Friday, January 30, 2009

My Newest Hero

So, I have blurked and found a new blog that I LOVE! If you have a sense of humor, she's great! If you've got kids, she's great! She says things we only think--and only on "clever" days at that. Jana is one of my heroes, and I read her blog religiously now--because I can. She makes me laugh and helps me keep my perspective.

If you've got a few minutes, READ "The Meanest Mom"! She's great!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pack Your Bags, We're Going On A Guilt Trip!

Today in Costco, Toph announced, "Practically everyone in my class, except me, has seen the movie Bolt."

Me: Your mom sucks then, doesn't she?

Toph backpedaled pretty fast and said that his mom doesn't suck. But I insisted that she must not love him enough if she hasn't taken him to see this movie yet. He must be the disgrace of the whole 2nd grade if he's like the ONLY kid who hasn't seen it. Where are the kid's parents' priorities?

MMMMMMMmmmmmmm, I like.....

You want? I'll go with you. Call me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bye Bye Brain!

Well, as I *think* I blogged about previously, my brain went on vacation in November. It was gone for several weeks. It felt like I was living the movie "50 First Dates" some days. Then my brain made a brief reappearance. It was so nice to have a visit, even though it was short. It now appears that the brain is leaving me again. Hopefully it will be a brief vacation.

At least it has happened before and I know what it is, so it won't freak me out as much. Anyone have any good memory tricks? I put EVERYTHING important in my phone (thank goodness for a "smart" phone!) and in my email. I re-read the email every day, to remind me of what's going on. I park my car in about the same place in the parking lots I frequent--so I don't go walking around looking like and idiot who can't find her car. I have a new computer program, Omnifocus, which helps me manage my "to do" lists and will eventually be able to "talk" to my phone. And I just accept the fact that sometimes my brain needs a vacation.....

So if I totally forget a conversation we've had or ask you the same questions over and over again, just pat me on the head and be patient. The brain will probably come back again!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Calling the camera charger.....

In case it has sprouted a brain AND eyes and is reading this post--I need you back!!! I can't take any more pictures of this house with a dead camera.

If any blurkers are reading and they've SEEN the camera charger--black, funky cord--do you remember which box it landed in? I don't even know where it was before we started packing--that makes it more of a challenge.

I'd take a picture of the chaos--but the camera is dead. You'd like the picture though. I'd also take a picture of the back yard. It's HUGE. You'd like that picture too. I'd take a picture of the kids' school playground as seen from the master bedroom window--but again, the camera is dead. And the sunset from the back yard? AMAZING the last few days. Really photo worthy.

So, camera charger, if you're out there, how 'bout we play hot/cold? A hint? Please?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Haiku for you

I'm a blurker--I freely admit to it. I stumbled upon "The Meanest Mom" somehow, and I LOVE her! She's an inspiration to us all, and she has such style. I just read her Haiku post, and it inspired me to write one of my own:

Dedicated to my kids:

We have been moving.
Every muscle I have hurts.
Don't complain to me.

Lots of green boogers?
Go get yourself a kleenex.
Throw it away too.

Once I get some sleep
I promise to be less mean.
I might even cook.

Moving always sucks.
There is so much work to do.
Friends helped us so much.

Missing kids sucks too.
I'm glad we're reunited
And in our new house.

Let's please be healthy.
No more coughing and sneezing.
Please go wash your hands.

We've been working hard.
Being sick would kill me off.
Still so much to do.

The park is close by.
Boxes will wait 'til later.
Let's go play outside.

200th Post!

Wow, who knew that in less than a year I could write 200 posts?! I'd do something cool or funny or unique for my 200th, but we're just finishing moving, and I don't have the energy.

