Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chef hats for the guys this Christmas

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

All the guys received Chef hats from Grandma and Grandpa Groth ... what does this say about our family? :-)

The photos below show Nessa playing with one of them ... hey, it's a hat so she had to find it eventually!

Monday, December 24, 2007

It's a Marshmallow World

OR, as Shawn says: "Enough looking a lot like Christmas Already"

We arrived home this afternoon. It was a nice sunny drive (meaning Nessa screamed several times about the sun in her eyes), and we had to get quite close to home to see evidence of a snowstorm. We could tell the ridge had certainly had some drifting snow, but from our view off of the Interstate the drifts didn't look that big. The closer we got to WI, the more snow we saw. Then, we crossed the bridge over the river, and it was suddenly obvious that there had been quite a snowstorm!

After using the snow blower so we didn't have to trudge through the 14 inches of snow (higher at the end of the driveway due to both drifting and the plow pack) in order to unload the van, Shawn decided to take a few pictures. We won't be getting in the back gate for awhile (above).

Imagine walking through the driveway before it was plowed. That is what I did while carrying Nessa this afternoon. Luckily I at least had my boots on, but since the snow was up to my knees I had dry feet and wet lower legs. I think Nessa was oblivious as our tired girl just huddled down on my shoulder.

The last picture is our neighbors house. We don't often see the bushes covered up with snow.

Shawn says the biggest problem with a white Christmas is that it sticks around for so long afterwards. I'm feeling a bit more generous this Christmas Eve. We spent a wonderful weekend with family, were lucky enough to have good people tromp through the snow to check on our cats when we were unexpectedly away longer than we had planned, and well, it's Christmas. :-) And we do live in Wisconsin. Last year is wasn't until March that we had this much snow, and I would MUCH rather have it NOW. (OK, now I know there is a good chance we could have it both now and then, but that's only a chance and I'm an optimist.)

I see many snow angels covering that "whip cream" yard by Wednesday. :-)

It's a marshmallow world in the winter,
When the snow comes to cover the ground,

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

And the fire is so ... [abrupt stop] oh, wait, no fire. But that is about all that is missing. And the weather is truly frightful. And we DO have a wonderful Internet connection, cable, movies, and the kids have new toys from presents Saturday. And from time to time we just sit and watch the snow blowing horizontally outside.

We arrived in Northfield safe and sound just before 7 p.m. Friday night with only a little fog to damper the driving. Saturday we had a delightful family gathering with the entire Groth clan. For me, the best part was watching all of the kids play together. Outside Saturday it was cold and white but not too frightful, but we were still glad we had decided to be cautious and drive the night before. (I hope to manage to upload pictures yet today, but it all depends on the kiddos and time to access them.)

Saturday I glimpsed a bit of weather online and saw some reports of the 2 storms converging in the region and the one we had been worried about being delayed a bit more and moving in later than expected ... etc. ... Bottom line ... I wasn't surprised this morning. ;-)

Unlike the song we did have someplace to go ... BUT it was cancelled because nobody was going anywhere... so we continue to have a Merry Christmas weekend while being "snowed in" in Northfield and "snowed out" of La Crosse. And after making sure our neighborhood pet-sitters could check on the cats we relaxed and really settled in. We were told NOT to travel considering it was still snowing after about 10 inches on the ground. Here, there wasn't nearly as much snow but it is VERY windy and pretty much a total white-out outside.

The only thing making this all less than Christmas carol perfect is that many of us are, as they say, under the weather. Yes, once again we celebrate Christmas while sick. :-( Shawn seems to have the worst of it with a really bad cold and at this point he doesn't think he will be able to sing in the choir Christmas Eve (assuming we're back home safe and sound!) I didn't think I was sick but barely minutes before pulling into Northfield Friday my throat started to tickle and then by the next morning it officially a cold. Luckily I had caught it quickly and with the help of rest and preventative herbs, etc. I already seem much better today (Sunday). Meanwhile Nessa was being unusually clingy and while cuddling I noticed she indeed had a low-grade fever ... her fever broke at some point Friday night and since then it has just been the stuffy nose and mild cough that has been bothering her. And then poor Ahnika ended up sick to her stomach early Sunday afternoon. We're still not sure what unintended gifts we gave each other this weekend, but hopefully we're on the mend and Megan will escape illness this Christmas.

For now we're taking turns napping and having our own food network marathon. We plan meet up with Megan's dad as they head off to their festivities late tomorrow morning and then we plan to head home so hopefully the roads are clear and safe by then.

