December 2, 2016

First Snow

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When Estela first saw the giant white flakes falling from the sky through the picture window her eyes grew. She turned, and with an inquisitive smile and a twinkle in her eye, said one small word: ¿nieve?! Her mom and I had told her about these flakes that fall from the sky, a phenomenon that will never happen in Nicaragua because of the heat. I do not have the scientific vocabulary in Spanish to explain what is happening exactly, but Estela knows that the snow is just like rain and that someday when it gets even colder (which I think she might have a hard time imagining) she will be able to walk on the lake when the water becomes ice!

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Estela's first snow was little more than a wet dusting. Enough to turn our world white and wash away the greens and fall colors left behind. Soon we had out the sleds careening down the small hill that is currently our front lawn. We went down together, Estela went down herself in all sorts of manners; on her back, on her stomach, backwards, and no hands, with mom, with dad and with mom and dad. The joy was overflowing. Soon we made snow angels, the three of us lying in the white powder moving our arms and legs up and down, up and down as we created the image in the snow. Then we were off to make a snowman. Rolling up three balls of the joyful stuff in appropriate sizes and then fitting it with sticks for arms and rocks to make out buttons, eyes and a nose. Then we were back to the hill for more sledding.

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Estela loved it. She loved every minute of it. After more than an hour we thought it was time to go inside, to warm up with some hot chocolate and soup, but Estela was not ready. She was mesmerized by her boot prints and together we walked leaving our mark in the snow behind us as we past. Her small feet leaving little marks as she compared them to her mom and dads. Throughout it all Estela's tongue was out. She was catching the flakes and loving it, telling us that they were sweet and that she was excited for this new adventure into her new world of snow and angles and sleds! 

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November 22, 2016

Grateful

A year of change, a year of unknowns, a year of turns and twists, joys and sorrows. Now we are here, then we were there. A life turned upside down, a year turned inside out. And yet, thankfulness remains, a constant in our lives and for our lives as we think of all the wonderful blessings and joys that outweigh any of the tears and struggles. So thanks to another year, for the wonder and the dreams of all that is to come in the next.

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“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”  - G. K. Chesterton

November 15, 2016

Cousins // Primas

For almost a year you talked over the phone together, you stared at one another on Skype as you all sat at the table (normally eating) and listened to adult conversation, usually greeting one another with a kiss or a wave of the hand.  You all just wanted to play, to run, skip and hop.  Now you are finally all together enjoying life in the great outdoors and exploring our wonderful world together.  May you all enjoy a lifetime of happy memories and friendship together!

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Estela spent her first night in Minnesota reading books with Ceanna and Abuelo.

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Annika and Estela picking strawberries together!

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Ceanna, Estela and Ivy looking spiffy in their matching dresses and bows.

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Estela with the Van Stryland cousins on a horse and buggy ride.

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E for Estela and I for Ivy!

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Estela will have one more Van Stryland cousin this spring!

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The girls hanging out at the cabin.

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These two love being together!

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Ivy and Estela exploring the great north woods together.

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We look forward to making many memories together!

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Halloween 2016 – Bumblebees and a Horse

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Hanging out at Palisade Head.

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Friends and Cousins Forever!

November 10, 2016

A Post Election Lament

For so many of us, this is a day to mourn.
We are grieving a loss.
It steals our breath. It makes us afraid.
We feel tempted to focus on someone to blame,
Some individual or group on whom we could vent our
Anger, disappointment, and frustration.
We feel tempted to make explanations
That serve as excuses or that help us avoid
Our sorrow and pain.
A time for analysis will come
As will time (soon) for planning and resolve.
But today is a day to mourn,
To feel the pain of sincere and shattered dreams
And deferred hopes.
Our nation has chosen as president
A man who has won by bullying,
Proclaiming misinformation with confidence,
Stigmatizing, vilifying, and scapegoating.
He is a billionaire in money but poor in morality.
He has normalized bigotry and stirred embers
Of racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and Islamophobia.
He has celebrated violence, torture, and war.
His personal life has been filled with infidelity, greed,
Broken promises and unabashed arrogance.
Our neighbors have chosen him.
Our neighbors have chosen him.
We feel embarrassed for our nation, afraid for our children,
Anxious for our allies, worried for our world.
We feel for our gay friends, our immigrant friends,
Our Native American, African American, and Latino friends -
Our friends who are Muslim, Sikh, or of other faiths
Who suffer the reality of prejudice and racism:
We mourn for how this election sucks the breath out of
People we know and love,
And we share their pain and feel it as our own.
We feel for our beloved earth that has been plundered and harmed
By human ignorance and greed, and we mourn
That this candidate has vowed to accelerate environmental
Destruction.
We understand that many of our neighbors are celebrating,
They find it hard to understand our grief.
So we who mourn must turn to each other,
To shed the tears we need to shed,
To allow one another to say the same things again and again:
We are devastated. We are disappointed.
We are concerned. We are angry.
We lost and we feel loss.
We must promise those who are afraid:
We will be there for you
No matter what.
We pray that our grief will make us better, not bitter.
We pray that the emotion of our mourning
Will water the seeds of our resilience.
We pray for our leaders, for our neighbors, for our nation,
For our children, for our world, for our future.
We pray for the grace to mourn, and then be prepared
To keep seeking first the justice, joy, and peace of God.
-Brian McLaren (who will always be a hero of mine!)