Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Books, Trips, and Pics

Sophia’s been loving the Little Critter books lately. We checked out a couple of them from the library: I Just Forgot and When I Get Bigger. She relates to each of them a lot because a.) she forgets to do a lot of things we ask her to and b.) she talks often of how she is bigger and is constantly getting bigger every day. Well, on the back of one of these books are pictures of the covers of many of the other Little Critter books. One of them really got her attention. The picture showed Little Critter staring into a mirror; his reflection a “scary” version of himself. Sophia honed right in on it, “What’s that one called, Mom?” “What a Bad Dream,” I told her. Her eyes showed some definite fear, but she said, “Can we get that one from the library, Mom?” I told her I didn’t know if the library had it, but that we could check. “Could we go check right now?” she asked. I told her that now wasn’t the best time because Jolie was sleeping, but she disappeared momentarily and returned to say, “Okay, I checked on Jolie, Mom, and she’s doing good. We can run to the library really quick, okay?” No, not okay.

We did end up going to the library yesterday evening. Sophia marched right up to the desk and asked the volunteer if the library had “the bad dream book”. I clarified what she was trying to say, and he looked and reported that it was not in the system. “Hmmm…” she said, “I guess we’ll have to order it then.”

I love to see and hear her mind at work. I love finding out who she is more and more each day. It makes the never ending laundry and dishes and messy house worth it. (Although I might not say the same thing after a sleepless night and two cranky kids following me around the house.)

Jolie changes more and more each day. Something that I love about her recently is that she gives hugs – really great hugs – and kisses. I push the girls around town in a single jogging stroller with Jolie in the seat part and Sophia in the feet part. Jolie leans forward, smashes her face into a pile of curls, and hugs Sophia tight. Sophia lets her know how sweet she is by saying, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh, Jolie. Nice hugs.”

We’ve been back from our big trip for a while now, but since then Jolie and I took another trip South to go to my grandpa’s funeral in the Bay Area. We stayed with cousins and got to see lots of family. We’re still thinking about our big trip a lot though, and feel so blessed to have been able to visit so many friends and family.

At our friends Lindell and Jim’s house in Eagle River.

Bathtime with Auntie Mariza.

Our first date in a long time: a tour of El Capitan Cave.

Berry picking up near Coffman Cove.

Family picture at the Russian River.

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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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Old MacFarmy

I never knew about Old MacFarmy until Sophia told me about him just the other day.  Oh, you’ve never heard of him?  He’s the other farmer in the Old MacDonald song.  According to Sophia, the lyrics go:

Old MacDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o

And Old MacFarmy had some ducks, e-i-e-i-o…

Apparently, he has nothing to do with Old MacDonald.  He just happens to be another farmer who also has animals.  I learn so much every day from this girl.  🙂

The sun is shining more lately, and I’ve been letting Sophia play outside by herself a little bit.  I’m a little hesitant to have her out of my sight, not because I don’t trust the people here, but more because we have no yard and she literally has to play 3 feet from the house in order for her not to be in the street, and hence, in danger of being hit by a car.  With the sun shining so much, though, it’s hard to make her stay inside.  Yesterday she sat for quite a while on our porch steps blowing bubbles.  And before that she played on her little mini swing set that the neighbor gave her.  I’ve never seen a swing set that was smaller.  I’m the first to admit that I often get out of things Sophia suggests by saying that I’m too big, when really, I could fit through a 2 ft. in diameter tunnel if I wanted to, but I usually don’t want to, and it’s just easier to blame the fact that I’m not little enough to do something.  But, with this particular swing set, I am too big and I would probably destroy it if I tried to put all of my weight on it.

Speaking of weight – Jolie was weighed again a couple of weeks ago.  She is now (if she hasn’t reached it already) approaching 20 pounds.  She ate her first solid food 2 1/2 weeks ago – rice cereal – and has since then tried bananas (thumbs down) and apple juice (thumbs up).  This morning during breakfast I really let stupidity take over when I thought, “Hmmm, Jolie doesn’t like mashed up banana…Maybe she would like it if I just let her gnaw on a fresh whole banana a little bit.”  5 seconds later I was ready to do the Heimlich Maneuver on her because she took a chomp of it and then started to choke (but first she made a face to show how disgusting the banana was).  I was able to remove the chunk with my finger, though, and a few pats on the back later, she was fine.  I, on the other hand, took about 15 minutes to recover as I rocked her and wondered where my brain had been at that moment.

We took a hike on a rocky beach the other weekend.  Sophia is turning out to be such an outdoor girl.  She loves the challenge of different terrain and can keep up better and better all the time.  Here are a few pictures from that day.

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Today (and yesterday, and the day before) I lost my cool with Sophia. “Whaaaaaaaaat?!” I ask after she’s tried for what seems like 30 minutes straight to get my attention. “I just wanted to tell you that I got Jasmine’s skirt on all by myself, Mo-om,” she says, heart broken-ly, princess Jasmine doll in hand.  What is it that encourages our children to wait until we are most stressed to try to stress us out some more. Even when I’m truly trying to listen, I just don’t seem to get it right. Like today, for instance, Sophia ran ahead of me and Jolie and stood on the bottom step of the library and repeated over and over, “I want to go first, k? Let me go first, k?” I walked past her and started up the steps, when all of a sudden she yells out, “Mom! I told you already that I want to go first up the steps.” “Then why aren’t you going up the steps?” I ask. “I was waiting for you and I already told you I want to go first and you didn’t listen to me.” “So, go first then,” I say. She then spends the next hour sulking in the library over the whole event.

