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Monday, December 28, 2015

The O-G 2015 Christmas Newsletter

Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas everyone-

We hope this newsletter finds you all safe and blessed this holiday season.

We write this newsletter from snowy Colorado with hot tea in hand. We had a beautiful snowstorm over the Thanksgiving week and are hoping we get more on Christmas day…although it’s supposed to get to 65 this week! We are enjoying the exciting and variable weather Colorado has to offer.

Our family had a full summer this past year. We enjoyed a one month vacation in June in Oregon (exploring Utah, Nevada, and western Colorado on our way home) and had a chance to camp with amazing friends on the east side of the state (thank you Feldhaus, Shippentower, Tattam and Naylor families for making it special!), in the Willamette Valley (a big thank you to the House’s Funny Farm for hosting our crazy zoo) and the beach where both sides of our family came over and spent several days camping with us. Also, a big thank you to Cat’s parents for putting us up while we made a few trailer repairs and Cat recouped from the flu (yup, she got it while on vacation).

The second half of our summer brought two trips to New Mexico to spend quality time with our Hedges family God-children, then to explore Ghost Ranch during the Mountain States Mennonite Conference (MSMC) general assembly…what a beautiful time listing to our new favorite band The Steel Wheels while enjoying the beauty of the southwest.  Rounding off our adventures we made our final summer family trip to Oklahoma in September where Cat presented some of her Eastern Shawnee history work during the Eastern Shawnee History Summit (PDF program). We also attended the tribal Powwow…it was a wonderful time connecting with our Oklahoma family while watching our kiddos build deeper connections to Oklahoma and our family there.

The Steel Wheels

The kiddos are loving our Colorado adventures and their school here in Boulder. Finn is in the 4th grade this year (I know, brace yourselves…she’s up to my shoulders and we’re entering the scary world of HORMONES!!!) and has really excelled in reading and math. She’s loving her teachers, friends, and has joined leadership group and choir…allowing her to explore her two loves of social justice and music. Our girl is growing fast, easily the tallest in her class, but her beautiful smile and zest for life have only increased. She’s loving our exploration of the area and especially time at home in her tree fort…reading a book and feeling the breeze.

Jeremiah August is growing so fast and keeping us on our toes as always! He’s in the first grade this year and we are so loving his zest for learning. Reading has really taken off for him this year…all of a sudden he sees words everywhere and loves to read them to us.  Jeremiah has changed a lot this year, learning to control his little boy impulses more and more everyday (we’re still a work in progress on that one) but is still his full of life self.  He loves flying planes at the park, riding his bike all over, and exploring the woods! Both kiddos are loving the adventure of living in Colorado, they’ve become fans of deep snow, southwest summer nights, and exploring from the Rockies to New Mexico to Oklahoma.

Cat’s year has been busy with her work taking off more and more while chasing the kiddos and their busy schedules. When we moved the kids said they wanted to see Mummy and Papa often at their school…so that has meant a lot of running back and forth (we live only a block and half from the school) for both Mummy and Papa but it has really been worth it see the kids feel safe and at home in their school.  Cat’s work for her tribe has increased this year and kept her busy. This past winter she wrote and was awarded a large three year grant that will keep the Family Violence Prevention program serving women and children of her tribe for another three years…God is good! Adding to her work for her tribe she was asked this past year to write a book chapter for a book the tribe is writing on Eastern Shawnee history. Her chapter focuses on Eastern Shawnee tribal members moving to the Pacific Northwest and how that’s changed their cultural connection and identity. She is still teaching women and gender studies for Oregon State University and has now added teaching similar classes for Utah State University…both from home, both focusing on minority perspectives.  It’s been wonderful for our family to have Mum working from home especially as everyone has settled into our new life in Boulder. Life can get a wee bit nuts for Cat while she juggles work and home but she loves being available for the kiddos when they need and keeping and tending an inviting home environment.

