Busy, busy, busy…

Life has been pretty hectic of late… in no particular order…

  • Ian heads off to school early Wednesday morning, leaving a huge hole in our home and our hearts. Deb is flying down with him. Li and I will get three full days together…
  • Ian survived getting his wisdom teeth extracted last week in pretty good shape; he’s pretty much back to normal at this point and enjoying being able to eat something other than fruit smoothies and jell-o again.
  • Fall soccer has started back up; I’m taking on my last season as the boys head coach for one of the local junior high schools. First three tryout sessions are behind us, with the final tryout session and the start of real training ahead this week — made all the more interesting by the fact that one of the local HS football teams has taken over our training field, so now we’re back to fighting for space with the lacrosse club and grid kid football programs.
  • With the start of fall soccer, summer soccer (getting to play, rather than coach) has wrapped up for both Deb and me.
  • Work has been pretty hectic, as well, with an office move a couple weeks ago introducing some interesting wrinkles. I will post a picture or two of our new digs one of these days. For the first time in over 20 years, I have a spot in the cubicle maze with… a window!
  • We’re headed out looking for huckleberries today (assuming any of these lazy late-sleepers ever manage to drag themselves out of bed before noon). This is a good two weeks behind when we normally go, but the cool wet spring we “enjoyed” has everything — including our garden — way behind. Now we need the typical eastern Idaho early frost to also be a couple weeks late so our garden and peach tree have a fair chance at producing.
  • Li will start preschool in September. Let’s see: one starting college, one starting preschool… interesting timing God has for us.
  • I’ve done a bit of reading this past month or so: re-read John Irving’s most excellent A Prayer for Owen Meany and just finished C. J. Box’s Blue Heaven (not bad).

Five Peaches

One of five hardy peaches on our tree -- the surprise of our summer
One of five hardy peaches on our tree -- the surprise of our summer

It was the surprise of the summer: I found a peach in the grass under our peach tree Friday afternoon as I was trimming the lawn ahead of mowing. Why the surprise, you might ask? Because — to the best of our knowledge — we had no peaches on our brave little peach tree this year.

As we made it through the cool wet spring and into the first part of the summer, we had been keeping an eye on the peach tree to see if it was going to need lots of thinning as it had last year. We never saw an blossoms, let alone any forming peaches that might need thinning, and had as a result just written off any chance of getting peaches this year.

Given that it had produced big crops the past couple years, we figured a down year might not be all bad as it would give the tree a chance to rest and grow. But we were missing our annual fix of peaches, missing it enough in fact that we actually bought peaches. Not bad (actually good) but not in the same class as a tree-ripened peach that has just been picked…

Li holding a treasure: a fresh peach from our tree
Li holding a treasure: a fresh peach from our tree

So imagine my surprise to see one laying in the grass. It took a few seconds to register with me as I stood looking at. All through the summer, I’ve trimmed around that tree each time I’ve mowed the lawn and never looked up. A quick look showed two more on the tree, and further looking revealed two more. A total of five peaches, a couple of which were softball-sized world class peaches.

I gently carried the one I’d found in and showed it to Deb, and when Li woke up from her short nap on Friday afternoon, we went out and picked the surprise. And we were reminded how wonderful fresh (I mean really fresh) peaches are…

End of the Season

Late summer mornings working in the flower beds with Mom
Late summer mornings working in the flower beds with Mom

It has been quite a while since I wrote much, but it feels like we’ve reached a couple of recent “ends” within the past couple weeks all at roughly the same time…

We’ve reached the end of the fall soccer season just a couple of days. One of the teams I coach at Taylorview reached the semi-finals of the post-season tournament before losing 3-2 in a penalty kick shootout. The finished the season with a very decent record, going into the tournament as the #2 seed from the south pod of the league. They played well the last four matches of the season, finishing strong, playing decent defense and a very attractive style. These guys were a treat to work with these past three months and as much as I’m looking forward to having my weekends and evenings back, I will miss these guys.

There's nothing like corn on the cob fresh from the garden!
There's nothing like fresh corn from the garden!

We’ve reached the end of the garden, too, with hard freezes pretty much every night now and having had our first snowfall, with a couple inches falling on Saturday (a large chunk of which fell during our first tournament match). The peaches are long since done, and we had an extraordinary crop this year. We thinned and thinned and thinned and still had more that we could eat. The strawberries and tomatoes and corn are done, too, and we’ll all miss that. Li will miss it as much or more than the rest of us…

And we’ve reached the end of the summer in more than just a calendar sense. We’re definitely in autumn now, with cold mornings and evenings, ever-shortening days, golden light in the evenings, the occasional snowfall, and heavy frosts in the morning. Li is back in her fleece sleepers at night, although she pretty much refuses to let us pull down the feet to cover up those cold little toes of hers. She now snuggles up each night with not just her stuffed monkey (named “Monkey”, of course) but also a stuff cow named “Boo” (Li-speak for “moo”) and doll her friend Kate gave her (named “Doll”, appropriately). When she’s ready to get up in the mornings, she’ll be standing there in the crib with a big smile (most days) and her arms full of her friends, waiting to be picked up.

Just two more cherry tomatoes...
Just two more cherry tomatoes...