If I have more time to catch up on my online "to do" list, I may even get to all of those other items I want to post ...

either way -- stay safe and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The bottom line: Major winter storm expected this weekend

"This is a very tricky storm to forecast, but the bottom line is that this weekend will be a mess."

Yikes, according to our friendly weathermen this storm has two bottom lines!

The bottom line for us is that if we don't want to be winter driving idiots AND we want to get to Northfield we better leave this evening ... we we'll be spending the weekend away. After getting used to the idea of scurrying to pack everything after work, I'm now looking forward to a "the more the merrier" Christmas weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Nessa enjoying her first hot chocolate

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

Nessa thought hot chocolate with Cool Whip, even mom's good chocolate with rice milk, was very yummy.

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

... and all through the house every creature was stirring ... (rambling update post follows)

Well, OK, one creature is stirring, and I won't be for long, but secretly I actually enjoy staying up late to wrap presents, create cards, write Christmas notes, and now update the blog with bits of news. I love glimpsing the Christmas tree lights as I complete the busy work of Christmas preparations.

Throughout the week though we have all been busy running last errands to get last-minute gifts, additional Christmas cards, and holiday food. We have also had events and meetings this week just to keep us on our toes. But tonight was just a normal night at home. A night to play with Nessa and watch her discover new things. Tonight the discovery was how she could string her beads and then the cats would play with the string with her (these are the large toddler beads used as a toy). It was a wonderfully ordinary night with lots of smiles and giggles and also lots of opportunities for me to practice my Love and Logic skills (parents and teachers check out their great online articles: http://www.loveandlogic.com/articles.html)

I'm excited to tell you that Love and Logic was also able to give me some help for dealing with our recent night time adventures of Nessa wanting us in her room as she goes to sleep: www.loveandlogic.com/pdfs/601bedtimeblues.pdf -- it wasn't a miracle at first try and consistency has been key ... but oh so much better, so much better.

For any of you that have know about Love and Logic you will find it amusing that I disagreed with Nessa the other day and she looked to me sincerely and said: "I love you too much to argue."

Monday Shawn and I attended the Candlelight Memorial Service held by the two infant loss groups in La Crosse. This is always a beautiful service and a touching time as so many families attend and light candles for their babies that are no longer here with us on earth. We remember.

Today (Thursday) nearly everyone had a Christmas party. Nessa had her much anticipated Daycare Christmas party with presents of new toys for the daycare, songs, games and, of course, treats. Megan had her party at school as well, and from what I could gather the main attraction is that they are allowed to bring a bottle of pop to have at the party. Shawn also had a party at work -- free lunch and white elephant gifts. No Holiday fun for me this year (last year we had a pot-luck event) as there is nobody there, and willing, to plan it ... and least we get free lunches now as an ECI2 perk (ECI2 is the company that owns us now ... and you know what they say about free lunches).

This weekend we have not one, but two, Christmas gatherings planned with my (Tami) family. The one Saturday is in Northfield so cross your fingers and say a prayer that the weather will be OK for driving as we're expecting one of those yucky "wintery mix" type storms in the general region.

Prior to church on Christmas Eve we plan on lots of rest and relaxation around here.

Some families will be a little busier this Christmas -- I can't resist an official blog congratulations to Rachel and Jason of http://www.welikedogs.com/ as they welcomed their second son, Samuel James, this afternoon!!! Merry Christmas Sammy and family!

Today was the first day in awhile that we didn't receive a Christmas card in the mail. As Nessa would say, 'that made me sad'. We love receiving and reading all of the Christmas cards and letters -- thank you.

And finally, if you're wondering about the picture at the top of the post -- Nessa is not sleeping in the lego box. She just loves to climb into things (sometimes I think she enjoys this more than the cats do). I just happened to catch her in the middle of climbing around trying to get comfortable.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Sunday Before Christmas Vacation-- A New Tradition?

The Sunday before Christmas vacation is the the Sunday our Church has the children's Christmas program (post may follow someday or see the flickr stream for uploaded photos). While trying to keep Nessa quietly entertained and take good pictures of Megan AND actually pay attention to the program and participate when the congregation is asked to do so, Shawn and I both realized that NEXT year BOTH Nessa and Megan will be in the program ... Shawn and I will be sitting by ourselves singing along and snapping pictures... it sounds so nice. :-)

Today though Shawn exited several times with our darling 2 year old (I must say that too often around her because now when I ask her why she does something she says: "because I'm two!").

