Fall Friends and Family Fest

Spending time with old friends and family do wonders for the soul. We’ve been lucky enough to host and visit a slew of friends and family in the past month. We reminisced, laughed at how ‘old’ we’ve gotten and had fun just hanging around in sweats having a cocktail or two.

Our first guests of the fall were our friends Ryan and Claire. They’ve been friends of ours for about a decade now (what?!) and currently live in Rhode Island. Huge Colorado State fans, we planned their trip for a visit two years ago when the 2016 CSU football team announced a game at Minnesota. Needless to say we’d been looking forward to it for some time.

While not all of the fun things I had planned came to fruition thanks to crummy weather and most of us coming down with bad colds, we had a great time! Here are a few highlights.

 


A few days after they left, we drove to Omaha to celebrate my Great Uncle Dan’s 75th birthday. It was a mini-family reunion of sorts. Unfortunately my dad and stepmom were out of the country and my Walker siblings away at school, but it was so much fun having almost the entire family together. It was fun introducing my kids to extended family and just celebrating as we used to on holidays when I was growing up.

Once back home, we only had to wait a few more days for my sorority sister Kirsten and her husband Brandon to arrive. Kirsten rocked the Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Miler! It was definitely fun to be a spectator for once. Ella and I also ran the Family Mile. She finished it in 12 minutes which I’m pretty sure is faster than I ran my first mile!

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We had better luck with babysitters and were out and about all weekend.

Ah, it was a like a breathe of fresh air being with them. I definitely ate and drank too much and ran too little, but I wouldn’t trade a moment of it.

Just this past weekend we also were treated to a visit from Josh’s parents. We enjoyed a nice dinner, took in a show at the Guthrie Theater and went on a train ride with the entire family. It was another great weekend.

Next weekend, it’s off to Indianapolis for the Monumental Half. I’ll have to write a little update on how training has shaped up. It’s been quite a ride these past several weeks. Can’t wait for more visitors, even if it isn’t until we thaw in the spring!

Ella Does a Show

“Just picture the audience in their underpants,” I said to Ella as we drove to the ice arena after she confided in me that she was nervous because there would be a lot of people she didn’t know watching her skate.  Hysterical laughter erupted from the backseat.

By the time we made our way downstairs to check her in, she was ready. She seemed so grown up all of the sudden. She confidently gave me a hug goodbye and walked back with one of the volunteers to the locker room where the kids in her group would spend most of Saturday. Hair curled, flower clipped in, one frilly costume and a pair of white ice skates – she was ready for the big show.

As I walked away, I felt nervous for her. Would she feel scared being in a room with a bunch of strangers all day, would she freeze when she got onto the ice, would she forget the routine and get upset? A half hour later, we took our seats in the front row where she’d be able to see us. She had a whole section cheering for her as she took the ice.

She is second from the right, next to the little boy. She was cautious, which she said she was going to be since she didn’t get to wear her helmet and didn’t want to fall, but she worked her way through the routine.

She had done it. I was proud of her for being brave enough to participate in the show. When we picked her up after the first show, she was beaming with pride and loved getting flowers.

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She could not wait to do the second show later that evening. It was her best performance of the day. I wish I would have been able to get video of it rather than just catching it from the far end with the other volunteers. When I told her that she’d be able to watch it on TV later this week, she was super excited.

After a very long day, I took her our for frozen yogurt, just the two of us. She just could not stop smiling and saying how much she loved being in the ice show. It looks like we found an activity that may stick, at least for now.

This morning she passed her current level and is going to be starting in the lessons for older kids. She’s so happy and I’m happy for her.

All About Anderson – 18 months

We are on the downhill slope to two years. I can hardly believe that my baby is getting so big! He’s now 32 inches tall and just over 25 lbs. He’s around average size except for his head. He must have a very big brain. Luckily it is fairly proportional to the rest of his body. He finally has teeth! His first two came in around 16 months, the second two about 17 months and the last two came just days before 18 months. Which was about the time I actually started working on this post. oops.