So, the past week has been a time for me to accept a LOT of service from others. I have been the recipient of such generous people. I've had people take my kids, so I could focus on what needed to be done. I've had people at the old house help with packing and moving stuff from 1 house to the other. Saturday morning a bunch of men from Church showed up to move the boxes we'd packed from 1 house to the other. We'd hired movers for the furniture, but had a garage full of boxes that transferred in under an hour. We were invited to eat dinner with friends. I had ladies from Church today come and spend hours and elbow grease to do the final cleaning. AMAZING! Even the missionaries from Church pitched in. They happened to be in our neighborhood right when we were throwing the last of the "stuff" into our cars in preparation to turn in our keys, and they were pressed into service. Personally, I think they must have been inspired to be there at that particular moment in time.

I think that the "most awesomest service" award must go, hands down, to my friends Carmen and James. They kept our kids Sunday-Tuesday. They fed our family each night during that time. They made sure that Hannah's homework assignment got done. They packed. They built a bed. They cleaned. They AMAZED me! And I'm the one who's supposed to be serving Carmen!

Me going on and on about how wonderful Carmen and James have been does in NO way negate the service that others have given. Because there are many others who deserve a big thanks.

Another thing that Carmen introduced me to: Magic Erasers. Yes, I've known about them, but I did NOT know how many ways they could help. Soap scum in the shower--who knew? Greasy build-up on the stove--oh yeah! Cleaning grout and caulking--yep, that too! SO Many uses! In fact, as I was looking for a photo (which I could not figure out how to capture using Robert's computer), I ran across THIS website's blog post all about the Magic Eraser. You've got to check it out! This could revolutionize your life!

As for the new house, I'm going to like it. Unfortunately for us, the new house was not clean upon move-in. I'm not saying that the carpet needed to be vacuumed (because I think that actually WAS clean), but everything else left lots to be desired. Kitchen floor grout--supposed to be white. Not even close. Windowsills--dirty. Cupboard shelves and drawers--dirty. Refrigerator--shelves and bins needed cleaning. Toilets--had rings from sitting with the blue stuff in the bowls (the house HAS been vacant since Thanksgiving). Many doorknobs are loose. Bread board--came complete with crumbs from last time. Grout is missing from my shower. The shower doors are not secured in the kids' bathroom. Mold is growing around the tops of the bathroom sinks. The metal blinds in my bathroom (window in the shower) have something growing on them--or they're stained with something. Getting the picture? Oh, but the icing on the cake: there was WATER in the kitchen sink--leftover from the last time it was mopped (lovely ring around the sink when we drained it). The final straw is that we got 4 keys (2 each of 2 keys) and 1 set of keys doesn't go to anything we've found. We don't have a key that works the glass door at the front door. So, what is the property management company doing to earn their monthly fee? Did they TRY the keys out ahead of time? The property manager was here the day before we got our keys--did he look around the inside?

The house itself I'm going to like. I like the way we've arranged the furniture. In spite of the lack of storage (seriously, regular WOMEN should be consulted about such matters when blueprints are drawn), I think the house will work nicely. There's a loft upstairs which will serve nicely as a playroom/gameroom for the kids. The view from our master bedroom window includes the playground at the kids' school. The neighborhood is very quiet, and the neighbors are very nice. And the back yard? HUGE! Living on a cul-de-sac will also be a nice change. I'm looking forward to it being a little easier to ride bikes and scooters outside.

Just don't expect things to be "normal" for about a month. I figure it will take that long to find everything important. We need to do a serious purging too. But WOW am I thankful that Robert has the type of job where we don't have to move all the time. And I have new empathy for the military wives. Moving bites. Our previous home owners apologized several times for "making" us move--it was bad for both of us. Moving is never easy and probably never comes at a convenient time. It's a TON of work. But it's not all bad. I got to know some really nice people better. My house will be better organized, and we have a chance to "start over" in a new place.

So, I wonder how long it will take to get the next 200 posts written?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Hannah!

Photos to post in the near future. Have compassion...we ARE mid-move!

My baby baby turned SIX today!!! She entered our lives as a completely happy surprise, and she's never stopped being surprising. We just love her to pieces! Her first surprise (besides conception WITHOUT fertility drugs)--coming home FROM her birth with canker sores in her throat. Not little ones, but some of the biggest our pediatrician had ever seen. Nice start, Hannah!

