Tuesday, November 24, 2015

7 Months!

As I sit down to write this, I realize that it's late November. Baby girl is already 7 1/2 months old! My sweet and active daughter is more than halfway to her 1st birthday! How am I so behind on realizing this? I think to myself.

Perhaps it has something to do with the Big News that we announced last month? And us needing to pack up our whole house in a matter of days...and having to list our house for sale...and all those house renovations...oh, and our long-awaited trip to visit my family in Hawaii? Yes to all of the above. This past month has been ridiculously intense. Ken got a job offer in Eastern Washington the day before my 30th birthday (read about that here), and within a few weeks, we were packed and headed to Hawaii for vacation, en route to Washington for this next chapter in our journey.

And somewhere, in the midst of all these changes, Ruby turned 7 months old. Bubs is learning and growing in extraordinary ways, with each passing day.

Here are some of Bubs' latest milestones:
  • She can almost crawl !!!
  • She can rollover both ways and when she can't reach a toy, she rolls over to it.
  • Bubs can say "Da-da!" and "Hi!" and "Ok!" She also looks at Daddy and smiles when I say "Da-da" more often than not. 
  • She has said "Ma-ma" or "Mah-mee" a couple of times, but doesn't say it nearly as much as "Da-da!" (So, I'm not counting it yet as a real word. Hehe.)
  • Bubs can sit up on the floor (without support) for longer periods of time. 
  • She can also stand, with support, and almost pull herself up to standing position by holding on to me.
  • Bubs can recognize her name! She loves it when I call her "Ruby" or "Baby Girl."
  • Baby girl loves to smile and chat with just about anyone friendly who gives her attention.  
  • She has tried lots of new solid foods in the past few weeks (such as green beans, rice, carrots, sweet potato, bread, chicken, peas, and poi) and likes most of them, while continuing to nurse full-time. 
  • She still loves her jumperoo and bounces happily in it each day. Just this weekend, Ken moved her jumperoo to the highest height setting. (I'm not sure what we're going to do when she grows out of this!)
  • Baby girl's eyes are currently hazel colored (greenish-brown toward the center and blue around the outside.)
  • At Ruby's 6-month checkup, she was in the 92nd percentile for height and weighed around 18lbs - so healthy and strong. I'm looking forward to seeing her measurements at next month's checkup! 
  • Last but not least, baby girl seems to be teething again! I can just barely see her top two front teeth trying to break through the gum-line. Her baby teeth are so cute!
Ken and I praise God for our little lady. She's so full of joy. Her middle name means "reflection of the Sun/glistening moonlight." That, she is.

Here's a video of our baby girl's contagious laugh. Click here to watch. And one more video of Ruby's first time swimming in the pool with my Dad, Ken, and me on Maui.

And before I head out, here are some of our latest pics. :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Aloha from Maui!

Two years.

I can’t believe that’s it been nearly two years since we last visited my family on Maui.

Ken and I flew here right after we bought our first house in Alaska (read about that), in January of 2014, and I still remember grappling with mixed feelings at the time - I missed Maui terribly, especially after visiting, but also recognized that the intense longing for ‘home’ that I felt, could really only be met in Christ, and that rather than a particular physical location, home is the place where Ken and I, and now Ruby, build community together. It can be anywhere. My sweet little family and I are home, when we are together. That’s how our last trip to my homeland of Maui, helped me understand my desire for home - for a place of safety, community, and fellowship. It was a great trip for launching us into the next season of homeownership in Alaska, and now ironically, we are back in Maui as we transition from living in Alaska to Eastern Washington.

Maui is a great place to relax and recharge, and for the introvert in me - to reflect, as my family and I prepare for so many new adventures ahead.

It’s incredible being back here. Temperatures in the low to mid-80s, tropical breezes to balance out the endless-summer-sun, local-style grinds (i.e. plate lunches, spam musubi, chow fun) available 24/7, and endless amounts of fresh Maui-grown apple-bananas (think: tiny, baby bananas that are sweeter than Chiquita’s and taste apple-y) and perfectly ripe strawberry papayas - juicy, succulent, firm-meets-soft, orange flesh. Mmm. I’m home. The home I spent my adolescence enjoying with my parents and two sisters, Kehaulani and Nohealani. What an amazing place.

