Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2009 And I Got a New Name

I've written a lot about the most significant event of 2009, but since a picture is worth a thousand words...

Photographs courtesy of Chris Johnson Photography.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2008 And Baby Makes Three

Baby was born on the Monday after Mother's Day in May, 2008. It was eventful and exciting but in a very calm sense. This was not a birth in the back of the car on the way to the hospital sort of situation.

The story starts on the previous Thursday when I was at a routine OB appointment having an ultrasound. During the course of the ultrasound, the tech noticed some early labor signs and notified the doctor. After the exam, I sat in a recliner for about 45 minutes with a fetal heart monitor and a contraction monitor strapped on my 33 1/2 week pregnant belly. During the course of those 45 minutes, I had about six contractions, a few that were significant enough to do a little of the deep breathing I had been practicing at our childbirth class for five weeks. Of course the Husband was sitting there in the early stages of panic, waiting for our child to pop out then and there. As it turns out, six contractions in under an hour is too many for 33 weeks. "Okay my darling, it's time to go to the hospital," the on-call doctor said in his middle eastern accent. He always called me things like sweetheart and my darling, which was a little strange but made me laugh inside and helped diffuse my anxiety. Fortunately, the hospital where we were planning to deliver was right around the corner from the doctor's office so I drove myself.

Once I was admitted, I was strapped into the monitors again and given some IV drugs to stop the contractions. Of course I wasn't remotely prepared to go to the hospital at that point so I had no suitcase or any of the things I would have wanted. We just sat and watched tv and waited. Baby was doing just dandy and the monitor showed a strong, consistent heart rate but the contractions still hadn't stopped so we moved on to a different drug. This one worked. I also had the first of two steroid shots to stimulate her lung development in the event of early delivery, and all I can say about that is "ouch." Over the next three days, I had numerous blood tests, lots of monitoring and watched a lot of tv. My parents were on the edge of their seats in Colorado, waiting for any indication that they should get on a plane. By Sunday, the doctor was saying that most likely I would deliver within the next two weeks and would be in the hospital until then. Aside from a roommate across a small hallway who watched tv on high volume and snored, also at high volume, it wasn't too bad.

Monday morning, I was expecting my doctor who had been out for the weekend. I remember him walking in and saying something like, "What happened here? I leave for a couple of days expecting to release you after the weekend and now I hear your blood work is all crazy." Over the weekend, each blood test revealed higher and higher counts of liver enzymes, showing that my liver wasn't functioning properly and indicating HELPP syndrome, similar to pre-eclampsia. The only way to stop it is to deliver the baby and it was progressing quickly. He told us that they needed to get the baby out before things got too bad. We asked if they would induce and when, and he explained that things were worsening too quickly and that a c-section was necessary. Again, we asked when that would happen. "I think in about an hour. So the nurse will be here soon to get you ready and I'll see you in the operating room." WTF?! An hour?? As in one hour?? I called my parents, told them to get on a plane, and five minutes later things were moving quickly. The bonus of all the craziness was that I didn't have much time to think about how our lives were about to change forever... in an hour.

Literally less than an hour later, I was on an operating table, numb from the waist down. The Husband sat next to my head, holding my hand, and before we knew it, the assisting doctor was singing "Happy Birthday" and my doctor was announcing "It's a girl! You have a daughter." Lots of crying, both us and her. A minute later, yet another doctor said, "Mom look over hear and see your baby girl," and there she was. Our baby.

Monday, January 25, 2010

2007 The Year of Surprises

2007 and life was good. I was working at a tolerable job with a lot of fun people close to my age. I was dating a great guy and having a blast. I was happy.

In April, my then-boyfriend surprised me with an invitation to Cabo for a friend's 40th birthay celebration. I was so excited for a trip to Mexico with my boyfriend, but also for somewhat of a milestone in our relationship. We spent five days in paradise and it was everything I had hoped. We went with a great group of people and had so much fun. Everyone got along and had a wonderful time together. The boyfriend and I even got an extra day to ourselves after everyone else left, and that was one of our best days ever. I know that I was deeply smitten prior to that trip but that week sealed the deal for me. I knew that I wanted that boyfriend to someday be my husband.

Fast-forward to October and we hit the one year mark. Things were still going great and while we hadn't talked marriage, I think we both knew that we were on the same page. And then came the next surprise; the surprise that would change both of our lives forever...

