Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thank You My Friends...

In the midst of all my decluttering and work to prepare for school, Nora and I have had a lot of fun this week.

We played and played, and lately her latest "thing" is to consider this blanket, made by my friend Kelly and a host of other women from an online support group the has drifted into many in-real-life friendships.

These women I met on Parentsplace.com many years ago, immediately following my first miscarriage. Some came before me, others followed. Through thick and thin, and more losses and lots of babies, we've come to form a number of groups of varying topics, but they all are considered sisters in the one thing we all have in common: All of us have lost a child or children, almost all due to miscarriage.

When I was in the hospital with Nora last year, Melinda (one of the gals from the board) who lives outside Portland, came to visit me, and brought me this special special quilt.

You see, I've made quilts for a lot of people, but no one has ever made one for me. I've made a few for gals on the board, and many more for family members. And when the gals made me this quilt, it wasn't just ANY fabric they used. They used fabric from clothes and receiving blankets from THEIR children.

You can't really get any more special and meaningful than that.

So as Nora picked this week to enjoy this quilt the most, and as the year winds down, and we all reflect on friendships past and present and future...I want to thank the ladies who contributed in materials, time and heartfelt goodwishes for this quilt and for our precious angel girl.

Thank you all.

Here's a video of Nora playing with me with the quilt. I figure out pretty quick into it to turn it more towards her, so bear with me the first 20 seconds, the rest is a treat:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pictures On The Fridge

At Oma's house, her entire fridge is covered with family photos put on the fridge with magnetic "frames" that hold them there.

Nora immediately seized on the fact that she could play with these, and enjoyed learning who everyone was in the house and matching them to the faces on the fridge.
Whenever anyone walked by the fridge with Nora in their arms, it turned into a chance to look at people and point them all out.

While Oma was out one day, she bought some more of these for us, and when we got home, Nora gleefully found more of these photo frames on OUR fridge, down where she can play with them.

Thank you Oma!

A Couple of Nora Videos...

Turn down the volume on your computer if you can't stand the sound of a pounding piano, but this is adorable:



And playing chase with Daddy after we got home:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas -- I Think Everyone Can Say "I Love You Guys, But Thank God That's Over."

Let me start this off with the first thing that has to be said with the title like the one above -- I love my family.

And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in saying "Thank goodness this week is over."

Traveling for a week. In the snow. With a toddler. Not knowing who is going to make it to feed your cats, be it the a)professional/paid pet sitter; b) the neighbor across the street who you gave the keys to your kingdom to, but don't really know her; or c) the gal you left your dog with who lives uphill in the foot of snow you found out fell the night after you left...

And would my house still stand, or would someone break into it? I think once your house has been broken into and precious things stolen, you never quite expect to come home to whatever you left behind.

And did I mention the traveling in the snow? LOTS of it? And 22 people in the house at some point? The huge productions that were meals to be cooked and eaten and cleaned up after (which considering the sheer number of people, went fairly well), the general mayhem, lack of slepp as Nora kicked me/us in the head repeatedly at 4 a.m. after refusing to sleep further in her pack and play...

But despite the holiday stress, we got through the rough spots and overall we had a wonderful time -- I'd say my favorite moments were seeing Nora have SO much fun with so many family members, and the Family Service at my mother and father-in-law's church, which allowed "free range" children, which Nora took FULL advantage of.

And gift giving was light for the adults and heavy on the kids as it should be. Nora's booty was books books and more books and clothes and a few toys to go with it all, but not horribly overdone, and all of it fun and educational and needed.

During our drive home, we stopped in Portland, did a little grocery shopping and gas-buying, and while I was checking the reason for the crappy windshield wipers, it came off in my hand, buying Nora a little more time with Daddy in the Elmo Toy Aisle at Fred Meyer, while I went to replace it.

After a long day on the road, pulling into the driveway last night was nice, as we said "Nora's home" and she delightedly ran around the house and saw the stuff we'd left behind.
And THANK YOU to Oma and Opa for hosting this fabulous zoo of people!
Soon it will be 2009, and another year gone, another year to be celebrated and remembered.

Merry Christmas a little late, and Happy New Year a little early.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowbound!

We are near Seattle with family, and we've had off and on snow since we got here.

This morning, Brian took Nora out to inspect the satellite dish, then went out and cleaned it off so we could watch TV again, and it was funny how ice from the roof had melted onto and re-frozen to the dish.

