Saturday, June 28, 2008

Stop What You're Doing and Watch This Show!

We don't own a TV, but that's not as saintly/ deprived as it sounds, since we can watch shows online now. Tonight Jeff and I watched one of the funniest shows we've seen in a long, long time. "I Survived a Japanese Gameshow" is a show in which a bunch of Americans who agreed to be on a reality show are completely surprised by being flown to Japan and being put through humiliating shenanigans to amuse the Japanese audience. Have you ever seen a Japanese gameshow? CRAZY. CR-AZY!!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Let's Talk About the Birthday Girl

For the last few days, Jeff and I have really been trying to just indulge Amelia in all the things she loves most. It has been really sweet to realize that she has become this little person with distinct interests and loves. Last year, she was pretty much oblivious to everything we did to celebrate her birthday, and this year was so gratifying! Things she loves most: going to the park, especially the one with the ducks, but the number one "must have" is swings; going out to eat, mostly being in public, able to interact with and charm other diners; books (she would literally sit in my lap being read to all day if she could. In fact, Jeff and I recently discovered that she has memorized all of her books, and can fill in the blank at most pauses!) food: bacon, fish, butter, strawberries, onions, greens, and soup of any kind (it seems that we have matching palates...) She LOVES people, and talks about friends and family all the time.

The best word to describe her would be "friendly." She says hi to everyone and everything. If I tell her we're going to the park, she says "Hi Park... See you! (nice to see you.)" Then she'll start thinking about Aunt Joy: "Hi A. Joy. See you. Hell-o A. Joy. Hey A. Joy!" The funniest thing is that she says all of her many greetings with a little southern drawl, so it's extra sweet.

She is a really affectionate, kind little girl. She loves to "get cozy" with me, gives the best, longest hugs, and recently started saying "I love you," all the time. Also "I like you," which is very reassuring. She is cooperative, is easily amused, and never slows down all day. She also recently started saying "Thank you Mama" (or Papa) and that really feels good to hear! We're still working on "excuse me" after making bodily sounds that she finds hilarious, but she did say it today, so we're getting there...

The most interesting thing about Amelia is that she is so devoted to figuring her world out. If she could read and write, I know she'd be carrying around a notebook and taking notes on everything so she could go back, memorize and make connections. She literally hears every word we say, and is always surprising us with the things she remembers or pieces she puts together. She speaks very clearly, and it has been fascinating to watch her learn to speak. She really uses techniques that adult language learners would use, and quickly picks up new phrases and tones and puts them to appropriate use. She also has a very acute sense of smell, and always surprises me by accurately identifying even the faintest scents, including those of her cousins bodies (on clothes, blankets, etc.) She stops and smells all food before trying it, and knows what I've been eating even if I intentionally only breathe through my nose, keeping my mouth shut to keep her from suspecting something I don't want to share (she loves very dark chocolate!)

We are constantly pleasantly surprised by who she is, and how she is growing up. She has only gotten easier and more wonderful over the past year, and we truly and thoroughly enjoy her. I am loving being able to have real conversations with her about her interests (bacon, dogs, peacocks, cousins, parks...) Today we took her out to breakfast, and plan to go to OMSI today, with a family membership we received for her birthday, which is going to make this year of her life so much nicer! We're having a blast. Happy Birthday Amelia!

Wish You Were Here...
But Amelia had a great party anyhow! It included many of her favorite things: the park (bonus is that it has an area for dogs to play and us to watch,) strawberries, bubbles, friends and cousins.
What I love about park birthday parties is that it's a like a big playdate, and you don't really have to entertain anyone. I just made sure that we grownups had plenty of coffee, and that everyone had something to eat. Really fun! I was surprised to realize that we had 15 kids and 12 adults there-- it was nice to realize that we have that many people close by in our lives (with kids) to celebrate Amelia.

Amelia has been talking about her birthday party for weeks now, and I hope she realized that it was really happening. She noticed every single person that was there, and asked after anyone that left. She also completely gorged herself on strawberries and grapes, had orange juice for the first time, and even ate a muffin and cake (things she never eats!) so she was pretty much having a sugar trip the entire time. This picture above shows her as she looked most of the time! And the super cute birthday girl apron was a gift Jeff's mom made for her-- I love it!