Other surprises: At the doctor's office, and we were frequent visitors, when the nurse would ask, "why are we seeing you today?" I would say something witty like, "she's not sleeping" or "she's not eating" SO SOMETHING MUST BE WRONG. They'd look at me like I'd recently escaped from the mental hospital. Then the doctor would come in, and sure enough, she'd have something wrong. AND he validated MY own internet medical degree (ok, not really the medical degree thing) because he'd usually say something like, "we always trust the Mommy's intuition." JUST LOVE DR. JONES!!! We miss him so much (nothing's wrong with him; we moved).

More surprising: Hannah learned to write her name (and many other letters of the alphabet) without any help! Just copied what she saw her brother doing. When Toph was little, we'd give him to the count of 3 to do/not do something, and soon we had to change that because I'd say "one" and Hannah would finish the series, "two, three!" So we started counting to 10 or counting backward. I was SHOCKED when she wrote her name for me one day--we'd NEVER done anything like it together and there she was writing her name! Same thing with counting and colors and shapes and and and and I could go on and on, but what would be the point?

Sort of independent? Nah, not Hannah! I think she may have been born saying "I do it myself." Most often now we have this battle over her choice of clothes (either things that don't go together or clothes not appropriate for our weather) and her decision to do her own hair in whatever style she chooses. Let me just remind you that she HAS cut her own hair TWICE. She's independent in most aspects of her life.

Hannah has a surprising wit and vocabulary. I'm always getting told that she's said something funny or used words that are advanced for her age. She's a BIG kid (the size of many 2nd graders), but when people realize that she is just (today) 6, it takes on a new perspective. At the park this week, she was telling the adults that her brother was "being distracted" about something. Always cracking us up.

Hannah is a nudist at heart, I swear. As a baby, she'd strip as often as she could figure out how. She HATED to wear shoes and socks and would take those off as fast as possible. She'd unzip her blanket sleepers and be naked so often that we had to put a diaper pin across the zipper, so she couldn't get it unzipped. I lived in fear that she'd strip in Church one week when I had my attention focused on something else for a fraction of a second. When we'd pick her up from her Primary class and her teacher would start the sentence with, "Hannah was so funny/entertaining this week...." I'd silently be thinking, "Oh please don't have the teacher tell me she took off her clothes!" Her tendency toward nudity has lessened somewhat, but I think she's really a nudist at heart.

Hannah is also a GIRLIE GIRL! She LOVES the frilly and girlie things of this world. As a young child even, she loved to shop! Not genetic from me, that's for sure. She spent at least a year when she wouldn't go anywhere without a purse and some bling--sunglasses, bracelets, necklaces, etc. Often she'd have to have a hat too. She was very definite about which shoes she wanted to wear (when she would wear them). So funny!

Our lives are NEVER dull with the resident DRAMA QUEEN. She can summon a tear at the drop of a hat. She fully experiences all feelings--sometimes all within 20 seconds. I think she's going to be the type of person who lives life to the fullest. She's exuberant and excited and fun to be around. She is a constant source of entertainment for us all. And we wouldn't have it any other way. I can't imagine how our lives would be without this bundle of energy.

Hannah finally got to start school this year. She's been wanting to go since before we started taking Toph. She even cried every time we'd have to leave Toph AT school the year he started (and sometimes even last year). She excels at school as she does in any other area she's determined to excel in. Hannah loves school and loves most everything about school. She's even gotten in trouble for being TOO helpful. Yes, the teacher is not happy when the student is "teaching" her whole table how to do the assignment--the wrong way. She likes to mother others--and sometimes smother them. She's a good friend and a fierce friend. And doesn't like to share her friends with any other person--so watch out if she's decided that you are her friend! Hannah loves to love others too. She loves boys already (giving me more gray hair) and makes me nervous about what our future holds.

