52 Faces: 5/52 – Jacob

My brother, Jacob, is honestly one of the most laid-back and genuine people you could ever encounter. I’ve often said that he is the reason why we hardly ever fought when we were growing up. For every tendency of mine to be overbearing, overly dramatic or adamant to have things my way, he is equally calm, patient and often puts the needs/wants of others before his own desires. This is, in no small part, why he is now such a great husband and father. 

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Hometown:  Century, FL. Currently residing in Madison, AL.

Education:  Bachelor’s Degree in Physics, from Auburn University; Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University; just a few credits shy of a PhD in Plasma Physics from Rice University (don’t even get Marina started on the fact that he didn’t finish…for the record, I’m #teamJacob on that one.)

Occupation: Test Engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center. He puts loads on rocket parts to make sure they will not break during flight.

Personal:  Married to Lindsay for 8 years. Dad to Helen (6), Elizabeth (4) and Maxwell (22 months).

Fun Facts:  He once got in trouble in middle school for picking a lock to a classroom with a thick blade of grass…his reason for wanting access was innocent…he just wanted to get his books. His many hobbies include playing rugby, violin, woodworking, hunting, fishing, cooking, whiskey making, gardening, archery, blacksmithing and rocketry.

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What is one of your first memories?- “Being in the backyard of Ms. Gann’s house, our babysitter. There were several of us that she kept during the day…and I remember the garbage man coming by on trash day. We would run to the fence and shake it, chanting ‘We want toys!’..I’m not sure how it started. But, sometimes he would give us little rubber balls or hot wheels.”

Growing up, who was the stricter parent?- “Can’t choose one, off the top of my head..the only thing I remember getting in trouble for at home was not finishing my homework. But, I do remember being at MawMaw’s house and her threatening to use the peach tree switch on the top of the fridge if any of us got out of line.”

What’s a memory you have of growing up with me?- “I remember dad letting us put on raincoats to go play in the front yard during one of the (not too serious) hurricanes. We would spread our arms out and pretend like the wind was going to take us away. Mom wasn’t too thrilled to discover what we were doing…”

And, your most memorable vacation as a kid?- “When I was 10 or 11, we went on a cross country road trip with our Showalter Grandparents and Mom. I remember loving the Grand Canyon..and the image of a mountain goat perched on one of the cliffs there stuck with me. During the same trip we also ventured into Mexico for a day, which was fun…you talked Mom into buying you a sombrero.”

If you could go back to any age, what would it be?- “I’d go back to being around six years old. I remember loving hiding in cabinets at that age…it was one of the simple pleasures of childhood. Six years old is great because you are capable of doing a lot more than when you were smaller, but you don’t yet have much responsibility or concern for the future.”

How did you decide on a field of study/career?- “When I was younger, I read a series of books by Isaac Asimov about physics..I guess I was between 8-10 years old. They were called ‘How Did We Find Out About _____?’. Each one had a different topic, ex: ‘How Did We Find Out About Electricity?’.”

What was your first job?- “My first real job was when I was a student at Auburn. I was a student programmer for the physics department. I wrote code that took data from a satellite and analyzed and made pictures from it. It was called ‘IMAGE’ which stood for ‘Imager for Magnetopause to Aurora Global Explorer.”

How are you like your father and/or grandfather?- “I think Dad and I both share a love of nature. I think that, physically, I am a lot like Granddaddy Showalter.”

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What are your 3 best qualities?- “That’s hard…I would say that I am intelligent, responsible and resourceful.”

And, your 3 worst?- “I can be sarcastic/irreverent, I’m somewhat of a procrastinator, I start too many projects at once.”

What is your favorite book?- “I have a LOT, but I really love Jonathan Livingston’s ‘The Seagull’. It’s uplifting.”

Would you prefer to know the future as it relates to your descendants specifically, or the fate of mankind in general?- “I guess I’d rather know the future of humanity…because I’m an optimist, and a general knowledge of our future has a better chance to make me proud. There’s a 50/50 chance that specifically knowing the future of my descendants would either be favorable or disappointing.”

What’s one thing that you have always wanted, but still don’t have?- “A motorcycle.”

Who do you most depend on and trust?- “That’s easy. My wife.”

If you could solve only one problem in the world, what would it be, and why?- “I would figure out a way to harness nuclear fusion as an energy source. It could provide energy for humanity indefinitely.”

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52 Faces: 4/52 – Roy

The next person in my 52 Faces series is my dad. I’ve written about him before, which you can find here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Roy.