We have more than 18 inches I'd guess, and we've got family coming up today, and more coming the rest of the week.

This morning Brian
I went outside with the camera and took a few pictures...mostly the stuff not far from the driveway.

The snow is a good 18 inches deep today, and not going anywhere. We're expecting more before and during Christmas too.
What can I say. I have a soft spot for Internationals.

I love this truck.
I searched for a mailbox to shoot.. There were a lot of them who still had newpapers left in them.

I love this Charlie Brown Tree.

It's new, one of many trees that have been planted here over the past 30+ years since Oma and Opa have moved here...
This used to be a bucket of water. Brian said if he had the time, he and Trevor would make buckets of ice just like this one, so they could build something with their ice cubes.

They're geeks.
This is usually a really pretty swimming pool, but it's frozen over, so I asked Oma when we can push the snow aside and get some ice skates on.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Over The River & Through The Woods...To Grandmother's House We Go!

Snowstorms all around us, and more to come, we hit the road early this morning to head to Oma's and Opa's for Christmas.

We literally went over the river and through the woods to get there too! First, we went through Portland, and crossed over the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, and drove through snow banks, with cars strewn along the the highways from Portland to almost Olympia.

Once we were over the border, we caught up with Bestema and Judy and Miriam at a rest area (yay text messaging, where we could find out where we were and stop for a minute!) and Nora got to say hello to them!

Then came the "through the woods part". It was so beautiful. It was scary at times, but Brian did a great job driving us through.

Once we got to Oma and Opa's house, we got to listen to Opa practice piano. He has such a talent, and it's so neat to hear him play. I made a little clip of it on my camera, which I'll have to upload to YouTube later...

While Opa played, Oma showed Brian her Amazon Kindle, a super cool electronic book device. It was neat to see one in person!

Oma and Opa's house is full of Christmas trees and decorations, including Nora's own tree, which has a special feature: It turns on and off with the mere touch of the hand! How cool is that?


My Other Julie in the family is here too -- this is my sister-in-law Julia and her son (my nephew) Trevor, who's a student at Georgia Tech.

So I didn't get a lot of pictures of Nora because I found my camera after she went to bed, but I got this one of her during dinner with my phone, as I sang "If you're happy and you know it clap your hands" and she just started clapping like crazy.

We're happy to have made it to Oma and Opa's house!

Merry Christmas everybody!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Girl

Such a sweet smile from Miss Nora today, as she ventured out into the snow for the very first time.

She bent over to touch it. She sat in it.

She looked a bit perplexed.

I could see the wheels turning in her head as she asked herself: "Why is my butt cold?"

The weather has been crazy. Down here south of Portland it's been really nothing to write home about except that it's just oddball weather: Snowing one minute, it's gone the next. Back again.

And today, as I snapped a million awesome pictures of Nora in the snow with our Kodak Easyshare, I told Brian I have bad news: He's getting the Nikon Coolpix for his work shooting because generators stand still (when properly installed), so he doesn't need a lightning-fast shutter speed like you do with a 15-month-old toddler.

And he's so nice, he went along with it.

But look at this picture! 7 megapixels of loveliness, compared to a 10-megapixel back-of-the-head shot I would have gotten as she smiled, turned, and click. Dang. Missed another one...

No thanks. A big "thumbs down" for Coolpix. And a BIG "thumbs up" for Kodak.

Nora's First Snow Fun

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

So Many Titles To Choose From...

This morning I did what Brian often does, and that means, letting Nora pick out her own clothes, no matter how ridiculous.

It's 15 degrees outside. It's not like we're going anywhere.

And our little girl decided to dress like a rather scary looking fashion felon.

Ready for Toddler Juvie...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Snow, Ice, Mostly Ice.

So after just a few inches of snow fell yesterday afternoon, school was cancelled, icy conditions overnight made the State Patrol tell people they needed to stay off the roads, and I realized I was out of Tampax at a very inopportune time.

So off to Safeway I went.
The roads and sidewalks are encased in Ice.

So I called my neighbor Amber, who came over at the beginning of Nora's nap time, and sat for her while I walked the 12 blocks over to Safeway, stopped off at the bank, and since the State Capitol is only another block over, I couldn't resist running over and taking a few pictures.
I have to say I'm VERY disappointed with my new Nikon, only because I get home and found out it's taking pictures in a very small camera mode, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to reset the number of pixels per picture, so these pictures aren't nearly as good as they could be.

