A note from the writers

Blogger seems to be having some trouble with its videos. They've been uploaded correctly and will run sometimes. If you can't see them now, come back another time and try again. It's totally a game of chance to get them to run. If anyone out there has a fix, I'd love to hear about it. Thanks!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Little Swimmer

On Father's Day, Ava learned how to swim. We had been in the pool every afternoon for several days because we had grandparents in town, and Matt and I had gone to K-mart to invest in some new pool toys. We had been talking that Ava needed some sort of flotation suit to give her (us, really) a little more freedom in the water.

Well, we found a winner of a suit and after two-days' practice, Ava was motoring around the pool like a pro! She's quite daring now and it's great that she's getting to be so independent...safely!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Grand Visit

We were delighted to play host to Matt's parents and sister for a week. While I had to go to work a few days while they were here, Matt was able to stay home and we all had a regular vacation for several days over the weekend.

Ava loved having a never-ending supply of book readers and was delighted with the new armadillo book Grandma and Grandpa brought. She learned three new animals from that book...'dillo, sssssnake, and 'gator. She doesn't let you read the words, but really likes to touch the textured pages.

Auntie Moe was here too and was sure a big hit. She quickly received a name from Ava and spent the week being called "Mutt." Not sure how the little one came up with that, but Maureen was an indulgent aunt and answered to the new moniker.

On Saturday, we went to Boulder City to ride the train. It was just as fun as we remembered, although a little more windy!

After our train ride, we went to El Torito for lunch. Since we had a whole group of Texans along, I'm pleased to report that the enchiladas are indeed up to their high standards!

We spent every naptime watching movies and then spent every afternoon in the pool. We ate TONS of great food and really felt like we were on vacation....all in our own house.

Thanks, Grandma, Grandpa, and Maureen for visiting! We had a great time!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Busy Baby

Matt took a couple days to build two new computers, so the kitchen was pretty much off-limits to Ava and I during their construction. (I painted the office on Saturday, so the house was all kinds of a mess.) So, I pulled out all the stops to keep the kid occupied while she was awake. We colored, we played with homemade play-doh, we played outside on the turtle and the tricycle, and then it was time for the last ditch effort....shaving cream.

Ava had a pretty good time, but instead of smearing it around on the table, she was all about smearing it all over herself. This coincided with a desired to spread all things creamy on herself - yogurt, peanut butter, and refried beans to mention a few.

Anyway, that weekend we learned that a busy baby = a happy baby. But we'll need to stock up on shaving cream!

After all the excitement, we resorted to dressing up. First Ava in her daddy's new t-shirt, then Libby in a necklace. Good thing Libby's such a patient pooch!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Yellow House

The last two years have been rough for my mom's side of the family. In October 2007, just before Ava was born, my Auntie Jean passed away. I wasn't able to fly home for her funeral because Ava was due so soon.

With Auntie & Unkie at the nursing home in Osborne, 2005.

Thankfully, I was able to travel to DC in April 2008 to meet my mom, her sisters, and Unkie for a visit to the World War II memorial. Unkie was a veteran of that war and, in 2008, was finally ready to begin opening up about his experiences and acknowledging the sacrifices he'd made on our behalf. I was so honored to be with him that day and to be part of his family.

Unkie & Ava meet, Washington, DC, 2008.

Unkie at the WWII Memorial, April 2008.

Ava and I traveled home to Kansas to visit later in April and met Unkie at the yellow farmhouse that had become my family's gathering place over the last 15 years. My mom's parents had passed when I was younger, so Auntie and Unkie, along with their home, became my fill-in grandparents.

For two weeks nearly every summer growing up, Wes and I would go spend time at this house. Who knows what we did besides plenty of dishes by hand and riding on tractors, but that place - its upstairs rooms full of ancient treasures and old creaky furniture - became a second home. It burned when I was in high school, but Auntie and Unkie rebuilt and improved it. There was no more orange carpet and the entire floorplan of the upstairs changed. Still, it was home.

The kitchen was only "big enough for one butt," as family lore goes, but one Memorial Day it held at least six teenaged cousins and partially contained an all-out towel snap war.

The window coolers only ever put out enough cool air to keep the dining room cool and Unkie would take his after lunch nap on the floor under it every day in the summer.

I love that yellow house on the corner and those people. My mind and heart are filled with too many happy memories of both to even begin to count.

On June 6, 2008, Unkie passed away. It's probably fitting that it was D-Day. The sale of Auntie and Unkie's farm was last fall and, as the land and house were sold, my family's last legal tie to that place in Osborne county was gone.

We were fortunate to gather at the home of friends for Memorial Day this year and, of course, the cemetery is always there. We continue to be pulled home, even after our loved ones have left us.

After a lovely afternoon on Memorial Day, Matt, Mom, Ava and I were in the van on the way back to McPherson, just past Alton, when I realized I hadn't been up to the yellow house that day. I couldn't go home without having seen it at least one more time - you never know when it might not be there to come home to.

Standing empty, the house looked a little more sad. With no welcoming face at the front screen door, I noticed the peeling paint for the first time. My heart broke. We didn't have keys anymore to go inside and the only window I could see in was the back screen door into the kitchen. I pressed my face against the glass and willed my heart indoors to a place of comfort and love as tears streamed down my face. In my heart, I'm so thankful that so much of myself has been shaped in that home and by the people who lived there.

Goodbye, yellow house. I'll love you forever.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is big in my family. We all get together twice a year - Christmas and Memorial Day. For as long as I can remember, we've gathered at the family farm on Memorial Day to visit our family at the Pleasant Valley cemetery and then to enjoy a great potluck lunch. I love these gatherings. They are truly home to me. My people are there.

We meet at the cemetery on Monday morning and visit those we knew and those we didn't. Grammie Webb, Grandpa and Grandma Webb are there and now Auntie and Unkie have joined Raenetta beside them. We say hi to these people we love and then wander to say hi to Slave Girl Hattie, who has been there at least one hundred years, and the little girl with the flat, broken stone. It's comfortable in this place - not scary or creepy or cemetery-like at all. This is a gathering of family.
On Memorial Day, flags line the center walkway of the cemetery. Until this year, Unkie had taken charge of hanging the flags. Each one represents a member of this rural community who had served...several of them my family. The flags whip in the wind (and the wind always blows on Memorial Day) and truly bring the meaning of the day to our hearts and minds. This year, Unkie's flag joins the rest.

Now, at Memorial Day, a new generation of little kids is learning about our family and our traditions. They're learning to count by playing lawn chair volleyball and getting to do that thing that makes farm kids special - run amok and get dirty. I love that Ava got to meet so many of her cousins. Somehow, they knew they were family and there wasn't a single quibble or clingy kid. What a treasure photos like these are.

We're so grateful to have been home for such a special get-together. Miss all you Webbs already.

Happy Memorial Day.