Friday, December 29, 2006

Missing in action

We've been playing and going on trips and shoveling snow. Oh my!

Very little to write about, although I'm still short on Cat Tossing pictures as well as Thanksgiving and Xmas and such.

Xmas: a good time was had by all. Eric received seriously yummy brownies from Fairytale Brownies. Santa did pretty well by Caitlin. I received very cool hummingbird earrings and a book on the science of cooking.

Snowstorms: received another foot of snow and Shock! the first two feet of snow haven't melted off yet! Unlike it normally does within three days around here. Made a family of snow-angels with Caitlin in the back yard. Tossed lots of snowballs at her, too. My aim is awful!

Went on a trip to the library and museum to see the IMAX film Roving Mars with Caitlin (in between snowstorms). Got my eyes checked, dilated (I hate that part), and ordered new glasses with all the bells and whistles and new contacts. Ouch!

Played more computer games than I probably should, but Eric...he makes me! Yeah! That's my story and I'm sticking with it!

Must go drink some cocoa. It calls to me.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

And all through the house...

Asleep in her bed, Caitlin eagerly awaits the morning.

In the basement, one lone elf wraps and wraps.

How's by you?

P.S. We've decided to support the Santa believing. Childhood is short and harmless belief systems are few. I have special paper that I'm using on her gifts and have to figure out how to disguise my handwriting.

Suddenly, it feels a lot like Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Canada: The Day After

We now return you to Canada, on November 19th. Now that we've all had a chance to stop crying over my previous entries, here's the wrap up. It's going to be photo heavy. Dripping with snapshots! Not all of which are taken by me, either.

This is what throwing the second biggest party of your life leaves you looking like (she's gonna kill me for this one!):

Update: Excessively exhausted younger sister photo removed, due to sibling pressure.

But she'll soon forgive me for these pictures! (I hope!) Here's Daniel indisposed. Of course I photographed it! Look at the expression in his eyes! He loves his momma.
And his Aunt Hatchet, too. I, unsurprisingly enough, love him back. It was a whirlwind romance. I'm hoping he remembers me when next we meet.
The beginnings of a shoe fetish? Mmm! Leather!

Here he is, being ridiculously cute. Everyone should have one like this! He was very cuddly.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to fall in love with someone that delights in you?

On Sunday, we had the After Party, as we usually do, at Mom and Dad's house where thirteen people all tried to jam into my parent's tiny kitchen. As we usually do.

Have you ever noticed how when you throw a party everyone wants to be in the kitchen with you? That's love. They say the kitchen is the heart of the home and in my experience, while growing up in my parent's home and now in my own, I find that to be completely true. When you're cooking, everyone wants to be right there with you. When you're icing the 4 layer coconut cake with coconut buttercream icing, they're right there. Watching. Chatting. Laughing. Oohing and aahing.

Here we all are: parents, cousins, siblings, in-laws, niece and nephew.

Cousin Nancy.
Cousin Marilyn. They were checking out Cindy's wedding album.

Second step-cousin-in law once removed (Oh yeah, we've got complicated relationships, too.), Jen. She's way cuter in person than this picture captures.
Tom. The sweetest cat. He's a ragtag ragamuffin. He showed up around ten (?) years ago looking for handouts and has stuck around ever since. I'm not certain if he was a feral cat or just an outdoor cat, but my parents fell in love with his gentle personality and fierce protectiveness. Not pictured is their psycho cat Xanth. Those two don't get along. All of those scars? Raccoon fights!
Pet the kitty. Niiiice kitty!My older sister, Dawn.
My little brother, Ian.
My cousin-in-law Colin, my brother-in-law Jason and my nephew Daniel.
We're a mixed bag, eh?

So here we all are, emotionally wrung out, but happy, the day after the big party. Eating ackee and saltfish (YUM!), meat patties, Ghirardelli chocolates, fruit cobbler, ham and veggies and who knows what all else. One of the comments I'd made at the party was that it was the only party any of us were ever likely to see Mom not cooking at. I was right, of course, since she spent pretty much the whole time during this party cooking. Another reason why we all squeeze into the kitchen.

