2014 in review

We are a little bit late on our 2014 year in review post. I've never liked year in review posts that come before the year is up. How can you declare this the "10 most shocking deaths of 2014" or "6 biggest news stories of 2014" with a week left in the year? It's practically daring something to happen. But I meander off topic. Also I am writing about the same time I got last year's post up. Glad I'm predictable. (Please note that I in this post = Elizabeth, Mom = Cleta, Elizabeth's mom and Dad = Ray, Elizabeth's Dad. Everyone else gets first names.)
It's a girl! And a lovely cake made by Elizabeth

It's a girl! And a lovely cake made by Elizabeth

2014 was a HUGE year for us. We toasted in the New Year expecting our first child and overjoyed about it. Shortly into January we found out we were expecting a little girl. We celebrated by having a gender reveal cake at Sunday dinner. Because cake is awesome and any excuse for cake is a good one In February we took are delayed honeymoon, now a babymoon, to Hawaii. We stayed on the island of Maui, relaxed on the beach, went snorkeling, drove the Hana highway, and had an amazing time. There were a few things I couldn't do being pregnant (eat sushi, drink fruity cocktails, and zipline), but a lot of fun things we did do. One of them was going to Warren and Annabelle's magic show. That was fantastic - we recommend it! And by then we had decided to name our daughter Annabelle. David has a grandmother Anna and a grandmother Angeline Ann and I had a grandmother Dorotha Belle.
Hawaii, February 2014. Black sand beach along the Hana Highway.

Hawaii, February 2014. Black sand beach along the Hana Highway.

Maui, Hawaii. February 2014. Driving the Hana Highway. That was an amazing drive, hair raising, but beautiful.

Maui, Hawaii. February 2014. Driving the Hana Highway. That was an amazing drive, hair raising, but beautiful.

The office nook before it became a nursery.

The office nook before it became a nursery.

When we got home, it was time to start seriously preparing for the baby. We were turning an office into a nursery. It involved tearing out a built in desk, some drywall, moving outlets and light switches, framing in a door, redrywalling much of the whole thing, painting, etc.
My favorite part of the renovation was collecting paint samples. I wanted a gray that was mostly just gray not blue-gray or green-gray. Eventually I just had to  choose one.

My favorite part of the renovation was collecting paint samples. I wanted a gray that was mostly just gray not blue-gray or green-gray. Eventually I just had to choose one.

And there was a little bit of project scope creep. As long as we were going to all this work, we decided to redo the floors with laminate hardwood from Costco. We love it, but it did make the project take a bit longer. Especially because we did most of the top floor. End result is awesome though. Fortunately we had lots of help. You can see the end result of the nursery here.
David, Matthew, and Chris work on the flooring in the living room

David, Matthew, and Chris work on the flooring in the living room

Me at the Chihuly glass garden in Seattle, WA. March 2014

Me at the Chihuly glass garden in Seattle, WA. March 2014

In March I took a trip to visit my sister in Seattle. We hung out, went shopping, saw the Chihuly museum and just had some fun in my last days without the baby. After the March trip it was all about getting ready for our baby, getting house, work, and life ready.
A lovely family at our baby shower.

A lovely family at our baby shower.

And the on June 17, 1 day before her due date and 2 days before my birthday Annabelle was born. The full story is here.
And now there are three. The happiest I've ever been. From the set of photos after I brushed my hair.

And now there are three. The happiest I've ever been. From the set of photos after I brushed my hair.

Since June life has been all about the baby. We barely learn one survival technique and then another thing pops up. But every moment is amazing, a blessing. David was just saying that he can not imagine our lives without her.
An extended family at the state fair. Back row (l to r) Margaret, Cleta, David. Front row Elizabeth, Ray, Matthew holding Annabelle

An extended family at the state fair. Back row (l to r) Margaret, Cleta, David. Front row Elizabeth, Ray, Matthew holding Annabelle

I took nearly three months of maternity leave and went back to work after labor day. My parents came up to meet Annabelle and spend some time with us the week before that. I went back to work the day after Labor Day. Dad (Ray) flew home and Mom (Cleta) stayed here. Please note a lot of this stuff has been blogged about before and I'm trying not to show too many repeat photos.
I've got a pink Royals baby outfit and a blue bow. Ready for some baseball!

I've got a pink Royals baby outfit and a blue bow. Ready for some baseball!

Now all along Mom had said she wanted to come out when I went back to work, especially since our permanent sitter was having a fall baby and needed some time to recover before taking in Annabelle. However she also said that if the Royals went to the post-season baseball (mom and dad are season ticket holders), she was flying back for that. Dave and I thought it was hilarious. We told the funny funny story all over town. Well in September they were in contention and Mom flew back to Kansas City. She thought she was going back just for the Wild Card game. That was what her ticket was booked for. She had to change that ticket FOUR times and the Royals went to the World Series. (They lost in a super tight game that broke our hearts.) October was a lot of piecing together various people as babysitters, really stressful, but it all worked out.
Children's literature halloween! I'm the Pigeon (from Mo Willems books) and Annabelle is the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Children's literature halloween! I'm the Pigeon (from Mo Willems books) and Annabelle is the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Mom did make it back in time for Halloween which was good since she had part of Annabelle's costume. See the full costume here. Since she had abandoned us for an entire month, Mom decided to stay through Thanksgiving. Dad was always going to come up for the last week of her visit. And since my parents would be here, my siblings decided to come up for Thanksgiving and meet Annabelle. It was awesome to have everyone together for Thanksgiving. More about the holidays here.
Dude, who are you? Santa and Annabelle

