3 to 40: We Are Family – Part 2 (The Boys)

In my previous post I wrote about how our forty years is tied to our family and did a montage of photos for each of my first three children, all daughters.  Continuing is a collection of photos about our two boys, Seth and Solomon, who came to our family in March 1987 and March 1989.

I was working on my PhD at Arizona State University (which I never completed) when Seth decided to come into our world in March 1987. At that time the three girls were seven, six and four and a half.  It was a new experience for us as we actually had children old enough to appreciate the newborn young boy and even, in some respects, assist us with him.

SETH DAVID

Three sisters started adoring on their little brother Seth almost immediately

Baby Seth was a cutie with red hair that he soon lost.

When Seth was about 5 months old, the family was on its way to Oita, Japan, where we would live from 1987 to late 1991.  So, for most of Seth’s early years he was watching Japanese television and getting the Japanese experience (as were the three girls, who made their way into Japanese public schools, learned the language and the culture, etc.)

Shortly after arriving in Japan, Marissa helped Julianne with Seth

It was easier to carry Seth on our back everywhere we went

Seth’s favorite bath place was on our balcony overlooking the Oita River.

And he liked the beach to. This was in Saga-no-Seki, Japan

Like the other kids, Seth was pulled into Japanese ads. He was in a number of them as a blonde baby boy.

Another shot for a different ad in Japan

Japan had a major influence on Seth

Marissa and Seth were captains of a ship in Beppu (at least for a few minutes)

Seth prized his Mickey Mouse wizard doll when in Japan

Finally back in the United States in 1992, Seth was able to get established in American schools and did well.

Seth visiting the Grand Canyon shortly after getting back to the U.S.

Visiting Sunset Crater National Monument near Flagstaff in 1992

Seth became a Jamestown settler for a while in Jamestown settlement Virginia in 1993

Hanging with his sister Amaree in 1992 (celebrating our 13th Anniversary)

Looking dapper in 1994

Seth in elementary school in Nicholasville, KY

Seth the high schooler

We visited a “bodily function” exhibit in St. Louis. Chelsea and Seth seemed to enjoy the Poo to You display

The Giant kid with the Jolly Green Giant in 2004. He accompanied Amaree to Great Falls, Montana when she moved there after graduation from UK

Seth as a football player at Lafayette

Shortly before graduating high school, Seth obtained his Eagle Scout. A proud moment.

Seth at Lafayette High School Graduation

Seth served an LDS mission in Salt Lake City

Seth and Holly Wedding Day in December 2009

Seth was so popular that they named a town after him in West Virginia

SOLOMON JOSEPH

Julianne and Sol in 1989 shortly after he was born. This was in Oita, Japan

We were already living in Japan when Solomon decided to join our family. According to Julianne, he was her easiest birth.  And, almost instantly he was a hit in Oita.  Not many “gaijin” children were born in that part of Japan.  So, it was great news for all of us and for many of our Japanese friends.

Solomon had long, fun curly hair

He always had a smile on his face (or so it seemed)

Seth and Solomon pretty much grew up together and were pretty much inseparable until about high school days…

Got a nice shot of Marissa and Solomon at a Japanese cafe around 1991

One of our favorite pics of the two boys together.

Solomon had his favorite toys too. This was at his grandmother’s house in Mesa, AZ

Amaree and Solomon together at some event.  That’s Chelsea in the background

Watching the horse events at the Kentucky Horse Park

Solomon and Seth looking nice in their ties

Fishing with Grandpa Bateman in Utah in 1997

Some of the kids, including Solomon at Bowlin’s Akela Flats in southeastern New Mexico December 1999

Seth and Solomon with Marissa in Chicago, just a couple of weeks before she was married

Solomon was always playful

Solomon and Seth giving “Aunt Beula” a kiss after a Trailer Park Troubadours concert

Seth and Solomon were mentored in many ways by University of Kentucky (and later pro) football player Aaron Boone

Solomon really liked hanging out with my friend, former Steppenwolf and Trailer Park Troubadours guitarist Bobby Cochran

Solomon as a football player at Lafayette. As a Senior in 2006 he was named All-City.

Solomon was a tough wrestler as a sophomore. He ended up going to state

Solomon at his Eagle Court of Honor

Both Seth and Solomon were linemen for Lafayette High School’s Generals

Solomon graduation from High School with his lovely mother

Ha! They named a town after Solomon too!

Soon after graduation Solomon made his way to Colorado to work in the Medical Marijuana industry.  He has become an expert in growing and prepping medical grade cannabis and is now in Kentucky working on a large hemp facility.

Solomon shows off the Cannabis Cup that he helped his company win in Colorado.  He still works with Todd (in the left) growing hemp in Kentucky

We have certainly been blessed with a wonderful family of five children.  Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the expansion of our family…our ten wonderful grandchildren.  These have extended the joy we have as we approach our 40th anniversary in a few days.

Solomon with Mom and Dad in 2017

 

 

4 to 40: We Are Family – Part 1 (The Girls)

Obviously, there are five other people that have been very involved in most of the forty years of Julianne and my marriage.  During the course of our first decade of wedded bliss, we also had the blessing of five wonderful children…  We did the girls first gig with Amaree, Marissa and Chelsea.  These three were born within 35 months of each other and were all married in a six week period in 2005.  Then the boys Seth and Solomon came along in 1987 and 1989, almost exactly 2 years from each other (Well, actually 2 years and 2 days).

