Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Mess O' Nora Pictures

Man, I can't believe how much my girl is growing!

Last night I was going through some drawers and thought I'd better pull out some clothes and see what will still fit Nora, and the little champ has outgrown nearly all her 3-6 month clothes, and is now onto 6 month stuff!

Nora's Auntie Yvette sent her this super-cute Nemo outfit...I remember when she sent it thinking she was WAAY to tiny for it, and here she is, the chunk that she's become, filling it out puhlenty!

And here's our girl with her papa on Christmas morning, smiling up a storm as he reads over the flyer of the house we're buying in Salem, and explaining to her how she's going to have her very own room and her very own back yard.

You'd think Brian had promised her a pony too with that megawatt smile she gave him.




This next picture I took with no flash so it's been doctored so you can see it...Our friends Jeremy and Delois loaded us up with lots of baby stuff, including this Johnny Jump-Up swing thing, and

Nora just LOVES it. She's all about being UP and virtually standing. She has incredible leg strength and likes to use it! (She better have strength in those legs, because they are B-E-E-F-Y).
Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy -- Next came Christmas morning with all the uncles & aunts!

Nora's Uncle John has become a favorite of Nora's, and judging by how much Uncle John got to hold her, she's a favorite of his too.

Whenever we get the family together, Miss Nora gets held so much she doesn't want to be put down after everyone leaves!

And then there was the fashion sense of the Uncle from New York -- Joel and Nora got together on the hat thing, and here they are in all their Christmas glory.

It was so neat to have Joel here...We miss you already buddy.

And here the family is -- just before Christmas presents were opened. Never in a million years did I think a Christmas picture like this would happen for us.

I've spent a lot of times "misting up" as I realize how special this Christmas has been to have our daughter, be among our beloved families, and to be able to be thankful and truly enjoy it all.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Cute Blue House At The End of The Street

Brian and I put an offer in on a house in Salem today.

Well, we're about to!

We're drafting the paperwork, and as of today we should be in the process of buying the cute little blue house at the end of the street.

For obvious security reasons, I can't post the link to the house, but you'll have to trust me that it's perfect for us.

It's not terribly far from downtown, in a decent neighborhood. I really like the fact that it has 2 bathrooms, decent space, and a family room that looks out onto a well-kept back yard that I can let my daughter play in someday.

It EVEN has a white picket fence out front.

I love the yard, and mostly the neighborhood. Brian and I are This Old House kinda people who couldn't withstand a year in a covenant-controlled neighborhood where we had to paint our house a certain color, have our garbage cans in at a certain time, or landscape our yard a certain way.

We're definitely Libertarians where our home is concerned.

What's neat too is that we'll be in the town my Grandmother lived in for 60 years. I sure wish her house had been able to stay in the family, because I would have loved to have bought it. Instead, we had to find something similar and close, and we've done that.

We're still closing on the house in Denver in mid-January when we're there, and a week or so later we should close on the house in Salem.

We can't wait!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas J's

I love this picture...There's something cool about getting us 5 kids together and being able to get us all in a line. There's always some smartass comment, like "Jill, get behind me, that way no one can see that you don't have any, ahem, support."

That's Jeremy on the left, Joel's next, Jeff "The Gimp" in the middle, me second from right, and Jill on the end.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas from Miss Chubby Cheeks!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Jeff is home from the hospital

Oma and Opa (Nora's Grandparents) are on the way down

Jeremy & Stephanie are here from Bellingham

Joel is here from New York

Jill and John are on the way too

That makes all five Peterson kids together this Christmas.

And Nora's first Christmas ever.

What a truly blessed holiday this is for all of us.

Merry Christmas!

Door Number 3

I remember watching "Let's Make A Deal" as a kid...a game show where people where given a small prize (like $100) and then asked if they'd like to choose a different prize, hidden behind Doors Number 1, 2 or 3.

Often the prize behind the doors would have a gift of a dining set or a trip to Hawaii, but JUST as often the prize would have a donkey being led by one of the Vanna White-type models.

I just went to see my brother at the hospital tonight and he was saying how after coming in to have his arm checked out Friday afternoon, on Saturday when he had been in the hospital overnight, he was still reeling from the hospitalization when the surgeon said "We need to open that up and see what's going on in there."

Jeff said tonight how hard it's been to adjust to it all -- thinking "Did I really hear that?"

Boy, could I relate.

When I was hospitalized at 29 weeks of pregnancy, I came into the hospital that Sunday afternoon with bleeding -- thinking that I'd either 1) have the baby today; or 2) be sent home and told to take it easy.

I certainly wasn't thinking about what was behind Door #3: five weeks of hospital bedrest, followed by two weeks of my daughter in a NICU before I could bring her home.

Likewise Jeff went into the hospital ER Friday thinking he'd either get a pat on the head and be sent home with nothing seriously wrong -- or at most be told that he had an infection and to be sure to stop off at the pharmacy on the way out and take the antibiotics for a coupla weeks.

But no...both of us have been dealt that third alternative we weren't expecting.

It's been weird to be on the other end of a hospitalization of a family member. I've worked hard with my brothers to bake and get ready for Christmas when Jeff the Chef isn't available.

Right now he's in the hospital smarting off to the nurses (so we know he's going to be ok), and hopefully tomorrow sometime he'll be home.

They've established that it's a antibiotic-resistent staph infection, but thankfully not MRSA. And he will live. He will probably go to Guatamala in January with his students.

