Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our Christmas Tree

Yesterday, Amanda and I put up our Christmas tree! Receiving cards and family pictures is definitely my favorite part about the holiday season and this was a fun way to display them and fill in the blank spot on the wall that has been there since Mike moved the entertainment center downstairs last January. Amanda like identifying and talking about the polar bear, kitty, Santa, snowman and truck. I enjoy seeing our friends and family.

And just a few more pictures to wrap up the Christmas season! Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas on Hold

It's true. I have my hands full which is why I have only a few random photos from my dad's service on Wednesday. We tried to caputure a family photo but both girls had burst into tears by the time we got all together, so it was put off again.

It was a beautiful and intimate service for my dad. It was mostly just our northen Minnesota family and we enjoyed our time together. It was really nice to have so much space to gather together as a family. Usually, we all meet at my mom's house but with thirteen kids and fourteen adults, it was nice to have a little room to spread out. The boys had space to run around and the girls had space twirl their pretty dresses.

I hope everyone got in their snuggles with Christiana. She was pretty fussy when we first arrived and cried when anyone tried to hold her, but after the service and a nap in the pouch, she was passed around and loved on.
Tyler really has some skill on the piano but he is shy and wouldn't play during the service. He did entertain us in the social hall afterward though.

I knew this Christmas would be a little different because I hadn't plan to travel for the family celebrations at all, but obviously traveling for my dad's service was pretty important. We did head home right after the service so we didn't have to deal with the stress of staying overnight. Then the snow began to fall and fall and fall. Mike was planning to take the kids up to his mom and dad's for their Christmas celebration but all the celebrating has been put on hold.

It has left a strange void for us on Christmas Day. We haven't bought gift for each other our or kids for several years because the grandparents have always provided plenty of presents. So, here we are on Christmas Day, completely unprepared to celebrate in any way. It feels weird. But at the same way, comforting because things are different this year.

Usually my siblings and I gather to open the gifts from my dad. Providing them with gifts was always very important to him. Some years he bought what we suggested and some years he bought things that he thought were really fun like a remote control skateboarding dude. This year, there were no gifts from Grandpa Ken. There will be, for in his passing, he made special provisions for us but today there were no presents to open and nothing tangible to hold in ur hands.

Last year, was the first year I can remember since he left that we were able to celebrate with him. It was precious time and that's how I will remember Christmas with him. I'm so glad we had that time.

Mike and the kids will head back up north to visit his parents and their presents are waiting for them but I think today was a hard day for them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

33 Weeks

"Are you getting all fat yet?" That's what my favorite (only) sister wanted to know.
What do you think?

Just ignore the toddler throwing a fit at my feet and the teenager kicking baby toys around the living room. I was.

Wishing Illinois was closer. Again.

Today was the funeral for my dad in Illinois. I was not able to go because I have been getting lots of contractions and pelvic pain when I'm on my feet too long or too active. It's been really hard to not be there with my mom and siblings. Tony went with my mom.

My dad's family is a fun, wild crazy bunch and I'm sad to miss seeing them all together. It is a tradition that family members who are missing from important family events are represented but an inanimate object such as a pumpkin or balloon. I'm told our family is being represented by a family of moose. I hope some one took pictures for me.

After today's service, my dad will be cremated and brought back to Minnesota for a burial service on Wednesday in the town where we grew up and most of my family still lives. It's only an hour and half away so I will be able to go to the service.

I'm so thankful we are able bring him back to Minnesota. It really helps bring closure to the loss and wound that was opened 17 years ago when he divorced my mom and left. We have kept in contact, he's come to visit, we've visited him and he's always sent birthday cards and Christmas gifts, but we've missed him. It's been especially difficult when he's gotten sick and been hospitalized and we can't be with him.

It brings me peace to move forward and remember the good times and memories we made when we were all together and we were a family. That's how I want to remember him and how I want my kids to know him.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More of My Dad

Here's my dad with Tony and his dog, Tessie, in 2003. He really appreciated when we would come to visit and thanked Mike for bringing us. He had great hair. If the thing about male pattern baldness is true, my boys will have great hair, too.

I was able to see my dad this summer. He came to Minnesota for a visit during the time we thought Grammy was dying. After everyone visited Grammy at the emergency room, we went back to my mom's house where Dad came to visit.

