Sunday, December 30, 2007

Holiday, holy-day, ho-ho-ho-day

What? Christmas is over? No way!

But that does bring us to a rather overdue Christmas update. It was Catherine's first Christmas! Oh boy did she enjoy herself. Lots of family visits, lots of fun, lots of toys. Do I mean toys that Santa brought? Not necessarily. I was very thankful for our family going easy on gifts for her. But she did like what she got. But her favorite toys? The ribbons. Silly girl.
I'm going to miss out on fun stories unless I start at the beginning.

We got to visit with most of her godfamily the Friday before Christmas. Her godmother, Camille, was in town and we managed to squeeze our busy schedules together and met at the mall for lunch and shopping with Nancy and Greg (two of Catherine's gRodparents) and Katie, Camille's little sis, who we have now determined is her god-aunt. We had lunch at the Rainforest-Cafe . If you haven't been there, it's an uber-elaborate, over the top stimulation, part zoo, part theme park, part restaurant. It's the only place that I know of where the directions to the bathroom include "around the elephant and under the rainbow". Catherine had so much fun watching the gorillas dance and the fish in the aquariums... oh, and her gRodfather Greg, too. They had so much fun together. Time with her godmother Camille is never long enough, but I am so glad that I got to see such a dear friend.

Christmas Eve morning we took a short road trip to visit Stephen's dad and his girlfriend Lynn for brunch and presents. I had fun dressing Catherine up in a pretty Christmas dress that Camilly and Nancy got for her. It was a little big on her, but it was so cute and pretty that I couldn't pass it up. Catherine and Toby had a lot of fun running around at brunch, but were hard to contain once we got to his dad's house. They can be such troublemakers, but it doesn't help being in a house that is so clean and has breakable stuff EVERYwhere. Regardless, we had a lot of fun.

I meant to go to the midnight mass that night, which normally I love going to. But I was SO tired. Man, am I bad Catholic! But I was sure that God would forgive me choosing rest and sanity as my primary priority.

Christmas day! Yeah! In the morning we went to Jen and Phil's. After the traditional picture on the stairs (when they were kids, they weren't allowed to come downstairs to open presents until everyone was awake and gathered on the stairs for a picture), we dove into the pile of presents. Stephen had a test of patience when he opened a present that was a Wii box - but no Wii! We told him that Phil managed to get the box from a friend at work. Wow, was he mad. Luckily for us he took it in stride. And this part of the story has a happy ending anyways.

Christmas dinner at our place went very well. We had to get super creative in rearranging the furniture in our main room so that everyone would fit. Check out my creative paper plate settings!
After the food was cleared we pushed aside the table and made room for more presents! Stephen and I were so greatful for all of our gifts, and also thankful that the gifts we gave were well received. But the star of the evening: Stephen's Wii. We finally got a chance to grant his wish (he's been bugging me about it for over a year now), and it has been worth it. It really is worth all of the hype. I've even had a chance to play a little on it, and it's awesome!

The day after Christmas Stephen got to spend time with one of his best friends, Matt, who is also Catherine's godfather. They got a chance to be just boys in the afternoon, but then Matt got to spend some quality time with Catherine in the evening. The most entertaining thing was Catherine's reaction to the Vancils' tiny energetic dog. She was terrified of him and would run away, but then curiousity would get the better of her and she would chase after him, who would take that as an invitation to play so he would chase her and then she would run away.... again and again. It was hilarious! I am kicking myself for not having our camera with us that night.

More visits with family rounded out the week. We visited Stephen's extended family in Salem, Oregon, and then stopped by to see my family in Vancouver on the way home. Fun was had by all.

But needless to say, after all of this, I could use a break. Well, no rest for the weary!

We hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with fun and love. Cheers to 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

take 2

Does it work now?

Sorry about the video

I can view it fine, so I don't know what the problem is. After the little miss and I take a nap I'll try to fix it later.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

A child's laughter - truly the best medicine

I've been trying to catch a good video of Catherine walking around to show off how good she is getting at it. So far I haven't been able to get one quite like I want. But this morning I got something just as good.
For some reason, she thought me wiggling my foot around was hilarious. Then I started tickling her with my slippered foot and she went nuts giggling.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Compromising traditions

Compromising for the holidays is a huge challenge, especially between me and Stephen. We have different ideas, traditions, and backgrounds, but are equally stubborn about our own ideas being the way that it is supposed to be. Thankfully, we are getting quite skilled at compromise and communication.

Last night we had one of these conversations. We were talking about plans for Christmas dinner at our place. The disagreement started with him not understanding why I was having problems with him wanting to eat dinner sitting on the couch instead of at the table. The more we talked about it, the more each of us realized how we really felt about it. It wasn't about whether or not anyone would be "allowed" to eat from the couch. His concern was that I am going to go all Martha Stewart and make the dinner too fancy. He wants low key; family just hanging out and having fun. I want that too, but I want to make it special. But the things that I do to make holiday occasions special (decoration touches, nice place settings, etc) are what he means by "too fancy".

So... the most important thing is that we realized we do want the same overall thing: spending time with family, socializing and having fun. We just differ on the level of acceptable fanciness.

