Saturday, September 26, 2009

Close Ups

Peanut Butter and Jelly girl

Sophia really likes Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches but she usually ends up with a fair amount of it on her face or clothing. She manages to look adorable despite the sticky mess.

Sophia's Halloween costume preview

I have to preface this by saying that we have had a "no princess" policy in our house that has worked quite well for the past four years. That is, until the kids saw Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty last month. Now, that horse is out of the barn and won't likely ever come back. And I have had to accept this new development.

Still, I couldn't bring myself to agree to a princess costume for Sophia this Halloween, however, Colin and I decided that she could pick out a fairie costume. OK, basically so she picked out a princess outfit with wings, but she loves it so much, I'm glad we got it for her. Yup, I'm afraid princesses are here to stay.

And yes, the dress even has LED lights sewn into it.....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Keenan celebrates his 3rd birthday in Japan

Yes, it's true, our little boy is no longer quite so little. He was so proud about having turned three. Sophia helped out by announcing to anyone who we happen to pass that it was Keenan's birthday. Of course, most folks didn't speak English, but they smiled all the same and it seemed to make both kids happy.

For the past three weeks, Keenan has been diligently working on being able to hold up only three fingers to illustrate his age. He even practiced before going to sleep at night which I observed as I watched him on his video monitor, he showed great concentration.

I had brought cupcakes and they survived the journey so we were able have a celebration with all the fixings. Most importantly, we were able to celebrate with Daddy (at least until he had to fly to Hawaii that evening).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The best laid plans of mice and men.....moving mishaps

The Move........I'm not quite certain where to start. It all went wrong, horribly wrong, practically from the word go. The good news is that we are all here and safe, I can't say the same for many of our belongings.

Colin used his vacation time to come back from Japan and help get packed up. He only left after everything was on the truck. The kids and I went to stay with my parents for a couple of days until our flight on Saturday (My Mom was coming with us to help out). That evening, my Mom gets a phone call with the kind of news you never want to hear. One of her closest friends had died unexpectedly. We were all stunned, it just didn't seem possible that the kids and I had had dinner with her some five weeks earlier, just before we had left for Japan. My parents were devastated but my Mom told me she was still determined to come with me to Washington.

Moving the cars proved to be disastrous, They weren't picked up as scheduled and weren't delivered until many days after our arrival. That was only the tip of the iceberg of plans that went amok, too numerous to detail here. Then the day after we arrived in Seattle, I received a voicemail from the moving company, casually requesting that we call when they were back in the office on Monday. A little passing thought meandered through my head, "I wonder if the moving van got into an accident" and then promptly ambled right back out again. However, the thought re-entered with a roar when I called them on Monday and was placed on hold for over ten minutes, I knew something was amiss.

Right about the time I was ready to throw my phone against the wall (the $10 temporary one that we purchased at Target since we had none of our stuff), I actually got to talk to someone and the conversation went something like this, "Hi Kat, well, we just wanted you to know that there has been a little mishap, the semi was involved in an accident with a lunatic who tried to run Phil (that was our driver) off the road. The semi is totalled but the trailer is fine and we are sure all your stuff is fine too".....a pause from me and I asked "Is Phil OK?" He replied, "yes, not a scratch on him."

I said "well that's good news anyway", then a long pause from me and I started laughing hysterically. I'm quite sure that wasn't what the front office expected and the guy I was talking to was clearly thrown. I just gave into Murphy's Law and couldn't muster many feelings at this point in the game. However, upon the arrival of our belongings, my mirth would not be long lived.

I was pretty sure that any accident that had enough force behind it to total a semi truck did not bode well for our belongings, but I put it out of my mind and focused on painting the kids rooms. Because of the accident, I had two extra days to get things organized. At least that is what I told myself.

A dose of reality took hold when our driver called to coordinate our delivery. He gave me the real scoop and I was grateful for the forewarning.