Hannah has never met a stranger either. She has gone up to other kids at the park, doctor's office, or store and declared them to be her new friend and asked them to cone have a play date with her at our home--or she's invited herself to their homes. When she was newly potty trained, she'd tell anyone she met about how she could "go potty in the potty chair and she didn't fall in because she'd just spread her legs wide." She LOVED to tell that to strangers on elevators all over Utah. The day that Toph started 1st grade, as we were leaving the school, we saw a group of parents that we knew, and Hannah proudly announced to the group, "I have High School Musical panties. Wanna see?" AS she was pulling up her skirt to show them! She is fun loving and makes our lives fun too.

Some favorites:

Color: used to be pink or purple, but now it's BLUE and "all of the other colors--especially if they're sparkly"
Thing: depends on the day--stuffed animals
TV: Wordworld, Sponge Bob, sometimes Dora, and Curious George (which she never watches)
Dinner: Cheese Noodles (aka: Mac and cheese) or pancakes
Dessert: dirt cups (pudding with crushed oreos and gummy worms) or cookies
On her wish list: everything, especially if it's in a commercial
Thing to do: play with friends, Barbies, Littlest Pet Shoppe, Art/Drawing
Place to go: going to the beach
Thing to be called: Elizabeth (her middle name) Hannah doesn't like her first name, and has often asked us to call her by other names: Princess, Ariel, Rapunzel, and lately, Elizabeth.

Hannah, you've spiced up our lives. I can't imagine our life without your energy. I am so blessed to be able to call you my daughter. Happy Birthday, Girlie! I love you!

Friday, January 9, 2009

House Update....

Yes, it's official! We FINALLY got word on the house on Tuesday! We've been approved for the house that we wanted. I'm going with Robert this afternoon to sign papers and leave a deposit/1st month's rent. We get keys to the new place the 15th. We will be moving boxes and closets ourselves, and the movers come for the furniture on the 20th. We must be totally finished and cleaned at our current home by the 22nd. That's cutting it a little bit close, but what can you do? I'm going to be working like a crazy dog this weekend--hopefully--since I lost several days this week due to being sick. We're going to start 2009 out right. We're moving, our health IS going to improve (positive mental attitude), and we're going to keep a routine that works for us as a family. Thanks to all of you who have helped me with looking for a house, tips for boxing, and kind words. I'm SO glad we have an official place to go!

Please pass the kleenex.....

Oh no, it's happened again! The same coughing out your guts/more than enough snot for a small country kind of thing--AGAIN! What, is this like the 4th or 5th time I've had it since like November? We just seem to be cycling through it here at Casa de Nearly Dead. I even asked my sweet husband to PLEASE KILL ME today--more than twice. And he denied my request! The nerve! I live in terror that I'm going to have to go to the doctor's office and find another new germ that we haven't shared yet. What I wouldn't do for the day of the house call again!

Robert worked from home today, so that he could lend assistance to me. It was a good thing too, since I'd coughed all through the previous night. I didn't have to worry about taking the kids to school. He made me lunch when I woke up from my morning nap. He kept the kids busy while I tried to take an afternoon nap. He fed the kids dinner. So what's wrong with this picture?

We're moving in SIX DAYS!!!! I don't have time for this!!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The AWESOMENESS of Friends

I just have to say that I have experienced the awesomeness of friends--many times in my life and for a variety of reasons. This past Christmas was just one example: So we found out 6 days before Thanksgiving that we were going to have to move by January 22nd. No harsh feelings toward our home owners--we love them, and we knew that this could happen. And I doubt that moving is ever comes at a convenient time. THEY also are moving at this time of year (again), so they feel my pain too. But when I found out that we were going to move, I had several friends who put out their feelers and found me our new home--and several other potential homes. I have new neighbors who have given me all of their boxes and packing paper as they open their boxes (good timing for us both, no?). I have had at least a dozen people who have offered to either care for my kids or come help me box. It's really AWESOME!

