The chronicles and ramblings of a stay-at-home father raising his three beautiful girls, Anya Rose, Caitlin Rose and Reegan Rose.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Reegan, Reegan, Reegan...

It appears as though fall has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest.  The long sunny days are making way for the overcast, rains of autumn.  While the Roses were sad to say goodbye to the pools, beaches, and sundresses, they have been having a wonderful time in school.

Caitlin and Anya absolutely love going to school.  Anya loves learning and following directions and Caitlin loves to play with her new classmates.  Anya will tell me all about her day, including the punishments her schoolmates received when they don't follow the rules.

Anya - "(Name omitted for legal purposes) got in trouble again today for making bad choices. He's lucky though, when he pushed Johnny, he could have gotten an Uh-Oh ticket but instead teacher only made him go to his desk for 2 minutes.  If you get 2 Uh-Oh's you have to stay in from recess."

She's like a 6 year old rule book!  Anya just soaks in everything that's going on around her.

Caitlin is doing very well in kindergarten.  She loves going to school and I'm pretty sure she hasn't realized that she's actually doing real school work.  KK has never really liked to work on her letters or spend time sounding out words, but she has been bringing home things they've been working on in class and she seems to be enjoying the learning process.  It's weird, for some reason when I tape a pen to her hand and scream 'WRITE YOUR LETTERS, DAMNIT!' she hates learning, but when she goes to a caring kindergarten environment she thinks it's fun...  Go figure?

Potty training has continued to hit a snare with Reegsy.  Yesterday she managed to go through 5 pairs of pants.  After the 4th accident of the day I told Reegan I was going to give her a spanking if she wet her pants again.  I've never tried to spanking as a consequence of wetting her pants before, but the putrid odor coming from the mounting pile of soiled undergarments clouded my judgment.  And just a point of clarification here, Reegan's pee doesn't smell pleasant.  I've changed my share of diapers here and I know that most pee is a little rank, but Reegan's is downright offensive!  It's like the urine of a 80 year-old dehydrated woman.  So when she pissed herself for the 5th time yesterday, I followed through on my punishment.  With Alicia sitting right next to me, I gave her a good hard spanking.  As I waited for Reegan to start crying, she turned to me and said with a straight face, 'That didn't hurt.'  Then she pulled off her pee stained pants and went back to playing Barbies.  Alicia tried to keep from laughing as Reegan yet again defied my efforts to control her bladder.  If she wasn't the cutest, most expressive and excitable person I've ever met, I might actually stay made at her for more than a minute...

Tip of the day - Just because someone doesn't have much hair, doesn't mean they want the snarly hair that falls off of your head.  Almost daily Reegan will run up to me with a handful of hair, and say, "Here Daddy, for your head so you can have some hair!"  If I wanted a full head of hair (which I totally don't) I wouldn't take it from the head of someone with a dew like Harry Dunne's from Dumb and Dumber.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dreams Coming True

It's hard to believe that the school year is just around the corner (I mean it's not hard for me, I've been counting down the days for a few weeks.)  We've had a busy summer and the girls are having a blast.  Here are a few of our recent adventures:

Two weeks ago I decided to take the Roses to Alki Beach in Seattle, a beautiful sand beach that stretches a mile of the Puget Sound in West Seattle.  We packed a lunch and were planning on making it a day of sunbathing, castle building, and all around good times.  After we parked the van a couple blocks from the beach front, the girls took off down the uneven sidewalk in their flip flops. Within seconds, as the echos of my plea "Don't run in your flip flops!!!" still resonated down the street, Reegan face planted on the uneven concrete.  They say that there are only 2 things you can count on in this world, paying taxes and death, but I'd like to add a third, a Schmidt girl running in flip flops is the precursor for a Schmidt girl crying with a skinned knee.  I managed to calm her down as we continued to the beach.  Since it was low tide, we decided to wade into the tide pools and look for critters.  Now I didn't intend to add salt to Reegan's wound, but encouraging her to enter the salt water with a freshly skinned knee may not have been the best idea...

To soothe things over with the little one, I decided to rent a 4-person bike and cruise the beach front in style. We picked out our cruiser, but unfortunately, only Anya was tall enough to reach the pedals.  The younger two sat in the back and enjoyed a free ride as Anya and I worked the 200 lb vehicle into motion.  We made it about 500 yards before Anya joined the crew of the vertically challenged, leaving the old man to pedal up and down the beach by himself.  It was a beautiful day and we had a great time, but two hours of peddling was wearing on my patience and I was ready to jettison the dead weight I was carrying.  We brought the bike back and made our way back home.

