Sunday, May 10, 2015

Quick Hits

Happy Mother's Day.  Now, an Ada update:

Ada was playing with Mardi Gras beads this evening and singing everything that she was doing.  I explained that it was like she was in a musical on Broadway.  I then sang to her: "Do you think we should write a musical about Mardi Gras?"  Her immediate response, perfectly sung, was: "No, that's a bad idea."  She's probably right.

We went to the driving range again today.  Ada has a little 7 iron, and she is getting a lot better with hitting the ball.  She always wants to go lefthand low, even on full shots, and she often forgets to keep her left arm straight.  But I remind her, and she does a pretty good job of doing the right thing.

On this Mother's Day, it's important to congratulate Kat on how well she has trained Ada in various things.  Ada used to get up way too early and bother us, so Kat installed the "Family Morning Time Light," which is a timed light that comes on at 7 a.m. every morning.  Ada is not allowed to leave her room to bother us until that light comes on.  Many mornings I will hear Ada come out of her room at about 6:30 a.m., go straight to the bathroom, and then return to her room.  She then emerges when the light comes on.  I wish she was so easily trained with toothbrushing and protecting her food from dogs, but this is a great example of how well Kat relates to tiny humans.  I appreciate the opportunity to sleep in that the FMTL provides, and all of the credit goes to Kat.

I tried to explain deja vu to Ada today with no success.  While we were at the driving range, she told me she had a "weird feeling."  I tried to explain what might cause weird feelings, but I didn't really get anywhere.  My plan all along has been to talk to Ada like she is an adult and expect that she will pick things up.  But sometimes my inability to explain things becomes clearly evident.  Today, when we were listening to U2's Raised By Wolves -- one of Ada's favorite songs -- the lyric was "Boy sees his father crushed under the weight...."  Ada asked what it meant to be crushed, and I said it was like being smushed flat.  She then asked what it meant to be crushed under the weight, and I said it was to be smushed by something heavy.  She thought this was no good, and then I said, "Well, in this instance, it is metaphorical.  No one was literally crushed."  She then asked what metaphorical meant, and I absolutely could not explain in a manner understandable to a 3 year old how the pressures of life can bear down on someone and, while not literally crushing him or her, it can impact them deeply.  Ada didn't seem to care though as she just returned to singing the chorus.  She has learned something from that song though because whenever she hears it, she says "raised by wolves means you are wild."

The fact that Ada listens to these songs in the car results in some pretty funny exchanges sometimes. A week or so ago we were at a park and met another girl who was about Ada's age.  This girl was singing "The Wheels On the Bus."  She asked Ada if she knew that song, and Ada said "Yes. I know that song, but I know other songs, too, like Shake It Off and All About That Bass."  As a parent, I don't know whether that was something to be proud of or ashamed of, but it was hilarious.  And Ada was deathly serious about it too.  In her mind, pop hits and preschool standards are one and the same.

Ada went all the way across on the monkey bars by herself recently.  I was there to catch her if she fell, but she did it on her own.  However, when we went back to the park, she was afraid to do it again.  I reminded her that she had done it, but development is not a perfectly straight line.

This shouldn't be only good things about Ada because I am fair and balanced.  She needs to say please and thank you more without being prompted.  I'm going to be even more vigilant about ensuring that happens.  It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.  I'm going to get her to memorize that.  And I'm going to teach her what metaphors are.  And a thousand other things I'll tell her that she will ignore.  But I enjoy the process, and, to at least some degree, I think she does too.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Good Hang

Ada and I have spent the weekend together because Kat is away for some well-deserved rest and relaxation in Phoenix.  Ada fully understands that she is dealing with a less talented and able parent, so she seems to be on her best behavior.  Emma, however, is the opposite.  Much like Lily during her younger years, Kat's absence causes Emma great concern, which manifests itself in trying to destroy the house and ensuring that I do not get much sleep.  I took Emma to the dog park yesterday and she ran for miles, but she was still pretty amped up.  She is a wonderful dog, but it is difficult to say that with any conviction after she licked my face when I was dead asleep at 4 a.m.  I am excited for Kat's return and the return to Emma's normal level of craziness.

