Head blogger: Anita Cory, wife, mom of 3, sister, sorority alumnae, Christian, Sorority/Fraternity Life professional at WSU, former Paper Pals Design Team member, dissertation writer, and all around friendly 40-something in Pullman, Washington.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Photo Book

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Photo Book

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dusting off the old blog for the 2013 Cory Year in Review

Hey, Hi, How Ya Doin'?
When I sat down to write our year in review, I had to “dust off the blog”, figuratively speaking.  Keeping up with our kids and their activities as well as our jobs, friends, and the oh, so exciting responsibilities of life, leaves little time for random musings and superfluous updates. So, here we are – the obligatory, hopefully not too lame, annual update. 

A few trips this year gave us opportunities to celebrate big events and laugh with family and friends. 

Last February, my Dad married Shirleen at a small family ceremony and big reception with the whole county in attendance!  OK, maybe not the entire county, but it was clear just how far and wide their circle of friends and family goes.  It was a lovely day, but a bittersweet weekend as it was the last time the Fritz Family Homestead was occupied by a member of our family.  My Great-Grandfather built the house in the early 1900s that four generations of us lived in. 

John was able to spend time in Iowa with his family on the tail end of a trip to a conference, and Anita did the same thing in June after serving as a facilitator for the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute in Bloomington, IN and in November after spending a couple of days as a consultant at the University of Nebraska. We both treasure these precious days kicking it with family and are grateful we can do so!

In July, we hit the road in the Cory Family Truckster and visited family in Iowa, Nebraska and a few days at the biennial Jeffery Family Reunion in Estes Park Colorado.  The kids loved laughing with Chris and her brother, “Bub” (their favorite Great Uncle – only their only Great Uncle on that side).   I got to see my Grandma Gena Jeffery twice last summer – something I don’t take for granted.  At 90, she is still sharp and healthy and living at home.  I noticed on Facebook recently, she is keeping a tradition alive with my cousins and their daughters – making a mountain of peppernuts (a traditional German anise shortbread cookie). At the reunion, we connected with cousins I haven’t seen in decades and of course that John the kids had never met.  The time connecting with family (all 110+ of them) was great, but so was Estes Park.  Colorado is such a beautiful place in the summer!

Harrison and John went to Scout Camp in August, and his sister Deb and a friend stopped in for a day as they vacationed in Idaho/Washington. Cam and I traveled to a few soccer tournaments, The Farm Chicks, and I spent a few days in Seattle at a scrapbooking convention with my bffs!  As I write, Spencer is in Iowa – flying solo – hanging with cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and being overfed Grandma Chris.  
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 Our Minion:
This is a big year of firsts and last for the kids.  This year is the last year we’ll have 3 kids at home/in school (not college) and the first year we haven’t had a middle school kid in many years.The first day of school this fall marked the last, first day of school picture of all three kids.  Sigh..sniff...oh these allergies!

Spencer is a senior in high school – sort of!  He took 3 classes at Washington State University last year as a Junior, and took 5 classes this fall.  In other words, he is only at the high school for cross country practice (yes, he was the biggest runner on the entire team) or a meeting with a teacher as he works to complete his senior project.  Spencer is still unicycles (although not as much as he was last year), plays ping pong and ultimate Frisbee, loves slacklining and played tennis last spring at PHS. Although he has been planning to attend WSU as an engineering student next year, he may put his plans on hold and have a “gap year” and do some studying or traveling before enrolling in college.  Spencer is a great kid and we’re blessed he has such a good head on his shoulders!  He has some great friends (Josh, Jamie, Spencer, and Nolan) who are each trying to make their after HS plans too!
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Camryn is a freshman in High School, almost 15 (and  beginning to drive), loves all the fun that goes along with HS (including going to Homecoming with a sweet classmate),  likes a few of her classes, and is still playing soccer.  After a concussion in August, she was finally cleared just in time to play in about 3 games this fall.  It was such a disappointment to her, but we just found out yesterday she’s been selected to play on a traveling tournament team that will be give her a chance to play soccer for the next several months!  She’s ecstatic! I'll be spending a lot of time in car pools and on road trips with giggling girls in the van! 
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Harrison is bringing up the rear in style.  You might have noticed the Fabio hair on my #3.  Don’t judge! John and I thought he was bluffing last year when he announced he wanted to grow his hair out to cut and donate it to Locks of Love, but he has stuck with it, and will probably have enough length to get it cut in February.  We celebrated his first double-digits birthday this summer (only 6 months after he actually turned 10) at the pool with buddies – a highlight of the year for him .  I guess if you have a winter birthday, you get quite bored with the options for fun in February.  He keeps us young with all that goes along with 5th grade (i.e. pre-puberty, learning 5th grade camp songs, new found freedom after school since he isn’t going to daycare anymore, etc.).   Harrison is our sporty kid – he plays a sport nearly all the time: soccer, basketball, baseball and recently he has been begging to play hockey and John’s been trying to talk him into wrestling.   He is also in his fourth year of Cub Scouts, and will soon make the rank of official Boy Scout!
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It's a living:
We are so fortunate to have jobs that are meaningful, and we make lasting connections with students and staff.  I was humbled and honored to receive an award in December from the Center for the Study of the College Fraternity for the “dissertation of the year”. 

