Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simple Pleasures

My kids are really growing up.

When you have a child, everyone in the universe tells you to savor every moment, it goes by too quickly, etc. It is challenging to remember that when you haven't slept in 37 hours, are covered in sour milk, and are up to your elbow in the toilet rinsing a poopy diaper. At times, I felt like 20 minutes was 20 hours.

However, now that I get to sleep again, weeks are flying by without me even realizing it. I have been very focused on trying to slow down as much as possible and really enjoy the little things H and Ev do that make me smile, giggle, cry, and beam with pride every day. Here is a list of recent accomplishments, mishaps, and moments of pure joy:

#1 Holden can put on her own underpants. This is big. In the past, she has ended up with the one or both leg openings crushing around her waist or the whole shebang on her head (Don't even ask). It has taken only two days and I have taught her how to get them on right every time.

#2 Everett will give kisses...sometimes. If I ask really sweetly and he is in just the right mood, he will run over with his arms wide, his mouth open and dripping with slobber, and smear my entire face with the mess. It is a beautiful thing.

#3 Holden put herself down for a nap and fell asleep without me even knowing. I walked in and there she was curled up under her covers snoring away. The girl does enjoy her sleep.

#4 Everett will bring me things. I was hanging up a curtain rod the other day and the little scamp took off with my screwdriver. I was perilously balanced on a ladder holding the rod in place and I asked (begged) him to "PLEASE bring the screwdriver to mommy???!!!!" He slowly and deliberately looked at the screwdriver in his hand, walked over to me, and stood on his tiptoes to reach me and hand it over.

#5 Holden will sing, You Are My Sunshine to Everett when he is upset and is crying. Ian taught her all the words without me knowing and it is about the sweetest thing I have ever heard.

#6 Holden is completely potty trained for a while now. Which is 99.9% a good thing. BUT, she sometimes goes without telling me or me realizing it and her little potty sits...full...for a while. This could be very bad in many ways, like when I found Ev dunking my headlamp and splashing in the pee. All I thought was, thank god it was just pee!

#7 Holden is the loviest, huggiest, kissiest child in town. She is Queen Snuggler and she loves to settle chest to chest into your lap and nestle her head on your chest. She often looks up, grabs my face with both hands and whispers "I have a" or "I love you more than ...whole...wide....small...big....WORLD!" Which means I love you more than anything in the whole wide world. Tonight she got cozy with Ian and whispered into his ear, with heartfelt sincerity and seriousness, "merry christmas daddy!" We think she thinks it is another way to say I love you or something, anyway, it is darn cute.

#8 Everett LOVES to be held. Now, this can go two ways. Mostly I love getting my hands on him and smooshing big kisses into his chubby baby cheeks, but once in a while I have to do something, like go to the bathroom, make lunch, get dressed, etc. Or my arms get tired, he weighs as much as Holden! And usually this pretty much ticks him off. He will walk around forlornly whining, waah, waah, waah, like a broken record. Not even real cries, just really loud whines all through the house...FOREVER. He doesn't stop. It almost gets funny a times. Of course, I can't stand it for too long and I have to scoop him up and hold him while he flips light switches and pulls my hair.

#9 Holden loves flowers. We were at Costco the other day and I was trying to leave. Holden was running all over creation. Then she saw the flowers and felt like she had to smell every single one. For about a minute I was begging her to "come on" before Everett completely lost his patience. Then I noticed this 50ish looking man had stopped his shopping and was watching her and giggling. I thought to myself, and then he looked at me and said, "I guess she needed to stop and smell the roses." Just another reminder to slow down and enjoy it all!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Decade in Review

Again, I am quite behind on this post, but forgive me. I just found the idea on another blog I am following and wanted to take my time and make my decade sound as wonderful and exciting as possible-haha. I recently went to the site Blog to Print and printed out the first year of my blog. It is a great piece of memorabilia for my kids and future family. Now, I want to be sure I include all of the pieces of our lives I want to remember and want my family to remember. My (our) decade in review is a fun way to accomplish this.


The decade began with me living in Gastonia, NC (outside of Charlotte) and my first teaching job. Cows would get loose in our playground, I had to dodge chickens in the road on the way to school each morning, and my favorite student was named Billy Joe. It was a sweet and memorable experience! I enjoyed it, but knew I did not want to live in NC forever.

I moved back to Allentown in the summer, but quickly embarked on a two week cross country road trip to visit 7 National Parks. I fell in love with the southwest, Utah in particular.It was my first time camping, kayaking, hiking, and generally roughing it. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the entire experience. It got under my skin and changed me and the course of my life!

