Monday, July 20, 2009

Smores with the Vernons

We didn't get to hang out with Liliana's (my older sister) family for the Fourth of July, so they invited us over the next day to have smores, jump on the trampoline and play soccer in the yard. My kids truly are in heaven. I kept sitting back and just feeling grateful (once again) to be with my family. Many people wondered why we moved away from blessed Alaska at such a difficult economic time. This is why. I love my family. I love hearing the laughs and seeing the sincere joy on my children's faces when they are playing with their cousins and spending time with aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Aitana and Acasia are really in to soccer - so are Ammon and Abraham. They had a lot of fun playing. The second video is of Aitana doing this crazy trick that she taught herself to do after watching it on a YouTube video. It's a unique way of throwing the ball back in to play - this just gets it a lot farther in to the field. Crazy, huh?

4th of July

This was a very exciting 4th of July for my kids. Now that we actually see darkness (in Alaska, it's a bit pointless to do fireworks on the 4th of July because it never really gets dark enough!), we were able to go to Hayden Lake with Colomba and her family and my mom to watch an amazing fireworks show. We trespassed onto somebody's boat dock and just made ourselves at home on it - front row seats to the show that was done from a platform in the middle of the lake. Ziya was scared at first, but as long as Jacob was holding her, she was o.k., and Kenai simply nursed through the whole show (our solution to anything that might upset him!).

I enjoyed sitting a bit off to the side and reflecting on how grateful I am for my parents. Many years ago, they left Mexico in hopes of giving their soon-to-be four girls (my mom was pregnant when we moved) bounteous opportunities for a blessed life. They left everything that was comfortable for them and took a huge step into the unknown. Now all four of their daughters have a college education, are active in the Church and have healthy, happy families. I'm sure that we would have been o.k. in Mexico, but I am very proud to be an American. The next day in Church, I enjoyed singing my gratitude through some of our patriotic hymns. It was a good 4th of July.

Kenai Turns Two Months Old

Kenai turned two months old on July 3. He has lived through a lot in just two months! My mom immediately noticed that he seems a lot happier in Idaho - and I agree! The poor baby was born at a very stressful time in his family's lives, and now I'm convinced that he also felt that stress. He did manage though to have fun camping with bears, going to a Girls' All-nighter with me, surviving all the preparations for a huge move and finally hopping on a plane and moving to Rathdrum, Idaho. What a busy little guy!

At one point, I worried that he might actually be blind because he didn't respond or even flinch when I moved around right in front of his face. He did finally start reacting and smiling shortly before we left Kenai. Now he smiles and even does little laughs all the time! He loves to be held by his brothers and sister, but he's still very, very attached to mami.

Grandpa Stephen in Idaho

Jacob's dad was a sport and flew up to Kenai to help him make the long drive down the Alcan. From what I understand, he was very, very patient about traveling with two cooped-up-in-a-car-for-six-days rambunctious little boys. Here he is enjoying some finally-outside-of-the-car fun with Ammon and Abraham.

Grandpa Stephen got to meet Trent Munyer. He's Jacob's cousin who lives in Coeur d' Alene. We didn't even know that he and his family lived here until after we left for Alaska. His wife made the discovery when she went to put her kids in Playland at Fred Meyer and realized that there were other Munyers in the area. They had fun comparing family stories over breakfast.

Cousin Fun in Rathdrum, Idaho

The first cousin Ziya and Kenai got to meet was little Diego. He is Carlos and Colomba's 4 year old son. My sister Colomba is a chef and even in his young years, Diego has already learned a lot from her. Here are Diego and Ziya making a breakfast milkshake.

This is my youngest sister, Colomba. She immediately fell in love with Kenai (and he certainly is not complaining that he has aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents that constantly want to hold him!).
So there's not a cousin in this picture, but the pajamas and the purse are wonderful hand-me-down gifts from Ziya's only girl cousins, Aitana and Acasia, who live just about 15 minutes away. Ziya has scored an arsenal of barbie toys, fun little girl clothes, a pink Disney TV, her own big-girl bed and lots of other fun stuff. The three girls hit it off instantly. I think Ziya is relieved to finally have some girls to play with (even though the girls are 12 and 9 - they are absolutely wonderful with Ziya).

