Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Birthday?

Today was a very nice day, most of which was spent celebrating Julian's birthday again. Our favorite babysitter wanted to throw him a party and invite several other children that she babysits. It was very sweet and for Julian, a rare encounter with his peers. He likes them. He adapted easily and welcomed the pushing, pulling, giving, grabbing and kissing that began the moment we walked in the door. I, on the other hand, discovered my inner germaphobe and quickly got out the baby wipes. But I particularly love this photo of the 4 of them on the couch together (where else but the Midwest do you get a John Deere tractor throw as the back drop

Which one is not like the other?

We also sat for his one-year portraits today, and I have to say that JC Penneys does a very nice job. I especially like that they allow you to download the (lower resolution) images to share online...we put together a couple of collages that I really like:

Bathing Beauty


The most fun part was the sitting itself. Sparky is a natural poser. He was very patient throughout the whole thing (unlike the baby that followed him who had to leave early for all his crying) and smiled on cue in this shy little reserved grin:


But the best part of the day was spending it with his mother. She has taken a turn for the better and we are cautiously optimistic (we've been here before). She decided a few weeks ago to pursue in-patient treatment for her addiction. It's been several months now since we evicted her and told her that she was no longer welcome to live with us unless and until she checked into rehab and commited to a lifetime of recovery. Early on, there was no indication that she planned to do this and we were heartbroken that she rarely even called to check in on her son. She seemed to take the eviction as a release of her parenting responsibilities and the ticket to freedom that she wanted. We became his legal guardians with no contest (Guardian Angel 1 and Guardian Angel 2, we call ourselves, all humility aside :-).

Her entry date is July 19. We plan to drive her there ourselves so that she knows she has our love and support. While this is only the first step before she can safely parent her son again, it is the biggest one and she seems very happy for the first time in a long while. We are encouraged and glad that she has chosen this path and more importantly, that she WANTS to spend time with her son. We are prepared to continue parenting Sparky until he is 18 (and beyond) if that is what God wants us to do, but we also know that having his (clean and sober!) mother back is even better. We have no idea what the future holds, but we pray every day that she is released from this sin to live a healthy life with her son. I have absolutely no desire to put him in the middle of a custody battle like his mom went through, at this critical stage of life.

It's days like this that I realize how important it is to spend time with family and friends. God is good.


Friday, June 26, 2009

And....We Have Crawling!

Let the record show...

At last, Little Spartacus is crawling! And pulling himself up! As of yesterday, I'd say, he is able to crawl across the room without pulling himself on his stomach commando style. Once he realized he could do this, there was no stopping him, kind of like a wind-up toy that's been wound very tightly and finally released. The same with the pulling up. He has his own little "gated community" that he plays in (checking his mail, tending his flower box and vegetable garden, and watching birds...a very cute Little Tykes garage sale find)...the walls are just the right height for holding himself up while kneeling or standing. He also got a new Teddy Bear for his birthday, named Velvet, that he loves very much. Julian would ask for Velvet to join him inside the compound (not with words but with animated commotion), but then he would push him out through the gate. After evicting Velvet, Julian would pull himself up and peer over the wall to see what happened to Velvet. It was very cute. And affirmation that he does in fact have a sense of "object permanence" (a portion of the developmental study he "failed" at the doctor's office because he was more interested in the coffee cup than the little red cube they hid under the cup).


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Simplest Soup Ever!

I can't believe I needed a recipe for this, but doubtful of my own abilities to just whip up a good potato leek soup, I consulted this book by someone named Crescent Dragonwagon (I've no idea if that is her real name, but I have met her and she's a little out of this world, IYKWIM). Anyway, this is souper simple and very good:

Chop up a pound of potatoes (I used small new red potatoes and left the peels on) and 8 leeks (the recipe says to use only the white part...I only had 3 leeks, and I used all of the tender green parts as well).

Throw these in a stock pot with 4 cups of chicken stock and 4 cups of water, and a couple bay leafs if you want, and a couple tablespoons of butter if you want (who doesn't want butter in their soup?). That's it. No sauteeing first or prepping anything else.

Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for an hour until liquid reduces by half. Smash some of the potatoes to give it a thicker consistency and voila! You are finished.

This really is great by itself or it can be a good base for any number of additions...vegetables, meat, and of course, milk or cream. We did try adding a tablespoon of basil pesto to a bowl and that was very tasty as well.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Dear Dad,

Last year, on Father's Day, we were a little busy. For me, it was a reminder of how important is a Father's role. Unlike Julian's father, you have ALWAYS been there for me. Even when you and Mom got divorced, I always felt like the most important thing for you was maintaining your relationship with me and my brother, as our father. You made sure to spend time with us and celebrated milestones with us, but most importantly, you enjoyed being a Dad. You played with us!

