Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of those days.

Do you ever have one of those days?  Where your mom dresses you too warm all for the sake of a Christmas card photo?  Where the mid-December weather is awfully toasty?

Where the dress (and possibly a new tooth or two) makes you hot?  And irritable?  And downright fussy?

Where all you want is to get out of that dress and scream for joy?

You do?

Yeah.  Me too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What happened to December?!

I know that today is the 23rd of December. 

And I know that means Christmas is Saturday.

But, I sure feel like Christmas snuck up on me this year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Cards.

I love getting mail.  Growing up, I even enjoyed getting the mail (as in, walk to the box, pick up the mail and trot it to the house).

Real mail seems to be in short supply these days.  Getting an email is just not the same thing as getting a piece of physical mail.  (Mind you, I totally accept that some communications are easier, and - possibly - better, by email.)

As it has become easier and cheaper to communicate in so many other ways, the letter seems to be going the way of the dinosaur.  Heck, most of our bills are even delivered electronically!

However, in December my physical mail always increases a bit.  I come home and enjoy opening new cards.  We ooh and aah over the photos, laugh at the annual recaps and then line them up on our bookshelves.  (I also enjoy the e-Christmas cards we have received.  I just print them out and line them up too.)

I love getting Christmas cards so much that I cannot not send them myself.  Not too long ago, we had some photos taken, decided on a card layout, placed our order and waited excitedly for them to arrive.  Well.  They are here.

I have a few more addresses to compile, but the cards are stuffed, licked, stamped and - mostly, at least - addressed.  I'm hoping to send them out in tomorrow's mail.  (Minus the few stragglers that I looked at and thought, "That isn't the correct address for her anymore!")

Soon our smiling faces will grace mailboxes around the world ... hopefully, creating some smiles in the process.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ah. Chocolate Triscuit Bites.

These cookies are dumb stupid simple.  (I dunno, are they cookies, are they candy?  Who can tell?)

Buy some Triscuits.  Break them up in a large bowl.  (Do not reduce them to shreddings, but each cracker should be broken into at least 4 pieces.  Unless you want bigger pieces ... then go with bigger pieces.)

Put some chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl.  Hit go.  Stir every 30 seconds until melted (aiming for liquid here).

Pour the chocolate over the Triscuit crumbles.  Stir.  Drop by the spoonful onto wax paper (we had parchment on hand, so I used that).  Chill until firm.

Quantities?

I bought a Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips and a Costco-sized box of Triscuits.  It worked out about right.  (But, if it weren't for two cookie exchanges, these would be coming out of my ears!)

I'm not sure you could have too much chocolate, but if the chocolate isn't holding the Triscuit pieces together, well, then more chocolate is definitely in order.

I used semi-sweet chocolate.  So it has a dark chocolate bitterness (which I like).  I am positive that milk chocolate would also be tasty.  I imagine that mixing in marshmallows or toffee bits or un-melted chips (chocolate, white, peanut butter?) would also be tasty.

I don't have any photos. 

But I found the 'recipe' here:

http://atimetoeat.blogspot.com/2010/11/chocolate-triscuits.html.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cookies. Christmas Cookies.

Now.  It seems that almost every family has a different approach to Christmas cookies.

Some people make many kinds and offer guests a medley of yummy treats.  Some people make one kind and use a cookie exchange to then offer guests a medley of yummy treats. 

I have two such exchanges on the calendar this year!  Cookie medley here I come.

My offering for (both) exchanges is this:  Chocolate Triscuit Bites.  OK.  It technically isn't baking, because I didn't actually turn the oven on.  But they are super tasty.  Super Tasty.  Now.  They are not super pretty, just focus on the Super Tasty. 

All that being said.  Growing up we did not ascribe to the cookie medley doctrine.  We are one cookie people.  (Perhaps this is pastry discrimination.  So be it.)  Sugar cookies.  Iced and decorated.  It is one of the traditions that I most enjoy about Christmas.  Unfortunately, getting together with my Mom and my brother and my sisters and our spouses and any others ... well, getting us all together with time to mix and roll and cut and bake and decorate just doesn't happen that much anymore.  Drat distance!

But, I'm hankering for these cookies.  So I had planned to make and decorate some.  With family if possible, but by myself if need be.

However, I tried to bake a lasagna last night, and my oven never heated up.  Yup.  As it turns out, the ignite-er (gas oven) that was at the end of its rope finally gave it up.  Stone. Cold. Oven.

Not so good for either the lasagna or my cookie dreams.  (Good thing I planned no bake 'cookie' contributions!)  We will get it fixed, but I'm voting we will not get it done before Christmas.

Regardless, I am not yet giving up on my cookie dreams for this Christmas.  (There are other, functioning, ovens in town.)  Maybe it will happen.  I am hopeful!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Waiting to Breathe.

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas sometimes feels like a race.  When I plan ahead, it feels like I imagine a long distance run might feel.  When I do not, it is a sprint to the finish.

Unfortunately, with all of this (metaphorical) running, it is easy to miss the Joy of the Christmas season.