But I think my all-time favorite service has been the awesomeness of having all of my Christmas gifts wrapped for me this past Christmas. How COOL is that? In our Church, we have something called the visiting teaching program. Each of the women who agree to participate are assigned other women to visit. You do this each month with a phone call, letter, or personal visit. We're supposed to include a spiritual message too. This helps us get to know each other better and it helps the Church leaders know what's going on--if you visit someone who's experiencing a difficulty, you report it to the appropriate leader, so that their burden can be lifted. The men have a similar program called home teaching, where they visit whole families each month. It's a little more formal, but it's basically the same idea. My visiting teacher happens to also be a friend--that's handy. She's asked me several times what she could do to help. She's offered to take the kids, box, clean, whatever. At this point in our move, I really didn't have any idea how she could help. I was overwhelmed with what I needed to do for my more immediate needs--Christmas and Toph's baptism (and our trip to Fresno for those activities). So as Sunshine continued to ask (NOT in a nagging way at all), I tried to think of something she could do. Then I got my Christmas shopping finished and realized that I didn't have a flat surface in my home.

Literally it looks like the Tasmanian Devil got loose in my house. Tables were piled up with homework, mail, projects I needed to finish for Christmas, goodies people have brought us, groceries (non-perishable) that need to be put away, etc. You have to have a flat surface to wrap presents. And it takes time--like HOURS. And I don't LIKE to do it in the first place. So I came to Sunshine with my suggestion for how she could help me out. NO PROBLEM she assured me! She and a friend invited all of the ladies they visit teach for a lunch one afternoon--that was the day I brought my presents over. After lunch, Sunshine, Melissa, and Heidi wrapped all of my presents--in 1 afternoon! When I was overflowing with gratitude (which I hope Sunshine knew), Sunshine told me that it was fun--it was like a party. I cannot say enough how grateful I was for that service. And the presents were prettier than they have EVER looked--I think at least one of the girls must have worked as a professional gift wrapper. I need to turn that chore into a party in the future! What a great idea!

Moving here was a real trial of my faith. I have NEVER lived away from my family, and I had awesome friends in Fresno. But I knew that this move would be beneficial for my family. I had a husband who needed to have a different job atmosphere. Since he's the wage earner for our home, he NEEDS to enjoy the place he spends most of his time. The opportunity to work here, with many people of similar geek callibur has been beyond wonderful. We have really been blessed with just that aspect of our move. But we have been so much more blessed. Our asthma problems have really backed off. Toph and I suffered in Fresno, and it got worse every year. We had 18 months of basically NO problems and have started to develop allergies to local things, but it's nowhere near as severe or often as before. We have found good doctors here to care for us--those doctors are very important when you have critical health issues. We were fortunate enough to move into a great neighborhood, school, and ward. That's pretty important too. The kids have adapted easily and have made good friends and have had amazing teachers. And I have made some FANTASTIC, AWESOME friends. I don't make friends that easily--LOTS of acquaintances, but true FRIENDS are harder to come by. It's especially hard with women, I think, because women tend to be clique-y. It's very difficult to insert yourself into a clique. It takes time. And while Robert was able to make friends quickly with people he works with--they are together a LOT--it's not so easy for the stay-at-home-Mom type who is naturally a bit reserved. But it has been good. Our family has grown closer, Robert and I have grown closer, and I think I appreciate my friends now more than I ever have before--the near AND far ones.

I feel very blessed to have a group of AWESOME people to call my friends. I am ever grateful for the service they freely give me--when I ask and when I don't ask. I know there are people I can count on to support me when I need it. And occasionally I get to help them too. I cannot say enough to properly express my gratitude to these people.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

End of Year Wrap-UP

For reasons of safety, I try not to post about a trip BEFORE we take it. Consequently, I didn't post much about Christmas.... Time to fill you in on the end of our year. Pictures will be inserted later.

