few months after her 100th birthday!
We saw my mom's oldest sibling and only sister, Aunt Eva Haley. She was 71 and had recently fallen and broken her arm. I never appreciated until now how much Eva and my mom resembled each other.
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Eva never married, so I think she looked on us as the children she never had. She was always sweet and generous with us, always kind and patient. Her life was difficult on many levels, yet she was always willing to reach out in love.
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She passed away a few years after this visit, so I never saw her again. Her birthday was 2 weeks ago, on May 13th. Happy belated birthday, Aunt Eva!
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We also spent time with my dad's oldest sister, Aunt Twila, and her childhood sweetheart/husband, Uncle Clem Kester. Twila was almost 80 and Clem was almost 84.
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They were quiet, friendly people with a peaceful feeling in their home. Clem always seemed to know how to make me feel better when I was struggling. He'd lost his right hand in an accident before I was born, but he was always upbeat and smiling.
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Clem and Twila died within months of each other several years after this. Twila went first, and I'm sure when she decided it was time for Clem to join her, he quickly heeded her call!
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After 2 days in Fresno, we drove to our motel in Anaheim and spent the next day at Disneyland.
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Neither Mark nor our children had ever been to California, let alone Disneyland! I was a 9-month-old in my parents' arms at Disneyland in June 1955 when it had newly opened to the public. I practically grew up there, and since it's one of my favorite places in the world, I just had to share it with my family!
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This was 12 days before Jacob's 3rd birthday, and he wanted nothing to do with these big, scary characters. On the other hand, 4-year-old Sarah was in love! To her, Mickey and Minnie were just oversized animals for her to adore.
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One of the first things Mark did at Disneyland was take Sarah on Splash Mountain. She had no idea what he was getting her into, and she was pretty freaked out for awhile.
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It didn't do any permanent damage, however. Jacob hates roller coasters and Dylan is cautious about them, but Sarah takes great delight in every thrill ride she meets.
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Our vacation budget was so tight I couldn't afford to buy the picture Splash Mountain offered, so I just took a picture of their picture on the monitor screen. Not great, but I think the terror on Sarah's face comes through just fine!
This was in Toon Town, a brand new area of Disneyland at that time. Featuring small-child-friendly attractions, it was more to Jacob's liking.
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Sarah's first experience behind the wheel was pretty scary, what with crashing into Goofy's mailbox and all, but she is a much better driver now, I promise!
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Originally we planned to return to Arizona the day after Disneyland, but my cousin Rick and his sweet new wife Leslie were at the reunion and invited us to spend a few days at their home in San Diego.
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We drove straight from Disneyland to their house late that night and took them up on their offer!
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The next day Rick and Leslie took us to Scripp's Institute of Oceanography. Sarah and Jacob were totally fascinated by the huge tanks of fish and other water life.
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Later that day we went to play on the beach. Mark had been to the Atlantic Ocean, but it was his first time in the Pacific. He was wowed!
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Jacob was careful to stay back from the waves rolling up on shore, but a rogue wave came in and rushed past him, sweeping him off his feet. I happened to be filming him when it happened.
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Mark, who was standing several feet from Jacob, rushed over to pluck him out of the water, but Jacob was still crying. "Daddy pushed me!" he kept insisting. "Daddy pushed me!" It still makes us laugh! He just couldn't understand the weird sensation of having the sand swept from under his feet.
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Both kids really enjoyed playing in the sand, attempting their very first sand castles.
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On our final day in California, Rick drove us over to see the brand new San Diego Temple. As we drove along the freeway, it seemed to float into view on a cloud like a fairytale castle. I literally gasped in delight.
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To this day, I consider the San Diego Temple to be the most beautiful temple ever built. If I ever become the princess in a fairytale, my castle will look just like it!
We visited on the temple grounds for awhile (that's Rick with the kids and me). Then we returned for one last look at the sparkling Pacific.
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Finally, we bid farewell to our perfect hosts, Rick and Leslie, and headed back home to Arizona.
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We only had 5 days to spend in the state of my birth, but it was pure pleasure!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Artist in Residence

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One of the fun things about the end of the school year is when Dylan brings home his art portfolio and I get to see all his creations.
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After he tells me about each piece, we remove the old pictures from his bedroom door (which opens into the kitchen) and hang the new art there for display.
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He has a great deal of natural talent, which becomes more impressive year-by year.
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My favorite this year is the chalk drawing of the man in the turban. (At first I thought it was a woman, but Dylan set me straight.)

