Archive for March, 2010

Professional pix

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

We had a really fun photo shoot at the house a couple days after my birthday with a friend from church who just so happens to be a really great professional photographer. Highly recommend him: Aaron Dill! You can see our full gallery of photos under Aaron’s “client galleries” section (or at the link in our last post). Let us know if you would like print-quality files of any of these photos–we have them and can e-mail them to you.

8 months

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Elliott didn’t get an 8 month birthday since there are only 28 days in February; however, our little dude is making developmental leaps left and right. For the opening of his 8th month, he’s now eating 3 small meals of solid foods a day, and he’s learned how to roll to get where he wants to go. He’s working hard on trying to crawl, but so far has only managed to get up on his hands and knees and scoot backwards. He’s working on words too.

This past weekend Mama and Elliott took a very sad trip to Texas after learning that great-great grandma Viola was very sick. We were able to sit with her, and Elliott gurgled and laughed for her in person. She left us in the wee hours of Sunday morning. While we consider ourselves lucky to have celebrated her 90th birthday and to have had her around for as long as we did, it’s still a hard loss to bear for those of us who will have a memory where her active love and support used to be.

Viola was a remarkable woman. She was simple in her demeanor, her morals and her character, but complex in the way she taught those around her how to interact with one another. She was–and still is–the glue that holds our family, which is full of very peculiar people and very strong personalities, together. She taught us that to love someone and to like them are very different propositions… and that love is ultimately what is important.

She was a product of the Great Depression, but she saw in living frugally what was possible, not what was impossible. And she carried that value throughout her life, raising 7 children born over the course of 25 years without much extra, except faith, hope and love. She raised amazing children, each with different strengths and talents and was an active mother with kids at home for over 40 years. 

She survived for decades following the death of the love of her life, my great-grandfather–who was a total babe–in the early ’70s. And while living on simple means, she lived a life of abundance and taught her children to do the same and to pass it on to their children.

When I, her oldest great-grandchild, spent summers in Houston when I joined Teach for America, she–at 80 years old–took it upon herself to see to it that I was “taken care of.” And I was taken care of, indeed.

She is one of those people who will never really die because not only will we remember her, but the way of being that she taught her children, grandchildren, etc will live on, even when memory of her life and her name have gone.

Interacting with my extended family has been and will always be strange to me because while I have many of the same values at my core (thanks to my, in turn, awesome parents), the culture I grew up in was so so different from my Grammy’s and from the one my similar-aged and younger cousins are part of.

My parents got out. Albeit late, my folks went to college, and they became professionals against the odds since they married and had children early–before they earned their degrees. I have very strong memories of both of my parents when they were close to my age now… my dad was sitting in the audience of my school play on his way to the hospital for treatment for an ulcer in his last semester of undergrad. My mom was walking across the stage with her Associate degree and going on to her Bachelor in nursing.

I can only speculate that my fire-in-my-belly commitment to public education for all children, no matter their background, is somehow tied up with this family history of ours.

I know that I have Viola to thank for that partially, because she was one of the few people in my mom’s life who made her think that she was smart enough to make something of herself in an otherwise backwards and sexist community. And she also knew that children are the most valuable resource we have in our lives and in our communities–she worked at the Mother’s Day Out at her church until she was well into her 70s.

As I continue to process the ending of her time with us, I feel much less pissed off at my great aunt Nonnie for dying in September without much warning, because I imagine it would have been hard to prioritize bringing the baby to see Grammy without that unfortunate circumstance. The Universe certainly works in mysterious ways.

My only regret is that I didn’t post more photos and videos here because Grammy was so proud of her newest great-great grandbaby. I had no idea how proud until we visited during her final hours this weekend.

We will miss you, Alice Viola Arnold Dunigan, but you have done a great job of preparing us to not need you to keep your values alive and strong. And I think that’s the best legacy one could ever leave.

We have our first professional photos available here to post soon, but in the meantime, here are a few of Elliott’s 8th month.