After church Megan played with Nessa while I uploaded photos and cleared my email inbox. Then we went out for brunch. Megan suggested Hackberry's and Shawn decided it was a special day so we went there -- and YUMMY! I Love that place -- so that can be part of the Christmas Program Sunday tradition as far as I'm concerned! :-)

After we returned home Nessa went down for a much needed nap. Shawn started a (also much needed) fire in the great room for me and Megan before heading down to print out Christmas letters (many in the mail Monday).

Then Megan wrapped a few presents before we got to work on the event of the afternoon -- making a gingerbread house!

Do you see Megan's "we need a snowman in the yard" marshmallow sculpture?

We went with the Willy Wonka kit this year because that was really all that was left within reasonable driving distance by the time I realized we still needed to buy a kit (after brunch today).

Here is William (the Orange) looking on and just waiting for us to stop guarding long enough for him to get his paws in the candy garden.

Megan and I decided that next year we'll try to take a professional gingerbread house class. Then on the Sunday of the Children's program at church we'll do another gingerbread kit with Nessa ... we figure at age 3 she'll make a grand mess of it. :-)

Megan couldn't believe we were only having salad for supper -- but oh it was a grand salad even if it was left overs from when Shawn went to the store on Saturday and bought me my dream salad bar to make at home -- from endive lettuce to artichoke hearts! (turkey and lots of normal things for the rest of them ... Nessa mostly ate shredded cheese and craisins) ... now that is love -- Mr. Meat and Potatoes getting not just salad but dream salad for supper -- and not buying anything different for himself! :-)

After the girls were in bed Shawn and I wrote out most of the Christmas cards (most because I had to quick order more -- as hard as we try to cut back the Christmas list keeps growing! -- and online friends that want a PDF version, please let me know!). We also drank a little wine ... and then I decided to write this quick post since the 11 other posts I've written in my head this week have not made it to the "Publish Post" button!

I hope you are all healthy and enjoying the season -- may you be busy finding joy and peace in the season -

And for those of you inpatient for all of those photo posts, I did post a few comments on the December Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brooksgroth/tags/dec07/

and I also started a Christmastime Picasa album:

Christmas 2007

If you look at either the Picasa album or Flickr you will see photos of Rotary Lights, Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa Brooks and much more ...

Now, as I was saying -- Peace and Joy to you this holiday season --

Friday, December 14, 2007

For My Love At Christmastime

Again this year, I want to dedicate "our" Christmas song to my wife and best friend:

Just In Time For Christmas (as sung by Nancy LaMott)

They had decked the malls and trimmed the town with plastic trees
Til the world was just a giant retail maze
Tis the season when you turn your thoughts to people you can’t please
When you measure passing time in shopping days
And the holidays were something to get through
But the thing I hadn’t counted on was you

Just in time for Christmas, you came along
Just in time for Christmas, when everything felt wrong
And I was sure my faith had all run out
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about

What I needed most could not be bought at any price
I was far too disillusioned then to see
I was going through the motions--made a list and checked it twice
But forgot to write down anything for me
But my long-unspoken wishes had been heard
And an unexpected miracle occurred

Just in time for Christmas, one silent night
Just in time for Christmas, you filled my life with light
And there was joy where there had once been doubt
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about

And all at once the bells began to ring
And hark, the herald, I heard angels sing
Who am I to resist their call
You brought me the greatest gift of all

And now my spirits sing
Just in time, my heart is caroling
From deep within my soul I want to shout
Just in time for Christmas
Just in time for Christmas
Just in time for Christmas, you showed me what Christmas is about

Tami, thank you for loving me, for marrying me, and for showing me what Christmas is all about.

Love, always and forever,

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Overheard: "I don't want to sleep alone"

Yes, after MUCH APPRECIATED nighttime toddler bliss our sweet girl is throwing us for a new loop and ever since Saturday Nessa has sweetly informed us each night as we tuck her in: "I don't want to sleep alone."

We were so spoiled we found ourselves quite unequipped to deal with this gracefully ... so far we have all been able to get the most rest if I lay down with her for awhile and then sleepily go to my own bed after she is asleep. However, this morning she woke up about an hour before the alarm would have sounded because she woke up and she wanted me ... hmmm. So, long term that may not be the best solution but she has been a little stressed lately it seems as she has been "regressing" (baby talk, etc.) so I didn't want to add any more stress as we figure out how to gently deal with this and get everyone to sleep.

