Friday, May 28, 2010

Bolger Fast Brick

Today we are on day four of our early summer adventure, a road trip that revolves around this boat. Currently, it lives in Colorado and in just a few short days it will be ours. We are taking two weeks to drive through Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota as we loop back to Northern Minnesota.

You may wonder why we are driving 2400 miles to buy this particular boat. Our reasons are twofold. The first is that the boat was designed by a man named Phil Bolger. C.O. particularly admires Bolger's unconventional, no nonsense approach to boat design. It seems people either love or hate his creations. C.O. falls in the “love it” category. C.O. had a few questions for the Colorado boat builder who spent two years constructing the 12 foot "Fast Brick" . Though it was not our intent, one e-mail led to another until we agreed to buy the boat instead of build a similar one ourselves.

The boat itself is a treasure, but we are also acquiring it as part of our retirement dream. The plan is for the Fast Brick to be used as the dinghy on our live aboard cruiser. In the meantime, it will be kept at the cabin in Minnesota where it'll be used around Side Lake and to explore neighboring waters.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A $1 Adventure

One of the great things about being Harold is that people just give you things. Just this week, while buying meat and cheese at the deli, the lady behind the counter gave him a slice of salami to snack on as he waited. At The Stand (a local drive-in restaurant) the waitress gave him a toy that usually comes with the children's meal, even though he didn't even order his own food! It has been this way from the beginning, while traveling back from Guatemala the first time, the lady at Starbucks gave Harold one of the bananas near the register. At the time, I never expected the trend to continue.

To Harold, the best gift of all, however, is money. Perhaps Harold should just stay 3-years-old and adorable forever because he will never have to work a day in his life. People see him and just open up their pocket books and start handing out bills.

Great-grandma Aiti is one of these wonderful benefactors. She gave Harold one dollar that he proudly brought with him the next day as the two of us hit a local garage sale. The very first thing Harold spied were these old fashioned, clamp on roller skates. He was adamant that he buy them so he could go skating with mom. When the time came to pay for them, the ladies putting on the sale told Harold he could just have the skate and tried to give him back his dollar. This was actually pretty upsetting to Harold and he made sure they took his money.

Getting the skates on took a full 15 minutes followed by 2 minutes of skating with a significant amount of help from mom and dad. But it was worth every penny!


Monday, May 24, 2010

An Upgrade

Since Harold had mastered and outgrown his wooden push bike, we promised him a "big kid" bicycle once we arrived in Minnesota for the summer. Within 24 hours of touch down in Minneapolis, C.O. and Harold hit the bike shops. They found this used bicycle for only $10. What a steal! We later laughed as we bought Harold a helmet for twice the price.

A little practice and assistance from Dad . . .

and an hour later he was pretty much able to ride on his own.


Monday, May 17, 2010

On Our Way

All our bags were packed and ready to go . . .

. . . the sun was shining . . .

. . . and we had the urge for goin', so we hit the trial.
We first drove 8 miles across the ice to Teller,
then 70 miles on the road to Nome.

Stopped for a few breaks along the way,
and were lucky enough to see this big boy as well.

A great start to summer vacation.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

We Thank You!

I wanted to introduce a truly wonderful woman who played a big part in Harold's life. Meet Harold's foster mom, Berta Alisa. She is the woman who cared for Harold from the day he came home from the hospital until he was 9 months old. To her we will forever be grateful. Those first few days and months of life are so critical in the development of healthy children. They need proper nutrition, stimulation and a loving environment in which they are bonding with a primary caregiver.

The day we got Harold we shed many tears, but not for us but for Berta Alisa. It was an emotional day for her as she knew she was saying a final good-bye to Harold and to her job of mothering him. She had woken up at 5 a.m. and had cried steadily until noon, "He feels like my own," she said. She told us that he was a very special boy, that anyone who meets him, loves him. It didn't take long for us to realize this was without a doubt true. We also laughed as she had concerns about how old we were since we looked too young to be parents. =)

She knew this day would come from the beginning. This was her role, the mom in the middle so to speak. And she fulfilled her duties perfectly. Her love, care and attention shone through in the little boy we brought home. We commented to the case workers at our adoption agency how amazingly quick Harold bonded with us and how easy of a transition we had taking him home. They attribute this primarily to his excellent foster care. If a child is attached to one caregiver, it make attaching to another easy and natural. It seems backwards, that perhaps an unattached child would be easier to bond with but it's not. Attachment is something that needs to be experienced, practiced and nurtured.

It was because of this foster system that we were particularly drawn to the Guatemalan adoption process. It made it much more expensive than other countries but was much better for Harold than if he would have spent his first months in an orphanage.

My thoughts have turned to Berta Alisa lately because of the promise we made her. We promised to send her photos and perhaps even videos of Harold growing up. I am ashamed to say that we have only sent photos twice! Just this week C.O. sent her another batch of pictures and a painting done by Harold. I've recommitted myself to be better about this and to keeping in touch with her. My hope is that one day our Spanish will be better and perhaps we can meet again. She sincerely wanted the very best future for Harold and I want to make sure she knows he is growing up healthy, strong and intelligent.

