Sunday, December 28, 2008

Okay, Mr. Wiseguy (aka Drew Randolph)

Once again, I am having some fun with my new printer/scanner today. I cannot resist sharing Drew's preschool group photo. Only two of the little boys in the photo are not smiling and Drew is one of them (he is standing and is the third from the right). He has his "I am a little wiseguy" look on his face. I am sure the other moms looking at the photo are thinking, "this picture would be perfect if it wasn't for the two little boys who are not smiling!" Oh well, I think it just makes him stand out from the other little boys Aaron and I laugh when we look at this photo. I am just amazed that they were able to get 14 little boys to sit still long enough to get the picture!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Blast from the Past - August 1988

I am testing my new computer printer/scanner/fax machine that Aaron gave me for Christmas. I had wanted a new printer, since our old one was horrible. But, I am most excited about the chance to scan old photos from the pre-digital era.

My first blog featuring a scanned picture is from August 1988. I was fifteen years old and I was in Oregon visiting my friends, Kathy Embick and Julie Grossharth (now Carattini). After I moved to Ohio, I missed my friends very much (we lived in Beaverton, Oregon for five years and we moved just before my fourteen birthday) and my parents agreed to let me fly out to Oregon for a two week visit. It was great. The first part of my visit was with Kathy Embick and her family--we stayed at a house they rented on the Oregon Coast. The second week was spent with my friend, Julie and her family in Beaverton. We had a lot of fun goofing around. One night we went to see Dana Carvey at a theater in downtown Portland. Julie had won tickets to see him and he was pretty funny. Anyway, the attached picture was taken before we left for the show. My visit is definitely a highlight of my teenage years.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas-the aftermath

Our Christmas this year was very hectic. Aaron and I were running around for two days straight. So, we are both pretty wiped out, but we had a good time and ate a lot of food. The kids had a terrific Christmas and enjoyed being with their respective grandparents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Santa was very good to them--despite the many warnings to Drew that Santa might just leave him coal if he did not behave better. Drew was like a wind up toy--he was just so excited for Christmas that he could not contain himself. Luckily, he slept until 7:15 a.m. on Christmas morning so we could get a little more sleep. Drew received a very cool bike for Christmas, along with a bunch of other goodies and Claire received a play kitchen and other goodies as well. They both received aprons with their names embroidered on them. They can wear them when they help us in the kitchen. Claire was more impressed with the big bows that were on the bike and play kitchen more than the toys themselves it seemed. Attached are a few photos of the festivities. The family photo by the tree was a little tricky to get this year-Drew is in a phase where he enjoys making funny faces when he gets his photo taken. This is the best one of the four that were taken. We hope your holidays were merry!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I would just like to take a moment to wish to those reading my blog (all one or two of you! :)) a Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating with your families.

The good news is that my mom gained two pounds this week! From what the nurses said at the nursing home that is quite unusual (but good). But, like I said earlier, we have to be cautious and hope that she continues to gain weight. She is still very, very fragile and she has a very long road ahead of her. With her weight gain, she is still only 95 pounds--and 5 feet 8 inches. My mom (along with my dad) were able to come over today for a nice four hour visit. She has not been out of the nursing home in quite a long time. She ate a little (not as much as we would have liked), watched the kids run around the house (Claire gave her many kisses and kept handing a little plastic ball to her), look at the Christmas tree and open the gift we bought her. We were grateful to have her here and we hoped we made it as nice as possible for her.

We try to be as grateful as we can for what we do have--and for that we feel very lucky.

Merry Christmas again.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the roller coaster....

My dad received a positive phone call from the nurse case manager with the hospice group yesterday. My mom has been eating much better since the nursing home starting giving her real food (albeit softer foods that she can easily chew) instead of the pureed food that looked like--well, I won't even say. The nurse case manager said that she would be surprised if my mom has lost weight this week (they weigh her on Monday mornings). We have been down this road many times before where we will hear positive news, only to hear bad news a few days later. It is a perpetual roller coaster ride, so our own sanity, we try to not to get too excited about positive news. I am trying to get everything in place so that my mom can visit our house on Christmas Eve. She is very anxious to leave the nursing home--even if it's only for a few hours. I hope we can pull this off well.

Our official visit with Santa Claus at Easton Town Center

To mix things up this year, we took the kids to visit Santa Claus at Easton Towne Center (which is a little further away than our usual mall hang out of Polaris Fashion Place). The cost for an official 5 x 7 photo with Santa was only $5.00--which was quite a bargain considering the Santa photo-op at Polaris costs a minimum of $18.00. Aaron took a half day off of work, so we could avoid the crazy crowds. This Santa looked pretty geniune too. While we waited for Santa's little photo elves to take the official shot, I took a shot of the kids with Santa. The photo elves were not very good--in fact, they seemed quite confused. The woman in front of us could not decide which package to purchase. Which was fine--unfortunately, it took four photo elves to help her out. Meanwhile, Claire, Drew and even Santa were getting a little restless. I had to tell the photo elves that our one year old was not going to last much longer--so they finally took the picture. Needless to say, the photo I took turned out to be much better than the official shot. Oh well. It was still nice to spend some time together--we had lunch, walked around and even stopped to buy some yummy cheesecake to bring home at the Cheesecake Factory.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My mom, Liz Carlson

