Archive for the ‘Celebration’ Category

Shakespeare wrote of the rose smelling as sweet even if it went by another name, just like you would be beautiful even if your name didn’t say so.  You are my jolie fille, and today, you are 7 months old.

It’s hard to believe that seven months have already passed since you joined our family.  Yet, on the other hand, it’s hard to believe that only seven months have passed since you joined our family.  It’s such a cliche, but I really can’t remember when you weren’t here.  I superimpose you into all of my memories.  Even the ones I have of my life before I had a family of my own.

It’s amazing to see you change every day.  A few weeks ago you slept through the night in your crib for the first time.  I knew it was time to really try when, after Sophia had long gone to bed, you, Papa and I sat on the bed.  You lay on your back, playing with your toes, while Papa and I ate ice cream and watched an episode of The Office.  Sophia all of a sudden appeared in the doorway and asked, “Watcha guys doin’?”  We sheepishly told her what we were doing, heavily laden with guilt, and then told her she could sit up with us for a little while, and, yes, have bites of our ice cream, too.  The next day Sophia asked me why Jolie slept in our bed and not in her room with her.  That’s when I knew I had to make more of an effort and – ta-da! – it worked (it actually was quite the process, though), so now when sister gets put to bed, you do to.

If there’s anything I really know about you, Jolie, it’s that you love your sister.  When she cries, you cry.  When she screams with laughter, you cry, too, because you think she’s hurt.  Yesterday, at our neighbors’ house, our friend Shane made Sophia screech with laughter.  After you cried for a bit and got over it, you spent the rest of our time there eye-balling Shane and scowling at him.  I could almost read your mind, “Don’t you dare hurt my sister.”

You started clucking your tongue recently.  At church they joke that you’ve learned a tribal language.  I can usually cheer you up if you’re sad by clucking my tongue at you.  You do it back, and then you smile.  You have one of the two best smiles I’ve ever seen (tied with Sophia’s, of course).  It melts my heart and makes me want to laugh at the same time.  It tells me that everything is going to be ok, and that I shouldn’t worry about anything – at all.  That I should just spend my time loving you and knowing that if I don’t take the time now to just sit and watch you smile, I’ll never ever get the chance.

Thanks for the reminder, my jolie fille.

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I had been 22 for just over a week and I had recently met the man of my dreams, with whom I knew I would spend the rest of my life, when I began the journey that has just yesterday come to a close. For some reason, God placed me in a shop full of men – some old, some younger…one I even rode the bus with to school in Palmer. I had gone there with the intention of spending 10 weeks and then returning to Anchorage where I would continue going to UAA, but that 10 weeks turned to four years and here we are.

The woman who took my position asked me if I was sad at all to be leaving, and after a little thought my answer was no, because it’s always sad for me to be at work and away from my baby girl. But then, during my last few days there, I realized how many people I really wanted to say goodbye to.  I must have hugged about 50 dirty coverall-wearing guys who all remind me in part of my own dad, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of how they all have been like “dads” to me, or “big brothers” even. And as the majority of them got a little teary-eyed saying goodbye to me, I found myself doing the same.

The shop had a good-bye party for me on Saturday. They aren’t a very emotional group, as you can imagine any group of mechanics would be, but they did say that they feel like they’ve watched me grow up. They were some of the first to hear that I was engaged, saw my pictures from our wedding, and heard that I would be bringing a new life into the world, and also some of the first people to hear that I’d lost my brother. They said they hated to see me go, but they knew I had a good reason. And I know I do, too.

It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I don’t have to go back. I keep reminding myself by telling Sophia every couple of hours, “Guess what?!” “What?”, she asks. “Mama’s home now, for good.”

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We received official word today that Isaac passed his Praxis II Social Studies Exam and is now certified to teach not only English, but Social Studies as well! His score was even 25% higher than it needed to be, proving how brilliant he really is.

Congratulations my love! Another obstacle down, not so many more to go. 🙂

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Sophia and her cousins Kobe (top picture – at left), Jenna Rae, and Judah (at right) had a good excuse to hang out the weekend before last at Oma’s house – Uncle John’s Memorial Barbeque! Lots of friends and family showed up and fought the many mosquitos while digging in on lots of yummy food. Our family doesn’t get together very often, but when we do, it’s always a blast. I love being able to catch up with my many siblings, even if it only happens every once in a while…

Celebrating John made me think of some of his personality traits. Here are a few that have been on my mind since then:

He was so concerned about anything I was concerned about. There was never an I-couldn’t-care-less attitude when it came to something that mattered to me. I would tell him some wrong that had been done against me and he would say, in all seriousness, “Nuh-UH!” Or, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” Or even, “Man, that is such BS!”

