Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Surprise Baby Showers

I have now had twosurprise baby showers thrown for me! I feel so loved!

The first one was put together by Kyle and Bridget and it happened on my birthday, as a combo birthday party / baby shower. I had no idea it was coming and I was shocked to find people in our house, gathering to celebrate our little one. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who surrounded us that day and for the generosity they showed me and Kyle. It was a really fun night!

Today the ladies at work threw me a shower during lunch. I will be honest, I had an inkling that they might be throwing one for me at some point because it was mentioned at Clare's baby shower that they were looking forward to doing so for me, but I didn't know when it might happen. I got an e-mail from a Senior Manager, saying she needed me to come to her office to meet with me, which worried me a little but also made me curious if that might be the draw to get me to the front office for the party. I didn't want to assume anything, though. It turns out my curiosity was right but having a suspicion didn't ruin the fun of it at all. The food was delicious and, again, I felt intensely grateful for the kindness of everyone and the outpouring of gifts. What a great group of women I work with.

I am blessed, indeed, and so is our little girl! She has so many people who already love her, even before they've met her. I can't wait to introduce her to everyone when she arrives into the world!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

to do lists

I am overwhelmed when I think about the fact that our little girl will be here in a little over a month. I'm overwhelmed with joy when I think about meeting face-to-face the one who has been growing inside of me all this time. Though, I'm also overwhelmed with nervous worry when I think of all the things we have left to do before she comes. What if she's early? I know people say it doesn't matter and you manage, but really, there are things we have to do. Like get a car seat (that will happen Monday--phew). I still need to wash her clothes so she has something to wear. There are many work-related tasks that have to be dealt with still. Our house needs a good cleaning. All the random clutter in our home needs to be put away. We need to do our taxes. I need to pack a hospital bag. Don't even get me started on the state of the nursery (because I know it's not essential, but it still stresses me out). The stuff I've mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg. Since writing about this is starting to make me anxious, I think I'm better off stopping now. I will go and make actual useful lists that can prompt us to take action on as much as we can this weekend. Woo hoo for the prospect of focused productivity!

Friday, February 17, 2012

29 Week Photos

I feel so awkward about having pictures taken of my pregnant self. I know everyone expects me to be bigger. I always knew that I would never be one of those women who looked the same as always, just with a basketball-sized bump protuding from her belly. I know that pregnancy is a natural and wonderful blessing, but I just don't feel natural having my picture taken. I like that it's more obvious that I look pregnant now and I'm happy that my belly has rounded out. I'm not complaining about being bigger or looking pregnant, I just don't know how to have pictures taken of me like this. I don't know how to stand. I don't know what to do with my arms. I feel so darn awkward. So, it was a struggle, but I finally let Kyle take some pictures of me. He just had to be in them, too. Maybe I'll be brave and have some more taken now that these are a month old and my belly is definitely a bunch bigger now.





Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Almost Accident

I mentioned it on facebook, but I thought I would share the fuller story of my incident on I-70 here.

On Monday morning I was driving down to Denver to have my car checked out. The check engine light had been coming on and it was sluggish/sputtering, especially in second gear when the RPM were lower. However, that ended up having nothing to do with the scary experience I had on the road that morning.

I was making good time since the roads were clear and dry. Well, except for that one curve just past the Chief Hosa exit. I entered the curve driving the same way I had been the whole way down. Sure, I was going a little bit over the speed limit but I was not driving recklessly. After all, I have a little person growing inside of me. I'm not that dumb.

That particular curve turns to the right. As I entered it I could tell that it was slippery but I figured my studded snow tires would help give me a little extra grip. They didn't. The back end of my car swung out to the left and I tried to get control of the vehicle as I was headed toward the concrete barrier in the middle of the highway. My whole car was sliding across multiple lanes of traffic. There were other cars near me but somehow I missed them. Before I knew it, I was spinning around in a circle. I don't even know how many times. At that point I realized there was nothing I could do to control the car and I braced myself for an impact that I was sure was coming. I didn't say a word, but my soul cried out a prayer, 'Help!' from somewhere within me. My thoughts were focused on the little girl growing inside me and I pleaded that my seatbelt and airbag would somehow keep her safe when we hit something.

My car was headed backwards toward the shoulder. I had no idea what was behind me, but I held onto the wheel and waited to see where I landed. I felt the back of my car hit the snow bank past the shoulder and I went up and slightly over it. The back end of my car was buried in a few feet of snow and the front end was pointing up a bit. But I was safe. We were safe. I looked to my left. About ten feet away was a huge steel traffic sign. Had I hit that at the speed I was going, it could have split my car. I looked in front of me. Had I somehow gone over the median and the other lanes of traffic, the road drops off into a huge seemingly bottomless valley. I was safe. My car was stuck in a snow bank, but I was safe. I breathed a sigh of relief.

I got my phone out to call Kyle and let him know what happened. I knew that he was driving several miles behind me and I wanted to make sure he knew to stop. Other drivers pulled over to the shoulder to make sure that I was OK and that I had a phone to call for help. I motioned to them that I was OK and they could go on ahead.

I noticed a silver SUV spin out and land in the snow bank about 50 yards to my left. Another vehicle spun out on the road but stopped on the shoulder, so he was able to keep going. I realized just how treacherous that section of road was.

My next phone call was to Planet Hyundai, to let them know that I would not make my appointment and to ask them about getting a tow to their shop. As the phone was connecting me to the service department, something terrifying happened. An out of control green Lincoln Mercury was sliding all over the road in front of me and then it took a direct course barreling straight toward me. I was sitting in my car with nowhere to go and that car was getting closer and closer. I thought it was going to follow the same path I did and end up in my windshield. The poor service tech picked up to answer my call and was greeted with me screaming, "Oh, $h*+, oh, $h*+, oh $h*+!" I remembered thinking, 'If this car does land on top of me, at least I'm on the phone already and I won't have to try to locate it to call for help.'

Thankfully, the car slammed into the side of the snow bank just below me and stopped there, about a foot away from my car. I was shocked to realize I hadn't been hit. I apologized to the person on the phone and explained what had just happened. It was that moment that the tears came. Through my clenched throat, I was able to get the phone number for a towing company from the employee on the other line. I didn't have anything to write with, but the windows were fogged up so I wrote the number with my finger in the window's condensation.

I checked on the couple in the green car to make sure that they were OK and had a phone. Next I called the towing company and they explained that a truck could get there within about 45 minutes. All I could do then was sit and wait. Kyle finally arrived and I made it out of the car. We did a preliminary survey of the situation and it didn't look like there was any damage to the vehicle from what we could tell. We sat in his car until the tow truck came, which was only about ten minutes later. The guy hooked up my vehicle and winched it out of the snow before Kyle could even take pictures of what it looked like when it was stuck. Even though we thought it might be driveable, we weren't sure and it was a pretty precarious place to try and get back on the highway. The tow truck driver hooked up my car and we all drove to the next exit, which, incidentally, is the exit where the buffalo herd is located. They happened to be right near the fence that day! Since the biggest expense was the actual hook up we had the driver take my car the last six miles down the hill to the shop. For another $20, better safe than sorry, right?

Once my car was off the truck Kyle and I checked it out and drove it around the neighborhood. It was fine! No damage! I was amazed. It was still doing the strange check engine light thing and we brought it in to them to check that out.

I am still in awe when I play back the scenario and think of all the things that could have gone so much worse. Kyle joked that maybe I should have hit something so we could have had the car determined totaled since we're trying to find a four-door vehicle instead of mine, anyway. However, who knows what even a minor collision could have done to me and the baby. I am glad that as scary as it was, nothing really happened in the end. I am safe and healthy and my car is perfectly fine. Thank God!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mary's Song

One of the past Sundays during worship we read the scripture of Mary's encounter with Elizabeth and we sang Mary's Song together after the sermon was over. Bits of it have been running through my mind ever since. As I sat in the sanctuary, feeling my own little one moving inside of me, I felt connected to Mary in a unique way. I thought of the reality of her pregnancy, of her giving birth in less-than-sanitary conditions, traveling a long distance on foot or on the back of a donkey at nine months pregnant, no one other than her fiance to help her birth her baby. The entry of Jesus into this world was certainly less than majestic. But that's what I love about it: the dirt and grime and blood and crying. It's real and gritty and the story shows that God chose to enter this world as one of the least of these. Humble. Innocent. Vulnerable.

Advent has taken on a new meaning for me this year as I await my own child to enter the world. In the past I've been awed by the elusive mystery and wonder of the Advent season. This year, I'm fixated on the reality of a pregnant Mary and the birth of a baby boy. I'm pondering the new life and the new relationship between a young mother and her son. Yes, there is so much more to the person of Jesus, but this year it has been special to focus on him as an infant, fiercely loved by his proud mom.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Thankful

I did not stop being thanful after November 18. I just didn't get around to posting daily and then when I fell behind, I wasn't sure I could catch up by the end of the month. Such is life. The truth is, I have way more than thirty things to be grateful for. Every single day is filled with thanksigving for all the blessings that surround me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

18.

