A weekend at the Nooksack

This last weekend was supposed to be a trip to Mt. Baker, to spend time together as a family with Nana, Papa, Auntie Stephie, Dee Dee, Buzz, and little Isaac…however, plans change.  As it turned out, I got to take the three big kids to Mt. Baker while Karissa and Audrey stayed home to rest and to work on other projects (blog post to come I am sure).

With Nana and Papa sharing their time share at Mt. Baker with the rest of the aforementioned family members, we were looking forward to some quality time staying right off the Mt. Baker Highway near the Nooksack River.  Karissa and I found a reasonably priced place to stay since our growing family no longer fits in the condo.  I was lucky enough to get off work early on Friday night, came home, packed up the van with our little family minus the two and headed North.

We got to our rustic cabin, moved in, and got ready for bed because we had a tremendous day ahead of us.  We were off to some breakfast with the family and then to hit up the Skyline Divide trail. This was an ambitious undertaking for our three little hikers, but they were up to the task, well, mostly anyway.  From the trail head, it is a two mile, 2150 ft elevation gain (steep for those counting at home) to a most beautiful North Cascades meadow with stunning views of the surrounding Cascades and Mt. Baker looming nearby enticing all climbers.  Our little group was not about to go one step further, so we enjoyed lunch in the glorious meadow resplendent with wildflowers.

You might be wondering why I was not wearing a shirt for some of those pictures.  It was not because I was trying to show off my manly physique, nor was it because I was too hot (it was a delightful temp), it had everything to do with the fact that Kyler had decided that a good way to thank his Daddy for carrying him all the way up the two mile trek on his back was to pee on him.  Yep, Kyler was in a ergo backpack, meaning that the only thing between me and him was his pants and my shirt.  So that wetness on my back that I thought was sweat, it turned out to be urine.  Nice.  So off went the shirt.  Of course both boys wanted to get in on the shirtless action.

A few other highlights were Nana singing “Climb every mountain” from the Sound of Music and of course Auntie Stephie getting knocked off the trail, down the hill, and onto a tree by a little horse fly.  You might want to ask her about that.  Once we figured out she was okay, we all shared a bit of a laugh.

Of course the hiking was Daddy’s highlight, but the highlight for the kiddos was the pool.  They just loved jumping in from the side, “swimming” over to the stairs to do it all over again.  Kyler must have jumped into my arms 200 times during the three times we went to the pool.  Time with their Auntie’s, Uncle, and cousin was treasured as well.  One of Caleb’s most treasured activities is throwing large things into the river.  Pictured above you can see him holding up quite a large tree that he found and proceeded to toss into the river.  It wound up getting stuck on rocks, but between throwing rocks at it, Papa going wading out in the water, and some enthusiastic cheers, that tree made it down the river (at least around the bend).

We missed Mama and Audrey, but we had a great weekend away.  We are so grateful that Nana and Papa have a little spot that is not too far away, perfect for a weekend getaway.  Much fun was had by all, and plenty of memories were made.

Serious mama/photo skills here…and they’re not mine!

We recently reconnected with the little sister of someone we went to high school with.  She lives in Arkansas but travels to Seattle often, she’s hoping to build a client base here as she comes home to visit family more often now that she’s a new mom.  So, here is my unashamed plug for her photo skills.  We could not pick one or two, we instead ordered the CD of all our photos so we can have lots of fun with them….and put them on the blog (among other things!).

Photographing four busy children 6 and under is a major feat.  All in different directions and all with their own opinions about what they think they should be doing.  Alicia was patient and caught so many sweet moments through her lens.  I have perused our photos dozens of times and today sat crying at my computer, overwhelmed by the beautiful little people God has entrusted us with.  Even though they’ve been throwing up since Monday and I have scarcely slept in 3 days, I still like them.  A lot.  We will be forever glad we spent the money and shared a morning with Alicia of  NW Photography Works.