Last weekend it was Reegan's 4th birthday!  Can you believe our baby is already 4?  I mean she's still not potty trained, but she looks like a big girl!  For her birthday she wanted a pink kitty, something she had been talking about since we left the farm where she had been terrorizing real kitties.  Reegan wanted a 'a pink kitty about this big' (imagine her arms about 12 inches apart); very practical, very specific.  I love it!  I know each year I can make this kids dreams come true.  I can hop on and pick out EXACTLY what she wants for under $20 and the kid will jump around the house in excitement when she opens up her present.  Anya, on the other hand, has asked for a $300 Power Wheel and that I make her stuffed animals talk with her for her birthday.  Talk about a kid set up for disappointment!

Two nights ago Anya had to go the nearby hospital for a sleep study.  For anyone whose ever slept in the same house as my eldest daughter, you know she snores like a trucker.  She was referred for a sleep study last year when her dentist noticed her irregularly large tonsils.  Since we reached our insurance deductible for Reegan's arm surgery, this is going to be the year of all elective medical procedures!  We are guessing they will be taking out Anya's tonsils and adenoids, but we had to do the sleep study to rule out other more serious causes of her snoring.  We enjoyed the one on one time we had with me at the hospital and she liked all the special attention she was getting.  She did a great job and was able to get a full nights rest (at least that made one of us... The 5'8 cot they had me sleeping on was a little small.  Have I mentioned there are a lot of Asians out here?)

Caitlin is getting all excited about kindergarten.  We went to the store to pick out all her supplies.  Last time we went to the library, KK picked out a DVD titled 'Getting Ready for Kindergarten.'  As soon as we got home she put it in the player and sat attentively as she learned all about her first year of real school.  She is excited to meet all her new classmates and start school like a big girl.

Alicia is doing very well at her job at Clifton Larson Allen.  The summer is Alicia's busy season so she has been working like crazy.  Even when she is working 65 hour weeks, she always manages to get home around 5:00 for dinner and hangs out with the girls until bedtime.  We've been going to the pool in the evenings and Mom is having as much fun as the Roses swimming and diving for toys.  After the kids go to bed, she'll power up her computer and put in another couple hours.  

With Alicia working so much, it makes it easier for me to put in time studying for my teaching courses.  I'm halfway through my first course and things seem to be going well.  I have a lot of hoops to jump through these next few months, but I'm tackling them one at time.  I'm even starting to get excited about the prospect of getting back into the classroom, the thought of bringing in my own paycheck wouldn't be so bad either ;)

Tip of the Day - A poisonous Hobo Spider can only survive for 4 days in a mason jar without food or water.  We happened to find a large spider in the garage and I thought it would be fun to put it in a ice cream pail and show the Roses.  When our neighbor came over to see what the fuss was about, she confirmed the poisonous spider was a Hobo.  They are easy to identify as they are the only spider that carries a stick with a red bandanna holding all of his belongings.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Summer time...

It's been a while since I've written a blog and the girls are building a fort nicely in the other room, so here goes...

We've been busy ever since we left for MN.  We had a great three weeks on the road, but we're happy to return to the Northwest.  Spending time with family is always a treat, but so is sleeping in your own bed at night.  

Three days after we came back from MN, my dad flew out to stay with us for the week.  Alicia had a weekend conference at Lake Chelan and we thought it would be a good idea to bring Papa along to help watch the kids so I could spend some time with Alicia.  For the three days we were to spend at Lake Chelan, our van had more shit in it than we had on our three week trip to Minnesota.  While Alicia had to do quite a bit of schmoozing at the conference, the girls and I were able to spend our days in the pool and on the beach.  On Monday afternoon, we decided to rent a boat and take the girls tubing.  We spent four hours floating around the lake, tubing, fishing, and generally enjoying life.  On Tuesday Alicia and I were able to go golfing in the afternoon as part of the conference.  My golf game is similar to Reegan's ability to use the toilet; unpredictable and frustrating.  Luckily we were playing in a scramble, so I felt good about myself as long as every 4th shot went in the general direction I was intending.