And thankfully he'll be home in time for Christmas if all goes well tomorrow!

Hopefully!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh Brother!

It all started with what looked like a spider bite that got infected but my brother Jeff is in the hospital with what appears to be a staph infection.

They don't think he'll be out of the hospital for Christmas. They did surgery and got to the infection and didn't find as much pus as they expected, but it's serious enough that he's in the hospital with his arm elevated, they kept the wound open so it can heal in the open (I guess that's a good way to heal it).

He's on the new antibiotic that's supposed to fight it if it's the dreaded superbug MRSA but they don't think it is...they're just doing it as a precaution since it's a big gun antibiotic to fight all staph infections.

I talked to Jeff tonight and he sounds good (he got the cookies I sent over) and I'll go see him tomorrow. It's just going to take a long time to heal.

Jeff is the cook in the family and he's really down about missing Christmas. We started assigning meals for people to cook, and we'll just do our best. We'll get people over there on Christmas day at all times so he's never alone, but the room is too small for all of us to cram in.

I'll update later when things change, but thanks for your prayers in advance!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nora's Smiles


A House Hunting We Will Go...

I received news from our real estate agent in Denver that our house is soon to have a "SOLD" sign on it...the couple accepted our counter to their inspection resolution, and we should have it in writing today.

As he said "They're over there measuring rooms for furniture, so they're committed."

All we have to do now is wait til January 18 for the closing, and then we're free to buy our own house!

I didn't mean to get rolling with looking so much, but I figure this is a GREAT time to be making an offer on a house if we find something, being that the holidays are here and it's a buyer's market town we're shopping in...so off I went again yesterday.

I saw these 5 houses (If you click on the titles you can go to the listing), and one more I don't have the link to, but for you shoppers out there, I thought you'd enjoy reading my house-hunting review...

The Blue House
First, we stopped at this house...it looked good on the outside and had a double bonus of 2 disc golf cages outside where DH could practice his putt at disc golf. At first I thought that was "a sign". It's a rental, but they recently remodeled the whole inside, and did a nice job in the kitchen. Its major problem was that there was no fence at all to the yard, and the next door neighbor's house looked like no one had cared for their house in 50 YEARS. I have a think about that...I just think they might also come out of their house and shoot their guns off on New Years too, kwim?

The Brady House
This "peach" house is what I called "The Brady House" It had a very 1970s feel and was in need of some major updates/paint, but the house itself had good space, a great 2-car garage, and a wonderful fenced back yard with a deck. I don't think the furnace worked. Other than that it was a great prospect...a little suburban for us, but a nice older, well-kept neighborhood.

Orange House in The Hood
This house was pretty ok -- except the absolute crappy neighborhood around it. If you were blind and wanted a nice house, this would be ok. It needs more kitchen space, but otherwise the house was awesome, and had a big fenced back yard. But if you can see past your own yard, you see a neighborhood in serious disrepair, with lots of white trash porches that need to be torn down, bad fencing. I picture a LOT of people owning dogs due to the crime rate, and never getting any sleep because of their barking.


Psycho House
Now this house was a PIECE OF WORK! It was built in the '40s, had GREAT room to roam, but several people who didn't know WHAT they wanted (including colors and sources of heat), got ahold of this house and just worked it over.
The "master" bedroom had two different kinds of wallpaper on opposing walls. With a naked wood "bookshelfy" thing that might have housed a waterbed in front of it. There was NO heat source in the two bedroms in the attic. EVERY floor had a different kind of carpet or lino or something. My mouth hung open for much of this visit, and I ran around the thing laughing with the agent laughing at me. I didn't want to leave this house because it was so messed up I just wanted to try and figure it out! PLUS: A bonus: It's RIGHT NEAR THE STATE MENTAL HOSPITAL!!! YEAHHH!!!



Soulless White House
And finally, the "Soulless White House Next To Gram's Church".
We came around the back side of a church, where I saw the sign "Holy Cross Lutheran" and I realized we were right behind my Gram's church where she faithfully went each Sunday for 60 years or so, and where I figeted in the pews and was fed pink mints to keep me quiet. Turns out this was the most soulless neighborhood in the history of medium-sized towns. It seems as if Salem has plenty of crappy neighborhoods, and this is one of them. It has no sidewalks, and while the houses are better cared for, this house had so little charisma, I almost didn't go inside. White plastic siding, every room needed paint (every room painted stark white like 20 years ago), and they put tile down in the living room. While I see this as a benefit with a messy toddler years to come...I don't really get it as a permanent living arrangement. It's cold. It's hard. It doesn't match the style of the house. Did I mention it's cold?


As I was driving home last night, a bit depressed over seeing so much and so little at the same time, I think I found a good prospect!

I call it "The house I want to buy" even though I haven't seen it yet (I have an appointment tomorrow). I happened to turn off of Center Street because I liked the neighborhood A LOT, it's VERY central to downtown, and I saw the sign "House for Sale That-a-Way" I took the flyer and ogled the house. While it only has 2 BR, it does have a family room, and the square footage is the same as our house in Denver. We don't need a lot of room, but 1100 square feet and a nice yard for my kid to play in are required. It has that much.

On we go!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Just Play. Just Play Golf


I love to golf.

I suck at it.

But I play anyway.

What's funny about golf is what a metaphor for life it is.

My friend Dan (who I was dating at the time) taught me to play golf, back when he was still a Republican and I was newly divorced.