There's nothing confusing about this picture, but I remember feeling like I must be missing something. I decided I must be one of those women who can't do something as simple as correctly read a pregnancy test. As it turns out, I am capable of interpreting basic test results. Baby was on the way!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2005/2006 California Girl

In August 2005, I packed my car with some clothes and drove to California to stay with Mrs. J and see if San Diego was the place for me. After deciding to stay, I found myself driving across Death Valley yet again with my friend CK in a hot moving van filled to the brim with my stuff. My first several months in SD were surprisingly harder than I expected. Finding a job seemed nearly impossible and there were many times that I was ready to pack up and leave. I hardly knew anyone and without a job, I was bored and lonely. California seemed crowded and overwhelming compared to the laid-back attitudes of Boulder. I was used to living in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood in suburbia, not surrounded by traffic and noise.

Shortly after I arrived in San Diego, a guy named Chris that I knew through friends from Boulder called proposing that we find an apartment together. He was moving to SD for grad school and hadn't had any success finding a roommate. We found a 2 bedroom, 2 bath place just outside of downtown and moved in, practically strangers. It was one of the best decisions that I made. We ended up becoming fast friends and that helped a lot with the adjustment to California. Our apartment was a great set-up for platonic girl/guy roommates and our only issue was the jackass who lived below us and complained semi-frequently about noise. Since we weren't having parties, the main noise was the two of us jus t walking around like normal. Here's a thought: if you don't want anyone making noise above you, don't live on the bottom floor of an apartment building. Ironically this same moron drove a fancy red corvette with an extremely sensitive alarm system prone to going off early on the weekends and had a dog that barked almost constantly when he wasn't home. Seriously?! And yet he felt the right to complain to us!

About a year after I moved to California, I met my future husband. We were introduced at a group gathering by Mrs. J and her hubby. Little did I know that a short year later we would be expecting a child. And now here we are all married and stuff. It's amazing how what once seemed like such an impulsive decision to move now makes so much sense. A place that once felt so foreign is now home and people that were practically strangers are now so dear to me. I give a lot of credit to Mrs. J for convincing me to move here and for helping me not to just pack up and leave when it was hard at first. You're a good friend, Mrs. J and I'm lucky to have you!

Friday, January 22, 2010

2004 The Monroe House

When my internship in Texas ended, I moved back to Colorado and moved into a house with Mrs. S, her sister AG and another girl they knew. The house on Monroe Street was a hilarious roommate experience. We were all so different but had so much fun. The fourth roomie was an interesting bird, sweet as can be, but prone to messiness. There were many mornings when I would walk into our kitchen and hear the crunch of cereal that she had spilled beneath my feet. Living with Mrs. S and her sister made for a lot of nights laughing into the late hours.

One of the funniest memories of the Monroe House happened one random night in the fall. I had gone to bed and was just starting to drift off when I could hear what sounded like Mrs. S walking up and down the stairs. Up and down. Up and down. I was just about to get up when she knocked and stuck her head in the door. "Can you hear that?" she asked. "Um yeah. What are you doing out there?" Then strangely I heard the same thumping noise again as she was standing there. She looked up and then said, "I think there's an animal in our crawl space." We listened for a few more minutes, and sure enough we could hear something scratching around above our heads.

There was an entrance to the crawl space in the hall ceiling but we decided that the animal sounded too big for any investigating on our parts. Mrs. S believed it to be a raccoon and said she was not about to go up there because "raccoons have claws and they'll go for your eyes." It might be one of the funniest things she's ever said in the entire time I've known her. So what do two single girls do when they think a raccoon is in the crawl space? They call the police. The dispatcher didn't think animal control was open but said she would send someone over to help us. So we sat in our living room and waited, all the while listening to Rocky Raccoon crawl around above the ceiling, convinced that he would come out to say hello at any minute.

A police car arrived and the officer knocked on the door. "I hear you girls are having some sort of animal problem." We explained the noises and directed him to the entrance to the crawl space. We told him that we believed it to be a raccoon. He looked at us and said completely seriously, "Raccoons have claws. I better let animal control deal with this," and put away his flashlight. Really. He wouldn't go up to the attic and I don't blame him. He gave us a number to call the next day and left us alone with our nighttime visitor. Thanks for the help, Officer.

