Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Where Have Real Men Gone?

I'm currently reading When Trumpets Call by Patricia O'Toole. It's about Teddy Roosevelt's years after his presidency. Essentially, O'Toole filled the void left by Edmund Morris, who has yet to finish the last of his three volume biography on Roosevelt. While O'Toole is a gifted writer, Edmund's last volume -- which he is writing now -- will undoubtedly prove superior.

In any case, the When Trumpets Call's recounting of John Schrank's failed attempt to assassinate Roosevelt during the 1912 presidential campaign makes you long for real men in political office. Schrank was seven feet away when he shot Roosevelt in the chest. The bullet, slowed by a metal eyeglass case and a copy of his speech, lodged in Roosevelt's ribs. After the shot, Roosevelt felt his mouth, determined the bullet had not perforated his lung, and dispatched the idea of missing his speech and receiving medical care with these words: "You get me to that speech, . . . it may be the last one I shall ever deliver, but I am going to deliver this one."

During his ensuing eighty minute speech, he informed the crowd what had happened: "I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it take more than that to kill a Bull Moose." For effect, Roosevelt showed onlookers the bullet holes in his speech and pull back his vest, exposing his blood-stained shirt.

On the train ride to Chicago for treatment, he changed his shirt, shaved, and slept.

Too bad men (or women for that matter) like this no longer run for public office. Our nation would be better if they did.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Texas Specialness

We all know Texans fancy themselves as special because they live in a big state and can secede from the Union whenever they feel like it. (Although, we fought a civil war about states seceding, and, lo and behold, consensus is states can't actually secede, but that's neither here nor there.) Apparently, Texans' specialness has reached new bounds this holiday season.

As we were driving to Dem's house, we passed a truck with this written on its side: "Merry Texmas." So much for "Christmas"; I guess the point of the season is now to worship father Texas in all his greatness and glory. I wonder what the Texmas mascot will be? Perhaps a football, or a barrel of oil.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Spelling is Important

I can't resist sharing this third grader's homework assignment I recently discovered. It is a prime example of (1) why spelling is important, and (2) why you should send you kids to private schools. Enjoy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas to All,

We’ve had quite a year. As most, if not all, know, we adopted Elliot Clayton Brown last November. He is wonderful, and we are blessed to have him. He has brought an immeasurable amount of joy to our lives, and we hope we will bring some to his. That being said, let’s recount our 2008 doings.

Until Elliot came to us, we had planned to stay in Lincoln, NE so Demaree could continue teaching high school choir at Northeast and finish her Doctorate of Musical Arts. The more we discussed our future, the more we decided that was not the right course. We decided it was time to move back near family, so we started looking for work in Farmington, NM and San Angelo, TX. After some searching, Marco received an offer from a New Mexico law firm called Miller Stratvert. We decided to take the job, and prepared to move to Farmington when Marco’s judicial clerkship ended.

Marco began work July 1, worked for two weeks, then studied like a mad man to pass the bar exam. Thankfully, he passed. Hours after finishing the bar (whose author is Satan), Marco boarded a plane and met Demaree and Elliot in San Angelo, where they had been since the month previous.

Finally, we were together again. To celebrate we traveled, a lot. While we have chronicled most of our escapades already, we will give you a quick run down.

• We drove to Lincoln, NE and finalized our adoption. My good law school buddy, Henry Wiedrich, handled the finalization for us. He is a stellar attorney.

• We hiked around Mesa Verde National Park. Mesa Verde is a fantastic collection of Indian cliff dwellings. Very cool.

• We were sealed as a family in the Manti, UT temple August 22 at 9.45 a.m. This was the climax of our year. Nothing else comes close. We thank all those who came from great distances to celebrate this occasion with us (e.g., Charmaine Kearl, Jared Shoemaker, Matt and Evige Warner, Ariel Bybee and Jim Ford, Marco’s parents, Demaree’s family, etc.)

• In September, we hiked the Grand Canyon a bit and visited the Four Corners Monument. In addition, we celebrated our seventh anniversary, took Elliot to his first BYU football game, Elliot attended his first symphony (he had previously attended four operas), Marco had his first legal article published, Marco was sworn in and became an official lawyer, and we toured some Aztec ruins.