I landed a management job with Huntington learning center in the fall, but absolutely hated it. The business side of education was not for me and I would sit at my desk staring longingly at photos of Arches National Park every afternoon. I took it for about 4 months and one day decided I had had enough.I was lost and needed to find myself, so I got on the internet and phone every day until I found a job in the most amazing place on Earth (well, to me anyway!).


On Valentines Day I hit the open road, solo, with a packed car, the guarantee of a waitressing job in Zion National Park (in Utah), and more than a bit of apprehension in my gut. My time there was exciting, scary, adventurous, and difficult. Three days after my arrival, my mom called with the devastating news that my brother, Keith, had been diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. Only a week earlier he had been fine with no sign of any health issues. I tried to enjoy myself in this new adventure, but it was impossible and I returned to PA in 6 weeks time to be with my family and assess the situation.

Keith was optimistic and supportive of me to get back to my life and where I wanted to be. I got a teaching job in Fort Worth, TX and after some time in Allentown, took off in the summer for another new experience. Texas was crazy! I worked part time at the Olive Garden and met lots of local cowboy southern types. they were all sure my soul was going to hell and tried to "save me" every chance they got. I learned acceptance, tolerance, and that I never wanted to live in Texas again!

My biggest adventure of the year was driving alone to Big Bend National Park, on the Mexican border. I hopped in a canoe with a local man who ferried me across the Rio Grande into a small Mexican village where I ate lunch in a generous locals kitchen and explored the village. It was mildly scary and very interesting. Looking back, I can't believe I did it by myself!

At the end of the school year I relocated yet again. This time to Denver and another first grade teaching job. Immediately I felt like I found what I was searching for. It felt comfortable and just right. Like I belonged. I spent some time In Pennsylvania with Keith and my family during his recovery time after a bone marrow transplant. I will always treasure that time and remember tiny details of those long hours by Keith's hospital bed. Watching Price is Right, reruns of Different Strokes, and playing Tetris on his prehistoric Gameboy which I still have.

My job with Aurora was going well, but in late August I got a call in my classroom and left immediately to return to Pennsylvania. Keith was not winning this battle and we were all by his bedside for his last few days. This experience was the most horrendous thing I had ever experienced or could imagine experiencing. Your siblings are the people you expect to be with you for your entire life. Through every stage, good and bad. Living the rest of my life without my brother was inconceivable. But, when something like that happens, you continue to go through the motions of life, you go to sleep, you wake up, you carry on , and time passes by. You realize you are doing it, but it isn't easy.

Keith's fiance, Sara, decided she would move back to California to be with her family. I drove cross country with her. I felt like I needed to see her delivered safely, for Keith. Then I returned to Denver to find out my job had been cut, and I was sent to a new school. I was devastated, but things happen for reasons and I ended up meeting one of my dear friends in the next door classroom.


I was loving my single life in Denver! My job was great and I made some awesome friends. Skiing, camping, and hiking were out my back door and I knew this time I was staying put for a while!

In May, Ian and I met at The Giggling Grizzly late one Thursday night. It was a bar we both went to all the time, but this night we actually met. We had our first date a week later and became pretty serious pretty fast! We did lots of camping, hiking, Rockies games, and going out that summer. It was easy, carefree, and fun.


In the winter Ian began planning a 2 week trip to Alaska for us. In June, we flew into Anchorage, rented a car, loaded up our gear, broke out the map, and off we went. No agenda, no plan, and no reservations. We camped, did an overnight Kayak trip on our own outside of Valdez, went on a whale watching and glacier cruise, hiked in Denali National Park and camped at Wonder Lake under the shadow of Denali! It was wonderful to have two weeks together doing the things we loved. I told Ian I was cool with camping as long as I got a shower every three days. He followed through, so we didn't have any problems.

I started a new job as a Literacy Coach that fall. It was my job to support teachers with reading and writing. I would observe them, offer suggestions for improvement, do research for them, and work with their gifted students. It was an interesting experience and I learned a lot. I will say, kids are WAY easier to work with than adults!

In November, Ian and I planned a long ski weekend to Crested Butte. I left school early and rushed back to our apartment. I opened the door and immediately smelled candles, saw rose petals on the floor leading to the bedroom. It took a few seconds for the reality of what was happening to register in my mind. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! Of course I said yes and we had a romantic and giddy weekend together in Crested Butte.

