Tuesday, June 30, 2009

15 years old

Sunday was Jake's 15th birthday. He is a special boy and I am so proud of him as he grows into a man. I can't believe it was 15 years ago that I became a mother. It has been a crazy journey. Let's see, some high points:

I remember in the delivery room them putting him directly on me after cutting the cord. Although I have never told anyone this before my immediate thought was that it was gross to have this slimy child put on me. But then I immediately realized this was my slimy child that I had just pushed out of my body and I really didn't care. My other immediate thought (alot goes through your mind at that moment) was that he looked exactly like John, a fact that has not changed a bit in 15 years. i also remember feeling that somehow all that labor and the baby were unconnected. I still can't believe he came out of my body and still think it is crazy when I see a pregnant person that a baby is actually in there.

John called my mom at work to tell her he was born and she was shocked since we didn't call anyone to tell them we were in labor. I went into labor at 2am and we didn't want to wake anyone. He was born at 8:20am so by the time people were getting up we were a little busy.

My good friend Kim was the first person to come see us in the hospital. She didn't have a car so called around until she found someone that would give her a ride. I was just getting to know Cammi at that point but she became a good friend that I still know today.

I didn't read a single page on parenting or what you needed to do with a child after they are born. I had decided to breast feed but had read nothing about that either. I didn't really know what to do and was waiting for someone to tell me it was time to feed him. Finally around 5pm I asked one of the nurses if I should feed him. She freaked out that I hadn't fed him yet. I have since learned that babies can go quite a while after birth without eating (I feel I read 2 days somewhere) so it really wasn't a big deal but I definitely felt like I wasn't starting this parent thing off on the right foot.

Somehow we managed to leave the hospital with this little baby and nobody stopped us. We brought him home and have been busy trying to raise him to be a godly man. It has been challenging at times, entertaining frequently but most of the time I just find it to be a privilidge to have been given this amazing gift from God and to be part of his life.

So this Sunday we had a party. A theme of Jake's life. I kept asking him how many were coming. Last update said 15 kids were coming. We went to the store and bought burgers, pop and chips for 15 kids. 20 kids came. The miracle of the fishes and loaves occurred as I watched boy after boy walk by with 2 burgers on his plate knowing that we only made 24 burgers. I did also make a package of hot dogs which found in the fridge. Somehow when all was said and done everyone ate. Really I am learning that the kids don't come for my food, they come for each other. Isabelle started a game of duck, duck, grey duck but we had to remove her from the situation when it was her turn every other time. After that they played Red Rover and she was able to get back in the game. We had a bon fire without any homework smoking. One of his friends brought a guitar and there was some singing which was entertaining. Finally the girls went home around 11pm and the party really started. 10 boys stayed all night playing the 4 x-box 360s that were brought and networked together. Keep in mind we do not have an x-box so Jake managed to recruit all the x-boxes and one of his friends even brought a tv! There were 4 stations spread across our lower level family room and spilling into Jake's room. I am told they were up until 6am playing. I went downstairs to have a peak the next morning and have determined that 15 year old boys have rubber bones. One of his friends was sitting in a chair and simply slumped over the side. Another was curled up on our wicker settee, something that is not really that comfy to sit in. And on the other side of the room was Jake's bedroom with a lovely double bed that not a single boy thought to commandeer.

A couple pictures of my sweet boy:

The Party Pictures:

Jake's friend Jaxon brought his electric guitar.

Hanging out in the yard:

They wanted to put the cake in Jake's face but we gave them a plate of Redi-Whip instead. Good times.

They took a walk to the park. Note Isabelle going along as a chaperone. Eric (pulling wagon) ran her home at one point to go to the bathroom. I told him he didn't have to bring her back with him but he did anyway. Jake's friends are as great with her as he is.

