Monday, July 23, 2012

JABO Camp 2012

When my wife was 16, she spent part of that summer living with her older sister, who was married and living in a different state. It was her summer of independence! Years went by, and that older sister now has a 16-year-old daughter of her own. So this summer, our niece spent a month with us!

JoanMarie and I loved spending the past month with Genevieve. We also took full advantage of every-third morning, which is when we both got to sleep in, knowing Isaiah was in great hands.

For the final week of our niece's stay, our nephew also came to live with us. Here, Genevieve greets Ellory at the train station, ending their longest stretch of time apart.

Each summer for the past 8 years, Genevieve and Ellory have spent one week with us. We call this JABO Camp, but it'd take way too long to explain that acronym (and when we do explain it, most people still don't understand).

Every day, as usual, we walked Isaiah to the garbage truck parking lot so he can spend 20 minutes examining and admiring them. This kid is obsessed with garbage trucks! (And the moon, so we won't be surprised if he ends up being the moon's first garbage man.) In this photo, with his garbage and recycling trucks behind him, Isaiah explains how the trucks grab "dumps" and lift them into the air.

Our first big outing for JABO Camp 2012 was Hearst Castle. It was probably my 7th or 8th visit, and one day I'm determined to "accidentally" fall into this pool. When that happens, I'll delete this post so no one can read into the previous sentence's Quotation Marks of Sarcasm.

Later, we went to The Ravine Waterpark. (To save your retinas from the glare off my back, I'm posting this photo in black-n-white.)

We all got airbrushed tattoos at The Ravine. Since Isaiah loves doggies, I put one on my calf. The rest of the week, I kept forgetting about the tat until Isaiah would start barking while pointing at my leg.

At a friend's house, we bounced (or bobbled) on the trampoline.

We also went to Boomers!, a miniature golf park. Since Isaiah wouldn't be able to use the putters, we first trained him on a Skee-Ball game inside the arcade.

After perfecting those skills, he knew to roll his golf ball toward the holes.

On one of the many car rides, Ellory tried reading one of his Buffy comics to Isaiah, but the humor and action went right over Izzy's head. Jamberry, by Bruce Degen, was much more toddler friendly.

For our final evening together, we went to see JoanMarie perform with her bluegrass band. Although they often practice right next door, this was the first time Isaiah and I got to enjoy an actual show!

For one final photo, I'm going to also plug a friend's book. While Genevieve and Ellory were with us, my autographed copy of Jessica Brody's 52 Reasons to Hate My Father arrived. I've always been drawn to titles that begin with a number followed by the word REASONS (especially if that number is divisible by 13). All of Jessica's books have great concepts, and if you haven't checked out the trailer for her latest, you must. Along with my copy, Jessica also sent some heiress glasses, like those worn on the cover. So Isaiah, Ellory, Genevieve, JoanMarie, and I struck some poses.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

E.B. White, Josh Templeton, and Yosemite Sam

Today would’ve been E.B. White’s 113th birthday! In honor of that, I’ll tell you about a little "Ode to E.B." that was wisely cut early on from The Future of Us.

The main male character in that book is Josh Templeton. Where did I get that last name? From the rat in Charlotte’s Web. Templeton the rat collects scraps of paper that contain words. Charlotte then spins those words onto her web. As a lover of words, I always enjoyed that relationship between the rat and the spider.

In The Future of Us, Josh is a skater and an artist. I thought it’d be fun to give him a quirky and wearable art project. So each evening, he flipped open his dictionary, let a finger fall on a random word, and then airbrushed that word across a white t-shirt. That was the shirt he wore to school the next day. His classmates tried to find some deep symbolic meaning in the words Josh wore. Sometimes they thought they figured it out, some were even certain of it, unaware that there was only the literal meaning and whatever interpretation the classmate brought to that word. (This was also a personal commentary on people who read a bit too much into my own words!)

This all felt a bit too cute and totally unnecessary to the story Carolyn Mackler and I wanted to tell. So I kept the name Templeton, but Josh's art consisted mostly of Looney Tunes characters he drew on skateboards and binders.

But what was the name of the skateboard shop Mr. Templeton frequented? SkateRats, of course!