Thursday, December 31, 2009

Banana Shpeel

As I’ve said before, Cirque du Soleil shows are kinda Mark and my thing to do together.  The tradition started long ago, back in 2005, when we went on a spring break trip together to Orlando.  This was a few months before we started dating.  We saw our first Cirque show, La Nouba, in downtown Disney, and even sat in the front row.  It was exhilarating to say the least.

Our next Cirque show was a few months later, in May of 2005.  We drove up to Montreal, Quebec to see Corteo, which opened there, with Mark’s brother Ryan.  I would say on this trip Mark and I officially started dating.

Our next 2 Cirque shows were viewed in Vegas in June of 2006 on our honeymoon.  We saw Zumanity (and had front row seats to the flopping boob show that it was) and Mystere, which was a great show also.

In April of 2008 we went on a trip with my co-workers to Vegas and saw Ka while we were there.  That show had the most amazing stage I’ve ever seen in my entire life.  The whole thing was this huge platform that rotated every way possible, including completely vertically.  Mark really liked that one.

We drove down to Oklahoma City when we lived in Enid, in Dec 2008 and saw Saltimbanco there, which was another great show.

Donna, Mark’s mom, IMG_7020gift to us this year was buying us tickets to see Cirque’s newest show, Banana Shpeel, which is currently  playing in Chicago.  We took the train IMG_7014 downtown yesterday and had lunch at Potbelly’s and then saw the show.  It was great!  It wasn’t as circus-y as the other Cirque shows.  It was a mix of slapstick comedy and vaudeville and it had more dancing than all the other shows we’ve seen.  We really enjoyed it, despite me missing our Pippers like crazy.  I’m not at all used to leaving her with other people, even if it was her grandma.  The weather in Chicago was cold, foggy and snowing, and I loved it.  It was refreshing to see everyone bundled up in the coats, hats and scarves.  I miss it.IMG_7024

The highlight of 2009

The highlight of our year was obviously meeting our precious little girl.  Abbie Rose is the highlight of both of our lives, let alone our year. IMG_6542 Mark and I often look at each other and ask how we got so lucky to be blessed with our baby.  She never ceases to amaze us and it is amazing to watch her experience so many things for the first time.

Our little Pippers is so much fun to be around.  She smiles and laughs all the time now.  I can walk into a room and as soon as she sees me she’ll start grinning and kicking her legs and waving her arms and making her excited noise.  It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  And if I look at her really fast and say “Hi!”, she erupts into laughter.
IMG_6842 She is enamored with Mark’s nose and ears.  Almost every time he holds her, she’ll have ahold of his nose, or ear, or both.  And she’ll play with his ears too.  She gets both hands up there and touches them very gently with just her pointer finger and studies them like they’re the most interesting thing in the world.  It is absolutely adorable. 
She loves watching people.  She stares very intently at things a lot, and you can just see the wheels in there turning and the sponge soaking everything up.  She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen and I just love every inch of her, from her chubby little hands with the inverted knuckles to her long, perfect legs.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if she ends up being a vet or wanting to do something with animals later in life.  She LOVES all animals.  She gets super excited when she sees them, and always tries to grab at them and kicks her legs and waves her arms.  She loves any dog she’s ever seen and we saw a bird at Mark’s mom’s office today (she works at a vet) and Abbie was completely fascinated by it.
IMG_7193 We’ve had an absolutely amazing 2009 and I just don’t see how 2010 can top this past year.  We’re looking forward to watching our baby grow though, and showing her the world (quite literally), starting with Europe!
We hope 2010 is the best year yet for all of you!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Her first tooth!

Abbie’s first tooth made it’s appearance today!  You can just see a tiny little bit of her bottom left front tooth.  I knew they were coming soon since she’s been chewing on everything and anything, and we had a HECK of a time getting her to go to sleep last night, so maybe that had something to do with it.  She also has her first runny nose (or any sort of illness) that showed up today also, so I’m not sure if that has something to do with her tooth or being in the cold weather for the first time or both.

Abbie’s 7 month birthday was on the 20th.  We took her pictures in a hotel room in Lincoln, NE since we were on our way home.  It’s incredibly hard to put my little post-it’s next to a 7 month old and not have her grab them but here are a few of the pictures we got.IMG_6737 



My cousin and his fiancĂ© brought my grandma over on Tuesday.  It was fun to see Michael and Brenda since we don’t get to see them very often at all.  They left Wednesday morning and drove 18 hours straight to my aunt and uncle’s in IMG_6814Denver.  (Yikes!)  While my grandma was here she taught me how to purl with knitting.  So I’ve finally been working on the blanket I’ve been making for Abbie since this time last year.  It’s about 4 inches long at this point…. I have ways to go… 

IMG_6913  It was sad saying goodbye to my grandma.  She got a little teary eyed, and so did I because we both know that Saturday could have very well been the last time we’d see her.  She’s 94 years old, and while she’s doing well for being 94, she’s not a spring chicken anymore.  With us moving to Germany in March, we’re not going to be back up here before we move, and we have no clue when we’ll be back in the States.  So…  not something I like to think about, but it’s a reality for us.

