November 1, 2009

Where All Your Dreams Come True

So it turns out I'm terrible at blogging! Forgive me! It's all I can do these days to transfer pictures from the camera to the computer, much less post them somewhere once I've done that!

But I did want to share some of our Florida pictures with anyone who might be interested. The whole idea of OUR family taking our small children to Disney World still makes me laugh. I never thought I would be that parent. But we had the opportunity to go before our next baby comes, and I've seen how our kids' faces light up at the sight of the characters, and I couldn't help thinking how fun it would be to take them while it's all still so magical. Tim took a little more convincing - but not a lot! And while we don't want to fall into typical American consumeristic, entertain me mentalities, in some ways our dreams really did come true at Disney.

We got to spend a solid week together, both parents home to put the kids to bed every night, with lots of quality time. What more could we have asked for? We could have counted our number of phone calls on one hand, the internet was mainly used to scope out our destination for the next day, text messages didn't seem to top more than a couple a day, AND the TV was on mostly for baseball playoffs AND even a Vikings game! How beautiful is that? I'm a little surprised that both of us survived at being so disconnected. But not only did we survive, we thrived.

Our time in Florida was pretty much perfect. Besides all the time together, we had a near perfect balance of doing and resting. The weather was warm, but not hot or too sticky. We saw Sea World, Sea World's water park, Aquatica, Disney World, had breakfast in a Disney resort with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter, and explored Downtown Disney a couple of different times.

Now, if only I could keep it all alive in the kids' memory!

Meeting Ariel- Sophia's favorite.

Noah really liked Pooh and Tigger- more than we would have thought, considering he really doesn't know them at all...

They were both very excited to meet Mickey. And afterward, Noah said of Mickey and Minnie, "They're really nice!" (Which just doesn't quite have the same effect when you don't hear it in his voice.)

Cinderella's castle

Waiting for dinner at the T-Rex Cafe in Downtown Disney. (Think Rainforest Cafe with a dinosaur theme, complete with meteor showers!)

June 27, 2009

Noah's First "Real" Haircut

Let me be honest.  I am just not in the mood to write.  But what a dilemma this poses.  It is currently my time for "hobby time."  For the first time in weeks (and that's no exaggeration), I have finally been granted some time for myself.  Lest I leave my husband sounding like a controlling, fascist dictator-type, we've been traveling and visiting family and there just hasn't been much alone time for anyone.  (Which I have finally matured enough to realize that I need to keep my sanity.)  So nows my time.  That means time for what, oh the luxuries!  There always seems to be a list a mile long and sometimes it's hard to prioritize just what needs to be crammed into my sacred "alone time."  And then, what do I do when I'm attempting to write more and I just don't feel in the groove at the scheduled time?

The answer: leave you with pictures instead!  After all, isn't a picture worth a thousand words, anyway?  And let me just say, I have some good ones from this month.  I won't bombard you with all of them at once- I don't want to pull out all my best material at once! :)  But here are the first from the beginning of this month, and in the next couple of days I'll try and post more from our travels home.

This was the before look.  Just call him "Birdman".  I can almost smell the product in his hair just through the picture!  This was taken one week before I finally found time (ie: caved in) and got him a real haircut.

Concentrating oh so hard for this haircut!

Haircut chairs have come so far since I was a kid!

The after look

June 6, 2009

Redefining Normal

For those of you who tune into this blog for updates on our family, kids, and current pictures, let me first apologize and “redefine normal” for you. Initially when I started this blog nearly two years ago, the intent was for me to keep all of you out of town friends and family current on our family. It was mostly a place to put brief glimpses of what we were up to, with as many pics as were pertinent. And now, after two years, I have learned several things. #1) I’m not so great at keeping this as updated as I had once envisioned. #2) I have very few hobbies of my own these days. #3) I miss writing. #4) Why not solve all of these problems in one fell swoop? I have consciously decided to be more proactive about spending some time on hobbies of my own, rather than bemoaning that Tim gets to have all the fun! Writing is fun for me, a creative outlet, and it’s FREE!! That said, I know several people who maintain multiple blogs simultaneously. Who’s kidding whom? I’m starting with baby steps. I can hardly keep this one up to date, so rather than dive in over my head, I’m adding my ramblings into our family updates. Really, they do all blend together anyway. My ramblings are usually relative to what our family is experiencing. And not that I really think there is a world out there dying to know what is happening in my head. I’m not that delusional. I know this is more for me than for any of you out there. So for those of you who were hoping only for current pictures of the Nielson family, filter through my mumbo jumboed attempts at mental clarity and know that pictures will still be here!