In many ways our children grew up with us  Julianne and I were married at a young age.  We were ready.  And we were also ready for children.

All three girls married in 2005

The following shots are of our first three girls as they were growing up.  I intentionally did not add anything with brothers.  Those will be added in Part 2 tomorrow.

AMAREE

Julianne and David with first daughter Amaree on a winter hike near the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ 1980

Here I am with Amaree as a newborn

I was there at Julianne’s side in Flagstaff, Arizona on that cold winter morning when Amaree was born. Word can never express all of the feelings that went through as I became a 23 year old father. I still get chills when I thing back to the MAJOR event in the life of my wife, myself and our new first child.

As with any parents, we had many hopes and dreams for this sweet little daughter of ours.  And, obviously, we had no idea if any other children would come our way.  But, we made sure that THIS child was loved beyond measure.

Amaree in Flagstaff ca. 1983

Amaree in front of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, AZ ca. 1983

Amaree Getting Made Up 1982

Amaree around 1989, taken in Mesa, AZ

Amaree all dressed up nice in the early 1990s

Amaree in an ad in Japan in the early 1990s

Amaree at her high school graduation in June 1998

Amaree and Aaron June 18, 2005 in Cardston, Alberta

MARISSA LEA

Just about 14 months after Amaree was born, we had another cold winter March morning in Flagstaff when our second daughter, Marissa, came along.  The feelings of joy I had when Amaree was born were the same for Marissa. No favoritism in joyful feelings!

Marissa baby picture – don’t have many. (Wish I had a better one!)

Dad and two daughters in 1983

Our little family in Flagstaff AZ in 1981

Hiking with Marissa and Amaree at the Grand Canyon

Julianne with Amaree and Marissa in the fall if 1981

Amaree and Marissa were fun sisters (taken in Sedona, AZ)

One of my favorite shots of little Marissa taken at Student Housing in Flagstaff

She is STILL a Supergirl and SuperMom

Marissa getting a swing from her Aunt Laura in Mesa, AZ

Family picture at family reunion in early 1982

Marissa with her friend Rika in Japan in 1987

Posing in Japan

Marissa in Japanese advertisement in 1989

Marissa in High School

Marissa Graduation from High School

Amaree and Marissa hanging out during ther high school days

Marissa reporting that she is going to Thailand to serve an LDS Mission

Marissa at her wedding in Louisville, KY in June 2005, just five days after Amaree’s wedding in Canada

CHELSEA DAWN

About 18 months after Marissa was born, we had another visitor.  Chelsea came into the world on a cold November day in Flagstaff.  Joy continued for us as our third daughter entered this world.  Couldn’t find any baby pictures, but

Little Chelsea sleeping when she was about 2

I think Chelsea was around 2 in this shot

Julianne and me with our first three…all girls..(L to R) Amaree, Chelsea and Marissa

Chelsea’s 3rd Birthday November 1985

Young sassy Chelsea Dawn — “you WILL NOT spank my little bottom Mom!”

Chelsea was a cutie at age 5 in Japan

One of my all-time favorite pictures of Chelsea taken in August 1987 in Oita, Japan

 

Three Sisters

Three Sisters in Kamiura, Japan around 1989

Chelsea was in many ads in Japan – This one for a large department store

Julianne with the three girls

Chelsea in a kimono in Japan around 1988

Visiting grandma in Arizona

Chelsea in Sedona in 1993

Three Sisters in Monument Valley – July 1993

Chelsea in high school

Chelsea Senior photo

Chelsea’s mischievous look

Dad…QUIT – 1998

Chelsea was also married in 2005, but that didn’t end well.  She married Jorge Mendez in 2015 and they are great together.  The first photo was one I took of Chelsea on her wedding day in 2005.

Chelsea – wedding shot 2005

Chelsea at her wedding to Jorge in 2015

And finally, to finish off Part 1 — about the girls…

Dad and three married daughters June 2005

 

 

 

 

18 to 40: The Sad Story of Lizard-Beth

We all have those stories in our lives…you know, the unique and quirky story that gets passed down to children and grandchildren.  Well, the story of an Arizona gecko named Lizard-Beth is one of those kinds of stories and Julianne is one of the two main characters in the sad, but true, story. (Note:  The gecko photos used in this post are not mine. Back in the early 1990s we did not have cell phones or instagram.  The photos have been pulled from the internet)

We moved back from Japan in November 1991.  We had lived there for a little over four years and were finally coming back home to get established.  Naturally, we moved where family was, back to Mesa, Arizona.  Not far from her home, we found some apartments we could live in until I could get employment and we could get rolling.

Gecko on the wall

As the 1992 spring rolled around in Mesa, the wildlife started appearing.  Every evening we had a visitor on our front porch wall.  It was a friendly little gecko.  It was there almost every evening.  One day Julianne, I believe, named it Lizard-Beth.  We would say hi to Lizard-Beth as we walked in every evening or whenever we saw her (we decided it was a “her” since its name was Lizard-Beth.

