Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Julia's 1st Blog Post -- typed by Mommy

Fun. My birthday was fun. I had so much fun that I saw my balloons when I woke up. I loved it so much that I wanted to say "How nice of you to do it of that day!"

I helped my mom bake the brownies. It was caramel on it and I had 4 blue candles. I was hoping that I would get blue candles! Because on my other first birthday I had rainbow candles. I had some candles that were different colors. After I blew all of the candles I get some ice cream and put it on top of my brownie. And I pat it and pat it and pat it and then I rub it and then I pat it and pat it and I smash the brownie in the ice cream and then I stirred it and stirred it until it gets so brown and that it looks like chocolate in a poop swamp and I love it. It tasted better than I thought it would be. I am a good cooker.

I love my presents. That was so sweet I even loved one cause it's so neat. Cause I love it and I love it. I even got something from my list and now I can cross it off. It's a umbrella. I wished for it lots cause my friend had one and that makes me want it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Friend I Never Knew Died Today

I wasn't sure if I should explain the 5th comment that was made on the previous blog post I wrote. I had decided to just leave it and explain if anyone asked, but now circumstances have changed my mind.

Nine days ago I was looking at a friend's blog when I decided to click on the "Next Blog" link on the top of the page. This link shows up at the top of most blogs and goes to a random blog. They're frequently in another language, and I've never actually come across something worthwhile by clicking it, i.e. I don't know why I even clicked it this time.

The blog I came to was indeed in another language. There were a lot of pictures, some of which seemed to be a woman in a hospital bed. That intrigued me enough to scroll through and try to figure out what was going on. I don't speak Swedish but I was able to see references to cancer. I translated her profile because I wanted to know her whole story. Summed up, it was this: Her name was Hanne and in June of 2007 the 28 year old was diagnosed with breast cancer. She finished up treatments to fight the cancer this past February. At the end of the same month she went to the doctor because of a sore hip and left with a diagnosis of bone cancer. In March she started her blog and for the last six months she's been documenting what she's been going through and how she's feeling. Her posts consist of a picture with a few sentences talking about it. She was dedicated and would frequently make multiple posts a day.

I eventually translated and read large portions of the blog, but even before I translated, I was struck by two things - the whole project was incredibly sad but at the same time very beautiful. There were many pictures of Hanne with friends and family and frequent comments to the posts by those people. I was also moved by the amount of courage it took to chronicle her own battle with a disease, especially because she honestly showed the good and the bad.

I write parts of two blogs of my own and I know that if someone finds something meaningful in something I write, I like to know about it, and because of that, I felt compelled to comment on her blog. I wrote briefly something along the lines of what I wrote here in the previous paragraph. I checked back a few days later and saw a comment left after mine and it was referencing what I had written. I translated the new comment but because the translator I used wasn't able to properly translate everything, I wasn't sure what the comment meant. I then had a horrible thought: What if I accidentally said something that would upset someone, particularly the woman with cancer who's plight had moved me? I started to regret ever posting the comment at all, but decided I needed to make another comment to make sure what I said hadn't misinterpreted, so I did.

A few days later I received an email from Hanne'a husband, Daniel. He assured me that my comment was appreciated and that the ones that followed my original were positive. I was very pleased that he took the time to send the note, especially when I realized that the only place my email address was accessible was via a blurb on the side of tblhabm, i.e. He had to go through my profile and look at my blogs in order to find my email address. My previous feelings of regret left entirely and I hoped my words really did bring someone just a brief moment of gratitude.

A few days ago, Hanne's sister-in-law made the comment on this blog that I referenced at the start of this post.

Today I went to Hanne's blog and my heart jumped when I saw that the newest post had over 40 comments, rather than the usual handful. I clicked to read the comments and quickly translated. That was it...I didn't know the details but the comments were clear - Hanne had died.

I knew virtually nothing about her, I had never communicated directly with her, and had only become aware of her existence less than two weeks ago, yet here I was, very saddened by her death. The whole of her six month blogging endeavor was a mixture of sadness - a young woman dying; beauty - a person, despite hardships, able to find happiness in the small things in life and share those moments with the people closest to her; courage - being honest in the sharing of the range of emotions and the hard times she was going through. Sadness is something that is a part of everyone's life at some point, that is without question. The question is then - Will we see the beauty that's all around us during our everyday life when sadness isn't around and will we have the courage to continue to see it once the sadness creeps in?

Tonight I listened very closely to the screams of my one-year-old son as he threw an overtired-and-hungry tantrum. Tonight I felt the hot water against my skin as I washed the dishes. Tonight I watched the breeze push through the leaves on the trees as it journeyed on it's way around the world.

You hear people say to "appreciate life", "enjoy the journey", "stop and smell the roses", etc, and every once in awhile an event happens in your life, a realization from the most unlikely of places by the strangest of coincidences, that really makes you think that you need to do...something...more. And you hope that the feeling stays with you. I hope that the feeling stays with me.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Exciting News!

Amanda is the new guidance counselor at Oltman Jr. High School in St. Paul Park, Minnesota! The school is part of the large South Washington County school district. It's all very surreal because she's wanted to be a guidance counselor since she was in middle school, finished her master's degree two years ago, and hadn't been able to get a job in the field she wanted. We had a discussion recently about at what point, after how many years of trying, should she focus her energy elsewhere. Soon after that conversation, she found the posting for this position, applied, got an interview...and now here we are.

The job starts in less than two weeks so we've got a lot of little things to figure out still - our daily schedules, how those fit into our daycare schedule, possibly getting another car (Yes, car, no minivan for this household!), etc. But even though there may be some uncomfortable changes, it's the kind of changes that occur when something good happens. Or as Marlo Stanfield put it, "That's one of those good problems."

I'm very excited for Mandy and extremely proud of her!

In other news...Julia got a hair cut a few weeks ago. It was quite a drastic change, but she likes it a lot and had no problem with getting it chopped off.
Here are before and after pictures of Julia in a gymnastics outfit:

Finn is still very fond of his sister, even with short hair.

I was feeling left out so I tried out some new styles. Here is the best one I came up with. And by "best", I mean worst.

And we couldn't leave without a picture of the lady with the new job!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Blog Post

Our big vacation for the summer was going to Chicago for Jason and Tracie's wedding. It was a lot of fun, but definitely a long trip to take with the kids. The ceremony and reception both took place on the beautiful University of Chicago campus.

Here's Julia walking through campus to go to the rehearsal. It was necessary that she be there because as one of the flower girls, she had an important job to do.

For the wedding, Finn wore a cute dressy outfit complete with suspenders to hold up his britches.

Julia really loved being dressed up and getting to spend time with relatives that she doesn't get too see all the time. Here she is with the newly married couple.

During River Falls Days (aka, Mardi Gras of the Midwest!) we sat and watched the parade with some friends.

The following day there were more festivities. The kiddie parade this year had a cowboy theme. Even though the kids' costumes were put together that morning, they turned out quite nice. Julia shows off some lassoing techniques while Finn gives a great "Whatcha lookin' at partner?" expression.

Finn is obviously thinking "If you touch my crackers, I'll floor ya."

Finn proves to us over and over again that he's not old enough to use the computer. Here he is dancing on Julia's little keyboard.

Many people were subjected to this info via a mass email, but in case you didn't hear the story of us meeting Michelle Obama, it's here.