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Our bedtime routine goes more or less something like this: diapers and jammies on, brush teeth, read stories, say prayers, kisses to Tess (who is then carted off to the pack ‘n play in the spare room where the girls won’t bother her sleep), kisses and hugs to both girls, and then a “story from when you were a little kid” from me or Isaac (depending on who has the energy that night).  Sounds easy enough – eh?  Not really, but that will have to be saved for another day.  Tonight, I was nominated to deliver a story.  I had quite a time thinking of one, as in my mind I ran over the different eras of my life (California Days? No.  Knight Island?  Knik River Road? Something about the stepbrothers and sisters? No. No. No. Most of that’s been covered.)  Finally I decided to recant something from my “Year in Germany”.  The story (with comments from a certain 4-year old) went something like this.

“So, let’s see.  Well, you guys know I speak a little German to you now and again right?  Well, that comes from the year I spent in Germany.  I remember the day I left for Germany…I don’t think Uncle Gregory came with us to the airport.”

“Why?”

“Well, I don’t know.  Good question.  All I remember is that he and I did dishes together that evening.  We were having such a good conversation and we were laughing a lot and all of a sudden I was sad to be going.”

“Why”

“Because I was going to be leaving for a whole year and knew that I would miss him, and thought for just a split second of maybe not going after all.”

“Why”

“Because I thought Gregory needed me there.  We needed each other.  Anyway, I remember that he didn’t go with us to the airport because Opa and I said goodbye to him out in the driveway and then took off down the road.  I glanced back at one point and saw Gregory running after us and waving.  I thought maybe he was sad that I was leaving.”

“Why was he sad.”

“Well, because one day when you go away from home we’ll be sad that you’re leaving, too.”

The misty eyes came before this last sentence, but after it, the flood gates were opened.

“What’s the matter, babe?  What did I say?  Why are you crying?”

“I’m crying because you said something very naughty, Mama!”

“What?”

“That I have to go away!”

“No, no.  I said when you go away.  Like to college, or when you get married.  Don’t you want to do that?”

“No.”

“Okay, you can just live with us then – as long as you want.”

“Until I die?”

“Sure.”

These kids…man, oh, man.  Sometimes I find myself embracing them and never wanting to let go, lately I find myself I’m hiding from them.  And as long as it takes for them to find me is what I consider to be my “alone time”.  It usually lasts about a minute or less (our house is very small), but hey, it’s something.  I never realized how much I am really needed or how many times I get up from a sitting position during the day to meet their needs, until I was stricken with the flu.  I’ve spent the last few days doing the kind of “half-sleep” that only parents know.  With the eye closest to the couch closed, while the other opens and closes every 30 seconds or so to do patrol.  “Resting your eye”, I guess you can say.  I’ve also found myself waiting, praying, for the sleep jerks of a sick child, and then the slow, steady, deep breathing, so that I know it’s safe to venture back to my own bed. 

I wonder, did my mom and dad feel for my sleep jerks, too?  Being the 5th of 7 children, I highly doubt it.  Most often, I probably just fell asleep during whatever evening activity was taking place.  I have many memories of falling asleep in one spot and waking up in my bed the next morning surprised, always thinking that I sleep-walked there.  Other times I actually remember the weightlessness I felt as my dad or mom toted me off to bed, head on shoulder.  Unlike my own children, I’m pretty sure I “transfered well”.

The worst thing about the kind of flu I had, though, was that it was feverless.  A fever is always the best excuse to get people feeling really sorry for you, to the point where they demand that you get some rest.  “The chills”? Doesn’t sound so serious.  “Aching muscles”? That either.  But a fever?  Yes, get into bed this very instant, young lady.  No dishes, no laundry, and above all, no taking care of children until you are better!  Yeah, no such luck. 

So, what do you do in such a situation?  The key is to make yourself look, and sound, as sick as you feel.  The hair is very important.  Whatever you do, don’t redo your ponytail mid-day.  Let the hair, and hair tie, fall where it may creating a very “sick” look.  Sweatpants (or any type of jammie pants, really) are “sick” attire.  Anything really well worn is preferred.  And when you answer the phone – give it as much croak as possible.