Of course, Lizard-Beth did no harm.  She would get on the wall in the early evening and wait for her tasty buggy treats to come flying to our porch light.

It was nice to have a pet that we didn’t need to take care of regularly.

Japanese futons….sleep on the floor

Having moved back from Japan, we brought back many items that we used there.  We loved our Japanese futons (pronounced Foo Tones) and brought some of them back from Japan.  We had gotten used to sleeping on the floor in our futons and so we used them in our apartment until we could graduate to new beds.

Really, the futons were quite comfortable.

Well, one morning in the spring of 1992, I was already up and working on resumes or watching the kids or something.  Julianne was able to sleep a little longer.  And I am sure she needed it.

A gecko can crawl in bed with you

She awoke and came into the room with a look of horror on her face.  I asked her what was wrong and she said something like “I can’t even speak of it.  It is so terrible.” And I recall asking her again, and she led me into the bedroom where, upon close inspection, I could see that Lizard-Beth (or perhaps a close relative) has crawled into bed with Julianne.  Julianne made it our alive, but the poor gecko ended up squished and in a couple of pieces as a result of Julianne’s rolling over, or whatever.  To this day, I am not sure if Julianne was horrified by the thought of a gecko crawling into her comfy futon with her or if she was more horrified to find its squished remains laying on the sheets where she had just awakened.

What happened to Lizard-Beth?

I cannot recall if we ever saw Lizard-Beth on our porch again after that.  Had she somehow snuck into our house to stay warm?  Did she want to share the love and come cuddle with Julianne, who had affectionately named her?  We will likely never know.  What we do know, is that she came to her demise that spring morning in Mesa, Arizona.

 

20 to 40: Adventures of Merried Life

(Author Note:  Life continues to be busy.  I was once again not be able to add days 26 thru 21, but hope to continue now from Day 20 to Day 1…the last remaining days before our 40th Anniversary on July 15).

Yes, I wrote that correctly — The Merried Life.  As our 40th Anniversary approaches, I want this post, representing 20 days before the said date, to show some of the Merry things of married life.  Over the past 14,591 days of our marriage (including today), we have had many unique and fun experiences, making life Merry.

The worst thing about these merry events in life is that, in most cases, I don’t have photos.  Most of the photos in this post are captured from the internet.  I don’t like to use other photos.  I prefer my own, but these do get the point across.

Back when we celebrated the first year of our marriage I got one of our photos and glued it to a red plaque and then wrote on top with paint, “Merried Life.”  It was meant to represent the joy I had with her in our first year together.  The plaque is still around, probably buried in one of our many boxes of memories.

Scrabble LOVE

From the beginnings of our marriage, Julianne and I have spent many hours together playing Scrabble.  This seems to have been our go to game over the years.  In fact, in the earlier years, the statistician geek in me kept a “Scrabble Records” book in which I kept track of all of the scores, the 7 letter words, the high scores, the low scores, the Win/Loss records, etc.  In fact, I still have the book in one of my memory boxes!  I will have to be honest…Julianne probably leads in the W-L column from all of the years.  In recent years I have not kept track, but I will bet it is something like Julianne 1220, David 850.  Nowadays, we continue the games but they are online on our mobile devices, so the togetherness, laughs, “you cheated” claims and that kind of fun don’t happen as often.

Murmuration of starlings

One of our laughable memories comes from our first year of marriage, before kids made their arrival.  I had come home from one evening from work in Provo.  We lived on the second floor of an apartment complex.  As I went to the door, I saw something that gave me the chills…it was actually scary.  In the distance I saw a bunch of glowing lights in the sky flying in weird formation and thought we were being visited by hundreds of UFOs!  No Joke!  I called for Julianne and basically scared her as well.  Turns out that the real culprit was a murmuration of starlings that had static electricity on them.  Living in Kentucky we get to see murmurations of starlings quite a bit.  It is an amazing thing to watch.  But, I will never forget my UFO birds of Provo from 1979.

The Anniversary Dinner at Red Lobster — unforgettable

Another fun memory of ours goes back to Mesa, Arizona when she and I went out to celebrate our fifth anniversary in 1984.  I was a new graduate student at Arizona State University and Julianne was home taking care of children.  I wanted to do something really nice to celebrate our fifth anniversary.  So, I took her to dinner at Red Lobster… a super, big deal treat for us.  We had a splendid and memorable dinner…especially when we got the bill.  It was over $40.  We cringed.  That was a lot of money for us. So, we paid…with some regrets…   As we got into the car, Julianne exclaimed, “David, that was too much.  Let’s take it back and get a refund.”  We didn’t.  But, we also did not ever forget this memorable anniversary dinner.

Another thing we have done together over the years was attending symphony concerts.  We have not done this as often as we have wanted to (especially Julianne!), but we have still made it to one or two a year.  Since Julianne is a talented violinist, this was something important.  In Flagstaff, we would see the Flagstaff Symphony.  We have seen a number of concerts in Kentucky as well. This is always a time of merriment for us.