I love the smooth, blended colors, plus there is something captivating about the features of the face, something expressive. It's like I can't look away!
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There's a lot of artistic talent in my family. My dad has a creative mind and he used to do amazing sketches, though I haven't seen him draw in years. LeRoy and Darryl inherited Dad's ability to sketch well.
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For myself, art was once the only thing I cared to study. I dreamed of becoming a sculptor, illustrator, fashion designer, interior decorator, or architect. I wish I'd had the courage to follow those dreams when I was young.
Despite the creative genes in our blood, Sarah and Jacob have no interest in the visual arts (though Sarah is a wonderful violinist). None at all. I was stunned that my own children hated art class.
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So I was thrilled when my youngest child had both the interest and the talent to pursue my old passion. Sarah and Jacob have many other great skills I admire, but it's still nice that at least one of my children is artistic!
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This is Dylan with his favorite drawing by his mom. He's always dragging it out to show his friends. It's a sketch of the dragon Smaug from J.R.R. Tolkien's book, The Hobbit. Maybe I'll finish it one day...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And Baby Made Four

Our second child Jacob was born June 26, 1991, and we resumed our excursions into nature as soon as we could bundle him into his own tiny little sleeping bag.
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For several years we joined Dana's extended family every Labor Day to camp at the old Whiting Mill near Green's Peak. Sometimes my parents and siblings also came along. We'd pitch our tents, cook over the fire, go for hikes, ride quads, wade in the creek, and climb the communication tower to dizzying heights on top of the peak.
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This is Jacob on Labor Day 1991, just 2 months old.
Here we have Sarah and her fellow explorer Bryce, also on Labor Day 1991. Bryce was 2-and-a-half and Sarah was 22 months old. They've remained friends all these years.
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Camping with a new baby and a toddler presented a unique set of challenges, but it was always worth it!
In May 1992 Mark discovered a good fishing lake in Greer, AZ, so off we went!
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Sarah loved to wander around, communing with nature and its scurrying little critters while babbling to them with her sweet little made-up words. I was left to trail her with my camera in one hand and my baby boy in the other!
Here is Jacob in Greer. He was 10 months old and Sarah was 2-and-a-half. Neither of them minded getting down and dirty with the outdoors, despite my best efforts to keep them clean.
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At this time Mark was unemployed, so he was Mr. Mom while I worked. Staying home too much gave him cabin fever, so he often packed up both children and took them with him to his favorite fishing holes.
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When Sarah was about a year old, I came home one day to find a couple of bee stings on her face. Mark explained that he'd disturbed a hive in a fallen log and the swarm attacked him! He grabbed Sarah from her playpen and ran for their lives!
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We headed out to Lyman Lake, past St. Johns, on July 4, 1992 because we'd heard they had a great fireworks display. We drove out early in the day, hauling our barbecue grill in the back of Mark's truck, so we could have a picnic and relax while Mark fished.
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As you can see, Sarah was in her element. She was still 3 months away from her 3rd birthday, and Jacob (below) had just celebrated his first birthday a week earlier.
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I must say, the fireworks really were awesome. It was a long program and the colorful explosions were reflected in the lake below, like giant glittering blossoms. Sarah was awestruck. Jacob slept through part of it.
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During these years, most of our outings were no more than an hour's drive away from home, although we did travel regularly to Mesa to visit family.
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When we first moved here in 1990, it was just us. Jeff and Dana didn't move their family here until 1992 (they had lived here for a year or two back in the mid-80s; Dana is originally from this area). My parents didn't relocate here until 1993.
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I wanted my children to feel close to both sides of our family, so we made the 3-hour trek down the mountain to Mesa every other month, sometimes even monthly, for many years. Even now we drive down at least 2-3 times per year for visits.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Jacob, taken in September 1992 when he was 14 months old.
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Often our outings were no further than the local park. This was at a cook-out with family at Show Low Park. Mostly we went to Woodland Park, where the kids loved to swing and slide and make new friends at the playground; or sit on the dock next to their dad and watch fish darting by; or feed the ducks; or cross the bridge and hike around the lake or to Big Springs.
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To this day, one of their favorite treats is to take a picnic lunch to Woodland and then hike or bike around the lake.
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And here it is Labor Day again, 1993, and we're back at Green's Peak. By now Jacob was 2 and Sarah was approaching her 4th birthday (Oct 27).
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The creek in this picture reminds me of another favorite haunt, Brown Creek. My kids loved to pull off their shoes and socks to wade in Brown Creek. The first time they got out I thought they had little bits of leaves or dirt stuck all over their feet and ankles.
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Imagine my horror when I realized my children were covered with tiny leeches! It didn't seem to bother Sarah and Jacob, though, so we pulled the little suckers off and the kids went back in. Our adventures have taught me to roll with the punches!
This has been a little taste of our pre-vacation family fun. By June 1994 we had scrimped and saved enough to actually take our first big trip as a family.
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Of course, we still manage to squeeze in little outings now and then, though it's harder since everyone is older and has more responsibilities. But now, as then, it's worth the effort!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Family Togetherness