Here are my favorites…

audie close up
kyler close up
caleb close up
rylee close up
cute toes!
i DO love my brother
four close
kyler helping audie
kyler's eyes
audie color

caleb and his stick
rylee girlie
four walking on bridge

Beauty in a movie and a book

As always, there is good and bad in every day.  Yesterday just as we pulled in to the driveway, Rylee threw up all over the car as she was getting out of her seat  (the bad).  I had a mini-meltdown, including tears, at our OT’s office due to a scheduling error on their part (bad).  I almost broke my mom’s finger trying to get my new stroller open, we both nearly cried (very bad).

But in the midst, with a new organization plan in place for our daily life and some better boundaries for me on my time, I still decided to finish a book and watch a movie last night (both very good).  Those two helped off-set the rest of my day in just the right way.

Yesterday afternoon while everyone here rested and I completely gave up attempting to clean the van, I finished The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Tears blurred my ability to read the words yesterday as I read the last 50 pages.  It was a long, 500+ page book.  I’ve been reading it for over a week.  It was beautifully, uniquely written.  If you want to dive into something deep and lovely, it would be a great choice.  ‘Death’ wrote the book and as such paints a remarkable picture of humanity.  As he ushers souls into eternity, a story catches his attention in the middle of Nazi Germany.  It is a story of courage, of love, of hope and of the incredible strength of a little girl.  He writes one particularly miserable afternoon in June of 1943, when I believe the first gas chambers were used at Auschwitz.

Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born.  I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks.  I listened to their last, gasping cries.  Their vanishing words.  I watched their love visions and freed them from fear.

I took them all away, and if ever there was a time I needed distraction, this was it.  In complete desolation, I looked at the world above.  I watched the sky as it turned from silver to gray to the color of rain.  Even the clouds were trying to get away.

Sometimes I imagined how everything looked above those clouds, knowing without question that the sun was blond and the endless atmosphere was a giant, blue eye.

They were French, they were Jews, and they were you.   (from page 350)

I also watched the movie The Soloist after bedtime.  It was particularly interesting to me that it’s the guy from the church messes everything up in his pious, well-intentioned acts.  And it is the regular, everday man whose life is profoundly impacted by the life of a mentally ill, homeless man who posseses surreal musical talent.  Again, it was a story of beauty and depravity and the coming together of the two.

A long anticipated gift!

After hearing quite the ruckus out in the chicken pen, I went out to check on the ladies.  After rounding up one escapee who had flown the fence in search of all my growing veggies, I peeked inside the nesting box just to see if anything was there.  And lo and behold, there was!  There was quite the buzz of excitement around here, each kid got dibs on who they got to call and tell the news to.  Caleb told Auntie “We growed some eggs from our Blacky!”  So in the course of 10 minutes, the eggs went from this:

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to this

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and this

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to, sadly, this.

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We can hardly wait for more.

They were so delicious and it felt so amazing to have raised these chickens from babies and now to be eating their eggs!

Anacortes-one year later

I realized in looking at pictures from our wonderful trip to Anacortes that we had many pictures of the family in the exact same places as last year and we were there in August both years…I thought it would be fun to post them together.  So much changes in a year!

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Tired Kyler last year

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Tired Kyler this year!

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Bathing three last year…

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Bathing four this year!

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Caleb last year…

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…and this year at the same beach.

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Sweet Rylee last August…

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..and this August, minus a few teeth!

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Kyler last year…

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Kyler this year, more hair and less baby chub!

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the baby cousins last year, tiny and new…

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…baby cousins this year, into all kinds of mischief together!

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Last year, in the kitchen, looking at the baby deer and her mama…

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…this year in the kitchen with family visiting from Africa!

It’s not glamorous but…

…this is my life.

Last night I found myself sitting naked in the kitchen holding a puking toddler for longer than I care to tell you.  I had been snuggled in my bed reading a (fiction!) book relaxing from what had been too long a day.  And we had just heard that a friend’s son had fallen from a 2nd story window onto concrete and I was shook up and sad, after we prayed for them I grabbed my book and tried to calm down.

