Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goal Complete: Get a Family Pic Done

Although I did do a little research on photographers in Wisconsin and some different family photography options, we ultimately ended up propping the digital camera on a stool in the back yard and crossing our fingers.

Also, I'm just too cheap to shell out the dough.

My only requirements: had to be done in the snow, and it had to have all 5 of us in it (Those requirements are in no particular order).

We had originally tried the picture at the top of the hill behind our house. The lighting wasn't great but I was so eager to just get it done that after we took just a couple I looked at it on the LCD screen and said "DONE". Luckily, Keith said why don't we try a few more on the other side of the trees, and we did. I'm SO thankful because the other ones that I was previously satisfied with were horrible.

We ended up using this for our Christmas card and I think it's really good. The boys aren't screaming, it's in the snow and we actually look like we all get along.

Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Essen Haus

Keith and I have driven by "The Essen Haus" at least a handful of times, and each time he is really adamant that he wants to try it! SO, on Sunday night when we had our date night I surprised him by heading that way and checking it out.

I expected something similar to "The Bavarian Grill" in Plano. German decor, loud music and lots and lots of lederhosen. "The Essen Haus" had 2 of those things (no live bands on Sunday nights).

We were impressed with the setup and there was a large bar area (of course-Germany is known for a beer or 2, right?). Lots of little details and the menu really was authentic food with a few additional options. We were both super excited when they brought out PRETZELS instead of bread. Awesome! They also brought out rye bread during the meal. The place fell one notch down on my soda ladder seeing as they didn't have Dr.P…but then again, most places up here don't. I settled for a Sierra Mist (Oh if I must).

I have no idea what Keith ordered but it ended up looking like an entire animal's leg severed and laying on a plate. I went safe and ordered grilled shrimp and potatoes and it was SO good! Keith said his was OK (after it kicked him in the face), but we both agreed it's a place we would go to again. We think Keith's parents would especially enjoy it. Seems like a good family place (minus the beer), and if the kids got loud it would be OK.

Great place! Two animal legs up!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Makes a Successful Santa Visit?

In this instance I think it's the fact that we went with 3 kids and returned home with 3 kids.

Okay, it wasn't THAT bad.

Going to see Santa was something I had been putting off. Up until this year my Mom and I had a tradition of her taking a Friday off work and helping me to take all the boys to see Santa. So I was kind of bummed that we weren't able to do that this year.

One weekend Lands' End was having a free breakfast and the chance to see Santa. I had signed us up for 9am on a Saturday, and of course when the time came I didn't want to load everyone up that early and drive out to Dodgeville.

So here it is the last week before Christmas and we had to brave the mall one night. I wanted to get in and get out as quickly as possible. We got there and Santa was on break (I guess even Santa needs to pee), so we got in line and waited. It wasn't that long of a wait, I'd guess about 20 minutes. I brought a stash of marshmallows as bribery and only had to use them for about the last 5 with Erik. When we got up to Santa I didn't really think there would be a problem...

Wrong.

No one addressed us...not even Santa. There was a lady taking the pictures, a man taking the money and of course...Santa. We just had the boys climb up and Keith tried to put Erik down and he wasn't having any of it. I told the girl to take the picture even with him crying. Nick was good but more interested in the sock he was holding that he made that day. And Kolbe wanted to walk Santa through all the train magazines he brought. Santa listened to him surprisingly, and then said "Good luck with that". Not kidding.

I'm glad we took them of course, and we have the picture to prove it. I'm glad Santa is pulling through and getting the train Kolbe wanted...that is going to make the trip all worth it!!

Mom's Visit to Madison

A few weeks ago my Mom and youngest sister (Taylor,9) came up to visit for 3 days and we had a blast.

They came in on Friday morning and I drove out to MKE to pick them up. We went and got Kolbe out of school early and spent the day running around. Lunch at Chuckee Cheese, the thrift shop, Target, Toys R' Us and then back to the house for a little relaxing. Friday night Taylor and Kolbe went to the gym for Parents' Night Out. My Mom was able to spend some time with Nick and Erik that way.

Saturday morning we were thrilled to wake up to the first snowfall of the month! How exciting!! What we were not thrilled about was how to get out of the driveway that morning to had out to Mt. Horeb to go to the caves. We made it there anyways just in time for the tour. Afterwards, I was able to provide entertainment for them since I couldn't get out of the parking lot and had to get towed in the snow! Within a couple hours we had the car in the shop for new tires.

That evening we had JJ over for dinner and had so much fun. My Mom and Julie were able to catch up after not seeing each other for at least 5 years. Then at about 10 that night my Mom and I went to the casino. Reminded me of when we went to Shreveport for my 21st!

Sunday morning we went over to eat at Ella's Diner, spent a lot of time on the sledding hill and then headed back out to the airport. The weekend went back way too fast, but I'm SO glad they were able to come visit and see the house and the area. I'm also proud of my Mom for flying because she is never thrilled with being in a plane!!

We miss them already!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Our first winter in the Midwest has just begun, with our second weekend of SNOW!

I can't believe this goes on through March? I'm used to pulling out shorts and t-shirts by that time every year. Shoot, sometimes it's possible to wear shorts in December in Dallas and not even have to wait until then!

Here's a Texas girl's random learnings after a mere 9 days into the winter wonderland:

• Sometimes you need to snowplow 2-3 times each day just to keep the snow out of your driveway, sidewalks and away from the mailbox.

• You really can feel a difference between 20 degrees and 2 degrees.

• 6-year olds must have some additional layer of skin that repels cold weather.

• It feels like it takes 2 hours to get 3 pairs of snow boots, 3 pairs of snow pants, 3 hats, 3 pairs of gloves and 3 jackets on 3 kids. Just to turn around and do it again over and over again.

• I find myself drinking less so I don't have to pee as much, because it's too cold to remove any article of clothing for any length of time, no matter how quick it may be.

• Almost everyone has a story about sliding off the road into a ditch, it's just something that happens.

• I still haven't mastered getting out of the driveway and have to go the opposite direction just to get out.

• When I get home I just slide into the garage. It's actually kind of fun.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hello St. Mary, Goodbye Pain

"Well, you're no spring chicken"-Keith Mueller to his wife Nicolle after sledding down the snow hill.

It's Sunday afternoon, and Kolbe and I had just come back from dropping my Mom and sister off at the airport. There was about 45 minutes left of daylight and Kolbe wanted to go back to the hill to sled, and I wanted to go too! We went over and started trekking up to the very top.

Kolbe makes it down just fine, he actually slows down in a few spots. I get on the disc and go bolting down. I have no idea how fast but my legs are out straight and I end up getting turned around to where my back is facing downward...several seconds later at the bottom of the hill...SLAM...my back runs right into Kolbe who is still laying down.

I hit him...hard.

He's crying, and it took the wind out of me. I get up and help him and after a couple minutes he wants to go back and try again. We go one more time and it takes about 5 minutes. By the time I get down the hill again I get up and can't even stand all the way up...ouch. Pain in my lower pelvic area that I can't even describe. I barely made the walk home. I laid down the rest of the night in a lot of pain, but it was tolerable.

By Monday I was doing OK and went into work just like normal. Still not able to stand up straight and assuming this is all from the sledding run-in, but my back didn't hurt at all. I was really tired, and slept about 11 hours the night before and was still exhausted. I took it easy Monday night too.

By Tuesday morning I went into work already feeling "off". My skin was hot but I couldn't get warm. I had a headache, no appetite, my stomach was still hurting and once again I was exhausted after 10 hours of sleep. I made an appointment to see the LE doctor on-site.

I went over there at 2:00 thinking they would confirm it was from running into Kolbe and that I just needed to rest and get over it. Not the case. They took a urine sample, did blood work, did an exam and he was worried. I also had a fever of 104. He thought it may be my appendix and that the sledding incident was merely coincidental. He wanted me to head into Madison for a cat scan to get everything checked out. I drank what seemed like a gallon of barium and headed over.

