Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's the little things I'll miss the most

Twelve years ago, Bryon and I moved to the suburbs.  We never dreamed we would outgrow this house and ever move again.  However, Bryon's hot rod passion called for a bigger garage.  After looking for two years, we finally found our dream house...again.

Twelve years is the longest I've lived in any one house my whole life.  Twelve years' worth of laughter, tears, heartache, rejoicing, remodels, and discoveries have gone by.  I didn't think I was that attached until we started packing stuff up to list our house for sale.  I'm sure I'll be more than just a little emotional on the big day.  But, if all goes as planned, in one week we will be moving, hopefully for the last time.

What I've realized is that it is the little things we've done to this house that I'll miss the most.  My gas stove that took me forever to pick out will soon be a distant memory, but it's the drawer under the oven that will stay with me.  After replacing our oven with an upgrade, we realized the space under it no longer was the same size for the existing drawer.  So, Bryon made a drawer with a stainless front just for that space.  It's handy being married to an engineer sometimes!

I will also miss the wallpaper in my powder room.  It was one of the first projects we did after moving in, as the existing wallpaper had to be covered ASAP.  My mom had done a cool technique on her bathroom that I wanted to try.  The wallpaper comes in a roll, and you tear it into "rock-shaped" pieces then apply to the wall.  Mom graciously agreed to help lend her expertise and man-power.  Everyone that visits comments on it, and I love bragging about how my mom and I DIY'd it.
My mom, the decorator! 
Of all the paint colors we picked over the years, my favorite is still the one a decorator friend of mine helped us chose for our master bathroom.   Bryon surprised me one weekend, painting it himself while I was away for a family reunion.  I love the color and plan on painting at least one room in our new house the same shade, Silver Streak by Benjamin Moore.

The perfect shade of blue

We've planted many things in twelve years, only to have half of it die on us.  The tree on the south side of our front lawn is the FOURTH one, as all of the ones before it bit the dust.  Green thumbs, we are not!  Of all the plants, it's the Hundred Year succulent that I'm most fond of.  After planting it, I had my doubts that it would thrive.  But, it was definitely in it's happy place, as not only has it grown, it has also reproduced a baby Hundred Year right beside it.  My dad had to educate me on the plant, as I had no idea what it was when I bought it.  He said it will bloom once then die, usually in a hundred years.  I thought I would live here long enough to see it bloom, but that isn't going to happen.  I might just have to drive by every now and then just to see how our Hundred Year is doing.

Being married to a mechanical engineer, we rarely hire any projects out.  Bryon is a classic DIY homeowner, so I've learned a TON about home improvement.  My favorite project we did together was the "coyote fence" around the plants by our pool.  I had never heard of such a thing when he was telling me about his plans.  Nor had I heard of a drill press before, but I quickly learned.  We managed to build the fence using the drill press, miles of wire, and cedar posts.  I have loved the final result.  So, while the palm tree garden is full of plants we picked ourselves, it's the fence around them that holds a place in my heart.

Of all the rooms I'll miss, it's the nursery I'll miss the most.  My whole life has changed in that room.  During my last few weeks of my pregnancy with Shelby, my nesting mode was channelled entirely into that room.  I woke Bryon up one morning with my loud painting at 6 AM.  He managed to get out of bed and help me finish painting it the most delicate shade of yellow that I love.  My mom even got in on the action, helping me paint the ceiling.  I spent many sleepless nights feeding my babies in that room.  I paced the floor bouncing Haley for hours trying to get her to go to sleep.  I've converted cribs to toddler beds then replaced them with bunk beds in the six years it has been a nursery.  Truth be told, I've probably shed more tears in that one room than any other place on earth.  Lack of sleep can do that to a person.  Yep, it's the nursery I'll miss the most.

Don't you just love that yellow wall?
Oh, and the baby is pretty cute too.

