Saturday, August 28, 2010

Twenty six years ago

Twenty six years ago tonight -- a sultry August night typical of the East Coast -- I was sitting with my (then) husband Bob in JFK airport.  Next to me sat my fully-stocked diaper bag complete with a bottle of soy formula.  But no baby. Sitting right behind us we spied another couple with a similarly stocked diaper bag -- and no baby.

We greeted each other -- sure enough, we were all waiting for the time when we would be ushered into a deserted gate in the terminal, in preparation for the delivery of our babies.

That's right, my baby daughter was delivered in a gate at JFK airport.

She was delivered by a chaperone who carried her off the plane that had brought some thirty babies all the way from South Korea.

Prior to the delivery, I'd been pacing the floor, talking to one of the other mothers-to-be. Suddenly the babies appeared through the door from the jetway, and sixty parents converged on the group.  Each baby had an armband identifying him/her by name together with the name of the new parents.  I'd have known her anywhere already, though, because I'd spent many hours looking at the two photographs that we'd been sent since her birth in May. 

Abbi had been named Eun Hee Kim at her birth.

Abbi came off the plane grinning the irresistible toothless grin of a three-month old. She was instantly delighted with us and we with her.

And we've been delighted ever since.

Abbi, about 15 years old, appearing in the Nutcracker.

Summer 2010 in the mountains of Utah.

Happy Anniversary, Abbi!


Thursday, August 26, 2010


It runs in our family, apparently.

My daughter is adopted. 

My cousin is adopted. 

My great-great grandfather was adopted. 

Yep, that's right.  In mid-19th century Great Budworth, England (in Cheshire), my great-great-grandaddy, Thomas, was adopted.  There are no legal papers -- these things weren't done with legal procedures back then, so I've learned.  But my research clearly shows that he went from being Thomas Starkey Wilkinson (his name at the time of his christening in 1837) to Thomas S. Sunderland, sometime between 1841 and 1851.  In 1841, he was still Thomas Wilkinson, living with his elder brother and his mother -- who was, possibly, a live-in housekeeper to one John Sunderland or possibly rented rooms from him.

By 1851, John had married Emma (Thomas' mother) and Thomas' last name was Sunderland, as were all the brothers and sisters who came after him.

I hope his adoptive relationship was a happy one. There is no way of knowing, of course, But he did keep the Sunderland name for the rest of his life and he bestowed it on his offspring. That puts a good light on the outcome of John Sunderland's marriage to my great-great-great grandmother, Emma Wilkinson, and his adoption of little Thomas Wilkinson.

- Catherine


Tim has been hard at it, with a crew of family and friends helping.

The side of the house, after we took down the ramshackle lean-to style deck, looked like this:

And then construction began on a new deck and roof section:

And as of yesterday, it looks like this:

We've also got a new roof section going up over the back door:

Tim and I joke that we'll have done so much to the house that we won't want to leave it. 

But the truth is that we can't wait to move into our new home and have this:

Stay tuned!

- Catherine

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Random Dozen - the Wednesday meme

Thanks again to Lid over at 2nd Cup of Coffee for hosting the weekly Random Dozen!

1. What is your favorite Mexican dish?   Just about anything with gobs of cheese on it or in it (preferably both). We have good Mexican restaurants in our town.

2. When you were a kid, did you get started on your homework right away after school, or did you procrastinate?  I procrastinated only once – on a long-term assignment that was due about six weeks after my parents’ divorce.  I just couldn’t get my act in gear for a while there. Eventually I went back to the usual routine, though – do the homework at the earliest possible time.

3. What is your favorite store for home furnishings?  It depends on the furnishings I’m looking for, so I’ll name three: Home Goods/TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, and our local furniture store, O’Dell’s.

4. When you were young, did you like school lunches?   No. I also didn’t like what I brought from home (sandwiches), so lunchtime at school was always a chore.

5. Is religion a crutch?  Religion (which is nothing deeper than a specific set of beliefs and practices that you do as a routine in the hopes of being considered "good") – is definitely a crutch.  Faith (looking to God in all situations) is totally liberating! 

6. In your region, what is the "big" (most popular in the community or state) high school sport?  I guess Football. At least, that’s all I hear about among the teenagers that I know.

7. Do you consider yourself rich?  Yes indeed – rich in the things that matter in life: family, marriage, health, love, joy, a home, food on the table, etc. . . .

