Monday, December 28, 2009
Like a lot of families, we played a lot of games in our house. Monopoly marathons, all-day Risk tournaments, Duck Hunt on the Nintendo, you name it, we probably played it. But the game we played with more gusto and passion has to be Chinese Checkers. There's something about that perfect game board and brightly colored game pieces that brought out the competitive spirit in all of us. But we didn't just play to have fun, oh no, we played for the title of World Champion.
When us three kids were little, we played with Mom and Dad just as competitively as we do now. You would think that we would be allowed to win occasionally, but no, Dad never 'let' us win. If we won a game it was because we actually out-played him and won fair and square.
A lot of trash-talking goes on during these World Championship Chinese Checkers games. One person will block another's perfect move, someone will accuse another of plugging up the board and at least once, someone will be required to show how their across-the-board trek was actually perfectly legal and legit. Dirty looks will be exchanged and revenge will be plotted.
I believe my brother, Kasey, has the longest win streak in the family, but he wasn't in Oregon for Christmas this year, so he couldn't defend his title. Oh, in case you were wondering, I won this year, making me the World Champion. I look forward to defending my title at next year's gathering.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The fingernails that is.
Remember this post?
Hi. My name is Shelle and I am a recovering fingernail biter.
I quit, cold turkey a little over a month ago and I've been doing pretty okay. I've caught myself with a nail in my mouth a time or two and Dan has caught me too, but I have yet to actually fall off the wagon and bite a nail. I have picked at them more often than I'd like, so I'm still working on that.
I wanted my hands to look pretty for Christmas, so I got a professional manicure yesterday. Don't they look pretty? I know, I know, they're not up to hand model quality yet, but they look decent and they are still definitely a work-in-progress.
Monday, December 21, 2009
See, back when I was 11, my Mom was in the Navy Reserves and she was called up to active duty during Desert Storm. She didn't go to the Middle East, instead she went to work at a Naval Hospital in San Diego. My Dad was working in Iowa at the time, and Kasey hadn't started school yet, so he went to Iowa with Dad. Jen and I were in school, so my Grandpa Pat and Grandma Carol in Utah took us in for the school year. I missed my parents and my brother terribly. My parents both told me how important it was that I be a good example for my little sister and behave well for my grandparents, so I acted tough and didn't let on about how hard of a time I was having.
For Christmas, Dad planned to drive us from Utah to San Diego. We had a lovely road trip complete with a night at Circus Circus in Las Vegas where we played carnival games and ate cotton candy and caramel apples. When we got to the Navy base in San Diego, Mom had moved out of her dormitory into a family apartment so there was room for all of us. Mom had made some friends and we went over to their house for dinner on Christmas Eve. The friends were of Jamaican descent and they had a very traditional dinner. I remember feeling very sophisticated and grown up for trying all these new and exotic foods.
We set up a small fake Christmas Tree in the apartment and I know my parents did their best to make it feel like a regular family Christmas, even though it was the farthest thing from it. I was excited for Christmas, like any kid would be, but I was also a little sad, because we would be leaving soon and I would once again miss my Mom.
Christmas Day was filled with presents and treats and when my Mom left to work her shift at the hospital, we played outside in the warm weather, thinking of our friends back home in the snow and cold. When Mom came back that evening, she had some more presents for us. We each had a box filled with little toys from the YMCA/YWCA. Along with the toys, we each were given a big fluffy teddy bear. At 11, I thought of myself as too old for stuffed animals, but I did appreciate that someone out there cared enough about the kids of military parents to take the time and effort to put these gift boxes together for us.
We had a great visit with Mom that Christmas. We took a trip to the San Diego Zoo and even spent an afternoon in Tijuana, Mexico, but alas, the day did come when we had to pack up and leave. I remember my Mom making sure we were all buckled into the car safely and she kissed us all and said goodbye. We all had our teddy bears next to us, and I remember instead of being sad and crying, I snuggled with my bear and fell asleep. When I woke up later, I looked in the backseat to see my brother and sister both asleep, snuggling with their bears.
Desert Storm ended and military families were once again reunited. Our family was together again by summer and in the whole scheme of things, our family's sacrifice was far smaller than what others went through. We kept our teddy bears for several years. I got rid of mine when I packed up my room to leave for college. I'm not sure what happened to Kasey's bear, but Jen's bear has made it's way to her kids' toy pile. I hope Clint and Sandy keep it for a while and when they're older, I hope Jen tells them the story of how she got the teddy bear the year we had Christmas on a Navy Base.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
We would usually try to go to bed earlier than usual on Christmas Eve. I suppose we must have thought that the sooner we went to sleep, the sooner we could wake up and the sooner it would be Christmas. This plan never worked. Oh, we would try to sleep, but then we’d get to talking, then laughing and before you knew it, we were wide awake and sleep was the last thing on our minds. We’d watch the clock and try to stay quiet. We’d play quiet games like checkers or we’d try again to fall asleep, but mostly, we watched the clock.