Keith and the boys met me over there and only stayed for a bit. It was sweet of him to stop in and see what was going on. We're definitely not used to problems like this without family around. I'm not one of those people who likes to be sitting around waiting by myself, but it was not easy for the boys to be there so Keith took them home.

They did the cat scan with an IV in to run more fluid through. It only took about 45 minutes to get the results. Good news-appendix was OK and no surgery needed to remove it! That's what I thought because I was having pain on both sides. So...what was the diagnosis?

A CYST!

The doctor found a 3" cyst on my right ovary that was bleeding. It was bleeding down into the pelvic area as well-which is what was causing pain on both sides. Treatment: lots of R&R, no lifting the boys, pain meds and Tylenol for the fever (the fever stumped him). He's going to monitor it very closely. There's a small chance of a hemorrhage-but it's very unlikely. I asked him whether or not the sledding accident triggered it and he couldn't rule it out. Obviously the cyst was there, but I think it wouldn't have just started bleeding on it's own. I feel very fortunate it was found and can now be monitored. I don't know how long it would have taken if this hadn't have happened.

See, there is a good side to bad things that happen! I'm also thankful to know what it is now...and very thankful to the person who invented Vicadin.

BIG thanks for my wonderful hubby for running ragged taking care of me and the boys. Also Kolbe set up a train to bring food to the guest bedroom downstairs eventhough he did tell me I needed to make the food to put on the train, it was still very sweet.

Now, where are my drugs?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Treinen Farm

videoA few weeks ago we took the boys over to a farm in Lodi (which I now know the "i" is pronounced like me, myself and I" not "eee" sounding). You know how I know this? Because people at work started laughing and pointing (well, maybe not pointing) when I said "Lodeeeee".

I mean, people don't say "raviol-I", they say "ravio-leeeee".

Sidetracked.

So we really liked this farm. We got there too early because it was the time change weekend and the boys were up and ready to go so we made the drive out. We drove around for awhile until the opened and saw a cow giving birth! Gross.

When we got to the farm no one was there (no other visitors), so we had the place to ourselves. They had a corn maze, a playground made from tires, so large bikes to ride around and the best part-the tunnel slides! Nick was scared to go and Keith took him down once and he was hooked! This was my favorite part, and if the weather weren't already ridiculously cold I would go back, but it will have to wait until spring!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TRAINFEST!

About a week and a half ago we drove out to Milwaukee and took the boys to TRAINFEST that was located at the indoor stadium at the state fair. It was SO much fun!

We got there about 10 in the morning and it was really cold. I'm so glad it wasn't outside 'cause the wind itself felt like it was burning my face. When we got in I realized I forgot the coupons and Keith was nice enough to run back out (hey, that was $8 saved)!

We met up with JJ (Julie and Jamie) and the boys were thrilled to see them. We were happy to see them too, and not just so they could help us keep up with the kiddos!

I was impressed with the setup. They had a small train you could ride, and they had one that was right there on the ground so they could sit and watch it at their level. The rest was hard for Nick and Erik to see, and we had to pick them up a lot for a good view. They had people telling stories, lego building and of course lots of trains you could buy.

After about 2 hours we sat and had some lunch there and decided to call it quits. But over 2 hours with no meltdowns in such a crowded place was a happy and successful day in my book.

We thought they would be pooped and sleep the whole way home. Nope. That was the only downfall. They were kind of cranky the rest of the day, but it was all worth it!

We will definitely be going to TRAINFEST again next year (which Kolbe has made sure to ask about already)!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Good 'Ole Days

I remember the first time I saw Keith, like it was yesterday. Our surroundings, what he was wearing, what I was wearing, his gestures, his smile. I can't believe next week will be 17 years since that time in my life. A life that feels like someone else's because I'm so far removed from it. As I sit on top of a pile of work in the office, screaming kids at home, parent/teacher conferences, homework, cooking, cleaning, working out, errands, and an occasional "hello" to Keith as we pass each other in the hallway, it's nice to take a moment to reminisce about…"the good 'ol days".

It's funny how back then I felt like things were so tough. Chanting "But Mom, you don't understand me!!!" Between school, a part-time job, extra-curricular activities, homework, friends…and of course a new boyfriend-where did the time go?!

I've got news for you Nicolle, that was NOTHING!

I'm in amazement at how much our marriage and relationship has evolved after so many years. I've just recently learned and found comfort in the fact that wherever Keith and the boys are…that's home. Comfort is bliss. But bliss at 17 is that first kiss, the first touch on the small of my back, my car door being opened, a rose for every week of dating, staying up all night long and experiencing things for the first time.

Energy, youth, naivety.

Those are now replaced with practicality, responsibility and knowledge.

It's a great thing to come this far in a relationship, but it's also important to take the time to go out and just TALK. I never knew it would be so hard!

I need a nanny.

In reality, it's all completely manageable. I wouldn't trade my life for anything and I am truly lucky for family, friends, my job and health.

But every once in awhile, sometimes more often than not, I like to dream about playing hooky, hopping in a beat up 1984 Ford Escort and driving out to the middle of nowhere just "to talk". With Keith in his black leather jacket, the smell of Green Trident gum and his hair so long that it falls down in his face....

The Good 'Ole Days

Monday, November 1, 2010

I say Chuckee, You Say CHEESE!

Kolbe's birthday party was Sunday morning and we had a great time!

I was really worried about how many kids would show, and although we only had 2 of his friends come I thought Kolbe really enjoyed it and it certainly made it easier for us. We also had some family friends come in from Pewaukee which was a real lifesaver!

Fu Chee is Kolbe's good friend right now at school, so they were inseparable the whole time. We got to know his parents a little who live right near us and also have 3 other children (all under the age of 5)! And I thought we had our hands full! Fu Chee is super sweet and we are excited Kolbe has a new friend!

The Chuckee Cheese we had the party at impressed me. They were nice, organized and they had a lot of extras like the crown, ticket blaster and a great hostess. It was also really inexpensive-the least we've ever paid for a party.

I certainly missed our family and friends a lot, but think overall it's a party that Kolbe will remember! Happy 6th!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy 6th Birthday Kolbe Paul!

I remember 10.29.04 like it was yesterday. It was one of the best days of our lives!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Goal Complete: Complete Body Detox

Okay, so I finally attempted a body detox and I'm checking it off my list of things to do because I never want to do it again!

I didn't even go extreme here. I feel the body natural "detoxifies" (if you treat it right) and there's no need to "starve" yourself. So, I opted for an all raw fruit, veggie, whole grain and supplement plan.

7-Day Detox

It seemed like a lot of work. Eating things at certain times of the day (down to the hour) and eating very frequently. The order of items was also important. On the first day alone I could barely choke down the 4 cups of steamed veggies I had prepared (see pic). It was awful. And I don't despise veggies.

By the 4th day I felt really good. I felt "lighter"...and I don't mean that in weight but more just a relative feeling about myself and I also didn't feel as tired. I could tell I was very hydrated as the detox also required 8 glasses of water a day in addition to broth and water with Vitamin C powder added. I was never hungry really. But at the same time, I felt very "deprived" of any tasteful food which was sparking a strong desire to splurge and eat junk.

It was supposed to be 7 days, and after day 4.... I ordered a pizza. I may have lost a couple of pounds (we don't keep a scale in the house), my jeans fit a little looser.

This experiment has shown me if I don't give in to little treats occasionally I'm going to have a lot of pent up cravings inside and go crazy. Detox is just not for me!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Goals Complete for 10.10.10

This year marks the 3rd year I have set GOALS online for myself, and the time range has ran for 13 months each.

