Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Y2K A new Millennium, a 50th Anniversary and Gratitude

Looking at the Photo card we used Christmas of 2000 I remember that we had gathered apples, and played a 4 person game of flag football.  That apple the we posed with has fallen, it was leaning badly when we moved in, but having fallen 6 or 7 years ago it still produces enough apples for our family and the bear and deer that it attracts.

Anyway, on to the next letter in the line-up.  This one came decorated by the boys.
Merry Christmas 2000

Dear Friends and Family,

Once again, I find myself trying to gather the holiday spirit around me and share a bit of the "Goode" life with you.  It isn't easy getting into thoughts of Jingle Bells and snowmen here.  Over the last week, I have watched our lawn recover from the brown dryness of summer and now it stretches, green and new, beneath the bluest sky on a day that is sure to reach 80 + .  This timeless, seasonal coastal bubble where we live is deceiving in its mildness.  Stories of blistering summers or freezing winters are mere fairy tales to a child who has never lived anywhere but Del Norte (here it rhymes with snort) county.

Thanksgiving is only four days away as I sit and write this letter, so even thoughI know you won't be reading it until after, I have to tell you that my thoughts are full of the things I have to be thankful for this year.  In fact, I want to share with you a very special couple of lists, the ones the boys wrote;

from Emerson, "I am Thankful for my mother and my father.  I am thankful for God.  I am thankful for my brother. I am thankful for our blue house."

From Austin, "I am Thankful for;
1.  God
2.  Mom and Dad
3.  Family
4.  friends
5.  life
6.  hime
7.  foods
8.  blankets
9.  yourself
10. school
11. grandpos
12. grandmas (His Spelling)

In the way that we all sometimes overlook the blessings in front of us, I saw the lists when the boys brought them home and smiled, of course, but it wasn't until Grandma Nadine pointed out to me, "Did you notice that neither one of them has one really materialistic thing on their list?"  That I once again saw how lucky Greg and I are to have these twi sensitive, yet oh, so rowdy, boys.

So I've been thinking about my own list of things to be thankful for, and I noticed right away that most of them aren't things.

This year I can't seem to look in any direction without finding something to be grateful for.  There is so much that is beautiful and so many reasons to feel rich.  First of all, I am thankful for Greg, he's the perfect friend and still the truest love of my life.  He shares the good times and pitches right in and helps through all the hard times.  He was willing to stay home and be a Daddy, and he's supportive of my volunteering in the boy's class and trying to make inroads as a writer even when it's very difficult to be the only bread winner.  Still we look at what we'd have on two incomes, furniture that isn't early American Yard Sale, vehicles with less than 150,000 miles on them, not having to count every penny.  It balances out against being able to be here when the boys aren't in school, being able to know their class mates and teachers, being able to follow a dream a bit longer.  Still it is hardest on Greg, and I am so Thankful for him.

Other items on my gratitude list, Always my Mom.  Greg's parents, Grandma Nadine, our siblings.  The true friends we have kept through the years.  Getting to be in Wyoming for the Goode's 50th Anniversary Celebration.  Seeing the kidnapper who has haunted the lives of our friends and the dreams of our children finally get sentenced to nearly 50 years in prison, and extremely thankful that Marc survived the nightmare and is still here.  Thankful that school comes fairly easily for the boys and that their soccer team was led by someone who taught teamwork and graciousness in victory and in defeat.  Thankful that the Y2K bug didn't bite any of us.

So what were the highlights of the year two thousand for us?  Emerson graduated from kindergarten and moved on to become the second student of the month in an extremely demanding first grade class.  Austin finished first grade and now is in a second grade class with a big emphasis on independent work and lots of reading.
both of them were on the Blue

storm soccer team.  Emerson has learned lot about mummies this year and Austin is getting to be a great artist with nice cursive writing.  Greg has added and added to his commitments and we never know if he is coming or going.  He teaches full time at one school (Pine Grove) and started a Junior Orchestra and Joined the Del Norte Arts Council, and is the MethodistChurch Choir Director.  We have spent time in Wyoming for the anniversary and explored a few different hot springs, and watched the Little Big-Horn battle re-enactment.  We also went camping several times and swam i a lot of rivers.  We went into the Oregon Caves and barely missed Bigfoot there.  We went to Redding and toured inside Shasta Dam.  We had a lot of days this year when the whole family was together doing little things that the four of us enjoy.  In short, for the California Branch of the Goode family, the new Millennium began with very few splitters.

