Monday, June 30, 2008

Everyone Loves A Baby

I can't get over what an icebreaker a baby is. Today, Megan and I went to the mall to get away from the 95 degree weather in an unairconditioned apartment and to find cute accessories for the 4th of July (mission accomplished by the way -- the pictures on Friday will be the cutest things you've ever seen!).

EVERYONE (ok maybe a little bit of an exaggeration but A LOT) commented on how pretty she is and sweet and add here the list of adjectives that describe adorable, female, plump-cheeked babies _______________________. Now, I completely agree OF COURSE but its just interesting how many stories you hear from random strangers when you walk into a store with a baby. To their credit, I haven't gotten the annoying advice kind and its kind've fun to hear people's stories and comments but strangers sure are a lot friendlier now than they ever were before!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Over-anxious mom

I know that by child #5 a lot of this will disappear, but I think I freak out more easily now than I ever have before.

Yesterday I was changing Megan's diaper and she started twitching. I'm not kidding. I watched her do it a few times to see if it was just a new movement she's discovered but she was screwing up her face and twitching. Then I notice she has water coming from the corner of her eyes and I start thinking -- seizure? allergic reaction to something? what IS THIS? I call Chopper in the frantic voice and then I notice she also has water on her forehead and my mind is racing at this point -- what causes twitching, crying, and profuse sweating in a matter of a few seconds?

Then I look up and realize that the washcloth for wiping her bum is hanging off of the edge of the table and it's dripping water onto her face.

Score one for the over-anxious mom.

As you can see, she is fine. On a less alarming note, Megan is starting to sit up a little bit. She can hold her own for about 5 seconds if she's leaning forward a little and put into the position. It's funny to watch her fall over -- I mean, I don't let her fall over all the way -- but it's funny how babies do not have that instinct to catch themselves. They just tip all at once, full body fall.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Major events

I have redefined what my idea of a major event is. That happens I think when your world changes in any way. But at any rate, this weekend has had several events that I would now classify as major:

1. On Saturday, Chopper, Megan and I went to a quilt show in Missoula. We completely underestimated the size of the quilt show and ended up leaving to put Megan to bed and then I went back on my own. There were literally hundreds of quilts there and some amazing work! I also found the long-arm quilting frame and machine that I want . . . now to save up $3000. And the guy is based in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho -- he'll ship but how much will that cost? But it was the coolest thing. You could quilt in 3 ways: free-style (so to speak), with a laser pointer to follow a pattern, or there is a stylus attached to the machine for fitting in the grooves of specially made templates so you always have a perfect pattern. I love it! Maybe if I am very good and get this job . . .

2. What job? I applied for a job as an editor for a company called Synergy Press in Washington DC. I found their add on Craigslist and it said that they don't mind remote editors so I sent them my resume. They just contacted me today to do some editing to see what my style is and then if they like that, a phone interview is next. I don't know that it will happen but I am very excited about the possibility.

3. Last but not least, Megan had a pooplosion in church yesterday. She was in her carrier playing after waking up from a 10 minute nap when I hear 4 squirters in a row. In that position, there's nowhere for the "stuff" to go other than out and lo and behold, that's exactly what it did. Needless to say, it was the Sunday where I forgot to put a changing pad and a spare set of clothes in the diaper bag. So after I used 10 wipes, the spit rag, and my nursing cover to clean her up and keep it from getting on other stuff in the process, I was left with a naked baby. In church. Walking into the chapel during a Sunday School lesson with a naked baby (of course diapered though) caused quite a bit of amusement for everyone. Other mom's just looked at me with that "been there done that" smile. WHen I talked to one of the ladies I am now visiting teaching on the phone today we were trying to figure out who each other was. She new me by the naked baby. Now that's something. Needless to say, I'll probably be over-prepared for the next while and then get lax and it will happen again at that point!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Great Expectations . . .

were fulfilled! I finished the book last night and I really really liked it. But then I've really enjoyed other books that I've read by Charles Dickens (Hard Times and A Tale of Two Cities) so I guess I should'nt be surprised. I love the way Dickens creates characters that are so vivid and create such strong emotions. I wanted to strangle Pumblechook the entire time because of his arrogancy! And how ironic is it that Pip's sister should be such a tyrant and so much in control of him and Joe (her husband) and yet is never called anything other than Mrs. J. Gargery -- her name isn't even revealed until the end of the novel. The plot was somewhat predictable in that I figured out who Pip's benefactor was but the ways that everyone and everything tie together just kept me reading and reading for hours (ok maybe not hours -- but anytime Megan was asleep). If you like classic Brit lit at all, read it! I might have to rent the movie just to see, although I'm pretty sure it will make me mad. And I can't decide what will be next -- probably Oliver Twist.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Missoula in the summer

is a pretty neat place. The city does A LOT I think -- there are always programs and events at the library and downtown. I also think they do a good job of keeping you informed -- although that may have something to do with the fact that we were getting the newspaper. We ordered 12 weeks of Sunday paper back in January and then they sent us a notice that we were getting every day for free until the middle of June. I kind've miss it now that it's done! And they always have suppliments about what's going on around town.

