Thursday, May 30, 2013

Memorial Weekend: Part 1

(Writer's note: Apparently I have an extra-short attention span and can't fathom possibly writing about the entire weekend in one post. Please bear with me.)

Our family's Memorial Weekend tradition is to travel the 9+ hours to Grandpa Cy's Cabin right on lovely Henry's Lake, Idaho. If you don't believe me about the loveliness, check it out yourself:
Really, do places get more beautiful?

We do a lot of fun touristy type activities while we're in the area, and I'll write about that later, but for now I'll concentrate on the main aspect of the trip - the fishing.

Grandpa Cy typically does most of the boat driving,

leaving Dan to try to catch the big one,

and leaving me to actually catch the big one!
(Unnecessary bragging, but c'mon, it's not often I beat Dan at anything.)

Both days were quite successful, if slower than preferred. However, we caught our limit by 1:00 each day, so really, we shouldn't be complaining.

Catch of Day One:

Catch of Day Two:
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Memory: Henry's Lake

Right now we're driving back from what I'm sure was a fabulous trip to my grandpa's cabin on Henry's Lake. I hope I took a lot of great pictures and we have some awesome stories to share later. But what we're doing right now will have to wait. We've already made some memories that should be shared now. I'm not sure how many years my Grandpa Cy and Grandma Janet have owned their cabin, but it sure seems like it's been a family destination for years and years. It sits on a legendary Idaho fishing lake called Henry's Lake, and it's right next to West Yellowstone, Montana. Yup, in my opinion that makes it one of the most picturesque places in the country.

The first year we were married, Dan and I made the 9-hour trek to celebrate the opening of fishing season. Dan hadn't fished much in the past, but caught on quickly and is now one of the better fishermen on the boat.
(Our first year's catch. And yes, this was our Christmas card picture.)

Lana likes the cabin too. She doesn't go out on the boat yet, but enjoys getting spoiled by doting grandparents and posing for pictures with Mommy and Daddy and their catch.

Years before any of these recent trips, our clan had a big family reunion weekend at the cabin. Most of my Freston cousins were there along with my aunts and uncles. The cabin sleeps about 7-10 people, and we had way more than that at the reunion, so cousins were banished to tents in the yard. Oh, and yeah, it rained and got really cold one night, and I think more than one cousin sneaked inside and slept on the floor by the stove. (Please note, I did not go inside. I followed the rules and stayed outside and froze.)

I think that was also the year sister Jen and cousin Cody went exploring and found this Slow Children Playing sign. It was on posted on a rarely traveled dirt road, surrounded by acres and acres of open land. Why oh why were these slow children so insistent on playing in the road? That question was never answered, but Jen and Cody thought it was hilarious and had their picture taken. I think both of them still hold this photo sacred.

Of course everyone has their own fish story. I'm sure we all believe we caught the biggest fish at one point or another, but really, our times at the cabin have had less to do with the fish caught, and more to do with the time spent together.

(Cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles are certainly welcome to submit their Henry's Lake memories. So, what do YOU remember?)

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Memory: Our Mother's Day Tradition

I've heard of families who have some very lovely Mother's Day traditions. Flowers, breakfast in bed, stay-in-your-pajamas day, or maybe a fancy brunch or picnic in the park. Those all sound very nice indeed, but the tradition that has taken hold in our family is all about the beef.

See, we grill t-bone steaks on Mother's Day weekend. We started this when Lana was 11 months old and it's proven so incredibly entertaining, we've happily kept up the ritual. (Plus, t-bones are delicious and you really don't need an excuse to throw a couple on the grill.)

The first year of this tradition, we weren't even planning on giving Lana much of the meat. She was still mostly getting her calories from her milk, and supplementing with mashed-up table foods and pureed baby food. She did have a few teeth and liked to try new textures, but we never dreamed she'd like to tear into the flesh of a steak.

Dan and I enjoyed our steaks that evening, and Lana made a mess with her foods, then grunted and pointed at our meat. Dan handed over his empty t-bone, steak already consumed, and she was thrilled with her new treasure.
She loved her t-bone and pulled off bits of meat and just held it and gnawed on it for several minutes. (Side note: wasn't she seriously the cutest round-faced, bald-headed, chubby baby girl you've ever seen? Oh how I love those cheeks.)
When we tried to take it away, she actually kind of growled at us, so she got to keep eating on it for a few more minutes longer.