08.08.08-GOALS COMPLETE
09.09.09-GOALS COMPLETE
10.10.10-BELOW

The next one will now be.

Wait for it....

11.11.11

Congratulations if you got it right!

I'm pretty proud of the goals I accomplished this past year, even if the checked off list is not a hefty one. Here they are:

GOALS COMPLETE

  • √ Get a bicycle
  • √ Go see a parade
  • √ Have my little sister spend the night
  • √ Help my sister financially
  • √ Meet my dad
  • √ Paint Kolbe's room
  • √ Paint Nickolas' room
  • √ Speak at a design conference
  • √ Submit a white paper
  • √ Travel to midwestern state
I'm the happiest about my dad of course. It's been an up and down process that's for sure. Speaking at WebVisions was an incredible experience, and I'm hoping to do it again next year. Also traveling to Wisconsin was at the top of my list-because that landed me at my new job!

Now it's time to reassess the upcoming goals and get to work!
Bring on 11.11.11!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chicago Marathon 10.10.10

Let's get this message out and done with upfront:

I didn't finish.

Very mixed emotions on 10.10.10, including disappointment, thankfulness, exhilaration and pain.

I started this adventure all the way back as early as April, when my good friend Bethany said "Hey Nicolle! You should run the Chicago Marathon with me!" and I said "OK!".

I started formally training in June, and by formal I mean I followed a downloaded training plan put in place by the race. I didn't stick to it 100%. I'd say I stuck to it 62.5% of the time. Ya, that feels about right. I did eat pretty healthy, and I did some weight training as well. In looking back on it now, there's so much more I should have done. I accomplished quite a few long runs, but never made the 20 mark.

Fast forward to this past weekend.

I took a bus down to Chicago Saturday morning and made my way over to the hotel. Got settled in and met up with Stephen, Beth and Clay for our out of control carb dinner. Cafe Zalute met my expectations! Very good! We had fun and it was nice catching up! Keith drove in around 7 that evening.

Up and at 'em at 3:45 in the morning! We met up at the train station- Keith, Bethany, Stephen, Laura and Beth's family. So nice to have a group to go with! Getting downtown was exciting…I'd always wanted to see Chicago. I saw a mix of styles-some buildings reminded me of Italy (the Metra signs) and some areas looked like any other downtown. I could have been in Seattle or Boston-couldn't really tell. But then along the waterfront at the START line, the distinguishing skyline was beautiful. Watching the sun come up in anticipation was even better.

The crowd was energetic and fun. 45,000 people participating and 1.7 spectators. It took 35 minutes to even cross the START line.

I felt really good starting off. I felt like I prepared, hydrated, ate enough and stretched enough. The first couple of miles were easy.

Hello Mile #4…let me introduce you to my bladder.

I think this was my #1 mistake…I had to pee. I stopped at Mile 4 and went to the bathroom and the lines were too long but I couldn't hold it. It ate up 15 minutes of time, and I never caught up with my pace group after that. I was still doing good though. Saw Keith and friends around Mile 8 and I was OK. At around Mile 12 I was really feeling the pain in my lower back, and quite a bit in my abs which I usually don't have a problem with. I passed Keith again and was having doubts! At about Mile 14 or 15 the "Official Race Time" car passed me by and I was doing everything in my power to keep up with it. I thought if I could just stay with that car I can do it and sprint at the end to get ahead.

By Mile 16-17 I was walking quite a bit, and I tacked on an easy 30 minutes in time and the bottom of my feet felt like they were on fire and my left ankle was throbbing. I was chaffing under my arms and the vaseline wasn't helping at all. As I looked at my watch and hit the 5 hour mark at Mile 18 I just knew I wasn't going to finish in time.

I think I had kind of mentally accepted it the last couple of miles and toggled back and forth in my head about it. Do I finish hours from now and received no metal and no qualification, or do I stop? I made the decision to stop and not push through the final 7.5 because at that time I felt like I couldn't even walk it-when in reality, can't we really do anything we put our mind to? I cried all the way to the aid station and joined the others who weren't able to finish.

Devastating.

I was disappointed and angry at myself, yet I was proud that I went as far as I did.

I was embarrassed to tell everyone I didn't make it, but people have been really supportive, and it's the best feeling knowing there were people there to do that. That really meant a lot to me.

I am so thankful for the experience. I learned a LOT!

- PEE as many times as possible RIGHT BEFORE the race. Not an hour before the race! It will not go away once you start running!!

- I need to try more food options like GU for the run and I need to get a sport belt NOT a fanny pack (albeit fanny packs are cross functional and super cool).

- Put vaseline on before starting for the chaffing.

- Put chap stick on!! My lips were on fire when it was done. Between the sun, sweat and dirt it was horrible.

- No matter what, try and stay with the pace group.

- It doesn't matter what you look like, how much you weigh, or how tall you are in order to finish a marathon.

- I've never seen so many different types of people and situations-from people throwing up on the side of the road, to people saying prayers at every mile marker, to people juggling, it's a melting pot of craziness!

- People are amazing and positive. All the support and kind words really are out there! People want to see other people succeed!

- I STILL WANT A MEDAL!!!!

363 days until Chicago 2011!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Riverside and Great Northern Railway

Riverside and Great Northern Railway

Several weeks back we took the boys to ride a train up in the Dells. Warning: if you are looking for anything on a County Road and using a navigation system- DON'T TRUST IT! We got so turned around and ended up practically in the backyard of a mobile home on a gravel road.

We got our bearings, and after driving dangerously over the speed limit (well, not too dangerously, we do have kids in the car people), we got to the train with about 5 minutes to spare before it took off. Just enough to get both the boys to use the bathroom and get our tickets!

The train itself was smaller than I thought, but the boys loved it. It was a 3 mile ride, and after half of it they stop and let everyone out and talk about the area, the train, etc. No interest from Nick or Erik, but Kolbe was very intrigued. He wanted to know how it worked and was really studying and concentrating on what the conductor was saying. He's my little engineer!!

The trees, lake and scenery were beautiful - and this really sparked Erik's interest! He's been making choo choo sounds and playing with them non-stop at home. Now we have a third enthusiast in the household!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oma & Opa's Golden Anniversary

Congratulations to Keith's parents for their upcoming 50th wedding anniversary on the 27th and their recent celebration around it.

We made our way down to Texas at the end of July to celebrate with family and friends. I flew down with Baby Erik and Keith took the older boys and made a long drive out of it- stopping in places like Wichita to visit his brother, Branson, Missouri and other areas to explore caves, camp and have fun.

I had a couple of nights with my family and spent a lot of time visiting. Went to dinner with a group of friends, went to the dentist to finish the root canal work and even had lunch with my old Fossil friends!

It was a great time (it was a HOT time)! I do not miss the 100+ days.

Keith had a rough time getting back home, including the car breaking down in Illinois and getting pulled over by a cop when he pulled off the road to try and find a bathroom for Kolbe. I felt so bad for them.

I'm looking forward to a few years from now when we can all make the drive. Erik is still too young (or shall I say my tolerance level is too short) for the long drive.

We plan on making our way back to Texas every summer with the whole gang.

In the meantime, congratulations again to Oma & Opa and thank you for showing us a successful marriage!

Monday, August 23, 2010

National Mustard Day

Several weeks ago, on a Saturday far, far away, Keith decided to go hang out with some friends for the day and leave me with the kids. So what do I decide to do with them…take them to the National Mustard Museum in downtown Middleton. I mean…it is National Mustard Day.

Really the only reason I wanted to head over was because I read they were giving away free hot dogs. Who can pass up free hot dogs when you have 3 boys?

I expected a small, semi-quiet air-conditioned building with maybe a stand in the corner with food.

Nope.

