Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sneaking Sundaes

Taten disappeared the other night, into the kitchen. We listened carefully - on alert for impending disaster. We heard a kitchen drawer open and silverware being handled. Next noise was the sound of the refrigerator door opening and closing.

He arrived in the living room and settled in with his ice cream and spoon.

After a couple of bites he stopped to see that we were watching. Being the strict disciplinarian that I am, I was hiding behind the pillow to keep Tate from seeing me giggling at his actions.

Our presence didn't seem to deter his desire for dessert.

And for the record, Papa isn't much better at keeping Taten in line... He asked how the ice cream tasted and got a big "thumbs up"!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Erin Corinne!

Today Erin turns 26 years old. I want to be cliche and say "how did she get to be this age" but a glance in my mirror reminds me of the path.

Erin is our first born and only daughter. She's not the only daughter as she has two older half sisters. She's not the oldest child as she has four older half siblings. In our household, Erin was raised knowing her older siblings are just that - older siblings.

Erin was born at Lemoore Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California. She was born on Friday September 16th at 8:50am, my smallest baby weighing in at 9 lbs. 8-1/2 oz. The day of my 9 month prenatal checkup, the doctor informed us he was leaving town for the upcoming weekend and wanted to let us know who would be covering for him. I recall being asked to sit and not being comfortable as I was sure I had lost bladder control - I was leaking. Instead we discovered my water had broken and her arrival was destined.

Dad was the Commanding Officer of VA-146. We were loyal fans of the squadron football team. The night I was admitted to the hospital there was a game scheduled. Though I tried to convince the hospital staff I'd behave, I remained confined while my husband wandered across the street to the field!

The Flight Surgeon assigned to Dad's squadron routinely offered to be available to deliver Erin when the time came. In the morning hours, we approached the final stages and in walks Mike, ready to pinch hit. At that time I wasn't too concern about the social ramifications of having Mike so near Erin's destination and then nonchalantly chat over a glass of wine at the next squadron party! Fortunately our real doctor was present.

Nanny (my mother-in-law) was already staying with us. She was our first visitor. Denie (my mom) and Great-Great (my grandma) flew in when Erin was a week old. Imagine my grandmother experiencing her first airplane flight at the age of 81 just to come see us. It made my heart soar to have them visit. Erin is my mom's first grandchild and shares my grandmother's name for her middle name.

Erin was an easy baby, thankfully since Mike went to sea for six weeks when she was 2 weeks old. She loved laying on her belly to stretch her arms and legs out and rock.

When we moved to San Diego, her long awaited hair became white blond and very curly. She loved playing outdoors. We spent hours visiting the zoo and Sea World. Our special neighbors looking out for Erin and I while Mike came and went.

When we were scheduled to move again, I sold our home and we moved in with Denie & Granpas in Wisconsin. Dad caught up with us and we moved to Virginia. We learned our way around the D.C. area with the help of Uncle Knobs, Auntie-Mommy and Stephen. Matthew was born in Virginia.

Erin was afraid of the seasonal thunderstorms, lightening in particular. I remember one bedtime Dad telling her stories and showing her how the lightening was like static by rubbing a blanket into his hair and showing her the static sparks in the dark room.

Erin started a Montessori preschool in Venezuela. She had a wonderful International mix of students and teachers. Two years later she started Kindergarten at a British school where classes were taught in English and the playground was Spanglish. I recall her first day when the bus came to pick her up for school. She headed out our gate, waving good-bye in her little uniform. I was so fearful for the uncertainty of her arrival at the new school I insisted Mike follow the bus to school before he went to work. I wanted to know for sure someone was there to meet her and she wouldn't be scared. Of course that's exactly how the school staff greeted the new students.

When our youngest son Krieg was due to arrive the kids and I returned to Wisconsin. Erin and I attended a Sibling Class. She learned about the birth process and was allowed to bring home a very anatomically correct pregnant "mommy" rag doll. I will never forget the shocked expression on Denie's face when Erin showed her how Mommy would have contractions and eat ice chips and then (reaching under the dress) pulled out a stuffed newborn baby from the rag doll womb connected to an umbilical cord and placenta.

