Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Prayers for Eric

He's driving to Maumee tonight. Sleeping in a hotel. Eating continental breakfast.
and probably enjoy little of it. Because...


He's taking the BOARDS tomorrow!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Father's Day Card Made by Gwen

Gwen made her first Father's Day card! Aren't her feet adorable?

It took 3 adults to "help" her make this card. (i.e. to hold different flailing body parts or grabby fingers!)

and aren't Mama's roses lovely? She has hundreds of blooms this year, all around the house. I couldn't resist.

Ending the Trip in Twin

Gwen thought her cousin Edward was the most fascinating person there. If she spotted him walking around, she would stand up on her tip toes, flap her arms, and squawk to try to gain his affection. He didn't give her the time of day. when they were in close proximity, he didn't seem to know what to make of her.In these two shots we kind of "forced" them to interact. Meaning, we sat Edward down right next to her and didn't allow him to ignore her existence. And you can see what started as an intently staring Gwen (with a slightly worried Edward) quickly became a shirt-grabbing,thrilled Gwen (and a very worried Edward!).


Gwen was happy to be entertained by Grandpa, Grandma, Uncles or Aunts. Grandpa helped her take a ride on the bouncy horsie... and her tongue shot out! (sorry it is blurry, but I had to include it. I have a picture of me on a bouncy horsie when I was a baby-- I couldn't NOT include a similar one of Gwen!)

Uncle Bryce also helped her practice piano.



and by the time she got around to a photo shoot with Uncle Collin, she was tired of all the excitement and only favored us with her "I'm about to bawl" face.

Gwen, Gwen, Gwen...oh, and Edward

Reeeeaaaach! She is learning to crawl, but doesn't like to exert the effort to actually try it if she can get something without needing her knees.
Sitting with Grandpa....til she discovered the fuzz on his jeans

Playing with a remnant of some fabric from Mama Allan's curtain project. Why spend money on expensive toys when trash will do the trick? Notice she's still in pj's. It was surprisingly chilly and I forgot all of her socks in Twin, so she spent most days in pj's.
Carrot face. She was so willingly distracted from eating... by just about anything! But anyone smiling at her was a guaranteed attention grabber!
Gwen with G-Grandma Ian.
Edward sportin his adorable hat and Elise makin that bandana look good! :)
Edward loved the "babush" (bubbles) and would point to them on top of the fridge and chant "babush? babush? babush?" until Elise finally consented to take him out and entertain him with them. If she tired of blowing bubbles after 30 minutes and tried to come back inside... before he was good and ready... he would cry at the door "babush!" until she obliged him with another 1/2 hour. what a funny kiddo!

S'more Fire!

So, I know this was technically a week ago. That makes it old news for all you bloggers. But since this blog is quickly becoming a scrapbook/journal, I want to be sure to include the whole story and document family adventures.
Camping without out s'mores would be heresy. And being outdoors with boys without fire would be unheard of. These boys like to burn things. Makes them feel even more manly, I think. :)

So we had a fire in the fire pit and ate s'mores one night.
Elise, Jan, and me. All prepped for marshmallows. Look at how eagerly we await.
Bryce and his s'more.Elise and her s'more (are you diggin the orange fingernail polish? :)
Evan and his quadruple s'more sandwich! Too bad they don't make foot long chocolates/graham crackers. I think he might be on to somethin.