Eventually, we must have fallen asleep, because inevitably, one of us would wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and, because of boredom or excitement, wake the others up. This did not make 6:00 come any sooner. We’d do our best to stay quiet so we didn’t wake up Mom and Dad. We feared that if we did disturb them, we’d have to wait even longer, and waiting even a few extra minutes would be absolutely agonizing for three very excited kids.
Finally, the appointed hour would arrive and the three of us would chase up to our parent’s room and happily wake them up. We waited patiently as they put on slippers and robes and finally let us into the living room where we could see that indeed Santa had visited.
We kept the tradition of all three of us sleeping in the same room for several years. I think we stopped doing it when I was in high school. It really is more of a little kid thing to do, but the first year we didn’t do it, I missed it. My brother and sister and I are pretty close compared to other siblings we know, but I never felt closer to them than the Christmas Eves we’d spend watching the clock together.
Memories are funny things really. Two people can experience the exact same event, but remember it in two very different ways.
Here’s my sister, Jen’s version of that same memory:
Oh, here's a memory for you!! Remember when we would all sleep in the same room and some years we would sleep in Jen's room. Even though it was HER ROOM - we would still kick her out of HER BED and make her sleep on the floor. Don't you remember that - wasn't that sooooo funny!!! (Insert thick layer of sarcasim)
(Note: I actually don’t remember ever kicking Jen out of her bed.)
And here’s my Mom’s version:
I remember when you kids were told you had to wait until a certain time to wake us up on Christmas morning. We would hear you get up trying to be quiet, and arguing quietly about who had/got?? to wake us up. We would pretend we were still asleep. We would hear you sneak down stairs to check out the tree and then come back upstairs to wait for the wake up time, all the while trying to be quiet. But really, how quiet can three excited kids on Christmas morning be?
(Note: I thought we were quiet. We tried so hard, I promise.)
Monday, December 7, 2009
Growing up, oh yeah, we were a Santa Claus Family. I had no reason to believe that Santa Claus wasn't real, after all, he wrapped presents in different paper than Mom and Dad and his handwriting was different (he wrote in all capital letters and everyone knows moms and dads don't do that). Some argue that Santa Claus promotes greediness and consumerism to small children, I think he promotes generosity and innocence and those are the traits I want Santa Claus to embody to Lana when she's older. All this talk about Santa Claus brings to mind my very first Santa Claus memory.
I was probably four-years-old and my family was at my Grandma Carol's in Utah for Christmas. Grandma Carol and Grandpa Pat were spoiling us on Christmas Eve. I remember my cousins Zach, Daniel and Cody were there. Jennifer must have been there too, but she was probably only a year old. Zach and I are similar in age and Dan is a few years older. Grandma and Grandpa told all us kids that Santa Claus might be coming to their house, so if we're good and play nicely together in the basement, they'd call us upstairs when he arrived. Zach and I were so excited. Santa Claus! Really! At Grandma's House! We both were about to burst. Then cousin Daniel did the unthinkable. He looked right at us and said, "Santa isn't real, it's just one of our dads dressed up." I looked at cousin Zach in time to see his face fall and I'm sure I looked just as broken-hearted. Before we could fully discuss this new information, Grandma yelled down the stairs that Santa Claus was here. We tripped over each other to be the first to the top. Even though we were excited, Zach and I were very suspicious. Was this Santa Claus real? Was cousin Daniel right? I looked at the man in the red suit. He didn't look like my dad and he didn't look like Daniel and Zach's dad either. In fact, there were our dads, sitting at the table, watching us and smiling. I ran up to Santa Claus and gave him a big hug. Of course he was real. He was right here and I was hugging him. How could I have ever doubted? That night, a child's faith in the impossible was was not only restored, it was strengthened.
Thanks Grandpa and Grandma. That night has always meant a lot to me.
A few years ago, I was laughing about this story with my Grandma Carol and I just had to ask. "So Grams, who did come over and play Santa Claus that night?" She answered perfectly, "I don't know what you mean. You thought it was the real Santa Claus, so of course it was."
