Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dancing with Snowmen- A Christmas Musical by Gracie

Please go turn on some Christmas music and imagine the sweet singing of a two year old while she dances around the kitchen with a snowman decoration. 

She's so gonna be an actress!

 

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

He speaks!

Yes, it's true!  Ian has started talking.  His words and phrases are as follows:
Hi
Hi da
All done
Ma
Bye
No
Boo
Sis
That's a lot of words for someone who's not quite 11 months old, isn't it???  He has such a cute little voice too.  He is also doing a few signs, he does:
Hi
Bye
All done
I'm trying to teach him more so we'll see if he picks them up before he starts saying them.  With Gracie it was almost a race to see if she would sign or say a word first.  She figured out how to talk so quick that we didn't use sign language for communication as much as I thought we would.  We'll see if Ian is the same. 
Believe it or not I just finished the invitations to Ian's birthday party today.  My gosh, he's going to be one.  This year has so totally flown by.  I can hardly believe it.   
Gracie is also growing by leaps and bounds.  One of her favorite words right now is "actually".  She likes to correct me by saying "Well, actually mom."  And yes, she calls me mom.  Not all the time, but it's getting more common.  Sometimes mama, never mommy.  Isn't she too young to be calling me mom??  She's growing up wayyyyy to fast. 
She's also gaining an acute awareness of her emotions and getting more easily concerned and frightened about things.  She's particularly afraid of losing her family right now.  I'm not sure if it has to do with Sarah's death or not, but she is afraid of getting lost from us, and she mentions it almost daily. 
Gracie has gotten very into doing things "by myself"  She likes to get her own food, get dressed by herself and read by herself.  I love listening to her read.  She describes what she sees on the pages and adds in phrases from the words we read to her.  It's really very cute.
We are looking forward to seeing that family that is far away so you can actually experience what the kids are doing instead of just reading about it.   It will be so much fun!  I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

And the holiday season is off with a bang!

 Boy, things have been busy around here!  On Thursday we went to have dinner with our friends Iris and Shawn and their boys.  We had a really nice time.  Here's a couple shots from dinner.
Then on Friday we went to cut our Christmas tree and bring it home.  It was pretty cold and windy but we still got it done!!  We love cutting our own tree, this is the second year we've done it and it's so much fun.  Last year our tree didn't lose but about 5 needles because it was so fresh.  It didn't even drink the water I gave it!!!  I hope this tree is just as good.
Here's Gracie at the tree farm.
Our tree in the ground, and......
our tree at home, getting a welcome hug from Gracie!  She loves this tree, it is so cute.  She's been talking to it and acting like it's our new pet.  I don't know how we are going to manage to get rid of it once Christmas is over!
Well, we decided the excitement of a Christmas tree just wasn't enough for one day, so after the kids had their afternoon naps we bundled up to head downtown for the annual lighting of the Denver City and County building.  We took the light rail train and it was Ian's first ride ever!  He really liked it. 
Here we are downtown.  We barely made it to the lighting ceremony on time.  Like we literally crossed the street, got the building in view, and they were counting down from 10 to light it.  It was perfect!  We didn't have to stand around and wait or anything!  And luckily the wind had really died down so it was actually pretty nice out!
Ian all bundled up for our trip!
Here's part of the building.  The view of the entire thing from back a ways is really very beautiful.  Unfortunately the picture of that is all blury!
Me and the kiddos.
 
So, that's what we've been up to the last couple days.  Today we will be inside decorating for Christmas.  We also picked up a new light fixture for our kitchen at Goodwill last week and James is gonna hook that up.  And that's about it.  We will just be hanging out the rest of the weekend.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lots of stuff......

 

The last few days have been busy.  Here's what we've been up to.
We gave Ian his first chance at ribs.  He really liked them.  Especically the bones!
Gracie has been big into dressing up.  In the last couple of day she has been piglet and tinkerbell.   
On Friday we had our last class of Music Together for this semester.  This is the kids with their teacher Miss Brenda.  We love her to death, she is so much fun!  We have a two week session in December where we will be doing just Christmas music and then start up with a regular class again in January.  We can't wait!
And the last few shots are what can occur if you go too long without cleaning up behind your couch!!  Apparently it's a prime environment for growing children.  Who knew?
 
 I hope you have all had a fun and restful weekend.  We have!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Disclaimer: Read at your own risk, proctology involved.

