When I started doing my student teaching in Champaign in 2006, I started listening to the radio as I drove to my assignments in the morning. I bounced around from station to station, looking for a morning show that I enjoyed. I eventually settled on Mix 94.5 and discovered the morning show hosted by Kevin Lambert and Sarah Addison. I have listened to their show almost religiously ever since.
Kevin and Sarah kept me company as I drove the 35 miles to Paxton each morning during the Spring 2008 semester before I graduated. After graduating, I continued to listen to their morning show. I often keep my radio tuned to the station and I listen to the other radio personalities but, in all honesty, it has been Kevin and Sarah that have kept me on the station. I have caught up on news headlines, sports scores, celebrity gossip, weird news, stupid things people have done, local weather and traffic conditions, and random topics. I have enjoyed their easy banter, their obvious friendship, and the way they have helped me get going in the morning.
I have also gone to special events sponsored by them, including the Roof Sit for Christmas Wish (when we ran a small business, we donated to support fulfilling Christmas wishes for families in our community), and a fancy food feast where I stalked Kevin throughout the event, tweeting about it throughout the evening and tagging him in posts. (Sadly, he never stopped to say hi to me. In his defense, he was rather busy running an event.)
During the summer of 2011, I began applying for teaching jobs in earnest. I estimate that I applied for over 1,000 jobs in close to 80% of the school districts in Illinois. I had several job interviews, most of them in the early morning. And so Kevin and Sarah kept me company as I went to interviews and tried to keep calm as I was looking for a job. One of the most memorable times was when I was in Washington (Illinois) and got an interview in Rossville (Illinois) at 7:30 am the next day. It was two and a half hour drive and for the first time I got to listen to their show from beginning to end (except for the 30 minutes in between for the interview).
So why am I writing all of this? Well, on Monday morning, as I was driving to work, I turned on the radio and heard Kevin and Sarah talking about the new Hobbit movie coming out. Then Kevin tried to make a segue to another topic, got choked up, gave up on the segue and just dove in: he announced that this week was his last on the show and at the station. I seriously almost slammed on the brakes and called my wife to wake her up to tell her what happened. (I didn't because I knew she would hate me for waking her up.)
He did not say where he is going or what he is doing, only that it is something that will help improve things for his family. (I have heard since that he is going to Terre Haute, Indiana.) Kevin reassured listeners that he is not leaving out of job dissatisfaction, nor is anyone at the station mad at him. It was touching to hear him describe his radio show partner as his best friend. It is obvious listening to their show that they are indeed friends and it improves the quality of the show considerably!
I don't know if Kevin and Sarah are ever going to read this, but I just wanted to say thanks to Kevin for the years of keeping me entertained, informed, and alert as I have been commuting to work in the morning and preparing for classes. I have called in, I have talked to you both, I've shared stories and jokes and personal successes and I've loved every minute of it. Even now, I am listening to them as I am on the couch typing this. Kevin, I wish you all the best as you move on to the next stage of your career. And Sarah, don't worry; I'm still going to listen to your show in the morning!
For almost three years now, I have had the immense privilege of teaching the 9-, 10-, and 11-year-old Sunday School classes in my church. Due to people moving and other changes, our Primary President, asked me to switch to co-teaching the 6 and 7-year-olds' class. I openly admit that this was a very hard thing to be asked to do. I didn't want to do it. I have built such remarkable relationships with the budding young men and young women in my class and with their parents and I was worried about what would happen to my students who don't always deal well with change. All the way up until 10:30 this morning, half an hour before church started, I was angry at the change, angry that I was being asked to leave these children in the hands of another set of teachers when I had just a handful of weeks left before the year was up.
Then something remarkable happened. Our choir was rehearsing for our performance of "Prayer of Thanksgiving" (also known as "We Gather Together") and our choir director made some comments about being grateful for the blessings we have even when things aren't going as planned. I realised that I needed to focus on the good.
(Alas, this is not the arrangement we used, but it is MoTab so I am going to use it!)
I have learned so much from my class and I hope that they have learned much from me. It has been a remarkable journey. I got the chance to teach one final lesson and transition them over to their new teachers. It happens to be my all-time favourite story from the entire Old Testament, one that has provided a personal mantra for me. It was the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego). It is important to realise that they were princes set in charge of governing the capital province of the Babylonian empire and that Nebuchadnezzar was the most powerful man in the known world. When he gives them the opportunity to avoid his wrath by breaking their covenants, this is their response:
"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
This story, coupled with the stories of Esther and of Job, provide a fantastic lesson for all of us: integrity is doing the right thing because it is right. I believe God is capable of all things and that He will preserve me according to His will, but if not, I will still believe and I will still live according to the promises I have made.
