Operation Birthday Cake

Well, tonight marked the 6th year of one of my favorite traditions.

The planning, baking, decorating, and success [measured quite broadly] of C's yearly Birthday cake.

C's birthday has to date always occurred when Sara and clan are in Colorado for their summer visit. She may secretly plan this so that she can always involve me in the process, BUT let me assure you, this event is on the same platform as 4th of July as far as the Lewis family is concerned. It all starts with an idea; one year is was Spiderman, another year a race track with cars made out of rice crispy treats, etc.
The basic recipe is the following:
- An Idea
- Research on the web
- Serious discussion of ingredients, structure and decorative items
- A color scheme [C always manages to incorporate the color "black"]
- Drawn diagrams
- LOADS of icing [probably from the memory of when Sara and I single handedly ate the top layer of her wedding cake one Sunday after it had been frozen for 1 year. We will forever try to duplicate that most amazing icing)

For some reason we never start our construction until after 7pm. By the time we finish, the kitchen is a disaster, everyone involved has food coloring stains somewhere on their person, C and S [avid helpers] are on the verge of a sucrose induced coma as they have tasted every color of icing [not sure why Sara and I haven't thought to say "they all should taste the same"], and we are all exhausted.

Usually at some point Sara and I think "what in the wide world of sports have we gotten ourselves into" as icing glops of the side or a large piece of the cake detaches. But just when it looks like disaster will strike [one year it was icing that came out like cement] we pull through with a fabulous cake.

This year was no exception. We ended up with a colorful cake of 5 Lego blocks stacked on top of each other in 5 different colors. S, while meticulously icing one of the marshmallows that served as one of the nodules exclaimed, "I am such an artist".

Luckily, we haven't had to visit Home Depot as part of the process [knock on wood] but who knows what the future holds. I just hope that I can always be a party to this event as it truly is the highlight of my summer.
Happy Birthday C. You are one of the lights in my life



The night after we went to see baby Brig, Calder was squirming all around when I was putting him to bed. Finally I asked him what was up. 

"I just can't stop thinking about that baby."

"He's so cute. He's the cutest thing I've ever seen."

"I don't want him to grow up. I want him to stay little forever."

***I know exactly how he feels.



baby D, who was born at 7.30 yesterday morning via C section. Until about 8 PM last night, he was nameless, but Carrie and Dave finally settled on Brig Paul after spending the day getting to know him.

He is absolute perfection. His fan club is already large. Here is Yah Yah, looking for evidence of dimples (he has them in both cheeks!). He is sizing her up as well, and wondering how soon he can get her to buy him a Wii.

Here he is, demanding food. Already an A+ nurser.
Burping like a champ. Can you believe all that hair?
Cousin Scout, who kept fighting with Calder for turns to hold him.
Calder, working his magic to put baby Brig to sleep.
We kept a couple of assistants close by when the kids were holding him, to make Dave feel more at ease.
Welcome to the family Brig! We are so happy you are here.


Just call me McGyver

Roughly 3 seconds after getting his cast on, Calder began acting like a typical nearly-6 year old boy... which resulted in the cast deteriorating pretty quickly. Rather than take him in to get another one put on, I just solved the problem with some duct tape and my ingenuity.


It's time already...

... for me to post about the first two weeks of July. I have finally de-stressed enough to relive the beginning of the month, and hopefully move on. Things started well with a little of this:

This is not actually me wakeboarding (I couldn't get the pictures off the the site they had been uploaded to), but I looked pretty much the same. Except my mouth was open. And I ride goofy, not regular.

I was a little sore from the above activity, but still had the stamina to do a lot of this:
The packing was going really well until July 4th, when we experienced this:
Calder had a run-in with a big guy on a trampoline, and broke the 1st metatarsal in his foot. Huge bummer... not to mention all the time spent not packing while we got it Xrayed, and then visited the orthopedist to get it cast, etc. Basically, we would have been in serious trouble if not for this:
Once again, Nana saves the day. Thanks Mom!!! What would we have done without you?

My least favorite word


I can't go anywhere without someone remarking "Wow! You look ready to Pop!"

Never say pop to a pregnant lady.


