Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Originally, we were going to stay home for Christmas but Dan's Mom, who'd wanted to come visit us but couldn't, invited us to go to Michigan. Since Dan had a few vacations days left this year and would lose them if he didn't use them, we made plans a month ago to take the trip.

So on Christmas Eve, we got to the Denver International Airport early (for once!) for our flight to Michigan to visit Dan's family. This was a quite a feat because we live two-hours away from the airport and we had to get two little kids ready and out the door by 6:45 AM.

Looking at the departure flight information on the monitors, we noticed that our flight was delayed for a few hours. Another person on our flight was also scratching his head and we agreed it seemed strange that the flight should be delayed because the weather was fine. So we head to our gate to find a long line of people waiting to talk with the agents. It turns out that the plane had mechanical problems and the part had to be flown in from a different airport. After many hours of waiting around, they finally canceled the flight so we had to get on a flight for the next day.

What made it bearable was the people we met while waiting and waiting and waiting... We met two other families who were on the same flight. One family had brought a portable DVD player and invited Charlie to watch the movies with them. They had a little girl about 4 1/2 years old named Maggie and a little boy about two-years-old named PJ. They were watching "101 Dalmatians" and Charlie was a little scared of the scenes on screen at the time. The little girl tried to reassure Charlie and told him she would keep him safe. After a while, Charlie decided to sit and watch the movie. The little girl sat down next to him and put her arm around him - she was "keeping him safe". Isn't that just the sweetest thing? There was another family there with two girls, one close to Maggie's age and the other close to Charlie's age. They and Maggie hit it off right away.

So while the adults tried to get the latest status of the flight and figure out what to do - whether to try and get a different flight, or even if another flight was available at all - (this WAS Christmas Eve and all flights were full) - the kids were having fun watching movies and playing with each other. It was actually very nice because we were worried enough as it was without having to try and entertain our kids or keep them from melting down.

When it was apparent that our flight would be canceled, it was too late to get on another flight. The first family invited us to stay the night at their house but we didn't take them up on their offer because we hadn't figured out what we were going to do yet. Dan had wanted to drive home but I didn't want to have to drive two hours home and then have to drive all the way back to the airport the next day. Later, the other family also extended the invitation for us to stay at their house and said we were welcome but that they wouldn't be offended if we chose not to stay with them. They left the airport before us because we needed our luggage and it took the luggage people a while to get them for us. We did decide to stay with the family because it had gotten late, almost dinner time.

The man is a firefighter and his wife is a nurse. He had written out detailed directions and gave us their cell phone number. They lived in Aurora, which is only 30-minutes from the airport. Their house was very nice with a finished basement which had the guest room and an extra child's room.

They had gotten on a flight early the next morning so they had to leave much earlier than we did but they said to just lock up when we left. We were amazed at how nice they were. They even watched Ellie for us while we took Charlie to get some dinner. The next day, around noon, they called us to make sure we'd gotten on our flight.

We were so grateful for this sweet family and their kindness to us. These people opened their home to us, mere strangers whom they'd only met at the airport. They trusted us to lock up their house for them when we left. The world is a better place because of people like them. I will always remember their great example of kindness.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Christmastime is a great time to remember friends and family, especially those we don't get to see often. We always enjoy hearing from you and getting cards and letters updating us on your lives.

Our little family has weathered a year of ups and downs and just feel grateful to be mostly on the upside of things. We began the year by settling into a newly purchased home. Right away we began two home improvement projects: one, moving the laundry area from the kitchen to the utility room complete with a new set of larger and more efficient washer and dryer and two, replacing linoleum flooring in the kitchen with tile. The tiling was not yet complete when our little girl arrived at the beginning of February.

The birth of baby Ellie ushered in many changes in scheduling and lifestyle, which are normal. Ellie is a darling girl and we enjoy her sweet little personality. She has learned to crawl and loves to explore all the places she can get into. Recently, she has been working on pulling herself up and standing. She also shows signs of getting a couple of teeth.

Charlie accepted the new way of life in stride and continues to be a happy, healthy little boy. He loves to build railroad tracks, play on the computer, watch TV, sing, dance, and count. He's learned to count in English and Chinese. He plays well with his baby sister and likes to help with the diaper changes and other chores. The thing he doesn't like as much about having a baby sister is having to share his toys. It's a hard thing to learn for a three-year-old.

