Friday, January 25, 2013

Happy 21st Birthday!

Happy birthday (one day late) to Phoebe!!!

My sister was on my mind all day yesterday as she celebrated her twenty-first birthday.

The little sister who I could NOT wait to see and hold on January 24, 1992. I remember watching out the window of a babysitter's house and waiting to go home and see my baby sister. She was born two weeks early.

My sister who was content to sit and wait for family members to move her from room to room. The baby who did not crawl, but scooted across the floor in a very odd position. One leg would be bent in front of her while the other would be bent behind her and that would be how she'd inch her way around the house. Often she'd fall asleep with her head bent down on the front leg. It's amazing how flexible babies can be.

The sweet girl who charmed every heart she met. Even the kindergartener who asked her to marry him, was refused, and then threw a chair at her. She was always wise beyond her years, too. The hearts of others don't get past her very easily. But she really does know how to befriend everyone, at any age and from any background.

The first time Jim met her we went on a canoeing trip and
dropped her off in this tree! January 2007
It's quite remarkable that she survived her first swim. While learning how to swim, my parents bought her a floaty that goes around your chest and back. Gradually, you are to remove slender flotation pads from the vest and eventually the child can swim on their own. Well, Phoebe went through the motions and one day, in a hotel swimming pool, she realized she was swimming. Her eyes got huge, her laugh followed suit, and she almost went under, drinking so much water with each giggle. A fond memory for the rest of us.

There are so many stories to tell, but I'll stop there (she breathes a sigh of relief!).  So, here's the skinny... she's hilarious, intelligent, and talented. She loves to play ultimate frisbee, read, learn languages, to travel and she's a phenomenal writer. She's been an au pair in France, worked at a winery and a fitness program for children, and studied abroad in Senegal. She rocks.

We have our moments, as all siblings do, but I am grateful to share this life and so many memories with her. A wonderful friend that I can call my sister.

Senegal,  2012
I'm looking forward to the next time we can sing away in the car...

Here's to a great twenty-first year of life, Pheebs!

We love you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Shed a Little Light

A day marked by Martin Luther King Day and Obama's second inauguration is truly wonderful. I don't write about my politics or talk about them much, but today I am thrilled to have our president return to office.

No matter what you believe or which side you're on, the lyrics from this song are strong and poignant for us all. A friend of mine reminded me of this song today and it was incredibly significant to me.

After finding it on You Tube, Jim and I may have jammed to it in our kitchen :)

If you'd like to hear the song and watch a video tribute to MLK, then click this link: Martin Luther King Video with Lyrics. Or, this one has James Taylor singing it: Shed a Little Light. Enjoy!

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh Lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh Lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh Lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh Lord

Can't get no light from the dollar bill
Don't give me no light from a TV screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill

(Do you know what I mean?)
- Chorus -

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the Earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood

I am also thrilled that Christoph, a dear family member of ours, was recently granted citizenship to the United States! We have gained a phenomenal new citizen in our country. He now has dual citizenship between Germany and the United States, like his daughter, Annaliese. Congratulations, Christoph!!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Elements

Rain, rain, and more rain was on the forecast for early this week. Creeks were raging, puddles growing, and raincoats and boots were well-worn after nearly four, full days of the relentless patter of the elements.

Yesterday morning proved to be nothing but the same, but the weathermen were right and declared that Thursday afternoon would bring us four to eight inches of snow!

It's absolutely beautiful around here. The best snow storm we've had since moving here three years ago.  I know that many places get this much and it is completely normal and even a burden, but here we're grateful for it. A reason to curl up with a good book, drink more tea, and look at the beauty of nature covered in a white blanket.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, we know that it won't last long. This weekend is supposed to move up into the forty degree range and much of it will melt. We'll make the most of it and enjoy it while we can.

This is not from the recent snow storm,
but it's appropriate because Willem's meeting
us for lunch today! We're excited to see him.
The picture was taken at the Cascades on 
New Year's Eve, 2010.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sisters, Sisters

Oh, how I love my sister!

Phoebe came to spend two nights and one full day with us and it was nothing but wonderful. I realized after she left today that this was the most quality sister time we have had for at least 1.5 years. A lot has happened in that time with my health and with her trip to Senegal, so we were certainly due for some purposeful time.

We talked.
We hiked.
We shopped.
We ate.
We talked.

Without distractions, we were present to hear about each other's lives & experiences.

That's a quality visit.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Lois Grace Barlow

A beautiful, kind, and wonderful woman went to the other shore this morning. Lois Grace Barlow, Jim's grandmother, was the well-loved matriarch of the Barlow family and though she will be greatly missed, she is in a peaceful place.

Last weekend we celebrated Christmas with the Barlows in South Carolina and went to visit Grammy and Grampy multiple times. We feel so blessed to have had that time with her. Erin and Christine (Jim's sisters) were there, as well as Russell (Erin's fiance) and Kim and John (Jim's parents), so we had a large reunion, of sorts, within their tiny room for visits.

While Grammy & Grampy really enjoyed seeing the family, Leif was the star of the show. Their faces lit up and they loved petting him. Grampy even offered to take him if he needed another home. Jim says that they always had a dog and cats around and you could tell that they just really enjoyed having a furry friend moving around the room.

Grammy was lovingly called "Prope" by Red/Grampy, which was short for Proper, her maiden name. She trained as a nurse and met Grampy when she rented a room from his parents' inn. She raised five children over a range of 14 years and Jim's dad, John, was the youngest of her brood.

Her intricate, crocheted creations are truly stunning and her needlepoints of nature are beautiful. She's also known for her wonderful cooking and love for serving her family.

Jim has many fond memories of his childhood visits to their home in upstate New York. He especially loved spending time in their outdoor paradise with a beautiful pond and pond house, trails filled with evergreen, and creek-walking in the cascading, stair-like slabs of rock with waterfalls. It was a young boy's dream and he always looked forward to being there.

Grammy was a night owl, not unlike many of the Barlow clan, and so Jim remembers many nights of staying up and talking to her late into the night.

She loved her husband, Red, and held his hand closely throughout much of our visit with them last week. They were married for 68 years and would have had their 69th anniversary in April.

One of the most touching moments of the visit came when Grammy told Jim, "You will make a wonderful doctor. You are so caring and kind." It was a beautiful moment between a grandmother and her grandson, one that we will cherish forever.

We will always be grateful for the time we had with Grammy last weekend and the many visits Jim was able to enjoy with her throughout his lifetime. 

Her love & faith live on.
The Original Barlow Crew
The Barlow Kiddos
The Whole Crew
Heaven gained another angel.
Rest in Peace, Lois Grace Barlow
aka "Grammy" & "Prope"
93 years old.