They had the whole area blocked off with bounce houses shaped like cheese, the huge Oscar Meyer-mobile, games, a stage with a concert going on (which all cost money). I decided since we drove all the way over and the boys needed to get out that we would brave the crowd. We made it far enough in for a picture with the hot dog and to get a free hotdog (which Kolbe dropped about 60 seconds after he got it loaded up). In all the chaos and in the middle of the meltdown he was having over this I told him to pick it up, dust it off and it'd be just fine. So he did.

Happy National Mustard Day!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor

Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor

This past weekend we were looking around for something inexpensive and located indoors to take the boys to on Sunday (since it was supposed to rain), and came across a link to Ella's Deli & Ice Cream Parlor.

Perfect!

Kolbe and Nickolas both love ice cream, even though Nickolas can only get about 5 licks in before it's melted because he's so slow when he eats (that's a trait from me).

We get to Ella's a little before lunch and pulling up we see the huge carousel outside that you can ride. We went inside and they asked us "how many" and we just went with the flow and sat down, but we really weren't anticipating staying to eat, we just wanted ice cream. After about the first 15 minutes of stress from the boys not wanting to sit and not knowing what to order we settled in and enjoyed it. The inside is very impressive and it kind of had a flavor of "Roadside America" in PA. The room is filled with toys, gadgets, themes and circus-type activities all around and hanging from the ceiling. Trains, carousels and acrobatics at a small, yet whimsical, scale. Lots of fun sounds, and even built-in activities in the tables. Our table had pens attached that you could use to move the magnets built inside-genius!

The food ended up being excellent (I happen to love deli/diner type places) and I would definitely go back.

We're looking forward to taking Keith's parents here when they are in town in a few weeks, and we know this is a place where the kids could have a meltdown and they would kind of just blend in.

On the other hand, the people who work there have to be seriously underpaid.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Goal Complete: Go See a Parade

Yay for making it out to a parade!!

Today we enjoyed a small-town Farmers Appreciation Day Parade in Dodgeville! Once again, I was unprepared, and didn't know where to go exactly or what to expect, but it worked out just fine.

We got there right before it started and found a great spot on the corner. The boys enjoyed the giant badger, the fire trucks, the music and most of all-the candy!! I didn't realize people would throw candy out to the crowd, and then I started thinking back and realized I don't think I've ever been to a parade that I wasn't IN! (Back in the good 'ol popular band days)

I enjoyed the local feel. It wasn't hundred of thousands of people crammed into downtown Dallas with everyone sticking together like sardines. The boys behaved very well. I only had to correct Kolbe once when he said during the 23 second break in the parade that he was "bored" that he needed to be thankful we were here.

It will be fun to go again next year, and yes we are thankful for the Farmers!!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: Villa Dolce

It's been about a month now, but I tried a quaint Italian/Gelato restaurant called Villa Dolce with a new friend from work one night- it was amazing!!

I love it when old Victorian-style homes are converted and restored, and this is the case with this sit-down eatery. The pizza was one of the best I've had, and that's saying a lot as I have tried a LOT of pizza in my lifetime. We ordered the Prosciutto & Arugula and the Thai Chicken. Tack on a couple of cocktails, some gelato and good company and the evening is perfect.

I've gone there once since then to pick up and order, and am dying to go back and take Keith sometime. I think he would like it, and it's the perfect place for a date night.

LOVE it!

Adulthood Welcomes Nicolle

I have to admit-I've relied heavily on my family, well…forever. Anything from seeking their approval on life-decisions, calling to find out how to make a certain recipe, or babysitting the boys. I have always had access to my grandparents, Mom, Aunt and in-laws with the speed of a phone call or a short car ride away.

Not anymore!

At times it feels liberating. I like the fact that Keith and I rely so much on each other, it brings us closer together. Even if he's just picking me up at the car shop. What I don't like is the boys asking to go to Oma and Opa's house and not being able to fulfill that without a trip across the country. Or when there's some downtime we can't just have my grandparents over for dinner. Or I can't just load the baby up in the car and stop by my Mom's work. Or I can't call my Aunt up to hang out and go see a scary movie on a Friday night.

I know in time this will get easier. It's only been 4 weeks since we've all been here in Madison. I know that the visits down to Texas (in 3 1/2 weeks as a matter of fact) will be quality time. I know that we will find new friends, routines and activities here- we have already enjoyed quite a few so far, including 2 dinners with J&J from Pewaukee!!

I feel grown up. I feel responsible. I feel like this is good for me. I hope it turns out to be a good thing for "us". It's important to me to see people we care about on a regular basis so that the boys don't "forget" people or things and they are still comfortable with everything and everyone from back "home". We will make sure that happens.

In the meantime the top priority is: FIND A SITTER! =)

Friday, July 2, 2010

The New House

We've been in our new house for almost 3 weeks now, and it's going OKAY! Here are the Pros and Cons:

PROS
• The backyard is HUGE and has mulberry and apple trees that the kids can pick from.

• The basement is great-plenty of room for the kids to play and keep all their toys, plus I can run on the treadmill down in a cool place with a T.V and no one can hear me.

• The neighborhood has a massive amount of trees.

• We can open the windows and get a great breeze in-all the windows and doors have screens.

• There is a ton of closet space.

• The house has solar panels.

• We are close to Target.

• We love (the boys especially) the laundry chute.

• It's a huge amount of space with an extra bedroom and office.

CONS
• The house is so big sometimes we can't find all the kids.

• The backyard only has one side fenced in. (Could lose a kid)

• The house has "crawl spaces" which really freak me out.

• The laundry room/storage part of the basement freaks me out.

• Too many flights of stairs-especially if I forget something.

• There's a ton of dog hair in the backyard clinging to the rocks from the previous owner. Eventually I'll clean it up- and I bet it will make a medium-sized sheepdog of our own when I'm done.

• The laundry chute (it's a love/hate relationship). We don't exactly love the boys throwing shoes, food or Keith's cell phone down it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Goal Complete: Paint Boys' Room

Does this completed goal count if:

1) I didn't physically do it?
2) It didn't come out as originally planned?
3) and there was only 1 room instead of 2?

Yes.

The original goal was to paint the boy's bedrooms when they were in separate rooms, with separate themes. Then the goal became to paint their room that they shared. I started to paint a SpongeBob theme back in July 2009-never finished it.

Then we sold the house and the realtor told us to paint it back to white. Keith's dad came over and did the whole room for us, which was such a nice thing for him to do.

Goal complete!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Big Family Move: Part I

Let me preface this by saying "I am happy with my decision to take this new job and move, regardless of the stressful tone that is about to be posted".

I've just never experienced moving a family of 5 across the country before.

Let's backtrack to last week, Wednesday in particular, which was the day I flew to Dallas to get this move started! The plan was to have a rather peaceful day. I would go into work like usual, leave slightly early to drive out to Milwaukee to go through a painless check-in and security process, and then spend 2 hours reading US Weekly, eating junk food and people watching before boarding the plane. Sounds like a good day, right?

Let's look at how the week really panned out!

Wednesday: About halfway through the day I realize I forgot my medicine at the hotel that the dentist gave me for after my upcoming root canal in Dallas along with the other half dozen items I forgot. I leave early enough to go grab those things, stop by the bank for cash and change clothes. Head out at 3:30 giving myself a good 2.5 hours to get to the airport knowing it should only take 1.5 hours. I don't get very far and the highway backs up with traffic, what should have been 1.5 ends up taking me 3.5 due to a cow truck tipping over and the highway shutting down. I'm doing everything I can from taking off the road detours, calling a closer airport to get another flight, to checking in on my phone while I'm driving just in case I can swing the 8:00 flight. I get to MKE at 7:05, RUN to print my boarding pass, get through security and go the bathroom and run to the gate just in time to get through the door. It's a miracle.