Remember going fishing and teaching us how to put worms (and live frogs!!) onto hooks and how to scope out the best fishing holes? And years later, how to cast a fly rod? Remember the grocery store you built for us, and stocked full of food so we could sell it to you?! Remember teaching us how to play basketball? And football (I was the only girl in 5th grade that the boys would let play ;-)? And baseball (I nearly killed the neighbor boy with a hard whack to the head with that powerful swing you taught us)? Remember building us a go-kart that we ripped through the neighborhood in...boy, did we become popular then; suddenly everyone wanted to be our friend! Remember helping us bind our school projects in your special book binder so ours would be taught us to take pride in our work and to always do our best. Remember when you were in Hawaii on business and you sent us care packages full of seashells? We treasured those packages so much!! Remember building me that drafting table when I was in college so I'd have a place to work? And years later, the jewelry bench (I still plan to put that to better use now that I'm "retired")? Remember quiet evenings at home, sitting in the beanbag, eating popcorn and watching Charlie Chan? Heh. :-)

You taught us many valuable lessons. You set a good example of how to live a productive life and you expected the same from us. You encouraged us to always try new things. You let us make mistakes and you were there to help us pick up the pieces without question. Remember when I wrecked two of your cars when I was just learning to drive (once was really NOT my fault, I swear! :-) and you just took care of the mess and still let me drive?! You taught us to invest in our future and set our sights high. You always believed in us and told us that we could do anything we wanted to do. You helped me through college, and continued to encourage me, even when I was ready to give up. Because I knew that you knew I could do it, I believed in myself.

More than anything, you have always shown your unconditional love for me, and you have always shown your love of life and adventure.

I love you very much, Dad! Happy Father's Day. :-)


Remember the chicken coop on the dinner table?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Happy Birthday, Julian!

From this...

To This...One Year Old!

Dear Julian,

One year ago today, you surprised us all! You were 10 weeks early and we had no idea you were ready yet! Grandpa drove Mommy to the hospital in a big hurry and Grandma came as soon as she learned that you were really ready to come out. She thought Mommy just needed to get some rest, but the doctors kept Mommy in the hospital and put her on some medicine to try and slow down your arrival, to give your lungs more time to develop. We prayed and prayed, for you and Mama to be okay.

After a long and scary day in the hospital, with Mommy screaming bloody murder, the doctors finally decided that you were more stubborn than they were, and they took you out lickety split! We all thought you were going to be a girl, but you were A BOY!! We were very happy to hear that you were a boy, but we were even more happy to hear that you were HEALTHY! You were only on the ventilator for a few hours. Your lungs were already developed! You still had to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks, until you could eat by yourself and maintain your own body temperature. You learned these things quickly, and I don’t think you’ve missed a meal since you were born!

We didn’t like that you had to stay in the hospital, but we visited you every day and the nurses were real nice to you. They said that you were their favorite and they gave you lots of hugs and kisses. They told us how they could hear your burps from across the room. They also told us that you were “not a wimpy white boy” and that you were very strong. Grandpa nicknamed you Spartacus “because Spartacus always wins.” Grandpa knew that you would overcome every obstacle that came your way. And you did. Grandma called you Sparky and Sparkles, because she thought you were too cute to be called Spartacus. While you were there, many babies came and went. When it was time for you to leave the hospital, some of the nurses cried. We cried too because we knew you were like family to them. But we were happy to have you home!

In one year, you have gone from 3.5 pounds to over 25 pounds and from 16.5 inches to over 28 inches tall. Grandma and Grandpa said you were like a little perch when you were born. Now, you are like a beautiful salmon! Your head was the size of a peach and now it’s the size of a small honeydew! And you have 6 (SIX!) teeth. You bite (hard!) when we brush your teeth with our finger. You also pinch and spit on us, but we know it’s all in good fun. Really, we do.

Today, you can sit up by yourself, roll across the room, crawl commando style across the floor to get to your favorite toys, especially BEADS! You love your plush pony, your “jumping jack”, your Baby Einstein movies, your books, your play house and all your noisy toys. You babble constantly, saying things like mamamamamamama, dadadadadadada, and baybaybaybaybaybay. You like it when we pretend to know what you are saying, then you repeat yourself, with a smile.

