Tuesday, July 28, 2015

An Eight Year Old Young Lady

Today my sweet Caroline Avy became an eight year old.  The unfortunate thing about her being born so soon after her big brother is that her growing up seems to creep up on us unaware.  It's just Bang! and she's another year older.  Caroline is so easy going in so many ways.  Not having her party all organized far in advance was fine with her.  Which seems to be a funny juxtaposition with her attention to detail and love for planning.  I suppose she's often too busy enjoying the here and now to worry too much about the future.  I should learn from her!

She still loves to read and write.  We find journals full of letters and poems and daily recordings.  She will surprise us with letters on our pillows or love notes on the kitchen counter.  A text to her daddy in the middle of the day sent from Mommy's phone.
 She needs her alone time most days.  She might disappear into her room for an hour or three while the other kids are out playing with friends.  It doesn't mean she's sad or upset.  It's just her processing time.  She has bits and pieces of the two beautiful women she was named for--thoughtfulness towards other and infectious laughter.  A fabulous sense of humor.  She uses sarcasm in all the right places.

 She is not afraid or embarrassed to show affection towards her loved ones. 
She made a beautiful junior  bridesmaid in her Uncle Jeff and Aunt Kait-Kait's wedding two weeks ago!
 There are little hints here and there that she is entering the frightening cocoon of pre-adolesence.  I feel that she's already started sprouting her wings just a bit.  She cares more for grown up things and less for childish a little more each day.  But she is still our little girl.  And she'd better believe that she always will be!
 Our love for you is overwhelming, Carks!  Thank you for being you.  We thank the Lord every day that He saw fit to bless us with a Caroline Avy in the middle of that night so long ago. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of Heat, Humidity and the Honorable Institution of Marriage--Part I

We went to Minnesota!  We had fun!  We are back home now!  I am writing this like a second grade essay on my summer vacation!  Sorry, I'm done now.
So, yeah, our vacation to Minnesota is done over and gone now.  And we did have a lovely time.  We saw Jeff and Kait safely married.  
I even had a little drama along the way.  The day of our planned flight I woke up with quite a bit of pain in my two brand spankin' new crowns the dentist had installed a week earlier.  She had been concerned that one of them might need a root canal "some day".  I thought I'd just run down and ask her to take a look and see if adjusting my new bite might help alleviate some pain.  She informed me that my bite was great--but that it looked like I needed that root canal right away.  I politely informed her that I was leaving for the airport in three hours and furthermore I was not done packing so--no dice!  She freaked me out with all sorts of stories of pain in the air and my teeth exploding from cabin pressure changes.  She offered to give me a shot to numb my tooth for the flight.  Again I tried to explain that wouldn't work as I would actually need to speak to my children in the airport and also excessive drooling through security  might not help our case.  Instead she set me up with some good drugs and antibiotics and sent me on my merry way.  My teeth did not explode mid-air.  I did feel a fair amount of pain during our trip.  I'm sure that had I not been medicated the entire time I would be telling a different story.  But medicine helps greatly and it was all manageable.  And I got my root canal the day after I got home.  Now I'm just waiting for my dentist to put a filling in that brand new expensive crown that had to have a hole drilled in it for the (also expensive) root canal.  Grrrrrrr......
And you thought you were reading about a trip to Minnesota.  
So!  We took a flight that left Seattle at about 7:30 PM.  That means we arrived in Minneapolis shortly after midnight.  By the time we collected luggage and a rental car life was feeling oddly surreal.  The parking garage was hot and sticky for 2:00 AM.  The kids were strangely awake for the middle of the night.  It all had the definite feeling of an adventure!  And then we arrived at the Diaries of the Happy Sanitarium and fell deliriously into our beds.  The loss of two hours in the time change combined with the mid-night travel helped us to sleep in until 10 AM!  Morning brought a joyous reunion of our kids with Naomi's kids.  It also brought a delicious breakfast cooked by Naomi herself.  Then we were off to explore St.  Paul and Minneapolis.  We started with St. Paul's cathedral.  What can I say--it's big!

There is not supposed to be excessive noise in a cathedral.  Naturally, we brought six children with us.  How else could we be quiet?  Don't they all look calm and subdued?

