Friday, August 8, 2014

Great Grandpa Jim

On Wednesday, Aug. 6, I got a call that my grandpa Jim had passed away during the night. He was 93, almost 94, and had been in the nursing home for the past few years. It was hard to see his recent decline but we are grateful for his ability to keep his wits, his humor, and his gentle spirit to the end. He touched countless lives and was remembered by many for his kindness to others, his giving nature, and his servant heart.

One thing I want to remember is that after I got the call, Ryan came and gave me a hug and I had to tell him what was going on. I told him that Great-Grandpa went to heaven during the night. Ryan immediately understood and said, "You mean, he died?" We talked a little bit about what that meant and Ryan said, "Why are you sad? Grandpa has a new body now and I bet he can even play baseball and football now!" His innocent and yet insightful views about how much happier and better Grandpa must be now gave me a lot of strength to get through the next few days.

The visitation was on Thursday and we appreciated all those who came to say a kind word or story about Grandpa. There were several special things displayed to help us remember the long life Grandpa lived.
Air medal from WWII

Grandpa's war story
Hull HS basketball team 1936. Grandpa is second from the left in the back row. He was 16.
Grandpa and Grandma's graduating class of Hull High School, 1938. There is 1 surviving member and she came to the visitation.

Beautiful flowers and truck from Vander Kooi freight.
Wearing VFW cap, standing in front of a picture of a B-24 bomber, Grandpa's plane. 
Air Force medals from WWII.

Telegrams from when he went MIA.

Saluting a hero

Good-bye, Great Grandpa
On Friday, we had a prayer service at the funeral home. This was the hardest time for me, saying good-bye. As we sat in the chairs, listening to Pastor Steve, Ryan put his arm around me, then started rubbing my back. He kept asking if i was okay. While we waited in the van for Adam and the other pall bearers to take the casket out, Ryan said, "Mommy, remember that God is always with us. And he is with Great-Grandpa too."  I will never forget that.

I will probably also never forget that about 20 minutes later, he was whispering questions gravesite about all sorts of things, including whether he could go chase the ground squirrel he saw nearby. :)  He collected a few shotgun shells from the salute and keeps them by his bed by the picture of Grandpa's 1948 baseball team.

The funeral was held that night and I was surprised that I could squeak a few words out to remember my grandpa during the service. Maybe I will post a summary of what I said. I plan to do a post soon of some stories Grandpa and Grandma told about their childhood from conversations we had when Grandma was in the nursing home.

In some has gone on quickly for us. I was plunged right back into normal life on Saturday and haven't had much time to slow down since then. I have so many fond memories of my childhood with grandpa, but he hasn't been a part of my daily/weekly life in the last few years, not like he has for my mom and sister. So, things feel much the same. I am sad that my boys will not be able to remember the lively, funny, active man I knew. Ryan doesn't remember him before the nursing home and Cohen, whose middle name is James, will have to rely on stories as he grows up.  But, I also have taken great comfort in the fact that he is completely healed, healthy, and strong now and with my grandma and with so many friends who went before him. He's also with his Savior, Jesus, and there's no better place. So, I try to be happy for him and know that one day we will meet again!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Ryan: 4 years, 10 months

Ryan had a great July filled with vacation, time with Dad, and just enjoying summer. He loves exploring outdoors, usually with a big net and bug box in hand. He also likes playing with the older kids in the neighborhood and talking off the ears of the grown-up neighbors who generally humor him. Indoors, he colors or draws something almost every day and also loves setting up forts of all kinds. He asks about the baby every once in a while and likes to feel kicks and jabs. He has settled into his new room with ease and is usually so tired out from the day that he sometimes falls asleep while I'm still scratching his back after we read books.

He has had some more practice riding his bike but it's still not his favorite thing to do. He has gotten much braver in the pool as the summer as gone on, even jumping off the diving board (with life jacket) and proclaiming that he doesn't need to go to swimming lessons because he "already knows how to do everything." He is getting anxious for preschool to start again and misses playing with his friends from daycare, but it's been nice that he's been able to spend some time home with dad working on projects and doing fun things this month.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer in the neighborhood

The boys have been having a great time this summer, enjoying a few weeks with Adam after baseball ended and before football started. He did a great job finding fun activities for the boys to do each day like swimming, biking, going to the fair or library, working on projects at home, exploring trails and ponds, etc.