Being a mother brings many new and wonderful things into your life.  These are the things that everyone focuses on when you become pregnant.  Your mother, your aunts, your friends will go on and on about the wonder and beauty of the blossoming pregnant body and the miracles that are held within that bulging tummy.   
Those of you who have had babies though, you know it's all just a guise.  We're trying to be supportive and distract you from the truth.  Being pregnant sucks.  Your body becomes this container that your previous self tries to lean how to control.  You fart, you burp, and you start to smell weird.  In fact, everything starts to smell weird because your senses are heightened to the point where you can smell the stinky cat box of your neighbor 4 doors over.
In my case pregnancy ruined a part of my body that was previously undisturbed.  I had no problems.  I had no issues.  Until that first miracle of life grew to ridiculous proportions within my uterus.  (Remember, Gracie was a whopping 10 pounds, 12 ounces.)  This issue remains with me to this day.  And I want it gone.
What is this bane of my existence you ask?  Hemorrhoids.  Oh how I hate them.  And 10 months post partum I'm pretty sure they aren't going anywhere.  They have set up camp and are determined to remain with me for the rest of my life.   I am their very unhappy host.  So I declared war.
For this war I know I need someone good on my team. " A proctologist" my dear husband told me.  "He'll know what to do."
So I made my appointment.  And yesterday I went.  I wasn't worried, because I've had a baby.  You know, I've gone through a pregnancy and suffered every indignity known to man, up to and including perfect strangers making contact with my cervix, so I didn't think that having someone look at my butt could possibly be that bad.
Well, it was.
First off, there's the waiting room.  Sitting in a room full of people who are all there for one reason and one reason only. To have their butts examined.  It's disconcerting to say the least.
Then I went to the exam room.  There was an exam table which I had never seen before.  I couldn't figure it out.  The nurse left and I was sitting there looking at this table trying to figure out how this was all going to go.  The doctor walks in and we have a nice discussion about my problem and what I want done.  So, then it's time for the exam.  He sends the nurse back in and she explains it's a kneeling table.  Oh....right.  So I am to kneel on this table with my rump exposed to the door.  Okey dokie.  So I do what she says and then once I am in the most prone of positions she starts moving the table until my head is down and my butt is nice and up in the air.  Wow what a feeling.
Then the doctor enters.  I hear the door but I can't see anything because I am staring at the wall.  And with no warning at all he just dives right in.  In trying to distract myself I had a striking thought.
Who in the world do you have to piss of in med school to become stuck in the profession of proctology?  I mean really.  Surely no one chooses that as their specialty.  I don't know much about the world of doctors, but I imagine that no one runs into medical school with the ambition of being a butt doctor.  I think it must be some sort of punishment.  You ticked off a professor or something.  You slept through one too many lectures.  You didn't make the grade and were told "Well buddy, it's proctology or dental school, take your pick."
Anyway, things were over with quickly and the doctor and assistant left for me to redress.  Then he comes back in to discuss the situation.  And he has the audacity to tell me that I need surgery under general anesthesia in order to have my problem fixed. 
And that's when I realize it.  That's how they get you.  These proctologists get the last laugh.  I mean, can you imagine what goes on when you are unconscious on the table and they are operating on your butt?  "Pass the spreader nurse" followed by giggles all around.
No way Jose!  I am getting a second opinion.  If it's not something someone can shoot full of Novocain, stitch up, and send me on my way I'm not interested.  No one will be making jokes about my butt except me.  Unless I'm out of earshot.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Time for some photos

I haven't posted any in awhile, so here's a bunch from today!
My big boy!
Gracie the milk princess!
 
Look how tall he is.
 
He's so close to walking by himself.
What a cutie!
Hi Mom!
 
Gracie playing her apple drum.
And more apple drum!
Smile for the camera!
Yum....food!
Hey Daddy!
 
Time for silly faces!
Mommy too.
 
Bath time!
Aren't they just so cute?
And here's Scout, trying to look in the camera!
We had a nice day today, we got up early as usual and had our customary Saturday morning breakfast out.  We went to Chik-fil-a for a change, usually we got to a sit-down restaurant, but decided to try going somewhere else.  Then we took a drive out east of town to look at homes on land.  Our realtor has given us a few listings that are in our price range and we are very pleased with what is available.  The market is ripe for the picking right now!  The rest of the day we spent laying around the house.  Very relaxing.
I hope you are all having a good weekend too!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why?

