Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sebi's BYU Party

For months now, Sebastian has been telling anyone who would listen that he wants "A BYU Party" for his birthday. Secretly I felt it was because we are bad BYU fans and completely indifferent to any and all athletic teams that the place holds so much allure for our kids. We didn't even have any BYU apparel or paraphernalia until this year. Despite this, we tried to pull something together.
We had 12 first graders and our whole family up on campus running two teams (Team Blue and Team White) around trying to find a dozen or so clues for our digital camera scavenger hunt. After an hour of running and posing, we taught them all the lyrics to the fight song, showed them highlights of Jimmer Fredette and fed them bagel pizzas and legendary BYU mint brownies.

In planning the event, the professor and I had scoured the bookstore and other local venues for BYU stuff. With the stiff prices they charge, we couldn't even afford to get them each a keychain ($7.99 for a keychain. Really? I say. Really?!). Enter Curtis to the rescue. He brought two huge bags of swag over and we made gift bags for everyone that even Oprah would have been proud of.

The inadvertent side effect was a pretty hard sell for the university. It was about the time we got to the olympic torch that one of the kids screamed "This place is the GREATEST! I am SO coming HERE!!!!"

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Spooky March Story

[click to enlarge] I know I'm a little late for Halloween, but I've wanted to scan this in for nearly five months now and I just got a new printer. And last week I posted on Valentines day . . . I love this story of Sebastian's. I love the picture with it. It shows that he understands the genre, but he's not quite ready to see it through to its grisly conclusion.
I love my tender boys. The three of them can be crusty and uncouth and crabby and smelly, but they all have soft and creamy centers.
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Because You're Not Going To Hear It Anywhere Else

I hope you'll forgive my post, but instead of rolling my eyes and feeling grumpy about this, I've decided I'd just better say something and get the word out.

Last week during Sunday School our instructor read us a letter to the admissions committee at BYU. After the first sentence, which read " . . . and I am an alumni of BYU." I turned to my neighbors and we shook our heads. This is a common error around here, but there is no such thing as an alumni. Of any institution.

This is because alumni is a Latin word and the endings change based on the gender and number of people you're talking about. If you are talking about one man, he is an alumnus. If you are talking about a single woman, she is an alumna. If there is a group of women only, they are alumnae and if you are speaking of a group of either all men or men and women, they are alumni. If you don't believe everything you read on the internet, you can check here or here or here.

This is why people get confused. For example, the Alumni Association, the Alumni House and Alumni Board are all correct uses, because they're talking about the whole group, male and female who have attended the institution. But that means that people are often unaware of the other forms. Like the woman who worked in Alumni Relations and kept correcting my husband when he told her I was an alumna.

Now if this is too much to remember, you can just say you "graduated from X" or "matriculated at X" and you'll do just fine. And if you already knew all this, you can go read Zina's malaprop post, which is really high art (or homonym hell). These posts make me want to laugh, cry and vomit simlutaneously.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Anda Bardeen

This is one for my family. Joss is singing "Andy Bardeen" here, a ballad about a pirate from Scotland. It's a unique choice for a lullaby not only for lionizing a thief, but also because the hero dies in a watery grave in battle with the King of England. Yeah. Not that that is stopping me from singing it most nights to Joss. This is his deeply abridged, but legitimate version.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