When we arrived home from Lake Chelan, Ben and Dianne were waiting for us to pick them up from the airport.  They managed to take a bus out to Bellevue to make our drive a bit shorter.  They spent the week with us enjoying everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer.  After a couple days in Issaquah, we decided to head out to Hood Canal for a weekend getaway.  A few weeks ago, Alicia and I won a weekend stay at a small cabin near the Hood Canal, and what better time to check it out than with family.  While the cabin was small, we spent most of our time on the water.  The Hood Canal is a saltwater fjord (not that I have any idea what that means) and is great for all kinds of shellfish.  At the first beach we went to, we spotted a small jellyfish swimming in the shallows.  While I was nervous to get close to the jellyfish at first, a four-year-old Armenian assured me that they can't do you any harm until they turn red, and with that solid base of information, I scooped it up in a bucket.  When I brought it on shore, I asked the girls not to touch it, but like everything else I tell them, it was ignored.  The girls pet the top of the jelly-body tentatively until our Armenian friend reached in, grabbed the creature, and hurled him back into the sea.  

The next morning I thought it would be fun to see what it was like catching oysters so we went to another shellfish beach.  We got to walk a couple hundred yards through thick, messy sediment before getting to the seashore where a group of Asians were catching and harvesting oysters.  Caitlin and Reegan loved when the mud oozed over their shoes and ran between their toes... In hindsight, had I simply explained to Caitlin that mud baths act as great exfoliates and old women spend good money for their age defying results, she would have probably had a blast.  While the girls could have cared less about the oysters, they did notice that the shoreline was teeming with tiny crabs with pincers too small to pinch them.  They grabbed my coffee cup and filled it with sand and pint sized crabs.  They were so excited to collect the little guys for Mommy and I was excited to see Mommy's reaction to such a disturbing surprise.

On Tuesday afternoon we took Ben and Dianne back to the airport.  It was a blast having them here.  We love sharing our Northwest experiences with all our friends and family. 

Yesterday the house was quiet and our plans were nil.  For the first time in a couple weeks it was time to clean the house, do the laundry, and prepare for the start to the school year.  As some of you may know, I will be heading back to school this fall to pursue my license in education, grades 5-12 Social Studies.  My term starts August 1st and I should be able to finish in a year and a half.  New adventures abound where ever we go and I am excited to see what the future may hold for us...

Tip of the Day - A long car-ride with a coffee cup full of crabs provides hours of cheap entertainment and good conversation.  

"It's MY turn with the crabs!  I want crabs!!!"
"Ben, did you give Dianne crabs?"
"Mommy's going to crap a solid-gold-brick when she sees that daddy is coming home with crabs!" (okay maybe the girls didn't say that one... ;)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Good times 'round the bend

It's been a whirlwind couple days at the Schmidt house.

Last week, in an effort to avoid having a landlord sell a house on us again, Alicia and I decided we were going to try to buy a place.  I got in touch with a great Realtor and lender combination (Jesse Paulson and Julie Jones) and they were able to give us some options.  The housing market is so hot right now, that houses in our neighborhood are going at 100k over what they were a year ago.  Basically that meant for us to buy, we'd have to move about 20 miles from where we are now.  New schools, new friends, new everything. With only a month before we had to move out, we needed to act fast.  We scheduled some showings for last Tuesday evening.  On Monday night we had 5 potential houses that we felt comfortable with.  By Tuesday at  noon, they had all sold.

Tuesday we had a change in plan.  With the market so hot right now, we figured it would be best to just rent a place for 6 months to a year and reconsider our options at that time.  We applied for a few homes with no luck.  The rental market too is surging and bidding wars are driving up rent prices by upwards of 30%. My dreams of keeping the girls in their current schools was slipping away.

Finally last Sunday, a home in our same neighborhood went on the rental market.  The landlords live a few miles away and have an investment property they plan on keeping for a number of years.  It is significantly smaller than the house we have now, but it was in our price range and we decided to go for it.  After a couple days of waiting we heard we were the top candidates.  Finally!  All we had to do was pass the background check and we were good to go.

That's when we received this message:

 Hi Alicia and James,
I am sorry to inform you that Mr. James Schmidt did not qualify the background check criteria. We won't be able to go ahead with your rental application. Once again, we are very sorry.

At first I was dumbfounded.  What could they possibly have found on me?  I had that murder conviction expunged years ago! I asked what exactly they found and it turns out there is a James Schmidt in Minnesota with several civil judgments against him and they turned up on my check.  It was a long sleepless night. In the morning I contacted the company that ran the background check to see what I had to do to clear up my name.  After talking with them for a few minutes, they agreed that the James Schmidt they reported was not me.  They agreed to contact the landlord and explain the mistake.  Hopefully it wasn't too late.