Hehe, see those scrapes on the side of Tadd's face and neck?  Some of them are from Henry's razor sharp finger nails.  And the others, well, they have a story.  You see, Tadd forgot to bring his razor and shaving cream.  I told him he could borrow mine.  He came out of the bathroom smelling like flowers and full of cuts and declaring that we would be making a stop at Target for proper shaving materials :)  

The cathedral ceiling was much more impressive than the pictures show.  Naomi and her girls have been dying to hear the giant organ be played, but it's only put to use during a wedding or mass. 
Down in the basement we found a lego replica of the cathedral.
And the bell that used to be up top.
The view of St. Paul from the front steps.  We were expecting broiling hot weather.  This day was quite rainy and windy and a bit chilly even. 

The kids used the front steps to get out some pent up energy and noise.

K and B informed us that those huge front doors are only opened for events, such as weddings.

After departing the cathedral we drove around the area looking at all the gorgeous old homes.  Tadd and I were so impressed with how lush and green it was.  Seattle is called the emerald city and everyone talks about how much it rains.  But Seattle looks brown and drab compared to St. Paul's summer beauty!  Our next stop was a walk along the mighty Mississippi.
These goons were having a grand old time together.  And we were having an even grander time listening to their conversations in the car!

We braved traffic between the twin cities and headed over to check out the old mill district in Minneapolis.

Walking down to one of the old mills we found a gorgeous place for taking pictures.  By this time it was raining in earnest.  My hair, which had been carefully flat ironed when I got it cut the day before began to grow like one of those sponge capsule animals you can buy for your kids to grow in a cup of hot water.  It was crazy!

Thus ended our site seeing for the day.  We high tailed it back to the car and headed home to enjoy a delicious meal Naomi was cooking for us. 

It was fun to see a little bit of an area that neither Tadd nor I had visited before.  It was time to rest up and be ready for the wedding mayhem to begin the following day!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beach Livin'

For a while this summer I started feeling like I lived in southern California.  We were keeping towels and sand toys in the back of the car full time and heading off to various beaches to hang out in the sunshine and take a swim.  The beach has taken a bit of a backseat lately because of swimming lessons and basketball camp.  It felt weird to stop beachin' it even while we had a streak of 90 degree days.  I'm sure we'll go back to our old beach ways soon.  It's time to practice all we learned in swimming lessons out in the real world!
 Sometimes we head out just for a bit of the afternoon.  Other times we find a spot in the sand and park it with friends for a good long while--having lunch and taking in the sites.
 One Friday night we packed up a quick dinner of snacks--chips and bean dip, cut up watermelon and carrots.  Then we rounded it out with a giant bag of kettle corn and fresh cherries from the farmer's market going on in the parking lot.  I know, I know--I should really be a health food blogger.  Seriously--I could change lives with that diet.  Just maybe not the kind of change folks would like.  This is what Tadd thinks about junk food!

 On that particular evening, Andrew and Wendy met us at the water just as the sun was getting mellow and all the other revelers were going home.  The farmer's market was packed up along with the high school bands and solo acts who perform on Friday evenings.  The life guards were not yet on duty for the year.  It was all perfect for our family to try our first paddle boarding experience.  Andrew and Wendy are so generous with their gear and their time.  Not to mention quite kind to our children.  Having Wendy around this past year has been such a joy.  We're pretty glad Andrew married her!
 I really love the above photo of daddy and son.

 The lighting is deceiving--this was almost 9 o'clock at night, but we were quite close to the summer solstice so it almost looks like mid-afternoon.
 I even got to go out for a solo paddle or two.  It's so relaxing (except that part where my legs are shaking from trying to balance) and peaceful.  Especially when we're paddling around in the calm swimming area with no waves or tides to bother us : ) 
 Wendy is not afraid of the water and had no problem tipping herself and the girls in for a swim.  She might have attacked her husband and knocked him off his board a time or two as well.
 Henry took quite a bit of coaxing.  He wasn't up for much more than floating right near shore.

 That was a fun evening and I know the older kids will store it in their memories for always.

 Living it up at the beach and the pool--Seattle is the new California, I tell ya.
And now we must be off for a while.  I've gotta go to Minnesota to get myself my newest sister! 
 This guy here--the one who was 8 when I went away to college and 10 when I got married--the one who was a 14 year old uncle for the first time--that guy--he's getting married!  Let's put this in perspective.  In that above picture he's less than a year older than Ezra is now.  Whoa.  And he's getting married.