Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

On a day marked by overcast skies, the slight drip-dripping of rain, and a modest summer temperature hovering around 60 degrees, our family of three (four, counting Penny, our pup) celebrated our nation's independence. I often forget the many freedoms that Americans are privileged to live out in a relatively safe environment, and yet today, as I pondered graphic news headlines - brimming with violence (both near and far) set against the gray clouds overhead, a sort of juxtaposition of sea/sky, freedom/slavery, light/dark came to mind. We are so privileged to live in the United States, to have access to clean water, to have rights as citizens to vote, to work for a better life, to do business in a free market economy, to eat good food (or not so good food), and to be safe. Perhaps in theory all of these things are black and white, and how each person is able to live out these freedoms lies in shades of gray. 

Regardless, I believe that I am truly blessed to be an American citizen, to live in a country that was founded on great ideas. A country that many soldiers have risked their lives defending. A country that still allows religious freedom, for the most part. So many people around the world are fighting to survive - not just thrive, as I consider myself able to do as an American citizen. Today, as I enjoyed a lovely brunch with my sweet family, and then a long walk along the inlet, I was reminded of what a blessing it is to be free.  

I've always loved this song, as it reminds me of the freedom we have. Praise God.

"America the Beautiful" by Katharine Lee Bates
United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

O beautiful for spacious skies,
for amber waves of grain;
for purple mountain majesties
above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood
from sea to shining sea.

O beautiful for heroes proved
in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved,
and mercy more than life!
America! America! May God thy gold refine,
till all success be nobleness,
and every gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
that sees beyond the years
thine alabaster cities gleam,
undimmed by human tears!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw,
confirm thy soul in self-control,
thy liberty in law.

Friday, July 3, 2015

My New Favorite Dress

I bought it. I broke down and bought it - the beautiful dress I swooned over while in the dressing room at Anthropologie during our visit to Seattle a few weeks ago. Here is a little peek at the pretty pattern on this textured polyester knit dress from designer Maeve, which I plan on wearing to my friend's outdoor wedding one week from today. It's hard for me to pay full-price on items at Anthropologie but after nearly two weeks of thinking about this dress, I decided to use my clothes savings and go for it. And surprisingly, when I called customer service last Friday to place my order, I was able to score a friendly discount and free shipping, thanks to the sweet sales rep I spoke with. What a blessing! Now, if only I could find a miniature version of this dress for Ruby, so that we can match...

Ken, Ruby, and I are settling back into our routine post-trip. Baby girl is gradually sleeping more. We've had a couple great nights in the last two weeks; overall, it's been fairly challenging, as I came down with a horrible cold this week which coincided with a possible growth spurt for baby girl (translate: extra nightly feedings and less sleeping.) Juggling kleenex in one hand and a water glass in the other, I focused on keeping my germs away from Ruby as much as possible while nursing. 

Baby girl recently had her two-month baby wellness exam and she is now about 13 lbs and 24 inches long. Our pediatrician said that Ruby is very healthy and growing strong. She loves to smile, hold her head up, and steady her gaze on bright lights, colors, and faces she recognizes. Cooing and babbling, Ruby excitedly tries to talk on a regular basis. At the prompting of articles on child development, I now focus on reading to Ruby as often as possible. Anything from newspaper feature stories to magazine clippings to contemporary novels, as well as morning Bible readings. She gets a kick out of the many stories I make up for her, and recite aloud, particularly those about a little girl, ironically also named Ruby.  

Baby girl has such a happy and joyful demeanor, especially after good food and good sleep. She's just like her mama. 

Among other news, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook our house quite vigorously two Wednesdays ago. I'm becoming familiar with these ground tremblings, since Alaska experiences quakes often. Although, I can't say that I like them. When the house first began to wobble, I instinctively grabbed baby girl and ducked under our sturdy dining room table. This was shortly after my late lunch that afternoon. Ruby didn't seem to notice as I continued nursing her from the comfort of the hard, cold tile floor beneath us. In conjunction with my new surroundings, this was the perfect opportunity for me to notice the cobwebs and hairballs gathering under the table. Happily, the earthquake ended quickly and we were able to return to the comfort of our living room recliner. 

