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Independence (July 2012)

Being that it's July, I've been thinking lately about independence. Not so much about independence of a country as celebrated in the US with all our fireworks displays. But independence as a person. I greatly value my independence. For example, I'm grateful to be a healthy person. Most of us have some health challenge to deal with, mine being Celiac. I'll take that over blindness or a physical disability that limits personal independence.

As we grow up and grow older, we all deal with independence issues. In early June, I had the pleasure of flying to Florida with my 13-year-old son, Alexander, to visit Granny for her 87th birthday. When we returned home, Granny sent us a handwritten letter thanking us for visiting and for taking her to the Post Office. She said what she misses most about being young is her independence. While she still lives alone in her house and lives fairly independently, she has to rely on other people to drive her where she wants to go.

Our kids are 13, 12, and 11. So we have just a few hormones in our home pushing for independence, too. I'm starting to get used to having Alexander in the front passenger seat of the car. The other day he looked deep in thought as we were driving across town. I asked him what he was thinking about. He said, "Mom, that's a hard question to answer." He explained that he could tell me what he was thinking at the moment I asked, but the real answer involved many thoughts before and after that one. According to Alexander, we humans generate more thoughts than there are people in the world. "And," he said, "all our thoughts are connected like a big long string." He thought I should try it in my next blog-- to start by telling what's on my mind (independence) but to include all the other thoughts on the string. So here goes...

Great group of kids at the library for storytime.
Socialization is an important part of Husky training.
It's the small things that make the trip storybook. Malaina had two loose teeth come out in Alaska, one at a restaurant. They gave us a salsa cup to put it in but we forgot it on the table. We went back later & Darren offered to dumpster dive to find it. He put it in this bag for us to pick up.

Last month, I unintentionally hurt my good friend Julie's feelings and made her bad week worse. Her friendship is really important to me. She forgave me and being the kind person she is, she sent me a card in the mail with two polar bears hugging. The card came just before our family left for the land of polar bears--Alaska. We flew into Fairbanks (where, BTW, Julie was born) and started our vacation at the Goldpanners midnight sun baseball game.

Our trip was a mix of fun, work, and fun work. In Anchorage, I was honored to read and give away some children's books (including one of Julie's books) at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Library storytime. The event was hosted by Blue Star Families Books on Bases, a program originally set up to help improve literacy rates among high-risk military children. I can't imagine not being able to read.

Alexander loves to read. Ciana avoids it at all costs. In a pleasant surprise, all three of our kids decided to read aloud together Iditarod champion Jeff King's book after visiting his kennel. (The reading episode was one of the peaceful moments for the five of us in our one-bedroom, one-bath Denali cabin!)

The Husky Homestead kennel tour was our dog-lover Malaina's favorite part of the trip. They hand you puppies as you get off the shuttle bus. What's not to love about that! Dogs turned out to be the happiest and saddest moments. While we were on vacation, my brother had to put down his dog, Jake, who was born about the same time as Alexander. My niece's text subject read simply :( and brought me to tears.

Telling stories in honor of Jake reminded me of my childhood dog, Skip. And that reminded me of riding in the car with my parents and fighting in the back seat with my brother. We didn't have iPods back then to distract us.

While Geno and I admired the scenery on the drive from Denali to Seward, billed as one of the most beautiful drives in America, our three kids were in the back playing on their iPods. Every now and then they looked out the windows, but all the mountains seemed to look the same to them. At our destination, they enjoyed glacieritas (kiddie margaritas made with calved glacier ice the crew pulled in from Holgate Glacier) on the boat in Kenai Fjords. We learned it's not always the big scenes, but the small details that get retold in stories about their travels.

Our kids are well-traveled in part because we love to travel, to visit friends in other lands, see God's great scenery, learn more about other lifestyles, and expand our work and play. Today, I brought Alexander to the airport for his first solo flight with no paid airline assistant watching over him. He's flying on his own adult ticket to New York and navigating the airports unaccompanied, texting me at each milestone. (Grandma will be on the other end waiting for him.)

I guess we're both growing up, growing older, and enjoying some independence.

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Karen Pavlicin-Fragnito

2013: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May
2012: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
2011: Spring, Summer, Fall

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