Today was Berkli’s memory and she sent me a couple of photos from Easter 2013-the one where Macli tried to eat Brock’s nose.
It was a fun Easter at Dad’s house in Treynor. And like all Poland Family events, it was full of family. Not only was I able to come back but Kristin and Jeri were there as well and our Aunt Jean and Uncle Joe were able to join us for the day. There was an Easter Egg hunt, sliding on the mammoth slide that eventually made it’s way to Big Lake, and lots of pictures including some of my favorite family photos (like the one of Hailee and her uncle Aaron). I’m not sure who allowed these kids to grow up but we need to talk….
Brock has been my Storm Lake traveler several times now. This memory is from our most recent trip to Storm Lake the last time I was home for the summer. It was much easier driving with him when he had something to watch on the way there and back. Storm Lake is a favorite destination for a number of reasons-I get to see my friends and my old house, we get to go to the water park, and of course, donut holes! Storm Lake Bakery definitely does have the best donut holes. The funny thing about Brock and the donut holes is that he was only 2 when I left Storm Lake for Texas but still remembered the donut holes and always asked about them. He didn’t understand when I moved that I couldn’t still bring him donut holes. So I had friends who were coming to (or even near) Treynor bring them down. One of the first times they were delivered to my mom’s house, he saw the box on the kitchen island and tried to get them for himself and ended up spilling them all over the floor. On this trip, Brock was introduced to Kevin, my friend’s cat, and they bonded. I think if she had said it was okay, he would have taken Kevin home with him. He had fun with the other cats too, but Kevin was definitely his favorite.
Hailee’s memory today is our mutual love of photography. I gave Hailee her first camera when she was little more than a toddler and from a young age, I taught her how to take good photographs. She was always good at composition, though her choice of subject was questionable when she was really young.
I can’t tell you how many photos exist of her shoes and feet from when she was young. She was especially fond of taking photos of her feet up in the air while she was laying down. I tried many times to get her to set up photographs but it would be many years before that would happen. One of the ways I have witnessed her photography skills grow is at our family reunions. For the first several years, I took most of the photos at the reunions and was in charge of taking all of the group photos on Sunday morning-ish. Over the years, Hailee started taking more and more of the photos over the weekend, first with my camera and then with her own. She started helping me get the group photos set up a few years ago but last year, she took the photos and I assisted her. It’s not easy coordinating more than 20 different photographs between the different families and getting more than 40 people and an assortment of dogs posed and ready for the full family photo. She did it all with a smile on her face.
While she had a point and shoot when she was young, I also let her use my DSLR frequently when I was visiting. It surprised many that I would let someone so young use the camera but I always had one rule: to keep the neck strap around her neck. She took to photography quickly and loved learning more about what makes a good photograph. Entering her photographs for 4-H every year was great for building her skills even when the write ups were like pulling teeth. She always excelled at being able to tell a story with her photography and her photo series submissions each year are a testament to her skill.
In the past few years, Hailee has really blossomed in her photography. Where our conversations had been about how to take better photographs when she was younger, now they are about how to be more creative with her photography. This is the second year that she has created photo based projects and sold them to others. Last year, it was a calendar of images of her Scottish Highland cow, Kevin. This year she expanded her efforts to include a book for young children, combining her desire to teach young children and her love of photography and Kevin. She has also recently started doing some portrait photography and is enjoying it immensely. I enjoy our conversations about the sessions and the ways she has edited the photos. And I’m excited about the plans we have for her photos for next summer. Her dad should probably be a little concerned about some of our plans.
Here are a number of photographs of our geocaching adventures
We released five trackables that summer as well. Here is a list of each trackable’s information and map of where it went.
Brock, age 6, would like to see Butterscotch make it to different states in the United States as well as visit other countries around the world. It made it 13 miles to Omaha.
Hailee, age 9, would like Mailey to make her way through the western United States and go to Hawaii and the islands of the South Pacific. This is Hailee’s first trackable and she is looking forward to watching Mailey travel around the world and hearing about all of her adventures. It was unfortunately stolen from it’s original placement.