He took me to a driving range once(where you only hit a bucket full of balls to practice your swing), then his sister Suzi got wind of it and she said "NEVERMIND the driving range, get out there and PLAY!"

Suzi is one of those people that you hoped you could stay friends with even if/when things didn't work out with her brother. She has an exuberance to life, and expectation of adventure, despite having been burned by love in the worst way.

Anyone who makes fun of golf has obviously never played it. Like life, golf is harder than it looks, takes more coordination and concentration than you'd think, and you better darn well learn to laugh at yourself while doing it, or your game will go downhill, and FAST.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the things that we hang onto -- you know, that baggage we all have. Lost relationships, things that didn't work out, deals that have been dealt us that we weren't expecting.

I remember once early in my golf game hitting the ball with a severe right turn (called a "slice" in golf) and off into the woods the ball went.

I found it and with my first hit expected the ball to pop back out onto the grassy fairway. Instead, I lined it up, hit it really hard, and the dang ball hit a tree and bounced back at me, nearly hitting me in the head.

Unfettered, I tried it again.

This time, I got hit by the ball.

Then I got mad.

I started hitting the ball harder with less concentration and increasing frustration that turned into outright rage. I can't ever remember "losing it" like I did on that ball.

And after about 10 or 20 tries and me hacking through the woods, the rage turned into laughter. I doubled over as I realized how ridiculous it was that I was so angry at this little tiny golf ball.

This is supposed to be a GAME, I realized.

After that, I never got mad at my golf game again. Of course I wish I could be that light about life. But it's just a metaphor, not the actual thing.

I just realized today that sometimes I do take things way too seriously. Stuff that is either not mine to worry about, or even the stuff that is, sometimes that ball in the woods just needs to be thought of as "I'm happy to be out playing" instead of "I'm so BAD at this, why can't I play better?!"

And like golf, if life is always taken too seriously, it steals all the fun out of it.

So I have to ask, what good is it if it's all seriousness and discipline and responsibility? Sometimes it should just be enjoyed. No rules to how much fun should be had and when.

Just play.

I Had To Know...

You Are Blitzen

Always in good spirits, you're the reindeer who loves to party down with Santa.

Why You're Naughty: You're always blitzed on Christmas Eve, while flying!

Why You're Nice: You mix up a mean eggnog martini.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

In the Immortal Words of Dana Carvey...

Nora's been sick the past couple of days. She's run a 101.5 fever, and has been generally very fussy when not on Tylenol.

She's had some good times where Uncle Jeff has pretended she's a Mexican boxer (seriously) and he's had her throwing punches (calling her "Nora del Tora" and "calling" the fight) while she grins from ear to ear.

But then, Mommy got her and the wheels came off the bus.

Screaming and crying, she was FURIOUS that I was "only" rocking her.

So then it was Brian's turn, and he took her to the bed and started bouncing her up and down to quiet her.

Then I hear Brian say the Immortal Words of Dana Carvey that has me rolling:

"Wipe my ass and put on cartoons!"

Yeah. That's pretty much what kids want, isn't it?

Friday, December 14, 2007

All My Exes Live In Texas -- Or At Least I Wish They Did

You know when you get that phone message from a friend that starts with "I got a weird phone call the other day..." that some weird paradigm shift is about to happen.

My ex-husband, who remains nameless everywhere I refer to him for lack of wanting to give him any credit, including stealing 6 years of my life, called the other day to tell me his Dad had passed away.

He didn't call me -- because he doesn't know where I am in the least bit.

Heck, he called the obscure central Washington newspaper, where I worked like 9 years ago.

But he called, and left a message with someone who knew someone who knew where to find me.

So Donald Delano Wright of Seattle is gone.

I don't miss my ex, or anything about him, except his family.

His Dad, Don, was the same age as my Dad. He was a wonderful, gentle, kind man who loved politics, writing, and his family, and out of anyone to lose touch with in a divorce -- his loss was felt more to me than anyone else in the family.

Wanna know what's really weird? Just a couple of months ago, during one of my 3 a.m. feedings with Nora with the laptop open to the Internet, I did a search on both Don and his wife, wondering if either of them had passed on.

I had even mentioned that search to my Mom. When I told her that Don had passed, she looked at me and said "I'm really starting to wonder about you."

You see, this is my second "psychic" thing to happen in a few months. I told my Mom this summer that I thought my baby was going to be born early -- in September even -- and she was.

How weird is that?

Today I got an e-mail from the ex's sister, looking to thank me for signing the "guest book" online. I e-mailed her back to say hello, and share a picture and news of Nora.

If nothing else, I hope they know I'll miss knowing their Dad was on the planet. But if I get to know how the ex's family is doing that would be fabulous too. They really are good people, and I felt bad for the divorce making it so I couldn't really talk to them. I just didn't want the ex to feel like HE had access to me and what I was up to through his family, so a complete cut-off at the time was necessary.

Because in the end, while divorce is relatively easy legally speaking, it's hardest on the families, the kids, the nephews and nieces who wonder "where the heck did Aunt Jules go?"

Sad.

Miss Smiley Pants

I never thought it would be so hard to catch Nora on camera smiling, but so often she'd freeze up like Cindy Brady in the Game Show episode that I couldn't get her.

These are a little fuzzy, but you can see she was doling out the grins this morning!

Click on the picture itself and you can see a larger, more detailed picture.

It's almost as if she slept all night.

