Monday, August 29, 2011

House Projects and Playing Jessi

My brother Drew came up on Friday and Saturday to help Jeremy with a bunch of household projects. Our house was a fixer-upper when we bought it, so there are always projects to do around here.  It was nice to have the help -- and it was even nicer to have experienced help, since he has done a lot of these projects on his own house.

So the wall in the shower has been re-painted, the busted drywall in our bedroom has been patched, Scarlett's door has been re-hung, a section of front lawn has been torn out and sodded, and we're all feeling pretty darn accomplished.

Saturday morning Jeremy, Scarlett and I went to the farmer's market in Boulder.  Scarlett got to try all kinds of yummy stuff like cherry tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and fresh peach.  It was hot and crowded, but well worth it when we came home with the best-tasting peaches and plums we had ever had.  We stopped for lunch at an Indian food vendor on the way out.  Scarlett and I shared a big piece of hot naan bread, so doughy it melted in my mouth. 

I met up with Erin and her 4-yr-old niece Grace on Sunday for coffee at Forza.  Forza is my absolute favorite coffee shop here in Northglenn right now.  Erin house-sat for us while we were in Tahoe, and apparently Grace came with her one day and was so enamored of our house that she has started a new game.  When she plays house with her dolls, she now "plays Jessi".  And apparently "playing Jessi" means going to California a lot too.  Hahaha!  How adorable is that?

The rest of Sunday was spent with a very cranky baby (tummy troubles, poor thing) and then working.  I have some new pitches out to a client, and I'm hoping they get picked up.  I have GOT to get a regular client base going, but it's so tough in this economy.  So many people are cancelling publications and paring down staff -- getting freelance work is harder and harder.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Scarlett Walking Video and Website Refresh

My website was bugging me.  So I started playing around with it.  And then I decided I wanted to switch to WordPress for content management.  Pretty soon after that, I had messed it up so bad I had to take all the files off the server and rebuild everything from scratch.  But now I'm thrilled with the new site, so it was all worth it.  Introducing the new and improved!

Still no word on what HP's "transformation" (yes, that's what they're calling it) will be.  So still no word on what my job will be.  I feel confident I will still have a job, though, so that's good.

GlobalWrites.  Still working out the site bugs, but JoAnn has enlisted help from our old buddy Caesar at Blu27. Check out that site -- it's so pretty.  He's already rescued us from a site bug that duplicated all our images, and he and his team did it in about an hour.  I'm excited to be working with Blu27.  More detail over at Penning the Way.

Jeremy's new diet is going well.  He's already lost weight, and that was during our week-long vacation. I'm so proud of him!  I can tell he's feeling better, too.  He's been washing the dishes without being asked *gasp*.

Scarlett is walking between objects, now.  From couch to Jeremy, Jeremy to me, etc.  Exciting stuff!  Here's a video:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge

We took a trip to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge today.  That place has a pretty amazing story.  It was a war-time weapons and ammunitions manufacturing plant, and after the plant closed it was one of the most polluted places in the U.S.  The cleanup project was one of the most massive in history, and now the land has been restored to its original prairie state, and hosts native Colorado wildlife such as bald eagles, burrowing owls, and even a herd of 250 buffalo.  They have a brand new, and quite impressive, visitor center as well as nearly 10 miles of trails.

It was hot today, and the prairie doesn't have much shade, so we didn't stay long.  But we wandered around Lake Mary a bit.

Afterward we went to dinner at Chili's.  Scarlett got her very own dinner for the first time.  Grilled cheese with a side of oranges.  She has recently weaned herself off of jarred food, so we are having to change a lot of things to accommodate her new desire for adult food.

Jeremy "banished" me to painting tonight.  Which just means he didn't let me make any excuses for not painting.  Good husband I have here, right?  Anyway, I tried to paint as fast as I could before I lost the sun, but I used the view off our deck for inspiration.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rec Area Changes

It was silly of me to think nothing would change.  Change is the only constant.

The City of Thornton is spending the next year remodeling the lake area behind our house.  They're adding a boathouse and dock for pedal-boats on the lake, an amphitheater, picnic area, splash park, and a ton more.  Basically it sounds like they're trying to make it like E.B. Rains Park in Northglenn (where I took these pics of Scarlett).  And I LOVE that park.  It's amazing.