The end of an era

7 years and 2 months ago I began work as an intern with AVAYA. My internship assignment was to document the existing budget/operation procedures and create an internal website. The website assignment was quite comical as I had no web design experience. My first day on the job I opened up a massive Front Page text book and began on page 1. I also recall being dressed in a ridiculous women's business suit while everyone else was walking around in shorts and tevas.

I convinced AVAYA to keep paying me through my last semester of college so I could "maintain" my newly created web site. It was a perfect gig - I could work from home as few (or as many) hours as I wanted, get AVAYA to pay for my apartment's Internet connection (a real novelty in 2000), and use the company lap top for school. The only glitch was when my roommate stepped on my company laptop which created a massive looking spider web on the screen. I was really stressed out about getting in trouble and worried I would have to buy a new lap top - so I worked with the broken screen for months. Little did I know the IT guy would simply send the lap top back to IBM and they would replace the screen for free.

During this time AVAYA paid me full time for part time work all semester on accident. Since part of my job was to "track the budget" I felt it my duty to get this corrected. I called every week for 4 months regarding my paycheck being too large. It took 5 months for them to figure out how to stop paying me full time (just at the very moment I actually went back to work full time - go figure.) And at the end of those 5 months they asked for the overpayment back. I think in the back of my mind I thought I would end up being able to keep the overpayment as a reward for my honestly. No dice. Clearly I had read too many New Era stories in my life time.

During the course of my tenure I found one other guy who had been collecting full time pay checks for 4 years after being "let-go." Somehow he slipped through the cracks. When I brought this to the attention of payroll they went after him with a vengeance. Poor guy. He had to pay back hundreds of thousands of dollars, all of which he had spent. I still feel sort of bad about that.

After graduation my boss offered me a full time position doing budget, financial modeling, operations and web work. I was brought on board during a "hiring freeze" and after several months of working with "intern status" it didn't look promising that the official job offer would actually go through. Since I had moved back to Colorado in anticipation of the job offer being "real" this was a bit stressful. Finally my boss got the VP to sign the special exception hire.

From that day forward for the next 7 years I somehow managed to dodge lay-off after lay-off as AVAYA tried to recover from the telecom "bubble burst." I have probably survived upwards of 30 lay-offs. There was one year in particular where I remember getting a call at the beginning of each month from my boss and she would say "you're retained" (meaning some other poor chap was getting a call saying "we have to let you go.") As a budget person I watched the severance packages slowly drop each round from 6 months, to 4 months, to 6 weeks, to 4 weeks, to 2 weeks!

I felt like such an impostor as the only finance person in a research and development software organization. Everyone I worked with had a masters degree in electrical engineering or computer science, and 25+ years with the company. I was the only 22 year old and enjoyed watching and talking about "THE BACHELOR." When the HR lady came to administer my "Myers Briggs Personality Test" she was shocked to learn I was an ENFP (apparently 90% of AVAYA staff are ISTJs - the exact polar opposite of my personality.) She closed the door to my office and essentially told me to RUN away as fast as I could. "Your personality type will never thrive in this environment!" The guy who was always nicest to me had an office across from mine. He must have eaten at McDonalds every day b/c his desk and filing cabinet was lined with THOUSANDS of happy meal toys. Yes, the people I worked with could be a bit...eccentric.

I lived in Denver but commuted out of the city to this office everyday.

It would take me 20 minutes to get to work, and 40+ minutes to get home depending on traffic. I remember getting SO MAD when there was an accident and I was stuck on the freeway for an hour plus. This was the only time in my life that I actually came close to using my monthly cell phone minutes. I remember thinking "Who can I call now?" My dad would pick up the phone when I called home every day around 4:30pm and say "Hello AVAYA - are you bored?"

In the first 3 years of my time with AVAYA I dated and ended up marrying this cutie.

Dave was still in school and had a pretty flexible schedule which often didn't start until noon the next day. As a result, we would end up staying up WAY too late and then he would get to sleep in, and I would have to haul myself into work at 7am. The thing I remember most about those 3 years is being exhausted. Since I had my own office and locking door, one day it dawned on me I could take a quick little nap under my desk and no one would ever know. Slowly but surely the nap became a routine - and I even snuck into my office a blanket and pillow from home. I remember the day someone came by to ask me a question. I was sitting at my desk, but had forgotten to put away the mini bed set up under my desk. My co-workers eyes definitely landed on the make-shift bed and took in the whole scenario, but mercifully he didn't say anything about it. I work with introverts remember?

