06 August 2008

got village?

The concept of a Village has been on my mind quite a bit lately. A couple of weeks ago I fell into a little bit of a funk. On a Monday morning as I sat and pondered the week ahead, I didn't know if I had the energy to get through it. Staying home with kids isn't as easy as it looks and anyone who has done it knows how exhausting it is. . . . but that isn't why I had been thinking about Villages.

During that week I was trying to figure out *why* I was feeling in a funk. I have been home for over 2 years now and never had a Monday morning where I would have rather put on work clothes and commuted 30 minutes to a job. It wasn't until that Friday that I realized what was missing - my Village. I hadn't been to a play group in almost 2 months and after hosting friends on that Friday I could finally put my finger on what was missing - *my* play time with other moms. Our summer has been very busy running Bergen around to all his activates and even though I was doing "stop and chats" (as Lars and I like to call them thanks to Larry David!) with other moms as I would drop off/pick up Bergen from his events and was keeping up to date with friends over email, I wasn't getting that vital face to face contact for an extended period of time. I was getting what I perceived to be interaction with other moms and friends, but it was only superficial. So that is what got me thinking about Villages. I started to wonder if other moms were getting their needs met - Do they have a Village that builds them up and supports them? Or were they trying to meet that need through quick stop and chats like I thought I was? Or were they trying to build their Village with a keyboard?

Technology has made incredible advances possible in our lives. *Everything* has become convenient and easy. . . from taking classes online to ordering dinner to Christmas shopping. There is just no need to ever leave the house. And now we have a hundred ways for us to keep connected to family and friends through things like email, facebook, myspace and, of course, blogs, but I don't think that can replace that vital need for face to face contact. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE these ways to keep in touch. We are now able to stay connected with far away family and friends that we wouldn't have been able to in the past and I absolutely love it. But those online connections can't ever replace our need for real life human interactions. All the tools to keep in touch online should simply be an extension of our Villages. . . . we need to have the daily connections with those around us and the online connections should be a bonus. It shouldn't be the main way in which we are keeping in touch with family and friends.

I feel really lucky to have such a great Village. We are blessed with wonderful family and friends. . . and we are extremely lucky to live close to the majority of them. One always discovers the meaning of a Village in times of need and my first thought is to all the amazing people that helped us through Bergen's hospitalization this past spring. In a moments notice there were friends and family willing and waiting to help. Words can't express how incredible that was for us to know that level of support was there. The Village that surrounds us supports us and builds us up as a family. . . we are lucky.

But Villages aren't easy to find these days. The thought of the Village came to mind again yesterday as we were preparing to attend National Night Out where neighbors around the country gather together. . . or at least the neighbors that decide to actually leave their house to make connections with those that live around them. I attended our first National Night Out alone with a 3 week old son in arms back in 2004 while Lars attended one of his MBA classes. . . I met quite a few people and felt good about our neighborhood. But it wasn't until a year later that I saw or talked to those neighbors again. And last night I made the annual visit with my neighborhood and now plan on not seeing the vast majority of these neighbors until next August. It is such a difference compared to the neighborhood I grew up in. It seems during the summer growing up in D-town every night was national night out. Kids were out playing and parents were out talking. We knew the neighbors - who lived in which house. But when I talk to family and friends it seems those kind of neighborhoods are a rarity "these days". It makes me wonder when exactly was it that we made the switch to forced neighbor gatherings through National Night Out vs. the kind of community that I and many of my friends grew up with? That isn't to say that I don't think National Night Out isn't a good idea - I think it is. But what happens in our communities, or Villages, on the 364 days in-between the forced connection?

I am not going to be so bold as to say that technology (computers, TVs) alone has created the insular communities that we now live in, but I think I am correct in saying it has made a massive impact on how we connect and relate to those around us. Should I ever go back to school (which is highly, highly, highly unlikely), I will write my thesis on it! As humans we are meant to have meaningful connections and you just can't get that true heart to heart connection with others through a keyboard - even with all of your emotion poured into that electronic exchange. Why is it that the first thing that babies connect with are faces? Because from the moment we are born we yearn to connect. Maybe it is enough for some people to chat with a others from around the world online, but I can't help but shake my head a little when I hear of online groups like http://www.meetup.com/ or http://www.cafemom.com/ where you can look up groups in your community to find new virtual friend prospects. While I think they can be a useful tool, my heart can't help wanting the connections to start OFFline.

Maybe I am just too old fashioned.

this is just wrong

385 million? Seriously? Does anyone else see anything wrong with this . . . or is it just me?

