2 months

In honor of Brig's 2 month birthday I decided to finish up the remaining nursery projects.

I finally got pictures for our window frame. The intent was to chronologically tell the story of Brig's birth with photos. Apparently we have 6 more of these window frames in our garage...so now I'm thinking I'll do one for each child. And no, we will not be having 7 children.

Here is phase one of the mobile. Once Brig grows out of his obsession with black and white, I'll replace these note cards with something a bit more colorful.

The Brigster is growing fast. He is 75% for head and height, and 90% for weight. I would prefer 100% in weight so the thighs can go from 12 to 14 rolls, but I'll take what I can get.


Favorite quote from Dora's Fairy Tale Aventure:

"The dragon's cave is so DRAGONY."

It's good to know that not only is Oz learning Spanish, but also lots of really useful adjectives.



Is anybody else annoyed with the comparisons of our current financial health to the great depression? There is still rush hour traffic from all the people on their way to work, there aren’t any shanty towns along route 66, and I can’t remember the last time I took a week day flight where I had an open seat next to me. In the 20s and 30s our country was on the cusp of becoming a dynamic economy (during that period farmers represented about 25% of the labor force), but it wasn’t quite there. I don’t doubt that there are a lot of people who have been impacted by the downturn. Each time I watch the value of my investments dramatically drop I feel the desire to sell my stock, and bury my cash in the back yard. But to compare the current economic state to the depression of the 1930s is offensive. My grandfather, during his life, refused to talk about his experiences growing up in the late 20s and 30s in agricultural communities of Kansas and Arizona. Despite his refusal to talk about it I have heard stories of his hunger and the trials faced by his family – their situation wasn’t unique.

During the depression one quarter of the work force was unemployed. Today unemployment is around 6% - high for current day America. But consider that frictional unemployment (normal unemployment due to people changing jobs) is about 4% - so our real unemployment is only 2% which from a macro view is not that bad. Also note that 0% unemployment would be a disaster for an economy as firms would be unable to fill needs and expand. Consider other developed economies around the world. Most of western Europe has unemployment between 7-12%.

The current Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), while off of its peak in Oct of 2007, is still no where near the depths it had fallen to during the depression. If you remove the run-up of the DJIA during late 2006 and 2007 we are not that far from an acceptable variance from mid 2006 to today. After the 1929 crash, the DJIA rebounded in early 1930, only to reverse, bottoming out in 1932. “The DJIA did not return to pre-1929 levels until late 1954, and was lower at its July 8, 1932 level than it had been since the 1800s. Anyone who bought stocks in mid-1929 and held onto them saw most of his or her adult life pass by before getting back to even.”

While the current market conditions are turbulent enough to make even the most ill-informed long-term investor sit up straight, the market is nowhere near the dire straights that it was in the 1930s. Much has changed since the 1930s. In the 30s there was not much globalization, we were still heavily dependent on agriculture, poor farming techniques were used, and a massive drought occurred (both of which lead to the dust bowl). Our economy today is dynamic and resistant to a few industries’ failure (I would argue that these industries haven’t failed, but been forced, quite dramatically, to refine themselves to better compete in the future – oh the invisible hand).

During the 30s, in addition to economic upheaval, there was political upheaval across the world. The world economy scared the masses into the hands of demagogues. Political systems moved, to supposedly fight economic downturns, either far to the left – socialist leaning, mostly in Europe or far right – fascism, mostly in Latin America which stunted the growth of those economies for decades. America, while employing redistribution and protectionist policies, didn’t go anywhere near the same policies of nationalization that much of the world underwent during the depression. The point being that asking the government to step in with drastic actions, while it may momentarily ease economic angst, may be far worse and harder to overcome than the initial problem left to the invisible hand.

We enjoy the greatest luxuries the world has to offer and yet we are told time and time again that when we aren’t immediately gratified with whatever our hearts’ desire the system must be broken. It must be the fault of the banks, the mortgage lenders, the rich, the politicians…and THANKFULLY they have promised us salvation, like FDR in the US and Hitler in Germany in the 30’s.

