Sunday, June 8, 2014

Catching Up

You may or may not have noticed that I haven't written a blog post in the past six weeks. I'm running seriously behind schedule and just sent out our 2013 Christmas letters. One of my life's goals is to some year send the 
first Christmas letter people receive. Obviously 2012 wasn't the year. Neither was 2013. Procrastination combined with an unprecedented number of changes this past year meant a May letter. After 4 years at the same location with the same jobs, we did a Fruit Basket Upset.

Change #1 - Keith's sister wins the Biggest Surprise of 2013 Award by getting married at the age of 65. She moved to a new house and now we have a new brother-in-law and find that we like married Karen even 
                                               better than single Karen.

   Change #2 - After living in the midwest his whole life, Keith's older brother, Neil, and his wife moved 
   to the Seattle area.

   Change #3 - Erica (22) graduated last May with an Occupational Therapy Assistant degree.  
   Christina (28) and Kiah (24), graduated last May with nursing degrees.

   Change #4 - Anna (19) graduated from high school.

   Change #5  - Keith's family sold his mom's house so we spent a week in June helping Karen clean it. 
   Grandma had lived in the same house for 34 years and her basement had become the family storage unit
   which means there was a lot of stuff to find places for.

   Change #6 - We joined the grandparents club! Last July, Andrew (26) and Rachel (24) blessed us 
   with our beautiful granddaughter Cailin Louise (like Caitlin without a "t"). Cailin is the first grandchild 
   on both sides and has six aunts and one uncle to spoil her.

   Change #7 - In August Kiah and Anna moved five hours south to LaCrosse, WI. Kiah works as a       
   nursing home RN and Anna is a barista at Moka Coffee Shop. Anna wants to be the favorite aunt so 
   babysits for Andrew and Rachel. They acquired a cat they named Ramona after Ramona Quimby. 

   Change #8 - Keith's Uncle Jim Christiansen passed away over Labor Day. He was in the same 
   Assisted Living facility as Keith's Mom. 

   Change #9 - After five years of camp ministry, Andrew and Rachel felt led to do something different. 
   They moved in September to an apartment ten blocks from Kiah and Anna in LaCrosse. Andrew 
   works at Best Buy in the computer department. Rachel works part-time as a nursing home 
   Recreational Therapist.

   Change #10 - Erica moved to LaCrosse in November and lives near Kiah and Anna. Makes it easy 
   to visit our kids now since they're clustered in the same part of the same city. I had hoped that our kids 
   would grow up to like each other as adults. So far, so good. Erica works in LaCrosse as a Medical 
   Services Coordinator for Logistics Health.

   Change #11 - Our 28 year streak of driving big family vehicles came to an end. We traded our big 
   red passenger van for a small Pontiac Vibe that comfortably seats four people.

   Change #12- Christina is an RN at a nursing home in Ashland. Do you notice a pattern here? She 
   moved out a month ago and lives 10 blocks away. She traveled in January to Honduras on a 
   short-term medical team that holds clinics in remote villages. 

   Change #13 - My mother, Pat Taylor, died at the age of 74 on January 17, 2014. She had severe 
   COPD and congestive heart problems for 12 years.  She died from pneumonia and a C02 build up 
    in her body. I know she's in a better place and wouldn't wish her back, but we're never ready to say 
    good-bye to our loved ones. Kiah and I rode the train to Portland for the memorial service.

   Change #14 - On the way home from my Mom's funeral, I got the news that Keith's mom, Marie Vik, 
   had suffered a stroke. After four days of hospitalization, she passed away at the age of 89. We knew 
   Keith's mom was aging, and my mom was very sick, but we never dreamed our mothers would die two 
   weeks apart. Our whole family was able to attend the funeral.

   Change #15 - On a happier note, Kiah got engaged a month ago to Dayton McCauley and they plan 
   to get married this summer in Ashland. Kiah met Dayton at camp two summers ago. We like Dayton 
   very much and Andrew is happy to finally be getting a brother.

    Keith and I, along with Amy, and Lani are the only Viks who didn't move in the last year. Besides 
    being grayer and flabbier, Keith and I haven't changed much. 

    Church is going well and other than enduring the coldest winter we've ever experienced, we're happy 
    to live where we do. The house is cleaner and quieter but we do miss the fun of having all the girls 
    home. We have a guest room now so feel free to book a stay at Hotel Vik.

