mid-winter/springish break

mid-winter/springish break

I never know what a week off from school will be like: lots of fighting? Too cold to go out much? Or loads and loads of activities and fun times? This time we were blessed to have Micah with on on President’s Day, which made the rest of the week feel much less long and much more manageable.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

And with Micah having a day off as well, we lived it up and went to the Guggenheim, which we have seen of course but felt like some place not quite for us. Well, we’ve lived in this city nearly 10 years and we can go anywhere we want to go. So we went. Thankfully we got their early enough that it wasn’t super crowded and we took our time exploring the spiral and its off-shoots, including the place where they sell the chocolate croissants. Even if most of the art is modern, there were some pieces I really enjoyed and would have found a place for in my own house if I had the resources the Guggenheims had

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Really though, one of my favorite things to see was this:

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Felix may not be quite big enough to keep up, but they are good enough to not leave him behind.

The other big accomplishment of the week was to not play video games or watch much tv/movies. I did succumb to strep throat on Thursday afternoon (after we spent the morning at the Botanic Garden with friends) and with the aches and chills and headache . . . well, I wasn’t up for playing anything except a movie. On the one hand, it was beautiful weather Thursday afternoon and Friday, which made it an awful time to be sick. But on the other the kids were out of school so I was actually able to rest instead of taking charge of pickup and such. I guess we’re even.

jumper

The good weather/sick combination was also a good reminder that we actually can just go out in front of our building. The kids wanted to draw with sidewalk chalk, but we couldn’t find it, so they resorted to jumping rope and drawing pictures on paper while Felix mastered (more or less) the ups and downs of stair climbing and crawling as quickly down the sidewalk as he could.

Tomorrow, life begins again. I’m sure it will be a good break from our break.

cat eyes

cat eyes

Grandma had a secret pair of magic glasses that look good on everyone.

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There’s no point in asking who they look best on because I already know.

snow play

snow play

While we do get snow in Brooklyn, it isn’t always so easy for us to take advantage of it. The park is more than a mile away and while the parking lot across the street and the stairs in front of our building will work in a pinch, there aren’t any great places to sled.

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So we take our snow play where we can. Which, this winter, seems to be in Utah. Lots of snow on both our trips there meant we got some sledding, some snowballing, and some snow-personing. (We were calling it a snowman, but Elsa had something to say about that . . . !)

 

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Thankfully, we were fairly well outfitted for such endeavors and so we had quite a time. Life is so much more pleasant when you are dressed for the occasion.

baby steps

baby steps

Literally. Felix took two small steps this week.

This comes less than a week after he first stood on his own for a few seconds.

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Which happened to be the same day that he said what clearly sounded like “nana” when there was a banana he wanted to eat nearby.

And then there is the tooth, which became visible just two days after we heard that his cousin—only 2 1/2 weeks younger than him—was already sporting a little nub of a tooth. (I assume he decided he couldn’t be beat by Elora.)

He and I share toys.

(Felix and I also share toys.)

This is all happening so fast. Or maybe not so fast as some of these things we’ve been looking forward to for months, but definitely all at once.

But I guess that is how things often happen. Slowly, slowly, slowly, and then BAM! There it is.

testing, testing, 1 2 3, testing

testing, testing, 1 2 3, testing

You do what you have to do to live here. One of the things we have to do is get our kids to take the Gifted and Talented test so they can go to the same school. Thankfully we haven’t had to do it for a couple of years, but Elsa starts kindergarten next fall, so it was her turn.

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She was a champ about practicing and got really excited about having “homework” just like her brothers. And she was a champ at the test, too. She said she knows she missed a few, but she did her best. And the proctor said that next time they see each other they will have to race so she can see how fast Elsa is in her awesome pink shoes.

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But really, Elsa was super excited about the celebration we were going to have for her that day. Ramen for dinner and “cake” for dessert. (Really, the cake was a pavlova—a big meringue with whipped cream and berries on top. It is currently the favorite thing I’ve ever made for a couple of our kids.)

So, we did what we had to do. And I think we deserved that bit of cake for our efforts.

grandpa andrus

grandpa andrus

It was 2:30 on the Tuesday morning after Martin Luther King Jr. Day when I realized my phone was ringing. My sister was calling from Oregon to tell me that Grandpa was dying in a hospital in Utah. My parents, an aunt, and some of my siblings were there. I hung up the phone and for the next two hours my sisters and I texted back and forth, waiting for the final word from the one sister who was at his bedside. A little after 4:00am it came.

greatgrandpa

Grandpa was my last grandparent, my oldest grandparent, and the grandparent who was strongest and healthiest at the end. His death has hit me the hardest and made me the saddest.

I am glad that I decided a couple of years ago that when he died, I wanted the whole family to be at his funeral. We didn’t hesitate to buy plane tickets to Utah, even though we’d only been there a few weeks before.

Over the next few days before we flew out to Utah, Elsa was kind enough to do the dishes a couple of times and make a snack for me one day (bread with butter, grape jam, and honey). She also told me once that if I wanted to keep crying, I could go in my room. She said, “It’s just hard with Felix.” I assume she meant it was hard for her to take care of me when Felix also needed attention, but I also think she just heard me say that once when Felix was crying a lot more than he is these days.

