28 December 2010

Another Knitting Christmas

Yes, I did a lot of knitting this year.  There are other projects completed during this holiday season that are not even represented here (such as a baby hat for a friend's unborn child, another child's hat for a friend's daughter and such).  But I am not the only one who was busy creating gifts.  My sister made a family of Monsters:
To see my family represented in Monster form in closer view:
I think you should be able to figure out who Dave is and who I am.  The Pumpkin is Pink and Lovebug is yellow/orange.  The Monsters were a hit with everyone, but I think Lovebug may have been the most excited out of all of us.  She saw her Monster sitting on top of her present and grabbed for her immediately, ripping her off the package, and promptly putting her in her mouth.  Now, that's love!

26 December 2010

Christmas Blessing

I just left Lovebug's room.  And my eyes are a little moist. 

In the last couple of weeks she has taken huge milestones in her gross motor skills.  She had been starting to lag in development, but as babies often do, she suddenly began crawling on all fours, could sit up on her own, and also pull herself to standing.  The standing thing is still very new, and when she's up, she is never sure how to get herself back down.

She was in her bed screaming.  Again.  She had pulled herself to standing, but of course, did not know how to get back down (have I mentioned the word 'again' yet?).  I finally relented and went in there to find this petite little girl standing in her crib clinging to the rails, her eyes barely managing to peek over the top bar with tears streaming down her chubby little cheeks.  When she saw me a sudden wave of relief washed over that precious little face and a small smile began to spread, revealing her two little teeth (the second one brand new).  I picked her up, changed her diaper, restarted her lullaby music, held her against my chest, and began to rock with her while standing.  She sank her little head into my shoulder, clinging to the owl I had knit for her just prior to her birth.  The owl that kept her company in the NICU when I could not.  She was still and hushed in my arms and completely relaxed.  She felt safe and secure and happy.

It is this moment that I wish I could put in a bottle and pull it back out whenever I need it.  I want to be able to relive this moment with my Veda when she yells and screams at me that she hates me or tells me I am being "so unfair" when she enters her surly preteen years.  I want to relive this moment when she gets her heart broken for the first time and I realize there is nothing I can do to make her feel better.  I want to relive this moment when she leaves the house for college, graduates, gets married . . .  I will always want to have this moment with my baby back.

But I cannot bottle this, or any other moment, and take it back out whenever I need to or want to.  I only have my memories, which I can transcribe into words.  And these words can be recorded in writing that may live for years and years.  This is the only bottle I have, and I hope to keep filling it.

21 December 2010

Big Girl Bed Adventures

For Sylvia's second birthday she received a set of bunk beds from her Grandma and Grumpy.   A few weeks after her birthday Dave had the day off work and he put together her new bed, while I took the girls to the mall.  I had been talking to Sylvia about her "big girl" bed for a while to get her prepared for her transition from crib to twin bed.  But no coaching was needed:  She was SUPER excited when she got home and saw her new bed.

Since then, we have been playing "Find Our Child" each night when we go in to check on her and change her diaper.  She loves her bed, but she also loves her new freedom.  These are a few of the places/ways we have found her sleeping in the last couple of weeks:

But sometimes she gets it right:

05 December 2010

A History Through Christmas Trees

On this day in history, in 2004, Dave and I had been married for one day.  I was coming down with strep, and we were surrounded by our wedding presents from the day before.  Today, six years later, I am recovering from bronchitis and we are surrounded by laundry.  But on both days we were/are sitting by our Christmas tree:
Our original tree had been purchased the morning of our marriage by Dave and his best man, Dan (his cousin).  It was a pre-lit, multi-light tree that stood 6' tall.  After our wedding reception we began to head to our awkwardly shaped, third floor apartment located in Heritage Hill of Grand Rapids.  But as we approached the interstate I realized we had left the quintessential Christmas tree decorating cd back at the Baert Baron Mansion (where we had been wed).  We made a quick turn-around and after safely securing Merry Christmas (recently retitled White Christmas) with Bing Crosby, we headed home (my new home), and decorated our first Christmas tree.

Our current Christmas tree stands 7.5' tall.  It is not pre-lit, and I wrestled with the three strands of lights I put on it for quite a while yesterday afternoon-- after Dave had to make an emergency trip to buy more lights.  I tripped over cats and baby toys and had to keep reminding the two-year-old that Christmas trees are for looking at and not touching.  But later in the evening, after both children were finally in bed, we popped in old Bing and decorated our tree together.  Earlier in the evening we watched the video of our wedding ceremony during which I realized three things:  1. Our pastor was long-winded in prayer.  2. I was gorgeous back then.  And 3. My love for Dave was overflowing, just as it is now.

