Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mr. (Not Quite) US Attorney

Look at him in court, acting like a grown up lawyer!
This fall, John got the opportunity to help with a case in federal court since he is interning at the US Attorney's office here in Boise.  One day, I was able to go and watch him and it was so much fun.  He always described things like I would be bored going to watch, but I thought it was really exciting. There was a lot of work put into the case, so it was really exciting when the jury found the defendant guilty.
The following is an email that was released to the US Attorney's office back in November:
I bolded stuff about John because I'm all obsessed with him like that. :)

Congrats to the trial team of Marc Haws, John Brassell, Angie Nyland, Danielle Narkin, Kristi Johnson & Cassie Morinville in United States v. Villasenor-Villa for guilty verdicts returned today.  After an eight day trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of multiple counts of manufacturing more than 1,000 marijuana plants, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, injury to government property and most notably, engaging a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries a 20 year mandatory minimum sentence.  The case involved a large-scale marijuana grow operation on BLM land in the Boise National Forest.  Marc led the case.  He gave compelling opening statement, closing and rebuttal arguments.  During the case-in-chief, Marc handled most of the 30 witnesses called by the government.  John, our U of I Law student extern in his first federal court trial, handled a number of witnesses, including an ATF nexus expert and a deputy sheriff who arrested the defendant, and performed like a seasoned trial attorney.  Angie provided impeccable ALS work and was present for each day of trial.  Among other duties, Danielle was instrumental in pretrial prep, and in preparing briefs and jury instructions.  As usual, Kristi and Cassie handled the 30+ witnesses without a hitch, no easy task because multiple witnesses were recalled.  Thanks to the investigating agencies: DEA, BLM, & Nampa PD for their great work investigating the case.  Sentencing is set for February 4, 2015.  Well done, Marc, John, Angie, Danielle, Kristi & Cassie!

Yesterday, the defendant was sentenced to 24 years in prison and this article was published about the case.

I am just so proud of how much John has accomplished the last couple years in law school, it is amazing what can be learned in such a short time.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Johnny turns FOUR!

I can't believe Johnny is FOUR YEARS OLD! Where, oh where, did the time go?  I was really excited for Johnny's birthday. With the rest of our birthdays within a couple weeks of each other, and it about kills him that his isn't within a couple days, so we hear about his birthday non-stop for the next five months.  Not to mention, Johnny is Mr. Middle Child around here and often times falls in the cracks between William and Caity, I was really excited to have a day solely for him.

His birthday theme changed almost hourly from Ninja Turtles, to trains, to dinosaurs, but stayed pretty consistent with MONSTERS!  I was pretty excited. 
The night before, John and I stayed up late, creating monster decorations and Johnny's frequently requested monster cake, like really- he asked about his Monster Cake all day every day and the night before said, "I'll see you when I'm four and there will be a Monster CAKE!"  
I was quite impressed with John's streamer skills- he blew through three rolls of streamers!

As always, the picture doesn't do his streamer job justice. I just like that John Calhoun.
On an hourly basis, Johnny would wake up, thinking it was his birthday.  He would proceed to wake up his little brother, and let me say- it was a long night.

At six, Caity woke up and realized it was Johnny's birthday and ran to wake up her brothers.

On the kids' birthdays I feel like and HGTV designer giving their final review (who am I kidding here?) it is so exciting and their reactions are always my very favorite part of the day.  The kids ran into the front room/dining room and I heard squeals, and my heart was happy.  "Johnny, look at this!"  "Wow, Caity, look! My MONSTER CAKE!"

I made each of the kids a little goody bag. In each one, was a bubbles and a juice box- both decorated to look like Monsters with paper and googly eyes, a monster bean bag I sewed them, and Monsters Inc. gummies.

They came running back to me with their monster party hats showing me all their cool things and I learned the little monster bean bags were a hit, which a huge relief to this craft-handicapped mama.

Next, we played with balloons for about 45 minutes, like really- 45 whole minutes.  Anyone with young children has to understand what a feat it is to have children focused on any one thing that long.  Johnny said, "This balloon is the best birthday present everrrr!"  Wow, that knowledge could have made gift shopping so much easier!

 John came home and we had Johnny's birthday breakfast: funfetti pancakes, hot dogs and eggs, yogurt, strawberries and chocolate milk.  We even put a candle on Johnny's pancakes and sang, "For he's a jolly good fellow" which Johnny thought was plain silly.

 After John took off to work (insert sad face), we played bean bag related games: hopscotch, bean-bag toss, hide-and-find the monsters.  Then, as the kids watched Monsters Inc, I finished a monster matching game I have been working on.  I am really pleased with how it turned out, and when I brought it out to play with kids, we had a lot of fun.

The big tradition at our house is Happy Meals on birthdays.  So, off to "Old McDonalds" to give our stomach something to digest over the next decade.  The kids had a lot of fun and really enjoyed playing in the play land.