8. Which of these would you have the best chance for success in administering:
B) Heimlich Maneuver
C) Changing a flat tire

I guess the Heimlich Maneuver. I actually have had training in CPR but that was about 10 years ago, so I’m not sure I’d remember how to do it.

9. Which dance would you prefer to learn & why:
A) Salsa
B) Hip Hop
C) Waltz
D) Swing

Swing (both East Coast and West Coast) – looks like SO much fun!! And I love the music.

10. What's the worst news you've ever delivered to someone?  I had to tell my mother that her brother had unexpectedly died of a massive heart attack.

11. Name something you learned in college that had nothing to do with classes or academics.  Adults can be just as petty and mean as children.

12. New variation on an old question: If there's a song in your head that just won't get out, what is your favorite (or most repeated) line in that song? “And if I should become a stranger, know that it would make me more than sad.”

If you want to play along, copy the questions and put your own answers on your blog. Then go to Lid's blog (see link at the top) and link up your blog with hers.

- Catherine

Monday, August 23, 2010


I was baptized as an infant and "confirmed in the faith" when I was in the sixth grade. 

While I deeply appreciate the symbolism of those two acts in the life of a child . . .

. . . this is the experience that no Christian should miss!!

- Catherine

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weekend update

No pictures today. Just a narrative of epic proportions.

1. I deep cleaned the second floor in preparation for showing the house.

2. Twelve bags of garbage.

That is all.

- Catherine

Friday, August 20, 2010

More photos of our house

The TV show "Extreme Makeover: The Home Edition" is in our neighborhood this week, believe it or not. They are building a brand new house for a woman who lives about a block and a half from us.  The hoopla is not to be believed.  Draconian security surrounds the production, spilling over to the neighbors (you need a pass to access your own home if your house is located in the secure area, which is a three-block radius on all sides of the production).

While the road and alley closings have been a bit inconvenient, there is one bonus: our alley is closed:

The alley runs along the side of our house, very much like a driveway except that it goes all the way through the middle of the block.  With the alley closed, we don't have to worry about keeping it clear of construction or deconstruction materials  -- actually quite a God-send, given the work at hand.

There was progress today on the deck, as you can see:

The frame now wraps around to the side of the house.

The roof, which was taken off on Tuesday night:

 . . . has been sheeted and is almost ready for shingles:

The shingles were delivered late this afternoon and are sitting on the (closed) sidewalk:

As a teaser, here's a picture of what will be my front yard at the new house:

 Stay tuned!

- Catherine

Thursday, August 19, 2010


We're in the final push to finish our house!  Why? Because we've purchased another one and we'll be moving in a couple of months.  Not very far away, mind you -- the other side of town (technically, the next town over). It's the four-acre place where our horses have been boarding for the last four summers. The house came available this summer and we put in an outrageous offer, which was accepted.  We're calling it a God-thing because there is no way we should have been able to get the house. 

That said, we've got work to do here and so my hubby is hard at it with a crew of friends and relatives.

First off, we took down the old deck on the front of the house.

(And what you can't see here, because we cleverly covered it up, is the spot where you could sink your foot through the boards if you weren't careful!)

After the demolition:
 There were quite a few rotten boards under the old deck.  We've got brand new lumber now, and the deck will wrap around this side of the house when it is completed:

However, we've had to interrupt the deck work in order to re-roof the house during a spell of dry and sunny weather.

Here's the start of the operation -- taking down about a bajillion cedar shingles on a very steeply pitched roof

That's right -- no one wanted a safety harness.  At times, I just couldn't look.

This is my favorite pic of the roofing party:

The little helpers.

One discarded shingle at a time, they helped to fill the trailer.  Anthony, in yellow, is 6 years old. Casey, in blue, is 4 years old.  Casey (who is my grandson) eventually asked me if he could have a pair of "glubs" for his hands. I smothered a smile and turned to fetch a pair from the front yard. Casey trotted after me, yelling over his shoulder, "One second, I go get glubs!"  He was very proud of himself that evening.

More to come!

- Catherine

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Random Dozen - the Wednesday meme

1. What is your favorite fair/carnival food?  Deep fried salmon from our family’s fair booth (at the Eastern Idaho State Fair).