Lily, on the other hand, has embraced old age and acts like many of the retirees I know: speaking through gritted teeth, sighing, shows of annoyance, and occasionally snapping at the youth.  It is still definitely preferable to Emma, but it would be nice if Lily had a little more patience with little children, which is actually different from the retirees that I know.

Now that the section where I complain about the dogs is complete, let's discuss the weekend.  Ada and I went to the Prescott Regional SciTech Fest, and it was pretty great.  I learned a lot, although I am not sure that Ada had as much fun as I did.  Robotics might not be as interesting when you are three, but Ada did a good job of going to all of the booths that I wanted to go to.  She liked looking at sun spots through a telescope and just looking at the sun through some protective glasses.  She also got to sit in a helicopter, which she enjoyed.

This is a selfie of Ada and I while being "filmed" by a computer programmed to only read edges. I told Ada it was like we were in Waking Life before it was animated.  She wasn't that interested.

After the SciTech Fest, we went to the Prescott Chalk It Up event, where an entire parking lot gets turned into art.  Ada wanted ours to be entirely blue.  She then wrote her name in red over the blue.  We had a good time.  Although it might have been a mistake to put ours right next to a really impressive one.  That was bad selection on my part.

As we were driving to the Chalk It Up event, Ada was looking pretty tired in the car.  I asked her if she thought she could make it through.  She said "I'll be fine after I take a little car nap."  (The car nap extended a little longer than expected, but we still made it.)  I wanted to tell Ada that while Kat loves what she calls car naps, I don't know that car naps are actually a "thing."  I mean, there is this, but that's quite different.  But a car nap is a good thing, even if not every family gives sleeping in the car a specific name.

To close our day, Ada and I went for a walk and then ran around at the park.  We played tag and made footprints on the cement.  We also played Simon Says, but Ada has a long way to go.  She does understand the rules and knows when she makes a mistake, but she has some work to do.  I think it is because she is a good kid who likes to follow directions, just like I think I was.  But we will keep working on it.  My attempt to explain it to her using the concept of a condition precedent for the performance of a contract did not work.  I don't know why.  Oh well.

 Here is Ada happily running.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


My family thinks I am preoccupied with death.  I don't know where they get that idea, but I have been "enjoying" two books and a podcast that are tied together by the fact that they involve the deaths of people near in age to me. Obviously, it is a shock for a young person to have someone his or her age die, but, as we age, that occurs more and more often. However, I am still only 33, so it is only real tragedy that causes the deaths of people that age.

The book I recommend wholeheartedly is The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. It is truly an incredible story about Rob Peace, a brilliant African-American man who grew up in terrible poverty in Newark, New Jersey, and largely without a father because his father was in prison for murder. But nevertheless, Peace attended Yale and graduated with distinction in the school’s most difficult science major. While at Yale, Peace sold marijuana, and he continued to do so after he left. He taught science at the prep school that he attended, but then became seemingly aimless. He worked for Continental Airlines on the runway, and the most telling scene in the book is where he is sitting on a luggage cart reading an extremely advanced biochemistry textbook just to "stay sharp." Understandably, his co-workers could not fathom why someone who could actually grasp what was in that book was putting luggage in planes.

And this is the struggle that Peace faced in his life, and the book does an excellent job conveying through action, not simply by telling. Once he went to Yale, it was harder to belong in Newark. But when he tried to be the person he was in Newark, everyone thought he was pretending. It was not even that Peace could not go home again, it was that no matter what he did with his life, it seemed to be below his potential. These were obstacles that the overwhelming majority of Yale’s student body did not have to face.

Hobbs, the author, was Peace’s roommate at Yale. While he struggled in getting his work published after graduating, no one had an opinion about his potential or what he should be doing. He was simply allowed to keep working and learn from his mistakes. While it seemed that lots of other people wanted to put pressure on Peace to achieve certain things, he did not necessarily place that on himself. He wanted to vindicate his father, who always claimed to be innocent, he wanted to help his mother, and he wanted to change his life. In the end, Peace created his own "brand" of marijuana by using his chemistry background. However, competitors were not so pleased with that. He met his end like many drug dealers do, by being shot to death by unknown assailants in 2011. He was 30 years old.