Click here: Highest Paid TV Stars

05 August 2008

it's my party

and I'll have FUN if I want to!!

And boy did Bergen have fun! We had a water themed birthday party (which went quite nicely with the Cars cake that Bergen picked!) for the big boy on his 4th birthday. Every year Bergen's birthday has fallen on a hot and sunny day, and the forecast this year was no different, but it turned out to be a cooler and cloudy day. It actually ended up for the best - it was much easier for for parents to enjoy the outdoors and no one had to worry too much about sunscreen! The kids still played in the water, hit a pinata, devoured some cake, and enjoyed some gift opening. Bergen is still talking about how much fun he had at his birthday party and he can't wait to have another party when he turns 5 "next week". I guess we still need to work on that whole concept of time.

After our friends left, family stayed to celebrate Annika's birthday. We opened gifts and had a cake that Annika didn't want to touch with a 10 foot pole (she was probably still suffering from PTSD from her whole cupcake experience the night before). But even though she didn't take a bite, she enjoyed getting caked in the frosting herself!

It was a wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL party!! Thank you to everyone that was able to celebrate with us in person and to those that couldn't be there but were with us in spirit! We truly feel blessed to have such amazing family and friends! THANK YOU!!!

a celebration for one

Normally I am not this slow when it comes to technology, but this morning I discovered that I *can* download the 500 birthday photos we took for Bergen and Annika's birthdays onto our computer. . . . I am excited to finally be able to share them with you!!

On Annika's first birthday we celebrated with Grandma Peg and Aunt Megan. We had a great dinner followed by some amazing cupcakes that Grandma and Bergen picked out. I couldn't wait for Annika to smash her face into the wonderful frosting goodness, but much to our surprise the second she tasted the frosting she started to gag so much I thought she was having an allergic reaction. She definitely didn't inherit my sweet tooth!!

04 August 2008

fun, fun festival

We went to our local community parade on Friday August 1st with some friends. It was fun for us to think back to last year when we brought our 2.5 week old daughter. . . what a different experience this year! I think we both remembered it a little better this year given the sleep deprivation last time around! We had a BLAST watching all the floats, marching bands and the many, (too) many political figures working the parade route (Godfather Nils, we thought of you!) slowly stroll down the boulevard. It honestly could not have been a more perfect night to be outside celebrating our community!

This year we were a bit wiser and brought Bergen a "candy bag" to hold the vast amount of candy, toys and trinkets thrown into the crowd by all the parade participants. And even though we got a little heckling about the size of his candy bag (Steve!), his HUGE bag was almost completely full by the end of the evening. . . someone commented that it was a little like Halloween. But I think it is better then Halloween because you just stand there and the candy is thrown to you - you don't have to do a thing!

It was a great night with great friends. . . and all around great tradition!!

too cute for words

play me a song. . .

you're the piano (wo)man. . . .

in absentia

It has been too long, dear cyberspace. So much has happened since my last update that I don't even know where to start. Nothing huge, but lots of fun little stuff that summer is made of. If I were to give an excuse for the lack of updates, which I know I shouldn't, the key culprit would rest with my lack of a digital camera. Our family camera badly needs a trip to the ER and part of me feels like my left arm is missing with its absence; so I have in essence, "shut down" when it comes to online stuff. We combed the drawers and pulled out our old, old, old camera which has helped me get through this difficult time. . . . but I get more blurred images then Kodak moments. OK, enough complaining.

Anyways. . . just a few highlights. . . . .

1. OUR BASEMENT IS DONE!!!!!!!!!! After 6 weeks we have an updated, beautiful basement that we actually enjoy spending time in! Amazing what a few little improvements can do. We still have a couple of "to-do's" down there, but all-in-all we are enjoying what feels like a whole new house. Thanks family for all of your help with the painting!!

B E F O R E . . . .

A F T E R . . .

2. Bergen's numerous summer activities (soccer, Rainbow Kids) are now coming to a close. It is a welcome break for me to enjoy some home time with the kiddos before preschool starts up again in 4 short weeks. Bergen has tennis for a couple of weeks in August for a quick "boot camp" but that is it. . . we are going to kick back and play with friends for the next month.

3. Annika is getting more and more mobile every day. She has become a pro at pulling herself up and cruising around furniture - which is very exciting for us. Walking is one of those things that we parents so look forward to, but the second it does we know we could have waited another week or two for it to happen! I know she will be a running machine in no time and I am enjoying every second of her figuring out the process ever so slowly and building strength to take that first step. . . someday. I am in no rush.
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