In the meantime I'm not really tired (hey, I'm going to bed earlier!) but I am missing my dear husband as that hour or two between Nessa's bedtime and my bedtime were pretty darn precious to us ... and I'm not getting anything done at night this week ... add to that the extra hours I'm working on my deadline project at work and all of the holiday activities ... it all adds up to not having enough time and of course being WAY behind on blog posts -- especially photos.

Sigh ... this too shall pass...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cesarean Rate Hits a New High

It's time for a "Because it matters" post ...

The CDC just released preliminary birth statistics for 2006. We should be outraged at this data -- the United States has a record high rate of cesarean section births while the maternal death rate also continues to rise (and is higher than 40 other countries).

This is NOT okay. Continue to read and then visit: http://www.ican-online.net/ to read about how the International Cesarean Awareness Network is making a difference (we need your support!).

Below are highlights from ICAN's press release and links to read more.


Cesarean Rate Hits a New High

Recent Studies Show Cesareans Can Pose Dangers to Mothers and Babies

Release Highlights:

  • Cesarean rate at record high in the U.S.
  • Cesarean rise coincides with CDC report that maternal death rate rising for the
    first time in decades.
  • World Health Organization data shows that mothers die at a higher rate in the
    U.S. than 40 other countries.
  • Consumer Reports includes cesarean on “10 overused tests and treatments”

Redondo Beach, CA, December 5, 2007 – The National Center for Health Statistics has reported that the cesarean rate has hit an all-time high of 31.1 percent.

CDC's Peliminary Data for 2006

“There’s no doubt that cesarean surgery is being overused,” said Pam Udy, president of the International Cesarean Awareness Network. “Unfortunately, despite its reputation as a harmless surgery, many women and babies are paying the high price of complications from this surgery.”


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Family Photo Shoot

Remember that photo shoot I mentioned WAY back in October? Well, we still haven't ordered our actual prints yet (it's going to be hard to decide what goes on the wall and in hypothetical scrapbooks), but I'm finally getting the digitals organized -- here are a few favorites and the brave can go through all or at least more of them at either flickr or Picasa (links below).

Thank you again Tiffany for such great photos .... and some day when we once again get great smiling photos of Nessa it will be just that much sweeter.

Photos taken by Tiffany: www.tiffanybrubaker.com/

Picture album link below goes to my Picasa Web Photo Album (w/ more comments/descriptions):


On Flickr (sans comments/descriptions): http://www.flickr.com/photos/brooksgroth/sets/72157603377186546/

The pictures of Shawn and I are some of my favorites! It's easy to smile with Shawn holding me...

Trying to convince Nessa this will be fun

We sneak a kiss as the girls pose in the yard

Grandpa and Grandma Brooks with the girls and then all of us together...

Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Overheard -- the sweetest of words to parents of toddlers

Today for the FIRST time --

Nessa: "I have to go pee!"

The parents out there know how exciting this is ... she has been going on the potty for a long time, but today is the first time she has told us (or daycare) that she has to go before she starts going ... and she told us more than once!!!! Woo Hoo we're on our way!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Woo Hoo, Veggie night a hit!

Well, OK, Nessa pretty much only ate applesauce, but that could happen no matter what else we serve. Shawn, on the other hand even took seconds -- and those that know him know that he was naturally more than a little nervous about "veggie night." :-)

A couple of weeks ago we decided Tuesday nights would become veggie night since it's generally a good night for me to cook. The idea of veggie night was also appealing because we're trying to cut back on our out of control grocery expenses and I thought one of the easiest ways would be to eat less meat (especially since we like the good stuff when we eat meat). When Shawn agreed to try a night w/out meat once a week I figured he was just trying to make sure I would cook supper at least once a week. :-)

Last night was the first night (we were sick last Tuesday). And today I'm enjoying yummy leftovers of:

Why did I choose those recipes? Well, first and most importantly -- I had the ingredients or enough that it would be close enough (recipes are just suggestions, right?) -- I was determined not to have to run to the store (hence no salad w/ it as we were out of fresh greens and we always have that on other nights anyway), and I also wanted things that I thought had a chance of being enjoyed while being somewhat new and different. Shawn said he didn't want to know ingredients until after he said if he liked it or not. :-)

You may notice there really weren't that many vegetables in our veggie meal. Oh well, it's a start. And if you have any gluten free (or easily adaptable as the apple burgers were) vegan* recipes to share, please do! :-)

Happy End of November!

*I simply use vegan because it's the easiest way to find recipes that have no egg or dairy which I'm allergic to.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Time to decorate!