I'm going to miss my class, but I know I'll still see them at church and in our neighbourhood. And I know that my new class is going to provide new challenges and new opportunities to learn and grow as a teacher and as a disciple of Christ.
I was at our Boy Scout District Roundtable meeting tonight and spent about an hour or so afterwards talking with some scout leaders tonight and realised something very important: humility.
If you have just two boys and they are both relatively young Scouts, it doesn't matter if your troop has been around for 90 years and your leaders have all the training they can possibly get; you still need to have the humility to ask some experienced Scouts (not Scouters) to come in and mentor them.
I was amazed to hear a fellow Scouter complain about dwindling numbers and lack of enthusiasm and then complete toss aside my suggestion that the council find experienced Scouts to serve as mentors to the smaller units. I focused on mentors because they have experienced leaders. What they need are boys in their peer group who can show them the way in a way that those who are not cannot. But instead of considering my advice, she insisted they weren't small because they are the oldest troop in the council. This is true, but they still only have two boys, which means they are still small and need help.
I wondered how many leaders refuse to ask for help because they think their longevity ought to count for something and that asking for help is a sign of weakness or imperfection. But then I remembered how many people do ask for help, such as a colleague of mine who has been teaching for over 25 years. She still seeks out professional development opportunities. She still asks for help. Just the other day she asked a guy who has barely been alive longer than she's been in the classroom, to show her how to set up a class website. I wish that some of the Scouters I talked to tonight would take the approach of my colleague: it doesn't matter how long you've been doing it, there's always room for growth and room for improvement. You just have to have the humility to seek it out.
In May of 2012, after talking with friends and then discussing it between us, Gretch and I decided to "go public" with our infertility. We had been learning a lot about ourselves and about this issue and had two good friends who had encouraged us to become advocates for awareness and for ourselves. We decided that we would be open and honest in discussing our infertility, the various treatments and procedures we would undergo, and how the issues were impacting us, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. In the process of doing so, we have learned that many of our friends are also infertile for a wide variety of reasons and we have become the friends that others turn to when they have questions. Both of us have repeated expressed our willingness to do so and appreciate all those who have come to us with questions.
As part of my quest to be an advocate for infertility awareness and understand, I have, from time to time, shared blog posts related to what we have gone through that I felt worth passing on to others. One of the blogs that I loved the most was written by my friend Amanda and her husband Dan. They were going through IVF about the same time as us and shared their experiences. (They were blessed with a baby boy who is an adorably handsome young man whose pictures flood my Facebook feed all the time, much to my delight.) Other friends have also shared their successes along with their disappointments. I have also found a few articles about what not to say to those struggling with infertility that I have passed on to others, usually via Facebook or Twitter.
Then my friend Aubrey asked me a question this morning that made me realise something: all of these posts about what not to say never gave suggestions about what to say. And for a person like me who focuses so much energy on encouraging others to talk about what they are doing and not what they are not doing, I realised this was a grave oversight. I promised Aubrey that I would spend the day pondering the question and write a post for her and everyone else who has been wondering. So, with that lengthy introduction, here is my list, written in no particular order:
Say how much you love your friends. This may seem like such a simple thing, but it really does mean so very much. Expressions of love and affection for your friends, shown to your friends, helps to remind them of the good things in life. When a couple is struggling with infertility, it can be all too easy for that struggle to consume their lives. Being reminded that friends and family love them as they are boosts the spirit considerably.
Tell them you are willing to listen. One of the hardest things for us to do is to actually listen to others. Sure, we hear what other people are saying, but we usually spend most of our not-talking part of a conversation thinking about what we are going to say next instead of listening to the other person. If your friend wants to share, please be willing to listen to what she has to say. If you know that your friend has a particular diagnosis related to infertility, such as PCOS or endometriosis, take the time to educate yourself. There are wonderful resources online and in print that can help you understand what your friend may be going through and will also help you know what he or she is talking about as you are listening.