Here's a card my cousin Jamie made/Photoshopped for my Dad. Fabulous!
You have to view it larger to read what it says, though.

Just so you know, the weepy part is coming....

Dad and the grandkids. One of each! By the way, my dad is afraid of small children. He's terrified he's going to drop them. Word is that he didn't hold my older sister as an infant until she was one years old. Ack! Mom apparently had had enough of that by the time I came around and thrust me at him at 6 weeks. Cindy ambushed him with Daniel by just popping Daniel into his lap and walking away. I had no idea that worked....

Here? He's smiling. At me. Rare are the smiling Dad photos. I will treasure this one for a long time to come. OK, maybe it's just the weepy for me part.

You know what's funny? I can finally see how I look like my dad here. All together now!
I like this one. It's a great snapshot of life in our house: chaotic, food is at the core, and we're quietly happy.

Yes, these were all shot with ambient light, so there are a lot of shadows, however a flash would have killed the moment and make them painfully aware that I was shooting. Of course, it's hard to miss my enormous camera and lens set up, but if I move quietly and slowly I'm less likely to scare the camera shy off.

Cindy has a different dynamic with my dad than all the rest of us. She turns him into a big teddy bear, I have no idea how she does it, but they're really close.
And silly.
Caitlin beeps Daniel's nose. We like beeping noses. You never know what sound they'll make.
With that experience, Daniel tries to beep my mom's nose.

I look like I'm giving Daniel what's for here. This, by the way, is my favorite shirt. My friend Dan calls it my Super Chick shirt. I'll take that.
After much eating and mulling over the previous night, it was time to say goodbye. Caitlin and I made the long drive over to Cindy's house to get our gear since we were going to spend the last night with mom and dad. It was very very late when we returned (1 am) and Caitlin was in major meltdown mode. We immediately put her to bed and said goodnight, planning on waking up at 3 am for our 6 am (yes, we ARE insane) flight home. It was cold and foggy and I was so glad that I wasn't driving since I was exhausted and get road hypnotized/fall asleep easily (leading to crashing and great unhappiness - I'll relate the semi-truck incident another day). Dad was completely knocked out, so it was just mom, Caitlin and I. It made me very glad that I'd said goodnight to dad the night before, kissed him goodbye and told him that I loved him.

Twice in the same weekend! In person!

Yeah, well. There it is.

Mom and I had intense discussions about family and illness and death and secrets in the car on the way to the airport. Why? Because that's what I'm good at! What?! I was supposed to spend my last hour with her talking about the weather or something frivolous? Get real!

I told her that I was truly glad that I had come, that I loved her, that I was glad that dad had finally gotten his hernia surgery (now there's a story!), had at long last gotten diagnosed (with Alzheimer's) and medicated and that I was deeply distressed by the thought of him forgetting everyone. I can only imagine what it's like for her on a daily basis. She says that she's coping (hang in there Mom!) by just going with the flow and answering his repeated questions (What's today's date?) just as if he'd asked it for the very first time.

I learned, yet again, that love comes in many different guises.

Love is not getting frustrated with someone else's forgetfulness; holding your grandchildren even though you're afraid; dancing together 11 years later; ackee, saltfish, hard-dough bread, cobbler and Jamaican fruitcake; digging two feet of snow out of your driveway and going to the rescue; telling the truth, even when it makes you cry.

Love, most especially, seems to be forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and forgiving others doesn't come easily or quickly, but it is life changing when it happens.

May all your lives change for the better, day by day.

Holiday Card 2006

I figure, if you get the card you intended to get out by Xmas before Valentine's Day, you're golden. Yes, one year I made it right into February. The year after, I made it by the New Year.

Don't think I didn't crow about that triumph in my cards, either!