So today Megan and I went to Out To Lunch. It's a weekly Wednesday program where they set up tents and tables at Caras Park and vendors from a lot of the local restaurants come out and sell lunch. There are bands or singers that come and play music and people just lounge around on the grass, under the trees, and by the river. So Megan and I got lunch (ok I did) and sat and listened and watched people. There was a large group of ladies from the Red Hat Society (or whatever it is) -- you know, the older women who dress in red and purple and wear red and purple hats -- and oh what hats they were! I would've taken a picture but I didn't want to be rude or annoying or whatever. I did however take a picture of this guy SURFING IN THE RIVER. I didn't even know that you could do that! THe Clark Fork River is running high and fast because of a hot weekend in the beginning of May that melted the snow pack and then persistent rainfall afterwards. As you can see, there were some persistent rapids that he just went into and surfed! He fell off a couple of times, and given how rapids are formed, I'm surprised he didn't crack his head open. He drew quite a crowd though so if he had there would have been plenty of people to call 911. This is the M for the University of Montana. It seems to be a popular thing in the west because Idaho State had an I, I know that BYU has a Y, etc. Anyway, you can't really see it in the picture, but the hike to the M looks atrocious. It's steep switchbacks all the way up. Needless to say, Chopper and I have no desire to climb it, although it's supposed to give you a great view of Missoula.

Monday, June 16, 2008


So blogging has apparently become my new journal. Do you know how long it has been since I wrote in my actual journal? I'll take my friend Alicia's advice and print this all out in book form on my birthday I think and make this my journal.

But that's not my confession.

I do not enjoy scrapbooking. I used to. When my Aunt Shirley Ann started working with Creative Memories I pressured my mom into buying all this stuff and then I confiscated it all. I taught scrapbooking when I was a counselor at Lochearn Camp for Girls (fabulous summer camp by the way, incredibly pricey though -- think Parent Trap in Vermont -- yeah). I've scrapbooked various pictures and even did our wedding album -- which I love by the way. Although looking back on that, I think I got more enjoyment out of creating and weaving the fabric cover -- it was a sign! But once I discovered quilting, my interest in scrapbooking DIED. In fact, I find it tedious -- I know, I know -- and quilting's not? I LOVE QUILTING! I even gave my sissors (oh my heck I forgot how to spell that -- hold on -- scissors I had to look that up) and templates and everything to my above-mentioned friend because I never use them.

So why is this an issue you ask? When Megan was forthcoming, I looked at lots of baby books and didn't really see anything that I liked. So instead I decided to scrapbook one. Every month, I write a little blurb about what she's doing and put in a couple of pictures from the hundreds that I've taken (ok that's kind've an exaggeration but I do take a lot). Over the months (and I've only done 4 mind you -- plus the pregnancy and the labor and delivery), my level of interest has sadly fallen. I now use some background paper and then just put the pictures on as they are: no cropping (unless they don't fit), shaping, fancy stuff, etc. Some cute stickers though. And I'm thinking to myself, not only do I have 8 more months to go until her first year is done, but I really should be fair and do all the babies. But I'm not thrilled about it. What can I say?

So this also makes me a hypocrite. My parents have hundreds (literally this time) of pictures from my Grandpa and Grandma Gasser when they lived in Europe during the beginning of their marriage. Hardly ANY have anything written on them and it drives me nuts that we don't know who the people are and what is going on in the picture. And yet here I am, putting extra pictures into a photo album without explanation or story . . .

I will just have to live a long long time and never go senile so that I can tell the stories to my children and grandchildren. I'm a better storyteller anyway.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ah, Father's Day

This is apparently not as big as Mother's Day. Our ward didn't even speak on fathers and they didn't get the fathers a treat! On mother's day they spoke on mothers and they got us flowers (pansies in soil and ours has gone the way of all the earth!). My dad says this is because they're guys and its not a big deal and Chopper agrees.