We've added an attic in the middle of summer (by "we", I mean 95% Bryon and 5% me), replaced all the floors (cream carpet and kids do NOT mix), painted and repainted walls, bumped heads of the exact shade of green we wanted for the kitchen (Garden Wall was the winner), sewed curtains and accessories, built a pool "house" (really just a shed for the equipment, but I like to say "house" instead to sound fancy), had the fence replaced twice (ouch!), and made some pretty incredible memories here.  I can only imagine the adventure that awaits us in our new house!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Scout has arrived!

Welcome back, Scout!  Our family Elf-on-the-Shelf made his official appearance today.  We were SO excited to learn Santa had made some changes to Scout's duties this year.  He will no longer fly around the house at night doing mischievous and exciting activities.  The rules have changed, and he now only has to update the countdown to Christmas display!  

Scout's handwriting looks a whole lot like mine!

The funniest thing about getting the house decorated for Christmas this year has been seeing Haley throw a fit about Scout's arrival.  She had real tears when I tried to put him out and even tried to hide him in a drawer.  When quizzed why she hated Scout, she said she didn't want him telling Santa about her being bad.  At least she knows she acts up on occasion! 
Whatever you do, do NOT look in the drawer for Scout!

Black Friday for me meant climbing in a dark attic searching for the Christmas crates.  I broke down and got a fake real tree versus the fake palm tree we have always used.  Needless to say, the palm tree is a whole lot easier to decorate.  However, it was worth it seeing how much fun the girls had helping decorate.

Only two ornaments died in the decorating of this tree

I had my doubts, but I'm finally in the Christmas spirit.  Thanks to and some Thanksgiving day shopping, I've found some fun gifts for the special people in our lives.  The biggest thrill of this season is knowing Scout won't wake me up in the middle of night reminding me to move him before the girls get up!  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Libras in my life

Haley's birthday is September 25, and Jeff, my step-dad, has his the next day on September 26.  Despite my pleas to my doctor, she just wouldn't do my scheduled c-section on his birthday, being that September 26 fell on a Saturday in 2009.  It was probably for the best, since Haley isn't too keen on sharing ANYTHING.

Jeff started giving Haley a hard time about her being 57 and him being 4 on their next birthdays.  Haley didn't think that was funny, but Jeff got a kick out of the idea.  Always one to love a good joke, he had this shirt made:

So, the next time you see Haley around town sporting a funny t-shirt, give her a hard time about being 57!

And, Jeff, thanks for all the practical jokes and laughs.  I'll never forget some of the crazy stuff you have done...

Monday, September 30, 2013


There comes a time in your kid's life when they have to let go of certain things.  After all, you can't send them off to college with a case of sippy cups.  Showing up for the first day of Junior High still in diapers might not be the hippest thing either.  We've had to set deadlines for certain deep attachments with both girls.

Shelby has been madly in love with her aquarium since the day she was born.  My co-worker Annette gave it to me as a shower gift, telling me that her nephews loved it.  Little did I know that aquarium would be the one gift from my shower that would still be used five years later.
Original appearance
It was so cute at first how she would would be hypnotized by the little fish and his plant companions. When she was big enough the push the buttons herself, I was amazed at how "smart" she was to figure it all out.  I assumed she would grow out of it soon enough.  Annette knew better...
Aquarium after two years
We began warning Shelby about two months before her fifth birthday that the aquarium needed to retire.  Even though it has a choice of six songs, white noise, waves, wind, or rain, she always chose the same song.  If my memory wasn't shot due to sleep deprivation, I could dig the name of the song up from my Music Appreciation classes.  However, it now just sounds like nails on a chalkboard, so the exact title escapes me!
Present day aquarium.  Where did all the water go?
The first few days after Shelby passed her aquarium down to Haley were rough, but I'm now comfortable with the idea that she won't be taking it with her on her honeymoon.

Next to retire was Haley's "Pinky".  Pinky was a special gift from my mom, Mimi.  It was a beautiful Little Giraffe blanket that had the most exotic feel to it.  

Leaving the hospital with Pinky

Pinky quickly became my third child.  "Where's Pinky?" was a common question heard on a daily (and sometimes hourly!) basis.  Pinky was accidentally left behind during an Easter visit to my sister's house, so she had to be mailed back overnight to avoid WWIII.  In the event that Pinky needed a bath, Haley would wail by the washer and dryer until she was clean.  I'm surprised Pinky can't write her ABC's with as much time as she has spent in Haley's backpack at preschool.  