Megan decorated much of the tree while Nessa was sleeping. Or rather, Megan put all of her favorite ornaments on the Christmas tree while Nessa was sleeping. Then when Nessa woke up from her nap she was very excited to see the tree and put almost all of the rest of ornaments on the tree all by herself!

IF you look closely you'll either love that this tree was decorated by a two year old ... or not. :-)

The only problem so far -- one day in to having the tree up (in the Great room) -- is that Nessa wants to KEEP decorating. She keeps asking for more and more ornaments to put on the tree.

We also put up Christmas window clings and listened to Christmas carols. :-)
Posted by Picasa


Nessa, upon wandering into the Great Room after waking up from her nap:

"It's the Christmas tree! And the socks!"

Monday, November 12, 2007

Halloween 2007 pictures

Finally -- here are the Halloween pictures:

If you haven't hear yet, can you tell who Megan and Nessa are dressed up as?

Megan really, really wanted to be Laura Ingalls ... so we found a place to get a dress, apron and bonnet made and then decided to get one for Nessa too. I hope they'll use them a lot to dress up in as well as for Halloween. :-)

Both girls went with us to Shawn's office for some indoor trick or treating (cube to cube is SO much more effecient than house to house!). After that I took Megan back to La Crescent so she could go out with her friends later, and Shawn took Nessa home and then out to trick-or-treat around our neighborhood. (I went to yoga!)

Nessa also dressed up at daycare and they went over to the church and paraded for everyone at chuch, including the quilting groupl. I was told that Nessa costume was very recognizable to the ladies at church. :-)

You can see a few more picts in my Picasa album:

Halloween 2007
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

We're home ... and just checking in

Just a quick note since I'm not positive when I'll have time for the kind of post this past weekend deserves. I hope to at least upload photos tonight, but beyond that it may be this weekend and since Saturday is November 10th (Emily's birth day) I may have my mind on other things.

In short it was a WONDERFUL weekend and the extra couple of days Shawn, Nessa and I took in the Dells (and Madison on Tuesday) was also wonderful and well worth the effort.

We stayed at Christmas Mountain thanks to mom and dads timeshare (very nice). Over the weekend we spent much of our time at Chula Vista (where much of the rest of the Groth gang was staying) celebrating my parents 40th Wedding Anniversery (this really does truly deserve a post all of its own). On Monday we explored the WI Dells area (and tried to stay dry with the rain/snow (yes I said snow) happening). And, on Tuesday we headed to Madison for a bit of shopping and a stop at the zoo ... much fun. Of course the great food every day deserves more details too .... Mmmm ...

Below is a quick photo from Judy that shows Nessa at the top of one of the water slides in the "kiddie pool" area of the Chula Vista indoor water park ... this is the closest Nessa came to actually sliding down a water slide. :-)

Nessa is on the left and Charlotte is on the right. I ended up going to get Nessa eventually although I hesitated thinking if given time she might go down (hey, I hadn't been able to get her even that far on my own ... she went up with Charlotte). (Note: low res image)

OK, back to attempting to catch up with the back log that happens with not only a couple of days off of work but 5 days offline! :-)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

This IS only a test

Formatting was only so-so from my gmail account (and sorry for the Fwd: on there ... long story). So, I'm seeing if it works from my work account ... because you know I have nothing to do when I eat lunch at my desk (and if you believe that) ...

Tami Groth
Technical Writer
La Crosse Management Systems, Inc.