But I have to say that my dad was very influential in my life and I hope that Chopper is for Megan and future kidlets. My dad has taught me so many things such as:

--How to manage money (of course my mom taught me how to spend money and they kind've cancel each other out)
--Fair play and how to lose graciously (although he's not so gracious when he loses at MarioKart . . . )
--How to make people laugh (or cause blank looks of "you're kidding me, right" to come over their faces)
--The importance of family (move out so you can come visit . . . eventually)
--Punctuality (if I have to tell you one more time to get out of bed I'm gonna . . .)
--Responsibility (you pet him, I never wanted the dog in the first place!)

No seriously -- I still go to my dad for advice and good bad jokes and he means a lot to me. They say you marry men like your father (sorry dad -- or is it sorry Chopper?) and Chopper has many of the same qualities that I admire in my dad: he works hard, spends good time with Megan and I, and is serious about creating a successful, loving family. Megan and I got him lots of his favorite treats and treated him well all day. He is already becoming a great father! I love you both!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I can't complain

This weekend the weather has warmed up to the low to mid 70s. It's supposed to stay this way at least as far as our newspaper carries a forecast. Hopefully it won't get too much hotter because we don't have air conditioning!

Missoula really is beautiful in this kind of weather. The trees are out and the sky is blue and I can see why people love it here -- I just don't know that I'm willing to go through a winter to get to it when I can have an earlier spring and summer in other places!

Chopper took us to a park today that he saw on his way to a job a few weeks ago. It made me wish that Megan were a little older because of all the cool toys. They had two HUGE jungle gyms -- one for small small kids and one for bigger -- and then this awesome water feature with all of these poles and buckets and water guns and things. There were kids all over. One little boy about a year old literally stood in the middle and held a balloon under the spray while everything else soaked him to the bone. It was really cute. It makes me excited for the day when I have lots of little kids and we can go to fun parks and have picnic lunches and play in the sprinklers.

The cool water feature thing.

The jungle gym

Megan flying under the trees! She really enjoyed looking around at everything going on didn't even mind wearing her hat too much!

Friday, June 13, 2008

For Grandma

These videos aren't worth watching but hopefully they're worth listening to. The microphone on our camera is on the back so we held that up to Megan and video taped who knows what!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book Recommendations

I think I spelled that wrong . . . the past couple of weeks I have immersed myself in reading again. I spend my evenings and Megan's naps laying on the couch with books and it is wonderful. But after going through Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park again, I decided I needed to read books that I have but haven't read. I have a tendency to collect books that I intend to read and then don't get to.

The first of that nature is Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. It's a memoir of life in Tehran by an Iranian woman who tells the stories of her experiences during the Revoultion and war with Iraq through the novels that she teaches as a professor. I know memoir can be tedious but this was SOOO good. It was fascinating to read about these experiences -- events I had known about in fact but never in detail. It gave me a whole new perspective on Iran and Islam. It can be so frightening and angering to see on tv the anti-America demonstrations and extremist actions but this book helped me remember that to ascribe that kind of behavior to all Iranians or Muslims is prejudicial and wrong. It also made me want to teach again -- or at least talk about literature. Sometimes at church there are book clubs but they seem mostly to revolve around church literature. That's well and good and I probably should join one but I also want one that reads classic literature or young adult literature or something . . . Aside from those things, the book is beautifully written. She has a wonderful way of saying things and describing things. I highly recommend it.

Now it's back to the book shelf . . .

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Summer, what summer?

Someone explain to me why it is snowing here in Missoula on JUNE 10!!!!!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

How many licks . . .

does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? Remember those old commercials? Megan could be the poster child for them. She's taken to licking anything that gets near her mouth. I think its a precursor to actually putting things in her mouth.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Happy Birthday Aunt Denise!

Today is Denise's birthday -- my wonderful (and only) sister-in-law on my side (Danny's wife). Today is also D-day from World War II and apparently this is how Danny remembers -- D-day = Denise day. Not that he actually keeps up with World War II milestones . . . anyway, we wanted to say Happy Birthday! We love Denise because
1. She puts up with Danny
2. She loves chubby baby legs
3. She is more a sister than a sister-in-law
4. What's not to love?
Sadly I don't have many pictures of Denise and her wedding was a year ago.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

4 months and counting . . .

Tomorrow is actually Megan's 4-month birthday but she had her well baby checkup today, and boy is she a well baby!

Our little heavyweight is currently weighing in at 14 lbs 9 oz and is 24 1/2 inches long. Both of these put her in the 75th percentile. She did really well the whole appointment except for giving Dr. Lindley the pouty lip and a quivering chin at the beginning. But after we flew her, she liked him again. SHe also got her second round of shots which probably bother me more than her. She cried for the stick but settled down soon after and fell asleep on the way home.