Dan is always busy both at work and at home. About once a week, he has to go into work in the middle of the night to do maintenance on the network. Because there's a chance of taking down the satellite connection, the maintenance has to be done during the time when there are few viewers. He's also on-call every six weeks. During one on-call week, he was called every night! When he is home, he's busy helping with the kids, dishes, and laundry. Charlie and Ellie are always glad when daddy gets home from work. They love to give him hugs.

I stay busy caring for the kids and our home. After Ellie was born, I did get tendonitis again but am now able to do most things. We were grateful to be able to get help from church members. My mom came and helped out for almost two-months, which was really a lifesaver.

We remember the Savior, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. We're grateful for the many blessings we enjoy because He was born. We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. May the new year bring many happy things to come!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making a Difference

Every Christmas season, our family participates in some form of giving to a good cause. While living in Midland, we did the Sharing Tree where we took tags describing gifts we could purchase to give to someone in need. Last year, Dan's workplace did something similar but this year there isn't a program.

Well, I just found out about a great idea through my cousin's blog. She's a singer songwriter in Atlanta, Georgia. Her most recent blogpost includes a video in which she explains the Not for Sale Campaign to fight against human trafficking. Did you know that this is a problem here in the US as well as all over the world? The Not for Sale Campaign's website describes the purpose of this non-profit organization:

...Not For Sale is a campaign of students, entrepreneurs, artists, people of faith, athletes, law enforcement officers, politicians, social workers, skilled professionals, and all justice seekers, united to fight the global slave trade.

Not For Sale aims to educate and mobilize an international abolitionist movement through the innovation and implementation of open-source activism. Inside the United States, the campaign identifies trafficking rings and collaborates with local law enforcement and community groups to shut them down and provide support for the victims. Internationally, the campaign partners with poorly resourced abolitionist groups to enhance their capacity.

Every single person has a skill that they can give to free an individual living in bondage.

It is unbelievable to me that such terrible things are happening to people today. I know that while I can't personally stop such atrocities, my actions and contributions added to those of millions of other people can make a difference.

Maybe this is not the kind of cause everyone would like to support. There are many other good causes you can support. United Way is an agency that supports local organizations that help the needy in communities throughout the US. If you are looking to help locally, that would be a great place to start. I encourage everyone to seek out ways to help others. I know many of you are already doing this and it's great to know such caring people.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I want to do all by myself!

This morning, I was changing Charlie out of his PJs and when I was getting ready to unbutton the shirt, he said, "Mommy, I want to do all by myself!" Then, he proceeded to unbutton his shirt. It was really hard for me to let him just do it. If you have had a three-year-old, you know how much longer it takes for them to do something that would take you a minute. But, I've decided to let him just try to do some things on his own, under my supervision of course.

Here are a couple other things Charlie likes to do on his own: Put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. This is usually dangerous because he squeezes really hard and too much comes out. Oh well, he tries.
Brush his teeth. I usually help him brush after he's done to make sure all the teeth got brushed. I'm a stickler for clean teeth.
I'm really glad that Charlie enjoys trying out new things. He really likes to be independent. I remember when he started eating solid food, he would try to grab the spoon so he could feed himself. Back then, he couldn't tell me what he wanted but now he often tells me, "I want to do all by myself!" or "I did it!"

My baby's not such a baby anymore!

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Good Day

It was quiet and peaceful when I woke up this morning. Something seemed off. I looked at my watch and it was almost 9. Dan had already been gone at least an hour. I wondered if he'd put a program on for Charlie but no, he was still sound asleep in bed and so was the baby. And, I feel rested. That's amazing; I can't remember the last time I got this much sleep.

When you're a mother, sleeping-in is not an option. In my case, my wake up call comes in the form of a 3-year-old boy who comes to my side of the bed every morning asking for chocolate milk. But don't think I'm complaining, I'll take that over what he used to do which was to wake up 2 - 3 times a night wanting milk and needing a diaper change.

The day gets better. My visiting teachers arrive with goodies: fresh, warm-out-of-the-oven banana bread and a plateful of homemade fudge and cookies. We enjoy visiting and chatting; Charlie gets to play with a couple of kids they brought.

