Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Girl with Glasses

Rachel got glasses last week. She was not at all pleased to learn that she was going to have to wear them everywhere and insisted that she could see just fine. But after they arrived and she realized that they did indeed make things easier to see, she decided they were okay. Besides, she looks pretty fabulous in them!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lake Adventures

Steve has been dreaming of taking the girls canoeing for months, maybe years. We have friends with canoes! There are lakes nearby! The girls would love it! I've just nodded in agreement, because it's all true. I'm just not personally excited about the idea of canoeing. When I was around Katherine's age, my family took a canoeing trip through the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. My dad and sister view that trip as a fantastic experience. My mom and I remember it as the Vacation from Hell. I haven't been in a canoe since. This week Steve finally made all the arrangements to borrow and transport canoes and life vests, checked the weather forecasts, and scheduled the trip to the lake. So we went. And despite my misgivings, it ended up being a whole lot of fun.

Our good friend Bill loaned us his boating equipment and then offered to drive it all down to the lake and help us in and out of the water. The girls have long adored Bill, but after today they have claimed him as their "Third Grandpa!"

Katherine and Rachel had both briefly paddled canoes at church camp, but this was their first chance to really go exploring in a boat. Katherine and Dad took off in one canoe.
Steve and Rachel paddled another.
I am fighting allergies and a brand new asthma diagnosis, so I opted to stay on shore with Granny and  Bill and just watch.
It was a beautiful day, not too hot and with lots of cloud cover. The canoes moved off far into the distance and then slowly paddled back into view. We noticed that Katherine and my dad had pulled ashore at some point to switch positions. Katherine happily took on the power paddling/control spot at the back of the canoe!
Everyone came back in for a picnic lunch...
...and then were eager to go out again.

Bill had also brought a couple of kayaks, which Steve and the girls had never tried. Steve took one out first.
Soon after, Katherine begged to give one a try. She loved it instantly.

Soon father and daughter were passing each other by.
Rachel wanted to try riding in the back of the canoe, so Steve let her try. I think he may have regretted giving in to that request - it is SO much harder to steer and provide the main power from the front seat of a canoe!

Katherine came back for a drink and a rest, but I think she would have been happy to paddle that kayak all day long.

As everyone was tiring, the sky darkened and threatened rain so we pulled the boats out of the water and packed up.
We drove down the lake road just a bit to see the waterfall. The falls are fed by overflow from the lake and only run when there has been rain. After months of drought, we have had just enough rain to allow the placid, swampy end of the lake to spill over the edge of a cliff. It's such a beautiful sight!

Despite my lack of initial enthusiasm, our lake adventures were a lot of fun. The scenery was lovely. The girls loved canoeing and kayaking. We spent time with family and a friend who is like family. My dad got to enjoy passing on his love of canoeing to his granddaughters. And we tried things we had never done. Maybe next time I'll even get in the water.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Girls' Day 2018 - Coffee Shop Friends

13 years ago, we met a family who was in the process of adopting from China. Katherine had only been home a few months and she was one of the first Chinese children they had met. Tami and I became friends and I was happy to share our experiences with her. Nearly a year later, Tami's family was matched with a little girl just a few weeks younger than Katherine. Amazingly, Amy was from the same orphanage as Katherine. They had spent their first months together, long before we even knew of their existence. Tami and I have never stopped marveling at luck or chance or divine plan that brought two tiny girls from an orphanage in southern China to families who already knew each other and lived not far apart.

When Katherine and Amy were little, Tami and I met often to give them the chance to play together. We went to the zoo and met for lunch and spent time together at events hosted by our adoption agency or Families with Children from China. Tami's family added 3 more children from China and we brought Rachel home. Over time, our lives got busier and we saw each other less often. Recently, I realized that I had not seen Tami in several years and that our daughters hadn't seen each other in even longer.

Tami and her family now run a coffee shop that helps support children living in orphanages in China. They live and work in a town we were driving past on our way home from Lindsborg, So, we stopped in for a surprise visit. I am so glad we did!

We spent an hour laughing and talking and catching up on each others' lives. It was so good to be with these friends again.

The coffee shop is a warm and welcoming place, with a map of the world carved out of plaster on the wall...
 ...and fun spaces for kids to play.
Our ridiculously grown up girl don't know each other anymore, but they are aware of their shared past and I think they'd be good friends if they lived in the same town.
They are also remarkably tolerant of their moms' insistence of taking pictures of them every time they are together.
I am so grateful to reconnect with these friends and to honor the ties we have to each other.

Girls' Day 2018 - Coronado Heights

After lunch on our Girls' Day we ventured a few miles north of Lindsborg to see Coronado Heights. Francisco Coronado gave up his absurdly long quest to find a city of gold somewhere near here. Chain mail and other bots of Spanish armor have been found in the area. In the 1920's a tall hill was re-named Coronado Heights by locals and in 1935 the Works Progress Administration workers built a castle shaped shelter there out of area sandstone.

The castle is fun to explore and the views from the top are amazing, if very windy!

Girls' Day 2018 - Bike Adventure

While we were in Lindsborg we saw bicycle cart contraptions for rent. On a whim, we rented one for half an hour.

They were harder to pedal than they looked, but so much fun! We laughed and laughed as we took turns pedaling around town.

Silly adventures sure make fun memories!

Girls' Day 2018 - Dala Horse Heaven

There are a LOT of dala horses in Lindsborg! We saw them everywhere - in shops, on storefronts, hanging on the porches of many houses in town, on signs and T-shirts and tourist trinkets. The store full of Swedish things had a cool dala horse bench in front.
The most entertaining dala horses were big horse shaped sculptures standing in front of businesses. They were decorated in creative ways, most tying in to the sort of store or business they represented, and many had amusing names.

Such a fun public art project!

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way