I asked if I could still have my nice centerpiece on the table and candle decorations on the porch. He said no.

I said that I refused to budge on the quality of food. He said that he wouldn't ask me to do that.

So I asked him what we could do to help him feel better about the whole thing.

The compromise: paper plates. I agreed that we can have paper plates and napkins for Christmas dinner to take down the fanciness. He agreed that I can pick whichever plates I want... and that everyone will be sitting at the table.

Now, I love my husband. Tons and tons. I love him enough to put up with his snoring and his video games. I loved him enough to have his child. But paper plates for Christmas dinner? Wow... that's love.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oh boy...

I just realized that I am munching on espresso beans...

... and drinking coffee.

This can't be good.

One week to go

I don't mean to brag, but I have to exclaim my excitement: We are done with Christmas shopping!!! WooHoo!!!

Things to look forward to in the next week:
- decorating the tree (no... it's still not done yet. DOH!)
- tons of gift wrapping
- making stocking markers for Jen's (read: more crafty stuff)
- more Christmas planning with Jen
- planning dinner for Christmas Day
- several family gatherings
- getting together with a few friends that I haven't seen in a LONG time
- watching Catherine as she experiences her first Christmas

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I DID IT!!!!!

I got a 95% on the final, resulting in an overall A for the class.

Hell's yeah, bi-atch!!!

It is done

Alleluia, it is done. I did... OK... I think. I never know quite what to think before I get my grade. And I should have that news later this afternoon.

Either way, I am DONE with chemistry. Three quarters in a row is enough for me. Next is microbiology, which will be just as much fun but at least it's not chemistry. ;)

Now I can focus on other things. Getting Christmas cards out. Actually putting up our tree and other holiday deco. Finishing shopping. I need to call my mom back and check with my sister to make sure that she is coming up for Christmas dinner. I need to call State Farm and check on the status of our renter's insurance. And FIRST on my list is cleaning up after the craziness of the holiday crafts I did earlier this month.

Oh boy... maybe studying wasn't so bad after all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Super quick update

We *finally* had Catherine's well child check up.
Quick stats:
Weight: 24.4 lbs (95th percentile)
Height: 29 1/4" (80th percentile)

Doc says she is perfectly healthy. Good heart sounds, no murmur, clear lungs, good physical development. He was impressed by her ability to stand and walk, as well as her social skills. Overall - she's doing great. She even did well with her shots - unbelievable! And even better - he kept saying how beautiful of a baby she is - now when a pediatrician says that, that's awesome. Oh... and apparently her eyes are losing a little blue and becoming more blue-green. Interesting. Maybe it was just the light - who knows.

And with that I disappear into the depths of my organic chemistry book. My final is in less than 48 hours, so needless to say I need to focus on amino acids, proteins, and enzymes. I'll return back to life on Thursday once I've recovered. Until then, I wouldn't expect me to return calls or emails.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A bizarre bazaar

Today was the holiday bazaar at work. I've been busting my ass and sacrificing a lot of stuff to manage to participate. The term "blood, sweat and tears" comes to mind.

Now that it is done, I have mixed feelings. I'm glad that I got to meet some more co-workers and get to know them better. It was great to get into the holiday spirit. And I'm proud of what I managed to accomplish.

Was it worth it?

No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no.

The returns on it sucked. For the amount of money, time and effort I put into it, I barely sold a thing. I should be grateful for those that did buy my offerings. After all, it is a huge compliment that someone is willing to put forth money to purchase one of my little crafty things. But that doesn't cut it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, my disappointment is a 25.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lesson in humility

I once thought it was *impossible* to ruin Rice Krispy Treats.

I now know this is not true.


Flooding and icky sicky

Washington is wet and rainy. Nothing new there. But anyone who has lived here knows that the rain is spread out over several months. It rains lightly for days on end. Monday was different. In most places they are saying that it was the most rain ever. EVER. 5" in 24 hours in some places. Raining cats and dogs doesn't cut it - more like raining horses and cows. News of the resulting floods have been spread nationwide. Luckily, we are not in one of the hard hit spots. Our basement has a little water, but there is a gutter that goes around the perimeter, and the water is contained there. Except for the area where it is carpeted, the carpet there is mildly damp. The worst hit area is about 30 miles south of us. The floods there are so bad that it has actually shut down I-5. Completely shut down. Anyone wanting to go from Seattle to Portland has to go 400-500 miles out of the way. I've included a scary picture to illustrate. That's I-5 under 10 feet of water. Just nuts.

Last week I got sick - bad cold it seemed. And I lost my voice. Yuck. But I got better - better enough to go up into the snow and still host our girls' party. Now I'm worse. Was a cold - now it feels like the flu. Stephen came down with it yesterday, though it doesn't seem like nearly as bad as me. Catherine seems to have it too, poor thing. But I feel like being whiny and selfish - I'm the one that's sick. Boo for me. I need sympathy. I need sleep. I need to finally feel better. I'm tired of feeling so icky.


Filling in on Catherine's first snow: she really didn't like it. Cold wet stuff and being bundled up seemed not to be her cup of tea. Plus because she's learning to take steps, the stiff boots and slippery ground didn't go well with her either. Hopefully she'll like it better next year. Or even in the next few months if it actually decides to snow here.