As Ziggy says, "Make your Blessings Count."

or Recount your blessings to us the words of this election

Dixie, Greg, Austin and Emerson

At James es Ranch in Meeteetse

Cousins on July 3rd in Cody

At Little Big Horn

Counting Coup on Custer

Uncle Matt, Aunt Andrea and Remi in Newcastle

Lagoon by Salt Lake

Devil's Tower

Cousins and Grandparents at 50th Anniversary

Grandma Priscilla turns 61
Lance with Mammoth Jaw

Yellowstone Grizzly
50th Anniversary Picnic

Emerson in the Hot Springs

Austin at Little Big Horn

Monday, December 30, 2013

1999 Disneyland, Sea World, Soccer and Family

A Note
From the teacher

Hi! My name is Greg Goode and I am the New music teacher here at Pine Grove.  School has gotten off to such a fast start this year!  I wanted to send you a note after the dust had time to settle, and just in time to invite you to visit my room on Back To School Night.

My husband's letter written after his year as a stay at home Dad
I am very excited to be here this fall, I took last year off to be home with my two sons, and so I am all charged up about coming back to work, not to mention . . .Broke!  I have all of the students here at Pine Grove for music, so for most of your children, I am "the other teacher."  I see the preschool and kindergarten classes once each week for 20 minutes. This might not seem like much, but in the past several years these students haven't had a music specialist at all.  First through third grade rooms come to me two times a week for twenty minutes, and fourth through sixth graders have class three times per week for forty minutes.  This is a prep time for the upper grade teachers.  Along with this classroom music goes an elective band program for the fifth and sixth graders.  Me being here full time this year is possible because the staff made a commitment to put the budget directly toward your student's musical education.  I can't say enough how proud I am to be part of this super and dedicated group of teachers.  GO PINE GROVE1

If you have questions or concerns about music in your child's class, please don't hesitate to call me or come see me at school.  Two things I love to talk about are music and kids. Also feel free to come and join in during music time.  I focus a lot of the curriculum on singing and rhythm, and believe that most of the time active participation (doing) is the best way to learn about music.

Thank you, for all of your great kids this year!

Greg Goode
Hard to see but we thought we were cute in Micky Mouse ears

Happy Holidays Dear Friends, I just have to announce the date with a bit of something extra!  CHRISTMAS 1999

WOW  !  The oldest people that I ever knew were born in the 1870's  Soon I will know people who have been born in the year 2000.  It makes me stop and realize once again how fleeting are the years of our life, and how even a century or a millennium is a mere blink in the eyes of the universe.  It also makes me realize that we are all part of a wondrous connection going back through the centuries where I will know people from three centuries and the people I touch will have touched people from even more distant times, both into the past and into the future.  It is a bit like standing in all the Holiest places I know: a redwood grove, a canyon's brink, the edge of the sea, or surrounded by towering stone monoliths.  Even though dates are arbitrary human inventions, standing on the brink of one gives you that same overwhelming, yet comforting sense that you are both small and insignificant (And therefore so are even your most daunting troubles) and at the same time that you are also part of something much larger and more beautiful than even the most powerful human mind could comprehend.  My life may be only a drop in an enormous ocean, but what a salty, sparkling one it has been so far.  Good Grief!  Did I really write that? Enough already.

So what is new with you?  If you write, I actually have been answering letters.  News with us isn't really news.  Things have been flowing fairly smoothly, fluctuating a little but not really changing much.  Life has been very good to this Goode clan in 1999.  It almost makes it hard to write this letter because I know so many people who haven't had an easy year this year.  I don't want to make anyone feel worse by telling about our year.  I guess you know I mean it when I say I only leave people that we love on our Christmas mailing list, and we wish all of you only good things each and every year.  Since that isn't reality, we offer you our loving support when the road is rough and remembering a couple years ago when nothing was going well for us, we offer our total sympathy.  May the Y2K be a peaceful year for us all.  As Dickens wrote, "God Bless Us, Every One." and as my friend Lory says, "I'm sending lots of white and purple light to surround you."

So for a brief review of 1999 with G.D.A.E., it began with Austin in Kindergarten.  Dixie was teaching a class of Severely Emotionally Disturbed, third through eighth grade students.  Greg was taking a year of parenting leave to stay home with the boys.  He volunteers in Austin's class.  He babysat the neighbor's kids. He started A & E on Violin and Cello lessons and took them to soccer and tumbling classes and to story time at the library.  In February he took the boys back to Wyoming for Grandpa Harvey's 70th birthday.  In June he took them on a three day trip to San Francisco to see "Underwater Puppets."  In short,
he was a wonderful, at home Dad, from mid-June 1998 to the end of August 1999.  He's still a wonderful Dad.  No more busy at work than at home, but the boys see him less.