Now that summer is here, my thoughts are turning to our upcoming trip to Missouri. Exactly 7 weeks from today, we'll be packed up and heading cross country to see my baby brother. Exactly 2 months from today will be our last day in Branson; then we'll load the car and make the 3-day drive back home.
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So much work to prepare, but so exciting to travel!
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I thought it would be fun to reminisce during the coming weeks, recalling vacations and other family outings of the past 20 years.
Mark and I never took vacations during our first 5 years of marriage. Money was tight, so travel seemed frivolous.
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Yet we managed to create family memories in short outings that we now look back on fondly.
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Sarah was 3 months old when she first traveled to the snow near Payson, AZ (Feb 1990). We lived in Mesa then. Little did we know that we'd live in snow country just months later!
In June we traveled to Prescott, Lakeside, and the Navajo Reservation to interview for teaching jobs. We stopped to enjoy picnics, scenic views, and playgrounds with our Sarah along the way. I was offered 3 jobs, but I took this one in my beloved mountains.
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With a fisherman for a dad and a mom who loves camping, hiking, and nature's quiet beauty, our kids were destined to be outdoorsy!
We spent a lot of time exploring our new area. The pictures above and at right were taken at Big Lake in Oct 1991, just before Sarah's first birthday.
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A week later, we visited my Uncle Ernie and Aunt Alma on the nearby Apache Reservation, where they were serving an LDS mission. We explored Geronimo's Cave, picnicked by a creek at Lower Log Camp, and spent the afternoon at Hawley Lake.
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Most of our trips were to bodies of water: lakes, rivers, creeks, reservoirs, ponds. Mark was happiest when he had his fishing pole in his hands. As long as I had my baby, a good book, and a comfy chair or quilt, I was happy, too.
The only long trip we took during those years was Thanksgiving 1990. My parents had moved to Murray, UT, so my entire family spent the holiday with them there.
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We saw the Christmas lights at Temple Square. That's Sarah and me in the Tabernacle. I'd never been to Salt Lake City, my dad's birthplace. My friend Peggi and I spent a week in Provo chasing Osmonds in 1973, but we never made it to Salt Lake City!
We were only able to spend 2 days in Utah because I had to get back to work, plus I was newly pregnant (and nauseous) with Jacob. Back at home we waited for spring and then resumed our weekend outings.
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In May 1991 we went on a picnic with our friends Kim and Jona and their kids. We drove to the bottom of Salt River Canyon and enjoyed playing in the brisk shallows at the edge of the river.
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Sarah was 18 months old here, dipping her feet in the pebbly, chilly water. She thought she was hot stuff climbing on the boulders and wading in the pools! As for me, I was 7 months along, but I felt great and had a wonderful time with my baby girl. We were learning it doesn't take much money to build warm memories.
Sometimes a new and unusual prospect for fun would come along. This carnival came to town a week after our Salt River picnic. Sarah is a born animal lover and she was thrilled to ride the ponies. No fear! (That's her dad with her.)
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Several months earlier the high school had a Donkey Basketball game, and Sarah was in seventh heaven, especially when she got to sit on a donkey after the game!
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Jacob was born less than 6 weeks after this carnival. In the next installment, I'll share the family outings we enjoyed once we became a family of four!

Friday, May 22, 2009

In the Words of Pink Floyd...

SCHOOOOL'S OUT! FOR! SUMMER!
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Today was the last day of school, at long last! You can see by the expressions on these faces how heartbroken they are to say good-bye to our hallowed halls for the next 10 weeks.
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My rowdy 2nd period English class. I think we need a break from each other!
Yesterday would have been the last day, but there are only 3 snow days in the school calendar and we used 4 this year. Thus we had to return today even though the seniors graduated last night. (Seniors didn't have to come back.)
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Here's my 1st period English class. Much less rowdy. You may notice one boy in both pictures. He repeated an English class to make up a lost credit.
I still have to go back on Tuesday for my last day. I need to finish inventorying my classroom, clean out some files, and do a few final odds and ends. As department chair, I also have to make sure everyone in my department is officially checked out of school for the summer.
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Then I can say farewell to this computer, where I spend a great deal of my time each day.
For an entire 10 weeks, I will not have to face these stacks of folders to grade and federal documents (IEPs) to write!
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Summer will be bliss!
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The commencement ceremonies were held in the gym again this year. Last year it was a freak snowstorm. This year it's a rain-and-thunderstorm system we never see this time of year.
It was crowded and warm, but everything went well. Dylan played "Pomp and Circumstance" with the band. I beamed with pride as my children's friends and many of my students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, a few of whom barely earned them by the skin of their teeth!
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I got pictures of several Native American graduates who proudly displayed their tribal finery along with the traditional caps and gowns. They had to fight for the right to do so, but I love to see the pride they feel in their Apache heritage.
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Aren't they beautiful?
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One of my favorite parts of graduation is the senior video. We have the longest graduation ceremony on the mountain (2 hours) due to this video, which typically runs 30 minutes or more, but I love it.
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Set to various songs, it begins with photos of the graduating class taken through the years, starting in elementary school. (In our rural area, many of these kids have known each other since they were toddlers).
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It then features a baby picture of each graduate, followed by a current photo. We all enjoy guessing who each baby will turn out to be. To me, it's the best part of the evening and well worth the extra time!
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I'll attach a short clip of the senior video. Being a video of a video shown on the gym wall, it's a little grainy, but you'll get the feel of it!