The next morning we went outside and could see that something had made a huge hole in the vent leading to the attic space. Animal control came out but Rocky had already vacated the premises after successfully keeping us up almost all night. To this day, anything involving a raccoon reminds me of that night and how hard we laughed about it after the policeman left. Good times at the Monroe House.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

2003 and I was on Texas Time

I was 23 and living in Austin, TX during my internship with the middle school program at a church. If you've never been to Texas, it's really hard to explain their enthusiasm for their own state. Texans, native or transplant, LOVE Texas. The pride is incomparable with any other state where I've lived.

Adjusting to Texas after living in the Pacific NW and Colorado was an experience all on its own. The accents are heavy, the food is intense and the old-school mannerisms are prevalent. I don't think I once opened my own door in the presence of a man the entire time I lived there. I also had to get used to being called "darlin" and "ma'am" a whole lot more than I would have liked at first. Eventually the accents become contagious, the food seems tamer, and the southern manners become endearing.

As part of my internship, I was provided room & board with a family from the church. I could have gotten a normal, run-of-the-mill family and that would have been fine, but instead I spent the year living with Sam and Lilas and their dog... Guinevere. These two were a couple of empty-nesters, both born and bred in Austin. Their kids were grown and they had extra space and big hearts for housing guests. They welcomed me from the start and I can't imagine two kinder people. They definitely had their share of quirks though! Both former journalists, they were well-educated and full of relatively liberal opinions in a state known for being conservative. Their dog was the center of the home and the bane of my existence. She was cute but pompous, if it's possible for a dog to exhibit that characteristic. I always felt as though she was looking at me in a condescending way. Plus she had a horrendous habit of sneaking into my room and pulling socks and underwear out of my laundry bag, then chewing them and abandoning the pieces on the carpet.

Despite the oddities of my living arrangement, I loved Austin and my job. The kids I worked with were amazing and my boss was fabulous. We spent the majority of our time at work laughing and it was wonderful. Austin is a great city and there is so much to do. Kayaking on Town Lake, bbq at the Salt Lick, live music at Antones and Momo's, two-stepping at the Broken Spoke, plays in Zilker Park, shopping at the Arboretum, driving Congress at night towards the Capitol building. The list goes on and on and it was a great time in my life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2002 and I was 22

In the spring of 2002, I graduated from college. Gone were the simple days of class, homework, hang out, repeat. I was off to the real world. I had found an internship working with the middle school program at a church in Austin, TX. My plan was to drive back to Colorado and spend a few weeks at home before heading south to the Greatest State Ever. But first I had to make it home which meant I was on the road again.

Mrs. S and I were roommates during our senior year and foolishly decided to pack up and drive home after graduation weekend. Clearly we were insane. After a weekend of non-stop grad events, parties and celebration with family, the last thing we needed was to be packing and cleaning our apartment and then driving 16 hours to Colorado. But there we were doing just that. Luckily we had some loyal friends who were willing to pitch in or we would never have made it.

I ended up having more stuff than I could fit in my car so Mrs. J offered to help me secure it on the roof. We sort of wrapped the two extra suitcases in a tarp and strapped the whole thing down on the roof with a few bungee cords. Mrs. J assured me she had seen her dad do this a thousand times and it would be fine. Famous last words. On our way out of town, about 20 minutes and 70 mph on the highway, I heard two loud thumps and watched in horror as my two suitcases bounced off the roof of my car and careened down the highway behind me while the blue tarp took flight above the road. In an act of utter mercy I'm sure, a couple behind me stopped to help. The husband retrieved the suitcases, which had miraculously not opened, and the wife assisted in finding space in my packed car. The miracle suitcases rode shotgun the rest of the trip!

Having some foresight into our exhaustion, Mrs. S and I opted to stop overnight in Bozeman, MT during our drive. When we woke up the next mid-May morning, it had snowed and the roads were blanketed with a thick layer of powder. Super conditions for driving on the highway. By the time we had made it to Wyoming, the snow was gone but the wind was sweeping across the open plains at warp speed, making it a challenge to stay in one lane on the highway. As the winds got even worse, we started to pass semi-trucks that had been turned over on the sides of the road. It was a little terrifying but we made it through safely.

While it certainly wasn't the last roadtrip of my life, in my mind it represents the end of college and the start of my real adult life.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2001 when I turned 21

The obvious major event of 2001 was my 21st birthday. Such a momentous occasion. Such a milestone. Such a lovely trip to the hospital.