We all know by now that there really is no such thing as “normal.” What’s “normal” for me is not necessarily so for you. And once we do think we’ve discovered “normal”, it changes anyway. That’s what we’ve discovered in the Nielson house over the last year, anyway. It feels like a long time since we’ve had “normal.” That picture of routine was disrupted last October when we found that our days at Mission Hills were numbered. So we’ve been living the last 7 months knowing that “normal” would be changing for us at any given point in time.

Prior to that point, normal for us looked a bit like this: we’d have family breakfast together, frequently preceded by some form of working out for either Tim or me, then Tim would head off to work and the kids and I would get ready for either a day of play or a day of running errands. More often than not, Tim would be home by dinnertime, and then we’d either have family time at home, or head out for whatever event was scheduled that night. Seeing as how Tim works with high schoolers, that would frequently involve people nearly half our age (or “Daddy’s other kids,” as Sophia calls them).

Right now, that normal has changed quite a bit. It looks more like this: an approximately 6:30 wake up and kiss for Tim and I, proclamations of “I love you,” followed closely with the question, “What do you want to do today?” And then we discuss what’s on the agenda, IS there an agenda for the day, and what all can we pack into this agenda of play for one day?

I am not sure how long Tim will be content with this shape of normal, but we’re taking advantage of it while it lasts! It is so great to be uninhibited by a schedule, by time constraints, vacation days, and not enough hours in the day or week. When I first suggested to Tim that we take some time off between jobs, I think he thought I was crazy. And when I said a minimum of four weeks, I think he thought I had truly lost my mind. I could see him processing: how can I talk her down to three?

And then I started thinking of all the things I wanted to get done in those 4 weeks. I very quickly realized four weeks was not going to be enough. So once Tim adjusted to that idea, I started stretching him to see that four weeks simply wasn’t enough; 6 was my new minimum. I think it’s helped that Tim hasn’t had an official offer yet (and therefore hasn’t had to extend any kind of start date as of yet). Otherwise he might be trying to bargain with me more.

We’re only one week into this new kind of “normal,” but so far, it’s been fabulous! We’ve had time to play, time to reconnect, time to do the things we love, time to spend as a family, time to spend with friends, and even time for a little bit of side work to keep some money coming in. I could get used to this new kind of normal very quickly!

We’ll see how Tim feels about it in another couple of weeks! And really, I think that by the time six weeks are up, we’ll all be ready for yet another new kind of normal. But for now, we’re taking advantage of what we have and trying to savor every moment!

Swinging over the water on the rope swing

One VERY tired boy!! (Notice we are not getting very far in our "Project Stop Thumb Sucking" with this one...)

Enjoying s'mores by the campfire in her new "dragonfly horsie" camping chair

She definitely thought this swing was the best part of the lake

Ready to ski

June 1, 2009

The End of an Era

This building doesn't exist yet, but next week is the ground breaking ceremony for it.  It will likely be a couple of years before it looks anything like this, but this is the projection of what is to come.  It's funny how the timing of it has all happened.  Tim and I have talked about this building for a long time.  It's been the topic of conversation in our household far too many times to count.  Between just Tim and I, with high schoolers, with friends, with people who attend Mission Hills, with people who used to attend Mission Hills, and with people who have never been to Mission Hills.

Tim has said for years that he would never see the inside of the new building.  I'll modify that statement just slightly.  He'll never see the inside of that building as an employee.  He knew all along that although we had prayerfully submitted to the leadership's decision to make this building happen, and although Tim actually got to do some consulting on what the youth would need and should have in this building, and although we have actually in small ways contributed to the funding of this building, we will never actually get to be a part of it.

