Friday, September 30, 2011

you say it's yo' birthdays

left: Nana, Great-grandma & Uncle Mike (dying to know who you are sticking your tongue at Uncle Mike)  right: Dede, "brother" Mike & me

There are two special birthdays today!

"Mom."  She became my mother on the day I married her son.  The day before we were married we were talking and she invited me to call her "mom."  It has been an honor to be one of "her kids."  One of my favorite memories of her just happened a few years ago.  She told Danny that she would take the girls...and that Danny and I should spend the day out and together.  We had a wonderful day.  When we pulled up to the house Nana and the girls were coming up the hill.  Nana was pulling the wagon and the girls were riding.  I live on a steep hill---and I don't think I could pull them up that incline!  As they got closer we realized that all of them were in pjs...even Nana.  They had been given baths but begged her for one more trip to the park.  She of course told them "yes," she always does.  We love you Nana.

My brother, Mike.  Dede and I were so excited to have a brother!!!!  My favorite Mike memory was when we lived in Boise, ID near the canal.  Mike was sent to find me.  I rode my bike to a friend's house who lived on the other side of the canal.  As Mike started walking that direction he saw my bike close to the water and I was nowhere to be seen.  He assumed what most 6 year olds would...I drowned.  He gathered some flowers from around the waters edge and threw them in as his final gesture.  (I don't remember why I left my bike there...when I went to Kathy's house...but I am glad I did.)  No one makes me laugh harder than Mike does.  Now he shares his birthday week with his dear wife Annie!  I love that your birthdays are just a day apart!  Love you both.

Happy birthday to two special people...born on the same day...a few years apart :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

i pick you for any adventure

Dear Ellie,

You really made a difference today.  As we pulled away from your school you spotted a friend walking home.  You called out her name and waved out the window happily.  Her face lit up and she asked when you could play.  I remember a time when that would have been very hard for you to do---even when you wanted to.   Do you remember when I would ask you to say "hello" to your friends?

When we were approaching home I talked to you about your afternoon.  You had two fun activities that overlapped and we had committed to both of them.  I explained your options to you. 

1. weekly sewing class with your friends- you REALLY wanted to work on the pillow you are making
2. a dad/daughter date with your church "activity days" group that dad was planning on

Your first thought was sewing...and that you felt it was important to work on your project.  Then on your own you decided being with your dad was more important.  You chose to go with him...and were really happy with your decision.  I was proud of you.  It became the best part of your day.  You especially loved watching your dad win first place in the rope pulling contest.

My favorite part of your day was photographed above.  Your sister had her tonsils out this week.  She had a really rough day.  She had been feeling sad & lonely for company without her normal schedule.  You had a lot of homework to complete in a short time this afternoon.  You included Sophie in your math hunt for lines and angles.  You talked to her so sweetly.  I never asked you to include her---in fact, you had so much going on I almost called her to come to me to free up some of your time.  I am so glad that I didn't.  Thanks for being such a wonderful sister.

Tonight at your book club meeting (phew...see what I mean! a lot in one day!) we talked about From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  It is about a brother and sister who runaway from home for adventure to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  A question was posed to you and your friends- "who would you take with you if you decided to go on an adventure?"  I immediately thought of you- you are adventurous, hard working and a lot of fun.  You love to learn and do new things.  I am grateful that we have the adventure of life together.

I love you,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

tonsillectomy & banana bread

Yesterday Sophie had a tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, and a microlaryngoscopy to see her vocal chords.  (I really have no idea how to spell any of that!)  We had to wake her at 5:15 a.m.  Danny and I drove her to the hospital---and she was relaxed, cheerful and not even asking for food or water.  As we waited in the second waiting room...she just played and played.  When the different doctors and staff members came over to talk to us---she would skip back to listen to what they had to say and then go back to her play.  When it was time to go into the surgery room, I held her as we went down the hall.  They had a childlife specialist walk with us and talk to her about tinkerbell and the toys in her hands.  When it was time for her to turn the corner with out me I set her down and gave her a kiss.  She walked calmly with the doctor and was really really really brave!  I was DYING!

She was uncomfortable after the surgery---but wanted to be held (which helped both of us) and eat her slushie.  She woke up and drank well so they let us go.  Go UTE Nana (Danny's mom) was waiting at our house.  She had spent the night and helped Ellie and Kate get off to school in the morning.  She offered to stay at the house until we returned.  When we arrived home Sophie climbed up on her lap and just slept in her arms.  The car ride was upsetting to her---and sleeping in her Nana's arms was just what she needed.