This, you see, is why I don't mention Christmas or Channukah or anything in particular like that. Besides, I want you to have more than a good holiday season! Why, it's easy enough (or used to be) to be happy during the season where you're running from one party to the next, giving and getting gifts and getting hyper on all the sugar cookies you can eat. No, if you call it a holiday card, then when you get it out after Xmas, but before New Year's, you could have been referring to either one. If you get it out after New Year's, why then you were referring to all of those past and perhaps those yet to come. A golden grey zone, if you will!

Cycle forward to this year and I'm totally rockin' it out! Cards out before Christmas! Now that's a mini-triumph that I will do a little dance of joy over. Finding the right picture, editing it and making it look kind of cool - all of these things can make your eyes go all twitchy when your perfectionism comes out to play. However, I knew I had the right picture in November, when we went out to visit Ed and Val.

Here's the Holiday Card 2006:

Click on it for a larger image.

Many thanks again to Tracey from Picture This for the idea of using a definition on the card and Melissa for the link to Tracey. Caitlin personifies Joy to me, so it was a no-brainer.

As much as Caitlin may drive me buggy from time to time with Bad Attitude or Being Far Too Messy, I love her so much that it hurts sometimes. My heart seems to squeeeeze when she says something particularly adorable, or smiles just right or tells me, yet again, that she loves me THIIIIIIIS MUCH! So when I get a shot of her that just perfectly shows that inner glow of hers, I have to share it.

Years from now, when she's in therapy talking about how we traumatized her by making her brush her teeth, the one thing she'll never complain about is that she wasn't loved enough.

Smooches to all of you! Know that you are loved!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Happy Birthday Sue!

You've come a long way, baby!

Happy 51st birthday and wishing you a speedy recovery on the neck surgery! (Sue: Now with Bionic Neck Action!)

Blast from the past photo!

I'm really glad that you're in my life and now in Colorado. Congratulations on getting straight A's in graduate school your first semester back!

Yay you!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Caitlin Chucking!

The scenes you are about to witness were performed by professionals. No Caitlins were injured in the following scenes. Do not try this at home.

Unless you really want to!

Action photography!

Where are the cats? They disappeared when it came time for Cat Tossing! Maybe tomorrow. The light is going now, so the photography wouldn't be as good. Unless I can find them in the next few minutes!

Snow depth: 12 inches by the front door, over 24 inches by the sidewalk. When we found the sidewalk, that is!

Snow day!

Scenes from our windows.

The boys check out the yard. They haven't heard about the annual "Chuck a Cat into Snow Drift" festival. They will. Oh yes, they will and soon.
The deck.
The stranded car out front.

When all the world seems black and white....

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's snowing like mad

Here in Hatchet-land, the snow is getting deeper and deeper. We're not going anywhere.

So much for the idea of shopping for presents!

Oh well. More time for world-saving! Heh heh heh!

We watched 2 cars and 1 SUV (Hah!) get stuck outside our house. Eric, being the Good Samaritan that he is, went out to assist the two cars. One belonged to our neighbor, directly across the street. She was very grateful. The other belonged to another neighbor (that we don't recognize), who lives further up the hill. They got her car pushed as close to our sidewalk as we could because of the danger from fishtailing vehicles as the come around the corner. I watched two other SUVs come around the corner fishtailing like mad, so it was a very valid concern. She left the car out front and walked home.

The SUV we didn't offer to help, as it showed up after Eric came back in and took off his snow encrusted clothes. Besides, there was no way in hell Eric was going to be able to push something as big as that bugger. Eventually they got out on their own.

What's the point of having an enormous, heavy, 4 wheel drive, gas guzzling SUV if that sucker can't handle snow in Colorado?! Mind you, this is no ordinary snow - it is a blizzard and Denver and Eastern Colorado were declared a Natural Disaster zone. State of Emergency and all that. Fortunately for us, we still have power and heat and things. I am really really glad that we didn't have anywhere to be today.