I'm just not sure how I feel about it in my back yard.

If they do it right, it could be awesome.  It will be a five minute walk to kid heaven for Scarlett.  And they're putting in new trails, which will be great for me (well, really all of us).  And an amphitheater means Jeremy could go listen to live music.  And they have all kinds of festivals there already (Trunk or Treat for Halloween, and Winter Fest looks AMAZING), so the festivals could be even better than they already are with new facilities to hold them in/around.

OR, if they do this wrong, it could ruin our view and become a noise nuisance.  At least none of the plans include the open space behind our house THANKGOD.

So yeah.  Mixed feelings right now.  I guess we'll see how it turns out over the next year.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where Oh Where

Jessica, oh Jessica, where have you been? 

Well, I was on vacation for a week, to start.  It's a little weird having a public blog like this because I want to write about my excitement, and write as I'm traveling -- but I can't because some prison escapee might read it and rob our house.  For all you thieves out there reading this blog, we usually have housesitters -- and we employ a pack of wolf hybrids to roam the perimeter of our home.

So there's that.

I'm also head-down with my day job AND freelance work.

We're deep into Q4 with HP, and I've got quarterly reports and promotions up the wazoo to manage.  And the recent announcements about the TouchPad and handheld business and the possible spinning off of the PC group has us all spinning.  I can't really say a whole lot about that yet, though.  And it's not because I know anything -- in fact the company has not told us any details internally that weren't already announced publicly -- but rather it's because I DON'T know anything.  I literally have no idea how this will impact my job.  All I know is that it WILL impact my job.

Could be a good impact, though.  Maybe I'll get a promotion and a raise.  HA!

Annnd as the editor for GlobalWrites, I have been spending time gathering/writing content, wrangling writers, maintaining an editorial calendar, and doing the actual editing and publishing.  And that's just part of what I'm doing for GW right now.  I'm also knee-deep in a massive site cleanup project that is not going according to plan. 

And I'm still pitching to clients outside of the GW realm, trying to get a more reliable client base to boost my income.  My mom once told me I'm brave for being able to pitch to potential clients like that -- but with the web between me and the client, I don't find it takes a whole lot of courage to send off that pitch email.  I mean, what's the worst that could happen?  They could tell me no (that actually happens more frequently than "yes").  But so what?  It's not like I'm ever going to run into them.  It's not like I'll be at Starbucks and someone will come up to me and say "HEY you're that writer that I told we didn't have any work for!  FREAK!"

Sure, the publishing/content industry takes a certain amount of thick skin to navigate.  But now with everything being done digitally, it's a little less personal.

So I have had no time to do any personal writing.  Which kinda stinks, because there have been a couple of open calls for submission to a few publishers recently that I would LOVE to get in on.  And I've had some great ideas for paintings I want to do.  Oh, and there's those nagging household projects that still need my attention, like doing some touch-up painting (hubby's got meaty man hands and the project needs a girl's touch).  But a girl's gotta sleep sometimes, you know?  And spend time with my loving family -- that's pretty dang high on the priority list.

Speaking of family -- Scarlett.  Wow that kid is growing fast.  She still won't walk without someone holding her hand, but she's developing in so many other ways.  She got two new teeth while we were in Tahoe -- but she never fussed about it (probably due to the amount of attention she was getting).  She's definitely hitting another growth spurt because she's taking long naps and eating a TON.  And her vocabulary grows every day.  Yes, my one-year-old has a vocabulary!  She says dada, mama, wahsah (what's that), puh (please), and naynay (night night -- which she says when she's ready for a nap or bed).  And she shakes her head for "no".  She's blowing kisses and pointing at what she wants.  And her favorite game right now is "What's That?", where she says "wahSAH!" and points at a random object in the room.  Then she waits for the answer, responds "oohhh", and moves on to the next object.

In conclusion, a big YOU ROCK goes out to my husband, Jeremy.  Without him staying at home with the baby, I couldn't do any of the stuff that I write about here.  And I love the stuff that I write about here.  How many men really make good stay-at-home dads?  Not many.  I snagged one of the few.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lake Tahoe

Jeremy, Scarlett and I went to my family's annual reunion in Lake Tahoe over the last week.

We drove out starting last Wednesday, and returned this Tuesday night.  It was a long drive, but the baby did so well.  She rarely fussed.

