Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 A to Z

What a year 2009 has been! We ushered it in from a hotel room in Bloomington, IL, where Ryan was performing at a New Year’s Eve party. That was before Ryan was even offered the job in San Antonio. And now we’re polishing it off with a gig in San Antonio.

Both Stephen (3.5) and Abby (1.5), in their age-appropriate ways, LOVE the English alphabet. Their favorite form of reciting and hearing it is Dr. Seuss’s ABC book, though they love many other forms. So we thought it was fitting to give you a rundown of our 2009 year, A-B-C style. It's completely out of order chronologically.

We settled for the most obvious choice for A: the United States Air Force. Ryan was offered a position in the Band of the West that’s stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. We packed up in Urbana, IL, this summer and drove the 17 hours southwest to our new city. We settled into our temporary housing in the midst of a streak of 42 days where temperatures reached over 100 degrees.

From a chance encounter with another mother at a park, I learned that Thomas the Tank Engine was coming to Texas! We knew Stephen would love the chance to ride on Thomas, so we bought tickets for him and Ryan to take the 20-minute ride in Burnet, TX, pulled by the Thomas engine. The rain could have ruined it for us, but Stephen took it all in stride and grinned from ear to ear as he stepped aboard. Also in this excursion: a meet-and-greet with Sir Topham Hatt.

We know there is a lot of stigma associated with “meeting people on the internet,” but we are so glad we did! A few times this past year, we typed “San Antonio house church” into a search engine, found an old post on city-data.com, and that’s how we’ve met many of our new friends, including a group of people that we’ve begun to meet with regularly.

Drip drop 110. We don’t know what it means either. Ask Stephen.

Evelyn Blane was a close friend of our family’s, from our days in Peoria, IL. She had been battling cancer for over a year, and this July we said goodbye to her. We’re thankful that the kids and Lisa had been able to see her in June when we were on our way to Iowa. We also said goodbye to Lisa’s Great-Aunt Gerda this spring.

For the first time since October of 2005, Lisa is neither pregnant nor nursing. We took advantage of this time to spend an extended period of time together, leaving both children with Lisa’s parents. We stayed in both downtown San Antonio and Port Aransas, dining in a variety of restaurants that ran the gamut from McDonald’s to The Chart House in the Tower of the Americas. One of the more special establishments was Fossati’s in Victoria, Texas, heralded as the oldest deli in Texas, and still owned by the original family.

With home ownership (more on that later) comes home improvement projects, and Ryan is determined to tackle as many of them on our own as we can. One of the more challenging ones was a Genie garage door opener that he and our friend Adam installed one day in September. We’re thankful for friends like Adam and Brian, who fastened many a bolt on the shed we put outside our back door. (They don’t seem to mind the meals Lisa cooks for them while they’re over here working.)

A project that was out of our control was the disconnect box on the furnace. When the temperatures started dropping, we turned on the heat, and discovered that it only worked for a few minutes. (It had been tested during the inspection, but this was not caught.) An HVAC specialist, an electrician, and a chilly night later, we had a working furnace again.

When we first moved to San Antonio, we lived in temporary housing for a month. This meant hours and hours of time for Lisa to occupy the 2 kids in a) a small hotel suite and b) the 100-degree heat. We did a little of both. Stephen took note of the many trainees walking around and shouting “1-2-3-4” as they marched. They must have been a little inarticulate, because what he heard and repeated with all the strength he could muster, while marching himself, was this: “I-O-I-O.” He did this in the most choice locations: the middle of the commissary aisle – the sidewalk in front of the fitness facility. At least he’s only 3.

Long before we took the kids and Lisa’s parents and sister to Sea World for the first time, Stephen had been enamored with the roller coasters. He saw them from a distance and thought they were the neatest trains he had ever seen. He wanted to go on them. And lucky for him (and us), they do have a kiddie coaster, Shamu Express. Which he went on. Five times. But that didn’t satisfy him. He wanted to go on a way-up-higher roller coaster. Because he is so tall for a 3-year-old, he just cleared the height requirement for a combination water ride/roller coaster, the Journey to Atlantis. We both went on it with him, putting him between us, and hoping that he wouldn’t be too terrorized. He handled it extremely well, not crying at all after the drop was over. But this was how we knew it had pushed his limits: He refused to go on it again.