And also - the picture of pretty snow and trees - if you look carefully, there's a spot of red color in the middle (easy to pick out from the white and green) - that would be Jen.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tis the season

What a wonderful weekend to welcome December and open the holiday season! Two big traditions took place: the Payne family annual trek to cut down our Christmas trees, and the 8th annual girls holiday gathering.

Saturday was our trek up to the mountain. We packed the car and truck with everything we needed: snow gear, snowshoes, axe and saw, food and warm drinks. It's a long drive down to the Gifford-Pinchot-National-Forest and then up until we hit snow. Cute pictures of our little snow bunny all bundled up were a must!

My girlfriends and I have been getting together every Christmas since my junior year at PLU. At the time we were all living in the same apartment complex: me, Heather and Lori in one apartment, and directly across from us were Hilary, Christine, and Keleigh. This was 8 years ago. Since then, all of us but one have gotten married, 2 have had kids, some of us have gone on to further our eduction, and all of us have busy lives. Often times the holiday party is the only time that all 6 of us can get together.

The gathering has changed from year to year. One year Jenny Chase joined us (she was living with Lori at the time), a couple of years ago Heather's mom was there, and this year my mom joined the party. But some things never change: food, present exchange, stockings, and great girlfriend company. We rotate who hosts, and this year I got to host! I love playing hostess! We had brunch food - quite yummy if I do say so myself. And after presents and stockings we sat and chatted and caught up from lost time. Refueling our girl time until next year.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Funny Catherine stories

She found her shadow for the first time (that I've seen) on Tuesday. So cute. She was by this spot in the living room that gets extremely bright at the same time each day, assuming it's sunny, and all of a sudden she stopped, raised her hand and wiggled her fingers. She had such a perplexed look on her face, and I noticed that she was watching her shadow. I came over with her and we played shadow puppets for a couple of minutes. =)

Did I mention that she took her first steps last week? Well now she's doing it all the time, and gaining more confidence with it. Still only 3-4 steps at a time, but she loves her new skill. Yesterday she crawled over to me and pulled herself to standing by one of my feet. I held my hand out to her so she could walk to me, but she ignored my offer for help and stepped right to me. I could almost hear her thinking "no thanks, I've got this, mom". She cracks me up. =)

And last but certainly not least of the crazy/funny things that Catherine has done this week: she gave me a bloody nose. No, not with a head butt - that would be too easy. She was being really fussy in my lap and was "playing" with my face. It went something like this: "yes dear, that's mommy's mouth... yes dear, that's mommy's nose... ow!!!" I don't know if she slipped or just pushed it to the side, but let's just say that it doesn't really have a happy ending. However, I must say that I'm really proud of how I handled it. I had to put her down and she started crying, but I didn't freak out or overreact, and I even managed to give her the bottle and put her down for her nap with tissue stuck up my nose.

That's my week in the life of a mom. ;)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turning disappointment into positive goals

If I haven't mentioned it before, it's worth noting that I have been doing Weight Watchers. I've had no luck doing anything on my own, and I need to do something about my weight. I don't stress about not looking good - I want to be healthy. I want to teach Catherine healthy habits, and how can I expect to do that without living them myself? And the weight... seriously. It needs to go. I'm still not to the point of admitting how much I really weigh. It's a little embarassing. And it's not just "baby weight"; I wasn't doing that great before I had her, either.

I hate "diets". But I decided that if it was going to take something drastic to get to a healthy point with my weight, then it was worth the try. So I found Weight Watchers. And, lo and behold... I like it. It's a flexible plan. They stress that it's not a "diet", it's a lifestyle. They stress eating in moderation, portion size, activity, and getting all the healthy things that you need. I love the online system - great tools, information, and support.

But now I've been doing it for 10 weeks and I'm frustrated. I've lost weight - wahoo! But really hardly at all. And I don't feel like I've made any super changes to my lifestyle. I'm feeling down on myself. Frustrated. I don't want to give up, but I don't feel like it's working.

Honestly, my problem is that I'm not putting my all into it. I realized a while back that if I'm loosing a little weight now, imagine the weight that I will lose once I actually put effort into it! Has that changed my thinking? No. I like that the plan is flexible, but I think it's TOO flexible for me.

Rather than getting disgusted with myself, I'm trying to think positively. So I'm making a pack with myself: I will be good for one week . I mean - it's one week - that's nothing, right? I can do that!

Being good means several things:
- stay within my daily points every day and only use extra weekly points for special occasions (for which there aren't any this week)
- do something active every day, including two lengthly workouts, one of which will be trying out the free gym at work
- drink a freakin' ton of water every day
- eat recommended fruits and veggies every day
- no super unhealthy choices, which means not choosing a doughnut for breakfast just because I "can", or having a candy bar as a snack at night because I have the leftover points so "why not?"

With any luck I'll be feeling better by next Monday, have a great weigh in, and will have the motivation to keep it up.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

From the concert to Black Friday

The concert went really well. I felt such a sense of accomplishment and peace being able to sing with a group again. Rehearsals are different, but rewarding as well. When you perform it's the end result of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. And this music was very challenging for us. Up until that morning I still didn't feel confident about wrapping my lips around some of the fast-paced French. But I think it sounded pretty good. I haven't written about this yet because a lot of our family couldn't make it, which made me pretty bummed. I felt like I worked so hard - and to sing it for who? Well, it won't be the last concert.

