The last week or so Jocelyn has been causing Tymon and I to do double takes on Jocelyn. She loves to stand and play with a toy. Sometimes we think she took a step, but then our minds tell us, "no she just wobbled...that wasn't a step." Well, our minds are no longer playing tricks on us. Last night on a handful of occasions our little baby girl took 4-6 steps at a time. She is exactly 10 months old today...and I suspect that she'll be our earliest walker...but we'll see. As of now, Elliott holds the first place record by walking at 10.5 months, Graeden walked at 11 months, Jett was walking at 12.5 months and sweet Evan decided to walk at 13.5 months.
A few weeks ago, I met a young lady in church that I'd never seen before. Her name is Robyn and it turns out that I recognized her last name. I asked her if she was related to anyone in Bellingham. It turns out that her brother married one of the most phenomenal women I have ever met...Juanita Gentry.
Juanita went to college to learn to become a teacher. I met her while she was doing the student teaching portion of her degree. She taught in a classroom with several young special needs students. She told me stories about her class and patiently answered my questions with how in the world she accomplished things. Juanita was born in South America. When she was young she had a dibilitating disease that left her blind. Through a series of events she ended up in the United States in foster care (a few different homes if I remember correctly) and going through medical treatment to help her new medical issues.
Juanita walks with confidence. There is no hesitation due to her visual challenges. Her other heightened senses guide her path. She teaches with confidence. Her young special needs students didn't know or realize that she was blind. They listened to her and accepted her teaching. This woman can do anything because she hasn't limited herself by her circumstances. She is truly remarkable even though I'm sure she feels overwhelmed at times, just like the rest of us. I now hear that she is pregnant with her third child. Her first two pregnancies were physically trying. I wish her well with this one. I know how difficult it can be to be sick and pregnant and have young children being curious when you don't have the energy or will to stop them from getting into things. I hope her children are good to her and have learned to pick up their toys. But if not, Juanita will pull through. She's got amazing will and determination. She is her own dream maker. She has a wonderful husband at her side and one day she will have her sight back. How strange and wonderful that will be for her.
I just realized that Juanita probably doesn't surf the internet. Unless they have some super duper braille computers. That probably means she doesn't ignore her children to post on a blog. ha ha ha.
When Robyn came over yesterday for lunch the boys went wild. I mean running around hooping and hollering for 10 or 20 minutes. It was all I could do to even introduce them to our guest. They also called Robyn a bad guy. I didn't get it until Jett said the blessing on our lunch. He prayed his thanks for his Mama and Daddy and his siblings (even Jovana gets a mention every so often) and then he said he was thankful that Robber could come. Yes, that would be Robyn, our lunch guest...the bad guy. Ha ha ha...I'm sure it's not good to chuckle during prayers...but sometimes I just can't help it.
In the mid 1800s, my ancestors crossed the plains of the United States on foot. They carried all of their belongings in covered wagons or handcarts. Their journey was thousands of miles and many others traveled along side them. These pioneers sought religious freedom to live according to their beliefs. The early members of our church moved often due to severe persecutions in New York, Missouri, Ohio and Illinois. Through their trials and travels to the Salt Lake Valley, they learned many important lessons.
We were able to share some of these lessons with our children this afternoon at an activity our church sponsored. Here is my Dad with Jocelyn. It's his birthday today. Happy birthday Dad!
Work comes before play. We got to the church this evening pretty hungry and Elliott was starving. We found out that we couldn't just eat. Just like the pioneers, we needed to work for our supper. The celebration was arranged with tons of booths. Some gave you an opportunity to work for pioneer pennies. Others required you to spend your pennies to participate. Dinner was 5 cents and we had to pound nails, tote water, churn butter and wash clothes to earn enough for it. I just loved the money. It was thin wood that had been pressed. Tymon kept finding "buffalo chips" in random places.
For my readers who speak English as a non-native language, buffalo chips are dried out buffalo poo. It's not like stinky fresh poo, though. It's old and has been dried out on the plains. It actually makes for good firewood and there are several other uses for it. When I worked as field staff at a camp for delinquent youth in Southern Utah, sometimes we'd play around with the cow chips...it makes a good frisbee. Uh, that sounds gross. And it is. But not as gross as if it would be if it were fresh poo.