The same day that Jacob and the boys finally rolled in from their long 6-day drive, Diego broke his leg. He got a walker, but he only used it for about a day. His cool green cast with a train track drawn on it didn't stop him from playing and playing and playing! Just like Ziya is excited to have some girl cousins, Diego is excited to have some boy cousins to hang out with! They talked Jacob into setting up the tent in the back yard (just what he wanted to do after camping for a whole week straight!) and having a boy slumber party.

Aitana and Acasia came over to spend the day with us. We picked strawberries from my mom's garden and made strawberry freezer jam.

And then of course, there is plain ole' TV watching fun!

The Alcan Drive... to be posted later!

I actually have some time to blog today, so I thought I would tackle Jacob and the boys' Alcan drive. I have quickly given up. I don't know the pictures' settings and I don't really even know the circumstances in some of the photographs. So I am going to strongly encourage Jacob to do it ASAP. For now, I thought it was cool to compare these two pictures - moving to Alaska in August 2006 and moving from Alaska in June 2009. Not only has the "Welcome to Alaska" sign changed, but our family has changed, too! The boys are a lot bigger and there are two more bambinos waiting for them to arrive in Rathdrum!

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

June 27, 2009: Ziya was thrilled to have so much attention to herself at the hotel in Anchorage. She loved this little kids' table that she found right under a huge moose head.

The plane ride was not too terrible, thanks to my mom! She kept Ziya busy and I kept nursing and nursing Kenai. We only had one not-so-kid-friendly passenger in front of us, but that was for a short leg from Seattle to Spokane. Everybody else was pretty patient with the occasional crying and whining. Ziya got lots of bribery to get her to comply with federal aviation seatbelt laws. I love the picture of her pulling her own little Dora rolling suitcase with a Dora backpack on her back. She was quite the trooper.

Monday, July 13, 2009

June... Part 5 (Yes, it was a busy month for the Munyers!)

June 26, 2009: Packing the Trailer Day!!! When we moved to Alaska, we put most of our stuff in storage and then packed up the rest in a 5 x 8 foot trailer. Our goal was to move back with only the same trailer. Fortunately, we got realistic and remembered that since we moved to Alaska, we've added two children and a whole lot of STUFF. So we cheated and mailed 11 boxes of books using the post office's media mail rate. Still, it was definitely a tetris game to make all of our stuff fit. Even then, some of our stuff didn't fit and had to be left behind. Thank goodness for John Maw, who figured out a way to add a piece of plywood to the front of the trailer's frame, load a bunch of bags of clothes on it and basically wrap it up into a burrito covered with a tarp (his expertise also got our lights hooked up... whew!!!). It was definitely "Beverly Hillbillies" style moving, but we did it!! Elders Liu and Hogan were a huge help as were my mom, Leaca, Kaarin (who took Kenai on the longest walk ever!), and the Maws.

Kaarin came over just to pick some stuff up that I'd borrowed, and she ended up staying for several hours to take care of Kenai while I packed and cleaned. What a lifesaver she was that day! Ammon and Abraham weren't really into the whole saying goodbye thing, but Ziya was (she's usually a ham in front of the camera anyway!). We spent a lot of time with Sydney, Jason and Katie, and I'm going to miss them. Kaarin was my visiting teacher and my good friend. She was always so willing to help me out in many, many different situations. I'm going to miss her, too.

Ammon and Abraham really, really, really love to ride their bikes. Earlier in the summer, Abraham made the attempt to take off his training wheels, but he said he'd "try it later." While we were packing and cleaning on the day before starting our move away from Alaska, he rode up to us with one training wheel in hand - it had fallen off. He asked us to put it back on for him, but we talked him into just taking off the other one and trying to ride on two wheels. He was a bit nervous and he made me run alongside him... but only for a few seconds because I couldn't keep up! He just took off and never stopped! It was amazing. I had one of those tender pride kind of moments and I teared up as he rode away from me. Just one more evidence that my little boy is growing up, I guess.