Even though I worked out of the Denver office, my boss was in Ohio, her boss was in California - and most of the people I worked with were scattered all over the country/world. As a result 95% of the time I worked with people "over the phone" or "via web-conference." I remember thinking to myself - why do I even go into the office?

At the time Dave and I were married - so for Christmas one year he gave me an "Internet connection" and set me up so I could work from home. At first I would just work from home 1 day a week - feeling like a criminal the whole time. But thanks to the fancy & free AVAYA telecom software I have unlimited access too, no one ever knew I was actually at home since all the calls I placed and received were associated with my office telephone number. The 1 day a week at home slowly became 2 days a week, and then rapidly progressed to 3 days, 4 days, etc. I would try to drag myself into the office once a month just to feel like I still had a "real job." During this whole progression - no one at work even knew I was working from home.

6 months of this passed and I was on the phone with my boss working a "priority action item." A pesky magazine salesman rang my doorbell 3 times in a row and my boss said "Is that your doorbell?" I said "Yes." She said "Are you working from home?" I said "Yes." She said "Cool - I work from home every day." And thus began a new era of my life. From that point forward I was lucky to make it into the office once every 4 months. I got to go on runs at lunch-time, avoid the hour+ daily commute, do laundry when work was slow, and avoid getting dressed until 4pm each day. This was hands down the best Christmas gift I ever received.

Somewhere during the course of my 7 years I stopped feeling like an impostor and began to feel like an asset. My job description continued to change/increase, I started to provide some actual value to the company, and I received several promotions along the way. One of the worst projects I ever had was "strike duty coordinator." Our union plant workers were threatening to strike and somehow I got stuck with the "side job" of organizing back-up workers to cover every single shift presuming the strike actually happened. The electrical engineers in my department were NOT thrilled with the notion of having to drive an hour plus each way to the factory, for 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week, to cover the union worker's jobs. Trying to organize that schedule was a nightmare - and people definitely DO try to shoot the messenger. Luckily negotiations were made and the strike was averted. I was given a beautiful, fully loaded I-pod as a thank you gift for picking up that horrible "side-job." Dave quickly commandeered my new Ipod and I haven't seen it since.

Since our India facility is the fastest growing in AVAYA, and many of my peers work in that location - I decided I should be able to finagle a business trip to India. I found a new hire in a field similar to mine and convinced my boss he was in desperate need of my expertise. After putting together a project proposal, I found myself on my one and only business trip in Pune, India.

I convinced Dave to tag along - which didn't take much convincing. Since I still go by my maiden name at work, every hotel and car service waiting for us had signs for "Mr. C Lewis" and presumed Dave was the one on the business trip. They were always very eager to welcome him to their country, offer him a drink and cookie, and whisk away his bags. They were also very confused when I ended up signing the bill and giving out the tips.

I spent 4 days providing financial and business training at the AVAYA facility - and then Dave and I spent 6 days traveling and sight seeing. We had an unforgettable Indian adventure in large part thanks to AVAYA.

Since my first day 7+ years ago my hiring manager has taken a director's position at the India site, my department has been massively re-organized 6+ times, our company was purchased by a private entity and removed from the stock market, and the lay-offs continue to come fast & furiously.

If anyone is actually still reading - you might be wondering what brought this on? Well today is my last day before my vacation/maternity leave kicks in. Today is my last day with AVAYA at least until October, and maybe forever (I'm guessing after 3 months of leave I'll be a likely candidate for a lay-off). Since I work from home there will be no farewell parties or good bye lunches. Just me in my ratty PJs, working via wire-less connection from bed, turning off my computer at the end of the day. So I felt like someone needed to give me some sort of farewell - and who better to do it than me?

The thing I'm most curious about...is how they are going to go about getting back all the fancy computer equipment they have purchased for me over the years? If I've learned one thing in my experience with Corporate America - it's that someday, someone will show up at my front door looking for my computer(s), office chair, and 36 inch monitor.