Ian and I were busy planning a wedding, getting new jobs, getting our first dog, Scout, buying our first home, moving to Colorado Springs, and getting married in Estes Park, CO. Our wedding was perfect and we had so many amazing family and friends who traveled out here to share this special time with us. The weather was great, the elk were all over town, and we did nothing but have fun for four days!The year was full of so much change and excitement and was a fabulous beginning to our lives together.

In July, I went on a super fun camping trip to Santa Fe with my friends Amy and Jess. I had a feeling the whole time that I may be preg and two days after the trip, I found out I was! I took about 7 tests and was in complete shock. I wrapped up a onesie and when Ian got home I presented him with the gift. It was the most exciting moment ever! In September we took a late honeymoon to Veracruz, Mexico. I was already preg, but fully enjoyed lounging by the pool and eating the most delicious food I have ever had. Ian also used his stellar Spanish skills to land us on a third class bus for 8 hours. In the rain, no ac, bursting with lots of local working class Mexican's, and no bathroom...I wasn't fun, but we survived!

On March 23 Holden was born health and happy. The rest of the year consisted of MANY sleepless nights! I briefly had a stint as a home daycare provider. It definitely was NOT for me! It lasted about 6 weeks and I ran for my life. Luckily, we discovered I could stay home with Holden and put real work on hold for a while. It was wonderful getting to spend every mintue with her and be there for every first.

In the winter I began my master's program in Reading and Literacy. I think being a stay at home mom is amazing, but I needed a little something more to stimulate my brain. It would be perfect to get my degree while I was home and have it when I decided to return to work.

Holden's first birthday, first steps, and she learned how to sleep, thank god! Right after her birthday, my bestie from PA came out and we had a girls weekend in Santa Fe. Hmmm Santa Fe? You guessed it, two days after returning I found out I was preg with Everett! It was a bit more challenging being preg while chasing a toddler around, but I loved every minute of both of my pregnancies. I was very lucky too feel so good the entire time.

In October, Ian and I took a relaxing and much needed get away to Estes Park for our third anniversary. It was our first weekend away from H, but with Courtney watching her we really did relax. We sat by a fire, listened to the stream running by the deck of our cabin, and went to some awesome restaurants. Since I was 7 months preg a the time, food was my big excitement!

Everett decided to come 2 weeks early and arrived as a Pre-Christmas present on Dec 7. He was a bit jaundiced and spent many many hours under the blue light. We weren't even allowed to hold him, other than when I was feeding him. It was so heartbreaking, but there are much worse things to endure, so we got through it and were ecstatic to get him home and have him with our family on Christmas morning, when Holden really discovered Santa and presents for the first time!

2009- This has been the best year yet! Watching Holden and Everett become brother and sister, fall in love with each other, and even beat each other up a little, has been a touching and sweet experience for both Ian and I.

We had a bittersweet move back to Denver and a great new job for Ian. It was very difficult to leave my mommy friends who were my family and support through both of my pregnancies and the births of my children. However, we moved back to family and friends in Denver and they have all been amazing and helpful and made the transition wonderful.

Holden began pre-pre-school in the fall and enjoys every minute of it. She also does a dance class and joins her brother for music class every week. She is so outgoing, friendly, and personable. She makes friends everywhere she goes. She loves story time at the library, swimming a the rec center, playing in the park, and watching movies.

I am soaking in every moment with Ev. Experiencing all of his firsts is just as exciting as it was with Holden. He is running all over creation, climbing, eating everything in site, reading books, and snatching Holden's toys. He is so happy and smiley all the time. He loves to watch Holden, chase her around, and laugh at her antics. Last week he gave me a kiss for the first time ever. I cried as I wiped all of the slobber from my cheek.

This has been a decade of ups and downs. With the most horrendous and most joyous moments I will ever experience. I am surrounded with blessings every direction I look and can't wait for all of the adventures awaiting us in the next decade.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Piece of Me

Monday morning, 7:17

(Background of yelps of hunger and need from Everett...)

"Holden, what would you like for breakfast? I am making Everett a bagel with cream cheese."


"Honey, Ev is starving and we need to hurry up so we get to the pool before Ev is cranky."

"Pleaseeeeeeee, pick me up."

"Holden, if you want to go swimming I have to hurry, I will pick you up in a minute."


"How about eggs? Would you like a piece of bacon?"

"I want a piece of you."

I immediately dropped everything I was doing, scooped her up, threw some animal crackers on Everett's tray to keep him content for a few minutes and snuggled with my little angel. People say, "enjoy every minute, it goes by too fast." It can be so hard trying to keep up with our day to day responsibilities that I let the important moments slip away, but not today. Today, we were late for swimming, Ev cried at childwatch, and they both complained in the car on the way home because we were late for their snacks, but it was completely worth it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why Buy the Cow...

