Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How is she three?

*This post is exactly one month late.*

Unbelievable that three years ago my water broke 7 weeks early while on vacation at my parents house. After an incredibly long and painful week in the hospital, Anna finally came. I had a 5 lb 1 oz baby to care for in the NICU for a week before I went "home" to my parents house, and then really home to Texas a few weeks later. She didn't stay little long. She really has grown up so fast.
In preparation for her birthday, I asked if she wanted to go the the zoo. "No," she said, "Chick-fil-a!" Gratefully we only live 10 minutes from the ONLY Chick-fil-a in Wisconsin. And it's in a mall. So after feasting on delicious chicken, waffle fries, and fresh lemonade, we headed to the "play area" which consisted only of lame coin-op toys. Apparently none of the malls here have real indoor play areas. Somehow they still enjoyed themselves, climbing off and on everything in sight.

She would have loved to have a party with friends, but since we only arrived here 2 weeks before, we didn't really know anyone. So we headed to Flabbergast, a bouncy house place, to celebrate.

It took her a while to work up her bravery, but by the end of the night she was trying everything on her own.
 Back at the house we opened presents...
 From Paul and I...she is in love with Lalaloopsys.
From Hattie...Strawberry Shortcake is her other favorite toy.
 From Grandma Dame...she calls her "Punzel with the long, long hair."
And just a few days ago we got these three vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls in the mail - our awesome Ebay finds. My mom has some and Anna LOVES them whenever we are in Oregon. She is thrilled to have some of her own...and we won the bid for only $12!
Paul's mom made Anna this awesome quilt. She LOVES it! It was a fun birthday for our little girl.

Things I love about Anna:
- She laughs at herself easily
- She is passionate
- She has beautiful big blue eyes
- She says all of her 'K' sounds with a 'T' or an 'F' sound. So she says things like, "I don't like it when Niels fries," or "I will fall and frat (crack) my head," or "Niels is so toot (cute)."
- She could eat quesadillas for every meal if I let her - as well as fruit snacks
- She'll do just about anything, especially if she sees Hattie do it first
- When she gets really intense about something, her eyes get ridiculously big so that you can see the whites all the way around her eyes
- She corrects me whenever I call her Nana, Anna Banana, my bug, squirt gun, Nana Cake, or any other name we have called her over the years. She emphatically reminds me that she is Anna, and that all those other names are wrong.
- She loves all dairy products. And I mean, she really loves them.
- She loves friends - she is always asking for cousins or our Texas friends to come and play
- It can be infuriating, but she loves to contradict you just for the sake of contradicting you. Somewhat annoying, but cute.
- She has always played well by herself. Maybe it's part of being the second child, but she'll often disappear upstairs for hours with her toys, content to be alone.
- She has tons of personality, yet is very sweet and kind.

Just on Sunday she told me that she wanted to go pee on the potty. So that afternoon I whipped out our recently purchased princess potty and let her try, not really putting my heart into it or encouraging her much. To my surprise, she went to the bathroom successfully 5 times that day! So Monday morning I kept at it, giving her juice and milk a lot. The result: 2 accidents, 8 successes, and 1 successful accident (she made it to the potty but forgot to pull down her pants). I think one of the reasons she has done so well is because the potty plays a song when she pees - that's motivation enough for her! So throughout the day I would be randomly surprised by the melody of a successful trip to the potty. I never had to remind her - she just went on her own! Hopefully it continues to be this easy. 

Happy birthday Anna! We love you!

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Hair Cut

Somehow my dear baby Niels had a random patch of 3 inch long hair on the side of his head. The picture doesn't show it too well, but I am holding on to one of the hairs to show how far off his head it really was. There were only 10 or 11 hairs total and they were all growing in the same side of his head. For some reason it took me forever to get around to cutting them, but I finally gave in and ended the weirdness.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Under contract

At last, the house hunt is over. Exactly one month from yesterday we will close on our home in Oak Creek!

More pictures to come once we have our stuff inside. Things I love about it:
    - 3 car garage (room for all of Paul's tools)
    - 5 bedrooms (it's actually a tri-level house so there's more square footage than you think)
    - 3 full bathrooms
    - a HUGE laundry room (big enough that I'll be able to sew in there)
    - an unfinished basement (I'll no longer have to store all our extra stuff in the attic)

We'll be a little farther from the hospital than I would prefer, but the closer to Milwaukee you get, the older and smaller the homes become. So Oak Creek was a good compromise. Now we are busy brainstorming how we will paint, decorate, etc. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Friendly Lubbock

I have always touted Lubbock as being extra friendly - that even though other places are nice and kind and not particularly rude, the people in Lubbock are the nicest I've ever met. Then this recent article tracking which city most often tweeted "good morning" further proved my point! I miss you Lubbock!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A decade

I wish I had some pictures to accompany this post, but all the relevant photos I have aren't digital, and the prints are in a moving box in the basement waiting to be unpacked eventually.

When I arrived at BYU 12 years ago as an 18-year old freshman, I quickly made friends with the girls across the hall, Karly and Melissa. Karly was a spunky, radiant personality, brimming with entertaining stories of growing up in California and willing to do just about anything to have a good time. Melissa was quite a bit more reserved - she didn't open up quite as willingly as Karly. At first I thought the two of them wouldn't mesh well as roommates but time proved me wrong. Karly was just the right person to bring out Melissa's silly side (which I now know comes out quite often and easily). As the year passed, I became better and better friends with them, and another floormate, Eden. And when our sophomore year started, the four of us moved into an apartment together.

