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Archive for June, 2007

I used to listen to public radio all the time, and every once in a while I’d catch the section where families and friends in rural alaska would communicate messages over the radio that their loved ones could hear as long as they had radio reception. Common ones I used to hear were of people out on a trip letting their family back home know that they would be home soon. Or just the opposite – of family members letting the traveler know that all is well with hopes this person would make it home safely. This morning I thought about how my husband is far, far away with really no way to get ahold of me, or me of him. So, if I could send out a community radio message to tell him that we’re thinking of him, it would sound like this:

From Katie and Sophia in Valdez to Papa on Cottonwood Creek:
The weather’s been great until today.
Sophia’s first question after you left was, “Papa be right back?”
Hope you caught lots of fish.
The wildflowers are awaiting your return.
We miss you tons.
And love you ‘so much’.
Come home soon.
Happy Father’s Day.

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So, we posted an ad on Craigslist recently on our house, and got our first email response yesterday:

—– Original Message —–
From: “Julie Rose”
To:
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2007 12:04 PM
Subject: RE:Home on 1.25 Acres

Hello,

I find this ads interesting and would love to acquire this property as an
additional assets. I dont know when it will possible for me to come check up
this property because i am a busy person. Anyway, I would love to hear back
from you as to how the acquisition will be carried out.

Thanks

Julie
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Um, sure “Julie”. I think I’ll just respond to you so that you know my real email address and can bombard me with a bunch of spam mail. But on second thought, maybe I won’t because I, too, consider myself to be somewhat of a busy person, and would rather you didn’t. (Good thing Craigslist acts as a middleman and forwards messages on to keep your email private.) Does anyone actually ever respond to such obviously generic inquiries? And how come no one ever taught her how to use the plural tense. I think Sophia would even know better than to say “this ads”.

As if trying to sell your house wasn’t complicated enough!

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Toys In Common

These may look like three ordinary, in-every-kid’s-room toys, right? Well, they’re not. And one of the biggest reasons they’re not is that out of all the toys we go through in the lifetime of our children, these three will never be ones that go in the “donation bin” or carelessly are left at a friend’s house… They are ones I plan to help us hold on to.

But why? Surely it’s the quality of these toys, free from any blemishes – so bright and fresh looking. It’s definitely not that, in fact, I hope they are decorated with many blemishes (in other words, love) in the years to come. I hope our kids use their imaginations to play with these toys until they can no longer say the words, “What if?” And most importantly, I hope they understand why I love them so much.

Today my brother John would have turned 28. We were almost exactly 2 years apart in life, which meant we played A LOT as kids. And yes, sometimes that playing meant that I had to be Skeletor, but it also meant that he had to help me take care of my cabbage patch dolls. He was always so fascinated by the tattoo on their bottoms. He also knew I loved frogs. As adults, he always made sure that he looked out for any cool frog things for me…so he surprised us one weekend when we were staying at my mom’s B&B by putting a stuffed frog on the bed for Sophia. And then there’s that phone. For Sophia’s first Christmas he and Dad drove out to Valdez to spend the holiday with us. He was so excited to show Sophia this phone that spoke more than one language, just like his sister, he said.

Just so you know, if he were still here I probably would have gotten him something to do with Star Wars. But since he’s not, I’ll say Happy Birthday and think instead about the generosities he bestowed on his niece and nieces/nephews to come, because no matter how they choose to play with these toys, I’m sure they’ll all be fascinated by that tattoo.

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Apparently, Sophia was bitten by something that we believe wasn’t a mosquito. Maybe a noseum (sp?) or a whitesocks? Or even a spider? All we know is that we’ve been having lots of pity for this little girl who now seems to have a golf ball stuffed way up in her cheek.

So, that’s one of the things we experienced this weekend, but there were others…

I wrote something last week that I didn’t have a chance to finish, but wanted to include a part of it in this post so that I could tell you all the ending to the story you don’t (yet) know anything about ~

When you spend mulitiple consecutive days saying that, “Today is by far the best day of my life”, you know two things: 1) You are a very blessed person, and 2) You are bound to start your descent sooner or later. Besides going bike riding 18,000 times in the past two weeks in fair to great weather, going camping with good friends and watching our daughter (who has a great arm, by the way) throw rocks into a lake, we hung out together. We accomplished things together – like burning a brush pile the size of a small house down to nothing – and had lots of fun doing so. Which, of course, made the first not-so-great day seem much stormier than it actually was. We found out that our insurance company isn’t going to pay anything for the leak that we have in our roof, because the damage was caused by an ice-dam and was therefore considered “gradual damage” which isn’t covered in our policy. 😦 Doesn’t change the fact of course that we still have a roof over our heads (however leaky), food on the table, and love in our hearts. This realization took a while to actual manifest itself in my brain, which is why I’m practicing the art of blessing-counting, especially after a storm such as this.

The day after I wrote this we got a visit from our good friend Andrew who was in town with a co-worker scoping out a roof job. They stopped by the house, looked at our roof, and told us it wouldn’t take much to fix it. In fact, he probably had everything it would take laying around the shop back in Anchorage. By the end of the day, he had called and told us that he would be out here over the weekend to help us fix it. He brought his beautiful wife Julie who played with Sophia while the 2 guys tackled the job, and even found time to put up some trim around the outside windows. And even though I had to work, I enjoyed the time that Julie and I had a chance to chat about our pregnancies (she’s due about 5 weeks after me).