You mimic us when we clap, and then you giggle. You are a very good natured, happy baby and we are so thankful for that! The thing that makes you giggle the most is Grandpa’s beard. That, and Grandpa singing. You pull on his beard, throw back your head and giggle big belly laughs. You eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables now, but you don’t like meat. We hope you’re not going to be a vegetarian! You still gag on solid food like pieces of banana. We’re sorry that you can’t enjoy a big piece of your first birthday cake!

You sleep on your stomach now, because you are such a pro at rolling over, even though the doctors say to sleep on your back. You sleep on your stomach, with your nose pushed in the corner of your crib and your butt up in the air. We’re not sure what’s up with that, but it makes you happy and you cry if we try to roll you to your back.

You love people and you make everybody smile. When you giggle, you light up the room. When we go shopping, all the ladies point and smile, and tell you how cute you are. Recently, you’ve started screaming. You scream for no reason at all, just to hear yourself scream. We think you are trying to sing like Grandpa. We hope that you stop screaming soon.

When you are sleeping peacefully, our hearts rest with you. You have grown so fast and you have touched our hearts in a big, BIG way. We have big dreams for you, like growing up to be a fireman who rescues people in danger, but you will have your own dreams. And we know God has a plan for you. May God continue to bless you in every way, just as He has blessed Grandma and Grandpa. Happy 1st Birthday, June Bug!! We love you so very much!

Grandma and Grandpa

Here's a few more pictures...look at how much you look like Mommy and Grandpa!

Mommy, when she was also one year old

Grandpa, when he was just a few years old


... and Julian!

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Family Secrets

While digging in the archives for photos for tomorrow's 1-year birthday post (I can't believe it's been a year already!), I dug deep in search of baby pictures of both his mom and grandpa, to show the similarities, and just for fun. In so doing, I stumbled upon this husband serving Jack LaLanne and his lovely wife:

When he first came to America, back in the olden days, he worked for Hollywood's rich and famous in Beverly Hills, as domestic help. There aren't many photos to document the exerience, and to this day, he refuses to wear a tie if he can avoid it. But check out Jack's suit! And if my husband finds out I've posted this picture, I'm dead meat. Priceless.


Herding Trials

Our herding champion...he's got one horse mastered, I think. I wish you could hear him talking to the horse in the last photo. ;-)


Friday, June 12, 2009

Chorus: May Result in Injury or Death

It is amazing how frustratingly difficult the "simple" operation of installing a car seat (excuse me, "child restraint") has become. Last night, I spent the better part of 2 hours reading (yes, I did) the instructions (i.e. WARNINGS, WARNINGS, WARNINGS) and working on the actual installation. Trouble is, the actual install instructions were surprisingly missing from the 39 pages of warnings that were repeated over and over throughout the booklet. The simplest of tasks, like "How to Adjust the Height of the Shoulder Straps" and "How to Attach the Headrest to the Carseat" were nowhere to be found. Like most things mechanical, I became frustrated to the point that I was ready to return the thing to Babies R Us and go restraintless. But then, there's Julian's life at stake, and according to the "instruction" booklet, I could spend the rest of my life in jail if I did what my parents did and let him run free in the back seat. My brother and I used to play hide-and-seek in the back of the station wagon which was outfitted with lots of hiding places for the small and agile...every once in awhile, we had to "pull over RIGHT NOW(!) and let you out HERE(!)" because we got a little loud. But then, my parents didn't have to go through the agony of installing child restraints in their car.

And since when has our garage become the habitat for CRAWDADS (crayfish, crawfish, baby lobsters, nasty insects, whatever)?! I swear, there was a 4 inch long crawdad crawling around a corner of the garage as I worked on this project. Sometimes, life in the country stinks a little bit.

At last, the bigger, better child restraint appears to be installed (possibly correctly) and we're going for a test ride to the park today, to go swinging! June Bug, surely you know how much I love you!

Labels: ,

Monday, June 01, 2009


Julian's 2nd outing to the pool and still he's looking completely unimpressed with the whole thing. Me, I LOVE swimming so I expected nothing but giggles, splashing and hand clapping. Instead, I got this. Smug drifting, on his ($1 garage sale find!) floatation device. He's looking more like a jaded, can't-be-bothered-right-now, child star than a baby enjoying his first swimming lesson. Maybe it's the matching hat.

Don't worry, Mom. He's slathered in spf 50 sunscreen. Not to mention a shirt and hat, for goodness sake.


What Is This?!

What in the world is this thing that the dog has dropped at my door?! It appears to have a foot, and maybe a beak. I'm telling you...6 months! I don't think Blue has but 6 months to live.

Labels: ,