Some days, I really, really like being a speech pathologist. Some days, well, I don't.
But one of the great things about my job and the populations I work with is that there's always something to laugh about. Take, for example, a recent conversation I had with one of our patients at the skilled nursing facility (euphemism for "nursing home with a rehab wing full of people who should probably be admitted to a nursing home").
I walked into the room of two elderly Hispanic women who are on our caseload, both for dysphagia (euphemism for "swallowing") issues. Both women were seated in reclining chairs next to their beds. One of the women ("Sister") was talking in Spanish at the top of her voice. After I caught a few familiar words, I realized she was praying. Loudly. And once she finished in Spanish, she started in English.
I didn't want to interrupt her prayer, but I also needed to get their therapy done, so I began talking to her roommate ("afghan lady") who, by the way, was staring fixedly at the muted tv and appeared utterly unfazed by Sister's booming supplications. Loudly, I began asking her if she recalled any safe swallowing strategies.
"Take small bites," she said. At least, what I thought she said--she spoke softly and I was lip-reading. Sister was still going strong.
"Can you remember any more?" I asked afghan lady.
With hardly a break in stride, in the same volume and manner in which she'd been praying, Sister said, "You must take small bites and small sips, and then God will help you swallow!"
Her eyes were still closed in the attitude of prayer, and I grabbed her hand. "Yes," I said. "Very good. Small bites and small sips."
Her hand clasped mine, vice-like. "Yes, Sister. And God will help us! He will always help us!"
I love little things. Close ups. Details. I love the minuscule flecks of dirt on Jay's fingertips, and I love that he has a tiny snail shell on each finger.
Looking at this picture, you have no idea that Jay is wearing a suit. That his sister and her family were standing a few feet away. That we were walking around the temple grounds. That it was a beautiful, sunny, hot hot July day. It doesn't tell you that Elizabeth was zonked out, that we were in the middle of taking pictures of her and Andrea and David, that after we were done, we went to Great Harvest and bought a loaf of honey whole wheat bread.
Most of the time, the things we see make up only a tiny snippet of a whole reality. From looking at another person, you don't know their history. You don't know how their morning was or what's important to them or what their favorite candy bar is.
But even though, in the grand scheme of things, all we see through the wavy glass of imperfect understanding are the equivalent of closeups, detail without the whole picture, there is beauty to be found when we take the time to look for it.
We went into a speaker store last weekend. The salesguys swarmed like piranhas. One of them insisted on demoing some of their products for us.
When trying to explain to us the differences between the two sound systems he'd just shown us, salesguy Tim exhibited some word-retrieval difficulties. "The first one we listened to is more, uh, detailed," he said. "You can hear all the glass tinkling and all of the individual explosion sounds in that Die Hard clip. The second one has a fuller sound. But this one, the first one, it's kinda more, well, clearer or--you know, you can hear all the little sounds, so it's more... um..."
Being a helpful person (and a speech pathologist), I reached into my lexicon and pulled out a favorite, well-used adjective.
"Crisp?" I offered.
"Yeah, yeah!" he said. "Exactly! The sound of the first one is way more crispy."
So we had to listen to him say "crispier sound" at least ten times in the remainder of his fifteen-minute demo. I was looking at sound systems, but all I could think of were potato chips and Kentucky Fried Chicken. Crunch.
Thank heaven I didn't give in to my urge and suggest that the second system had a "warm" sound quality--who knows what that would have turned into?
Sunday was a slightly more relaxing day. Most people got to sleep in awhile and then come over to our place for breakfast crepes. We went to church, ate dinner, and then just hung out.
I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but one of Elizabeth's bows ended up on Jeremy, and I feel almost bad posting these pictures, but his father, Erik, is very secure in his son's masculine manliness, so I'm not going to worry that these pictures will give the kid (or his parents) a complex.
There has been a dearth of Jeremy pictures in my previous posts. While I never did get the chance to do a photo shoot, we did get a few pictures.
Jeremy does this flailing thing with his arms--they're constantly in motion. He looks a little like like he's conducting an orchestra. An orchestra that never stops.
Mostly, though, he's just a really cute kid.
Why is Elizabeth in a chicken suit? Your guess is as good as mine. Seriously--I was just sitting there and then I turned around and there she was. In a chicken suit. Bawk bawk.
That evening, we went on a family Sunday walk. You may recognize this park as the place we went with Amy and Erik on Friday.
I miss taking Sunday walks. My family used to go out walking--sometimes biking--on Sundays. I loved it.
Andrea and David (and now Toby and Elizabeth) go on walks together every Sunday. We visited them once a couple weeks before Elizabeth was born and joined them on their family walk. Andrea was great with child, but she walked two miles. I was impressed.
Lindsay and Tyler and their cute girls. Word on the street is she's having a BOY, so we're excited to welcome nephew #2 in a few months.
Jay can do a "one-handed" chin up. Impressive, no? Check out Gracie and Olivia's guns. Work it, girls!
Me and Jay. I really, really love this guy. Even if he is about six inches too tall. It just goes to show, nobody's perfect. Not even Jay.
How does it feel to be six inches tall of perfection, baby?
Looks like Olivia doesn't mind that Jay's imperfect.
Speaking of perfect, check out these babies.
