Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Signs of Christmas

Last year my friend, Becca, brought us a nativity scene from Haiti. It was so fun to get it out this Christmas and play with it a little. The kids have been loving it.

Nora told me that the little girl with the aqua colored shirt was "No-a." She figured out which figure represented each of us in the family too. 

Thanks, Aunt Becca!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jonathan says...

Jonathan on meat:
"I don't like cutted up killed animals, but I do like chicken nuggets."

Jonathan on using the hot glue gun:
"I really like using this weapon."

Thanksgiving 2014

What a Thanksgiving! 
Here are the numbers: 
11 people plus 2 dogs stayed at our house for 2 nights.
There were 15 of us at Thanksgiving dinner.
No shortage of pie. All told we had 9 pies. 
(4 pumpkin, 2 pecan, 1 marionberry, 1 mincemeat, 1 cherry)
A full table.

John and Elisa with the lego turkey. Gobble, Gobble.

Yum! Pie!

Grammy and Nora work on cinnamon roll turkeys with bacon tail feathers. 
It was very fun. I was worried that the house might feel really crowded. But it didn't. At least, not to me! It was fun to have everyone at our house for a change. Everyone pitched in with the cooking, so I didn't feel overwhelmed by that at all. A family from our church joined us, which was great. Our kids had a blast playing with their kids. And it is always so fun to watch the kiddos enjoy being with their grandparents, and aunt & uncle. Aunt Kristine is teaching Leesi to knit. So that is a fun bonding experience for them. And Uncle John brings legos that they can work on together. This time they made a lego turkey together as well as the cutest little snowman and reindeer. Lots to be thankful for!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Everyday Moments

Haven't been much of a blogger for a couple of years now. I've been... well, busy. But also, I guess I've been a little more introspective (I didn't really think that was possible)... and a little less willing or able to process all of what I've been thinking about in a semi-public setting. I keep thinking about this quote I heard, something like, "Don't seek to be heard. Seek to have something worth saying." So, I've been working on my soul. Working on having something worth saying. 

But in looking back at my blog I find that I love reading through the thoughts about my kiddos. That has made me think that I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel on blogging yet. So... here goes. 

Here are some of our everyday moments from this fall.

Jonathan loved discovering that there was an apple with his name. We bought quite a few apples at the farm stand and decided to have our own mini apple tasting (since we can't go to the big Portland Nursery apple tasting anymore). Of course, the Jonathans were Jonathan's favorite. 

Leesi now goes to the school down the street. So most days we walk/ride bikes home from school. I love that half hour of being outside each day. It's such a beautiful walk down the tree-lined sidewalk, then around the block by the school. Once we get next to the school I'm always worried about Jonathan hitting someone on his bike. We are working on good bike manners. It's slow-going. He is such a good little bike rider, but still a little crazy.

The tree-lined street sure does make for a lot of leaves in the yard. Luckily the kids like to help rake. Nora didn't want to be left out. The big kids had rakes, and so she needed a rake too. She headed to the garage and found her own "rake" (aka paint roller) so that she could help out. 

This picture was not staged. Each kid is studiously reading their book that they chose at the school's book fair. Cracked me up... especially Elisa, laying down on the step. That Elisa is quite the reader.

This year has brought some interesting changes. I now get regular alone time with Jonathan and Nora. Now that Jonathan's in preschool, I get to hang out with just Nora on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. And every day during Nora's nap it's just me and Jonathan. It's nice getting to spend a little extra alone time with these kids who aren't used to getting my undivided attention. Wednesday mornings are always Bible Study mornings though, so I don't really hang out with Nora too much. This picture was taken on the walk back to the car after Bible Study. I loved these yellow leaves.

The other day Nora came into the kitchen with her arms all "tattooed." Leesi confessed that she had done it. "What?!? She wanted me to! Well, she did say 'owie, owie' but she got through it." 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Step on the Spiritual Journey

Tonight Jonathan asked if the Holy Spirit could see out of your body. You know, because if the Holy Spirit is inside of you, then can He see out?

We had talked a couple days ago about having a soft heart toward God. We were talking about the story of the Exodus and how Pharaoh hardened his heart and kept saying, "No, you can't go!" even after God took away the plagues. So I thought he might get the idea of the soft/hard heart. But when I asked him if he thought I was talking about your actual heart inside your body he said yes. So I knew he needed more concrete language. So then we talked about following Jesus and obeying him.

