Friday, January 30, 2009

Fun little meme.

I am bored this afternoon, so I thought I'd do a meme I found on another blog.

Copy, paste, and bold what you have done!
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Gone rollerskating
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Acted in a play or performed on stage
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book (does a poem count?)
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible once
86. Visited the White House
87. Won money
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Had to put someone you love in Hospice Care
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

January Sunshine

It happens every January. We get this sunny, sunny day, and I can get indoor pictures, without any flash, clearly in focus and glowing. I attribute this to the snow amplifying the light 100%. So, here are a few pictures of my little cheeseballs:

After a nap one day Hunter had some serious morning hair. Julie pointed out that Hunter looks like Grandpa Reino when his hair gets all messed up from sleeping on the couch. haha! He does!

Here's the other cheeseball.

Could he smile any harder?
And I just had to include this thought. I've been feeding the birds for a few years now. I find each winter that birds seem to rely on me for food. I feed them religiously, nearly daily. I love watching them just outside our living and dining room windows. They add such color and intesrest to an otherwise potentially dreary day. I've made an effort to lure finches this winter, buying a finch feeder and finch food. In the cold winter, the finches up north turn more brown than yellow. But nevertheless, I have finches, dozens of them, in just weeks after adding their type of food. This isn't the finch feeder I added, but they seem to like to dip into each feeder out there, regardless, now that they are visiting.
I took this picture the other morning as several birds made their way in and out of the feeder. There were 20 more finches in the tree above the feeder, too. This feeder is right outside the bay window. I love how they swoop in and out of the feeder, and fly in flocks and flee when a threatening sounds comes, like the mail truck or one of the bigger city trucks. I don't know what find of the bird the reddish one in mid flight is, but I'm pulling out the birding book to figure it out this morning. I suspect it might be a finch, too.

Pretty amazing to me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

30 Things: Knitting

Many moons ago I posted 30 things I wanted to do before I turned 30 (which happens in about 2 months). I have the desire to learn knitting for some time now. A few years ago I entered a random one day contest in Michaels to win a Knifty Knitter, a set of circle looms for knitting, and I won. Sometime later Caitlin found me the straight loom Knifty Knitter, too. I have had these looms and 2 skeins of yarn sitting a basket in my craft room for a long, long time.

I've recently made good friends with one of the other preschool mom's, Casey. We've totally hit it off. One afternoon were jabber-jawing on about something when one of us brought up knitting. Within a few minutes we both confirmed we had the Knifty Knitter looms sitting in our possession barely or unused. With that, we confirmed our next date, and brought our tools together. Someone had shown Casey how to use it years ago, and she had completed a hat, so she was able to get me going... and I loved it! I can barely put the things down.

We've since gone yarn shopping a few times, and are actively pumping out scarves & such like crazy. I made the boys some small scarves:

Then, I made this thin green blend boucle scarf.

Then, I made this fuzzier fluffy thin, short, red scarf.

I've started this one for Alyssa:

In my first attempt at something mixed I took a fuzzy thin yarn and went every other row with a multi-color self-patterning yarn. I made this thin, long scarf with the tassles on the end (per Casey's suggestion!).

Inspired by the every other row mixing with one semi-solid and one self-patterning multi-color yarn, I set out to mix these two yarns, which both contain pinks, reds, and oranges (as well as browns).

This fuzzy soft scarf if the result, and I'm calling it my Valentine's Day scarf... so that means you have to take me somewhere Theo!

Today, I'm working on this one:

I found the pea soup green yarm at Joann's (it's from Vanna White's yarn line), and then I found this fuzy multi-color in Madison at Wisconsin Craft Market, originally marked at $9.99, and marked down to $3.99. I knew right away I'd be combining it with the pea soup soild, and I love how they are coming out! The fuzzy yarn is adding some nice elacticity to the scarf that I didn't expect. It's super soft, and thick-feeling, too.

So, yet another full time hobby to juggle. I'm obessessed. Look for more to come. I love my life.

Random January: I'm finally caught up!

You probably won't find it hard to believe that January is the longest month for us up here in the North. Wisconsin January's are bitterly cold, icy, and often sunless... but we endure, and often enjoy the forced family closeness we find indoors.
January falls perfectly just after Christmas, which around here, is present season. The kids spend most of the month exhausting their new toys, developing new hooligan skills, and generally driving mom to utter madness. It hasn't helped that Theo has been gone all month... Yup, we're darn near insane right about now, ready for temps to warm up sledding conditions, ready for some defrosting, ready for some open windows, ready for some cool late winter walks.

I think December just about killed my desire to take incessant pictures, also. The amount of photos from January is frighteningly scarce. Nevertheless, here they are:

Ben and Hunter are modeling some of the random good they pocketed from Christmas, including "rockstar" sunglasses (Ben asks everytime he puts them on "Mom, do I look like a Rockstar?"), hillbilly teeth, and odd Christmas head fuzzies. the glasses are not pictures here, but you get the idea.