Fwd: This is not only a test ... and other randomness

If this works, this will be the first blog post I make via email (hence the test reference). I'm sure this has been an option for awhile, but I only discovered it while looking through my blogger options to change a few other things. If it posts successfully it may help me make more frequent quick posts.
Nessa also gave Shawn a test of sorts this morning. It could have been called, "how you will react when I'm a teenager." Yes, we now have proof that Nessa is as much "Tami's daughter" as she is "Shawn's daughter" (this is the look Shawn gets when Nessa refuses her veggies each night). This morning Shawn was trying to gently wake Nessa up as she has been sleeping later since she was home almost all last week sick and got used to sleeping later (plus it is still dark outside so she thinks it is night yet when we leave at 7ish) ... eventually Nessa turned to Shawn and said: "Don't talk to me now." Maybe this weekend Shawn can commiserate with Shawn, Lance and Scott about trying to get girls up in the morning.
Long overdue Random updates:
  • Halloween seems to have been a success at our house. Both girls were dressed as Laura Ingalls (pictures soon!). Megan really, really wanted to be Laura so I found someone to make the dress, bonnet, etc. (thank you eBay!) and then decided I should just have her make a matching one for Nessa as it would be cute together and Nessa could use it to dress up in a lot at other times as well because she loves to play dress up. Megan decided that Nessa could be Carrie or maybe even Grace (Megan likes to go by the age of the girls in the book she is currently reading ... the girls keep getting older see as Megan is getting to the last book in the series.) Yesterday though Nessa caught on that Megan was excited to be "Laura" so Nessa had to be Laura too. :-)
  • This has been an especially busy week because we were still recovering from all of the illness of the previous week when we couldn't get anything done (passed around a GI big), had/have something scheduled nearly every night, and are getting ready for our WI Dells trip this weekend.
  • Between illness and business I have found a bit of time to enjoy the occasional gorgeous fall days we have had recently. I even took out the Ergo backpack carrier again the other night (we didn't really use it all summer!) and asked Nessa if she would go for a walk with me "on my back" and she agreed. (For months now all walks have been either Nessa actually walking, Nessa using her bike, or us using the stroller or bike carrier.) We had a blast going out for a walk and being able to carrying on actual conversations (because her head is so close to mine this is so much easier!) as we talked about all of the Halloween decorations and various piles of leaves and other fall things. I'm looking forward to doing this as long as the weather permits. It's especially nice to get bonding time and exercise at the same time. :-)
  • We leave Friday for a long weekend in WI Dells. My entire family will be there for the weekend for my parents 40th Anniversary! :-) And then Shawn, Nessa and I will stay a couple of additional days to take advantage of the time share and relax a bit. We're looking forward to lots of fun and family time ... and good photo opps so stay tuned for those posts soon after we return.
  • We had a great fall photo shoot w/ Tiffany (http://tiffanybrubaker.com/ ), but we're taking our own sweet time ordering, etc. so we won't finalize what we want digital copyrights to for a few weeks yet so general blog readers will have to until then to see the great pics that were captured and what we mean by how old (that is a good thing when you're 10 I guess) and gorgeous Megan looks in the ones we did of just her.
  • Speaking of Megan, she has been doing awesome at school by all accounts. I'm thankful she has such a wonderful teacher (best yet at communicating with mom and dad too) in addition to making some wonderful new friends. As you may have gathered she is very much into the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of books and I'm being told that after she finishes the "regular series" there are a number of other books written by Rose and others that she will want to read. She also likes to read horse books and was thrilled to get to ride a horse with one of her new friends recently. I'm quite thrilled that she still barely recognizes the name "Hannah Montana"! Last Saturday Megan and I did manage to have a girls night out and went to see a local production of High School Musical that we enjoyed.
  • Nessa still plays the little sister role very nicely and loves it when Megan is home to play with. Nessa has learned that it is fun to go downstairs in the rec room and play with Megan so that has become a regular special request after church on Sunday.
  • Other general Nessa updates include: After regression during illness last week she is back to wearing underwear most of the time (other than nap and night) and yesterday was a quite successful day so I'm beginning to be hopeful again; Nessa can really count now (versus just saying the numbers in order) and will practice counting many things and if she's serious (versus being silly) she almost always counts right on for anything under 10 items; Nessa still loves art projects and has discovered that there are art supplies in the rec room (we need to replenish much of the toddler appropriate art items in the house though -- Christmas ideas!); Nessa's creativity is just exploding as she does more and more pretend play and will take almost anything (including her food sadly) and turn it into something to give voice to and create a little story; Nessa sings A LOT although often is takes us a bit to realize what song she is attempting to sing -- very cute though.
  • In the keeping busy and enjoying some new activities update: Megan and I have been taking yoga in La Crescent this fall and plan to continue there at least through the holidays and then we may try yoga elsewhere or do another activity together; I have been taking a Spring Forest QiGong class ( http://www.springforestqigong.com/) at the Onalaska Center for Health and Healing ( http://www.mayohealthsystem.org/mhs/live/page.cfm?pp=locations/locationhome.cfm&orgid=FSH&affid=200000000103&nav=Hom) for the last several weeks, and Shawn and I will start the Tai Chi Chih class at lunch time on Fridays beginning Nov. 9th.
  • We also continue to be busy with church activities: Shawn is in the choir this year in addition to serving on the church council; Tami has helped start a women's group that meets twice a month during lunch time and continues to attempt to join in the crafting group as well as other activities; Megan enjoys Sunday School and continues to join us in some of the family activities such as the recent movie night to view the new Veggie Tales movie; Nessa is able to stay with us during the beginning of the church service without being too disruptive now and then she goes up with Megan to listen to the Children's service and then Megan escorts her to the nursery where she gets to play with a friend; I think Nessa was impressed with seeing Veggie Tales on such a big screen when we went to the family movie night last Friday too!
OK, that is it for this update even though I'm sure I'm forgetting more than a few things (feel free to drop us a line and ask questions!). I can't believe October whizzed right by and it's November already!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Megan -- 4th grade

Here is Megan's school picture for this year. I have the copyright on CD so we have all right to print them as desired ... The only advantage this picture has is that she looks like a 4th grader (those of you that have had a sneak peek at our family pictures know what I'm referring to).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is It Just Me, Or Is This Pond Getting Smaller?