We are also blessed to have wonderful friends that are like our family here (i.e. hat tip to our friend  Kamal whom we have sort-of adopted on a permanent (or while he’s here, finishing his PhD) exchange student type of arrangement), our neighbors Matt, Linda, Patty, and friends the Sewells, Ammonets, Rogers, Boyans, and others from church! 

Unfortunately, living in a transitory college town can be rough.  We (kids included) say goodbye to good friends and colleagues every year as they leave Pullman for other opportunities, but we have each other and that is enough.  John and I celebrated 18 years of marriage – 20 years as a couple this year.  Wow!  Time flies when you’re having fun! Lucky us!

That's all Folks:
You’ve read this far, dear blog visitor!  Don’t be a stranger – connect with us here, on Facebook (Cam and I are active there), or better yet, plan a trip to Washington and stay with us.  For those of you nearer to us, we’ll see you soon!

To you and yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Anita, John, Spencer, Camryn, Harrison Cory 
along with
Zeke the Wonder Dog, and Simon and Chloe the Fat Felines

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Musings about July 1st.

Do you know the significance of this date? 

No, it isn't my birthday. 

No, it isn't my anyone in my family's birthday.

It is my anniversary.

Twenty, count them, twenty years of having the awesome privilege of working with and impacting the lives of fraternity and sorority students at Washington State University.

What has changed about me in that time?  Oh, just a few small things.

In 1993, I was in my cough cough  - er, I was younger. I was single and dating John long distance when I moved to P-town.  I was thinner and  my hair was curly, longer, lighter (I'm sure just from the sun). I had thousands of freckles and zero wrinkles from the sun.  I had college loans to pay off.  I had a sweet ride. I was actually clueless about the journey I was about to embark upon. I was young, green, and in some ways naive.  I was passionate about my work and persistent in my belief that this thing called fraternity is among the most life changing experiences a college student can encounter.

So what is new or different?  Some things are obvious, right?  I'm cough cough, older, married for 18 years, Mom to three super-duper kids, drive a mini-van, have a cool dog, and a picket fence (not white mind you). I now wish I was thinner, that my freckles wouldn't have blended, my wrinkles were less obvious and that my hair was naturally my original color.  I wish had more money to pay for my kid's college and had only sweet rides (i.e. death to the mini-van).

But thankfully today, the clueness has worn off and been replaced with a realistic perspective about the work I'm doing and how it impacts others.  I am still "young", but I am now a seasoned professional.  One thing hasn't changed, I'm still just as passionate and persistently believe that this thing called fraternity is among the most life changing experiences a college student can encounter.

I've been blessed with opportunities to mentor, educate, chastise, and befriend, twenty years of fraternity and sorority leaders.  I am frequently blessed to hear from these men and women and learn about their lives and be appreciated like this:

"I just wanted to thank all of you for giving me opportunities to succeed and the tools to better myself as a leader, motivator, team-member, and individual. I attribute all my post grad success to the things I learned from the CFSL [my office] and my fellow council members. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t appreciate what you’ve done for me, the sacrifices you’ve made, and the faith you put in my efforts. Thank you for showing me what integrity as a professional woman means, and what a healthy communicative relationship with co-workers truly looks like (you’d be surprised at what a foreign concept that is to many.)"