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Anderson has a big few months. In early December we went to Disney World and the beach which were probably the highlight of his life thus far. It’s a Small World was his favorite ride. He pointed and squealed with delight at all of the colorful little people. At the beach he ran right to the water, enjoying it splashing over his feet. Getting all the way in was hit or miss.

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Not long after we returned home it was Christmas. The candy, the presents, the ornaments – toddler’s favorite things. His favorite pastime was taking off all the ornaments he could reach and throwing them saying ball. It must be quite confusing why you can throw toy balls and not similar looking ones from the tree. He liked opening gifts more than he liked what was in the packages.

Anderson is developing quite the personality. He loves to laugh. In fact, I think it’s his favorite thing. He laughs all the time, mainly at Ella. It cracks me up hearing them giggle in the backseat of the car as we drive around between various activities. We’ve started an art class which he’s really enjoying. Last week we painted with his feet and he thought it was the best. No longer does he resist getting his hands and feet dirty, though when he is done, he holds them out for me to wash as he says ‘all done.’

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He is also really into music. He will request Raffi just as Ella did. He dances around and has even started trying to sing some. He asks for spider (itsy bitsy) as he does the motions, says ei-ei-oh for Old McDonald, and pulls my hands saying row, row for Row Row Row Your Boat. I’ve even gotten him to do the motions for Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. I’m glad that he has a love for music.

He is starting to speak more and more every day. He’s not as verbal as Ella was, but that’s no surprise as she often speaks for him. I’m also not nearly as consistent with noting new words. I think we’re up to about 35 or so, but only 20ish are used regularly. In the past few weeks he’s also begun putting words together, night night, hi dad, bye bye, all done/gone, etc. I feel bad because we don’t read to him nearly as much as we did to Ella partially because he rarely sits still and partially because its hard to get him to focus with Ella around. He is finally interested in books so I try to find time for just the two of us, free from distraction, to read.

When he cannot say what he wants he just grabs our hands to take us to what he wants or shows us what he’s trying to do. He loves wearing hat, gloves and his coat, though once we’re home he wants everyone’s coat off immediately. He picks out the shoes he wants to wear and will bring me socks and shoes to put on every morning.

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What he lacks in speech, he makes up for in physicality. This kid never wants to sit still. Climbing is by far his favorite activity. Couches, tables, chairs, stairs. Anything and everything. We have to be very careful in watching where he is. he has a pretty good arm when he throws and even catches his ball now.

Just as much as he loves to show his pleasure, with lots of hugs and kisses, he is quick to throw a fit. He scrunches his face and wails a bit, sometimes throwing himself on the ground. Luckily we can redirect him and the tantrum rarely lasts long.

He just cracks us up. He is so different from Ella and very much his own person. Every day he seems to learn something new – a new word, expression, phrase, emotion. It’s so amazing to watch.

Explaining a Loss

Last weekend my family suffered another tough loss. After a battle with cancer, my Uncle Steve passed away in his home surrounded by family.

Steve always seemed to have great stories. It could have been the fact that he traveled to places I may never go like Cuba or that he worked in film. He saw the beauty in people and places, where many would not. Though we were never very close, being that we lived in Colorado and he in Nebraska, I feel lucky to have had him in my life.

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When we visited Nebraska, we always tried to make a point to stop by and see Steve. One of my favorite visits was just before we started having kids. We went out in the Old Market for drinks and some music. We laughed as we walked down the street and into the bar because it seemed that Steve know everyone we passed. The first time we visited after we had Ella, he was so excited he got out his camera and some lighting equipment to take pictures of her by the flowers in the backyard. It was so sweet.

When we got in the car to go to Nebraska for the funeral, I tried to explain to Ella what was going to happen. I told her that Uncle Steve went to heaven because the doctors couldn’t help him get better. After verifying that meant that we wouldn’t see him anymore, she said ok and that he would be ok because he’d see his mom and dad in heaven.

My sister-in-law Amber was nice enough to babysit the kids while we attended the wake. There were so many people gathered to pay their respects to a man that touched their lives. We continued the celebration at our family bar in the Old Market.