Yesterday afternoon, the landlords agreed to rent to us and we sign the lease today.  We can move in on June 1st and we have until the 15th to be out of our house.  The Roses will all go to the same schools they did last year and we will be only a mile from our old house.  Relief doesn't begin to describe how I am feeling.  I know we have a couple weeks of hard work ahead of us, but knowing that we have a decent place to live makes it easier for me to get through it.

I want to sincerely thank all my friends and family who reached out to me last week.  I wasn't in a good place.  I was upset that we had to move and I was overwhelmed with what we needed to do.  Over the past few days I have been in constant communication with realtors, landlords, leasing companies, and mortgage lenders, and nothing was working with our timing.  I was fried.  What got me through was the tremendous support I received.  I felt like George Bailey standing at the bridge in It's a Wonderful Life, and I had a whole slew of Clarence's (the angel guy) to put things in perspective for me.  To all my family and friends whole listened to me babble about my challenges, fears, and insecurities, thank you!  Even though some of you may be 1000's of miles away, you were with me last week.

Tip of the Day - James Schmidt, pay your damn bills and quit getting sued!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The uncertainty of life...

Well it's been a tough week in Issaquah, Washington, my current town...

After spending a week reminding ourselves of how annoying the weather in Minnesota can be, we're back to the beautiful weather of spring!  We spend half our week up at the farm and the other half with Papa and Nana in Minnetonka.

Life on the farm is always so peaceful.  Each time we visit, it seems like a hundred things in our lives change, but life on the farm remains the same.  It's very enduring to have a place where you know exactly what to expect; the kids will have a blast playing with their grandparents and cousins, Windsor diets will flow in the shop, and there will be a constant chatter of how much better the Viking's will be next season.

Down in Minnetonka, the Roses had a blast playing with their Papa and Nana.  Unlike the farm, where you always know what to expect, life with my parents is like living in Pandora's Box. What project will they be working on next?  What new place are they dying to take the kids?  What did Wally eat this week to make himself vomit for days on end?  So exciting!  We're so blessed to have such unique and different grandparents!  I couldn't imagine a better way to expose my kids to all the different ways people can happily live their lives.

It's been a bit stressful up here in Issaquah.  It's always hard coming back to Washington after seeing all our family and friends in Minnesota, but we recently learned that our landlords would like to sell the house.  Our lease is up in a month and we're scrambling to figure out what our next move is.  Do we buy the house from them?  Do we find another rental?  Maybe we should live in an apartment until the real estate market cools down around here?  Maybe we should just buy something smaller a little more in the country?

To the casual reader, all those things sound like perfectly viable options, but in my head none of them sound very appealing.  It's a scary proposition.  I don't know what the future holds and I would really like to know how this is going to play out.  I know in the great scheme of things this is just a tiny speed bump, but I can't see anything but a huge bolder right in my path.  I have a tendency to take a stressful situation and allow it to impact all areas of my life.  I haven't been this depressed and anxious in years.  I haven't been able to eat or sleep and I've been breaking down several times a day. I'm trying to keep a positive attitude with my family but inside I'm a wreck.  Keep me in your prayers, I'm needing them...

Tip of the Day - Life seems to give you all the answers you need, but all in their own time.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A little worse than expected...

So last week I told you guys about Reegan's broken arm.  After our trip to Urgent Care, they explained that it wasn't a serious break and that as soon as the swelling went down, they would have it casted and she would be on her way.  When we went in to get her cast last Monday, they wanted to get a few more x-rays, just to be sure nothing had changed since she broke it.  When the doctor looked at the new images, he asked me 'When was the last time Reegan had eaten? She's going to need surgery.'  The new x-rays showed that a bone in her elbow had been displaced over a centimeter from where it should have been, and only pins could hold it in place to heal correctly.  Bummer...

We scheduled the procedure as soon as possible which was last Monday evening.  Because it was at 6:00pm, the doctors didn't want her eating anything all day.  It was tough watching the little one so sore and hungry, at least I had a nice steak with mashed potatoes and gravy to console me.

The whole family went with Reegan to the hospital.  Anya was jealous that all the grown ups kept giving Reegan all the attention.  "No fair! Reegan got a balloon and she gets to wear a new dress???" (a hospital gown) Yes Anya, and she gets to have 4-inch pins sticking out of her arm since somebody was roughhousing with her little sister... Okay, I didn't say that, but I wanted to...