The day I came down with it started at a lovely 4:45 a.m.  Sophia came into the guest bed where I was trying to get Tess to go back to sleep and ended any chance of that.  She hacked and hacked until Tess was so wide awake she was doing her “happy talk”.  And once the happy talk starts, there’s no going back to sleep in our house.  “Why did you have to come in here Sophia?” I asked, knowing that the day had begun and dreading it.  A minute or so later, as I lay there feeling sorry for myself, she began to get back out of the bed.  When I asked where she was going, she said, “I’m going to go out there and cough so it doesn’t bother you.”  Talk about a heart breaker.

So, tonight, after I said she could live with us forever, I backtracked just a bit and suggested that maybe she can do what she’s mentioned before and have a house next to ours and that I can come over and visit every day.  And she said, “No, I’ll come and visit you.”  And I said ok.  It’s a good compromise.

Here’s a few more pics to hold the grandparents over:

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I swear I sit down to type and Jolie senses it and instantly needs my attention. Even as I type now she’s calling out for me. It’s a test of will – I’ll try to win this time.

Today she spent the better part of the afternoon blowing raspberries at me. Maybe that would have been a good time to sit and type, but, then again, I was far too amused to do anything but stare in awe of this little baby girl of 4 1/2 months.

Sophia’s been getting her to laugh more and more these past couple of weeks. She recently was given a game from a friend of ours called Pretty Pretty Princess, where the object is to be the first one to decorate yourself completely with your set of jewelry. She decorated Jolie the other day and they both were giggling pretty good about it.

One of Sophia’s all time favorite things to do these days is dress up for us. She dressed up in her jewelry, ballet attire, and her head band the other day, came in and asked, “Don’t I look boo-tee-ful Mama?” She insisted on leaving the tag on the headband because it made it “more cool”.

She helped me make cookies for Valentine’s Day. When I opened our big bucket of flour her eyes lit up and she asked if she could sink her hands in it. “We have to wash our hands first,” I replied, “They’re dirty.” She put her fingers up to her nostrils, took a big whiff, and said, “I just smelled ’em Mom. I think they’re purdy good.”

She’s been enjoying a book lately called, That’s Disgusting by Francesco Pittau and Bernadette Gervais, where the authors list many things that are disgusting – like playing in the cat litter, or pooping in the bathtub. We sat around the other day thinking of our own disgusting things. Sophia came up with: Brushing the toilet with your tooth brush! – That’s disgusting! And – Eating your fingers! – That’s disgusting! At one point, Isaac came up with: Licking your shoe! – That’s disgusting! Sophia’s face was priceless. She asked, “That is disgusting, looking your shoe?” And we said, “Yes.” She hesitated for a moment before saying, “I don’t do THAT anymore!”

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Mastering the Muffin

I can never seem to follow a muffin recipe quite like I’m supposed to. That part about mixing just until the batter is wet is never I enough for me, and I usually let the mixer whirl a few (dozen) more times past that point. Well, today I didn’t. And there was one little girl who was happy that I finally listened.

Cup of hot cocoa anyone?

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Thankful for this girl

Ask her to smile for a picture and you get a cheesy, lips-only grin (you’ll see what I mean when I post her school picture). But, make her smile with a joke or a tickle and, well, as Memphis says about Norma Jean on Happy Feet, it just about takes your breath away. No matter how hard I mess up as her mom, she always finds time in the day to reward me with her smile.

Even since that day I surprised her with a sister, she has found ways to amaze me with her patience and her huge heart. I don’t know how many times I’ve said the sentence, “Not right now, Sophia, I’m ____ing Jolie” (you fill in the verb), but she still somehow assumes the role of helpful big sister, instead of jealous first born. The other day I had plopped a load of clean laundry on the couch right where I usually put Jolie just as Sophia was walking into the living room. She rushed over to the couch and began to dig frantically through the clothes pile and only stopped when I asked her what she was doing. “Mom,” she asked with her eyebrows tightly woven together, “where’s Jolie?!” “In her carseat,” I answered. She looked over to where Jolie sat and breathed a huge sigh of relief. At playgroup last week I let one of the teachers hold Jolie as we sat in the gym. Sophia looked nervously on until she eventually came over to me and said, “Mom, you need to hold Jolie.” A few moments later one of the boys from her class came over and started to pat Jolie’s head. Sophia, real smooth-like, made her way between him and Jolie, thus blocking him from touching her little sister.