It was about then that Kyler opened his door, sobbing, holding a stack of baseball cards tightly in his chubby little hand.  I ran over to him, asked what was wrong, he mumbled, I tried putting him back in bed, offered water, offered to snuggle him, etc.

Then he threw up all over me.  I ran to the kitchen, while hollering for Christopher’s help (he was on the computer in the family room).  In one move, I stripped my puke-covered jammies off, sat down, grabbed a bowl, tried to catch the quickly coming additional vomit.

By about 3 AM Kyler had nothing left and finally rested for more than 30 minutes.  I took another load of disgusting laundry out to the washer.  I remembered what I had thought just this afternoon, “Wow, I caught up on 13 loads of laundry in 3 days…all by myself and I even folded it and put every bit of it away…this is pretty awesome.  The only thing that could undo how awesome this is is a puke-fest kind of night where I do wash in my sleep!”

Oh the irony right?!  But somehow shaking food chunks out the back deck at 1 AM I was honestly nothing but thankful.  Fairly close to gushing gratitude in the midst of the grossness.

I was not at the local trauma hospital hoping my son’s brain and body would survive a bad fall.

I was not at Childrens Hospital like another friend of ours is with a sick little girl.

I am not worried about how we will eat or pay our mortgage like several people in our life are.

I am not sick, my family though maybe encountering a bit of a bug, is not truly sick.

My husband has a job to go to today.  He will work his butt off on our behalf today.

Not knowing about my awful night, my older two kids got their baby sister out of bed and left me sleeping.  They changed her diaper, got her dressed, made her breakfast, put her in the high chair, fed her, played with her.  When asked by me if Daddy told them to help because I didn’t sleep, they were confused.  They said no, he was gone long before they woke up.  My heart bursted with love for them.

Watching Christopher spray the heck out of the nasty bedding in the backyard with a flashlight at midnight made me love him just a little bit more than I did yesterday.

Somehow despite no sleep,

not feeling great,

my husband being gone for 12 hours or more again,

and sick children…

We will get through the day.

Isn’t it amazing what a little bit of perspective does to the way we look at life? I am fairly blown away today just thinking about it.

You know you’re getting old when…

…after some talking, some prayers, a kiss good night, and a short snuggle with your 6 year old daughter you wake up to her saying “Daddy, can I have some of the covers back?”  You stumble out of bed and thinking that you must have barely fallen asleep, you realize that it is 2:30 in the morning and it has been five hours since you tucked her in for the night.

Thankful

We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.

I watched the movie “Shall We Dance?” a couple of years ago.  I was mildly entertained (at first annoyed, thinking this movie is going to really make me mad)…. no Grammy nominations there.  I watched it again a week ago and found myself quietly crying (the kind where you don’t want everyone in the room to know you are sobbing).

The truth in the quote above just sunk in so deeply and I was struck (again) by how thankful I am to have someone to witness life with me, to care about things that no one else in their right mind would care about and to care about the enormous things that seem insurmountable alone.

The struggle and heartache that comes with choosing to be committed to one person for life is great.  It is so much harder than I ever imagined.  In fact, when it got hard, like take-your-breath-away kind of hard, I thought it was happening in a vacuum.  Everyone else around seemed in pure bliss or at least content with sheer mediocrity.  No one talked about their hard times and if they did it was so trite.  Their phrases so scripted I wanted to puke.

Instead of the movie ending in the way I’d thought it would (where he runs away  with the  super-hot Jennifer Lopez character), he finds his way around to happy in an unusual way but he finds it with his wife, the mother of his children instead.

The one thing I am proudest of in my whole life, is that you’re happy with me. If I couldn’t, if I couldn’t tell you that I was unhappy sometimes, it is because I didn’t want to risk hurting the one person I treasure most. I’m so sorry.

When babies came and life seemed to turn upside down on many levels.  My assumption that everyone around me was peachy in their relationships continued.  I couldn’t verbalize my lack of ‘happy’.  It would disappoint everyone.  I knew there was so much to be thankful for.  I knew I just needed to get over one more ‘bump in the road’.