BEFORE we left for Fresno, we were waiting for news from our new landlords that all was in order and sign final papers and give a deposit, etc. No word came and we got NERVOUS! They're hiring a property manager and will get back to us when that happens... insert nerves here. So we gave all of our contact information and left on our trip.

We made an APPOINTMENT for Santa to come early to the Nickel Home. He'll do that, you know. We asked him to come on December 23, as we were going out of town and we really like to have Christmas at our home. It was AWESOME! The kids were NOT up before the crack of dawn. They loved their haul. And Hannah was most entertaining as she'd whoop/screech/yell "That's just what I've always wanted!" EVERY time she opened something up. MANY thanks to my friends who wrapped my presents for me!

December 24 found us packing and madly cleaning some of the house. We wanted to be on the road by 10 am, but we were off around 1:30 instead. But our floors (the parts that were visible) were vacuumed or mopped, and all of the dirty dishes had been washed! The ride to Kingsburg was really uneventful. No real bad traffic snarls, AND we beat the snow over the Grapevine. It started to snow as we were coming back down, so no traffic worries there. We were very excited to see Grandma D and Dan and enjoyed our 2 days there. The kids got to unwrap 1 present that night, and they each received a blow up bed/sleeping bag combo, which they enjoyed using.

December 25 was a great day too! We got to have our second Christmas in the morning with Grandma D and Dan. And Mom and Dad got surprised with Robert's newest toy--a GPS. From that minute forth, we have gone EVERYWHERE with it on. He is so funny! We had a nice, relaxed, lazy morning. Grandma made Abelskeivers for breakfast and we gorged ourselves on a turkey dinner in the afternoon. I was busily (and with help) finishing some hand-made cards that I was giving as gifts--and got done in time! Thanks Grandma D and Robert for your help! We loaded the kids up in the car and drove to Fresno to spend some time with my side of the family. I got to meet my newest niece for the first time (thanks Matt for handing her over!). We got to see Grandpa Birdie for a short time, and a good time was had by all. We did the right/left present exchange--a tradition we've had for many years. My parents really pulled one over on me. Sometime before our fires last year, my Dad STOLE my childhood photo album from me. When we had the fires and I evacuated with the kids, I spent valuable time looking for said photo album, but couldn't find it. That has been bothering me for more than a year, and I have diligently looked for it. Well, Dad stole it and digitized all of the pictures in it, and then he gave it back to me with a copy of the CD (and all of my sister, Laura's, pictures too). He'll be digitizing all of the family photos and giving us all copies--Thanks Dad! That was a real surprise! Also in the category of real surprises was a gift that Rob and Cody gave to my parents. You can read the contents of the card in Cody's blog. They gave my parents a nice card/book that was a few jokes and ended with the punch line: my brother is GRADUATING from College in February. My parents did not know that he has been going to school. The looks on their faces were PRICELESS--and NONE of us thought to video tape it!!! That wrapped up our third (and last) Christmas celebration very nicely.

The 26th we packed up our stuff at Grandma D's and drove around Fresno a bit, visiting some of our friends. We got to go to the old 'hood and visit with Doris and Grant, our former neighbors. The kids (and Robert) LOVED playing with their 3 dogs. After that, we got to go to one of MY favorites, Chevy's, and visit with Junell. She had a goodie bag for each kid, complete with foamie stickers, post it pads, and fun pens. We had a great time chatting with each other. Then we descended upon my sister, Aimee, and the cousins had a glorious reunion.