Knowing the ending does not make it easier to stomach. It is a wonderful book with a truly humane description of an incredibly complex person. It powerfully shows how much it matters where a person comes from, even if it is not supposed to matter at all.  I’m sure someone will make it into a movie, but, trust me, you want to read the book.  It's a true story that is nevertheless a page-turner.

The second book is Boy on Ice by John Branch, which chronicles the life of Derek Boogaard, a gentle giant who became the National Hockey League’s "enforcer," only to be ravaged by concussions and injuries from fighting. He died in 2011 at age 28. Boogaard, like Peace, was also trapped in that he loved hockey but never had the talent for the sport to play at the highest levels. However, he did have the ability to fight at the highest levels, which allowed him to reach the NHL. He abused prescription drugs to battle the injuries and ensure he could keep fighting, and this pounding on his body caught up with him. His brain was found to have chronic traumatic encephelopathy (which numerous football players have been shown to have), and the story of his life raises serious questions as to why fighting is still allowed in the NHL.  It is terribly sad that someone could achieve his dream and yet simultaneously have this achievement kill him.

The last of the trifecta is Serial, a podcast you may have heard of. There was a bit of a backlash because it became so popular, but ultimately, I do think it was really good. As someone who likes true crime, likes the law, and likes podcasts, I am the prototypical listener, but I highly recommend it to anyone who has not listed to it (if such people exist). Hae Min Lee obviously was nowhere near my current age when she was murdered, but she was a senior in high school in January 1999 when she died. I was also a senior in high school in January 1999. Serial caused me to try to remember my activities back at that time, but I can’t say that I recall all that much.

I don’t have a neat takeaway from these three pieces of culture, except that they all are enjoyable.  While I normally like to be eclectic in what I consume, sometimes a theme just emerges.  My family would say that my taste in music demonstrates that the theme that emerges is always death, but I don't know where they get that idea.  Life is for the living -- and for meditating on death -- it's for that, too.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Our Winless Season

My high school football coach, Mr. Pfeiffer, reached 100 career coaching wins this week, so I texted to congratulate him.   I told him that he would have gotten there much quicker if it were not for the 1997 season when our team won a total of zero games in the season.  Coach Pfeiffer responded that the winless season was one of the most enjoyable years he had in coaching, and I told him it was one of the most enjoyable that I had playing.  That season was the only one in which my high school played 11-man football (or, as it is more commonly known across the United States, "football") instead of 8-man football (which is a weird Corn Belt thing that is largely ignored elsewhere).  However, adding those three players makes a world of difference, as our team found out.

I have tried to remember that season, and, like most of my memories, I can remember an overarching narrative (no wins), a few various scenes (shown below), and little more.

To wit:

Our first game of the year was the closest.  We might have lost by single digits, definitely not more than 20.  We were playing a consolidated team that involved a direction, a county, and black uniforms.  I believe it was the Northeast Fillmore County Raiders.

Later in the season, we took a very long bus trip to Ravenna, Nebraska.  I don't know if that game was close.  But the memory that is crystal clear is when our quarterback Jay Theis (who honestly should have his own 30 for 30) was being chased by enormous pass rushers, as he was every time he dropped back to throw.  But this time, rather than take a huge sack, he heaved the ball in my direction.  The referee on the other side of the field -- thinking that Jay had thrown the ball away to avoid the sack -- threw a flag for intentional grounding before the ball had actually hit the ground.  However, a 5'10" 140 pound wide receiver with what could charitably called poor speed -- me -- swooped in and caught the pass and advanced it for a good gain.  The referee sheepishly picked up the flag as the fans screamed that you can't have intentional grounding on a completed pass.  I don't blame the official.  I was hard to see me out there.