That year was such a success, we've done it every year since.
And of course, I've taken pictures every year. I think one day I can embarrass her with these in front of a future boyfriend, although, if he's even remotely good enough for her, he will have a healthy appreciation of steak too.
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Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Memory: Nearly 4 Years of Motherhood

Lana turns 4 next month and Mother's Day provided a great opportunity to look back and get a bit sentimental. I often tell people I feel like I won the kid lottery because Lana is such a blessing and brings pure joy into our lives every day. Looking at these pictures from the past (nearly) 4 years brought more than one tear to my eye.

Lana was born on a Thursday and I think this was the first picture taken of the two of us together, about a week later.
I was so exhausted that curling up on the futon with a tiny baby seemed like a good idea. I remember being so hesitant around her; we didn't really know each other, I felt like I was struggling to catch on to this whole motherhood thing, and I was just so exhausted. However, despite all my uncertainties, I was fiercely protective of this little bundle and felt she was the safest when she was close to me.

This is still one of my favorites. Lana's a month old and this is the exact day I went from simply "loving her" to being totally and completely "in love" with her.
Dan came home that day and noticed a change in me too. He asked me about it and I told him I had spent the afternoon delighting in my daughter. I have delighted in her ever since.

Kisses are just something we do. We started early and the tradition has continued in earnest.

Lana's first Easter. Yes, I was mean and made her wear an uncomfortable headband.
She loves wearing hair bows and flowers now, but sure hated it as a baby.

Our first trip to my Grandpa's Cabin. Lana was such a trooper even though she got sick and had to be rushed to the clinic for treatment.
Despite the rocky start, the cabin is one of her favorite places.

And what child doesn't like to be surrounded by a giant blue monster? Lana's grimacing because the sun is right in her eyes, not because she's afraid of Sully.

Lana is also my biggest cheerleader. She made this colorful sign to cheer for me at the Palouse River Duathlon last year. She truly believes I'm fast and I win every race I run.
And I appreciate her support more than she could possibly know.

This was taken last summer at the Northwest Washington Fair. Lana loved riding that carousel and we could have gone around and around for days.

After Lana gave me a sweet Mother's Day card yesterday morning, I held her in my lap and rocked her for a minute, thinking back to the days I rocked that tiny baby to sleep. I kissed and told her I loved being her mommy. I've been delighted by her for almost 4 years and am looking forward to the joys in the years to come.

Friday, May 10, 2013

My Brave Mom

Mother's Day is this Sunday, which means cards are currently being sent and flowers ordered for mothers everywhere. I am no exception - a card has been sent and my mom has been enjoying her roses since Wednesday. However, I've been thinking a lot about more than just flowers and cards recently. I've been thinking about the different traits we get from our mothers, either genetic or learned. For example, my siblings and I all inherited our mom's light blue eyes and incredibly thick hair. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who occasionally hears her mother's voice come out of her mouth. (Hi Hungry, I'm Mommy.)

However, the trait of my mother's that I most admire now isn't one I necessarily recall from childhood, but a more recent acquisition.

My Mom is the bravest person I know.
She doesn't go around slaying giant spiders or flying fighter jets. Nope, she's brave because she gets up and lives every day. Despite the confusion and frustration she carries with her always, she gets up and does it anyway. Every. Single. Day.

Over two years ago my mom contracted viral encephalitis. Her brain swelled to a damaging degree. Viral encephalitis is often fatal, but my strong mom fought and fought, even though she was unaware of what she was fighting. She was hospitalized for a month and dealt with a treatment protocol that was daring and unconventional, but she lived. (And don't think I take that for granted for one minute. The fact that my mom is still here is nothing short of a miracle. Every time I see her or hear her voice on the phone, I breathe that in and out. She-is-a-living-miracle-and-I-am-grateful, she-is-a-living-miracle-and-I-am-grateful.)