• October brought us General Conference, which we attended, and Elliot’s second BYU football game. Demaree worked privately with local high school students helping prepare them for state competitions, and sang beautifully at a local concert.

• Just in time to vote, November brought political rallies to Farmington. We attended a Mitt Romney rally, and were lucky enough to get a picture of him and Elliot together.

The next week, we headed to Lubbock , TX to visit our friends the Sorenson’s and attend a speech by Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. We took Elliot, who was a little fussy, but enjoyed himself and all the people (there were about 2000).

Demaree’s parents also came up from San Angelo and we spent a good afternoon together at the Lubbock Science Spectrum.

Following some local weekend hikes, we all caught a plane to Washington DC for the annual Federalist Society Conference — i.e., Marco’s excuse to dork it up with other lawyers in DC for a few days. During the conference, Dem and Elliot spent some quality time with Gretchen, Demaree’s sister-in-law. Gretchen is a great tour guide.

After the conference, we drove to New York to visit our good family friend Antonella Delli Carpini and her family. We spent time in Manhattan, saw The Damnation of Faust at the Metropolitan Opera, toured Teddy Roosevelt’s birthplace on 21st Street, and did any other number of touristy things.

Elliot’s first birthday coincided nicely with Thanksgiving, so we celebrate on, you guessed it, Thanksgiving. After gorging ourselves on massive quantities of food the Delli Carpini family made, we sang Elliot happy birthday and let him go to town on his cake. He loved it, as did we all.

Having capped our East Coast trip by visiting Teddy Roosevelt’s home on Sagamore Hill on Long Island, we headed home.

Here are some other miscellaneous tidbits. Elliot’s first word was “uh-oh,” and since then he has developed a vocabulary of maybe six or seven words. Elliot took his first steps around eight months, and has refused to walk ever since. He loves dogs, and by loves dogs we mean he adores them. He dances and snaps his fingers when he hears music. He’s particularly fond of classical music and opera, probably because our musical predilections lean toward those genres. In fact, upon hearing music, he feels compelled to play the piano. He has a smile that captivates any room he enters (it’s amazing to watch). Demaree is enjoying being home fulltime with Elliot, as well as working with the young women in church. Marco is ward mission leader, and will teach an Italian cuisine course at the local college next semester.

We’ll spend Christmas with Demaree’s family in sunny, warm Texas. (Sorry to all our northern friends, but you don’t know what you’re missing.) Can’t ask for anything better.

One last thing, we’ve started the adoption process again. So, if you know a birthmother who is interested in adoption, please let us know. We’d love to speak to her.

Thanks everyone. Hope all is well, and God bless you and your families.

With Love,
Marco, Demaree, & Elliot

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

DC--NYC Trip Day 10

Today we left New York. We were saddened by this evil yet inevitable turn of events. Antonella and her father, who had been so good to us this entire trip, kindly drove us to La Guardia. After removing our luggage from the car, but before entering the airport, Dem turned to me and said, "I think this is the oldest airport in America." She may be correct; La Guardia is pretty old and run down. And yet, it still functions perfectly well.

The flight home was uneventful (no kookie new-agey chick this time). Elliot made some new friends, as he is wont to do, both on the plane and in the Minneapolis airport. Eventually, we arrived, exhausted, in Albuquerque at 11:00 p.m. The Comfort Inn was our final destination for the night.

DC--NYC Trip Day 9: Sagamore Hill

We took the day and went to Teddy Roosevelt's house on Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay, New York. It's located on the north shore of Long Island, and is actually quite beautiful. Sagamore Hill is the house TR built with his inheritance money, and where he lived before, during, and after his presidency. Here's a good shot of the house on the hill:

Apparently, everyone likes to drive to Sagamore Hill the day after Thanksgiving, so before we could tour the house, we had to wait a couple hours. This turned out well, because we were able to take in the TR museum

and walk the nature trail to the beach.

This was the first time Elliot had ever been to the sea, and while it was a bit cold and he was wearing a snowsuit sized for a two-year-old, he dug it.

Eventually, we did tour Sagamore Hill.

It was about as large as I had anticipated, but had a larger veranda and much larger meeting room. The house is full of animal heads, elephant foot wastepaper baskets, and the like. TR was nothing if not the consumate outdoorsman. The tour was a wonderful experience, but I must admit, perhaps the most satisfying part of the entire day was sitting on the veranda with Dem and Elliot, looking out at the woods and Oyster Bay.