The service was last night. It was very nice. There were so many friends and neighbors and her former co-workers. Many people stood up to speak and shared memories of Sarah with everyone. It was very comforting to see her family with the girls. The baby was in-arms or worn all night. The family is definitely into attachment parenting so the girls will be supported in the way they are use to. I was able to talk to Sarah's mom and get a few more details. The decision for Sarah and her husband to go out for dinner was a last minute thing. The house was calm the baby was fed, and so she decided to run out and meet her husband for dinner, leaving the girls at home with her parents who were in town visiting. They had a very nice dinner and Sarah had called one of her sisters and was talking to her about it on her way home. She was apparently very happy to have gotten a short break. Her phone cut off when she was hit. The autopsy said she didn't suffer at all, the accident was extremely traumatic and there was no chance she could have survived it. I am thankful for that, that she didn't have any time to worry or be scared.
I feel so badly for Drew, words just can't even describe it. He just looks horrible and like he's been beaten down with sticks. He told another friend of mine he just doesn't want to go on, he doesn't want to do this without her. I just can't imagine. 
Our community of friends is determined to keep the girls involved in their former lives as much as possible. We also have a large group of people who are pumping milk for the baby. I plan to do whatever I can, be it babysit, pump, shop, cook, whatever it is they need. Sarah's parents are staying with the family until January, and after that her husband will need even more help.
I am still reeling from the tragedy of it all. I just can't stop thinking about them. I just want to move my family in with them and take care of them all! It's just too terrible. These kinds of things should never happen. She was a model mother, calm and gentle and loving. I honestly never saw her mad, I never saw her react in anger or even frustration. I never heard her say one negative thing about her husband. She loved life and everything it has to offer. She loved her husband and her girls more than anything. I am so sad they will never remember her. One of the saddest things  last night was when Sarah's mom told me that the first day the Abigail looked all over for Sarah all day long, but by last night she had stopped looking. It just kills me that in only three short days that baby has lost all memory of her mama.  For all she has poured into her.  Abigail will never remember.  They said Maya is doing ok.  She was obviously distressed last night, she was very reserved and wouldn't play with the other children after the service.  I am sure she is comprehending far more than she can express at only 2 years old.  But I fear she also will forget in time.  She's just not quite old enough to have made permenant memories.
I keep asking why and not really being satisfied with the answers. I know all the answers, believe me. But none of them work. None of them bring peace. Maybe in time but not yet.
Please keep praying for their family. The girls lives are now forever marked by this. I can't imagine what Drew is going to go through trying to explain things he doesn't even understand himself as they get older and comprehend things.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I feel so incredibly sad

I just got word that one of my friends was killed in a car accident on Monday night.  Her oldest daughter Maya is two months younger than Gracie and her baby Abigail just turned 8 months old.  We met at LLL when Maya was only 3 weeks old. 
Apparently she and her husband had left the kids with her parents who are in town visiting from Michigan.  I met her parents the day before her youngest was born at a playdate/field trip we had at a local museum.   Her parents were both teachers and we talked a little bit about teaching school.  Sarah was just huge with her baby and excited about her scheduled c-section the next day.  Her baby was stuck breech, just as her first baby was so she got to plan day and time of the birth.  They were just finishing building their dream house.  Everything was perfect.
We went to Maya's birthday party in July.  It was a family affair and we had a great time.  Their new house is incredibly beautiful.  Abigail was adorable and Maya was cute as a button.  Sarah and I talked for awhile about the woes of toddlerhood and adjusting to the baby having a new fear of strangers.  Gracie hung with Maya and played.
Sarah and Drew went out for dinner on Monday.  They were in seperate vehicles. Sarah was hit by a woman that was speeding excessively and hit the median, jumping it, going airborne, and hitting Sarah head on.  Both women were killed. 
The service is tomorrow night.   I don't even know how to go about attending the funneral of a friend.  I am just sick to my stomach.  Her babies, her poor babies.  Abigail is exclusively breastfed.  She needs her mommy.  She doesn't even know what a bottle is.  This is all just so hugely unfair I don't even know how to express it except that my heart is just so sad.  The entire situation is my worst nightmare come true.  My whole life seems to have been slammed into perspective.
I can't stop crying.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Shouldn't voting be a little easier than this?

I stood in line for 3 hours and 45 minutes in order to cast my vote.  The actual voting took less than 5 minutes.
I am so doing an absentee ballot from now on.  I love my country, but almost 4 hours of my time to voice my opinion seems a little much, don't you agree?

You're gonna vote, right??

