Graduation part 2
Next came the Law graduation!
Jesse's parents sweetly arranged to come for the weekend to celebrate with us, and we were more than happy to welcome them into our home.
It was especially nice to see them interact with our kids, who love them a lot.
Juli and I share a love of cake, so obviously I had to check out a graduation cake pan from my library to use for the occasion. It was so fun!
I was a little nervous about having the kids there for the ceremony, but ultimately I decided I wanted them to be there (even if they won't remember it) because it is so important to us as a family. I don't know if that was the right choice or not (we spent a LOT of time and energy wrangling and entertaining the kiddos) but it was still a lovely event.
Dave took a great video, in which you can hear me shout embarrassingly loudly (ok, maybe I'm the only one embarrassed...) and see Jesse get his hood placed and shake the Dean's hand.
The graduation was held in the lovely Hill auditorium, so afterwards we all retreated to the even lovelier law quad for a fancy reception and photos.
Nikolai had a brief meltdown over what he was going to eat, before being cajoled by his incredible father to have a couple carrots (with the promise of ice cream later).
Oh, I forgot to mention that Jesse got to dress like a fancy Elizabethan scholar/monk! Seriously, those were some cool robes.
Our awesome friend Margo helped us out by taking some photos of all of us (and I've only just realized I neglected to get a photo of us with her... :( :( ).
It's been nice to have time to reflect about how much work we've both put in the last two years. I don't say "we" to overly lay claim on this experience--Jesse went to all of the classes, read thousands of pages of assignments, and tirelessly wrote papers (some of which I proofread). But we definitely got through this together. There were definitely times (especially during finals) when more of the burden of household things (chores, childcare, groceries, etc) fell to me so that Jesse could have time to study. When I started working last fall, the balance swung again, and Jesse sacrificed some of his study time so that I could take a chance on my dream of becoming a librarian. In many ways, this was a family effort.
I can't say that we're coming out of the experience without any scarring--there were definitely some times where the stress was massive for both of us and we were a little worse for the wear mentally. But we got through those experiences and learned from them, and it is easy to say that we are better people for it.
In fact, looking back at who we were when we first showed up in Ann Arbor 3 years ago, I can see distinct growth. We are both more confident, more sure of ourselves and the things we want out of life, and more willing to take hard risks to get there. I think that's one thing the last three years definitely taught us--we can do hard things when we're together! So obviously learning that meant that now we're planning on moving for a year to a post-soviet country where we don't yet speak the language ;) It also doesn't seem so preposterous to think that I can work on an online Library Science degree while taking care of two kids, or that maybe one day we'll start our own legal NGO in Russia (or maybe even a library-themed one!)
But in all seriousness, those things don't seem so scary when the last three years have taught me that we can muscle our way through hard situations and come out better for the struggle.
Alright, I'll end with some levity. For some reason Nikolai got it into his head that he wanted to take some pictures of us (which I've never let him do with my nice camera before), and at first I said no, which made him mope:
Well, that was obviously too cute to resist, so I relented and he went on a photo shooting spree. What follows are some of the best of his creations.
Jesse being silly
Grandma Dolly in her vibrant blue dress
Oh look, I did get one of Margo! ...Just not her face. Sorry Margo! We love you!
Papa retrieving Miri for us
Blue paint on the sidewalk
Boy in motion
Boy in dirt