The National Western Stock Show hit town last week and we decided it would be the perfect Sunday afternoon activity. I checked on-line and there were tons of activities for kids and it seemed very family friendly. The whole way there I kept saying, "I'm really excited!" Ian kept laughing at me. I am not typically a big farm animal person. I have never even sat on a horse, never wanted to go to the zoo as a child, and don't get me stared on the misery when my mom dragged us to the Lehigh County Game Preserve! OOOhhh pheasants, OOOhhh squirrels. However, these activities through the eyes of my children are completely new, exciting, and fulfilling!

At first, Holden kept saying she wanted to see a zebra. While we tried to explain the stock show was about farm animals and that we were not in fact headed to the zoo, she insisted she wanted to see a zebra. Once we got there she decided a cow would do...thank goodness.

First of all, that place is big. Really big. Like super duper, annoyingly, frustratingly big. And I must say they could have spent a few bucks on some more signs. We were idiotically following the petting farm arrow and would end up at a brick wall dead end, an exit door, or the "Cowboy Bar." Hhhhmmmm. We have a big wagon with two anxious (but still happy) kids. I think it took us 37 1/2 minutes from arriving to catch a glimpse of our first live animal.In fact we did pass 7 skin care booths, 4 gigantic turkey leg stands, 2 make your own rope stands, and 27 Wrangler stands before we finally found the petting farm. It was pretty cool though. It was a huge open pen with goats, llamas, pigs, roosters, and ducks running around. Holden LOVED it.

Next we had to get to the Kids Korral or Little Buckaroo Ranch or whatever, We had to get there to see the little animals and of course this kids area was 16 miles away from the petting farm. These people were no fools. We had to take that damn wagon through 34,000 people and past another handful of cookware demonstration stands, tractor stands, belt buckle salesmen, and cow pulverizing machines...wait no. Anyway, we did make it to the appointed destination and Holden had a heart attack when she caught a glimpse of the pony rides. She broke into a run and tried to weasel in between the bars instead of waiting in line.

She absolutely loved it! Ian decided Everett did not need a pony ride experience at this age (Ev, I faught for you, but Daddy would no let me put you on one!) So he got to run around, play on the jungle gyms, and eat a PB&J sandwich while Holden took her pony ride AND a mini train ride.

Has anyone noticed we still haven't seen any real animals? What the heck? So back through the crowds we went and asked two information cowboys, one glow stick stand operator, and a 3 year old, before a pleasant stranger stepped in and directed us towards llamas, alpaca's and the cows. Thank god. We walked through in about 6 minutes, Holden was content and we called it a day. Poor Ev was dozing off in the wagon, not the most comfortable for sleeping. Both of the kids were so good and it will be even more fun next year when Everett gets it a little more and is allowed to have that pony ride!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Merry Christmas (2 Weeks Late)

All I have to say is, this whole Masters program is getting in the way of my blogging.

Anyway, we had a wonderful Christmas! Ian's whole family was here and we were busy eating and sitting around for a whole week. Marsha, Frank, and Great Grandpa got here on Wednesday and Severin and Colleen arrived on Christmas morning with a big surprise...they are engaged! Aunt Colleen is awesome and we are all happy Severin did so well for himself!

Christmas Eve at Mike and Courtney's was a lot of Holden chasing Casey and Rob's dog Oliver around and sipping tea with her new tea set from Grandma. Ev made it till a whopping 7:15 and then we had to head home before the ultimate meltdown. And they had to get to bed for Santa!

Everett and Holden , mostly Holden, had a grand time opening about one million presents. They had so many that we had a pre-Christmas with all of the presents my dad sent. Why not spread out the joy, right?

On Christmas morning, Holden begged to go downstairs, and had a heart attack waiting for Ev to get his diaper changed. But, under the tree she discovered Santa had left her mommy and baby stuffed giraffes. She kept telling us she was, "too shy" when she sat on Santa's lap and maybe he wouldn't get the news she wanted a mommy and baby giraffe. But good old Santa pulled through. I was a little worried when on Christmas eve she decided she NEEDED a daddy giraffe too. I kept telling her Santa did not have time to back to Toys R Us, so she may only end up with the mommy and baby. Luckily, she was OK with that!

We had 13 adults, 2 kids, and 2 dogs for Dinner and it was great. If this family keeps marrying and reproducing we will soon end up as big as my PA family gatherings!

