Sunday, January 30, 2011

back to the north again

We are home again in Sleetmute, and Julia has the flu. This is the first time she's gotten anything like that, so we are getting another lesson in parenting. She's still so cheerful. I'm never that happy when I'm sick. We had a wonderful last couple days in Oregon. The weather turned lovely enough to open the back door and let Julia explore the yard. Our family friend Daniel came by and Julia liked that. We had a pretty uneventful train ride up to Seattle and stayed two nights with Dave's folks. My sister Caroline came up too, so we got to have a little more time together as well. Grandpa Dave drove us to the airport on monday, and Julia did quite well on the flight to Anchorage. Two naps and no long crying jags! We got a hotel room for that night, and took taxis to the grocery store to fill a plastic tub full of dairy and produce. The following morning, we got onto a flight to Sleetmute, changing planes in Aniak. It was a longer flight since Aniak is farther west than Sleetmute, but I had a flight to use up with ERA (we booked our initial flight with ERA, then switched to a bush pilot so we could take more stuff.) But Julia did wonderfully, sleeping both flights. We arrived in one piece, and I was pretty happy to be done traveling for awhile. I've been busy re-organizing the house and washing all our clothes, and I've been working on getting my Etsy shop set up. Etsy is a website that lets small time artists and crafters sell items online. It's a great way to shop for local and handmade art. Here's the link to my storefront if you are curious

Julia and Daniel Lund

Julia and Daniel Lund and Loki

Julia loved the beautiful Oregon weather that let her play in the grass

Julia and Grandpoppa Jack, right before we said goodbye and got on the train to Seattle

Olaf and Loki, Grandpoppa Jack, Grandmomma Dawn and Julia

Grandma Gini and Julia giggling on the couch

Auntie Caroline giving Julia a bath in the sink

Me and my baby

Julia and Grandpa Dave

Home again, playing with her christmas blocks

Helping Dad make pancakes

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To the ocean and back

After a brief few days in Oregon, Julia and I hopped back on the train to the uncharted territory of Santa Barbra, California. I was hopeful that the train ride would result in glorious ocean views, but unfortunately night came upon us before we reached the ocean. We did see some lovely views in northern California though, and it was fun to see things like palm trees and cacti popping up along the way.  We had the pleasure of a sleeping car on the way down again, so it was a very pleasant ride. I met a woman with a 10 month old baby and we got seated at the same table for dinner. We talked each other's ears off all the way until our destination, swapping baby and birth and life stories. I'm not a naturally gregarious person, so when I have a random interaction like that, I really find it amazing. Our purpose in heading this far south was to visit our Holden friends, the Meitzkes. They showed Julia and I a wonderful side of California. Apparently three months of bad weather decided to lift just in time for us to arrive. We walked on beaches, saw starfish the size of a cocker spaniel and saw dolphins swimming in the ocean. We walked through parks full of green and sunshine, and walked through art, the booths stretching for blocks upon blocks. We drove through picturesque mountains and incredibly wealthy neighborhoods, dreaming about what we would do with a house that big and lovely. (Invite everyone we know to live in yurts scattered along the property, open the world's biggest cat sanctuary, ect.) We ate in restaurants! (A big deal when you live in a village of 100 in Alaska.) Julia ate sand and crawled on grass. She lurched from side to side in her backpack, trying to see everything.  We took Jasper, the dog everywhere (he barks when left at home) and took the cats and baby on walks in strollers and slings. And we conversed, about so many things.

And all too soon it was time to go north again, coach class. It was with great reluctance that I left the sunshine and beaches of southern California. I did get my incredible ocean vistas on the train ride north though. Miles and miles of beaches with hardly a soul to be seen on them. My secret to traveling on the train with a baby is to request the lower level seating. It has way less traffic than the upper level seating area, so Julia can crawl around and explore in a safer, more enclosed setting. And we got the seat against the wall of the car, so we were able to make a little nest of blankets and curl up on the floor for the night. It wasn't luxury, but it was ok. Now we are back in Oregon again, enjoying the last days of my extended vacation. In a few days I begin the final leg of this journey, back to the far north. 

Uncle Joe

Uncle Olaf

Lunch with Grandpoppa Jack and Great Granny Helen

Discovering the basket of dominos

Discovering a bulldozer

And she finally let me get a picture of the new top teeth!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oregon Again

 Well, we are back at my folks place and I am glad of it. I go back and forth about if I think train travel is easier than flying. The train is much more humane about security and it is so nice to be able to walk about freely, but after two nights and two days, I am really glad to be done with it. We had to change trains in Portland, with a 4 hour layover, so we stored our carry-ons and walked around. We spent some time in Powells Bookstore, and had dinner at a noodle place before walking back to the station along the river. The final leg of the journey went fairly smoothly, but we got in about midnight, and I was pretty happy to fall into a bed on solid ground.

Noodles are one of Julia's favorite foods these days.
We got up late this morning, and barely made it to church on time. It was only the second or third time I've been to my folk's church, Klamath Lutheran, and it was nice to be there.

Julia throughly enjoyed herself at the children's sermon

Grandpoppa Jack and Julia

Uncle Olaf gives Julia a bath
The rest of the day was wiled away sorting all the baggage and doing laundry (me) and taking several short naps. (Julia) She seems to remember it here, and is pretty comfortable in her puttering around. She has learned how to deal with a small step down. I've seen her sort of sit back and scoot her feet over, then lean forward to crawl again and I've also seen her hold onto the door frame and step down. She doesn't seem to get going backwards down a lot of stairs, but it does seem that she's starting to develop awareness of edges and drops. She hasn't fallen off a bed in quite some time. No progress on the walking yet, but with two more teeth coming in and a new place to sleep every night I'm not surprised. She's a big fan of Loki, the dog. She was a big fan of every dog we met on this trip. She was a fan of the cats too, but they mostly stayed far away from her.

So Much Travel

Sleeper car comforts

Today we are back on the Amtrak, heading west again. We got on about 1 am this morning, after some train delays, and after a few more are running about 2 hours late. Olaf and Julia and I were in a sleeper car for the first night, and we will soon move to coach with mom and Caroline for the 2nd night. Julia chose today as a good day to cut her upper front teeth. She's been a little difficult to manage, but really, I'd expect worse from two teeth coming in at once. The sleeper car is a great way to travel. It is expensive, thus the one night only, but you get all your meals in the dining car and free chocolate and a wine and cheese tasting party (I won a bottle of wine for answering the question: what do you get when you have a row of bunnies, hopping backwards? A: A receding hare line) not to mention getting a flat surface to sleep on. Julia and I barely fit onto one mattress, but she's safe up against the wall and I'm used to sleeping in one position so we are rather cozy. Olaf is in the bunk above us, watching movies and doing homework for all the school he is missing. This is all so cozy that I'm rather sad to be heading back to the semi-reclining chairs of coach class, but I will be glad to be with mom and caroline again. I feel more than a little guilt that I get a bed and wine and they don't.

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