We did it. We bought a house. And all the lovely benefits and drawbacks that go along with it. We’re enjoying our ranch-style home on the corner of Kinderhook and St. Lawrence St. in San Antonio.

One of our criteria for a home to buy was that it was free of lead-based paint. We learned the hard way that a little girl doesn’t have to chew on windowsills to have lead poisoning. Our sweet 10-month-old Abby was found to have a level of 15 micrograms per deciliter. (A safe level is 0, but under 3 isn’t considered cause for alarm. Levels in the 20s can cause permanent brain damage.) We’re thankful that it was discovered when it was, and we wiped down the offending areas of the home and our landlords (who hadn’t disclosed the paint and could be in big trouble if we decided to sue) took care of the chipping paint, making it possible for us to finish up our year’s lease before leaving at the end of July. (Two months later Abby's level was way down. Yay!)

Stephen is growing up, and with that comes special events, such as his first movie in the theater. Ryan took him to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and said he was transfixed the entire time. Now he regularly asks me to read him the story since we have it as a picture book.

New Years’ Eve. The usual. Ryan is playing a gig and Lisa is home with the kids. But home beats a hotel room, curled up in the bathroom so as not to wake the kids.

Since before we were even dating, Lisa drove a champagne-colored Oldsmobile, which was inherited from her Grandma Doris. It was the only car Stephen had really known us to have, and to this day, he calls it “Our Car,” (please note the capital O and C). How ironic, then, that the day it chose to die on us was his third birthday. Ryan was away at basic training with literally no way to be reached. Lisa had to write him a letter, which he received over a week later. We were more than thankful for a car to borrow for the rest of the time that we were in the Midwest. Thanks, Great Grandma Fay! Since we’ve been in Texas, we’ve purchased two vehicles: a Nissan Sentra and a Dodge Grand Caravan. Neither one would win a drag race, but they get us from point A to point B, and in a big city in a big state, that’s rather important.

Stephen really understood his birthday this year, and we wanted to have some fun parties for him. But what we did not understand was the logic behind his somewhat strange requests. When we celebrated with Lisa’s side of the family, we asked him what kind of cake he wanted. “Blue cake,” was his only response, and he was consistent. We tried offering different kinds of cakes, but he just wanted a blue cake. Grandma Lindstrom came through and he was thrilled. Then it was on to the Leatherman side of the family, only this time the request was also specific, “Green cake.” And that’s exactly what he got, frosting and inside included (thanks Aunt Care). By the way, he highly recommends birthday parties to everyone.

Near our house is a duck pond and playground that we frequent. And one of Abby’s first animal sounds was “quack quack.” I still don’t think I’ve ever heard her actually say “duck.” She just speaks their language.

You might believe that recycling is a good aspiration. But our worlds were turned upside down this summer when Ryan endured the Air Force Basic Military Training Program. For 8 weeks, we both feared the worst: that he would be recycled—that’s the term they use—and have to spend another week or more stuck in training. We were both very relieved when he graduated on time and our move proceeded without any major hitches.

We all got a special treat in early December when Susan, Ryan’s mom, came down for almost 2 weeks to spend time with all of us. An 8-day trip turned into 11 when the blizzard in Des Moines made travel practically impossible. I don’t think any of us minded having her here a little extra time, and the memories made going to Sea World, riding the miniature train, and reading book after book after book will last for a lifetime.

Lisa wasn’t the only ‘Lorimor’ girl who moved this summer. Emily moved into a beautiful historic home in Temple, TX, making the drive to see her at right about 3 hours. Heather and Marc-Andre crossed back over the Atlantic and now live on New York’s Long Island. Heidi stayed put at Bucknell in Pennsylvania, but Anthony finished up at Princeton and moved to Penn State, making their 2 jobs only about an hour apart. Ryan’s brother John is a junior at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. We look forward to seeing everyone in our families this summer. That’s the plan, anyway!