Another night we enjoyed an even bigger fire in the "parking lot" of the cabin. Here's the bonfire we made after chopping down a dead tree (killed by a beetle infestation. really nasty. and they are spreading. We're going to have to do something to save the larger pines). This night we had dutch oven cobbler. :)
Edward enjoyed the chance to stay up later (it is past 9 pm in this shot, despite how deceptively light it is outside) and the opportunity to snuggle up with Uncle Collin. Gwen was already fast asleep, of course.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Little Perspective

I want to take a moment and give myself some perspective. While the next post is really about a couple wonderful evenings full of fires of one kind or another, I currently feel a little, well, out in the cold. But there is really no reason for dwelling on that. I need to learn from the positive examples of my best friend Jennie and my dear friend Linzi. I need to stop indulging in a good whine and try looking at things with some perspective. So here I go:

  • I miss my hubby.... Atleast I HAVE a hubby!
  • I feel isolated when he is sitting right here but I can't enjoy his company because he is studying for the Boards. .. How wonderful that he is here, a part of our lives, rather than an absentee father on a regular basis.
  • I find myself easily jealous of the attention he gives to anything else, including the news or shooting the breeze on the phone with his brothers, because I want what little of his time there is.... I shouldn't begrudge him those small breaks. After all, Gwen and I go out and do fun things every week and he misses out on everything from the zoo to libraries to movie nights to swimming. Even visiting his own family.
  • Sometimes I think I get a glimpse of what being a single mom would be like. and it doesn't seem like fun.... How grateful I am that Eric still takes time for giving lots of love to Gwen (including her nightly bath!) and that this family is still a joint effort. Soon I'll have him back. (until surgery rotation, but we're focusing on the positive here).
  • I am growing weary. He's not the only one getting burnt out over this.... Atleast I got a break and had a nice vacation. He has been going straight through. But the end is in sight!
  • Sometimes I feel like sitting down and doing nothing: not because there is nothing to do, but because I am just tired of being/doing so much for our family. ... and I am eternally grateful for the unlimited strength of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am not even in the darkest abyss, there are so many struggling with far more devastating challenges, I have no real room for complaint or cause for Him to rush to my aide... but He does. Every time. He is there for me, buoying me up, sending me friends and family to encourage along the way, and giving me gentle nudges to my spirit reminding me that all is not lost. I just need to trust in His Atonement...

and perhaps gain a little perspective.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hike

The cabin is in National Forest, so there were lots of trails and opportunities for adventure. As you can see, Gwen wasn't especially excited about our hike up the mountain. She rarely graced us with a smile and kind of growled into her binkie the entire hike up.Even Grandma braved the outdoors...wearing nothing less than a black turtleneck sweater. I'll bet she was warm.
We stopped for some shade and water. Mama Allan got her hat decorated.
Gwen continued to growl...
and Jan joined her in English. (Imagine her mouthing something like "can we go home now?" and you've pretty much captured her sentiment in this picture. She doesn't like to get sweaty and only came to be supportive of the family adventure. And maybe because Evan pushed her into it.)
Lots of moisture on and around the trail. We split up after another good distance up the mountain. Gwen and I continued on with the boys while Elise, Jan, Mama and Grandma went back to fix up lunch. Gwen continued to growl...
The view from the trail. My camera only took 2 more pictures after this before it died. The battery was running really low, that is why it is blurry. Sorry. Try to imagine.

And then also feel free to imagine a baby Gwen growling all the way back down (now on Papa Allan's back. Carrying a baby up a mountain was harder than you might think!). About 5 minutes from the end of the trail, she fell asleep in the carrier. Her head was flopped backwards and her bow had slipped to shield her eyes from the sun. Very amusing and quite cute. Evan took a picture with his camera since mine was dead, but it wasn't digital and I may not get a copy for a while (let alone scanned into the computer), so you'll just have to imagine. I'm asking a lot of your imagination today, aren't I? :) It was a great hike!

We're Back! and your first installment of pics


Gwen and I have returned from a great trip to Idaho! Grandma and Grandpa Allan were not the only ones to crave seeing the little gal; she had aunts and uncles to spare competing for her attention and laughter! She doled it out pretty freely too. (Above pic of Gwen and Uncle Collin)

Unfortunately, my camera ran out of batteries only 2 days into our 9 day vacation. So, since I'm waiting for copies from other people's cameras, you'll have to be satisfied with the pictures being out of chronological order. Most of these were "borrowed" from Mama Allan's blog. Isn't she an excellent photographer?