2. Are you holding onto something you need to let go of? I don’t think so at the moment.

3. What is your favorite gift to receive?  These days – money. Because we are deep into renovating our house(s) and that takes gobs of money!

4. When was the last time you tried something new?  Last March I took up racquetball, which was something totally new to me. I love it because it exercises both body and mind and is incredibly fun.  Playing racquetball has restored quite a bit of my ability to concentrate. It has also quickened my reflexes and increased my strength.  Best of all -- I’ve lost 25 pounds and more than one dress size thanks to my two or three times a week practice/games.  Bonus: I’m in the best cardio-vascular shape since my 30s. Wahoo!!

5. What is your favorite and least favorite book genre? Favorite: Historical Fiction (including historical mysteries), Least fave: Chick Lit (it all seems the same after a while – either heartbreak/fatal illness combined with romance, or vicious man-bashing).

6. Silver or Gold?  Gold. Silver doesn’t go with my coloring very well. Thankfully.

7. What makes you sigh?  Apparently, I sigh a lot, according to my hubby.  But to answer the question: What makes me sigh is failing to get through to my teenager . . . or realizing that there is a sink full of dishes still to be done (see my priorities there?).

8. If you didn't know how old you are, how old would you claim you are?  That’s a tough one!  Maybe 35 or 40? (see #4)

9. Would you break a law to save a loved one? To protect a loved one?  That’s another tough one.  I guess it depends on the law.  Would I deliberately plot to murder someone? No. Would I kill in defense?  Possibly.  The heat of the moment would certainly factor into what I might do.

10. If you had to teach something, what would it be?  History. Knowing history – in general terms and in personal terms – deepens our life experience and gives insight to what is happening today. “Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” is a very true statement.

11. You're having lunch with 3 people whom you respect and admire. They begin to criticize a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend. What do you do?  Listen for a short while to see make sure I’m not misinterpreting what they’re saying, and then attempt to gently change the subject. If that fails, I’d remind them that gossip is destructive and then forcibly change the subject.  And, unless there was a sense on their part of having done wrong, I probably wouldn’t have lunch with those people again.

12. Which of the 5 Love Languages is your prominent means of experiencing love?  That was an interesting test! The answer for me is Quality Time, followed closely (1 point) by Words of Affirmation. And that is absolutely true.  For example: NFL season is going to be starting soon and one of the reasons I love it so much is because both Tim and I enjoy watching the games together.

Thanks, Lid, for hosting the weekly Random Dozen!  If you would like to play along, answer the questions for yourself and then link your blog post to Lid's at 2nd Cup of Coffee.

 - Catherine

Monday, August 16, 2010

Weekend update

The church family camping trip was all that we hoped it would be. Gorgeous weather (not a cloud in the sky for three days), good food, good company, beautiful scenery, and -- more important -- a start to the healing process for all of us after the loss of Jared.  His young wife and children, his mother, and his in-laws joined us Sunday morning for church in the mountains, where we baptized his eldest daughter, his widow, and a niece and nephew of his.

Jared had wanted to be baptized too, but he no longer needs that. 

After the events of this week and the weekend, it is ever more clear to me how much of a family our small church has become. And am I ever glad!!

Surprisingly, I also was baptized on Sunday morning.  Growing up Methodist, I had been baptized as an infant and then "confirmed" in sixth grade.  For the last few years, I've been thinking long and hard about being able to choose for myself that "outward and visible sign" of baptism by immersion. Yesterday morning, it all crystallized, and I stepped up to our church's galvanized horse trough baptismal and got myself dunked.  And I felt so free and light afterwards! I've been a Christian since I was 15 years old. To feel as Jesus did when He came up from the water was amazing! I wish I'd done it sooner!

Okay, that's my weekend update. And now, we're going great guns at building the new deck and finishing the outside of our house.  Because in a few months it will be on the market!

But that's another blog post . . .

- Catherine

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Grief again

This evening I attended a viewing -- for two brothers in their mid-20s. Both were husbands and fathers. One was a member of our church.

These men, along with two others, perished in a boating accident last Sunday.  The local reservoir is popular with boaters, and these four men had taken their (combined) five children out for a little trip.  The wives and some of the other children were basking in the sunshine on the beach.  Unfortunately, Jared couldn't swim, and one of the other guys on the boat jokingly pushed him into the water (not knowing that Jared couldn't swim).  Although the children all had life vests on, none of the men had chosen to wear the vests. Not surprisingly, panic ensued once it was realized that Jared couldn't swim.

