Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter Wonderland

It's been a busy holiday season for us already, and Christmas is still two weeks away. We spent Thanksgiving at my Brother's in Kansas, which was a lot of fun. We got to watch the kids play together, enjoy LOTS of good food (including scone Saturday courtesy of my Mom. Yummy!), and of course, have family game night. It was mostly the siblings, with others rotating, and it was Settlers of Catan, not our usual Nuts, but it was lots of fun.

The Monday after Thanksgiving we got our Christmas tree, and that Saturday was the Christmas Dinner at church. Sadly, no Jolly Old Saint Nick appeared here, but we did have our own cute little elves, and lots of great food and fellowship.

Then, Tuesday, the snow started falling. Well, some fell Monday, but it melted quickly. Tuesday, not so much. By Wednesday morning, we had at least 6 inches, and fierce winds, which made the drifts much higher. We had white-out conditions, and parts of the state even closed down main highways because of the drifts. That didn't happen here, but it was enough to cancel classes at the university, and for John's boss to tell him to stay home.

John and Timothy ventured out to play for a while, but didn't last very long. John lasted a little longer, and he cleaned off the car and shoveled the drifts away from the doors. I didn't even venture out. I wanted some pictures of Timothy playing in the snow, but didn't want to join them (especially considering Andrew was awake), so I contented myself with pictures from the windows and front door. It was a beautiful snowfall, but I much prefer enjoying it from the warmth of my home. =)

It's even colder today. John went back to work, bundled up so that only his eyes were showing. There was storytime at the library today, but we're not going. I'm going to get inventive instead, and keep my little man occupied where it's warm. =)

Monday, November 16, 2009

We are so not in Kansas (and by that I mean DC) anymore Toto...

Saturday, John and I decided to get out of the house and explore some of the local sights. Now that we're not in DC, that eliminates most museums and national monuments, but turns out there are some really fun things to see, and they're a bit more practical (especially for this area) than what we're accustomed to.

First, we headed to the local orchard. Now, I grew up down the road from a strawberry farm, and not far from several orchards. In fact, I remember several years of turning apples into apple butter, apple jelly, and dried apples to send off to various relatives. John hadn't had that experience, and we knew Timothy would get a big kick out of it. Sadly, we were a little late in the year for tractor rides, or u-pick, but we did get some nice apples, and apple cider that had been pressed that day.

When we left, since the day was still young, we decided to head down to a cheese factory we'd heard a lot about. It was everything we heard. The cheese is delicious, and it's only about half a mile from an Amish grocery, that is renowned for it's spices. Lots of good bulk items too for when I want to build up our food supply. =)

The grocery/spice store was nice, and I got some great ideas for when I need to stock up, but the cheese shop experience was what really blew my mind. I had assembled about half a dozen items, and when I went to pay for them, was informed that they only took cash or check, and I only had plastic. I was about to ask about and ATM, when the clerk said: "Oh, it's okay, put your name and address on this receipt, and you can mail us a check."

Wha-Huh? I'm sure I looked as if she was speaking a different language, because she repeated herself. I offered to go find and ATM if she wanted to hold m purchase, but she said that was okay. This worked too. Still blown away, I filled out the receipt, and we took our cheese. We wrote them a check once we got home, but I'm still a bit shocked by the whole experience. Back in DC (and pretty much anywhere else I've lived in the last several years), you had to present at least one form of ID, if not two to write a check, and they let us walk out with our cheese, trusting that we'd pay them back. It really restores my faith in human nature, so see someone trust others that much.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You want me to do what???

For those who follow our blog, it's time for the rare, and therefore anticipated post by John. (Okay, maybe it's only anticipated by my mom, and perhaps that's only because there's pics of the grand babies, but hey, that still counts in my book.)

Lately, I have been asking the question "You want me to do what?" a lot. Back to when we I landed a job working for a great University on a career status position and Margaret asked this question when I said we were moving to Iowa. Then we get here, and I find out that one of the first sets I would be building was for a show called "Reefer Madness" the musical.

Then, there was this past week. Last Sunday I had to work in the morning (as I occasionally due because of technical rehearsals being on Saturday and Sundays) Thankfully, at this job I only have to be there for the beginning and the end of the rehearsal, and not for the entire 12 hour rehearsal everyday. So, after I got off of work, I rushed over to make it for church just in time for the last hour and to participate in priesthood. Little did I know that this was the day that the Elder's quorum presidency was doing PPI's. So here I am at church, dressed in jeans and a collared shirt, being asked about my worthiness by my priesthood leader. His first question was whether I decided to dress "mormon light" for the day. I explained to him the work situation, and that it was better to wear jeans to church, than to wear a tie while running a table saw.