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

200th post!

I figured in honor of my 200th blog post, I'd share with you all what Mark is getting me for Christmas.  He's turning my blog into a book!  Actually 2 books.  I started my blog in the first part of 2008, and he found a company online who will convert blogs into hardcover, bound books.  I'm SUPER excited about this.  He didn't get it done before Christmas because he's busy adding pictures to all my Europe posts from last year.  (I had just written stuff without posting pictures because I didn't have any way to put the pictures I was taking on the blog at that time.)  We're going to make one for 2008 and one for 2009 and then continue the tradition in years to come.  I think we're also going to purchase a domain so we'll have our own domain for the blog instead of using  I'm super excited about this because I think it'll be great to pass the books on to our kids.  Leave it to my husband to think of a super cool gift like this!  SO excited!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Home at last!

It's so nice to be home.  We arrived in Galena safe and sound yesterday after close to 28 hours on the road.  We spent Friday night in Kayenta, AZ - which I posted about previously.  It truly is in the middle of NOWHERE! We got on the road around 7:30am on Saturday, mainly due to me basically not going to sleep all night - I was up at 4:30am and took a shower and wrote the blog and then got everything packed up and ready.  We stopped at Four Corners Park, which is where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet and took a few pictures.IMG_6647 IMG_6652We took the back roads from AZ to Denver and the ride thru the mountains was just beautiful.

IMG_6698  It definitely got us in a more “Christmasy” mood driving thru the mountains.  We were on 2 lane windy roads, and quite often there was a stream right along side the road, which was really neat.  IMG_6676 Colorado truly is a beautiful state.  I wouldn’t mind living there someday.


Saturday night we spent the night with my aunt and uncle who live in Denver.  They fed us DELICIOUS food and it was nice to see them since I don’t get to spend much time with them or see them often.  Abbie had her own room and it took us a little while to get her to sleep, but once she was asleep, she stayed asleep all night, which was very nice.  We all got sleep.

We spent Sunday night in Lincoln, NE.  Abbie had had enough of the car seat and we wanted to see the finale of Survivor, so we stopped driving around 6:45pm.  I was dreading being in the same room as Abbie again, but surprisingly she slept all night!  I had to wake her up in the morning.  And I got up a few times at night to make sure she was still breathing since I wasn’t hearing a peep out of her.

We got on the road a little later than we’d wanted on Monday, around 9:30am and we got home at 4pm.  Abbie did REALLY well in the car the last day.  She did well overall the entire trip, but we were expecting her to be done with riding by Monday.  Monday was probably her best day so far.  And the cherry on top was her sleeping really well for us Monday night.  We had to wake her up this morning too!

Today I had lunch with my friend Rachel, and she also cut and colored my hair.  The last time I did anything with my hair was when Rachel did it when I was home for my baby shower in APRIL…  Oops.  I’m going to have to fly her to Germany next I guess so she can do my hair.  My dad and Mark worked on the Explorer and replaced the brakes pads and rotors.  Abbie spent the morning with my mom, which was kinda funny.  My mom about had a bird when I told her Mark and I might take Abbie with us because he was originally going to go to town with me and he hadn’t seen Abbie much this past week since he was so busy at work.  My mom said she never gets to see Abbie so she wanted us to leave her with her.  So Abbie was with her and my mom quickly found out that you get nothing else done when Abbie is around and awake.  So on my way home she told me to “hurry up because she had things to do”.  Ha.  Tell me about it.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to have lunch with my friend Beth and also visit my friend Billie and her kids, but I’m not sure the weather is going to cooperate. 

I told Mark next time we come to IL we need to stay at our parents house for a length of time proportionate to the number of people we’re visiting at each place.  We’re visiting 18 people while we’re at my house – family and friends that I’ve kept in touch with and want to see.  My grandma and one of my cousin’s and his fiancĂ© are here now.  My cousins and their kids are coming on Sunday and there are about 6-8 friends I’m hoping to see while we’re here.  We’re visiting 5 people at his house – all of whom will be in the same house as us the entire time we’re there.  It doesn’t seem fair to me that we spend a week at each place, when I have to try to cram all my visits with more than 3 times more people into the same amount of time we’re visiting 5 people in Chicago.  But if we did the visits by my theory (# of people we’re visiting is proportionate to # of days our visit is at each place) we’d spend 11 days in Galena and 3 days in Chicago.  I don’t think his family would go for that, but next time we’re definitely going to spend more time in Galena so I can catch up with all my friends.  I just wish I knew when that “next time” would be at this point..