I can’t thank them enough for their sacrifice! It is so amazing how God makes things work out in ways that we could never in a million years foresee. Praise the Lord! This was a good reminder to keep counting those blessings, no matter what!

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I came across an art exhibit that illustrates mass waste in our country today. And, since my computer’s being silly and won’t let me hyperlink anything, I’ll just have to give you the full address to copy and paste into your address bar:

http://www.chrisjordan.com/current_set2.php?id=?view=XXX_09NNN/

Very interesting, and eye-opening. It definitely made me see what all those random statistics we hear all the time these days are all about.

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While I have a few moments of extra time, I wanted to write a little bit about what’s been whirling around in my head these past few weeks and months. As we’re in the process of packing for our big move, I’m realizing I’m getting very little packing done, and much more decluttering and simplifying. It’s really amazing to see what we have let accumulate in our house these past few years – things that we might have thought we needed but never ended up using…even things that we purchased thinking we needed them when in actuality we didn’t. I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago about impulse buying – even cheap stuff. She brought up the point that when we buy stuff we really don’t need we are fueling the excess production of consumer goods which costs money and energy. Even though an item seems “cheap” to us, it can actually turn out to be quite expensive if we end up not using it. Not to mention the cost it has on our environment. This friend of mine brought up the point that when we shop at second-hand stores, we are not only saving money, but recycling the products that are already out there, limiting waste.

It’s encouraging to me that saving money and the environment goes hand in hand. Sorry to say, but I’m definitely one of those people who are more motivated by saving money than the environment, but if while saving money I am also doing my part to reduce waste then all the better. When I lived in Germany I was shocked to see that my host family took their own cloth bags to the grocery store when they would shop. It wasn’t until my first solo-shop that I realized the main motivation. When I got to the check-out stand I had of course forgotten the cloth bags and had to take the option of buying plastic bags for my items – at 25 cents a piece! I can tell you right now that afterwards I thought twice about ever leaving the house without a bag big enough to carry what I thought I might need to buy that day.

I know there are many communities, too, with waste management programs that charge you more for not separating your garbage. My grandpa, for example, chooses to pay the higher rate where he lives for the convenience of not having to separate his trash. Now, Alaska is not the most environmentally friendly state and I know of no such programs like this up here, but I do know that if it came down to having to spend more money for the convenience of not having to separate plastic from paper from aluminum, I would definitely let myself be inconvenienced.

When it comes to what we as individuals can do to make a difference, we have to consider where we are living. Each area of the country, and world for that matter, has something about it that makes it easier to make differences in certain ways. Like abstaining from using a clothes-dryer in warm, dry climates where garments can be hung to dry. Or shooting your own game animals, fishing for salmon or other fish, and gathering your own berries in areas where it’s possible to do so. Or buying locally grown produce year round in areas where the growing season never ends. Thinking of my own situation, there is much I can do that is reasonable for the area in which I live. Even something as simple as knowing what perishable goods we have on hand at all times so that we’re able to use them before they go bad can help us save money and limit waste.

Just some thoughts. I would be interested to hear what you guys do to save money and the environment simultaneously. I’ll have more on this later as our project of putting our lives into boxes continues…

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27 months

Dear Sophia,

There was a time not too long ago that I always knew exactly how old you were. I’ve always been so proud of each of your accomplishments, even when you fell a little behind (like how you got your first tooth at nearly 9 months!) I realized today that I think of you as being 2, not 2 years X amount of months/weeks/days, just 2. An email popped up on my screen from Babycenter telling me that you are 27 months old today and I had to double-check the calendar to see that they were in fact right. It’s the fifth today meaning that you aren’t just 2, you’re 27 months! Instead of reaching big, singular milestones every so often, you are constantly reaching little ones that are adding up faster than I can say, “Sophia, come here so I can help you blow your nose.”

You concentrate so hard on things. I love watching you in your bike seat behind your papa, watching my legs as they pedal my way down the street. It’s almost as if you’re memorizing the rhythm. You also, I’ve noticed, concentrate on whether or not my words and actions coincide. You call me on so many things, especially when I’m doing something I normally tell you not to do, like wear my shoes in the house. I love this, because it lets me know that you’re paying attention to my constant nagging! You still love to “cook”, but now you give us more options for our dishes. It’s not just pie anymore, it’s pumpkin or keylime! And now you always ask us if we’d like a fork or a spoon to use.

You’re now able to suggest things that actually make sense and are conceivable for our situation. Like when we sat down the other night to watch one of your movies and you suggested that we make some popcorn. Or like when it’s really sunny outside and you grab your helmet and say, “Ride the bike?” It’s hard to imagine, but life with you gets to be even more fun the more we’re able to communicate with you.

You are very well mannered and always remember to bless us when we sneeze, and to say thank you when you are given something. You also, however, demand the same out of us. You must have said thank you 5 times for your milk yesterday before I realized that you were waiting for me to say “You’re welcome.” You always remember to ask me if I’m ok after I’ve had a coughing fit or stubbed my toe; you always remember to kiss my owies better. Not too long ago I popped my knuckles and you looked at me with such horror, and pity, and said, “No, Mama.” You grabbed my abused appendages and gave them kisses.

You got to see your little baby brother/sister in the form of an ultrasound last Friday but weren’t impressed by the image. You get more excited feeling the baby kick and hearing us talk about it. I know you’ll be the best big sister ever, and I can’t wait for you to be my little helper.

Love you always kleines Engel,
Mama

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