That next year, combined with my freshman year, were remarkable. When I look back on all the fun, crazy stuff I did in college, it was with those girls. They epitomize to me what a great college roommate experience should be like - free of drama, pettiness, and comparisons. We were just four girls who loved to spend time together. And Karly seemed to be the glue that brought us all together. She was often the instigator of our activities, would make sure we had apartment prayer every day, and was always meeting new friends to help the rest of us be more social. We even had roommate pictures taken to hang up in our apartment. She was so fun-loving, warm, and friendly that people were instantly drawn to her. 

After our sophomore year, I spent the summer studying abroad in London, Eden stayed in Provo and prepared for a mission, and Karly and Melissa returned to their homes in California and Nebraska. Once I returned from England, I drove to Utah to surprise Eden for her 21st birthday - and Karly and Melissa also surprised her by flying in. Looking back, I could have never guessed how much that weekend would come to mean to me.

About two weeks later when I was back home in Ontario, I got a call from Eden, who informed me that Karly had been in a car accident and, together with her brother, had died. The following days were a blur of emotions. My family tried to console me, but sadly, I felt the need to get away and to be with others who were grieving. I returned to Utah a few weeks before the fall semester began, traveled to California for the funeral, and took the first steps in the grieving process. 

It seemed hard for people to understand, and for me to convey, how much I was hurting. Some people may have thought that Karly's death shook me up a little too much, considering that she was a friend and not family. But death is always hard, even with faith and even with hope. I knew that death wasn't the end, that she was happy, etc, but it didn't change the fact that I wouldn't get to see her again. Eden, Melissa, and I spent a lot of time together, reminiscing. It helped being with people who were going through the same thing. 
Then Eden left on her mission. I wondered how she could go. Emotionally, I was still a mess. I had been thinking of a mission for months, but in the midst of my grief my plans had been put on hold. During the rest of the fall semester of my junior year, I always considered a mission, but the thought of actually doing it was terrifying. 

As with all things, with time I healed. I missed Karly still, but the sting of death slowly began to lift. And as it did I found myself with a desire to serve a mission. It quite literally snuck up on me. One day I called my sister to tell her that I wasn't going on a mission, and the next day I called her back saying that I was ready. So Karly is partially to blame for me finally deciding to serve a mission. 

Throughout the whole experience I never found myself asking, "Why did this happen to Karly?" I have always believed that life gives us whatever happens to come our way - that God doesn't necessarily plan every portion of our lives. I believe He lets things take their natural course and chain of events. But I also know that He has the power to change the natural course of events if He so desires. Hence, a miracle. So instead of asking "why," I instead asked, "Why not? Why not a miracle that day? Why not wake up Karly's mother or father to see that Karly's brother was asleep at the wheel?" It was hard. A hard lesson to learn. That God is God and that miracles are in His control at the end of the day. That for whatever reason, He chose to let things take their natural course that day and not stop the accident from happening. I didn't need to know the reason He didn't stop it. It wouldn't change the fact that I missed her, and that I miss her still. It only increased my faith that He is in control and aware of us. It is odd that the lack of miracle improved my faith and relationship with Him.

Today marks 10 years since she and her brother Eddie died - a whole decade - 1/3 of my entire life so far. So much in my life has changed. I often wonder where Karly would be if she were still here. Melissa, Eden, and I have remained closer that I think we would have otherwise - our shared experience is something that is difficult to explain to others. I always think of Karly's family on August 17th, wishing that I could be with them to remember Karly's funny quirks, sayings, and stories.

I write all of this mostly for myself, to remember what I felt and what I learned. Because I know as the years go by I'll forget more and more. And these are feelings and lessons I need to remember. But all this writing will never articulate everything I felt and continue to feel. Death is hard, no matter how strong someone's faith is. And faith can always be strengthened by the lessons we learn from death. I gained a greater testimony of the resurrection, one of my favorite verses becoming Mosiah 16:8 - "But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Six months gone already

Unbelievably, Niels is already 6 months old. These have been 6 of the busiest months of our lives - have a baby, sell our house, graduate, travel to Milwaukee, Virginia, Utah, and Oregon, and move across the country. The poor boy has had his ups and downs, but gratefully as our life has settled down a bit, he has become a much better baby. I haven't taken him to the doctor since he was 2 months old (that's what happens when you travel tons and move across the country) so I'm not sure of all his actual stats, but he is a big boy, weighing in around 22 pounds. Clothes that are for 12 month old babies fit him perfectly. His weight gain has slowed, considering that he doubled his birth weight in the first two months. He has remarkably chubby thighs, and a rather skinny belly - at least for one of our kids! About two weeks ago he started rolling around and sitting up, so he has been much more content now that he can see the world a little better. Like most babies he loves being held, especially in the evenings by his Dad. He is almost sleeping 12 hours straight at night - a marked improvement over the 5 or 6 feedings he was in the habit of having while he and I shared a room while staying in Ontario for a month. And he has arrived at the point where he doesn't like to sleep anywhere but in a bed, so Sundays are rough on him, as well as all the hours we spend looking at houses, but I am grateful that he is also starting to nap really well. His sisters adore him, and are actually really wonderful with him. They like to pile all the pillows around him and call the structure his house. And Anna is always eager to share her toy baby boy with him, "since he's a boy baby too." Although life can be crazy with three kiddos, we feel so blessed to have Niels in our family and love the change and happiness he has brought us.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Por fin!

We have the Internet. Peace is restored.