The cabin. Gorgeous. Nestled amongst willows and pines, cradled between mountains, flanked by a bubbling stream, visited by deer and hummingbirds....*sigh*. Places like this are great evidence to me of God's Grandeur and love for mankind.It was quite rainy during our stay. It might be sunny in the morning, but we could count on getting a few showers to a huge downpour at some point during the day. And the morning fog was serene.

Elise doesn't generally enjoy outdoor chores. I can understand her sentiment, in all honesty. But I love this picture because it captures how beautiful she is, how playful she can be, and the fact that she was right out there with the boys building a horse corral.
The menfolk, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoy a good sweat in the woods. Here we have everybody, including Grandpa Collin (who joined us for a couple days), hefting a mighty log. Lumberjacks.

The womenfolk were content to sit the logging chore out. Mama Allan and Grandma Ian (who was with us til Thursday) worked on curtains and other sewing projects while Jan tended Edward and edited her novel, I tended Gwen and read Book Thief, and Elise complained that her assigned book for school (Life of Pi) was boring and didn't make any sense. I finally capitulated and read aloud to her. She liked it better that way and I enjoy reading aloud, so we were all happy.

Stay tuned for more to come!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strawberry Jam

Jam without pectin proves to be a long process of condensing the berries and sugar to thicken it. I LOVE the caramel-y flavor the slow boiling down gave the strawberry-cranberry preserves (recipe found in Frances Bissell's Preserving Nature's Bounty, if you are interested), but I just don't know if I can take the 3 1/2 hour process for any future batches. I mean it isn't as if regular pectin jams don't taste good or anything; they are delicious too. (There is also always the possibility that I did it too long. Since it was my first time, I wasn't sure when it was really "set" and ready to funnel into the jars. Perhaps for a seasoned jam connoisseur it would only take 1 hour?) Either way, I'm very proud of this:

My first non-freezer jam sealed in a real water bath!
Woot woot, summer canning here we come! :)

P.S. for those of you, like me, who have never cooked jam before, the pink in the above photo is a foam that comes out as it boils. We skimmed it off before putting into the jars... and it made a delicious topping on our frozen yogurt!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Seven

7. So, did you know that seven is considered a sacred, symbolic number with multiple scriptural/historical references in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, mythology, cosmology, etc, etc, etc.

Interesting.

Gwen is 7 months today. That must be auspicious. All I know is that I am so "lucky"... no, that isn't the right word. I am so BLESSED to have her in my life. Almost all of the following pictures are blurry, evidence of her constant movement. And wouldn't cha know the ones that aren't blurry are non-smiling photos? How does one get a baby to pose?
Newest developments:

1. She ADORES the baby in the mirror! No really, we thought she liked her reflection before, well, she goes crazy now! Screeching, squealing, kicking her legs and waving her arms, man, it is a riot! She is really becoming social with other babies and people she meets. It is fun to see her excited about "friends". She even giggles when she sees the baby on the cover of one of her books or the picture of her on my cell phone.

2. She eats solids. In her own unique ways, depending on her mood. Don't try to feed her with a spoon if she's in the mood to have it poured from the bowl down her throat (this is weird, I have to admit) and if she wants her carrots mushed up, you better mush em or she won't eat a single one! But if she's rejecting her mushed bananas or peas, try offering her the real thing and she chows down. She's opinionated, what can I say.

3. She isn't "crawling" yet, but she can get wherever she really wants to go. Usually up into someone's arms if she whines long enough! :)

4. She loves to smack things. and giggles like crazy if I do a silly impromptu slap dance. I think she'll figure out clapping soon!

5. She loves to pee on the towel right before she gets in her bath. An endless source of exasperation for Eric!

6. She digs her left thumb into any soft material when she is trying to comfort herself. Her belly, your leg, her ear, her hair... sometimes she really tugs, but I've never seen her get upset about it. Even when she's scratched the inside of her ear or made her tummy red, she still keeps on goin.