So, our kids learned about all sorts of things that the pioneers did and they earned enough money to eat. Elliott got 2 cents by learning to hammer nails.
Sometimes, you will get paid more to do the same job as someone else. Jett lucked out with 3 cents from the activity.Lesson #3 The world needs many movers and shakers. Graeden and Jett are shaking cream into butter.
No one is too young to work. Here is Jocelyn washing a shirt with a wash board.
Some may push and some may pull. Tymon pushed most of this loaded handcart around the course. Our boys all have the blue hats on.
Some parties are worth the rain. Here I am with Jocelyn. She just wouldn't look up! It started raining toward the end of the evening and many of us stuck around. It helped that it was pretty warm out. I loved feeling the warm rain on my arms as I ate my dinner. I think we left about 20-30 minutes after it started raining. It was light at first. I thought it'd let up. But no. We got drenched. We had to go fishing though and pull taffy. We missed the scone booth and a few others, but overall, it was the best pioneer activity ever.
We also had fun dressing up. I hope that the organizers of this party make it a yearly festival. I just loved it...especially pulling taffy. That was good.
Sometimes, our boys tell us things that confuse reality with the land of make believe. Like they get on our Wii Fit board and tell us that the carpet is water and they can't touch it. Or they make massive forts and live in them. Sometimes, when they go on secret missions it's necessary to retreat. And my hilarious boys run around the house yelling, "Abort! Abort!"
Occationally, their stories are real. Like the time Elliott and Jett came to get me to show me all of the bees outside their window. I was curious to see what they were really talking about. Certainly, it would be something funny.
No, very serious.
They had a HUGE wasp nest just above their window. We sprayed it adn then Tymon knocked it down. It's hard to believe how big this got without us even knowing. And it was right outside the window. We're lucky that none of us were stung.
When Tymon decides that he doesn't want another creature in our yard, then he just knocks them down. Imagine this cat's surprise when he found out he was the target of Tymon's next obsession...getting him out of our yard, too.
Every year (almost), one of our children participates in the Baby Crawl Contest in our city's annual festival. It's usually pretty funny to watch the babies and especially the parents. The children don't care at all about winning...but the families do. It's hilarious.
Jocelyn and this other baby just looked at each other for about a minute. She had no idea what we'd just subjected her to.
Once she started to move, it went pretty fast. Her brothers helped jingle keys to motivate her.
Of course, she did have to stop for a few moments to catch her breath about 4 inches from the line. And Graeden and Elliott got so excited when she crossed the finish line.
We tip our hats to you Jocelyn. You are a finisher. She was first in her heat and took 4th place over all.
T0night Graeden, Elliott and I went to the Wiggles concert. They absolutely loved the show.
Graeden loved moving and shaking along to the music.
Elliott prefered to eat popcorn.
I was happy this afternoon to finish making a power point for one of our new classroom driving school games. I just focused myself this afternoon and did it. Then I was able to leave the office in time to make it home to take the boys. Otherwise, Tymon would've gone.
Tymon and I got new desks yesterday. My brother brought his big work van to Costco and helped me transport them. They were so big and heavy. Thank you Brett! What's crazy is how well they were packed. There was so much foam and cardboard.
Here's Tymon attaching the hutch to the desk.
And luckily it was garbage day today. Here's most of the cardboard. We did save one big box. I felt bad for cutting it all up when a box is the best toy a parent can provide a child. They had fun today with their bus...or boat...or airplane...or bathtub. And it was all things to each boy.
Unfortunately, you don't get to see the finished project. It's my goal to get our home office organized this summer and desks were just part of the equation. Once we've cleared the boxes and gotten shelves/filing cabinets, taken our things out of boxes (no rush - they've only cluttered the room for 9 months), put them away and hung a picture or two then I'll post an office photo.
Right now, I'm posting as I kneel at my computer because I have to clear enough stuff from around the desk to fit my chair's roller pad under it. My knees hurt, so it's probably time I did that instead of blogging...
We have had absolutely beautiful weather in Seattle this summer. Really sunny and really nice. I actually take water to the cemetery to water Evan's flowers as it hasn't rained much. And I think about our naked fence and half-stained deck and refuse to allow us to waste such warm weather.
Yesterday, the kids and Tymon and I made a to-do list. I only wanted to do two things. Hang 5 pictures and finish staining the deck. I spent so much time doing the deck that I didn't get to the first goal. And that's okay. Sometimes, just getting a goal written down will get you to do part of it.