Thankfully, with a little bit of planning, most of my gifts are wrapped and under the tree.  I have a few on the table waiting to be wrapped this evening.  One is waiting to be picked up from Stephen, who owns the UPS store where I have a PO Box.   (Yeah, that is largely for business purposes, but, for a body to sign for packages, it is also ideal!)  I have one gift that is (hopefully) being shipped as we speak.  It may be the one Christmas gift this year that doesn't make it until after our celebrations.  (Boo.)

Yes.  Celebrations.  We are celebrating with Hoopingarners and Headleys and Thiels ... and then Amundgaards and Grigorievs ... who can get a whole dispersed family together at the same time?!  If you do it successfully, you better tell me the secret!

But, we have our house fully decorated.  It is hard not to be cheerful when surrounded by twinkle lights!  I am working on a very belated knitting project (that I realized last night has more to go than I expected - Arg).  This is the perfect project for right now, because there isn't much you can do while knitting away except be still and mull your thoughts - or have a great conversation - or enjoy the lights of the Christmas tree - or sit quietly with your husband and enjoy the moment.  (Now, it is not the perfect project for now because I'm not sure I have enough quiet time to give so that it will be finished.  But I am hopeful!)

May you too find some time to be slow amidst all the busy-ness that comes with this time of year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A little late.

So.  Olive has this toy:


While his technical name is Mini Mr. X, we call him Blabla.  Sometimes Monsieur Blabla (which Kyle accompanies with a French-inspired accent, having decided that his chapeau and striped shirt make him French.)

He isn't a toy that we take everywhere, but Olive grins big he is along for the ride.

We received Mr. Blabla from my Dad for Olive's birthday this summer.  He said the lady at the store assured him that, "It was the next big thing."

Next big thing or not.  We think he's cute.

I don't really think much about Mr. Blabla, no more than any of the other toys around our home.  But I have recently been on a hunt for a baby doll for Olive.  By way of disclaimer, I am very picky about this crazy doll.  Very likely too picky.  But.  Well.  I am picky.

After much searching, I employed some google-foo and realized that the company that makes Mr. Blabla, er, Blabla, also makes dolls.  (In fact, one such doll may just be under the tree for Olive come Christmas morning.  We shall see.)

In my search, I also came across the link to a commercial from last year's (maybe technically, this year's?) super bowl.



One member of the carousing group of toys is a Giant Mr. X. (He has to ride in the back of the car.)

Does that mean that we really do have the next big thing? That we are cooler than we think?

Somehow, I doubt it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Santa.

Our neighborhood moms' group hosts an annual breakfast with Santa.  So, Saturday morning we gussied up Miss Olive and headed to the local elementary school cafeteria for some kolaches, donuts and Santa.

Olive was very intrigued by Santa.  She kept trying to climb on stage with him (when it wasn't yet our turn).  Then she walked around and around the cafeteria - and for awhile chased a little boy who was chasing another little boy.  Kyle kept two steps behind Olive, and I waited in line for Santa.

It was a great time.  Olive clearly had a ball.  My cousin Jamie recently pointed out that mothers learn to have conversations in 1.5 sentence bursts.  This was completely my experience at the Santa breakfast.

It is one of the few downfalls of parenthood: my nascent small talk skills have been further stunted by the needs and interruptions of my sweet Olive.  I wouldn't change it for the world, but it has been an unexpected consequence of this thing called parenthood.  (I say parenthood rather than motherhood, because Kyle totally agrees.  Conversation with a child in the proximity = hard.)

By the time it was our turn to sit with Santa.  Olive was pretty over it.  (Note her expression in the photo below.) We all trooped up there to get her in the spirit, but we only came away with photos of us all.  Olive was not keen to go one-on-one with Mr. Claus.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmastime is Here Again.

After all of the Thanksgiving hoopla, Kyle and I enjoyed a quiet Sunday. 

We cooked for the week ahead and extracted our Christmas decorations from the garage.

I was very excited to put up the tree and watch Olive's reaction.  Well, as it turns out, our new ceilings aren't quite as tall as our old ceilings.  Only the bottom 3/4 of our tree fit.  It wasn't quite the look I had intended.


(See, I didn't cut off the top of the tree with my photo.  There just is no top of the tree.  Fun.  The angel would be floating on a flat platter of pine!)

We are seeking a home for the old (only 3-years old) tree.  (I'm sellin' cheap, $50.  I promise I paid more than that!!  It is 8+ feet, pre-lit, white light, GE tree.  Let me know if you want it!)  We got another, smaller tree.  It isn't as nice as the old tree, but it fits much better in the house.  And, it is awfully pretty, if I do say so.



Olive loves the sparkle.  She loves the ornaments.  So far, she has been really good about touching them gently.  (We do hope that continues!)

Our celebratory festivities start up soon.  I am almost done with Christmas shopping, and I am excited to experience Christmas through Olive's eyes.  (I know, she's too young to "get it," but I'm still excited.)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Whew!

Olive had a cracker-jack Thanksgiving.  With so many wonderful friends and family around, she was never far from a loving hug, a mischevious grin, or a willing playmate.

She played Nativity with Dad and cousin Kate.


She danced (and danced and danced and danced) with Elmo.