Our tour in Venezuela was cut short during another stateside visit. Rioting and a coup attempt occurred while we were visiting Mike's family in Washington. The kids and I weren't allowed to return to the country so Mike went back alone. Erin finished Kindergarten at the same school I once attended.

Our family has a favorite spot on the Washington coast - Kalaloch. The kids and I traveled to coast with Dad's parents before our move to Puerto Rico. They were very excited to look for egg-lets (agates) with Papo on the beach. However, Erin was concerned about our plans to hike in the woods. She was afraid the indidums (indians) would be a problem. It was a great visit.

In Puerto Rico, our arrival was followed by Hurricane Hugo. Mike was second in command for all the Caribbean bases and required to be at work during the storm. For 18 hours we listened to the roar of the wind and watched water seep through windows. The kids read books, played quietly and were very brave. Inside MY heart was racing!

Erin had a "thoughtful spot" near our home - a bench which overlooked the cliff out into the Caribbean. It was common to see her sitting out there, just watching the waves or boats, and enjoying the sea breeze across her face.

I remember a spelling bee in which Erin participated. She had no trouble spelling words and we knew she would do well. She worked her way through several levels and suddenly spelled a word incorrect. I couldn't believe - she knew that word! She happily took her consolation prize (a Tootsie pop sucker) and sat with her classmates. It wasn't until years later I learned from her she deliberately misspelled the word wrong because she saw the others getting a treat and she wanted one too!

We returned to the states when Dad retired. Erin once again returned to my former elementary school. It's difficult in a small town to be someone other than "the new person", even when it was my home town. Erin had lots of friends through Girl Scouts and 4-H. We lived close to Denie & Granpas. Eventually Dad took a job up near Green Bay and we followed. Erin thrived in her new, bigger, Middle School. High School years were spent going from one activity to another - swimming, life guarding, teaching swim lessons, church activities, CCD, Brigade... I loved working at the high school and being near Erin and her friends. So much life - so much fun.

Once more, Dad took a job and we were moving, this time to Boise, ID. Erin was looking for colleges, debating over Wisconsin schools and a Colorado veterinary tech school. I opened up the options by completing a couple of applications for her. Imagine her surprise when she learned she'd been accepted to University of Idaho but didn't recall applying. I told her there was no way the umbilical cord would stretch so would she please move with us.

University of Idaho is six hours away. Far enough for Erin to become independent but close enough to come home for the weekend. She started with a veterinary science major. Her first Spring Break, we girls took off to Oregon and Washington on a road trip. We visited the Portland Zoo - in the rain, shopped in Seattle with Debbie & Andi - and even got our first tattoos!

After a difficult semester her sophomore year (after 9-11 and Dad losing his job) Erin took a break from school to work for a year and a half. She was ready to return - and chose to go back to U of I. She changed her major to Wildlife Resource Management.

So many years being away from her brothers, Erin was excited to learn Krieg was moving north to go to school at U of I. She has become the loudest UI Lacrosse fan and can finally prove she's not lying when she tells people at 5'10" she's still the runt of the family. She stays close in contact with Matthew & Britnee - frequently catching up on the phone inbetween visits together.
Her school life was complicated by a demanding boyfriend who tore away at her self esteem. Eventually she found the strength to walk away from a debilitating relationship, move out on her own and started anew. We are so proud of Erin's willingness to seek the advice of counselors and family. We are happy to see her self esteem return along with the friends who were chased away. Erin is a strong minded, independent young woman and knows what she wants to do. The negative lifestyle of a person she's left behind is not forgotten. Signs of his existence appear but she's determined to no longer give him the power to control her life. For this we are ever grateful.

It's been a rough road. After changing majors, the school curriculum changed, adding to her required courses. At the suggestion of her advisor she requested to have her record cleared of the bad grades. The Board listened to her story and agreed to clear an entire year of poor academics. It isn't every day you get a chance at a 'do over'. Erin is determined to make the most of this opportunity. Of course it means a 'do over' on the good grades from that year too. If all continues to go well Erin will be able graduate in December 2011 - graduating with two majors - one in Wildlife Resource Management and a second in Ichthyology (fish).

We know you will continue to do great Erin. You are an amazing young woman. You've overcome obstacles and learned much about your self during some tough soul searching. We are proud of you Boo.

We love you!