I am thankful for the homeowner who gave me six Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupons today! Kyle and I often look in the recycling containers at the post office to see if anyone discarded theirs, but we haven't lucked out recently. We have actually been postponing a trip to BB&B until we had coupons. Our list includes: an iron, an ironing board, a body pillow, a carpet cleaner, and (maybe, depending on price) more sheets for the many beds in our house. The coupons will be very helpful in our shopping pursuits. I love saving money!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

17.

I am thankful that I can feel our baby moving inside of me. It is the strangest sensation, but I love it. I can't necessarily tell if I'm feeling a kick, a sommersault, or a turn, but I can definitely feel her squirming around in there. Sometimes it's startling, but I always welcome it. I can't wait for the moment that Kyle will be able to feel her by putting his hand on my belly. What wonderful moments await us in this pregnancy journey!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

16.

I am thankful for the Confirmation Class at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church. We meet on various Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the year and it is always a joy when we get together. The students in the program are so invested and engaged. It makes me glad to think that I get to be a small part of their spiritual development in the church and in the world. They are between 6th and 8th grade and they are eager to learn and grow in new ways. I love how they can be both silly or serious, depending on the tone of the class. I am so thankful for Pastor Joe and the way he leads the program. He encourages to think for themselves, instead of teaching them what to believe. I admire his creativity to bring the lessons to life and involve the students in meaningful ways. I am proud to be a part of this great program at Lord of the Mountains.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

15.

I am thankful for our dog, Nestle. She is such a wonderful companion. Her temperament can only be described as very active and she is incredibly playful. But as fall turns into winter, she becomes a great cuddler on the couch, especially if I have the fleece blanket draped over my legs. She is also a fantastic snuggler when one of us us sick. Her light brown eyes are quite expressive and she has mastered how to plead with those eyes. She is a fantastic jumper and loves leaping after her tennis balls. She single-mindedly pursues retrieving a stick on her off-leash walks and nothing will distract her from that quest. Her sighs and groans speak volumes about her rough life as a pampered pup, and they make me and Kyle smile and imitate her whenever they escape from her mouth. She is quite smart: she will remember where we hid her about-to-be-torn-to-shreds toy and even days later she will whine at the closed door, asking for us to get it back out for her so she can continue maiming it. Her velvety triangle ears, scrunched forehead, tilting head, and white paws make her so darn adorable. She is a good protector, and even when her loud barks are a bit annoying, I know that she is just trying to do her job to guard the house and keep us safe. She loves meeting new people, so much so that it can be a bit overwhelming for visitors. She's getting better about greeting new people, though. At two and a half years old, she is still very much a puppy. I wonder when she'll grow out of her hyperactive mode and become a more mellow dog. Or, will she? No matter what, she is ours and we love her dearly.

Monday, November 14, 2011

14.

I am thankful for the invention of the special plastic film that adheres to windows to provide better insulation. Our bedroom is directly over the uninsulated former garage and it gets pretty cold in there. Plus, our windows are incredibly old and quite drafty. We've had really high, cold winds lately and the furnace just couldn't keep up sufficiently in that room. Plus, with Kyle being sick, he's been more sensitive to cooler temperatures. After blowdrying the plastic covers to the windows, the temperature rose from 63 to 68 degrees! How wonderful that such a cheap and simple solution could work so well.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

13.

I am thankful that the HOA meeting yesterday went very well and that the board president actually thanked me for getting the budget to them earlier than they have ever had it in the past. It's nice when one's hard work is recognized.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

12.

I am thankful for IVs and for doctors who work urgent care Saturday hours. Kyle got really sick last night and he hadn't improved this morning so we made an appointment today. They gave him an IV to get some fluids in him since he was so dehydrated. As of tonight he still wasn't much better but at least he's taking care of himself by sleeping and drinking Gatorade. It is probably some kind of unidentified virus causing him to feel this badly. I am hopeful that his health will improve over his next couple of days off.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.

I am thankful for the Mountain Mentors program. Last night was my first meeting with my new mentee. It was fantastic! She is a peppy nine year old and we had so much fun together. We made a batch of triple chocolate cookies to bring with us to the cookie exchange and game night next Tuesday. I am thrilled about getting to hang out with her more and I'm grateful to the Mountain Mentors program for making the match happen.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10.

I am thankful for our renters. If we had to cover the cost of the condo mortgage on our own, in addition to the mortgage on the house, it would be incredibly difficult for us to afford. Thanks to them, we are able to make it work. The condo renters, who happen to be brothers, pay their rent on time (usually a day early) and they have been extremely cooperative and responsible. And, starting yesterday, we have a renter in a room of our house. His rent, added to the rent from the condo will bring in slightly more than the condo mortgage and fees. Yippee! The renter in our house will only be here for a few months, until the baby is born, but the extra money during those months will be very helpful to us.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

9.

I am thankful that Kyle called me at work this morning to suggest that we watch less TV in favor of reading books and playing music. He said, "I want to learn to play the banjo so I can woo you." I said, "But you've already wooed me. Then again, I suppose you can continue to woo me for the rest of your life, if you'd like." "That's what I intend to do," he replied.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

8.

I am thankful for my job, even if it keeps me here late into the night some evenings. I am glad to have a stable, professional, full-time, year-round job in a resort community, where many people have to depend on piecing together multiple part-time jobs to make it by. In this uncertain economy, I am blessed to have steady income, good benefits, and a boss who treats me with fairness and respect.

Monday, November 07, 2011

7.

I am thankful for my friends. I have been fortunate enough to experience real, lasting friendships over the years, and many of my friendships have remained strong even when we no longer live near each other. There is a part of myself that comes through when I am with my girlfriends that is free and light and authentic. I am grateful that I can be myself with any and all of these women, near and far. I am also thankful for my guy friends. A different dynamic is present, to be sure, but they are also very important to me. Friendship is a gift and I am so thankful to have the privilege to call so many wonderful people my friends.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

6.

I am thankful for my family, in all its forms. While Kyle and I have begun our own nuclear family, we also have our own immediate families of origin, and our extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I am so grateful to be surrounded by so many wonderful people, who have raised me with beautiful traditions and lots of love. I am also blessed to have a whole additional side of wonderful family members through marriage. Every family has their issues and our families are no exception, but on the whole, both Kyle and I have been raised in families that are loving, stable, and made up of people we truly enjoy. While we might not live near any of them, that doesn't diminish our love for them or their importance in our lives.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

5.

I am thankful for the technology that enabled us to find out yesterday that we are having a baby girl!! I had a sneaking suspicion that our baby was a girl, and it was confirmed yesterday by the ultrasound tech whose first words when she put the wand to my belly were, "It's a girl." She knew that fast! It was phenomenal to be able to count her fingers and toes and see the profile of her face. I was in awe of the ability to see our little girl inside of me. It was fantastic and I will say that I shed a tear or two, out of overwhelming love. I pray for this little one, that she would grow to be a strong, confident, faithful, loving woman. And I hope to have a great relationship with her like the one I have with my own mom. Here's to mothers and daughters!

Friday, November 04, 2011

4.

I am thankful for our house. Home ownership certainly has it's stressors, but I am so happy that we are able to live in a house with plenty of space, a big yard, and in a fantastic location. I am incredibly grateful to my handy husband who completed a fence for our yard and installed lattice to hide the items stored under our deck, just one day before a snowfall. I recognize how unique a position we are in to be single family homeowners in Summit County, without being independently wealthy. I do not take it for granted that we are able to live this life in the place we love, hopefully forever. I look forward to building on the memories we have already made in this house. I envision children growing up in our home and one day returning to visit with children of their own. I see this house not just as walls and floors and a roof, but a home and the start of a legacy for our family.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

3.

I am thankful for the life growing inside of me. It is a miracle to me to think that there is another person inside of me right now, developing and getting ready to enter this wondrous world in less than five months. I am dream about the kind of person he or she will be, I imagine staring at that sweet face, I wonder what my child's likes and dislikes will be, I picture myself holding our bundle of joy. I can't wait to get to know you, little one.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

2.

I am thankful for my dear husband, Kyle. I am so blessed to have a man in my life who works hard to provide for our family, who tackles home improvement projects with skill (but is not too "manly" to cook or do dishes on a regular basis), who calls me darlin', who faithfully walks some of the energy out of our sweet and hyper dog, Nestle. Those are just some of the things he does that I appreciate. Who he is reflects greatness, too. He is reliable, compassionate, quirky, loving, sensitive, strong, wise, thoughtful, and a true servant. I don't tell him enough how much I appreciate all that he is and all that he does. Thank you, my love, for being you and for being mine.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I am thankful for... 1.