For as difficult as the treatment and hospitalization was, the real challenges began when she went home and tried to learn to live again. Viral encephalitis affects all its patients differently, some suffer speech and comprehension loss, others lose motor skills, and others still recover with no trace of permanent effects. This cruel virus took my mother's memory.
Imagine that, no memories. 
Milestones such as a wedding day, or the births of three children - gone. 
Silly inside jokes known only to the closest friends and family members - gone. 
Rocking and singing babies to sleep - gone. 
Helping a daughter pick out a wedding dress, holding a first grandchild, cheering at a son's baseball game - all of it just gone. 

I don't know how I would deal with such a loss, but I know how my mother dealt with it, and continues to deal with it everyday. 
She bravely puts one foot in front of the other and keeps walking forward. She pays attention and is constantly taking in her surroundings and the people. She asks questions and writes things down. It's hard work and overwhelmingly frustrating at times and she does it anyway.  
In the two years following my mom's illness, she's grown and become a whole person again. She has friends and talks to her kids on Sundays. She goes on long bike rides with a friend down the street and quilts in the little shop in town. But she still deals with the permanent effects of a heartless disease. She still has moments where nothing and no person is recognizable. She still checks her "Don't Forget" list on the door before she goes to work in the mornings. And she still bravely gets up and lives every day.
Every. Single. Day.

I am humbled by her humility, greatly admire her diligence and fortitude, and can only sit in awe of her bravery.

Happy Mother's Day Mom! I'm glad I have your thick hair and blue eyes, but don't think I can ever attain your level of courage and bravery.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Memory: My Last First Date

Did I ever tell you about my last first date? Well, it was exactly 7 years ago today. Of course, what I mean by last first date, is it was my first date with Dan, and once I went out with Dan, I didn't ever go out with anyone else. Because Dan was awesome, so why would I ever have wanted to go out with anyone else?

Dan and I had been virtually introduced by friend/now sister-in-law, Angela, and we'd been corresponding via email and phone for about 6 weeks. I figured Dan would propose an "in person" meeting soon, and when he did he certainly did not disappoint in his date idea. He asked me to meet him in Seattle for a Mariners Baseball game. (Please note, this was early on in the season and the M's didn't quite stink yet, so we were optimistic at the possibility of seeing a good game.)

Seattle was about a five hour drive for me and about a 2 hour drive for Dan. It wasn't quite in the middle, but close enough for me. I agreed to this date and figured even if we didn't connect, we'd still be friends and have fun at the baseball game. (Another side note: I told exactly one person about this date; my little brother Kasey. He was a student at the University of Idaho at that time and a part-time lackey in my lab. I figured he'd keep my info for safety reasons and not ask me too many questions, but in the event my body ended up cut into tiny pieces and scattered along I-5, he'd know where to have the police start the investigation. That's a good safety tip for you ladies - always make sure someone who loves you knows where you are and where you're going.)

Dan and I officially "met" for the first time at the Transit Station off I-5 where we caught a SafeCo shuttle to the game. I'll always remember he was wearing a yellow sweatshirt. There was no awkward handshake greeting because he just pulled me into a hug and appeared quite happy to see me. We started talking at the shuttle stop and didn't stop throughout the entire date.
Dan and I spent the previous 6 weeks getting to know each other slowly and gradually, so there weren't any strange or uncomfortable lapses in conversation because we already knew we'd have lots to talk about, and the quiet pauses were comfortable, like the quiet between two good friends, not like the typical awkward quiet of a first date. Dan scored us some great seats and the Mariners actually won the game. We ate BBQ pork sandwiches and garlic fries.

At the end of the evening, Dan gave me flowers. But these weren't your typical roses or daisies, nope, this man gave me a fuscia hanging basket that he'd put together himself, and elegant and beautiful orchids. He told me they were flowers to enjoy now and later. Our evening ended with a hug and promise to get together again. I was sad the date was ending, and when we hugged, I remember thinking, Am I hugging my husband right now? Of course I was, but I had no way of knowing that right then. 

Here is our first self-portrait from our first date. Yeah, we were horrible at self-portraits then too.
The old guys photo bombing us are pretty cool though. I wonder if they knew they were witnessing history?