Ask if they want to share or answer questions. Every couple, every person, has to decide for him- or herself how comfortable they are with sharing their experiences with others. Some may not wish to talk about it at all, while others may be very open about it, to the point that you may get more than you bargained for when you ask a question! Assuming that your friend has told you she is experiencing infertility, a good starter might be something like this: "You have shared with me that you are struggling with infertility. I want to be sensitive to your feelings; do you feel comfortable talking about it? If so, I am here to listen. If not, I totally understand! Let's just make brownies and watch The Big Bang Theory! Actually, let's make brownies anyway!" If you have learned something about your friend's specific condition and he or she is willing to share or answer questions, you could ask a question about something you read or heard and ask if that has been your friend's experience.
Do tell them that they are remembered in your prayers. I use the term "prayers" to describe any number of ritualistic ways in which one can seek divine favour for a friend, including talking to God, seeking the intercession of the saints, lighting candles, or just thinking about your friend. Whatever it is you do, let your friend know that you are praying for them! One other thing with this: I believe that the most sincere prayers are those that are accompanied by action. After praying for your friend, ask him or her what you can do to help. They may say, "Oh, we're fine," so you may want to ask something more specific: "I know you are going through a lot right now; can I help out by making dinner for you tonight?" or "I was thinking about you earlier today and stopped by the grocery store on the way home. Do you like ice cream? I hope so, because I picked some up for you!" or "I remember when I was feeling persistent nausea once and the things that helped me, so I put together a basket for you. I hope this helps!" or "We were praying for you guys this morning and made this card of positive messages just to let you know we care."
Do invite them to be a part of your life. Infertility is not a contagious disease. Infertile couples do not wish to spend all of their time along. Yes, we have other friends who are infertile and yes, we do have gatherings with our child-less friends, but we also love being invited to join your family for special or not-special events. This is especially important for those friends whose family members live far away. Are you making a pot of spaghetti and realised that you've made enough to feed an army three times over? Call us up and see if we'd like to join you! Are you looking for someone to join you for a game or a movie? Make the invitation! Some couples may be uncomfortable around other people's children, especially if it is during a particularly challenging time, so be aware that your invitation may be turned down. Also, inviting your friends without children to come to your home is often easier for you than for them to invite you over, since you will need to either bring your children along or find a sitter. And speaking of finding a sitter, ask your friends if they would be interested in watching your children for you from time to time, not in order to "get practice" or because they "don't have anything else to do" but because they are your friends and you trust them.
There are so many posts shared about what not to do and what not to say when it comes to infertility that many people become terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing, so much so that they don't say or do anything. My hope is that this post gives you a starting point for breaking that fear by expressing and showing your love for your friends and family.
I teach a group of three 11-year-old boys in my Sunday School class. There is another teacher who usually has three girls and one boy between the ages of 9 and 11. When the one boy is gone, I usually bring my three boys in with Derek's class and we take turns teaching. Our course of study this year is the Old Testament but we had both decided to do something different this week in recognition of Easter. It turned out to be a week that we combined our classes, and it was my turn to teach the whole group.
I started the lesson by sharing a video that showed some of the last moments of the Saviour's life. It was produced by my church and published on their BibleVideos.org site. This video is called "My Kingdom Is Not of This World."
I asked the children to think about why Jesus came to earth. They shared some of their thoughts: he came to teach us, to show us the way back to God, to atone for our sins, to die for us. Then I asked them to think about why they came to earth. Again, their thoughts: to learn how to become more like God, to gain a physical body, to learn through our experiences, to develop faith. Then we watched this video, also produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and posted on mormon.org as a special Easter message:
The next conversation was about what we do because of Jesus Christ. One boy said that he is kind to others. Another said that he prays and asks for forgiveness. One of the girls said that she reads her scriptures because of Jesus. Another said that she helps others. I talked about my own life and what I do because of Christ. Even though I don't always say it, everything I do is because of Christ. He is the Great Creator of Heaven and Earth. Without him, we would not be here. We have been told that the greatest of all the commandments is to love God and the second greatest is to love others like ourselves. This tells me that the greatest commandment, our true responsibility as disciples of Jesus Christ, is to love. All the rituals, all the commandments, all the practices, all the classes and meetings, should be focused on this simple call by him to love and serve others. Our words, our actions, and our thoughts should always be such that they reflect the teachings of our Saviour.