And if that’s not enough to make me feel more thankful than I ever have in possibly my whole life, Sophia’s motto in life has become, “Maybe tomorrow.” It started when Grandma Becky and Pop-pop were here right after Jolie was born. We were standing outside a strip mall in Craig when Sophia saw a picture of an icecream cone in a window of a restaurant. “Ice Cream!!! Can I have some?” she yelled. Something around “we’ll see” was the response, and so she said, “Okay, maybe tomorrow?” Since then, that is how she deals with all disappointments in life: can’t go to playgroup today – maybe tomorrow, has to have “regular” milk instead of strawberry milk – maybe tomorrow. If only she knew how much I wish I could jump up at any moment to chase her around the house, or see something cool she has made in her room. If only she knew how thankful I am to have her as my big girl. Someday, I hope she does.

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I received the gift of 2 toddler-free nesting hours this morning from a good friend and neighbor here in Thorne Bay. It just dawned on me the other day that instead of using an old tooth-brush to clean the rim around the kitchen sink just days before our new arrival, I will instead be in a tiny apartment with my mom and daughter, watching DVDs and reading books and (hopefully) not scrubbing the bottom of someone else’s refrigerator. So, when the offer came to take Sophia off of my hands, I gladly accepted and used the time to get as much done as one can in two hours. Bottom line, though, is that I’m not ready. But that’s ok, because truthfully, I don’t think anyone is ever ready to welcome a new person into their lives, no matter how many onesies are washed, or drawers are organized, or blankets are folded.

We head for Ketchikan early tomorrow morning, Sophia and I. I’m pretty sure she knows we’re going, and that we’ll be waiting for the baby to be born, and that we’ll get to meet Oma there. I’m also pretty sure that she doesn’t know the part about her Papa not coming with us. It’s been hard on her to have him gone so many hours each day. On Wednesday when he was getting ready to do his master’s course via teleconference, Sophia picked up on the fact that even though he JUST got home he’d be leaving again, and she gave him a stern look and said, “No go, Papa!” Of course he had no choice but to go, but did so with a heart torn to pieces.

We know that God has a perfect plan for us, but please keep us in your prayers these next few days, weeks, as we discover what that plan is. Thanks for your comments and letters and packages and love. We appreciate it all.


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Last Days of Summer

We’re lucky to have the beach so close to us. Last week we experienced another hot day so Sophia and I picked Papa up after school and headed that direction. The days are getting progressively rainier, so I fear that may have been our last as we move into fall. Sophia doesn’t seem to notice, though, and asks daily if we can go to the beach to “do some swimmin'” and see some “sea amenononees”.

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Sophiecdotes

We were able to stay in our house for a couple of nights, but are now back in the apartment waiting for new carpet to be installed. Let’s just say that the cats of the previous years in that house left behind lots of presents for the new tenants… In the time we were there, though, Sophia kept us laughing and was a constant reminder to take everything lightly – especially the big stuff.

Sophia sat at the table eating snack while I organized some stuff in the kitchen, when she announced that she had to go potty. I told her to go and then come back to finish her food. She then said, “I have to take my bib off, though.” To which I responded, “You can just leave it on Sweetie, you don’t really need to take it off just to go potty.” She tore off the bib and hopped off of her chair and said, “Don’t worry Mama. It’s gonna be ok.” (Potty training, by the way, is going well. Although last night she allowed herself to wet her pants because she didn’t want to take a break from eating her ice cream.)

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The other night we took a bath together and all of a sudden I felt so dehydrated that I called to Isaac to bring me a glass of water. “There’s LOTS of water here,” Sophia said. “Yeah, but I don’t want to drink this water,” I responded. “Why,” she asked, “You don’t want to want to drink the pee?”

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