Have you ever seen the cartoon with a bunch of fish in a row, each bigger than the last, each with its mouth wide open to swallow up the fish in front of it? That's kind of what life feels like right now. On Monday October 8th, Business Objects (the large company I work for) and SAP (a much larger company) announced an agreement for SAP to purchase Business Objects for 4.8 billion Euros.

Yes, billion. That's around $6.2 billion at the current exchange rate.

Of course it all happened when I was home sick. Instead of spending that Monday in bed, I got to call in to meetings and try to stay awake between them so I wouldn't miss one. (I spent much of Tuesday the 9th in bed instead.)

This will take a lot of time and many steps to complete, so it won't be final for several months. There are regulatory hurdles to clear in several countries before all is said and done. I've never been part of a publicly traded company before, so all of this is new to me. It's kind of exciting in a way. As a Bobj stockholder (through the employee purchase plan), I should be getting an offer to purchase my shares at the agreed price. SAP is actually planning to run Bobj as an independent entity, retaining our own branding and such. So sometime next year I'll probably be working for "Business Objects, an SAP company."

It's always possible that another company could come along and offer more per share than SAP, in effect attempting a hostile takeover. The list of companies in a position to pony up over $6 billion in cash is short: Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and--maybe--one or two others. I'll worry about that when someone tells me I should worry about it. In fact, I'm not really worried too much about any of this. I don't expect my job to change much for a while, if at all--they've been taking more pains than usual to state that they don't anticipate any layoffs. I know that one should never blindly accept the corporate rhetoric that gets spewed on these occasions, but at this point, no one I know is getting any bad vibes. Que sera sera.

Tami is going through takeover woes herself, from the back side. ECII, the company that bought La Crosse Management Systems, promised a lot but hasn't delivered much of anything to date. Now that she's become invaluable to LMS, Tami presented a proposal for becoming a full-time, salaried employee, instead of hourly. I think her boss, the former co-owner of LMS, would have accepted long ago. But it's not up to him anymore, and ECII is being maddeningly slow to do anything with it. All Tami can do is wait. LMS was understaffed when purchased, and it has gotten worse since, and the frustration level is mounting. Everyone hopes ECII will recognize this and do something about it before it's too late, but so far they seem oblivious.

It doesn't seem to matter which fish you are, the situation's the same. The only difference is how big the pond seems to be. I wonder if there are any other ponds out there?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grandma and Grandpa Brooks are here!

Originally uploaded by Tami of BrooksGroth

Nessa (and the rest of us) are enjoying time with Grandma and Grandpa Brooks. They arrived this evening and I couldn't resist capturing this sweet moment of Grandma reading to Nessa (Grandpa has Nessa's firefighter hat on).

We'll be busy enjoying our time this weekend ...


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Walk to Remember planned for this Saturday Oct 13 in La Crosse

October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (http://www.october15th.com/), and near that date a walk to remember is planned in many areas, including in La Crosse. I have attended many years since Emily's birth/death, but was unable to make it the last couple of years. Both Shawn and I plan to attend this Saturday.

Here is the information from the news release on the Gundersen website:

A Walk to Remember is a national event dedicated to the more than 700,000 babies who die each year through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or newborn death. The event recognizes families for their strength and raises public awareness about perinatal loss.The walk is Saturday, Oct. 13 beginning at 1 p.m. It will commence from the main shelter in Myrick Park in La Crosse. This event is free and open to parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family and friends whose lives have been touched by the death of a baby. The public is also invited to help support the bereaved families. A brief program will kick off the event. After the walk there will be refreshments and family activities.

And below is one of the readings that will be done during the short program held before the walk (I have the program ahead of time because I'm on the committee). I haven't decided if I'll volunteer to read anything this year yet or not, but this particular reading is really speaking to me today.

“Life is Like a Butterfly” by Geraldine Reeves

Life is like a butterfly.
Softly, softly…
One never knows why…
It touches your cheek, then says, “goodbye.”