December 27th marked a milestone for our family: Topher got baptized. A friend of Aimee's had 2 of her kids baptized too, and it was a great experience. Except that the water was FREEZING cold. Yvette (the other Mom) and I were trying to figure out how many people would be there, and I was surprised to see so many people there to celebrate this awesome event with our kids. We had to set up more chairs. The room was almost full. It was so incredible! If you know me at all, you know that my "eyes leak" when I'm happy. I was really trying hard not to be a blubbering boob on this special day, and I did really well--until Robert confirmed Toph. His voice broke, and that was the end of it for me--but I wasn't alone! Everything (except the water temperature) was perfect! After the baptismal service, we went to another of our favorite Fresno food places, and we continued our party at Me & Ed's Pizza. Between the baptism and pizza we stopped at Aimee's for a "whole big family picture." Our last photo was 2 years ago, so we've added to our brood since then. It's always interesting to try to get that many people in the same place and looking nice AND happy at the same time. We also had the chance to take our small family picture. The pizza was FANTASTIC! Yes, we have pizza here too, but none like Me&Ed's. We made horrible pigs of ourselves and got to visit with friends and family. Thank you to all who helped us celebrate either at the baptism at pizza or at both. It was a day for the memory books.

December 28th continued our family milestones: my newest niece, Maycee Renae Givens was blessed (for those not of the LDS faith, a blessing is KIND OF like a Christening). She looked BEAUTIFUL in her dress. After Church, we got to go to Cody's Grandparents' for a delicious soup lunch. Laura's family came over to Aimee's in the afternoon and all of the cousins spent a few hours playing together.

December 29th we visited our friends, the Kraus'. Then we did a little bit of shopping and returned to play with the cousins. My kids had already started moping about having to leave for San Diego. Aimee and I went to my parents' to see their new entertainment unit (and I borrowed about 10 books) and then we got to visit with my Grandpa Birdie for a little while. He was in good spirits and gave each of us a night light as a "parting gift." In the evening, the kids stayed home with a babysitter and the parents left for a date! We saw the movie, Valkyrie, and had some yummy Panera for dinner. It was nice to be with just adults and to visit for awhile.

December 30 we had to return home. It was a sad day for all of us, because we'd had such a fun trip. The weather stayed pretty nice and we got to have such a positive trip. Besides, being "on vacation" gave me a chance to relax, guilt-free, since I couldn't possibly pack while in Fresno. The ride home was long--it always seems longer on the ride home. We hit some traffic on the 210, but other than that, it was pretty uneventful. Although we had an incredible time, it was nice to be back in our own beds.

December 31 Robert packed some boxes of books and I packed a box of kitchen stuff. We were supposed to be going to a friend's house to do some New Year's Eve celebrating, but by the late afternoon, Robert was running a fever. He got a nasty cold on December 24th, and he's still not better. I think he'll be visiting a doctor tomorrow! The rest of us have had the cold too, but I think we're mainly better by now. We were slugs and watched 2 movies with the kids last night--Horton Hears a Who and then Kung Fu Panda. Both movies were AWESOME to see on Blu-Ray! The kids were sent off to bed after 9, and we stayed up late enough to ring in the new year. It was pretty quiet around here.

Now we start a new year. 2009 is going to bring many changes for the Nickel family. The first change is our impending move. We spoke to the new landlords yesterday, and all is well. We still haven't signed any final papers, but I'm hopeful that will happen in the NEAR future. After we move, I'm going to go see a specialist in Marina Del Ray. He's an expert in Fibromyalgia. After listening to my sister, Aimee, and my friend, Christi, and after reading a couple of chapters in Aimee's book, I'm pretty sure I'm going to join the league of sufferers of this disease/syndrome. It's not pretty, BUT it can get better. When I do get diagnosed, I'm going to start a drug protocol that will help my body get rid of the phosphates that are making me sick. It will initially make me worse, but in a year's time, I should be SO much better. It will be worth any suffering--remind me of that later, please. I'll have to change a few things so that things I eat or put on my skin so I don't block the medicine, but that's all minor. I'm sure I'll become an expert in this as time goes on and I learn more. I think that's something I'll tackle in late-February or early-March. I'm still going to be doing what my regular doctor has recommended. It can't hurt. I'm still looking forward to the return of my brain. 2009 is going to be the year it returns! Lots of challenges, but the benefits will be SO worth all of it!

I'm thankful for this time of year, when we can look back on the previous year and remember our blessings and challenges and look to the future with hope. Happy New Year to all of you!