Part of me is thankful this "correction" happened to put the spending habits of consumers in check, to call out the unscrupulous practices of the mortgage industry, and trim the fat off the financial sector. I don’t know exactly where I stand on the current turmoil and “bailouts.” I do find it kind of comforting, even though it goes against my inclinations, to know that the government will “save the day,” at least in the short run.

We need to remember that every period in American history has had massive periods of expansion and contraction, recession and recovery. I don’t want to dismiss the impact felt by individuals. But as a whole, we are a long ways from the levels felt during the great depression.


Nana Abuse

I know you can go to jail for child abuse...do the same rules apply to Nana abuse?

My mom has been the best sport since Brig was born. Always ready and eager to help out. Two times in particular she really went above and beyond the call of duty.

On Saturday Dave and I left Brig for the first time to attend a wedding and Nana offered to babysit. My mom left her house around 4:00pm to come to Denver, and we didn't get back from the wedding until 9:30pm. When I asked her how things went she said "Oh, they were great! Brig was happy almost the whole time you were gone...and, I ate a little bit of your hummus - I hope that is OK."

FOOD! It dawned on me we had absolutely NO FOOD in the house for my mom to eat. I said, "Oh my gosh. I totally forgot about feeding you dinner! What on earth did you eat, I'm so sorry!" She said, "Well, I found a bag of chips but there were only crumbs left. So I ate the crumbs, and a couple spoonfuls of hummus. Oh, and I found a Luna bar in my purse that I ate."

Poor, starving, Nana.

The 2nd account of Nana abuse was when we took Brig to my parent's mountains house for the first time. Brig came down with his first cold that night. He threw up several times, had a bad cough, was freezing cold, and had tons of congestion in his nose and throat. It was so sad. Dave and I got no sleep that night because Dave drove all over the world looking for a place to buy saline and a nose sucker at 3am, and Brig never slept longer than 20 minutes in a row.

The next day all 3 of us (Brig, Dave and I) were exhausted. My mom commanded Dave and I to take a nap, and said she would watch Brig. When she began to rock Brig in the rocker, he fell asleep right away. I told her I would be back in 45 minutes to check on them, and if he could stay asleep, that would be wonderful. I turned on the fire in the master bedroom to be sure Brig stayed warm, got the humidifier going so he could breathe, and shut the doors to the bedroom to keep the heat and humidity in.

Two and a half hours later I awoke from my nap with a start. Brig must be starving to death, or crying, or something. I raced up stairs to check on Brig and Nana. When I opened the door it was like stepping into a steam room, or a tropical rain forest. It was 95 degrees in the room, the humidity was so thick it looked like there were clouds in the bedroom, and there sat my sweet mom rocking Brig. She hadn't moved one muscle, and he had slept the whole time. As I looked at her I noted that her hair was sopping wet, there was beads of perspiration on her brow and face, and she looked at me with very large eyes and mouthed the words, "I'm hot. Can you open the doors?"

Poor Nana. She didn't want to move for fear of waking Brig. She told me later she kept thinking to herself, "If only I could get my necklace off, surely I would be less hot."

Thanks so much for all you do Nana - we love you!!!


We didn't start the fire...

...no we didn't light it, but Dave tried to fight it.

During the 3rd quarter of the broncos game yesterday the door bell rang 25 times in a row. I came up stairs thinking to myself "someone better be dead." When I reached the upstairs I saw Brig lying on the rug, in front of the TV, watching the broncos game, with no diaper on. (Apparently Dave was mid diaper change when the door bell ringing began.) Dave opened the front door to our duplex neighbor who screamed "Our kitchen is on fire, get out of your house, I just called 911!"

Her kitchen was on fire? Her kitchen is connected to our kitchen via a brick wall. I frantically thought "What in my home can I not live without?" Brig. Yep that is about it. I grabbed him, grabbed a diaper (no need to be totally crazy), and headed outside.

Dave sprinted for our kitchen, grabbed our fire extinguisher, and ran barefoot next door - directly into our neighbor's place. I know this was a heroic move...but he got a lecture later. The smoke was billowing out of every opening of their home. Dave ran into her house and had to go straight out the back door b/c the smoke was so intense he couldn't breathe. He took a deep breath, and then ran back in and swung by the kitchen, couldn't see open flames, so he headed for the front door.