We talked about how sometimes when Jonathan or Leesi is upset about something, or is being disobedient I will call them to come and talk to me. I hold out my arms and beckon them to come and sit on my lap. Sometimes they come and we can talk about it and figure it out together. Other times they turn away and refuse to come to me. I think one of the most important things in following God is repeatedly coming to Him, not turning away from Him but being open and surrendered to Him... in whatever place we find ourselves. That's how I envision the soft heart... the child who doesn't turn away when called to come to the parent waiting with open arms.

So, tonight when I was putting Jonathan to bed, I asked him if he wanted to pray and tell Jesus that he wanted to follow him and obey him and become part of God's family. He said yes and then prayed, "Thank you God that we got to ride on the diesel tractor.... and I want to follow you and obey you..." It was very sweet. After he prayed he launched into questions about different scenarios with trains that I had a really hard time following.

I think that it is important that Jonathan had a soft heart toward the Holy Spirit and wanted to tell Jesus that he wanted to follow Him. But I have changed my attitude about this aspect of the spiritual life. I no longer think that becoming a Christian is about praying one certain prayer, and then you're good. You have a ticket to heaven. I am now starting to believe that faith is more of a process. Becca expressed it beautifully the other day. She said that as we go through life we say, "I give all I know of me, to all I know of God." As we grow and mature we know more of ourselves and more of God, so there is more to give, and more to experience. This is a step for Jonathan, one step on the spiritual journey of giving himself more and more to the God he knows more and more.

I still sometimes worry about my inadequacies in guiding my children in their faith. But the more I see of God's goodness the more I am able to lay down my fears about all aspects of life, even this one.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Just some randomness...

Jonathan yesterday while we were eating in the sunshine: “I’m tellin’ ya’ I’m as hot as a hippo!” We went into the shade and after awhile: “I’m tellin’ ya’ I’m as cold as an icicle!”

When the big kids get stuck or are having trouble with something they often say, “Uh, a little help here please!” I think that one of the characters on Doc McStuffins says it all the time. But it still cracks me up when they say it.

Leesi has started first grade at a new school. It is close enough that we walk (the kids ride their bikes) every morning. I love being close to school and getting to know people in the neighborhood. I like her teacher so far. Leesi likes school too, I think. Although it has been a harder transition than preschool or kindergarten. One morning I had to carry her all the way to school because she was so upset and didn't want to go. But at the end of each day she is happy and tells me about all the fun things that happened.  

This morning Nora was yelling at the top of her lungs in a sing-song voice, “Oh Mommy, Oh Mommy, Oh Mommy.” Finally I stumbled into her room and saw her standing in her crib, a big smile on her face. “Awake?” She asked. Yes Nora, I just happen to be awake.  

Last time I was driving home from Portland late at night with the kids, Nora kept us all awake by yelling (loudly and very high pitched), "Wake up! Wake up! E-uh (Elisa) wake up! Donthan (Jonathan) wake up!" Finally Jonathan fell asleep anyway. All the rest of us stayed awake. 

So quite apart from us working with him, Jonathan has started being able to read short words. I noticed that pretty often he could decipher words. But I wasn't really sure how much of it was reading and how much was just lucky guesses or a good memory. So yesterday I got out Hop on Pop and had him read some of the short words from the lists at the front of the book. He read them pretty easily. I mean, he needed some help and he doesn't know all of his sounds ('th' still threw him off, as well as some vowels sounds). But I was surprised by how much he could read. Now if only we could solve the pencil holding problem.

Jonathan has started going to preschool. He goes for three mornings each week. I think he likes it. When I ask him about it he says that he played with cars and trucks, and went down the slide. His class has seven boys and one girl. Makes me tired just thinking about it. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Nora drama continued

Nora right before all this started - 4th of July
Well, it's been quite the adventure since I wrote that last post. I was thinking that Nora was on the road to recovery, and she was (and still is). But I did not foresee the drastic measures that would be needed to ensure that recovery.