So, what's your best Santa Claus story? Screaming at the creepy mall Santa when you were a kid? Pulling off his beard because your friends dared you to? Are you now making Santa Claus memories with your own kids? Please share and leave a comment.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
We went to the Walmart today to pick up some groceries, household items, diapers, you know, all the stuff you get at the Walmart. It happened to be the first day of 'Pictures with Santa' so we decided to stick around and get the necessary picture of Lana with the Walmart Santa Claus. First off, they were running late, so we got to witness the chaos of the Walmart employees hollering at each other about who had the Santa suit and who needed to run to the bedding department to grab a pillow for Santa's belly. Then said Santa came out of his dressing area to run into the nearby restroom, but not in the full costume. Now, Lana is so little that she doesn't know what's going on at all, but what if there were 4-year-olds waiting and they witnessed Santa Claus, sans hat, beard and belly, run into the men's room? Would the mystique surrounding the jolly old elf be ruined for them forever? I suppose that's a discussion for another time.
Despite the lameness, the Santa was a nice young man and Lana was happy to sit on his lap and suck on her fingers. The picture turned out pretty cute and we have successfully recorded another 'first' for Lana.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Lana was our little traveling champ and did fine on the drive both directions. While there, she got lots of snuggles from Grandma Sue and plenty of play time with her cousins. Dan and I caught up with family and friends. On Thursday, we enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal with Sue, Dean and Lyndsey and their little girls. We ate turkey (raised by Dean – oh so delicious), stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, pretty much as traditional as a Thanksgiving meal can get.
Around here, we’ve been keeping more than busy. We had six trees cut down and Dan and Dwayne have been giving their chain saws a good workout cutting the trees into useable-sized pieces. Removing six very large trees certainly has changed the way it looks around the house. Here’s a nice before-and-after for you:
Actually, it should be called before-and-in-progress because it will be some time before it’s all cleaned up. And really, this is not even a very good in-progress shot. I’ll have to get out there with my camera this weekend.
We got our Christmas Tree up and finished decorating it last night. It is the first time since we’ve been married that we have a real tree. Our apartment was just too small. I was so excited when Dan brought it home. Our house now smells like Christmas. Lana likes the lights and will probably like the ribbon and bows on gifts too. Speaking of Christmas, I’m been following an on-line class from Jessica Sprague about recording special memories and events from the Holiday Season. I’ve been having so much fun with this that I decided to extend it to the blog. For the next four Mondays, I’m going to post a ‘Monday Memory’ and it will be something I remember about Christmas when I was a kid. I’ve already jotted down a few, but committing to post every week will force me to really think about them and write them down. Feel free to leave a comment or email me about a Christmas memory that I should write about.
If you’re wondering, it’s now been over two weeks since I decided to quit biting my finger nails. So far, so good. I have caught myself picking at them, so I followed my friend, Leslie’s advice and grabbed a file. It works pretty well. I’m thinking if I make it an entire month, I’ll reward myself with a manicure, and then I’ll have pretty hands in time for Christmas.
Oh, and just because she's cute and adorable and our little sweetie, here's a bonus picture of Lana. Yeah, I didn't think you'd mind : )
Monday, November 23, 2009
"Does your mom make the kind of stuffing inside the bird, or only the kind that gets baked separately?"
"Growing up, were you guys an eat-at-2'o clock or eat-at-4'o clock Thanksgiving family?"
"What kind of sweet potatoes does your mom make?"
"What kind of pies?"
"There will be mashed potatoes, right?"
And really, I have no reason to question the merits of the Thanksgiving meal in Lynden. Sue is a phenomenal cook. Everything she's ever made, I have wanted more of, almost immediately. It's just that this is my very first Thanksgiving where I won't be with my parents. I know what you're thinking, Shelle, you're 30 years old, it's time to cut the cord. Don't worry, I have taken the command to "leave and cleave" very seriously and Dan and I are starting to make our own family traditions. That doesn't mean I won't miss the oh-so-very traditional Thanksgivings I enjoyed in the past.
Yes, we were cheesy and went around the table and everyone said something they were thankful for, and yes, as a teenager, I probably scowled through the exercise, but was secretly glad we did it anyway. We all had a job too. Jen would make a fruit salad, Kasey started out by setting the table, but I think he eventually was promoted to mashed potato man, and I did the appetizers. I took my job very seriously. As a kid, I cut up veggies and made a ranch dip, but my appetizers evolved as I grew up. One year I made a homemade cheese ball with fancy cheese and port wine. Another year I did a baked brie with honey.