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I won’t talk about how sad I am that we missed our chance to see him when we were in Utah at Christmas time, or that I had hopes that my kids would remember him and they mostly don’t. Instead I will say that I am so grateful to have known him, to know that he was proud of me and what I am doing with my life, and that I am proud to be his granddaughter. In talking to a friend whose grandfather was also a WWII vet who died somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly, she said it was nice to go through his journal and transcribe it after he died because it carried so much more meaning to her. I can already see that in my continuing relationship with Grandpa. I realized as I was going through his books at his house after the funeral that we had similar tastes in literature (history, mostly about war) and that made me feel closer to him. We also value being active: he was still doing pushups and walking 3 miles a day even at age 95. (He had the muscles of a man in his 70s.)

funeral Two more memories: When Micah and I were first married, Grandma and Grandpa told us that it just gets better as you go along and that as you get older, you get to fall in love all over again. They were looking at each other like newlyweds. I really had no idea what they were talking about, but I said something about how Micah and I fall in love all over again every day. HA! Hahaha. Now that we have more than a decade of marital bliss under our belts, I see better what they meant and I am grateful for the perspective they subtly imparted. We’re in the trenches a lot these days and the love we share is more zone defense and sacrificing for the greater good and less candlelight dinners and footsie under the table. But I know it won’t always be this way and I look forward to being newlyweds again in 20 and 30 and 40 years . . . to walking around the high school track in matching sweatsuits and waking up at 4am to make bread together. And to be holding hands and making eyes at each other again at age 80.

Years ago I posted a picture on my blog of me carrying my big old laundry bag on my back to the laundromat around the corner from my apartment. My mom showed him the photo. He wanted to show me his sweet laundry set up as well, so he had my aunt take a photo of him with his fancy washer and dryer under the stairs in his home.

ralphandruth

Even though this has been hard for me, I am trying to remember that this is what he has wanted for years. The last time I saw him, he mentioned a couple of times that he didn’t know why he was still here when his wife and all his friends were gone. I know it must have been so hard to be one of the last of his generation around. My brother who lived next door to him said he often said, “No offense to you guys, but I’d rather be with her.” Her, meaning my grandma of course. And I’m trying to imagine them together, young and whole again.

12 years

12 years

12years

With a sick baby being watched by aunts and uncles, our 12th anniversary celebration was short and sweet (just dinner and walk around the temple we were married in). But I guess that is pretty much the stage of life we are in.

It’s good to be able to look back on years gone by and exciting to look forward to the ones to come.

christmas in utah

christmas in utah

We spent Christmas in Utah for the first time since I was pregnant with Simon. So it’s been a minute. Several of my siblings have gotten married and had kids, we’ve had more kids, my parents have remodeled parts of their house. A lot has changed.

skiers

And we tried to make the most of it. With a few kids that are out of diapers and game to try new things, we thought we’d go skiing. (It was my first time too.) It was a pretty great success (though two of our kids might tell you otherwise). It turns out that Oliver is a natural born ski bum and couldn’t get enough of the bunny hill. All the kids worked hard and didn’t complain a bit. They all said it was a lot of fun (though some changed their story later on).

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We took family pictures in the freezing cold.

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Baked up delicious spread of pies (salted honey, mincemeat, and cherry almond).

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Saw the lights on Temple Square—despite the rain.

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Got caught under the mistletoe.

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And posed in front of the tree on Christmas morning.

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Not pictured: We suffered through couple of illness, including the worst case of conjunctivitis I’ve ever seen; stayed up much too late chatting; watched some football; visited with friends;

everyone gets a part

everyone gets a part

When there are 20+ people who need parts in the nativity performance, you sometimes have to just go with things. Like a lion and a bear/cow who showed up with the shepherds to worship baby Jesus. Or maybe adding a chief priest and scribe to counsel with Herod after the wise men/women came to call. Or including a “multitude” of the heavenly hosts with the heralding angel.

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And with so many babies . . . well, one of the lambs had to step into the role of baby Jesus when the lead got a little cranky.

But rest assured, good times were had by all. It was a performance for the ages for sure.

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flying blind

flying blind

It seems as though Elsa doesn’t remember much from her last time in the air a year and a half ago. Either that or she is newly aware of words and the opportunity to understand what the heck is happening.

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She and I went over the safety pamphlet a couple of times before takeoff, and then she spent quite a while studying it on her own as well. On the return trip she pulled it out right away for a review and to remind me how I would hold Felix while tucking under as much as possible during a crash landing. (Nothing like having kids to make you feel brave/scared to pieces at the same time.)

We took the red eye home and Oliver and Elsa (who were sitting on my side of the aisle, while Simon and Micah were on the other side and Felix was shuttled back and forth from side to side) were thrilled by the “seat dreams” pack sitting on their seats. The earplugs were pretty much unusable in their little ears, but they tried anyway. The big hit was the eye mask, which made for a pretty good photo op.

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Seeing these kids discover the world over and over and be so excited about it is pretty much the best. If only we could all maintain that level of wide-eyed wonder about the world.