Going Backwards

Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to move forward and this is one of those occasions. (Or, perhaps I am being inspired by Benjamin Button, which we recently watched for the first time…) We are climbing out of the hustle of the holidays and a full fall of photography and hoping to catch up on documenting life. Yesterday I posted about New Years Eve and today is Christmas!

This is the second year we have had both Macy and Hatch families living in the same city–we are so grateful for this–and are learning how to “do” holidays in a new way. We had the added bonus this Christmas of one of Erin’s sisters and her family joining us all the way from Fairbanks, Alaska! Our celebrating began Christmas Eve with the annual fancy breakfast. Usually this takes place at The London Grill, the restaurant of The Benson Hotel downtown Portland, but this year we opted to stay close to home and eat at JORY (which can be seen from our backyard). Crab cakes benedict were enjoyed by many (not by me!) and the meal was gorgeous, as seen below!

We do have to show off Sage’s Christmas Eve outfit, which Sherry made from an old sweater. The coolest!

A little Christmas Eve family photo session:

From JORY we headed to our house where we exchanged stocking gifts…

The rest of Christmas Eve was spent prepping for Christmas Day and enjoying the Christmas Eve service at NFC, which John played in this year.

Christmas itself was fun and definitely different having a kid! We seriously debated on whether or not to get Sage gifts, knowing she really would have no clue what was going on or care in the least. (I mean, the girl didn’t hardly even blink at the Christmas tree!) The whole of Christmas Day was spent with the Hatch family. Unfortunately our six-year-old niece came down with a stomach bug and spent the day quite uncomfortable. Not her best Christmas. It quickly passed to the rest of us and we all had a touch of it over the next couple of days. By mid-week we were through it and ready to get out and have some fun. The rest of the week was spent going to the movies, bowling, the Portland Children’s Museum; watching football and basketball; playing Spot It! and doing puzzles; and just hanging out.

In the end, we actually bought Sage two gifts–an activity doll and a toy cell phone–but did not give her either. She was so overwhelmed by all the fun gifts grandparents and aunts and uncles showered her with that it seemed better for us to save her gifts for her birthday in two months. That’s a win-win, I’d say!

It was a fun Christmas and we were so thankful to be able to enjoy it with so much family (and we really missed the family who couldn’t make it)! Oh, and my best gift? John gave me a day off–from 8am to 5pm on a weekday, he will take a vacation day and take care of Sage while I go out and do anything I please. Also promised was one movie ticket and a popcorn. Pretty awesome, right!?

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Delve in to 2012

Delve in to 2012 was the best rhyming motto we could come up with for the new year and we did our best to delve into fun at our New Year’s Eve party. This New Year’s Eve was celebrated in the traditional manner dating back to, hmmm… I don’t know, 2007, I believe: Sleepover! As a result of Pete and Linsey’s purchase of a winter sports Kinect game, we went with a Winter Olympics themed evening. Several attendees came in Olympic/Winter athlete attire and a parade of athletes kicked off the games, complete with Olympic theme music. Just about everyone got in on the biathlon, bobsled, and ski jump events, which was followed by a Kinect dance off.

And, of course, we took a break to watch the ball drop (on three hour tape delay) in Times Square, bang on pots and pans in the street, sing Auld Lang Syne, ooh and ahh and the neighborhood fireworks, and watch some of the Rockin’ New Years West Coast party.

Some of our favorite things about sleepovers on NYE is that you don’t have drive home when you’re really tired and that you get to hang out all morning with friends, eat breakfast, and be lazy! John and I didn’t get to participate in as much of the laziness as we once did since Sage was awake half the night, but we still very much got to enjoy being with friends and eating an amazing quiche and muffin breakfast!

Some action shots from the evening Olympic events:

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Amor por Juarez

We are getting our feet back on the ground after another great Thanksgiving down south of the US border. It’s amazing all of the activity, energy, thoughts, relationship, fun, and good food you can pack into such a short trip! Not to mention driving away knowing another family has a home, soft beds to sleep on, and enough food to get them through a few more weeks.

For a quick look at the build check out this short video taken over the two days of construction.

As you can see the whole thing happens so quickly. It feels like we have barely arrived on the job site and the walls are going up. This home went to Jasmine and her two sons Fidencio (5) and Alvieri (2). Can you imagine working seven days a week from 1am to 6:30am and then returning home to care for two young boys, one of whom has cerebral palsy, by yourself? That’s Jasmine’s life right now. I don’t think most of us can get our minds around the first concept of working seven days a week, much less the second. This young woman was certainly in need of a break.