   Amy (17) finally has her own room for the first time in her life. Amy is a junior and the family extrovert. 
   She loves working at camp, babysitting, knitting, hanging out with friends, and being on a cross-country 
   ski team. We enjoy Amy's friendly personality and are blessed to see her grow into a sweet young lady. 
   After so many years of juggling seven children (not literally), it's a treat to just have two kids to care for.

   Lani (15) is a freshman and is fast becoming the family handyman. She loves to clean, organize, and fix 
   up old furniture. She is patiently redoing her bedroom by herself - stripping wallpaper, patching, 
   sanding, painting, ripping up carpet, etc. She wore out our last electric sander so Keith just bought 
   her a new one.

   This has been a crazy year but we know the One who holds all our tomorrows in His hands. We believe 
   God knows best and we trust Him with our future. We hope all is well with you. It's always a treat to 
   hear from friends and family. Thanks for being a part of our lives.
    Angie for the family                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Thursday, April 24, 2014

In Honor of Erica's 22nd Birthday

Our Middle Child turns 22 today. In honor of her birthday, I've compiled a list of the cute things she said and did when she was little. One of the privileges of motherhood is being able to embarrass your children whenever you feel like it.


Childhood Nicknames

Erica from America (Proud of this one - I came up with it.)
Hairy – She was born with a lot of hair

6 Months

Destructo – self-explanatory
Walking Disaster Area

Childhood Erica-isms

Hanna – Banana
Barbecue – Barbie
Bitos – Burritos
Nee-Nog – Egg Nog
Uncles – Ankles
Birk – Book
Gates – Dates
Skookies – Cookies
“I’m two my old.” – I’m two years old
“Stake a bath.” – Take a bath
“On Friday” – her standard answer when we asked her to do things
Jackie Fair – Her word for a homeschool geography fair we participated in.

Fun Stories
Hide and Seek – November 1993
One evening we couldn’t find eighteen-month-old Erica. We lived in a small two-bedroom basement apartment so there wasn’t many places she could be. Finally we found her stuck under our bed in one of the underdrawers. We all had a good laugh while Keith figured out how to get her out. 

“I Protest” - 10/29/94    
On the way home from Sam’s Club, Keith said to the children, “Stay in the car while I take Erica (2) in and lay her down for a nap.” Erica, who had been sleeping in her car seat, woke up and cried, “No nap!!, then cried for a bit with her eyes closed, and fell back to sleep.

Not Hard - November, 1994
Kiah (5) stubbornly refused to eat her banana. She held up the banana and said, “I can’t get it open.”
Erica (2) walked over, took Kiah’s banana, very easily opened it, handed the peeled banana to Kiah, and said matter-of-factly, “There.”

 Not Tired – 11/94

It was afternoon rest time and Erica (2) was up goofing around. Kiah yelled, “Mom, why isn’t Erica resting?”
Erica yelled back, “BECAUSE, Kiah!”

A Different Perspective - December 2, 1994
I took Erica (2) to the grocery store one evening. As we walked to the car she noticed blinking Christmas lights down the street. She said very seriously, “Mom, the lights go off and on.  Off and on.” I thought this was funny because adults would say “On and Off” but she had it the other way around.

Comforting Words - January 11, 1995
We had all come down with the winter crud. Erica (2 ½) was very sick and wanted comfort. I held her and said, “Mommy loves you Erica.”
She replied, “Yes.”
Then I said, “And Daddy loves you.”
To which she again said, “Yes.”
I finished with, “And Grandma loves you.”
Then she sweetly and seriously said, “And Erica is very happy.” 

Imagine- August, 1995
We were visiting good friends in Colorado Springs.  We had taken three-year-old Erica to their downstairs bathroom earlier in the day. Before we left, we took Erica to the upstairs bathroom.
Erica looked around wide-eyed and said very seriously, “Is this a different bathroom?”
“Yes, it is,” I answered.
Then Erica said, in a voice full of wonder, “Imagine.  Two Bathrooms!”      
We’ve had one bathroom for as long as she could remember. In her mind, two bathrooms was sheer luxury.

Not Beating Around the Bush – August 1995
We had gone over to Keith’s bosses’ house for dinner. We also knew them from church and our children must have been feeling at home with their family.
After dinner and been served and everything was cleaned up, Erica (3) went up to the hostess and said, “Do you got any cake and ice cream?”
We were embarrassed and later explained to Erica that it wasn’t polite to ask for dessert.

Equally Yoked – December 1995
We’d explained to our children that it’s important to marry Christians when they grew up.  We’d gotten a Christmas letter from friends who’d shared that their seven-year-old daughter had become a Christian that year. 
Three-year-old Erica’s face brightened and she said seriously, “Then I can marry her.”