I've spent much of the week either getting ready for Thanksgiving, studying for an exam I have on Tuesday, or doing Christmas crafty things for a bazaar at my work (for which I am one part excited, one part "what the hell was I thinking?").

Did I mention that Catherine took her first steps on Thursday? WOW!!!!

Friday morning... oh, Friday morning. You know those insane people that are out in the dark, bundled up because it's below freezing, fighting for a parking spot at the mall... and all for some silly little discounts? Yeah, I'm one of those crazy people. The tradition has been going on for years with my mom and sister. Though it varies from year to year. Now it's a treat when we can all do it together. This year found us in separate cities. Instead of rushing into a store together, each with our lists and our coffee and splitting up to cover the most ground in the least time, this year we called each other checking in.

Mom: "Good morning, early bird shopper! Where are you at?"
Brie: "I'm fighting for a parking spot between Michael's and Target. Where are you?"
Mom: "I just finished at JCPenny's and I'm dragging my huge bag down the mall to Sears."
Brie: "Oh! I saw in the ads that they had an adorable outfit for Catherine there for 60%off!!! I hope I can find it in her size by the time that I get there."
Mom: "Well let me know if you can't, and I'll get it for her."
Brie: "Great! Thanks! I'm going to go clean Michael's out of everything they have and I'll call you back!"
Mom: "Talk with you soon! Love you, bye!"
Brie: "Love you, bye!"

Etc, etc, etc. (Suddenly Yul-Brynner's voice echoes through my head). It was fun. I shopped until I dropped... or rather shopped until I had to go home to finish studying. Before I had to go to work. Ugh... long day! Ugh... long week!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Full of Thanksgiving

Such a true title - with many meanings.

Full of food from yesterday's feast. We went down to my mom's for the holiday. It was a smaller gathering than previous years, but good company all the same. And the food - yummy! The turkey was moist and flavorful - not surprising since my mom made it. I tried my first ever attempt at soup - I made roasted squash soup. Quite an experience, and it turned out great - I was so proud of myself! My veggie casserole wasn't as great - I really felt like it was missing something, but I have no idea what. I'll have to try it out again sometime.

Also full of plenty of things to be thankful for. A great family, lots of support, jobs and a roof over our head. Even with all the changes that we've experienced over this last year, we still have many great things gong on.

And the best thing of all to be thankful for - the thing that topped off everything yesterday: We went over to Jason's and my sister's house for dessert and I was playing with Catherine. I sat her down on the step that leads to their living room, and she stood up and walked to me. That's right - SHE TOOK HER FIRST STEPS. With great balance and full of intention, she took 3 or 4 steps to me. Yeah!!!

Too cool...

More about the concert and everything else later. I need to study a bit more before having to run off to work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Crazy weekend

Lots of little things going on: Catherine has completely recovered from being sick all week. Yeah! Well child check up is on Tuesday, so more updates then.

We found Elly! Wahoo! And miraculously Catherine already seems to be sleeping better. Go figure.

The big thing this weekend is that our first Seattle Bach Choir concert of the season is tomorrow. I am so excited as this is my first time performing with the choir. SO EXCITED. Being able to sing again at this level is such a joy to me. Our music has really come together and we sounded really great at our rehearsal today.

Here's what we're singing:

Mass for Four Voices; Byrd
Komm, Jesu Komm; Bach
Trois Chansons; Ravel
Shakespeare Songs Book III and Book IV; Harris

Danny Boy
Here There and Everywhere; originally by the Beattles

Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Back to the doctor

Catherine's fever and icky poos subsided on Tuesday. Though she was incredibly cranky that afternoon/evening, she seemed to be getting better. Then yesterday morning we noticed a rash. Eek! Luckily, it doesn't seem to be bothering her, but it's still not a good sign. Doing a little online research pointed to roseola, a common virus in infants and toddlers. A call to the doctor's office confirmed it. High fever for 2-5 days during which showing mild signs of being sick (diarrhea, listlessness, fatigue etc.), followed by the telltale pinkish rash on the torso and face. And the biggie - it's contagious. Oh, brother.

Things that I am thankful for:
1) The rash doesn't seem to be bothering her
2) The fever and icky poos are gone and she otherwise seems fine (case in point - she's currently entertaining herself with an empty giant diaper box)
3) A wonderful doctor's office that I can contact anytime
4) A flexible and understanding husband who steps in like a hero to take time off of work to help take care of her
5) This chapter in baby illness should be over soon and our lives can go back to "normal"

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

offering reward

Offering reward for cute purple elephant. Goes by the name of Elly. Near and dear to little Catherine; needed for soothing when feeling icky and making bedtime more acceptable. Lost Monday, November 12th. Last seen by the couch in the living room. Has disappeared since.
If you have any information, please contact Catherine's mommy and daddy ASAP.

Monday, November 12, 2007

sick baby

My poor little girl is sick. Thankfully, we've been blessed with a baby that doesn't get sick very often. She had an ear infection a couple of months ago, but she wasn't even showing any symptoms of it.