On Wednesday I called the doctor again because of the vomiting and low grade fever. They had me come in and this time the doctor said, "It could have something to do with her kidneys. Let's send you in to the ER and do a blood test." So, dutifully we went to the ER. Sat in the waiting room for 3 hours. Got in to see the doctor, and after listening to our story and checking Nora out again, he said, "She seems fine, you should just go home. It's probably just another virus on top of the last virus." We pressed him, asking questions about things that weren't adding up, telling him that our doctor had said maybe it was her kidneys. Finally he said, "We can do blood work if you guys want to, but I'd be shocked... well, not shocked, but really surprised, if this had anything to do with her kidneys." I looked at Greg helplessly, I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I felt like there was something really wrong, and now the professional was telling me there wasn't anything wrong, but I couldn't quite believe him. Greg wasn't going to back down though, "I'd like to do the blood work," he said.

So, they did the blood work and from that, the pediatrician from the hospital was able to make the correct diagnosis. When he came in to talk to us and told us about this syndrome called HUS, all of a sudden everything started adding up.

It turns out that Nora had HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome). She had all the signs and symptoms, and we had been calling and going to the doctor (and the ER), but it had just been missed or misdiagnosed the whole time.

So, when she had the week of diarrhea - that was from E. coli (or possibly another bacteria). The toxins from the E. coli then got into her blood stream and started to break down her red blood cells. Thus the pale skin and lips. The red blood cells then clogged her kidneys and prevented them from filtering the way they should. Thus the lack of pee for days, and also the swelling in her cheeks and abdomen. Then when she did start peeing, all of those red blood cells were coloring her pee - resulting in the dark bloody urine. Without the right amount of red blood cells in her blood, her body was having a hard time getting the oxygen it needed. This resulted in high blood pressure and an elevated heart rate.

Grandma and Nora.
Picture was taken a few days after she had started peeing again.
Notice her slightly puffy cheeks and overall lack of color.
Her body had already dealt with the worst part (when she wasn't peeing) on its own. But now they wanted to admit her to the hospital and make sure that her lab results were continuing to improve, and that her blood pressure didn't get too high. So we settled in for a night at the hospital. They started her on blood pressure medication and monitored her throughout the night. (I always find this a lovely part of the hospital: "You're sick. Now get better. But don't sleep!") In the morning they drew more blood and all of the levels were going in the right direction. Her blood pressure and pulse were still quite high, but she was eating and drinking and very stable.

She wasn't getting any sleep though. As soon as we got her to sleep a nurse, or cleaning lady, or doctor would come in and wake her up. She was super cranky and asking to go home. Finally I put a sign on the door that said, "Do not disturb unless absolutely necessary. I need a nap!" And Nora and I settled in for a nap.

A couple hours later (the sign did indeed work) the doctor and nurse came in and told me that they had been in contact with the kidney doctors up at Doernbecher in Portland, and that they thought that Nora needed a blood transfusion. Her blood pressure and pulse were high because of her lack of red blood cells, a blood transfusion packed with red blood cells would give her body an extra boost, and help her heart rate and blood pressure come down. At that point the doctor told me that we would be able to drive Nora up to Portland since she was so stable, but later that changed as the kidney doctors insisted that Nora be transported by ambulance.

So into the ambulance we went. Nora and I, once again, in an ambulance together.

Now this whole time Wanda (my mother-in-law) had been with the other two kids. Greg had been going back and forth between home and hospital. At this point he was at home, so the doctor called him to tell him the news. He and the kids and Wanda decided to follow us up right away. So they quickly threw stuff into bags and backpacks and loaded up.

When Nora and I got to Doernbecher we were directed to our room. As soon as we turned the corner into our room there was my friend Sharlene, who just happens to be a pediatrician, waiting for us. I can't tell you how relieving it was to see a friend right at that moment. I didn't feel worried, or overly emotional, but as soon as I saw her I felt like I exhaled a little of the breath I didn't realize I was holding. We hugged and then the second thing Sharlene did was pull down Nora's eyelid and look into her eye. "Oh good," she said, "she still has some pink."

After a terrifying experience comforting Nora as they put in her IV (note to self: that should have been Daddy's job), they started her transfusion. Slowly, all night she got the blood she needed. Throughout the night I would get up to comfort Nora whenever I heard her crying because they were checking her blood pressure or some such thing. Very early in the morning I looked at her with my bleary, sleep deprived eyes and thought, "She looks kind of pink for the first time in weeks!" I couldn't be sure though, since I still had my early morning eyes. But sure enough, when I got up a little later, Nora once again had her color back. She also was extremely swollen on one side of her face (the side she had been resting on), but they assured us that the swelling was normal and would go down, which it did. Her blood pressure and pulse came back down. She was still on the blood pressure meds (and will be for a little while), but other than that her body seemed to be doing well.

