Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sweet Savannah


I'm headed to Savannah tomorrow for a long weekend, and for the wedding of my friends Jenny and Jim.

I can't WAIT to see a little bit of the South. I can't wait to see my first plantation, and walk along the riverfront.

My friend Kristy and I are going to go out to the coast one day too. Anytime I come near the Atlantic Ocean, I have to put my toes in.

Nora's staying home with her grandparents Oma and Opa and Bestema here to help out so Brian can work, and Aunt Julia is coming over for a few hours too.

So, we'll see you in a few days, and I'll have lots of pictures of Georgeous Georgia when I get back!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Side Trip to Spring Training

My brother-in-law Peter, his wife Sarah, and their daughter Odette came through town yesterday and spent the night with us on their way to a Spring Training vacation in Arizona.

Peter is also the pastor in the immediate family, and he did the honors of baptizing Nora a couple of weeks ago.

What's funny is, he said as I handed her over to him last night "This is the first time I've gotten to hold her."

Ah, the danger of living in a big family. The baby's six months old, and if you're a man, chances are slim that if you're not the father, you don't get much in the way of holding baby time.
We played a game of Chutes and Ladders with Odette -- who MADE her own copy of the game, and she and her Dad made up silly things you have to do if you land on certain squares.

As you can see, there's one square that says "Hold your tongue and sing a song."

That's Brian on the right, and Odette making fun of him.
Then it was time for dessert. Brian has a habit of adding whipped cream to everything, whether it's his cold cereal (yes, seriously) or the no-need-to-be-improved-upon Death By Chocolate Birthday Cake.

But he squirted a bit of whipped cream into anyone with a waiting mouth, and Odette was one.

I was the other. Just this once.

And this cutie pie is Nora this morning. Getting bigger by the minute. Squirmier by the minute, and of course, cuter.

I hope your Easter was just as nice!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

This Birthday Brought to You By the Letter C

The Letter C, which starts my favorite words: Coffee and Chocolate.

So let's recap my birthday today:

I got up late this morning because Brian got up with Nora so I could sleep in. Check.

I found out my Taco Del Mar opened. Lunch plans solidified. Check.

Dinner at my house included my favorite meal of build-your-own chicken fajitas. Check.

Then dessert, Jeff's "Death By Chocolate" cake which basically has a chocolate cake as a "base" and then you just keep adding chocolate and coffee. Cha-cha-cha-check.

One slice later, and I think I'm going to pull an all-nighter.

Aside from my daughter spitting up on me so many times I had to make two full wardrobe changes before company got here, it was all-in-all, a very good day.

One year older. And a whole day wiser.

The Boring Ones.

It's my birthday today and I forgot all about the ones.

When I turned 30, my then-boyfriend Dan rented a limo, and he and some friends of ours when out on the town, and had a nice fat steak downtown, and a night of carousing at the New Orleans Jazz Club in Pioneer Square.

When I turned 31, I stuck my head over the cubicle at work and said "Hey, it's my birthday, anyone want to go have a beer?"

Same thing at 40 so far...

At 40, my sister and friends flew me into Seattle, we partied, we had fun (OK, I didn't party so much since I was 7 weeks pregnant with Nora at the time) but we had a blast.

At 41, I am sitting at home with no job because I'm a new mom (no complaints there), but I still want to stick my head out of the proverbial cubicle (is there such a thing as a proverbial cubicle?) and ask Brian "Do you want to get a beer?"

It's funny, not sad. Don't feel sorry for me at all. This past year has been a blessing. Most of the people nearest and dearest to me have remembered my birthday if nothing else, with a phone call or a card or an e-mail.

I just think it's funny how the big 0's are such a big deal, but The Ones are boring.

Happy 41 to ME!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spiked Ice Cube


I know there's a geek out there who can explain to me how this happens:

Thank you Jeremy!