The story went something like this: Phil was driving down the road in Minnesota at 9:30 A.M. at about 70 MPH, minding his own business. At some point, he noted that there was a guy in a pick up truck alongside him who was talking on a cell phone and appeared agitated. Phil tried to put some distance between him and the driver of the pick up. The next thing he knew, his rig was being struck by the pick up. First on the driver's side, blowing out Phil's driver's front tire, then colliding in front, and then on the passenger side. The truck collided one more time with the front of Phil's semi before the pick up trucks bumper became entangled with Phil's grill. Hooked together, they careened down the highway, as Phil fought to keep his rig straight and under control and get it safely stopped. To make matters worse, the front end collision caused the hood on Phil's rig to fly up, blocking any vision to his front. At some point, the pick up truck broke free and Phil saw it roll to the side, flipping a least 5 times. Miraculously, Phil managed to keep his rig from flipping over or jackknifing and it came to a stop half way down the median. The other driver survived but was in serious or critical condition.

The police respond to the scene and later told Phil more of the story. Apparently, the guy who had been driving the pick up truck had been having a heated argument with his wife on the phone. He made the statement, "well, there is a semi truck in front of me, I'll just hit it and make it roll on top of me and you won't have to worry about me anymore" and then he hangs up. Wife calls 911, and the rest, already heard the rest.

The night before we take delivery, Phil tells me "We have opened up the trailer, it's still packed tight and we can't see any damage, I'd like to tell you that all of your stuff is all fine, but it was a pretty rough ride and I'm just not sure what we are going to find." I said "fair enough and thanks for the warning."

Delivery day. I give Phil a hug, thank him for his efforts and decide to try a bit of optimism (quite a change for a well practiced pessimist such as myself). He shows me some photos of the accident that he took on his cell phone and my jaw drops as I look at the damage to his rig and to the pick up truck, but I'm still hopeful. At first, all is looking well, but it wasn't long before the first casualties presented themselves. Generic furniture and I shrugged it off. But then the guys who have been unloading show me a box, partially crushed. I rip it open and find myself face to face with my riding saddles. The same ones that I have had for years. I notice that all is not well with my favorite saddle, the very one I spent so many hours and years in, sitting on Midnight's back. My stomach flips as I pick it up and I start to tear up when I realize the tree is broken, there will be no more rides on this particular saddle. I go into the house to regain my composure and try to look on the bright side. But just then my great-great grandmother's trunk (the one that has been in our family since 1750 comes off the truck two inches lower than when it went on. I take a deep breath and try to keep together. But a couple of minutes later, the movers sadly unload my great grandma's rocking chair, or at least, what was left of it, and I fell apart, my bravado was long gone.

A short while later, my Mom pulled me aside and let me know that the driver was very upset and she thought I should talk to him. I seej him out and try to reassure him that I didn't blame him and, in fact, I felt that the only reason anything survived was due his skillful driving. After talking to him for several minutes, I find out that his girlfriend had been killed in a car accident only two weeks before. I was instantly humbled. Stuff is just stuff, it can be replaced, people cannot.

I've moved over 20 times in my 42 years on this planet, and I have never had a move quite like this. I'm working to keep things in perspective but I won't lie and say things have been easy. The part that hasn't been easy really isn't the loss of the belongings, but rather, dealing with the insurance companies involved and jumping through the hoops they require has made unpacking and getting settled take a very back seat. And the longer I take to get things in reasonable order, the more time I am away from our kids. Fortunately, I had Judith (Colin's Mom) helping out in Michigan before we moved and my Mom helping on this end. I had also lined up a baby sitter in advance and it has only been that help which has kept me reasonably sane. I am just hoping they get a little easier in the weeks to come and it will afford us the opportunity to start exploring our new state.

Monday we head to Japan to see Colin. I know that nothing will feel better than falling into his arms and getting a much needed hug from him. But the best thing will be getting to see how happy the kids will be to see their Daddy. At least, that is the plan........on second thought, maybe I'd better stop trying to make so many plans and just let things unfold since, just as John Lennon once so eloquently wrote, "life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

Ain't it the truth.

September 11, 2009. I wrote the above post yesterday. Today, my thoughts turn to my friends and family who recently lost loved ones and to all the lives that were lost or forever altered just a mere eight years ago. If those losses aren't humbling, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Photos for Daddy