Blood going in. Face looking pinker.

They continued to monitor her throughout the day. The kidney doctor (and a bunch of interns) came and talked to us. He was amazed that no one had done a stool sample when she had bloody diarrhea. He just shook his head when I said that I didn't think the doctor's believed me when I said she wasn't peeing. He said about half the kids who have this have to be on dialysis for a short time. He said he was glad she wasn't in that half. So were we. The nutrionist came and talked to us about Nora's new - low sodium, low potassium, low phosphorus diet.  They checked her labs again in the afternoon - especially looking at hemoglobin levels and percentage of red blood cells. Everything had improved just as they'd hoped. So, to our surprise, they told us we could go home.

Late in the afternoon they discharged us. As the nurse was going over our discharge paperwork, she told me, "This is the shortest HUS summary I've ever seen. It's not uncommon for kids to spend weeks in the hospital for this."

We spent that night at Wanda's house. The kids slept on the floor together, and stayed up too late giggling. When I went in to take a picture after they had fallen asleep, I found that Leesi had fallen asleep with her hand reached out to touch Nora's head. So sweet.

Sweet sleeping siblings - together again.
The next morning the kids picked berries outside in the morning sunshine. And things felt just about perfect.
Raspberry girls. Nora's face still slightly puffy from transfusion.
Nora still tires easily. She will need to be on blood pressure meds for awhile. She plays a little more quietly than usual. But tonight she ran around with the Elisa a little bit, so she's getting her energy back. Her appetite is back with a vengeance

Through this whole experience I felt a huge amount of peace carrying me through.  I just took one step at a time, doing what I could do, and leaving the rest in God's hands, trusting that He is good. (Right now, I can just hold Nora and try to get her to sleep. Right now, I just need to sing to her as they poke her. Right now, I get to enjoy my other kids for a few minutes. Right now, we have to ride in the ambulance.) I had started to congratulate myself on this sense of peace, until we got back home, and I logged into Facebook for the first time in days. I saw comment after comment saying, "praying for you." And I realized that hundreds of people had been praying for us. It was beautiful and overwhelming. And I was so thankful.

There were so many other ways that I saw God's goodness through this whole experience too. Little things that weren't "necessary," but were just God's gifts to me. Here are a few of those things:

Greg was in Portland on Wednesday for work when I found out that I needed to take Nora to the ER. But Wanda had, spur of the moment, decided to drive down to see us, before she even got the phone call about us needing to go back to the ER. So she was here in time to take the big kids to their swimming lessons, and I could leave to take Nora to the ER.

I'm thankful for people who make hospitals beautiful with artwork, for the pianist in the hospital lobby, and the pink hydrangeas planted outside. The beauty fed my soul.
Pink hydrangeas (one of my favorite flowers) outside the Springfield hospital. 
I am thankful for the playroom down the hall so that the kids could play together for a little while when they came to visit.

I am thankful for all those who came to be there for us when we got to Doernbecher. Sharlene came (and brought chocolate). Her presence was very comforting. Alan brought lots of food and drinks. The Kind bars he brought gave me the energy to make it through the second night of light sleep. The Hammersborgs came to see how we were doing. Rolf cracked us up by donning the full medical isolation outfit before coming in. Uncle Rick came to make sure Nora was okay. He was very relieved to see Nora standing, looking out the window when he came in. He was expecting lots of tubes and cords.

"What? Sarah, why aren't you wearing this?"
And of course, I'm thankful for Wanda caring for the big kids the whole time. She was the perfect person to be there for them. 

And my heroes, Stead and Sarah, who came and cleaned our house so that when we got back home there wouldn't be a pile of dishes (swarming with ants) waiting for us, and kids' toys everywhere. They really went above and beyond the call of duty. 

And most of all, that Jesus carried Nora's little body through this ordeal. I trust Him with her little life, and I am so thankful that He has entrusted us with her care for a little (or hopefully a lot) longer.    

