Elsa, age 3.

Elsa, you are 3.

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We had such a fun year together.  In many ways, you are the same.

You still…

Love ice cream.

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And prefer your birthday suit over any other outfit.

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You still love being outside the house and busy.  We took several trips this year to the botanic gardens, the zoo and all the Denver museums (Children’s, Art, Science and Butterfly Pavilion.)

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Your dad and I also tried getting you accustomed to hiking.  You’re too big for the carrier now, which means you have to walk.  Let’s just say you have room for improvement in that area.

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You are still my little water baby. In the spring we took an incredible trip to Cabo with friends Tim & Kathy and their daughter Sophia. We didn’t leave the resort the entire week and spent the days swimming, eating, drinking (your parents) and more swimming (you).

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Another guest at the resort dubbed you “The Floating Strawberry.”

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Later in the summer, we took a road trip to visit your dad’s side of the family in Chicago.  Your Uncle Dave & Aunt Erin own a little beach house in Indiana and we spent some very relaxing days there.

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Back in Denver, we enjoyed summer days at Water World and running through various free fountains and water parks throughout the city.

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That last photo has a big story behind it, one I’d prefer to forget.  It was the day I lost you. We were visiting a new free park south of the city and it was very crowded that day.  I turned from you briefly to throw away a diaper in a trash can about 10 feet from where you were playing.  When I turned back, you were gone.  At first, I just circled slowly and calmly looked for you, but as the minutes ticked by I became more and more panicked.  My walk got faster and faster and soon I was running through the park, screaming your name.  I couldn’t find you anywhere.  I ran to the parking lot and then back through the park.  You were gone.  Just..gone.  I called your father because I didn’t know what else to do.  He later said he couldn’t understand a thing I was screaming.

Finally three women made me stand on top of a hill in case you were looking for me.  They asked what you were wearing and I gave a brief description.  They fanned out into the park and suddenly I saw one burst through the crowd holding you in her arms.  She found you  playing with some other kids behind some playground equipment.  You were happy as a clam, had no idea I was looking for you or didn’t hear me calling.  Elsa, I have never been more relieved and thankful.  Those 15 minutes were truly the worst moments of my entire life.  I thought you were gone.  I thought I had lost you forever.  I feared that someone had taken you, that you were in someone’s car, that you were scared and that I would never see you again.  When I told the story to other moms, almost all were able to share their own lost-child story and all agree it’s the most horrifying feeling. I’ve heard a saying that when you have a child, it is like letting your heart walk around outside of your body and I think I understand this feeling now.  I’m just so thankful that the other mom found you and so glad you were safe.  PLEASE DON’T SCARE ME LIKE THAT AGAIN. I’m not sure that my poor heart can take it.

On to lighter subjects…

Favorite foods: Milk, Ice cream, yogurt, fruit, crackers, pancakes.  We still struggle to get meat and veggies into you, but I do my best.

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Favorite toys: Still loving your animals. Snoopy, Lion (Coco), Flamingo, Pink baby and baby doll.  Jacques and Dragon have sadly fallen out of favor these days.  Also very into your new balance bike, marble maze and wooden blocks.

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Other likes: Amanda (your baby sitter), Tinkerbell, Octonauts.

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Dislikes: “Endings” (Going home after any activity, the end of movies, going to bed at night), Santa Claus, when there is a small piece of dirt floating in the bathtub, using the potty.

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Speaking of…

That happy guy in the picture above is Smiley Potty, a fixture in our bathroom. Smiley Potty is not to be confused with Froggy Potty, who lives in the back of our car.  Smiley came to live with us in July.  Six months later, your relationship with him is still…complicated.  Elsa, what can I say?  You’ve always been a kid who does things when she’s ready.  Your strong will is a trait that will serve you well as an adult. I promise to try my best as a parent to help you develop and channel it.

Just like last year, it has been an amazing privilege to watch you grow and change.

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At age 2, you were working with a physical therapist and wore ankle braces.  Now you run and play like any other kid and look totally at home in your gymnastics and soccer classes.

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Your speech gets better and better, but my favorite thing about the last few months has been a total explosion in your imagination and sense of humor.

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You make me laugh every day, several times a day.  Sometimes on purpose, but usually not.  This morning, you woke up very confused because you couldn’t find your tail.  It was pretty cute watching you turn groggily in a circle, trying to look at your own backside.  “Where is it? Mommy, where’d my tail go?”

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You’re still very passionate and very much a social butterfly.  You love to play with other kids and adults. In fall 2015, you will start preschool and I’m so excited for you. This will open up a brand new world of experiences and friendship.

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I can’t wait for all of our adventures this year.  I love you, little bear.

Love, Mama

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Meggy!

3652 days.

87,658 minutes.