Thursday: This is pack up day for the movers! Window for them to arrive was 8-10, they decide it would be a good idea to show up at 7:30 without calling. They were really nice, but we weren't dressed, the kids were all over the house and we still had things that were not put aside to not pack in boxes. 4 people come in and in a matter of 4 hours the house is packed up. We didn't even have glasses to drink out of nor did we think about things like that. I did take a break to visit Fossil and have lunch with a few friends from there, that was really nice. The afternoon was spent searching for my debit card which I never found. Called to cancel it and later that night found it. Too late now! By that time the baby was getting increasingly hot and really cranky. We spent Thursday night on about 2 hours of sleep and a sick baby. Assuming his temperature was at least 103 (thermometer packed up in a box somewhere).

Friday: Root canal day! I spent the morning with a lovely wake-up call to Chase to deal with another issue between my Chase account and Wells Fargo which is still not resolved. Took Kolbe over to school in a daze after a sleep-less night. Keith took the baby to the doctor, and he had blisters on the back of his throat-something the doctor assumed was there from him not brushing his teeth well enough (he's 15 months). As soon as Keith came back (we only have 1 car mind you), I went over to the dentist for what I thought was the last part of my root canal. When she put the crown on she grabbed my mouth with her thumb and finger like you would a fish, and pushed down so hard it bruised me. That was fun. As I'm getting up to leave she said see you in 3 weeks for the final crown. I said "What?". I thought this was it? And then said "You can ship it to Wisconsin or wait 7 weeks". I gave them $500 and said I'm waiting 7 weeks. When I got home nothing was left in the house but cranky kids so we decided to get a hotel room for the next 2 nights instead of spending the time in an empty house.

Saturday: Car day! We got up early to head over to the rental car place to get a car for 2 days. They had no record of our reservation. We wait, they bring an SUV to us, we leave. The movers come to load our car to ship-they tell us it will get to WI no later than the 21st (hopefully). I'm doing random things and head back to the back bathroom to get the bath mat to throw away…I just happen to look in the bedroom closet and realize the movers didn't load anything from our master closet. Great. We spend the rest of the day entertaining the kids and visiting with friends and family that stopped by. We pass out at the hotel that night at about 9:00.

Sunday: MOVING DAY! I head over to the house with the baby to load up everything the movers didn't get and take it to my grandmother's house. I also try to clean up more and get everything picked up the boys had played with the day before. Leave the house for the last time. Pick up everyone else back at the hotel and head over to my grandmother's house again to say goodbye. We leave to head to the airport. Get to the rental car place and they drive us to the terminal. Realize we didn't refill with gas. I don't care if it cost $100 to fill that tank as long as it's one less thing we have to do. Once they dump all 5 of us, 3 bags, 4 carry-ons, 1 stroller, 1 daybed and 3 car seats at the curb reality hits me that we gotta do this. The process from here to the gate is laughable: from the airline employees losing track of how many checked items we have, to watching Keith sit the baby on the security belt, to having 2 hours to spare just to make sure we got there with plenty of time. It was an adventure to say the least. I was not impressed with AIR TRAN. I may do a separate post just on the airline, but they did not allow us to board first with the kids and we had the car seat and everyone situated and then informed us we couldn't have the car seat in the aisle seat. They just were not very pleasant, but then again maybe I wasn't either. The boys were angels on the flight and Erik and Nick slept for most of it. Getting off the plane, through baggage claim, the bathrooms and parking was OK. The ride to the new house was long and tiring for everyone and we were cranky.

But we are HERE!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Disneyworld, 2010

It was almost 3 months ago, but I wanted to share some of our experiences at Disneyworld this year!

We went during Spring Break in March, and were lucky enough to stay with Keith's brother and his family at the time share they had right in the Epcot park. The room was so nice.

We drove with Kolbe and Nickolas and left Erik with Keith's parents for most of the week. The boys were excellent during the road trip. We stayed at a halfway point, and it took about 20 hours and 2 days to get there.

We spent time in 3 parks-Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately on the last day at Epcot Keith got really sick, and I had the boys on my own with some help from Keith's brother Eric. It worked out just fine, but I felt horrible for Keith. I was also able to meet up with Jill and family and Andi and family while we were in Epcot. We rode one ride together, but after that it was too hard to keep together.

The boys favorite ride was "It's a Small World" and Kolbe would ask if we could ride it again as soon as the ride began!!

I flew out on Thursday morning to get baby Erik and spend 3 days with him just the two of us, and Keith stayed with the boys for the rest of the week. He drove home with them and did an outstanding job. I was really impressed!

We're looking forward to making our way back in the next year or two when Erik is big enough to enjoy. Maybe we'll do a Disney cruise!

Until next time Mickey!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hotel Lucia in Portland, Oregon

Hotel Lucia

This was a beautiful hotel. In the heart of downtown Portland, if I had more than 24-hours to experience the city it would have been ideal for a longer stay.

Very modern and eclectic style. Down to the final touches such as the door handles, sink style and shape, and packaging of items in the mini bar. The bed was A-MAZING! It was like lying in a cloud, and I thought to myself, "self- you should have this bed". But then I would never get out of it.

I ordered room service while I was there, and cannot make a fair assessment on it as my stomach was so much in knots about making a presentation I couldn't eat. But they had a very heath conscious menu which is appreciated, and I did order eggs whites, fruit and whole grain toast.

This is definitely a place I would consider staying-NOT with kids, but on a business trip for sure.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Review: Prince of Persia

On Sunday night Keith and I went to see "Prince of Persia" after the boys went to bed while my sister stayed at the house. It was great to get out just the two of us even if we were staring blankly at a big screen with no conversation between us for 2 hours!

Let me just say off the bat, I hadn't heard a single thing about this movie and had no idea what it was about. My remedial knowledge of history is no help, so I didn't know if this movie was fact or fiction. Turns out, it was based off a video game! What? Now if they could make a movie around Tetris, Q-bert or Galaga then I might be able to relate better.

Nonetheless, the plot was good, the eye candy was better. I would watch it again, so that's saying a lot.

We were slightly distracted though because some parents decided it would be a great idea to bring their small children (under the age of 5) to a 10pm showing of a grown up movie!! Who does that? These poor kids were in there until after midnight talking, crying at one point and very tired. I would have brought my kids but "Spliced" is coming out on Friday and thought that might be a better fit for them with violent and terrifying visuals!

The movie was good. Tip: don't bring your preschooler.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Goal Complete: Help My Sister Financially

It's not like we have GOBS of money, but it was on my list of things to do and we were able to do it. My sister needed some moolah for summer school classes so she can get more smarted and we helped her out.

SO proud of my sister who works hard, is responsible, is working full time, going to school full-time and still makes time for family and friends.

The day she graduates Keith and I will be able to say we were a part of it- without actually doing any of the work!

Love you Seeeeeester!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Boston's Pizza

I've had Boston's twice since being up here and had always wanted to try it when I saw it in Dallas. Luckily, this place is about 50 feet from the hotel...or is it lucky?

When Keith was up here awhile back we went to dinner here the first night. It was late (for us), about 9pm and I was on my health kick so I got whole grain crust and veggies. We did splurge on mozzarella sticks as an appetizer. I give the pizza a B- since it was whole-grain crust and all.

The second time I had it was when the hotel ordered it to cater dinner one night. I had 2 slices of regular pizza and I give it a C-...not good. I don't know if it's because it may have been sitting awhile or what, but it was a downer 'cause I think everyone expects good things when they think pizza, right?. It was just plain cheese, thin crust.

With that being the second time I don't think I would go back or have it again. This past weekend I tried a new place out in Pewaukee called "Mama Mia's" and this place was even better than "The Glass Door"! Incredible!

It's a no go for me to Boston's!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Goal Complete: Speak at a Design Conference

It was a success…depending on what the meaning of success is.

