Moving on up (to Second Grade)

I did it! I graduated first grade like a boss! My teacher, Mrs. Ramsey, said I “blew the first grade benchmarks for reading and math out of the water!” According to her, my word accuracy and comprehension skills were very solid, I was an expressive & fluent reader, I used class time constructively, and I always got right to work.

More importantly, Mrs. Ramsey always trusted me to run errands and to work with my classmates who needed help. She said, “I know he will be patient and kind.”

And also notable was when she signed my final report card with “Keep shooting hoops! NBA all the way!” because she knows I’m a baller!

I loved having Mrs. Ramsey for my main teacher, being supported by Mrs. Nicole in our classroom, and also knowing that my Aunt Julie was teaching right next door! I enjoyed Share Days when I would often showcase my blog, but especially when I got to teach my class about the Tuskegee Airmen by bragging about my Great Great Uncle Alfred Gorham. And, I became good friends with Danny, Wyatt, Ashlyn, and Austin, among many other new buddies.

Now, I’ll be moving on up to second grade. But first, summer vacation!

Big Sky Country

On April 23rd, we loaded the family and my grandparents into the Suburban and headed for Montana to accompany dad on his bear hunt. The last time I stayed at a quaint, remote cabin in the middle of nowhere Montana was when I was in my mom’s belly! This time, however, Dad promised much nicer lodging, with indoor, functioning plumbing.

First, we had to drive through Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming until we found a hotel with a pool! And that’s when we learned that my sister is actually a mermaid… completely fearless in the water! And by “in the water,” I mean, she obsessively bobbed her head underneath the surface so much and for so long that mom didn’t know if we should all be impressed or call for a lifeguard. I guess Genesee’s YMCA swim lessons have had an impact!? Luckily, we all survived to enjoy a delicious Applebee’s dinner in the comfort of our hotel sheets.

Eventually, after 11/2 days of driving, we arrived at our final destination and Dad did not disappoint!

Once we got settled into our home-away-from-home, it was time to get serious about hunting by scoping out 12,000 acres of wildlife paradise. Then, after learning the lay of the land, we made a game plan to wake up at 5:15 a.m. every morning to search for a bear that didn’t want to be found.

Not all was lost, however, because we won the hide-and-seek contest against the elk cows and bulls, turkeys, mule deer, prong horns, porcupines, gophers, long billed curlews, and Clark’s Nutcrackers… all discovered against the breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped mountains. But, in case that wasn’t enough to call the trip a success, Dad and I also caught a nice rainbow trout at the fishing pond and, just to keep the ladies happy and fed, we harvested a turkey on our final hunt!

My favorite part of hunting was shooting Mountain Dew cans with my BB gun and playing chauffeur for Dad and Grandpa by driving the Honda across the rugged terrain. Still, some of the best memories made happened outside of hunting hours when we enjoyed movie marathons with buttered popcorn (Genesee’s new favorite movie is Flicka 2, particularly the kissing scene), played Chutes & Ladders championships, practiced our golf swings and soccer moves, learned how to play Euchre, caught up on lost beauty sleep, went on long hikes, took joyrides on the 4-wheeler, ate LOTS of food, and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of limited internet connectivity.

Thanks for a great trip, Montana! We love your wide open spaces, but you can keep your steady 25 mph winds.

Until next time…

Lucky #7

On April 16th, I got lucky.

It was my 7th birthday, we had no school, and I found a surprise delivery at my front door: my good friend, Danny! We played our hearts out at my house and then mom took us to a movie, followed by a drive through Taco Bell, which ended with lunch at the park!

Then, over my birthday weekend, we hosted a pizza party… the first family gathering at our house since summer!

Just like every birthday, I have lots to be thankful for…. mostly the presence and good health of my loving family, but I’m not mad about the presents I got either! I will surely become quite active with my new bike, golf clubs, smart basketball, and smart soccer ball; keep up with me if you can!

Soccer Star

I’ve officially launched my soccer career. And let me tell you, I’ve got moves you’ve never seen!

Like at my first game, I leaned my upper body strangely far ahead of my feet (even though I’ve never run with that posture before) and then I clumsily fell forward every time I touched the ball. My fan club seemed confused, yet entertained, so I just kept running myself to the ground.

For game 2, I tried a different strategy: Staying upright. (Which worked, because I scored a goal!)

Lesson for the next game: Remembering that throw-ins on the soccer field are not like jump shots on the basketball court.

Follow me for more soccer tips!