Just briefly on Jay Theis: he was the best athlete I ever saw in person.  I played baseball, basketball, and football with him on basically a daily basis for seven or eight years.  He would do truly amazing athletic feats like it was nothing.  His knees then entirely fell apart when he was 17 years old.  It was very sad, but unlike a real 30 for 30 like "The Best That Never Was" on Marcus DuPree, Jay never made bad decisions with his life or felt like things had been unfair.  But I was there and know how good he was.

Back to the winlessness:

We are playing a team in red, maybe Stromsburg, maybe Red Cloud, maybe Hebron, maybe the University of Nebraska JV.  We are, unsurprisingly, punting.  I'm running down on coverage, and I see four or five of their players forming a line in the middle of the field running parallel to the side line.  The punt is coming down on my right as I am running down, and the line of blockers is to my left.  I know what is being set up because I can see it happening.  The returner is going to run across the field, the line of blockers is going to crush us, and he will run for a touchdown.  Seeing this, I run to the other side of the blockers to make the tackle where the runner will be, not where he is.  The returner stays on the same side of the field (were too many of our players too smart? Seems unlikely.) and, I think, runs for a touchdown.

I always knew it was important to play smart, and I liked that in football you had the best opportunity to see things that could help you play better.  On defense, I always tried to pick up tells and watch for tendencies that could help me make up for my lack of speed, size, athleticism, confidence, and determination.  While I did not watch film, I did try to watch for keys before and during every play.  I can remember a practice where we were scrimmaging, and I was on defense and a sweep was run to my side.  However, because the end who was my assignment had run away from the direction of the sweep, I stayed with him.  It was odd to leave the area where the play seemed to be going, but when the throwback pass occurred, I looked over and saw every that every other player on defense was far from the ball, except for me.  And I have often thought about this play in other contexts when I wonder if I am right about something, even though everyone else seems to think otherwise.  I had a reason for doing what I did, so I knew it was right to stick to my assignment.  So whether it is life decisions or law decisions, I normally trust my instincts, and they have rarely steered me wrong.  I'm not a contrarian by nature and I'm not advocating thinking with your gut instead of your brain, but I like to think that this experience in football has made it so I am not the type of person who would follow the crowd in the Solomon Asch conformity study.  If I was in that position I would say the obviously correct answer no matter what other people had said because -- during that one practice, on some October day in the 1990s -- I ended up where the ball was, not on the other side of the field.  (Of course, I may be overthinking it, which I did back in 1997 and still do today),

OK, back to the winlessness, once again:

I really cannot remember any other games.  I think we played eight of them, but I have already related every game I can recall.  I remember as the losses piled up, Coach Pfeiffer's pregame speeches started to center on a theme.  The theme was: tonight we are playing a football game; this is an opportunity to win a football game; let's win a football game.  As we continued to hear this speech, we started treating it as a mantra, repeating it at practice, and incorporating it into other aspects of our lives.  (Now it's lunchtime.  This is an opportunity to each lunch.  Let's each lunch.).  It was a back-to-basics analysis of the situation that, while humorous to us, was also inspiring.  However, even with this mantra in our minds, we could not seem to, you know, actually win a game.  I remember Jay Theis achieved some sort of overall yardage record, which was good.  But I honestly don't know if any of the games after the first one were close.  But I also know that we never gave up, and Coach Pfeiffer was a big part of that.  We played hard every game, and that is why I can remember a winless season fondly.

That season was, for me, as I type here today, more than half a life ago.  But I still take certain lessons from it.  You can be dignified when facing long odds.  You will, someday, laugh at your own misery.  You will forget the details, but not the people.

I enjoyed our winless season.  I thank Mr. Pfeiffer for coaching us, and I thank my teammates for playing.  While we could not, in the words of Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap, "go to 11," I enjoyed the attempt.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Great Child

Ada has taken to asking us whether she is being a "great child," and most of the times that she asks she is being just that.  However, there are also plenty of times when she is not so great, but I think I will focus on the positive.  Some recent highlights:

During our trip to Florida, she informed an entire plane of passengers that she did not have a brother because "My mom only likes one child."