She played with Grandma at the zoo.


She rode on our new glider with Grandpa.



She vegged out to Baby Einsteins with Kate.


I neglected to pack my camera for the weekend.  (After reminding myself several times.  Arg.)  These photos are from Russ and Rae.  (Thank you!!) I may add more, if I can convince the other photo takers to share!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Extravaganza.

So.  I've tried to come up with good words to describe our Thanksgiving celebration, and extravaganza really seems to sum it up best.

There were 33 people at Mom and Tim's house on Lake Conroe, just north of Houston. 

My Mom and Tim.
Janna, Eugene, Chad, Emily and Kate.
Russ and Rae.
Gramma, Mary, Steve, Joshua and Jonathan.
Bonnie, Bob, Sean, Krissy, Tyler, Lindsey, Jonathan, Candice, Nyjah and Kenai.
Mary, Charles, Tom, Joyce, Bobbie and Sandy.
Me, Kyle and Olive.

I think that covers everyone.  Lots of family.  All in all it went off in a more or less timely fashion.  The food was tasty and plentiful.  There was laughter and good conversation.

Some of Mom and Tim's neighbors were out of town.  They were generous enough to offer their homes for our use.  So, we were scattered among three houses - but everyone had a reasonable sleeping situation.  It really was a blessing.

It was fun to see so many people find a way to fit: by helping or cooking, or making people feel welcome, or chatting and listening to the things that have come up since we were all together last, by watching little ones and football, by helping clean, and by making sure everyone had a place set especially for them. 

As I look back on Thanksgiving day, and the weekend overall, there were moments when it all seemed like chaos, but, with a little bit of clarity, it really was a symphony - of love and friendship, generosity and sharing, rest and movement. 

It was a wonderful time to celebrate everything and everyone that we are thankful for.  I can't wait to do it again.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving.

It seems like yesterday we were travelling to celebrate Thanksgiving in central Kansas with our Thiel family - and with our newborn baby girl.  I blinked, and it is a year later.  We are living in Houston, not St. Louis.  We are not traveling, and we are now marveling at the antics of our 16 month old.

The year whirled by.  Leaving impressions.

Of sadness and joy.  Of Friends and family.  Of change, stress, worry and, finally, rest.  New friends, new plans, new jobs.  The freedom to take big chances.  Shoulders to lean on and arms to catch us.  Love.  Blessing.  Ability.  Resourcefulness.  Peace.  Truth.  Grace.

We are thankful for our journey.  For everything and everyone it has brought into our lives. For the sour that makes the sweet that much more appealing. 

We are thankful to be blessed far beyond what we deserve.

We are thankful to be surrounded, near and far, by people who love us, think of us, pray for us and who are excited to hear from us, see us and spend time with us. 

(OK, more and more people are excited to spend time with Olive, but she is darn cute!)

We are thankful to have the opportunity to see what this next year brings our way.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Therapy.

Well.  Perhaps therapeutic is better.

I've had a rough week or so.  The reasons aren't really important.

But the past few days, to get myself out of the funk, I've been focusing on making time (amidst the chores, unpacking and guest preparations) to do a few things that I enjoy. 

I read one book (not business or law related) and started another (similarly unrelated to my work). 

I sewed a curtain for our laundry room door.  (Zoe DESTROYED the one that hung there when we purchase the house.  No telling how long this one will last.)

I went to a craft store and just lolly-gagged.  Kyle stayed home while Olive napped.

I found a few unfinished yarn projects.  I started the smaller one first - it isn't the most important but will be finished most quickly.  I'll start (er, restart) the next one tomorrow or Wednesday. 

I enlisted my sweet husband to help me make cake balls for our Thanksgiving celebration.  I am no Bakerella, but they sure turned out better than my first attempt.

We both took time to play with Olive on our new swing set.  She loves it.  And it makes my heart feel good to hear her say "weee" when she swings, or to feel her head resting on my chest as we fly on the glider.

None of these things took outrageous amounts of time.  But they did get a few unfinished items closer to being off of my to do list, and they gave me a few moments to rest and relax. 

All is all, it was wonderful.  Now, back to a) working and then b) prepping for our Thanksgiving celebration!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A link.

There are a few blogs that I read. Some are family or friends. Some are strangers.

(I won't even justify that I came to know them through their blogs and they aren't really strangers anymore, but ...Kyle laughs. And I admit that this crazy Internet/blog thing has changed the way not just OTHER people interact. But, I still LOVE to have coffee or a glass of wine *in person* with a friend. Hands down the best way to connect.)

I digress.

I follow this blog: "Bring the Rain." The September 15, 2010 post really inspired me. I need to curb my looking back habit. It surely is not good. 

(And, yeah, I mulled on publishing this post for quite some time.  Am I the kind of blogger to point you to another?  Or am I just recounting the details of our lives?  I don't know, but there is a first for everything.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Halloween Decor.

Timeliness aside, a while back I promised many photos, and I have only partially complied.

We decorated our new home for Halloween.  Our decorations were easy, cheap and (in my opinion) not overly gaudy.  We strung a few orange lights, taped some scary crow sillouettes to the windows and added a banner that reads "Trick or Treat" (if you get close enough). 

