The Big U of K

You may not have noticed, but I sent my son to college recently. I held it together pretty well, considering how strongly I feel about my kiddo. The outpouring of calls I got was very touching … people checked on me for several days after the move to make sure I wasn’t committing empty-nest seppuku.

The entire experience of sending Kory to the University of Kentucky still seems a little unreal. If there is anything I can remember about my upbringing, it is that UK is the best team, the best school, the gold standard for athleticism and education. This is mostly due to my father’s passion for UK’s basketball team, despite the fact that he attended Bellarmine, and my sisters attended U of L. My brother made it to UK, for a while, but I didn’t appreciate the impact at the time. Sitting in freshman/parent orientation, I appreciated the impact. It was a really amazing experience.

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(Non-Kentucky readers – the rivalry between UK and UL is explosive. Think OSU v Michigan. Russia v USA. Cats v Dogs.)

I am a visual person … words and images resonate with me. So, when I see the UK blue and white, or the Kentucky Wildcat, I feel genuinely happy. It’s not just a pleasing color combination, it’s an affirmation of things I’ve heard since I was a little kid. I’ve also watched the basketball team do some pretty amazing things. Football, not so much. Nobody’s perfect.

I hear people say derisive and, frankly, horrible things about the college and team I was raised to love. I try to separate the passion for sports from … well, the rest of humanity. Sports fans are a little nuts … it’s like religion.

The sports, however, are not the important thing here. There are several important things going on, and I have only recently been able to take the space I need to reflect.

– I was a teen mom. I spent a couple of years doing a really crappy job of raising my son, and if his grandparents hadn’t stepped in I have no idea where we would be today.
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– I did, eventually, get it together and make Kory my priority. It’s the smartest thing I have ever done.
– My boyfriend, partner, and best friend Chip has been around since my boy was funny-looking (he was kind of purple as a baby), and neither Kory nor I would be where we are today without him.
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– When I was Kory’s age, I was pregnant, living in a crappy apartment, and wondering how to pay bills on minimum wage. Kory is a pre-med student at a renowned university and, from what I can tell, loving every minute of it.

I see some really sad comments on social media sites about my son’s school. Things like “I support UL because I went there, you support UK because you went to Wal-Mart.” I’ll save my thoughts on Wal-Mart for another post, but to the rest, there are many reasons to support a team or university. Few of them involve where you actually went to school. Most of them involve the values or lessons you learned while growing, and a team can be a positive influence in many ways. It gave me a way to relate to my father.

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It gave me a legacy to pass to my son.

Chipmonkey Porn

Let me tell you, the Chipmonkey gets an awful lot of action, and all across the globe, too! You may remember the monkey-on-monkey love in Kenya, for example:

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Chipmonkey’s adventures continued when I finally got Chip-the-human down to my home away from home, the Florida Keys. We stayed here:

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Or, more specifically, here:

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I won’t do the day by day recap, because it’s been a while and it’s kind of a blur, but we managed to go ocean fishing …

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… although we didn’t catch much. I had a big one on the line, but the reel popped off (!) as I was trying to bring it in. Operator error, I’m sure. Chipmonkey fished a little too:

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He caught nothing … apparently his inter-species proclivities do not extend to marine life. He did make out with a blue and gold macaw at the docks, though!

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We ate too much too often …

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The most important moment of the trip, however, occurred when we finally spotted the elusive key deer that I’ve heard to much about but never seen (I know they’re elusive because the Internet says so). Naturally, Chipmonkey had to get in on the action.

Here, little deer. C’mere …

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That’s it … a little closer …

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Don’t eat the Chipmonkey! Looooove the Chipmonkey …

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Good deer.

As always, Jeff and Misty were gracious and welcoming hosts, and I don’t think I’ll have any trouble convincing Chip to go back. I’m pretty sure the monkey won’t mind, either.

I should learn to keep my mouth shut …

No time at all passed between my last post and a series of events that ensured I was unable to “just chill” and enjoy having finished school.

First of all, our house was burglarized. While it may have been something of an overreaction, I took that as a sign that it was time to move. I found a bigger house with a yard for the dogs in a nicer neighborhood … the only catch was the carpet in the kitchen. And the bathroom. Carpet.

Say it with me: Who does that?