I am so grateful to have a healthy, happy baby. I don't know if there is anything better!
Play with toys or suck the thumb? How about both -- now that is a happy baby!

Monday, June 2, 2008

James' Mission Call

My youngest brother James finally got his mission call today. I love that life is full of surprises. Chopper said he would go to Arizona, I said to eastern Europe, and my mom thought South America. After all, Mark served first in Guatamala and then Southern California Spanish speaking and Jeff is currently in Argentina.

Surprise #1: James will be serving in the Pocatello, Idaho mission.
Surprise #2: He will be Spanish speaking.
Surprise #3: He doesn't report to the MTC until Sept. 3

Needless to say, I had to laugh since we had just been there. Of course the mission is larger than just Pocatello -- it goes north to the Montana border and then a little bit into Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming. James may never actually serve in Pocatello. But for all of you who still live in that area, come this fall look out for an Elder Gasser and give him a hard time for me and then stuff him with good Idaho hospitality!

What a Week!

To save all of you the saga, the short version is this: Chopper, Megan, and I flew to Virginia on Tuesday to finish his "stuff" with the Capitol Police and see the grandparents (his family) for the first time. We got home last night and I started posting but couldn't stay awake long enough to finish. What follows is the novel of our trip and if you'd like to, read on! But the short version is this: totally worth it to see family that I love but I really don't want to do it again anytime soon -- the travel part anyway. Enjoy!

The anxious beginning

For those of you who know I am a worrier, this was the ultimate worry. Do we take the Snugli or the carseat? How do we keep our kicker occupied on the plane? How will she react to new people since I REALLY don't get out much. Needless to say, sleepless nights really stacked up the week before this trip.

We decided to take the carseat and gate check it but actually never really used it. Megan wanted to be carried the entire time because she was tired but awake because of all the new things to see. SO really, it became kind've a pain to have one more thing to carry around. And that really sums up the day's travel: tired and fussy but so busy looking she did NOT want to sleep too much so mom and dad get to haul her everywhere!

But we did learn a lot about traveling with an infant which I hope never to have to do again but the main points are:
1. Why pack books and treats for Chopper and I? We won't have a chance to use them and its one more thing to carry.
2. Diaper bag? It would've been easier to make it a diaper backpack.
3. Changing tables in restrooms are hard and uncomfortable.
4. A layover can be a good thing so that Megan can lay on the floor and kick and stretch (which she loves to do) and my arms can reset themeselves into their sockets.
5. Thumb sucking is the best thing ever! She didn't cry much because the thumb went right in.

The trip went decently. THe second leg from Denver to DC was nearly 4 hours long and she started getting really cranky at the end but we made it! All that was left was the car ride in rush hour traffic from DC down 95 to Fredericksburg.

We knew it was bad when she cried in the car all the way from DC to Fredericksburg. Usually she sleeps in the car. We walked in the door and first one to greet us was Chopper's mom and Megan gave her a smile. But then we handed her to Chopper's dad for a moment and she immediately burst into tears -- major tears -- and cried literally for the next hour and a half while we rocked and sang and tried to get her to sleep. FOrtunately for me, I have a daughter who ALWAYS sleeps well at night but she was fairly traumatized and it took her quite a while for her to get there. I felt bad too, you want your kids to love their grandparents -- after all, what's not to love? But to her, it was just too much I think.

The next day (still really the beginning of the trip) we tried holding with the grandparents but still no go. So we resorted to naps whenever she looked tired and looking at people in between. Apparently Megan is the girl who needs to examine before she'll be comfortable with something -- not a huge risk taker. This could be good in the future . . .

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The dubious middle

Over the next few days, Megan sort've warmed up to everyone and sort've not. She spent a lot of time tired or hungry since her feeding schedule was thrown off and she was sleeping in a new place. For her, that meant very little tolerance for people that weren't mom or dad. And since Chopper took on the project of redoing the small bathroom (surprise, surprise), mom got to cart Megan around A LOT! I love her, but she's a chunky girl!

We didn't do anything big honestly. We stayed at home and hung out with family. Grandpa (Chopper's dad) spent lots of time with Megan in his chair and Grannie and Grandma (Chopper's mom) cooked, did laundry, and played with Megan and talked to her. I made Chopper get a 4 generation picture. Honestly, we don't know how much longer Grannie will be with us and I want Megan to know that they met and she was loved.