Easter 2021

Despite forgetting to leave out carrots, the Easter Bunny was gracious enough to pay us a visit anyway, and left behind chocolates, toys, movies, and baskets full of happiness.

That’s what you call classy, thoughtful, and selfless… spreading goodness to others without needing to chase a dangled carrot.

The world needs more Easter Bunnies.

The One-Year Anniversary

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” – Jamie Anderson

We miss you, Papa Murphy….

Halfway to Four

On January 26th, Genesee turned 31/2. We celebrated this joyous occasion by completely forgetting about it and doing nothing. But even though my growing sister had no half birthday cake to show for it, we figured this milestone was still worthy of a blog post.

At three and a half, Genesee has bloomed into the mature fun sister I’ve been waiting for…. she farts every time she goes potty and she loves to let her butt drop into the toilet bowl for a quick bath.

When she’s not talking to you with her eyes, she insists on proclaiming, “I TOLD YOU SO,” even though it makes absolutely no sense, like when I’m simply minding my own business, enjoying my cheerios.

These days, my sister refuses to wear dresses, but has great appreciation for the mis-matched sock fad. So, if you don’t attempt to make her look cute and if you promise to take her to McDonald’s for “Chicken McNuggets, a strawberry shake, and a napkin,” she may consider you a candidate for best friend. But be warned, she sometimes thinks she’s a dog, so it would be helpful if you’re fluent in barks, like she is. And when she says, “uppy-uppy-uppy” with her arms pointing toward the sky, that’s her desperate plea to be picked up and consoled, but I find it more satisfying to just tickle her armpits.

Nobody quite does three and a half like my sister does, but that’s why we love her so much.

Cheers (and fears) to the countdown to four!

The Peace & Quiet of Hunting

Let the record show that I have officially reached hunter status.

Since we had no school for the entire week of Thanksgiving this year, I hunted with Dad 9 days straight! This means my 6-year-old self was rudely awakened from my warm and cozy bed at 6:00 a.m. each morning. Still in shock, I played dead while Dad struggled to dress my limp body in thermal underwear and blaze orange outerwear. Once I could pry open one eye, I kissed mom goodbye and then stumbled out into the cold, dark woods to draw, color, play Sneaky Sasquatch, and occasionally glance out the window to look for deer.

It was everything… peaceful, beautiful and centering. Sometimes dad would even allow us to return home for a nice warm lunch prepared by momma dearest before we would trek back to our headquarters and continue the hunt until the woods were just as dark as we found them pre-sunrise.

Despite COVID putting a damper on making cabin memories, life felt good in that deer stand. So, I soaked up every moment of having Dad to myself, particularly since Genesee has threatened to crash this party next year.

And even though mom isn’t a good hunting sport like me, she seems surprisingly supportive of dad building a bigger deer stand so Genesee can join us…. the lengths mom will go to chase her dreams of reaching sleep-in status.

I guess we all strive for our own symbols of status, or perhaps we just take different paths on the quest for peace and quiet.

Healthy Holidays 2020

T’was a month before Christmas,
And all through the town,
People wore masks,
That covered their frown.
The frown had begun
Way back in the Spring,
When a global pandemic
Changed everything.
They called it corona,
But unlike the beer,
It didn’t bring good times,
It didn’t bring cheer.
Contagious and deadly,
This virus spread fast,
Like a wildfire that starts
When fueled by gas.
Airplanes were grounded,
Travel was banned.
Borders were closed
Across air, sea and land.
As the world entered lockdown
To flatten the curve,
The economy halted,
And folks lost their nerve.
From March to July
We rode the first wave,
People stayed home,
They tried to behave.
When summer emerged
The lockdown was lifted.
But away from caution,
Many folks drifted.
Now it’s November
And cases are spiking,
Wave two has arrived,
Much to our disliking.
Frontline workers,
Doctors and nurses,
Try to save people,
From riding in hearses.
This virus is awful,
This COVID-19.
There isn’t a cure.
There is no vaccine.
It’s true that this year
Has had sadness a plenty,
We’ll never forget
The year 2020.
And just ‘round the corner –
The holiday season,
But why be merry?
Is there even one reason?
To decorate the house
And put up the tree,
When no one will see it,
No-one but me.
But outside my window
The snow gently falls,
And I think to myself,
Let’s deck the halls!
So, I gather the ribbon,
The garland and bows,
As I play those old carols,
My happiness grows.
Christmas ain’t cancelled
And neither is hope.
If we lean on each other,
I know we can cope.

-Author unknown