Archive for the ‘Family and Friends’ Category

Tamale Cooking Class!

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Family and Friends, Justice, Peace

Tamale Making Class

The link above is to a flyer about a unique opportunity coming up the week after Thanksgiving. Our new friends, Carmen and Patricia, are teaching an authentic tamale cooking class (where we also get to learn/practice Spanish!). Our good friend, Cindy Short, is making this happen, and you should contact Cindy directly if you want to sign up for the class (as explained on the flyer).

We recently hosted Carmen (from Peru) and Patricia (from Mexico) in our home for a similar class, and it was fantastic. We got to know these ladies through spending time at the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, where lots of interesting people hang out. Anyway, the idea of the tamale class emerged from that first class, but because it was anticipated that this one will be much bigger, Cindy secured the Malibu United Methodist Church as a venue for the event.

Please feel free to (a) attend yourself; (b) tell your friends about it; and/or (c) print off the flyer and post it at your work or school.


Posted: October 27, 2011 in Family and Friends, Justice, Lessons, Peace

Graduation Gifts

Posted: May 21, 2011 in Family and Friends

Quite often I am reminded that my wife is both too good for me and to me, but some times are particularly worth sharing.

So I graduated from law school yesterday. It was a great day. I’m not much into pomp and circumstance, but even I enjoyed most of the pompous circumstances. I felt important. (I may have even felt architechtonic, a word the keynote speaker used twice, but I do not know what it means.)

At the end of such a glorious day, all of the ladies in my life (my wife, two daughters, and mother who flew in for the occasion) presented me with a couple of gifts. Now admittedly, I chuckled a month or so back when I saw the email that told us how to order graduation announcements. I understand that many of my classmates are at an age where graduation announcements (and the returning gifts) are expected, but for an old man like me, graduation is a gift all by itself. Anyway, I thought it was sweet that these lovely ladies surprised me with some gifts.

I began by opening the gift from my mother, who used graduation as a sneaky way to give me money in our ongoing battle over who pays for things on our all too infrequent visits. I then opened sweet cards from my daughters. Next, I opened the large gift, which was a beautiful frame for my law school diploma.

There was one final gift to open, and inside I discovered a long-sleeved Navy Midshipmen Football t-shirt, a gift that requires an explanation.

My dad was born in 1920, and in 1937 or 1938 he was appointed to the Naval Academy. He turned it down. He was the oldest of six children (at the time), it was the Great Depression, and he was needed to work to support his family. My dad was a smart guy, and a great high school quarterback (back in the day when they used leather helmets and no facemasks). He could have done anything in the world, but as fate would have it, he ended up enlisting in the Navy for World War II (instead of serving as an officer) and returned to a career as a butcher. He also ended up being my dad.

I didn’t grow up with money, but I did grow up with a special relationship with my dad. Although he was fifty years older than me, we spent many hours in the backyard playing catch. And though we didn’t have much monetarily, I always felt somewhat privileged in the opportunities I have had to do all the things my dad never had the chance to do. Like graduate high school. Like graduate college. Like buy a house. And like now, graduate law school.

My dad died in 1994, and I can’t believe seventeen years have passed by since. But with each passing year, whenever I accomplish something where my full name — Albert Andrew Sturgeon, III — is called, I think about Albert Sturgeon, Jr. and try to appreciate it in his honor. And my wife knows this. Which is why the Navy Football t-shirt was such a thoughtful gift.

But she wasn’t finished.

After I opened what I thought was the final gift, my wife pulled out “her” card for me. And it didn’t take long to figure out that she had saved something for last. Turns out my sneaky, thoughtful wife, had tracked down my Sports Bucket List posted on my blog last summer. On that list, sitting at #14, was “Go to the Army-Navy football game and sit and imagine what it would have been like if my dad would have accepted the appointment in the late 1930s and played for the Midshipmen.” And in that graduation card was a ticket to see the Army-Navy game at FedEx Field this coming December.

I have spent an inordinate amount of time imagining what it would have been like if my dad had accepted that appointment. I’m convinced he would have been on the team — maybe even been the starting quarterback. I love to imagine my dad running out of that tunnel with his teammates for the big games in those 1939, 1940, 1941, and 1942 seasons (games Navy won by the way!). And this December, I will be there, all by myself, lost in a world of memories and dreams.