In a way that I believe only God could have orchestrated, after many more big bumps (one being a 9 month long bump named Audrey), we are finding our way back to ‘happy’.  Back to spending our energy loving each other instead of finding fault.  Back to biting our tongue instead of biting heads off with our words.  Back to toes touching under the sheets at night instead of going to bed angry and (gasp!) sometimes sleeping on the couch.

In September of last year, Chris’ long time employment ended.  We would need to walk through leaving a community we’d been a part of for decades.  We would need a new job in a horrible economy.   It was a shock and I remember thinking “How will any good come of this?  This must be the worst thing that has ever happened in my life.”

About that time, I wrote this post.  In the weeks that followed, we experienced encouragement and love that astounded us.  We began putting one foot in front of the other.  We held on to each other for dear life.   The word that kept coming to my mind was freedom, I felt God whisper to my heart over and over that He was giving us freedom.

What felt at the time nothing like freedom and nothing like a gift but more like ‘my-life-is-completely-falling-apart’ began to make sense and out of it has come nothing short of miraculous beauty.  I sit in wonder of what God has done in the past (almost) year.  What most is beyond my understanding is that it hurt so much and that I’m quite sure we wouldn’t be here (married, children, in LOVE etc.) if it hadn’t been so hard.

Life is a mess.  Life hurts a lot.  Life does not make sense most of the time.

But witnessing life with someone you love sure makes it better.

And knowing the One who gives life brings meaning and beauty into every single moment.

For that and for a million other things, I am thankful today.

My Oh My

myohmy

I really don’t know how it happened…therefore it must simply be the pure love of the game, but Kyler has fallen in love with the Mariners and baseball.  Karissa was at a garage sale the other day and picked up the VHS tape of the magical 1995 season put out by Eagle Hardware.  He just loved it, in fact, that day he had to have it with him when he took his nap.  The kids love watching it, especially Kyler, and so far he has seen it three times.  Secretly I love watching it too because it brings back fond memories of my own.  Plus, it is quite a fun thing to be able to share all the great stories of Junior (in his prime), Edgar, Randy, Buhner, and yes, even Luis Sojo’s inside the park homerun off Mark Langston.  If you need a ride in the way back machine, come on over and I am sure Kyler will share his video with you!

Catchin’ up

Our new digital camera does not take the same quality pictures as the old one.  So I’ve not been as quick or as excited to get them off and put them on the blog…I even had to break out my old SLR Minolta recently to get some exceptional quality photos (the two new ones of Kyler and Rylee on the sidebar came from that roll).  It was fun to shoot a roll of film, to not get any preview and to hear the clicking sound of the old lens grabbing the picture.

In an effort to stay cool, we poured soap in the pool and it was the source of hours of fun (and some very squeaky clean kids):

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Rylee also perfected wearing Basil the kitten in her baby sling for hours on end, this new cat is a dream, wears dresses every day…snuggles in bed with the kids….lets Audrey ‘pet’ her:

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With our good friends visiting from Phoenix, we discovered something new to do with the playset – since we have a trashed kid friendly back yard and happen to have snow sleds lying around, the kids took them up the slide and then all piled in to ride down.  The laughter and smiles that ensued were priceless and no one ended up seriously injured.  Even better!

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We also enjoyed the help of a delightful 10 year old who came to ease my load for a couple of days, she entertained both me and the kids with her candid and darling self, giving me parenting and home-making advice that I in fact wrote down later 🙂 She and the kids cleaned the floors (note their dirty black feet!) and matched hundreds of socks among many other things!

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Top three tidbits from our little friend?

  1. Upon seeing my mess of  a back yard – “You know, you really should only let them play with one thing at a time out here then make them put it back then it would stay organized”
  2. After about 2 hours at my house – “Seriously.  I don’t know how you handle all these kids.”
  3. Observing Audrey approaching (see pic below) – “Quick, get a diaper on that girl!  She’s going to pee on my clean floor!!”
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