I'm wondering if I picked the wrong thing to do on my list, though. We got some thunder storms and rain last night. So far, the water is bubbling up on the deck...but I may be left with spots later... no problem...I'm sure the 6-8 hours of 70 degree weather helped it to dry completely and it's supposed to be beautiful and sunny and warm for the rest of the week. It was just one day of pouring down rain.
This morning, I've been up for 40 minutes now. My lovely husband woke me up just as he was to leave the house and had a leaky diapered Jocelyn ready to hand off. Oh and by the way it leaked on the carpet by the top of the stairs. Upon further investigation, there was only a quarter sized smear next to the stairs. The real problem was next to her bed. Two big spots...one the size of a dollar bill. The other smaller.
Jocelyn is now clean and a load of laundry started. And Elliott who was feeling sick last night slept on our couch with his barf bowl instead of in his bed. Hey Bridget, was he sleeping on the new couch you got just less than a week ago? Why yes, yes he was. So, Tymon left and I'm putting a new garbage bag in the bathroom from helping him get the garbage out and I hear this, "Mom, I peed!" What?!?! On my new couch? So, I've now been up 45 minutes and have added cleaning a couch to my list of accomplishments this morning.
On my way to recording in this blog the events of this morning, I happened to stop by the OldNavy.com summer sale. Maybe I'll come back to that. Or maybe not. Either way, I regained my focus enough to write this entry. What I don't want to forget mentioning is that I love my children and am happy that I have the opportunity to take care of each of them. Though I may desire to trade my morning with so many of you readers...it's only because I imagine that this ISN'T happening to you. So this post isn't over and the next excitement has already began. The boys just called to me. Jocelyn has thrown up all over herself and her high chair. Yuk.
And it occurs to me that my bladder is full and I'd better take care of that first.
For about a week, I've been reading the book Voices of Chernobyl, which is a collection of personal experiences from perhaps 100 different survivors of the nuclear reactor explosion. They come from a variety of backgrounds and muliple occupations. The entire book is truly mystifying and devastating. It's unbelievable to me that a government can really be so heartless and devastating that so many people suffered as a result.
As I ponder loss, I regard the Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians and others who were affected by Chernobyl as the pinnacle of all suffering. Truly Job is the only one who can top their pain. Losing Evan seems so small in comparison to Chernobyl loss. They lost loved ones as those loved ones became radio-active objects, they lost their homes and land, their cancer-free lives, their health, their children, their identities and their faith. Their native land who could never betray them, stabbed them in the back. And then shot them in the head.
I lived in Voronezh, Russia for 5 months almost 15 years ago. I taught English with a small group of teachers to 1st grade students. I lived with one of my students. My opinions of the "mother land" are heavily influenced by my experiences there. Voronezh, as we understood it, was a closed city to foreigners until about a year before we got there. We were the first Americans and foreigners that some of our new friends had ever met. On the street, everyone looked mean and nasty. But in their homes, they opened up and smiled and were friendly.
Each neighborhood is set up with its own stores, kiosks, places of employment, schools and rows of block like apartment buildings. Each neighborhood is designed to be self sufficient. Meaning, you could live and work in the same area. Sounds nice...but is actually confining. It used to be that you had to go through check points to get to another part of the city.
My fellow American teachers and I nicknamed Russia as "CDCS" or completely devoid of common sense. To be fair, some things were just so culturally unfamiliar to us that they just seemed backwards. Other things just were backwards.
We arrived in Russia in January 1995. It was freezing, snow was on the ground and it wreaked of cigarette smoke. The streets were trails of dirty snow and lined with filthy gray buildings. Culture SHOCK! I seriously wondered what I was doing there.
Our apartments were heated by radiators. Now, I really like radiators. They transport me to a dream world in another time and another place. We had a warm day in February or March and I came home from school to find all of the windows in the apartment open. When I asked why they were open (it was still 40 degrees outside), I found out that occupants of the building can NOT turn down their heat. It is centralized. Not only for the building but for the whole section of the city. What?! The government tells you when you're cold or hot and how much heat you need and when?