This is Ruby’s first trip to Maui, and it’s the first time she’s been able to meet my side of the family. She loves it here. My family, my friends, the ocean, the food - she even loves poi. This comes as a complete shock to me, because I hate poi. Perhaps I've been missing out? (For those who don’t know about poi, it’s a Hawaiian specialty, made from cooked taro root.) We’re so proud of our baby girl!

Here are some photos from our first few days here!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Perfect Imperfect House

It's half-past two in the morning, and I'm scrunched like a ball on our grey double-recliner, the final remnant of furniture we have in our living room area. Around me are two large, sturdy suitcases, one military-issue duffle bag, and two roller carry-on suitcases - all filled to the brim with our current supply of clothing, toiletries, nursing supplies, and baby toys - along with an unusually long cardboard box and a handful of cleaning supplies. It's safe to say that we are in the final stage of moving out of our sweet little home here in Anchorage, Alaska. The few things we have left - a third of a carton of eggs, our toothbrushes, my in-law's camping cookery, and Ruby's most essential play item, her Jumperoo, will all be coming with us later today, as we say goodbye to the first house that Ken and I bought together, just under two years ago.

A wave of emotion passes over me, as I consider the ways this house became a home to us in such a short time.

After years of saving (which Ken started long before we got married), we put a down payment on this house and in faith, stepped into a new season as homeowners one late January afternoon, in 2014.

It was here that we joyfully welcomed friends and family and neighbors - for vacations, birthdays, holidays, weekly community group, potlucks, and bbq's. Our neighbors became close friends to us, in such a short time. They are the kind of people we could call or whose homes we could walk over to, if we needed anything. What a huge blessing, especially during Alaska's dark and long winters - I knew that we were safe, and that people near us were happy to lend a helping hand if anything came up.

In this house, we spent countless hours playing tug-o-war, fetch, and tag with our first pup, Penny - our rambunctious rescue dog, with her larger-than-life personality and love for running. Our yard was great for chasing (or rather being chased) by our fun-loving dog, who only wished that we could stay out all day to play with her.

Two summers ago, it was here that I tested my limits for the first time, to see how strong I really was, and found out that through discipline, consistency, and God's grace, I could in fact run a half-marathon. I have many fond (and not-so-fond) memories of running long stretches of trail near our house, tightly clinging bear spray in one hand, praying that I'd never run into a bear or moose (which I never did on those long runs.) I conquered mental fatigue and my own inward demons during those runs. I pushed through, and realized that God could do way more in me than I had ever imagined.

It was here that I became a mom for the first time. On a lazy Saturday morning, in August of last year, I gently nudged Ken awake to the words, "I'm pregnant. You're gonna be a Daddy."

And this was the house we welcomed baby Ruby home to, once we left the hospital for the first time nearly 7 months ago. My precious gift from God, who taught me in mere seconds upon her arrival, about God's unconditional love and joy - how much He must love me, His child. Life is sacred, and I didn't understand that in the ways I do now, until holding my baby girl in my arms for the first time.

It was in these walls, that Ken and I cooked meal after meal of fresh-caught salmon that he skillfully collected while dipnetting last summer, another first for us.

Here, in our home, Ken and I practiced fighting for marriage (rather than against one another), as we worked through misunderstandings and arguments, sometimes - or oftentimes, battles that came up while we were cooking or cleaning in our little kitchen. Heated conflicts or "opportunities for growth," as Ken calls them, were resolved through extending grace, practicing time-outs, and striking compromises, along with bear hugs and realizing our need for forgiveness (or typically, my need for forgiveness.) We celebrated our fifth anniversary in this house, which is a testimony to God's faithfulness.

The past couple weeks, we've spent hours sorting, decluttering, packing, moving, deep-cleaning, and getting our house ready to sell. I've felt overwhelmed and anxious, scared but also excited, nostalgic and yet hopeful. I've cried myself to sleep a few times, replaying memories in my mind of all the "good things" that took place in this house. Particularly in regard to Penny. She was our first dog, and loved us deeply.