I agreed to rent the place if I was allowed to replace the offending floor covering with something more appropriate. Chip graciously donated a large chunk of his vacation and considerable skill to the project. My kitchen is now lovely, and the bathroom isn’t half bad either.

Additionally, the second floor smelled like a rabbit hutch. Have you ever smelled rabbit pee? It’s gross. It took three and a half gallons of Nature’s Miracle (which is a wonderful product) to rid the carpet of the stink. What a pain.

Home invasions and moving aside, I also went from being a full time student to a full time employee without blinking – actually, I  started working before I’d even finished classes. However, the job for which I was hired was billed as: proofreader/copy editor/technical writer. What they actually wanted was: a proofreader. Highly technical documents in nine languages where all the proofreader does is look for stray commas and the like. Ick. That isn’t what I went to school for, it was boring as all get out, and frankly, I sucked at it.

As it happened, my former boss from Technology First (where I interned as a student for two years) left the organization for a new opportunity. That left his position open, and I jumped at the chance to fill his shoes. I love it, and I think I’m really good at it. My title is Communications Coordinator, but really I am responsible for half of everything the organization does. It’s crazy and busy, but it’s a ton of fun.

Kory has also started driving, which is wonderful from a logistic perspective yet terrifying from a parental perspective. I alternate between being thrilled that I don’t have to play taxi to freaking out if he’s home fifteen minutes later than expected. It’s a roller coaster.

All told, I fervently hope that there will be few major changes in my future. I’m just fine with things the way they are, and I don’t need any more milestones.

Somewhere in there we took a vacation to North Carolina, which was sublime, and I will post pictures soon. Kory and his friend Kevin learned to surf. It was awesome.

Happy Birthday, Kory

Kory turns sixteen this week. I’m pretty sure I mentioned last year that I would be fairly freaked out by this milestone, but I like to think I’m taking it well.

Kory is a fantastic person. I don’t take credit for all he’s become, but I am ridiculously proud nonetheless. Kory has an amazing ability to meet people and take away the best of them. He is kind, generous, thoughtful and intelligent. He reminds me, consistently, that my first impression may not be the truth, and he challenges my thoughts and opinions regularly. Sometimes TOO regularly.

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Kory is never hateful. He looks at every aspect of a situation or personality and makes a genuine effort to see the positive. He beats himself up sometimes, but only because he expects so much from himself; he knows he is capable of brilliance.

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Kory is an athlete. He is passionate about running, as well as other forms of athleticism.

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Kory surrounds himself with good friends. He doesn’t choose people, but he attracts kind and honest companions who share his interests and his values.

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Kory loves his family. He has the best of all of us in him and he makes us strive to be better people. He carries generations with him wherever he goes. Even when we’re a little crazy. (Especially when we’re a little crazy)

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Kory love animals. He is good to them and they are drawn to him.

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Sometimes, Kory is a bit of a dork.

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At all times, Kory is a young man who makes me proud to be a mother.

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Happy birthday, Kory. I will always be grateful for you.

Facebook Killed My Blog

Here’s how blogs happen:

People have stuff they want to share.

People create blogs so they can share interesting information and photos with others

People read blogs.

That’s pretty much it, but since Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites have become so popular, the need for a blogger to share her or his thoughts has become superfluous. When the “Cliff’s Notes” version is conveyed via Tweet or status post, who needs the full volume? And photo uploads are much easier via Facebook than WordPress. However, since no one in my family will deign to join Facebook, I will continue to post the odd summary of my life here and there.

There were four drafts in my WordPress dashboard when I started this one; I haven’t been able to find the time or the attention to finish one. I’m going to combine them and hit the highlights of the last few months, so that the three people who read this blog will have something to look at other than Chip’s traffic cone imitation.

I swam with dolphins during my last visit to the keys. It was incredible.

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We got an early morning visit from a wild dolphin too. I was amazed by the number of people who responded “in the wild?” when I said I’d gone swimming with dolphins. They don’t *generally* swim up to the boat and offer rides, folks.

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You’d think I’d get tired of taking sunset sailing photos, but I don’t.

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I highly recommend Bahia Honda if you’re ever in the keys; it’s beautiful.

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I really wanted to find these kayakers so I could give them this picture … another postcard-quality shot from the keys.

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For a full account of my adventures in the Keys, read Misty’s post, because there’s just really no point to typing that up again. Sooner or later I’ll post the photos the Dolphin Research Center folks took, although you can see some of those on Misty’s blog too.