(She didn't)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Her Latest Trick

This picture you see is grainy since it was taken in a dim room with the camera phone, but you can see Nora's looking straight at her Daddy, and has her hand on his goatee. She kept staring at him, and opening and closing her hand on his beard as she started feeling that new sensation of facial hair in her hands.

It's the first time I've noticed her reaching for something she sees, opening her hands over and over again. It may not seem like much to some, but to me, it's amazing.

You see, every week I look at a book my friend Nancy sent me, which says what to expect for your baby at each week of development.

Of course you're supposed to factor in that every kid is different, but naturally as a parent, it's nice to look at the "checklist" of "What your baby might be doing" and see that s/he's keeping up.

Nora continues to amaze me, as I figure that like the doctor told me, I should give her 6 weeks lag time in her development, and yet each week she seems to just squeak in with that milestone before the week is up.

Her smiles are more frequent -- and as they say around 11-12 weeks -- she should respond to people and recognize and differentiate faces.

Sure enough, tonight as my brother Jeff and his wife Judy approached her, she responded -- then she beamed at Bestema (my Mom) as she got close and said "How's my little princess?"

Of course, my daughter might also just like being thought of and referred to as royalty.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Peering Into The Future While House Hunting

Wow have things ever changed since the last time I shopped for a house.

It was 1992 or 1993 the last time I looked for a house -- long before the internet made "virtual tours" possible.

It was shortly after my Dad died in late '92, and I only remember because I remember leaving my apartment on East Yale Avenue in Seattle, realizing that my Dad had seen where I lived there, but knew he'd never see my house in Ballard.

One divorce, a marriage and a move cross-country later, my husband Brian had already bought the house that we lived in in Denver for 7 years. That's the house that's for sale now and as of today -- is under contract to be sold to new buyers. New buyers who I hope to be able to tell a few stories to about how much that house was loved, and if a certain rock band happens to stop by to sleep in their driveway, we'd appreciate them continuing the tradition of being hospitable to that.

So, here we are about to be in the market for a house again. And I found myself making a list for a friend of mine who is willing to shop online for me for houses.

As I went through my mental checklist and put it on paper, I found I don't ever want to deal with asbestos siding again. I don't care if the house is a cosmetic nightmare because THAT I can fix. But the expense and trouble of asbestos? No more.

Bad carpet? Icky paint? No problem.

But I'd like a decent sized kitchen, good living space and room for my kid not to be sleeping in my room anymore. THAT is going to be wonderful.

I recently started looking at houses online, and I realized that I'm back in the Northwest where baseboard heat is actually quite common.

Baseboard heaters are individual units along the floor of one wall per room (hence the name "baseboard") They have thermostats in each room usually, so the handy thing is you only need to heat the rooms you use whereas central heat heats pretty much everything (although you can close the registers).

They just aren't as efficient as gas, and in the Northwest where electric is relatively cheap because of hydro-electric power from the rivers, it's ok. I just don't like the thought of my daughter being able to touch the heat source, or drop crayons, Barbies, and the other stuff I think she'll be playing with when she decides to "see if that melts too".

How do I know she'll do this?

I'm just peering into the future of a girl who came out of my body.

That's all I'm saying.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

"Thank you for saving our asses this week."

Tired eyes -- that's what I saw tonight after Brian came home from the storm out on the Coast.

It's always amazing to me to hear the media reports of a storm, vs. the reality reports from people who have actually been there.

Last Monday afternoon, my husband Brian was called over to the Oregon Coast as a large storm slammed the Northwestern corner of Oregon and Southwestern Washington.

For the past week, he's spent 5 nights of it out on the Coast, sleeping in his truck most nights because he couldn't find a hotel room.

Most towns -- from Lincoln City to Astoria (and including Vernonia for those of you who followed CNN) were without power for days after the storm.

My husband works for a company who contracts with Sprint/Nextel to keep their cell phone towers running when the power goes out -- so when some people are leaving the area, my husband becomes a first responder, critical to restoring telecommunications in the area.

After what he described tonight as "the longest week of my life", Brian started telling me how tonight he was at a restaurant, and the waitress and the restaurant manager could tell by the look on his face that he had been without much sleep for days, and asked if he was helping out on the Coast to get things back up and running. When Brian said yes, he was thanked profusely.

Last night, at 1 a.m., he found the first Motel 6 where he could stay, and a cop pulled up to his truck as Brian went out to get his things. He hesitated, as like most people, he was a little guarded about what the police officer wanted, only to find out that the cop saw his Disaster Recovery credentials on the truck, and wanted to thank him as well for being there to help.

Brian logged somewhere near 100 hours of work this week to keep the telecommunications running. One of the top brass at Sprint called Brian personally and thanked him for (and I quote directly since I heard the voicemail myself)

"Thank you for saving our asses this week."

While news crews didn't venture past Vernonia, and most of the world was back to worrying about the NFL or whatever else was going on, Brian was in the thick of it, realizing that the portrayal of how things were was very different than how things REALLY were.

But a few people out there thanking him for his work helped make his day today.

And for THAT we are thankful.

COULD THIS BE?!?!?

We got an offer on our house in Denver last night!

It's so exciting!

I got a call from our realtor last night around dinner time...and the thought that went through my head was "We either got an offer or the house is burning to the ground," and fortunately it was the first.

It's basically a full price offer (of where we're at now since we've come down so much), but they want help with closing costs and to fix the garage door, which we planned to do anyway.

They're pre-approved, and have good credit.

And wanna hear the weird thing?

They want to close in January -- the VERY same weekend we plan on being in Denver!

