Seven Years

Yesterday, we celebrated seven years with Li.

Yesterday, we celebrated seven years with Li. Seven years…

Sort of a mind-boggling figure in some ways.

Part of that celebration was looking back at what led up to that day in Nanchang, and the days and weeks immediately after, both through the lenses of our collective memories and through what I captured here (which was a great reminder to me of why I occasionally scribble something here and a strong encouragement for me to continue doing so).

Turned a corner…

All of a sudden, Li is sleeping through the night…

It’s been a long time since I’ve written much here, but I felt like this was worth writing about. For day-to-day stuff, I’ve found it simpler — despite all of Facebook’s shortcomings and things I dislike about it — to put stuff there…

Li and Monkey on her new bed
Li and sleep: no longer mutually exclusive

Li has definitely turned a corner with respect to sleep: she’s coming closer to sleeping through the night on a regular basis and she’s spending the whole night in her own room. For most of the past year or so, she’s started the night in her room in her bed but has come in and slept on the floor in our room next to our bed at some point during the middle of the night. Prior to that, it was likely to be some combination of time in her bed, time on our floor, and time in our bed. Starting a couple weeks ago, she just started spending the night in her room — sort of all of a sudden — as in the whole night. Two weeks in, and it is rare that she wakes up and fusses.

She’s sleeping; we’re sleeping. It feels odd. It feels great. It is two and a half years of prayers answered all of a sudden…

A New Year Begins

A bit of a catch-up post for the start of the new year: Christmas, Li, Deb, Ian, a bit of reading, and some geek stuff.

It has been a bit since I last wrote anything here, I realize, but I will try to get caught up on a variety of fronts with sort of a catch-all post here…

Christmas and Li

Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)
Li and the Christmas tree (12/2009)

We survived Christmas, with the combination of the holidays and an extended break from work (for me) and school (for Ian) being something of a mixed bag. My workplace shuts down (officially) between Christmas and New Year’s Day for a holiday curtailment, so I took all of the week ahead of Christmas (mostly) off as I had some banked comp hours I needed to use ahead of the end of the year (or lose them) and I’m taking a couple more days after New Year’s, as well, which will stretch my holiday break to almost three weeks. Ian has had the past week and a half off from school, too, so we’ve all been home together for the first time in a long time — which has been wonderful.

Li was definitely “in” to Christmas this year, and loved having three Christmases: ours as a family on Christmas Day, followed by two more as both sets of grandparents came to stay with us for a couple days each. We had decided, after traveling with her for Ian’s state soccer tournament in October, that travel just wasn’t in the cards for us at this point and in retrospect staying home with her (and having visitors here) was the right move.

We tried to keep as much of a routine through the holidays for Li as possible, but we still ended up with some sleep struggles beginning the Friday before Christmas. Lots of rest-less nights, particularly ahead of Christmas itself, and several days with no naps… which were trying and exhausting for all of us to varying degrees. Just in the past couple of days, it seems — based on sleep patterns — that she is working her way out this latest cycle.

Li participating in her first Christmas program at church
Li "participating" in her first Christmas program at church (12/2009)

Aside from the sleep problems, Li is doing great. She continues to grow and develop in leaps and bounds. When it comes to food, her palette is continuing to expand (her new favorite is “pork chop” — pork tenderloin, in actuality, which she tried for Christmas dinner when I grilled a couple) and she’s more willing to try new things. She “participated” in her first Christmas program at church this year, where “participated” would be defined as learning “Away in a Manger” and then standing stoically at the front of the sanctuary with the other kids while they sang. It’s about what we had expected; when we asked if she was going to sing, she responded “No, I already sang that song.” She’s close to reading at this point, and her sense of humor is pretty amazing for a not-yet three year old. We took her sledding for the first time yesterday and she loved it, even being willing to go down the hill by herself.

Deb and Ian

Ian and his adoring little sister
Ian and his adoring little sister, both in tye-die splendor (12/2009)

Ian has a bad case of “end of break blues” right now, but other than that is doing well. He found out in early December that he and a couple of other interns from his summer job won the high school division of  an international digital forensics competition sponsored by the DoD and will be traveling to St. Louis for a related conference in late January (we’re still trying to figure out how this will work). He’s in the midst of the college application process (continually being prodded slowly forward by Deb) but hasn’t yet decided where he will attend. He’s squeezing in a bit of soccer (indoor) when he can and generally suffering through his senior year of high school.

Deb also has been playing a bit of soccer (also indoor), playing in a women’s league and on a team that competed in a Christmas break tournament which was definitely a change of pace for all of us. The highlight of their tournament was playing the eventual tournament winners 3-2 (Deb’s team lost) with the winning goal being scored in the last minute of the match; not bad for a team with 3 players over 50 against a bunch of college-aged players. She has also been attending a weekly Bible study (one that provides childcare for Li during the class), which is a good change of pace for her in a couple of ways.

