A family that loves children

OK, finally getting back into sequence here, I'm going to post our pictures from Memorial day, which we spent at M's sister L's house in south Denver. Here's Opa with (I think I can safely say) Gideon. The twins are finally starting to look individual enough that I can start to tell them apart...if I can only remember which is which!

I had a little epiphany while downloading these pictures. When I was first getting to know my husband, I was constantly amazed by how focused he was with children, how he would light up with them, what a natural he was...as an only child of peripatetic parents, with a family scattered around the world, I did not spend my childhood around infants, so it did not come to me as naturally. I don't think I'd ever met a man who was so joyful with children, so at ease, as if it was what he was meant to do. Looking at his family here, with their ever-increasing brood of grandkids, I realize what it is: his is a family that loves children above all else. And isn't that how it should be? These are people who are never as happy, never as fulfilled or as joyful as when they are with their progeny. What a gift that is - and how lucky I was to find a man who hails from such a family.

NaiNai with Gabriel.

Gideon playing peek-a-bo. How cute is that expression?

Look at the sparkly eyes!!

Opa revealing his grandson.

And here's Victoria, who is well on her way to learning the family skills...look how she protects her little brother! She has also inherited her mom's teaching skills - even when she was only three, she was already playing "teacher" with M and I as the "students", giving us assignments, patiently coaching us, and grading our papers with a stern but gentle hand.

Gideon going airborn. It was not the most clement of days for our Memorial Day barbecue - no fun in the sun for this gang. But that's OK. Didn't slow the kids down!

My sister-in-law L with one of her boys.

M playing grillmaster, and Sam checking to make sure he doesn't drop anything.

Victoria, minding her brothers.

M. in his "happy place": in a pile of giggling kiddos!


more about the zoo

Well, I left off my zoo pictures mid-stream, and now I'm out of chronology. But I'm going to finish the zoo pictures before moving on to tell about Vail, otherwise I'll be hopelessly off-track! So here's a happy Esme with Mooga at the zoo.

M. workin' his new Flip Video.

If you've never seen a polar bear underwater, you're missing out. The grace and ease of such an enormous creature in the aquatic environment are a sight to see.

Esme finds a friend. A friend who wants to hug her.

Tuckered out in the rainforest.

M. shows Esme the hippos. Esme is perhaps less than impressed.

Sister and brother - Jena photographing elephants.

Two old friend, discussing the joys of fatherhood.


The most welcomed girl

We're back from the mountains, and I have all sorts of things to catch up on...but the first order of business is gratitude! We arrived home to find on our doorstep a virtual baby shower of packages for Flynn QiuQiu, who is rapidly becoming the most welcomed baby in town! The outpouring of love and good wishes for her new life just brings tears of happiness to my eyes, and I want to thank you all for the good energy that you have sent out to this little girl who has had so little in her young life. I can feel it filling the room as I open these boxes, these lovely letters and sweet wishes full of hope and joy. I can feel it creating a warm and gentle net of good will to catch her as she falls into this new world that will become hers.

The first box I opened was from the ever-stylish Heather of Lanterns and Lotus Blossoms. So many beautiful things toppled out of this magic box that I can't even begin to list them here. Thanks to Heather, QiuQiu (much like the SATC girls) will never want for stylish footwear (I fear for our bank accounts when she turns sixteen!) I have long admired from afar Heather's taste in clothes (as modeled by her two gorgeous girls) and now she has shared a little of that fashion sense with Miss Flynn. I can't wait to have Flynn model these beauties herself!

Next came a package from sweet Juliette in Canada, containing yet MORE exquisite clothing, along with a sweet white whale that will go well with Flynn's growing collection of sea creatures! There's a funny connection here, because when we moved down to Denver, M. was making a concerted attempt to finish Moby Dick, one of the few classics that he has never managed to read cover-to-cover. This book (I can't tell you why) haunts M. the way...well, the way that great white whale haunts Captain Ahab (sorry, I couldn't resist the cheap double-metaphor). It's become a bit of an obsession. Once he took the job at the news station, however, and simultaneously started working toward his MBA, M. ran out of time and Moby Dick went once again by the wayside. So the white whale still haunts him, and needless to say I taunted him just a bit when this white whale arrived in the mail for his daughter (let's just hope she doesn't finish Moby Dick before he does! Now THAT would mean trouble!!)