It’s difficult to synthesize even a short trip into a readable blog post so here are some bullet point thoughts/reflections/rememberings/summaries:

  • Caravanned from Phoenix to El Paso on Wednesday and met up with our Missions Ministries contacts: The Fields family and Jesús.
  • The border crossing was longer than hoped for as we had to unload part of our U-haul-type trailer for an inspection. Held our breath and prayed, hoping they wouldn’t turn us back. Made it through and arrived at the Team Center more than 12 hours after leaving Phoenix.
  • Sage was quickly adopted by the fabulous kitchen staff at the Team Center.
  • Job site this year was quite different from last year and much more centrally located in the town. This meant a much smaller property to work on and several onlookers including some young men working on the house next door and the neighbor, Carmen, who Krista and Erin had the chance to chat up.
  • Sherry and Erin swapped off caring for Sage and Sage napped on and off throughout the time on the job site. She was a trooper! Especially considering she had her first cold.
  • Jasmine worked hard along side us pounding nails, hanging insulation, and painting. Fidencio scooted himself around on the ground with a hammer and pounded on anything he could find. Alvieri made himself at home in Randee’s arms and took a nap.
  • Seeing Fidencio bouncing on the bed so excited and then watching him watch himself on a video play back of the same event and hearing him laugh hysterically and joyfully was a highlight for everyone.
  • Watching the tons of diapers and formula being unloaded from the trailer and being stacked on tables was such a kick. Knowing the items will go to moms who cannot provide either for their babies makes my heart happy.
  • The construction crew, kitchen staff, and Team Center hosts were pretty much the same as last year and it was fun to see familiar faces and continue the good and rewarding work of building trust with these folks who are becoming friends.
  • Hosted a food outreach and craft time for the neighborhood. Highlights included watching Mauri hangout with the smallest of the kids and color pictures; Sage and I pushing kids on swings while they called out “¡Hola, bebé!” and “¡Adiós, bebé!”; watching curiously as the mothers carefully saved the sandwiches for later but ate the chips, ice cream and fruit right away; seeing Jasmine roll in having pushed Fidencio a decent ways in his off-road wheelchair; driving Jasmine and the boys home with Dusty hanging on to the wheelchair out of the back of the van.
  • Joining the neighborhood church for their Friday night service. The Anderson kids, John, and Mauri shared two songs with the congregation and Krista shared greetings in Spanish on behalf of the whole group.
  • Sweet goodbyes were exchanged on Saturday with hosts Leo and Susy, transportation captain and foreman, Jesús, the ladies who prepared each meal, and family member Krista who flew home from El Paso as the rest of us drove back to Phoenix.

We were supported by so many individuals and families without whom this would not have been possible. We owe a huge THANK YOU to each person who contributed with both financial and prayer support. We really tried to remember that we were representing each person who helped fund the home. When the home was dedicated and the keys handed to Jasmine we let her know that 1) there were many who sent us who provided the means and 2) the home was a gift from God and that we were merely the hands that got to build it for her.

We continue to muse and brainstorm how we can be the greatest help to the people we have met, what continuing assistance we can provide, and how we can empower them to keep changing their lives. It’s only been two trips, but we are definitely developing a love for Juarez, an amor por Juarez.

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Juarez Bound

Juarez, Mexico is not your typical vacation spot, yet we hope to make it the spot we commonly spend our Thanksgiving holiday. This year will be our second time back to a colonia about 30km outside of Juarez–relatively the same distance from Newberg to Portland. Last year’s trip definitely impacted us and we found it to be a very meaningful way to spend Thanksgiving. We are looking forward to being back–to seeing the family we built for last year, driving the bumpy dirt roads, getting to know the local crew, meeting the new family whose home we will construct, working hard for a short 8 hours and watching a home unfold in front of our eyes.

Last week I found a little list I had jotted down on the plane as we returned home last year. The list was my ideas of how to continue to be part of what’s going on in this colonia. Things like praying for a woman I met who was at about the same point in her pregnancy as I was; looking for videos in Spanish that the pastors there could show; and learning Spanish better. The best idea I had was to encourage whoever it is that does the grocery shopping in a household to add a can of formula and package of diapers to their list each time they do a big grocery run. Or, more simply, set aside the cost of a can of formula and diapers from the grocery budget and send that to Missions Ministries for the purchase and distribution of the items. (Diapers and formula are desperately needed in this community and is a significant amount of the cargo brought into the colonia each trip.) I admit I didn’t follow through well on many of the action items (and am now scrambling to practice as much Spanish as possible before we leave). Sure is easy to just get back into regular life when you return home, isn’t it?