Jake and Britta laying on the slides at the park:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Preparing for Africa

Only 6 weeks until Africa!!!! I can't believe how fast it is going. We have officially paid for our whole trip and have money left over for spending money, covering lost work pay and I think a new camera. Our passports came a few months ago and last week we got all our immunizations. 5 shots each for John and I,3 shots for Jake and 2 for Isabelle (plus the 3 she got at her pediatrician last month). I still have a bruise on my arm from one of the shots but the sore muscle finally seems to be gone. We have been taking these homeopathic drops to help our bodies more quickly process the little "extras" that are in immunizations such as formaldehyde. 3 times a day (Ok 1-2 times or when I think of it) I go around the house and put drops in everyones mouth. It is so cute how Isabelle gets excited to take the medicine. She says it is good but it has a very distinct alcohol taste, John thinks it tastes like rum.

We have started meeting every other week with our team in preparation of the trip. Last week we all shared why we were going on the trip and it was a very bonding experience to hear everyone share. In some ways we are all going for similar reasons and it other ways all for different reasons. A few people in our group have gone on missions trips before and others like us are going on our first trip. Christian, our pastor, has asked if a few of us will share our stories on a Sunday morning so I am sharing on August 2 why our family is going to Africa. If you don't already know why we are going check out this post.

In preparation for our trip we are learning some Swahili words and songs. By the time we go I will know:

Jina langu ni--My name is
Bwana asifiwe-Praise the Lord
Psa ngapi-How much is
Asante-Thank you
And in case it isn't obvious enough:
mimi ni mgeni--I am a visitor

Swahili is basically a phonetic language with similar sounds to English so you just have to sound the words out. The main thing to remember is the vowel sounds:
I-Long E
O-Long O
U-ooo (short u)

So use those vowel sounds with normal consonant sounds and you can make those words all happen.

Jake and I have been practicing our songs all day. At first they feel like tongue twisters but now that we have the rhythm it is starting to come together. Just don't ask me to learn anything on the fly!

Song one is "God is so Good". Of course there is a twist on the tune that I keep forgetting but the first part is the traditional tune.

Mungu yu mwema, mungu yu mwema, mungu yu mwema yu mwema kwangu.
God is so good, God is so good, God is so good he's so good to me.

The other song goes "Jesus is mine He is Lord forever". African songs are very repetitive so you just repeat that verse over and over with variations on the tune or just the ending "He is Lord Forever". And usually you are repeating what someone else sang so theoretically it is just about following along.
"Yesu ni wangu wa uzima wa milele".

OK no problem now sing it fast and in tune. :) Maybe a little easier for the more musically inclined but am loosing in both language and tune. Still now that I have it I am enjoying learning to praise God in a new and fun way. I am falling in love with the African music we have heard and really look forward to this aspect of the trip.

Here are a couple versions I found on YouTube.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Blue and Green and Brown

Have you noticed a theme in my decorating color scheme of late?

Here is my project from this winter when I was brightening up my office:

I am still planing to paint a few more squares around the room and include a few green squares in Jake's area because he thought this was a little too girly for him.

And then there is this inspiration for the summer, again, project not complete but coming along nicely:

So yesterday I am sitting outside enjoying the weather and reading a book I got at a garage sale on simplicity when I take a break and look up and see this:

and this:

and this:

And I think I am starting to understand where I get my inspiration.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Isabelle's Baptism

We had Isabelle baptized Sunday. It has been a journey to reach the decision but one worth taking. We grew up baptist and while we made the decision to help start and be part of an Anglican church about 6 years ago we had not fully come to understand infant baptism when Isabelle was born and instead chose to have her dedicated which our little church was happy to accomodate. But now as Isabelle has grown and our understanding and love of the Anglican church has grown I felt a longing for Isabelle be able to more fully participate in the worship service with us. AKA take communion. Communion was the first thing I came to fall in love with about the liturgical service. To see families go up together and participate in the Lord's Supper. At first it disturbed me because I grew up baptist and children don't take communion until they make a profession of faith. I was watching 2 year olds go up and take communion and wasn't sure how I felt about that. But over the weeks and months I came to see instead the family unit sharing their faith through the Lord's Supper and it became a beautiful thing which brought tears to my eyes for weeks. I don't know if I can fully explain it but I know that was my first love of the Anglican church. As Isabelle grew and watched us take communion every week she began to reach out to do it too and we would hold her back knowing she shouldn't participate because she wasn't baptized. We began asking questions about infant baptism and the idea behind baptizing children. I needed to understand, John needed to understand. I got there before him and waited. Finally this spring I told him I was ready and asked him to pray about what was holding him back. We met with our pastor and afterward John said he was ready. Something had finally clicked in him as well. Now some of you may be dying to hear an explanation of infant baptism here but you will not get it. I understand it for myself but am not ready to stand as any sort of expert on the subject. Sorry.