The following conversation occurred;
Ada: Can I watch another kid's show?
Kat: No, I think it is turning your brain to mush.
Ada: What's mush?
Me: See, your mom is right.  Last week you knew what mush was.

I took Ada to the park yesterday, and we had a wonderful time.  She is becoming an excellent companion, although she is getting much heavier on the back of my bike.  It gets harder and harder to ride up the hills, but our time together is very enjoyable.  We played "freeze tag" at the park for quite awhile.  In Ada's universe "freeze tag" is a game where one person chases another and when the chaser yells "freeze" the other person has to freeze like a statue.  Then the chaser says "unfreeze" and the chase begins again.  There is no point and you cannot win, but Ada really likes it.

This week Ada and I are starting Itty Bitty Sports at the YMCA for soccer and basketball.  We went to the Y today to attempt to get a preview, and it went well.  She was doing a better job of not touching the soccer ball with her hands and kicking it with more velocity.  I also attempted to try her out as a goalkeeper, but I did not like the looks I was getting from some of the other people at the gym.  I tried to tell them, How do I know if she's good if I don't fire some shots at her?  Oh well.

While it was sad to say goodbye to my Grandma Gautreaux, I was glad that she had gotten a chance to meet Ada.  The photo of me, my dad, Ada, and Grandma Gautreaux that was included among the remembrance photos at the funeral was my favorite.  I was also glad to see my brothers, the two people who make me laugh more than any other people in the world.  It was a sad occasion, but it was nice to be together.

I enjoyed being in Florida.  The beach was great.  However, I do not know how people on the East Coast watch sports.  I fell asleep before most every game was over.

Speaking of sports, the Kansas City Royals magical season continues.  I attribute much of the success to their number one lunatic fan, Shirley Gautreaux.  Mom and I got to see the Royals dismantle the Arizona Diamondbacks in early August, and the Royals have not lost many games since then.  I am excited for the Royals-Orioles series, although I cannot think that the television executives at the network that  who owns the rights to the ALCS is quite as excited.

Kat has given me a book about raising a three-year-old and another about four-year-olds.  It makes everything sound rather complicated, but the thesis, from what I can gather, is that children are insane.  But all I know is that I do enjoy being a parent, even though I guess I never thought much about it when I was younger.  October 6, 2014 is the four-year anniversary of when Kat told me that she was pregnant.  I can remember the date because the Bar Exam results came out on October 7, 2010, and Kat gave me the news one day before.  I can remember thinking that obviously I really need to pass the Bar Exam now (even though I could do nothing to change anything at that point) because I don't want my future child to ever realize that I was not even a lawyer when he or she was born.  I have no idea why I found this important.  I also remember thinking that I was glad that I would be 30 before the future child was born because I would seem more mature.  I was no more mature than when I was 29, and I don't think that Ada will ever think of this.  But at that time, I cared.

I did not think a whole lot about what it would actually be like to be a parent, and I would say that I don't really know much more about it now.  All I know is a little bit about how to try to co-exist along with Ada.  She makes things fun and interesting and occasionally harrowing, and each day is an adventure.  We received her first school pictures last week, and she is looking very grown-up already.  However, she is the same kid that needs to be rocked like a baby after her bath.  So, like the book says, three-year-olds are a mass of contradictions.  And, more and more, so am I: I can't wait for each new milestone, but I feel it is all moving too fast.  But I just have to enjoy it, because Kat and I "only likes one child."

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Ada is becoming quite adept at looking at me with disdain.  I will admit that this is the only sensible reaction to some of the things I say to her, but I must admit that she has acquired the ability to provide me with withering glances at astonishing speed.  Like most everything with Ada, she is rather precocious.

I did not think that facial expressions were hereditary, but the look that Kat gives me that she calls "dead eyes" has clearly been passed down to Ada.  It took Kat a few years to master, but Ada is already a pro.  It is a look that says many things at once: "I have no respect for you"; "I did not choose you as a parent"; and "I would prefer to be doing basically anything else but listening to you."  This is a look that I know well.