Many people are doing the month of thankfulness posts on their facebook page. I am choosing to share here what I am thankful for on each day in November.

...my relationship with God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. My faith is an integral part of who I am and how I choose to live. I can't be truly grateful for anything else on my list without acknowledging the source from which it comes. Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Not Mrs. Kyle Hendricks

I'm torn. First of all, I want to express my gratitude for the extremely nice card I received in the mail from a friend. It was so kind of her to think of me and Kyle, and then to follow up that thoughtfulness with action was incredibly nice. I loved the card. Loved it. However, when I first saw the envelope, I sighed. It was addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Hendricks. I know it is a customary way to address married couples. I know it is technically correct and appropriate. I know some people are perfectly fine being addressed that way. But it is not my name. In fact, when asked to select a title, I choose to go by Ms. instead of Mrs. I like the fact that Ms. does not connotate married status, the same way Mr. works for men. (I should say that I don't get upset when I see things addressed to Mrs. Hendricks; I'm OK with it. I just prefer Ms. when possible.) Just because I am married and chose to change my last name to Hendricks does not mean I lost my identity as Ruth. It frustrates me that Mr. & Mrs. Kyle Hendricks implies that. Any reference to my name totally disappears and I am just left to be the misses.

I'm not sure whether I should say something to her or not. I probably won't. I'm quite sure she does not read my blog, so I'm not worried about her stumbling across this entry. The last thing I want to do is to focus on the name thing and have that overshadow my gratitude for the kind gesture she made in sending the card. I supposed a little of my surprise that she addressed it that way is coming from the place that I know she really struggled with changing her name when she got married and seriously considered keeping her name, because of how she didn't want to lose that part of her identity. I also remember having this conversation with her before, about how I dislike the Mr. & Mrs. His Name concept and how that made it difficult for me to address our wedding invitations because I wanted to take that into consideration in case others felt similarly. During the conversation she said something to the effect of, "Oh, sorry, I think I may have addressed your invitation to our wedding that way." (She had.) I replied, "That's OK. You wouldn't have had any way of knowing that was my preference before you sent it. It's hard because there isn't really an easy way of letting people know what name you do or don't want to go by and I also wonder if I've done something similar to others before. But I'm glad you know now. What is your preference?" So, maybe I'm a bit more annoyed by seeing the name written that way since we had already discussed it. But the truth is, I cannot control other people's actions and it would be unwise for me to think I can. I remain thankful for the sweet card and I am grateful for our friendship.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just Ask

I rarely use my Bank of America account anymore, since our joint accounts are with a local bank. We both deposit the same majority percentage of our paychecks into our joint account and that is the money we use to run our household. My BOA account is my personal account; the one from which I buy Kyle's presents or the occasional frivolous item for myself or a friend. He has a personal account for the same reasons. It works for us.

Years ago when I signed up for my BOA account, I purposely chose the free account and I made sure to abide by the rules of direct deposit, automatic transfers to my savings account, etc. that kept it free. However, when I went into my account today I noticed a $12 monthly maintenance fee. What? It turns out the requirements to maintain that free checking account had changed and I no longer qualified. I called Customer Service and I asked to be downgraded to the eBanking account, which meets my needs perfectly well, and I qualify for the free status. I also asked, "Is there any possibility that you would reverse the $12 fee since I had to find out for myself that your requirements changed and I no longer qualified for free checking?" She politely and promptly employed a one time courtesy and reversed the charge.

The morals of the story?
1) Check your bank account or statements regularly for "hidden" fees and see if there is a way to change your accounts to avoid them. Twelve dollars doesn't seem like a lot once, but every month? I could spend $144 a year in a number of other better ways, thank you!
2) It is up to you to make the request if you want something credited. If she hadn't been able to make the reversal that would have been a bummer, yet not too big of a deal. But she was not planning to change it until I spoke up and asked if she would. It doesn't hurt to ask, especially when you don't have a lot to lose.

Five Years

I realized today that I have crossed the threshold of working for Vail Resorts for five years. The whole time I have worked for Keystone Resort Property Management, although in three different positions within the department. That also means I've been living in Colorado for five years now. Wow, how time flies! I realized today by looking at my paycheck and the employee handbook that now that I've reached the five year mark it means I accrue Paid Time Off (PTO) more rapidly, and I can accrue up to 120 hours. That is a big jump from the 80 hour cap I had previously! This couldn't have happened at a better time. It means I will have more PTO available to supplement my time when I am on maternity leave. Assuming short term disability pays 60% of my pay for the first six weeks, this means I will have enough sick time and PTO to take 12 weeks off and have almost entirely all of it paid! I am so thrilled.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Life Giving Friends

This weekend I spent time with dear friends from college. It was so refreshing. I laughed a ton and I had so much fun connecting with these wonderful women. Something that always seems to happen when I'm around them is that I am reminded of who I am and why that is something to celebrate. I hope they have similar feelings. There is just something magical that happens when we are together; I can't quite explain it. My words just won't do it justice. Even when there is conflict, even though each person has members of the group she is closer to than others, even when we are in different stages of life, we can come together and we bring out good things in one another. I feel at home with these women. While we all met during one specific stage of life, I think we've been really good at being there for each other, no matter where we've been or what we've been through since then. I love these ladies. Thank you for being life-giving friends to me.

Flutter

I could be wrong, but I think I've been feeling the baby moving. It's still early, so I can't be sure. I've read that most people start feeling movement sometime between 16-20 weeks. I guess since I'm exactly 16 weeks today, maybe it's not out of the question. But, I've also heard it takes longer for overweight women to feel anything. Hmm. Since this is my first pregnancy, I don't know what it's supposed to be like, but it is certainly a feeling I've never felt before. It's not gas, it's not hunger, it's not nausea, and it's coming from the spot in my belly where I know the baby is hanging out. It almost feels like little twisting inside of me, flips, or a wave of motion. It's surreal if it is in fact what I think it is.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sharing the News

I have been very excited to tell people the news about our pregnancy. With every friend I tell, it feels more real to me. However, I still feel hesitant to broadcast it to all my co-workers, to people at church, and on facebook. Why? After all, it is wonderful news that I am thrilled about. I think the reason I'm not thrilled about telling everyone just yet is that I don't want to be scrutinized. I don't want people inspecting my tummy whenever they see me, waiting to see when I start to really "show." I also don't want my pregnancy to become all that there is to me anymore. Yes, I'm very happy about becoming a mom and I know it will change me forever in ways I can't even imagine yet. But even then I still want to retain my identity as an individual. I fear that once some people know that I'm pregnant, that's all I will be to them--a pregnant woman. I still want to be Ruth to them for a while longer. It's kind of fun to have this little secret in certain contexts of my life right now.

Belly Frustration

Before I ever got pregnant I knew that I would not be one of those women who had the cute little compact bump in front, and the rest of her looked exactly the same as her pre-pregnancy shape. For one, I'm not slender to begin with, so everything is starting off more squishy. I've been frustrated because at almost four months pregnant I still just look like I've gained weight. My belly is bigger, but it's not more rounded, the way one would expect a pregnant belly to look. I have one pudgy section above my belly button and another plump section below my belly button. Both areas prodtrude out about the same amount, but I have this ring of a more narrow area that separates them and when I'm sitting down, the top roll folds over the bottom one. If they would just merge into a rounded tummy I would feel like I look pregnant, instead of just extra fat. When I told that to my sister the other night, she laughed and told me to write that down somewhere. She said, "When you can no longer see your feet you'll go back and read that and laugh that you had wished to be rounder!" Maybe she's right, but I still hold to my opinion as of right now. I want a real baby bump!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

4D/4WD

Kyle and I have been talking about purchasing a new (at least to us) car, with four doors and four-wheel drive. (We also prefer driving a car with a manual transmission.) We even went looking for a little while down in Denver yesterday.

The reasons we need a new vehicle:

1) We no longer have use of the Jeep, which was our four-wheel drive vehicle. This is pretty necessary, given the pitch of our driveway and how hard it is to navigate when there is a lot of snow on the ground. Sometimes we can't get our cars out of the driveway, even with snow tires.

2) Both his Honda Civic and my Hyundai Accent are two door coupes. Once we're dealing with a carseat, this will be problematic.

3) If we have fellow passengers, it's pretty inconvenient for them to climb into the back seat from the front door.

So now comes the hard part of finding something that will meet our needs and fit into our budget. Let's get one thing straight: I don't want a minivan. I have nothing against people who have them and love them. I can even understand the appeal of the convenience, value, etc. I just don't want one. I would prefer that we get a smaller SUV or some kind of crossover vehicle over a sedan. Kyle refuses to get a Subaru Outback. While it feels like 80% of the Summit County population owns one (again, nothing wrong with that), Kyle doesn't like them and won't buy one.

With that being said, do you have any suggestions for us as we start our search?