We stopped for the first night in Salt Lake City.  My mom arranged for us to have a gorgeous suite near the Mormon Tabernacle, with the idea that we could all go for a walk to tour the famous landmark -- but we got there too late to do that.  We ate dinner and then Jeremy and I had to go to bed because the baby refused to sleep alone (typical her first night somewhere, so I expected it).

We got to Lake Tahoe on Thursday evening.  We stayed in the same place we always stay, a townhome in Lakeland Village Resort on the south shore.  It's got a private beach and a free shuttle to the casinos.  Plus it has plenty of parking, a pool, free wi-fi, and a friendly staff.  We've never been disappointed.

The night we got there, we ordered Round Table Pizza.  It's a family tradition, since we don't have it here in Colorado.  We said hello to the other family members who had already arrived (there were about 25 people coming), and went down to the beach for a few minutes and let Scarlett stick her feet in the water, but for the most part we relaxed after the long drive.  Once again the baby had to sleep in bed with me because it was her first night in a new place.

Friday after breakfast, we headed to the beach.  The baby decided the lake water was too cold that time, so she just played in the sand.  She was pretty good about not putting sand in her mouth -- but she did have a taste or two.  My cousin gave me a paddleboard lesson that morning, too, and I actually managed to stand up on the thing and paddle around the lake for a while.  I did fall once, my first time trying to stand -- but the water was a soft landing.  After a while at the beach, we took Scarlett to the pool so she could swim in warmer water for a bit. 

Friday night my parents babysat Scarlett and Jeremy and I went to a movie.  Neither of us had the energy or desire to go crazy at the casinos (hey, we have a one-year-old), but we have been dying to see Captain America.  It was a great date night, and we came back to a soundly sleeping baby.

On Saturday, my parents, Drew and Lisa, Jeremy, Scarlett and I went on the gondola.  I love heights, so rides like that are a blast -- but poor Lisa was terrified.  I'm sure it didn't help that Jeremy teased her mercilessly and the baby pounded on the window and pointed at the ground the whole ride up.

We didn't make it back from the gondola ride in time for Scarlett to nap before we were due to go on the Tahoe Queen paddleboat with the rest of the family.  So I strapped Scarlett in the front-pack and prayed she napped in it on the boat.  She did get a short nap, but for the rest of the cruise she was too busy playing with her relatives to rest.

Saturday night was the "big night".  We always have one night where everyone gets together for a potluck dinner.  Scarlett fell IN LOVE with her second-cousin Memphis and my cousin Anna.  As usual, Scarlett was the belle of the ball, entertaining everyone with her funny faces and babbling.  Anna nicknamed her "Scarlett the Starlet".  My cousin Vuk and his new wife were there all the way from Belgrade.  They brought some Serbian brandy, and we did a toast to Peg (my aunt who passed away right after Scarlett was born).

A lot of the family was leaving on Sunday, so we got as many people as we could to go to Heidi's with us for breakfast.  Heidi's is another family tradition -- it's a breakfast place right next door to the resort we stay at.  Anna brought Scarlett a belated birthday gift -- a little Tahoe Tessie stuffed animal and book.  Tahoe Tessie is Tahoe's version of the Loch Ness Monster, but it's really more of a joke than a real myth.  Scarlett was thrilled that Tessie's nose fit perfectly into her mouth.

After breakfast, Jeremy went to the shooting range in Carson City with most of the guys and their girlfriends.  Meanwhile, Scarlett and I went for a hike with my parents near Pope Beach.  The Gatsby Festival was going on up there, too, so we got to see not only beautiful scenery and historic buildings, but people dressed up in 1920's clothing, dancing to a live brass band.

We had one last dinner with the family that was still left on Sunday night, and then hit the road early Monday morning.  We planned on stopping in Rock Springs, WY (we took I-80 back because construction was so bad on I-70, but it turned out I-80 wasn't much better), but there was an oil convention going on and there were no hotels available.  We had to drive all the way to Rawlins to find a room.  It was nearly 1am when we finally got into bed.  And to top it off, the baby pushed through two new teeth that night, so she was tossing and turning and kept me up most of the night.

I was a zombie when we got home around noon on Tuesday.  But the trip was worth the exhaustion.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Weight Loss, Diabetes and Positive Changes

Ten pounds doesn't seem like a whole lot.  But on my frame, it's the difference between XL and M.  I had to buy a one-piece bathing suit last night.  Let me tell you how depressing that was.