Snow Splat in Face

Of course, our children began showing up in 1980 and so our “Merry Times” together soon included the children.  Even with these, we have some fun times and memories of things we all did together.  Perhaps one of the funniest memories took place one winter morning in Japan in 1990 or 1991.  We were all playing in the snow and I was on the sidelines videoing the adventures.  The kids all began throwing snowballs as was Julianne. Suddenly, and without warning, I was splattered in the face with a snowball.  Right in the eye!  I was videoing and got hit good.  Seconds later Julianne was laughing so hard, that I couldn’t help but laugh with her.  It wasn’t funny for about two seconds.  But the timing was impeccable and totally accidental.  I wish I could find that video that captured the second I was splatted.  Even today we laugh about this story.

Landen Water Gun

Snowballs are not our only fun.  The Kravetz family has had some serious water fights.  Not talking water balloons here.  Talking BUCKETS of water!   These have been a staple since the days when our kids were younger in Arizona and have carried on with our grandchildren.

With a deck in our backyard in Kentucky, water fights have gone to new levels and there have been times they have found their way into the house.  The more the merrier!!

Family Fun with masks in Japan

We once had an interesting Merry Christmas in Japan, thanks to Julianne.  All of the kids got some interesting rubber masks and were able to open them and put them on.  I am not sure if the kids remember this merriment, but I certainly do.  Julianne’s mask of a guy with a cigar in his mouth (not pictured because she wanted the witch for the photo) was priceless!

I am sure there are more memories out there that I have forgotten.  Maybe a second post will find its way in the next few days.

The goofiness and fun-loving nature of both Julianne and I has flowed down to the kids as well.  I am always one for grabbing a fun family photo. So, to close out this post, following are some of our more “unique” family shots from years past. And yes, some of them were taken despite complaints by one or more of the participants.  But, for the fun of merried family life…..  And much of this fun can be directly attributed to the fun creativity of Julianne.

Hanging around at a park in Lexington in the 1998

Thanksgiving at Chelsea’s in 2017

Non-adulting in 2018

The Ends of the Road (Springfield, Illinois at Lincoln Home) — Marissa didn’t like the idea… But, it WAS Julianne’s idea

Tug of war at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Another park pic from 1998

All gathered together someplace in Texas in December 1999

Masked adventures on KravGirls Night Out in December 2015. # Generations in this pic

All on one lap…in Vernal, Utah

And, we get the grandkids in on it now too. The whole family in prime form – July 2017!

 

27 to 40: The Amazing Mother

(Author Note:  Due to an extended road trip, busy work schedule and more, I have missed out on two weeks of posting.  Sadly, I will not be able to add those in, but hope to continue on from Day 27 to Day 1…the last remaining days before our 40th Anniversary on July 15).

Julianne always wanted to be a mother.  From our very first discussion about the possibility of marriage, she would always relish the thought of being a mother.  And, what a wonderful mother she was (and still is!). We had our first three children in our first four years of marriage.  We had all five before our 10th anniversary. Today all five of our children are in their 30s and are well engaged in their lives.  Much of their success in life can be directly attributed to their sweet and wonderful mother.

Julianne and David with first daughter Amaree on a winter hike near the San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff, AZ 1980

Julianne with Amaree and Marissa in 1981

Mothering was Julianne’s passion (until she became a grandmother….).  It wasn’t always easy for her. Due to my school and work, she had to carry much of the load herself.  But, she was an absolute trooper and loved and took care of her children with passion and fervor.

Taking care of children in Japan. She is with Seth and Marissa here.

By the time we had three daughters, Julianne was making matching dresses for Easter, doing girl things with them, teaching them music, making them feel loved.

Julianne and me with our first three…all girls..(L to R) Amaree, Chelsea and Marissa

Eventually, the boys came along, presenting new challenges, but Julianne took those with gusto.  Much of Seth’s early life was in Japan and Solomon was actually born there. So, Julianne learned to shuffle her schedule (she taught English, took kids for TV Commercial filmings, etc.) to make everything work.  Despite the many frustrations of living in a foreign country with language and cultural obstacles, Julianne pulled things off like a pro!

Kravetz Family ca. 1991, taken in Oita, Japan

My Wonderful Family – 1993 – visiting Monument Valley

Family 2009

As our children grew through their teen years and married (all three daughters were married within 6 weeks of each other in 2005!), Julianne has evolved from a mother to an adult friend with her children, especially her daughters.

Julianne with our five children on my 60th birthday in 2016

I am massively blessed to have had the opportunity to marry such a wonderful woman who so cherished her role as a mother and wife and now loves being a grandmother.  All of our children are talented and leaders in their various life activities. They can thank their mother for this!

 

45 to 40: The Traveler

When we first met in Provo in 1978 I don’t think either of us had an inkling of what lay in store for us and our future together. Like any youthful souls, we had idealistic hopes and dreams. Of course, our main goal after being engaged was getting married, starting a family and finishing college.

Little did we know in July 1979, as we were bound together in loving matrimony, that we would have a future filled with the wonder of travel. For me, by the time I was 22 and married, I had already lived in five states and six cities. I had traveled to Canada twice on band trips.  Julianne, on the other hand, had grown up and lived in Mesa, Arizona all of her life. The majority of her travels had been to Utah for family gatherings and to California to stay with her oldest sister Kathy.  She did make a cross country trip in 1978 with the BYU Orchestra, which also went into Toronto and on to Washington, D.C.