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Changing Seasons

Winter is approaching quickly and most people who live here are excited about the snow that is starting to fly. Normally, I would be somewhat excited, too, because the arrival of snow would mean that the ski season is starting soon. After all, you can't ski without snow. However, this year I don't have that benefit of winter to look forward to since doctors frown upon pregnant women skiing. I suppose giving up skiing for the season is a small price to pay. :) Yes, that's right, Kyle and I are going to have a baby next spring!

My due date is April first, no fooling! We are very excited about the arrival of our first child. I've been feeling great throughout the whole pregnancy so far. At this point I'm 15 weeks along, so I'm already in my second trimester. I hope the whole thing goes this smoothly. We have told family members, some friends, and I've told my boss, but this is my first try at a more public announcement. The news hasn't hit facebook yet and that's on purpose. I think I'll wait a little longer to announce it there, so please respect that choice by not posting anything about our news there, either. Part of me wonders if anyone will even see the news here; let's face it--I've been a very lax (almost non-existent) blogger over the past year, so I would completely understand if no one even reads this anymore! So, please do comment if you read this post, if only to satisfy my curiosity. Maybe it will prompt me to write more. Plus, now that I'll have some more interesting subject matter, I may feel the desire to write more frequently.

In addition to what the weather is doing outdoors, it certainly feels like seasons are changing in our household. Baby items have crept into our lives and they are starting to fill what has historically been our main guest bedroom. My bedside reading stack is comprised of many books, ones telling me what to expect, others providing suggestions on how to calm a fussy baby, some on the subject of breastfeeding, and more still on sleeping pattern tips, schedules, and so forth. My waistline is expanding and my wardrobe options are getting fewer and farther between. It is strange and wonderful when we consider just how big of a change this will be, and we're eagerly anticipating the new development in our family! Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Our House

I realized I have never posted any pictures of our house. Here are a couple exterior shots that I just found in my inbox. Kyle is the photographer in our household, which makes it difficult for me to get my hands on pictures to be able to post them. I'll see if I can remedy that situation sooner rather than later.

(If you look closely in the first picture, you can see me and Nestle at the top of the driveway.)





This double rainbow stretched across the entire sky, but we could only get part of it in the shot.



Thursday, October 06, 2011

Life Stages

What is the difference between sharing one's joy and bragging? How much power do our words have on other people and how much responsibility do we need to take to guard those words? When does sensitivity to another's situation turn into withholding the truth of what is going on in our own lives? I have been asking these questions lately because I recognize that there are people around me who are not necessarily in the same place that I am. Yes, there always have been, but for some reason it feels more acute right now.

When I examine the big picture of my life, I see the things that I've always imagined I would have in my early thirties: health, a loving husband, a stable career, a rich faith life, family, friends, a cute dog, a relatively solid financial position, a home in a beautiful place, and the hope of a growing family. Granted, not every one of those facets is perfect (are they ever?), but overall I am very happy. I pretty much have what I've always wanted, or I'm on the way to getting there.

Not everyone can say that. In fact, just a few years ago, although I was happy, I couldn't have said that I had all of the things listed above. At that point in my life I was yearning for certain aspects that I saw in other people's lives, wondering when it would all happen for me. I suppose this is natural. Hoping for what's ahead helps us move toward those goals, can keep us centered in prayer, and can open our eyes to opportunities that we may have otherwise overlooked if we had been sitting idly by.

I think back to that time when things were uncertain in my life, and I wonder about the people who were in the places I found myself wanting to be. Were they aware that I was sometimes jealous of their lives? Did they know that no matter how incredibly happy I was for their successes (I truly was!), there was still a tiny part of me that felt stung that it wasn't happening for me yet? Did they ever try to "protect" me from those feelings by purposely holding back something joyous happening in their lives so that there didn't appear to be such a discrepancy between our situations? I wonder.

I also wonder what that means for me now, being the one who is satisfied with my life. Sure there are always things to strive for and pursue so that life doesn't become stagnant, but at this moment I am content. I know some people who desire to be in some of the situations I am in. Knowing what that felt like, what do I do about that? I am pretty sure about some things that don't help: 1) complaining about my life, 2) telling them I remember what it was like to be where they are, 3) telling them I wish I was in their shoes, 4) boasting about things going on for me (which I think is different than simply sharing).

I can be real about my life without apology, just as I would expect anyone else I am friends with to be with me. Perhaps that's the key: focusing on the friendship for the gift that it is, rather than being caught up in the differences we might be experiencing in our individual lives. I think the best thing I can do is to ask them questions about their own lives and really listen. I can be encouraging about the things they see as positives, or maybe sometimes put a spin on a situation to help them see the potential good in it. I can cheer for their wins and feel sad when they are down. Basically, all of the things I would do and be for any one of my friends! I just think it's important to inwardly recognize that one or both of us probably feels a difference in our place in life, which is OK, so we shouldn't pretend that we're in the same place. We can be in different life stages and still be very important to one another. After all, I'm very grateful to the friends in my life who went through and are still going through certain experiences before me. There is a richness in having such a wide variety of friends! Each one of them brings something unique and special to my life. I hope I can do the same for them.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Supermom

My mom was here for a very quick visit a few days ago. As she had just been in Arizona to see Mike and Alicia after the birth of their first baby, conversation naturally circled to pregnancy, labor, and delivery from time to time. Mom and I had never really talked about the topic much before. She summed up her child-bearing experience by saying, "I was made to have babies."

She told me that she conceived each of us the first month she started trying to get pregnant! She never had morning sickness and her pregnancies were really smooth. She was very active throughout her pregnancies: up to her eighth month with Mike she was doing transfers of her 250 lb. patient by herself. She also told me that during the blizzard of '79 when she was pregnant with me, she walked a mile to and from work when she was in her ninth month. Other hospital employees who lived closer to work (and were not pregnant) were calling, saying they couldn't make it in for their shifts. Their managers told them, "if Jane can make it in, so can you." I also found out she had all of us naturally. Apparently, I started to come but then mom stopped progressing. They gave her pitocin (which I've heard makes the contractions much more intense) but she still didn't use any pain medications to deliver. Mike and Keith were both pretty quick and easy labors for her.

I found all of that to be very interesting and quite encouraging. My hope is that my experiences having babies will be as positive as my mom's experiences were. It kind of puts the pressure on, though, doesn't it? I hope that I have similar experiences as my mom did, but what if I don't? It's a pretty high standard to be compared to. One other thing to consider is that I'm currently the age she was when she had already finished having her kids, and I haven't even started yet! I'm sure that's a factor, but let's hope genetics are a stronger influence.

My mom is amazing and I can only dream to be as great as her, both when it comes to having kids and to raising them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lent

"What are you giving up for lent?" is not an uncommon question to hear around this time of year. I can see the benefit of doing without something in order to better reflect on the sacrifice Jesus made for us. However, I think sometimes the self-deprivation people engage in can cause them to become more self-centered. How often do we hear of people giving up caffeine, sweets, alcohol, soda, etc.? We hear about it because those people tend to grumble about how hard it is to give those things up! They are so focused on themselves and what they've given up that I sometimes wonder if the act is actually enhancing their relationship with God, or making them bitter and resentful.

Maybe I'm just speaking from my own past experience. I have tried giving up things for lent and I did get grumpy and resentful! When I did, it was a reminder to check my thoughts and realize how those petty feelings really fit into the bigger picture of who God is and what God has done for us out of love. That usually turned my attitude around, but then I immediately felt guilty for even having those thoughts to begin with! My feelings of guilt reminded me of God's grace and forgiveness. So, in the end, I suppose the act of giving something up did bring me to a better understanding of what the Easter season is about, but I always wondered if there was a better way.

The past few years I have tried to add a habit of devotion during lent, rather than subtracting something. It has been really neat to see the result. Rather than approaching my faith with a sense of shame and guilt for failing, and then reflecting on the grace and forgiveness as a response to falling short, I can start from a place of gratitude and goodness, and build on it even more. For me this has been much more meaningful.

During this lenten season I decided to join a book club at the church I attend. I will also be trying the contemplative prayer session tonight. I have really missed out on being with a group of people with whom I can share introspective thoughts and musings. I am certainly the youngest person in the group, but I feel respected as an equal among them despite the years of life experience and knowledge they have on me. It has been really nice.

What are you doing differently during lent? (Notice I didn't ask the more typical question?)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making a house our home

Friends and family often ask me, "How's the house?" I love their interest in one of the biggest changes in our life in the past year, but I often don't know exactly how to answer their question. Let's face it. The place needs work. Home improvment takes time and money. We don't have a lot of extra cash laying around begging to be spent, and we've been working too many hours without consistent days off so our time is in short supply, too. Therefore, not a lot of work has been done on the house. Also, while I wish I could be, I'm not a good decorator and I don't have an eye for design. I know some people who can choose just the right color of paint for a room, combine items they already have to create a chic look that would appear in the pages of a magazine, and spend pennies to do it. If there is anyone out there who fits that description and would like to lend a hand fancy-ing up our place on the cheap, let me know! Because I just don't have the knack. But I'd really like to make our house more of a home, even if we can't quite afford the permanent improvements we'd eventually like to tackle. Or, even if you can't come to our house in person to lend a hand, perhaps you have some design ideas you'd like to share. What has worked for you? I am open to all suggestions!