We wanted to say, "Please stop at our house to trick-or-treat.  We are friendly."


I think we accomplished the goal.  We shall see what next year (or next season) brings.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Places.

Last weekend, on the recommendation of a woman in our neighborhood moms' group, we found a new place.

It was tres yummy.  Kraftsmen just opened a new bakery near our home.  It looks very chic inside.


While they didn't have a high chair, they did have Olive-sized chairs.



We think she enjoyed them.  They are about the same size as her school lunch chairs.  (She also enjoyed the tasty baked goods!)



I think we will be returning there for tasty breakfast and yummy bread.  (The lunch fare was mouthwatering too!)  Who could resist?!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A New Toy.

Our Olive loves to push things around.  Until recently, at our house, she has sufficed with boxes (of all sizes) and a few books (I don't know, they slide well along the carpet and she has a walking downward dog thing going on).

But, as our smaller moving boxes are (thankfully!) gone, she has tried to push larger boxes or storage containers - with much frustration.  So, though it is not yet Christmas, we decided to get her a push toy.

We decided against a car (as an elf recently told us that this may already be under the tree for Olive) and went for a shopping cart.  I found a cute one with a small (teddy bear sized) car in front of it.  A small version of the theme shopping carts some grocery stores have these days.

Kyle asked.  "What will we do if she tries to get in it?"

I said.  "Oh, it is too small.  She won't get in it."


I was wrong.

Now that it is assembled, she hasn't (yet) tried to get in the small cab.  I try to keep the space filled with stuffed toys so that she doesn't get any ideas ... I'll let you know if it works.  But, she does enjoy pushing it all around our house.



PS - Not hours after I finished this post, I found Olive, having extracted her teddy bear, trying to cram herself inside the cab of this tiny car.  Again, I was wrong.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another First.

We are hunting for a new place to worship: a new (at least to us) church.

This past Sunday, we were first time visitors again.  We got Olive settled in the nursery.  It felt warm and comfortable.  She quickly found toys to play with and was entertained.  Kids in the next room were singing about Jesus and gobbling like turkeys.  No, I do not know how those two are related.  We left our info - including my cell phone number - with the nursery staff.

About mid-way ... or maybe more ... through the sermon, my phone buzzed.  I dashed to a hallway and picked up the call.

"Mrs. Thiel?"

"Yes."

"Miss Olive has decided that she would like to go home, NOW."

And with that, we gathered our belongings, were reunited with a tearful Miss Olive, and headed on about our Sunday.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happiness.


Come on.  I dare you not to smile.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What's up doc?

Ah, other than mad photo snapping, what have we been up to lately?

A whole lot of running around.  I spent time in Midland, TX.  (More fun than words can describe, I assure you.  Oh, but I did see Matt Lauer in the Midland airport.  Quite the celeb sighting, for me, at least.  And, how bad is it that my brain wanted to type 'citing' three times before it finally allowed me out of legal citation land!)  Kyle has spent time in St. Louis, MO and Oakridge, TN.

We continue to unpack boxes.  They are MOSTLY gone, but there is that one closet in the guest room.  Walk-in closets are a blessing and a curse.  Those boxes are totally out of sight, out of mind.  But, we will be having guests over the Thanksgiving holiday, and so they can't stay out of mind too much longer.

Today (after a plane snafu yesterday), my sister, Janna, and her husband, Eugene, arrive in Houston.  This will be Eugene's first trip to the U.S.  I'm not sure even they know where in the U.S. they will ultimately settle, but we are all very, very excited to have them much closer.

And, finally, I am doing my own personal happy dance that it is indeed November 8, and, while it is a tad chilly outside in the evenings, I have honestly not even considered breaking out my winter coat.  Hallelujah!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crashing.

The day we closed on our Houston house, we came over to check it out.  (And, to wait on the moving truck to arrive, we were beyond anxious.)




Olive loved the empty space and the soft carpet.  She rolled on the carpet.











She enjoyed some cool water.











She ran all around the house.











She decided it was time for bed.






Friday, November 5, 2010

Still more photos.

Yes.  There are more photos.  I went on a bit of a cleaning, straightening and then photo snapping spree this weekend.  (I also downloaded, er, Kyle downloaded, a bunch of snaps from my Mom's camera.)

Our Bedroom.


Our Bathroom.


You may notice a theme (well, not in the bathroom), but a lot of the window coverings in our home are, well, elaborate.  They are more formal and more structured than we would choose.  But, they are in good condition and function well.  So, for the time being, our window coverings include quite a few pom-poms (dining room and study), and a tad more pink than we prefer (our bedroom and the guest room).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

More photos? Yes.

Kitchen.  Yes.  That is a pot of chili bubbling away.  We enjoyed it on Hallween evening with Mom, Tim and our friend Allison. 

This particular 'chili' might be considered sacrilege to some as (1) it was a Cooking Light recipe and (2) it contained copious amounts of vegetables, including butternut squash.  (Click here for the recipe.)  But it was tasty.  Note, however, that the recipe inexplicably calls for black olives. (Not as a garnish, which I could possibly attribute to individual taste, but as part of the basic broth.) I am not a chili purist, but, well, black olives do NOT belong in my chili.


