Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Elder GAP

I mentioned in a previous post that at the end of the summer, Rosa and I went to Cleveland to visit her family. The occasion for the visit was the return of her brother Gabe from his 2-year mission for our church. We've been writing emails back and forth once a week, and we've talked to him on the phone twice per year. He's been very focused, and worked very hard, and we're really proud of him. But after not seeing him for so long, we really missed him! Here are some photos of his Homecoming at the Cleveland Airport.

Nothing like hugging your mother for the first time in two years!

Proud Papa Parma

Gabe with mom and dad

Gabe with three of his sisters: Monica, Rosa, and Julianna. How obvious is it that these kids all have the same mom?!

Gabe with Monica again and her husband Matt (or Matt Hawg, as we like to call him)

Gabe was just the right amount of awkward

... but still kept his great sense of humor.

Tons of laughs, as always.

He even brought some of his missionary nametags for the family to wear for a few minutes.

We just loved hanging around him.

And of course Mom Parma had a hard time keeping her hands off him.

We're glad you're home, Gabe!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Powder Puff Girls

Rosa and some of the girls got together on Saturday to play football. They were actually pretty good. It's a good thing some of the husbands were there, since the ladies turned to us every few plays to ask us about the rules.

I know Rosa and Michelle are still really sore today. Great exercise!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Summer in New York

Photos from this summer. It's about time.

We lived on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, right on the edge of Chinatown. Grand St was one of our main subway stops, though Rosa skipped it as much as possible, since the area smells a lot like fish. The Chinese apparently love their open fish markets.

One of the first things we did after arriving in the city was walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. One of the coolest things about the walk is the beautiful view of Manhattan behind us. That's midtown in the background.

That's the famous NYC downtown skyline behind me.

After opening to the public in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge is now one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. This footpath area hangs right above the road below, and is used by thousands of pedestrians and cyclists each day to commute to and from work.

We had several opportunities to dine at some fancy New York restaurants while we there, and of course you can guess that lava cake was right at the top of our priority list. This cake from Bryant Park Cafe was one of the best in our opinion. And yes, most of the food served at NYC restaurants is this pretty.

There are lots of beautiful fountains around the city, which make for lovely photographs.

Rosa is a professional subject for my amateur photography skills.

Nice shoes, huh. Payless.

We took this picture ourselves, obviously. In one of Manhattan's 8 billion parks.

This looks like Bryant Park, though I can't be sure.

The chairman of my law firm has a great relationship with several retired Mets. The firm invited the whole summer class out to a Mets game for an awareness day. The bleachers are really fun!

This is a really common view of Rosa at any baseball game. Cotton candy comes right after lava cake on Rosa's list of priorities.

We snagged tickets to a couple more Mets games during the summer. The partners with season tickets are very generous to the summer associates. Great seats!

You can't really tell from this picture, but one of the greatest things about Shea Stadium (in Brooklyn) is the gorgeous view of the Manhattan skyline.

We also made it out to a Yankees game.

Yankees Stadium is super fun. Everyone hates us when they find out we're cheering for the Yankees, but they're so fun to watch! Derek Jeter, A-rod, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui... how can you hate this team?! We love 'em.

We also took the opportunity to visit Ground Zero a couple times this summer. We've been there before, but every time you go there is just a special spirit there. It's about as close as we get to something sacred in our secular society.

Those who were in the city on 9/11 told us that most of the streets looked like this. Missing Persons ads everywhere you look. What a stunning photo.

On a much lighter note, we also took some time to visit our best friend Esther who lives in upstate New York. On a visit by herself, Rosa took time to make up Esther's face and cut her bangs. Esther says hates getting "pretty" but secretly we know she loves it.

It was a really hot day. And ice cream in Bath, NY is like 5 cents, compared to like $1,450 in Manhattan. If you're keeping track, yes we gained weight over the summer. But I'm proud to say we've worked it all off by now.

I found this photo in our camera, and I had to post it. I had to leave the city a little earlier than Rosa because I had to return to Charlottesville for orientation as peer advisor, while she stayed behind to finish her acting/singing classes. I sent Rosa these flowers while we apart; I had no idea she took a photo of them.

Thanks for meandering through our summer photos. Now at least Mom (and Irene) can stop asking to see them.

It was a great summer!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Happy haircut!"

So Rosa had this nice hairdo and everything, but at the end of the summer she wanted to go to one last nice New York salon before heading back to Virginia. Unfortunately, it turned out not so nice. They basically gave her two haircuts. The top is a certain length and then the hair underneath is much longer. And we're not talking layers -- it's just a butcher job.

But back in Charlottesville, she paid much less for a much better haircut. She still has layers, but they work together now.