Oh, and we put Elliot on an apple tree and took a picture. That's all, I'm done now. Peace out.

DC--NYC Trip Day 8: Thanksgiving

Ah, Thanksgiving: the day we celebrate our national bounty by gluttonizing on 7000 to 10,000 calories of turkey, stuffing, etc., etc., etc. This was a particularly good Thanksgiving thanks to Nel Nel's Italian family. In addition to the normal Thanksgiving fare, Maria and the nonne (i.e., grandmothers) made some kickin anitpasti of cold cuts, mozzarella, insalata caprese, and the like. We ate. We talked. We ate some more. All was well.

After taking a short time out from eating, Nel Nel brought out a cake and we celebrated Elliot's birthday.

Having serenaded Elliot with a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday to You, we cut a piece and let Elliot go to town. He was a bit timid at first,

but got the hang of things pretty quickly.

Needless to say, he's a chocolate man.

We topped off the evening with games of Monopoly and Jenga (The following picture is actuall after the Jenga game was finished and the family let Elliot play Sir Destructo with the pieces),

or with all the Thanksgiving episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond (Pasquale, Antonella's father, is a huge ELR fan).

Couldn't ask for a better day.

DC--NYC Trip Day 8

Today was our day in the City with Elliot and Antonella. For this little excursion, we decided our rather large stroller would not do (nor would the small, ten dollar Wal-Mart stroller Gretchen was nice enough to buy us), so we packed Elliot around in our kid-carrier.

We walked and saw Radio City Music Hall,

Rockefeller Center (as you can see, the tree wasn't fully decorated. Somewhat of a dissapointment),

over to Carnegie Hall, and then to Patelson's Music House. Patelson's is a musician's paradise, and Dem and Antonella explored the premises like giddy little school girls for forty-five minutes. Dem ended up buying some Cornelius Reid books, as well as the music to Carmen.

Next stop was FAO Schwartz, which is, I must admit, one kickin' toy store. At this point, we parted ways. Dem and Antonella went to a backstage tour of the Metropolitan Opera, and Elliot and I walked fifty blocks south to see Teddy Roosevelt's birthplace at 28 E 20th St. About halfway there, Elliot became hungry, so I took out the cheerios and held them over my shoulder. Elliot would take it and put it in his mouth. We did this for about twenty-five blocks until Elliot sated and fell asleep.

Teddy's birthplace is an old, unassuming browstone.

The inside (of which I have pictures I will post shortly) was pure Victorian style, and not nearly as large as one would think one of the wealthiest New York families would have enjoyed. After the tour, I spoke with the guide and was pleased to hear Edmund Morris, who has written the first two volumes of a three-volume biography on TR, is writing the third volume now (the guide was a good source since he had spoken to Morris two weeks earlier about the third volume). Of course, this means it won't be out for another couple years, but for TR like me that have been waiting years for the third volume, this is music to our ears.

After a quick change and feeding, Elliot and I walked up Broadway to Time Square, where we met Dem and Antonella. We ate at Le Pain Quotidien, which was quite good before hopping the train back to Nel Nel's.

DC--NYC Trip Day 7

Today was my and Demaree's day in the city together. Antonella and her family graciously took care of Elliot while we galavanted. After entering the city, we decided to walk from Grand Central Station to the Frick Collection on the upper west side (70th St. and 5th Ave. to be precise). They had an Andrea Riccio (Renaissance sculptor who worked with bronze) exhibition; it was quite good.

Leaving Frick, we cut across Central Park and ate at Trattoria Sambuca on 20 West 72nd St. I had a grilled calamari appetizer (of which Dem did not partake). For the entree we had pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe. Good. For dessert we had a warm apple crumb, which was spectacular. Honestly, I believe apple pie is the quintessential Americana dessert, but this, this blew apple pie out of the water. Next time you're in New York, try this dessert. You won't be sorry.

After dinner came the main attraction: the Metropolitan Opera's rendition of the Damnation of Faust.

We had standing room only tickets, which was unfortunate because the staging was vertical, which meant we could not see some of the characters unless we crouched on our knees to get a better angle. In any case, it was a great show and we had a great time.

After a long train ride, we made it home around 2 a.m.