7. I can't think of anything unique, but I sure think she is adorable! Oh, wait, here's one. When I take her for a walk in the jogging stroller, she slouches down and loves to put her feet up on the "dash". She knows how to chill.
P.S. Does anybody else think that grumpy face on the bottom right corner is just hilarious? Gwen loves to put on a good grump these days. I can never figure out what it is that she wants. Sometimes I can't help but laugh at her, I hope she isn't insulted about that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Beauty Rest


Did I mention that Gwen is adorable when she is sleeping? No matter how she eventually ends up, she always starts out with her feet hanging out of the crib, cuddling that fuzzy giraffe "blankie". We love to check on her at night and see how she's arranged herself and the giraffe this time!

Sigh. Every time I see her like this, it is a baptism of renewed love, washing away any impurities of frustrations or stress in my heart. She is my angel. .... When she is asleep! :) (well, she's my angel all the time, I just, well, you know, sometimes I just get flustered and forget, and say things that make it sound like I feel differently when I don't, like right now I'm digging in deeper, but, oh well, you know what I mean.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Restoring and Reusing

Reuse is often easier (and more fun!) than recycle, I think. A challenge and physical labor to sand down the old, find the inner core beauty, and refinish for a desired new look. Kind of like reworking the best in ourselves, I guess. You know, we've all got strengths and weaknesses. But if we scrape off all those unsightly layers and find the beauty buried under it all, we can utilize the Atonement of Christ to shine it up, fix it up, and be better than before. No reason to throw it out completely (or feel we have to give up on changing something because it is "just the way I am"). and isn't it interesting how something with a story behind, that has been through a lot, seems to be more esteemed and valuable to us than something brand new and trendy? Hmmm, it would seem that we don't need to be so hard on ourselves for being "imperfect" because that actually gives us an opportunity to testify of the hand of the Lord working in our lives. If we were all spit-shined and plastic without any scratches, then where would be the evidence of experience that can help others? Where would the faint marks of the Master's hand be to indicate that He has been working on us?
Those have been some of my thoughts as I've been fixing up this old highchair I got from my folks. I sat in this high chair as a baby. If I ever get around to scanning my parent's pics of me, I'll prove it. But for now, just enjoy the new look! Sanded it all, reinforced the joints with wood glue, reworked the metal mechanisms on the tray so it slides on and off better, stained it all, sealed it all (3 coats!), and now I'm just trying to find a good cushion/backrest thingie to put in it. But then again, it would only get beans and bananas on it... maybe I should leave it? Would that be too uncomfortable? I'll try to find something plastic-ey, but I haven't the slightest idea where to look. Anyway, there ya have it! A restoration!

P.S. Also bought a used jogging stroller on Craigslist for cheap and cleaned it up so Gwen and I can get some exercise! (I actually ran 2 miles yesterday, btw!) And how bout the bookshelf that Heather and I stumbled upon abandoned by dumpsters on one of our walks? Reglued the laminate that was peeling off. Good to go as soon as I finish painting it! I love fixing things up!

Monday, June 1, 2009

When Will She Crawl? Cast Your VOTE!!!!

video

As you can see in this delightful video (she was kinda grumpy, sorry), in the past 24 hours, Gwen discovered how to get up on forearms and knees and is beginning to rock back and forth.She hasn't figured out how to do hands and knees yet and I don't think it has even occured to her that this might lead to another mode of transportation. She's just trying out new things. Well, everyone always says, and I quote, "It won't be long now!" or "She'll be crawling before you know it!"....


well, hmmm, how long will this really take? Take a stab at predicting when she'll ACTUALLY crawl! (make comments for posterity, if you like, since I plan to Blurb everything at the end of the year. But also take the poll on the right.)

(The winner(s) will get glory, laud, and honor, but only in blog-a-mania- world. Other than that, you'll just feel validated, I suppose. :))