He came to make sure Brig and I were OK, and then we waited. It is weird to hear the fire truck sirens in the distance and know they are coming for you. With-in 5 minutes four fire trucks from all over Denver pulled up, 35 firemen sprung into action, and the firemen stormed into the house with hoses, etc. It was pretty crazy. Everyone in the neighborhood began emerging from their homes to see what was up.

Turns out the fire was isolated to the oven, and easily put out (although it did create a ton of smoke). A hot pad in the bottom drawer of the oven had started it off. Lesson: do NOT keep flammable items in the drawer below the oven. The fire chief came over to check on us and told us there was no structural damage so our home was fine.

I sort of wish Brig had been a little older...I think any kid would be into all the fire trucks and fireman. I know I was. I wanted get on the fire truck but Dave restrained me.

When we went back into the house I did a sweep to make sure we couldn't smell any smoke. As Dave entered the house I heard him yell "OH CRAP!" I raced to the front room and fanatically asked "WHAT? WHAT?" Dave said, "The chargers scored a touch down while we were outside!"

All things considered, that news didn't seem so bad.


Happy Birthday Master Sara

35 years ago today a master was born.

While it is true that Sara and I are sisters, we have always been much, much more than that. Sara has always been the master...and I have always been her lowly apprentice. Thus, this year to honor Sara's birth I thought I would share 10 things she has taught me over the years:

1. What a normal relationship looks like

Sara was always a hot commodity with the men. Boys wanted to date her - and date her they did. I on the other hand was a bit of a late bloomer, and didn't begin dating until my college years. Thus, Sara spent many an hour coaching me in the ways of love. Lesson #1: if you want to date a guy he has to actually know you exist. So, complete avoidance apparently doesn't work - who knew?

I remember intently trying to explain that I COULD in fact talk to my boyfriend about our relationship problems...we just had to be alone, in a car, on a weekend, during the middle of the night. She tenderly tried to explain how completely INSANE that was. (after all, sometimes problems need to be addressed during the day!) I feel I married the right guy in large part due to her patient coaching.

2. How to avoid practicing the piano

A deep hatred for the piano is something Sara and I shared from an early age. Sara carefully instructed me in the art of cutting down the required piano practice time. With out her, I maybe never would have thought to sneak into the kitchen and change my mom's timer from 30 minutes to 15. Or, the easiest deception of all - jump on the piano just minutes before my mom walks out the door to run errands.

3. Wear Sunscreen

From the day Sara decided protection from the sun was a priority - she has not stepped foot out of the house without a hat or sunscreen. As a result her skin is completely void of wrinkles.

In fact this very summer she was at the grocery store stocking up on goods. The cashier asked "So, what are you doing this summer?" Sara was a bit confused by the question, but played along and said, "Well...um...I pretty much have been hanging out with my three kids." The cashier was shocked and appalled. Apparently she had assumed Sara was 16 and out from school on summer break.

4. Bacon makes everything better

This was cooking lesson number one. Culinary lesson number two was even more important: cooking bacon in butter makes it taste even more delicious. Sara has taught me much in the ways of cooking. 85% of my recipes came via Sara.

5. Good TV = Bad TV

Sara has taught me the art of loving good (otherwise known as bad) TV shows. She started me young on 90210, Melrose place, and My So Called Life. Over the years things progressed to the bachelor, Laguna Beach, and Sex in the City. Recently she has taught me to love and appreciate The Hills and Friday Night Lights. There is nothing more fun that watching a bad TV show with Sara. Speaking of which - Sara, did you catch the new 90210? Isn't it FABULOUS?

6. If you want to be skinny, stop eating.

Check out that hot bod. Have you ever seen a more defined leg? Sara has tried to teach me the art of being skinny. Apparently it is a 2 step process. 1. Exercise on a regular basis. In this lesson I have been a good and obedient apprentice. Lesson # 2: When you are full, stop eating. Honestly could it be more simple? Alas, I can not stop bringing food to my mouth. Sara has more self control than anyone I know. When her stomach reaches full not even a single pea, sitting all alone on her dinner plate will manage to sneak its way into her mouth. She is full, thus, the eating must stop. I know Sara has shared this helpful tip with me time and time again...maybe one day I'll give it a go.