Next week is the ground breaking.  All families from the church are supposed to bring their shovels to be a part of the ceremony and celebration.  

We will not be there.  Next week will be the first week in over seven years, the first week since our very first Sunday in Colorado, that we are not a part of the Mission Hills body.  Everyone will be there, celebrating together, and we will already be a part of Mission Hills history.  A part of the past.  Part of the old building.  We "built on the legacy" at one point in time, but our legacy at Mission Hills is now a part of the past.  it's done.  

I've said a few times over the last few months that it's a bit like losing a limb.  It's with you for so long, that you take it for granted and don't even think about what life would be like without it.   Until it's gone.  And then you have to learn how to function in a whole new way.  You have to start all over again and create a whole new kind of "normal."  We know that that will happen for us, but for right now, it's still a little painful.  

As I write this, Tim is cleaning out an office that no longer belongs to him.  I wish that I could be with him to help him with the emotions that he is surely packing into those boxes, right along with all his books.  I am sure that a tear or two is slipping into those boxes, along with his books, files, pictures, mementos, and memories.

Please don't misread me.  We know this is for the best.  We know that God has big plans for us.  We know that He is preparing a new legacy for us.  We know that He has held us in his hands throughout this whole process.  We know that we have been sustained by the prayers of faithful friends when we were unsure how to pray on our own.  We know that God loves us and desires to give good gifts to His children.  We know that this was inevitable.  We believe that where ever we land next will be a better fit for us.

But just for the moment, we are looking back, saying our good-byes, and all the while wondering where we will go to church next Sunday.

May 16, 2009

Butterfly Pavilion

For my birthday, Tim planned a trek up to the Butterfly Pavilion.  This is a place we've heard so much about, but had never been.  We were more than a little confused as to what the place was actually like.  We all bundled up, as it was a pretty cool day and made the drive to the northern side of the Denver suburbs.  Both Tim and I were surprised upon our realizations that the place is entirely indoors.  After shedding our unnecessary extra layers (which Tim ran back out to the car, as we could find no place to stash them), we began our explorations.   The first few "rooms" contained large, disgusting bugs that I hope to never see outside of a cage.  The next room had some sea life, including crabs and starfish.  And then finally, we found what we had come for.  BUTTERFLIES!  You step through the doors, and are magically transported to the rain forest.  There are butterflies everywhere.  Okay, not really, but really there were several large, vividly colored butterflies flapping back and forth across the paths.  If you were really lucky, you just might get one to land on you.  And we happened to be there for the 12:30 butterfly release, which actually turned out to be quite the disappointment.  After a couple of trips around the path hunting for butterflies, we headed back into the building.  We finished up with the large, interactive room where the kids got to climb around a bit.  

All said, we did have a good time.  And we will probably not pay to visit the Butterfly Pavilion again any time in the near future!  :)

Noah climbs around in the "honeycombs"

Checking out the really nasty bugs that I hope to never find outside of those cages

The signs may say no touching, but what can ya do if they land on you?

The wonder of a child

And when she learns to break rules, we'll know who to blame


May 10, 2009

Mother's Day, 2009

I am not sure that there is any way to describe the range and disparity of emotions that took place inside of me this morning.  I knew from the beginning that today's church service would be emotional.  It seemed that everyone we knew dedicated a baby of theirs at church today.  It was a like a club that we were not a part of.  As if that weren't bad enough, it was not so hard to remember that it was not that long ago that we thought we would have been part of that club today.  

As the first few babies were prayed for, all I could think about was our baby that we are still waiting to meet.  What would it look like now?  What would it's temperament be?  What would Sophia and Noah think about having a baby in the house?  How much would I love to hold that baby right now?

But then, as we came to the last several babies, my mind turned to the babies I DO have and get to hug and squeeze and hold on to every day.  And who but another mother can understand what that is like?  This is the place where you could insert so many cliches about what it means and feels like to be a mom- and they would be all true.  But those of us who have had this privilege know that there really aren't any words to explain it.