Hope you and yours are all safe and sound.

I think we're going to toss Caitlin into a snowdrift tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Yet more proof that we are far from organized

Christmas shopping? Not one single item purchased.

However, I have a plan! Yup. And I'm not telling. I know who reads this blog!

Hey, I got the cards out on time, didn't I? That's gotta count for something! Maybe when we're flush again shopping for presents will be fun. In the meantime, we're just going to have to wing it.


I'm not depressed or anything, but the whole rush around and stand in long lines to buy stuff theme just doesn't do anything for me. Eric either, but at least I don't feel like turning into a mass murderer before the shopping trip is over. He gets a little crazy this time of year with the crowds. You'd think he'd learn to shop early or just do it all online. All the rest of the year he's a fabulous shopper but around Xmas? It's like he loses his skills or something.

I think it may be due to Birthday Week. How can Xmas compete with 4 days of celebrating Eric-ness? Besides, there's world saving what needs doing!

Caitlin Says...

In yet another discussion about Sebastian, Caitlin's new love, we discuss how her card was received. Caitlin, you see, had created a card in a heart shape with the message: "Sebastian: I love you. Caitlin".

Eric was terrified that she would be rejected. I figured that there's nothing we can do to prevent her from being rejected, so we should just see how it goes. Mind you, when I assisted in class last week I saw the lay of the land: this little boy was flirting with my girl! I don't think the "love" is unrequited.

Well, we asked and the answer was that she stuck it in his cubby rather than give it to him directly. We may find out today what the response was. However, we went on to ask why she likes him so much and she said this:

"I know I love him because when I look at him hearts float over my head."


The cuteness! It is deadly! (It's also very Sims 2, but so sweet!) And I explained that funnily enough, Eric and I get hearts over our heads when we look at one another, too.

Go on, you can say it: Awwww!

Monday, December 18, 2006

More Ridiculously Cute

OK, I keep finding reasons to waste time on the internet. It's a dangerous place for me, I tell you! However, this! this you have to see, and play with on your own. It's coolness is insidious!

Create your own snowflake, for a cause.

You can even search for other people's snowflakes. Look for Hatchet. Whee!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My brain is exploding!

I just got Adobe Photoshop CS in the mail yesterday and installed it late last night. I watched a few ads about it on their website and I'm blown away!

I'm so excited about working with it that I couldn't sleep last night. My brain kept thinking about all the cool new things I could do! Aieeee!

So, it's going to be a few extra days to get those photos out while I figure out how to use the giant new toolset that comes with CS, but it should be totally worth it!*


*Disclaimer: you may not notice a difference in my photos, but I will and don't you want your photographer to be happy? Errr...yeah....

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Corben gets the Kiss Off

Last night at dinner (who knows what we were discussing), the conversation turned to Caitlin getting married. As usual.

To Sebastien.

"What about Corben?!" we cried.

Caitlin met Corben in pre-school in October of 2002 (15 months old) and became fast friends. As soon as she was old enough to express interest in weddings (I keep photographing them - sometimes for actual money!), she declared that she was going to marry Corben. We told her she couldn't get married until she was at least 26, but considering that we're not OK-ing dating until 25, that's going to be a whirlwind romance, I think!

Practically every single day she'd remind us about how she was going to marry Corben. After I left off working for The Man in November 2004, we tapered Caitlin off attending that particular pre-school (It was fantastic! but expensive!) until we were done in February 2005. Goodbye Corben! Goodbye friends! This, however, did not stop the daily declarations of future wedded bliss with Corben - it just slowed it down to weekly, perhaps.

One week into starting kindergarten she started mentioned a boy named Sebastien. Sometimes, when she'd get something new to wear (sweaters, sneakers, fun patches on her jeans) she'd ask if I thought Sebastien would say, "How fancy!" when he saw it.

By the way: my five year old being concerned about male appreciation disturbs me.

