Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Take Me on a Sentimental Journey

 My sister and I met up in Atlanta to fly together to Washington for Little Grandma's funeral. We stopped in Las Vegas, where we found some wicked-looking slot machines...which we didn't waste our money on.
 What happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas, though. We discovered we were on the same flight as my cousin, who also lives across the country. So we ended up flying to Bellingham together, and her sister flew in to the same airport several minutes later.
The few of us who had arrived met up at the beach house they were renting and ate dinner together.

 My sister and I literally went from Sea to Shining Sea that day.
These are nothing like our sunny, sandy, Life in the Swamp beaches, but I've been homesick for that rocky ocean for so many years, I didn't mind the cold rain.

 There were only a few cousins who couldn't make it to grandma's funeral, and we missed them! But it was amazing at how many cousins were able to fly in from all over the country for what might be our last extended family reunion. It was wonderful to feel the love we all have for our grandparents and parents. Lots of joyful tears were shed, lots of hugs were exchanged, and lots of memories were shared. It was a little bit like the reunion I imagine Little Grandma was getting as she met her relatives and friends on the other side of the veil.

 I wasn't able to attend my other grandparents' funerals. It was a pleasant surprise to learn they are buried several feet away from Little Grandma and grandpa, along with many other relatives. It was a double-memorial for me.
 Aunt Lori showed me where my grandparents and other relatives were buried in that cemetery, and told me stories about my grandparents' funerals. It was touching, and I'm glad I got to be there for that.

All of the cousins and aunts and uncles and second cousins and cousins-once-removed who were able to gather together to celebrate Little Grandma. We're a pretty awesome bunch...

My grandma had dementia for years, so it's a relief to know she's free from her hardships here. But it is still hard to say goodbye. When they closed the coffin, and later, when we saw the mound where she was buried, I ached, knowing she's gone. But I'm so grateful to know about God's Plan of Happiness, and know she's in a wonderful place, with people who love her as much as I do.

 After the funeral, we went on a Sentimental Journey. We wandered around my grandparents' old property, and then checked out my other grandparent's old houses, too. So many memories were stirred by the sights, and sounds, and especially the smells of Bellingham.
 Since I couldn't go to my other grandma's funeral several months ago, my parents took my siblings and I to her favorite fish & chip's place, where we all had her favorite dish in her honor. It was nice to hear my mom's stories about her own growing up years, and the years she cared for her own mother, and more about the funeral I couldn't attend.

 We went to visit my mom's older brother Warren and his wife. They have a beautiful old house on a scenic organic farm. It was fun listening to Warren talk, because he reminded me so much of my grandpa. He inherited many handsome features from his dad, as well as his witty banter, which I've missed.
 Then my parents took us to "their" places. As a teenager, my mom used to come from Southern California to Bellingham, to stay with her sister for the summers. My parents showed me where they first met. The telephone booth where my dad got up his courage to call my mom, and then in the picture above, the place where they had their first date (which happened to be a family party!). It was fun to see them fall in love all over again as they remembered those things.

 I demanded begged to go see Chuckanut Drive -- one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
 I love the briny ocean smell.
The sparkling, smooth rocks.
The forest islands and rocky cliffs.
The ships disappearing in the horizon. 

It's the stuff dreams are made of!
 And who knew Bigfoot lived on Chuckanut Drive...

Whatcom Falls came in at close second as the most beautiful place on Earth. The mossy bridge, dense forest, and roaring falls were stunning. I couldn't believe my parents never took me there in all the years we went to Washington.
 Then it was time to fly back to The Swamp. The Bellingham airport looked a lot like a gas station. Or maybe a ski lodge. And the people there were so friendly and helpful, I'd recommend it (and Alaska Airlines) to anyone.
 Here's the view of the San Juan Islands out my window. It was so amazing to fly toward Seattle along the coast, watching the islands, the ocean, and the huge mountains pass by beneath me.

 And this was on the driverless subway in Seattle. It was slightly creepy to look left, then look right, and see only windows. No driver.
But see how happy I am? This is before we sat for hours, before we could board the massive airplane and fly all night. Then we had a several-hour layover in Atlanta, where my next flight was delayed even longer because the 2-man-crew disappeared. Seriously. About a half-hour after my flight was supposed to have left, the pilot stuck his head out and asked the desk guy if he'd seen the crew. They'd gone out to party and never came back.
When we finally boarded, the pilot said we were missing something on one of the brakes, so they wouldn't work. But he then reassured us that we still had some brakes left. I have so much luck with flying...