This summer was filled with fun.  We enrolled the boys in a week long soccer camp in early July.  They had three coaches, two English and One Irish.  We were fortunate enough to be a host family for the coaches and so we went to the river and the redwoods with them and then had several backyard marshmallow roasts.  The boys had a lot of fun, and learned a lot.  We definitely want to make it a habit from year to year.

Greg's brother Harv, and Fran also came to visit.  Not long enough at all, but we loved the time with them and enjoyed showing them the redwoods as well.  We love company, Hint, 1999 was also the first time in years that Grandma Priscilla and Uncle Lance did not make it out our way.  Mom has had some health problems but basically I think the two of them are doing well and making several new friends.  They are so busy it's hard to reach them on my first try.

Our big trip for the year was to Southern California.  We drove down and spent a few days in San Francisco and along the coast.  Then we rented a room on the 7th floor of the Fairfield Inn across the street from Disneyland.  Some wonderful friends of ors came down at the same time and rented a room at the Disneyland Hotel and we spent three days, "Doing Disneyland,"  I know it's all a fantasy, but what a special dream to share with your children.  A friendly "Town" where everyone crowding the streets is there to have fun.  Where pirates are powerless in the face of children, where elephants fly and strangers smile at each other.  The rides are great but until you've been there it's hard to explain how Disneyland is more than an amusement park.  It's like the American Dream come to life and it has a strong community feel to the crowded street.  Everyone's hometown.

Austin and Emerson were also in love with the warm water and safe feeling of the beaches.  They weren't used to being able to just jump in and swim at the ocean, even though we live close to several beautiful beaches.  It's much colder here.  So we also went to San Diego and stayed at Paradise Point Resort.  The resort itself was incredible.  Several pools to swim in, a miniature golf course, cabins right on the beach at Mission Bay, bikes for rent.  Mom's credit union had a deal there or it never would have been a place we would dream of staying at.  As if that wasn't enough, it was right across from Sea World and we had passes for two days, plus a behind the scenes tour of the marine mammal rehabilitation area where we saw brand new baby dolphins.  We all love whales and had taken the boys to see Keiko the Killer Whale, but here the whales were in several varieties and many killer whales were trained to dazzle and drench us.  I loved the beluga whales the most.  They look like cloud whales, like they are made of mounds of marshmallow cream.  So we had a great time and the kids spent hours playing and learning.

Dorothy and her Great-nephews
On the way home we stopped to see my Dad's sister Dorothy.  She raised him from the time he was six and has always been almost like a grandmother to me, but it was the first time that the boys got to see her.  They loved her and still talk about Aunt Dorothy, mostly wondering when she's coming here.
After the summer, Greg started teaching music again.  This time at a school where he actually has a classroom to teach in instead of going from room to room.  He also is only at one school which is only the second time in ten years that he hasn't had to travel around the county.

Emerson started kindergarten and says that every day is the greatest day of kindergarten ever.  He also was on the Mail Room Packers soccer team and taking swim lessons.  He has a new best friend in kindergarten and seems to love everything about being a big boy.

Austin still does great in school too, although he lost his first, first grade teacher at the end of September and had to adjust to a new one.  Mt. Hartwick was young, playful and quite good at teaching.  Mrs. Smith took over when he went to a new job and Austin loves her too.  He was on the FFA Razorbacks soccer team and in swimming lessons and is doing well on the cello.

Dixie has quit Del Norte County Unified School District after ten years.  I volunteer one day a week in the boys school and spend the rest of my days trying to break into the field of children's writing.  So far I have a large stack of rejection slips, a membership in the society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and invitations from four publishing companies to submit my manuscripts.  I miss the kids but I am not missing the administrator's BS.

Thanksgiving weekend we had four days off and spent them at the beach.  Greg turned thirty-seven the day after Thanksgiving and we went to a zoo and a Christmas light display (over 200,000 lights in a Garden by the sea cliffs.)

Anyway, we are still about the same as last year.  Mainly happy, often too busy.  Loved and lucky all the same.

Love, Luck and Laughter to you in 2000

Dixie, Greg, Austin and Emerson

trying to avoid soccer practice

Graduating Kindergarten

after Disneyland they loved playing Tarzan with Thomas

Dance rehearsal break

Violin with sybil

These two had fun at a birthday party
but Patty ended up with Pleurisy

Thomas and Patty

Hanging out in our backyard

Emerson and neighbors at Jed Smith State Park

Greg's Brother and his wife at our yard
at SeaWorld 

At Disneyland with Willie and Thomas

A spoonful of sugar

Huntington Beach, with Austin

Emerson and mom

At Aunt Dorothy's, My grandpa Emerson planted the donkeytail plant

Saturday, December 28, 2013

1998 Christmas letter and taking time off to be parents

The portrait session just happened to be on the same day as the Redwood School Carnival for Halloween


Dear Friends,

Finally I can sit down to write a Christmas letter without any bad news about anyone in our family.  In fact, remembering 1998 will always be a pleasure. It isn't that we don't still miss Papa Paul.
We always will, but this year we had so many opportunities to spend time with people whom we really love.  The best thing that we have done is taking the time to really enjoy our family.