One by one the men jumped into the water to try to save each other.  Tragically, all four were lost. The children, aged 3 to 9, called 911 from the boat but it was too late. The children were rescued off the drifting boat about 20 minutes after they called for help. The four bodies of the men were found together at the lake bottom 24 hours after they entered the water.

We have the comfort of knowing where Jared went for eternity. But he will be much missed by his widow and three young children, as well as by all at our church who appreciated and loved him.

It's been a tough week here. This weekend beckons invitingly for a special reason: it is a (long-scheduled) all-church camping trip that will, I hope, give us time to reflect and to begin the healing process.

- Catherine

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Dozen - the Wednesday meme

I know I'm a bit early with publishing, but here is the first Wednesday Random Dozen since the springtime! I enjoyed the summer break, but I'm also glad to be back with the Wednesday meme! Thank you very much, Lid.

And . . . away we go.

1. When was the last time you laughed until you cried? I think it was at something that Number 7 said recently. I can’t remember the circumstances – just that we were laughing so hard that I also cried and nearly choked.

2. If you found $10 today, what would you do with it? Grocery shopping.

3. Do you volunteer anywhere? Not with any civic organizations at the moment, but certainly at my church. Among other things, I am one of the (volunteer) worship team musicians.

4. What is your favorite summertime veggie or fruit, and how do you eat it? Strawberries, sliced into vanilla yogurt and granola. Yum!

5. Is your social sphere (circle of friends) small, medium or large? I guess I’d say small.

6. When was the last time you attended a family or school reunion? How did that go? School: I went to my 25th in November of 2001. It went fine and it was good to see old friends after so many years. Funnily enough, a few of the old high school cliques were still in place, which seemed strange to me, given our age. Family: my family doesn’t really have family reunions – we just get together, a few at a time, whenever it can be done. I did attend my husband’s family reunion in 2005 and I was completely lost among those 300+ people, I must admit. (But it was fun to see, as an outsider, the similarities between distant cousins in the family.)

7. When you're feeling blue, what is the best way someone can cheer you up? Take me shopping for new clothes.

8. Have you taken a vacation this summer? Oh yeah, baby! Two weeks of bliss! See my blog post here for pictures!

9. What is the most unnecessary item you carry with you all the time? Some of those retail rewards cards that I don’t use more than once a year (or ever). I don’t know why I sign up for them in the first place when I hardly ever patronize the store in question.

10. What is the best summer flick you have seen so far? I haven’t been to any of the summer movies yet.

11. Describe a perfect summer day. It starts with a huge cup of tea and a leisurely breakfast of eggs, buckwheat pancakes, and bacon. Then I’d go floating on the lake in the breezy sunshine for part of the day, followed by some bird-watching or some reading on the lake shore. A nap might be in order if I feel sleepy. The day would end with a glass of good wine and a delectable dinner whipped up in my outdoor camp kitchen. The day would have to include at least my husband and kids, and preferably plenty of friends and other family, too.

12. Please a share a favorite photo from the summer so far! Just one? Okay. This one is of Number 4 and me at Provo River Falls in the High Uintas Mountain Range (Utah).

Thanks for reading.  If you want to join the fun, go to Lid's blog, 2nd Cup of Coffee, and link your own answers there.   Thanks, Lid!

- Catherine

Sunday, August 8, 2010


We're back from our two weeks at the lake. I've decided that two weeks of vacation is heaven on earth -- one week to wind down and one week to recharge.  Absolutely lovely.

Here's where we were:

This was my main activity:

Also did some bird watching:

(that's one of a pair of Bald Eagles that live on the lake -- they are truly magnificent and I wish I could have captured a closer photo!)

We drove into Yellowstone National Park just to see Old Faithful:

Rented a boat so Hank could have a ride (Hank is a boatin' fool):

Did some more of my favorite activity:

Climbed a steep and very high ridge . . .

with Number 7 . . .

just so we could see another ridge on the other side:

(really, it was worth the climb -- the view was wonderful!)

Dear friends came up to visit us as did Tim's parents and sister. We had exactly three trips into civilization and one dizzyingly hot shower where the water was unlimited.

In general, we had a terrific two weeks!

- Catherine