I'll be enjoying the last few months of my 20's here, so I'm getting ready to do some documenting, recalling what I can about this decade in my life. I took this picture the other day to accent the scrapbook page I'm making.

When the temps do rise above, say, 5F, I try and walk around and look at the garden, remembering what I have to look forward to. I love to take Laura out in the snow and get her all riled up. She loooooves the snow so much, so it's not hard. It's hilarious, she had a track in the snow that circles the playhouse, and then makes another loop around the back table.

I've had numerous doctor's appointments this month. On the 31st of December I underwent surgery to remove cysts from my maxillary sinuses. My right sinus was 90% blocked, and my left was 50% blocked. I didn't have to stay in the hospital at all, but I was down-for-the-count for over a week. The anethesia they gave me caused nausea, vomitting, constant dizziness, and intense sleepiness, and it didn't help that Theo left for potential deployment about 4 days after my surgery, and then my brother and his girlfriend Alyssa took a much needed vacation to California. I was left to fend for myself and the kids, despite my surgery recovery kicking my ass! Fortunately, the other preschool mom's are AMAzing! One morning one other mom took the kids for 3 hours! Another morning the same lady watched Hunter while I went to my first follow-up. He had such a good time, he's been talking about it ever since. I took this picture of him all ready to go and play. He's wearing his Shrek backpack, and is adorable!

Hunter has really been enjoying his "Dig-E-Go," or Diego, toys. He already had a little treehouse, but for Christmas he got the train track and other components. He sets up the whole little village and plays for a long, long time.
Ben still loves his pirates from a while ago... he insisted I take his picture, too.

Another bigtime hit has been this fabulous diner! the kids spend hours and hours playing with it!

I found Hunter napping one afternoon like this: gripped to his cuddlies, and even holding BobBob's foot.
This random slice of life kind of picture here makes me happy. This was taken the 1st few day of January before grandma went back to California.
Ben's favorite and most time consuming Christmas presents have been his puzzles. Here he's completed a large one on the living room floor.

I hope you're all having wonderful winters. Expect more up-to-date updates from now on. So glad to be all caught up on the blogging. :)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anniversary Getaway & Theo update.

Theo and I needed a night alone really, really bad. Our anniversary marked the perfect excuse to take one. I initially wanted to go to Door County, but its so hard predict weather in winter and I was worried that we would make reservations and then wind up unable to reach our destination. I told Theo I didn't mind something local, and to remember how much I dislike anything "chainy." He did his own research and found a bed and breakfast south of Madison. We started our day at his orthopedic docs office...

Now would be a good time to bring you up to date on Theo's health and deployment status:

Theo has been having shoulder pain for a few months now, and in December he finally went to our family practioner to investigate. The doc sent him for MRI's, one normal, and one with injections at the site to highlight the area. The findings were complicated, but enough for Theo to need to see some specialists. The first doc we went to said he'd rather Theo see someone who specializes in shoulders. We're both learning about this as we go... the MRI's show evidence of a torn labrum. I guess the labrum is sandwiched between some bones and such, and the area where his tear is located is not visible until the surgeon is inside his body. The MRI's shows signs of stress in the area, like cysts, etc, and more than likely there is a tear in there somewhere.

Once we were with the shoulder specialist, whom Theo saw just days before he left for Texas to process for his deployment, we were told he may have had the tear in his labrum for a very long time, perhaps his whole life. Theo played baseball for most of his life, intensely, and it's possible this injury dates back to his days in the sport, also. Anyhoo, this tear would require a minimum of 1-2 months physical therapy before the docs would consider operating on him. Once, operated on, the minimum recovery time would be 4 months.

So, deploying to Afghanistan was starting to look less and less likely for Theo. But we still had to wait until he saw the military doctors before we knew for sure.

Fast forward until this last week. Theo's been in Texas helping his unit get ready to go overseas this whole month. He's finally been through the part when they determine his medical readiness. He had to have his head scanned so they could clear the possibly of any more seizures from his initial his seizures from 23 months ago. They had to really look closely at his deformed foot, also. The shoulder injury makes it impossible for Theo to deploy.

He cannot operate a weapon on a narcotic pain medication. He also cannot be asked to where a 40lb + protective vest over a shoulder injury of this nature.

The doctor on the base looked closely at Theo's MRI's and his opinion is that the tear isn't causing the majority of the pain. Instead he see's bone spurs on the shoulder, near the back, that he believes are causing the pain. These bone spurs may need an operation also, but first will require physical therapy.

So, as of this last few days, Theo's paperwork to come home, instead of go to Afghanistan, is complete. He's staying in Texas to help his unit get ready, and should be back with his some time in the next few weeks, at which time he'll be begin his physical therapy.