Breakfast Nook.  We love the built-in cabinet.  Well, we love that there is a built-in cabinet here.  The scalloped edges are not our style, but storage is definitely a blessing.


Study.  Well, it is one of the rooms not really ready for public viewing, but I love this photo of Olive 'helping' Kyle get some of the clutter cleared.  She definitely loves chucking things into boxes.  Some of our items intended for Half Price Books may no longer be worthy of sale, having been chucked with some vigor.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ah, Jazz Brunch.

Not too long ago, Mom and Tim treated us to Sunday brunch at Brennan's.  They (the Brennan folk, not Mom and Tim) rebuilt the restaurant after a devastating fire, and the new/remodeled building is tres lovely.  Inspired by the original, but modern, chic and old fashioned all at the same time.  Quite a feat!

I was a little concerned that Olive and brunch would not agree.  I was very wrong.

Olive tried to cram whole muffins into her mouth.  (Note:  This is a before photo.)


Then, she chewed on her spoon while being enchanted by the wandering jazz band.


When her high chair grew tiresome, she walked laps around the restaurant, inside and out.  Finally, she hit her wall (and, yes, made herself comfortable in the middle of the floor for a nap) just as we were wrapping up the meal.  Perfect timing, if I do say so.

Then, she took a 3+ hour nap, allowing her grateful parents to get some work done.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Long promised photos: Living/Dining rooms.

Dining room.  Technically this is the 'formal living room,'  but we're using it for a dining room (and the original dining room as an office).


Living room.  This is our living room, and the one pre-ordained by the builder (architect?) and former owners.  We like the space, and it works for us in that capacity.

(view 1) 

(view 2)

All I can say is, "Woo.  Hoo. Wood paneling."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!


We hope you had a wonderful  (er, frightful?!) Halloween!  We had a great time dressing Olive up and seeing the craziness of the day through her eyes.

Actually, Olive wore her zebra costume three times in the last two weeks!

Last Sunday afternoon, the neighborhood moms' group put on a fall festival at a local park. Olive walked all around the park. She just stared, wide-eyed at all the bigger kids, especially those with more brightly colored costumes. We did get her on one of the slides, only to laugh when the slide material + her costume material resulted in significant static electricity. Her hair stood up all over!

This past Saturday, we attended a baby shower for our friends Jen and Adam. Olive donned her costume once more - this time with a tail and bows on her ears. (The black and white costume just needed a bit of pizzazz. I whipped up a tail from some black yarn.  Then, we added her hot pink sparkle shoes and a few snips of hot pink ribbons for just the right touch.)

Olive was still not convinced that the hat was a good idea

 



(Yeah, I've tried to make that one upright, like, 14 times.  My mom was at the shower too, and I think this is a super cute photo.  Just tilt your head.)

On Halloween, we dressed Olive in her zebra suit to answer the door with us - and to visit a few of our neighbors. She was a hit all around. More than anything, Olive loved watching people come to our door. Each time the bell sounded, she would run to the front door and peek out while we distributed candy. (Thankfully, the volume of trick-or-treaters was high. We gave away almost all of our candy, including the few pieces Olive collected.)
 


A wonderful time was had by all.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fun.

We are having so much fun these days.

Fall is a flurry of activity, but we are taking a few moments to slow down and enjoy where we have been, where we are, and where we are heading.

We celebrated my birthday this past weekend with a very nice evening out for Kyle and myself. Miss Olive enjoyed some grandparent time while we were out galavanting. After a wonderful dinner, we tried a new wine bar/coffee shop near our home. On Saturday, we spent time in Conroe, and we did a few chores on Sunday before heading out to dinner with my Dad. I also squeezed in a Sunday brunch with some of my law school girlfriends. It was wonderful to catch up and laugh with them.

Olive is full of smiles and laughter. She is walking more and more confidently around our house and is starting to leave one of us in search of the other. It is amazing to look up from typing madly on the computer to find her little face heading your way. She still loves her binky, and sometimes will use the baby sign for 'food' to communicate that she wants her 'binky.'

The weather is lovely (if not overly 'fall-ish'). Our neighborhood is great for evening walks, and we have started taking Olive for a stroll a few times a week. I know one day soon she will insist upon walking with us, but for now it is a very enjoyable way to wind down after busy days apart and discuss our days' activities.

We are also starting to discuss Christmas decorations for the new homestead. Apparently, our neighborhood is a tad Griswold-inclined. We want to participate in the gaity without giving ourselves over to the gaudy. We are hopeful that such a balance is indeed achievable.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Pumpkin Picking (or Pickin').

Last weekend we took Olive to a local pumpkin patch.

Now, if you are thinking of a big field where someone planted a bunch of pumpkins and you get to literally pick your own pumpkin from the plant, you are wrong.

This patch is neatly arranged on the front lawn of a large church in town. They've been doing it for a long time. As long as I can remember, or maybe just as long as I've been paying attention, but they definitely hosted the patch before I up and left for St. Louis.