Today was the day. We were to read a scripture we chose for her life. We chose PS 89:1-2, "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself." I chose this as I think about her love of music and deep awareness of it that Jake never had. I can imagine her singing "of the Lord's great love forever". My mom caught John reading the last part.

Isabelle loves a stage and was constantly grabbing the microphone. Turns out it had no batteries. John figured this out quickly and let her go with it.

After quite a bit of excitement when we first told her about it she suddenly was telling me this week that she was afraid to get baptized and so I really had no idea how she would react or if she might even be up there yelling that she didn't want to be baptized which I didn't think would go over very big with our still baptist parents. :) Luckily when the time came God was there with her and she was excited and peaceful. Of course the memory on my camera quickly filled up with the above video so there is no actual picture of the event. Luckily Lauren, Isabelle's birthmom did bring her camera as well (since neither of the grandparents did) and she took a few more pictures for us. She videoed the actual baptism but I don't know how to save it to my computer off facebook. Anyone?

I am sure you are all noting our mother/daughter outfits courtesy of sewing day with Grandma. We got many compliments.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sewing Projects with my Mom

Today my mom and I had one of the special days that only we can enjoy and experience. We have a special relationship. It is the kind forged through many trials and yelling matches until we came to appreciate that we have nothing in common, completely different personalities yet are exactly alike.

Wednesday was a day that our opposing personalities came together the way they should to create fun and productivity.

So for the past few months I have been coming up with sewing "ideas" and collecting supplies which I then put in the closet because well...I don't own a sewing machine and I have only basic sewing skills. Not that I found that relevant at all. I simply called my mom up and scheduled a time for us to work on these project together (OK forced her to let me come over thinking she could just sit next to me and give me pointers as needed).

Project number one: I got the idea to buy a second button down shirt exactly like one I already have to cut down into a matching dress for Isabelle. Why would we need a pattern? We have the concept.

Project number two: Last summer literally an hour before we were to meet everyone in my family for a large group family picture (taken by Mckmama in those early carefree weeks of Stellans pregnancy)I decided I really liked my denim skirt but felt it should be shorter. Because of the way it was I needed to cut the top rather than the bottom off. So then, since I don't have a sewing machine and we needed to be leaving, I stapled a pocket around my waist and ran a cord through it, cinched it up and away we went. I had that in the closet because as nice as the staples were I thought maybe an elastic waist would be better. As a project 2A I also have a skirt that came with an elastic waist but I must have been carrying a few extra pounds at the time because it almost falls off so I needed to tighten the elastic on that one too.

Project number three: And while mom and I were at Jo Ann Fabric picking up a couple supplies we came across some cute fabric and a pattern to make a cute dress for Isabelle.
Project 3A would be the another fabric that has the elastic smocking on the top where you just wrap it around the child and sew a seem up the side and you have a cute strapless dress. Then you add a cute strap of ribbon so it doesn't fall down and they are off. Do you know the kind I speak of? We found that material on sale for about $1 per dress so Isabelle's cousins Sofie and Lilia are getting matching dresses too.

Project number four: I saw a great kitchen curtain idea on Project Create a Home that I decided to make with some toile fabric that I picked up a while ago because I really liked it. During its life at my house I have folded it up to use as a runner on my buffet and most recently wrapped it around a cushion on my wicker chair but all along I have thought it should be a curtain in my kitchen.

