Friday, June 27, 2014

A Year and a Lifetime of Memories

My dearest Grandma Helen,

We have missed you so much over this past year, it's hard to believe it's been that long. You have been in my life almost as long as I can remember. I think of you at the oddest times, when I see your initials randomly on someone's whiteboard, when I see a Canadian goose honking in the sky, when one of my children's books mentions a kookaburra and I tell the kids how you used to sing the song to us as children.

"Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra, Laugh, Kookaburra
Gay your life must be."

Evan remarks that you must have sung to us a lot, which you did. He doesn't know you didn't have the greatest singing voice, but we loved it anyways.

I am thankful that Evan will remember you, if it's only a blur in his mind as the years go by. He does lament that now that you are gone, we don't know any handicapped people anymore.

Helen and baby Evan at one month, October 2008

I am thankful that you got to cradle Zoey for the first time, in only her first weeks of life.

Helen and baby Zoey at two weeks, June 2011
I am thankful for that last visit. Thankful that you were awake and able to talk to us, to tickle Zoey as she climbed on your bed, to tell us to never get old. You said you were tired, and I kissed you on the forehead as we walked out the door. Evan waved goodbye. I am thankful for that day.

Most of all I am thankful for you. Thankful that you took us into your life with open arms (and an open door). The time spent at your house when we were kids is something I will never forget. Dressing up in Jack's old t-shirts, sleeping together in that gigantic bed, watching movies and eating your butterscotch cookies.

I will remember you always, and forget you never. 

Your loving granddaughter, Sarah


For pictures from Helen's memorial in August of 2013, click here. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My kid can swim like Michael Phelps, wait what?

My kids need swimming lessons. And I kept forgetting to sign them up. Finally inquired, and Shoot! they start this week. So I sign up Evan one day ahead of time and then Zoey..........but they don't have the time I need so I have to sign up her for the one that starts in........

......wait for it..........


Mad dash to finishing paying, get her in her bathing suit, in the car, to the gym, and in to the pool. And it's kinda controlled chaos there. Two instructors in the pool, about 8 kids all holding hands jumping in a circle in a pool that looks way too deep for Zoey and I wonder if I've made a mistake.

Eh, whatevs, I just deposit her on the steps and one of the instructors grabs here. This is how Michael Phelps started right? Did I mention that this is THE Michael Phelps school? Oh dear........

But she hangs in there, looks a little scared but not enough to get out of the pool. She seemed to make some friends, and all but one kid are bigger than her (and quite a lot of them can do stuff way above the class description).

I'm so proud of her! She did really well, and is excited to go back. There was one little boy that started crying when they got to the part about jumping into the pool (with help). A separate instructor took him off and calmed him down. I remembered what my first swimming lessons were like, screaming, pulling my moms hair, hysteria. Mostly because my cousin David told me when  he took his first lessons they threw him in the deep end of the pool. Thanks David! But once I realized how fun it was, I never looked back.

Evan starts his soon, and he's really excited. We'll see!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A boy and his cars

Evan has recently gotten back into his car collection. Which is good, considering he has what feels like thousands. He's pretty specific about them; he wants them to have symbols (meaning he can clearly see if it's a Nissan, Toyota, VW, etc.) He could care less about the matchbox cars that just look like they go fast.

He loves Beetles, Prius', Smart Cars, and above all the Nissan Juke. And he studies every car that we drive by. This is how we know:

      - That someone that works at McDonalds drives a yellow Beetle Bug and they work the morning shift
      - That someone that works at the bank drives a white Nissan Juke, and Evan keeps asking if we can go inside and meet them so they will show us their car
     - That the reverend at the church preschool he attends drives a Blue Prius

At preschool they collected empty boxes, taped them together, and painted them. Some kids made rocket ships, buildings, princess towers, etc.

Evan made a Nissan, complete with hatchback.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What's Goin' On............

Things and stuff, lots of things and stuff.

First, in the gigantic world of SPACE.

The New Horizons spacecraft continues its march (drift, flight, rocket-launched trajectory, etc) towards Pluto. We have about a year and a half to go until our closest approach on July 4th, 2015 and everyone is getting pretty excited. So excited that they created a great video comparing our mission to the ongoing Olympic games; you can see me in it at the 2:09 mark when they mention Olympic hockey (obviously). (note: I don't think this aired on TV, though someone thinks they saw it. But, well, it should have.)

Over this past summer, we had our one and only full encounter rehearsal that spanned 14 days. There were some great people there recording our whole team and then they took the time to create two really great podcasts. Please check these out; there are a little longer but give a great explanation of what we are doing and why. You should see me a bunch of times but not talking (saving myself for next year). (there are both small and large versions of the video depending on how fast your speed is).

And then here's a great article about why we are going and the things we expect to learn once we get there. Just because some people decided to declare it not a planet anymore doesn't mean there aren't loads of things to learn. Click here.

In the STEREO world we continue to circle to the backside of the Sun (both spacecraft will be blocked from Earth by the Sun for a few months each next summer before we see them again and they start to circle back to Earth). This past Christmas STEREO produced a rare Christmas Conjunction of Venus, Earth and Jupiter, which led me to discover that there is a great paper discussing the fact that the "Star of Bethlehem" may very well have been a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter, bright and shining to those who saw it and a rare event indeed. You can read the paper here.

Finally, for stuff outside of my work world but no less exciting, for Apollo's 8 45th anniversary where the famous 'Earthrise' picture was taken, a new video was put together. They combined the pictures with new data taken from a satellite currently orbiting the moon to create a montage of what exactly the astronauts were seeing along with their audio. It's pretty cool.

Uh, well that was really long. So in other news Evan lost his first tooth, Zoey is out of diapers, and the downstairs bathroom is ALMOST DONE. Phew.