I get all giddy thinking of having our own house again. I started looking at listings in the towns here in Oregon that we want to look at, and it looks quite affordable.

I want Nora to have her own room! And I can't wait to have my own stuff around me again!

Now, let's pray it all falls into place!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Nora's Neglect-O-Matic

The thing most people don't tell you about babies is that they like to be held or doing something a lot during those many hours they're awake, but really they're so small there's only so much tummy time, book reading and interaction you can do.

At some point you have to find something to fill their awake hours that doesn't mark you as a bad parent, gives your arms a break, and you the ability to change the laundry or make the bottles for the next day.

Enter the Neglect-O-Matic.

I resisted buying a swing for Nora, mostly because at first I thought all she wanted was to be held.

Boy was I wrong.

As it turns out, my daughter is just a speed freak.

I envision her standing at the Mind Eraser ride at Six Flags Elitch Gardens in Denver at the age of seven, wishing wishing wishing she was tall enough for the crazy roller coaster ride.

I shelled out $100 for this -- thanks to Aunt Kathy who gave us some money towards whatever we needed for the baby or ourselves.

The Rainforest swing has a rotating mobile, where the leaves go up and down, and 6 different tracks play, from rainforest sounds to lullabies played by a steel drum band, and other more jazzy steel drum music that I'm sure will make Nora have an unexplained penchant for a spring break in Key West. The seat actually rotates so she can swing from side to side or front to back too.

And most importantly, she LOVES it.

I'm blogging this minute because she's in it and enjoying it so much.

It's so much fun to watch her watch the mobile and wiggle and squirm to the music.

"It's like having an extra person in the house to hold her," Brian said the other night.

Yes. Yes it is.

Thank you Fisher Price, and thank you Aunt Kathy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Water Water Everywhere

You know the disaster is a good one when you see your part of the country on CNN.

All the water you see in these pictures shouldn't be there (except the bottom one where it should be a skinny creek bed). This top one is a shot from my bedroom window looking past the barn into the lowlands. I took this picture on Monday as 7 inches of rain fell in a very short period of time here in Northwestern Oregon.

I drove 10 minutes away to get my nieces from school early, and had to drive through several stretches where water was over the road, and over bridges where the creeks were swollen beyond recognition.

This morning I went out to the garage to check the damage to our stuff -- which we stored in my brother & sister-in-law's garage (more like a barn, but they would be parking their cars in there if my crap wasn't taking up the space). Fortunately it has a gravel floor and we had boards under our boxes, so there doesn't appear to be any major damage. I pulled out the boxes with photo albums and put them in better boxes and moved them to the drier shop area but there's still a lot more to go through. I just can't do it all alone in one day.

Oh how I wish our house would sell so we could move into our own place and we could have our things around us. It is so hard to think of being here all winter with our stuff mildewing in the garage. No matter how wonderful our hosts are, and how much we love our family, we certainly didn't think we'd be here this long, much less months more down the road.

In the meantime, the flood waters are receding in this part of Oregon. We're between Portland and the Coast, where people have lost lives, homes, and if nothing else, electricity for a while. It puts a few soggy boxes of my replaceable life into proper perspective.

It is estimated that half the people in Vernonia, Oregon lost their homes and all their contents...so if you're in the giving mood, please donate to the Red Cross or just click on the title of this post and it'll take you right there.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Thousand-Word Picture


Nora is 11 weeks today.

I can't believe just how much she's grown. People who don't see her even for a couple of days notice how she grows seemingly overnight.

I used to have trouble believing it, til I took this picture tonight.

We left the hospital with her weighing just over 5 lbs., and here she is in a 6-month outfit (I bought the same one as the preemie sized one), swimming in it for sure, but still able to wear it.

These two outfits on either side of her she absolutely SWAM in in the NICU just 10-11 short weeks ago.

Today she makes eye contact with me, smiles when I sing "I love you" and can sit up assisted of course.

Can you believe it?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Our Tree Is So Tall...(HOW TALL IS IT?)

It's so tall that my not-very shrimpy mother (who's 5'6'', holding the baby there on the left), looks shrimpy.

Seriously though. My brother and his wife Judy have a barn that's been finished, with this loft space up to the master bedroom where we are staying. We can see the top of the tree through the loft window.

I estimate it to be around about 20 feet tall.

But then I never was very good at estimating distance.



It's so tall that my niece Miriam, holding my baby girl with her "first Christmas" ornament (thank you Wendi!) put the ornament on the tree, and now we're not really sure where it is.

We plan to find it when the tree comes down.



It's so tall that my blind-as-a-bat nearly-newborn daughter (11 weeks today!) can see it!

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Got My Daughter Back. And Random Stuff


Thank GOODNESS.

What FUN it is to have a cranky baby!

Wow.

Nora had her 2-month shots last week and if I'd thought about it, I would have waited until she was 2 months old according to her gestational age, instead of her actual birthday. It seemed to hit her particularly hard with lots of screaming (nothing makes you more frustrated and helpless than watching your baby scream in your arms, NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO) for LONG periods of time.

Now we're just down to some green gook in her left eye, but that seems to be subsiding. I wonder if she may have had a bit of a cold.

Then I got one. Jeff got it first, then Judy, then me. "The Sickies" as they're known among many with children, have started the rounds. So far Nora hasn't gotten the chest cold that starts with a sore throat and ends with a nice round of coughing fits that remind me of days when I used to get bronchitis at the drop of a hat. You know, those days Moms don't want to read that I ever did (but I did smoke cigarettes at one time, but I won't bother fessing up to how long).