Here is a photo of the two of us cuddling back on the couch, safe and sound following the earthquake. 

As we approach the three-month mark in parenting, I feel abundantly blessed by the community of friends and family who have surrounded us in this season, particularly those who have supported us in prayer and through meal delivery, childcare, care packages and words of love and affirmation. Thank you so much! Ken and I are smitten with this sweet, gentle, curious, observant, and kind young lady who graced our lives nearly three months ago. God is revealing to me an even richer understanding of His grace and goodness, as Ken and I journey through parenthood. I had no idea how much I would love becoming a mom. It truly is a gift that I accept with reverence, recognizing the weight of this blessing.

I look forward to sharing more updates and pics with you soon!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Baby on Board: Our Seattle Adventures!


Last week, we flew from Anchorage to Seattle to visit our dear friends and family who live in the area. This was baby girl's first plane ride and after scouring the internet for all traveling-with-baby checklists, I felt ready to take on this trip. Ruby did great on the flight over (it was a red-eye) and she slept the bulk of it. Our flight home, on the other hand, was pretty challenging. Ruby scream-cried multiple times, and I almost cried, as I couldn't figure out how to console her. Ken and I alternated between circuits of bouncing her up and down, nursing, coddling, and encouraging naps. Thankfully, the passengers around us had children of varying ages, and seemed to understand. Honestly, this first big trip with baby felt sort of like a hazing experience. Traveling with a newborn is not glamorous but I can now say with confidence that I learned valuable lessons. One of which, is that taking a baby out of their routine can result in loss of sleep for one or more parents and/or children. It is best to know this going in to things, and I hope to be more realistic about expectations in the future.

All that to say, we had a wonderful time seeing my cousin Isaac and his wife, Kristina, my Aunt Linda and Aunt Joy, along with our close friends who live in Seattle. As we were flying over the city, preparing to land, I caught myself breathing out the words, "I'm home" and experienced a moment of intense joy and nostalgia, realizing quickly that Seattle still holds a special place in my heart. This is the city where Ken and I lived when we were dating. We shared our first apartment together on Capitol Hill after we got married, and then moved to the U-District when Ken got into the University of Washington. He and I biked all around the city, hiked and camped in the surrounding wilderness, and enjoyed so many great meals at local eateries. We built intentional community with our neighbors, friends, and church through weekly gatherings, game nights, dinner parties, and rendezvous at the park. Jumping off the dock at Lake Washington, playing late-night boardgames with friends, taking long walks through downtown - these are some of my best memories from our time living there. I feel so blessed to have spent a good part of my twenties in Seattle.

Perhaps this trip to Seattle instigated the conversation that Ken and I now find ourselves pursuing: Do we want to move back to the Pacific Northwest? And if so, would it be a year from now? Two years, or more? Ken has always had such a heart for building relationship and living close to dear friends. This is a vision that I've shared with him, but I never thought that it would potentially look like a move to Spokane, Washington, where my cousins live. Until now, that is. As we prayerfully consider if this might become a reality for us in the coming year(s), both of us want to take our time in landing on a decision. It gets us excited, though, at the thought of living near Isaac and Kristina and raising our children together, and also being close to Seattle and all our friends there. Also, flights from Seattle are much cheaper than flights from Anchorage, and that is another plus as we consider how we might continue to visit family in Alaska and Hawaii on a regular basis.

Alaska is still our home for now, and we are thankful for this gift of being near Ken's family. We look forward to continuing to share our adventures as we live in this grand state, and travel outside of it from time to time. Here are some photos of our recent trip to Seattle. Thank you so much to our friends and family who hosted and hung out with us!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Baby Girl's Newborn Photos!

A very special delivery arrived today: our newborn photos! And they are stunning!! Ken and I treasure these snapshots taken only a week after baby girl was born. Now at 7 weeks old, I can already see how much she's grown and developed thanks to these beautiful photos captured by Marilyn Jeffers Photography. We were so blessed by this opportunity gifted to us by my in-laws. A few years ago, Marilyn took our anniversary photos and we hope to use her again in the future. Maybe with baby #2? ;)

Here are some of my favorite photos. Praise God for our healthy and strong baby girl!