Friday, September 24, 2010

Bluebeard the Pirate

At the very beginning of summer, we heard of a litter of puppies that was being given away to anyone who walked by...

So we walked by.

One look at this little face and how could we resist?

Seriously.  He was still drinking milk.  We had to feed him from a bottle, and we carried him everywhere in our pockets!

They said he was part Lab, part Blue Heeler.  So we called him Blue.

Then we noticed his eye-patch and he had to be Bluebeard the Pirate.  Arrrrr!

Now (a mere three months later), lord help us, this dog has tripled in size!

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Micah: "Dada, I only want you to get me Reindeer!"

Daddy: "Reindeer?"

Micah: "Uh-huh!"

Daddy: "How many Reindeer?"

Micah: "Just REINDEER!"

Daddy: "Why do you need Reindeer?"

Micah: "Because every time it's raining and I go outside, Ms. Mello says I need REINDEER!"

Perspectives From the Esplanade

Now before I tell you this and you think I'm some kind of wonderful, I have to tell you that every single day someone says to me, "I don't know how you do it with five kids!"  And I think to myself, "it depends on what you mean by 'doing it'," as I have shameful flashbacks of knee-jerk parenting moments.  You and I, we are both 'doing it', with our happy times and our hard times and our lives stuffed full, and we ebb and flow.  If I blogged more and wasn't so newly birthed out of crisis and survival, this blog would probably be a little more well-rounded.  Sheesh-- I don't know how bloggers do it!  Anyway...

Today, I don't know what came over me, maybe the lovely weather, maybe knowing David wouldn't be home until late...but I felt like after school we needed to go down to the Eastbank Esplanade and paint together instead of rushing home to do chores.  Korah still chose to do homework, and Noble was parked in the stroller with an apple, but the rest of us got a little rectangle of paper and "15 minutes" (it was more) to make some art.

Morgen painted a bug she had seen and showed me on the walk out, Noble's apple core, and (of course) a rainbow.  Micah painted some beautiful colors before he accidentally dropped his painting over the railing and it floated down onto the bank of the Willamette.  I told him some guy will probably pick it up and use it to make his home beautiful, so without even meaning to, he's probably going to make someone really happy!

Taylor took his card and went a ways off to draw, then came back to use the watercolors.  It turns out he and I painted the same thing:

Steamboat, by Taylor
Str. Portland, by Mommy
 He, of course, thinks mine is better.  I, of course, disagree entirely.  I love his color saturation.  I love how he did the whole thing without hesitation.  He works with confidence, sees what he sees and lays it down.  I love that we did this together.

On the way back, Micah pointed out the water reflecting wavy on the concrete wall under the bridge.  He said, "the sun and the water make that!"  I stopped to look, and it was beautiful!  A thing architects might try to imitate.  And I thought about how glad I was to be taking this time to intentionally see the world through my kids' eyes.  I came home and found this quote, and I couldn't agree more...

"Arguably, no artist grows up: If he sheds the perceptions of childhood, he ceases being an artist."  
--Ned Rorem, American Composer

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Year Thirteen: Making Lemonade

Once, a long, long time ago, I told you I was going to go back in time and tell the stories I haven't had time to tell.  Well, all I needed was a nuclear reaction to generate the 1.21 jigawatts of electricity and...well...thanks to some generous Libyans handing over their plutonium, I can finally tell you about March 1, 2010.

Our wedding anniversary is without a doubt the most significant date in our family calendar.  Not because it was the best day of our lives or because we are just that in love, but because it was the first day...the day we left our childhood lives behind and boarded the plane on a journey we would never return from (further up and further in!).  And every year on March 1st, we can look back and through the context of our marriage we  read blessings, adventure, brokenness, heartache, growth, change, healing, moments of deep love and of deep pain, and inexplicable miracles that have taken place.  We say with astonishment and sentiment, "look...look what has happened to us!"

Which is why we almost always make a point to do something to take pause and remember.  This, the thirteenth year, was hard, hard work.  The year began with a culmination of heartache and disappointment so great there was nothing left to celebrate.  We were done.  Done with each other, done with ourselves, done with this stupid marriage.  Year Twelve was the only year that didn't have a March 1st as far as we were concerned.  But apparently we are resilient buggers, and although we both came into marriage with some very heavy baggage...we have spent the last year in particular, cautiously--ferociously-- fighting for our selves and fighting like hell for our marriage.

And so far we are growing up, changing, and becoming better people.  This year, Year Thirteen, there was something to celebrate, albeit a little more serious and somber.  Thanks to the many friends that it takes to farm out all our kids and get us somewhere "away", we were able to pause, get away from the grind, and reflect.  Of course, we had to have a nursing, little tag-along with us, in the very squirmy and exploratory stage of life no less.  But it was fun to pretend we only had one kid (at 35+) and imagining what it would be like if this were our norm.  We'd probably have less gray hairs, less sleep-deprived eyes and better careers... ha!

This trip to Seattle was in part a gift from our beautiful and talented friend Anna, who let us stay at her apartment near the Seattle Center.  After a very refreshing visit with Anna she left us to have our time together, and the first thing we did was hit up a Thai place in Upper Queen Anne.  We love Thai, but the kids?  Not so much.  So any chance we get to eat without them, this is what we have.