Thanks to Washington State University and the Fraternity/Sorority Community for a great 20 year run and my life in Pullman, WA!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On being a Mom.

Since my Mom passed away in 2009, Mother's Day has been a day with mixed emotions for me. How blessed I am to be a mother, to my three, but how sad I am without my own mother here anymore. It is our Moms who believe in us no matter what we do, cry with us when we are hurting and rejoice with us when we succeed! We should celebrate our mothers, not just on Mother's Day, but every day. 

For me, the word mother is synonymous with love. My own mother's example showed me what it truly means to have unconditional love for another person. There for every major milestone and setback that I have ever experienced, my Mom was my coach, teammate and cheerleader in the game of life. She served as a constant reminder that whether I am up or down, in or out, right on time or missing in action, I was always loved! 

I spent some time reflecting on Sunday and a particular quote caught my attention, and in my melancholy space, explained so much. "The mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother's side, yet this very love must help the child grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent."  -Erich Fromm

My Mom raised me to be a very independent kid, teenager, college student, young adult, and now parent.  In being so independent, I can only imagine now, how she must have grieved many of my decisions (particularly the one to move far away...and as it turns out, never return).  The tragedy then, is she had the tough challenge of learning to let go. As my children have grown older, and I contemplate one leaving home (for college) a year for now, I now realize this sometimes painful, but necessary process, is made possible by love.

In a nutshell, if I love my kids, I must raise them, as my Mom did me, to spread their wings, and leave me.  My heart paradoxically breaks and soars at this thought.

Happy (belated) Mother's Day everyone.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cory Year in Review

If I really want to get our Christmas cards/photo in the mail and to you, my dear reader, by Christmas, next year I resolve to start in October.  I swear that is what it will probably take to accomplish that goal.  

Well, you have made it to our blog.  You were either curious enough to learn more about our year, really frustrated that you (or your kids) couldn’t find all of the things wrong with our photo, you have too many houseguests and needed an escape, or you’re bored.  Whatever your reason for being here today, welcome. 

Two years ago I (Anita) was up to my eyeballs trying to finish my PhD.  I had grandiose plans for all the time I’d spend with John and the kids, devote to hobbies, cook fabulous meals, and spend meaningful time with friends.  I had plans for this blog to really blow up.  Oh, yeah. Then I remembered all the things I had neglected while studying and life has resumed the regularly scheduled programming of work, home management, church involvement, and relationship building.  My job is still rewarding and impactful.  Working with college students, particularly fraternity and sorority leaders is really my calling and a passion.  I work with a great staff and am so blessed to go to work every day joyfully! 

John still works at the CUB (student union) as the Associate Director.  Two years ago, John was running quite a bit and sort-of training for sprint triathlons.  He has now gone “insane” and can be found in the garage doing the Insanity workout most days.  He thinks his running days are over, but he is in great shape otherwise.  John is involved at church on the finance committee and co-leads a University student Bible study on Sundays and has led our home group faithfully for about four years. 

Over the last year, we have sort-of adopted a Sri Lankan, chemistry doctoral student, Kamal.  He is super hard working and spends all of his waking hours in his lab, studying, researching, writing, and preparing for presentations.  He is exceptionally smart and has enormous potential in his field. We have so enjoyed having him become a part of regular life in our family and include him in some of our family hang-out nights that introduced him to many popular movies that he would never have seen otherwise. Last weekend, we introduced him to Sky High (a trampoline warehouse) and laser tag.  He is attending church and lunch afterward with us and being part of a home group most weeks. 