Please go vote.  Please.  It's one of the few ways we have to communicate with our leaders.  The more our government realizes how many citizens are invested in the process the more likely they are to listen.  At least that's what I hope.
I am so glad today is election day.  A couple races here in Colorado have been brutal.  The negative ads on TV have been driving me nuts.  I'm so glad I don't have to watch them after today.  It's so hard to figure out the truth in all this stuff.  I have been on the internet reading candidates stances and issues and trying to figure out who seems to make the most sense.  I admit I am crossing party lines a lot, but that's where the issues are taking me.
I have tried to vote twice already, but didn't have time for the long lines either time.  I went to an early voting place last Friday, but the lines were insane and I only had an hour.  Same thing this morning, I had about an hour before Dominik got here but the line was two hours long!!  Ugh.  Stupid me, didn't think to get an absentee ballot, so I am going to have to go stand in line tonight after James gets home, no matter how long it will take.  I think the reason the lines are so long is because the ballot is especially long this year with lots of amendments and referendums.  Those are the ones that take the most research.  I feel prepared though, I have studied up and I think I understand the repercussions of all of them.
So, anyway, go vote!  It's a right we have that people of other nations fight to the death for.  It's your civic duty!
Go vote!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

To sell or not to sell, that is the question

In our quest to find a new home we have come to this important question.  Should we sell this place, or keep it as a rental?  When we bought this place we said from the beginning that when it comes time to move we would love to keep this as an income property.  The way I see it, since it's brand new the repairs and maintenance should be very little if any for at least a few years.  And the equity we gain over the course of our children's lives with us would be more than enough to then sell and use to pay for college.  A very simple college plan if you will!  It's not a sellers market right now anyway, so keeping this would make that a non-issue and we could move as soon as we find a renter, cause the market is flooded with houses that would work for us right now.  It's a buyers market, so not only could we gain from this property, but we could get what we want for a lot less than even a year ago.
But like all good ideas there is an amount of risk involved.  And that is where we start to lose confidence.  What if we get a renter that trashes the place?  What if a lease ends and we can't get someone else to rent?   What if no one wants to rent it in the first place?   We have savings, and we would continue to add to that once we rented, but what if it remained un-rented for so long that we emptied that?  Crying and gnashing of teeth for one!
But if we get good renters, people that are respectful and pay the rent and renew their leases.......it would just be perfect!!  We wouldn't have to think about college again, for either of the kids.  To know we already have that secure when they are less than 3 years old would be so incredible!
I think the key to good renters is being a good landlord.  Which we would be.  We would live close enough that things could be looked at, fixed, whatever, pretty much immediately.   Someone suggested to me that you should only rent a property if you plan to manage it yourself, drive by it weekly, and pick up the rent in person on the first.  That way you are keeping tabs, you are on top of any maintenance that needs to be done, and the renters know they won't be able to get away with anything.  Sounds good to me.  I know I can handle that.  Since it's only one place it shouldn't be an ordeal to come by on a regular basis.
The first step of this process is to refinance.  We started that process this weekend.  Once we know where we stand with that we will have a better idea how to proceed. 
So my friends, any words of wisdom on this topic?   Real estate is such a great investment, it's hard to not do this.   Yet I worry about messing it up and having the bank seize both our houses and leaving us out on the street. 

Friday, November 03, 2006

4 years ago today I made the best deal of my life.