3.156e+8 seconds.

10 years!!!!

March 28th, 2004. On a cloudy, windy, but surprisingly mild early spring late afternoon in Chicago, I took the brown line towards downtown and walked to Navy Pier. I was on my way to a blind-ish date with a girl. Blind-ish in that we had exchanged emails and pictures via Match.com, but we had never met in person.

A little context: I had just returned earlier that month from a 2 month stint in Europe traveling around, largely by myself. As I spent my days in museums and my evenings socializing in pubs and restaurants, I realized on that trip for the first time in my life that I was an extrovert. When I got back home, I decided to sign up for Match.com, without any real idea of why other than that I wanted to meet new people. I was having a very easy time talking to complete strangers in pubs in London, Paris, Munich, Prague, Barcelona, Nice, etc…why couldn’t I do the same at home?

In any case, that date would be my first Match.com date. It would also be my last Match.com date. That date was with Meg Stuart.
We met at Navy Pier, walked to PJ Clarke’s, and had a nice relaxing dinner and got to know each other a little. We laughed a lot. At the end of the date, we split a cab home and continued the good conversation. As we neared her destination, we agreed to talk again soon. When she got out, I didn’t try to kiss her. It would take 3 more dates before I would work up the nerve to ask her if I could kiss her. And I kinda missed a bit on that first one.

Wow, what a whirlwind. I really can’t believe it’s been ten years since that day. It would be impossible to sum up my relationship with Meg since that day in a single blog post. The easiest way to put it is that I can’t imagine my life without her.

These 10 years have been filled with so many great memories, and even more moments of laughter. Here are just a few of the many memories that I’ve thought about the last few days in my mind as this milestone approached. In no particular order…

Countless good times on our rooftop in Chicago…lots of long walks through the various neighborhoods of Chicago…some great hikes in Colorado…and hey, you’re a great drinking buddy. I wish I could say you’re a great lifting buddy, but you put me to shame in that department.

Movies: you’ve really indulged me here. You know how crazy I am when it comes to movies. We’ve enjoyed so many together. We don’t just watch them…we talk about them after. To some extent, they become a part of our lives. You’ve watched the Godfather movies (or at least Parts I and II) several times with me, which is great of you. I’ve only made you watch the Star Wars movies with me once…which is great of me. We established a Thanksgiving Day tradition of having the entire LOTR trilogy (the EXTENDED versions!) playing in the background throughout the day as we prepped our Thanksgiving dinner, ate, and relaxed after…napped, and ate leftovers (it’s like 12 hours long!). Life Aquatic. Chariots of Fire. Die Hard is our favorite Christmas movie! Some our first dates were at the movies. The first one we watched together was Ladykillers…we shared one of our first big laughs in the theater lobby laughing to ourselves about mouthbreathers/bored theater employees. Kill Bill Part 2…I spilled our popcorn all over you halfway through the movie. All the Apatow movies…you still do a mean Seth Rogen laughing impersonation.

Music: You got me into a lot of stuff…Sigur Ros, Calexico, Iron & Wine…and a lot more over the years. I got you into Led Zeppelin…so I win.

Travel: Camping in Lost Lake in Colorado and City of Rocks in Idaho. Our first trip together to Vegas…where you first enjoyed craps and developed your dice-rolling approach that led to you being nicknamed “Randy Johnson”. Several trips to California…San Diego, Orange County, San Francisco…trips to wine country. We’ve taken multiple roadtrips to Gulfport and Wagoner and managed to keep each other entertained through vast stretches of boring nothingness (just kidding, you mostly just sleep the whole time). Trips to NYC to visit friends. Hawaii! Our honeymoon in Mexico was great (“froooot on the streeeeet” and “hey guys…check this out!”) and we’re taking another trip to Mexico soon with Elsa.

And speaking of Elsa, we come to where we are now and our future. You’re an amazing wife and a great mother. Thank you for everything you do for me every day. I can’t wait for the next ten years.

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St. Patrick’s Day

My St. Patrick’s Day weekend was about as wild and crazy as you’d expect. Which is to say…not at all. Gone forever are the days of waiting in massive lines for crappy green beer. Instead, Elsa and I spent the day hanging out around town.

Here are a few pics from one of our (for some reason) favorite places to visit – the Colorado state capitol building and surrounding area.

Functional art.

Functional art.

Elsa's favorite St. Paddy's Day activity: the chasin' o' the birdies

Elsa’s favorite St. Paddy’s Day activity: the chasin’ o’ the birdies

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Mile high toddler

Mile high toddler

Did I mention it was windy?

Did I mention it was windy?

Later on we had lunch and then went to a playground.

It got chilly so the mouse hat was required.

It got chilly so the mouse hat was required.