Top row: J & A celebrated 17 years together in May; saying goodbye to Eric Lockhart (and Bekah too) with friends, happy birthday to John, Anita’s Dad and Shirleem.  Middle Row: Anita celebrated the 4th with girlfriends and sangria, John is doing the insanity workout(s) and roped Harrison in for a session (1 was enough for him), our friend Kamal and John at Easter, John dressed as a gorilla on Halloween and scared trick-or-treats for hours. Bottom Row: Anita’s family during the Fritz Family Closure Weekend, just Anita (never in photos because she is the photographer), Anita and brother Dave during February visit, and Anita’s rock star small group at the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (June – in Indianapolis).

 Harrison (10) is totally into Lego Ninjagos (what a racket that is), computer games, and also started playing on a club soccer team this year (rather than the parks and rec league).  Soccer is a great sport for him because he is constantly moving in this game, and that is right up H’s alley. He also played basketball, baseball, and set a school record in a particular running event.  Because he has so much energy, I think he will be our kid that plays multiple sports.  He has two speeds: fast and faster!  Harrison is in his third year of CUB Scouts this year and LOVES it!  It has been fun for both he and John to get involved in something like this together! He continues to be a ham and keeps us laughing all the time.  Oh, and note the hair.  His goal is to grow it long enough to cut and donate it to Locks of Love (he has a friend that did so and inspired him to do the same).  Any suggestions for how to keep a 10 year old boy’s hair out of his eyes are welcome here. And now that you know, please don’t judgeJ…trust me, we thought it was a phase and he would cave in long before now.

Top row: H’s U10 boys soccer team, posing for my new camera, dying eggs, H is really bulking up (ha!). Middle Row: H played keeper most of the time and earned the nickname “The Guardian”  from his teammates, H loves Ninjago, playing mid-fielder, H is a good hitter – had a handful of homeruns.  Bottom “section”: H is a daredevil on the diving board, is in 4th grade, is the goalie for his team, is thrilled after his first home run with two runners on base, sparklers never get old, and H also pitched and played short stop sometimes.

Camryn (14) is in eighth grade and can’t wait for high school.  She played saxophone for two years and piano for four, but decided she doesn’t love either, and gave them up. She is more focused on her schoolwork now and less stressed.  She played soccer this fall with a new team in Moscow (8 miles away) when there weren’t enough Pullman girls her age to form a team and made many new friends in the process. She loves attending our church’s youth group and is a light to many of her friends. The “girl-drama” of 7th grade seems to be behind us (thank you for that answer to prayer) and she is a more happy-go-lucky teenager again.

Top Row: C & H share a love-hate relationship, C plays a lot of soccer (keeper about half the time), played piano until this summer, turned 13 last January and is my most willing photography subject (isn’t she gorgeous?). Middle Row: more soccer, running track at Lincoln Middle School (she didn’t want to, but we required it of her, and of course she had a great time). Bottom row: I love C’s beautiful eyes, she LOVES converse shoes (owns 5 pair right now) and friends make the track meets fun (of course!).  

Spencer (17) is a junior in high school and is also enrolled at Washington State University as a running start student.  This year he is taking Calculus 1 & 2 and Chemistry at WSU which will count toward his HS graduation requirements and honors history and English at the HS.  He is a great student, and while he plays club soccer in the fall, he gave tennis a shot last spring.  Last summer, he took up unicycling (yes, the one-wheeled riding contraption) and now owns three (apparently one must have multiple sizes) and has taught his friends to ride as well. He has a great group of friends that hang out at the Cory House often and attend youth group together.   The garage has been transformed into a serious Table Tennis Arena for hours of enthusiastic play with his friends.

Clockwise from top left: Spencer scored his second ever goal during the one game I was able to attend and take photos!  It was an amazing play and rare because he plays defense (one of the positions near the goal) and therefore is rarely close enough to the other team’s goal to score!  S is a junior this year, decided the Homecoming dance isn’t that fun, and when to a dinner with friends “dressed up on top, sporty on the bottom” and then had buddies over for a pin pong tournament, not a very willing photography subject, loves, love loves our locally owned Calzone place, playing defender, and officially taller and bigger than John.  