Everything went really well for my big first Christmas dinner, except for the baking. Luckily, I had previously made some cookies, because Christmas eve and morning were not my time to wear a chef's hat. On Christmas eve my chocolate chip cookies all came out flat like pancakes, even though I used the high altitude directions...damn. At 9 am I discovered that the chocolate cheesecake I had made the night before was burned on the edges and raw in he middle. UGH! No problem, I will make chocolate cupcakes. I even have some homemade butter cream frosting left over from Ev's B-day cake. Until...GD cupcakes! They all completely sunk in the middle....ALTITUDE, I curse you! Now it was war, I had to succeed with something, so I turned to my trusty Hershey's dark chocolate brownie recipe. SUCCESS! Thank goodness because I was running out of flour. I even decorated each mini Brownie with a swirl of green butter cream icing from my fancy new pastry bags and a tiny chocolate chip. Just to prove to the baking gods I was the winner. So Holden really lucked out getting to lick the Brownie bowl on Christmas morning! I love this collage!

By 9pm I was a zombie and completely passed out. All the work was totally worth it though! Keep up those traditions!

Here are all of the pics

A parting shot of Holden at the end of a long Christmas Day....Do you believe I live with this person????


After Everett was born, we showed up at our 3 day old check up with our much loved (and missed) pediatrician. He gave us hugs and asked our new little munchkins name. "Everett!" I declared. I love his name and it has so much meaning for us. Then the conversation went something like this....

Dr.: "Everett? Well what are you going to call him?"

Me: "Huh?"

Dr. "Well, what's his middle name?"

Me: "Keith.....????"

Dr.: "Well Keith is good. Or, you could call him E. Keith."

Me: "Well, I think we are going to call him....Everett."

Dr.: "Huh....O.K."

We should have taken this as a sign. Everett has so many nicknames it is getting hard to keep track.

Tank (Uncle Mike's favorite)
Bubba (Holden)
Buddy (Holden)
Bubby (Holden)
Little Guy (Holden)

It is so cute, but I still just call him Everett. I wonder which one is going to stick. With the way he keeps eating I m thinking it may be Chunk or Tank!

Monday, January 4, 2010

More Traditions

While Allentown, PA ,where I grew up, is a far cry from Amish country, it does have many long standing Pennsylvania Dutch traditions that are dear to my heart. I hope to carry on these traditions with my own children. One biggie is eating Pork and Sauerkraut on New Years Day. I remember asking my nana why we had to eat it every new years day and all I remembered her telling me was something about chickens scratching away your money. So after a delicious dinner of Pork and Sauerkraut this evening, I decided to uncover the mystery.

The practice of eating pork for luck came to America hundreds of years ago and is common with many nationalities. The chickens scratching symbolizes scratching away your money, so obviously only a fool would eat chicken on New Year's Day! The pig digs in mud with his nose (yuck anyway) and pushes forward symbolizing forward action. And pigs are fat so eating one means you will be fed well throughout the upcoming year. Germans and Swedes pick cabbage as a lucky side dish, I couldn't figure out why, but I am content enough with my background knowledge to share with H and Ev when they are old enough to ask.

My research uncovered some of my favorite practices and even a few new ones we may have to try. Germans brought pretzels to America and still eat them for breakfast on New Years morning, they supposedly symbolize good luck. I have to ask my mom if she did this as a child. I know they sometimes ate "pretzel soup" for dinner. It was a bowl of milk with crumbled pretzels and a dallop of butter....yum-haha. Then there is the molasses cup cakes, shoofly pie, chicken pot pie (not the kind in a pie shell), lebanon bologna and cream cheese roll ups, hot bacon salad dressing (Ian refuses to eat), and corn pie (gross....a pie shell filled with milk, corn and butter-but my brother Keith loved it and my mom made it all the time, so I do have fond memories).

Then there are the wonderful expressions of the PA Dutch:

I was wonderful sick last week- I was sick last week
outen the light- turn off the light
go make the door shut- shut the door
the candy is all- no more candy
dippy eggs - eggs over easy
your hair is all strubbley- messy I guess, my mom says it to Holden all the time

My favorite though is "rutsching." As in, "Holden, stop rutsching around, now" when she is antsy and squirmy. Even Ian uses that one!

Pork and Sauerkraut, with mashed potatoes of course, is not a pretty plate. It is pale-yellowish-greenish wet slop. The only seasoning allowed is salt and pepper. But if you have never experienced it, you are missing out! Hey now, come on over once now to our place January 1, 2011 and we would love to share our sloppy mess of pork sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with you!

I will leave you with a nostalgic PA dutch expression....
“Ve get too soon oldt, und too late schmart” so true.....


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