They've also enjoyed playing with kids in the neighborhood, drawing with chalk, playing cops and robbers, and enjoying life outdoors. Here are a few random pictures from this month.

Watching cartoons
4-wheeler ride from neighbor Jodi
Watching the "hot baloon!"

Cohen loves pushing the plasma car.

Ryan drawing Angry Birds scenes with sidewalk chalk.

Playing at the park

Pool time
Batter up!

Sunday, July 27, 2014


On Sunday, my parents came over to enjoy some of the fish Adam and Ryan caught on vacation. After dinner, my dad, Adam and Ryan took his boat to Paullina. They didn't have much luck fishing, but Ryan sure hooked a big one as he was pulling back to cast!  Adam felt something hit his ear (the weight) and grabbed the line before Ryan could cast out. Ryan's hook was embedded in Adam's ear/head.  After going back to shore and checking it out in the mirror, a deputy, lifeguard and several bystanders reported that they'd never seen anything like it and weren't sure what to do.
I got a text from Adam saying "We're on our way home and may need to go to the emergency room when we get there...Ryan hooked my ear."  Great.

When he got home, we agreed it was quite the fashion accessory!

We hemmed, hawed, and Googled for a while, trying to come up with ways to get the hook out ourselves, but because the position of the hook, we couldn't push down on the other end to get the right angle. In case you're ever in a situation like this, here is the suggested method.  After trimming the feather and worm off and trying to ice it, we decided it was best left to a professional, so off to the ER he went.

The doctor and all the nurses agreed it was a predicament and after numbing it up, were able to pull it out. A band-aid, tetanus shot, Rx for antibiotics, and I'm sure a hefty bill later, he was out and was pretty much pain-free by the next day.

Great story to remind Ryan about when he's older!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Backyard Camping

We've been promising Ryan that he could have a camp-out in the backyard, so this weekend we decided it was time...for Adam to do it (haha).
Stoking the "campfire"

Cohen selfie
"Helping" set up the tent
Hangin' out
Enjoying roasted hot dogs and s'mores

Ready for bed!
After staying up to catch fireflies, Ryan had a great time sleeping in the test and I'm thankful that Adam was a good sport to sleep out there with him while Cohen and I enjoyed our regular beds. It did end up raining during the night and they were up with the sun, but Ryan had a great time. Of course, now he wants to do "real" camping, not in his backyard, but not sure this momma can handle that. Maybe Adam can do a "guys camping trip" when they are older.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vacation: The Cabin

We were blessed to be able to spend 2 nights at Adam's Aunt and Uncle's cabin in Vergas, MN. This is one of Ryan's favorite places in the world! 

Cohen, Grandpa, and Hannah waiting for the boat to return.

Adam loved fishing several times per day. That's our supper in the net!

Cohen loved Hannah the dog and the two rag-doll cats

Going tubing!

Ready to go faster?

Ryan became an expert at baiting, casting, hooking, and reeling in his own fish.

Ryan caught the biggest fish one day and the first fish the next day.

One of many catches all by himself!

Who's driving this thing?

Driving with Ashley

A boy on the dock

Cohen's first boat ride!

Relaxing on shore

Grandma and Cohen on the boat

Pretty sunset on Long Lake

Topping the first night off with s'mores


Putting his own lifejacket on. Something is not lining up here.

Throwing a toy for Hannah

Go get it, Hannah!
Swimming for her rope

Ryan climbed into the boat after breakfast, baited up, and started fishing himself.

Is this one bigger than your fish, Daddy?

We had beautiful weather during the day (a little thunderstorm knocking out power at night)

Cohen liked the dock a lot.

Deep reflections with Grandpa

I think I could handle life on a lake.

Best 4-year-old fisherman we know!

Thanks for the great vacation, Connie and Chuck!