Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Big Independence Day Update

July 4, 2006

I realize it has been a while since I’ve updated the site or this Blog. Quite a bit has happened, and I have updated pictures to share.

Currently I am on a plane from Denver to Chicago, Midway. Aron is sleeping to my right and Jordan is watching School House Rock to my left. Across the isle from Jordan Eric is watching the current World Cup soccer game (Italy vs. Germany). Jordan is ready to fall asleep any minute.

We’ve spent the past 10 days in Albuquerque with Gramma Judi and Papa Tom. (Gramps, Uncle Tony, Godfather Matt and Godmother Joey were also people we visited during our stay).

Unfortunately, it’s also been a week of illness. Prior to our leaving we all caught pretty bad summer colds. Monday night Jordan got sick. Whether it was related or not, she was out all day Wednesday. Friday night Aron got sick and although did the zoo on Saturday, he wasn’t really feeling great. Saturday night Gramma Judi got sick and she was down all day Sunday. And Monday Mama got sick and I was down all day Monday. Now, however, we all seem to be recovered and ready to go home.

It was a great visit otherwise. We went to the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanical Gardens on Tuesday. Aron just LOVES the fish. It’s a relatively small Aquarium, but at the end there is a tank with a dozen or so sharks swimming around and Aron really gets a kick out that. In the Botanical Gardens there is a playground type exhibit that resembles Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. There is a honey beehive maze and some large ants a toddler could climb on. There is a vegetable garden with a carrot that has a tunnel a toddler can walk through. There is a slide down a large tunnel that from the outside looks like a log. There is a large pumpkin that has a rubbery floor, perfect for jumping in. And there is a sand pit in the turret of the large castle through which one enters and exits. We’d visited this previously, but this time the kids REALLY enjoyed it.

Friday we went to the Children’s museum called Explora! which was fantastic. There were plenty of exhibits for these guys, but also exhibits for kids up through teenage years. Outside on the roof of the museum is a large play area with a sort of lifesize Lincoln Log set, and Jordan, with the help of Gramma Judi and Mama, built a house large enough for her to stand in. Unfortunately neither Gramma Judi, Mama nor Daddy had the foresight to take a camera to this adventure, so I don’t have pictures. But we will definitely be making a return trip.

Saturday, since no one had to work, the plan was to go to the Zoo in the morning. Because Aron was under the weather we waited until after naps. Papa Tom was able to join us this way! The plan was also to go with Uncle Tony, but unfortunately, Tony had a motorcycle accident on Friday after lunch. Although he is relatively fine, he was sore and taking muscle relaxers on Saturday and wasn’t up to a long hot afternoon at the zoo. It was very very warm, but the kids do really enjoy all the animals. We stopped for ice cream as well, which Aron was able to stomach without a problem.

Sunday, after church and a visit to Matt’s Mommy and Daddy (Carol and Jack Sowar), we went with Matt and Joey to see Joey’s horse. Aron had really been looking forward to riding the horse, and he got on for a second or two, but the heat and the illness and the lack of sleep got to him and he spent most of the time in the air-conditioned mini-van playing “unlock the doors!” Jordan, however, was a natural. She wanted to ride again and again and again. And she did. Of this, I do have pictures.

Sunday evening Matt, Joey and Tony (and Kaiser, his dog) all came over to enjoy dinner with us and Gramps. It was a very nice evening.

Monday, without Mama, Jordan, Aron, Eric, Gramma Judi, Papa Tom, Gramps and Uncle Tony went for a picnic on the backside of the mountain. Judi made her fried chicken and they took up carrots and chips and cherries and homemade chocolate chip cookies! I understand they had a wonderful time, and I believe Jordan and Aron took lots of pictures, which I will share. Mama spent this time resting and watching mindless television, something I hadn’t really done for a while.

So, as you can see, it was a fully packed week. Completely understandable the kids are asleep at my side.

In addition to this particular vacation excitement, we have entered the world of Potty Training. Jordan’s pretty much got it down, and even wears big girl underwear, no training pants or pull-ups (if we are not on a plane, that is). Aron’s catching on, but still mostly wears pull-ups.