Waddles is the name of the beanie baby/beanie buddy penguin Granny had for all of us when we were young so we named this penguin after that first one because we miss Granny every day. We would like Waddles to visit every state in the United States and every province in Canada just like our Granny (though she never made it to Hawaii). Then we would like Waddles to visit countries that she would have liked to visit in Europe and around the world. We would love to see photos of Waddles visiting different places around the country and the globe. Waddles has travelled 19366 miles and has been all over the US as well as to Canada and Cancun.
Henry is a ladybug owned by Berkli and has been hidden by her cousins. Berkli would love to see photos of Henry as he travels from cache to cache. Henry has travelled 4962 miles all over the US.
Sarah the inch worm belongs to the youngest member of our family, Maci. She was activated on the day she was born and has been hidden by Maci’s cousins. Maci, her sister, and her cousins would love to see photos of Sarah as she travels from cache to cache. Sarah has travelled 13789 miles all over the US including Hawaii.
And then a few years later, Brock and I went on a geocaching adventure again on a trip to Storm Lake and Sioux City and found 2 caches in Missouri Valley. Here are more highlights from that trip. Brock loved using the bank tube when we stopped by on our way to Storm Lake. We both love King’s Pointe in Storm Lake. And while I don’t have a photo, we stopped by Storm Lake Bakery to get donut holes to bring back to everyone as well as Jerry’s Pizza for dinner. We also were able to see Caleb and Robin on that trip.
Today I had a package to open rather than the memories I have been opening and I was curious. I almost opened it last night but I’m glad I waited. I should have known what it was given that it was from Kristin but honestly didn’t have a clue. I’m not sure when Kristin and I first started doing tie-dye with the kids but it eventually ended up on the list of ‘annual Poland activities’ that must be done every year but only at a time when both Kristin and I were back. It’s also one of the few activities where I don’t have many photos of us doing tie-dye over the years because 1) it’s over pretty quick and 2) I was usually too involved in dying things to stop for photos. What I do have though, is photos of all of us in our tie-dye over the years so here’s to enjoying those as well as a few of us actually dying shirts, pillow cases, towels and anything else we could find.
Today’s picture is from Huck and is a copy of a photo I have in my office at work. It’s from Westfair 2 years ago. We were all hanging out in the tent on the lawn and I had fed him and he fell asleep in my arms. I have always enjoyed snuggling with my nieces and nephews and he is no exception. I don’t get the chance very often so I am always willing to hold them even for just a little while when they are sleeping and cuddly. Huck likes his blankets as much as any of the kids.
Today’s picture was from Hadi and it was photos from when she was younger and is adorable. I love that my nieces and nephews are growing up together and see each other often. Beyond holidays and family dinners, they are able to just hang out when they want. That’s an experience we didn’t have growing up. As promised, here are more photos from my trip to the Omaha Children’s Museum with her and her sister. What you don’t see in the photos is how well-behaved both of them were. When we were in the doctor’s office play area and in the store, there was another little girl that kept coming over and taking whatever they were playing with. Rather than getting upset, they would just move on and play with something else. However, I’m pretty sure that’s why Hadi is protecting her grocery cart in the one photo. The girl was coming over and taking things out of the cart. I eventually moved us to another area until the other girl left.
Today’s card is from Macli and when I opened it and saw the rainbow, it made me smile. And then I read her card and I feel her love coming off the page. I miss my family so much right now. When I left home after high school, I lived about 2 hours away so I could travel back whenever I wanted. After about 10 years, I moved back in with my parents to attend grad school and saw them every single day and had dinner with them a couple of times a week for three years. Then I moved a couple of hours away again for the next 8 years. Then I really moved away and it became longer between visits but I was still able to have long visits because of the nature of my job. I don’t have all summer like I once did but I still have the ability to travel home for long visits several times a year. Before this year, I would go back at least 4 times a year and often more. I’ve never gone a full year without seeing my family. I’m thankful for FaceTime and Zoom and the ability to talk to them frequently. But it’s not the same as being with them and getting their hugs and cuddling with them, reading a book with them, watching a movie with them, or doing crafts with them. But Macli-I’m with you. I will be having Christmas with all of you in my head and these cards are definitely helping with that. I look forward to talking to you on Christmas day too.