So after dropping off Isabelle with her cousins for the afternoon I arrived at mom's, we had a quick lunch before beginning. Mom had been acting like she didn't actually want to spend the afternoon on these projects but I knew she would love it so I was ignoring her complaints. She had asked a neighbor who is an expert sewer some advice about the shirt-into-a-dress project and was feeling a little more confident as we began.

First WE started with my two skirts. Seemed like the simplest projects and sure enough only took mom a few minutes to pull the elastic tighter in the first skirt and sew it down.

As I sat watching her I was reminded of my childhood. She wore the same tomato pin cushion on her wrist the entire time we were working. Ah memories.
Then we moved on to the denim skirt.

While watching I learned how easy it is to put in an elastic waist. First you must remove the staples.

Next you iron the pocket down.

Then carefully sew in place and thread the elastic through. My mommy even let me push the elastic through a few inches. But not all the way because she wouldn't want me to make a mistake. And finally, sew the elastic in place.

Our next project was the shirt-to-dress project. We decided to take a dress we knew fit Isabelle and lay it on top of the shirt and then cut into that shape and sew up the sides. It fit great except for having long sleeves. We decided to do a little roushing of the sleeves to pull them up shorter. Very cute. Of course Isabelle refuses a second fitting so I don't know how sleeves look but I feel confident they will be great. She calls it my picnic shirt because the first time I wore it was on a picnic so tomorrow we are planning a picnic just to wear our matching outfits. A blog post with the dress reveal to follow. Here is mom puzzling over the project after we cut away the sides.

We are flying through the projects and pull out the pattern to start the dress for Isabelle. Now mom's stress level really seems to accelerate. Who knew that as much as she hates my just make it happen approach to projects she is completely stressed by a project with actual directions. What did I learn while watching her work on the project that could help me understand her stress? She doesn't actually READ the directions. ha ha

First we cut out the pattern. She actually let me do that with the pinking shears from my childhood. Another thrilling flashback to my youth.
After sewing together the top part of the dress we decided we need a break and a fitting session so we brought the shirt dress and top piece over to Julia's to try to get some measurements and fittings. Isabelle had a complete fit which I assume was due to her fear I would bring her home. I think she secretly wants to move in with Aunt Julia and her cousins and have me just come visit occasionally.

Anyway, we stopped by caribou for a little treat on the way back (mom showed excellent will power by getting nothing, I got the equivilant of an ice cream sunday, the vanilla cooler with plenty of whip)and then did a little more work on the dresses. I did sit for a moment at the sewing machine about to sew together the straps for the dress before mom saw me and freaked out.

Finally just when I thought we were about to have a break through on the strawberry dress, mom suddenly stood up and announced that she was done and it was time for me to go. Do you think it was the 5 hours of me staring at her that took a toll?

So I never did get started on the curtains (actually I forgot the material at home) and I also have a painting project that I brought with too but decided I could do at home without her. I guess I will need another sewing day sometime soon. Maybe next time I will sneak into her house while she is gone and actually get a turn at the sewing machine.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weekend Wedding

This weekend John's neice got married. Actually his step neice. John's brother married for the first time in his late 30's to a wonderful woman a few years older than him. He instantly became the father of 3 and grandfather of 2. It was the joy of my husbands life to refer to his 38 year old brother as Grandpa Mike. Now 7 years later and grandpa to 3, Mike walked Crystal down the aisle at a beautiful wedding in their back yard. The yard was park like with fountains, flowers, dry creekbeds, paths, patios and more.

Me with the beautiful bride.

John and Jake making popcorn during the reception. John also kept the beverage area stocked.

I knew this would be a good opportunity for a family picture and after seeing where the wedding photographer deemed the best backdrop for photos we snuck over there after she was done for our own photo.