I got this in an e-mail from him this morning:


Band geek, meet physics geek. I was meaning to write this the day I saw your blog but then life intervened. The answer to the spiked ice cube is both simple and complex; think "the path of least resistance". The ice cube in question had a thermal dynamic i.e. "warm spot" probably arranged by the blower in your freezer, this spot, just like one in a lake or ocean had formed because like temperatures well, like each other. As the majority of the cube formed this oasis of warmth was left watery; and had nowhere to go but up when surface tension around it made it the easiest direction to go. This continued until the water was used up resulting in the "spike" shape. Gravity made it fall over slightly giving it the "thorny" appearance. love your little geek bro, jkp

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Professional Cute Picture Day

Nora and I went to Sears today and got a few pictures taken. Enjoy!

If you can believe it, that's a 12-month size dress she's wearing.

Our girl is getting so big!

Happy Easter Everybody!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Nora's First 6 Months Video


I See Dead People.

Oh MAN what a cool cemetery that was!

Just across the street and up the hill from my house is an old Oregon pioneer cemetery. Nora, Lucy and I went for a walk through it today.

I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw several "Dahlens" -- a family name from a few generations back, and many of them were old timers who settled here and in the Silverton/Canby area. I have no idea if they're related, or if that's the Smith/Johnson name of Norway.

The reason I went up there was because my neighbor Andrea and I were talking and for some reason I mentioned that I have been having really weird, very vivid dreams ever since we moved into the house. Andrea said she did too (she lives literally at the foot of the cemetery), and thought for sure all that cosmic energy from the cemetery was the cause.

She may not be from California, but she lived there long enough to pick up the vibe.

There's something really cool about walking through an old cemetery. You see dates, you do the math, you see what was important to the people.

"Robert C. Johnson, Served in WWI"

"David R. Charleston, Woodsman"

Woodsman?

OK.

Then there are the ones simply marked "BABY".

I get choked up, and keep going. I see the Savage family plot, and two of the 5 markers are for babies or infants who died before they were a year old.

What heartbreak.

I decided to leave the cemetery before I started openly bawling for these people that I never knew. I didn't have any Kleenex.

So we headed out, and North, where I saw a large stand of trees. A PARK!

I headed for the park, and realized it's just 4 blocks from our house. It has the school that Nora will go to someday. It's an old, massive brick structure that probably has asbestos in the walls. But it's beautiful.

And the park!

There's one thing the Northwest does better than Colorado: It grows MASSIVE trees. The Doug Fir, Western Red Cedar and other giants can grow over 100 feet tall, and when you walk through that park, where they've obviously left a beautiful stand of these tall trees that stretch skyward, with just a foot path and a playground in the middle, well, I felt oddly at peace. I love forests, and any stretch of trees together just make me happy I guess.

Once we got home, Nora was asleep, so I wheeled her into the house (see picture), and here she is, still asleep in her Fantastic Ride.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Band Geeks -- We're Brass. We RULE.

I don't know how many people know this, but aside from the fact that Brian and I met in high school -- well, right before I was in high school -- is the fact that since he was two years older than me, there was only ONE way to get a class with him.

Well, two.

But Brian was a serious musician at the age of like 12, so there was NO WAY he was going to take P.E.

So, you know the expression "If Mohammed won't come to the Mountain, the Mountain must come to Mohammed?"

I joined band.

I took band and played my Dad's trumpet in middle school. I could remember a few notes. But my sophomore year in high school it had been nearly 2 years since I'd last played, so I faked it and joined the MVHS Marching Band's brass section.

As you can imagine, every band has its pecking order. The cute little stupid girls play flute. They usually end up being prom queens and cheerleaders by senior year.

Woodwinds are ok. They are artificially full of themselves, but aside from a bari sax, don't have the wind to back it up.

Brian on his trombone and me with my trumpet put us in the brass section.

The brass section is made up of trumpets, trombones, tubas and the occasional French horns. We believe we are not only the coolest in the band, we'll drown you out if you try to argue otherwise.

