family

A Big One

I don’t know if this was THE Big One, but Friday’s earthquake in Anchorage was certainly A Big One.  The boys and their mom were at the school where she teaches and they are in second and fifth grade. Miles, the fifth grader was at his before school bell chime class, and Henry was playing in his mom’s classroom before school started. Their mom, Caitlin, was down the hall in another teacher’s room when the earthquake started. She remembers getting under the door frame and having trouble standing as she was bounced up and down by the quake. Ceiling tiles and other things were flying around, as her teacher friend dove under her desk. Caitlin remembers yelling down the hall to Henry to get under a table. The lights went out and the shaking continued. When it stopped, she found Henry under a table piled with debris in her classroom- and they all headed to the gym. Their emergency team sprung into action, gathering children and staff and accounting for everyone- but then a huge aftershock made everyone realize this was an ongoing event. The school was evacuated when a gas leak was discovered and the children were taken by bus to a street in the neighborhood- and eventually to another school in the area. Caitlin and the kids drove home to find a very scared Penny, the golden retriever, in a house filled with open cupboards, tipped over furniture, and broken glass and debris everywhere. The big screen TV was broken on the floor, and the wood stove had been moved forward out of the fireplace. Soon afterwards,  Justin came home from his job in Anchorage. There was no power for several hours, and the boiler which heats the house was broken. 

The children were pretty traumatized as the aftershocks continued and stayed close to their parents as they cleaned up and assessed damage. Eventually the power came back on, dinner was prepared, and the family bedded down (in their clothes and with backpacks full of emergency supplies)in the office downstairs close to the door for a quick escape if necessary. No one slept much.

Aftershocks are ongoing, but the boiler has been repaired, and the family was able to get some actual sleep last night. There will be no school for at least a few days, and life will slowly return to normal. Or a new normal.

And we grandparents are beginning to calm down as well- and are so grateful that everyone is unhurt!


North to Alaska

We’ve just returned from a wonderful 10 day trip to Alaska! The highlight was spending time with our daughter’s family in Eagle River. Here are the boys at the Alaska Botanical Gardens in Anchorage- they are growing up so fast!

Summer in Alaska is endless daylight, intensely green trees, flowers everywhere, tall peaks, and glaciers! Photos from this trip will be dominating my blog for the foreseeable future!


C A L E B ! ! !

I’ve had a request for more baby photos! I’m happy to oblige- so here is Caleb, chilling in his favorite baby seat.

I didn’t do any formal baby portraits- he was either fussy, asleep, or we were on our way somewhere. But here are some fun shots I managed to get over the weekend.

Who does he look like? From straight on, I see some Matt- but in general, I think he favors his mommy!

 


Bonding

We have just returned from a quick trip to Southern California where we spent a few days with our son and daughter-in-law and two and a half month old Baby Caleb!

Our hearts just melted seeing our boy with HIS boy.  Such sweet moments!


Our Descendants

Coming from a small family, I’ve always wanted MORE PEOPLE (hence my passion for genealogy and family history). This new baby, when we were already content with the adorable grandsons we have, is such an unexpected joy to have in our lives. We are so happy for Matt! And so I am thrilled to present this photo of our descendants!

 


The Meetup

Both my kids and their spouses and all 3 grandchildren in one place!!! Who knows when that will happen again?

Caleb couldn’t take his eyes off his Aunt Caity, the experienced mom and charmer of all children. Caleb’s proud daddy couldn’t take HIS eyes off Caleb.

The boys were excited to meet their new cousin (a boy- FINALLY!) and were excited to hold him.

It was a wonderful day!


These Guys

How sweet it has been to spend time with our daughter’s family this week! We had four days with them in a lovely resort in Indio- just swimming and hanging out. An added treat was having our son-in-law’s parents with us as well- we always enjoy our times with them. We leave today- and it will be sooooo hard to say good-bye to THESE GUYS:

Miles at TEN- so smart, full of facts, and an avid reader. At home he is an outstanding skier (on a ski team with older, bigger kids) and mountain biker. This week, he made a major leap in his swimming skills. And he is still the sweet, loving boy he always has been!

 

Henry at SEVEN- what a great reader he has become! And he continues to be the friendly, helpful, outgoing little soul he has been since birth. Like Miles, he is a good skier and biker- and is becoming a good swimmer as well. Always Papa’s boy (like Miles), he chose a Hawaiian shirt to meet us on this trip, because he wanted to be like Papa.

These photos were taken one evening while I was watching tv with their daddy (their mommy was at the store with her dad). They were supposed to be in bed, but came out for a few extra cuddles and giggles.

Stay tuned for photos for when the boys got to meet their new cousin, Caleb!

 

 


Sweet Baby Caleb

Since Caleb was born, my mind has turned to mush, but my heart has expanded!  We are so thrilled to now have THREE grand-boys! We are spending time with our beloved older two now before heading back to Arizona. Life is good!