Eastern Shawnee Tribal Seal
Eastern Shawnee Tribal Seal

Jeremiah has been enjoying his interdisciplinary, Environmental Studies PhD program here at CU-Boulder.  He finished two years of course work in one year and is now in his second year in the program with a much smaller class load but starting his qualifying exams and dissertation research.  His advisor is a wonderful man who understands family and life commitments and values Jeremiah’s contributions (academic and otherwise) over the past 20+ years.  God is good. While this past year has been a busy one for Jeremiah (and family) he has settled into his niche at CU and is enjoying the journey – this new season in life for him.  It makes his life a bit crazy, trying to be a PhD student, teaching classes (which pays the bills), organizing science communication and policy conferences, writing for science magazines, organizing Mennonite men’s retreats and being the Papa and husband he loves to be. Thankfully he’s been slowly chopping commitments from his list to really focus down on family and his PhD. But as he says…sleep is overrated (wink wink).

Our beloved pups are doing well and loving the dry weather of Colorado. Quinn turned 13 this month (I know…crazy...is that even possible?!) and Sidda will be 11 in February! They are both in great health though starting to slow down and nap in the sun a bit more.  Quinn has fallen in love with stalking and killing any small rodents or squirrels that dare to think about coming into our backyard and Sidda is still her happy go lucky self…though she’s now assumed the role of dog pack leader when hiking….making sure Quinn stays on trail and doesn’t wander off too far. It’s been interesting to watch our pups age.

We feel like when we make our way back to the PNW (yes that’s still our plan) we will have thoroughly turned over every stone imaginable in this area – given Colorado a fair shake. We feel this move has taught us (and is still teaching us) to love the moment we are in. Life is certainly not perfect for the OG’s (did I mention Finn is experiencing hormones, hit us with the sex talk, little man rides his bike like Mario Andretti, and Jeremiah and Cat feel their blood pressure rising each year) but we are learning to find the joy in each moment.

We hope this letter and OG news sees you into a happy and healthy new year.

With much love and prayers for peace,
The Osborne-Gowey Family (Jeremiah, Cat, Finn, not-so-little Jeremiah)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Santa and the Russian Jetliner

Apparently it's a parenting faux pas to tell your children Santa may have died aboard the Russian airliner that was recently shot down.

Yes, it's true - I did say this. 

But in my defense, I was joking with them that Santa wasn't coming this year. They knew I was joking - or at least I THOUGHT they knew. But when they asked why he may not be coming to town, I took the opportunity to thread in current events they may have recently heard on the radio. Apparently that made it waaaayyyyy more believable because the atmosphere went from light-hearted and kidding to a full-on hush in the car for several seconds. Aaaand I let it linger maybe a bit too long, at which point Cat broke it up by pinching my arm and saying, "Papa!" in a low, teasing rebuke.

This joke was taken a bit too literally by our little guy as he apparently chewed on it for several days before deciding it must be true. Then, when attending a play where there was a Santa letter writing station and mailbox, he looked to us in confusion, thinking it a futile effort to write a letter to a dead magical man. So I took a moment to tell him I was just joking and it was OK to write a letter to Santa. After all, the magic resides in our hearts, not in some fat old guy that breaks into houses at one night a year and watches you the other 364 days. But I digress.

After some thought, LJ decided it couldn't hurt to write a letter to Santa, even if he wasn't convinced the old guy was still alive. So he did. And we moved on.

What really brought LJ back to confusion (er, believing) was when a package addressed to LJ arrived a few days later in the mail...a package from Santa (who apparently resides in Florida?! this time of year; who knew?!). In it, was a personal note from Santa assuring him that he was indeed alive and well, had been watching him and knew he'd been pretty good throughout the year (yes, Facebook stalking does exist), and would be delivering presents to him and his friends this Christmas.

Thanks for keeping him in the magic, mom! *she had the package sent*

So now we await Santa's arrival tonight. And we'll be checking the official NORAD Santa Tacker (http://www.noradsanta.org/). Currently he appears to be somewhere over Izmir, Turkey and has delivered close to 3 billion (yes, BILLION) presents! Consumerism appears to be alive and well!

Time to go caroling!

