15 September 2010

As old as the hills

Today was a tough day in our home. As I said good night to Soren, I prayed quickly, monotone: "Thank you that you made Soren and that I get to be his mom." Soren asked, "How can you be born when you make people be born?" and I said that I was born a long time before he was born.

"Were you born in God's belly button?" he asked.

Laughter is such a mercy to me in motherhood. So now, for real: Thank you, God, that you made Soren, and that I get to be his mom.

Yea, Minnesota!

I taught Clara this cheer as we landed in Minneapolis: "Yea, Minnesota!" (they should hire me, to write the cheers!) and now she says it occasionally as a generic substitute for "Hooray!" She's pleased with something she has drawn, and, "Yea, Minnesota!" she announces.

At the end of our trip we finally spent some time in the mother ship, the Twin Cities, our home. "Where's home for you?" We get that question a lot. "Well, we moved here from Minnesota, and that's where I grew up, so that's home for us." I feel like I've said this line 97 times since moving here. But it's true! Home sweet home, or, yea! Minnesota!

Clara got to meet Elinor, daughter of my friend Rebecca. We missed Elinor's birth by about a week the last time we were in the U.S.

Clara also got to see Maren, who she did meet, as a little little one. They were both a little slap happy (tired) at this point, and weird.

Baby wrestling! GO GO!

We spent one night at Auntie's house, and then crossed the street to the great playground and chilllly wading pool right there.

Oooh, Auntie made us a very special dessert!

Gammy and Auntie came with us to Comotown and Zoo!

Clara LOVED this.


We spent an evening with Matthew's aunt and uncle and cousins.

Lily explained to Uncle Neil how to play with blocks.

All the kids loved their dog, Tia. The other day I told Clara we were going to IKEA, and she got mysteriously excited. "Tia so, so cute," she told me.

The kids got to goof around with their first cousins once removed:

Neil and Debbie always send us with some fun toys (one of my all-time favorite blog photos there), and this was no exception, including 3D sidewalk chalk for Soren! With the glasses, of course, which we finally had to hide from him because we were concerned about lasting effects on his eyesight.

Some casual lawn sport before we headed to the airport.

Mother/Son Badminton, emphasis on the bad. Bad as in Michael Jackson bad. SHUMON!

Auntie gave Clara a special shirt. If you cannot read it, it says, "If you think I'm cute, you should see my aunt." She wore it from the moment she got it, shortly before we left, all through our airport rides, so there should be lots of people in Amsterdam and Brussels now who are just dying to see this aunt of hers. Better book another trip, Lauren.

14 September 2010

Cabin fever

Our trip to the U.S. feels like a long time ago, and our days are so full getting back into the routine that I'm finding it hard to memorialize the visit properly. Thankfully Matthew took some nice photos so they'll have to carry the day.

Here's some of the fun we had at my uncle's cabin:

Lily with her Auntie

Soren caught a fish off the dock with no bait

Playing dominos

Celebrating Grandma's birthday

Fun with Grandma Julie and Cousin Loretta.

We didn't get photos of our outing on the huge tube. I'd never been on one this big before: Lily, Soren, Lauren, and I were all able to ride on it, sitting up. Lauren and I laughed so hard when we got to a certain speed and began bouncing, alternately: One side of the tube would go up, then the other, up and down, up and down.

Then Lily and I took a turn on the smaller one. This photo was taken shortly before one of us fell off. She really wanted me to signal for them to stop because it was a bit choppy, and I didn't time my throat slit move well and bounced off. The image of her little face looking back at me, concerned, as I bobbed in the lake is vivid in my mind.

Two ladies with loads of style. These clear plastic hair protectors are so Grandma Millie. I love them.

Driving the boat with Grandpa

13 September 2010

A day on the farm

We arrived back in St. Louis from Portland late on a Sunday night, and on Monday morning we flew to Minneapolis with the kids, got in our rental car, ate lunch at Punch and dessert at Yum! (two of our St. Louis Park/uptown area faves), and drove up to my uncle's cabin, three hours northwest of the Cities (stopping at an outlet mall on the way, so I could buy four pairs of black flats, thereby necessitating a return stop on the way home to return three of them: I am not the most efficient shopper). We slept at the cabin that night, woke up Tuesday and got on the road, driving a couple more hours to my Lee grandparents' farm in North Dakota.

Grandma and Grandpa

Hugs for Great-Grandpa

Eating an apple from their tree

Trying out the farm equipment

When I was growing up, what I loved most about the farm was having adventures with cousins.
Our kids got to experience that, too, because my Uncle Dave and Aunt Paige, and cousins Sophie, Darren, and Cameron, were there.


It was such a fun day. We hadn't seen these kids for three years and couldn't believe how they have grown. When we were in law/B-school, living in married student housing at the University of Minnesota, four-year-old-ish Sophie sometimes spent the night at our apartment. Now she is just a couple inches shorter than I am.