Like I mentioned earlier, this was the first time that the whole clan has been together since our wedding nearly two and a half years ago. The love was tangible, to say the least.
And there they are. All seven. From youngest to oldest. You can see how the older siblings have rebelled against the family tradition of wearing dress clothes all day Sunday. For shame.
There were some crazy and hectic times, but we loved having the whole fam visit us in San Antonio. We're not sure how we lucked out to be the ones everyone came to visit, but we hope they'll all come back soon. And often.
Especially when we move out of a one-bedroom apartment and into a house.
It was a day full of sunscreen and roller coasters, heat and fun and family. And I realize I'm easily distracted, but doesn't Jay have amazing cheekbones?
The kidlets did pretty well, considering what a long day it was. My three nieces--aren't they sweet?
I love this picture of Andrea and Elizabeth. The babies spent most of the day dozing in the heat.
Looks like Olivia, too, caught a nap or two.
The grandparents were a great help with the kids, especially the babies.
Uncles Josh and Newt were indispensable as well--I've never met young adolescent boys so good with children and happy to help out. The older nieces adore them.
Gracie and Olivia had a blast. Lindsay, being pregnant, could not go on rides--a major bummer, but Linds put her game face on and got to watch her cute girls discover the joys of roller coasters and water parks.
This was by far my least "efficient" trip to an amusement park--whenever I've gone before, it's always been about fitting in the most rides and maximizing riding time. This time, with seventeen (and a half) people to keep track of and arrange rendezvous with, two babies who needed feeding every hour or two, and a 50+ year age spread and varied interests, it wasn't possible to pack in the rides.
Really, though, that ended up being just fine. We got to spend a little bit of time with everyone, frequently switching up groups based on babies' feeding schedules and peoples' activity desires.
And let me just say, how did we ever live without cell phones? Even with them, we had our share of miscommunications, but we always managed to find each other in the end.
I've always loved roller coasters and thrill rides, but I think I'm starting to get old: the park itself was just so loud and big and busy and hot. I felt like I had an amusement park hangover after just three hours.
But, you know, despite the screaming neck and shoulder muscles, the bruises from jolting rides, the excessive noise and ridiculous prices, I really had a good time.
Spencer W. Kimball once said that the most important word in the dictionary may well be "remember."
To me, remembrance is more than just knowing something happened--it is retaining the memory of our feelings and the lessons we learned. I think back to my frame of mind nine years ago, and I recall being filled with horror at the ugliness of terrorism, gratitude for living in this amazing country, and fierce pride to be an American.
But memories fade. Recollections grow dim. Feelings, once strong, slowly lose their poignancy.
Today, though, I remember 9/11. I remember that day, and the following days of uncertainty and fear and prayer. And I remember my resolution to never, ever forget.
God of our fathers, known of old--
Lord of our far-flung battle line
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine--
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!
The tumult and the shouting dies;
The captains and the kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!
Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget - lest we forget!
I've had a couple people ask, so I thought I'd just nip this rumor in the bud:
There is a fetus, and it does belong to a Lindsay, but not to this one. Er, that is, not to me. What I'm trying to say is, I'm not expecting. Preggo. In the family way. Insert your favorite euphemism here.
But I'm sure my sister-in-law appreciates the congratulations.
Jay's family came to visit us in San Antonio this weekend. There were seventeen and a half of us: two parents/grandparents, the seven siblings, four spouses, four kiddos, and a fetus. Oh, and Lucy and Toby (Andrea's dog). It was hectic and exhausting and so, so fun. This is the first time the whole family's been together since our wedding over two years ago. Since I have about a million pictures to post, I decided to break this up into three installments.
On Friday afternoon, I picked up Amy and Erik from the airport and got to meet Jeremy, my first and only nephew. Jay was still in Loredo, so we hung out for a few hours until he got home. Later that night, the five of us went for a walk in a nearby park.
Amy and Erik are in great shape--from both running and strength training (they're currently in the middle of another round of P90X)--so as we passed several fitness stations along the trail, we stopped and tried them out. Note that I'm using "we" very loosely. Hey, someone had to take the pictures.
Here's Jay. Impressed by his chin-up? I sure was.
I'm also impressed by his face. Mmmm.
And speaking of impressive, here's Erik doing some kind of one-armed sideways plank push-up. I had no idea how many different kinds of push-ups there were until I met Erik.
Amy and Jay on the push-up bar. Check out Amy's triceps. And calves. Yeah, she's pretty much my idol.
Erik did 15 pull-ups, making them look easy as pie. He then scooted his way down the parallel bars so quickly I didn't get a picture. Jay shuffled forward on his hands a little ways before admitting defeat, and Amy pedaled in place--I guess it's harder than it looks. I have to guess since I was too busy being the photographer to try it for myself. Hey, it's an important job.
Here's Jeremy. He is a beautiful, sweet baby. Sorry his face is out of focus so you can't fully appreciate his cuteness in this picture, but Jay and I just bought our first non-kit lens, and I've been having a lot of fun with the 1.8 aperture setting.
I love this "watering station"--now that is one stop shopping!
In other news, later that night, Lucy met her first dog.
Toby belongs to Andrea and David. He's a Yorkie and not much bigger than Lucy.