Then of course there's the rhythm section. These are not really musicians. But they keep a good beat, and give you the cymbal crash when you need it, so they're tolerated by most others in the orchestra.

There aren't any strings in your average high school band, so we won't go there.

So back to the story:

We had very cool Minute Man costumes.

I marched.

I faked playing.

All so I could be around the guy I already knew I loved.

And HE thought I was just a musician, and aside from thinking I was cute, didn't do a thing about it.

It would be two more years before we'd date. And by then he'd be in college and I'd be a senior in high school. Even with a year off, by my senior year I'd become quite a good trumpet player, finishing high school as the lead trumpet player in the jazz band, and 2nd chair in the orchestra.

As Brian was going through his music stuff tonight, he gave me a cute cartoon, and said "You can toss this after you read it, but being a Brass Player, I figured you'd appreciate it."

And I do.

Here's one of the line of jokes:

Words & Expressions NOT to use on a Brass Player:

1) Please
2) Softer
3) What's the matter?
4) Let's run that phrase a few times
5) What kind of mouthpiece do you play?
6) Do you have a mute?
7) Isn't that a lovely violin solo?
8) You must be thrilled to work with such a conductor.
9) I'd like you to meet my wife/daughter/sister/grandmother.


OK, if you're still reading -- there's one more thing Brian gave me that describes him to a tee:

"Trombone players are relaxed individuals, completely assured of a place in life, and to a man they all possess the ability to tell the same story 8 times a day in great detail without changing a word. Getting a trombonist to change a note on his part or to even alter a dynamic is like trying to change the diet of a Koala Bear.

In the Brass Section, the trumpet plays the melody. They have fanfares, climaxes, solos, and lead the ensemble. French horns play beautiful color patterns and set the mood. Tubas play the bass notes, the ostinatos, the pedal points, the roots. Without a Tuba there is no recognizable chord progression.

Trombones play what is left:"


Then there's a short bit of sheet music that shows the trombone playing whole notes, the same note, over and over again.

OK.

Geek Brass Moment Over.

Top O'The Mornin'! Look Who's Having Her Half Birthday!

Every month that passes by with Nora brings new meaning to "this is going way too fast!"

This morning she woke up in her usual good mood -- still trapped on her tummy because she's figured out how to get there but hasn't figured out how to get back to her back. But at least she doesn't complain about it all night long -- only when she's ready to get up.

This past month, Nora has learned to do so many new things. The sparkling personality has a little more expression to it. Just this weekend she learned how to arch her back in defiance, letting me know that whatever it was that was happening at the time was NOT acceptable, now under all-new, under no uncertain terms.

On the bright side, she's learned what a camera is for!

She smiles whenever she sees that silver box in front of Mommy's face. She stares with great interest at my cell phone, and knows it's a camera too.

And that sunny smile just keeps getting cuter, her voice is getting stronger and she says things with more variety. Oh, and her laugh! It comes easier, and there's a chuckle that she gives when she knows you're going to kiss her tummy.

Funny girl!

I love how it's so easy to see so many family members in her face. It's so neat to see the excitement in her eyes as she hears one of her parents voices and searches for it until she finds us.

Oh and how she eats! She's eats cereal at breakfast, and loves oatmeal. She's tried carrots, beans, peas, applesauce and bananas.

And she wants to MOVE! She loves to play in her exersaucer (known as "the office") where she gets very busy and plays for minutes on end (there's no such thing as "hours on end" quite yet! HA). Her favorite toys are the snail with things hanging off of it, the fish puppet Bestema got for her in Hawaii, a bunny rabbit she got from her Baptism, and the tweeting bird.

If it makes noise, she loves it!

Happy 6 months, Nora! We love you!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Her Latest Trick



Nora's latest thing is that diaper changing time is time for her to swing her legs over, her toes to hit the wall, where she starts climbing.