After lunch, the kids go down for a nap around the same time and sleep for about two-hours! That almost never happens. I am left with time on my hands which I quickly fill trying to whittle down my to-do list.

How do I order another day like this? Ironically, if everyday was like this, I probably wouldn't appreciate it as much.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Love Bill!

Ever since Charlie was a baby, he's had a stuffed frog. The first one he had was a small lovey some friends gave us. Unfortunately, "Froggy Friend" was lost during a walk. Even at a few months, Charlie had learned to love and showed signs of sadness at losing his friend. We bought several stuffed animals in an attempt to replace this lovey but none took hold of his affections until Dan found another stuffed frog, which was similar in color.

We call him Bill. Charlie and Bill are inseparable. "Bill" was one of Charlie's first words! We take him everywhere we go, although we've lost Bill enough times that now he stays in the car when we go somewhere. Charlie won't go to bed without his buddy Bill. Dan made up song about Bill to sing to Charlie when he tucks him in at night. Now, it's funny to hear Charlie sing the song himself. Even I don't know the words as well as he does.

Charlie is now 3 1/2. I'm surprised that Bill's lasted this long. We've lost him a few times and have always been lucky to get him back. Bill's also been thrown up on, dragged through dirt and dust, and washed countless times. Besides his family, Charlie loves no one better than Bill.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

On the Move

I mentioned before that Ellie can crawl. In addition to being able to get into corners, now she's working on climbing stairs. I wonder if this is all motivated by the way our house is set-up. We have a sunroom addition that connects to our dining area via two wide steps. Ellie spends a lot of time in the sunroom while I'm in the kitchen or dining area, so when she started crawling she would get to the steps and be stuck there. Recently, she's started trying to get up on the steps.

Up until today, she's only been able to get her torso up on the step. She has also been trying to get up our basement stairs (see below).

I just now discovered her actually above the first step! Obviously, I'm so proud of her for having figured it out on her own but I am also not too eager for her to be able to get around too well. With Charlie, I was more excited about him getting mobile but knowing what that mobility brings, I look on Ellie's accomplishment with a mixture of pride and reservation.

Lost in Translation

Charlie is at such a fun age. One of my favorite things about Charlie right now is how well he can communicate verbally. It's really amazing some of the things he picks up from me and Dan. I have to be so careful in my choice of words.

Sometimes I tell him something and he'll repeat it but it comes out with a twist. It makes me laugh and I just love that he's trying so hard to be grown up. I often forget to record what he says and I end up totally regretting it a week later when I'm trying to recall it. I wish I have an instant recorder for those wonderful moments I never want to forget.

Sunday evening, we were having the missionaries over (once again) for dinner. We like feeding the missionaries. However, we always need to pick up a little around the house so at least it's presentable. So I asked Charlie to put his shoes in the coat closet because I didn't want the elders to see shoes laying around. He did what I asked and then he said, "We have to put the shoes away because we don't want the elders to lay on the shoes."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Little Sweetums

Looking over my posts, I realized that most of them are about Charlie! They say the first child usually gets the most attention and that may seem to be the case here. Charlie's personality certainly demands more attention. He can be very needy and loud; I know that's his way of getting the attention he wants. Ellie on the other hand is more calm and quiet, although she can scream pretty loudly herself especially in the middle of the night. My mom said that Charlie is more like me, dramatic, and Ellie's more like Dan, quiet. We'll see about that.

It's amazing to watch children grow and develop. Charlie and Ellie certainly have different temperaments. I just love each of them and their unique qualities! It's a thrill to see them reach milestones. Ellie has just learned to crawl even faster and now enjoys standing up as much as possible. She can't stand up on her own yet but does a pretty job of staying up with a bit of help. She's also very good a communicating with us in her own way. One of my favorite new things she does is waving when she sees us; she stretches out her arm and hand as if to say hi. She loves to explore now that she mobile and throws a fit when we take away something she's not supposed play with.

I love it when she laughs or smiles. One way she laughs is by wrinkling up her nose with a big smile and breathing in and out really quickly through her nostrils. I did that with her a long time ago and she copied me. It's funny how she picked that up even when she was so little. She's just a joy to have around. Looking at my kids, sometimes I can't believe they're mine! My heart fills up just thinking about it.