I guess it's time to go bust out the camera's manual. I really need to learn to read those things.
So it's 2:15, Nora's been out for a record 2 hours, 15 minute nap, and I WOULD go check to make sure she's breathing, but I have heard her cough once or twice so I know she's alive in there.

So I'm going to blog this, scarf some lunch, and maybe sit on the couch and get over the fact I just walked on ice for 12 blocks with a backpack and two grocery bags full of food, since I figured if I'm trapped in the house for a few more days, we might as well eat.

What the heck, huh?




Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Growing Girl

Today was a day when I decided to go through closets everywhere and get rid of stuff we didn't need, and I also ran across the very special box of Nora's preemie clothes.

It was cute watching Nora thumb over the "puppy" toes on this preemie outfit she wore in the hospital just 15 months ago.


If you look at this picture of our friend Jim holding Nora (then at about a month old and just over 5 lbs.) Nora SWAM in this little puppy dog themed outfit.

So getting her to hold it up to herself is impossible.

Heck, getting a picture of her holding still is almost impossible. If you had ANY idea how MANY pictures I've taken of her (about 8,000) and how many have turned out in the past month alone (a fraction).

So today I put the preemie sleeper on her back as she bent over to pick up a Cheerio off the floor for a morning snack.

Yeah, I let her eat off the floor.

Try stopping her.

But I digress...

Yeah, our girl has grown like a weed.

She's as tall as an average 2-year-old (based on the 2-year-old's we've been running into lately) and weighs 23 pounds.

I still can't believe it.

Today I boxed up a bunch of stuff, one of Nora's toys and books and a few things for my friend Cheryl who has twins, and I started another box for my friend Delois's sister Brandi, who's had unexplained losses like me, and recently had a miracle girl of her own.

Fortunately nobody needs the preemie stuff this time around!

Snow Day!

Nora got her first peek at snow this morning!

We woke up to a nice little storm, but it quickly passed and I didn't think it would really turn into anything.
By the time Brian got home from work today, the snow was flying pretty fast and furiously, and his truck was covered rather quickly.

It may seem like an odd thing, but one thing that bothered me in Denver was that the street sign was ON our corner, not across the street, so I couldn't tell if it was snowing hard unless I was out on my porch, or craning my neck out the kitchen window.

As you can imagine, this is not a good thing in Denver.

Anyway, today I was delighted when it was dark enough I could see the light ACROSS THE STREET, where it makes it a lot easier to see if it's snowing a lot or a little, or at all.

Yes, small things make me happy.
And here's a shot out the back door towards the back yard.

Pretty snow. It's going to do more of it later this week, so I'm not entirely thrilled about being stuck in the house a lot this week, but soon Brian will be done for Christmas break and we'll have lots of time together.

I can't wait for that!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

We got to surprise Bestema (my Mom) yesterday for her birthday!

My sister Jill, our brother-in-law John, and our nephew Erik, drove down from the Seattle area to celebrate Mom's birthday with a dinner at my place, and a surprise gift.

Mom didn't know Jill, John & Erik were coming, so I went over to pick her up, under the story that she needed to see Nora for a couple of hours before Jeff & Judy could get there (they were coming later, near Nora's bedtime).

Of course, Mom didn't fall for it, but she was VERY surprised to see Erik holding Nora as we walked in the door!

Nora had a good time entertaining the troops while I got things ready for dinner. She's been running a bit of a fever the past couple of days, and drooling like a new tooth is coming, so she did pretty well.


Uncle John fed her dinner, and she had lots of fun saying "Yay!" and raising her arms as she cheers herself on. And of course, a staredown, nose-to-nose with her uncle.

I love how she knows her extended family so well, she loves having them around.

After bedtime, it was time to eat and get the party started!

Us kids pitched in together and got Mom a big surprise for her birthday, we got her a new laptop computer, so she can get online from her room instead of having to share the family computer, which is upstairs.

Plus, it's just nice to have your own computer!

John bought the computer, then set it up full of things so Mom could get online immediately, and she could start learning how to use her new computer.

And here's a group shot with us all. It's hard to get pictures of EVERYONE every time, because we don't stop and do it sometimes.

I've noticed over the years (I was going through some old photos recently) that we often just take pictures of the kids, or of the person the party is being held for. So last night I asked for a group shot, and after a few tries and lots of closed eyes, we got one with all of us looking in the same direction! Yay us!

Happy birthday Mom! We had such fun.

Love you lots!

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