Their family moved away from Minnesota around the time that Sophie was the age Lily is now. To see these kids, who Matthew and I enjoyed so much when they were our kids' ages, be so sweet as the "older kids" to our kids, was a joy to see.

09 September 2010

Gee, I really love you, and we're gonna get married

Here's where Matthew and I got our two extra states: We traveled to Portland, Oregon, leaving the kids with his parents, for a wedding. A gift for us, and a real treat for the kids. We stayed in Hood River, and the wedding took place just across the Columbia River in Washington. This area of the country is so beautiful. Wow. I was ready to house hunt.

Here is the lovely couple, Caroline and Eric.

What a delight it was to be at this wedding! To give you a sense of how long I've known this dear woman, one of my earliest memories of our friendship is trading stickers with her (she was more generous than I). Later, we played restaurant in my basement a lot. At an age when our peers were trying cigarettes and kissing boys, we were Jacquelyn and Samantha, taking orders off a menu I typed up on my mom's typewriter.

Here she is dancing with her dad.

I spent a lot of time at this family's home growing up so it was a great joy for me to see them all. Sometimes I hear myself saying to Lily, "Take a brush to your hair," a phrase my mom didn't use, but Caroline's did. If we ever complained (for example, about not being allowed to go out with friends, and being forced to stay home and, tragically, have dinner with our families, which led us to put on a show for them pretending to be lounge singers, and brutalize "The Hills Are Alive"), Caroline's dad told us there are only three fairs: the state fair, the county fair, and the World's Fair. To which I would say, No, there are four: Valleyfair! (a Twin Cities amusement park). And he would concede. But we still had to stay home.

To see Caroline's younger brother, who used to play dress up with my sister, as a grown man, teary at his sister's wedding, was very sweet. He's not so very grown up, though; his toast began "Fornication. [Long, awkward, giggling pause . . . ] Oh, excuse me, FOR AN OCCASION such as this . . . "

I had the great joy and honor to read at their wedding. They asked me if I had any ideas, and I emailed them a few scripture passages and excerpts from Thomas a Kempis and Wendell Berry. They went with the Kempis reading, which was lovely and easier to understand when read aloud than the Berry excerpt. But I sort of fell in love with the latter, from an essay entitled, "Poetry and Marriage" (it motivated me to finally purchase two of his books -- I've been meaning to read him for years). Here's an excerpt: "What you alone think [marriage] ought to be, it is not going to be. Where you alone want it to go, it is not going to go. It is going where the two of you -- and marriage, time, life, history, and the world -- will take it. You do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way." I didn't word it so eloquently when I wrote about our tenth anniversary, but we're on the same page, me and Wendell.

It was so fun to get away, just the two of us. I felt giddy! We laughed a lot.

Except in some photos from the wedding, when I tried out a closed mouth smile. I'll keep those to myself, just like my teeth in those unfortunate pictures.

I met these lovely ladies between the ages of six and thirteen; I have the copious photographic evidence (in storage back in Minnesota, unfortunately), to prove it.

We took a lot of photos, and we also spent a lot of time as preteens videotaping ourselves dancing around Caroline's yard in questionable outfits. At the wedding, one of Caroline's mom's friends said it was too bad there wasn't YouTube at the time. I have to disagree.

The next day Matthew and I took a little hike at the base of Mt. Hood. It's windy there! It wasn't windy this day; this is just how the tree had grown.

And that evening had a lovely meal with friends, including half an eleven-pound salmon Katie and Tim bought at the side of the road.

On one wall at the B&B we stayed hung this:

a lovely (I presume) old panel from a church. The owner didn't know anything about it. It's from a passage that is dear to my heart ever since I had a journaling exercise on it at a retreat. (That's your doing, Nicole. Also, the Holy Spirit's.)

We also visited Matthew's cousins in Vancouver, Washington. Jan was so kind as to host us for an early brunch before we had to fly back to St. Louis.

You might recognize Julie and Dennis from when they visited (and cleaned my oven) after Clara was born. Julie and Jan (the two women in the back row other than me) are Matthew's mom's cousins. So Eryn and Janelle, the two women in the front row, are Matthew's second cousins. And the four boys, then, are my second-cousins-in-law-once-removed, and thus I take relational pride in their cuteness.

Our time in Oregon ended in a dramatic fashion. When we have the kids with us at the airport, we are planned to the T, at the gate early enough so that entertainment for waiting at the gate should be planned, and asking if we can pre-board before the first class people (and often being allowed to -- the five of us with all our gear make a scary sight).

Without the kids, we were running through the airport to get to the gate in time.

Also dramatic was our view from the airplane. At one point we could see four peaks, I think: Hood, Rainier, St. Helens, and Adams. Only three are visible below.