We arrived at the patch on Saturday around 1030a. There were very few pumpkins - less than 1/4 of the space allotted was full of pumpkins. I was shocked at the run on pumpkins the patch must have experienced.

But, when we got out of the car, we were assured that the pumpkin truck was on its way. It had been lost, but had been righted. Now, if you are thinking of a cute, old pick-up truck with wood slat walls to its bed and pumpkins stacked to overflowing, you are wrong.

We played with Olive among the pumpkins for about 10 minutes, when the volunteers started to shuffle and gather. The pumpkin truck was here!! Around the corner, turned an 18-wheeler loaded to the gills with pumpkins of all varieties. We watched the volunteers unload pumpkins and gourds (or is it, gourds, including pumpkins?) until Olive was bored with the pumpkin procession.

Then, we purchased our chosen pumpkins and headed on about our way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Not So Much Fun.

So, our closet guys discovered a plumbing issue.

Great news! We finished your closet.

Not so great news! Your bathroom has an issue.

Long distance plumbing issues are not fun. We *think* that all of the appropriate contractors are now in place and will shortly begin their work. There was no question that we needed to get this issue resolved (and some new tile put in, I kid you not), but it sure would have been nice if that pipe hadn't sprung a leak just then.

Although, I'm sure there were and would be less convenient times for such an issue. I can't think of any right now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Long Distance Construction.

We needed some help with a closet in one room of our house on Gibson. And by help, I mean that we needed a closet where we had removed one, because (as it turns out) closets come in darn handy.

Our realtor mentioned this morning that he might know someone who could help with our closet situation.

Can I tell you. There is now a closet where before there was none. Fewer than twelve hours. (Fewer than eight hours!!) Between asking Dean for a recommendation, getting a quote and having a closet.

I know enough to know that things don't often work out that way. We are counting our blessings today that they did!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Our Trip to the Beach.

So, Kyle and Olive came to Galveston this weekend to spend some beach time together after my conference wrapped up this weekend.

We took Olive to the beach and dipped our toes in the water.



The sun was warm, but the breeze was cool. Lovely! Olive was not pleased when it became time to head other places.

We found a late lunch of cajun seafood. Tasty and spicy!

After lunch, we popped Olive in the car and headed to another part of the island to watch boats. When we arrived at our destination, she was fast asleep! We pointed the car north and counted Olive's *brief* first trip to the shore a success.

Now, Galveston is not the prettiest beach on the planet. But, the waves came rushing to the shore, and the beach was clean. The combination of warm sun and cool breezes is a favorite of mine. It brings back fond memories of trips to the coast with my sorority sisters in late September/early October. In many ways, it is the perfect time in Texas to visit the beach.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fun Times.

Last week, Kyle was in both St. Louis and Denver. I was in Galveston, which was productive and enjoyable, but not nearly as exciting!

We recently took some leisure time over breakfast and play-time to take a few photos of our quickly growing girl.

Now, breakfast is serious stuff, so smiles were few.



Playtime is a whole other story. Olive discovered that she can fit into the storage cabinets in her room. She had a great time hiding from us and then quickly opening the doors to reveal her hiding place. Over and over and over again. Fun times.



I did convince Kyle that it would be ok to put up a few Halloween decorations. Before too long, I'll drag out the tripod and take a few photos as evidence. I think they are tasteful but also appropriately thematic.

That's it for now!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ah, Steak.

So. Our new grill arrived this past Friday. Kyle fired it up and cooked dinner for us this evening. It was tasty!

Snaps.

Olive's room.





Olive's bathroom.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One step at a time.

No, this is not a post about Olive's walking skilz. (Although, she is wandering all over the house these days and often prefers walking to being carried.)

And, no, there are no photos. (I snapped a few that I want to share, but I cannot find the cord to download the snaps to my computer. Arg!)

The house is not yet a clean, well-organized home.

But, we are working to create calm (or the 'calm' that can be found when you have a 14-month-old wandering around) and remove chaos. Olive's room is unpacked and situated. (Not decorated, mind you. Just situated.) And last night I put the finished touches on her bathroom.

Now. My goal is to document the house in a relatively untouched state - just, you know, with our stuff.

The future will bring new window coverings and probably a new flooring choice or two (among other things). Before all that, I want to create memories as it is now.

If only I could get the images downloaded ...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Shameless Commerce.

Well, I won't go too Car Talk on you all.

But I do want to tell you about the great guys who installed our new garbage disposal. (Actually, it was only one guy.)

The company is John Moore Services.

I will definitely use them again.

Now. Yes. We (mostly Kyle) could have procured and installed on our own the new garbage disposal the inspector told us we would need after we were reminded of that need by a big puddle of water in our kitchen. But, being able to complete a task requires not only the necessary skills (something I do not have) but also the necessary time (something Kyle, right now, does not have). So, we hired the job out.

My appointment was today between 8a and 11a. My only complaint is that Alfred showed up at 1055a. However, this is within the appointed window.

He was friendly; he was clean-cut. He shook my hand and did not talk down to me. He put on paper booties each time he walked into my house. My lightly colored carpet really appreciated this.