Friday, January 14, 2011

blog vs. facebook

As anyone can tell, I have certainly favored updating my facebook status in the past months rather than writing a new post for the blog. That makes me wonder why...

Facebook is fast. It's a summary, a synopsis, a sentence or two. There is no expectation to craft sentences well or organize paragraphs.

Facebook is relatively shallow. Am I avoiding sharing too openly these days? Perhaps that's because my life is not just my life anymore; it is shared with my husband. He is not as ready to share details of his life on the internet, so maybe I am more hesitant to share details of our shared life with just anyone, out of respect for him and his boundaries.

Facebook is interactive. Most of the time I write for myself, to process thoughts or to document an idea or a moment. But, if I were writing only for me, couldn't that be done in a personal journal or a private file on my computer? If I am publishing these thoughts externally, that supposes that I have some expectation that others are reading my words and might give feedback. It is much easier for people to respond to facebook posts with a "like" or a comment.

Facebook is more convenient. I can access it from my blackberry, and I do often. Not so with the blog. I know my browser can go to blogger.com, it's just not as simple as accessing facebook on my phone.

All of that being said, I like writing and I think I should do it more often. Rather than just typing one or two sentence status updates on facebook, perhaps it would be nice to write some words here every now and then. I don't have high expectations for returning to a very high volume of blogging, but it's good that I've broken the ice so that additional posts may follow whenever I feel moved to share something.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

sixteen days...

...until our wedding. I'm going through a whole range of emotions right now, the most prominent of them being excitement to be finally be married to Kyle and anxiety that I won't get something done in time. In the past two days we've had meetings with both our photographer and our DJ (both of whom are friends of ours). It made it all so much more real. We're just over two weeks away from being husband and wife. Eeek! I can't wait! Yet, at the same time, may I please have a couple of more weeks to cross things off my TO DO list? I know it will all come together, and the work we're putting in now will allow us to enjoy and embrace the weekend when it's here. But why do I have to have other committments (work, taking care of a puppy, trying to sell a condo, trying to buy a house) at the same time to get in the way of the wedding stuff? Oh, right, because that's life. A wedding shouldn't overtake those real life elements. Real life is what getting married is all about, after all. Noted.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

save the dates

I know that it's become customary to send save the date cards to guests about six months before the wedding. That would have been about a month ago for us. However, I don't think we're going to send them. Is that wrong of me? Am I committing social faux pas? Then again, I don't think save the dates have been considered "necessary" until somewhat recently... I seem to think people got along just fine before they arrived on the scene. Am I wrong about this? Please weigh in and let me know your thoughts. (I don't know if your comments will necessarily impact our decision, but I still want to hear from you!) I'll write again soon with some of my thoughts about why sending save the dates might not be in the plans for us. So, in case you are expecting to be invited but haven't received a save the date card yet, don't worry--no one else has received one, either. Our wedding date is August 7, 2010. We'll be sure to send invitations and a link to our wedding website with plenty of time for you to make travel arrangements to Colorado.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

gear

By no means am I a gear snob. Pretty much the opposite. I live in a place where some people strap skis or bicycles worth thousands of dollars on top of cars worth only hundreds. Keeping up with the latest and greatest outdoor gear is really important to some people, but I'm not one of them. My disinterest in owning expensive equipment is due in part to my ignorance about the products, my frugal nature, and the fear of being expected to perform at the levels those professional-endorsed items suggest they can help one achieve. Does that make me a dumb, cheap, under-achiever in terms of outdoor sports? So be it.

My main objective is to have fun, not necessarily to perform at the highest level or look the greatest doing it. I'm happy because the things I have were acquired for free, or at a very reasonable price, and they allow me to enjoy what this county has to offer without breaking the bank. After all, the cost of living just to be here is high enough that I can't imagine purchasing super expensive recreational equipment just because the name or model number is coveted by other locals.

I'm happy with what I have and I'm grateful for the cost-effective ways I've come across them. Which reminds me, I better buy some bindings for the skis I got for free and get them mounted before the trip I'm taking to Monarch on Monday. No time to waste!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2009 = a good year

2009 was very good to us in some big ways.
January 2, 2009: Kyle got a promotion.
August 14, 2009: We got engaged!
September 3, 2009: We got our dog, Nestle.
December 31, 2009: I got a promotion.

I expect 2010 to be even better because on August 7, 2010 we're getting married!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

florist at the gym

Benefit #87 of going to the gym: you might just meet someone who can assist with your wedding at a reasonable price.

I stepped on the eliptical machine last night and I got into a conversation with the woman a couple machines over. She was telling me about a great half marathon she's run, and how it usually takes place at the end of June. I mentioned that might be a good goal for me to train for, as it would help me get in shape for my August wedding next year. She asked a few questions about the wedding and it turns out she is a florist out of Georgetown, CO. I told her that flowers are one aspect of the wedding I haven't even thought of or made any plans for yet, and I really don't know where to start. She told me that because she works out of the county, she is able to charge lower tax, and her rates are the lowest in the area. We talked some more and it turns out she also works at Keystone, and is friends with the baker who is making our cake. She also used to be the roommate of someone else who may be arranging discounted lodging for us, whose son I babysit. I tell you, this is a small county! By the end of our work out, I had her business card and a renewed hope that all this wedding stuff just might turn out better than I could have expected. It was a good night at the gym.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

51 Weeks

Kyle and I are going to end up having an engagement exactly one week shy of one year. He proposed on August 14, 2009 and we will be married on August 7, 2010. While both of us are ready to be married to each other today, I can also see the benefits that this long engagement has for us as a couple.

Every couple is different. I know people who have had short engagements and they wouldn’t have done it any other way. In fact, I even know of two couples right now, one who will have exactly two months and another who will have two months and eleven days between their engagement dates and their wedding dates. In a way, I’m slightly jealous of them. According to that timeline, Kyle and I would already be married. How wonderful that would feel!

However, rather than envy others’ short engagements, I’m going to focus on why this longer engagement is a good thing for us, personally.

1) Time for saving money. Kyle and I are paying for the majority of the wedding ourselves. If we were to get married next month, there is no way we could have enough cash to pay for even the most modest event. We were able to set up a joint checking and savings account so we can both deposit money into it, and we plan to pay our vendors from that stash. The last thing we want to do is go into debt to pay for a wedding.

2) Time for guests to plan. We have some friends who live in Colorado, but other than that, all or our guests will be traveling from out of state. Most of our family members live over 1,000 miles away. Having a year to plan gives people time to make travel arrangements and schedule vacation time. I agree with the statement that the people who really want to be there will make it work, regardless of how much time they have to plan. However, this is a once in a lifetime event so I would like for as many of my family members to attend and if that will be better accomplished by giving them more notice, then I’m glad we can do that.

3) Time of year. Winter in Colorado is incredible for skiing and other snow sports. But most people who live here say they came for the winters and stayed for the summers. Spring (which lasts through June) can have unpredictable weather and fall was either too close or too far away from our engagement date. Summer in Summit County is gorgeous. The sun is strong and warm, humidity is low, temperatures never get too high, the wildflowers are beautiful, and if there is rain it usually passes through quickly. We wanted to showcase this beautiful place we live during its most stunning season. Ideally, we would have chosen July, but that month was booked up, so we went with the beginning of August.

4) Time to book vendors. This is a very unique community, being that it is a resort town. The choices for vendors are pretty limited. The choices for affordable vendors are even more limited. So, in order to make something work at a price we can manage, we needed to build in time to negotiate pricing and come up with creative, low-cost solutions.

5) Time to get in shape. This reason comes from a completely vain part of me. Plain and simple, I want to lose weight. One needs time to accomplish that feat. Seamstresses need time to alter a dress if I happen to buy one and then alter my body through exercise and proper nutrition. Speaking of that, I better get back on track with my routine!

6) Time to plan the wedding. Kyle and I are busy people. I work a second job when possible. Taking care of our new puppy seems to eat up our evenings (in a good way), and it feels like often my work hours extend beyond 5:00 p.m., meaning my evenings start later to begin with. Since we don’t have a computer at home, most wedding-related research or planning has to be done at the office. Usually, the last thing I feel like doing after working a full day is staying longer to make wedding decisions. The truth is, I’m not one of those brides who has had her whole wedding planned out since she was five. I haven’t been involved in the planning process of many weddings, so I feel a bit clueless about all the choices to be made. Mix in the fact that I’m notoriously indecisive, and you can see why I might need more time to plan than other brides would. I have heard that short engagements are best for indecisive people because the couple is forced to make decisions quickly and there isn’t time for being wishy-washy. I can see that point. I also know that I get overwhelmed pretty easily and I’d prefer to enjoy the decision-making process, rather than be cornered into making selections.