He's formally listed as non-deployable for 90 days, at which time he'll be re-evaluated. It's uncertain whether or not they replace his position in his unit for the deration of the deployment. Whether or not Theo joins in his unit in 90 days will be determined by the healing of his shoulder, but would not even be considered if his role is filled by another soldier. I'll keep you posted.

For now, once he is home he returns to his M-F Army job in Madison as usual. He'll have plenty to do there keeping his unit functioning while they are all gone.

...So we left the first orthopedic docs appointment and headed off on our anniversary getaway. We first found the bed and breakfast location, although check-in was not until that afternoon. When we first moved to Wisconsin we had explored this are quite bit, so it was familiar to us. We decided to head into Mt. Horeb, a local small town with a troll theme.

Once there, we parked the car and walked up and down the main road, looking for adventure. We found this:

We like mustard well-enough, and it looked fun, so we went in. We found out there's more to mustard than we had ever imagined. Just look at all the different mustards!

My favorite one:

Mustard jars:

Old school glass mustards...

Mustard from tins:

Vending machine mustard:

Ring around the mustard and you take one home! three rings were a $1, and it went to charity. the brought home a spicy one. FYI: behind him is the tasting table, where you can try any of the mustard's they carry! Loved this.

We bought a Finnish mustard called Anija's, moved on to the next adventure.

There are several antique shops in town, and I dipped into a few. Theo bought me a glass ball decoration for my garden at one place, and some wax melting tarts that smelled like Christmas at another.

We went to check in after our adventure in Mt. Horeb. This is the road to the bed and breakfast. You can see the point in the distance over the rows of pines, and that's the roof of the place.

Here it is:

Surrounded and secluded by forrest planted only a decade ago. I wanted to live here on this land so badly!

And you know how excited I was to see the Innkeeper's a gardener? I can't wait to go back and see all of this in the spring!!

While Theo checked in I took some pictures, and watched the birds, who were abundant! Finches, cardinals, chickadees, and more. I'd live in his house if I were them:

The big gazebo in the middle here is covered in pink William Baffin roses and purple clematis in the spring.

The innkeeper made a dinner recommendation for us. She sent us to Quivey's Grove in Fitchburg, south of Madison. It's in an old barn, filled with beautiful old wood. So beautiful!


It doesn't take but one glass of wine to get me happy these days, and we enjoyed a nice sandwich for dinner, too.
Before we left the innkeepr had asked if we'd like anything to drink later. She left out some warm apple cider on the table in the main room for us. We sat down by the Christmas tree and enjoyed our cider while browsing through photo albums of the inn and the garden around it.
Then we headed up to our room.
Between the restaurant and our inn there was a a chocolatier, Candida's. We ran in and grabbed a box of chocolates to take back to our room. I shared, and we ate the whole box. Duh.
Our room was awesome. You know, the Victorian style isn't my style, but it's nice for a night. It's cozy and warm. Despite the new construction on the home, it still felt like a step back in time, and I found it so relaxing.

If I had one of these jacuzi tubs I'd use it all the time. I really, really would. This was like a slice of heaven!
The bed was sooooooooooooo comfortable. Amazing, like a cloud, really.
Here we are off to journey the next day. :) But, not before we enjoyed a 4 course breakfast made by the innkeeper. I'd never had a 4 course breakfast! I'd also never imagined you could incorporate so much fruit into a midwinter meal. She made a warm fruit compote with bananas, berries, and cinnamon with a blended juice (I want to say it was blackberry and something?) that was incredible for the 1st course. Second, warm cranberry and orange muffins, third a homemade eggs benedict served with an enlgish muffin and local made fruit preserves. Her eggs benedict was amazing! Finally, a fruit sorbet. Simply amazing. Really. Amazing!
I also really enjoyed our breakfast conversation with the other guests, and the innkeeper. We talked about the garden, and local things to do. She was wonderful!
Right outside the B & B there was a tiny little town called Paoli. You blink you miss it kind of town. We stopped at this little cheese shop to grab some baby swiss, my fav. And I think Theo got some sausage.

Behind the cheese shop was this charming creek. I think we'll be back here in the summer.
Also in Paoli, we found this schoolhouse. The innkeeper reccomended this place. I found a few Christmas ornaments on clearance as souveniors. Many of our ornaments have some significance; we bought one of my favorites on our honeymoon in Solvang, CA, and other on anniversaries, or before we were married. Now, these santa's will always remind me of our 6th wedding anniversary.

We headed to New Glarus to roam. We decided to eat roesti, a swiss potato and cheese dish, at the New Glarus Hotel. I don't know how we had any room for it after that breakfast, but we did!

We ended our day getting cookies at the New Glarus Bakery to bring home for the kiddos, and driving to our local farm and fleet to get a finch feeder (I was so jealous how of how many finches she had at her place, and she told me how she lured them, based off the advise of a previous guest who was a bird expert). Such a wonderful way to rejuvinate ourselves and our marriage. Thank you, baby, for such a great time! I love you!