My success is that 1) I didn't throw up. 2) Only 5 people left (out of about 40 or 45) and 3) Someone asked me a really great question at the end and told me they got a lot out of the session. That made the whole thing worth it. 4) I didn't throw up!

This was my first time speaking at WebVisions, and as an attendee 2 years ago I have to say I was very honored that they asked me to speak back in January. I got there super early to get set up just in case of technical difficulty (which we had). It never fails with the technical difficulty. Then I had a good half hour to spare and visited with the tech guy and walked around. The team there was on top of it, with volunteers and organizers of the event. 10 minutes before both doors close, 5 minutes before 1 door closes, and at 1:15 I started. I had mingled just a bit before then. The room is always so quiet, and it's very intimidating being on the "giving" end. I've been to countless conferences and always look on at the speaker expecting so much and not really putting myself in their shows.

Boy it's amazing how doing this one time really changes your outlook and helps you to empathize with what they are doing up there.

I feel like I started the session fairly strong. I didn't have an automatic slide button, so I was forced to stand behind the podium as I needed to switch slides which I didn't care for. I like to walk around and get out around the people. I was able to ask them where they came from, where they worked and got closer to them then. There was some good interaction I suppose. The tech guy had to remind me that they can't hear each other and to repeat what they say and ask (oops).

I remember looking at the clock at about 1:40 thinking I've kind of hit a wall with the crowd. I think it distracted me when someone got up to leave. People do that, it's not uncommon, but by the end about 5 people had left!! *Sigh. I was either too boring or it wasn't what they were looking for. Mental note: tell a really compelling story in the middle of the speech-I should have told more personalized stories around the work and what to do. Then at about 10 'til 2 (with 25 minutes left to go) I was starting to run out of content, but made it stretch long enough until 2:00. There was a good Q&A portion-about 3-4 questions and then a handful of people stayed with more, that's always much more comfortable and I really enjoy it. The was one lady who stayed for the next session and I was packing up she asked me how in the world I do it with 3 kids? I told her to ask me that again in 6 months after I've been in a new state with no family around. Haha!

WebVisions gave a gift and I spent awhile talking to the director. He was asking me if I would come back and I said definitely. I told him a few people in my session were designing for the international market and asked if they had considered that as a topic-made a suggestion about it for next year. He said that would be great. So come this September I will definitely be putting that proposal in, and am hoping to wrangle up a few people from LE to come with me and speak as a group so I don't have to do it alone!

In hindsight, there are so many things I would have changed. I realized I didn't even use my big closer I was planning on going through which was one of the best parts-I just completely forgot it! My stories! Less technical difficulty in the middle switching between the presentation and imagery. Better set up with a slide remote. More energy!! Lessons learned! Am hoping to get some feedback from the audience as well and hoping if anyone did hear me speak they would be open to hearing me again-that would be the ultimate compliment!

*Sigh of relief! Done!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mother's Day Weekend

What did we do? It was 2 weeks ago and my memory is already escaping me.

I was in Dallas for a wonderful 4 days for a long Mother's Day weekend. Took a very, very early flight and made it in at about 8:30 that Friday morning. My grandfather picked me up and we made our way to the house. I was overwhelmed with emotion seeing Nickolas run out to me, and seeing my grandmother holding Erik. Erik looked so long and Nick was talking a mile a minute. It was as if 3 weeks created new children they were so different already.

My Aunt stayed most of the day still and we ran around and picked up lunch, played with the kids and I had to go to the dentist. They ended up doing a partial root canal and that was not fun. I spent the evening wanting the enjoy every second but wasn't feeling too hot from that. Keith and I took the boys to McDonalds.

Saturday my dad came over and spent about 3 hours with us and playing with the guys. I love having him over and we caught up and it was nice visiting and seeing each other. After nap time we took the boys out to the mall to play.

Sunday was a wonderful Mother's Day. I got to sleep in a little and Keith made me breakfast in bed. We went over to my grandparents house to visit with everyone and then to dinner just the 5 of us.

Monday my Aunt came over and we took the boys to Gattitown and to the mall to play. Lots more running around and enjoying the gorgeous weather. I picked up Keith from work and we all headed out to the airport. I think the highlight of Monday was Erik falling asleep on my during nap time and just getting to hold him and snuggle. Nick took a great nap too and was laying next to us. It was difficult to turn around and leave, and Kolbe caught me off-guard by getting upset and wanting to go. We've built up the "new house" and "new state" so much that he wants to leave now! Weeks must feel like a lifetime to him.

Thank you to my guys for a wonderful Mother's Day! I'm so glad I spent it with family.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Review: HuHot Mongolian Grill

A few weeks back when Keith came up to visit for the weekend we decided to go to HuHot for dinner on Saturday night.

Let me preface this by saying my opinion may be jaded. I'm the kind of person that gets the same thing at favorite restaurants 'cause "it's my fav" and that sets the bar for all other places.

So MY FAV Mongolian place is Genghis...everyone knows that.

Laura, my friend, told me that HuHot (supposedly common up north) is BETTER than Genghis. Well...she was WRONG! (Sorry, but Laura knows this I already told her she now owes me a meal).

Like I said, I'm not the best critic as I was looking for a replacement for Genghis with the crab meat, peanut sauce and brown rice. At this place the supposed peanut sauce had coconut in it and you could only get noodles when they cooked it. I was scared to put too much sauce in 'cause I don't like coconut but I really wanted the peanut flavor and it just came out really dry. Two thumbs down.

The dessert however was de-lish...puffy pastries with honey, sugar, chocolate and ice cream. That puts the overall review at two thumbs down with maybe a pinky finger up for the chocolate.

I still love ya Laura!

Friday, April 23, 2010

My First Week

This week felt like a month! A good month...but definitely a month!

I don't want to disclose too much about the company or sensitive information ( as I could lose my job ), but I can definitely talk about the last 5 days and what it's been like mentally, physically and emotionally.

Day 1: Nervous! Not quite as nervous as some other things that have taken place in my life, but this one ranks in about the top 20 I would say. New town, new job, new everything. It definitely helped coming in with 10+ years under my belt in a similar retail environment, that's for sure. Monday was orientation filled with 15 of us. We heard a lot of presentations, received a lot of brand information and went over benefits and forms. Lunch from the Comer Center and the day ended with a cookie Happy Hour where all the leaders and teams of the people in orientation came down. We talked and got a tour of our area.

Day 2: Not quite as nervous. It was physically exhausting and I did have a borderline migraine most of the day which was tough. It was a fascinating day...all tours and presentations. Visual merchandising, design, the assembly lines, D.C.. Customer Care (where we got to listen in on calls), the Comer Center (fitness facility) and we even got to use the embroidery machine to put the LE logo on our own polo. There are 6 buildings here and we saw all of them.

Day 3: Nervous again! This was my first day at my desk! It's so surreal to get to your computer and not even know how to login. I met a lot of people and tried to wrap my head around how to use the phone, get onto the servers, find org charts and start conversations with people. I also tried to find the fastest route to the bathroom-success!

Day 4: Tired but more at ease! Actually got to sit in on a meeting and I have a good 10 meetings lined up in the upcoming weeks. Meetings do tend to make me feel important for the time being-haha. I am excited about the work and am loving the culture. Used the gym to lift weights and it was awesome!

Day 5: TGIF! Although I do love my job...I am looking forward to the weekend to relax and recoup. Today was my first European conference call. I got a lot of information out of that meeting. The more questions that spark in my head the more progress I make. I have a hefty list of things to get started on, and am starting to understand what some of the needs are here, all while learning so much! This week has been very humbling and enjoyable all while being out of my comfort zone-which I believe is what helps us grow!

With that, let's get started on the weekend!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Random Facts, WI: Day 5

• There are casinos all over the place on the drive from Dallas to Madison.

• If you go out to eat at a restaurant here and order a Dr. Pepper, the people with you WILL laugh at you, and the waitress will ask you where you're from.