Then I shared one more video with the class. This was produced by a youth group in Ogden, Utah. Those who follow me on Facebook or read my teaching blog may already be familiar with it. I have shared it and am using it with my project to promote kindness in my fourth grade classroom. Before starting the video, I asked the boys and girls to think about how they speak to and treat others. Then we watched this:
One of the things I love dearly about my faith is that it is not enough to go to church on Sunday. We are expected to live our religion all day, every day. I challenged my students, and myself, to take the lessons from this experiment and make a personal commitment to God that we will always speak to others in a way that builds them up. No matter how upset, annoyed, or frustrated we are, we should stop and ask ourselves: "Is what I am about to say true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?" If you can't answer yes to all five of those questions, then don't say it! Either say something else or don't say anything at all.
This Easter Sunday, it is my sincere prayer that we will all strive to be a little kinder, a little more understanding, a little more patient, a little more loving. Jesus Christ gave his life so that we can all live. It is up to us to make the best use of the life we are given!
I didn't learn how to swim until I was 15 years old. There were several reasons for this, although I don't think I ever articulated them as I grew up. Most of the time it was simple a matter of me saying "I don't know how to swim" and leaving it at that. Now that I am older, I can point out that I really don't like swimming. When I get into a pool, even a wonderfully heated one, my body temperature plummets and my lips turn blue in about 20-30 minutes. I will still go swimming every now and then, usually to make Gretch happy (because she loves swimming) but personally, I could never go swimming again and probably be perfectly content.
The reason I finally decided it was time to learn how to swim was that I wanted to become an Eagle Scout. In the Boy Scouts of America, the Eagle is the highest rank a youth can achieve. My three oldest brothers didn't earn it, but the next two did and I wanted desperately to be the third in my family to accomplish this task. I had started participating in the Boy Scouts when I turned 11, after earning my Webelos badge and Arrow of Light in Cub Scouts. I easily earned the rank of Scout and Tenderfoot and then I stalled. For four years.
You see, in order to become a Second Class Scout, you have to know how to swim. And you have to know how to swim to become a First Class Scout. In reviewing the requirements posted online, I believe there have been some changes, but the basic requirement to know how to swim has always been a part of advancement in the BSA. I had completed all of the other requirements for these ranks, and I had earned several merit badges. The only thing keeping me from moving past Tenderfoot was the whole "I don't know how to swim" thing.
And then I realised that I only had two and a half years before my 18th birthday and if I didn't get moving, I wouldn't have enough time to earn my Eagle. After earning First Class, you have to be actively involved in your troop for 4 months before becoming a Star Scout. Then it takes another 6 months to earn the rank of Life Scout. Add six more months, minimum, before you are even eligible for consideration for Eagle, and that gave me a very small buffer to earn my Eagle. Oh, and my birthday is in January, which means any learning-to-swim would probably have to wait until summer, since I knew I'd need someone who actually knew what they were doing (i.e. a trained swimming instructor), and swimming classes weren't offered during the winter, even at the indoor pool in Eureka (the only indoor pool in the area, if I recall correctly). So swim lessons would have to wait until June, which knocked off six of those buffer months.
Another problem was purely pride. I was a 15-year-old boy who didn't know how to swim. There was no way I was going to go to my local park pool to take swim lessons with toddlers. Fortunately, my parents were incredibly supportive of this decision. So they helped arrange for me to take lessons in Peoria, which was close by but far away enough that I wouldn't know anybody. Except my sister Amanda who, at 13, also didn't know how to swim and also wanted to learn. So she and I went to the Peoria Park District's Lakeview Aquatic Center and learned how to swim in just a few short weeks. I learned how to do some very basic strokes, such as the freestyle (maybe), American crawl (I think), and the sidestroke. I was also taught the backstroke and the breaststroke, but I was terrible at both and never really learned them. The swim instructor also taught us how to jump off a diving board and not drown in the deep end, how to tread water, and how to float (another thing that I don't really do).
Then the test came: could I swim well enough to pass of the requirements for Second and First Class? I had a fantastic mentor in Scouting. His name was Jim Fairbanks and he did everything he could to help me advance. We met up at a pool, started going through the requirements and, whether from nervousness or whatever weird ailment I had that day, I managed to fail when I started coughing horribly and threw up my cheeseburger I'd had for lunch. (It is weird how things like that stick in your memory.) But you know what? At this point I refused to give up! We tried again a week later and I did it! I passed off the minimum requirements for swimming! You'd never think it now, but I can honestly say right now, as I am typing this, that that moment on that day was one of the single greatest accomplishments of my young life. (Oh, how I wish I knew exactly when it was, but I somehow didn't find it necessary to record this accomplishment in my otherwise incredibly detailed journals.) It was on this day, sometime between 1 June and 12 July 1998 that I finally realised something that I should have known long, long before: the only thing stopping me from achieving my own personal greatness is me. If you really want to do something, anything, you will find a way to do it. It may take an incredibly long time, it may result in hundreds, even thousands, of failed attempts, but if it is important, you will find a way.