Our first road trip together, during our honeymoon, was to Monument Valley in southern Utah in 1979.

After vacillating to determine my  college direction, I ultimately settled on a dual major in Asian History and Geography at Northern Arizona University. I probably followed my heart more than my brain. My original plan was to become an attorney, but various things along the way led me to choose a different path. Admittedly, my sweet wife was not happy with my change in direction, but, thankfully stuck with me all these years, even though the “what ifs” have often crept into both of our minds at times.

We later visited Monument Valley with the family in 1993

Family visiting Abraham Lincoln home in Springfield, IL in the late 1990s

As I look back today, I honestly believe that following the path we chose has enabled us to have a life rich in experiences. We have never had the riches that many lawyers enjoy, but I think we provided our children opportunities and memories that few American children, especially those born in the 1980s, ever got to experience.

By 1987, we had the opportunity to live and work in Japan. Our children went to Japanese public schools, got to be in numerous TV commercials, were in local TV shows, learned a new language and culture and all that came with that.   They were enlightened with a mindset of diversity and global thinking.  And I am grateful for that.

The family in Oita Prefecture in Japan in 1989, visiting with Governor Morihiko Hiramatsu, who I worked for.

The family visiting the Usa Shrine, one of Japan’s famous Shinto Shrines.

My Dad visited us in Japan in 1991 and we went to Kyoto, where we visited the Kinkaku-ji (The Gold Pavilion)

Julianne and David, visiting the old Tulum ruins in Mexico as part of a cruise.

At the age of 20, I don’t think Julianne would have believed anyone if she were told she would live in Japan for four and a half years and have the opportunity to visit places in Canada and Mexico while also traveling to most of the 50 United States, including Hawaii and Alaska.  But, that we did.  We enjoyed many opportunities to travel together and continue to do so to this day.

Japan was quite the culture shock for Julianne initially.  The weather was different, the people were different, the language was strange and many of the foods she was offered were a bit more than unique.  But, like our children, she learned to love the land and the culture, became engaged and conversant in Japanese and really found great pleasure in the variety of unique dishes in Japanese cuisine, as well as the Japanese take on other ethnic foods.  To this day, all of us enjoy the variety of foods from all over the world.

Julianne enjoys some real ramen with Marissa and Chelsea at a small Mom and Pop ramen shop in Japan in  June 1988

We still enjoy good food. Here we visited Koreana, a local Korean restaurant with my cousin Lew and his daughter.

Visiting the Mystic Pizza shop in Mystic, Connecticut

Over the past 15 years or so, we have traveled all over the United States.  At one time, we had Amaree living in Montana and then they moved to Port Orchard, Washington.  Seth got his first job out of college and lived just north of Cincinnati, but job changes eventually took him and his family to Connecticut and later to Houston.  This meant opportunities to travel for visits.  These became long trips that afforded us the opportunity to see many new places.

Then, in 2017, we had a giant family reunion that began in Kentucky and eventually took most of us as far east as central New York.

Watching the grandkids on the beach at Old Orchard Beach in Maine.

Visiting the Field Museum in Chicago with family

Julianne and I at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota

Travel in Virginia

Visiting the Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

We were able to check out glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska

With family in West Virginia

Julianne on a canoe trip with Chelsea and her family on the Little Miami River in Ohio

On a visit to Washington, we got to see Mt. Rainier National Park

Chelsea and Julianne at Letchworth State Park in Castille, New York

Visiting Antique Archaeology, famous for the TV show American Pickers in Le Claire, Iowa

Julianne having fun on the beach with grandchildren in Hilton Head, South Carolina

Enjoying the grandeur of Glacier National Park in Montana

Visiting Pittsburgh on a recent trip to visit her sister

Travel runs in our veins.  Julianne may not like the long road trips that I enjoy (as do many of my children and grandchildren), but she still loves to travel.  Annually she has a sibling trip to San Diego where she spends her time in a family time share on the Pacific coast.  And now that her sister Laura is closer, we make occasional trips to Pennsylvania or meet Laura and her family in Ohio or West Virginia.

I am grateful that we have had so many adventures and memories.  I hope for even more to come.

Enjoying the beach in San Diego with her sisters Maren, Kathy and Laura

Do you like travel? Are you aware that I currently have two books about offbeat and quirky places?  You can use these to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, coming in late Spring 2019!!

52 to 40: My Wife is a Superhero

As many of you know, I work in the Superhero business. I know superheros.  And Julianne has proven time and again that she is a superhero. In fact, sometimes she is Captain Marvel. Other times she is Wonder Woman. All times she is Supergirl.

Though I have a number of examples from our 40 years together, perhaps the greatest superhero story took place in the summer of 1987.
I had been working on my PhD at Arizona State University (which I never completed) and an amazing opportunity came before us. The Japanese Government began an “internationalization” program called the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program). They had two courses…one as an Assistant English Teacher (AET) and the other as a Coordinator for International Relations (CIR). I applied for the CIR position and was accepted and sent down to Oita Prefecture to work under Governor Morihiko Hiramatsu.