I like this type of St. Patrick’s Day much better.

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Well, crap…

Guess I better give up the 2x/day English Breakfast Tea habit….thanks MDA. Oh, and this.

“Black [tea] is nice in that “I grew up on it” way, but since coffee offers more caffeine for you addicts and other teas offer more antioxidants, black seems like sort of a sad little compromise.”

Ouch.

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Patriotism swells in the heart of the American bear

Sam

OK so I’m not exactly sitting in front of my TV every night covered in red, white and blue, screaming “USA! USA! USA!”, but I am really enjoying the Sochi Winter Olympics so far. This is a pretty unusual development for me. Typically I don’t pay attention to the vast majority of the summer version, and in years past I have watched very little if any of the winter games. What has changed this time around? Well, I think that honestly my own forays into being an athlete (i.e. sucking at CrossFit) have made me appreciate true athletes in all their forms. I can suddenly watch a sport that I have no real interest in because I am fascinated by the skill and strength of these people who are the best in the world at what they do. I think what resonates the most for me though is the amount of preparation that these people put into being the best. I watched A LOT of ice skating the other night…and I spent most of that time amazed not by twizzles and triple-flippy-things, but instead staring at the quads of the female ice skaters, admiring the power that they have in their legs, and being amazed by their flexibility. I’m not a snowboarder, but I have watched dozens of athletes hurl themselves through the air so far in the new slopestyle event. It’s amazing to think about the concentration that goes into some of their tricks, not to mention the strength and flexibility required to pull off some of their huge tricks. And while I haven’t seen anything yet, I have a feeling I’ll be able to watch the luge and not sit there and think “well all that dude is doing is just laying down while flying down a mountain really fast.”

I think one of the best ways for me to push myself to greater heights in my own endeavors, be they athletic, academic, or other (such as pushing myself to the best possible beer mile time), is to watch people who are the best at what they do. Is the same true for you? Don’t watch and envy, but watch and admire. Watch and be inspired.

*this is the first in what will hopefully be daily posts for the next few weeks. I’m doing another Whole Life Challenge and the current lifestyle challenge is mindfulness, which can include journaling. I’m interpreting journaling to include something like this.

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Elsa, age 2.

Elsa, you are two. You are finally two! Your first year flew by in a flash. Then, around 18 months time slowed down and you hovered at age 1.5 for what seems like 6 or 7 years. Truthfully, it was a hard stage for everyone, but especially you. There were tears and tantrums every day and I think maybe your little body was just not progressing fast enough to keep up with your brain. Now you have the words to better express yourself and seem much happier.

Here are some things about you, age 2:

You hold my hand ALL the time. Walking to the car, walking in the store, through parks and parking lots, basically every place that isn’t home. Sometimes it makes carrying things tricky, but I wouldn’t change this in a million years. I know it won’t always be like this so for now I am trying to memorize the feeling of your little soft hand in mine.

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You love music and to sing, especially in the bath. It’s mostly the usual kid stuff: Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and so on. Every once in a while you’ll get creative and improvise.

Favorite foods: cheese, yogurt, bananas, bewwies (berries), cashew butter and especially ice cream.

A physical therapist visits you once a month. She noticed that your ankles rolled inward and suggested we fit you for braces called Sure Steps. These have been wonderful. It’s essentially a piece of plastic that wraps around your foot and pushes it into a more neutral position so you can strengthen the muscles correctly. Your dad and I have noticed a huge improvement in your balance and stability. And you love your “flower shoes.” The hope is that you’ll wear them for a short period of time, graduate to a small shoe insert and eventually nothing.

You continue to hold title of Number 1 Champion Sleeper of all time. At 8pm we lay you down in your crib, turn off the light, shut the door and don’t have to give you another thought until morning. Naps are a little more hit-and-miss.

You have deep telephone conversations with a mysterious person through my computer mouse.

You are fascinated by all creatures great and small. Ollie is still your best buddy and you ask for him each morning before breakfast, but you’re just as excited to see every random dog on the sidewalk. You love wandering the animal halls at the Science & Nature museum and have an ever-growing collection of stuffed animals.

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Apart from the stuffed animals, your favorite toys are books. You know (and can identify!) letters of the alphabet and can count to 20 (almost). Who taught you these things? The mysterious phone stranger?

In fact your language comprehension has exploded so much in the last month that I think you are weeks away from following directions to go get daddy a beer. This is when parenthood all pays off, Elsa. You’ll understand one day if you have a child of your own.

Love and 1000 kisses for my Elsa bear.

Mama

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Jumping!

Or bouncing, technically. I guess. Anyway I was a little nervous about this Christmas gift that Elsa received but I figure it’s ok since it was from a couple of her aunts, one of whom is a pediatrician.

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