My gift to you today Macli is one of my favorite memories with you and Hadi. I’m going to start it today and finish it with her card tomorrow. Two years ago, I was able to come home for Easter break and while everyone else was in school, your mom asked if I wanted to take the two of you to the Omaha Children’s Museum. I hadn’t been in a long time and it sounded like fun. I was nervous because I hadn’t taken you and Hadi anywhere by myself before and because I had to drive your mom’s suburban which was really tall and bigger than the car I normally drive. There was nothing to be nervous about though-you were both great all day long and we had so much fun. The grocery store was completely updated from the last time I had been there and there were so many new exhibits to explore. You were both full of energy and I loved playing with you and listening to your stories-I love your imagination. You played in the water, rode the carousel and train (multiple times), camped out in the tents, went fishing, went grocery shopping, made cakes, played with face paint, played doctor, explored the logs and canoes, and made a chair in the maker space. I got tired just trying to keep up with you!!
Today my card is a drawing from Berkli, the oldest of the youngest Polands. I don’t have as many memories with them as I do the older ones because I stopped having the entire summer off and in Iowa before we had the chance. And I no longer live just 2 hours away so I can’t go down for a long weekend anymore. In many ways, that makes me cherish every moment and opportunity I do get to spend with them a little more. I was going to start with an earlier memory for Berkli and I will share it before the end of the month. But today, I want to share one of my favorite memories with Berkli.
Berkli competed in the Summer Music Olympics at University of Nebraska at Omaha two years ago and her mom asked if I would like to take her to the competition. I was excited to be able to take her for a couple of reasons. First, I was going to enjoy being able to hear her play. I had to stand in the hallway and listen while she was judged but it was still fun to be able to hear her play. I had taken piano lessons when I was young and knew it was hard work to learn and memorize a piece for a performance. Second, the competition was at UNO where I had gone to school so I could show Berkli around my old school. Third, it was close to Jones Brothers Cupcakes which we could get on the way home to celebrate! While there was a lot of waiting to play and then to get her award, it was a fun day out with her. And as always, I am thankful for the memory and to be able to call her my niece.
Before we get to today’s memory from Brock, I want to take a moment to celebrate my mom and my family. Today, it’s been 11 years since she passed away. Her favorite flowers were gerber daisies and this one bloomed earlier this week for me. It’s from a plant I received earlier this year for my birthday. I’m not great at keeping plants alive but I wanted to try so I bought a new pot and have kept it in bright light. And now, in addition to this bloom, there are several more starting to pop up from the roots. It’s one more way for Mom to be here with me over her favorite holiday season!
I was told that Brock’s memories were likely to be tear jerkers so you can imagine my hesitation on what is already an emotional day for us. Honestly, I’ve had so many happy memories of my mom this week that I’m enjoying remembering her and didn’t want today to be a sad day. So imagine my happy surprise when I opened Brock’s memory and read this:
The running joke is that the only reason Brock contacts me is to rent a movie or if there is a problem with Netflix. And there is good reason for the joke. When others would worry if they saw a missed call after they went to bed from a family member, when I see it’s Brock, I assume he wanted to watch something and wasn’t able to do so. While we certainly have both phone and text conversations about other things, we do have plenty that relate to renting movies or the password for various accounts so he can watch movies. I can’t blame Brock for this-I have been allowing him (and everyone else) to rent movies and/or use my accounts to watch movies for several years now. In fact, long before Brock understood what it mean to have to ‘pay’ for something online, he asked me if he could watch a movie on my Amazon account. I asked if it was free-meaning included with my prime account and Brock responded back that yes, he wouldn’t have to pay for it (a true statement). So I agreed and five minutes later, I became the proud owner of a newly released……
Back to Brock’s memory and our conversations-let me leave you with some of our many conversations over the years about renting and watching movies. I did get smart and started making my birthday part of the password they have to type in each time-maybe they will remember it better!