It was probably more fun for Lisa than it was for Abby, but she seemed to enjoy it, too. We enrolled her in a kiddie swim class at Urbana’s Indoor Pool. She became comfortable with getting her head wet and enjoyed some one-on-one time with mommy.

Maybe somebody filled me in on how life would change with kids and I wasn’t listening. I no longer watch the TV I’m interested in (which is fine) or listen to the music that I would choose. We tool around town listening mostly to a Bible Verses A to Z CD. It’s Stephen’s top pick, though we also rotate a B-I-N-G-O CD and Down by the Bay.

After settling in to our house and knowing that our trip at the end of December was imminent, Lisa set out to wean Abby. It was challenging but we made it. She’s increasing daily the number of foods and amount of it that she is willing to consume. All by herself with a spoon and fork, nonetheless. (We’re still working on that with Stephen.)

In the spring, Ryan fell off his bike, spraining his wrist. We were thankful that he didn’t break it and that it didn’t affect his eligibility to ship out for basic training in May. Abby felt the need to follow suit and fell on a single stair at a friend’s house in November. We hoped that it was just a simple twist, but the x-ray the following morning revealed a break in her first metatarsal (bone extending from ankle to big toe). She hobbled around in a cast for 3 weeks and at her check-up it had healed perfectly!

Our friend Yvette treated Lisa to an afternoon at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Many roller coaster rides were taken and a fun afternoon is always appreciated by a mom-of-toddlers.

Stephen’s music class has been the highlight of his fall. He and seven other three-year-old boys and girls, including one of his favorite people, Zane, dance, sing, and learn a bit while having a ton of fun.

Don’t expect another A to Z list in 2010. I’m sure the kids will be into something entirely different.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tourists in Our Own Backyard

While Susan was here, we were San Antonio tourists a little more than we normally are. We walked on the Riverwalk and enjoyed lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.


Stephen and Susan rode the zoo train while Abby and I stayed behind. (She'd get bored real quick and want to get off.)


Stephen showed Susan around Seaworld. They rode the roller coaster, saw Shamu, and greeted dolphins and horses. They also got to watch a Sesame Street production that we refer to at our house as "The Elmo Show." It was actually really cold that day, but we went anyway because it was our only chance. Abby went for the first couple of hours and rode the teacup ride once in the same cup as mommy.



Abby's New Kitchen

Aunt Heather gave Abby a toy kitchen, which she loves playing with. Here are some pictures. Some activities we've shown her directly, but many she just imitates from watching me in the kitchen! Stephen loves it too, but we have to make sure he doesn't take over and push her out of the way.





Thanks, Heather!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grandma Susan's Visit

We bought Ryan's mom's tickets to come down to Texas a couple months ago and the day she was scheduled to leave was the day that Des Moines was practically shut down due to the blizzard. So she extended her trip and now is staying until Saturday! It's been so great for me to have adult company during the day and help with the kids. They love love love playing with grandma, and she really enjoys it, too.

I will have quite a few posts coming up to cover the various activities we've done, so you can look forward to:
  • Abby's new kitchen
  • Stephen's music class
  • the miniature train ride
  • Seaworld
  • The Riverwalk
  • Cooking with pears
For now, here are some fun photos we have shot over the past week.

Abby, right before we went to the hospital to get her cast removed.

Ryan just had to take this photo of the great San Antonio blizzard of 2009.

Giving Stephen a hair cut. Normally daddy does this.


Susan wanted to get a family photo. Guess which half of the family wanted to cooperate!


A new poster Stephen got from grandma. He asked if he could have it on his door.

Ryan is still in Georgia where he is filling in for an empty seat in another AF band. We miss him, but it's only a 3-day trip, so it's not too bad. Though as soon as he gets back, he is tied up with the local concerts. I'm going on Monday and can hardly wait!

And she walks!

Without a giant pink cast on her foot, that is.

video

She's still limping a bit, trying to get used to her foot again. But the doc looked at today's x-ray and said she looks great!