I just had a baby.  And I think I look pretty dang good for just having a baby.  But there's something about a swimsuit that makes me compare myself to the moms out there that don't have cellulite.  It's hard to believe you still look good when some women look like models 3 months after they give birth.

In all fairness, though, I haven't given losing weight my full effort.  Again in all fairness, I SHOULD have, because I'm prone to high cholesterol.

But I have just jumped on board with a pretty serious lifestyle change, because Jeremy was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

When he got the diagnosis, I told him immediately that he was not alone in the lifestyle change he would have to make.  We will BOTH get healthy again.  So no more junk food in the house.  And we're figuring out an exercise plan for Jeremy that he can stick to, and maybe that I can do with him (in addition to or in replace of my current workouts).  And we're going to *try* to cook more.

This is the first time we've done something like this together, and I think it will be good for our whole family.  And on the new medication, I'm already seeing a change in Jeremy's energy level.  Sometimes big problems equal out to big positive changes.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Too Many Blessings to Count

Friday night after dinner, I drove in to Boulder to pick up the digital painting I had printed on canvas.  This was the portrait commission I've been working on for months.  The portrait turned out amazing, and Mike's Camera did a great job with the stretcher bars on the canvas frame, and even put a strong hanging wire on the back.  However, I was not pleased with the quality of the canvas itself.  I won't get into details as to why, because I'm going to call them tomorrow and give them the chance to fix it. 

From Boulder I drove back south to Castle Rock.  I stayed the night at my parents' house that night because 8am Saturday morning was the only time I could get in to my hairdresser in the Springs before we go on vacation.

So I was up at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, drove down to the Springs, got my hair done (it no longer looks like a mop, thank goodness), and promptly turned around and went back to Castle Rock.  Whew!

From there, my mom followed me up to downtown Denver.  We had appointments at the Veda Salon on Champa -- me for a pedicure and her for a massage.  I had a gift certificate for Veda from Christmas and I finally got to use it.  Just in time, too, because I'll be on the beach soon!

The pedicure was amazing.  The lady used aromatherapy oils, a sugar scrub, and a paraffin treatment on my feet.  My feet are like a baby's butt.  LOL.

After the pedicure, my brother met us for lunch at the Rock Bottom Brewery on the 16th Street Mall.  Mmm fish tacos.

All good, right?  Oh, the weekend gets better. 

Jeremy's family wanted us to come down for brunch on Sunday morning.  And they were unusually insistent.  We agreed, of course, to come down, and we got up early and headed to brunch this morning as planned.

The brunch was delicious, as always.  And everyone spoiled Scarlett rotten, as always.  But after brunch, David told us all to get together because he wanted to take us to "meet the new neighbors".

All of us walked over to the neighbor's house, by the new Dodge Caravan in the driveway, and up to the door.  While we were knocking on the door, David opened up the neighbor's garage.  Inside were three brand-spanking-new Jeep Libertys.  A silver one for Jeremy and me!  The van in the driveway was for Jen's family, and the other two Jeeps went to Kelsey and Emily.

HOLY COW!  We got a freaking brand new car today!

Neither one of us has ever owned a brand new car.  And seriously, if they had asked us what type of car we wanted, this would be it.  It's PERFECT.  And it drives like a dream.

We are so insanely blessed, sometimes I can't believe it.  We have a perfect daughter, our perfect house, now our perfect car.  I must have been Mother Teresa in a past life to deserve all of this.  And with the way both my parents and Jeremy's parents spoil us, it's just amazing.  We are SO lucky.  I just hope we can make Scarlett half as happy as we are.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Google+ and a Goodbye

I am anxious for Google+ to go public so all of my friends and loved ones will move over to it from Facebook.  Because it has such amazing privacy filters, I can say things there that I can't say here in this public blog or on Facebook. 

So all I can safely say here is LAKE TAHOE YAYYYYYYYY!

But on a more somber note, and without so much detail that my family gets teared up reading this, this blog is also a goodbye to a loved one.  Dear Cinder, my parents' ancient rottweiler, passed on yesterday.  She was the best dog any of us have ever known, and Jeremy frequently tried to steal her because of that.  She is greatly missed.