And so, we brought two tired and whiney kids home from church today, and all I could think was, "Thank you, Heavenly Father!!!!"  And I held those two whiney kids, and squeezed all of my love into them, laid them down for their naps and asked God  to help me cherish every moment- even the tired and whiney ones.  

May 3, 2009

A Walk in the Clouds

All spring, we have been itching to get out hiking. After all, that's why we choose to live here in Colorado, right? Unfortunately, Mother Nature is repaying us for our unusually warm winter, and we have had one cool, damp spring. We can't complain too much, but somehow, Mother Nature and the calendar must be in the midst of some kind of feud, as each weekend since mid-March has been either cold, snowy, rainy, or some combination of all three.

This weekend, we finally decided we've had enough! Really, we have Ryan, Katie and Teddy to thank for that. Tim's cousin has been in Colorado for the last couple of months on a job site down in Pueblo. They've been staying in Manitou Springs, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes south of us. We were able to spend Easter with them, and knowing that their days here are numbered, we headed out for a hike in spite of the damp day.

Earlier this spring, we had finally bought a backpack carrier off of everyone's favorite online shopping site- Craig's list. This was our first opportunity to put it to use. Since Sophia weighs more than Noah, she got the "luxury ride" in the new backpack with Tim. Noah is about 10 pounds lighter than Sophia, so he got the "antique ride" in the our old, borrowed backpack. By the time the hike was done, both Noah and I agreed that that would be our last trip with that pack!! It's time to retire and return the antique. Sophia says it's bad because it's just an "old, cheap one". I daresay she has that right! Project number one today: back to Craig's list for another backpack. :)

All said, we were so glad that we made the effort and took the walk in the clouds. The fog and mist definitely changed the view, but we can always imagine! And besides, it was great to be able to spend the time with the Alcotts before they head off on their next adventure.

Katie, Ryan, and Teddy

Over my shoulder

May 1, 2009

Christmas- 4 Months later

Let me go back to the time when I fell off the wagon- the blogging bandwagon, that is. I've been plagued by thoughts of updating this blog ever since Christmas!

Christmas of 2008 found us here in Denver for the third consecutive year. While we miss being with the Nielson side of the family so much, we must say that it is highly convenient to not have to travel thousands of miles with two small children in the thick of blizzard season. And we have yet to know what Christmas without family is like, as the Ulferts side has been willing to make the trek to us for the last few years.

So there you have our Christmas equation: Nielson 4 + Ulferts 8 + Christmas decorations = one full house!! But thankfully we have the space (although many more additions to either family might start to change that fact), and we love hosting anyone that is willing to come visit. We truly look forward to hosting Christmas at our house, and this year was no different.

Unfortunately, this year, we discovered that we had a faulty camera at the onset of prime picture season. I did manage to snag some of my mom's pictures from the holiday season, but don't have as many as I would like. I'll share just a few of what we do have.

Cousins-Titus, Noah, and Sophia

Noah and Eric sporting their new beanies (okay, the one falling over Noah's eyes was really for Tim)

Ashley and Todd helping Noah and Sophia
open some early gifts on Christmas Eve

Sophia and Todd posing

Is Anyone Out There?

I bet you all thought I had abandoned the current trend of blogging! Ah, not so, my friends!! The truth of the matter is that life has been so crazy in our house in the last six months, that there simply hasn't been time. Nearly each week, I put it on my mental "to-do" list, but somehow it always ends up at the very bottom of my priority list. I have several friends and family members that blog regularly, and I always find myself marveling at how they have found time.

Well, I've had an epiphany lately. As many of you know, Tim loves baseball so much that to say he is an "avid" baseball fan is quite simply the understatement of the year. Sometimes I feel very much like a baseball widow. Graciously, Tim is usually more than willing to give me time for my hobbies in return for the time he commits to baseball. But we usually come back to the same thing: what can I do that will not put any kinks into our very strict budget?

I have found the answer! As someone who once fancied herself as somewhat of a writer, I have decided to make an attempt to commit myself to this outlet. So there it is, published out there for all to see. Now I'm accountable. Let's see how I do! I'll keep my fingers crossed and jump right in...
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