Sunday, January 9, 2011

Christmas Break

December 22 to January 6th or so
We have survived much traveling these past weeks, and it is not ending any time soon. Things began with our flight out of Sleetmute, on a small plane that held 6 large adults, one baby and one dog not to mention all our various luggage. I was snug as a screw in a board between Dave and another teacher from another village, and Julia sat on my lap. Mercifully, she fell asleep shortly after take off and slept nearly the entire way to Anchorage.

Snug and sound asleep on the first airplane ride of the trip

We had stunning views of snow covered mountain ranges, tinted orange, pink and red by the setting sun on one side and accented by a huge pink-orange moon rising into the dark blue on the other side. It was breathtaking.

As we got close to our destination, I was overwhelmed by how bright the lights of Anchorage appeared. We were picked up by our family friends, the Sonrays, who kept us overnight, and put us on the plane to Seattle the next day.

At the Sonrays, Julia was very interested in the dog. 
Julia meets her first bear in the Anchorage airport

Julia was less accommodating on this flight, as she wanted to crawl and explore, and there's just no room on an airplane to do so. Even in the aisle, they kept on taking the drink carts back and fourth, and everyone has to go to the bathroom 5 times each, so Julia was pretty frustrated that she couldn't get down and let the world know about it for awhile. We hid in the bathroom for a bit while she was expressing her frustrations, and she calmed down and had a great time banging on the mirror, but the rest of the plane wanted the bathroom too, so there were only a few moments of happiness.  Finally we made it, late at night on the day before Christmas at Dave's dad's house in Mt Vernon, Washington. We took care of a bunch of shopping, and realized that our totes full of clothes and gifts and whatnot that we had mailed down were not going to arrive in time.

Julia learns to get along with her car seat again
Lunch with Godmother Bekah
Grandpa Dave made Julia a wonderful set of blocks and a wagon to pull them in

Julia's first moments on a staircase
Christmas morning
 Despite this, we had a lovely Christmas eve with one set of Dave's relatives, then went over to Dave's mom's house for a lovely Christmas day, celebrating with another set of relatives. Julia learned to love climbing up stairs, but had little understanding of how to get down again. She was rather scared of all the new faces, but slowly warmed up to the new surroundings. By two weeks into the traveling, she was a pro at meeting new people, and much less scared of new places.

4 generations, Grandma Gini, Great Grandma Olive, Dave and Julia
New toy time with Grandma Gini

A couple days later, and we were on the road again to Klamath Falls, Oregon and my family, with a night spent visiting friends in Forest Grove. During all this driving, Julia got progressively better at riding in her car seat. The first ride from the airport was terrible, but they got a little better each time, and now she's a car seat champ again, napping often and crying rarely.

4 generations, Grandpoppa Jack, Great Granny Helen, Me and Julia
Saying goodbye to Dad for a few weeks

After a brief stay in Oregon, Dave and I parted ways for a couple of weeks, he heading back toward Alaska and the beginning of inservice and the resumption of teaching, while me, Julia, my mom, my sisters Caroline and Anna and my brother Olaf all got onto the Amtrak and journeyed east to the far off land of Minnesota.

Auntie Anna and Uncle Ole on the train, scarfing Nutella
Aunt Caroline and Julia observing the parking lot
We toasted the Minnesota new year several hours early with a subtle bottle of champagne. Mom and I each had a dixie cup full, and I do believe Anna and Caroline polished off the bottle while watching the long version of Pride and Prejudice. Real party animals we are. Our arrival on New Year's Day was 7 hours delayed, but I feel happy to have arrived at all since apparently we were the last train through before weather caused a 3 day shutdown of service (lucky us!) and we were accompanied on this train ride by some guy dressed as santa, attempting to break a world record for longest time spent singing in santa gear. 82 hours was the old record and he was going for 100. Can you fathom staying awake for 100 hours? I'll probably never know if he made his record or not since we left him on the train and happily got off in St Paul.

A rather pathetic figure, after about 40 hours. Only 60 to go. 
Our main purpose in this visit was the fact that my grandma, Bestemor was celebrating her 90th birthday with a large party. We attended this and hung out with many members of my extended family, which is always a good time and happens too rarely.

Top: Erin, Christopher, Anna, Caroline, Dawn
Bottom: Olaf, Me, Julia, Bestemor
Snacking on scandinavian food

Julia's favorite part of the party was all the walkers to play with. 

The rest of our time has been busy! Every minute has been spent visiting more relatives and friends in the area and we are to enjoy a couple more days of this before getting back on the train (minus Anna who is back at college) to go west again. In the Baby News Bulletin,  Julia isn't walking yet, but she's getting closer to that moment with brief let gos of whatever she is holding on to. She caught a pretty bad cold on the train, one of those deep barking cough colds, but we seem to be on the upside of it now. She fit into her snowsuit when we left Sleetmute just before Christmas, but when I put her into it a week later to go to Minnesota, it would appear that her arms have grown 3 inches each. So I searched around the Mall of America for a toddler sized snowsuit, with no success. Not the fashion anymore, I presume.  I went with a down coat several sizes too big, with the idea of folding the sleeves over and attaching them with a band so that they act as mittens, saving me the process of stuffing baby fingers into mittens every time I want to leave the house. Now I'm on the hunt for snowpants with the same idea in mind. Boots seem like too much trouble too, but I can see that my thinking in this matter is probably flawed as she's gonna need boots as soon as she learns to walk. Sigh. How do the mothers of the world keep up with it all?  Here's some more pictures of many of the people we visited. My apologies to those without photos!

Julia and William adored each other.
At the Hinderlie house, seeing a crowd of old friends
Julia and Julia
Remember the picture of Julia in the copper pot?
We tried for another, with no success. My baby was just too big to fit anymore.

In Northfield with Olaf and Christie and Anna Hawkins-Sauer

Julia was strongly attracted to the New Glarus Beer. She takes after her father.

At St Olaf with Auntie Anna

In Rochester with Aubrey and Angie Gustafson

In Northfield with Great Bestemor

Shopping at Trader Joe's with William and Andrea.
Whenever William moved out of sight, Julia would crane around
me looking for him, and when she saw him again, she'd say "oh!"
Julia and William, asleep in Minneapolis at Chris and Erin's house

With Marv at the Johnson House

Enjoying Abby's phone

Saying goodbye at the Amtrak station
 Julia, Me, Olaf, Caroline, Mom, Christopher, and Carol Witte

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