I earned Second and First Class on 12 July 1998. And then I started working with a vigor toward Star, Life, and, ultimately, Eagle. Once again, Jim Fairbanks was my mentor and my guide. There were many weekends when my mum would drop me off at his place in the morning and he and his wife would work with me on passing off merit badges and completing requirements for rank advancement.
It finally came time to design, plan, and implement my Eagle Scout Project. I will openly admit that this was not a difficult choice for me. My brother Anton had done a similar project four years earlier and it had become something I was passionate about doing: blood donation. I started donating blood with the American Red Cross when I was 16, the earliest I could, and donated faithfully every 56 days until I left to serve a full-time mission for my church a few months before my 20th birthday. After my mission I started donating again. (I eventually switched to donating with Community Blood Services of Illinois due in large part to my friend Scott working for them, and have continued to donate, although not as frequently as I used to.) My project was to chair a blood drive for the American Red Cross. I had to find a location, gather a team of volunteers to schedule blood donation times, assist the Red Cross staff during the drive, track all of the data, and organise promotional efforts. I had to study the manual on chairing a blood drive, I had to monitor progress leading up to the event, stay on site throughout the day of the drive, and provide follow-up support afterwards. And, for me, the hardest part: I couldn't do it all on my own. I had to lead others and trust them to do their jobs.
My blood drive was on Monday, 9 October 2000, Columbus Day before my 18th birthday. After finishing all of the other requirements, I had only one final requirement: my Eagle Scout Board of Review. I had to get letters of recommendation requests prepared and sent out on 2 January 2000 (recorded in my journal!) to Jim Tallman (HS band teacher), Jerry Madsen (HS English teacher), Lee Kinsinger (family doctor), Julie Robinson (family friend), Laurie Hawley (Operation Snowball director), Doug Mullen (my bishop at the time), Kathy McNamara (fourth grade teacher), and Pete Dombrowski (mentor at the Illinois Teen Institute) and then I had to meet with a panel of BSA leaders who would examine my work as a Scout and ask me anything they wanted to. The one question I remember from my Board of Review was the last one asked of me: If you could describe your Scouting experience in one word, what would it be? My response was: Fun. This led to a follow-up to ask me to elaborate. I explained that I had a lot of challenges, but I stayed with it because it was fun; if it hadn't been fun, I wouldn't have done it.
I received my Eagle on 23 March 2001.
And now it is almost 13 years later and I am once again a part of the Scouting program. I have been a Webelos den leader for three years, a Cubmaster for about six months, a BSA merit badge counselor, and, as of this past Monday, a member of an Eagle Scout Board of Review committee. Which leads me to the actual purpose of this post.
Gretchen's brother, Jonas, turns 18 this coming Wednesday. He, too, has had a multitude of trials as he has worked toward earning his Eagle. From lost records to lack of mentors to time conflicts to difficulties caused by physical challenges, Jonas has had to overcome a lot in his years as a Boy Scout. But he did overcome. There were tears, there was frustration, there were arguments, but through it all he persevered and succeeded. Last Sunday I got a call asking if I would be willing to serve on his Board of Review committee. I met with other Scouting leaders from our local unit and a representative from the Prairielands Council and we talked to Jonas and listened as he shared his experiences with Scouting. We read about his goals for the future, heard more about his Eagle Scout Project (interviewing WWII and Korean War veterans and recording the interviews for archiving with the Library of Congress), and learned about his own leadership skills.
We were impressed. Here is a young man who has overcome great odds to achieve something that had not happened in his family in 85 years. Here is a young man who has a plan for his future, who has learned to use his struggles as stepping stones rather than stumbling blocks, and has come to understand that not everything comes easy, but if you are willing to set your mind to it, you can succeed. And he has learned for himself that things worth doing are worth doing right and worth doing well. When nearly all of the records from his first years in Scouting were lost, he didn't despair and quit. He did them again. When he had surgery to fix his cochlear implant and lost a huge chunk of his long-term memory, he worked to re-learn that which was lost. When I think about what it means to be an Eagle Scout and I think about my brother-in-law, I see leadership in action.
I am proud of Jonas. I am proud to call him brother, and proud to call him a fellow Eagle. And I have never been more pleased to sign my name on an advancement record than I was last Monday, when I scrawled my signature stating that I certified that he has met the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America and is truly worthy of that highest of honours: the Eagle Scout.