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Monday, August 17, 2015


Today we had an opportunity to talk with our kiddos about exaggeration, stretching the truth, and deceit, thanks to LEGO

Little Jeremiah *proudly*: Papa, today I watched NinjaGo down on the futon in mummy's office!
Papa: That sounds like fun, son.
LJ *proudly*: Yeah, I watched FOURTEEN episodes!
*Papa raises his eyebrow*
Mummy: *chuckling* We'll, you didn't watch THAT many episodes...
LJ *exasperated*: Yeah...BUT I WATCHED MORE THAN TWO! (his usual limit) 

While his exaggeration wasn't an intentional lie, it was a great entry point into a discussion on truth. Such is parenting!

If you haven't yet checked out NinjaGo episodes (Netflix and Hulu) they are fun. LEGO also has some fun online NinjaGo Rush games. We just haven't yet figured out how to balance our peaceful Mennonite traditions with LEGO crime. ;)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The great Spring Break boat building of 2015

Boat building, Spring Break 2015
I was planning to get some thesis writing done this afternoon but when walking home after working in the Boulder Mennonite Church's community garden for a few hours (tilling, raised beds, planting seeds, watering, etc.), my son asked me if we could build some boats when we got home. In truth, I was plum tuckered out from gardening in the hot sun and wanted to take a wee bit of a nap in our backyard shade. But as we talked about our ideas for making boats, his imagination and excitement about it couldn't help but be infectious...and I caught it. 

When we got home, I made us some lunch and we sat at the table drawing out our ideas for boats. After lunch, we got out some of our scrap 2x4 and 2x6 lumber ends from our tree-forting building and set to work. We had a lot more we wanted to add our boats - things like sails and anchors and rudders and helms and such - but we simply HAD to go try them out at in our local stream, Bear Creek in the St. Vrain watershed (check it out via the EPA's great Surf Your Watershed site). We found a few things to tweak but had a blast testing them out. And while I didn't get any writing done, I was happy to have spent those few imaginative and creative and fun hours playing and building boats with my son. 

These moments don't come around again and I'm learning to embrace them as they appear, regardless of my schedule. I've got a long way to go, but for now, I have this time with my loved ones. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The waitress

Finn the short order waitress. March 2015
The other morning Finn wanted to pretend she was a short order waitress. She has so much fun making up service-oriented games and she had me hoppin' in the kitchen - one of the few times we'll make an exception to preparing different meals for everyone. As each person placed an order, she recorded it their own ticket which she pasted above the stove. And she was so excited to wear, as an apron, a scarf she recently used for fish printing (gyotaku). We figure we'd better support our kids in play or they won't want to come to us with the serious stuff, now or later. Plus it's just fun to play as a child. A fun Spring Break morning, for sure.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

An American Pie family moment, Don McLean style

What were we doing this evening? Papa is cleaning up dinner dishes, mummy is packing lunches for tomorrow, the kids are getting their backpacks ready for school and setting out tomorrow's clothes...and we're all singing THIS song at the tops of our lungs - Don McLean's American Pie. I am in LOVE. With this family! And what a fantastic song to bring up and discuss society and its highs and ills, love and friendship, war and peace, politics and so much more with our children!

Side note: in February of this year, McLean publicly announced that he will reveal the original meaning behind the song's lyrics when the original manuscript goes up for auction in New York City in April 2015.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

From paleontologist to airplane engineer

This evening after getting his pajamas on, little man comes out to the living room, obviously pleased with himself, and offers an explanation for his ensemble. He says
I picked out this shirt because it has dinosaurs on it and when I grow up I'm going to be a paleontologist. And if I get fired, I'm going to build airplanes. Not paper ones but ones made out of metal so you and Papa can fly in them. Yep.
And with that, he marched out of the room.

Friday, February 13, 2015

A breakfast prayer for the homeless

Little Jeremiah helping at the local food bank.
This morning's breakfast prayer comes to you courtesy of Little Jeremiah and his big thoughts:

"Dear Lord, please be with the homeless and help them find more and more change on the ground so they can buy food and be well. Amen."

Amen, little man. Amen.

Papa's silent prayer to the heavens after hearing this: "Please let this boy keep his heart and help me continue to protect, support and strengthen it." Then a mental note to talk further with him (and his sister) about different ways of helping others.

I am in love this little guy's big heart.

This guy...
Exploring at Garden of the Gods
Exploring at Garden of the Gods
Ninja turtle man stalking animals