True Confessions – October 1995
At Faith Baptist Church one morning, Pastor Dave asked the congregation, “Do any of you have any unconfessed sin?
Three-year-old Erica pipes up, loud and clear for everyone to hear, “Yes!”

Good Advice – January 15, 1996
 Christina (11) was out of sorts and grumping at her siblings. Erica (3), tired of Christina’s rude remarks, yelled at her, “Respect your elbows!”

Duh! – May 30, 1996
At lunch one day, I told Kiah (6) that she had received some mail. When Kiah wondered who it was from, Erica (4) said, “From the mailman.”

Big Words – August, 1996

One hot day I was checking for cucumbers in the garden. I thought I had found them all but Erica (4) found one more. She held up the cucumber and said, “Aha! Apparently you didn’t look thoroughly.” We laughed, thinking “apparently” was quite a big word for a four-year-old.

So There! – February 12, 1998

All the kids had come down with bad colds at the same time. One night Erica (5) had a fever and was dozing on and off. She woke up, mumbled, “I don’t care what you say, my fever hurts!” and went back to sleep.

Ouch! - May 6, 2003Erica wrote this when she was eleven-years-old.
Today we are playing with our imagination and we wrapped tape around our ankles and
wrists and called them “Laser Beams.” We tried to shoot each other.
Amy got carried away and wrapped tape all the way to her knees! Later she tried to pull it off. Her legs were red for an hour.

Today Erica (second from left) is a proud aunt and has fun chronicling the fun antics of her favorite niece. 

Love ya, Sweetie. Hope you have a great birthday. Glad that you're part of our crazy bunch.

On a more serious note, I wrote this blog post for Erica's 17th birthday. 
If interested, click here to read.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Oh, My Poor Neglected Blog

I'm dismayed that it's come to this. Over two months without one post. 

I've followed blogs before that quit posting and I'd think, "No, please don't quit. I enjoy hearing about your life." Unless your blog friends are in-real-life friends or Facebook friends, once they stop blogging, you have no other way to know how they're doing.

2014 has been crazy so far. We visited Keith's sister who lives nine hours away and our kids who live five hours away for the Christmas holidays. Upon our return, we took turns sharing the cold that our relatives had shared with us at Christmas. 

A week later, My mother was hospitalized with pneumonia. She had COPD, assorted other health issues, and had been bedridden for two years. We'd had similar phone calls like this over the last 12 years, so while concerned, we assumed she'd bounce back like all the other times.

She died January 17.  

Even though she had been sick for a long time, and I'm glad she's in a better place and is no longer in any physical or emotional pain, that for the first time in her life, everything is right, it was still hard. I don't think we're ever ready to say good-bye to people we love. 

The upside of a sad time, is spending time with family and friends. My daughter Kiah and I took the train from Minneapolis to Portland for her funeral. 

Despite the circumstances, Kiah and I had a great time. We enjoyed connecting with family we hadn't seen for agesI was gone 12 days. 

On the train ride home, I got the message that my husband's 89-year-old mother had suffered a stroke. This took me by surprise because for the most part she had been in good health. 

She died three days later on January 31. Exactly two weeks after my mom.  Double whammy! Ouch! I hadn't processed my mom's death yet before Keith's mom died. 

She was ready to go. She said at Christmas that this was her last Christmas. She often said that she just wanted God to take her. She's in a much better place and we wouldn't wish her back, but she was dearly loved and we miss her. 

First time our family had all been together in over a year. 

Our granddaughter lightened everyone's hearts. My son said people should rent out therapy babies for funerals.  

Good to mourn together, share memories, family stories, hugs, and tears. Good to say good-bye together, but in our own way. 

Because Keith's mom had been in assisted living, we had to immediately clean out her apartment so we wouldn't be charged for another month. Usually after a funeral, you don't have to deal with their stuff right away. This was a mixed blessing, as it was hard, but it's done. It could easily have dragged on for years, like it did with his dad's stuff.   

The first week home I felt numb and sluggish and didn't feel like doing much. We're for the most part back in the saddle and trying to get back into a routine. 

All this to explain where I've been the last two months.  If you still read my blog, thank-you. I appreciate your concern for me and my family. I'm thankful for all my family and friends, virtual or otherwise.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Confused Oak

I drive by this tree at least twice a day on the way into our garage.

I don't whether to admire the tree's leaves' tenacity for hanging in there through strong winds, rain, sleet, and snow. Especially when all the other leaves fell weeks ago.