Lots to be thankful for. 
Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nora drama

For the last two weeks Nora has been battling one thing after another. First she had almost a full week of very intense diarrhea. From that she ended up getting dehydrated and stopped peeing, which then led to bloody pee and a bladder infection. We had numerous trips and calls to the doctor, and one trip to the ER. The poor baby. She has just not been herself. Her coloring is what my mom (who visited this weekend) described as "grey". She needs to be held constantly. She asks to go to bed, and doesn't even want a book first. She started antibiotics on Thursday, and now still (5 days later) she is not quite right. But we are thankful for the little improvements we see. Yesterday she spent much of the morning playing quietly, which was a nice change from needing to be held or lying on the floor. This afternoon she had a low-grade fever and threw up again, which was a step backwards and got me worried. But then she ate a lot at dinner and seemed happy. We are hoping and praying our little sweetie can make a full recovery soon.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Zoom Went the Car

Sometimes Jonathan and Leesi like to type on the computer. I open up a Word document for them, and just let them go to town. Mostly it ends up looking like this:
But last time, Leesi and Jonathan sat together and they ended up with this cute little story:
Zoom   went    the       car         oh no  the       car        crashed         in           to     a   big                             truck     it      was       night      the    car     broke down            the       tow truck                                came     it      towed    the         car    went         to    bed     
Clearly Elisa was the brains of the operation. But I think Jonathan contributed a little too. She had help spelling a few of the words. But for the most part, they did it all on their own. 

Summer Fun

We've been on some fun adventures already this summer... here are some of our memories.

 Seattle Day Trip
We realized that we had never really taken the kids around Seattle at all. Seeing how it's so close to my parents, we decided to take a little day trip. First stop: Seattle Center. When we caught our first glimpse of the fountain, Nora stood up in the stroller and squealed with delight. Then, as we got closer, she decided that it was better to watch from a distance. Leesi also was hesitant to run around in the bowl of the fountain. But Jonathan got right down in there; he loved running around down in the fountain, just on the brink of getting wet. 

A little later in the day, the big kids and I rode the water taxi over to West Seattle. They were pretty excited about being on "a boat." But when I tried to get them to venture up to the top deck out in the open air, they were NOT going to do it. I finally coerced them up to the top, but they couldn't wait to sit back down on a seat inside. Maybe they were scared by the instructions given over the speakers at the beginning of the trip about what to do if someone fell overboard. Still, they loved it. 

Later on in the evening we went to the Mariner's game with my family. The kids liked seeing Safeco and were excited that they each got a train as a special giveaway (especially Jonathan). My parents took them home and put them to bed after the second inning, which meant that we got to stay and enjoy the rest of the game with my brother and sister-in-law!

13th Anniversary trip to Bend
For our anniversary Greg and I got out of town and headed to Bend. We stumbled upon the Bite of Bend one day and got to watch a cooking competition (Top Chef Bend). We decided spur of the moment to go white water rafting, super fun! Did some "mountain biking" using our road bikes, which we had brought along. Enjoyed the great outdoors and each other. 

When we got back home the kids told us, "Mommy, Daddy, come see! Close your eyes... now open!" And there on the kitchen counter was a beautiful butterfly cake and homemade cards, it was very sweet, and they were very proud.

Fourth of July
For the fourth we went over to a friend's house. The kids had a great time playing in the slip'n'slide, and watching a few little fireworks. Nora enjoyed her watermelon.
I love how in these pictures you can see the excitement on Jonathan's face and the smoke still in the air from the fireworks.

Beach Trip
Just this week we went to beach with Wanda. It coincided nicely with my birthday, which was lovely. We had to stop at the Cheese factory, of course!

We had beautiful weather, sunny and 70s... but on the beach it was a bit windy. Luckily Wanda brought an umbrella which we used as a wind shield. At one point it blew away and Greg had to run down the beach after it. A little later, it blew away again. This time none of us noticed right away because we were busy with other things. None of us, that is, except Jonathan. He saw it blow away and ran after it just like Daddy had done. When he finally caught it though, he couldn't bring it back. Finally, I noticed him struggling with the umbrella and ran to help him.

The kids can play in the sand for hours. They decided to make me a birthday sand cake with pretzel candles. I sang "Happy Birthday to me" and blew out the candles. Then we all ate the pretzels... the sand added a little extra crunch.