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Hometown: McDavid, FL

Education: B.S. in Forest Management from Auburn University

Occupation: Happily Retired…now pursuing all of his hobbies without the hinderance of a 9-5. He is a tender of chickens, lover of nature and animals, avid gardener, motorcycle tinkerer/rider, wonderful musician, nature guide to anyone who asks…and also a happy host to absolutely any friend of mine that should cross his path.

Personal: Married to my mom, Marina, for 39 years. He and my mom met in their early teens, and to hear him tell it, he’s been smitten with her since day one. If anyone wants a lesson on how to love someone with wreckless abandon, you should take notes from my dad. He is the dad to my brother (Jacob) and I. Poppa to Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and Adelaide.

Fun Facts:  The youngest of five children, he was the president of his high school senior class. After high school, he went to Jump School at Fort Benning with the US Army, 82nd Airborne Division…willingly jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. After his time in the Army, he married my mom and moved to Auburn to get a degree in Forestry. They eventually settled down in Century, FL, just a short drive north from where he grew up…and the next few decades were spent raising my brother and I. Once we had flown the nest, my parents bought some land in Brewton, AL…on a gorgeous creek, with an unfortunate name (Murder Creek). There they built an amazing house, and now spend much quality time on the various porches…listening to birds, sipping a cold drink, grilling delicious dinners, keeping company with their dog (Jenkins) cats and chickens…and welcoming any friends or family who should come their way.

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What is your first, most vivid memory?- “Playing in the yard at Maw’s house..my mother’s mom…while she shelled pecans for us.”

What was your first job?- “When I was young, I delivered papers for the News Journal. I also worked in the ice house in Atmore, AL. We pulled ice and delivered it…to places like the vegetable markets that needed ice to cool their produce for shipment on the railroad.”

What made you want to become a forester?- “I always liked the natural world, so a career like that appealed to me. I had a high school science teacher and counselor named Ann C. Hall. She graduated with my daddy…she was valedictorian, and he settled for salutatorian (even though they had the same grade point average). Her husband, Mr. Key, was a forester who also served in the 82 Airborne Division in WWII. I was one of five kids, and there wasn’t a lot of extra money…but, I knew I wanted to go to school, even though I wasn’t ready. Mrs. Ann encouraged me to enlist in the Army, and that I could try to go into the Airborne (which I did). That enabled me to get a college education in Forestry.”

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted, but still don’t have?- “I don’t wish for a whole lot of things, so I don’t really know of anything I’m longing for.”

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You always have a great joke, saying or life lesson to share. Give me one.- “Well, I was telling your mom the other day to beware of the clowns and chameleons in life. The clown will want you to think that they are someone that they are not. The chameleon will change, depending on where he is. Clowns and chameleons: you gotta watch ’em.”

Who is someone you greatly admire, and why?- “That’s hard, I admire a lot of people..so, it’s hard to pick one above all of the rest. But, if you’re asking me to name one, I guess I’d say Mother Teresa. It didn’t matter how dangerous or unpopular something might be…she was going to go and do it, if it helped someone. And, unlike a lot of folks, who like to sing their hymns but are really trying to lay up wealth…well, I don’t think a piece of gold would have meant much at all to Mother Teresa.”

Do you have a favorite quote?- “Do what you can…with what you have…where you are…in the time that you have.”

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52 Faces: 3/52 – Elizabeth

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Elizabeth is my brother’s second child. She turns five this year (I still cannot believe that!). She is sooooo full of personality and spunk, and she’s been letting us know that she has a mind of her own for as long as I can remember.

She has such a vivid imagination, and a flair for dramatics. You should see her version of “Let it Go” or hear her sing her preschool’s Christmas song. Although, don’t expect to go to any school production and see her full performance. Elizabeth does not perform on command.

My favorite (most recent) Elizabeth story: her Grandma Margo was trying to get her to put her coat on, and she was refusing. Margo tried to convince her by telling her how cold it was outside that day. Elizabeth’s response?

“The cold never bothered me anyway.”

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Hometown: Born in Waco, TX…now gracing Huntsville, AL with her presence.

Education: Planning to start half-day kindergarten in the fall, where it looks like she’ll be the only girl in her class. She’ll have all those boys whipped by day two.

Occupation: Middle Sister

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What’s your favorite food? “Macaroni and cheese.”

Favorite color? “Purple. Like you!”

Team Elsa or Anna?  “Elsa.”

If you had to pick one, what would you say is your favorite toy? “Mermaid.”

But, I thought Babydoll was your favorite. “Aunt Hannah! Babydoll is NOT a toy…Babydoll is a person.”