I did however joke with someone else that I simply figured that if you occassionaly wear jeans to church you will likely never get asked to speak in church and you will definitely never get called to a leadership position. Well, I'm still not in a leadership position, but ten minutes after I made that joke, one of the counselors in the bishopric asked me if I would speak in church. Oh well, that method has officially failed me.

I did end up having to work most evenings this last week, so I wrote a talk about fasting while sitting through dress rehearsals for "Reefer Madness". Needless to say, I got a little bit of the munchies while working on the talk.

After all was said and done, the talk went well, and other than Andrew crying the whole way through it, and Margaret having to sit with him in the lobby, it all went off without a hitch. The best part is that next week is Margaret's turn to speak in church.

In other notes, I found this hat at work this week, and brought it home and gave it to Timothy. He's worn it everywhere he's gone, evidently, including dreamland during nap time.

Also, yesterday (Saturday) we had a bit of a family outing. We left with the intent of going to the apple orchard and coming home, and we did start by going to the apple orchard where we bought several pounds of fresh apples, some fresh squeezed apple cider, and some hot apple turnovers. However, instead of heading home, we decided to extend our day trip and drove about 20 miles south to the town of Kolona, an old Amish settlement here in Iowa. Our first stop was the Twin County Dairy and cheese factory where Timothy got to watch them make cheese curds through a window, and Margaret spent 20 dollars on cheese. The kicker was that when she went to pay they said they only took cash or check, no debit or credit cards. That put us in a bind, because we almost never carry cash with the modern convenience of debit cards, and we had left the checkbook at home. We were going to leave, sadly, without our cheese, when the lady at the factory store bagged our purchase gave us a receipt and told us to simply send them a check for the amount of the purchase. Margaret and I looked at each other and said "You want us to do what"? Never before have we been so sure that we weren't in DC anymore. It really is a different, much simpler way of life here in Iowa.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We've all come down with some variation of a nasty head cold here, and I was up half the night either blowing my nose, or rocking an infant. Timothy, thankfully, slept sound and hard. He was still sleeping when John left for work this morning, so I stayed in bed and waited for him to wake me up asking for breakfast.

When he did, he was covered in some kind of sticky yellow substance. Now he's taken to sleeping under his bed, and the substance wasn't that different from the color of the carpet, so I was freaking out, thinking our carpet might be poisoning our child. Then I went downstairs, and found this:

Apparently, he decided to fix his own breakfast, and all he could reach was Daddy's powdered Gatorade on the counter...

*Sigh*... At least he did it on the day I was planning to mop the floors anyway...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baby it's cold outside!

Well, fall has struck with a vengeance here on the prairie. After four years of mild climates in Florida and DC, I guess I've been spoiled. I've never been much for cold weather, and I'm not too fond of socks, so I always bemoan having to put away my sandals. Aside from today, it's been so cold and wet this last week or so, that it seems like we skipped the nice part of fall and went straight for the heavy stuff. Oh well, hopefully it will be nice again for a little while, if not warmer. Not that it's THAT cold. I guess... But high 50s feels a lot colder when it's raining, and you have an infant that gets cold easily. Can I tell you how eager I am for winter? *sarcastic tone*

But enough whining. On the bright side, there are plenty of things to do here as the weather turns. The mall sponsors a "Family Free Friday" the last Friday of every month, and we took advantage of it this time around. There were free carousel rides, free ice skating (We'll wait a few years for that one), and the Children's Museum was free. This was pretty cool. They have a puppet theatre, a kid-sized construction site, farm, and mini-city complete with grocery store, hospital and TV studio (I'm sure there was more, but I ducked off at that point to feed the baby). Timothy LOVED it. When I was uploading the pictures today, he remembered and excitedly told me all about it. =)

Andrew is growing by leaps and bounds. Yesterday, he rolled over 4 times! Granted, it was from tummy-to-back, which is easier than back-to-tummy, but still. It was pretty exciting! I'm a little worried what this means for my piece of mind in a few months... He loves to talk to any and all of us, and has the best smiles, especially for his big brother, whom it's clear he adores. Timothy loves this, and will crouch down to talk to him, or show him toys all the time. I'm so glad they get along so well. We'll see what happens when Andrew starts crawling... =)

Oh, and for those who've requested, I finally had my house about as clean as it's likely to get with small children underfoot, so I took some pictures. Here's a virtual tour of our digs. =)

Friday, September 25, 2009

They grow so fast...