I didn't realize it at the time, but I do now, my host family was pretty progressive and not so superstitious because many Eastern European people think that a breeze will make you sick....even in the hot weather many won't open a window to get a draught going. So cold air makes you sick but old ladies sit on the sidewalk and sell ice cream in the dead of winter and that doesn't make you sick? They didn't even keep their ice cream in a special cooler. They just plopped their chair out on the sidewalk and sold their ice cream out of a cardboard box. It was charming and we loved the ice cream...I just don't get the logic of why ice cream is okay but a gentle breeze is not.
We on the other hand were very clever young people. And actually, we knew everything. It was the end of March and we took a trip to Moscow by train. The snow had melted and the sun was shining. It got warm in our compartments. We opened the windows. When we walked around the train we opened every window we could. Literally, passengers (American and Russian) were sweating it was so hot. However, none of the Russians were opening windows. Just us. And we secretly knew that they liked the fresh air, too. Then a conductor lady came down each coach on the train and collected tickets...and yelled at us, yes yelled, for opening windows. You see, it wasn't May 1st yet and you can't open windows until May 1st. Huh? There's a special day set aside for opening windows?
The central hot water committee also decided when you needed hot water. In my building, it was only a few days per week. I'm actually pretty good at boiling a big pot of water and then taking it to the bath tub and mixing it with cold to wash my hair and bathe.
I've got so many stories about Russia. I loved it there...probably because of its quirks. Every day was an adventure. What I didn't love were the remnants of communism. The complete lack of customer service. The shoddy construction in schools and buildings (if you fixed something "almost right" then when it breaks after a short while then you'll have a job fixing it again). A lack of pride in one's craftsmanship. Three government television stations...heavily censored.
The Russian people have allowed themselves to be trodden under foot by their leaders. It's an outcry. And one destructive leader after another has plagued them and caused the downfall and deaths of so many millions of their people. One day, I hope they stand against their leadership and begin the path to righting the wrongs of their sad history. They are a beautiful people who deserve more. They deserve freedom from tyranny.
Voices of Chernobyl is well worth reading. Especially if you're feeling sorry for yourself. It's not like these people have "overcome" their trials, either. They are still living with them...and the reactor blew up 23 years ago.
Thank you Jovana for chosing to do your dramatic interp out of this book. It has touched me deeply.
On Saturday, we had a fun-filled and PACKED day. I took Graeden and Jocelyn to a flag raising at 8am. We heard a veteran speak a little about his experiences in the military. He served for 27 years, I think. He was in the first Gulf war and a POW for a short time. He talked a little about the American cemeteries in Europe. As he listed numerous cities with tens of thousands of American troops, I felt both saddened that so many died and also happy that my fellow countrymen help free Europe and establish free governments that are run by the people instead of dictators.
Afterwards, I picked up the family to go to a big Independence Day Parade. It was a great parade. My favorite group was what I thought was an XBox marching band. In looking for information about them, I found the same uniform they were wearing on the Seattle Sounders website. And well, it does make a lot more sense that a soccer team would have a marching band rather than XBox. So, seriously, I'm watching a parade and there are so many others around and my eyes are welling up with tears. HUH? I'm at a parade. There are bands, firetrucks, ethnic groups, dancers, drill teams and so much more and I'm teary-eyed? Yup. Upon further analysis (because let's face it, there wasn't a good reason to be emotional), I found that I am so happy that there are thousands of community people around me and we're all enjoying the same thing. It was a common denominator. A unifying thread. When there is always so much to divide us, at this point, we were all just people and having a great time at a parade. Even the Chinese dancing group had American flags hanging off the sides of their banner. Beautiful.
We also went to a BBQ at my uncle's on the lake and then had another BBQ and lit fireworks at Tymon's sister's house. It was great to spend time with the family and cousins.
I didn't get a garden planted this year...but we did plant fruit trees for each of the kids. This year, we harvested Graeden's entire 4 Variety Cherry tree in a matter of seconds. That doesn't mean it was empty...no it does not. Here is Graeden with his solitary Sweet cherry. There were two Rainier cherries and I got to eat one of those.
This is Jocelyn's apple tree. We have two apple trees. The larger tree is Jovana's, but it has nothing on it, yet.
Elliott wanted grapes.
Here we see some of the green table grapes. We also planted purple ones, but those haven't produced anything that we can see, yet.
And Jett's Italian plums and Evan's 5 types of pears have yet to show anything. But all in all, 3 for 7 with fruit is pretty good for first year transplants.