After that nap and some food she had forgotten that she even had surgery.  We had to remind her to talk softly, be still (quit jumping!), and rest.  When her pain is controlled with the medicine she talks and acts completely normal.  When it is wearing off she is quite uncomfortable.

Nana Miller came to visit after dinner and she brought this sticker book.  They sat in the quiet house (Danny and Kate were on a date & Ellie was at the symphony with a friend) and worked and worked on the stickers.  As I watched them from the kitchen I made my mom's famous banana bread and thought about how lucky we are:

wonderful doctors and hospital staff
wonderful loving Nanas
sweet messages (via text, email and phone)
thoughtful visits
and even treats (slow melt popsicles were brilliant and I didn't know about them!)

We feel so blessed to have so many that we love and appreciate.  Thank you for spoiling my little girl. <3

The banana bread was the perfect way to end the day....
 my version of my mom's banana bread:

mix together 
2 c. ripe bananas (aprox. 6)
1 c. finely chopped nuts (I use pecans)
1 c. sour cream

in a separate bowl beat
2 c. sugar
1/4 to 1/2 c. real maple syrup
1 c. softened butter
4 eggs

add together and then add
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 c. freshly ground flour 
(I used quinoa and oat groats.  You can use all regular flour...but this is easier than you think!  I love my wheat grinder and I have had it for at least two years and just started using the last few weeks!  You literally throw the quinoa seeds in...and you have flour!  Oats are great for cookies and baking!!!)
2 t. baking soda
2 t. salt

Mix well.  Add 2 t. of vanilla.  mix again.  Pour into 3 loaf pans coated with butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for at least 60 minutes.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"comparison is the thief of joy"

I love her "foot chart" made of a laminated manilla folder curling around her feet.  
She has been using it for a year now.
It is covered with stickers from different violin activities she has participated in.
A year ago---I anticipated a much different experience than the one she has actually had.
Sophie began violin with a group of 5 other beginning violinists.
They all started with the same footcharts---and "previolins" made from VHS tapes and a ruler.
She was able to move on to a real violin on her 4 year old birthday.
She was SOOOOO excited.

We go to group lesson once a month with the 5 other students.
At the beginning of the group lesson through out this year each of her fellow musicians have earned their twinkle trophy.
She watched each trophy presentation with excitement on her face.
She was truly happy for each recipient and has never even asked me where her trophy is.  
Not even once.
I really do love that about her.
She is content with what she is doing...and for the most part---is content with what others around her are doing.
I on the other hand have felt stress.
It has been so challenging for me to hold back...appreciate where she is and what she is doing...
(she is only four after all)
and to silence the pressure I feel for her to keep up.
It is so hard for me not to compare where the two of us are in violin...with what the group is doing.

"Comparison is the thief of joy."
Theodore Roosevelt

Sophie has been learning her Twinkle Variations (5 different variations) over the past year.  
We play them over...and over...again.  She listens to them on her cd and practices them every day.
Some days she plays a few perfectly. 
Other days...hardly any...
and once she played every variation she tried with out a mistake!
The day that she did this she was trying to switch things up for fun.
She decided she would play with her eyes closed.
She stood right in front of me and squeezed her eyes shut.
She played every variation she knows without one single mistake each time she played it.
She has NEVER done that!
I was amazed.

Sometimes we need to close our eyes to everything around us and just play...
we need to silence the opinions of others,
the distractions of what our peers are doing...
and just to be.

Sophie has known that all along...but I am learning more from her than she is from me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

fight the good fight

I was given the opportunity to photograph the Hegewald family this past spring.  I only come out of my "photography retirement" for special occasions.  This was one of those occasions.  My friend Kim's sister changed her plans for spring break and was coming to Utah instead.  They had just learned that her husband Kevin was diagnosed with cancer.  He was given a really tough prognosis.  It was a last minute decision for them...and I was given the privilege of taking their family pictures. 

I expected to see some somber faces...but all I saw was hope.  They were filled with optimism and joy.  There were smiles...after smiles...after jokes...after smiles.  It was my first opportunity to meet them---yet I felt that we were fast friends.  I came away knowing that if anyone could beat a grim prognosis it was the Hegewald family...with Kevin leading the way.