I didn't sleep all night, and when my kids came home from school, I laid down on the couch and took a nap. A three-hour nap. Such a deep-sleep nap that when I woke up, I found homework and school folders covering my entire body because they all needed help with something and I didn't hear them asking.

But I'm glad I could go. I'm glad I could remember all of my grandparents. I'm glad I could reconnect with long-lost relatives I'd lost contact with. And now I'm glad to be back home with my family in The Swamp.

As Little Grandma always said, "Family is everything."
How right she is!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Fling

The village held its annual spring fling today, so we went to check it out. They had face painting, carnival games, bounce houses, and food. So much fun!

Ashley and Annie bouncing in a princess castle.

Josh, Zane, and Ethan bouncing in a sponge bob castle.

Who knew Ethan had such a great throwing arm? Too bad the guy didn't drop, even though he hit the target. Look at how the guy is nervously watching the ball hit the target...

Ashley's ball hit the target, then got stuck behind the red circle. The lady told her to come hit the target with her hand, so she got to make the guy drop into the pool.

Josh is blowing a whistle while being teeter-tottered around in this soundless video.

Annie, Ashley, and Sierra showing off their pretty faces.

Bean bag toss.

The most amazing balloon guy I've ever seen! And of course, my boys just wanted swords.

Josh wanted to put on his full pirate garb when he came home.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

whew! what an easter...

Here's how our Easter Saturday went down:

I woke up and started to slow cook the beans (for 20 people) I'd pre-soaked all night for our friend's party. (I've never used dried beans, and thought, "how hard could it be?" haha...)

We went to clean the church, then came home and went straight to our Village Easter party, where there was a giant, creepy bunny who hid eggs all over the playground for the kids to find.

Look how happy Josh is! Little does he know what's about to happen in several hours...

As soon as the Easter egg hunt was finished, I took Ethan to a birthday party. It was a slumber party, so when I dropped him off, I told them he couldn't sleep over, but he could have a late night, and I'd pick him up at 9:30 or 10 pm.

I checked on my beans and they still weren't soft. Began to panic slightly. I mean, this is Gator Country. They know their baked beans.

Went to the grocery store to buy canned baked beans, for "just in case."

Had to use the "just in case" beans, because mine weren't done by the time we had to leave. Now we have baked beans filling up the fridge.

Went to the party and had so much fun with friends from church. The house was on a hill that led down to a small lake. The boys got hats and the girls got butterfly wings to wear during the party. There was plenty of good food and good fun to go around!


 Josh bit a huge hole in the center of his tongue. I heard him scream, then cry, and the kids yelled about blood. I rushed over and saw the hole gushing blood and figured he needed stitches (yes, it was THAT deep and huge). Lucky for us, there was a dentist, and an almost dentist, and a nurse there to tell us we would waste our time and money going to the ER because they rarely stitch up tongues. They reminded me that people pierce their tongues all the time, and are fine.

So we went to the grocery store to stock up on jello and pudding and popcicles, since that's all he'll be able to eat for several days.

Then I had to go pick up Ethan across town. When I got there, there weren't any other kids around. Apparently, nobody could spend the night, and most of the kids left around dinner time. Ethan was the only one having a late night. When I picked him up, he said, "I'm so glad you're here. I was getting really tired!"

Josh bled until about 10 pm, and then we put him to bed on a bunch of dark beach towels.

Our bodies are amazing. This morning, his tongue still hurt, but it was mostly closed. (Close your eyes if you don't want to see the wound...)

And his favorite shirt was ruined with blood.

Hopefully today's real Easter will be much less painful for everyone! Thank goodness for the resurrection. Someday all of our scars will be healed.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

baby josh is growing up

For Josh's 6th birthday, he wanted "Good Luck Charms" for breakfast. And peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. And scrambled eggs for dinner. He's an easy boy to please!

He also discovered a loose tooth for his birthday, which he wasn't happy about -- even though he feels bad he's one of the last kids in his kindergarten class to lose a tooth. He walked around in a stunned trance after I told him his tooth was pretty wiggly. I think he's a little scared of the pain and the blood he's heard so much about from his older siblings.

Despite the loose tooth, he loved his Lego Party! We celebrated his bday at lunch (while enjoying his PB sandwich du'jour), and the kids spent the afternoon building all of his cool new sets.

Here's a video he made to celebrate his own life. Some of the pictures he chose were a little random, and some of his special effects are a little odd, but it's fun to remember how cute he was as a baby.

And looking at so many sweet pictures of those kissable cheeks makes me forget the hard terrible one's and two's and three's he may or may not have put us through...

The sound is pretty bad on this video for some reason, but it's his favorite song, so it gets to stay.