7. North face in and of itself is not a "style"

Sara has attempted to teach me to dress with style. In this category I have also proved somewhat of a slow learner. Luckily Sara does not give up easily. In the face of my failure, Sara simply decided to buy clothes for me. I'm sure I put them together incorrectly, but having them in my wardrobe is a good start...

8. Freckles are beautiful

My whole life I've thought Sara was the most beautiful girl in the world - and I've always wanted to look just like her. So while most ladies on TV are light on freckles, I knew that if they were on Sara's face, they had to be beautiful. Thanks for teaching me to love my freckles Sara.

9. Snowboarding

If it wasn't for Sara, I never would have learned to snowboard since her husband Travis taught me how. Actually Travis taught Sara and I to snowboard on the same day, while they were just dating. I still remember Travis coming over to me with a nervous look on his face since Sara was in fact crying during the course of the lesson. It is nice that once and a while the apprentice can rise above the master. I'm pretty sure I could beat Sara down the mountain on a snowboard...while blind folded...giving her a 20 minute head start...with glue on the bottom of my board.
ha ha ha.

10. The definition of a mother

And last but not least, Sara has taught me the art of motherhood - primarily through example. I have never seen a mother more fun, more devoted, or more patient with her children. When you go to a playground with Sara it is only a matter of time before all the playground kids are following her around - desperate for her attention. She knows how to relate to children, how to make them feel loved and important. She is the most amazing mother in the entire world - and I hope she will mentor me as I take a crack at becoming a mother.

No matter the topic, or time of day - when I call Sara for advice she gives me her undivided attention. She is always ready and willing to tackle my current life problems. She is incredibly patient with me - always eager to help make my life easier and better. I love you so much Sara, and am glad you took upon yourself such a lowly apprentice.

So what have you learned from Sara?


Over Protective Father

Those of you who have seen Dave in action can testify that he is QUITE protective of little Brig. The night before Dave left for a business trip to Washington DC he made a classic comment. Brig had been crying pretty hard so I swaddled him, got the binkie going, was singing to him, and bouncing him simultaneously - which calmed Brig down. As Dave watched me he remarked:

"You know, I actually don't feel nervous leaving him with you for the week."

Gee whiz. Thanks dear.


Welcome to the neighborhood. We're suing you!

Two months ago today, I left NY. We were moving out of our house the next morning, and selling it to this lovely family. We had just signed a contract to purchase the home above... a lovely tudor home in our dream school district. I packed our bags for what I thought would be a 3 week adventure in the West. Our contract had specified that we would close "on or around" August 15th, and I thought for sure it would be sooner than that. I even bought a pool pass ($650 smackers) because I was so sure we would be back to use it. I am a fool. I think Mr. T would pity me as much as I pity myself right now.

If you have tried to get a mortgage in the past few months, you know it's as easy as riding a bike through quicksand. It's hard, baby. We have excellent credit (the best Jim L. has ever seen, in fact), and still it took over 1.5 months to get Wells Fargo to approve our loan. As the deadline for school got closer, I realized I had to get back to NY, house or no house. Luckily our favorite peeps the Palmers had just relocated to our new neighborhood, so we shacked up with them and got registered for school and attempted to get on NY time. Which by the way is not easy when you have 6 kids under the age of 8 who think every night is a sleepover party.

Our loan was approved a few days after we arrived, and we were good to go. Then over Labor Day weekend, we found out that the neighbor to our new house is filing a lawsuit against the house because of some landscaping that was done a year ago. We have been fighting with their re-location company to add an addendum to the contract which would absolve us of any liability, but of course they are not going for it. Plus the re-location company is now stating that we have to close ASAP, or they will keep our MASSIVE deposit and we will be homeless. It feels a lot like we're screwed.