Even despite these occasional looks, I could not be happier with Ada.  She is a great kid and a lot of fun to be around.  And she is blessed with a brand of amnesia that allows her to still want to spend time with me, despite my track record.  Yesterday, for example, Ada suggested a bike ride to the park. Upon our return, I was drenched in sweat. Ada was just sitting in the seat on the back of the bike and riding along.  However, this did not stop her from immediately telling Kat as soon as we returned that 'The bike ride made her really tired.'  I asked her which part made her tired: the sitting on the bike or the sitting on the swing while I pushed her for an hour.  She said it was the combination.

She also requested that I juggle for her yesterday.  And when I briefly stopped to try to explain something to her about how it had probably been about 20 years since my parents bought this juggling equipment for me, she gave me the dead eyes look and said tartly: "Juggle, clown."  I then started doing a terrible impersonation of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas and asking her if I amused her, which led to much more dead eyed staring.  So I went back to juggling.

Ada had her first sleepover with a friend last night, and apparently she did quite well.  She absolutely does not seem fazed or concerned by almost anything and continues to be frighteningly confident.  She does not seem to need her parents, which is an interesting thing for me to ponder. Basically all kids grow up and then do not need their parents, which can be difficult to come to grips with for parents.  It is why I often hear people say that they want to freeze their kids at a certain age or have them stop growing.

I do not feel this way, and I do not know at what age Ada should "freeze" because each year brings new and interesting challenges.  But I do have some concern about the fact that, at her current rate of development, Ada might decide it is time to strike out on her own at age 11 and begin panning for gold or running a travel agency or flying planes.  She might decide she has learned enough from us and is ready for her own adventures.  Everyone fears being outgrown.  And that fear is at its apex with children because all parents know it will happen.

However, it is easy to remind myself that Ada is three, not thirty-three (which is what I am, and I still see my parents with regularity -- see you soon, Mom!).  When we are at the park during our bike ride, this fact was made rather frighteningly clear.  Ada decided to reach for the bar that holds up the rings on the playground, but she missed.  And she was going to take a scary tumble.  But I caught her, and she instantly started crying because of how scary it was.  It scared me quite a bit, too.

I don't like staying so close to her on the playground because I want her to learn to be careful and to have her own fun.  But I don't want to be so far away that I can't help.  I know Ada doesn't need as much help as many other children, but I still like being there for her.  Despite the dead eyes and "Juggle, clown" and everything else that goes along with trying to raise a three-year-old, I truly enjoy it.  I may not have looked thrilled to be trying to bike uphill in the heat with a 40-pound kid on the back singing songs while utterly oblivious to my labored breathing, but if you were right up close you would have seen a smile. Bike rides with Ada are the best stress relief I have ever found.  I look forward to many more years with a perfect, confident kid who will soon be riding her own bike next to mine.  Even if it means I have to hear "Don't sing, Dad" come from the backseat every time I so much as hum along with the radio, I don't mind.  I look forward to it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Remembrance of Easters Past

It’s time for a little holiday nostalgia, so I return you to the years of 1981 through 1994. Although I have no records to support this, I believe that I traveled at Easter to the Rinne farm near Keytesville, Missouri, for nearly every one of those years. (I can’t really recall when Grandma and Grandpa moved to Cordova, Nebraska, and if I text my mom to find out she will instantly call me, talk to me for awhile, and then close by thanking me for calling. At which point, I will sheepishly point out that I only texted her. But anyway, to avoid all that, I'll just guess.)  But I want to take you back to what it was like to make those annual Easter trips.

School would be for half a day on Thursday. My dad would get to the house early Thursday afternoon and then begin cursing at how utterly unprepared we were to actually leave. We would throw things together haphazardly and then get into a poorly-made vehicle. Some of these trips may have been made in the "drug van," which was a giant brown van with two front seats, one row of seats, and then a black void. (I nearly got frostbite on my toes one year on a Christmas trip to see my other grandparents due to the van’s complete lack of insulation). But my more vivid memories of the Easter trips are being in a sedan of some kind (possibly even the old Cutlass) and being crammed in with my brothers in the back seat with limited leg room. Keith and I on each side, and Elliott smushed in the middle. I would stare out the window as the countryside changed from farm fields to farm fields to farm fields. Maybe changed is the wrong word.

