We just got back today from the longest vacation we have ever been on--19 days. And, as I allude to in my last post, it really was wonderful. The drive was long, but we did it in short(er) legs, and I found that I actually enjoy it. I loved watching the landscape slowly change from prairie to high plains to rocky mountains to desert and back again. I started snapping pictures of the sights with my phone as we drove some of which I am collecting here.
Anyway, I was reminded, as I always am, of the sweet kindness of my family. We see them so rarely--usually only once or twice a year (for the last 8 years!)--that being around them really is a rare and precious treat.
My mother is, I think, one of those few rare gems who loves and serves others without restraint and without expectation of recognition or return. While we were there, I met a severely autistic boy with whom she has worked closely as a part of her work with disabled students. He and his mother came by to drop off a Christmas gift for my mom and I was touched by how emotional his mom was in the few moments that they stood in the doorway. "I always cry when I'm around you, Jean" was her comment. Clearly, my mom has been a godsend for their family. This is my children's grandmother I'm talking about! Talk about blessed. She showered us all with that love for 10 days straight.
My dad flatters me by asking for my advice and ideas about a vexing administrative/ discipline issue he has been having with some of his students (and their parents). He's the expert, I'm the novice. His humility is the hallmark of his expertise and skill. We shoveled several inches (feet, even) of snow, went on several "drinkie" runs, he made an incredible shoe find at our local favorite thrift store (brown Diesels--brand new, $8), and he encouraged several uplifting books as a break from my typical critical slog. Who knows how long he sat in on his bed as life guard while my youngest did his favorite thing: bounce, bounce, bounce, nearly fall off, bounce.
And my sister Emily! I discovered, living in my parents house, a smart, tremendously funny friend who also happens to be my sister. What a bonus! Indeed, she is awesome. (And I've never been struck by lightning--not even once!) :)
And while our Tucson visit was short, we had a lovely time there as well--pretending that it was still September. Seriously, it was 80 degrees on January 2nd. Tina's parents--after nearly 12 years of association--have become close friends. How many people can say that about their in-laws? We got to attend Tina's brother Scott's wedding. He found a great girl--yay for Sarah!--it was a sweet ceremony.
So, we made it home without incident and I'm feeling really pleased and happy (and heavy--gained a little weight). Thank you SO much, family. We love you so.
I have a list of things to do before school starts in a week-and-a-half. This was the first, I'll do my "best of 2008" post tomorrow or the next day. Also on the plate: rework my Writing Across Media syllabus, work up a new syllabus for my 102 class (I'm using a new textbook that focuses on community action), read the five books that I didn't even look at while in UT/AZ, and play a bit more with the new recordings and archival footage over at OA online.