So, after Nora came back to us, I had to take it easy and Mom and Aunt Kathy took the baby a couple of days so I could try and recuperate. Ugh. The first day I felt so bad I didn't want to get out of bed. I had that heavy, bone hurting feeling that I thought you only get with the flu. Now I'm just worried Nora will get it, but you know it's one of those things you can't really lose too much sleep over it.

In other news...I sent out Christmas cards. Picture cards with Nora on them, and if you get one, you're on of the lucky 60 in our lives. Or 80. I can't remember now.

I had to make a choice about ordering more at some point and decided not to. My hand hurt from all the writing, and I was out of stamps. We did send a bunch to the Calgary cousins, aunts and uncles, and to a long list of friends from all over. The best was writing notes and sending pictures of Nora to our Perinatologist, OB/GYN and Nurse Practitioner in Denver who were there for us during my pregnancy with Jacob, as well as the beginnings of Nora.

It feels so amazing to be able to finally send out a Christmas picture card with OUR daughter on it.

What's funny too was I started writing a newsletter covering the year, including my 40th birthday (which actually was a yawner in terms of me getting arrested or anything, since I was 7 weeks pregnant at the time so unable to rabble-rouse).

The best things about my birthday were my trip to Seattle and those who were there know all about it (and they drank for me, I assure you, Mom, Jill, Judy, Stephanie, Teri, Deb, Jess Pie, Kim Pie and Shan Pie), and Brian's and my "last road trip in the Subaru" to the Grand Canyon. Turns out we should have gone ahead and Thelma and Louise'd it over the edge, because the engine light came on in Flagstaff, and not too long after that we found out the 200,000 miles on it had been hard enough on our old girl that she needed to be retired.

Anyhow, I figured both those things were stories left to my memory and photo album, and probably didn't really need to be shared with the Calgary Cousins, who probably are the only people who don't stalk my blog.

Then, of course, our daughter's birth was the most long drawn-out drama, which of course in my newsletter went on for paragraphs, but as I went through my mailing list, I realized that no one except the Calgary Cousins Who Don't Stalk My Blog needed to read this news, because everyone on the planet, from New Zealand to Finland, had access to her story right here at Planet Jules.

In short, my newsletter got trashed because it was indeed, NO LONGER NEWS.

So, suffice to say, you won't be getting a chirpy newsletter out of us this year. Or probably ever. You'll just have to keep reading here.

Next in this newsy news bulletin: The cats have started fighting.

Jack and the Kitten Hopper, who have known each other for life, now officially are strangers. They started fighting when the Kitten Hopper (who weighs 22 lbs -- no joke) took on scrawny Jack (who weighs about 12 pounds so is at an ever so slight weight disadvantage) for the last time.

Jack decided The Man was "keeping him down" and he had had enough, and the two went about 12 rounds several times, with no clear winner, although the Kitten Hopper decidedly lost more fur. But we're not sure if it's just because he HAS more fur on his Marlon Brando (the later years) sized bod.

So, at the top of the stairs we installed a child gate that opens easily for the rest of us. Some people come over and think we've REALLY jumped the gun on childproofing the house for Nora, and we have to explain about how the cats now hate each other for no good reason, but we all have to sleep at night, so separating them during those hours has become a necessity.

Nice.

My only real concern is how they'll reintegrate when we move into a smaller house down the road. I think the Kitty Politics will get a little thick.

And finally, for those of you who wonder how my husband Brian is doing -- He got a nice review and raise a couple of weeks ago. Then his boss called and said the big boss "didn't like the number because it wasn't even enough" so they rounded it up to the next dollar.

He works very long hours these days as he scrambles to get end-of-year stuff done, but otherwise is doing fine. We get him new equipment here and there, so sometimes it's cute how he asks if he can have this or that -- as if I would possibly say no.

Hmm, let's see. We could just let you read a bad map, or we could get you a GPS! Or a headlamp that lets him see to DO HIS WORK after hours in a state where the sun goes down at 4 p.m. in the dead of winter.

A funny, funny man.

OK, gotta go. Nora calls.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cranky Babies Suck

Little did I know that this would be the last happy baby picture I'd take for a few days.

Little Miss Sunshine turned into a beast of a child the past few days...whining, moaning and complaining over every little thing.

I believe the shots she got on Tuesday are to blame but who knows...maybe she's sick. But she has no fever, and is generally just a malcontent at this point.

Pray she gets better soon. I want my cute little daughter back!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Finding Inner Peace this Holiday Season

Friends,

I am passing this on to you because it definitely works, and we could
all use a little more tranquility in our lives. By following this
simple advice heard on the Dr. Phil show, you too can find inner peace.
Dr. Phil proclaimed, "The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all
the things you have started and have never finished."

So, I looked around my house to see all the things I started and hadn't
finished, and before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a
bottle of Merlot, a bottle of White Zinfandel. a bottle of Amaretto, a
bottle of Popov, a package of Oreos, the remainder of my old Prozac
prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some Doritos, and a box of
chocolates.

You have no idea how freaking good I feel right now.

Please pass this on to those whom you think might be in need of inner
peace.




Thanks for sharing this one, Gina!

Things I'm Thankful For

I'll have to add to the list but just five things off the top of my head tonight, as Thanksgiving gets underway in the next five minutes.

1) My daughter Nora, born just two months ago, and the light of our lives

2) My husband Brian. Ever patient, ever faithful. The best friend and man a girl could hope for.