Easter Egg Hunt in Brookings Library
When 1998 began, Dixie was in the middle of s years leave of absence with the school district.  From January through June, I stayed home with Austin and Emerson, if you can call it that.  I had them enrolled in a dance and tumbling class and in June their class performed the role of the gingerbread boys in Hansel and Gretel.  We also took them to swimming lessons several times through the winter, and to a story/craft time at the library in Brookings, Oregon once each week.  Then we had a season pass to Ocean World here in town and spent a lot of time there pet tin tide pool animals and Leopard sharks and watching trained sea lions.  Emerson, Austin and I spent part of every week making sand castles or fishing or hiking in the redwoods and I taught them some of the things from my old preschool class so they could earn field trips to parks and places like the peering zoo to pet baby possums, skunks, bearcats and tigers; and the Sumeg Indian Village with its Dance Pit, redwood slab houses, and sweat lodge and dugout canoe.  In Wyoming as a child I never quite believed a dugout could be made to carry a person but here they are easily big enough to carry an extended family.

The school year flew by for Dixie although it was a bit of a struggle for Greg. Then in June we drove up to Salem to visit Aunt April and Uncle Vince on our way back to Wyoming. We basically moved in with Grandma Scilla and Uncle Lance and sweltered through six weeks of 100 degree weather except when we were 10,000 feet up in the Beartooth mountains having a snowball fight in July.  The boys and their Cousin Lacy did T-Ball and Swimming Lessons. They also played every day with LUke and lacy at Grandmas in a wading pool or at Brett and Shannon's on the trampoline.

Grandmas captured by Emerson

Lance and Priscilla also went with us to Newcastle where we spent a wonderful week invading my in-laws.  Harv took us out on the prairie for a wonderful time looking for arrowheads.  Grandma Mimi explored the Black Hills and Custer State Park with us and we saw lots of bear, wolves, buffalo and Burros.  We went miniature golfing at Pirates Cove in Rapid City which is an adventure all its own.  We saw the new and unimproved area around Mt. Rushmore and wept at the loss of the old Natural beauty.  We went to a play at the theater where Greg and I spent our first summer as newlyweds. In short we did all the tourist things.  Then Grandpa Harv took the boys out  on the oil patch to work with him and also out on his boat where they each caught a trout.

 On our way home from Wyoming we spent a day playing, swimming and riding roller coasters and cable cars through LAGGON outside of Salt Lake City.  That is an incredible water fantasy place which was even more perfect as the temperature was over 100 once again.  The park is filled with water slides, hot tubs, volcanoes, rivers and of course lagoons, all of which you can climb on and in as you swim through six acres of heated canals.

Once we got home the boys started another swim lesson session and soccer.  Austin was aggressive and scored a goal every game and three in one game.  Emerson loved to be the goalie and made several saves, and we won't mention the time that he got so excited that he had stopped the ball that he turned around and flung it into the goal himself.  They were on the Dalmatians team with several friends they already knew, so we enjoyed it for the seven weeks before the last three games were rained out.

At Uncle Brett's with the cousins

Dance Art Studio

From Hansel and Gretel
At our house with Aunt April

Once September came, Greg began his year off from teaching and I started a new position teaching emotionally disturbed children in a classroom sponsored by the school district but on the grounds of the county mental health building.  I really love my job and especially love not having to work for my old principal and my new one is wonderful.  I have eight students who all go to different schools in the morning so I travel around working with them. Then in the afternoon they all come to me for some school work and a group therapy session with a mental health employee.
Austin Started kindergarten and has been very successful.  He's reading at about the same level as most first graders and the teacher says she always  uses him as a role model.  He hasn't been in the time-out chic yet which, considering his energy level, must require a lot of self control.  His teacher is also our neighbor and Greg babysits her three sons after they get out of school each afternoon.  Both A and E also started Music lessons. Em is taking Violin and Austin is playing the Cello. They love and hate it both.

We saw Keiko the whale the day before he was flown to Iceland.  Greg joined a church choir.  The boys are still dancing.  If our life right now seems to be filled with our boys, that's because that is exactly how we chose it and want it to be.  They are growing so fast and constantly delight and amaze us, as they keep us seeing all the wonders of this magic world through their eyes.