We are going to do more celebrating tomorrow, on her actual birthday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Family Photos

Well, it's been about 1 1/2 years since we've had a family photo taken-- a big no-no for people with little kids! Oh, well. My mother-in-law took these of us yesterday afternoon when we went to visit them. I can't decide which of these two are better, so I'm just putting them both up! Let me know if you'd like me to email you a file to print, since I know most family members don't have an up-to-date picture of us.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What, that's not how YOU mop your floors?

We do own a mop, but I have always been partial to scooting around on a nubby towel, spray bottle in hand, to get those tough spots. The best part of the experience is the spray, made of water, castille soap, tea tree oil and lemongrass essential oil-- nice! Cheap! I don't like filling up the sink and pushing dirty water around very much. Unfortunately, no matter what I do, our kitchen floor still looks filthy, thanks to weird pock-marked linoleum that would like to look like filthy tile instead. Do you have any quirky but effective cleaning methods?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

General Family Updates

Things have been busy around here, and there is more to come, so I thought I'd stop by and give a quick rundown.

Her 2nd birthday is in two weeks! Sleep has been up and down, but generally pretty good. We have some pretty bad nights, and they are usually several at a time, but she usually sleeps relatively well, and we are so glad! Right now she is getting some molars in, and has been feverish and miserable for the last four days. We feel pretty bad for her, and hope they come through soon. She has a real thing for her cousins on both sides and asks to see them every day. When I tell her we are going to see them she says "excited!" and makes 'can't contain myself' sounds. I will do a longer post about her soon in honor of her b-day.

The first year of his job is coming to a close, and he is so thankful for such wonderful co-workers and a great work environment. The district has had some serious funding problems, (how's $600,000 short for serious?) and he missed the "pink slip" cut by TWO people-- based on seniority. We are SO thankful he will still have his job next year!!!! We have had a couple of his coworkers and their families over in the last month, and hope to continue building friendships with them and others. He recently built a fence around our yard with his dad and bro-in-law, and he is going to be painting the exterior of the house with his dad in another week or so. Fun! He is on an anti- inflammatory diet right now, so that has made cooking a little more of an adventure for us both lately-- it's good to mix it up a little!

I can't believe we've been here for almost a year. I still definitely feel like a newcomer. I have put off retaking the massage board for June, and hope to take it again in July. I REALLY want to start working. I recently realized that days go by where Jeff is the only person I see who knows/recognizes me. This seems very sad (and can be devastating if he doesn't seem very enthusiastic about seeing me!) and I am wanting to get plugged in with the adult population in reliable ways. We do have some friends, though, and I am thankful that we have met some really quality people that we relate to well. It's time for me to start working on wool baby clothes projects to sell in the fall and winter, but I have been preoccupied with the garden and other house projects-- hopefully I'll get motivated soon! I have started working with a naturopath on some stress-related issues I've been having, and it has been exciting to get some help with constant headaches and fatigue. I am actually beginning to feel better and my sleep has really improved. Also my outlook on life. Hurray!

We have continued to attend the Mennonite church here. We met with the pastor about two months ago, and chatted quite a bit. We also shared with him what our experience with the church community has been so far-- it was really hard for him to hear, but I am glad we spoke up. We are trying to get hooked up with a small group there soon. The one they recommended to us has several young families, but they all live very far apart. That's how our last small group in CA was, and we have since decided that we want our community to be IN OUR COMMUNITY, not a 45 minute drive away. So we will see what else is available to us.

Jeff has some good chunks of time off here and there this summer. We don't have any travel plans. We'll be around working on our house and yard. Something we have never done as a family yet is go camping, and I think Amelia is finally at a point where she might actually sleep at night if we went. So that's all I really want this summer-- the first family camping trip. We are soliciting companions (camp-anions?)

Well, I could probably keep going, but that should do it for now.