Everyday Moments

Nora with the water sprayer. 
Nora walking around Costco with her new backpack.
She had to have one since the big kids were both getting them.
We heard, "That backpack is as big as she is!" from about twenty people.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nora - almost two!

This little cutie is 21 months old! I can't believe that she is almost two, but I guess I have to accept it, all the signs are there. Her legs are stretching, her hair needs regular attention, and she is starting to put two words together into mini sentences. Big girlie!

Here are some of her cute little ways:

When it is time to clean up, she helps willingly and even sings along to the clean up song. Her version goes, "bean up, bean up!"

She has learned that though she is the smallest, she has a mighty voice. She knows how to shriek! She often screams "MINE!" And then when you give the longed for item to her she'll say, "tank oo!" sweet as pie. Or sometimes instead of thank you she says you're welcome (melcom). So we coach her, "Nora, say thank you." "Melcom!" she replies. 

She loves Elisa (Ee-uh), and Jonathan (Don-than), and her special pink blankie (bobby). 

She loves her daddy. Once when Greg wasn't home in time for dinner, she asked, "Daddy?" I told her, "No Daddy tonight. He'll be home later." She burst out crying. 

Another time, we came back after being gone for the weekend and she saw us at the door. Her little hands went up to her mouth, and then back down to her sides, and then back up to her mouth and she started shrieking, "Daddy! Daddy!" as she ran to the door. 

She copies whatever she hears big brother and sister saying. Sometimes when we tell her she can't do something she'll say, "Aw man!" which is hilarious coming out of her little one-year-old mouth. Other times when she's set on a certain course of action and we explain that she can't do it, she'll sigh deeply and say, "Oh tay." Like, "I understand why I can't do it, and I'll go along with it, but I don't have to like it."

She loves messing in my purse. One day, since I hadn't heard her for awhile, I went to check on her. I found her starting in on her sixth piece of gum (not just chewing, but swallowing of course). "Bi-mens, bi-mens!" (vitamins) she kept saying as I took what was left of the gum out of her hand.

She has amazing fine motor skills. One of her favorite things to do is play with my keys. She has now gotten to the point that when I hand her my keys she can find the right one to use in the door, get it into the keyhole, and turn it. I still have to turn the knob, but she can do everything else on her own.

Love you to pieces, Nor Bor! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A grieving prayer, and an answer...

One early morning last week I woke up feeling the sadness again. The sadness that has almost been forgotten: the sadness of leaving Portland. Leaving friends, leaving church, leaving city that we love. I got up and wrote and cried for awhile. 

I think that it came up again because there is yet another transition creeping up on us. Leesi is almost done with school. Come next year we won't be sending her to the same school anymore. Right now we are driving twenty minutes each way twice a day so that she wouldn't have to change schools halfway through the school year. But next year she will be attending the school that is just a short walk away. 

Here is part of what I wrote that early morning:
I think about the fact that Leesi will change schools next year. She has a little friend at her school now. Her name is Juliana. She is a little shy and quiet just like Leesi. One time when we were walking into school, Leesi and Juli saw each other and fell into step with each other. Then they slipped their little hands together and walked into school holding hands. Leesi loves Juli. They sit at the same table in the classroom; they play together every recess. When I think about Leesi starting over again at a new school next year, I feel as though all the air has been pushed out of me. ...
I know you have nothing but good plans for us. I know we can rest in Your goodness and love. Thank you ahead of time for helping Leesi through this transition to a new school. I pray that you will prepare a new friend for her at her new school. I pray that somehow we will be able to keep in touch with Juli over the summer.
A few days later this is what happened:

We had never met Juli's parents, since Juli doesn't get picked up after school but stays for after-school care. The day I wrote this, I mentioned to Leesi that we should send a note to Juli's mom about having play dates over the summer. We forgot to do it, but the very next day Leesi came home with this note from Juli's mom: "Would you be interested in getting the girls together for a play date either Friday or Saturday afternoon?"
Yet again, God's goodness to me (and Leesi).  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Elisa the 6 year old

So my sweet Leesi is six years old. (She has been for about 6 months now… but I just haven't written about it!)

My 6-year-old 
Sweet smile
This is her first-ever selfie :-)
Elisa is my big helper. She loves to help me cook. She loves to play "the cleaning game" to help me clean. She sets the table (at least partly) most nights. And I can count on her to play with Nora and help take care of her in other ways. 