So now she can just grow it out evenly and do whatever she wants with it. Isn't my wife pretty?!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Public Speaking Class

This past week in public speaking class we had to introduce a historical figure as if they were delivering a keynote address at a banquet. A friend in my class liked my speech so much he said he'd like to have the video from it, or even that I should put it on YouTube. I didn't put it on YouTube, but I decided maybe I could put it here on my blog. I feel kinda dumb posting this here, especially since there are a number of things I would change about it. But whatever; here it is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nine Eleven

I can't figure out why September 11 isn't a national holiday yet. Not because I want a day off, but because it is the defining day of our generation. I wonder how future generations will think about this important day. It's sad to think that my kids will regard the 9/11 attacks as just a part of history, same as WWII or Abraham Lincoln or the Declaration of Independence. Living through a historical moment makes you re-think how you approach history. To the people that lived through the Civil War, that was their actual life. It happened to their friends and family, and not just on CNN. It was a real thing. And the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and even World War II weren't that long ago.

Last night I went to this interdisciplinary class about Spanish film. We had watched a movie about the Spanish Civil War, which for me is just an academic subject of history. But when I came to class, I met Pedro, who is my same age, but whose family remembers the war. He tells first hand accounts of meeting people incredibly struck by that horrible war (that unfortunately, never really gets discussed in history class). It makes you re-think what "history" really means.

On September 11, 2001, I was actually in Spain. I was serving as a missionary at the time in the Bilbao area, working as the secretary to our mission's president. I was on the phone with an American woman in Madrid who started freaking out and saying, "Have you heard about the attacks?! It's crazy! It's on TV -- they've bombed New York!" She was hysterical. Remember that the details at that time weren't clear yet.

It was the afternoon there, near the end of the work day. We didn't have a television or anything in our office (I hadn't watched TV for well over a year), but we did find an old radio. We tuned in to a Spanish news station, trying to capture bits and pieces of what had taken place. Several of us knelt down and said a prayer. We quickly ran over to a friend's apartment where we could watch BBC and see the whole thing unfolding, narrated in English. We unfortunately got there in time to watch the second tower get hit, and both towers fall. Now that I think about it, it's really incredible that I watched it all live, being like two thousand miles away.

In the weeks following the attack, we were permitted by the mission president to read newspapers and keep up with some of the events (since so many of us missionaries were from the U.S.). It was fascinating to see how our understanding unfolded a little more each day in the Spanish and British newspapers. Everywhere we went as missionaries, people asked us about the attack, and how we felt about it. Though there were a few disparaging remarks here and there, for the most part I was so touched to see people reach out to us, trying to offer compassion and support. Being in Spain during 9-11 provided a unique perspective on the whole attack, and it made me re-think what it means to be American. I came home to a different country in many ways.

Even more life changing for me was my visit to the Ground Zero site this year. I actually made several this summer. A small group in my firm was treated to a special tour of the site and the temporary museum "Tribute" by the museum's founder. Eating dinner with that man, who lost his police officer son in the rescue effort, was truly remarkable. Hearing the stories of all the people who were actually there that day has completely changed me. What's so important is that as a society we are in a time and place where we can accurately in video and sound record the stories of the people who were there. It's so touching and amazing.

And now here I sit on my couch. Life goes on. But we can't forget what happened that day, and why it's so important.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

All thumbs

By the way, for those of you who very thoughtfully have been asking about my friends' thumbs, I have an update for you.

Esther's thumb is pretty much completely healed, but her pointer finger is still slow in returning to normal. She bought one of those pen tips that fits on the end of your finger so she can write now with her middle finger.

Courtney's thumb did not fare so well.

Apparently working as a food sample lady at Costco ranks right up there with deep sea fishing and mining on the dangerous scale. But luckily, she's got an incredibly positive attitude and amazing sense of humor, so if you ask her, she'll tell you she's perfectly normal. And at least now she can really freak kids out with that little cut-my-thumb-in-half trick.

Back in black

So it's been over a month. All my friends have complained. But like that Land Before Time movie, I just keep coming back!

I have been planning on doing one big update with lots of pictures from this summer. Unfortunately, it's taking me forever to upload and organize all my photos. So maybe I'll just start blogging again and get the photos up whenever I can.

The summer ended very well. The firm gave me an offer to return. Rosa stayed in NYC while I came back to Virginia to do orientation as a peer advisor. Somewhere in there, we got to visit with Rosa's family in Cleveland when her brother Gabe returned from his mission, and then I enjoyed a quick visit to my sister's house in Cincinnati.

Now we're both back in C-ville. School is in session, Rosa's back working again, and our little singing group just had auditions. We're cruisin' along. Classes are good, I'm eating healthier, and life is happy.

I promise to keep blogging.