This one, well I'll have to try and take a better picture of it when the light is better. Maryellen from TBG Happenings sent Flynn what looks to be (correct me if I'm wrong, Maryellen) the most exquisitely-sewn christening gown! You can't see in this picture because the flash blows out the white in the dress, but it is decorated with the tiniest pin-tucks (I can only imagine the fingers of a fairy making anything so small and delicate!), and infinitessimal embroidered flowers in pink and blue. The little sleeves are puffed with the most fragile skiff of lace at the edges.
She also sent a CD of her own daughter's favorite music, with a note saying how Maryellen would sing her some of the songs from this album while she was in the hospital recovering from her surgery. An experienced mom, thinking ahead to what I will need as we nurse Flynn through her own surgeries. This really brought tears to my eyes.

And finally, Janice from PoiWear in California saw on our blog that we were hunting for bib solutions for a dribbly little cleft girl, and was so very kind as to send us this wonderful highchair bib from the PoiWear collection for us to try. It is a full-coverage bib which protects the entire upper body and the lap while the baby is in the highchair. I am so touched and thrilled with this invention, and just can't wait to try it! I also just adore the sea turtle fabric, too, as I'm particularly partial to sea turtles.

Here's a closer look at the fabric. How pretty is that? And in the box was included an extra gift (also seemingly just tailor-made for our girl!) a booklet of waterproof baby-sign flashcards.
Here's a little about PoiWear from their site:

It was a beautiful sunny day as I sat in the kitchen watching my young niece trying to learn to feed herself poi, a traditional Hawaiian food, while sitting in her high chair. She successfully managed to scoop poi onto her spoon, but the food would eventually drop, bypassing her regular bib that ended mid-chest and landing on her lap and legs. Most mealtimes ended with a change of clothes. Neither of us liked that!

The idea for the Hi-Chair Bib™ came out of this experience. Knowing that most children go through this messy stage, I invented a "stage" appropriate full body bib that provides more clothing coverage (especially the lap and legs) for eaters in a high chair. I set out to make the Hi-Chair Bib™ not only a practical option, but a beautiful one as well. Our unique patented design gives parents (and aunties!) peace of mind all while providing a healthier, anxiety-free atmosphere for all!

So...to Janice, Maryellen, Juliette and Heather, my heart has grown three sized today and popped out of its little frame! I am so warmed by the glow of all your good wishes for our daughter, I feel like somehow, far across the oceans, she can feel the warmth of all this love as well, and I imagine it giving her strength!
Kisses...from Flynn QiuQiu'a mom!


Oh, and one more thing...

My dear friend Margriet in Holland saw my heart pictures and sent these, that she took with her beautiful daughters, Venise and Isis, on vacation in France last year. They really need no words:

Happy holiday

Although I'm still not over my toothache, we're heading down for a barbecue with the nieces and nephews, and then - if the weather holds - we will head for the mountains for a couple of days to celebrate M's last "weekend" before he starts school again.

I promise to come back with lots of pictures (provided I don't forget to bring a camera battery or something like that), but in the meantime I leave you with these sweet goslings to remind us of spring maturing into summer. Just look how their legs are growing!!


QiuQiu's dad, the boyscout

NaiNai has been emptying out her closets in preparation for moving to a new house, and in the process we have been the recipient of various mysterious boxes full of long-lost memories. In one of them, I found this picture of M. in his boyscout days. Just look at those eyes! I think that's something we all three share, M., QiuQiu and I...we all have unusual eyes. Although QiuQiu's clearly take the cake!

My wandering heart

Recently, Yoli posted a tempting link to a design blog which is asking for submissions to be considered for a book project.
Here is the description from Pia Jane Bijkerk's blog:
"my heart wanders: a collection of subtle hearts in special spaces is a collective book project where ANYONE can create and submit a photograph. This is a book of inspiration with a twist - created by all of you, for all of you."
Since I'm home with a bad toothache and painfully swollen glands today, and since I find it very difficult to pass up a photo challenge, I decided to spend the afternoon playing around with the idea. My biggest hurdle, as it turned out, was that I was housebound. I immediately envisioned something in the woods, or in the desert. In my (admittedly rather cluttered) home, I found the task more challenging.

This was the very first thing that came to mind when considering my heart: the wedding dress that has been stuffed into a garment bag in the back of my closet for the past two years. But, I quickly realized...much too obvious. It can't be a wedding dress.

So I moved to the back patio, since it's barefoot weather.

Wandering back inside, I noticed Sam on the couch, and couldn't resist. He takes my heart wherever he goes on his clickety little tiptoes.

Out to the mudroom...

...and into the front yard...

...where the appletree lies fallow after last year's bumper crop...

...well, you get the idea.
The deadline for entries is June 15, and I'll keep my camera at hand until then. Maybe I'll come up with something grand.
In the meantime...I challenge all of you who enjoy your cameras to try it too, just for fun! Where does your heart wander?