Here I am working as an interpreter with Governor Hiramatsu on the right and then British Foreign Minister Sir Geoffrey Howe on the left

Though that in itself offers many stories, there is the backstory that I want to tell here.
In July 1987 I headed to Japan for Orientations and training, etc. I wasn’t coming back due to my aggressive schedule with the JET Program. That left Julianne alone with our four young children and the arduous task of packing and prepping to leave for a faraway and strange country with an open-ended return timeline. She would follow me to Japan in late August.

The family in Japan in 1987

As if all of the packing wasn’t superhuman enough, she still had to travel to Japan with four children, all aged seven and under, for a nearly 18 hour trip, through Seoul, Korea and then to Fukuoka, Japan.  Unfortunately, her flight got delayed and arrived late into Seoul.  Tired and most likely frazzled, she was shuttled to a hotel in downtown Seoul Korea where she had to spend the night and then get up very early to catch the next flight out to Japan.

Julianne is a Wonder Woman!

Those were the days before cell phones, online flight tracking, etc. And, she was also strapped with the language barriers.  It was a real challenge for her, but Wonder Woman that she was, she made it to Japan, learned the language, handled the kids school things (they went to regular old Japanese public school) and ultimately became very adapted to the Japanese lifestyle and food.
There are so many other Superhero stories to tell.  Perhaps in another post.

53 to 40: Ms. Determination

One of Julianne’s more impressive qualities is her quiet determination. I have watched her tackle all kinds of tasks and goals over the years and she has always had the chutzpah to accomplish them. Has she been perfect at accomplishing her objectives?  No, but who is?  But, she has always had the gumption to push through.

I probably can provide a billion examples of how she has tackled a project or a goal and then has worked her way through, solving the challenges, overcoming the obstacles and getting there.

One of Julianne’s earliest Photofabrique creations

One of the unique examples of this comes from her desire to create a process to make a type of fabric art, which she first called “Photo Fabrications” and then later coined “Photofabrique.” She had a concept in mind…make quilted fabric art out of photos and make them look realistic, like a photo.  To accomplish this she first came up with ideas on how to break the photo down.  This required her to learn how to use a software product called Photoshop.  Back when she first started doing this, Photoshop was still a fairly new software product.  So, she learned it and learned how to make five layers from a photo. After many many tries, she finally came up with the concept that worked.

 

Julianne portrait in fabric

With the success in doing this, and while working as a quilt specialist at Quilter’s Square, others wanted to learn the process.  Though she wouldn’t teach the pattern making, she began making the patterns and teaching classes.  For a few years she taught classes in numerous states, as far away as Montana, and many in Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee.  It became a venture for her and then introduced more challenges.  She had to devise quicker methods.  Her determination to do so helped her to learn techniques in Photoshop that would ultimately turn her pattern-making into a “scan and run an applet” type of thing. Her process evolved over a number of years.  It was amazing to see her scale this mountain.

Julianne teaching her technique in a class in Tennessee

Her use of a National Geographic photographer (Steven McCurry) piece that she turned into a photofabrique piece.

Showing off a Marilyn Monroe

When her sister Maren visited on year, Julianne began to learn yoga.  Once again, it was a challenge, but she was soon taking yoga classes and still, on occasion, does them today.  It was hard for her, but she took on the challenge and learned.

Julianne Learning Yoga

Another big challenge for Julianne was learning Japanese.  We lived in Japan as a family from 1987-1991.  During that time, Julianne focused on learning to speak the language.  By the time we left, she was able to converse freely and, nearly 28 years later she can still speak quite a bit.  She never quit and it has stuck with her.

With the family in Oita, Japan in 1988

Learning the language and the culture of Japan in 1988

There will be more posts in the next couple of weeks covering other areas where Julianne has shown gumption, determination and guts in accomplishing her objectives. She most certainly knows how to look at the mountain from below and scale it!

60 to 40: Let the Countdown Begin!

I have been waiting almost a year for this day. It is officially 60 days away from my 40th anniversary of marriage to my sweetheart Julianne.

What a momentous time for us! The past 40 years have brought so many wonderful blessings into our lives and offered us so many wonderful opportunities to grow closer and to learn about life and love. I have cherished every moment, even the difficult and challenging times.

Over the next 59 days, I plan to post a different outlook on my sweet wife and what I cherish most about having been with her for 40 years. It has been a wonderful journey and I hope that it continues on for much longer.

Julianne and David – May 2019

All I want to say in this post, is that it has been a ride! In 40 years we have had five wonderful children, all of whom are, at the time of this writing, in their 30s. Four of our children have married and we have, through them, 10 wonderful and talented grandchildren, including two teenagers! In our 40 years we have lived in nine different cities, including four years in Oita, Japan. Both Julianne and I have had a variety of jobs, some full-time and some part-time over the years. Over the next 59 posts I will mention some of those as well. During the course of our marriage, we have owned 10 different cars, we have lived in 13 different houses and/or apartments, we have traveled all over the country both with our family and together as a couple. In 45 days from now we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of moving into the house that we currently reside in.

Through the ups and downs, the challenges and successes, the difficult times in the joyful times, ours has been an abundant journey. For this I can’t my blessings. I hope you will follow us over the course of the next 59 days as I spend a portion of each day celebrating The absolute love of my life, the woman and friend who is stuck with me through thick and thin over these 40 years.

