Monday, August 29, 2011

A Friend's Katrina Story

Hurricane Katrina hit the year after I moved to Austin. During the months that followed, I felt that people in other parts of the country never fully realized the impact; I lived in a city relatively close, and I don't think I realized the impact. I felt angry when, after learning that Robin and I had volunteered for the Red Cross at the Austin Convention Center three weeks after, a family member said, "People are still there?" I wanted people to know that years later, students I taught, still known as "Katrina Kids," were struggling with life after the hurricane.

I am very privileged to know the author of the following blog entry. I consider her a professional and personal confidante and love her dearly. I am so grateful that she took the time to document her experience and that she had the courage both to revisit the days, weeks, and months following the hurricane and to share it with me and other readers. Please take the time to head over to and read her story.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Minnesota Girl

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Night and Day

Like all parents and their children, I am infinitely proud of Lydia. She is...

...flexible. During the past month, she has been shuttled from house to house and bed to bed, and she has trooped through it all. She has stayed true to her sleeping and eating patterns and has shown little to no sign of distress due to all of the changes.

...focused and self-entertaining. Since we left Austin in July, Lydia has taken four 4+ hour car rides, one being the 21 hour drive from Austin to Madison which we made in one day. During those trips, she has had zero tantrums and used NO electronic entertainment--all books, songs, imaginative play, and conversation. We were both in the front seats, so she was all on her own, and she did great.

...a communicator. During the past few months, we have really worked with Lydia to use her words to express her emotions. Through September, we will be spending a lot of time away from Robin, and that is going to be hard on our little Daddy's girl. She has definitely had her tearful moments, but she has learned to say, "I feel sad because I miss Daddy. I want to talk about it." Seriously. She says that, and we talk about it, and she takes a breath and continues on. Last night, she said, "I am a little bit sad because I miss Daddy, and you're a little bit sad, too, but we'll be okay." Tear out my heart, kid.

Now, I do take some pride in posting these things. I think my child is pretty great. However, my true motivation today is that I need to remind myself how great she is after the lunch we just endured while out with my dad.

It all started with a suggestion to go down to TCF Bank Stadium to see a Golden Gopher football open scrimmage. Knowing it would be relaxed, I thought Lydia would enjoy tagging along, so the three of us packed up and drove to the University of Minnesota. I love any opportunity to get Lydia on the campus and allow myself to dream of her attending school there one day and becoming a third generation U of M student where her parents met on their first day of freshman orientation and spent three fabulous collegiate dating years, knowing full well that I will try my hardest not to ever pressure her to attend school anywhere but where she is excited to go.
Anyway, we got to the stadium early, so Lydia and I trucked over to pick up a copy of my transcript to file with my new school district and dropped in to see the woman who coordinated the Orientation program where I was an Orientation Leader during college. After a lovely catch-up during which Lisa supplied Lydia with a little Goldy Gopher and a maroon and gold pom-pom to play with, we headed back to the stadium where Lydia watched our Golden Gophers scrimmage. While sitting in the bleachers, she learned three cheers: "Go, Gophers, Go!" "Rah, rah, ski-u-mah!" and "Gophers, don't break my heart again, please." When she'd had enough, we packed up and headed to Annie's Parlor for lunch.

This is where the break-down began. Throughout lunch, Lydia attempted to (and sometimes accomplished)...
  • knock over her water.
  • throw all of her Cheerios on the floor.
  • yell in the bathroom through her entire time-out (due to the Cheerio incident).
  • inform me that her Cheerios WEREN'T all gone after she knocked them on her floor, they were in the sink.
  • eat all of her ketchup with her fingers.
  • rub her ketchup all over her plate using her pickles.
  • hit my dad, both with her hand and with her pickles.
  • throw her sandwich over her shoulder and onto the floor.
At that point, we left. Fortunately, most of the above incidents were mess-making and not people-disturbing, but still. She slightly redeemed herself when she fell asleep approximately three minutes after we strapped her into her carseat, so if I'm following the "Never blame a child that is tired or hungry" rule, she is excused. Regardless, I will definitely be nervous to take her out to eat again. Sheesh.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our Life in Bulletpoints

I haven't posted here in about a hundred years--something about a cross-country move, trips between my parents', Robin's parents', and the cabin, planning at my new job, and efforts to socialize and get out and about in Minneapolis and St. Paul has kept me busy and a bit overwhelmed.

Rather than a detailed blow by blow of our move, here's a quick summary.

During the past two weeks, we've...

...celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary with an afternoon Twins' game (bummer loss to the White Sox), a reminiscent stroll through the University of Minnesota, and dinner in Uptown at a restaurant that we quickly decided we will return to again.

...attended our second game at Target Field to cheer the Twins on to a victory over the Red Sox. A night game, breezy weather, the skyline in the background, and a 5-2 scoreboard. It was heavenly.

...connected with friends and family and have tried to make plans to see MORE friends and family soon.

...posted "Lydia Ground Rules" on my parents' refrigerator. They think I'm crazy.

...introduced Lydia to sleeping in a "big girl bed"--a full-size bed at my parents' house. She loves it, and we've noticed no change in her sleeping habits.

...drooled over affordable, local produce sold at farm stands. What a treat!

...explored our new neighborhood. Early observations: Turtle Bread is all it's cracked up to be, Lake Calhoun is the perfect running loop, and we are pumped up about Linden Hills Coop.

...reunited Lydia with her buddy Sam and loved spending an evening with his parents Jess and Sarah.

...hit the 24-minute mark in my "Couch to 5K" running plan. Yes, I'm attempting Couch to 5K for the fourth time, and this is the most successful I've ever been. I'm set to hit 30 minutes in a week and a half!

...enjoyed time spent with all four of Lydia's grandparents, three of her five great-grandparents, cousins, aunt, and uncles.

...tried unsuccessfully to adjust to doing yoga on a podcast. I've got to find a yoga studio.

...wished we had my car here. The Envoy's mileage plus gas prices=big bucks. I'll be reunited with my far more efficient Volkswagen Labor Day weekend. 5-8 Curious George stories a day. My mantra is "Repetition is Developmentally Beneficial." I hope it's true, because I am actively fighting the urge to throw A Collection of Curious George out the window.

...felt wistful when realizing that we are constantly looking forward to showing our Austin friends things we love about Minneapolis. Come and visit, guys!

...spent time at the cabin (Laurie). Perfect weather, perfect water, time in the hammock with books, and my first water-ski run in four years. I was proud to drop a ski and paid with a limp that only lasted for five days.

...spent a week in Wisconsin with the Ganser grandparents (Robin and Lydia), including trips to the zoo, time with Great-Grandma and Grandpa Ganser, and lots of naked time in the backyard.

...celebrated the first 30th birthday of someone in my high school graduating class. (Yay, Chad!) The time has come, and January is rapidly approaching. Oy vey.

More to come soon!