Well, not all by myself. My dad will be with me in spirit. As will my wonderful wife.

An Open Holiday Letter

Posted: December 23, 2010 in Family and Friends

Dear World,

2010 has been quite a year for the Sturgeon family, if for no other reason than all four of us are now living under one—small, sometimes leaky—roof. And we are happy.

Erica made the bold decision to become a Californian this year. I flew to Memphis in May (sounds like a festival!), jumped in the driver’s seat of Erica’s loaded-down car, and the two of us traveled the modern interstate-highway version of Route 66, spending a night at the Wigwam Hotel in Nowhere, Arizona, stopping at the Grand Canyon, and listening to a whole lot of the musical stylings of Florence and the Machine. We arrived safely, and her car promptly gave out! So Erica got a new car in 2010. By summer’s end, Erica had obtained her California teaching credential and snagged a job teaching four-year-olds at Calvary Christian School in the swanky Pacific Palisades (to wit, one of her kiddos has Uncle Arnold Schwarzenegger on the “can check the kid out of school” list). Erica has become of a part of the University Church of Christ with us and is especially smitten with the Hung & Corinne Le family. Corinne already has Erica teaching kiddos at church on Sunday mornings.

Hillary has had quite a year, too. After completing the 7th grade with super high grades, she spent a majority of her summer vacation in the South, seeing friends and family in Mississippi and Arkansas. Now, she is off to another terrific start in 8th grade at Malibu High. She has an amazing set of girlfriends at school, all of which are so sweet and so talented. She is once again in the Girls’ Select Choir—and sang a solo in “Hallelujah” in their recent Cabaret performance. She is once again in the Middle School Musical—this time as Mrs. Greer in the upcoming performance of “Annie.” But her biggest event in 2010 came when her crazy parents drove her to LAX, stuck her on a plane by herself to fly to London to spend a week with her good friend, Sarah! There, she hit all the tourist sites, saw a couple of awesome musicals (Les Miserables & Wicked), and sat out all day to see the Harry Potter stars arrive on the red carpet at the World Premiere.

Jody has had a terrific year, too. She continues to love her job, now in her third year working as the Student Services Coordinator at Pepperdine University. She is certain she has the best boss ever in Kimberly Hogan and loves working with college students. Jody surprised herself by not following her own advice when she made the move to Malibu: she had decided that she wouldn’t get close to people here so that it would be easy to move (if we did) after law school. Instead, she has formed deep relationships both at church and in the Pepperdine community. Along with those relationships, Jody has become a fitness nut and continues to amaze us all with her health consciousness. She is a regular at spin classes, and she repeatedly returns to the aptly-named “Insanity” workout. Jody ran two (count ‘em, two!) different 5k races this year—the first to fulfill a promise to herself, and the second during the MLB All-Star Weekend in Anaheim. And most recently, she snagged a couple of tickets to the season finale of her favorite television show—The Biggest Loser! She is looking great, but more importantly, is feeling great, too.

I turned the big 4-0 this year (Jody may or may not have, we’re not sure). Unbelievably, I am within one semester of graduating from law school. In the summer, I had the opportunity to work at the Lanier Law Firm in Houston, Texas—and hang out at Andy & Jennifer Dunham’s house. While in Houston, I caught the fitness bug, too, and started running again. In September, I ran a 5k in Santa Monica, and in December, my first ever 10k in Santa Monica-Venice, surprising myself with a time of 42:06. And 2010 was my best year ever as a baseball spectator: I watched the Cardinals play twice in Dodger Stadium; saw them again at AT&T Park in San Francisco; saw them yet again (three times!) at Minute Maid Park in Houston; got to go on the field and sit in the press box at Angels Stadium thanks to Bobby Ross; and saw two other (non-Cardinal) games at Minute Maid Park, including the mind-boggling “Lanier Law Firm” seats behind home plate.