Then Saturday night she was whining and felt hot... sure enough, her temperature was 102.5. Not too high, but definately a fever and definately out of the norm for her. A quick call to our doctor said that it wasn't high enough to be concerned - give her Tylenol and keep an eye out for other symptoms that would suggest something's going on.

Sunday morning came the icky poos... and more fever. At most her fever was 104.1, but it's been fluctuating. She was acting... OK... but a little more cranky and tired than usual. And she was eating, but not nearly what she was.

So into the doctor's office we went this morning - and it's official that she has the stomach flu. Bummer. Doc says that it's a little unusual to have that high of a fever with the stomach bug, but otherwise it's completely normal. As she said, it seems that everyone in the county got it over the weekend.

And we had to reschedule her well-child check up for tomorrow. So a more general update will have to wait.

I'm thankful that she doesn't get sick very often, but when she does it sucks.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Personal introspective

Thanks to Cindy for this insightful exercise.

life would be simpler if... we had no debt
i feel most beautiful... when I am holding Catherine
the quality i like most about myself... my compassion for everyone around me
the quality i like least about myself is... my lack of willpower - it gets in the way of everything from losing weight to saving money
something that no one knows about me is... that I struggle daily with the effects of depression (well, a lot of people know this about me, but not everyone)
something I'm proud of... having such a beautiful and strong daughter, and getting A's in all my classes since I've been back in school
guiltiest pleasure? sweets
high road or low road? High, whenever I can
my favorite possession is... my pictures.
when i was little, i wanted to be... an archaeologist. I thought dinosaurs were SO cool.
what surprises me most about my adult life is... that friendships aren't always what they seem; and that we really knew nothing as a teenagers, and most likely still don't know anything now; and that parenthood is simutaneously more difficult and more joyful than I ever thought... there are a lot of surprises about adulthood.
the big decision i'm currently wrestling with is... 1) how much longer I can keep working while going to school; 2) if we'll really be able to afford going to Europe; and 3) how we'll be able to finance to buy a house.
my motto is... Do not worry for tomorrow, tomorrow will care for itself. - Matthew 5:36

Friday, November 9, 2007

The piano man is THE man!!

Awesome. Amazing. Freakin' unbelievable.

Does anyone actually expect me to put into words how much I loved Billy Joel's concert? There are no words. Awesome doesn't cut it. Amazing, true - but still, more than that.

Freakin' unbelievable -- the only way to put it I think.

It was unbelievable just being under the same roof as this incredible music genius. He goes from rock to classical and back again - how does he do that?

The concert began with the grand piano rising from below the stage - and there he was. And then he played. And sang. And cracked jokes. He's a funny guy. He's such an old man - and he loves making jokes about that. The first thing he said was "hi - I'm Billy's dad. Billy couldn't make it today". The last time he was in Washington he sung at the Tacoma Dome - and he completely ripped on that. Awesome. He loves Seattle much better!

He sang a lot of favorites, but a few that I've never heard. And he played an instrumental piece - you know that he has written a lot of classical music in the last decade? Well, this wasn't entirely traditional classical music - it was like piano on crack. He even said he was afriad of messing it up because it was so diffcult. The camera zoomed on his hands a lot - I loved watching his hands move across the piano, especially with this piece.

And then he stood up, the piano disappeared, and someone handed him... an electric guitar. Instant rock concert. And the first song he played with the guitar - Jimi's 'Kiss the sky'. He said it was an appropriate tribute, being in Seattle. Everyone went nuts! The guitar stayed out for quite a few songs, but of course the piano HAD to come back.

The night ended with FOUR standing ovations and THREE encore songs, ending with nothing less than THE PIANO MAN. Like he would finish a concert without singing that! ;)

I just can't believe it's over. We would have stayed all night if he would have kept playing.
I LOVE BILLY JOEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

countdown to piano man

only 33 hours and 15 minutes!!!!!!!!

I can't put into words about how excited I am that Stephen and I get to see Billy Joel tomorrow night.

I feel like shrieking and jumping up and down just thinking about it.



Tuesday, November 6, 2007

fun weekend

For ONCE I didn't have to work or have any real plans over the weekend, so I took the chance to go down to Vancouver to visit my mom and dad. I brought Catherine with me, but left Stephen at home for some really deserved time off.

Catherine and I met with grandma Trudy and auntie Val, and started off the day with some baby shopping. We got a pak n play so that Catherine can have a place to sleep when she's at grandma's. Later we got to see Val and Jason's new house (Jason bought a house - too cool!), which is pretty cool. It's about 2 blocks away from my old high school, a split level 4 bedroom, 3 bath home with a huge shop that is literally the size of the house. It really is an awesome place, and I am so happy for them. OK, 10% jealous and 90% happy, but still...

That night I took my mom with me to a friend's surprise birthday party. Rian is an old friend from high school, who I was foolish enough to lose touch with over the years. So I was so excited when I got in touch with Brandon, her husband and another friend from high school, and got the OK to come to the party. When I got there, surprise for me - there was a handful of other old friends that I haven't seen since high school! OMG!!! It was so much fun to catch up and share time with them. And what a surprise for Rian that I was there! =) Will it be another 10 years until I can see them again? I hope not. And Dawn was there too, one of my closest friends in the world whom I was smart enough to keep in touch with.