After we dropped Miss Caity off to school, I took Johnny and William to PoJo's arcade.  Because it was Johnny's birthday, he got to spin the birthday wheel and won a ride on the merry go round and 200 tickets.  He rode bunny and William rode the giraffe-horse, and momma almost lost her lunch because that merry-go-round was fast!  We played some arcade games, rode a mechanical rocket and picked out prizes for everyone in the family.  As we left, Johnny said, "I wish every day was my birthday."

(William was FREAKED whenever something would start moving.)

On the Merry-Go Round. Johnny exclaimed, "I can't believe how tall I am now!" He chose the rabbit because rabbits are "fast like me."

When we got home, John was there (yay!) and we played the matching game again and had some down time just enjoying playing together.  The boys got in the bath and Johnny washed his hair because now that he is four, he is tall enough to do it, apparently.

We left to pick Caity up from school and got there early enough that we got to play on the big toy. I always get a little nervous when Johnny asks me to go down the slide with him, luckily, this were the wide variety and I didn't get stuck. :) Phew.

At home, we decorated Monster Cookies with left over Christmas candy.  It was a lot of fun and I am glad I didn't bum out on making the sugar cookies.  We ate the sugar cookies with lunchables, which- may I add- Johnny now makes a sandwich with the three ingredients, instead of eating all the cheese in one bite, and throwing the crackers under the couch- he grew up so fast. :)
Here they are with their monster cookies.

 The kids played with dinosaurs and legos while I did stuff done around the house that needed my attention.

John walked through the door right as I put William down for bed.  He was so excited to go to sleep, it was a long day for that little guy!

John, Caity and Johnny started to build a fire in the fireplace.  This was Johnny's big request and he was anxiously waiting all day to roast hot dogs on the fire.  It was a great dinner, coming from a lady who has the taste buds of a five year old.  There was cheese puffs, watermelon, strawberries, and blackened, charred hot dogs. Did I mention that for Johnny's party he requested we all wear our pajamas?  This kid loves his "comfy clothes."

Next, we blew out candles on Johnny's monster cake.  I accidentally bought trick candles and so they kept relighting and the kids thought that was hilarious.  It was really funny and ended with Johnny spitting all over the cake.  As soon as we had that taken care of, Johnny announced, "I wished I could find PETCH!" 

Next we moved to the living room to open presents. My mom made Johnny a bug jar quilt, it was really cool and Johnny was so excited. I love this age, so easy to please. He would have been content to stop there.  From Aunt NeeNee, he got dinosaur slippers that were also very well recieved. johnny is obsessed with monsters and dinosaurs-so these were right up his alley.  John's parents got him the four ninja turtles- this was the jack pot of the birthday.  We wrapped them in a huge box and through in all sorts of garbage so he had to dig for them.  He was shocked he had every single one.  He already has the red one, but since he has never actually seen the show he was like, "Mom! Now, I have all five of them!"  Haha, weird how obsessed he is with them when he hasn't ever watched the show.  John and I got him a Ninja Turtle Look and Find book and a Transformer that was a police car/robot.  Johnny acts like the transformer is the king of the cars when he plays. It is pretty cute.  I also let him choose out a hot wheels earlier in the day, so that was another gift- technically.  Caity got him a "long neck" so they could play "Little Foot."  It was quite the bounty and he was a happy camper.  That night he slept with all his toys and played with them on his new quilt and you could just see how lucky he viewed himself.  He was just so content.

(here he is opening Aunt Neenee's present. My battery died half way through videoing, but it is still fun for me to hear his little voice!)

After presents we had cake and Neapolitan ice cream.  He chose out that ice cream because it had everyone's favorites.  He said, "Dad, c careful dad, so you don't eat the strawberry- cause it's pink and you don't like that!"  It made me laugh.  Also, have I mentioned his obsession with "Banilla?" He got me a vanilla scented candle for Christmas and he walks around our house sniffing it all day saying, "Mmmm-Baaaaniiillla!" It is his new flavor of choice.

When I tucked Johnny into bed, I sang "Happy Birthday" to him one more time and he gave me a big hug and we talked about how cool his presents were.  I told him, "Johnny I am so happy you are my little boy."  and he said, "I'M so happy YOUR my mom!" then as I was leaving he said, "And mom, I'm not a little boy, I'm four. But you can still be happy."  

That Johnny.  He makes me smile from the inside out. I love the way his hand fits in mine. I hope he never stops telling me his little stories and his big plans.  I know every mom views their little boy as "something special" and every little boy is. I am so grateful I get a first hand experience to watch this special boy in particular. He is my joy boy.

When he was a baby I used to sing the song, "Hourglass" but Mindy Glendale it went like this:
Little Boy, When you sleep,
I can't help but kiss your cheeks,
I love the way you take my hand,
tell me all about your plans,
rocket ships, way up high
you and I can take a ride, 
and fly away to Neverland,
give our best to Peter Pan,
When you reach for the stars,
Don't forget who you are,
And please, don't grow up way too fast,
I see the sand in my hand, from the first to last,
Oh, life's an hour glass, life's an hourglass.
And it is...time is slipping away so fast it hurts some times. But I am always surprised at how pleased I am with what I discover around the corner, Every season is just so magical in its own right and I am grateful to be in the season of life I am in.

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