This picture is filed under "DontTurnYourBackOnMeDaddy"

For obvious reasons.

Bush's Pasture Park

Today we went to Bush's Pasture Park -- a large city park at the center of Salem, where I used to play some as a child during the short time we lived here (I was in kindergarten at the time), and later during visits to Grandma's house down on High Street.

We parked near the Deepwoods House -- a mansion near the edge of the park, and walked the trails nearby. It took some doing to find a bridge across the creek, but we eventually found a footbridge that took us across the creek and into the main area of the park.

We even found a well-placed stump where we could get a family photo in!
Nora is absolutely fascinated by the outdoors. Despite this picture looking like she's not that thrilled -- in fact she just looked and looked and looked all around her.

She really hasn't been outside in a park setting before, and she just loves her backpack! Susan and Doug -- we can't thank you enough for it. It's such a great ride, she just LOVES it, and she's just as content as can be to look at the world from that vantage point.

The long winter is almost over...we can see flowers beginning to bloom, bushes are greening up, but the trees still have a ways to go.

C'mon SPRING!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From the "This Is Going Way Too Fast" Files

Brian had a long day at work today. He had one yesterday too, so I tried to keep Nora up until he got home around 7:30.

Well, I fed her at 7:20 when he wasn't home yet (she usually goes down around 7) so she snoozed on the bottle.

Then Brian came home while she was still drinking, took a quick shower, and I handed her over so he'd have a few minutes of cuddle time while I finished cooking dinner for us.

When I came to get him here's the picture I took.

She can now rest her head on his shoulder, and her feet extend all the way to his lap.

She's just getting so big, so fast!

On one hand it's such a joy to watch her thrive, but there's that little teeny part of you that wants her to stay small, just a little longer.

Instead, we have to treasure these days, for they are truly numbered.

Here's Our Girl

This is a short video (2.5 minutes long) with Nora starting to "talk" about a minute in...as you can see she's a very happy baby!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Complex Woman With Simple Needs

Let me tell you how I want to call up Erma Bombeck on days like today and say "I just bought every book you read, and if I had the time to read them, I would."

But not only is she dead, I don't have her phone number. So I'm stopped on two fronts.

Today was one of those days you realize you may have been a complex woman with a hotshot career at some point, but today it boiled down to the fact that the Guys From Lowes were delivering my damn dryer and I was OVERJOYED!

I went from the overly simple, non-working, electrical-sucking organism at the top of this post, to a Lowes truck arriving in front of my house (and me praying I wouldn't get caught taking this picture, because hey, how desperate is THAT?
To having this bad-ass, 4-button, multi-setting, fuel efficient Maytag dryer installed in my house.

Yeah.

I'm easy to please these days.

And then I think: Shouldn't everyone else be so lucky?

The Lowe Down Dirty Dryer

Brian and I went to Lowe's last night.

The guy at the appliance desk asked what kind of dryer I have now and I answered truthfully: "I'm not sure you can actually call it a dryer. It's more like this thing that spins my clothes at high heat without really doing anything to them."

Well, it does, it just takes two hours to dry a load. I'd say the fan's broken.

The washer/dryer I have are A-N-C-I-E-N-T. Like so old they probably actually built them to last, and they have almost no features on them.

And then there's that whole not-drying-my-clothes part.

Anyway, bought a cool new Maytag. It's getting delivered and installed this morning!

And, as a side note: Near our Lowe's, the SIGNS of TACO DEL MAR are UP! They're HIRING! That means once training is over, I'll have a new place to eat!! YEAH!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Another Picture

I have a pet peeve, and I'm not afraid to say it:

I love family pictures. I hate it when people ONLY send out pictures of their kids and none of themselves included.

Of course, now that I have a 6-month-old baby and I'm 20-30 lbs. from having lost the baby weight, I understand WHY I don't really want a picture of me sent out to the world, but here I am today, without makeup, with a hat on because I didn't wash it today, and Brian broke out the camera.