Guests were always welcome. When I was in college, my dad always asked if all my friends had plans, because if they didn't, they were certainly invited to Oregon with me. One year, right after I moved to Pullman, I invited my co-worker/friend, Kristene. She was from New Zealand and had never experienced an American Thanksgiving. She was a great help in the kitchen and fun to have around. My brother and sister thought she was pretty funny and everyone loved her "exotic" accent. But what was most entertaining to us was that at dinner she asked if she could have one of the turkey legs. Sure, why not? None of us cared for the leg. But apparently growing up, she and her brother fought over the drum sticks whenever their mom cooked a turkey. She was happy to have a turkey leg without a fight and we were happy to hear that sibling rivalry was just as prevalent on the other side of the world as it is in the good ol' USA.
This Thanksgiving we will all make some new memories. Jen has been promoted from fruit salad maker to the bringer-of-the-cheesecake at dinner with her husband's family. Kasey will do more than set the table and make mashed potatoes this year because this year he is hosting our parents in Des Moines. He and his wife are also having Christina's parents over too. And me? I'm not too sure what my Thanksgiving job will be this year. Maybe Sue will need help with the pies or the stuffing or the potatoes. Or maybe I'll even make my signature appetizers, just at a different house this year.
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Make some great memories and remember the fun times of Thanksgivings past. We have so much to be thankful for.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I really mean it this time. It’s over. I’m done. No more.
Nail Biting, you and I are officially no longer together.
Oh, we’ve had a good run, probably 26 or 27 years, but as of Monday, no more. I’m tired of making excuses for keeping you around. I’m tired of covering you up with acrylic nails that I can’t bite through. I’m tired of hiding you and biting in secret. Well, guess what? The secret is out in the open and Nail Biting you are no longer welcome as a part of my life.
I’m sure I started biting as a form of self-soothing, similar to thumb-sucking, that’s how it typically starts anyway. I actually don’t remember becoming a nail biter, I just always was. But I didn’t outgrow it like most kids do. I do remember when I was stressed or anxious, biting my nails down so short they bled would actually make me feel better.
Slowly I’ve been letting go of being so tightly wound. Imperfection on my part doesn’t cause a flood of self-imposed guilt. I definitely am more relaxed and laid-back. You know that super-cheesy and cliché phrase, ‘Let go and Let God?’ Well I’m much, much better able to do that now. I’ve let go of my anxiety, but the Nail Biting has still stuck around. I’m not sure why, I thought they went together hand-in-hand. So now I am taking active and deliberate steps toward letting this go as well. On Monday night I took off my acrylic nails and carefully filed my little stubs. I covered them in a thick nail-hardener and then used a tastes-yucky clear polish as a topcoat. I bought gum to chew on in case the need to bite becomes overwhelming. I think I’ve got all my bases covered.
I used to joke that I’ve been biting my nails as long as I’ve had teeth. Lana now has teeth, two of them to be exact. I don’t want her to be a nail biter. I need to be a good example to her, but more than that, I need to teach her healthy ways to deal with anxiety. I need her to know that it’s okay not to please all the people all of the time. I need her to know it’s okay to say you’re sad or scared or worried. Of course, she’s five months old right now. When she’s unhappy, she lets me know. But as she grows up, she’ll watch me, and my actions, infinitely more than my words, will demonstrate to her what is acceptable and what is not.
So dear friends, this is where you come in. I am officially making all of you my accountability partners. I have admitted I have a problem and now I am asking for help. If you see me biting, please tell me to stop (in a loving way please). Ask me how my stop-nail-biting progress is coming. If you’re one of those people who can beat your bad habits by yourself, that’s cool, good for you. But this is too big, too important for me to go at it alone. I thank you all in advance for helping me out with this one.
If you have beaten a bad habit or an addiction, please share your story with me. I am inspired by people who have overcome anything that was holding them back. Whether it’s smoking or road rage or even, yes, nail biting, I would be honored to hear from you. You can leave a comment or email me (shelle.lenssen@live .com).
Day Two is so far off to a good start!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I was also thinking of updating this blog with Lana's progress into the world of eating solids. She does a good job of making a mess, but I'm still not convinced that she's actually swallowing anything yet. We'll keep practicing and I'm sure she'll get it eventually.
Thanks for being patient. I promise I'll try to do a better job with the updates.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Yup, can you believe it's been two years? It seems like only last week I was worried about flowers that were locked in the reception hall (they were, we just picked up new ones at the grocery store), worried about my hair not looking the way I wanted it to (it ended up looking way better than I expected), hoping I wouldn't cry when it was my turn to say wedding vows (my voice cracked a bit, but I kept it together), wondering if the food would be ready and delicious when guests arrived at the reception hall (it was fabulous and on-time because all my family worked so hard to make it so) and just full of all the typical wedding day jitters. It all turned out fine. We both said 'I do' when we were supposed to and just like that, we went from being two single people, to one married couple.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
1. Last weekend was Lana's Dedication at Church. It was really cool and Lana behaved wonderfully. She smiled at Pastor Mark and I think she liked being up there in front of all the people. My parents and Dan's brother, Dean and his family, along with our Pullman friends and family were there to share in the happy time. I'll post pictures another time.