Pinky during her better years
However, after four years, it was time for Pinky to retire.  As luxurious as Little Giraffe blankets are at first, their delicate fabric is their ultimate undoing.  I had sewn up Pinky's holes enough to make her 1/3 of her original size.  And, I'm afraid one more trip through the washing machine might just turn her to threads.
Cuddling with Pinky and baby doll 

So, shortly after her birthday, Bryon took Haley to Walmart and let her pick out what she wanted to decorate Pinky's special wall hanging with.  He then made a BIG production of hanging it all on the wall just above Haley's bed.  That way, she could look up at Pinky anytime she wanted.  Again, the first night was rough.  But, it's safe to say family members won't be forced to mail her overnight any longer!  It's just a shame we weren't able to claim her as a dependent on our taxes….

It took YEARS to get that worn-in look!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy birthday, Baby Bear

Our little baby Haley turns FOUR today.  She is nothing less than the most special kid around!  She keeps us guessing, laughing, and pulling our hair out all at the same time.

Parents always wonder what their kids will become.  With Haley, I have NO clue.  Whatever her future holds, she will be no less than CEO as she is always in charge.  (or at least we have to let her think she is charge!)

When asked, all she wants to do is marry her friend Malone and have 100 babies.  She talks about being a mama non-stop.  Anytime she sees baby stuff in the store, she asks if I will buy it for her babies.  Grandma gives her $1 occasionally for the Dollar Store, and she always buys a bottle/pacifier/diapers for her future babies.  And, I can't throw anything out without her pulling it out of the trash to save for her babies.

Best friends
Haley's favorite thing to do is look at pictures non-stop on the computer.  She especially likes pictures of herself from when she was a baby.  She really likes it when I narrate the pictures as she clicks through them.  She LOVES hearing stories about herself when she was a baby.  Who could blame her?  She was a beautiful baby!

Sleeping beauty
(photo by Suzi Neely

No tube of lipstick goes unnoticed with our Baby Bear.  She has a blast discovering tubes in my purse, applying over her entire face.  As frustrating as it is, I still crack up a little at her love of makeup.
Haley likes to stay up late, making funny little scenes with all the many trinkets she won't let me throw out.  When asked, she has such funny stories to go with her creations.  At first, I got onto her for making a mess of her room during the night, but then I started noticing patterns and purpose in the arrangements.  Future Michelangelo?
"Coins on a bed"

"Birthday Cake"


"Birthday Cake II" (notice the 4 candle even made it!)

"Marbles balanced on posts"

"Jar of Marbles"

"Dolls on a bridge" (Bandaid on forehead is just for show)

Haley, you are one special kid, and your daddy and I love you so much!  Never stop keeping us on our toes and tickling our funny bones!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Isn't it ironic, don't cha think?

For years, my mom has been complaining about a lymph node in her neck being sore and inflamed.  I blew it off as just allergies.  No big deal.

A month ago, mom noticed a lymph node in her groin that was inflamed.  She said she was headed to the lab to get a biopsy.  I was headed to work for a 12 hour shift and didn't have time to think about it.  Unfortunately, I got a call several hours later that mom had Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Two weeks ago, mom had a PET scan, an MRI, and a bone marrow biopsy.  For two weeks, I couldn't think about anything else but the results of those tests.

Today, I found out mom has Stage IV B-Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Stage IV.  Wow.  How could such a healthy, young, gorgeous woman have Stage IV anything??  The cancer has spread to all of her lymph nodes, her spleen, and her bone marrow.  Wow.

I dare you to guess her age

And, yet, I find myself thankful for the diagnosis.  Because my mom has taken such good care of herself and looks so young (how many times have we been asked if we are sisters??), I took for granted the fact that she would live to be 100.  If anything, my mom looks healthier and younger than she did 20 years ago.  So, this wake-up call has been a blessing in some ways. 