7) Time to plan for marriage. Yes, some of those important discussions obviously took place before we were engaged. After all, how does a couple know they want to get married if they never talk about what their future together would look like? However, Kyle always seemed protective of the engagement period. He didn’t want us to get wrapped up into planning the details of our wedding or our future until we were engaged. He wanted to save that for when the ring was on my finger and we could make concrete plans together. As a result, our conversations were more vague prior to getting engaged. Now that we are engaged, there is a freedom to talk openly and more definitively about our marriage. Instead of sharing non-specific information about some idealized or imaginary marriage that each of us might dream of on our own, we have personal conversations about what each of us will contribute to our very real forthcoming marriage. Conversations begin with “when we are married…” rather than “if we were to get married…”. I notice how that difference shapes our conversations to be much more intentional and specific. To me, that process is more important than planning the details of the reception. This is ultimately about a marriage, not just a wedding.

Some days I just want to go and elope. Other days, I’m incredibly excited when I think about all of our family and friends coming together to celebrate with us. Some days I look at those silly wedding checklists and worry that a year is not enough time because I’m so “behind schedule.” Then, I remember that we really have plenty of time and those checklists are just a guideline. I know that regardless of how much time it takes us to plan it, our wedding day will be incredibly special, and I am looking forward to being married to the love of my life.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

pre-marital test

For those of you who don't know, Kyle and I met through his parents. When I worked at The Woodlands Community Presbyterian Church, Kyle's dad Charles was the pastor (and therefore, my boss) for the first few months before he retired. I was friends with Charles and his wife, Peggy. It was actually Peggy who introduced me to Kyle when they sat in the pew behind me while Kyle was home visiting them that first summer I worked for WCPC. She was also the one who encourgaged him to call me the next summer he was home, and as a result he took me out on our first date. I owe quite a bit to both Hendrickses for their roles in the start of my relationship with Kyle!

I feel blessed that they have been so encouraging of our relationship and have welcomed me into their lives so openly. It was a natural choice to ask Charles to be the officiant for our wedding and we're so happy he will be such an important part of our day. Charles called me the other day and informed me that he was going to be e-mailing me a link to a test he uses with couples during pre-marital counseling. Kyle was getting the link, too. He told me that we should take our tests separately, he would go over the results, and we would find a time during their visit to Colorado next week for the three of us to chat about it.

I love tests. I think personality tests are so interesting and I love reading the results that attempt to quantify or classify who I am and what makes me tick. Sometimes they're spot-on and other times they aren't quite right, but either way, I find them fascinating. So, my initial reaction to Charles's news was positive. Yay, a test to take! And, it's a test about our relationship, even better! Then I thought about it and I got a little nervous. Why? I feel very confident in my relationship with Kyle and I'm comfortable with Charles, so what's the big deal? I thought about it more and I identified some of my feelings.

First, what if this is some kind of compatibility test based on similarities? If that's the case, that kind of criteria might say that Kyle and I aren't "right" for each other because we're so different. But, I feel our complimentary qualities are what make our relationship so beautiful and strong! Can a test measure that? I wonder...

Or, what if the test reveals something of concern that we have to work through? You'd initially think you'd want someone who knows both of you well to help you work through that, right? Maybe. However, I imagine that it would be much less invasive and revealing for a virtual stranger to take on that role. Whatever is said can be considered, resolved, and all parties can move on and basically forget about it if they choose to. That route is easier, but not necessarily better. After all, if change is needed or conflict resolution has to take place, wouldn't it be better to make that deep and lasting, rather than just scratching the surface as part of a requirement by the officiant before he or she agrees to marry you? Who better to facilitate that meaningful kind of communication than one's father/future father-in-law?

I just have no idea what kind of questions will be on the test and I really want us to do "well" on it, whatever that means. But there's no way for us to prepare for it! Then again, I guess we've been preparing for this test throughout the length of our relationship: communicating with one another, learning about each other, listening, and loving. And, whatever the results show, I anticipate they will simply help guide us toward what we need to focus on as we prepare for our marriage.

Charles told Kyle that he has only had one couple whose test results and discussion about the test prompted Charles to recommend further in-depth couples counseling prior to the wedding. They declined that counseling and they are now divorced. I am confident that Kyle and I will not be in that category!!

Kyle just called me and told me he just took his assessment. Obviously, I can't ask him about it, but I'm so curious! He said that while reading it, he thought it was funny that he could predict how he thinks I will answer certain questions. I guess that's a good sign. He told me not to worry. So I won't. I'll answer honestly and I'll anxiously await the discussion that is to follow!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kong Attack

Nestle playing with her Puppy Kong. Don't you just love that little pounce?

(I don't know if this video will show when facebook imports this post from my blog, but you can always click on "View Original Post" to see it. That should work.)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

lap dog

Eventually, she'll probably be over 60 lbs. so I should cherish this short period of time while she can still fit in my lap to snuggle up and fall asleep.



Friday, September 04, 2009

Nestlé

Ten weeks old, she came home to us Thursday, September 3, 2009. We thought we were getting a chocolate lab (hence, the name selection), but she showed up caramel colored instead of brown. Kyle and I couldn't come up with an alternate name we liked better, so we chose to keep her name the same. Please let me introduce you to Nestle.




I have more pictures to post later, but no time now to do it. After all, I have a puppy who needs some attention!

Engagement Day Photos

Friday, August 14, 2009. Driving over Independence Pass from Leadville to Aspen. I had no idea what was in store for me that day!
A grove of aspens, on the way to Aspen.

An overview of the John Denver Sanctuary. Song lyrics are etched on the large stone slabs. I am looking out toward the river, which is just outside the right frame of the picture. Kyle wandered off to take this picture and I was sitting on that rock, feeling incredibly content and peaceful. Right after returning from taking this picture, Kyle asked me to marry him!

We just got engaged!! (Can you tell we're excited?)

The day had been mostly overcast, but as Kyle was proposing, the sun came out from behind me. I think this song is appropriate for the moment! (Sunshine on my Shoulders)

Re-enacting the big question for the camera.
We had to pose by "our song."
John Denver Sanctuary:

Close-up of the ring. Kyle chose a sapphire for the center stone. It's his birthstone.

My enhanced left hand:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

How he proposed...

On Friday, August 14, we had planned to climb a fourteener (mountain over 14,000 feet in elevation), but when we looked outside and saw thick clouds hovering at the mountain peaks, we made different plans. It happened to be our friend Geoff's birthday, so we drove to Leadville to give him a card and a gift and to say hello. I had never been over Independence Pass, a beautiful road that connects Leadville to Aspen. It is only open in the summer, so we decided to make the drive. It was such a gorgeous stretch of winding, twisty, steep road! We got out at the top of the pass, which is on the Continental Divide. (Just two nights before we were on the Continental Divide on the top of Loveland Pass, watching the meteor shower.) We walked out to the observation area and took our standard self-portrait shot. The view was beautiful, but the clouds were still hovering just above treeline, cutting off some of the panoramic vista. It was a little chilly, so we went back to the car and drove the rest of the way down into Aspen.

When we started dating, Kyle introduced me to John Denver's music and I turned into a big fan. I'd have to say that Annie's Song is "our song". So, when Kyle suggested the idea of going to the John Denver Sanctuary, a rock garden and park along the river in Aspen, I was just as excited as he was. We strolled around the park, where some of John Denver's song lyrics are etched into large rocks. We took our picture by Annie's Song and we sat on one of the rocks that are placed in an ampitheater formation for seating. It was fun to watch couples walking around, listen to kids playing in the river, and see dogs playing fetch with their owners. It was so relaxing and I felt incredibly content.

While I stayed seated on the rock, Kyle got up to take more pictures and his camera bag caught my eye. I had purchased it for his birthday last September and it made me realize that his birthday was soon approaching again. I said, "Hmm, I have no idea what to get you for your birthday this year. What do you want?" He said, "I don't want anything," to which I replied, "You've got to want something. I'm going to need some ideas, you know." He crouched down in front of me and said, "Well there is one thing I want." Oblivious to what he was preparing to do, I said, "Well, then tell me. Or at least give me hints. I can't read your mind, so you'll have to tell me something."

At this point, he got really quiet and started fumbling with his hands in front of me. He said, as he started slipping a ring on my left hand, "There is one thing I want. I love you and I would be honored if you would marry me."