Or should I pity the tree for being in denial? 99% of local deciduous trees have shed their leaves. Snow looks beautiful on evergreen trees but doesn't look as nice on dried brown oak leaves.

All I can say is that one shouldn't have to rake leaves and shovel snow at the same time.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sound Sleeper

Today is my son's 26th birthday. In honor of his special day, I'm sharing a favorite story from the Vik Family archives. 

When our son, Andrew, was little, he was such a sound sleeper that he barely moved. We'd often watch to see if his chest rose and fell to make sure he was still alive. 

The worst time was when he was 13 years old.

In 2000, Keith and I had gone on a date, while fifteen-year-old Christina, our oldest daughter, babysat our six youngest children. We enjoyed a peaceful, relaxing evening away from our busy family, only to return home to an astonishing turn of events.

10:15 p.m. We walked in the house to find Christina downstairs reading. We assumed the other kids were upstairs in bed. When asked how things had gone that night, Christina said, "Okay."

Eleven-year-old Kiah walked downstairs and said, "Has Andrew come back yet?"

"What do you mean?" Keith asked. "Isn't he here?"

Christina sighed and put down her book, "I'm not sure." Seems while the cat's away, the mice will...fight. Christina explained that she had  a big fight with Andrew and he had grabbed a sleeping bag and stomped out of the house, saying that "He was going where no one could find him."

We left Kiah inside with the sleeping younger children, and took Christina outside to help look for Andrew.

Our eight acres were surrounded by 160 acres of soybeans. There wasn't much moonlight and our big yard light only illuminated so far. We looked for thirty minutes then called a neighbor who came over with a searchlight. We yelled and shined our flashlights all over the place. No Andrew.

We hoped he hadn't gone into our three-acre grove. Navigating our thick, tangled, overgrown grove at night would be nearly impossible. After an hour of searching, thirty minutes by ourselves, and thirty minutes with the neighbor, we started to panic. Where was he?

11:30 - The police wouldn't help until we had called Andrew's closest friends to see if he'd gone to their houses. His friends lived five miles away. Surely he hadn't walked to town?

We felt foolish calling people that late at night, but his friends hadn't seen him.  We wondered what they thought of us? How do you lose a child from your house?

11:45 - Andrew had been missing for two hours. A police officer showed up with a bigger, more powerful searchlight. He grilled Christina who had been the last person to see him. We all yelled Andrew's name, shining lights everywhere.

12:15 - We were panicked. Was he hurt somewhere? Perhaps unconscious? Was he hiding and purposely not answering? Had he run away? The policeman offered to call in a bloodhound.

I rested my head on our van's steering wheel and prayed, "God, you know where he is. Please help us find him."

I shone headlights into the soybean field again. Between the van and soybeans stood an old white picnic table. I looked hard at the table and thought it looked thicker than normal.

I walked over to the table, overjoyed to see Andrew sleeping on it. I drove off to find Keith. We drove back and parked five feet from the table. Keith honked the horn a few times to alert the searchers that we had finally found Andrew. We kept the headlights shining on him, amazed that he was still sleeping.

How had we missed him before?  Andrew was small for his age and very skinny. Wearing a black stocking cap and snuggled down inside a black sleeping bag, his small size and black bag had made him almost invisible.

I called his name a couple times, thinking he should go inside and sleep in his bed. Since he was obviously in a deep sleep, totally oblivious to the activity going on around him, Keith said to let him sleep where he was.

What was more unbelievable? That we had looked for two and half hours for someone who was sleeping fifty feet from the house or that Andrew had slept through people yelling his name, cars driving on and off our property, lights shining everywhere, and the van's horn honking five feet from his head. 

We thanked our neighbor and the policeman and sent them home, everyone relieved that the lost had been found. A few hours with a missing child was awful. I can't imagine what parents who never find their children go through.

The next morning was sunny and peaceful. Keith watched out the kitchen window as Andrew woke up. His little head poked out of the sleeping bag and he looked around, disoriented to where he was and why. Andrew walked inside and Keith asked how he had slept.

Andrew yawned and said, "Fine." He had absolutely no recollection of all the chaos he had caused.

I was reluctant to go on future dates. Keith thought it vital that we take time for us and sternly warned the kids that there would be no more monkey business while Mom and Dad were gone.

Unfortunately this episode didn't cure the kids of fighting. They had a few more "incidents" but I am happy to say that our kids have grown up to like each other and are good friends now.

I see Andrew watching his four-month-old daughter sleeping and when he leans closer to make sure she's still breathing. I smile and think, "What goes around, comes around."