Yep, that's right!  Today is our wedding anniversary.  Here's the story for all of you that don't know. 
James and I met in January of '02 in a small group Bible study.  We only lived a few blocks from each other and ended up in this same group because we were in the same area.  James likes to tell about how the first time we met we were playing a game with the group and I made a comment about how he raised his hand loud!  (We were playing a guessing game where everyone had their eyes closed and had to play various parts.  It was actually a fairly confusing and stupid game, but we all ended up laughing and getting to know each other which was the point I guess!)  We both attended that group and then started giving each other rides to church later that spring.  In July I had to go to my 10 year class reunion in Chicago and right before I left James asked me to go to a Third Day concert when I got back.  I agreed.  I also ended up moving to Boulder immediately after getting back and he helped me get my stuff into a storage unit and into the house I was moving to.  The next week we went to the concert.  We had a great time and driving back home down the mountains from Estes Park I realized I was going to marry this guy.  Crazy I know, but it was a massive unbelievable overwhelming knowledge.  It actually kind of freaked me out!!
From that day on we were almost inseparable, spending every moment we weren't working together.  We went to a weekend retreat with our church and James drove me out to the middle of no where Colorado to show me where he grew up.  By the end of September we both knew we wanted to get married and started talking about when and how.  There were a few factors to take into account, mainly that my sister was getting married in January and that was already set.  Also my immediate family has a lot of estrangement in it and people don't even talk to each other, much less spend time together.  These issues made me realize long before I met James that I was never going to have a big bash of a wedding because I wasn't going to exclude anyone and I didn't want to put up with an awkward situation.  So we planned for something small, and eventually we decided on something so small we wouldn't invite anyone at all!
We shopped for rings the third weekend in October and decided on one.  The next Tuesday, October 29th, I drove through a crazy blizzard and managed to avoid a big accident in order to pick up James for church.  He had picked up my ring that day and we got engaged almost as soon as I walked in the door of his apartment.  Our plans for church went out the window and we jumped on the computer and decided to make reservations to get married that weekend in Vegas. 
So, on Sunday November 3rd at 5:30 in the evening we were married at Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas by a very nice woman named Reverend Brown in a ceremony that took 5 minutes and 32 seconds!   Her assistant was also our photographer and our witness.  Part of the wedding cost was a nice little bouquet of roses, a garter, and a cheap bottle of champagne.  Nothing like doing things up right!  We stayed at the Venetian while in Vegas and it was a truly romantic and wonderful weekend.
I would love to add pictures but our PC is down and the CD drive doesn't work on the laptop.   However, if you go to this link http://www.palantyri.com/  and click on wedding photos you can see the whole roll!  There are also pictures from when Gracie was born and really little if you feel like looking around!
So, that's our story!  As you can see a lot has happened in these four short years since then.
Happy Anniversary Honey!  I love you so very much.  You are an awesome husband and an incredible daddy.  I don't know where I would be or what I would do without you.  You are my best friend.  You are my favorite.   I'll love you forever and always!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My cat sucks at jumping and other random thoughts of a very exhausted mom.

Last night James and I were both laughing out heads off at Horace.  I don't know what the deal is with this cat, but he simply cannot jump.  I don't know if maybe he doesn't see well or if the strong leg gene that most cats possess skipped him or what, but this cat face plants into the side of the things he is trying to jump onto more often than not.  He's only 7 months old, so maybe it will improve, but it is good comic relief to watch him.
So, why am I exhausted you ask?  Because Ian decided to get sick as Gracie did a few nights ago.  It seems to just be a stuffy nose, no fever, etc....  But James now has a sore throat so maybe the kids have that too.  At any rate Ian decided that because he was having a hard time breathing he would screech and moan approximately ever 5-15 minutes all night long.  There was simply no way to get him comfortable, he was sleeping on top of me, next to me, a foot away from me, on his side, on his tummy, with daddy......we tried everything.  It was a truly miserable night.  James declared it was officially the worst night of sleep ever gotten by us as parents, and he was including the night we got up at 2am because I was in labor and we stayed up til midnight when Ian was born and then the nurses bugged us every hour all night while I was in recovery until I yelled at them at about 5 am to please leave us alone, James was sleeping right there in the room with me and if I needed something we would call them......but I digress.
I have added a few blogs to my blog roll and I hope you'll take a look.  I added Pamela who visits me frequently and has a very nice blog where she talks about her life with her husband and about her life as a grandma and recent empty-nester.  I have also added Michelle who I met on MDC, a board I frequent.  She's a stay at home mom from Canada with adorable kids. I have another to add as well, but it appears she is switching to the Blogger Beta system and I can't access her blog right now.
In more exciting news, we have decided to start looking for a new house!  We have very quickly outgrown this place, and that combined with very high HOA fees, bad parking, a lack of enforcement of the HOA by-laws, poor maintenance and construction that is seemingly never-ending, we have decided it is time to move on.  We knew this was a temporary solution to our housing problems, but we did plan on being here for longer than a year.  However, we are ready for our house.  I mean THE house.  The one the kids will remember growing up in and will return to when they are on break from college and once they have families of their own.  This is no small task, finding THE house.  I have a few ideas, in fact I have one house that I already feel like it maybe it, but I haven't even seen the inside yet!!  So, wish us luck as we embark on this journey.  We have to coordinate the real estate agent, the mortgage broker, and our finances, so it could take a while.  I am excited though.  I am ready to go home.
And, finally, I must mention.  Gracie is officially two and a half today.  I can't believe it, time has just flown by.  She is definitely not a baby anymore, and she really isn't a toddler anymore either (although that's how she is technically labeled).  She's become an energetic and smart pre-schooler and I can hardly believe this has happened so fast.   We are going to go get pictures taken at Wal-Mart later today and maybe get a celebratory half birthday ice cream or something.  She's become such a big beautiful kid.  I am so amazed at her every day.  I can't even imagine how much more wonderful the next few years will be!
I hope you all have a great day!