And I had been looking for an opportunity to get a picture of the two of them together to replace the blurry one I had been using as a header for this blog. I am sure all your eyes are thanking me for that improvement.

Isabelle took this picture of Jake and me. She really isn't a bad photographer.

Every time I turn around she is doing something photo worthy. Here she was throwing up the rose petals they had thrown down for the ceremony.

Isabelle dancing with her brother and the bride and the groom. She was a party animal. I was ready to leave long before she was.

Then she photographed us sitting at the non-dancer table watching the dancing.

While busy partying she attracted the attention of a little boy who came to her and said, "I love you" to which she responded, "I don't know you" and walked away. She is going to be a heart breaker.

Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me Monday. Time to share a few things I would never have done this week. Click on the link above to check out more Not Me's at MckMama's site.

First of all, it was NOT so cold on this first week of summer vacation that I actually had to pull the long sleeve clothes back out. NO that would be wrong. It is summer. Shorts, tank tops. Warm Minnesota summers are what get us through the winters.

Second of all, I am NOT alreay tired of the constant asking for friends to come over after only 1 week of school being out. No because I look forward to having my son home with me during the summer and not having to worry about school work.

Speaking of which, I did not get his final grade in Health, a class he had a very high A in all quarter, and discover that he just decided he did not want to do the final paper of the year and his grade dropped to a C+. No way would he do that. He knows how important doing his school work and getting good grades are. Plus he knows that his mother will go balistic on him if he does that. So clearly that did not happen. And since it didn't happen I did not have to tell him that before he could do a single social activity this summer he was going to have to write the paper for ME. And then I did not make him email it to his teacher as well just in case he decided to show my irresponsible son some mercy and change the grade.

John and I did leave the kids home and go to a wake for my great Aunt on Wednesday and hit Caribou on the way home for a little relaxing time. When we got home Jake did not quiz us on why we were gone so long and then upon discovering that we had gone out for coffee deem the wake and coffe our date night over our usual Thursday night and claim Thursday night for his own. No because we are in charge and don't let Jake tell us what to do. We did not decide to let him get away with that since we had decided to go to an outdoor concert we knew he would enjoy. Jake did not have friends over after the concert for a bon fire. They did not decide to burn Jake's homework which did not parlay into them rolling it up like cigarettes and "smoking" homework. And if it did we would surely stop them because we are responsible parents. I never would have taken pictures or done this blog post on it.

I definately did not accidentally open a virus sent to me on facebook which definately did not hose my computer to the point it is currently with our computer geek getting repaired. No way that would happen because I don't have any antivirus software. I am a totally responsible computer owner and would never risk my daughters entire childhood in pictures not to mention our entire personal and business financial life by not having updated anti virus software and not having backed up the computer in about...ever. What kind of lunatic do you think I am?

And finally, I did not bring Isabelle over to a friends on Saturday morning wearing mix matched clothes, hair uncombed and teeth unbrushed. Isabelle definately does not throw the fit of the century every time she sees me pull out a hair brush. I am not wishing she was a boy so I could just shave her head for the summer and forget about it until she is old enough to do it herself like I did with her brother. No because I am a girl and therefore love to dress up my daughter and fix her hair.

Thanks for joining me for Not Me Monday. I wonder what "won't" happen this week.

Smoking Homework

Since school got out I have been asked by Jake to have friends over almost every moment that he didn't have a task, which since school got out has been almost every moment. Finally on Thursday night I gave in and agreed to an impromptu party. We went downtown to see my cousin's band "Pert Near Sandstone" perform and then went back home for a bon fire. Only one of Jake's friends was able to go to the concert but a couple more came over around 8:30 after we got home. At first it was a normal bon fire, friends chatting, roasting marshmallows, adding logs, etc. Then they got the idea to burn homework. Jake had just dumped his backpack and desk in the trash and it was full of schoolwork memories they were ready to rid themselves of for the summer. Then something went...wrong? weird? One of them rolled up a sheet of homework and lit the end. It seemed like a cigarette and the next thing we knew they were all "smoking" homework. It was beyond hilarious to watch and John and I just sat there laughing. I, of course, ran to get my camera because what else would you do?