Sunday mom, Catherine, Val, Jason and me got together for breakfast at IHOP, which was a lot of fun. And I am so proud to say that I chose really smart off the menu - I had the garden scramble with a side cup of fruit - and including coffee it only cost me 7 points! Wahoo!

Before going home, Catherine and I went over to spend time with my dad. The time is never long enough, and was cut a little short because of my pint-sized cranky-pants who needed a nap. But it was fun to spend time with him. We introduced Catherine to football, had lunch and I got to see more of his incredible pictures from Hawaii.

All in all, a really great weekend. Then back to work and school on Monday - ugh!!

Monday, November 5, 2007

party pics

As promised, pictures of Toby's birthday party:

Tackled by my baby

Jen and Toby, after he was done with his painting

silly daddy

our little artist

Toby's painting (the one on the left)

The finished painting that Catherine, my mom, me, and Stephen worked on together

The messy birthday boy

Friday, November 2, 2007

Halloween boycot

My planned boycot of Halloween almost went off as intended. At the last minute I wound up dressing up Catherine in a cute little costume that had been handed down from a friend and happened to fit her. And I decided that since they were doing a costume contest at work I'd show a little team spirit and show up wearing something fun. Plus it was a chance for me to wear PJs to work - why not? So I dressed head to toe in pink and wore a feather boa - tickled pink! Get it? Ha ha! OK, well I thought it was funny.

Why boycot Halloween? I'm so sick of that holiday. It is the second most commercialized holiday after Christmas. Although I know there is a history behind the actual origin of the holiday, the only point is to fake as if you are someone/thing else, get children high on sugar, and be scared. When really what we should be scared about is all of the problems that the H-word brings. Costume wearing in schools have become more contraversy than fun, and trick or treating has been on the wane due to parents not trusting the safety of their children, let alone all of the other frights that parents have thanks to the stories of poisoned candy and razors in apples.

I don't get into the decorations of spider webs and skulls, I don't like being scared, I could care less about horror movies, I loathe the pressure of having a good costume, and I'm trying to lay off the sweets. What's left when you take away all that? Nothing for me, I say.

Stephen and I have one, maybe two, years until Catherine starts wanting to go Trick or Treating. So I wanted the year off. And except for my last minute, half-hearted effort, I think I managed it.

But rather than deny everyone a cute "baby's first Halloween" picture, here it is. And I have to admit, she's stinkin' adorable.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Before I was a mom

This was posted by a friend of mine on myspace:


I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom -

I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.

I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.
Before I was a Mom
I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.

I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put him down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn'tstop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom -
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom -
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes tomake sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache,the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much,
before I was a Mom.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My one year old nephew

One year ago, on October 27th 2006, Stephen and I were interrupted in the middle of a movie with the news - Tobin Grey Woodard had arrived. It was late at night, but we were one of the very few people that were able to visit our new nephew that evening. I looked at Jenny - tired, but accomplished. With an amazing feat, she became a mom. What she had just succeeded in doing blew my mind.

And that was one year ago. He is now walking, talking - it seems impossible that this one year old boy is the same tiny baby boy that I held in my arms and first introduced myself as Auntie Brie (and Phil introduced Uncle Steve as "your future math tutor"). He is an amazing little man - not surprising considering that he has amazing parents.

His birthday party was a ton of fun. Jenny had the best idea - she bought a bunch of blank canvases, paint, and brushes, and invited guests to paint away. Later she will frame them and hang them in Toby's room as a reminder of his first birthday and all those that love him. We even let the kids at it. It was smart that we had them take turns - I could only imagine that they would be much more interested in painting each other than the canvas. Catherine took a little while to get into it - but when she did, wow did she! She was having so much fun, and was doing more like body-painting than simply finger painting. Phil observed that the kids did better paintings than anyone. ;)

On the same day I got to spend some time with my mom on the day that was important for another reason. She has been going through a really tough time, I love that I was able to be there for her. We have a wonderful mother-daughter relationship, and the times that I can be a friend for her instead of "just" a daughter are precious to me. I hope that she got some peace and happiness out of the day.

Pictures to come soon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My little pumpkin

Catherine and I took advantage of the b-e-a-utiful weather here yesterday and went to a pumpkin patch to pick out her very first pumpkin. It was perfectly clear, sunny, and 70 degrees - in October? I couldn't pass that up.

We didn't spend a lot of time there, but she had a lot of fun exploring the pumpkins and playing in the grass and the mud. The owner let me have some fun and I put Catherine on the scale that they use to weigh the pumpkins - my little pumpkin is 24.9 lbs! Wowza!

The biggest bonus for me was getting some adorable pictures.

change in title

I changed the title for the blog. I'm not good at coming up with something creative, and I felt like that title was pretty lame. So this title is better for me - it's simple. It's what I'm about - my family. So sue me if it's not creative. I'm not sure I care.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Busy (ˈbi-zē)

We had a busy weekend - busy enough that I feel as if I'm still recovering.
Portrait (ˈpȯr-trət)
Saturday morning we got together with Jen, Phil and Toby and went to Sears to get family portraits taken. Wow, was that crazy! We got pictures of each baby separately and together, then families separate and together. They turned out so great. We had some problems getting Catherine to smile - she looks kind of bewildered in her pictures. But then it fits her personality - she was stubborn enough not to smile until she wanted to, not when everyone wanted her to.