So if you've been wondering what I've been up to, there you go. I've gone through a few phases... denial, depression, sadness. This morning when I woke up I was MAD. We should be living in our dream house, riding our bikes to school each morning, and planning Calder's very belated b-day party. But instead we're mooching off our friends (again), and probably driving them crazy. My poor kids ask every day for their stuff... Star Wars Legos, Webkinz, bikes, etc. Not to mention that fall is coming, and I only packed for a 3 week summer vacation. We are really going to be in trouble if it rains all next week as forecast.

Sorry this wasn't a funny post. Maybe in a month I'll be back to my regularly scheduled (thought not so much lately) posting. I still have many fun things to report on from summer, and the first day of school, and all kinds of stuff. I just don't have any interest in it right now. In the meantime, let me leave you with this piece of advice: Don't buy a house in New York. Because the people here are crazy, and rich, which is a really bad combination.

Peace out.


Weight Bench

Don't question Dave.

If he says he can fit a massive weight bench in our tiny, overfilled, 1 car garage...he WILL fit a massive weight bench in our tiny, overfilled, 1 car garage.

The garage cracks me up. It is a total puzzle. Each piece fits together just so...and in order to get one thing out, you have to completely take the puzzle apart and then put it back together again.

Luckily I only make it to the garage about once every 6 months...so it doesn't really affect me.


The big C

Before I totally repress the whole experience - I thought I would jot down a few memories from the birth of Mr. Brig.

Thursday July 24th the day before the big event I had carefully scheduled my day so I had no engagements or commitments. I figured since it was my last day of selfish freedom I really needed to live it up. I envisioned something comparable to a beach day that would include reading by the ocean, sipping on pina coladas, eating fresh fruit, and getting a massage.

Well in the absence of a beach, pool, pina colada, massage, and even a decent book to read - things didn't really pan out quite like I expected. I started the day strong by taking myself out to breakfast to Einsteins and Jamba Juice - but was finished with that task by 9am and desperate for something to do. My mind was going 100 miles per hour thinking about the up coming event - and thanks to my careful planning, I had absolutely nothing to distract me. I finally settled on taking myself to a movie (Mama Mia) at 1pm but even that brought no relief. I couldn't really get into the Abba spirit and spent the whole time obsessing about the following days engagement.

When Dave came home from work at 4pm I was thrilled to see him and borderline tears when he told me he was going to go for a run. What am I supposed to do for those 30 minutes? Time inched by slowly and my anxiety and anticipation level increased. My mom came down to stay the night so she could join us at the hospital the next morning. We went for a walk, rented a movie, and made dinner - but none of those things did the trick. Finally it was 12am and I still hadn't packed for the hospital (which Dave had suggested 118 times). So Dave and I threw some things together and got in bed around 1am. I maybe slept 2 hours between 1am and my 4:45am wake up call.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:40am. Even though there was no one else there, we sat in the registration room for 30 minutes. Finally they sent us up to labor and delivery and the nurses could not believe they hadn't sent us up immediately. We were now running behind schedule so quickly there were several nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists working on me at the same time. I got an IV, oxygen, they confirmed baby was still breech, they walked me through the process, etc.

Dave was up to his usual tricks I think in an effort to calm my nerves...

And my mom really felt like she needed to be close by while the surgery took place just in case "the Doctors had any questions for her." No she is not a doctor. No she is not a nurse. What a character.

At 7am on the dot my Dr. arrived ready to preform surgery. He asked if we had any questions and Dave spouted off all sorts like "what happens to her mucus plug" and "do you break her water after you cut her open?" (These are all things he woke up worrying about in the middle of the night). Finally I was wheeled into the OR room. Have you ever seen a more fake smile in your entire life?

When they told me to sit up on the bed so they could put in my spinal tap I started massively shaking from head to toe. My body was demanding I rip out my oxygen and IV, bust some kung foo moves on the medical staff, and jump out the nearest window. I had an adrenaline rush times 10. The anesthesiologist noticed the intense shaking and said "Don't worry! That is a totally normal reaction!" The spinal tap was incredibly mild (felt like a flu shot) and then I was laying down feeling the stuff work its way through my body. They kept poking and jabbing me to test how quickly the anesthesia was working. After a bit I could still feel pressure from their touch - but no pain (which is the goal). They tested my stomach by tightening some massive clamps on a chunk of skin (imagine a car and a wrench). Dave's eyes got wide expecting me to scream out in pain, and I told them it felt like someone had poked me. I was ready to be cut.