IMG_6819 (Abbie with great-grandma Ruth)IMG_6718

Saturday, December 19, 2009

This isn't working.

Mark and I made it to Kayenta, AZ our first night of driving.  It took us a little over 5 hours to get here, so we got here around 11pm.  Abbie fell asleep in the car around 9pm and she woke up at 11pm when we got here.  And she pretty much hasn't slept at all since we got here, which means neither have I.  It's 5:15am now....  I just cannot sleep in the same room as her.  They had a pack n play for her to sleep in, and I put her mattress in it and she rolled around like crazy in it for about an hour, constantly making grunting noises and sometimes babbling, until she finally started to cry.  So then I brought her to bed with us and tried to nurse her to sleep, but 2 adults, a baby and 2 weina dogs in a full sized bed just doesn't work out for anyone.  I didn't sleep at all.  So then I moved over to the other bed with her and she's been not still for a second and now she's wide awake next to me.  And I haven't slept at all.  We should have just kept driving.  She would have slept better in the car and I would have at least felt productive not getting any sleep.  This is going to be a LONG drive home.  I'm hoping at least maybe tonight she can have her own room at my aunt and uncle's house.  I know they have spare bedrooms so if we can put her in one of the empty ones, that'd be great and maybe I'd get a few minutes of sleep.  This pretty much sucks though.

The desert is VERY dark at night.  We couldn't see anything off of the road driving up here.  It was 66 degrees when we left home and 2 hours later driving nort there was 6 inches of snow on the ground and it was 28 degrees.  CRAZY!  The snow actually made it feel like Christmas though.  Hopefully the weather holds out for us until we get home.

She is making a ton of noise right now, and I have the TV on and Mark's sleeping through all of it.  I really wish I could sleep like he does sometimes.  I am not at all looking forward to the rest of this trip where we have to share a room with her.  I literally have not slept at all tonight and I think I'm going to wake Mark up now and get on the road again bc he can sleep in the car and Abbie will actually sleep in the car too.  This just isn't working.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas travels

So we leave tomorrow for our 28 hour drive home.  I haven't really even started packing, except for one suitcase that is full of presents and all of Abbie's clothes that I want to take are in a box.  But I have my lists all ready to go!  What I want to take and what I want/need to do before we leave.  We're planning on spending Saturday night with my aunt and uncle who live near Denver.  Denver is 14 hours from here and 14 hours from my parents house.  So we're going to try to get as far as we can tomorrow and then get on the road early on Saturday so we can make it to Denver to see them.  We won't be able to leave until Mark gets home from work tomorrow though, which probably won't be until at least 5-6pm.  We're hoping to be home by Monday evening at the latest.  And we're praying that Abbie does okay being in the car for that long.  I'm going to bring a bag full of her toys and switch them around for her frequently when she's awake.  I'm hoping she doesn't sleep the whole time we're driving bc then she won't sleep at all at night, which means we won't sleep at all at night.

Abbie is going to be sleeping in pack n plays (pnp's) most of the time we're gone (2.5 weeks).  I was really worried about her not sleeping well in those, especially 3 different ones, since the mats on the bottom of them aren't very supportive and you can feel the bars on the bottom through the mats.  So I bought her a pnp mattress and a really soft, thick sheet to go on the mattress.  I'm hoping that that'll be a constant for her when everything else is changing around and be more like her mattress at home - aka helps her sleep.  I'm worried about having to share a room with her while we're gone.  She'll have her own room at my parents house, but the rest of the time, she'll be in our room, and none of us sleep well when she's in the same room as us.  She's a crazy sleeper and does laps in her crib every night bc she rolls around so much.  I think the pnp is going to cramp her style quite a bit and I think she'll wake up more than she does here, but oh well.  Hopefully we can get her back on track once we get home.  (For a few months anyway.  When we move to Germany I'm sure all hell will break loose with her sleep habits, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.)

Oh, we're driving the Explorer home and then leaving it with my dad for him to sell for us.  We figured 4x4 will sell better up there than down here, and we'll just concentrate on selling the Jetta.  We're flying back home.

