November 25, 2012

A birthday post

On November 18th, I turned the big 3-0. I had an awesome birthday weekend. It really felt like the birthday that would never end.  Friday afternoon Nick gave me the green light to buy a couple small birthday presents for myself. Nothing exciting, just some cleansers and makeup I had my eye on for a while. Saturday my sweet sister, Vanessa, took me to lunch at a Thai Restaurant called 'Jasmine' and the food was incredible.  Mmmm...always love me some Thai.  As soon as I got home, my good friend, Amber, said she was coming to pick me up so we could get birthday pedicures (her birthday was on the 16th and almost every year we try to find a way to celebrate them together). As I was getting ready for her arrival, I noticed a little bag on our bed (Nick was gone running errands). I was floored at what I found inside: an iPhone 5! What?!  I had told Nick that it might be nice to get one - eventually, like when our phone contract is up (in January) and only if it was in the budget.  Nick discovered that we were already eligible for an upgrade and felt like I needed one now  (and I am too cheap to ever just go buy such an expensive present for myself, so in a way I am kind of glad he just went ahead and bought it for me).  Can I just say, this phone is incredible!  I have NEVER had a smart phone - or anything close to one.  In fact, my last phone didn't even have a camera on it.  So imagine my amazement when suddenly I can ask my phone for directions while I'm out and about or dictate a text to my husband while cleaning the house. I'm still geekin' out about it. Technology is awesome. My mind reels at what is in store for my kids. as Amber and I were busy getting pampered, I noticed some discrepancies with Nick and Amber's stories.  Nick told me earlier he had planned a birthday dinner at a restaurant with some of my friends for that evening. But then Amber asked me where Nick and I were going to dinner that night. Also I noticed a weird, nervous energy coming from Nick all day.  He is already a neat freak, but he was doing things like patching up the holes in the wall and repairing a baseboard in the guest bathroom.  I kept thinking, this can't all be for my family (who was coming over Sunday afternoon). Something was up. It wasn't until I walked through the front door did I understand Nick's anxieties:

(except imagine a room full of people screaming "SURPRISE!" This pic was taken a day or two later)

Nick sent out invitations to all my friends weeks before the party. Not only that but he cleaned the entire house top to bottom, arranged for Toby to stay the night at Grandpa and Grandma Sibert's (to make all of this possible), assigned people food to bring, made a cheeseball from scratch, and he even looked up how to make all the different party drinks! I was bit teary later when I found out just how much work Nick put into this party. What a great guy I have!

These pics are just me opening some gifts and some of the cool people I am lucky to have in my life.

Nick made me wear the tiara - against my will.


It was a fantastic evening. But it didn't end there. More awesomeness to come:
Sunday (my actual birthday) Nick took the day off (woohoo!) and we were able to go to church as a fam.  When we got home I took a nice, lazy afternoon nap before we celebrated with family.  My parents, Nick's parents, Vanessa, Carlen, and Terry all came out to for a nice dinner. And just when you think Nick can't get any more amazing, he went ahead and had a coworker make two, delicious cheesecakes for our dessert (my favorite kind of cake).  It was truly an unforgettable birthday.  I am so very grateful for all my family and friends who made it such a memorable weekend for me. 


I am discovering though that each birthday is also a tough reminder of Mikel's absence.  Me, my dad, and Mikel all have November birthdays: my dad's on the 4th, mine exactly two weeks later on the 18th, and Mikel's birthday exactly one week after that, on the 25th. She would have been 33 today. We did a little celebration for her over Thanksgiving. We sang her "happy birthday" - had a cake with candles and everything.  It was very sweet...and hard. I miss my big sister a lot. Toby actually caught me off guard while writing this post and handed me a random journal of mine from December 2001. He wanted me to read it to him, but I knew it would probably be over his head and extremely uninteresting to a 4-year-old so I decided to scan the first page. I smiled as the entry was about Mikel.  I was a young college student upset about problems with school, my job, and just life in general. I never liked crying in front of people - even my own family - so in my entry I describe how I hid away in my parents guest room to have a good cry.  I will let my journal tell the rest of the story: "So my sister came in and flipped on the light and immediately knew I had been crying. Out of all the people in my family who could've found me, I'm so glad it was Mikel. I told her my whole situtation and she just let me cry and held me. She is the sweetest, most caring, loving, person I know. She comforted me and tried to empathize with me. I am so grateful to have her as my sister."