Although Kevin passed away last night, I believe he beat cancer.  He fought with faith, optimism and humor.  He held fast to the love of his family and friends.  He knows that we are eternal beings experiencing a mortal life...and that the journey goes on forever.  The words he left on his blog yesterday, through his wife Abby, have been an important reminder.  Earlier in the week, I was facing a few challenges---that through my attitude (stress & worry), became much bigger than they really are.  Our challenges are part of life to make us stronger and to help us learn.  As I face mine, whatever they might be, I hope that I will always remember the smiles that the Hegewald family brought to their photo shoot and try to be more like them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

a quiet Sunday evening...

Danny was out this evening working with the missionaries from our church.  The girls and I had filled the evening with baths, a little hair trimming for Sophie and dominoes.  I needed to finish up the dishes so I asked the girls to get in their pjs and read on the couch.  Sophie grabbed some picture books.  Kate grabbed "Just Grace."  Ellie grabbed #6 in the Sister's Grimm series.  They were so quiet...and it was heaven.  The only thing that could have improved this for me---being on the couch with them,  a book in hand.

I am reading "A Dog's Purpose" through Alicia's encouragement.  I was nervous to read it.  At the end of the summer we found a new home for Charlie (our dog).  He had a miserable summer due to our busy schedules.  He was always home with a roof over his, water and a dog door...and we were out...a lot.  As the summer went on he showed more and more displeasure.  We tried to increase his walks, have a scheduled play time each day and a more predictable routine for him.  He would do great if we stayed home.  Charlie loves adults and is such a great companion...but he wasn't a huge fan of younger kids...this home is filled with them on a regular basis.  We received some advice from several trainers...his personality wasn't the right fit.  :(  I know now there are different things to look for when you choose a dog for your family and we didn't go about it the right way.

The good news:  Charlie LOVES his new home.  He lives out in the country.  He is a house dog, like he was here...but the cute couple that have him now...are always home---and when they "go to town" Charlie sits between them on the front seat.  He is happy.

"and away she goes..."

"I'll tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes..."
- Susan B. Anthony 1896

We woke up early on Saturday morning for a charity 5k.  I left early...early to help set up the course.  Danny brought the girls for the starting time.  They arrived in casual clothes ready to run.  I should say...Ellie and Danny were ready to run and Kate and Sophie were excited to ride in the double wide jogger.  Kate was surprised to see a blow up house and lots of friends and people.  Ellie loved the bagels and fruit after the run...and Sophie loves any kind of party.  They all ran at least some of it while I helped stock the food table.  It was a really fun way to start our weekend.
The girls were geared up for more physical activity.  They would head outside whenever they heard any rumblings of cleaning the house.  Danny was cleaning cars outside.  The girls grabbed their bikes to ride in front of the house.  Sophie was tired of the limitations training wheels offer her.  She asked Danny to set her up on a two wheeler.  He had taken her pedals off a few weeks ago to help her scoot and balance.  She decided she was ready.  The pedals were on and SHE DID IT!  She taught herself to ride her bike.  She was SO HAPPY and we were all (even her sisters) cheering her on!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

sunsetting on our summer

 kate, felicity and sophie
felicity and kate

Summer is fading fast.  
It is already so much cooler in the mornings and evenings.
We decided to squeeze out a bit more of our summer by eating dinner poolside last night with friends.
The water was so cold (73 degrees...brrr) due to a broken boiler---
that the playground, with the last bit of sun left in the evening sky,
was sought out much more than usual.
As I sat visiting across the other side of the pool I noticed the long shadows created on the playground wall by the setting sun.
Is there anything better than children hard at play!?

We are grateful for this three day weekend.
We have been working on several projects that have been on the "to do list" longer than we would like.
We are excited (by that I mean that I am excited and Danny is a long for the ride) about some rearranging of rooms and bedrooms to get a better set up for the girls.
The girls are excited about the playroom we are bringing back!

We hope to fill our evening with visits to grandparents...and even great grandma's home...tonight.
Amidst all of the "labor" going on around here---
we hope to capture as much of the joy of childhood as we can.
Happy Labor Day!

(The color was harsh when I took these with the dark shadows and light of the setting sun-
so I switched to the bw setting of our fujix100 and i liked the result so much better.
Other than minimal cropping on the bottom image these are SOOC- straight out of the camera)