Friday, March 27, 2009

Family Friday: Grant

Grant Marcus Shields
Grant Marcus Shields
May 17, 1984-July 24, 1999

I miss my brother! I miss him at random times on different days, everywhere I go, and I see him in the faces of different boys, young adults, and men I meet in life. It has almost been 10 years since he died but there are moments, thankfully not as many these days, when my heart just aches for him. 

Sometimes I just wish I could ask him what he is doing. Talk to him about our family, where each of us are in lives, and just laugh with him. I think part of the sadness I feel is that I don't get to see him grow up.

Things I love about Grant:
  • his impatience--the way he would poke up on the arm with his finger to get our attention.
  • how he would stand like a flamingo in front of the tv
  • his ability to love. They were rare but the times when he would just sit still and give me a hug, cuddle, or we would just chat about life I will treasure forever
  • that he could eat, eat, and continue eating at all times of day, at all places, and whatever was in front of him.
  • that he loved bananas. I can't look at a banana today without thinking of Granty!
  • he had no guile. 
  • the way he just let everyone be themselves
  • the fact that he wanted to play basketball all the time even with the mailman
  • that when he wanted to be good at something he would really work at it. most of the time he had to work harder than most kids but he didn't mind.
  • I love going to his basketball games and cheering him on I was so proud of him.
  • he was my little baby boy. I remember when he was little with all the tubes and stuff all over him and I cried. Chelsea & I were so happy to have a little brother.
  • I love watching home videos of him and how much he filled our lives with joy
Little brother know I miss you so much and love you!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Family Friday: Chelsea

Chelsea Shields Strayer

I wrote a birthday tribute to my sister already but I'll tell you more about what I love about her:
  • She is brilliant
  • She is is hilarious
  • She can live with no running water, in the dirt of Africa, with sweat running down her face and she can get all dolled up, look like she is walking into court, and look like a model. She is the same inside no matter what the outside package looks like and they are all amazingly brilliant!
  • It is no surprise that she & I are very different. Despite that I learn a lot from her as the years go by. She, in many ways, is an example to me.
  • She is adventurous and I love that about her. She loves to travel and we share that in common.
  • She is very intellectual about many topics and be careful because she will battle you.
  • She is loyal to those she loves and they are loyal back.
  • I have 27 other reasons on my tribute blog to her so go check them out!
Chels, I miss you lots and although I know you love being in Africa I know you miss lots of things back home. So we will definitely have to get some Taco Bell, get you a decent shower, let you do some laundry (by machine) and many more things you just can't do in Ghana!  Until then know I love you and can't wait to see you!

Monday, March 16, 2009

"Sister-Sister Time"

Camryn "Elizabeth" Shields

I'm 18 years older than the youngest in my family, my lil sis Camryn, so we have never really lived together. I thought it would be fun to have her come and stay with me for a few days in AZ, then we would drive up to UT together, then we would come back to AZ and she would fly home.

This trip was her first time flying in a plane and she really enjoyed it. She told me that she even got to check her email from the laptop of the man sitting next to her in the plane on her way from Sacramento to Phoenix!
After I picked her up form the airport we headed to my school to show her around a bit. That night we played with my roommates, watched a few movies and after she had worn me out we went to sleep.

The next day we decided to go to the Phoenix Zoo! Camryn loved the Zoo and even took a bunch of the photos below.

Holy FAT Frog!

We had to take a picture of this road runner as he is the mascot of Camryn's elementary school!

Her favorite part was the petting zoo!

After a great day at the Zoo we headed to UT. We stayed in Hurricane for the night and left for Provo the next morning.  We played around on Friday, Kylee saw some good friends, and Camryn loved playing with her cousin Mikelle!

In the morning Dani, Kevin, Cam, & I  waiting for the beautiful bride & groom (cousin JC) to get wed and then we took some family pics. On our way back to Provo we stopped at Cafe Rio for lunch and Chelsea called me from Africa. She wanted to let us know that Mike was in town at his brother Jame's house.  So of course we went by to see Mike and his new nephew Ethan!

Before we left UT we had to see grandma B.

Randomly I decided to pull over on the side of the road and Cam & I hiked up some of these Red Rock Cliffs to take some cool pictures. Cam really loved detour!

We, of course, had to stop for a Dam picture!

This picture is for Ali-gali! This is the "Elephant" park down my street where I frequently go swing on the swings when I need to de-stress or think.

On our last day together we decided to get out my all things Arizona Frommer's Guide that I bought when I first got here. I am determined to do all things Arizona before I leave the state. As we were trying to decided where to go Camryn wanted to go to the Goldsfield Ghosttown. So we did and we had a blast. 

We ate lunch, walked around the Old West town, rode the railroad train, learned about the Superstition Mountains, and much more. All in all it was a great day. 

The we headed home, got her all packed up, and I sent her back on a plane home.  It was great to be able to spend some "sister sister time" (thanks for the title of this blog Kaitlin!). I love you Camryn!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Family Friday: Mike