I was one of the first of my close girlfriends to hit #21 so the traditional 21-run bar crawl was out. Instead we decided to throw a party at my house. I was living with three gals in a two-story duplex at the time and we figured a smallish party was doable. I'll just mention now that the other half of our duplex was occupied by our landlord and his family. I'm not sure what we were thinking OR maybe we just didn't think.

The festivities were kicked off the night before my birthday when a surprise delivery from my parents turned out to be a nice bottle of champagne. Luckily it wasn't too nice because the girls and I decided it would be more fun to shake it up and spray a lot of it off the balcony before drinking the rest. What can I say?? We were 20.

You can't have a 21st birthday party without the right outfit so the big day started out with lunch and some shopping. Lunch included at least two shots of tequila and the search for a party dress involved several stops for shots along the way. Nothing says celebration like doing shots at Chili's in the mall! Of course I was the only one taking the shots because I was the only one who was legal. Sigh. As you can imagine, I was bombed before the party even started. We had alerted our neighbors (aka our landlord) that we were having a "small get-together" and told them to come over if it got even a little too noisy. At some point in the night I did have a conversation with our landlord's wife about the noise but ended up sending Mrs. S back to their house to confirm that we weren't getting evicted on the spot.

After some various embarrassing incidents, mostly involving me tripping, falling or spilling something, I was down for the count. My tolerance level has never been exceptionally high but I like to think I held my own that night... until I couldn't hold it in anymore and the party was over for me. In a now famous line from my permanent position in front of the toilet, I pointed to each of my friends and said "I hate you and you and you two. You're okay because you held my hair." I sure know how to make a memory!

I'd like to say that was the end of it, but unfortunately nine hours later I was still incredibly sick, and my two friends who had shared the unpleasant task of babysitting me through the night decided it was time to take me to the ER. The low point for them was probably having to call my parents and tell them what was going on. But that's what happens when you let, sorry make, your friend do tequila shots at the mall! The ER was a short experience which thankfully did not involve any stomach-pumping. I got some saline solution and some anti-nausea drugs and was sent home a few hours later.

It might not seem like it would be a fond memory of my young-adult life, but there were definitely some memorable moments that we still laugh about to this day!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Countdown is On

In ten days... I will no longer be a twenty-something.

That's right. In 10 days I will be 30 years old. 3-0. In honor of my thirtieth I thought a little countdown was in order. Each day for the next ten days I'll be posting about one year from my twenties. It will be an interesting trip down memory lane I'm sure, but also a fun way to celebrate my entrance into a new decade.

So here we go... the year was 2000 and I was 20.

I was a wee sophomore in college and living the easy life where the Bank of Mom & Dad was still open for business and I didn't yet feel guilty for making frequent withdrawals. Ah, the good old days. I went to a small, private Christian college in the Pacific NW where taking a crazy, booze-ridden trip to Cabo during spring break wasn't exactly the norm. Since our parents weren't about to fund a trip to Mexico, my closest girlfriends and I wanted to at least do something together for spring break. The answer to our problem: a good old-fashioned roadtrip. What better way for four twenty year old girls to spend some quality time together than 16 hours on the open road crammed in a tiny hatchback?! That isn't a recipe for drama or anything.

My car looked exactly like the one above, except that it was royal blue. We called it "the blueberry." While it was reliable, it wasn't exactly a luxury ride. Two out of the four of us were from Boulder, so we decided to pack ourselves and our luggage like sardines into the blueberry and drive the 16+ hours to Colorado to spend spring break at the homes of our two families. Fabulous. Four girls, about fifteen pieces of luggage, a seemingly endless supply of cds, and we were on our way.

Our first pit-stop was a gas station/restaurant/mini casino in Missoula, MT. I mean, really, who doesn't feel the urge to hit the slots when they're at a gas station in the middle of the mountains? I know I get a hankering to gamble after a few hours in the car. At least they had nice restrooms. We gassed up, picked up some snacks and were ready to be on our way, that is until one of us (who is now Mrs. S) dropped the car keys in the trashcan next to the gas pump. Seriously. Keys in the trash. At the gas station. Anybody need some hepatitis?? Check. Luckily the keys hadn't fallen too far in and after another trip to the restroom for some intense handwashing, we were good to go.