It was a six-hour trip, which was interminable to the young me.  I can remember the towns: Beatrice (this meant stories of my mom's childhood, which were ... uh... something); then the Missouri border (bathroom break); then St. Joseph (could only be referred to as St. Joe, who always seemed like St. Joseph's cooler alter ego); then Chillicothe (which I always enjoyed saying); then Marceline (I'm probably asleep by this point) and then the farm.  During the last few miles, my dad would claim he could turn on road signs by flipping from dims to brights.  This did impress and confuse me at the time, which is a sad commentary on the young me.  At this point, it's about 10:30 p.m.  And the second I step onto the back deck I can smell the popcorn.  Grandpa has his air popper going, and I've got popcorn soon after I've gotten a hug from my Grandma.  This was an era before cell phones, so my Grandpa only vaguely knew when we would be arriving.  But it seemed the popcorn was always hot and tasted perfect.  He might have been making it all evening just to be prepared, but this could simply be the magic of grandparents.  Then, I would get in bed -- either the foldout bed in the living room or maybe a bed upstairs -- and try to fall asleep.  It wasn't always easy because I was excited for the next day's adventures.

Friday would be a day of four-wheeling and sports and good meals.  That evening, we would travel to Salisbury to go to Good Friday church, which was always a somewhat scary service.  Lots of darkness, terrifying scripture readings, people whispering.  It was a rather chilling scene.

Saturday would be more adventures, maybe some exploring, croquet, basketball, or fishing.  We could go with Grandpa to feed the giant catfish.  And, of course, copious amounts of good food.  In the evening, we might sit down with even more popcorn to try the TV to see if any stations come in.  Maybe there was a movie of the week (I think I remember seeing LA Story there, but I remember nothing of the movie.  Could have been Roxanne.)  Sometimes at the end of the late newscast, Dr. Red Duke would appear.  He seemed like a cable access "doctor" who relied on remedies that "Big Science" did not want you to know about.  These segments were always enjoyable for their occasionally bizarre turns.
Easter Sunday would be a much happier service, and then an Easter Egg hunt in the front yard.  It was thrilling to find an egg with chocolate in it or a dollar bill.  Then, a big lunch and our goodbyes to Grandma and Grandpa.  Then, it was back in the car to head home.  Six more hours in the car smushed in with my brothers, and trying not to have my dad yell at me too much. 

Those Easter weekends are what I think about when I think about my grandparents.  I probably am getting numerous details wrong (maybe we left on Wednesday, maybe we did not go through Marceline on the way, maybe we didn't have popcorn right away, maybe Dr. Red Duke was a staid and sensible doctor, maybe he was not even a doctor).  But it does not really matter what the truth was now.  The memory is what I treasure.  I loved those trips.  I loved that farm.  I loved spending time with my grandparents.  I love that I can still go back there in my mind.

But of course I can only return in my mind.  One of those people is no longer with us.  I would never, under any circumstances, want to ride for six hours in the backseat of a sedan.  Someone else owns the farm.  But if I just smell the popcorn, I go back. 

Sometimes when I'm watching Hulu Plus, they have a commercial for Disneyland that attempts to guilt parents into bringing their children to Disneyland to "create memories that will last a lifetime."  But honestly, the Dumbo ride probably is not that memorable.  Long car rides, the anticipation of seeing your grandparents, frightening church services, and Easter egg hunts, those are the memories that will last a lifetime.  That is what childhood is about.  Now that I have my own family, I hope to start making those kinds of memories with them.  (I'm sure they are not looking forward to it.)  But I hope someday they can look back with a smile the way that I do.  We are not going anywhere this Easter, but, like the Chicago Cubs, there is always next year.  I hope that when Ada is older, she can think about Easter and have similar happy memories.  We should all be so lucky.

Happy Easter.