When I think about moving, I feel a deep sense of loss over Penny. In recent months, she's been increasingly neurotic, at times destructive, and always wanting more attention than I could give her with the baby. I've worked through feelings of shame and embarrassment, over us not being able to give Penny the life that she wants, and also processed the very real need that she has to be exercised more than I can do for her in this season. It's been one of the hardest decisions that Ken and I have had to make, but deep-down it's a decision that reflects our desire to give Penny what's best for her - a home where she is the main attraction. With heavy hearts, we are giving Penny to a sweet and adventurous high school senior who lives near us and the trail system that Penny enjoyed these past couple years. I think that Penny will be a great fit there.

Ken's Dad shared some words of encouragement that really stuck with me, as I continue to work through my sense of loss over Penny. He pointed out that perhaps Penny was meant to be our dog for a season, and now she is moving on to another great home. She was our gift for a time, and now we can share her with someone else. I'm so thankful for the blessing that Penny was to our family. Here's the story of how we got her, if you're interested.

In leaving Alaska, I'm excited to see how God meets us in this new chapter, as we move to Eastern Washington in just a couple short weeks. As I mentioned earlier, in this big move, I'm feeling overwhelmed and anxious, scared but also excited, nostalgic and yet hopeful.

Perhaps, though, I'm mostly hopeful.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My 6-Month-Old Jetsetter!

As we approached the tarmac flying in to Anchorage last night, I couldn't help but think, Wow, Ruby has been on so many trips lately! She's quite the jetsetter. My little girl is growing up so fast - perhaps too fast - as I reflect on these past six months of life. She's traveled from Alaska to Washington twice now, and in just a few weeks, we'll be back on a plane headed to Maui, to visit my family, and then relocating to Eastern Washington after that. The actual traveling part is not glamorous to me - flying with a young child, packing and unpacking lots of baby equipment, sleepless nights when said baby is off her schedule - but getting to explore new places and fellowship with friends has been a distinct blessing (and privilege) and I'm thankful that we've been able to broaden Ruby's horizons in these few short months. Also, this trip went much, much better overall than the last one (read about it here), which felt like a sort of hazing experience, if you recall.

Baby girl’s latest developments include:
- Eating rice cereal for the first time. She loves it! 

Exhibit A: 

- Chewing on anything and everything she can get her hands on (newspapers, books, napkins, water bottles, the kitchen table – you name it.) Mama and Daddy can almost never look away. 
- Saying words that sound like “Hi” and “Da-da”, along with her typical bubble-blowing, razzing, and high-pitched pterodactyl call. 
- Making music on her lap piano. She loves pressing keys and making sounds!
- Focusing her gaze on moving objects, like fans, and fixating on bright lights.
- She can almost crawl and is able to maneuver her body to reach toys and blankets that are close by.
- She sits up so well!
- She’s super sociable and is a real crowd-pleaser on airplanes and in group settings. For instance, Ruby won the hearts of the rows surrounding us on the plane yesterday. By the end of our 3+ hour flight, folks all around us were trying to play games that would grab Ruby’s attention. She's a real heart-stealer. One couple even gave us a brand-new baby teething toy, which was part of a 2-pack, that they were bringing to Anchorage for their granddaughter. I was blown-away by this random act of kindness. 

Here are some photos from our recent house-hunting trip to Eastern Washington! We surprised my cousin Kristina by showing up on her 29th birthday, and it was so much fun hanging out with her and my cousin Isaac in Spokane and in the neighboring towns. We also found a super cute 4-bedroom house with a stunning view in a small town outside of Spokane, which we're praying will become our new home! We'll see what happens, as we still need to sell our house in Anchorage to make that work. 

Details, details. 

All that to say, somehow my beautiful baby girl turned 6 months old a couple weeks ago. She helps keep me grounded in this season of transition, and I praise God for her every day. 

Hope you enjoy these snapshots of our little family trip!