Brand New!

This is an exciting time in our family- we have a brand new grandson! Caleb is less than two days old- so far he looks like our side of the family but with his mommy’s hair.

Here is our beautiful daughter-in-law with her brand new son.

There is something so touching about seeing your son as  new father!

 

 


The Sweetness of Little Boys

A sweet Alaska memory- Miles showing me some wildflowers


A Wedding!

I’m so excited to announce that our son, Matt, got married last Friday in Maui!!!

He and Karina did not want a big wedding, but chose a romantic getaway to Maui for the ceremony- just the two of them.  So, no, I didn’t take this cell phone shot, but I did edit it in Photoshop. You can see how happy they are- and we are too!


Green Thumbs!

My daughter and son-in-law moved to Alaska just one year ago and have worked so hard to not only upgrade their house, but to create areas to grow vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. Here’s a peek at part of what they’ve accomplished:

 

 

 

 

 


The Reasons

Here are the two main reasons we visit Alaska:

 

Miles at age 9: bookworm, lego-builder, adventurous skier and mountain biker

Henry at age 6: friend to all, gardener, adventurous skier and mountain biker

These two grow and change so fast- we don’t want to miss a thing!


DNA, NPE, and Family Secrets

This post isn’t exactly photography related, but it’s about something that has been very much on my mind and heart in the last couple months.

Since childhood, I have been fascinated by family stories and relationships- how do we all connect? I wrote out family trees while still a child, although they only went back to my great-grandparents- and weren’t entirely accurate.  I think some of this fascination had to do with being an only child; I wanted more PEOPLE!

Well, I have them now! We are still a small family, but our family tree includes 6,057 people at last count.

In the last year, I’ve developed an interest in DNA as a genealogical tool, but, truthfully, it was hard to wrap my mind around triangulations, chromosomes, centimorgans and segments. Still is! However, some unexpected DNA cousin matches in the last couple months have motivated me to learn to apply science to my lifelong hobby.  You see, when you have your DNA done, you not only learn your ethnicity, but you see how other people who have taken the test are related to you. People can be totally private, but their user names still pop up as matches and their relationship to you is estimated by the number of centimorgans you have in common. There were some surnames in four close cousin matches that were totally unfamiliar to me- and they had trees!

Without divulging names and where they fit on our tree, I will say that at least 3 of the 4 were adopted- and one has not written back.  And they were from the same general geographical area.  A mystery- and I love mysteries!

The more I went through their sketchy, incomplete trees and those of dozens of others that connected to them, the more I realized we had an NPE- a Non-Paternal Event, which means that the father of record is not the biological father. This was not a huge surprise, because there was a known ancestor who we had heard was not the actual father. About ten years ago, I decided to incorporate the father of record into our tree and had traced his ancestors back to colonial days. Now it looks like there will be a whole new line to investigate.

The adoptees that I wrote to knew the names of their birth parents, but not their ancestors- except for one. And I’ve found how she connects to the others- most likely through her unknown father’s line. This is the fun part. The hard part for me is seeing the broken families in the trees and imagining the hardships some of these people were facing.

The evidence is not solid yet on how these adopted cousins fit into our tree; I can connect them more easily to each other than to us- except through DNA. And the conventional wisdom is that DNA doesn’t lie- people do. Yikes.

I’m sure this post is hard to follow without more specific details, but I’m trying to respect the privacy of family members. I have mixed feelings about the whole situation- it is so wonderful how DNA can bring people together, but it also can reveal secrets that the people involved may never have wanted to be revealed. There are ethical dilemmas involved.

And then there is another DNA family story that will have a happy ending- just not yet.  Almost fifteen years ago, a twenty-some year old second cousin of Lonnie’s named Kenny (whom he had never met) contacted us wanting to share family history. He has the mind and dedication of a cold-case detective and is highly skilled at tracing family from past to present, as well as present to past (and all on his PHONE!). While other genealogy contacts have come and gone (or died. . .), I’ve been talking to Kenny (and, in recent years, texting with him) regularly all these years. And. . . DNA just showed us that he and Lonnie are not related. This has been very upsetting to say the least, but, since we know family is not all about DNA, he is and will always be our cousin.

So, as you may surmise, despite being very busy getting ready for two photography shows and leading an otherwise busy life as well- I have been obsessed with family history- and not getting much sleep. I keep putting my files aside, but then just can’t seem to step away from the computer!

So that’s what I’ve been doing!

 

 

 

 


Lite Brite!

One of our children’s favorite toys when they were little was a Lite Brite. When I taught preschool, I had one for my students as well. You can imagine how excited we were to find a WALL of Lite Brite at the aquarium. I think Miles would have loved to play there a lot longer.