Looking Back 45 Years – Setting the Course of My Life

Chicago VII – Released March 11, 1974

A couple of days ago I was listening to the album Chicago VII, which is one of my all-time favorite compilations of music, and certainly my favorite Chicago album. The album represented a change in direction for the group as they added a few more jazzier tones to the typical rock that they had.  In fact, that summer I got to see them in concert — my first-ever opportunity.

I have listened to this album well over one hundred times, but the other day was different.  From the onset of the first three tracks (all instrumental) I was taken back to shortly after my graduation and my mind was flooded with old memories and images, many which I had forgotten about.  It was really a strange, strange feeling.  As each song from this double album set played, more memories came.  Honestly, I was overwhelmed and by the time the album had completed, I realized that the two years of my life between graduation in 1974 and my departing on a mission to Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1976 were probably the most fragile, tempestuous and most formative years of my life…even to this day in May 2019, 45 years later.

Graduation from Murray High School in Utah in 1974

In May 1974, I graduated from Murray High School in Murray, Utah. It was the first event of my life that both of my parents attended.  As exciting and fresh as that even was, earlier events from the previous two years were leading to what would become a number of major turning points in my life and really would alter the direction of it.  As early as the winter of 1972, when the family lived in Bozeman, Montana and I was a junior in high school, I was becoming frustrated with the life around me.  The family was dysfunctional, I was having to make new friends (this was my fifth school in five years) and I didn’t feel like a part of the family.  I ran away from home twice that year, once as a trial run, hitchhiking my way to Billings and then finally choosing to go all out and head to Denver, as a 16 year old. That little trick ended up getting me thrown in a juvenile detention center overnight in Denver. But that is another story.

Me in 1974…age 18

At the same time, I was searching for meaning in life.  To be frank, I was a good kid.  Never smoked, never drank, never did pot (and this was the 70s!).  These were self-induced decisions, not religious ones.  Yes, my adoptive mother Marge was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness at the time and I reluctantly attended with the family, but that really had no bearing my abstinence from these things.  I just wasn’t interested. I got high listening to good music and reading fantasy and science fiction novels.  But, I was also searching for some meaning in life.  I believed in a God, but not the definition of the Jehovah’s Witness God.  I have written about my religious leanings and LDS conversion in other posts. (See THIS POST as an example)

Mom and Dad ca. 1974

All of this led up to our move to the Salt Lake City area in the summer of 1973.  Once again, I had to attend a new school, make new friends and adjust again. I was very fortunate to have fallen into a group of friends that were great examples to me and honestly cared about me. To this day I am grateful for that. But high school was still difficult for me.  I was a non-Mormon in a predominantly Mormon (LDS) community and all of my friends at Murray were mostly LDS.  I was definitely interested in the religion and was even taking an institute class…chiefly to learn more about the LDS interpretation of who God was.  But I was still confused.  I was depressed about my family situation…the dysfunction had gotten worse and the discord between my adoptive mother and my adoptive father Joe Kravetz had increased (and by 1977 they had divorced).  I had a lust for life and thus was not suicidal, but I needed some help.  By the second semester of high school I was seeing a counselor.  They gave me an IQ test and I scored very high.  Funny…that changed a great deal of my outlook.  I was smarter than the average bear.  I finished the last semester with almost straight A’s as a result.  But, what I didn’t see coming was the massive tempest of REAL LIFE drama that would happen shortly after high school was done.

Working at Skaggs with on of my friends.

While in high school I had a job as a clerk at the Camera Department for Skaggs Drug Store in Murray.  I loved the job.  I got to interact with all kinds of people and I got to sell cameras and things.  And, the clerks in the Camera Depart were also responsible for the Record and Tape Department…and I was (and still am) quite the music lover.

It was good to have a job and some income.  I was saving for a car and had some spending money to by record albums which I would listen to in my basement bedroom late at night.  That was my escape.  My happy place.

By June of 1974, I had expressed an interest in joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My parents were not happy with that at all. In the 1970s many considered the Mormons to be a cult, and my adoptive parents were in that group.  In June I was basically told to leave the house because my parents did not want me influencing my siblings with this strange religious philosophy, despite my Dad knowing many of the members and the local Bishop pretty well.  And thus the storm had begun.  I was welcome to come over to the house and visit, as long as church was not brought up, but I had to move out on my own.  I was still 17 and was already having to find a place to live, pay rent and become an adult really fast.  My job helped, but I needed more.  Fortunately, my friendly persona and interest in music had managed to make an influence on Alan Ferguson, one of the managers for Alta Distributing Company, the group that managed the record and tape distribution for Skaggs and dozens of other large retail outlets.  One day, as I perused the new releases, Alan came up to me.  He knew I was on my own and that I needed something more than a part-time job.  He told me that they were looking for someone who could be on the road for them five days a week to fill the record racks in stores in Price and Vernal, Utah and also in Rock Springs and Evanston, Wyoming.  They would provide me with a van, which I could also use for personal use since I didn’t have a car.  It was a dream job for this young 17 year old music lover.