• People say "Yous" (just like in PA).

• People drive much slower and laid back here and I find myself getting impatient with them. Maybe this will teach me to be more relaxed.

• A few times I have turned off the navigation system because I know where I'm going, and I find myself lonely and longing to hear her voice.

• I didn't realize how much I used and relied on DVR until I had to go without it!

• The cheese here REALLY IS GOOD!

• It's a really strange feeling to not even know where a gas station or grocery store is.

• Gambling here is just like gambling anywhere else=GOOD TIMES!

• I never thought I would have a morning commute with the scenery being nothing but dairy farms, fields and cows.

• Names and roads confuse me here: County Route P, M, US18, 151. And they seem to go all directions-not just N, S or E, W.

• I'm scared to use the coin-operated washer and dryer at the hotel. I think I may just continue to buy new clothes.

• I miss my family.

On The Road!

How did I get from Texas to Wisconsin? Safely and successfully!

My grandfather rode with me to help me out and make sure I stayed safe. At first I thought to myself, well I don't need anyone to drive with me, but in hindsight I'm really glad I did because after about 3 hours on the rode driving I got super tired! So we alternated driving in about 3 hour increments.

We left Friday morning at about 10am. My grandmother made a huge pan of homemade macaroni for us to take on the road. We stopped by my Mom's work to say goodbye and then took off. Stopped for a macaroni lunch, to get gas and a few other pit stops and made it all the way to Kansas City, Missouri by about 7:30 Friday night. Not too shabby! We picked up Subway sandwiches and settled in for the night.

We were up bright and early Saturday morning (thanks to my grandfather)! Got going at about 8am after getting ready and enjoying our complimentary breakfast. Made similar stops and alternated driving and landed in Madison at about 4:00! Great timing!

Saturday night was a blast! Julie and Jamie (family friends) drove over from Milwaukee and we went to dinner near the hotel. They brought snack foods from the bakery and Wisconsin tees for Keith and I! Then we went to the Dejope Casino! My grandfather won $160 and I won about $75!

On Sunday my grandfather and I did a little sight-seeing before I took him to the airport. We went to Lands' End (even though we didn't go inside). I thought it would be neat for him to see where I would be. We took pictures. Then we drove to the House on the Rock, the Capitol Building and stopped at the lake. Had a great lunch in the square downtown at an Irish Pub, then it was time for me to take him to the airport. The airport is really close-only about 15 minutes from temporary housing. I have to say it was hard leaving him at the airport. For those couple of days it didn't really feel too different because he was with me-just like at home. But then when I had to turn around and leave and drive off in a city that was so unfamiliar it kind of hit home that I was alone.

I spent the evening getting ready for the next day, picked up some dinner and relaxed. The temporary housing is nice. There's no way I could have my family in there as it's just a 1-bedroom extended stay hotel room. The amenities are just what I need for now though. Free breakfast every morning, free dinner Mon-Wed, pool, gym and housekeeping. It's great!

So thanks everyone for the well wishes and thoughts as we drove cross country to my new world. It is very surreal and exciting!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kid-Free for Too Long on the Horizon

This is a common scenario in any given day when a random child decides to get up off my lap. It could be anything from food, liquid, snot, candy...you name it...I've felt it....

Beginning tomorrow I will not see my boys for 20 nights. I am heading out at 10am to go pick up my grandfather, stop by my Mom's and then drive up to Wisconsin! We will make a stop at the halfway point Friday night and then get in Saturday afternoon to corporate housing. I'm hoping I can spend Saturday evening and all Sunday showing my grandfather LE, the town and enjoying and few good meals and possibly a little...GAMBLING!

First day of work is in 3 days! I'm SO excited!!

In the meantime, I will be thinking of my little guys every second, and longing for the next time something sticks to me.

Love you Keith, Kolbe, Nickolas and Baby Erik!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's a Sad Day

I bought this cap way back when I was an intern at Fossil. Those were the days...lazy (in hindsight) weekends in jeans, t-shirts and a ballcap running all over the place with lots of energy!

Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months and months turned into years. Next thing you know-I've probably worn this cap at least 1,000 times, not kidding. As my intern days turned into comfort and routine this ballcap made it's way into my everyday work attire in a "corporate" office. Hey, it does say FOSSIL on it.

1,000+ times to collect makeup, dirt, spit up, food and who knows what else. I mean, I'd wash it-but after that many times wearing it who knows what stays and what goes.

Needless to say...it was time...

So let's all take a moment of silence to say goodbye to a piece of my life. It was the perfect fit and match, and I don't think I'll ever find another cap quite like it...

At least not one that dirty!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tomorrow is My Last Day

Tomorrow is my last day. I have to say the last 2 weeks went by unbelievably fast.

I've spent most of my time organizing, packing up my desk and distributing files. The rest of the time was spent eating every second possible with close friends at work and at places I know I won't get to go to up north.

This week the team created "gorgefest" and brought in some of my favs every day. Monday-salsa day, Tuesday-dip day, Wednesday- Mom's buns, Thursday- biscuits, and tomorrow-cakeballs!!

Today was a little tougher than prior days. I guess as my cube gets empty, and as I'm no longer working on anything and as I deplete every file and bit of information from the laptop that I have to give back it has quickly gotten "real". There were also a handful of people I said goodbye to today due to Good Friday tomorrow. I'm sure a lot of people will be out.

Tomorrow after work there will be a small get together for drinks and good times, and I can't wait!

I can't believe in 24 hours I will not be working anymore! Well, even if for only 2 weeks!
Let's do this!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: Alice in Wonderland (3D)

Two words:

UH MAZING!

On Friday our team at work had a group outing with lunch at Northpark Mall and an afternoon showing of Alice in Wonderland (in 3d).

Up until that point I really had no intention of seeing the movie. It seemed to me from the preview it wouldn't be any different than the other Tim Burton directed movies that showcase Johnny Depp in his quirky roles.

I was WRONG!

The movie was artistically beautiful. The casting, colors, writing, dramatic effect and balance between fear and beauty kept me entertained and amazed the entire time. I could watch this movie over and over.

Walking out of it, it would have easily been a 10-the highest rating possible, except for the 15 seconds at the end of the movie that quickly dropped the rating to an 8, just for that snippet alone. For those of you who have seen it, you know what I'm talking about.

But alas, I will still probably end up buying it and if it weren't so dark in some scenes I would let the kids watch it now, but maybe in a year or so.

It's a must-see!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Erik!

Well, this post was intended to celebrate Erik's FIRST birthday...but as of today he is already 13-months old! (I'm SO behind)

We had a great 1st birthday celebration with close family, presents (that the older boys opened) and food and CAKE! I was so excited to see Erik with his birthday cake, but when we gave him the whole thing it was almost as if he was scared of it! Once we cut off a slice for him he loosened up a bit and ate it!

(Strange child)

I can't wait to see the new things he does this month. Just in the last month alone he's been riding around on his train, growing more teeth and growing an awesome mullet! Any day now he'll be walking and he's more than welcome to take his time on that. The first step will come soon enough!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: The Crazies

Formal Plot Synopsis:

David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house…after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. The town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, blood-thirsty killers. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won't let anyone in or out – even those uninfected...

My Input:

The main sheriff guy was CUTE! I especially liked the movie because we were at the SMG with a group of friends and I had a Dr. Pepper and PIZZA. Who can go wrong there? It kind of freaked me out a little because the town looked very similar to where we are looking to live in Wisconsin and I do believe small towns are much more dangerous than city life (people go looking for people to mess with out in the middle of nowhere). The movie itself was awesome, I highly recommend it and would definitely rent it to see again! VERY entertaining.