We now wait for the final funds to be raised (we’re more than halfway to the $8300 needed for the build–click if you want to contribute) and for news about the family for whom we will be building a home. They will be our partners in the build. Perhaps they will be moving from an old van or a house made of wooden pallets or corrugated tin. Maybe they will have young children or an elderly mother or father who will survive a frigid winter (yes, it gets cold in Mexico–last year it was below freezing while we were there!) because they have an insulated home. Whatever their case, they deserve a chance to improve their lives and their health through this small thing of a home. A home without plumbing, electricity, carpet, kitchen, sink, closet, shower…just six windows, one door, and three small rooms. Quite simple, but profoundly life changing.

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Eight Month Adventures

Yesterday Sage celebrated eight months of life. She’s an amazingly cool kid for being only eight months old. These days she’s crawling an awful lot; picking tiny pieces of whatever off the ground and putting it directly into her mouth (unless that paci is stuffed in there first); eating carrots, bananas, pears, avocado, apples, and peas; exploring her vocal range and discovering she can make her lips vibrate; pulling herself up whenever and wherever she can; and just this week she has started being intentionally silly by shaking her head back and forth all loosey-goosey like. She likes going to the park and swinging (but doesn’t like the slide), listening to John play the guitar and strumming herself, sitting at the table with us, and pulling our VHS tapes off the shelf.

At eight months she’s becoming well traveled. She and Erin made a trip to the DC/VA area to visit Aunt Emily and the whole family will travel together for her first international trip over Thanksgiving. She’s a pro in the car and has been hopping around to some of our photo shoots on the weekends. We are very thankful for a good traveler as we hope to make travel a part this kid’s life.

A couple of shots taken recently, highlighting her serious side:

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Six Month Pics

Kudos to Jonathan and Rachel of Jonathan David Photography who beautifully captured Sage, John and I during her sixth month of life. See the link for a look at our photo session with them, and then go to Rachel’s blog, Fawn & Feather to see another amazingly creative part of their photography lives.

Can’t wait to get some of these photos hanging in our home!

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I am supposed to be editing photos for clients, but I couldn’t resist posting these pictures of Sage from earlier this week. Just love the two handed “corn-on-the-cob” type gnawing of this celery stick we grabbed from the garden. What a great way to teethe!

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First “Real” Food

This past Saturday, Sage got her first taste of something besides Mom’s milk. Starting with sweet potato, we are entering a whole new world! Not sure she’s totally a fan of sweet potatoes, but she is having fun with it. Thinking peas or avocado will be next…

This video is way longer than anyone wants to see (the first minute pretty much sums it up), but I was too lazy to figure out how to edit it down.

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Considering we are having Sage’s six month photos taken today with Jonathan David Photography, I thought it would be appropriate to post some of our maternity photos, taken by Joel Bock at the beginning of February, a mere seven months ago. Impossible, I tell you! Crazy to think when these photos were taken that I thought I was days away from having a baby rather than a whole month. Probably a good thing I didn’t know.

Here are some of my favorite shots (taken at Magness Tree Farm)…

John read Sage the entire Chronicles of Narnia series before she was born

Every night we would pull out the fetal stethescope and listen to Sage's heart beat

Not sure what we were doing here, except for dominating the photo shoot!

kill shot!

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Pete’s Birthday

**This is the first in, hopefully, a series of posts to get myself caught up on the summer and documenting our lives, now with baby in tow. **

Not sure when this tradition started but for many years we have celebrated Pete’s birthday by taking a weekend to camp at Nehalem Bay State Park in Manzanita. You never know quite what you’ll get with June weather–typically it’s a bit less than warm and often with some sprinkles. Now and again you’ll get a beautiful weekend, but we never hold our breath for that. This year when the conversation came up about the annual birthday trip we reassured him that we’d be excited to go to the coast and give Sage her first camping experience. It turned out that this was one of the more wet birthday weekends in the recent past, but we made the most of it.

Thankfully one of Pete’s most recent projects, the “Super Tent” gave us the warmth and protection from the rain that we needed. We spent most of the weekend hanging out in the tent, napping, reading, and playing with Sage. There was a bit of a break on Sunday and we were able to hit Short Sands for a couple of hours of surfing.

It also happened to be Father’s Day weekend and I think John was able to spend the day exactly how he would have wanted: With his daughter at the beach and catching a few waves. That wish might change in the future to be surfing with his daughter (he’s already talking to her about it ;-)). Our weekend ended in a Dad’s Day cookout at the Carlsen’s of Cannon Beach. Catching up with friends, admiring new babies, and enjoying a delicious spread of food. A great end to the weekend!

Sage did great on her first camping trip. Being in a campground, I was anxious about waking people up, but we figured it out and she managed just fine. We’re hoping she’ll be as much of a fan of the outdoors as we are and we did our best this summer to make sure she had a few opportunities to try it out. More to come on the other adventures!

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