Another expensive lesson, learned

Turns out, rubber balls that have flashing lights don't flush down the toilet very well. I guess this is not exactly a lesson that I needed to learn, but now every kid that was over at my house the day this went down is going to get a reminder each and EVERY time they set foot on my property from here on out. The problem is, 3 of the possible culprits aren't really old enough to understand... but are definitely old enough to be interested in dropping things in the potty.

Price tag for this little plumbing adventure? $450. It would have been $175 higher, but the first plumber who came only snaked the toilet and scratched it, so I got out of that bill. Man alive, owning a house is expensive.

This actually happened back in May, but I've been bogged down with the drama of selling the house and moving. More to come, I promise. Life has slowed down substantially now that we're in "Calderado."


No Go

Well, turns out baby is quite comfortable breech and would really appreciate it if everyone would just leave him alone.

The Dr. gave it 4 valiant efforts and actually got him half way around...but Mr. baby held firm, and then quickly went back into his favorite position.

It is so bizarre. You guard your belly for 8 months from even the slightest bump...and then suddenly two full grown men are shoving their hands and fists as deep into your tummy and they can. Dave said he could see the full outline of the baby through my stomach. Apparently baby has been working out and is looking quite toned!

So the C-section is tentatively scheduled for July 25th.

I think Dave was feeling since this was (potentially) his only chance to spend time in a labor & delivery room - he really had to make the most of it. I don't think he sat down once the 4 hours we were there. Instead he:

*Rigged up the TV so it played his "labor" play list via his ipod
*Opened every drawer and cabinet in the place - and went through the contents of each one. He kept saying "Do you think we can take this home?"
*Used the little magic wand thing that directs the massive "birthing" lights. When I came out of the bathroom, they were shinning on me. When I got back in bed, they were shinning on me. You see the theme.
*Perused the menu and asked "should we order some food?"
*The nurse made the mistake of bringing the ultrasound machine into the room, and then left it there with us. Dave busted out the ultra sound gel and checked out with the machine the inside of his finger, arm, and was nubbins away from lathering up his belly when the nurse came back.
*He also mentioned "Do you think I should jump in the Jacuzzi tub?"

All in all I'm glad the attempted "turn" is over - and I look forward to meeting baby in 2 short weeks.


July 4th Festivities

July 4th celebrations started for us on the 3rd when we attended the Rockies game/fireworks show.

Dave called me the afternoon of the 3rd and said:

Dave: "So - are you planning to go to the game tonight?"
Carrie: "Of course!"
Dave: "Oh. REALLY? ok...I guess I better make some calls."

Apparently he had already lined up 4 "back-up" attenders to use my ticket presuming after a full day of work I wouldn't want to sit through a 4 hour Rockies game, packed with people, in blistering heat, on a hard bench, while 8 months and 1 week pregnant.

Here is a hot tip for all you pregnant ladies out there. LISTEN TO YOUR HUSBAND. Don't attempt to sit through a 4 hour Rockies game, packed with people, in blistering heat, on a hard bench, while 8 months and 1 week pregnant.

It wasn't the wisest choice I've ever made. By the 8th inning I couldn't even bring myself to look at the field. I'd notice what felt like a lull in activity and look at Dave and say "What is going on?" He would reply "Oh they are switching pitchers." Don't ask me why I couldn't just look at the field...but that really didn't feel like an option at the time. Poor Dave. I think it was more like bringing a big blow up pregnant doll to the game b/c I didn't talk much. I was pretty zoned out.

People I didn't know kept saying "Wow! You are so hard core! You must be a huge fan! Your baby is going to be the biggest Rockies fan EVER!" I couldn't bring myself to tell them this was only my 2nd game this season, and I mostly came for the fireworks and dipping dots.

When the game went into extra innings I opted to go stand in the back rather than continue to sit and sweat. At that point I was rooting for a run, ANY run to end the game. In the 11th inning our opponents scored a run and I felt a huge wave of relief...UNTIL the Rockies tied things up. Seriously - how dare they? Don't they realize the delicate state I'm in? Luckily they snuck another run in so the game did end at the bottom of the 11th. Hallelujah.