Caitlin on the other hand was incredibly comforting and consoling.  Right before Reegs left for surgery, KK drew her a picture and said, "I hope this helps your arm feels better Reegan."  Damn near brought a tear to my eye.

The procedure was only 60 minutes long, start to finish, and most of it was putting Reegan under and waking her up.  She was not a big fan of waking up, especially when she realized there was a big IV in her arm.  We had to wait an hour or so for her to get cleared to leave, but once we were in the car, she was back in good spirits.

Since surgery she has acted like nothing has happened.  She has a cast from her fingers to he shoulder but it doesn't seem to bother her.  She is quite the little trooper.

It was a great Holy Week at the Schmidt house.  I was giving the girls a bath on Good Friday and I was explaining why it was an important day.  I told the girls that Jesus loved his friends so much, he would do anything for them, even die!  And since we're friends with Jesus too, Jesus would do anything for us.  Anya thought about that for a minute and responded, "If Jesus would do anything for us, how come he doesn't make my stuffed animals talk to me?"  A budding theologian.

Easter weekend was awesome! The sun was out and we had highs in the 70's.  On Sunday we went to a beach on the Puget Sound with some friends and spent the day playing in the sand, looking for creatures in the water, and soaking up too much sun.  I know all you Minnesotans are grumbling, but take solace knowing that your pasty white shoulders don't hurt when you put on a shirt, but my bright pink sun-burnt ones do.

Tip of the Day - If you are as bald as I am, you cannot leave the house without a hat. My bright pink shoulders match my bright pink forehead.  It's like Lobstermania over here!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Hey guys, did you miss me?

Bet you can't believe it's been 3 months since my last post.  Me neither. I guess we have some catching up to do...

Last week my sister from Alaska came down for a quick visit.  Kelley and her two boys James and John were down in Seattle for 3 days to see some medical specialists.  You see Alaska has specialists in taxidermy and gold mining, but anything that requires a education of more than 6 years is done in Seattle.  I kid Alaska, I'm just jealous that your state gives you $2,000 per person, per year, and mine charges a 50% tax on alcohol...  Anyway, it was great having them in town.  The girls LOVE their cousins.  Even though they hadn't seen James and John in over a year, the girls bossed them around like they were old friends. We had a great time taking them to the Woodland Park Zoo and sharing their company.  The Schmidt house is always open for visitors.

The evening after my sister went back to AK, the girls were running around the house playing tug-of-war.  From what I could see, it was supposed to be Reegan and Caitlin versus Anya, but I'm pretty sure Caitlin was only pretending to pull on the rope.  Anya gave a yank and Reegs went falling into our living room, two stairs below our kitchen.  It was right around bed time, so when Reegan started crying hysterically we chalked it up to crankiness.  We put their pajamas on and sent them to bed.  About an hour later, Reegan woke up screaming.  She was complaining that her arm hurt and refused to move it.  After 2 more of these episodes throughout the night, we figured we'd better take her in.

The next morning we went to Urgent Care and learned that Reegs had broken her arm, just above her elbow.  It isn't a bad break, just a buckle fracture, but she'll will need to be in a cast for the next 6 weeks.  That means you lucky people in MN will get to see Reegan sporting a 5 1/2 week old cast when we come visit.  Funky!

The other Roses are doing well.  Caitlin recently had her ears pierced.  One day while Mom was out of town  for work, Caitlin decided she was ready to get her ears pierced.  When I explained to her that it hurts, she responded, 'Dad, I got four shots at the Doctor and didn't cry, I think I can handle two more.'  While she was right, she did in fact get 4 shots without crying, she doesn't exactly have a good track record of physical toughness.  With my better half absent to talk some sense into me, I loaded the girls up and headed over to Claire's.  Caitlin picked out her earrings and sat in the chair like a champ.  The piercing specialist (the 18-year-old girl who was working at Claire's so she could get 20% off body jewelery, which probably amounted to a greater benefit than her minimum wage as she had 9 visible piercings...who was also from Alaska) had me fill out some very important paperwork while she sterilized all the equipment.  When they finally shot those earrings through her little earlobes, I was expecting screaming and tears.  But nothing.  She just sat there smiling and holding a mirror.  What women will put up with for beauty.

Anya's smile looks more like a Jack-o-Lantern than the cute little pumpkin we've grown to love.  In the past 2 months she's lost 4 teeth and has forced the tooth fairy to review her finances to make good with the tooth payments.  While the cost of tooth enamal is going up in the fairy market, so too is the expense in obtaining said tooth.  With the way the fairy housing market is going, it's tough to make ends meet...