Then last night, the clincher: she declared that she was going to marry him. In response to our shocked cry about Corben she responded:

"He'll get another wife."

In the distance, a 5 year old heart breaks. Can't you just hear it?

Monday, December 11, 2006

That time of year

Yes, my chickens, it's that time of year again.

Card season.

Xmas cards. Holiday Cards. Seasonal cards. Call them what you will, but this is the time of year when they get created and shipped out. Well, except for the year when I sent them out in February....

You wanna see it, don't you?


You're gonna have to wait! Bwahahahaaaaaa!

I'll unveil this year's work after I'm certain most have received it. No peeking! But you will be happy to know that it features Caitlin! Surprise!

Actually, I did try to work a picture of Eric and I into it, but it didn't work out. It's a much stronger card without us mucking it up. On the bright side, I'm waaaaaay ahead of the curve on creating it, getting it printed and getting the addresses ready. By the way: 52. That's all I'm sayin'! Whew! Who knew we liked so many people?

Well, maybe you did!

Just for grins, here's last year's card:
Caitlin and Eric were playing with bubbles in the backyard and I caught a really nice moment with a long lens. A little editing later and voila!

Here's a link for some ideas for your card, if you're so inclined. The author has several entries, so follow the links - I shamelessly stole one of her ideas this year. I love the internet!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Birthday Week

This is a week full of celebrating Eric. First there was the actual birthday, here, which was very low key. Then there was dinner with his mom at L'Atelier on Friday night.

I have to tell you, it totally rocked! The food was fantastic! The service was exceptional. The bill was not too horrendous. The food was pretty. Did I mention it was fabulously yummy? Wow! I haven't eaten anything that tasted that good in...I don't know how long! You should go, really. Make up a reason, it's in Boulder, go there. Eat. Be merry. Enjoy the loveliness of it all. And order the lobster. I swear that sucker was poached in butter. The chocolate bag and Tarte Tatin were sinfully delicious. MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Oh, yes...moving on!

Tonight is the birthday party that features a coconut cake with coconut buttercream frosting made by yours truly. One pound of butter. Many friends coming for this.

Tomorrow will be dinner at The Melting Pot with Eric's Dad and Sue. More yumminess.

Food is love around here - but in the good way. We express love through our cooking and celebrate good things with good food and good restaurants.

Of course, it does make it hard to go somewhere inexpensive. Damned palates!

To Linda I send out a big Thank you. Go on, click it. You know you want to.

And now for a party!


Updated with pictures!

The cake. Coconut cake, 4 layers with coconut buttercream frosting. One pound of butter in the frosting alone. Ten eggs. Rich! And the " cake I've ever had in my life!" Quoth one rave reviewer.
Prize for the worst wrapped gift went to Mike. Self-claimed title, I'm not talkin' smack! It was a green laser. Oooh - tech toys!
The singing. He loves it.
Blowing out of the candles. Note the cappucino next to the cake. We had to wait on cake-ness until Eric finished playing the barista. Having your own espresso maker is a double edged sword, ain't it?

Happy birthday party!*

* These are the only photos from the party. I was so busy socializing that I didn't bother shooting everything. Needless to say, it was a great party and everyone went home happy.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Eric!

Thirty-nine never looked so good!

Let's see...what have you done this year?

Graduated from Law School. Exceptional. (OK, technically that was last December.)

Studied for the Bar Exam. Frustrating.

Passed the Bar, with flying colors and got sworn in. You were an inspiration for all your other law school friends. Impressive.

Went to Italy for our 10th Anniversary. Yaaaaaaaay!
You defeated the Shrub of Doom. You rock!

Worked on the being a great Dad thing. Excellent.

You were an excellent Dad cat.

Oh, and a fabulous husband.
And you remain, as always, my hero, my confidant, my lover, my teacher, my accomplice and true counterpart.*

Here's to you, my beloved.

* An actual line from our wedding vows.
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