Nora, of course, adores Leesi. They have a very sweet relationship. Leesi still thinks it cute and fun that Nora copies her, and loves it when their clothes match in some way.

Elisa really likes school. She is in half-day Kindergarten. She goes to a bi-lingual school, and Leesi loves learning Spanish. She is an expert reader. I think her Kindergarten tests from a few months back said she was reading at a first grade level, but I don't tell her any of that. We just emphasize the joy of reading, and try to encourage working hard and doing our best at learning. Right now she is really into a series of fairy books. And last month we read Farmer Boy and some of the other Little House books. They are still a little above her reading level, so we read them to her. But it is fun to be into chapter books now. 

She is best buds with Jonathan. When Leesi gets out of school they often reunite with a huge bear hug! It's very sweet. They color, ride bikes, play cars, or come up with secret schemes together in the afternoon. A few weeks ago after running through the sprinkler one warm (but not hot) afternoon, they discovered the dryer vent and huddled under it for awhile. Then they decided to "roast" some banana pops (frozen sliced bananas on toothpicks) that they had made earlier in the day. They called the vent the "air fire." Jonathan informed me afterwards that he didn't like the roasted bananas too much because "they got all squishy and gooey." It's so fun to watch them come up with and carry out their own ideas.
Yum! Nothing like a "roasted" banana!  
Though she is still a little shy, she does quite well at talking to other people now. I think school has helped a lot with that. I also think that watching Jonathan talk to anyone with an ear (or two) has helped. She doesn't want to get left out! 

Leesi is a bit of a planner. She likes finding projects in her magazines and then doing them. She is hesitant to try new things, whether it be a new food or a new experience. She loves being silly and laughs easily. She is very physically affectionate and snuggly. 

She still loves clothes and has very strong opinions about what she likes. Somehow at the beginning of Kindergarten she decided that she only likes wearing dark colored pants, and no jeans. So most days she either wears black, dark blue, or jean leggings along with various skirts, dresses, and shirts.

Elisa Marie, I am so glad to be your Mommy. I love spending time with you and watching you learn and grow every day. I love you!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jonathan and the Hot Wheel Ramp

Jonathan is obsessed with Hot Wheel ramps right now.

"Where is your favorite place to go?" I asked him today.
"To the place where the mailman lives." He answered.
"The Post Office?"
"What do you like about going to the post office?"
"Because then the mail man might bring out a Hot Wheel ramp for me."

Once he got a Hot Wheel ramp in the mail for his birthday (from Uncle John and Aunt Kristine), and he's never forgotten it. He still holds out hope every time a package comes that it just might be another Hot Wheel ramp.

We have questions on little slips of paper in a jar that we pull out and answer at dinner time each night. Jonathan's answers usually center on Hot Wheel ramps:

Q: "What was the best part of your day?"
A: "Bible Study because I played with a Hot Wheel ramp there (insert a long description of what the ramp looked like and how it worked here)."

Q: "What is the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?"
A: "Well, the nicest thing you have done for me (cuz you're my friend, Mommy) is give me money. Because then I can save up the money to buy another Hot Wheel ramp."

Q: "If you could have one wish, what would you wish for?"
A: "A Hot Wheel ramp! (Insert description of what it would look like here.)"

And then there was what he told me to write in Grandma's birthday card. Totally cracked me up.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Some thoughts on Moving

We have been in Eugene/Springfield for six months now.

"Welcome to Eugene - Ideal Home and Recreation Area" the welcome sign brags. I know that someday it will be home… but right now the sign mocks me, reminds me that it is not home yet.

Here the homeless are all around, little tent cities set up everywhere. When we first got here, the tent cities were always moving: two days in a field, three days by the highway, a week by the courthouse. Now they have seemingly found stable spots for the cities.

We also have seemingly found a stable spot. Four years in Arkansas, three years in Portland (both times in jobs we knew couldn't be permanent), four months in the rental house, two months in our new house. I love our new house. I feel a little giddy at the thought of my kids growing up here. The thought of growth charts marked in pencil on a doorframe and the kids knowing every crack in the sidewalk. I am glad for the stability. I just wish the house was in Portland.

There's a niggling question: "Will I make friends here?"