We don't get a lot of pictures of me with Nora because I am the one who takes the bulk of the pictures. Realizing that, I finally asked Brian to take some of me with her, and today he took the time to shoot a few of us together. This is the best one so far.

So all I'm sayin' is...I promise not to be a total stranger on my own blog. If that makes anyone feel better, who knows?

But at least I can get all superior when I give people a hard time about never seeing them in their family's photos.

The Super Fun Mammogram

I remember hearing about mammograms to some extent, but I don't know how I missed hearing the full description of what goes on in there, but I did.

I found a lump. Actually I've pretty much had it since I breastfed Nora for a little while, and it never went away.

I wasn't that worried about it because it felt like the same milk duct was backed up and just never drained, and that's basically what they found out on Monday.

But FIRST, I got to have my first mammogram.

It's really quite funny, and a lot less painful or uncomfortable than say, getting dental x-rays.

Except for the whole pull-and-lay-your-boob-on-a-flat-surface-then-squeeze-it-in-plexi-glass part.

Yeah. H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't done a mammogram, do it.

The Mammographer was fabulous. She loves her job, not for the boob-pulling part but because her job literally saves lives.

What a great job to have, wouldn't you say?

I drove up to Portland for the procedure...since it hadn't been that long since I quit breastfeeding, they expected to find plenty of lumps, which they did. Then we did an ultrasound on the offending lump, and within 20 minutes I heard the Radiologist had examined both tests and I was determined to not have cancer, but instead a benign cyst.

Not only did I get instant results -- which I wasn't expecting until my consult with the surgeon next week -- but the results were good.

No biggie. And fixable.

And I slept better last night than I have in a month.

Cute Pictures O' The Day

It's early, but Nora will turn 6 months next week. I can't believe how tall my girl is.

She's grown 10 inches in 6 months! She was born at 17.5 inches, and now she's just over 27 (as far as I can measure...it's kinda like trying to catch a fish in water!)

The thing I noticed about her with the pictures we've taken lately is that she sees the flash and now instead of frowning, she often smiles.

Ah, I've got a little smart one on my hands. She's figuring out that a camera is for smiles!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Baptism Sunday

What a weekend!

It was SO GREAT to get up to Tacoma this weekend.

Peter (Oma, I need a picture of Peter baptizing our girl to put here!) baptized Nora, and in that wonderful rite of passage, came the best thing in the world besides the baptism itself: A weekend of enjoying our family...the whole reason we're here.

It's hard to put into words what it's like to finally stand at the front of a church with your babe in arms, and welcoming her into the church family.

Peter said afterwards he looked at me and saw I was about to cry, so then he looked at Brian who was about to cry, so then he tried looking at the sponsors Jeff & Judy, and "they were no help", and the whole front rows weren't exactly dry either.

He said as he looked at all of us, he realized what we'd all been through and how much loss we'd endured, and he wanted to tell me to "Get it together or I'm not going to make it through this either!" HA!

Well, I gathered myself...I found myself listening and looking at Peter as much as possible. He is such a great pastor, and I really enjoyed his sermon. So neat to see a guy who's one of his first marriages was to marry Brian and me, and here we are, 8 years later, baptizing our girl in his church.

Lots of little things happened...including a wonderful service. And afterwards, Nora met Ella, a new "friend" who's a few weeks younger than her. It was funny that the Mom (ack, can't remember her name now) came up and said she'd heard all about us and felt she knew us...as Brian had come up to Tacoma for a few weeks to train with the company before moving on to Oregon while we were both pregnant with our girls, and for those few weeks had gone to that church.

Brian had mentioned meeting her and said that during that time he was in Washington and I was still in Colorado -- he was watching this woman's pregnancy knowing we were due at about the same time and trying to imagine what I looked like since we were apart for about a month.