June 27, 2009: The Youngs graciously offered to drive me, my mom, Ziya and Kenai to Anchorage, where we would stay in a hotel before flying out on Saturday. We tried really hard to be ready on time, but we just weren't. The final parts of packing and cleaning are the hardest, I'm convinced. When we finally got into their car, we still had to drive to Mardi's apartment to pick up Ziya and so that I could say goodbye to Ammon and Abraham (they spent the morning with Aunt Mardi, Marissa and Victor). After our goodbyes there, we were finally on the road... and Kenai started crying. Usually, the moment his little body hits his carseat, he screams and screams to no avail. The miracle of miracles though, is that he actually didn't cry for too long. This time, he was easily appeased by a little bounce to his seat (thanks Leaca!) or his pacifier (which he normally doesn't take!). After we arrived in Anchorage, Gordon confessed that he'd prayed really hard that Kenai wouldn't cry! It worked (whewww!).

We said our goodbyes in the hotel room. I realize now that we actually didn't say formal goodbyes to many of our friends, and I think I'm glad about that (I just hope that no feelings are hurt anywhwere) because goodbyes are no fun. It's like in a matter of just a few minutes, my mind flooded with all the good that this sweet family (all members of the family) did for us, and it was a bit overwhelming. I think I'm one that likes to reminisce on things like this during my own private moments.

I am grateful though for the Youngs. And I am grateful for the many precious unphotographed friends that we made in Kenai. We've moved several times since we've been married, but this time there is one major difference. I am SO grateful for blogs and for Facebook. I feel like it's going to be easier to stay connected to our friends... and for that, I am also thankful.

June... Part 4

June 21, 2009: We spent Father's Day with the Youngs. They let us crash the dinner they prepared for the missionaries. We had delicious grilled halibut with mango salsa and some to-die-for salads that Leaca fixed. Ymmm!!! We missed Raquel (she was at basketball camp in Washington), but we loved spending time with Gordon, Leaca and Rusty. They are one family we will truly miss.

Leaca took these cool pictures of the kids on the trampoline (look carefully, it's just as fun to see Ziya getting bounced as it is to see the boys doing their flips!).
Every Father's Day, I take (or Leaca takes!) pictures of my kids wearing this one shirt of Jacob's. I started doing this when Ammon was about 2 and Abe was just a few months old (got the idea from Oprah!). I made a special "Father's Day picture album" and put these pictures in it. It's fun to see the kids growing into the shirt. I also put other pictures that represent Jacob's role as a father throughout the previous year. This year, I made collages of him with each of our children. These are the pictures that I put in this year's entry.

Jacob is a fabulous father. He knows how to laugh during stressful times (which has been paramount lately!), he loves to play with his children and he always has a new twist on an old game (so it's NEVER boring when he's around!), he knows how to be patient and he knows how to love. It was nice to take a break from all the packing, cleaning and organizing and enjoy some relaxing time in honor of him and so many fathers who have shaped and influenced our lives. I love you, Jacob.

June 21, 2009: It's summer solstice - the longest day of the year. Leaca and Rusty came over sometime after midnight and picked up Jacob so that they could go out and take pictures. It was a cloudy night, so it's hard to appreciate the fact that behind the thick clouds, it really was still light outside! Go figure. At least they had fun driving around. Thanks for the pictures, Leaca (once again!).

June 23, 2009: Grandpa Stephen flew in from Los Angeles for a short Kenai visit and then to drive the Alcan (Alaska Canada Highway) with Jacob and the boys. He stayed with Jacob's sister, Mardi, and enjoyed spending some time with all six of his grandchildren. He was amazed at how light it is late at night and at how late people here stay up! He'll be in a lot more pictures later when we post the pictures of the 6-day long drive to Idaho.

June 25, 2009: Originally, my dad was also supposed to come to Alaska and Jacob booked a fishing trip for himself and the two grandpas as a way to celebrate the grandpa's birthdays (Grandpa Stephen's b-day is June 23 and my dad's b-day is June 24) combined with Father's Day. Well, my dad was unable to come kind of at the last minute (he wasn't feeling his best), so Ammon and Abe were able to take Tito's spot on the boat. They got up at some crazy early hour in the morning, bundled up and headed out for a fishing day with Dave Goggia. They were fishing for king salmon, but once again, the fish weren't biting. They still had a grand time. Ammon got to drive the boat for a while and Abe had a comfy nap hiding inside all of his layers of clothes. The day turned out to be a really nice one and Grandpa Stephen really enjoyed Alaska's grandeur with his son and two grandsons.