Well I'm off to pack.  I'm not sure how I'm going to fit clothes and everything else for the 3 of us for 2.5 weeks in 2 big suitcases, but I consider myself an expert packer so I'll figure it out.  I'm going to just put some things in reuseable bags for now and then put the stuff that'll come home with us in the 3rd suitcase once the presents are out of it.  But either way, I'm sure we'll be shipping quite a bit back home.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

May your days be merry and bright.

 IMG_5976 If I had been thinking, I would have put this on our Christmas cards, but I didn’t take these pictures until after I’d already sent my cards out.  Oh well.  Maybe next year.

Our little pippers is just growing up way too quickly.  She gets more and more fun every day and it is so fun watching her experience the world and see new things for the first time.  She’s a pro at sitting up now, although she still can’t get into the sitting position by herself.  If you sit her up though, she’ll stay there for quite a while, unless she sees something she wants and then she lunges for it.  IMG_5822She doesn’t crawl yet (which is perfectly fine with me), but she’s good at rolling around and she kind of rolls around to get places now.  She’s quite often in her “flying mode” as we call it, where she lays on her belly and lifts her arms and legs in the air and kicks her feet like crazy. It’s pretty cute.

IMG_6210 We’re trying to get ready for our big trip home for the holidays.  I got her these mittens and hat at Old Navy and I think they’re the cutest thing ever.

Abbie is a great little eater and she LOVES to eat.  I still nurse her 4-6 times a day and she gets a bottle from daddy before bed.  I’ve been feeding her breakfast and dinner with solids, although I think I might add lunch in there now too.  She’s VERY interested in what we’re eating and if I try to give her a puff instead IMG_4402of whatever we’re eating, she’ll pretty much spits it out and stretches her open hand out to “ask” for whatever we’re eating.  Usually I’ll try to give her little tiny bits of whatever we’re eating, just enough so she can taste it, or if it’s mashed potatoes or something soft, I’ll give her a little of it.  Last night we were eating steamed broccoli, and she wanted some and she loved it!  The kid eats anything, I swear.  Except avocados.  That’s been the only thing she didn’t like so far.

She has quite the little temper on her though.  I honestly didn’t expect her to be so …. strong-willed at this age.  Sometimes when she’s throwing a fit, she won’t even let you touch her.  I’ll try to put a pacifier in her mouth and she’ll smack it out of your hand.  Or I’ll try to put my hand on her chest if she’s laying in her crib to calm her down and she’ll grab my hand and push it away and not even let me touch her!  I can’t believe that she’s that full of piss and vinegar already!  Usually her fits are short lived and they only happen when I put her in her crib to go to bed and she doesn’t want to.  Little fart.  She doesn’t want to have anything to do with pacifiers anymore, which is probably a good thing.

Speaking of her sleep habits.. I haven’t written about them in quite a while.  I guess that’s what happens when I actually get sleep – it’s not at the forefront of my mind so much.  She’s a pretty good little sleeper now.  She’ll still cry when we put her down for naps or for the night sometimes, and it ranges from 30 seconds to 10 mins, but then she’s good.  She takes 2 naps a day usually, 1 around 10:30am and one around 3pm.  They last anywhere from 45 mins to 2 hours and 15 mins.  If I don’t have to wake her up, I just let her sleep as long as she wants.  She goes to bed anywhere from 7:30pm – 9pm, although we aim for 8pm every night.  95% of the time when we put her down for the night, she stays asleep all night.  Every once in a while she’ll wake up around 11pm and if she cries for more than 10 mins, I’ll go in and get her, change her, feed her and put her back to bed.  She gets up anywhere from 7:30-8:30am.

Mark and I always tip-toe into her room on our way to bed at night just to check on her and to make sure her room isn’t too hot or cold and admittedly, I usually make sure she’s breathing.  If I can’t hear her, I put my hand on her to feel her chest moving.  I wonder if I’ll ever stop doing that. We love watching her sleep.  She looks so peaceful and cuddly.  I took this picture of her a few nights ago.  She fell asleep while Mark was feeding her her bottle before bed.  We think she looks just like a doll and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite so perfect.


Monday, December 7, 2009

When life hands you lemons…..

….you suck on them and make really funny faces!!!

   IMG_4447 IMG_4448 IMG_4458IMG_4513IMG_4514IMG_4515 IMG_4510 IMG_4511=)  The first time we gave them to her (yellow hat pics), she didn’t have much of a reaction to them.  The second time though (car seat pics), she obviously didn’t like them much, but she kept wanting more.  Silly girl!

It’s official

I am officially married to a United States Air Force F-16 fighter pilot!  How cool is that?!  Mark’s class finished 5 weeks ahead of schedule AND we had a baby 4 weeks into this course so he was a new dad for the majority of it.  He took 10 written tests, had classroom academics, flew more than 50 hours in the simulators and 60+ flights in the jet.  The course was equivalent to 7 college courses.  I am very proud of him.