After a couple of weeks of training, I was on the road driving a white Dodge van filled with music and loving every minute of it.  I was staying in hotels four nights a week, eating at good restaurants and driving on long drives with music blaring in the background.  I soon made friends in some of the towns that I stayed in each week and would spend evenings with them.

Best friend Jonathan Jensen, who baptized me. This was him in 1976 just after I returned from my mission.

In the meantime, I was having to wait until October before I could consider being baptized into the church.  It was not until January 1975 before I was able to get baptized. My best friend Jonathan Jensen baptized me shortly before he left on his LDS Mission to Sweden.

Soon, all of my friends were leaving on missions.  As for me, as a fledgling member of the church and one who was struggling to live on his own, Jonathan’s family became my family.  I would visit there often, or visit my other friend, Russ Graves, at his house.

Not long after that, a family in the Murray 20th Ward, the Thomas family, knew that I needed something more stable and “family like” and offered me a room in their home.  They lived across the street from the Jensens and were only two blocks from my family, so it was a nice arrangement.

With the Thomas Family and a friend (Byron) in Feb. 1976

The Thomas family was a good example to me and something I needed.  But, I also needed someone my age.

Penny Strong as she looked in 1976

I believe it was at a Stake dance that I met Penny Strong, a senior in high school from Cottonwood High School. I honestly don’t recall how we met.  But, what I do remember, is that she became like a sister to me.  Yes, I was interested in a girlfriend, but I had never had one.  But, somehow, my relationship with Penny was so much more than a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.  In fact, I can still recall how often I would confide in her and her family.  They were the final cementing agent I needed to remain happy and well.  Ultimately, Penny was the person that gave me strength when I needed it.  Her father Wayne was a good man and would always give me good advice.  She had an older sister that was there as well.  To me, Penny was a Godsend to a young man that was struggling to keep a good direction in his life. I will always be grateful to Penny for being there for me.

But my struggles weren’t over.  I was a hustler.  I was a people person.  Even back in the 1970s, I had never met a stranger.  These characteristics helped me immensely in my work for Alta Distributing.  Sales in Price and Vernal increased nearly 300% in my year and a half.  So much so that Alta had decided they were going to open a record store in Price and, at the age of 18, they offered me the role of managing the store at a salary of $30,000, which was, to me, a mind-blowing amount of money.  I thought about all of the things I could do.  And, I would be in the music business still.

But, one obstacle remained in my mind.  As a member of the church I would be able to serve an LDS mission.  All of my good friends were off on theirs by this time.  Yet, I had not even been a member for one year.  I was lost in my decision making.  I would discuss this situation — good job and good future vs. two years of sacrifice and serving the Lord.  I would talk about this with Penny, the Thomas family, Bishop Jensen, etc.

Ironically, I had submitted my mission papers sometime in November 1975, not even a member for a year at that time.  It seemed like I had to wait an eternity for my mission call.  Alta had made the job offer to me on a Monday or Tuesday in mid-December, near Christmas.  They were banking on me accepting the job.  And I was seriously considering it. By that Friday, they said they needed to move on the store and needed an answer by the next Monday morning.  And, as luck would have it, I got my mission call on Saturday in the mail…  Nagoya Japan.  Leaving in February 1976. So, I was left with the mentally grueling task of making a VERY MAJOR life decision on a Sunday…basically had about 36 hours to make this decision…Mission or Record Shop?  And the tough thing was that nobody could answer me.  Either decision would have been a “righteous” and good decision.

I knew that I had come to a crossroads in my life.  I knew that whatever decision I would make…indeed, the toughest decision I had ever made in my short 19 years of life…would set the course and direction of my life. (And, little did I know how very true that would be!!).  Honestly, I think had I gotten a mission call to the United States, I may have decided on the job.  But, the wanderlust in me.  The adventurous heart in me, looked at Japan as a wonderful challenge and opportunity.

My Passport Picture in 1976

In the end, I chose to serve a mission to Japan.  Monday morning at Alta did NOT go well.  In one fell swoop I went from the good graces as an all-star in the company, to basically a company reject.  They pulled me from the route I was doing and put me on a local, less attractive route in Salt Lake City.  They said that they would consider hiring me back when I returned from my mission, but couldn’t promise anything, and certainly the store option was out of the question.

I was brokenhearted.  I had worked so hard.  I was not sure what the Japan mission would do for my future, but I moved on with faith.  I learned the language and served faithfully, as well as I could, as a one-year convert.

In conclusion, that two year period BEFORE I departed on my mission to Japan (ages 17-19) was my first true trial by fire. Did I make the right decisions?  I will never know for sure, but I think I did in the long run.  The Japan mission for me really set the course of my life as I have had many jobs that were directly a result of my language skills. Now, in 2019, as I approach my 40th anniversary of my marriage to my sweet wife Julianne, I can look back on all of the richness (not in terms of money, but in terms of experiences) my life has given me — five children, ten grandchildren, friends all around the world, amazing travel experiences and a propensity to be happy despite any circumstances.  And my heart is filled with gratitude, especially to those wonderful folks mentioned above that were there for me in my time of need back then.

Did you know I have a couple of books published?  These two books are about offbeat and quirky places to take on your road trips. You can see both of my books at http://amzn.to/2ks6fQZ. Working on Book 3, hopefully coming in late Spring 2019!!