I couldn't stop smiling and giggling, and through misty eyes, I said, "I would love to, of course!" It was a wonderful moment. It felt like we were suspended in time and I honestly couldn't tell you if anyone else was in that park right then. All that mattered was that he and I were there together. The center stone of the ring is a sapphire and he told me, "You know that's my birthstone, right? I picked it because I was born to marry you." (Awww...)

We called family and friends, ate a late lunch/early dinner, and drove back through Glenwood Canyon, my favorite stretch of I-70. Once we got back in the county, we bought some champagne to celebrate and continued letting people know about our news. It was such a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

RockyGrass Festival

Last weekend Kyle and I camped out in Lyons, CO and we listened to great bluegrass music at the RockyGrass Festival, put on by Planet Bluegrass. The campground we stayed at was not more than a field (our spot was in the outfield just beyond 3rd base--I'm not kidding). But, we were near the St. Vrain River and within walking distance of the festival grounds. The location of the campground was at a park along the river, where people often go tubing downstream. Kyle told me he heard some people walking through to access the river and one of them said, "Man, what's going on? It looks like Woodstock!" Another answered, "I think it's some kind of music festival," to which the first person replied, "well, the music must suck pretty bad then because I don't hear anything." If only he had been two blocks down the road to hear the performances...
I know that bluegrass music isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it would be pretty hard for even a bluegrass critic to deny the talent that the people on stage demonstrated. I'm amazed that so many notes can be produced so quickly by human hands. Plus, I think a majority of bluegrass songs evoke strong emotion and lyric story-telling that many modern rock and pop songs lack. I've been to concerts before, but I've never been to a weekend festival like this. The thing that amazed me most was the variety of people in attendance: families, hippies, silver-haired women, tattooed rocker types, college girls, soccer moms, teenagers, babies, dancing grandpas, tree-huggers, preps, 30-somethings, frat boys, etc. The music and the experience brought everyone together. It was a glorious time of people-watching and music-appreciating.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

catching up

May and June have flown by and I cannot believe it is already July. I have been an awful blogger lately and for that I apologize. It isn't that I haven't had things to write about, I just haven't had time to reflect on them as I'd like to. Plus, it seems all the pictures from recent events are on Kyle's camera and how fun is a blog entry without pictures? Here is a short summary of what's been going on. Sorry, no pictures.

May brought us to Texas for a 70th birthday party at a beach house in Surfside, TX for Kyle's dad. Kyle and I were there with his parents, his brothers, and their families. It was such a wonderful trip! I can't say enough good things about Kyle's family. The beach was such a relaxing way to spend time together. We found seashells and jellyfish, cracked open a piñata, jumped in the waves, and the adults learned more about each other playing WhoNu after the kids went to bed. We had such a good time!

I stayed in Texas for a few more days to spend time with my friend, Antoinette, who had become a mom to Ava just a few weeks prior. It was such a blessing to see what an incredible mom she is, and to be there for the joys and the trials that newborns provide. While in town, I also got to spend some time with friends I met while living in The Woodlands and that was a treat!

While I was out of town, our department experienced some staffing changes, so I returned to a very busy workload. We have since hired another staff member, but training someone new can create more work in the present, even if you know it will be helpful in the long run. In short, I've had some long days and often the last thing I want to do is stay on the computer longer to do my own personal thing. So, that's mostly why I haven't been on here much.

In June, Kyle and I flew to Chicago and then drove to the Upper Penisula (UP) of Michigan. My mom's side of the family was gathering for my grandma's burial and memorial service at the cemetery. While it was sad and very different to be in the UP without my grandparents, the time was a nice opportunity to say goodbye and to celebrate their legacy. It was a family reunion of sorts (7 of the 8 grandchildren and their families were there). It was also the first opportunity for Kyle and Mike's girlfriend, Alicia, to see the UP and understand why we love it there so much. We went four-wheeling, built a campfire, went to Canyon Falls, did target shooting at the gravel pit, played with the dogs, walked around the back 40 acres, and other "yooper" things. It was a really great time to be together.

We didn't have much time in Illinois, but while we were there we were lucky enough to see Dale's parents, Grandma and Grandpa Kofoed. I was so happy to stop by their house with Kyle, Mike, and Alicia. We had a really nice visit. It finally occurred to me that they are my last set of living grandparents. Even though we are not related by blood, they are the grandparents who have been the most active in my life and I am so grateful for the role they play in our family. I hope I get to see them again soon!

Besides our traveling in May and June, not much else has happened. I helped transplant some trees with the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, we've gone on a couple short hikes, we spied on a family of baby foxes that lived in a den in our neighborhood (they were so cute!), I bought a 2-3 day backpack which we hope to use on a hiking trip soon, I've been babysitting quite a bit for extra income, Kyle and Ben installed (laminate) wood floors in half of the second floor of the condo, and I've been playing volleyball now that the Keystone volleyball season has started again.

Later this month, we are going to camp at a multi-day bluegrass festival in Lyons, CO. We also hope to do a bunch of camping in August now that we have the same days off. After a very rainy spring, summer is finally here and we hope to enjoy it as much as possible!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

orchids

Atop Kyle's dresser are two pots of gorgeous blooming orchids. After much internal struggle, I have finally learned to appreciate and enjoy the exotic flowers. The reason behind not liking the flowers had to do with their source. A person from Kyle's past asked him to hold on to them for a while, since she was in transition. Each time he tried to get her to take them back, she had some excuse why she couldn't do it, prolonging their presence in his room, and increasing my irritation by being reminded of her each time I saw them. I wondered if that had been her goal? Regardless of any hidden agenda or not, seeing them in his room bothered me. More and more buds opened up and I could logically see that they were stunning, but I felt like to enjoy them would be to affirm their place in Kyle's room, which seemed the same as accepting her presence there, too. I didn't feel that was right. Occasionally, when I stopped by Kyle's place, the lighting would be just right and I would catch myself smiling when I saw the fucsia petals and delicate green stem against the backdrop of a snow-lined aspen tree outside the window. It really was pretty and I realized I had been silly to allow personal feelings about a human being keep me from enjoying the simple beauty of a flower. Especially in the middle of a long winter when nothing but pine trees grow outside for months, the vibrant colors of the orchids were a splash of life and hope and a preview of the spring to come. I decided then and there to change my attitude and attempt to disconnect the flowers from the person who put them there. It has worked. A while back, the second pot of orchids began to bloom. When the first bud opened, it wasn't the same bright purple color of the other plant, but a creamy off white with brilliant dark pink stripes. Gorgeous. She has since stated that she doesn't want the plants back at all; Kyle should keep them. So be it. I now see them with a different outlook. Under our care, the flowers are growing, blooming, and thriving, a lot like our relationship.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Week of Perks

This past week has been filled with activities that I don't usually get to enjoy. Each one has been a special blessing and I am very grateful for all of the connections that made them possible!

Sunday: I got to visit with Matt and Rachel Karasek, and I met their kids Grace and Cameron, and met Rachel's parents. I was so happy to give them some free and discounted lift tickets. It is fun when I get to be someone's connection. I like handing out the perks as much as I like receiving them. We had dinner at Wolf Rock, where Janine was our waitress and I saw Bridget. Matt and Rachel were very generous and treated me to dinner. I'm just so glad I got to see them while they were here at Keystone.

Monday: I am part of the EX Factor Team, which is a multi-department committee focused on employee recognition. As a member of the team, I have the opportunity to be a trip leader for ski trips throughout the year. Monday's trip was to Beaver Creek and I was one of the leaders. There was over a foot of fresh powder and the conditions were incredible! My job on Monday was skiing in knee-deep powder with my friend, Lisa. How lucky am I? After skiing, I warmed up in my condo complex's hot tub and Kyle joined me for a dip.

Tuesday: Kyle took me to an Eastern European Wine Tasting Dinner at Ski Tip, a fine-dining restaurant at Keystone. Happily, we know some people there: I babysit for the son of the Manager (Cindy), Kyle and I are good friends with the Assistant Manager (Bridget), and I know one of the servers (Heather) from church. Let's just say that the very expensive dinner event would not have been even remotely affordable for us if it hadn't been for the kindness of our friends at Ski Tip. The wines were incredible and the food was beyond delicious. Megan and the chef did a great job pairing the wines in a way that showcased them wonderfully. We felt very grown up and sophisticated that night. Until, however, the wine distributor couple who had provided 2/3 of that night's wines totally snubbed us in favor of the older couple sitting next to us, who were invited to go over to their place to help them drink the excess wine they apparently always have on hand. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Thursday: As a Vail Resorts employee, we get lodging discounts at Vail-owned properties, including Rock Resorts, provided occupancy is below a certain level. I have never been to Aspen, so Kyle and I planned a little trip. I booked us a room at Hotel Jerome, a very upscale hotel in the heart of Aspen. We arrived to check in and the front desk agent informed me that we had been upgraded to a deluxe room. It was fabulous! We walked around and explored the town for a while, returned to the room to open up a bottle of wine, enjoyed soaking in the hot tub for a little bit, ordered late night room service, and planned out our events for the next day. We called the front desk to see if tomorrow's occupancy levels would allow us to have a late check out. She checked the computer and said, "No one is checking into that room tomorrow, so the latest check out I can give you is 3:00." Sign us up! We were thrilled!

