family


Work, travel and holiday-related priorities have hindered my blogging in the past month. I’ll try to get back on the wagon now that things are starting to normalize a bit. Plus, I imagine there will be some interesting stories to tell over the next week!

For Christmas and New Years, Ned and I went on a two-week Western tour to spread tidings of comfort and joy in Denver and Breckenridge, Colo., and San Diego, Los Angeles and Pasadena, Calif. We were blessed to see many relatives on his side of the family.

During that time we worshiped in 5 different churches, hugged dozens of relatives, saw two good friends married, heard political speeches of the conservative and liberal bent (true to form, the California relatives were on the liberal side and the Kansas relatives on the conservative side), skied on snowy freezing mountains, walked on sunny beaches and ate many delicious cookies. We  witnessed a monkey uprising at the San Diego zoo, visited the studio of designer Kevan Hall, watched Jack Black watching the Kobe Bryant, marveled at the Rose Parade and accidentally discovered a nudist beach.

All in all, it was a pretty fantastic trip. I will try to post some pictures¬† — of the Rose Parade, not the nudist beach — just as soon as I can get the camera and computer speaking to one another.

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Today my good friend and godson, Joseph, is one year old!

I am just now entering the baby phase of life — and by that I mean the phase where I am friends with a lot of other peoples’ babies. There are several adorable babies in my crew right now, but Joseph is the first one with a direct connection to me (in this case, a God-relative, as it were) to celebrate this one-year milestone.

I remember when I saw his mom, one of my best friends here in DC, just after she found out she was pregnant. We were meeting at a coffee shop on Capitol Hill. (As it turned out, she did not drink coffee.) She told us she was pregnant. It felt like the whole world was about to turn upside down, but in a really good way.

I saw her at least once a week for most of the next nine months, and we watched her belly grow and body change and eagerly waited to meet the baby. When I saw her four days before Joseph arrived, we were pretty excited. The due date was coming up, her belly looked different (lower) and we felt like we would finally get to meet this baby soon!! Indeed, Joseph — like his parents — sought to be Right On Time. Real contractions started on Saturday. I had just finished picking strawberries when I got the message. I was holding my cell phone in the parking lot, literally jumping for joy and dancing around the car. My strawberry-picking companions looked at me with confusion. “Meg! BABY! Coming! Today!” More looks of confusion.

Joseph’s other godmother and I spent the rest of the day exchanging phone calls to ask if the other had heard anything. We prayed.

After a long labor, Joseph finally arrived June 10, 2007. He was tiny (though not so tiny, according to baby standards –8lbs., 2oz.) and adorable. We had NO IDEA then how ridiculously cute he would become.

Joseph has likes to smile and play the piano and listen to music and prayers and stories. He enjoys crawling, walking (!!!) a bit, and listening to the answering machine. The man loves to eat. And if you’re lucky, he will wave a greeting to you by moving his entire body back and forth.

Here’s a greeting to YOU, JoJoMike. Happy birthday! We love you!

I really need to post something so Miss America and her skanky gown are not at the top of the blog anymore.

My blogging ability has been somewhat curtailed by the illness of our home computer. But Ned is fixing that piece, thanks to some good tips from his dad and the use of parts of his brother’s old computer, which had also crashed. (Yes, we are considering making the switch to a Mac — tired of these crashing PCs.) Quote from Ned, after getting off the phone with his computer-advice-giving pops: “My dad is smart.” Spittin’ the truth.

Technology has been failing us lately. Our trusty VW, Liesel, would not start a couple weeks ago. When cars work, they are oh-so convenient, but when they break, it is very, very inconvenient. The great thing for us is that we live in DC and mostly rely on our bikes, buses and the metro to get around, so we didn’t have to worry about how to get to work. The other great thing was the “it takes a village”-esque contributions of our neighbors, friends and relatives. One neighbor gave us jumper cables. Two other neighbors helped with various attempts to jump the car, which failed, then gave us their special plug-in battery charging device, which eventually worked. Another friend came with his special tool, so we could extract the very awkwardly-placed bolt that was holding the battery in the car (we do have wrenches, promise, but the Germans don’t make this easy). My dad correctly diagnosed the problem as a chilly battery. My dad is smart too.

For generations the Freemans have been good with tinkering and fixing. My dad fixes stuff at a steel mill; my grandfather had an auto repair shop; his father farmed and, I am told, liked to buy new farm equipment (love for equipment=love for fixing, in my mind). My grandfather told me I don’t want to know about the rest of the Freemans (even though I do): “A lot of sharecroppers.”

The name “Freeman,” at least in our case, is thought to come from men who had some sort of trade, and were therefore not tied to serfdom on the land. I like to think they were all handy makers and do-ers.

Sadly, the handiness came to a screeching halt with me: I got no skills for fixin’. Ned does like to fix things, so maybe our (as yet nonexistent) children will be able to do honor to their ancestors … even the sharecroppers.

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My sweet tiny nephew got what was essentially a wicked cold (RSV) and was in the hospital for a week, since wee babies do not do so well with the viruses. He is now home and on the mend, so do not fear! Oxygen, love and lots o’ milk have restored him to health. But if you want to break your heart just a little bit, look at this picture of him on Christmas Day. Apparently the hospital cradle/baby bins are only for babes when they are born. If you are re-admitted to the hospital as a nine-day-old, they wrap you up and prop you up on a big boy bed, like so.

For the real heart-breaker experience, you have to click on the picture and see it at full size, so as to appreciate his sad face and the wires coming out of his swaddle.

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The BIG news in my family this year is something very tiny: a new baby boy! My sister gave birth to this little guy, James Michael, on Saturday. He is the first grandchild and everyone is bursting with excitement.

He was 6 pounds 2 ounces and 18 inches at birth. He has big hands and feet — like a puppy! — so we think he will grow up to be a basketball player/swimmer/piano player, depending on who is talking about him.

I am headed westward for Christmas, so it was going to be mid-January before I had a chance to spend any time with the babe. I couldn’t wait that long to see him or his parents, so Ned and I took a day off work Tuesday to bring love and food to the new family. [Note: I would like to personally thank the farm bill for getting itself passed in the Senate last week, thereby making a day off work possible. God bless you, United States Senate.]

Ned and I spent about 9 hours in the car (so much for our carbon footprint) and 3 hours with little James. It was totally worth it. He is so sweet and tiny and … helpless. Heart-melting. My sister and her husband are great parents already.

I have never met a baby so closely related to me before, and it was surprising that even at such a tiny age, he looked familiar.

I must also note the excellent timing of the baby’s arrival (besides waiting until after the farm bill, way to go, Jimbo). Friday was my sister’s last day at school (baby was due on the 18th). She loves teaching and loves her students, so she wanted to stay with them as long as possible. Her labor actually started during school on Friday, but she taught the whole day and even went to the staff Christmas party after school (admittedly, she wasn’t sure she was in labor at that point; she just thought she felt weird).

**Can we just pause here for a moment to think about how awesome my sister is? Thank you. While we’re at it, I would like to salute all mothers. Thank you for your pains.**

Back to the story: it was at the party that she actually figured out what was going on and left abruptly. After a long and painful night, baby was born on the 15th, which is also my parents’ anniversary. Happy anniversary — a grandson! My parents are currently en-route to N.J. (via DC — yea!) to spend Christmas with the babe. I wish I could be there too — I know my dad is just going to be eating up the cuteness of this little guy.