Getting pictures of the kids together was funny because they always want to play with each other anytime you sit them together - so getting them to focus on the same thing and smile at the same time was challenging. So we had fun tossing a stuffed frog back and forth to get them to laugh; then what really worked was the bubbles. And it turned out great in the pictures!

A couple of my other favorites:

It took 3 1/2 hours to get the pictures done and get our order in. Poor Catherine! She was so exhausted and fell right asleep. For the whole hour that we had until we had to leave again. Ugh!
Bachtoberfest (bäk-ˈtō-bər-ˌfest)
Def: a gathering, event, or show having the specified focus of German food, good spirits (both personal and alcoholic), good entertainment, and fund raising for the Seattle Bach Choir.

The evening was great. We got to sing a few of our new pieces for all those that came to support us, the food was awesome, and everyone had a wonderful time. Catherine, after taking another short nap before the festivities really got going, was a complete angel the whole night. We got to spend time with almost all of her grandparents: both of Stephen's parents and my dad were there. And the best - all 3 of her gRodparents were there (gRodparent [ˈgräd-ˌper-ənt ]: a grand-godparent). I am kicking myself for not taking more pictures of her with her gRodparents.

There was a silent auction and a live auction with so many wonderful things up for grabs. The best thing was a collection of wine with one bottle donated by each of the choir members; 28 bottles in total. Guess who had the winning bid? Yup - we're the proud owners of a very nice, diverse wine collection. I still can't believe we did that. My favorite bottle is an uber-magnum bottle - see the picture. Seriously - she's not that small, the bottle is just that big!

And on the 7th day they rested - we were all so exhausted. Stephen let me have some time to myself and I used the time to have a leisurely afternoon at a coffee shop reading my Sunday paper and then shopping. My dad was so exhausted that he actually gave up his ticket to the Seahawks game that day - crazy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I wonder what that tastes like...

The things that my daughter has put in her mouth so far this morning:

- her binky
- her bottle, of course
- her left foot
- Elly (her cuddly purple elephant)
- the plastic cover for wipes (empty - this time)
- sippy cup - she's generally more interested in chewing on the spout than drinking from it
- her spoon, after *insisting* that she feed herself
- her hands, after I took away the spoon and she realized that she still had food on her hands
- the cat's tail
- diaper (thank goodness it was the CLEAN one)
- her right foot
- one of the rails for her changing table
- some clean socks, as she was "helping" me fold laundry
- some of yesterday's mail
- my nose
- numerous toys... I can't keep track of which ones, she always has a different one in her mouth when I turn around

And it's only 11:30am.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Older blog from myspace: from 8-14-07

Finding peace

A year has gone to by too fast.
We lost a wonderful spirit - a wonderful light in the world.
A mother, a wife, a friend, an amazing woman.
She wasn't my mother, she was my friend.
But she treated me like family.
She was my friend's mother - and in many ways was like a mother to me.
She would have been - she is - part of my daughter's godfamily.
I wish I would have known her better. Hindsight is an awful thing.
We lost a wonderful spirit - but her light still shines in each of us.
And with that her immortal spirit will be alive forever.
(lyrics from 'Tough' by Craig Morgan)
We sat there five years ago
The doctors let us know, the test showed
She'd have to fight to live, I broke down and cried
She held me and said it's gonna be alright
She wore that wig to church
Pink ribbon pinned there on her shirt
No room for fear, full of faith
Hands held high singing Amazing Grace
Never once complained, refusing to give up
And I thought I was tough
She's strong, pushes on, can't slow her down
She can take anything life dishes out
There was a time
Back before she was mine
When I thought I was tough

In memory of Karin Mesmer
October 7, 1948 - August 14, 2006

I love you, Camille - I know that there are very few people that miss her as much as you do.
My thoughts and love are with you every day, but especially on this day.

Older blog from myspace: from 7-5-07

More catchup from my myspace blog:

It has been 5 months (and a few days, really). 5 months since I waited to see her -- since that moment when I didn't know she had already been taken from me because I didn't hear her crying -- turns out she came into the world quiet, looking around and taking everything in.

And wouldn't you know it, that was a pretty good indication of her personality. She still has those moments - quiet, looking around and taking everything in. You can almost see all the tiny gears in her developing mind working hard. Those big beautiful blue eyes look at you with thoughtfulness and curiousity .

My favorite moments: When she is lying in her crib and starting to fuss (or all-out crying, that happens too), and I peak my head over the railing of the crib and she sees my face - then she stops crying or fussing, and flashes her big smile at me. That melts my heart. She knows me, she's happy to see me, and she knows that because I'm there everything is alright. What more can you ask for?