Friday: The only reason we could afford a trip to ski in Aspen in the first place was because I was graciously given two free lift tickets to the four mountains in Aspen. Yes, free. I'm telling you, this was the week of perks, for sure! When we woke up on Friday morning, we looked out the window and were surprised to see several inches of new snow. Powder day! Could this day get any better? After eating at a local breakfast joint we had found while walking around the night before, we took the hotel's shuttle to the gondola of Aspen Mountain. Kyle and I had each skied Snowmass once before (he with his brother a year ago, and I on a ski trip I led earlier this season for the Ex Factor Team--again, lucky me). So, we decided to do something different this time. Aspen Mountain (known to the locals as Ajax) is the closest mountain to downtown Aspen and it has no green (beginner) runs. One of the other reasons we were drawn to it is because there is a run named Ruthie's Run and lift named, you guessed it, Ruthie's Lift. We just had to go there. The conditions were wonderful, the powder was soft, and the crowds were sparse. It was a great day on the mountain! When we finished skiing, the shuttle took us back to the hotel, where we had time to shower and pack before our 3:00 check out time. It couldn't have been a better experience.

Saturday: While my Saturday perk isn't nearly as intense as Beaver Creek on a work day, Ski Tip, or Aspen, I'm grateful none the less. For the next couple days I'm house-sitting and cat-sitting for someone my friend knows. I'll be paid a decent sum of money each day to feed the cats, use the steam room shower, and watch TV from a high-tech adjustable bed.

I'm telling you, this has been an extraordinary week of enjoying many perks. I feel blessed and I am incredibly grateful for all of these opportunities.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What a Difference a Day Makes

Yesterday was such a lovely day that I decided to take my lunch break on my back patio, to hopefully get a little sun. I even put on a tank top to catch the rays. Below is a picture of the sunburn that resulted.


Just one day later, this is a picture of the chair I was sitting in yesterday when I got sunburned. The photo below was taken this morning. Oh, how things can change in a day!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

snowy playground


This is the view from one of my office windows. I love watching families play together on the playground, especially after a fresh snow, like the four inches we received this morning. Within the past three minutes, I've seen the following: daughter #1 sliding down the slide on her sled, daughter #2 making a snow angel, daughter #1 twirling around on her saucer, mom falling on her face in the snow (not intentionally!), both girls working on constructing a snow fort together, and dad videotaping it all. My guess is, they're probably from a place that doesn't get a lot of snow (if any). This could be their first time seeing or playing in the snow. Their enthusiasm and eagerness makes me think so. I just love that they're making such great memories right now and that I get to witness it right outside my office window. It makes the mundane task of totaling timesheets quite enjoyable.

Monday, March 09, 2009

left to burn

People amaze me with their stupidity sometimes. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes they do things that just completely amaze me, and not in a good way. Yesterday, I saw a fire truck and police cars outside of one of the buildings I help manage. Strange. I called the Rental Operations Manager and asked if there was anything I should know about at Willows. She told me to come up to the unit. When I arrived, I smelled smoke and I saw a charred mantle, a damaged portion of the wall, a burn hole in the carpet, and a pile of wax from the top of the mantle, to the hearth of the fireplace, to the carpet. It was clear that the guests left a candle burning when they left the unit for the day. Luckily, the guest in the unit next door smelled the smoke and alerted Keystone Emergency Services (KES). The smoke detector was going off, but the whole building alarm did not go off because the smoke never reached the hallway. The fire was put out quickly, but the fire department noted that the wall was very hot and if it had been buring much longer, the fire could have spread through the walls and the whole building could have potentially caught on fire. Yikes.

The sheriff got in touch with the guests, told them a burning candle had started a fire in their unit, and they needed to return to the condo immediately. When they arrived, they were a bit shaken up, but glad to see the damage was contained and that no one got hurt. We explained that we would need to secure a credit card number, since they did not put one on file upon check in. They seemed surprised that they would be responsible for the damage. They asked why the building's insurance wouldn't just cover it. The KES agent explained that insurance doesn't normally cover guests' negligence. "Negligence? It was just an accident. It was just a candle. What's negligent about leaving a candle burning? Isn't that what they're made to do? We leave candles unattended in our house all the time!" I was surprised to hear that they thought there was nothing wrong with leaving burning candles unattended.

Then came the shocker. One of the guys said, "I just can't believe it was a candle that caused this. Who would have thought? It just seems so crazy. I mean, our whole house burned down because we left candles lit. The couch caught on fire and the heat was so intense that it melted the structure of the house and the whole thing was totaled. We had to completely re-build. All because of a candle. And now, it happens again. I just can't believe it."

WHAT?!?!?!?!? Your HOUSE BURNED DOWN because of an unattended candle and you don't learn your lesson? Instead, you leave them burning in someone else's property and then justify that your actions weren't wrong because you "do it all the time at home"? What kind of logic is that? It took everything in me to remain professional as they stated that. I still can't believe it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Marley


Acacia's cat, Marley, went to Leadville today. Here he is as I was leaving for work. I'm gonna miss that guy! (Pay no attention to the reflection of the lady in the glass.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Edith Rajala (my maternal grandmother)

EDITH L. RAJALA, 84, of L'Anse and formerly of Watton passed away Thursday, February 12, 2009 at Bayside Village where she had been a resident patient for 2 years. She was born in Arnold, MN. on May 13, 1924, the daughter of the late Eric and Martha (Jonsson) Wedin. Edith graduated from Michigamme High School in 1942. On November 11, 1944 she married Eino (Robert) Rajala in Negaunee. He preceded her in death on June 17, 2008. Edith was employed as a clerk at the Watton Post Office in 1964. In 1974 she was promoted to Postmistress until her retirement. Edith was a Gold Star mother, a 4-H leader for many years, and was a volunteer on the Covington Ambulance crew. She served on the Baraga County Memorial Hospital board prior to its opening. Edith enjoyed traveling, including trips to Sweden, camping, spending time with her family (especially with her grand and great grandchildren), and was an avid puzzler. She was active in all crafts and taught adult sewing classes.

Mrs. Rajala is survived by her loving daughters, Gladys (Max) Beck of Watton and Jane (Dale) Kofoed of Arlington Heights, IL., 8 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and brother, Richard Wedin of Michigamme. Numerous nieces and nephews also survive. She was preceded in death by her son Stanley during the Vietnam War in 1969 and brothers, Erick, Carl, and Olaf Wedin, and sisters, Ruth Plattenberg, Erma Wedin, and Ellen Skoglund.

A memorial service for Mrs. Rajala will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, February 28, 2009 at the Reid Funeral Service and Chapel, L'Anse with Pastor Mark Reinsch officiating. Spring interment will take place in the Covington Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral chapel on Saturday from 1 p.m. until time of the service. Following the service, the family invites friends to join them for fellowship and a luncheon at the Trinity Lutheran Church, Covington. Memorials in Mrs. Rajala's honor may bedirected to Alzheimer's Research. Envelopes will be available at the funeral chapel.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Grandma Rajala

I found out on Thursday that my Grandma Rajala passed away. I don't know why I haven't said much about it. Maybe it doesn't feel real yet? It happened very quickly, yet it's kind of been happening for a while now. Since my Grandpa died last summer, Grandma hasn't quite been the same. They were two halves that fit together so well. I'm sure that she has felt so lost these past few months. My mom helped provide a sense of consistency and continuity for her, though. She and Dale went up north to the UP of Michigan every couple of weeks. The last time they were up there they brought her to the casino in Houghton, which she loved! Grandma has always had a weakness for the slots and when they were younger and more mobile, she and Grandpa would take trips in their RV to Nevada to gamble. It was always one of her favorite things.

My Grandma has always been a strong woman. She was born into a stoic Swedish family. Her mom died when she was young and her older brother (my mom's Uncle Dick) basically took on the role of raising her. He made sure she finished school, even though times were tough. She and my grandpa met when he and his friend stopped their car to pick up two female hitch-hikers: my grandma and her friend! Their romance was real and their love was enduring. Grandma worked as the Postmaster of the local branch for many years. She also had a knack for very complicated puzzles (several in 3D), and I always remember a word search book within her reach. I have very fond memories of visiting her in the UP, picking raspberries on their 40 acres and sitting by a campfire at Norway Lake. It is so strange to think that I will never again go up north to visit my grandparents. They are no longer there. They have always defined that place for me, and now only memories of them are left. The love will always remain.

My heart goes out to my mom, who has now lost both of her parents. I don't want to imagine what that is like. Plans for a memorial service and burial have not been determined yet.