Fragile and sweet, like blooming flowers
Life’s loves and trials last only the hours
That they touch your heart, then say “goodbye”
Life is like a butterfly.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

last week -- not such a great day

oh geez, I was so tempted to put "the good, bad and the ugly" or some such. Doesn't this look like a toddler mug picture? I'm so afraid of what somebody would think just seeing this. For the record she was at the doctor the day before this was taken (doctor last Tuesday 10/2; picture Wed. morning) because obviously (!) something was wrong.

Nessa woke up with a swollen eye Tuesday morning but not as swollen as in these pictures so we made an apt. for that afternoon with our regular family doctor. After nap time it was nearly swollen shut! Apparently eye infections can move really fast. It was diagnosed as an infection in the outer part of her eye (she had no other symptoms other than the swelling) and after a shot of antibiotics we were sent home to and told to keep a close eye on it in case it would get worse and go deeper into her eye. Thankfully it got better quickly!

I asked Shawn to take the picture Wednesday morning in the spirit of fully documenting childhood -- even the (thankfully few and brief) illnesses and not so great times. The picture looks even worse because now when Nessa tries to smile for the camera it pretty much comes out as a grimace and like she's clenching her teeth. Put that together with here eye and this is the result.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Of A Gander, Really, But...

Nessa: Dad-dy?
Shawn: Yes?
Nessa (big smile): You're a silly goose!

I'm not sure what I did to get that comment during breakfast this morning. Nessa hears Megan and I both call her that (very affectionately) on occasion, so it wasn't a total surprise to hear it come out of her mouth.

Given that there are many worse things to be in life than silly, I'll take it as a compliment, especially when it comes with such a huge smile!

Monday, October 01, 2007


"Please I can have some more monster gorilla cheese?" - Nessa, asking for more mozzerella cheese at lunch yesterday. (That's not a typo--"Please I can have" is her usual phrase after we remind her that she needs to say please when she asks for something.)

"I want to watch football with Daddy." - Nessa, stalling to avoid going to bed Sunday night. I think it came from spending time with me watching the Wisconsin/Michigan State game Saturday. I was watching it while lying on our bed, and Nessa was on the bed with me for a while.

That's My Girl!

Yesterday, when I was helping Nessa change clothes after church, I sent her into her room to pick out a shirt. Lo and behold, she came back with her brand new Minnesota Vikings t-shirt, which I purchased for her only a couple of weeks ago. How appropriate for Vikings-Packers Sunday! As she was putting it on we had a little refresher course on "Go Vikes!" I'm not sure she understands what it means, but she says it with verve and authority. Sadly, her enthusiasm did not help the final outcome, but such is life.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Croc hunting...

We are now a Croc converted family. And when Shawn made the croc hunting joke while we were out looking for where to buy crocs in La Crosse (there are several places; the website was useful in our hunt), I knew I had to blog it.

I had been considering getting Nessa Crocs for awhile as I had noticed that many toddlers seemed to be able to take them on and off and they were much better for running and playing that many sandals. And the big one for me, they looked like they would be easy to get clean! So, while on Kelleys Island, and after seeing Max wearing his, Nessa became the proud owner of red Crocs complete with a smiley and cat Jibbitz.

Nessa always remembers: "NO Crocs in bed!"

Kelleys Island unfortunately had a limited supply of Crocs that weekend so Nessa was happy with red and Megan (see below) choose yellow, Shawn and I decided to wait and see what we could find back in La Crosse. Shawn decided to go with blue while we were at the last store during our Croc hunting expedition. No Jibbitz for Shawn (yet).

Above Nessa is showing you her Crocs!

Yes, I finally stuck my foot in the picture as well.

Megan has two lady bugs and a butterfly Jibbitz and looks forward to further decorating her happy yellow Crocs. I'm quite happy with my sunflower, but will have fun looking at more Jibbitz too I'm sure.

Megan , Nessa (and Lilliam) on our front hill as I attempt to take some pics to accompany this post. (Nessa cooperated the first time when I took pics of her with Shawn, but not so much today with her and Megan.)

On a serious note -- we bought them because we find them SO comfortable and well as much as I said I would never give into them as I couldn't get over their "odd" look ... in the end it always comes back to comfort for me. So if they're cool, that's just a fun extra. I have to admit the Jibbitz are a pretty cool addition and I'm so glad that stay at home made out well with her idea. So far we've all been wearing our Crocs a lot and are very happy with them. And, yes, they do clean up easily.