After church, Jill & John hosted lunch at their house in the Harbor...when Jill's son Erik saw us together he asked how to tell us apart since we look so much alike, and I said "Erik, as you can see, your Mom is browner."

Oh, if only I'd spent the end of February in Cozumel...

I'd be burned and peeled by now.

Nevermind

Nora and Opa (her grandpa on Brian's side) got lots of time to play today. Nora's M. Family looks came directly from Opa, which look so much like her Uncle David (who we lost to cancer in 2000) and her Daddy and Peter.

If you click on any of the pictures, you can see them in greater detail...but this particular one I like because it says "God Danced The Day You Were Born."

And I thought "A lot of other people did too!"

After a bit of partying, it was time for a bottle with Uncle John.

Uncle John is THE Uncle when it comes to getting Nora comfy, sleeping or smiling. He's got the touch, that's for sure.

Her cousin John had fun with her too -- he found lots of ways to get her to have fun, including this picture of her on her tummy checking herself out in the mirror.

John also had her up in the air like he was bench-pressing her, and the squeals and squeaks and laughs that came out of her were absolutely priceless!


All this socializing! It's no wonder she napped so much.

But then she'd wake up and have a little more fun...including some face time with Aunt Stephanie, aka "Red", who "no pressure" needs to give Nora a cousin, stat.

After a long day of socializing, Nora fell asleep in the car, and slept all the way to Kalama -- just past the halfway mark home! Then it was time to swing into the Burger Barn for a shake, a change, a bottle, and a little time out of the car seat before heading home.

Thank you everyone, for such a wonderful weekend.

Brian and I talked as we came home and said how great it was that everyone who COULD come without getting on a plane was THERE for us today.

We love you all so very much.

You are why we came home to the Northwest.

Thank you.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeepy Girl.

I just couldn't help myself today.

Nora was a-w-f-u-l today about napping. I got her to sleep about 20 minutes this morning, and after plugging her with lunch, she woke up from her nap in 5 minutes, screamed for 2 hours, then went down for 15 more minutes before spending the last hour and a half complaining LOUDLY about how her day was going.

Babies are funny...Well at least this one is. She's so dang transparent that she needs a nap, it really is kinda comical, even if it does wear on my last nerve like it did today.

When you've waited as long as I have to become a parent, there are good and bad things that come with actually getting your wish.

The good: I'd like to think I'm a bit more patient than I would have been if I'd had my babies with no complications, because I don't take my kid for granted.

The bad: I've had a lot of time to think of ways to remember the days like today, with the added benefit of having a digital camera, a piece of paper, a marker, and a diabolical mind (ok, that might be overstating it a bit, but I mean it about the digital camera, paper and marker -- I have those for sure).

My goal: Her future "Awwwwwwwww, Mom!" when I embarrass her with these photos.

I'd say I'm accomplishing what I set out to do...even if only time will tell.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Satisfaction

This morning Brian got up, intent on getting things done around the house.

Anyone with an infant knows how hard it can be to get things done with a baby around. So Brian put on the backpack that Susan & Doug gave us, and into that baby backpack went our precious girl.

This picture is a personal favorite because I see such a similarity between Nora and her Daddy in this picture, and that it was the first time I noticed she actually smiled because she saw a camera (we have a smart girl). And throughout the morning, Nora "followed" Daddy around in this backpack, blissfully involved in everything he did just because she could watch.

I have to say that the most fun of recent months has been watching Nora with her Daddy, and Daddy with his Nora.

It really is pure bliss to watch your husband tell his daughter how much he loves her. To see her grin when she hears his voice.

Today was a beautiful day. A day where we got to hang out and be a family. We went shopping for a new bookshelf. Gave stuff to Goodwill. Got our new library cards. Ate dinner at a Thai restaurant downtown.

It was a day that ended with me saying to myself "I'm happy."

Ah, Satisfaction.

You're so elusive sometimes, but attainable.

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