When asked what the tooth fairy does with the teeth they collect, Anya responded in a very Cliff Clavin fashion, 'They make sculptures.' Obviously.

Alicia and I have been doing well too.  Alicia is loving the challenges of her new role.  She travels quite a bit more than she used to, but as the girls get older, it is becoming easier for me to handle them by myself.  My days are busy running kids from place to place.  I haven't been able to ref very much this year as it hasn't seemed to work out with our families schedule. With my free time I still go to the gym quite a bit, I planted a garden, and I play volleyball at least once a week. The life of a real playboy.

We have 2 trips back to MN planned, one at the end of April and one in the middle of June.  The girls LOVE going home to visit the Farm and Papa and Nana.

Tip of the Day - Apparently your arm bone is somehow connected to your ability to go to the bathroom in the toilet.  Ever since Reegan broke her arm, it's like she digressed 2 years in potty training. Plan accordingly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy Holidays

Over the past few weeks, the girls and I enjoyed our first Holiday Season out here in Washington.  Alicia was able to take two weeks off from work and we made the most our time together.  Here are a few of the highlights:

Tubing in the Cascades - About 30 minutes east of our home in Issaquah is a pretty big ski resort called The Summit in Snoqualmie.  Alicia and I loaded up the kids and made the short commute to the land of the snow.     From our house to the Snoqualmie Pass we went from an outdoor temperature of 50 degrees down to 30, and from no snow in sight to 6 foot piles lining the roads.  The girls were excited to play in the snow, but they quickly learned the difference between the Minnesota powder snow and the frozen Washington slush they get out here.  First of all, traction is a nightmare.  Reegan couldn't take more than 3 steps without wiping out.  She desperately wanted to wear her silver boots covered in sequence instead of the actual winter boots I suggested, so she learned the hard way just how costly fashion can be.  In her defense, she did look ravishing, three-year-olds were lining up just to comment on how fly her wicked kicks were.  

The tubing itself was awesome!  The tubing hill is at the base of the ski slopes and we were able to tube from 3 - 5 pm.  Even though it was a fairly overcast afternoon, when the lights from the slopes started coming on, you could see just how big and beautiful the mountain was.  Alicia and I each took the younger kids in a tube with us and Anya was able to go by herself.  The day was perfect; the kids were well behaved, the weather was awesome, and Alicia and I were able to get in a great workout.  It was the kind of day that words can't really explain. I would have to do a Partridge Family-like montage set to the tune of Kesha's Die Young to do it justice, but I don't have the time to do that.

Ice Skating in Bellevue - Imagine 150 Asians trying to ice skate, need I say more?  Tosh.0 would have had a field day.  As some of you know, the Seattle is home to some of the technology giants of the world and who knows technology better than Asians?  What they can't figure out, however, is how to balance on two thin strips of metal attached to the bottom of their feet.  You'd think they'd figure out some kind of algorithm to make it work, but no.  

The girls had a blast trying out skating for the first time.  Anya was able to figure it out after a lap or two and was on her own for the most part.  Caitlin learned that if she just kept her feet straight, I would skate with her between my legs and she could go fast without expending any energy of her own.  Reegan was too stubborn to learn the subtleties of ice skating and attempted to walk like she normally would.  With her feet flailing about, she fit right in with the Asian crowd.

Crazy Christmas Lights - The lights in our neighborhood were amazing. Just as a male peacock displays his plumage to assert himself as the dominant male, the residents of Klahanie deck their halls in hopes of being the talk of a myriad of local neighborhood gatherings.  The kids loved looking at all the lights and I loved knowing that my electrical bill wasn't going to be much more than it was the rest of the year.

This house took the cake:

Yes, that house had it's own radio station and choreographed the lights to light up with the music. I too could make my lights play with music, but it would require me continually plugging in and unplugging the single strand of lights we had hanging above our garage door.

We had an amazing Christmas season and it was great to spend so much time with Alicia.  It was hard not being home with our families, but we have been blessed with a great group of friends to help us feel at home here in Washington.  The Schmidt's had a great 2012, and we look forward to another exciting year in 2013.  

Tip of the Day - If your children fall in love with Ke$ha's newest hit single, "Die Young", do not play the music video for them.  While their innocent minds are unable to imagine the adult nature of the lyrics, the music video does a great job of explaining exactly what the song is all about...