We also spent a lot of time with Chop's sister-in-law Emily and her adorable kids Eve, Sophie, and Blu. Emily was wonderful! She brought us two huge boxes of clothes from 3 to 18 months. They're not having any more so it's all from the girls and they are so cute! But given our current circumstances as somewhat tight -- this is a huge blessing! She also has started her own photography business. She has the equipment to literally bring a studio to your house. So she brought her equipment and took family pictures of us. Hopefully I'll get some of those uploaded tomorrow if the files aren't too big.

Emily's son Blu is 7 months but he and Megan are the same size! He crawls and jumps and is a solid kid where Megan is kind've fluffy. Eve was so sweet, always wanting to kiss "baby cousin Megan" and Sophie's exuberance meant that Megan got to experience what siblings would be like so to speak. There were a lot of shaking of limbs, suffocating hugs, and big kisses from her. But they were both adorable.

Chopper got the first good thunderstorm that he's had in a while. He loves them. It was so nice to be with trees! I wanted to take Megan for walks so bad but we didn't have a stroller unfortunately! The weather was beautiful! Not too hot and muggy and mostly bright clear days.

Chopper spent two days in DC doing his physical, polygraph, and psych evaluation for the Capitol Police. They've given him an offer of employment conditional upon successful passing of those plus his background check. He would be eligible for the training class in October. So it looks like we'll be in Missoula for the summer. THat will hopefully give us a chance to go to Glacier when it's not snowpacked! We're not sure that he actually passed his polygraph though -- not that he lied! Apparently his white questions (things like are you sitting down and do you live in Missoula -- they set the standard for what it looks like when you tell the truth and when you lie) were all over the place. The examiner told CHopper that he didn't think he was lying (what?) but he has the most interesting physiology he's ever seen. Hmmm . . .

While we were there we went on an actual date! Grannie watched Megan (while she was asleep for the night) while Chopper and I went to a late dinner. It was weird going somewhere without her and I was so nervous (about how Megan would do -- not Grannie) that I kept checking the cell phone every 10 minutes to make sure it was on. This kind of parental overkill slows down eventually right?

But can I tell you how good it felt to be with family and in Virginia? It has definately whet my appetite for moving back!

The exhausting end

Did I mention how much I enjoy flying? I really thought this time would be better because the long flight (DC to Denver) came first. Not so much. First of all, we were up at 4 am to catch an 8:30 flight at Reagan only to find out that yesterday's freak thunderstorm delayed flights that spilled over into today and got us out of there at 10 o'clock! I could've had an extra hour of sleep! But while we were at the airport, a woman and her 3-year old daughter (who was beautiful!) came up to us to see the baby. We talked, Sam (the daughter) was very shy but she played with Megan a little bit until we FINALLY got on the plane. During the flight Sam and her mom kept coming back to see Megan and visit and then they waited for us in Denver to say goodbye. She was really cute. Most of the first leg was doable -- she slept on and off and wasn't too fussy.

Chopper and Megan in front of the planes -- her first trip out of Missoula!

In Denver we managed to give Megan a little bit of flail time while we wolfed down a lunch that I think is now giving me issues -- go figure. The flight from Denver to Missoula was on a smaller plane and my poor baby alternately screamed and slept. Literally. Why was she so cranky? Perhaps it was the fact that she went on strike after her 7 am breakfast and refused to eat the rest of the day. I don't think she likes the nursing cover. Needless to say, I too suffered from that -- if you nurse, you know what I mean! But she would not settle down to do anything other than sleep.

Missoula airport FINALLY and its small so it won't take long to get the luggage. Oh, we had booked our flights with Frontier nearly a month ago and then they called us and said that because of bankruptcy (oh joy) they were no longer flying into Missoula. They graciously placed us on a flight with United from Missoula to Denver for no extra cost but our luggage would have to change airlines too. I of course cursed us by joking that our luggage would probably get lost. Sigh. Bag 1, bag 2, bag 3 ok. Where's the car seat? They lost the car seat. I am not kidding -- the car seat that was with the rest of our luggage. We had decided to check it this time and use the snugli and it gets lost. They gave us a loaner until it gets flown out and should be delivered tomorrow. I swear.

Was the trip worth it? Absolutely. I want both of our families to be involved with our children. Some of my best childhood memories involve my Grandpa and Grandma Goodman and I'm still close to her today (Grandpa Goodman died about 4 years ago and I miss him!). But it is nice to be home and get back to our routine and it does make me eager to move back out there so that being close to our families won't be quite the production!