I am beginning to find my way around pretty well. But sometimes I unexpectedly find myself lost. New streets jumble in my head, "Broadway that's the same as 7th, right? Oh wait, or is that in Portland?"

Suddenly the two and a half hour drive to my parents has a become a five hour drive. They are wondering when we are coming to visit and I find myself calculating if it's really worth it for just a weekend.

We've found some good new places. Sweet Life, where tons of drool-worthy pastries and desserts beckon from behind the glass case.  They always have a line. Townshend's, a trendy tea shop with over 80 kinds of loose tea (not to mention the bubble tea, kombucha, etc.) It feels like a hip coffee shop but when you leave, your clothes still smell good.

I want to find a new church and get plugged in there. And yet somehow when we do commit to a church it will feel like we have officially turned our backs on First Covenant (our Portland church). The thought of this makes me want to cry.

One morning I wake up with a fear that Ash Wednesday has passed by and I didn't realize it. Will our new church have an Ash Wednesday service? Will they have a Good Friday service?

Perhaps the bigger question is, "Will God reveal Himself to me here? Can I know God and seek God as well here as I did in Portland?"

Someone at the church we are visiting (for the fourth or fifth time) gives me a look because Jonathan is frog-hopping down the hallway. And I am reminded of how much I love First Covenant where people say things like, "I'm so thankful for how free the children are here." as the kids run from "the mouse man."

One week, at a different church, a young family invites us over for lunch. They also have some friends coming, another young couple. All of the men work in Higher Ed. in some way. We have fun conversation and feel a certain kinship with them. We think we might be friends if we went to that church, but secretly Greg and I know we can't go back there.

There are some potential friends around: another mom who brings her kids over for play dates, a couple  of Greg's coworkers who have come over for dinner, some of the moms at MOPs.

But still the question: "Will I really make friends here? Deep friends? Always and forever type friends?"

Monday, January 27, 2014

So we bought a house...

Well, when I wrote the post How God gave me something better than a house, little did I know that in less than two weeks Greg would be offered a new job, and in another month we would be moved to a new town (Eugene), and in less than six months we would have purchased our first house. But, here we are.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the living room of our house, looking out the window at people walking their dogs in the park across the street. Ah, love this view.
A great daydreaming window, and it's low to the ground. Even Nora can see out of it.

We have been officially in the house (as in sleeping here) going on three weeks now, although we got the keys to the house over a month ago. Since Christmas we have been busy working on the house.
Jonathan and Leesi both helped rip the wallpaper off.
Not all of it came off in nice big strips like this. Some of it came off in tiny shreds. 

Jonathan helping Grandpa with the nail gun. 
And working on the house. And working on the house. And working on the house. Oh, and moving and cleaning the other house and watching three kids. So there was a lot to do in just a little bit of time. It was pretty exciting and fun at certain times, overwhelming at others, and most of the time downright exhausting.

Greg had a week off in between Christmas and New Years. And my parents came down and stayed with us for a week and a half to help. (They were life-savers! We couldn't have done it without them; and lots of help from other people too: babysitting by Wanda, moving help from Uncle Rick and McKenzie, meals from Debbie, painting help from Sarah and Stead).

We decided to focus on the main living areas and leave the improvements on the rest of the house for another time.

In the kitchen we ripped out the wallpaper, tore up the flooring (which ended up being quite the job!), and took down the cabinet doors to be repainted. We found that the walls beneath the wallpaper were not in great shape. So we (by which I mean my dad) ended up skim coating the walls, and while he was at it he skim coated the paneling in the eat-in kitchen area so that it would look smooth like drywall too. We put in the new bamboo flooring, painted everywhere, and installed new baseboard. My mom was the super cupboard door painter. Last week I finally finished off the ones she didn't get to, and Greg installed them and a couple new light fixtures, so I figured it was time for some kitchen before and afters!

Eat-in area off of kitchen - before
Eat-in area - after
Kitchen - before (how could you forget?) 
Kitchen - after
Kitchen - after (from the other angle)
There is still a lot to do: many boxes still to unpack, a list of projects, and little finishing details everywhere you look, plus pictures and curtains to be made and hung. But all in all it is starting to feel like our home around here. And it's super fun to know that whatever we do with the space is up to us! We don't have to ask anyone before we paint, we can pick whatever colors we want, we can drill holes in any wall we choose. 

More pictures to come!