Dude, who are you? Santa and Annabelle

After Thanksgiving, Annabelle started going to her permanent sitter, our good friend Hilary who keeps Annabelle with her own two kids. They go on play dates and outings and do fun activities. We could not ask for a better child care situation. For Christmas we got to include Annabelle in some of our favorite activities, like going to Girdwood for David's company Christmas party, and we got to do some new ones like Santa. (More in that post linked above). I know holidays will be even more fun when she is old enough to understand and appreciate it, but we are savoring every moment.
Merrry Christmas from the Nicolai+ clan

Merrry Christmas from the Nicolai+ clan

In one year we have gone from barely could tell I was pregnant to having a six month old baby who can sit up on her own, eat finger foods (baby led weaning), babble, smile, laugh, and holds our hearts. Oh and news that isn't about the baby? We never got the trim up in the renovation so we still need to do that, summer 2016. David is still at Coffman Engineers and I am still the Youth Services Coordinator at Anchorage Public Library. We sold my Jeep right before year end and bought a new 3 row SUV to better hold more family members. Kinda sad because I bought that SUV to bring me up to Alaska and adventure 7 years ago, but it was the right time.
She can eat real food with her fingers now. It's pretty amazing. 2015 should be an incredible adventure.

She can eat real food with her fingers now. It's pretty amazing. 2015 should be an incredible adventure.

Russian Mission, AK

20140725-102908-37748722.jpg My job sent me to Russian Mission, AK. I flew out there with a stop in Bethel. The flights from Anchorage to a regional hub are usually on a "big" plane - 30 passenger seats or so. In this case, I flew on a Ravn Aviation Bombardier Dash 8-100. Once in Bethel, we switched planes to a Ravn Aviation Cessna 207B. When you buy a ticket on such a flight, you're assisting the Bypass Mail program - the plane won't fly without a ticketed passenger, and when it does fly, the passengers are jammed in with a bunch of cargo (mail), most of the time. For many villages in rural Alaska, there wouldn't be any air or mail service without Bypass Mail. This also means that most flights are "milk run" flights. We stopped in Marshall and let some passengers and cargo off before we flew around a mountain to drop me off in Russian. As you can see in the video below, though, I got lucky. There probably wasn't much mail service the day I was flying, since there wasn't much cargo in our plane. On trips like this to rural Alaska, most of the time you'll be put up in the village school or something similar. In Russian Mission, the extra bunk space is in their city jail. They didn't lock me in! 🙂

20140725-160059-57659663.jpg

Boxing Day Part 1 and 2

David's newest LEGO technic, a plane. Christmas 2012.

For us we chose to interpert boxing day to mean "take Christmas presents out of boxes, recycle boxes, put presents together and away". Wikipedia assures me that is not what boxing day is really about, but it works for me. On Christmas we enjoyed breakfast together, opened presents, used Google hangougt to open presents with my siblings, then spent most of the day with his family. It was a fantastic day of fun, family, love and laughter, but it left almost no time for tidying up and putting things away. So BOXING DAY! This would have been more sucessful if we had not both worked. Working right after a holiday turns out to be crazy exhausting. So on Boxing Day part one (the 26th) we only got a few presents away, including David putting together his newest toy.

Schacht Ladybug Spinning Wheel. Christmas 2012.

Boxing Day part 2 (the 27th) we put together my present - a new spinning wheel! I've been drooling over this one for quite a while - a Schacht Ladybug. I've spun with a drop spindle, but never with a wheel. Can't wait to learn, but I am afraid it will have to wait until after I finish my Newbery reading and re-reading. Putting together the wheel was a bit of a tease, but I couldn't help it. We got a lot of gifts; we're both quite spoiled and loved. David got 50 years of Bond movies on Bluray. That's actually about 22 or 23 movies. Thus I've seen more Bond movies in the last 3 days then in my entire life previously. Mostly I sit there and read or knit and occasionally look at David and say "Did they REALLY just say that?" Or point out flaws in the science, misogyny, and racism. But it is still crazy fun. We've got yarn to knit for the new year, fluff to spin, movies to watch, more gadgets to put together, and a lot more fun to be had. Soon there will be an end of year Christmas/New Year wrap up post (taking the place of the holiday letter we never wrote to put in the holiday cards we never sent). In the meantime I leave you with this last image. Every Ladybug wheel has a ladybug "hidden" in a unique spot - part of the fun of putting it together is finding yours. Mine is on the main body of the wheel (still learning spinning terminology) just above where the left treadle fits in.

Found the ladybug "hiding" on my wheel! Christmas 2012

We Need A Dog

I read some articles recently about training dogs to smell cell phones. Apparently they can smell the chemicals in the battery. They mostly use them in prisons where a cell phone is a very dangerous and popular contraband item. Dave and I knew that from watching what we affectionately call the people in prison shows. Now some of you (my sister) are asking wouldn't the dog just hear it ringing? (And implying that wouldn't I just hear it ringing?) But to do that you have to ask David to call your cell phone and he reminds you this is the third time in two days you've "lost" your cell phone and it was on the kitchen counter (or couch or whatever). Once he just laughed and laughed because your cell phone has crazy camouflage power and even though it was only a foot and a half away from you it was the exact same color as the book it was sitting on and could not be seen. And he laughed instead of being helpful. Dogs don't make fun of you. Dogs are just excited to go on a hunt. We should get a dog and teach it to smell cell phones. Or get one of those keychain things that help you find your iPhone (or vice versa). I usually can find either my keys or my iPhone.