He had a special connection with my aunt, Sr. Maria, and she was very happy to see him and talk to him. My dad traveled with my grandparents out to California when she took her finally vows many years ago.

We treasured every moment with him because we have known for years how precarious his health was. We are thankful for the time we had with him that we didn't expect. We should view all our relationships that way. We just never know how much time we have with our friends and family. Every moment is precious.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Dad

Update: I apologize if this post keeps popping up on your Google Reader. I keep adding things as I think of them. I want to remember them all.

My dad:

was the third boy of five boys and two girls.

grew up in downtown Chicago.

was one of only a handful of white kids in his school.

used to help himself to the corn syrup from the truck at the candy factory near his home.

lived in a neighborhood where the houses were so close together, when he was sent to his room he could shimmy down between the houses and come around and knock on the front door. I wonder if the pain on his bottom was worth the look on his dad's face.

would escort his mother with his two older brothers to the factory where his dad worked every night so she could safely bring him dinner.

was a straight A student but quit to join the Navy.

never learned to swim. Apparently, they only teach you how to float in the Navy.

moved to northern Minnesota and became a farmer, rancher and gardener.

also worked in a mysterious place filled with dark rows of shelves containing strange mechanical parts and smelling of motor oil.

could fix any machine: tractor, lawn mower, baler, tiller.

bought me a Lady and the Tramp dog from Hardees once when we were there without my siblings. Going to Hardees was a very rare treat especially with out my siblings and especially purchasing the ever-advertisted toys. I kept it a really long time.

used to be the one to pick me up from school when I got sick.

made me bait my own hooks and clean my own fish.

completed his GED and taught himself computer programming.

rushed our kitten to the vet one Saturday morning and comforted us on the way home because the kitten needed to be put down.

taught me how to drive a stick shift in our field.

loved western movies and Star Trek.

rescued my friend's family from frozen pipes by crawling under their trailer house and using a hair dryer to unfreeze the pump's sensor.

never got used to the fridgid Minnesota winters.

taught himself computer networking.

gave me this advice about freeway driving, "Don't worry. If their car is nicer than yours, they aren't going to hit you!" It was '93 and I was in his '82 Granada.

would read anything you put in front of him.

once recommended ginger beer for female cramps. (Knowledge he gained because he read everything that was put in front of him.)

has three children and ten grandchildren.

always ended his phone calls and visits by saying, "I love you!"

after being diagnosed with lymphoma and as he was preparing to begin treatment seven years ago, I asked him what he needed pray for. He said, "You and me." He just wanted to know our relationship was good.

never liked to let us know how sick he was.

fought diabetes, liver problems, lymphoma, and kidney failure,

but in the end it was his heart that failed him.

We love you, Grandpa Ken, and we hope to see you again!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More ABC Practice

We got this fun ABC puzzle from our neighbor. Beneath each letter is a picture that starts with that letter. It was fun to watch Mike and Amanda play with it one evening. She would pick up a letter and he would say the letter and tell her the picture. She would then find the picture. I was impressed. Now, she knows the names of most of the letters, the picture that goes with each letter and where it goes on the puzzle. Although, when she wants us to do the puzzle with her she will hold up a puzzle piece and holler, "Mama!" until I say the letter name and picture.

As much as I enjoy teaching Geometry, Grammar and World History, I really enjoy teaching preschool! I get more time to teach preschool these days since Mike has taken over all of the other schoolwork correcting and teaching in preparation for February.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Family Photo

After many failed attempts to capture the family picture everyone has been asking for:

Seriously, that was the best one of the bunch that I took before the little girls started to melt down.

We decided to go with this mosaic of pictures to send out as our Christmas picture.

I made this for free on some web site but it's in low resoultion so we didn't think it would print well. After realizing it was December and too late to order something else, we just decided to print this one out on our computer. I started by writing out notes to everyone, but today Amanda just helped me stuff envelopes, tear off the seal and paste the postage stamps. Hopefully the post office doesn't care of they are upside down or sideways!

I hope all your holiday preparations are going well! I'm still fighting constant nausea but enjoying the wild acrobats of this little baby in my belly, catching lots of giggles, smiles and snuggles from Christiana, watching Amanda grow smarter everyday, appreciating Tony's progress in kitchen clean-up and laughing at Tyler's refusal to wear a warm coat. It's going to a long winter for him!