He opened a preprinted book and pointed me to the price for installing a customer-provided garbage disposal. It was not $2,000,000. It was not 'by-the-hour.' It was a flat fee, and that is all I paid.

He installed the new disposal and re-jiggered some of the pipes under our sink. Yup, re-jiggered is as specific as I can be.

Still, there were no additions to the flat-fee rate.

I was impressed. We will use them again.

H

ps - For those of you who know of this company since they were *only* plumbers, they do more, a lot Moore, than plumbing these days. We do have an electrical panel that needs upgrading ... (and electricity is NOT something for amateur tinkering).

pps - No compensation was received in exchange for this post. But sometimes service people leave, and I feel taken. Because you could tell me that my sink needed a blue-nosed-copper-plated-knuckle-joint, and I would say, "ok." And when you told me it cost $2,000,000, I would say, "Wow. Um. That sounds awfully pricey, but I guess ..." Today, I felt like he did his job, and I paid a fair price. That is worth a lot.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who is that baby with the binky?!

Our Olive has resolutely refused to take a binky. We haven't encouraged it, but, on occasion, we would offer her a binky when she seemed to need some soothing. It was always rejected, often by an emphatic spit across the room. We stopped making the offer and put the binkies away.

As I unpacked Olive's boxes, I came across the binkies and put them in her box of outgrown clothes. Olive plucked one out and stuck it in her mouth. There it remained all afternoon. In fact, her new binky-interest persists.

I'm not pushing it too hard. (But, binkies don't go to school. There was a minor tussle this morning.) We've had lots of recent turmoil and a few sucks on the binky doesn't seem like the worst thing we could permit her.



She also found (and I put on her) the super cute apron her Aunt Jen made for her. It is a tad too big yet but should fit nicely before too long!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Story.

Ok.

Rewind.

Olive and I came to Houston over Fathers' Day weekend. Julie, Mom and I looked at way too many houses.

One stood out above the rest.

Kyle and I discussed. He looked at pictures and checked out the neighborhood on Google street view.

We made an offer.

Kyle flew down to Houston for the inspections. He loved the house too.

Our contract was finalized and a closing date of August 10 set.

We waited (and moved to Houston and celebrated birthdays and started new jobs).

While we were on vacation, during the first week of August, our mortgage broker called to say there was a problem with our financing due to a typo on his part but that we should be able to close on schedule - or possibly 5-7 days late.

(Cough. Cough. Cough.)

What really happened (minus a few of the more 'gory' details) is:

Our mortgage guy made a typo in one date field in our loan application. The other dates were correct, but under new rules, this one date was a deal-breaker for the first lender. No corrections, no lee-way, no oops.

So, on August 5, our loan application went to the back of the line with another bank. No special rush treatment, no 'we've-been-pre-authorized-since-June' or 'come-on-it-was-a-typo'cuts in line. We were behind mountains of other people waiting to refinance and get great new interest rates.

And so we waited. While 5-7 days became 30. While 30 became 45. And while 45 became 47.

I wish I could say we were patient.

We probably should have changed brokers or banks, but we were so far in with our guy ... it was hard to walk away.

On Friday, September 17, 2010, we closed. We signed MOUNTAINS of paper. We met one of the seller's 4 daughters and heard stories about the house and her parents. We walked out of the title company on Friday evening with the keys to a wonderful home in a cute neighborhood that needs some love but no major immediate projects.

We scheduled and rescheduled our move so many times. I almost didn't think it would happen. I certainly didn't think we would actually be able to move this weekend, but the movers were there at 830 on Saturday morning.

The chaos has begun.

We will post photos soon, but did you read the part about the chaos?

(By, the by, we have NOT figured out what doors all of the keys in the photo below open, but we can get in and out of the house. Yay!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Let me off!

So. We have been on a metaphorical rollercoaster. Definitely since June, but depending on how you count events, possibly before then.

Now, I love, LOVE, a good rollercoaster. The twists, the turns, the loops, the unexpected drops, the hills-that-last-forever-and-you-wonder-if-the-car-will-ever-coast-down-the-other-side ... whew. It is exciting and exhilarating, and I love it.

But. The car we are currently sitting in is broken. It repeats the track. It jumps to another ride just as the first one seems to be reaching an end. It has too many loops and the turns are coming without any warning. This sinking feeling in my gut is getting old.

We should be awarded a prize if we reach the end without vomiting. Or just if we reach the end.

Maybe we will. I won't know until the freakin' ride ends.

I think (THINK!) we can see the end now. But, I am becoming quite cynical these days.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Growth Spurt.



I sent this photo to Kyle this morning. He is in Sacramento, CA visiting another VA hospital.

Olive's sippy contains the remnants of a yogurt drink. She also had two bottles (we'll wean her someday ... she won't go to college with a bottle) as well as some morning cereal. All before heading to school where she will eat breakfast.

I see some outgrown clothes in her future :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall Favorites.

Ok. Some would argue that fall doesn't find its way down to Houston. And in some ways, they *might* be right. The 'colors' aren't imminent (and are likely to not arrive). The nights will not be crisp and chilly for quite a few weeks yet. I did a search for apple picking around here (having become accustomed to that 'fall' activity in the STL) but came up empty.