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Play Ball!

Dylan was crushed when he wasn't chosen to play in the Majors. He was placed with the St. Louis Cardinals in the Minors. Minor League. Again.
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But he's learning about about those funny little things called "Blessings in Disguise."
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In Majors he'd be mostly warming the bench as the new kid. Instead, he's become the team champion, counted upon for his skills as pitcher, first baseman, catcher, and power hitter.
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He's always been a natural in athletics, but this year his skills have increased at an astounding rate. He gets discussed by people in the stands. There's talk of being called up to Majors, of having potential to pitch in high school.
In Majors, he likely wouldn't have had opportunities for this much growth.
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At this morning's game, a Little League official sitting near me watched Dylan pitch, then asked, "Why isn't this kid in Majors?" When he learned I was Dylan's mom, he started probing for information.
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When the game ended, the other team's coach called me aside and told me, "Your son is a heck of a ball player!"
Yes, I'm bragging a little, but that's a mother's prerogative!
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Besides, it's a great lesson on how the Lord may not give us what we want, but he always gives us what we need.
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Beyond his skills, I'm especially proud of Dylan's evolving attitude toward sports. He used to be easily offended, upset and sullen when he made a mistake, angry when they lost.
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Now he's satisfied if he knows he did his best. He's happy for his friends on the opposing team when they win. He makes an effort to build up his teammates when they're having a hard time.
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In my mind, those are the best lessons to bring home from a ballgame.
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We have several short video clips of Dylan playing ball. This is the one he chose for me to put on this post. In this clip, his hit allows the game-winning run for his team. He hopes you'll enjoy it.
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Friday, May 15, 2009

My Heart in His Hands

There are moments when we know what really matters and where our faith truly lies. I had one of those moments last night.
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I have an arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat that occurs from time to time. It's been part of my life for about 12 years now. It's benign, a minor annoyance that surfaces occasionally and then goes away. Bump...bump...bump...POW! Or bump...bump...bump...gurgle. Or bump...bump...bump...squish.
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You learn to live with it.
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But yesterday my arrhythmia went crazy all day. As usual, I tried to ignore it. It rarely lasts more than 20-30 minutes, but this time is was a continual presence.
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By bedtime there were no regular beats at all. No comforting bump...bump...bumps between the uneasy sensations.
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I had an impression that I should drive myself to the emergency room.
They got me right in. My pulse was so erratic the nurse couldn't even get a blood pressure.
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They put me on oxygen, drew blood, hooked me to a heart monitor, and started an IV to replenish my electrolytes and fluids. Two bags worth of fluids
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Then I was hooked up to about 16 electrodes for an EKG.
I lay there staring at this ceiling, with its cloud-painted light covers, for 3-and-a-half hours. Lots of time to think.
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There was no fear. I know without doubt that our spirits are eternal and death is just a transition. But there was much concern in my mind. If my heart stopped, who would love and care for my children as I do? What would their lives be like if everything changed in an instant?
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I remember making the decision to place my heart in God's hands. "I can accept dying now if it's Thy will," I prayed in my mind, "but please take care of my children. Provide them with the love and support they need."
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It was one of those defining moments.
Death is easy; leaving my kids, not so much.
Test results showed my potassium and thyroid levels were both low. I was fortified with a potassium pill the size of a boat, armed with a prescription for thyroid medication, and ordered to eat a banana-a-day. (Not very low-carb!)
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When my arrhythmia returned to its usual sporadic level and my blood pressure was normal, they let me go home to my sleeping sweethearts.
I slept for 4 hours and then I got up and went to work. Today was a long day, but my arrhythmia was subdued.
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The EKG showed that I had 3 different types of arrhythmia going on at once, but since they do not originate in the bottom of the heart and my heart seems to be healthy, they should be harmless.
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The cause? "Do you smoke?" No. "Drink alcohol?" No "Caffeine or sports drinks?" No. "Too much stress?" BINGO!
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Thus my tale has a happy ending. But just in case the unexpected happens and I'm no longer around...
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I want my family and friends and colleagues to know how important you've each been to my life and how much I've loved you all.
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And please, please, watch over my children.