I watch the Super Bowl, but not particularly for the game. I don't really care for American football. I do enjoy watching athletic championships, though, so the Super Bowl usually catches my radar. But I really watch the game for the commercials between. The game is perfectly poised at the start of the year to establish the start of the advertising calendar. Super Bowl commercials are remembered for weeks, months, sometimes even years.
One of the commercials aired last night was for Coca-Cola. I almost always enjoy their advertisements, even if I don't actually like their original beverage. (Cherry Coke, on the other hand, is my poison of choice thanks to years of working in Dining Services with free access during shifts!) Anyway, this particularly ad was no exception. In case you missed it because you a) don't watch television, b) don't watch the Super Bowl, and/or c) don't follow trending topics in the media, here's a video of it:
This delightful sixty-second video has apparently brought out some of the worst in some of my fellow countrymen. Reports on the Internet of crude, racist, xenophobic, and/or prejudiced reactions make me want to weep. But other reports have shown how more people have come together in praise of this ad. Yes, it is intended to garner support of Coca-Cola and convince people to buy it, but there is more to it. It is the genius of the Coca-Cola marketing department. They have a long, beautiful tradition of equating their sugary carbonated beverage with being American. Of course, the ads from the 1920s were the typical white-bread America that some people seem to think it is still all that exists.
But as our nation more readily embraced diversity, Coca-Cola has always been right there along with it. Even though the print ads for the first fifty years or so were more of the same as above, I have long enjoyed this television spot from 1971:
As always, Coca-Cola tells us that their product is what it means to be happy, content, and at peace, with ourselves, our neighbours, with the world. If everyone had a Coke, everyone would be happy. After all, Coca-Cola is The Real Thing. (I have to admit, though, that I've never really understood what that phrase actually means. Maybe something to do with a return to the Original Recipe--minus the cocaine--after New Coke failed miserably?) In 1987, Coca-Cola released this commercial in time for the holidays. I wasn't old enough to be cognizant of it at the time but, thanks in large part to my parents recording "The Sound of Music" on NBC this year, the commercial was captured and viewed repeatedly in my household. (My sister Amanda loved the movie and watched it every single day for at least a year or two while her older brothers were all in school!)
With this brief history of just a few advertisements, are people really, seriously shocked that Coca-Cola would air a commercial that features people from all over the country, singing about our beautiful nation in the amazing diversity of tongues that are represented in our rich tapestry? I think that my friend Zoe Bouras captured it perfectly with this comment recently shared on Facebook:
I don't think I've seen a commercial to give Americans more to be proud of than the Coke commercial. It showed an America where it is safe to be different, an America of acceptance and unity, a real 'melting-pot'. I think that's something to be proud of.
I am proud to be an American because it means I come from a diverse land of diverse people of diverse opinions. I don't adhere to the belief in American exceptionalism and I know that my country has plenty of flaws, but I also know that most of the people are good, wonderful people who are trying to do the best they can to make the world a better place, even if just within their small spheres of influence.
Hi! We're the Valencic family. You're probably wondering about our blog's name. Well, We're a small family of two, plus a rabbit (and two birds, but they're just kind of in the background- second class citizens). Alex and Gretch have been married for five years. Alex teaches fourth grade, loves politics, reading books, watching movies, picking up random knowledge, and bacon. We love watching TV shows, you could say that we are Netflix junkies. We love sci-fi shows, our favorite being Doctor Who. We also love watching documentaries on all kinds of subjects. We're both geeks, but Alex is the super Geek.
Gretch spends her days painting, illustrating, designing, crocheting, and doing many other forms of art. She has a really big love for dinosaurs and will some day publish a graphic novel with dinosaurs in it. But that's not where the dinosaur part comes from! For many years now our family (mostly Alex and siblings) have made fun of Gretch's short arms, calling them her T-Rex arms. They call her G-Rex. Normally this kind of teasing would bother her, but she kinda likes it, so it's stuck. (P.S. her ASL name sign is based on the Swedish sign for dinosaur.) That's where the Dinosaur part comes. Myla is our Bunny. She's two years old and has a surprisingly well rounded personality. We got Myla because Gretch desperately wanted an animal companion that could help her with some emotional issues. She is a confort to Gretch and we spoil her like a baby. She's more than just a pet to us. So that's where our Blog Title came from! This is our family and this is our life.