Next on the agenda? Get to know the Rockies grass.

We had intentionally purchased seats that are allowed to go down onto the field for the fireworks show. As you know, Dave feels very strongly about grass in general. He was quite excited to get his hands on the Rockies field. Once we finally got to the field (took over an hour) we had a great time. It was pretty cool being down there.

The fireworks show was amazing - and made the whole long ordeal feel worth it. We were so close to the action that firework debris was literally raining down on us. I'm not sure how much baby enjoyed the event though. After each and every blast I would feel him startle/jump in my belly. Poor guy probably thinks I live in the middle of a war zone.

When it took us over an hour to walk the 9 blocks back to the car (because every step I took resulted in a contraction) Dave announced he was going to start restricting my activity whether I liked it or not. Actually, it sounds like a huge relief.

Friday morning I woke up feeling completely refreshed and ready to go. We had an absolutely perfect 4th...one of the best days I've had in a long time. We started out with a walk around the neighborhood in the cool morning air. Then, we headed down to his parent's neighborhood pool for a 4th of July pool party. I must just look generally hot and uncomfortable b/c as I eased myself into the pool a man I didn't know said "ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yea!!!!!! I bet that feels GOOOOOOOOOOD!"

Yes strange man I don't know. It felt fabulous. Nothing like being cool and weightless at the same time. If I could, I would spend the rest of my pregnancy in a pool.

We found out last week baby is breech so I was trying all sorts of tricks in the water to try to get him to flip. Hand stands, forward flips, backward flips, back floats (which ended up being "back sinks"), etc. Baby seemed to be hanging on for dear life b/c I didn't feel him move once.

After the pool party, we went back to Dave's parents house with his brother's family for some homemade strawberry ice cream and chit chat. So relaxing! Then that evening we had a fabulous BBQ with the Wandrys. The smores grilled over their new fire pit REALLY hit the spot. All in all, it couldn't have been a better day.

Tomorrow the Dr is going to try to turn baby. Wish me luck!

The Mark of a Minivan

Last night Carrie, Erin "Camille"McNeil, and I got together for our monthly girls night. I have to say, these nights are among my most favorite moments in life. Since we all grew up together, we have TONS to talk about and 4 hours pass when I think we've only been chatting for 30 minutes.

Both Erin and Carrie are "quite pregnant" to put it mildly. Carrie is due to deliver 7/29 and Erin 8/7 [but she is measuring 2 weeks early slated to have a 10+ lb baby - YIKES].

As we decided on an eating venue, Erin cheekily declared "well, we got a new car". She finally took the big step and has been blessed with a minivan. We decided to go to Noodles for dinner which is located near a lot of college student housing; but, it is summer so it seemed unlikely that it would be crowded.

We pulled into the 'overflowing' parking lot. Erin, this is her 4Th WHITE car by the way, busted some tricky moves and sidled into a place beating out another car. There aren't many minivans in Boulder, CO. Now if you go 4 miles east to Rock Creek, the number of such cars quadruples, but Boulder is more of the Subaru genre. So I'm sure onlookers expected a load of kids to jump out of the van. Instead, two pregnant women jumped out and then just me [except I couldn't negotiate the "child locked" door and needed rescuing].

We went into the restaurant which was 95% people between the ages of 17 and 23. It was pretty funny.

Anyway my point is, any woman who is fighting against getting a mini van, GO FOR IT. Don't fight it, embrace such a purchase. I love mini vans and almost bought my brother's when he sold it a couple of years ago when they update to the better version of the Odyssey. When I hang out with Rand's kids I invent places we "have to go" so I can drive them in the van. There is nothing to be ashamed of driving this mechanical miracle. If you think that others look and think "well, there is a stay at home mom"; who cares!!!! Why not paint a sign on the van declaring that you are such?



The comfortable, outfit choices are going down-hill fast around here.

This is my latest morning walk get-up. I really didn't think I looked that bad until Dave refused to be seen in public with me wearing this outfit later that day.

What do you think? Would you walk down the street with me?

I'm not sure why he so vehemently objects to me wearing this paint stained, cut off T. After all, this is one of his Ts that I've been trying to convince him to throw away for years. Maybe this will do the trick.