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.

2013 in Review

2013 was a busy year for us (apparently too busy to blog) and a fantastic year. We are barely getting our year review blog post up before January 2014 closes, but better late than never! Also blogging for your own pleasure and a small audience that is mostly our moms doesn't really come with deadlines. So much happened in 2013, that it is hard to break it all down. We will go with segments of life rather than chronological. Professional
The Newbery committee at the press conference to announce the medal winning books. It's like the Oscars for children's lit.

The Newbery committee at the press conference to announce the medal winning books. It's like the Oscars for children's lit.

In January of this year, Elizabeth finished up her Newbery committee journey by a lot of last minute re-reading and critiquing and meeting with her committee members to choose the winners. They lock the committee in a room and there's a complicated ballot procedure and no one gets to leave until we have a medal winner. It's like choosing a pope, but with less burning of things. The committee chose The One and Only Ivan as the 2013 Newbery medal winner and some really great honor books. Then in June, they re-convened for the Newbery banquet and a lot of really fancy meals with authors and publishers to celebrate. It was an amazing honor and experience to be on the most prestigious children's literature award judging committee. In December, Elizabeth accepted a position as the youth services coordinator for Anchorage Public Library. While this is a promotion (with a pay raise and a more family friendly Monday to Friday schedule), it was really hard to leave the Mountain View branch
Hiking Independence Mine in August 2013

Hiking Independence Mine in August 2013

library that she had helped open and worked for three years to build into a cornerstone of the community. However, this puts her back in youth services full time which is really where her heart is. It's all told a dream position. David finished his first full year as a professional engineer and took on more responsibilities at working, including a two week trip to Guam to work with the company's new engineering office. Elizabeth would have preferred that two weeks not come right before the wedding, but professional growth is professional growth. Home Life and Hobbies David continued to do awesome at building things this year, including the raised bedded gardens and some shelves and things we haven't shown you yet. Elizabeth dedicated the first half of the year to wedding DIY project (which someday we really will blog about) and recovering from the wedding and Newbery the second half. She did take a spinning class to learn to use her spinning wheel.
We were the frog prince and princess (homemade costumes) for Halloween.

We were the frog prince and princess (homemade costumes) for Halloween.

There haven't been many home improvements yet beyond combining two households, incorporating wedding gifts, and planning for the future. But oh those future plans, we can't wait to show you! David continues to play soccer and hunt (though this was not his most successful year) while Elizabeth knits and cooks and we enjoy time with our friends and family. Wedding
When there is still snow for your June wedding, real Alaskans put on their boots and go with it.

When there is still snow for your June wedding, real Alaskans put on their boots and go with it.

Obviously the wedding, our wedding, the best wedding ever took up most of our time and energy for the first half of the year. Elizabeth is working on sorting photos for a gallery on here and photo books for that. The fun started with Elizabeth's bridal showers in May which her mother and sister were able to come up to Anchorage for. And then the actual wedding was on June 8, 2013. The day was exactly what we wanted, a joyous celebration with family and friends, a mix of traditional and relaxed, all our traditions and enough of our own touch to keep it personal.
Fishing in Homer, post-wedding family trip, June 2013. So Elizabeth only sorta brought in that King Salmon by herself. David helped.

Fishing in Homer, post-wedding family trip, June 2013. So Elizabeth only sorta brought in that King Salmon by herself. David helped.

We didn't take a honeymoon (because who would leave Alaska in June?) so we are planning that for February. Instead we traveled with family to Homer (a cute Alaskan fishing town) and hung out, took a halibut fishing charter, and just enjoyed our time together. Elizabeth also caught her first King Salmon and my first Halibut! Elizabeth's dad caught his first of both of those as well. Personally 2013 continued to bring more babies into our social circle. Baby James joined Mal and John in April. And many other friends had babies too. Unfortunately the year also brought
In Oklahoma in August, on Elizabeth's grandparents' farm.

In Oklahoma in August, on Elizabeth's grandparents' farm.

sorrow as Elizabeth lost both her grandmothers and the last of that generation in both our families was gone. 2014 Plans Next year we hope to blog more (though I think we said that last year), build several things, various knitting/spinning projects, hunt a moose, and a lot more things. However our biggest plan is getting ready for and welcoming our little baby girl due around Elizabeth's birthday - June 19, 2014!
We can't wait to meet our little one! We've already started knitting and building things for her!

We can't wait to meet our little one! We've already started knitting and building things for her!