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8 posts from February 2010

February 26, 2010

Family Tree

Grafted branches family tree

I have this beautiful photo of grafted Dogwood trees in full bloom and it's been inspiring me for some time to write about family trees.   

But every time I try to share my thoughts on this, I'm nervous.  The subject of family trees is not exactly greeted with enthusiasm in the adoption community.    For some families with adopted children, it seems the tree is viewed as a painful illustration of the loss of a family; just a stump with a child's name scratched onto it and no branches at all.  When kids bring home the dreaded family tree assignment, some adoptive parents demand that the school rescind the assignment so their child can be spared the embarrassment, humiliation and pain.  Seriously, I can't fully wrap my mind around that thinking because, to me, family trees have always been totally about FAMILY and not about DNA.

My parents divorced then remarried when I was very young so I grew up with two moms and two dads and an interesting assortment of step aunts, uncles, cousins and even siblings who shared little to no DNA with me.  Family was what it was and even though it was all mixed up, it was mine and I loved them all and they loved me too.  In addition to step parent families, adoption touched almost every generation of my family too.  My grandpa, for example, was adopted as an infant in the early 1900's. 

Since the age of 16, I've made a hobby out of researching and recording the names and stories of the people who nurtured the generations before me.   I've loved looking at 100+ year old old census records and reading old town newspapers and watching my family's life unfold in ten year snapshots.  Boys took over the family farm and girls grew up and married the neighbor boy.  Cousins went off to war.  Some came back -- some didn't.  Babies were born about every two years but it was very common to lose children (and parents) back then too.  Families would grieve and then rebuild and move forward into the next decade and life went on.  I just wish there were more photos and more stories to remember the older generations.  But I do have little treasures from their lives:  A set of silver flatware (some pieces quite old!), a faded quilt, a small piece of furniture and numerous old discolored photos and newspaper clippings.   

When I got married, I extensively researched my husband's tree then merged it with my own and now it belongs to our kids (all three of whom are adopted to some degree).   It's a tree with many grafted branches but it's a tree that represents all of the people who love us and all of the people who ever loved those people.  Here's a small piece of it:  <click here

We have a very unique and beautiful tree that would look sad and incomplete if we pruned off all of those glorious grafted branches.    Which color is the "real" color and which color was grafted?  It's impossible to tell.    My heart can't remember which of my three kids I gave birth to either! 

(click here for more) "Family Tree" »

February 24, 2010

B&W Wednesday: Chinese Dress

This morning, Maddy informed me that she needed to wear her "China dress" today because her Kindergarten class was marching in the Chinese New Year parade at their school.  Of course, this was the first I'd heard of it and I was just happy that we had a Chinese dress for her to wear!

She was so beautiful that I had to snap a few photos before school. 

Chinese dress 1610

She loves to pose (and often overdoes it) but today she tossed her head around and flipped her hair and looked like the poster child for cuteness. 

 Chinese dress 1613

Then, right out of the blue, she'd decide to stare straight up at her bangs and make this funny face!

Chinese dress 1625a 

Of course, I flipped the camera around and showed her what she looked like and then she really cracked up and was inspired to do it 15 more times!  I know you're grateful that I'm not posting the other 14 photos. 

Here she is at a peak state of amusement with herself:

Chinese dress 1621

After that, it was right back to cute again!   I don't think God created anything more silly and adorable than a 5 year old little girl!

Chinese dress 1609 

I'm still learning about black and white photography.  It's really a challenge!  It's hard to disregard color and focus on patterns and textures and light instead.    In the color version, her dress was really eye popping but in the black and white version, it's her hair and face that you notice most.

<click here> (and then scroll to the bottom) if you want to see the original photo in color.

For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.

February 20, 2010

Jumping the Puppy

Michael came over to visit to today and brought his skateboard.  The girls were really excited to watch him jump this puppy and the puppy seemed somewhat excited about it too.  Of course, I can't post the photos of the times he missed. 

Michael jumps the puppy

Okay okay OKAY!!!!  He didn't really jump the puppy.  He actually jumped a ten pound sack of Iams cat food (but that's pretty boring).  We think it's much more interesting to remember his remarkable feat this way and, thanks to the miracle of photoshop, we get our wish without harming any puppies in the making of this spectacular photo.

Even though the puppy is fake, the jump is real.  Afterward, he and his sisters posed for a quick victory photo.   I know I'm biased but I sure do think I have the most incredibly beautiful kids!

Michael and sisters

Gwen wants Michael to teach her how to skateboard.  He's been doing it for more than half of his life so he's the perfect teacher.  I think Gwen will be the perfect student too.   She might have to put down her sword for a few minutes though. 

February 17, 2010

B&W Wednesday: Tube sledding with Mommy

Mommy and maddy bw sledding

My husband and kids talked me into going down this long slushy sled chute "just one time".  What could it hurt to just do it once, right?  Hee hee... Okay, it was pretty fun but I knew my butt would be dragging in the snow all the way down the hill -- and I was correct.  Of course Maddy was nice and dry sitting on my lap.

She came down with a bug yesterday morning and is still sick and stuck at home.  Extra bummer since it's her Winter Break from school and she has a brand new bike sitting in the garage just waiting for her to ride it for the first time.  

For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.

February 15, 2010

Valentine Weekend in Lake Tahoe

Can you believe I've never been to Lake Tahoe?  Well, all that changed this weekend and it was more beautiful than I ever imagined!

20100215long dock walk1006

 The beautiful old pier that led to the boat that took us out onto the lake.   Maddy was really nervous about walking on this because it had no side rails.  

20100215lake tahoe from boat1115

The lake.  Pretty huh!  The water was amazing... black in some places and turquoise in others and, of course, emerald colored in Emerald Bay.  I like the reflection of the snow in the water.

20100214gwen and maddy at top of mtn0787

We stayed in South Lake Tahoe and took the gondola up to the top of the mountain where the girls posed for a quick photo with some of the 13,000 other people who spent their Valentine's Day on the top of this hill. 

20100214gwen nails daddy with snowball0760

Here's Gwen nailing her Daddy with a snowball.  This was just one of many assaults. 

20100214gwen saucer sled0734

Sledding on a saucer was fun.  We took lots of photos but these are two of our favorite.  Gwen above and Maddy below.

20100214maddy saucer sled 20755

I don't think any of us have ever seen a snow covered beach! 

20100215lake tahoe snowy beach1007 

We'll probably come back in the summer and see what Tahoe offers when there's no snow.  I bet it's beautiful for totally different reasons!

(These photos and many more in our Flickr Tahoe Set)

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