The next day was the funeral. This was the first funeral that Ella would be old enough to experience. Though I told her that some people will be sad and she may see myself, her grandparents, uncle and aunts cry, we are there to celebrate Uncle Steve. I was hoping that was enough to prepare her.

I went to the church early so that I could review my reading. The entire time I’d held it together, but when Steve’s son walked in and asked one of his uncles to help him tie his tie, I had tears well up. All of a sudden I was struck with such grief for Jack’s loss. His dad won’t be there to teach him to tie a tie, how to shave or how to drive. I feel grief for both Jack and Steve for the experiences they won’t get to have together, but remember that they did have good ones while he was leaving.

When we gathered in the side room at the church with the casket before our family walk down the aisle of the church, Ella asked about the big box with flowers on it. I quietly told her that Uncle Steve was in it. She was obviously confused but saved more questions for the processional to the cemetery.

When we got in the car the flood gates of questions opened up. She wanted to know why Uncle Steve was in a box if he was in heaven. How did he get into the box? Why they were going to put the box in the ground and how they would do so? We did our best to explain but it was hard to explain the concept of heaven yet a body being in a coffin to bury. How you explain that to three year old, I have no idea.

She handled it well, though questions have continued. After the burial everyone gathered for food and more memory sharing. Steve’s best friend made a video tribute which was great.

Steve will be missed.

From Working Mom to Full Time Mom

I’ve never seen myself as a stay-at-home mom. Not because I didn’t feel it would be rewarding or because I don’t love my children dearly, I just was unable to imagine not getting up and going to an office every day. Plus, I worried that I’d stunt the kids development and they’d fall behind their peers. Those reasons and the fact that I worked really hard to put myself through college, I continued working after having the kids.

With this move came the opportunity for me to be a full-time mom, with the bonus of working 10-15 hours a week from home. I jumped on it, excited to spend the summer with the kids. I also decided it would help everyone through the transition of being in a new place if I were home. Change is hard for everyone, especially kids who thrive on a routine.

 

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So how’s it been going?

We are just about settled into a routine. What we do within the span of a week changes, but I try to stick to a schedule with lunch and naptime. One of my first goals was to find parks within walking distance. This allows us to take Lucky for a walk but also find fun playgrounds where there will also be other kids (hopefully). We have a few great parks within a couple miles of us that we go to at least once a week.

When we arrived here, one of Ella’s first questions was when she was going to meet new friends. It broke my heart a little bit when she added that she misses her friends. We do not want to put her into preschool just yet because we’re not in our new house, which could be in one of three cities we’re currently looking in. I noticed the city was offering a free playground class for three year olds. I jumped on it and so for 45 minutes every Tuesday and Thursday we go to the park to where the camp leaders take the kids and play with them on the playground. As a bonus for me, I met two great moms who I get to chit chat with. I crave the adult conversation.

We’ve been trying out a few other kid friendly events and activities. The favorite by far is storytime at the library where they sing and dance in addition to reading. They both also really like the indoor play area at the rec center and of course, Shady Oak Lake.

As for me, I love getting to do all these fun things with the kids and spend my days outside in the sun. I love seeing them grow and especially Anderson develop new skills. I’m not missing a moment of it. That being said, some days are amazing other days, really hard.

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It seems the terrible threes have arrived at our house. I’m trying to be as understanding as possible when Ella has tantrums because she wants to be independent but still needs help, plus not being in a place of her own, is hard. There are times though that I have to leave her in her room throwing a tantrum and walk away because I start to lose my cool. Those are the days I miss having a nice break.

As for what I’m missing, adult interaction. I was lucky to work with some really great people and I miss just shooting the breeze and bouncing ideas off of them. I work when the kids nap which is a hit or miss. Ella will nap every day, but Anderson may or may not nap at the same time. I get up about 5 am to get work in just in case they do not nap. If they do, it’s a bonus and I’ll let myself sleep in a bit later at the end of the week.

I’d say the transition has been easier than I thought. There are moments of loneliness that lead to homesickness. I look forward to Josh coming home every night almost equally for the conversation and the extra set of hands.

I don’t see myself staying home until the kids go off to school, but at least until we buy a house and find good, quality childcare.