Last year, Harrison’s letter to Santa included a wish that our 11 year old German Shepherd/Rottweiler Ellie, wouldn’t die.  She had a stroke the day after Thanksgiving and was on a roller coaster through the month of December.  We had to say goodbye to her just after the New Year.  While John was quite close to Ellie (I kid that she was my sister-wife), he was OK with not having another dog.  The majority of the family was not and finally in November we adopted Zeke our 5 month old German Shepherd.  Yes, he is a puppy, but he is a good dog (98% of the time anyway) and the younger kids and I are fully responsible for him and loving having him around.  Isn’t he just adorable? Zeke loves John to pieces, despite his reluctance to get another dog, and we kid him that he is an “animal-whisperer”.  We also have our old, fat, and moody cats, Simon & Chloe. Can you tell I’m a dog person?

 Clockwise: cute, adorable, feisty, adorable, cute, embarrassed (to be wearing a Santa costume) and loveable.

We had a busy summer and fall:

  •  I saw family on one trip to the Midwest for work (serving as a facilitator for a leadership institute for fraternity/sorority students)  and friends during another trip in the summer and then spent a weekend in Nebraska with my siblings helping Dad clean, purge, and get ready to leave the family homestead when he moves into town after he and Shirleen (a lovely woman) get married in February!  
  • John spent several nights in a tent with Harrison at Scout camp and he and Spencer went on an 8 day trip of a lifetime – Beyond Malibu (a trip organized by Young Life).  On this trip in July, John and Spencer, along with 2 other men, 2 HS guys, and the 2 guides, had an extreme hiking, camping, climbing experience and because of the elevation “enjoyed” winter conditions for most of it.  The “brochure” didn’t quite provide all the details that might have discouraged them from going.  Still, it was a great trip and John’s plan is to stay in good-enough shape to go on the same trip with Harrison in six years. (See photos below).
  • John and Camryn had a week-long visit in Iowa – to see (and in Camryn’s case, be spoiled by) family.  Just for fun.  Just because adults should have time alone with their family of origin too.
  • Camryn also got to go to Young Life camp at Washington Family Ranch in Oregon for about a week.  She had a great time, but unfortunately none of her close Pullman friends could go so the friends she made at camp are a little harder to keep in touch with – luckily she’s a texting wizard.
  • As usual, (I write with sadness in my tone), we said goodbye to dear friends this summer.  The Hoops family moved to Missouri and the Lockharts to Arizona.  Both with God’s direction guiding them, but rats, we miss them.

So, this is the update. Photo collages illustrate the annual happenings, and if you have even more time, go back through the blog.  It will be a little glimpse into our everyday life. It is the Cory Connection. 

Oh, I almost forgot!  Here’s what is wrong with our annual Christmas card photo (shown clearer here than on the card):
 1.       Please tell me you didn’t believe for a second that any of us would ever wear the various Christmas shirts, vests, hats, and crowns as real fashion. So, there are 5-8 things wrong with this picture right from the start.

2.       Anita is wearing her wedding ring on her right hand.

3.      Anita is wearing only one earring.

4.      John is wearing a sign on his back that you can see in the mirror.  It says, “kick me”.

5.      The Christmas countdown calendar says there are 80 days until Christmas.  Please tell me you know we do not put up our real Christmas tree in September. Maybe next year, we will work on our Christmas card 80 days prior and you’ll actually get it before the 25th!

6.      The photo on the wall behind Anita is hanging from one corner.

7.      The star on the Christmas tree is upside down, and nestled about a foot from the top of the tree.

8.      Many Christmas decorations are turned around (they are homemade and actually have a front and a back).

9.      Out of place on the mantel where there is a growing collection/display of Santas is a blue Kush ball toy.

10.    Spencer is wearing mis-matched shoes.

11.    Spencer is wearing jeans.  OK, that would not be “something wrong with this photo” in most families, but Spencer is part werewolf and his body temperature runs so hot he rarely wears pants…even when it snows!

12.    Spencer has an ornament hanging from his right pant leg.

13.   Camryn is wearing a boot on one foot and a white sock on the other.

14.    Spencer is moving his hand in the photo – oops, that is because I accidentally chose the wrong photo for 100 cards! Ugh!

 Wishing you the peace that only comes through the One who came at Christmas!
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