Here are a few other of my personal “bests” from 2010:
* Best family road trip (tie): San Francisco with Jody & Hillary; Cross-Country with Erica;
* Best novel read: “Hannah Coulter” by Wendell Berry;
* Best non-fiction book read: “Leaving Church” by Barbara Brown Taylor;
* Best song heard: “Dela” by Johnny Clegg & the Soweto Gospel Choir;
* Best family moments: Watching “Psych” together;
* Best sports moments (tie): Razorback football; Saints Super Bowl;
* Best celebrity moment: Asking Emilio Estevez to take a picture with Hillary (& Flat Stanley);
* Best house guest: Connor Hayes’s Thanksgiving visit from Mississippi.

So, what does 2011 have in store? Apparently, a lot.

For starters, I plan to run a marathon. I am now a member of the Los Angeles Running Club, and I have my sights set on the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon in early June. Jody is toying with the idea of a half-marathon; specifically, the Great Race of Agoura Hills in late March.

But more importantly, we have made the decision to do what we can to stay in the Malibu area following graduation in May (and taking the California bar exam in late July). There are several reasons behind this decision: 1) Jody absolutely loves her job; 2) Erica also enjoys her job and doesn’t (yet) make enough money to strike out on her own in SoCal; 3) Hillary loves her school, her friends, and her youth group—and would love to stay; 4) we are interested in the future of the University Church of Christ and being a part of its developing story; and 5) we have fallen in love with the Malibu Community Labor Exchange and want to be a part of its future, too.

As a result, my Plan A in the job search department is to explore the possibility of working in an administrative capacity at Pepperdine—a search process that has already been initiated to some extent. Plan B is to work as an attorney at a private firm in this geographic area. If we get to Plan C, we’ll figure out what it is then. 🙂

Well, this is kind of a long holiday letter, but I have felt a little guilty what with my drop off in blogging and Facebook and such. I suspect my future in those departments will continue to be sporadic, but I hope not to fall of the face of the earth completely (although we are dangling off a mountain on the edge of the continent here!).

We miss and treasure memories of family and friends from years gone by, and think of you all often. But we continue to form new relationships and, as always, are surrounded with love.

Life is good. And when it is bad, there is hope.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy/Merry (?) Kwanzaa, and Happy New Year to all!


Bittersweet Sixteen

Posted: November 3, 2010 in Family and Friends, Music

Every year, on November 3rd, I specifically think about my dad. This year marks sixteeen since he passed away, and it is weird to consider that he hasn’t been around for 40% of my entire life now.

Couple of years ago I stumbled across this Chet Atkins song that I thought was just perfect, and I thought I would replay it today. The original YouTube video I used has been removed, and the only one available now has these weird foreign subtitles. But that’s okay. Doesn’t keep me from seeing my dad in the old man version of Chet Atkins. And it sure doesn’t distract from this beautiful song. Hope you guys enjoy it, too.

Going Home

Posted: August 15, 2010 in Family and Friends

Well. So here I am.

Six weeks ago, I left Malibu at an ungodly hour to fly to Houston to spend six weeks working at a prominent plaintiff’s law firm, not really knowing what to expect. Today, I have successfully turned in my rental car, checked my bags, and am now sitting at the airport gate way early, eagerly anticipating a trip home to see my beautiful wife and daughters.

And even though I have the time, I really don’t know what to write.

So I’ll just ramble a bit.

The Houston experience was really fantastic, and surprisingly the weeks just flew by. My conclusions: Houston is a neat city, the Dunhams are outstanding hosts, and the Lanier Law Firm is a great place to work.

Yesterday, after my fellow clerks had left on our last day, and I was packing up, one of the firm partners came running in my office to catch me before I left. Turns out that the firm’s Los Angeles office had called needing a couple of part-time clerks for the fall semester. Turns out that I found this to be fantastic news, and I am hoping that it works out for me. The part-time work in no way promises to turn into a full-time job post-graduation, but it is without a doubt a step in the direction of getting “a” full-time job post-graduation. So I am leaving Houston pumped about the future of my legal career.

I am also leaving Houston with a strained groin muscle, which is another story entirely.

I had a chance to spend some time on the famed Mark Lanier property last week, and it was pretty unbelievable. He has a village on his property where he has built a 5th Century church building and is currently constructing a massive library to hold his extensive collection of religious treasures. He also has a train track that wends its way around the thirty-five acres, complete with the train, of course, and several train stations. He has his own zoo: kangaroos, lemurs, monkeys, and llamas, just to name a few. And he has his very own gym with a scoreboard and a full locker room where attorneys from the firm regularly sneak over to play some hoops.