About two weeks before our vacation Jordan started violin lessons through the Suzuki Music School. She doesn’t have a real violin yet, but rather practices learning out to hold a card-board box shaped like a violin and a wooden stick with a frog shape at the end for a bow. She is very good at holding it under her chin to the count of 20. And we are now learning about dynamics!

In the fall Aron will start what is called a Rhythm and Movement class and he can see all the instruments (violin, viola, cello, flute, piano) and choose whichever he likes. Jordan will also be in the class in addition to a group violin lesson and continued individual lessons.

Also, we’ve enrolled the kids at pre-school (ECDC on Notre Dame’s campus) two afternoons a week. Eric will be teaching two courses this fall on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so my dad will drop the kids off for lunch and I’ll pick them up when I finish doing my drops (more on this in a minute).

They are excited because their friends Julie and Avery (who live two doors down) also go to ECDC.

I think in addition to all of this there is a Mommy and Me Soccer Program for 3 year olds that we can start in the fall.

It’s amazing to me every day at how much they grow and learn. Both their speech and their comprehension are just phenomenal to me. It’s true that Eric and I understand them better than most people but they do a fair job of communicating to everyone they see. They are both very social and outgoing, although Aron is a little more cautious, especially in brand-new situations.

So in addition to teaching at Notre Dame this fall, Eric will also be coaching, for probably the final year, the varsity team at Trinity. In addition to that he will be the Co-Director of Coaching for Echo, the club with which he has been associated for the past couple years. And he is on the staff for both Indiana and Michigan ODP (Olympic Development Program). AND he’s working on various coaching licenses. AND he’s applying for academic jobs this fall, to begin next fall. One he’s most interested in at the moment is in Colorado Springs. We’ll keep you posted as things progress.

I’ve taken on a new/additional role at work. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I am developing a geographic area for sales using the process we use to help employers with areas of risk management. So far I’ve dropped off information to 74 businesses. And my plan is to cultivate 200 prospects, seeing them each monthly for 4 months and hopefully working with a few more intensely after that. If we decide to stay in South Bend indefinitely, it could end up being a full time role for me, which would hopefully be quite a bit more lucrative

If we decide not to stay in the area then I feel I’ve gotten some training in sales and personal relationships which will help me in whatever I decide to do next.

My mom moved back to Washington a couple weeks ago. She is teaching at Seattle Pacific this summer, two summer courses. In the fall she will start full-time at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. She’s been out to see her new office and is looking for a place to stay until she and my dad figure out what will become more permanent.

My dad is still in South Bend, getting the house ready to be put on the market. He has commitments through the end of the year, so will be staying with us once the house sells. Mom will be back for a few weeks in August and we will be celebrating Christmas in South Bend this year.

My brother, Nilz got engaged recently to his long-time girlfriend Kelly. We are very excited to welcome her into the family. The wedding is set for next summer sometime, after which the two of them will be moving from Madison, Wisconsin to the Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington.

And Jeff is looking to relocate to San Francisco sometime in the not-too-distant future. The on-line gaming company he currently works hourly for (Puzzle Pirates) is located there and he is hoping to land a full-time w/ benefits type job with that company.

July 5, 2006

So we are back at home and other than the fact that Eric is packing to leave for 4 days and I won’t actually see him again for 10 days, things are returning to normal.

When we got in last night we decided to join our friends in Dowagiac for their fireworks show. We went last year and although it rained we enjoyed it.

We got there in plenty of time, but as soon as the first boom happened, Jordan asked for “Mama”. She sat in my lap the entire time, with one blanket close to her mouth, where she was sucking her thumb and the other blanket over her head so she could hide. She was silent the entire time.

Aron enjoyed the “fire-booms” although he would turn away from them every now and again. He even sat in someone’s lap besides Mama or Daddy’s!

After the fire-booms, when we had safely returned to our car, Jordan piped up enough to tell us that yes, she was “skired” but that the fire-booms made a pretty circle of stars – and a loud noise.

I think they’ve had enough excitement for a while. Our next big adventure will be a trip to the beach, for their birthday, with their friends Julia and Avery. But that’s a few weeks away yet, and I’ll try to stay on top of things until then.

Hope all of you are well.

Love you,
Rikka, Eric, Aron and Jordan