3) My family. To be close to them, even THIS close, is a wonderful thing.

4) My friends. You're spread out all over the place, but you know who you are and I love you all.

5) Living in a place where 32 people are coming to dinner, from the pastor from church to the courtesy clerk/bagger from the grocery store, all are welcome. It is so wonderful to be surrounded by loving folks who have prayed for us and know our story, and are celebrating with us.

On a side note, Thanksgiving has been tough for me these past 5 years. The first one to be tough was in 2002, the first due date for the first baby I lost. It's never been the same since, and I don't think it ever will be. Having a baby doesn't just "make it all ok". It helps heal, but it does still smart when I think of all we've been through to get here.

Prayers and positive thoughts to those who are struggling with infertility and loss, whether they have earthly families or not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Shots Sucked, But We Looked Cool

It was the 2-month appointment.

First Shots.

Ugh.

Nora did great growth wise. She's 11 lbs., 5 oz. and 22.5 inches long...in the 50th percentile for weight and 75th for height for REGULAR kids. She's completely off the preemie scale now. We're done with preemie formula too. Doctor said she was doing great!

The shots made her scream and cry of course, and I just hung in there as she cried. Oh, that look of betrayal...HOW COULD YOU LET THEM DO THIS TO ME!?!? they seemed to say.

She slept a long time after the big bottle (she drank almost 6 oz!) and now she's had another big bottle and is pretty fussy.

We did, however, look good going out the door.

I am going to have the coolest kid on the block (when we live in a city again) because she's going to be accessorized to the hilt. (Check out these cool new sunglasses).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Girl is 2 Months Old - Can You Believe It? I Can't!


I took this picture of her today in a 3 month size outfit and it's almost too small for her. G -- She LOVES the fuzzy green blanket you sent her! She spent "tummy time" on it and kept grabbing the blanket in her fists.

My girl spends more and more time awake, alert, and looking at people and things. She sleeps 4 hours in a row at night and then a few more after a feed and a change.

My Aunt Kathy and the in-laws were here this weekend for my niece's play and we went together last night. Nora amazed them both with her growth and alertness...

After our photo shoot from the other day, Mom, Aunt Kathy and I took Nora to a fish place near the mall, and she was just turning heads all over the restaurant in her little Santa outfit. No one could believe she was a preemie, and of course my Mom the proud grandma was bragging all over the place about how tiny she was and how great she's doing!

We have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday for her 2-month checkup and shots. I can't wait to find out how much bigger and taller she is!

This one I took of her in her diaper the other day. Sorry it's not very focused but you can see how beefy, alert and happy she is!

Sometimes I am amazed at how big she's gotten. Then I pick her up and she still feels so small - she can't be much more than 12 pounds yet. But compared to the 4 lbs. 15 oz. she was on the day she was born, she's huge!

This one is of my Mom with Nora from our Sears Portrait shoot on Friday. It makes me get all misty to see this picture.

There is nothing quite like seeing your Mom be so thrilled to be a new Grandma all over again.

A Shout Out to Cousin Pam


Hi Pam!

Mom and Kathy are here and I took this picture just for you so you can see Aunt Kathy holding Nora for the first time!

Aunt Kathy got here on Thursday and I put Nora in her arms within a few minutes of her arrival, and she had a good cry.

Thank you so much for the cute outfits you sent. You actually made me like some pink because it's all SO cute. ;)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Look Out Christmas Elves, Here Comes Nora!

Today was such a blast! We took Nora to Sears Portrait Studios and had her picture taken.

We did some of my Mom and Nora, one of the three of us, one of just me and Nora, and then a few of these super-cute Christmas photos. I'll share them in the coming days, but I couldn't resist posting this one.

We arrived 15 minutes early and I had fed Nora before we left. I was amazed that she was awake at all, and had figured we'd do lots of sleeping baby pictures.

The first pictures of Mom, Nora and me were sleepy, but then she woke up during the wardrobe change to this Christmasy outfit, and we just got so lucky!

We ordered prints for family and friends, and got a picture CD so we can make Christmas cards.

It was SO much fun today!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Give Her Anything With Ears...

As you can imagine, 5 weeks of bedrest did nothing for my figure, so it was time to get out and get moving. So,Nora and I went for a walk yesterday before the weather got colder today...she got into her little pink suit with the little pink ears, and off we went.

I wasn't halfway down the driveway before she was already relaxed and sleepy. By the time I reached the mailbox a quarter mile or so down the road, she was OUT.

There is something so cute about hats and hoodies with ears on them. I can't resist them to save my life.

When I was out before Halloween, I bought her a Winnie The Pooh Hat with ears even when she already had a pumpkin hat.

When I was at Carter's with Alison last week and we looked at winter hats, sure enough there was one there that I couldn't resist at least wanting. Even if I didn't buy it, ahem, someone else couldn't resist it either so she bought it for Nora.

This time when you can dress them how you please and they don't just throw off what you dress them in is so very short.

So what do I do?

Dress her in stuff with ears on it...well, except poodle ears.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nora's First Field Trip To Powell's

I didn't realize what a big deal today would end up to be! Nora took her first trip to a Portland, Oregon institution: we went to Powell's Bookstore.

I've been to Powell's once before, just when I was pregnant this summer and had just arrived here in Oregon. Brian and I didn't stay long because I was fat and tired, and when you come in the door you need a map and a compass to get around the place.