A Bit of Reading

Over the break, I managed to squeeze in a bit of reading, too. I finished “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (a gift from Santa’s bibliophilic elf — a tradition at our house) and “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, sandwiched around a bit fluff (“Thunderhead” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child). To Thunderhead’s fluff, “The Road” is flint: beautifully and sparely written, gripping, haunting, disturbing. It’s a movie I won’t see; the book is extraordinary and more troubling than anything I’ve read in a while. It’s the first of his works that I have read, but almost certainly will not be the last. “Into Thin Air” was a gift from Ian; engaging, fairly well-written, tragic.

Some Geek Stuff

I’m in the middle of a couple of projects on the geek front these days, too, in the odd moments of spare time I can squeeze out: working on getting a lightweight CFML and database server environment up and running on my netbook (based on Railo and Apache Derby, respectively) and also working on a CFML mode for ActiveState’s excellent Komodo editor. I will write a bit more on both of those at some point in the near future. I also did a bit of troubleshooting on another project (a cross-platform editor called “redcar” intended to be semi-compatible with TextMate but capable of running on Mac, Linux, and that other OS) and got to play a bit with Ruby in the process.

Those of you with reasonably modern semi-standards-compliant browsers (read: not MSIE) will notice a bit of geekery in the handling of the pix on this particular post. I’ve tweaked the styling for my blog here based on some CSS stuff I was playing with ahead of Christmas. Those of you still clinging to MSIE should consider an alternative…

Flowers and fog, hummingbirds and hail

We made it out camping over the weekend of July 4th and had a great weekend out. It was far from the boring blue skies, sunshine, warm temperatures that we’ve enjoyed the past few years camping over the 4thWe made it out camping over the weekend of July 4th and had a great weekend out. It was far from the boring blue skies, sunshine, warm temperatures that we’ve enjoyed the past few years camping over the 4th. We spent the weekend camping at one of our favorite spots in all of Idaho with my parents, and had a great weekend.

Thick fog on the campsite Saturday morning, following a night of rain.
Thick fog on the campsite Saturday morning, following a night of rain.

We made it out camping over the weekend of July 4th and had a great weekend out. It was far from the boring blue skies, sunshine, warm temperatures that we’ve enjoyed the past few years camping over the 4th…

We spent the long weekend at one of our favorite spots in all of Idaho: a church camp in the central part of the state, deep in the Sawtooths, where I spent a summer during college cooking and working on staff. It’s a bit of a drive from Idaho Falls — almost 200 miles, the last 25+ of which are on dirt roads — but it is such a pretty and special place that it makes it worth the drive, and the long weekend camping with my folks has become a tradition.

Gorgeous weather Friday afternoon as we arrived, but we could already see the clouds piling up to the north. We made it through dinner (complex beans and fresh baked bread, both from the Dutch ovens) before the weather turned for the worse, and it cut loose with thunder, lightning, and a downpour that lasted a couple hours, before tapering off to just showering until somewhere in the middle of the night. We woke up to thick fog on Saturday morning, cool temperatures, and a tent full of wet stuff. The fog burned off by mid-morning to clear blue skies and beautiful weather which gave us a good chance to get stuff dried out. By late afternoon, though, the clouds were piling up and it was obvious we were in for another dose of weather. More thunder, lightning, rain, and hail. By bedtime, though, it had cleared off. More showers briefly before breakfast — just as we woke up Sunday morning — and then back to blue skies. (And from what my parents said after they made it home Monday, they got more rain after we left; they came home with a car full of wet gear.)

With the wet June and continued moisture into July the Sawtooths and all of central Idaho is gorgeous green — something we’re not used to seeing in July. The wildflowers are late this year, the mosquitoes are bad (but not as bad there as some parts of the state, although they tried hard to make a meal of poor Li despite the bug spray), and the rivers and creeks are all still running way high.

Li's one nap while camping was a brief "face-down" nap on Ron's back Saturday afternoon.
Li's one nap while camping was a brief "face-down" nap on Ron's back Saturday afternoon.

Li got to see lots of wildlife: several deer, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, a fish, a snake, the camp cats (pretty close to wildlife by the end of the summer, anyway). She slept great both evenings, probably at least in part because she didn’t get much of a nap either day aside from a brief nap in the backpack Saturday afternoon when we enjoyed a brief spell of sunshine to take a short walk. She loved spending time down by the river throwing rocks and sticks with Ian and splashing a bit (although it was way too cold, even for Ian, to do any wading).

Li sharing breakfast with the buddies
Li sharing breakfast with the buddies

She spent lots of time playing with “the buddies” (Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore) around the campsite, and loved that she could go wash them or wash her hands at the faucet whenever she wanted. Marshmallows and s’mores — originally planned for Friday evening, but rained out until Saturday — were a big hit. The highlight of the weekend for all of us was when a hummingbird landed on Li’s hand and perched there for what seemed like an eternity (probably only about 5 seconds); she was so surprised and so still during the whole thing…

All in all, a very relaxing weekend away from home and work, in a place and with people I love. The elements of the unknown and unusual added by the weather just made for a more memorable weekend.