Here are a few pictures of the graduation.  It was held in a hangar.


Here are a few pictures of me and friends.  Katie is the one in the uniform.  She’s the only female pilot in Mark’s squadron and was one of his IP’s.  She’s very sweet.  Amanda is the one in the red dress.  She had a baby (her 2nd) a day before I had Abbie so Jillian and Abbie are less than a day apart in age.  She’s been a good friend of mine since we moved here and I’ll miss her.

  IMG_4613  IMG_4585

Here are the guys in Mark’s class plus his commander, Rico, in the middle.IMG_4603

Here are the guys and their wives and girlfriends. IMG_4608

Here are just the girls.  Rachel, on the left is one of the guys girlfriends.  Kim, next to me, is doing her residency to become a doctor and they’ll be stationed at Hill AFB in Utah next.  Liz, in the red, her husband is going to Korea for a year and Carolyn, in the uniform, is married to a guy in Mark’s class and they’re going to Spang with us!  Super excited about that! IMG_4610

Overall the night was a lot of fun, despite the food being cold and most of us FREEZING (no heat in the hangar).  It feels like this was the end of something, but in all reality, this is truly just the beginning.

Spouse taxi ride

Last Thursday I got to do a high speed taxi down the runway in an F-16.  It was a lot of fun.  Very similar to the one I did in the T-38 a while back, except this jet has a little (or a lot) more oomph to it.  I think we got up to 120mph in like 3-4 seconds, but I was too busy hanging on to actually count.  I also got to steer the jet (using the foot pedals) from the back seat, which was kinda hard.  It’s a delayed reaction and I was looking on a small screen in the cockpit that was showing what a camera on the front of the jet saw and listening to the IP (who’s call sign was Jager) tell me which pedal to push.  It was fun, but hard and after about 20 seconds Jager was like, okay I have the jet.  =)  Oops.

You have to wear helmets and a face mask that is connected to oxygen and it made me feel a little claustrophobic to have the mask on my face.  It was tight and I felt like I wasn’t getting enough air the entire time I had the thing on so I kept trying to get my finger under it and hold it away from my face so I could get air underneath it and breath normally.  I’m sure it was all in my head but it kinda freaked me out.  Mainly because I guess someone was doing a taxi or some ride in a jet and the hose that you hook up to the oxygen got obstructed somehow and he couldn’t figure out how to get the mask off (it’s a tricky bracket on the side of the helmet that you have to undo to loosen it) and he suffocated and actually died.  So yeah, that freaked me out slightly and I kept making sure that I knew how to get the thing off or that it wasn’t too tight on my face.

The kind of ironic thing about this flight was me having to make the radio calls.  During my T-38 taxi, I was completely caught off guard by having to make the radio calls to the tower before and after the taxi ride.  (Getting clearance and that sort of stuff.)  It made me nervous and I think I screwed up every single one of them.  Repeating a bunch of letters and numbers that are meaningless to you is hard, especially when you’re put on the spot.  I totally thought I was going to get to sit back and enjoy the ride.  Not so much…  So this time, things were a little different.  We went out as a 6-ship (so 6 jets) and the plan was for Jet #1 to make all the radio calls and then the other five just chimed in with their respective numbers.  Since I was in jet #2, theoretically I would have just said “2” for all the radio calls after #1 said all the confusing numbers and stuff.  Well wouldn’t you know that jet #1 had technically difficulties and since we were jet #2, we now took over the radio calls.  Yay.  To top it off, Jager and I could talk to each other over the radio in the cockpit, but when I pushed the switches to transmit radio calls outside the cockpit (to the other jets and to the tower) he couldn’t hear what I was saying so he had NO clue if I was screwing things up, and neither did I so that made 2 of us.  =)  This time around though, I was much less nervous about the whole thing and had a lot of fun.  I told Jager I wouldn’t mind if he accidently got the plane off the ground.  Mark said I should wait until he lit the afterburners and then say to him over the radio “I’ve got the jet”.  Haha!

Here are a few pictures from the training and the actual event.  PS – the jet I rode it was built in 1984 and had 6935 hours on it!

 IMG_4520 IMG_4524 IMG_4547 IMG_5715 IMG_5718 IMG_5719  IMG_5738 IMG_5740 IMG_5742 IMG_5748 IMG_5754 IMG_5763 IMG_5772 IMG_5794

Overall it was a lot of fun and I’m thankful I get to have the opportunity to do these fun things.