Yes, that is Mikel. Our family is sure not the same without her kind heart, radiant spirit, and quirky humor.

Happy birthday, Mikel! We all love and miss you so much.

November 10, 2012

Halloween and Ramblings

There is no excuse for my 6 week absence.  I've really just been lazy with my writing.  Here is kind of a recap on happenings, people, feelings, and animals...


We did Trunk-or-Treat in our ward for the beginning of the evening. Then we made our rounds to some other neighborhoods, watched a stellar performance of "Thriller" at the park behind our house (put on by some talented people in our neighborhood), and ended the evening with homemade doughnuts and root beer (not made by me, of course, but they were courtesy of some more awesome neighbors).  We live in a pretty good area, wouldn't ya say? :)

Here are the kids in their costumes:

Toby was a dragon and Aspen a raccoon. I got both costumes for a decent price and was more than happy that I didn't have to cover them up with a coat because they were well insulated. 

It was a fun, spooky, sugar-eating evening. Just what Halloween should be.

Under The Weather.

We've kind of been hit hard with some random sicknesses. Not anything serious but it has really felt like the runny noses and coughs never end! Also, with daylight savings (boo!), Aspen teething and being able to climb out of her crib, mixed with the nasty colds and bouts of flu, well, you can imagine the pleasant bunch we became.  I was lucky enough to bounce back from the cold and flu way faster than the rest of the fam which was a huge blessing.  Sick mommy + sick daddy + sick kiddos is not a good combination.

I think we are all on the mend (knock on wood!). And I think we kind of have a handle on the early wake up times.  Aspen has been in the habit of waking up at 5:30 am. Then when she climbed out of her crib one night, I really had some nice panic attacks.  But after thinking back to Toby's sleep issues (sometimes I am so grateful for them at times like these), I remembered some tricks that worked with him when he was an early bird (he only climbed out of the crib ONCE at 18 months and the poor guy landed on his head. But that cured him from ever attempting to climb out again).  I recalled that Nick laid down next to the crib and Toby would go back to sleep straight away. It took a week or two but Toby finally started sleeping in till 7 or 7:30 on his own. The key was consistency and Nick had to be the one to go his room.  If I went in the room, somehow he sensed weakness (I think same goes for Aspen) and he would not go back to sleep no matter what I did. So that is what we have started with Aspen the past few mornings and today she slept in till just before 7 am.  Woo-hoo! And she has climbed out only one other time and so far seems to have no desire to escape again. So I'm pretty stoked about that too. The only downside to Nick helping out is that on the days he works, he leaves at 5:20. So if Aspen wakes up, I'm kind of left to my own devices - or weaknesses rather. :)  But I know things will get better and sleeping will get on track again.

A Nice Relief.

Despite all the sickness and sleep deprivation, I've really been surprised by my happiness.  I haven't been particularly depressed and I still have grumpy days and moments where I wish somehow a distant relative felt the sudden urge to pay us a large sum of money...but lately I've noticed this out-of-nowhere "pleased with life" feeling.  Don't know how to describe it really. Complete? Whatever the feeling is, it's a good one.  And for a while I wanted to know why I was feeling this way until the other day it hit me.  This is the first fall/winter season in 5 years where Nick has not had school and homework and lots of time away from the family. I still can't believe how much his absence affected our little family. And to be honest, I don't think we really felt or fully understood how hard it was to have him gone so much, until now when he is here to help me or help the kids or just hang out and not have to stress about a paper or a midterm.  He can truly be in the moment and enjoy the moment with us  - and it is so, so sweet.   So now I'm kind of rambling.  I wanted to give the lowdown on Loki (the crazy puppy), but I really need to get to bed! I will save that for my next post - which hopefully happens before Christmas.  :)