Michael McLachlan Strayer

My brother-in-law Mike is incredible!  When he's not in Ghana you can find him doing a multitude of various things:
  • He likes to write about different kinds of things and in many different styles
  • He is amazing at organizing things and has put a lot time in the Give to Ghana blog to get aid where it is so desperately needed!
  • He likes politics, traveling, the environment and so many more things.
  • I love that Mike is a thinker. He knows what he likes and doesn't like and is willing to debate you on it--just know what you are talking about.
  • I love that Mike married my sister!  He is most likely the best thing that every happened to her. There is not way to express how much it means to have an amazing man marry your sister.
  • Mike is patience, kind, and puts up with a lot of crap. Being the first to marry into my family was not easy! Mike has done an amazing job and paved the way for others.
  • Mike is very talented. Besides writing, cooking, being able to get along with just about nothing, managing money, and taking great pictures, he was also in a band with Chels called POST in Boston.
  • Did I mention he is also brilliant. He got his Master's in Hispanic Studies with an emphasis in film and literature (I think?) at Boston College. He is not deciding where to go for his PhD.
  • One other thing I love and appreciate about Mike more than he knows is his patience and love for me--even when I invade in his space and life. Thanks for letting me crash on your couch when I first moved to Boston and in your spare room when I came to Africa!
There's a lot more I love of this great man. Unlike the rest of my family I don't have as much experience or history with him so I'm still getting to know him. I'm so glad he is part of the family and just want to say love ya brother!  Ps good luck with grad school choices, getting over Malaria, and other heartbreaks!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Family Friday: Mom

Okay folks so I missed posting this on Friday--oh well. I will still call it Family Friday! I will note that I tried tirelessly to find a picture of my mom alone--I don't think one exists (well at least not after she got married). 

Heidi Ellen Brinkerhoff Shields

Again I get a chance to brag out the wazoo about my AMAZING mom. She is one of the most multi talented women I know. She had 8 children, a very busy husband, and a lot of extended family. My mom knows a little about what it means to be a mom. Each of her 8 children are unique and come with their ups and downs. Most of the time when I think of my mom it just makes me tired and I really don't know how she did or does it??  Like my dad I could go on and on for ages but I will just mention some of the things I love about my mom:
  • She loves God first
  • She is a master at making money stretch and balancing a checkbook
  • She has learned that being frugal but enjoying life can coincide
  • She puts her family first
  • She is sooo creative. She sews brilliantly, she has a huge vocabulary, she sings with grace and sounds like butter, and she loves to read
  • She enjoys entertainment, movies, tv, People magazine, and always knows what the stars are up to. She even knocked on Jennifer Gardner Afleck's door while visiting me in Boston.
  • She has a VERY high pain tolerance, but also a very tender heart
  • My mom should win a prize for patience, understanding, and parenting--though she would says she fails on all accounts-she deserves a purple heart or something for the battle of motherhood that she is going through
  • My mom was pregnant for 6 years-enough said
  • My mom kept her teaching degree current and is now a substitute teacher
  • She is someone I can tell anything to and she will listen, she really wants me to be happy, she tries really hard to understand my situations, and she is learning with me.
  • She loves her family and they adore here. She is the little caboose that her sister (11 years older than her) prayed into life.
  • My mom has endured a lot of loss in her life: a brother dying, a father dying, and a son dying, as well as other losses.
And the list could go on!  One thing I will never forget about my mom is how she wanted the world for her kids. She and my dad didn't have much money when I was little but that never stopped her. She would sew the dance outfits of my classmates in my dance classes so that I can take ballet, toe, tap, and jazz. She would trade babysitting my piano teachers kids for lessons. She would do whatever it took so that we try out a bunch of different outlets and I am the person I am today because of that!

My mom made me take piano lessons when I was younger and I gave her a really hard time--in fact in my life to this day I don't think I've fought anyone harder on something. She insisted that I would thank her one day and I insisted that she was wrong. And I learned that mom's know best! I love coming home and playing the piano (the same piano I grew up playing on).  I hope that every time she hears me play it's like I'm saying "I'm sorry" for being so rotten to her. And I love it even more when my mom and sisters come over and join in singing!

God knew that I needed a certain mom. One who would love me to pieces, push me to be my best, allow me to fly, and keep me grounded!  I know God exists because he sent me to my mom!

Mom, I'll always be the first born in the wilderness!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I love you too!

I opened my email today and found this:

hey this is Camryn i am so 
excited to see you i love

The text was white with a fancy dancy blue background and some cool design in the corners.  Man I have no idea how my 11 year old sister knows how to do all that!

Rated R Movies in Education??

This is a topic I simply choose-most of the time- to avoid like the plague! Every one seems to have their own opinion about whether or not a person should or should not watch rated R movies. I'm sure that you have all heard both sides of the coin. I have another question on this topic that I'd like to address:

What do you think about watching rated R movies in an educational setting ?

Today I did something I have only done (that I can remember) once in my life. I actually walked out of a school class that was showing a rated R movie. I didn't realize until we were actually in class and the lovely rated R thing popped up that it was rated R. I quietly walked up to my teacher, asked if I could be excused and how long the movie would be so I could come back when it was over. My teacher was very understanding and I left. That was it.

I'm pretty sure that she didn't know what to think of me--a social worker in training--who refused to watch a simple rated R movie. The thing is the movie wasn't a documentary, it wasn't something that I needed to see in order to understand the topic we were learning-it was to enhance our experience. So I decided that I would just do something in the place of the movie-if my teacher requested it. Like read an article or book on the subject or find a comparable movie that wasn't rated R. Most likely she won't ask me to do anything and I'll get the summary from a classmmate.

I know that not every clip I watch in grad school is rated, not every topic fits into what I would deem "appropriate", and not all media is needed or necissary. At the same time there is power in media, movies, documentaries, films, songs. This type of medium speaks to the emotions like none other. I recognize that I will be experiencing real life as a social worker but does that mean I need to watch things, by choice, that are harmful to me?

So I guess I'm just posing the question to see what some of you think about this subject. Not about what you think about watching rated R movies in general but about school and rated R movies??

ps I originally wrote this blog in the time between when I left the class and when I returned. Most of my classmates didn't even know I was gone but a few asked where I was. I just responded, "I left" to which they just moved on.  Two different girls, however, when class was over came up to me and said they wished they would have not seen the movie. They didn't know that there were going to be some explicit sex scenes having nothing to do with the topic of the class.