Her vocabulary is blossoming, and words are coming in pairs more and more frequently. We can’t drive anywhere without her pointing out all of the “big trucks” (which to the unlearned sounds much like “boo duck”) and “big trees” (“boo tees”). “Please” is making more frequent appearances, as is “Daddy”. Her all-purpose word these days is “dosh”, which we finally decided is sort of like “sauce” and she uses it for both apple sauce and soap (“body sauce”, I suppose) in the bath tub. She knows that balls are for kicking, and loves chasing her soccer balls around the house and kicking them back and forth with Ian. (And I caught her reading the adidas section of the Eurosport catalog this evening before dinner!)

Our friend Teri’s dog named Rudy is “Dee”, Ian’s girlfriend Fi is “Fee” or “Gee”, and Ian is something that sounds quite a bit like “bro” right now. Yoghurt is “doo” or something like that. “Peach” and “apple” are very recognizable, as is “juice”, “up”, “down”, “house”, “bath”, “bus”, “dog”, “kitty”, “duck” (although a duck’s quack still sounds alot like a dog growling), “book”, and “goat”.

A Long-overdue Li Update

Li and Ian
Li and Ian

Yeah, I know: this is way overdue. It has been more than a month since posting much about Li and life and how we are all doing. This last part of the summer has been more than just a skosh on the busy side — both at home and at work — and I’ve struggled to find any sort of time/energy combination that might lead to writing an update here. (I’m also in the process of rebuilding a couple of my Linux boxes under a new distribution, which takes a long time — I’m more than two weeks into that project as of today — when you try to do it in 15 minute chunks; more on that in a separate post, perhaps. And as much as I’d like to be able to blame a lack of updates here on that, it’s a really only a minor part of it.)

Li is doing great, in short. The biggest change — at least for us — is that she is developing some more effective habits regarding sleep. Deb has been working with her to help her learn to fall asleep, so nap time is becoming both a little more regular and a little more productive. It is also helping with sleeping at night, as she learns that she can in fact relax in her bed and gradually fall asleep (some nights “gradually” ends up being 7 seconds after she puts her head down, while other nights, it tends toward 15-ish minutes). As a result, she’s sleeping better, she’s more rested, and she’s generally happier. Ditto for us. The only real kink there has been that Li is working through her second major cold in the past 4 weeks, and is only in the past couple of days starting to bounce back from this second iteration. We’ll be glad to say goodbye to whatever little bugs have been wreaking havoc with her nose and respiratory system…

Li and her almost-constant companion, Monkey
Li and her almost-constant companion, Monkey

She’s continuing to expand her vocabulary, and she’s definitely talking more. The biggest change there is that she’s becoming much more consistent in hanging closing sounds on words. While we’ve become pretty good at using context to figure out what “baah” might mean, having that turn into “bath” makes a difference.

We took her huckleberry picking for the first time a couple weeks ago (and suffered through the angst of just the first of many — I’m sure — realizations that we although we remembered the lunch and the sunscreen, we forgot the camera!). Once she decided that she liked the berries themselves, the next step was convincing her that if she wanted to eat them, she had to pick them (and that the pail we were picking into was not yet for general consumption). The next challenge was centered around the decision that she had probably had enough of them to eat. As we found when Ian was little, it’s tough to get many huckleberries when picking with a little one, but we did end up with a couple of quarts by the time we were done. Probably more importantly, though, we had a great day out in the mountains about town and Li found one more thing she really enjoyed. (And next time, I’m positive we’ll remember the camera, but Deb is snickering as I write that!)

Li and cousin Lauren on Li's first trip into a swimming pool
Li and cousin Lauren on Li's first trip into a swimming pool

Li is growing and developing physically, too. She definitely enjoys being outside, and is now both able to and excited about going up and down the small slide on the school playground near our house. Rides in the stroller or the wagon as we go on walks are always highlights, as are trips to the zoo. Deb bought a family pass to the zoo that works with quite a number of zoos, and between trips to our local zoo and the zoo in Salt Lake, it has more than paid for itself; it’s great to just zip over for an hour and let her explore and watch the animals on an afternoon.

Some other random Li observations:

  • She loves cuddling with Monkey, a stuffed monkey from our friend Karie, that has turned into a constant companion. (So constant, in fact, that we’ve had to find MonkeyB, who occasionally makes an appearance so that Monkey can be washed.)
  • There is no such thing as “too many books” or “too much reading”, as far as Li is concerned. Current favorites include “The Napping House”, “Is Your Mama a Llama?”, “Where’s My Teddy?”, and the “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear”.
  • Her favorite pajamas are her “pink-alicious” PJs, an early gift from cousin Jordy, but with the weather cooling off as the summer winds into fall, it won’t be long before we’ll need to put them away.
  • Li is definitely a morning person at this early stage of her life, even on mornings when Mom and Dad don’t necessarily want to be.
  • Li and Aunt Ida's quilt
    Li and Aunt Ida's quilt

    The quilt from great-great Aunt Ida is a blast; there are hundreds (thousands?) of picures on it from lots of different fabrics that provide a never ending source of things to point at, ask questions about, and discuss (including a University of Kansas Jayhawk and the KSU wildcat!).

  • Cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden are wonderful, and you don’t need to take the little green top-things off to eat them.
  • Pad thai from the Thai House restaurant downtown in definitely worth skipping a nap for.
  • Bugs are fun to squish when you’re wearing your too-cute purple crocs, and those same crocs are great for splashing in the water running through the gutter on a hot summer day.
  • Big brothers don’t seem to be good for much other than an occasional tickling or helping you learn to fly, but Li definitely loves hers.
  • Swimming pools and cousins — once you get used to them (both) — are a great way to spend a hot Saturday afternoon.