Let me just take a minute to interject here on what I believe to be one of the true highlights of a roadtrip. Highway-style junk food. When else do you not feel the slightest bit guilty for buying beef jerky at a gas station? I don't even like beef jerky on a normal day. Even writing about it kind of makes me cringe. But on a roadtrip, it might as well be the nectar of the gods. You know you agree.

By the next stop, the two girls who were riding in the backseat (now Mrs. J and Mrs. C) were no longer speaking to each other. Keep in mind we had been in the car for only about six hours. To this day I'm not really sure what happened back there, but it did, and after we had all hit up the restroom they refused to sit next to one another. Did I mention how awesome this trip was?

It's been a long time so the details aren't fully clear but at some point we got pulled over. Mrs. S was driving and we were in Montana where allegedly there was no speed limit on the highway. Wrong. We pulled over into the large median strip in the center of the highway. When the officer came to the window and asked for her license, Mrs. S handed it to him but unforunately at that very moment a gust of wind whipped the ID out of her hand and across the road. The look on her face was priceless, as was his. Here's where things get suspicious. She ended up getting a $40 ticket which the officer said she could pay then and avoid having to appear in court. However, he couldn't accept out-of-state checks, just cash. Hmm. Lucky for us we had 40 bucks to essentially buy our way out of ticket.

There's only one other moment from that drive that really sticks out in my memory. It was late, we were tired and we still had a ways to go. We stopped at yet another gas station to fill up the tiniest gas tank ever. I was in the front of the two-door hatchback and Mrs. J was in the seat behind me. I got out to use the restroom and thinking that no one else was getting out, flung the door shut behind me. Wrong again. Mrs. J had one foot out of the car when I shut the door without looking.
Me: I'm so sorry! Oh my gosh. Are you okay? I'm so sorry!
Mrs. J: Stop. I'll be fine. Just don't talk to me for a few minutes.
Me: (Shit)

All in all, we made it in one piece with all of our luggage and the car in tact for the most part. Of course we were so sick of one another by the time we got to Boulder that we really had no interest in being together, but luckily that feeling passed (mostly) and we survived not only the week at home but the car trip back to school. Needless to say, the four of us never made a repeat trip, but it is an all-time favorite memory when I look back at my 20th year.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Mmm, pie

After two large family dinners at our house during Christmas, we were left with an abundance of leftovers. In the past, I have cringed guiltily as I've thrown away container after container of uneaten food during a refrigerator purge. This time I took a page from my aunt's book and was able to use almost all of our leftovers. So easy. So effective. So delicious.

Chicken pot pie is the ultimate comfort food in my book and we were not disappointed. I also made a beef pot pie with the remains of my standing rib roast from Christmas day. The beef pot pie was met with slightly less enthusiasm but still enjoyed. The chicken pot pie was the true hero, impressing not only the Husband, but my parents-in-law as well. Go me! I am truly a domestic goddess. And yes, that is my actual pie in the picture above. Below is the inside prior to cooking.

I just chopped up the leftover chicken, added some peeled, boiled potato chunks, frozen peas and corn, and some store-bought chicken gravy. The gravy could be construed as cheating but in this case there was no leftover gravy or stock and you need something to bind the ingredients. The last pie I made had homemade gravy in it so I'm not beating myself up too much over this one. I also used store-bought frozen pie crusts. Just thaw them a bit and use one of the crusts as the topper. Poke a few holes in the top to let steam escape and bake the pie at 375 for about 30 minutes. I sometimes crank the oven to 400 for another few minutes at the end to get a good golden crust. Then just serve it up. Yum!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One Year Blogiversary

Today marks the official start of this blog one year ago. It's hard to believe that a year ago I was just starting out, prompted by a resolution to write more often. Strangely, I haven't put as much time or effort into this blog as I had initially hoped. Still I like that I stuck with it for the past year, even in months when I posted only once a week or a few times in a month.

My goal for the next year is to post more often and more consistently. I feel like as Baby grows in her independence and ability to play without constant parental involvement, I have more pockets of free time to devote to my own tasks or interests. I see this blog as a combination of the two. I'd like to put more focus on personal projects that I'm working on and use this blog for a little sense of accountability in getting things accomplished. I have a lot of ideas floating around my head and hope to feature some of those on this page soon.

For those few people who actually read this blog, thank you for visiting! I hope to bring much more to the table this year and I hope you will stick around.

Happy Blogiversary to me!
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