2. This is Lana's first craft project. I think she did a great job.
4. For dinner tonight, I made chicken fried steak, gravy, steamed veggies, these potatoes and brownies. I think Dan just fell in love with me all over again.
5. Lana is bald and it doesn't appear that she's going to get hair anytime soon. Several friends have shared stories about how their babies were bald and then by month 4 or 6 or 8, they'd suddenly get hair. Well, Lana is 3 days away from 4 months and her hair situation has not improved. It's okay Lana-bean. I guess you'll get hair when you're good and ready too.
6. Because Lana is bald, she wears a hat whenever we go outside. She has lots of hats, but right now, this purple ear hat is my favorite. It might be her favorite too. Do you see her smile?
7. Her 4-month doctor's appointment is on Monday. I'm nervous for the shots already. I am excited to see how much she's grown though. I see her everyday, so I don't really notice, except when I have to move her up in diaper sizes or retire clothes that are too small.
8. One year ago, I was throwing up nearly every day and tired and miserable. I'd do that 1000 times over again to get my baby Lana in the end. She makes it all very, very worth it.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Good morning Husband, so nice of you to serve as my human alarm clock. You are much more pleasant than that annoying buzzer. I love that we get to spend these few minutes together in the morning. What? Oh, I have to actually get out of the nice warm bed. Sigh. Oohkay. Sigh. Time to pump. Oh the price my body pays to feed my child. Totally worth it though. I happened to check out the price of formula in the grocery store. That stuff's expensive. No fancy-schmancy stuff for our girl. It's homemade for you all the way Baby Girl. Thank you Husband for bringing me my cup of coffee. You're the best. Time to make up the bottles and pack the pumping bag for work. Check the time. Hey, I might actually have enough time for breakfast this morning. Maybe I'll even get the bed made. Get dressed, do hair. Why won't my hair ever fix the way I want it to? Briefly fantasize about chopping off hair in a short, modern, chic do. Then I remember that doing so would make Dan very sad. Okay long hair, you can stay, for now. Bye Dan. Love you. Have a good day. Get Lana up. Good morning Sweetheart. I'm so glad you slept well. Oh your morning smiles just melt my heart. Yay! your pajamas and bedding are all clean. Let's get you dressed. Purple today? You look lovely in purple. Well, actually, you look lovely in everything. But I may be biased. Time for breakfast for you. Whoa, slow down frat-boy. No need to chug it. Holy smokes that was a big burp, and another. Good, no tummy bubbles. Big happy, contented smiles. Oh I love this baby. Check the clock, plenty of time for a bowl of Cheerios, and I shouldn't forget my vitamins. Okay, play time for you for a few minutes while Mommy eats. Rinse bowl, leave in sink. Apparently I do not have the extra 4.5 seconds it would take to put said bowl in the dishwasher. Gather day's necessities, go through checklist in my head. Lana's three bags of milk? Check. My work bag with lunch? Check. Wallet? Check. Pumping bag? Check. Take everything out to the car, start the car and get the heat running. Dang, it's chilly this morning. Okay Baby, time to load up. Let's put on your cute white jacket. I love the bright flowers. Oh, and a hat. Your little bald head needs to be covered. When are you going to get some hair? Let's go with the yellow hat today, it looks nice and warm.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
The other day after her bath, I let her play on the floor with just her towel.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
On Friday morning we loaded up and went into Pendleton for the Westward Ho Parade. I figured Lana would just sleep through it, and for the most part she did. She won't remember that she went to her first parade at 3 months old, but I will. The parade is always impressive and is one of my favorite parts of the Pendleton Round Up. Here we have the big ol' oxen.
Lana turned exactly 3 months old while we were there. Our girl is getting so big!
We're starting to get better at the whole pose-for-a-family-picture thing.
I think my mom is the proudest Grandma ever!
And the coolest adventure Lana had was learning how to roll over. She finally did it. This video shows one of her attempts, but she's not quite successful. I promise you though, she did do it, just not for the video camera.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
This little sprite doesn't seem any worse for wear.
Happy Birthday to Dan! He spent the day doing some of his favorite activities such as watching football and taking a nap on the recliner with Lana in the afternoon.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I think she saw me too, but didn't seem too bothered. We get deer around our place all the time, but I've never seen a lone fawn. I hope her mother wasn't too far away. Mostly the deer stay in the pasture or at the end of the driveway. This fawn came right into the back yard.