Ok, right..sorry, I forgot. Who is your best friend? “Babydoll…and Emma and Lily.”

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52 Faces: 2/52 – Marina

For this week’s 52 Faces Project (which is really last week’s…because it’s not even February and I’m already behind..), I’m interviewing the one and only Marina.

My mom is a character. When she took the Myers-Briggs personality test, her results showed that her level of extroversion was high enough to “be offensive to some”. If you’ve been around my mom, you’ve no doubt left feeling like you’ve heard a lot of words. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up. And, she’s prone to venture into some topics with a new acquaintance that you’d normally only discuss with a close friend.

However, one of the things I have to say about my unique and completely wonderful mom is this: her unapologetic tendency to boldly be herself is quite refreshing.

Oh that we would all take a lesson from Marina and let down our guards every once in awhile…and also? She’s gorgeous.

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Hometown: Century, FL

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Behavioral Science (psych major, sociology minor) from Wesleyan College, Master’s Degree in Education in School Counseling K-12 from Auburn University

Occupation: Guidance Counselor at W.S. Neal Elementary…She has been a school guidance counselor for 34 years..6 in high schools, 28 in elementary schools. She’s also been a church choir director in the past…for 11 years total, and is currently a pianist at a church near where I grew up.

Personal: Married to my dad, Roy, for 39 years. Mom to my brother (Jacob) and I. Grandmother to Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and Adelaide.

Fun Facts: She went by her first name (Donna) until she started elementary school…and changed to Marina because Donna was too popular. She was the valedictorian of her senior class in high school. She plays a mean flute! Her knowledge of vocabulary words would put most people’s to shame…

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What do you do for fun? – “I like to hang out in the yard with my husband…go kayaking…camping (although lately I haven’t done that as much as I’d like)…reading…but mostly, I adore being with family and close friends…and playing with my grandchildren.”

In what ways do you think you are like your mom?- “I like things to be orderly. I’m very family-oriented…being with family is extremely important to me. We both have a strong faith in God. We both have a love for music..a love for singing.”

In what ways are you like your dad?- “He was very interested in politics and history, as am I. And I, like him, have a fiery temperament when something seems unjust…I cannot just let it go.”

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?-  “When my husband tells me that I was a good mother. And, when my co-workers say that I am funny…”

What have been the three biggest news events during your lifetime?- “I’d have to say, the assassination of JFK..and the assassination of MLK both left a huge mark on me. I was young when they occurred. Also, the events of 9/11.”

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted but still don’t have?- “Ha! A Horse…I’ve always wanted to have a horse.”

What’s your most cherished family tradition?- “Having big family get-togethers and celebrating the holidays.”

If you had the power to solve one and only one problem in the world, what would it be?- “I would eliminate child abuse and/or child neglect…and closely related, I would eradicate fatherless homes… Maybe a broader problem is family dysfunction…it’s a huge problem that I’ve seen in all my years of counseling. Lack of a mother and father raising children in a calm, nurturing, stable environment…if that could be righted..then so many other issues in our society would be resolved.”

What is the best thing about being a grandparent?- “The joy of watching a beloved child grow and develop into their own person…and seeing how your own children parent, seeing differences and similarities in how you parented. It’s quite fascinating to me.”

Favorite Quote- “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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52 Faces: 1/52 Adelaide

My goal for 2015 is to do a weekly portrait of someone in my life, be it family member, friend, acquaintance, or someone I haven’t officially met yet. Of course, the easiest place to start is with the tiny person I spend most of my time with.

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Adelaide is over five months old now, and showing us more and more of her personality every day. John and I are in awe of how sweet-natured she seems to be. I often wonder how her cheeks don’t ache from smiling so much (I know mine do).

She’s recently discovered that she can put her feet in her mouth, and she’s absolutely delighted by it. Her feet have become her favorite thing. When they are zipped away in her sleepsack for the night, she looks at me with a perplexed expression…as if to ask me where they have gone. When I unzip her in the morning, and she rediscovers her two, pudgy-toed companions…the look on her face is like someone who has been reunited with a friend she’s been separated from (for much longer than she intended to be).

Adelaide loves to study things…I can see such determination in her bright, blue eyes.

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These five months with my sweet girl have been challenging, in a sleep deprived, life altering kind of way. Becoming a mother changes pretty much every aspect of your life in some regards…and no matter how prepared you are for it, it’s hard. But, for every hour I’ve lost in sleep, every shirt that’s been spit up on, or every dinner out that has now become a dinner in, I’ve gain so SO much more…

This baby of ours is worth every hard thing. Every. Single. One.

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