I also visited my parents, and found an amazing pear tree collection just a few streets from their house.

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Just turn your head to the side when you look at it. I’m busy, okay?

I have enjoyed a very brief reprieve from school work, but Summer Term starts Tuesday and I already have reading to do. While I’d like to promise I’ll be a better blogger in the future, we all know how that goes.

Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer

I gave Kory his first driving lesson today. Chip tagged along, even though there really aren’t supposed to be other people in the car, because we needed a pylon.

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Just kidding. But, wow, that is one orange shirt.

Anyway, the day was perfect for the maiden voyage of the as-yet-unnamed Subaru. The sun was actually out for once, and since Wright State University’s women’s basketball games are, apparently, poorly attended, we had access to an almost empty parking lot.

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This is the Nutter Center. That’s right, Nutter. That name has always made me laugh.

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Kory shows great promise, and I’m certain he will be an excellent driver. 🙂 I hope he will have a better sense of direction than his mother. Fingers crossed.

We also visited Tara and her lovely daughter Addison last weekend. Addison is growing SO fast, and she’s utterly adorable. She was fascinated with Kory’s hair, and really, who wouldn’t be? I love her face. And she loves her lamb.

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Tara is expecting another daughter in June, to be named Molly. I am expecting Molly to be just as cute as her big sister.

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Digital Insanity

Do you remember when you had to wait for hours, even days, before you could see the results of your photographic efforts?  As someone who used to work with film, and with photographers, I can tell you that, on average, a very good photographer can get two to seven good shots for every twenty-four frame roll of film.  Ish.  It’s not an exact science, but I can tell you that there is no such thing as getting a great shot every time the shutter closes, whether it’s an actual shutter or not.  Photographers have created entire businesses and livelihoods based solely on their ability to get more *good* shots per roll than the next guy.  The conversion from film to digital has created an excess.  Whether it’s an excess of photographs (does the term photograph even apply any more?) or an excess of photographers, I’m not sure.

My point is, I had a very uneventful trip to Louisville last weekend.  It was lovely, don’t get me wrong.  I spent some much needed and much appreciated time with my mother, my father, my sister, my niece, and my brother.  But we didn’t do anything special, other than hang out at my parents’ house.  And yet … I took sixty-three pictures.  Sixty-three!

I’m obviously not going to curb my photo-taking habit, but I feel as though it bears mentioning … sometimes it might be better to enjoy the moment, rather than take a picture of it.

That being said, my niece is as cute as ever, and I did come away from the weekend with a few lovely photos.  Thank goodness I wasn’t shooting film – I got roughly five good ones out of sixty-three.

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Primates and Progeny

So, Kory turned fifteen, and I didn’t post anything about it because I’m still coping. I have no idea why fifteen is such a big deal to me, but I am just amazed at how quickly he is growing up and I’ve been downright despondent about this birthday.

To celebrate, we met the Koch family at the Cincinnati Zoo. It was hot out, but we had some cloud cover that made it bearable. The Cincy Zoo is really cool if you haven’t been, although it’s HUGE compared to Louisville’s. And the bird show was lots of fun.

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It was not a good photo day for the niecii. They really just weren’t having it, even though they obviously had a great time.

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I think the girls have been over-photographed. You bust out a camera and ask them to smile, and they just look at you as if to say “Again? Really? We’re tired of that.” And then they look away like this:

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I had to have a monkey do a stand in.

Speaking of monkeys, I love this guy. He’s The Thinker of the animal kingdom.

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I also love this guy. He’s a bad mo’fo monkey.

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Now, I think my mother is beautiful. However, I can’t help but draw similarities between these two photos:

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And it goes without saying that Kory is right at home in the zoo …

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As is Vicki

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As is Karen

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As is Michael

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Really, my family just consists of monkeys who fool you into thinking they’re people.

Dawn is less monkey-like, but she’s very well hydrated. Seriously, it’s hard to get a photo of her without a bottle in her face hiding that great smile.

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Kory actually held Emily for once and I got that on film, rare occasion that it is:

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Chip managed to get this lovely shot of Katie and the seal fountain, since she had no idea there was a camera in the vicinity:

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All in all, we had a lovely time celebrating the fact that my only baby is one year closer to heading into the big bad world on his own. Can you imagine how I’m going to be when he hits sixteen?