We talk to Harold about how lucky he is to have 3 moms. His biological mother, his foster mother and now his real (adoptive) mother. I'm the one who has him for the rest of his life, but it is because of the two who have come before that we have our perfect little blessing.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Heartbreaking News

We told Harold at dinner last night that there wasn't enough snow for
snowmobiling and that he would have to be done for the year.

The very first thing he did was cry a heartbroken cry,
but I didn't grab the camera fast enough.
It was tough news for a little boy to take.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Two Harolds

Christmas Day 2008: Harold hanging out with the other Harold Rudstrom.

I finally got these photos scanned today so I could share them with you all. The two Harolds have only met a couple times so we're sure to snap a photo when they do cross paths.

Harold was pretty intrigued by Hal's hat. It had some mechanical do-dad that would periodically flip it back and forth, a curious thing to a two year old. Gruff, old Uncle Hal with a flippy Santa hat was pretty amusing.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Lessons From a Little House

Last fall we moved into a house about one third of the size of our former house. We went from about 1800 square feet and four bedrooms to 600 square feet and 1.5 bedrooms. We HAD to make some changes and do some serious downsizing. It was a good experience for all of us and has actually improved our quality of living.

Here's what we learned from our little house.

1) Keep your family close. No matter where you are in a tiny house, you are always very close to your family.

2) Keep only what you really need, use or enjoy. We got rid of many, many things in the moving and unpacking process. Extra pots and pans, extra towels, extra plastic containers, extra, extra, extra. There was so much extra in our life. If we have no where to store things, we either have to get rid of that particular item or get rid of something else to make room for the things we want to keep. We're a long way from being minimalists but we're certainly less bogged down by material possessions than we were a year ago. Between C.O. and I, we have exactly 1 million hobbies and interests . . . 1/2 million each, we counted. Interests and hobbies often bring "stuff" along with them. What can we say?

3) Think before you buy. We have to consider exactly where we are going to keep our stuff before we make any purchases. Keep in mind we have zero closets, yes zero. Imagine taking all the stuff out of your closets, dumping them in the middle of the floor and finding a new way to store them. Daunting.

4) Have patience, you need a lot of it in a small place. We use every inch of available space and sometimes that means having to move 5 things to get at the one thing you need. Then you carefully need to put those 5 items back in the same order to avoid chaos and clutter. It takes a surprising amount of time.

5) Put it away, right away. If things aren't put away and cleaned up immediately, it doesn't take long for the house to look very cluttered. (I'm not saying we actually do this but we certainly try.)

6) Cleaning's is easier and faster in a small house. It doesn't take as long to clean, you have less floors, less counters, basically less surface area. Wahoo for this one!

It might be tiny, it might be a little rough around the edges, but we do love it. Seriously, have you seen our view?


Thursday, May 6, 2010


C.O. and I went for a hike this evening. The sun was shining and the wind was minimal so we decided to take advantage of the weather. We found a babysitter for Harold and drove out to the base of the mountain just north of town.

Every now and again it's good for the two of us to have a break from Harold. We can get back into our "couple rhythm" for a while. You know, actually finish our sentences, have an intelligent conversation and enjoy some silence. All things that are difficult with a 3 year old constantly asking questions, making requests or needing attention. Parenthood can be overwhelming like that at times. But up here we had a chance to just breathe, reconnect and recharge those patience batteries.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Heartfelt Request

One of the tasks in our adoption process is to write a letter to the government of Ethiopia that will accompany our paperwork as they consider us for adoptive parents. The letter should include our "heartfelt" reasons for wanting to adopt and specifically why we want to adopt from Ethiopia. I finished it this evening and thought it would be nice to share it with you all.

To the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia:

We are a family of three that is seeking to adopt a child from the country of Ethiopia. We have a strong desire to be parents and share our lives with another child.

A few years ago, we decided that we were ready to start a family. Though it was possible for us to have biological children, the urge to help children in need drove our decision to adopt. It saddens us that there are many children around the world in need of a loving home. We are blessed in so many ways and feel it is right for us to use our resources to help orphaned children.

Our interest in Ethiopia began many years ago as we heard of people traveling to visit there. We heard stories of the beautiful countryside, hospitable people and the country’s unique history. Even before considering adoption, Ethiopia had been a place on our wish list of travel destinations.

As we began to learn more about countries that work with the United States in adoption, Ethiopia continued to grab our attention. Ethiopia is a beautiful country, with beautiful people and many children who are in need of a family to care for them.

We then started to research and learn about the adoption process in Ethiopia as well as read stories about other families that had adopted from Ethiopia. We have been encouraged by the successful adoption procedure in Ethiopia and the blessings the children have been as they join their new families.

We respectfully request permission to adopt a child from Ethiopia. We can provide a loving home and many opportunities for our children to become successful adults. A child brought into our home will be taught to be proud of their unique background and birth culture. We know the road will not always be easy but we have a strong marriage, supportive friends and family and the strength of God to guide us along the way.

Charles and AnnMarie Rudstrom