Monday, August 20, 2007
This weekend we had a get-together with some of Russell's co-workers and their families. We wanted to have everyone over to let them know how appreciative we are of everything they have done to make Russ's telecommuting arrangement and our move to Arkansas possible. For Russ, being able to keep a job he loves and still move us closer to our family is truly such an amazing answer to prayer. And for me, well...I'm still just sitting around looking like I have a clothes hanger caught in my mouth. Seriously, I am suffering from permanent Big-Goofy-Grin-itis! I never in my wildest dreams imagined this opportunity was possible. ...So, what better way to say thanks than to have a big Thanksgiving dinner? Nothing says "you guys are the greatest" like a spiral-sliced ham, right? I cooked a big spread, with all of the traditional fixings, and we ate like happy little piggies.
For those of you who have heard the names over the years, but have never had the chance to put a face with the name, here is an introduction to The Key People. (Mom, dad, all of our family and friends, here's your opportunity to send them all a WHOPPER blog kiss! Without their help, your children, and more importantly, your grandchild, would still be fifteen hours away.) So, drum roll, please...
Ken. - Ken is Russ's manager, and a superb one at that! He is extremely supportive of the members of his team. I'm pretty sure Russ will sabotage any and all plans of retirement Ken might (ever) be considering. To him, Ken is Manager Extraordinaire -there is no one better. Without his help, the past several years would have been even more difficult. During the crazy year with Seth (while we were awaiting the decision from the courts), we were traveling back-and-forth between NM and AR quite a bit. Sometimes it was as frequently as twice a month. Ken never ONCE, not one single time, acted at all inconvenienced or disgruntled about the time Russell was away from the office. This craziness went on for a year (fast, The Supreme Court most definitely is not), and I know Russ's absence had to put a hardship on all of the other team members taking up the slack. Beyond just allowing us to travel home whenever necessary, Ken went above-and-beyond and made it possible for Russ to work easily from AR and still contribute on several key projects. Ken, we cannot express how grateful we are for all you have done over the years. (Uh oh. Just thinking back is making me teary.) There aren't enough words to convey what you have meant, not just to us, but to our entire family. Seriously, they all know you well, even though you don't know them.
Pat. - Pat is Russ's mentor at work. He is an unbelievably hard worker (the man sends emails at 3:00 in the morning!). He is incredibly gifted at what he does, and has been such a great role model for Russ. Oh...Remember how I said in my "101 Things" that Russ is the smartest person I know? Well, Russell seems to think that Pat trumps him at that "position" quite soundly. Pat has been Russ's primary advisor since arriving at Sandia. Frequently, over the past six years, he has stopped by Russ's office, just to chat for awhile and offer encouragement. Pat is such a valued and respected member of the department, without his endorsement of the move to Arkansas, it would not have been possible. Russ has frequently mentioned that if his career at Sandia is half as productive as Pat's, he will consider it a huge success. Furthermore, beyond his greatness at work, Pat is also just one heck of a nice guy. His character is evidenced not only in how he treats his co-workers, but in the example he sets in his personal life. Even though Russ will see him regularly for the telecommuting arrangement, I know how much he will miss the daily conversations with his friend. Pat, for who you are as much as what you do, thank you.
Emily. - Emily is Russ's administrative assistant. According to Russ, and everyone else in the department, she is the glue that holds the whole thing together. (She will be the one in charge of Russ's flights back-and-forth for his classified work, so let's all hope she's on top of things, right? We don't want him accidentally flying to Bangkok!) Emily is a pistol. She gives Russell heck on a daily basis, and for that, we're all extremely grateful. (Somebody needs to give Mr. Serious some needling!) Emily will tell you when, why, and what she thinks about something before you have a chance to even finish thinking it. She keeps things in her department running like a well-oiled machine and, despite what she might want you to believe, she's really a Softie with a heart of gold. Emily is also "Auntie Em" to Sophie. She is one of the few people, since Sophie was teeny tiny, who we have trusted to keep her and tend to the rigors of her medical needs and feeding routine. And despite the fact that Sophie has hurled on her every single time she has watched her, she refuses to let us pay her for babysitting. Beyond the evening "breathers" she gives us, she has even come over for a few over-nighters to help out when Russ has had to travel. She just does it because she has a heart for the Lord and wants to do whatever she can to help alleviate some of our stress. (Whoops. More waterworks.) We love you, Em. And Sophie absolutely adores you. You have NO idea, through your constant prayers and your acts of kindness, how much you have helped keep us sane over the years. You truly have been a special gift, my friend, and you will be greatly missed.
So, to everybody, thank you...from the bottom of our hearts.
P.S In the process of cooking this dinner, I learned a little lesson about why Thanksgiving is celebrated in November. It has less to do with Squanto and the Pilgrims' celebration of the harvest, and more to do with the temperature of the season. In November, when you have your oven on all day, it creates this nice, warm, cozy atmosphere, very conducive to chowing down. In 100 degree August, the warmth created by the day-long cooking is significantly less cozy and appetite-friendly. Hopefully nobody minded the fact that we were dining on the blazing sun...or the fact that I was forced to stay in my bathing suit, spritzing myself down with mist the entire evening. (Hmm. Perhaps it wasn't the heat that had everybody's appetite suppressed.) Hee.