As for the actual C-section I can't give you many details since I couldn't see it. But it didn't hurt with the exception of some intense shoulder pain which apparently is a result from air getting into your chest cavity. They gave me something for that and then I was fine.

Mr. Brig came out bum first as expected.

Brig was out in 5 minutes and then it was on to sewing me up. I was able to hold him right away which was a surprise as they were still working on me. If you look, you can see the Drs. in the background doing their thing.

Everyone asked us what his name was but at that point it was still up in the air. Then they asked what we thought he weighed. I guessed 8 pounds and Dave guessed 7.8. Then Dave proclaimed "whoever is closest gets to name him!" The Drs. thought that was pretty funny.

Dave and Brig took off and I was left in the OR getting repaired. After a few minutes the Dr. said "hey, someone call down to the nursery and see how much that baby weighed. I want to know who gets to name him!" Brig weighed in at 8.1 ounces and the medical staff cheered my victory.

Mr B needed oxygen for about 3 hours which I guess is pretty common with planned C-section babies (since they have no warning via labor to get the liquid out of their lungs). Poor little Brig must have been starving b/c he was sucking on the plastic oxygen hood with all his might.

Nana got her first sneak peak at Brig when he was in the nursery - I love this picture. We love you Nana!

I was super out of it after the surgery. Dave and the baby seemed to be gone all day (getting tested, bathed, etc) and I just slept. I remember them moving us to a bigger room, and I remember my mom sitting by my bed reading each time I woke up.

The first night was the worst. Brig who had caught right on to nursing had a set back our first night and couldn't quite figure it out. It made for a long, exhausting night. It didn't help that my night nurse was WAY too hands on - and would grab and wield my breast and Brig's head like a hammer and a nail. Poor Dave was sleeping on a pull out couch the size of bedside table. He would get up each time to watch me try to nurse Brig - but obviously couldn't really offer much assistance. In retrospect I wish I would have told him to kick the night nurse out. Dave was so wiped out he wasn't much use the next day...so from there on out I sent him home to sleep. (Remember he hasn't slept well since I've been pregnant due to the snoring.) He would come skipping into the hospital after 9 solid hours of zzzs whistling "zipadee do da" and be my perfect little Mary Poppins all day long.

In the end, we opted to stay the full 5 days at the hospital. They had room service, cable, AC (it was almost 100 degree in Denver that week), "free" diapers, night nurses, doctors to check on mom and baby each day - what could be better than that? But by day 5 we were really ready to take our bundle of love home.

After all the birth (and after birth) horror stories I've heard - I feel like I got off really easy. The worst part of the whole thing hands down was anticipating the event. I also wasn't a big fan of the day when when my bladder had 900 ML of fluid in it and I couldn't figure out how to empty her. (Apparently you are supposed to empty your bladder after 150 ML of fluid.) I needed a little assistance there, but we will leave it at that.

I keep waiting for the intense pain to kick in. I only had one day when my pain level was above a 2 - and that is because I tried to be a hero and wean myself from the pain meds on day 3 against the advice of my Dr., the nurse, and Dave. Once I was back on the meds, life was grand. I stopped taking the pain meds after 1 week and have steadily regained my energy. Of course a pain level of 1 million for 10 days would be worth adding this little peanut to the family.

We love you Mr. Brig!


More on Flying the "Friendly" Skies

In case anyone hasn't noticed, there is really nothing "friendly" about flying anymore.

- They have pulled all pillows [okay not that these were super plush in the first place, but still]
- no more blankets [or rather thin scraps of fabric that I used to literally "swaddle" myself in]
- bye bye to snacks [they now cost an arm and a leg which is okay b/c those limbs you will lose anyway b/c of frost bite due to the lack of blankets] AND
- they won't even give you the "whole can of pop"[I used to make out like a bandit with at least 2 cans of pop for the destination to which I was headed]

I actually asked the stewar"person" to fill my 12 oz cup w/ice and was told that there wasn't enough.

oh Well.