We had another Christmas tree in between that first one and our current:
This is the tree that saw us through our last apartment.  It is about 3.5' tall, takes only one strand of lights, and was perfect for our little living room with its multitude of bookshelves.  This tree was used during our last Christmases as a family of only two.  Those were special days together and comprise probably the most relaxing period of our relationship to date.  We were very comfortable living with one another in tight quarters, we were both in good places vocationally, and we had easy access to a great coffee shop downtown.  We had three cats, three birds and three fish, but were contemplating adding a human to the mix.  It was here that our journey toward parenthood began.
I am not sure when this little tree came into our home, but I seem to remember it sitting on our dresser in our spacious, third floor, over looking downtown apartment.  While my love for Dave was abounding and our relationship strong, I most closely associate stress (and then subsequent freedom) with this time in our relationship.  I was working a job that was slowly killing me, and I came home from one of the worst working days ever on a Saturday in November.  I told Dave that I needed to quit.  This is one of the largest leaps of faith we have ever taken as a couple.  I was the primary breadwinner for our household.  Dave had been unemployed for much of the year and was currently working an hourly wage job with unreliable hours.  But we both agreed that I needed to be out of my current situation.  We went to the calendar and circled a date six months down the road and agreed that I would be done with my job by this time.  We began to down size everything and I was able to quit two months ahead of schedule.  While our finances were painfully small, we were both much happier (and healthier).

Perhaps this was a remarkable turning point for us.  It was here that we both knew our priorities would always include relationships at the top.  We knew that time truly beat out money and that happiness could be found by instilling love and energy into friends, family and most importantly, each other.

Guess what?  We are still painfully poor, but we are remarkably happy and love radiates from this house.  It is seen in the smiles of my children, the hugs between Dave and his girls, and the late evenings talking with my husband.  It is evident in the toys strewn about, the crayon marks on the cupboards, and a dinner table covered in crumbs.  Our animals are content and our door is always open to welcome anyone in.  I love this life, and I love my husband for deciding to head with me on this journey.

31 October 2010

Going to Knitting

Almost every week Mama leaves us one night and goes to "knitting."  I decided that I really wanted to go.  So, one week I grabbed my purse, filled it with three blocks (because I am not entirely sure what one brings to knitting), went to blow a kiss to Daddy and pat him on the knee, and then headed for the door.  But then Mama said that I did not get to go to knitting.  I was very sad.

But the very next week, my birthday weekend, Mama had a surprise for me.  She said I got to go to knitting!  And then she gave me the neatest thing ever:  My own knitting bag!
I was so excited to go to knitting!  Here I am giving Daddy a goodbye kiss with my brand new knitting bag over my shoulder.
Daddy walked me out to the car.  After he put me in my car seat he wanted to give me kisses and stuff but I wanted to go, so I pushed him out of the way!  I held onto my knitting bag the entire way.
When I got to knitting I met lots of very nice people, and even two little girls named Tiffany and Barbara.  And Miss Loraine came with a balloon (I loved the balloon and I still play with it almost every day), and a bag full of presents (including some more things for my knitting bag), but the absolute best part was that Miss Loraine brought me cupcakes!!!  The only bad thing is that Mama only let me eat ONE.  Can you believe that?!  I made sure everyone else got one, but there were still so many left.  I could have had lots more.
This is Miss Loraine showing me how to use a music box.  It is pretty cool because it plays a pretty song when you twist this little handle.  I can't quite do it by myself yet, but I bet I can by next year! 

I loved going to knitting, and I really hope I get to go again.  Especially if there are more cupcakes!

28 October 2010

What My Mama Made Me

Do you remember last year about this time?  I had a birthday then.  Guess what?!  I had another one this year!  Can you believe it-- a birthday every year?!  I thought last year was pretty cool, but this year was so much cooler.  In fact, I had an entire birthday weekend.

But I am a pretty little person and I can only do little posts at a time, so I will start by telling you about one of my birthday presents.  My mama made me this play vest.  In fact, she made it all by herself.  She came up with what she wanted to make, and then she got some paper and did some writing and then she would knit and sometimes she had to pull out some of what she had already knit (she calls it "ripping" and she is never very happy when she is doing it, but I think it looks like fun!), and finally this is what she made me!

Don't I look great in it?

24 October 2010

Flyin' By and Sayin' Hi!

We are well.  I think.  Some days it is hard for me to remember.  We have a two-year-old now and my understanding is that she would like to tell you all about her big day.  So once she has her thoughts sorted she will be with you.  In the meantime, Lovebug wanted to flash you all a smile.

05 October 2010

The Mighty Have Fallen

Several weeks ago a poplar was blown over in one of the massive windstorms we had.  Nearly two weeks later some of my family came up for a visit and we all went out to check on the fallen tree:
The tree is on the right of the pond, that mound of dirt jutting into the air.
My mom and sister.
It created quite the "beach."
This is not of our fallen poplar but it is a pretty picture nonetheless.
My sister on top of the root bulb.