And that’s what he would really say: B.S. Just like when he was at his most frustrated he’d say, “Freakin’ A!” or call someone an “A-Hole”. And the funniest thing about it is I think he said that even around people who were, shall we say, a little more liberal with their words. Nevertheless, I always appreciated him not cussing around me.

He was so passionate about video games. I remember once when he was a teenager watching him rejoice over passing a certain level of Zelda. He made a fist with his right hand and, forearm up, moved his elbow backwards in one swift motion (I’m sure there’s a word for this gesture – but you know the one I’m talking about right? Think Kevin in Home Alone) thereby cracking it (his elbow) on part of the metal folding chair on which he sat. It literally knocked him out and he fell to the floor – that’s how hard he hit it. Again, he was passionate.

I’m so glad we had the chance to celebrate his life at your house, Mom. Thanks for hosting it.

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So, the reason we went down to L.A. last week: a wedding. We found out at the end of March/beginning of April that Isaac’s cousin (who also happens to be one of my very best girlfriends) was to be married. With Grandma’s help, we made arrangements for me and Sophia to travel South to wish her and her soon-to-be husband a life filled with love, in person. The week was packed full of different events: from the bridal shower, to the rehearsal, to the wedding itself. We never found ourselves without some sort of event to get ready for, even if it was just dinner out with family.

The wedding day arrived and turned out to be the hottest day of our stay there! Although I never saw an actual thermometer that day, I heard it reached way into the 80s. But, as I heard many others say that day, better that than rain.

Corie was a beautiful bride, and Justin a handsome groom. Together, they took on each obstacle with such grace. I remember at one point noticing that Justin, in his dark Army Uniform, didn’t even break a sweat. While I, on the other hand, red-faced, didn’t venture far from the shade and when I did it was to offer Sophia some more water. Another thing that impressed me so much was seeing the two of them, with heads bowed, asking a blessing for their meal amidst all the wedding reception chaos.

At the bridal shower, Grammy prayed the most beautiful prayer over Corie. I don’t remember her exact wording, but I recall her requesting that Jesus build a hedge of thorns around their relationship with Him in their marriage, so that if they ever begin to stray from His guidance, that they couldn’t go far without realizing where they really needed to be. Ever since I heard those words I’ve been praying for the same in my own marriage – that the Lord would love me and my husband enough to keep us on the right path, whatever the cost.

It was a gorgeous wedding; I’m glad we got to be there.

(The first, third, and fifth pictures shown above were taken by Charif.)

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Job Fair Results

It was a great trip to Anchorage. Sophia had so much fun hanging out with her Grandma Becky at the hotel. She loved the big bath tub and had a lot of fun “swimming” in it. She also had a chance to have short visits with her Opa in Palmer and her Oma in Anchorage. It has been a Grandparent-Getaway for her this time.

As for the job fair, we weren’t quite sure what to expect from it, but found out the night before it even began that our #1 choice wanted us as well. After interviewing with other districts and getting other offers over the following days, we decided that our minds weren’t changed and that we still had our hearts set on Thorne Bay, Alaska.

Thorne Bay is a community of about 500 people on the East Coast of Prince of Whales Island in Southeast Alaska. Getting to this community will consist of a long ferry ride to Ketchikan (which is the nearest city) and a shorter ferry ride from there over to the Island, which happens to be the third largest island in the United States (with over 1500 miles of paved road between all the different communities on the island). Our baby will most likely be born in Ketchikan, although those kind of details are yet to be worked out.

So, sometime in August we’ll be headed there to start our new life! Thanks for all of your prayers and please keep ’em coming!

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The greatest dad the world has ever known turns 32 today. He has the heart of a child, but the strength that is needed to be the wonderful husband and father God has called him to be. I will forever be grateful to Him for blessing us with Isaac.

Happy Birthday to the love of my life.

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No year stands out more to me than 1989.

In school, we learned about the fall of the Berlin Wall. 10 years later I would live with a family in Germany whose lives changed dramatically when that wall came down. Without the ending of that separation between Ost and West, I probably never would have come to know and love my German family.

My parents got divorced. We were living in Northern California at the time in a tiny town called Platina on a 20-acre plot of land my parents had bought way back when. My dad loaded the 4 or us kids up in our orangish-brown Ford crewcab, threw some bags of clothes in the back, and we made our way back up North to Alaska.

And on this date, in 1989, the first in the group of our nieces and nephews was born: Kenneth James Kramer. My sister Patty flew to California to visit us that year and show off her new baby boy. For weeks afterward, everytime we’d see a plane fly by overhead we’d wave and say, “Bye Patty, bye Kenneth”.

11 years later we would have to say “bye” to him for real. But we never would have had that chance if he hadn’t started his journey in the first place. So I want to recognize that gift God gave us on March 20, 1989: the day when his Mom held him and knew that nothing in this world will ever compare to giving life.

Happy Birthday Kenneth!

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