Even as I was photographing I was thinking about my sister and how she would never understand this. We have had several conversations essentially about how the seemingly innocent experimentation of her youth became a stepping stone to actual bad choices and therefore she is very careful about what she lets her children be exposed to. While I certainly understand and agree with her thoughts for the most part, and I am in no way picking on her parenting here (she reads this after all), but it got me thinking about the choices we are making as parents of a teenager and what kind of relationship we are going to have with his friends.

As I am going into this stage of parenting (am I going into it or am I firmly ensconced in it?), I feel like more important than establishing our rules for both Jake and his friends is to establish relationships with Jake and his friends. Not wimpy relationships that accept any behavior to maintain the friendship but an actual respectful and loving relationship with our son that began long before the teen years hit. And a relationship with his friends that shows we care about them and enjoy them and do not fear them or their influence on our son.

The teen years can be tough and no mater what we do as parents our children will make a few bad choices. Some worse than others but nobody goes through life without making a few mistakes along the way. John and I would like to have a relationship with our son that assures us that when the mistakes happen and he is suffering the consequences we can be there to help him over come them and get back on the right path.

Of course as we laughed about the homework smoking we were able to ask them if we should be concerned. And while it didn't turn into a big anti smoking love fest they did express a disgust with actual smoking which made us feel much more comfortable.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Our Friend Lady

We do not have a dog. I do not want a dog. Dogs are messy, they poop and need to be cleaned up after, they shed, they drool, they puke, they cost alot of money in food, toys and vet bills. I have no desire to have a dog or any other pet at this stage of my life. However, as a concession to Jake who really wanted a dog when he was younger, we do pet sit. It is the perfect solution. We all get to enjoy a well behaved dog for a weekend or week and then just when it is getting on my nerves it goes home. Then I vacuum up the pet hair and move on with my life. Sort of how I imagine grandchildren will be. :)

While we have watched several dogs over the years we have really bonded with one dog and it is now the only one we watch. Her name is Lady and she is a sheltie. We have been watching her for about 8 years. At that time the family had 2 children and would all come to drop her off. They would give me direction about how to discipline her if she got on the furniture or barked. They would pack the brush and toys and treats. 8 years later they now have 6 kids. Lady is dropped off by one parent while the other is home completing preparations. Lady weighs a little more than usual, we haven't seen her brush in years and although she still very well behaved, doesn't get on our furniture and rarely barks, we don't get any training instructions either.

Isabelle, who is normally terrified of dogs, I mean really cannot function if she is in the same room with a dog her stress level is so high, loves Lady. I mentioned this to Lady's owner who was surprised since Lady doesn't seem to like their children and tries to stay away from them. I laughed and told her I thought that was what Isabelle liked about Lady. She just lays on the ground and looks at Isabelle. She doesn't walk over to her, she doesn't try to jump on her or lick her. Isabelle can walk over and stand a safe distance from her while telling her what to do without fear that Lady will respond at all. Isabelle really doesn't even want to pet Lady. It is really the perfect relationship.

This will be our longest pet sitting. With 6 kids they don't travel as much as they used to and so we really only have her maybe once a year but this year they are going for it with a 2 week trip out east. Lady immediately found all her favorite locations to lay around in our house and and I am already retrained to go stand out in the yard so she will do her business. It should be an entertaining 2 weeks. Jake is already earning him money as I stood pointing at the poo in the yard this morning.

Doing what she does best. Her favorite spot inside the house is under the bench by the backdoor. She managed to squeeze herself in there despite all our shoes. But doesn't even think about chewing them. Where did they find such a great dog?

See how Lady is looking around Isabelle like she is about to make a break for it? In fact that is exactly what she was doing as I snapped this picture, walking away. And while Isabelle did give her instructions the entire time about where to go she never went near Lady to stop her. They are quite a pair.