Two man hand thumbs up!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Surreal World

Tomorrow marks the countdown to the 1st day of working for Lands' End. Only ONE month to go! It's been a whirlwind the last couple of weeks with a trip to Disneyworld in the mix.

I've been trying to transition at work and get everything organized and handed off. I'm a file hoarder...we're talking thousands of emails, files, folders, magazines, books...

JUNK!

I'm really glad I decided to take 4 weeks to get it altogether, the 2 weeks I've been putting into it has flown by. In addition, I am getting contacted left and right about relocating. Lands' End has a phenomenal relocation package, but boy is it overwhelming! It's a combination of working with the relocation agent on details and moving, working with a realtor at Coldwell Banker to start getting things in order to sell our current house, and also working with a realtor up in WI to try to find a rental for the time being until we decide to purchase. I will also be set up in corporate housing for 60 days until I can find a rental for the family.

At the moment, I have no mixed emotions about things. It's all so surreal and it's as if it's not really my life that is being impacted at the moment. I suppose the last difficult thing was when Keith put in his notice at school and he had a difficult time. I know that Keith loves his job, and that is something that I do feel bad about. The past year he has always said to me he would leave his job, move anywhere, do whatever he could do to support me- and now he's doing it. That means so much to me, but it's still a burden to know that he is giving something up that he loves to make a change like this.

I know in the upcoming days, weeks, months there will be more difficult times, but I am still driven by adrenaline and the excitement of this new life for us.

I feel happier by the day!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Goal Complete: Travel to midwestern state

Well, this is a little of what I saw up in Wisconsin a few weeks back. Traveling to a midwestern state is now accomplished, and will unexpectedly now become home!

WOW!

Keith and I were up in WI initially back in September of last year, and I made a second trip in February. Two very drastically different trips weather-wise. The first being lush fall colors and beautiful sunny days. The second being pure white as far as the eye can see. I have to say, I was mesmerized by the snow, but I was also only there for 3 days.

Between both visits, we spent a lot of time in downtown Madison, visiting some friends in Milwaukee, checking out the smaller towns west of the city and towards Lands' End and of course, GAMBLING!

No such luck with the slot machines, but it was a win/win situation since I came out of the experience with another check mark on my travel map and a wonderful new job ahead!

Friday, March 5, 2010

GoodBye Fossil...

Well, in 4 weeks.

After 11+ years at Fossil I have officially put in my notice this past week. Who ever thought this day would come? I sure didn't.

I am happy to announce that I have accepted an offer with Lands' End as the International Creative Manager-Internet, and will begin on April 19th. One minor detail-they are in Wisconsin!

Yes, that's right-Keith and I will be hauling our 3 rambunctious boys up there and starting a new adventure! I am certainly sad to leave a place that's been home to me for so long, but also know the timing is great for this life-change- professionally and personally.

In April I will move up and stay in corporate housing, making the trip back and forth as often as possible until Keith finishes out his school year. I can't even begin to imagine how hard that will be without seeing them every day, but it will also give me a chance to acclimate to the new position and environment. People-come visit! =)

More soon on all of this, I feel the itch to start another blog to make daily accounts on every action and detail of the move!
We'll see!

We're excited!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Review: FIN Sushi and Bar

Awhile back I had dinner with Andi and Anne at a new place out in Frisco- FIN!

My opinion: it was OKAY.

They had a massive sushi menu...you could literally get anything you wanted. We tried 3 different things and split, Louisiana Rolls and I don't even remember the other 2.

The sushi was good, but not as good as Sushi Sake out in Richardson.

The great night was more about the conversation, friends and the atmosphere. In conclusion-I would go back, but not necessarily because it's the best sushi place in town!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Goal Complete: Have My Little Sister Spend The Night

On Friday night we traded 2 boys for 1 girl-my sister! Fair trade I suppose.

Kolbe and Taylor get along tremendously. Taylor wants Kolbe to live with her! So we decided a week back that my Mom would keep Nickolas (so Taylor would have a place to sleep) and Erik (so we could get Taylor and Kolbe out and not have to worry about the baby). My grandmother ended up keeping the baby but it worked out well.

I dropped the kids off about 4:30, and picked up Taylor. Then we went and got Kolbe from school. He really, really wanted to bowl, and I originally wanted to take them also, but then the thought of dealing with teenagers at Main Event on a Friday night was just a beatdown...so we ended up taking them to Nickelmania instead. They loved it. We went to the grocery store afterwards, let them play-video games, trains, read books. They were up until about 10:15 and went to sleep great.

In the morning they were both up about 7. I told them they could go out and play in the living room. It was SO nice. They just entertained themselves and we didn't have to worry about them waking the smaller kids up. Keith and I were both able to lay in bed until 8:30!! It definitely made me long for future days with older kids (but not too soon).

I like my babies as they are, but it's nice to do something different every once in awhile and also have new friends and family come over!

Monday, January 25, 2010

NEW Looney Toons Play Area at Willowbend- DISAPPOINTED!

Here's the exact letter I sent to Willowbend (as if it will do anything, but I still had to send).

Hello. This past weekend was the first time I had been to Willowbend in a few months. I knew the play area had been redone, but I didn't realize it would turn out how it did...

Don't fix something that's not broken.

This is only my opinion, but the play area took a turn for the worst- I don't understand why they installed a huge flat screen TV. I'm assuming based on the note below the TV that it's a way to up-sell DVD's. Yes, it's my responsibility as a parent to keep them from it, and my choice to bring my children there, but kids are drawn to that TV immediately. If I wanted them to watch TV I would have kept them home and turned it on as their "babysitter". There was a large group of kids lounging around in front of it, the energy level was low and it was a different vibe than before.

Some of the new features are neat for older kids, but you can't see around the installations now and there's not as much free space area for the kids to run around.

I will not be bringing the kids back to partake or to shop in the near future. Huge disappointment considering before the holidays we frequented the mall at least once every week or two.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nickelmania

On Keith's birthday we went and tried Nickelmania for the first time! Didn't know what to expect, and it ended up being a lot of fun!

Yes, it's a little run down, but you only pay $1.95 to get in (per person) and then all the games are a nickel. (Some games are 4-8 nickels but hey-cheap)

We've been another time since then, and Kolbe enjoys it a lot because we give him a little more freedom in there. It's more confined, not crowded: so I'm not as nervous about him kind of doing his own thing (where I can see him)! They have tables, food and you win tickets to get prizes at the end. The prizes are not too hot, and are kind of pricey ticket-wise, but that's okay.

The best part about the place is they have the coin game where you drop coins in over and over and over and over and over and over to try to knock them to the next level and dump them down into the bucket to get more tickets. Did I mention you do that over and over and over?

I'm addicted to it. I may have put in $5 in about 90 seconds. Maybe.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Dallas Area Train Show

I had found a link to this train show a few months back, and had been dying to take the boys. I had no clue what to expect, but knew they would have model trains.

We get there, at the Plano Centre, right before it opens at 10am. As we're driving up we see the parking lot is packed, and I'm slowly realizing the demographic here appears to be 50 and up...single...men.

Uh oh.

Is this for kids?

Is this okay for MY kids?

This may not be a "Thomas the Train" kind of day, but more so the train equivalent of a Star Trek convention.

We load the kids up in the strollers, jackets, snacks. As we're walking up to the front my mind eases as I see more kids under the age of 5 start to appear from the parking lot. The line starts moving inside and I see "Thomas", roped off areas and trains that are too high up for sticky fingers and snotty hands.

Whew.

The boys loved it! I can't believe how much work goes into these things on an ongoing basis. It was very similar to what you would see at NorthPark Mall during the holidays, but more spread out and for the avid collector and train enthusiast. Very expensive hobby, but one that continues for generations past and to come.

We'll see if 5 years from now the boys are still as interested as they are to this day! Or shall we say we'll see if my money is going to the Star Trek...ahem...train conventions like they are now.