It's then that you realize no one was screwing around when they said that Powell's is not just an institution in the figurative term, but a literal one as well. Well, it's the size of one anyway. It takes up an entire city block at Burnside and 10th Avenues in downtown Portland, and has more mezannines than Rome.

Today my sister Jill and her boys wanted to stop by Powell's on the way home to Seattle, and my Mom wanted to look for some of her favorite mystery novels, so I thought "hey, why not take Nora?"

Of course as the mother of a two-month-old infant, we spent the bulk of our time in the restroom changing diapers, and in the coffee shop heating up and eating a bottle, but it was a good trip nonetheless.

I MUST comment on the clothing Portlanders wear after a very fun 45 minutes in the coffee shop watching people read everything from Klimt to Kant, the Oregonian newspaper with nary a Wall Street Journal in sight. My God, if it isn't just a pile of REI fleece and down vests. It's like Seattle was 20 years ago -- lacking a shower and any smugness.

But I've digressed:

My sister asked if it was a big pain to bring her out, and I said "Yeah, but it's worth it."

I think my daughter will be better off if she's just out in the world seeing it from the beginning. I'm sure I'd sing a different tune if she wasn't such a good baby, but she travels well and is pretty darn patient for an 8-week-old baby, so why not?

After lunch at Henry's around the corner, we headed back to the parking garage, and the 6 1/2 of us piled in an elevator before another woman came on board. She asked as many people do how old Nora is, and when I told her, I said "It was our first trip to Powell's today."

I didn't realize what a great "first" that was until the woman nodded with such approval that I thought SURELY this makes Nora an ideal Oregonian, who is doing all the right things to show she belongs here by heading to THE bookstore in the state.

Check them out at http://www.powells.com/, or better yet -- go there.

And we can make an Oregonian out of you too.

Head Shots and Smiles

Nora's 8 weeks today.

And just like that, she was flashing smiles to the whole family this weekend.

My girl with the red hair is growing so fast!

There's just nothing like saying "Are you going to give me a smile?" and actually getting one from YOUR baby!

Wowie.

Of course getting a smile and actually capturing it on a camera are two entirely different things...but I tried.

This was the closest thing I got:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Jill!

It was my sister Jill's birthday today. She's still older than me, and of course no matter old I get, I still have to remind her of it. And of course I also still stick my tongue out at her in church. Because, well, that's just the classy gal that I am.

With all due seriousness though...Jill has been a fantastic sister and friend to me (and Brian too) this past year or so. She was there for us during Jacob's birth and loss, and would have shared a birthday (or close to it) since Jacob's due date was today, the same day as Jill's birthday.

When I was in the hospital with Nora, Jill drove down every weekend to see us, and even drove down on Nora's birthday in the middle of the night to be there for her birth.

Thank you Jill. I love you!

Jill and her family came down this weekend to celebrate her birthday, and I suspect, to spend some time with Nora. How neat it is to be near family so my girl can know her aunts, uncles and cousins!

It's been a neat weekend, and it's not quite over because tomorrow we drive to Portland to hang out a bit with Jill.

Happy birthday big sister!
Nora has spent a good chunk of this weekend in her favorite chair -- Uncle John Chair. He's cuddly, comforting, and super-nice to her. She had no reason to do anything except sleep on him when she felt the need, or just sit there and look cute. I think you can make out a bit of a smile here. She's doing it all the time and for anyone who's nearly as fun as Uncle John.


Cousin Erik learned that Nora will eat and cuddle with him too. She's happy to spend all the time in the world nuzzling and otherwise being held.
Cousin John II was just amazed by Nora's baby blues. He wasn't sure how he'd do feeding or handling her, but within minutes he proved to himself and others that he has the touch. Nora loves hanging out with John!

Aunt Judy. We call her Bouncy Chair. Aunt Judy's habit of moving her legs all the time in that bouncy fashion has become invaluable, because Nora likes to move.

From the "I'll sleep anywhere" files. My kid has found ways to nestle, then sliiiiiiiiiiide down the laps of anyone sitting at any angle. Here she is on Bestema's lap. And as long as you don't need to get up to get yourself anything or go to the restroom -- it's not a problem.

Friday, November 09, 2007

A Stack of Recent Pictures

Oooh, it's time to buy a Christmas hat! Shopping with friend Alison and Aria at Carter's Outlet and The Baby Gap was a potentially expensive proposition! But we got out ok, and with this stylin' hat.

Can you see me paying attention? It's what I do these days. Nora and Bestema spend time together every day while Mommy does some housework so that Bestema doesn't have to. Bestema gets to hold Nora, Nora loves being held, and Mommy gets a few minutes to herself for a shower and catchup with laundry and stuff. Everybody wins!


Nora has recently discovered the Binkie. The Chupeta. The Plug. No matter what you call it, it's a wonderful thing when Mommy's getting the bottle ready but it isn't warm enough yet!


I'm just showing off how big I am here. This is me all full from breakfast and fighting off sleep. Mommy keeps bugging me to open my eyes though. Oh, OK. I open my eyes, you take the picture, then you leave me alone? Done.


What can I say? I still love sleeping in the basket. I suppose someone somewhere might say it's not quite the safest thing, but I can't roll in it, and Mommy puts it IN the crib so she can pretend that I'm sleeping where I'm supposed to.


It may be a tad blurry, but this is us this morning during our first feeding after the sun came up. We're working on bigger bottles further apart so Mommy can sleep a little longer at night. The miracle is, it seems to be working!

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