Saturday, April 5, 2008

Update from Jacksonville

Greetings from Jacksonville!

We are wrapping up spring break in on Florida’s “first coast.” Ruth and Emma Lucy took an all-night train to Raleigh-Durham, NC, late last week, to spend their spring break with some good friends (who used to live in Holland with us). They had a great time. This put Ruth far away from us during the exciting time when she got the bulk of her college acceptances. She was lucky enough to get in everywhere she applied, so now we’re negotiating financial aid packages, and she’s trying to trim her list. BYU won’t give final scholarship decisions until the “end of April,” but Ruth will need to commit to one her schools by May 1. Fortunately, a couple of the high-powered schools have come through with very generous financial aid packages, so she does have options. When our girls came home yesterday, we took the whole family to lunch at Barbara Jean’s a restaurant with an outdoor deck on the intercoastal waterway, and ate crab-cakes, coconut shrimp, and grilled cheese (Isaac’s choice) to celebrate Ruth’s exciting news. Isaac was captivated by the boats that kept speeding by.

Our family has enjoyed going running as a family in recent months, and have now done several 5Ks together (although Ruth cajoled her dad into running a 15K [9.3 miles] with him too). Annette and I have taken turns pushing the little ones in our jogging stroller, but at the last 5K, Isaac, inspired by the whole atmosphere, got out of the stroller and ran the final two miles himself, finishing well ahead of his mother with the stroller. He was very proud of himself. David shaved a couple of minutes off his time and finish first in his (old man) age division. He was very proud of himself. Great fun.

David got an article finished and circulated for publication. He’s received an offer from Cleveland State Law Review. He’d hoped for better placement (a more prestigious journal), but he can’t complain too much; this is still his first year in his academic career. He’s headed to North Dakota next week to speak on “Child Protection in Sudan” and to Dublin, Ireland two weeks later to speak on a panel (including gov’t officials of Palestine, Lebanon, and Rwanda) on bringing justice to societies torn by war and civil conflict. This latter one was a late invitation, prompted by the withdrawal from the panel of the Chief Justice of Iraq. Most of spring break has been dedicated to preparing those presentations.

Edward’s lacrosse season has come to an end, and we now have to figure out how to fill the void left in his life. He’ll be pretty fully occupied preparing for his AP exams, though, as well as trying to establish some momentum on his Eagle Project (restoring a local, very small, and very old cemetery).

EmmaLuz was accepted into the high-powered academic magnet high school (where Ruth and Ed are) as well as into the equally impressive magnet high school-of-the-arts (which was done by audition). In the end, she opted for the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and their creative writing program. We’re really proud of her – it’s an excellent choice for her. “DA” as they call it is only about half-mile from our house, which is also really nice.

Isaac is producing large quantities of fascinating artwork, "suitable for framing." Much of it gets mailed to Sam. He’s also learning alphabets. We played the “alphabet game” on the drive through town out to the beach this morning, where we cooked a hot breakfast on a camp stove before playing on the beach and wading in the Atlantic. Isaac did great at figuring out what the next letter should be (starting over at A to sing the song each time) and then finding the next letter.

Eleanor has managed to graduate out of diapers. We are proud of her, and equally proud of (and grateful to) Annette, who’s gone through some rough weeks to get Ellie to this point. Eleanor is about as stubborn as a two-year-old can be. She found some scissors during what should have been her nap last Saturday, and gave herself a haircut. The professionals shrugged shoulders and said “there’s nothing to work with there – give it a couple of weeks, and maybe enough will grow back that we can salvage something.” So now, at her parents’ insistence, Eleanor wears hats, all the time. Fortunately, she’s cute in hats, because she’s not too cute without them these days. Sigh!

Sam’s doing well, as you all know from the other posts on this blog. We are very proud of him.

Annette has been incredibly busy, trying to get the yard landscaped for a garden (and creating a “shade map” to identify the sunniest parts of our very shady lot. She’s been working on a prom dress for Ruth. She’s been teaching Seminary, pinch hitting for the Bishop’s wife who was pretty strung out getting ready for her only son’s wedding, and substitute teaching in Primary. She also is spending enormous amounts of her life in that fine American tradition of driving her kids hither and yon. This is a cultural adjustment, as we had become used to European norms, where kids could walk, take public transit, or ride bikes just about anywhere. This is one of our least favorite aspects of American culture, but Annette’s been a great sport (and a great support) by biting the bullet and doing it. Still, we are trying to bicycle to church whenever we can, and our Seminary students have been good about bicycling again, after Ruth healed up from her bicycle accident last fall.

We had Kathryn (Pearson) and John over for Easter dinner. We had the missionaries too, since our Sammy couldn’t join us. We can’t feed the missionaries anymore unless we have nonmembers in our home, so this worked well. It was a fun holiday meal together, and the Elders were terribly impressed to have had Easter dinner with the mayor of Jacksonville. Apparently they bragged about it a bit to the other elders in the mission because we heard reports back on it from other sources.

When Kathryn heard of Ruth’s college acceptances, she ran out and bought Ruth a congratulatory bouquet of "Cardinal" red and white roses. Unfortunately, Ruth was in North Carolina and didn't get her flowers until a week later. Of course, Kathryn is already lobbying hard for her alma mater, but they have been warmly supportive of Ruth overall.

Annette, David and Ruth went to the temple in Orlando, along with Bro. and Sis. Blinco a couple weeks ago. Bro. Blinco was baptized in January, and we went down there with him and his recently-reactivated wife, to do baptisms for his immediate ancestors. What a wonderful experience that was.

We’re doing well, but missing family we are so far away from!


David and Annette

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