In late 2001, my mom suffered a relatively minor stroke--that was not detected until several months later. The ramifications of that stroke (and many other "mini-strokes" that she experienced in the following months after the initial one) lead to her being both physically and mentally disabled. For a good part of the past seven years, she has lived in nursing home facilities. She is only 61 years old. To say that it has been a difficult journey for my family is an understatement. For me personally, it has been painful to watch my mom slip slowly away from me. While she could drive me crazy more than anyone else in my life, she and I were very close to one another. We could talk for hours at night together and we talked on the phone daily (sometimes more than once). She was the glue (as I think most moms tend to be) that held our very fractured family together. But, what makes the most difficult to deal with is that she has never had a chance to be the grandma that she always wanted to be. She loved her children unconditionally and I know how much joy her three grandsons and one granddaughter would have given her (three of which were born after she had her stroke and subsequent illness). I could not have predicted how difficult being a mom would be without having her guidance and support. Unfortunately, she is now in the fight for her life. She has lost a significant amount of weight and hospice is involved in her care. We have been told that she is quickly losing her battle--but no time frame can be given as to when she might finally give up this fight. She is a tough woman and that is why she is still with us today. While I have been quiet about my mom's health--I really feel like I need to share this with everyone. After all, I want to celebrate who she is and who she used to be. She deserves that. Sadly, there are few pictures of her with grandchildren, but the one above I cherish greatly. Shortly after I gave birth to Claire last year, she and my dad came to the hospital to see their new granddaughter. My mom got the opportunity to meet and hold Claire (Claire's middle name is Julianne--which honors both Aaron's mom, Julia and my mom, whose middle name is Anne). She just stared at her for what seemed like an eternity. For that, Aaron and I are so grateful.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Winter Wonderland--that is, a very cold, but pretty one!

Last night, we took the kids to the Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. I thought it would be a nice evening, as there was little wind or snow or any other kind of item falling from the sky (we have seen a little bit of everything in the past several days). However, it was 24 degrees outside. I bundled the kids up in a couple layers--so I thought we would be covered at least for an hour or so. Aaron was a little hesistant about it due to the bitter chill in the air. But, as soon as we walked into the zoo, I was in awe of the lights--they were quite impressive. Drew was bouncing up and down with the excitement and Claire pointed excitedly at the lights. He also enjoyed the huge train exhibit (held inside) and the photo above shows him jumping for joy in excitement watching it. We lasted for almost an hour--with several visits to a couple exhibits held indoors (the train exhibit we visited twice). I plan on taking Drew again solo, as Claire is at the age where if you leave her in the stroller too long, she gets antsy and wants to walk--which is fine and dandy, but when its 24 degrees out and she is still a little clumsy walking on concrete--it is better to let her do in the comfort of our warm and reasonably child proof home. As you can see in the picture--she is not too thrilled with the lights towards the end of our visit.

Christmas at Franklin Park Conservatory

Last Sunday, our good friend and family photographer, Amy met us at the Franklin Park Conservatory to take our family picture for our Christmas card this year. With two very squirmy kids, it can be quite a challenge. Amy is always up for the challenge and is a great sport about it. The kids love their "Auntie Amy" and they like hanging around her. The Conservatory was filled with a huge number of poinsetta plants--which make it quite festive. My personal favorite is the Palm House--a large, glass enclosed area that looks like a tropical forest (with some poinsetta plants and a few Chiluly sculptures thrown in). They typically host wedding receptions, company parties and other events in the area. The good news is that Amy took a terrific photo of the four of us (a rare occurance--just to get a picture with the four of us in it, much less all of us looking at the camera!) You will see the photo on our Christmas card. But, here are a few outtakes from our photo session! As you can see Claire is never too keen on Drew putting his arm around her. It is a trust issue! :)

Girl Power! (and Boy Power too!)

As I mentioned in my previous blog, if I say "Girl Power" to Claire, she instantly raises her fists in the air like a little super hero (and a big grin). I am quite proud that she knows exactly what I am talking about. Attached is a picture of her in her full power super hero mode. Drew, being ever the follower, likes to throw in his "Boy Power!" Ah, these two are going to conquer the world!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

To be thankful

In a year that has brought a lot of challenges and sadness for our family--I try to remind myself of all that is good and what I should be grateful for. Here is my list.

1. My husband, Aaron. He is a good man. He loves me for me and that is always a very good thing. He is handling a lot on his shoulders right now with his job, our finances and family issues.

2. My always curious little boy, Drew. The kid is constantly asking questions and building strange little structures from the most obscure items in our house. And he is one of the friendliest kids around--he is never shy to say hello. Plus, he is starting to share with his sister (without being told to do so). While he can be a major challenge at times--I am very proud of this guy. Sometimes I feel like I learn from him instead of the other way around.

3. My spirited daughter, Claire. This little girl is going to rule the world someday. She has been a firecracker from the earliest stages of my pregnancy with her. She loves to smile and raise her arms up in the air when I say "girl power!" Plus, the girl can shake her rump like no one else when she hears music. And she doesn't put up with any nonsense from her big brother.

4. Our home. While we pay out the ying-yang for it and we have to sacrifice a lot for it-we are grateful to be living in it. We are happy to have found it when we did (it took us over a year to sell our first house--we had to list it twice!).

5. Our friends--who are like family to us. We just wish we could see them more often.

Holy Cow! One excited kid at Christmas

This clip from YouTube cracks me up! The little boy and his sister are beyond excited to open his Ninento 64 unit. It is the kind of reaction I had when I received my Mickey Mouse record player at five or my cool purple comfortable when I was eleven (I was a little weird--I liked home furnishing items at a very young age). I hope our kids get that excited one day for a gift that they are anxiously awaiting for Santa to bring. Not sure it will happen this year--but it will happen and it will be great.