Because it's not just her that has grown and developed - so have I. I'm a mom now. Sure, from the moment she was born I officially became a mother. But now I'm a mom. Just call me mommy - that's me! I feel redefined as a woman - redefined as a new me. I have encountered many new things about myself - didn't know I could do so many things at once for instance (I can do loads of laundry, make a bottle, make my coffee, entertain her, feed the cats, and study - all at once - wait... did I get to drink that coffee?). Didn't know I could still pull all-nighters (not quite the same when it doesn't involve partying and/or studying, though). I didn't know that I could possibly love my husband any more than I already did, but after seeing him take care of her, I love him a million times more (heads up guys - being a good daddy is a VERY sexy quality in a man). And I didn't know that my heart could possibly contain the amount of love that I have for our baby.

In the past 5 months, she has babbled her way in and out of conversations (her favorite sound: raspberries). She has smiled and laughed a thousand times. She has proved to be a thoughtful, smart, and independent little girl. She hasn't rolled over yet - but has started sitting on her own. She is sleeping pretty well - most nights she will even sleep through the night. She has even started eating some "solid" foods (sweet potatoes - yum!). And in the last 5 months this little girl has us wrapped around her tiny baby finger incredibly tight.

Oh who am I kidding -- that didn't take 5 months, that took 5 seconds. How much do we love our little baby girl... let me count the ways... =)

Older blog from myspace: from 2-27-07

I thought I'd play a bit of catchup for those who haven't read my myspace blog:

reflections on being a mother

Becoming a parent is perhaps the most life-changing event anyone can go through. I know it sounds cliche - we've all heard that a million times, right? But there is no way to comprehend the true meaning of everything that you have heard until you are there in the delivery room, looking at the face of your child for the first time. And then the first sleepless night. And the first time that your baby successfully takes food from you. And the first panicky call to the doctor. And the first car trip, adjusting the straps on the car seat a dozen times to ensure the safety of this tiny person that is now the center of your life.

Hmm... have you gotten the hint that there's a potential for a very, very long blog here? You may be right... I don't blog very often and this is the biggest change in my entire life - of course I could go on forever. And I will. So indulge me please as I attempt (and no doubt will fail) to put words to this incredible landmark in my life.

It's been almost 4 weeks - just amazing, really. In one way it seems like it has only been days because it has flown by. Stephen pointed out that it also feels like years - not because time has dragged on, but because this new life seems so natural to us that it feels as if we've been doing it for years.

Though he must feel more natural at it than I feel. I admit that I have struggled a lot. I'm showing signs of being an overprotective mother. Normal I think - I'm new at this, and she is still so little and defenseless. I suddenly identify with any mother bear protecting her cubs.

But the struggles - emotionally, physically. I expected the emotional problems. And physically - two words: sleep deprivation. And there are moments when I long for the time that I could go out on a whim - for anything, because even boring errands are now a ton more difficult. But then I see her sleeping peacefully and I have time to take in every bit of her. Her gorgeous, dark hair; her cute little nose; her pouty little lips; her impossibly tiny toes; her surprisingly feminine fingers. Then she opens her eyes (so big and blue), and I can see that she is taking in everything around her, and I can almost see into her speedily developing mind as she learns more each day then we do in a year. Everything is so new to her - and it's up to us to help her learn and grow.

And I realize that we made her - she is Stephen, and she is me. How is that possible? She's too good, too beautiful - she can't be ours. Caught up in emotions of love and awe, I forget about the struggles and I realize how lucky I am. Anything that we go through now is worth it.

I look at her and I wonder at how amazing God is. It's moments like these that I think 'how can anyone look at a newborn baby and not believe in God?' (Usually I am much more liberal about accepting anyone's religious views, but at the moment I am indulging in my awe and wonder at this little angel that I am holding in my arms - I couldn't care less about anything else right now) Each baby is a little angel, sent by God. Each angel brings it's own challenges to the parents, with each having a reason for coming into the world. My favorite of her books is called 'God Gave Us You' - it follows a mother polar bear answering the question presented to her by her little bear cub 'Why am I here?' She tells her cub of how she carried the cub and felt him move inside her and how the cub's mother and father were so excited of his arrival. And after every bit of her story she says of her motherly love "God gave us you". I cry every time I read it - OK, I'm even getting teary eyed now. It is a wonderful description of how lucky a parent feels receiving such a gift from God.

I am incredibly blessed in my life - to a new level that I didn't think was possible. I am blessed with this tiny little baby, and I am blessed with a wonderful husband who is an incredible father. Really, I would not have survived so far had it not been for him being by my side.

If I had to (literally) sum it up: worrying + sleep deprivation + the strongest most amazing love you've ever felt = parenthood. It's the toughest job you'll ever love - and man do I love it.

And in true parenting style, it took me about 2 and a half hours to write this - interupted by two diaper changes, a feeding, about a dozen binky rescues, and typing part of it one handed while I held her. Hee hee... gotta love it.

Everything has a beginning

Why this title?

The common joke around our home is "I don't just have issues, I have a subscription".

Well, in our great adventures in parenting, we have many, many issues. The title speaks to me, it sums up most of what I have to say. There are many parts of me; the woman, the friend, the wife, the daughter, the Catholic, the student, and now - the mom. Most of all, my life is focused so much around being a new mom. Naturally.

Here is what my life centers around; all those parts of me, they all center around this:

My husband Stephen and my 8 month old daughter Catherine. The loves of my life.