After all, how many of us really stop to tell each other how much we appreciate them?  How the fact that they taught Girl Scouts in 1983 still means so much 30 years later?  How seeing them snuggle with your children means more than the world?  
Mimi "scratching" Haley's back with a brush

The word ironic continues to pop in my head.  It's ironic that my mom's dad, Grandpa Walt, lived to be 79 after a lifetime of smoking, drinking, swearing, and bacon-grease loving.  My mom, who NEVER smokes, hardly EVER drinks, NEVER swears, and ALWAYS throws out her bacon grease, is 61.  A cancer diagnosis is quite ironic.

It's also ironic that if there is any stage IV cancer you want to be sentenced with,  non-Hodgkins lymphoma might just be the one you would pick.  It seems to be just like any other chronic disease you live with.  You get a few rounds of chemotherapy every few months, and then go on with your life.  And, the chemo used is an antibody that attacks only the cancer cells.  Losing your hair, throwing up your toenails, and spending days in bed are highly unlikely.  

And, I find it ironic that cancer has stricken our family at all.  Sure, my dad had some kind of malignant skin cancer removed.  And, Grandpa Walt underwent radiation for his prostate cancer.  But, all in all, my entire family has dodged the cancer bullet. We could only avoid it for so long I guess.  Alzheimer's disease has run rampant in my family tree.  Other than that, we've been a fairly heathy bunch.  Until now.  

Two weeks from now, mom will start chemo.  I'm guessing waiting on test results will be the story of our lives from now on.  In the meantime, I'll be praying for healing and reminding loved ones how much they mean to me. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A good time was had by all

This past weekend, we went to Bryon's 20th high school reunion in Santa Fe, NM.  The quick trip turned into quite the learning experience for us all.  The girls had a blast with the grandparents, while Bryon and I enjoyed playing "tourist" and catching up with old friends.

Even though he grew up there, Bryon hadn't seen many of the tourist spots.  We were both in for a total shock upon arrival to set up at the Scottish Rite Temple, aka the "Pink Church".
What secrets lie within?
Every high school gathering back in the '90's involved the instructions, "meet at the pink church."  Prom night after-party?  Meet at the pink church for further directions.  Skipping out on swim practice to go hiking?  Meet at the pink church at high noon.  You get the idea.  

The funny thing was that he and his classmates had never been inside until this reunion.  Who knew there was such beauty housed in the temple?  The theater took my breath away, and the chandeliers looked like they belonged in a European church rather than a Southwestern fraternal building.  Now that the building is open to tours and can be rented for parties, this place has made it on our Must See list for Santa Fe.  

Most beautiful backdrop ever
While we were busy playing tourist, the girls were staying with Bryon's parents in Los Lunas.  Grandma and Grandpa Birdie had all kinds of fun stuff to keep our girls entertained.  Grandpa had a coconut for the girls to crack open and taste. 
He is one brave soul

Fresh coconut milk

Just like an island girl
Grandma and Grandpa also pulled out the tractor and Big Wheels in an attempt to burn energy.
Watch out Nascar!  Here come the Pfaffs.

Caution:  Student Driver

We all met up in Santa Fe at the Childrens' Museum for family day at the class reunion.  For years, we had been trying to find Haley's "money", my mom's word for what makes a person tick.  My money would be dessert.  Bryon's money would be engines.  Shelby's money would be unicorns.  PacMan's money would be dots.  You get the idea!  I've never seen so much joy in Haley's face as when I turned her loose with the face painting crayons.  
Really, Mom?  I get to use as much as I want?
Such concentration in the mirror
Pure joy!
Another classic Haley pose

Bryon also got a chance to go up in the plane his dad recently completed.  The flying experience was a thrill for him, as his dad even let him control it for a split second once they got up in the air.  Will anyone be surprised when one of our girls grows up to be an engineer??

We decided to drive out to New Mexico this trip (Hello, Southwest Airlines, what ever happened to the Wanna Get Away prices??).  I was pleasantly surprised at how grown up the girls were in the car.   We weren't totally exhausted and ready to choke each other by the time we got home.  I think I've got this parenting gig figured out!  

Shelby having fun in the car
The tech gods smiled on us!