Rest in peace.

25 September 2010

The Olympics

Starting in the mid 1980's, my family has done the "Ertman Olympics."  In more recent years, the event has taken place over Labor Day weekend.  Various traditions have been added, such as wearing Groucho Marx glasses, but the general principles are goofy games with cheap, zany prizes.  This year we had a new game.  Some will know of it:  An otherwise sealed box has a hole cut into it, has a specified number of balls inserted inside (for us, it was six).  The box is then tied to the participant's waist and the player jumps and jiggles and wiggles to try and get as many balls out as possible within an allotted time (in our case 30 seconds).

The first video is a demonstration of how the game is done.  Please observe Dave's stellar technique.  This second video is the Pumpkin attempting it herself.  She insisted on playing and I give her huge kudos for her remarkable moves!

18 September 2010

Surrounded by Beauty

                                          Estranged from Beauty -- none can be --
                                          For Beauty is Infinity --
                                                             ~Emily Dickinson

16 September 2010

"I sit now!"

Yep.  It's been a while since I have posted again.  This time, however, I did manage to take some pictures during my hiatus.  But then when I uploaded them all to my computer I felt myself getting lightheaded realizing how many I had to go through and edit and then figure out which ones were "blog worthy" and which ones told a good story, etc.  So, I finally decided that I would create "mini posts" for a while.  I will simply put up a few pictures relating to only one theme.  Today's theme:  Veda Sitting.
She has been sitting very well for a few weeks now, but as it has been that long since I last wrote no one even knows that!  She loves this additional freedom, and she is very near to standing too.  Sylvia was never all that interested in standing (although, she did love to jump), but Lovebug will want nothing but to stand.  I will try and sit her down on the ground and she keeps those little legs of hers stick straight in protest.  I think it won't be long and she will have the strength and balance to keep herself in that position for stretches of time.  But one never knows with her.  She is our "full of surprises" baby.

28 August 2010

Reprise of The Old Man Pants

For my long term readers, you may remember The Old Man Pants from Sylvia's early days.  I found them back last week.  You can probably do a simple search on my blog to learn the origins of the name given these pants but here it is in a nutshell:  I put these pants on Sylvia when she still only weighed about seven pounds.  They were enormous on her.  I had them pulled up nearly under her arms and when I brought out the camera she gave me this look of absolute terror as if to say, "Oh, no, Mama!  No!  First, you humiliate me by putting me in these atrociously huge pants and NOW you want to take my picture to memorialize this?!"

As you can see, I found them at an appropriate age/weight for Veda and she just looks so stinkin' cute in them.

It is finally time to introduce the newest member of our family.  I received a phone call from a friend in June about a little parrot named Duncan who needed a home within the next couple of days.  Well, she caught me at the right time.  The Friday before I had been at our little, itty bitty library.  Our library is so small that I can go in and look at nearly any shelf and see several books that Dave and I have donated.  I had been looking at cooking books and right next to them were the animal books (just in case you get desperate one evening and desire to cook your pet, I guess).  And there I saw three of the parrot books we had donated after we had to rehome Chloe last year.  I left the library feeling saddened and teary-eyed.  Fast forward three days and I am being asked to invite another bird into our home.  Of course I said yes.

Duncan, a masked face lovebird, is about six years old.  He is very handsome and has adjusted to his new family very well.  He already knows how to tease the cats mercilessly and Sylvia has begun to "help" me take care of him everyday.  Welcome, Duncan!

And to add to the whole bird thing, I have been spending a lot of time feeding our outdoor birds.  [Between my bird watching, passion for knitting, massive cardigan collection, love of mysteries (and most all other books) as well as for dramas such as Murder She Wrote and old films and television I am pretty much an old person just waiting for her body to catch up with her.]  I have even begun to take pictures of some of my outdoor feathered friends:

I got a couple of shots of a pair of Blue Jays earlier today as well.  I don't particularly care for these bully birds but they are still quite attractive.  We also get a lot of woodpeckers at these feeders.  I have to time things just right to get a picture of them, though.

Just my beautiful girls hanging out together.  They remained quite friendly to one another until Daddy got home.  When Daddy began to pay attention to Lovebug (after having spent time greeting the Pumpkin) Sylvia began to show her green monster again and attempted to shove her sister right off the couch!  Lovebug was saved and the Pumpkin was given a reminder that Daddy loves them both.  (And to be gentle to the baby.)

Okay.  I know.  This is an atrocious picture of me in my jammies with no make up.  Ignore that part.  Instead please observe that my eldest daughter is sitting with me and looking at . . .
A Knit Picks catalog!  Goodness, I love this girl.