Noble was a constant blur of activity.  He's just discovered that standing up gives him a whole different perspective, and he must touch and feel and taste any part of the world he can get his little dimpled hands on!  I'll be's exhausting!

This "next-day" picture was taken to represent our spontaneous after-dinner adventure!  We were walking around the Seattle Center and decided to see a movie.  The closest theater was quite a few blocks away, and lo and behold, the Monorail led right to it!  We'd never ridden the Seattle Monorail before (we've done Disneyland, of course) so this was very exciting.  (We don't get out much, okay?)  Blue-ish fluorescent lights flickered with every rattling bump and waggle of the train, and lonely characters in the corners-- their faces briefly illuminated by the strobing lights-- stared at us with stony expressions.  We, the effervescent vacationers with the baby, may have been on the set of a horror movie...these things can happen!

After the movie (which we loved and intensely identified with), we had to hail a cab to get back to the apartment and neither of us had ever done such a thing.  We weren't really sure what to do when I saw one coming!  Before I knew what was happening, I thought, "well, in the movies, they do this..." and I stuck out my hand and yelled, "TAXI!"  And you know what happened?  The taxi pulled right over!  Neither of us could believe it!  We weren't sure what to do with the baby...would he take us and a baby with no car seat?  I mean, it's a car, not the bus!  But he said, "yeah!  Get in!  Get in!" and as soon as we shut the door, he sped off.  So we held on tight to Noble and giggled out, "this is our first time in a taxi!"  Which the driver ignored, then he rolled down his window and spoke Taxi to the car next to him.  It would've been totally deflating if we weren't laughing at ourselves for how ridiculously excited we were of being out of our element.

The next day necessitated some tourism, so we walked all around to see the sights.  It was very cool for us just to hang out and be friends, talking uninterrupted (mostly).  Then we met up with Anna and a friend of hers who worked at the Space Needle and was gracious enough to take us all up on his day off.  What a blessing, and it was a perfectly clear day!

Here we are, the happy family...hopefully you can't tell that I didn't get ANY sleep because Noble, out of his element, was up all night and I was paranoid about bothering the neighbors.

What a silly, happy baby.  You could tell he was bored with us and missing his sibling playmates.

And this is everyone in the reflection of the windows, 520 feet up.

Next we headed South to do some more tourism-ing on our way home.  But really we had only one objective: Daily Dozen Doughnuts.  Even though Noble and I are gluten-free now doesn't mean we can't watch David enjoy these heavenly bites.  So off to Market we go...


We parked miles away and took a strange detour, which led us to this ghastly and beautiful sight (Noble, as you can see, is in disbelief):

You don't get this close to the Gum Wall without finding out that smells really good!

I love that someone thought it was necessary to sprinkle glitter all over this fruity kaleidoscope of gum.  It was very colorful.

Behold: the Gum Wall.  German tourist take turns photographing each other in front of this American Wonder!

We are interested in another Wonder.  Of hot, doughy goodness.  Of cinnamon.  Of powdered sugar.  Of this guy:

Raise your hand if you know this guy.  He is so cool.  I mean, he is just doing his job, and like anyone else he'd rather not be at work, but he'll talk to you as if you are his next-door neighbor, not some once-in-a-lifetime tourist, come from afar for his deliciously greasy confections and fanfare.  He likes to snap the bags open, startling children and nervous nellies, and throw the doughnuts into the air, catching them one by one in your bag of powdered sugar.  Shake-shake, an exchange of money and it's yours!  Wonderful!

Sorry Noble, you and me get rice cakes (booo).

One last temptation before we hit the road.

We actually found this lemon as we were walking along, perfectly undamaged, like it just fell out of someone's grocery bag.  We picked it up (why not?) and had to laugh at the irony: the significance of the day, looking back on our marriage and realizing that we have been taking the lemons life gave us, and with pressing and twisting and squeezing, with a massive amount of sugar supplied by the kind of grace that only God can afford....we are, in fact, creating a pretty darned good lemonade.

May we continue to balance our lemons with the Water and Sugar, and year after year may we be only more refreshed by our marriage.  Amen!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Well, It's Over...

Well there you have it, folks.  Summer's officially over and four of the five kids are in school.  It's time to get back to blogging... or not.  I'm not making any promises.  Just pipe dreams.

Summer started out kicking my butt something fierce, as we were thrown into a rhythm-less chaos.  Then the long days made for long nights and we were cranky that the sun wasn't coming out.  But we went on a roadtrip or two, took some swimming lessons, did some art and constuction and got (somewhat, potentially) organized with our lives, redeeming the ongoing madness that is the Vonderhaus!

And here we are, at the first days of school....

Taylor starts 4th grade, Korah is officially a middle-schooler in 6th, and Morgen is a big girl in 1st grade!
Reuniting with friends...
...and long-lost pals!

(Mama, you can go now!  Stop taking pictures of us!)

Micah started KINDERGARTEN a few days later...
...with his little brother to see him off.  "CHEEEESH!"
He finds his cubby...
...pulls a little Mr. Rogers action and puts on his 'indoor shoes'...

...and he's ready to greet his beautiful teacher.  She's from Brazil.  She gave him a smooch on the forehead.  I love kindergarten here!