From Provo to Prague in an Evening

On Wednesday Rob held the Pinewood Derby. You can tell what sort of week it's been by the fact that neither father nor son is wearing his uniform. We began late and Will had to leave early, so he only got in a couple of heats before I ran him across town. One of the little brothers got to race his car and was over the moon about it. Unfortunately Sebastian wasn't the little brother -- he was home with strep waiting for his amoxicillin to kick in.
Will had to make it back to school to perform in his class play I Never Saw Another Butterfly. It is about children in the Terezin (or Theresienstadt) concentration camp in the Czech republic and uses their actual names, dates and the poems they wrote for their secretly-held school.
I cry at everything -- like Rosie O'Donnell and Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle who cry at the commercial where they bring in the new refrigerator with the big bow on it; or at beer commercials, and I don't even drink beer. So I took a box of kleenex with me. I used a ton.
It was a gutwrenching play to watch, but I was so blown away by the kids' ability to pull it off. It was heavy, it was dark, it was scary, and some people had lines that went on and on and on and yet they did it and with a lot of maturity.
And since my son knew German, guess how he was cast? Yup.
He went stomping around the stage with his homeboy here, yelling "Achtung!" and the like. I didn't want to take a picture of him at all, but though he was double cast, his other part was as a loudspeaker, reading the dates of the deceased.
May he never need jackboots again.
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Chasing Around Like Lions After Lambs

Certain parties were concerned that we'd fallen off the face of the earth. We're still here, we're just not doing anything blogworthy. The professor is teaching his five courses, wrote his article, is polishing up a book review today, is still in the middle of creating the online course (he had to ask them for an extension on that, but said they were very "hakuna matata" about it) and is only fraying enough to take some fresh students down a notch or two.
In addition we're planning our upcoming study abroad this summer. We've shortened it to just one term and are going to spend July in Berlin and August in Tuebingen (a university town south of Stuttgart). We're being uncharacteristically organized and we've already calendared most of it, with side trips to London, Dresden, Potsdam, Eisenach, Nuremburg and Heidelberg so far [I'm open for suggestions on things to do and see in any of these, hint hint]. I've checked out a dozen or more travel books from the library and have had my nose in those or on the interwebs looking for lodging and events we might want to see. Then I make the professor take over with the deutsch part.
It's getting exciting since Rob now meets with the students each week to fill out paperwork and orient them. Yesterday I threw together a power point presentation for his Culture Shock 101 unit: Loving and Understanding our Tscherman Friends. This is when you really get to bond with your students over the differences in temperature, humidity, scale, pillows, waiters, grocery stores and toilets.
Here are a couple of other things we've been up to:
On Presidents' Day we went to Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point. The kids played in this little farm-to-harvest display three times longer than I thought they would. They just kept planting on treest and in the garden and then harvesting them onto the conveyor belt to go to market.
Woo! Glad to know the reflectors work! Here Sebastian is planting an orchard.
I organized some drawers. As promised, we have before and after pictures to shame the owners. I should put up a list a la Louise Plummer for the before (crayons and snap circuits and Spock ears, oh my!) but I'm not going to do it.
Rob and Joss made this guy out in the front yard and he was Joss's favorite family member for the few weeks he lasted. Now he's a carrot sitting on a brown lawn, but he led a good life.
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I took this video to show what a little singer Joss is right now, but after reviewing it, the most interesting thing we caught is this bunch of sounds that he begins every sentence with: "Masickusgonahsquebldybmp" or something like it. It reminds me of those characters you used to get in front of each line on incompatible emails. Rob and I are waiting for them to morph into something intelligible or go away, but when we imitate them, he just gets really confused.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Valentine Poem on St. Patrick's Day

Few people know how many and varied are the professor's talents. He can watercolor, throw pots, is the best $#&*@! sandcastle builder anywhere, and he also writes wonderful poetry. So when he asks me what I want for Christmas/my birthday/mother's day/our anniversary I always ask him to write me a poem. This is one he wrote this year for Valentine's Day. It begins with an article called the U-bend of Life for any of you who don't live and die by the Economist (you don't know what you're missing!).


the researcher said

Was ours when we were young
and will,

The researcher said,

Be ours when we have left
the low point:
When we finally grow old,
turning our attention
from our children to ourselves,
from others back to us.

The researcher said.

But what about those looks
the white heads turning
on wrinkled necks
craning to drink in all of this,

Our nadir

They watch our children
like a cat watches a bird
fearful that these plovers might start
and fly
and be lost
and that there may be
no other birds

So they must let their eyes
from little mud-colored heel
to the nape of a neck
under the pony-tails

Those looks
those feral, starving looks
make me re-think all

That the researcher said.