BUT.

We are still looking forward to temperate (and sometimes cool) evenings. Kyle will start watching (and listening to) football again. We *might* get to wear sweaters. We will cook out, and possibly BBQ.

Mmmm. Fun times.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday, Sunday.

Today, we roused ourselves and tried out a church near our *potential* new house. (Not to confuse, we're STILL talking about the same house.) The members were very friendly. If you were to make a scatter chart of those in attendance at the 11am worship service based on age, we would have been substantial outliers. (I know, nerd much? But I love charts and graphs.) I think we may look to join a more diverse community, but it is hard to know after just one visit.

We enjoyed Sunday lunch at Jenni's Noodle House. Their tag line is, "It's all good in the noodlehood." It is trademarked, and it makes me smile. They have a new location in the Heights.

Olive enjoyed the chicken dumplings, waiving the receipt to show her joy.



Kyle had some soba noodles, and I went for ginger chicken. Tasty. We all went home happy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Doing Nothin' Much ... and Lovin' It.

Tuesday night we had a lovely evening at home.

Olive enjoyed her dinner and then impressed us all with her continuing-to-improve walking skilz. Her distances are definitely increasing, but she seems to walk better with something in her hand: remote control, toy phone, small stuffed giraffe ... go figure.

Kyle whipped up some yummy scampi-ish shrimp and chicken. We also had tomato salad, steamed broccolini (which sounds healthy, but I'm pretty sure some butter was snuck in there) and whole wheat linguini. Super tasty.

Then we relaxed. We watched some tv (The Good Wife - which I am enjoying more and more). I played on the internet a tad; Kyle listened to a webinar on some new arch-geek technology. Zoe frolicked in the rain and came in with muddy paws.

It was a very nice respite in the midst of what seems like ongoing life craziness.

Later!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Waiting.

So.

We are waiting.

I didn't lie when I said our tortise seems to be edging out the hare, but they haven't made it to the finish line yet.

And so. We wait.

Which means that sometimes it is hard to see what is really going on in our lives for the fog of waiting.

Now. This is annoying, and we will CELEBRATE when the waiting is done. BUT. We have friends and family who have waited longer and with more patience for far more important things.

The house. In perspective? But an annoyance.

So, what have we been up to?

Working. Gathering details for new opportunities. Sticking our toes into new adventures ... with trepidation and excitement. For Kyle, travel, travel travel.

Playing. We have done our fair share of travel for fun, for vacation, for family vists. It has been wonderful. But, I am ready to be without suitcase for a period of time. We shall see if that time comes ;)

This weekend we got to meet my cousin Sean's son Tyler. He is such a cutie!! He is about 6 months younger than Olive, and (hopefully) they will be friends when they are old enough to know what friends are.

We have a few other recent additions to our family that we hope to meet soon, and we no longer have the distance excuse!

Kyle and I went on a date Friday night, taking advantage of some newly nearby family babysitters. :) We had a great time. We didn't do anything fancy: enjoyed happy hour at a sushi bar, ran some errands, saw the weinermobile, enjoyed adult conversation, pondered our next steps ... Wonderful.

That's it for now. Enjoy your week. We will try to enjoy ours!

H

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Special Spotted Lady.

We've had a bit of sickness around here folks.

Kyle has been the only one exempt.

I was under the weather briefly but am well recovered.

Miss Olive is getting a new batch of teeth and, as a result, is sometimes Miss Cranky-Pants.

In the more-than-you-want-to-know category, we've been fighting a persistent diaper rash most of the summer. (We have been advised to, among other things, let Olive 'run free.' If you want to try it, I'll bring her to your house to 'run free' for an afternoon. Not overly helpful advice for my life.) The rash just might be gone. (yay! yay! yay!)

She also came down with an ugly case of roseola (yup, I shot that spelling from the hip). This (I've been told) is No. Big. Deal. ("Fever. Fever. Fever. Rash. Rash. Rash. Rash. It should be gone by Thursday." So said our pediatrician.) She was covered in spots and was NOT happy. They are largely gone. And we are hoping for some better nights of sleep in the near future!

Also, in the great turtle and hare race that is our current mortgage situation, the turtle seems to be edging ahead. We aren't counting any chickens, but ... progress feels good. (Yay. Animal references.)

H

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Olive Loves to Move.

She loves walkers and rockers and objects that slide.

She recently discovered a lid to one of her toy bins is the perfect size for her backside. Riding in it was the of-the-moment game until she found the laundry basket. She struggled to climb in, so we helped. And then, Kyle pulled her 'round and 'round the room while she giggled and grinned.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Visits.

First. (And a bit belated.) Kyle and I went on a double date at the Shaved Duck on one of our last Saturday evenings in St. Louis. It. Was. Wonderful. I recommend it highly to our friends still in the STL. We enjoyed ourselved thoroughly.



Second. Last weekend we were in Kansas visiting family. We met Liz and Matt's new daughter, Betsy. We celebrated Kyle's grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary.




We visited Kyle's Grandmother Thiel, who celebrated her 103rd birthday this year.