These challenges are what make breaks from normal life extraordinary. Like a trip to Fairbanks where it averaged zero degrees Fahrenheit and Jolie and I got to hang out with my little sis and my mom – not to mention attend a conference with a bunch of other really cool librarians like myself. I loved breathing the crisp air and visiting Santa Claus’ house in North Pole and experiencing the heat of Chena Hot Springs (way more heat than we expected :)) And I loved a chance to miss Sophia. And I loved that she missed me. And I loved that after we got home we only had a few days to wait before all 4 of us got on a plane and flew down to visit Isaac’s family.

The trip to California can be summed up with just 6 little words: CAN WE JUST STAY HERE FOREVER? Something about the warm, but not uncomfortably warm, weather, and the way Sophia smiled after seeing her favorite princess (Cinderella), and seeing Jolie’s bare skin get kissed by the sun for the first time made me wish that our trip would never end. On our last day there, we spent most of the morning over at Isaac’s grandparents’ house and I watched Grammy rock Jolie and kiss her chubby arms. Sophia spent the better part of 15 minutes admiring Grammy’s “sprinkles” all over her face and neck and even said, “When I get bigger, I can have sprinkles, too, just like Grammy.” Grampy was so sweet and kept on telling us what good girls we have.

We miss everybody. More pictures soon.

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Life happens, you take as many pictures as you can, and then, well, at least if you’re me, you go through the bulk to pick out a few that illustrate best what your family’s been up to lately.

Our friends Steve and Amy visited us for Thanksgiving and helped us pick out a tree about 10 or 15 miles from our house. It’s some sort of pine tree. Being from “up North” we’ve always used spruce, so this was a change for us. What a pleasure it was to decorate – no scrapes or cuts this year from trying to wrap the lights around the tree. The pine needles are so soft and with the pine cones we were provided some natural ornaments.

(By the way, Steve and Amy, Sophia includes you in her ‘People I love’ list every day – It’s pretty darn cute.)

I finally had the chance to dress the girls up in the matching outfits our friends Karen and Don sent us. It’s what they wore to the Community Dinner and Christmas program. As you can see, they look adorable in them.

I think Sophia was the only toddler who actually sang in the program. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer was heard in our house non-stop for the next few days.

And Sophia even sat on Santa’s lap for the first time ever this year. Her request: candy. We’re glad to have a daughter who’s so easy to please. 🙂

Lots more pictures sit in our camera. I’m hoping that I’ll get some of them posted in the next few days.

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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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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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Do you suppose God made seasons because he knew we would welcome the change? Cold to not-so-cold to warmer to hot to cooler before it’s finally cold again? There’s a time for me in spring where I could swear that it is fall: that everything is dying instead of coming back to life. There seems to be such a fine line when this happens, between life and death. Almost as if one is the other. Our spring air here mimics that of the fall – I dare not leave the house without my jacket yet – and is filled with the smell of rain throughout the day.

We spent much of the evening on Mother’s Day helping Isaac build a bonfire out of the brush he’s been clearing on our property. While he moved the great big branches, we puddered around the yard, picking up trash that was left after the snow piles from winter finally finished melting, and inspected stumps and bugs and dirt. Sophia saw a spider and announced, “I love a spider!” and tried to pick it up before I advised against it. She took the advice, thank goodness, and squatted there staring at it for quite a while. The sweetness that accompanies afternoons outside with almost no agenda is something that always causes my heart to leap. To sit with my family by the fire and to talk, or not to talk. Doesn’t really matter because there’s always something to keep you occupied in times like this, even if that “something” means simply staring at the fire and thinking of ways to get it to burn even stronger.

Our very short spring will soon turn into summer before I again start to contemplate this ever changing cycle. Life to death to life again. And as we approach the anniversary of my brother’s accident, I can’t help but wonder if seasons are a way for God to explain life after our own deaths on this earth. Sometimes, most times, the idea of forever is too much for me to contemplate, let alone understand. But in the case of my brother it is like a fresh water spring that you happen upon after having run out of water on a long hike. It is relief from pain and discomfort, and hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. Not to say that a lump doesn’t form in my throat when I stumble upon emails that mention him – even if the mentioning was from my mom or dad just saying that, “John stopped over last night” – or that my heart doesn’t sink when I think of something from our childhood to remind him of and then realize I can’t simply pick up the phone and call. And the worst part about that is he’s the only other person besides me who would remember that part of our childhood! It’s not to say that I’ve stopped missing him because I haven’t. But it is to say that I don’t know where my heart would be if I didn’t believe that, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).

I do believe that God’s grace and mercy are sufficient in every situation. He prepares us for the unimaginable in unimaginable ways. For me, the seasons explaining the idea of a new life in Christ has turned out to be one of them.

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