Happy Groundhog's Day 2005!
Happy Groundhog's Day, and a Happy New Year to you! Holding up the rear as always, we just missed this being the MLK, Jr. newsletter, but count it a victory that we didn't have to make it the Saint Patrick's Day newsletter -- whew!
On the heels of that experience, we headed east to Appomattox to meet up with Dan, Andy's grad school pal. In keeping with the spirit of the place, Dan ceremoniously surrendered his kitchen knife to Andy upon their meeting. Other Civil War sites on the agenda included Lynchburg (for a reenactment), Fredericksburg, Richmond, and Petersburg. Thad enjoyed the camping, especially at wonderful Pocahontas State Park in Virginia. We ended up in Washington, D.C. at the home of Craig, Andy's Peace Corps buddy, and enjoyed touring that town -- epecially a meal at a Togolese restaurant, and a capital tour led by friend Jeff.
It was a hoof back to the horse country of Kentucky, but an enjoyable one on US and state highways. Many diners were sampled! Andy spent the next few weeks helping run a summer camp, and then we were on the road again, this time headed for Custer, S.D., in close proximity to Mt. Rushmore: the Cline family reunion beckoned (Andy's mother's family).
The trip allowed Andy, Anna, and Tchapo to revisit their roots (and gave Thad an opportunity to make new friends): we spent a night in Chicago with Becky and Larry of Lagrange days (1996); then on to Oshkosh, WI, for visits with friends Cindy, and Darci (1994); a night in Ripon, WI, with friends the Boers (1995); a night at Big Top Chautaqua, near Bayfield, WI, a favorite haunt from WI days on the shores of Lake Superior, and then on to Northfield MN for a visit with the Cogans (Peace Corps days). We were especially pleased to be in Northfield for the blessing of the Cogans' new home. Andy also enjoyed visiting haunts from his family's three summers there, thirty years back or so...!
The week in Custer was a blast, including horseback riding, a visit to the Four Guys on the mountain, trips through the parks, an 1800's train ride, bison and Badlands viewing, volleyball, and lots of great meals and fun conversation. What a great group of folks, even after a week!
|Tchapo just turned 19, graduating from high school in June. He was
putting the brakes on as hard as he could, but high school had to end. He
was sad to leave friendships behind (hopefully he can maintain them!). He moved
into the dorms at NKU in August, which was a sad time for us. Thad put on a
good show of distress at Tchapo's departure, but it didn't take him long to
take over Tchapo's chair at the dinner table....
Tchapo hasn't yet decided on a major, but has expressed some interest in counseling and business. We'll see. He just finished his first semester, and is becoming quite comfortable at the dorms and NKU. He enjoys playing basketball several times a week, and schools his old man on Fridays in the faculty/staff (and kids) game.
|Thad is a friendly boy, who says "Hi!" to anyone he sees. Maybe we need to get him a job at Walmart as a greeter.... He very much likes to do whatever the grown-ups are doing, because, as he will tell you, he's "a big boy" now. He has a stubborn streak a mile long, which isn't too surprising given his parents, each of whom has a stubborn streak a half-mile long. Nowadays his first reaction to any task is "I want to do it myself!" He's very active, and likes to read, sing, dance, and learn. He always looks forward to Sunday school, story hours, swim lessons (he's graduated to Aquababies B, yeehaw!), teeter tots (at which he exercises, tumbles, plays ball, runs, sings, and dances with 50 or so similarly inclined three-year olds...). Thad brings much joy to all our lives, especially his dad, whom he humors by asking him to play the banjo at bedtime. Thad's favorite tune is Big Rock Candy Mountain: "...there's a lake of stew, and of whiskey too, you can paddle all around 'em in a big canoe...."|
Kpandja (Anna's brother) is into his third year of pre-med at NKU. In early May he went back to Togo to visit for six weeks -- we were all jealous, but Anna especially so. He continues to do well in school, and is trying to figure out whether to pursue med school or go to grad school for epidemiology or the like. He tutors math, biology, chemistry, physics, sociology, and French, which says quite alot about his academic chops, especially since he comes from another culture and arrived here with minimal English skills. Kpandja also spends many hours helping to raise Thad -- it's great to have Kpandja around.
Anna is still working part-time at the nearby nursing home. She joins
the women of the church for Bible study, and the Moms club of Ft. Thomas which
does a lot of good helping with women in crisis, raises money for needy people,
supports the boys and girls clubs after school programs, etc. She still takes
step aerobics and kick boxing, but Thad keeps her busy enough that she's not
involved in much else at the moment.
Andy is on his 5th year of teaching at NKU, and about to be granted tenure (barring a veto in the Board of Regents). Andy won the family's highest-mileage award of 2004: he took his math show on the road to four conferences or workshops, in Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, and the state math meetings at Murray State University. He's just back from Atlanta, where he presented his first talk at the national math meetings (a great experience). He's reached the age at which one begins to putter in the garden....
Well, that's a little of our doings, but it's probably lots more than you
needed to know. We're thankful for our health, for our friends and family, and
for the good fortune to live in a country in which we are free to disagree
strenuously with our government whenever it behaves foolishly -- at least for
the moment. Andy's not surprised that the current regime is trying to change
all that. If Andy should go missing one of these days, please look for him
first in Guantanamo Bay.
Have a joyous and healing 2005. Give us a call! Three-year olds are standing by.... Pay us a visit if you're ever in the neighborhood: there's plenty of fun stuff to do in the Cincinnati area -- come on down/up/over/whatever.