I snuck over to play some hoops two days ago. I hadn’t played hoops in this particular century, but I figured, what could I do, hurt myself? Well, to be truthful, I thought there was a really good chance I would hurt myself. And I really hate to disappoint.

First of all, I was surprised that I can still shoot very well. Even though I am WAY out of practice, I had absolutely no trouble picking up where I left off last century in the shooting department. In the first game we played, I was actually decent. Nowhere near good, but decent.

In the second game, however, toward the end, I felt something give way in a rather personal region of the old human anatomy. On the one hand, I took it as a compliment, whatwith me being a person that doesn’t actually appear to have any muscles. But on the other, it hurt like hell. Regardless, I finished the game, considered going home, and then—like an idiot—decided that maybe I could tough out one more game.

Well, I started game number three, but about two trips down the court and I determined that it was time for me to go home. So I did. Well, to my temporary Houston home.

Now, it is time for me to go to my real home. And though I’ll arrive with a bit of a limp, and though the Houston experience has been very worthwhile, I am most definitely ready to get there.

Okay, enough rambling for today.

Welcome to Nissan

Posted: June 12, 2010 in Family and Friends

We’ve been a Saturn family for a long time now because Roland Escher is the best car dealer in the history of the universe, not to mention one of our favorite friends. In our move to California, moving away from Mr. Roland was one of the top negatives.

But in a bit of mixed irony, Saturn is going out of business. So we’ll have to move on from Saturn anyway.

We had a very positive experience at Nissan of Thousand Oaks today where we bought Erica a 2010 Nissan Versa. (Here’s a YouTube video I stole from someone who was looking at a car that looks just like the one we just bought.)

I’ve grown accustomed to being loyal to a car dealership, so having a good experience today was pretty cool. Means there’s a good chance I’ll be back there again and again.

At the Old Ballgame

Posted: June 8, 2010 in Family and Friends

Well, I had me a Dodger Dog and Cracker Jacks, and I root, root, rooted for the Cardinals, but they didn’t win. I think it’s a shame.

But still, we had a great family night at Dodger Stadium last night (even though the Cardinals got ripped 12-4). The weather (of course) was phenomenal. Jody got to see her personal trainer hero, Jillian Michaels (we’ve seen her before, but that in no way lessened Jody’s excitement). We saw Hal Linden (aka Barney Miller). We saw a 100-year-old man (actor/producer, Arthur Gardner) throw out the ceremonial first pitch. We sat together as a family — all four of us. We laughed. We watched baseball. Just a good night all around.

I had so much fun that I’m going back again tonight, this time with my good friend, Mikey. Maybe the Cards will win this time, and with Carpenter on the hill, there’s a MUCH better chance of it.


Hey June

Posted: June 1, 2010 in Family and Friends

In many ways, June promises to be a “catch my breath” month. July will be markedly different. As will August, and every month of my life afterward, but June almost promises to be relaxing. I will continue researching for Dean Gash, but outside of that, there just isn’t a lot of responsibility factored into the calendar.

It should be a month where Erica gets good and settled in, as well as a month where Hillary finishes up the seventh grade. There are some fun dates penciled into June, too. We’ll see Malibu High’s production of “Crazy For You.” We’ll go to Dodger Stadium to catch my Redbirds in action. Hillary has a choir performance. My friend Mikey and I are going hiking to find the site for the old M*A*S*H show. Jody’s boss/friend has invited our family over for a Saturday get-together. And, of course, we get to do a couple more Sack Lunch Saturdays for the Malibu Labor Exchange.

Plus, there are the unexpected things, which usually turn out to be some of the very best.

Some people talk about June Gloom here in Southern California. It sure looks bright to me.

It has been nice spending a holiday with all my girls. We started off with the good American tradition of shopping, yet oddly enough, it was shopping for clothes for me. Afterward, we headed down to Santa Monica to meander through the Third Street Promenade as well as the Santa Monica Pier. A day spent with gorgeous girls in gorgeous weather. Yes, a very nice day.

HERE’S A LINK TO SOME PICS for my friends with Facebook accounts.