Well, we've pretty much been holding steady here in Iowa. John stays busy at work, and the boys keep me busy here. Timothy loves to go out. Outside, to the park, the library, the play area at the mall... Wherever we go, his joy of life is a constant joy to me. I love watching him learn and grow through his experiences.

He loves to imitate us, especially John. Last week, we stopped by work to see John, and Timothy was completely fascinated, especially by the tool crib. The sets didn't seem to make much of an impression, but the tools! We went home, and he got all his tools out and for an hour was "working like Daddy." So cute!

He also adores his little brother, and loves to talk to him, and help. When we've given Andrew a bottle (to get him used to it should I leave), Timothy has loved to help. He's pretty good at it actually. As long as Andrew doesn't move.. =)

Andrew is 2 months old today. The time has just flown by! Already he wants to see the world, and is rarely happy facing me when in his baby carrier. He LOVES to watch Timothy, and they can coo at each other happily for quite a while.

We've thankfully got him sleeping pretty well too. Mornings are anyone's guess, but he usually takes a nice long nap in the afternoon, and then most nights he falls asleep fairly easily and sleeps from 8pm to 1am before I have to get up and feed him. Then only once or twice the rest of the night. Peaceful evenings are so nice! They make for a much saner Mommy. =)

So much has happened in the last two months though. It's hard to believe all the changes that have taken place. We feel so blessed with this new place, a new job, and our sweet wonderful boys. (Even if the older one is too smart for Mommy's peace of mind... )

Oh, for more pictures, check out our flickr page =)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Us again..

Well, I figured I should post some new pictures and at least a short update on our lives here in Iowa. John has been 3 weeks on the job now, and loving it. He got a bike, and rides it to and from work almost every day (with the exception of the downpour we had last week. For that, we picked him up. I'm suffering from the normal sleep deprivation of having an infant and keeping up with a toddler, so nothing new there. But enough about us..

Timothy LOVES our new house. He loves the stairs, the neighbors, the park, and the new friends he's making (of all species). One of our neighbors has a parrot, and there's a dauschund, and some large brown pony-size dog as well. We've also found the local duck pond, and he and his new friend Tyler chased them all over yesterday (Sorry, I forgot the camera). Here's some fun shots of our little adventurer:

Andrew (the real reason you're reading this of course) had changed so much in the last few weeks. It's crazy how fast they change! He smiles and coos at us now, and while we desperately wish he would sleep more, we love to cuddle him and marvel at the miracle he is. Timothy loves his little brother, and is a great help. He rushes to comfort him when he cries with an "Okay Andew", and the only jealousy he seems to have is that he wants his diaper changed before I change the baby's. I'm glad that transition has been made so smoothly. It's certainly made my life easier... =)

Anyway, here's some shots of Andrew so you can see how he's changed too:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Home Again...

So, the last few weeks have been busy, to say the least. After a nice relaxing stay in the hospital, Andrew and I came home, and John and I spent the next five days finishing the packing of all our worldly possessions. Well, mainly John. I was under orders not to lift anything heavier than Andrew, and I... was pretty good about that... Sort of... I probably did more than I was supposed to, but I didn't feel it until after we loaded the truck. Then I collapsed and watched John and a few friends clean the apartment. This has been a humbling experience for me, but in a good way. I've had to accept a lot of help with packing and cleaning, things that normally I would take care of. But in this case, accepting help was needed, and much appreciated.
Anyway, after we loaded the truck, and cleaned the apartment, we lit up the barbeque, and had a few friends by to say goodbye, and to celebrate Timothy's
birthday. (We pulled out for Iowa on his actual birthday, but he seemed happy with celebrating a few days early. =) Here's some shots from loading, and the party.

Sunday, my Mom flew in, and Monday we pulled out at 5:30am. John drove the
truck with the cats, and Mom drove our car while I kept the boys happy. Thankfully, everyone traveled well, even the cats. I was a little worried about John losing patience, and tossing them out somewhere in W VA, but they were pretty calm once they figured out they weren't going to the vet. Timothy was fine, and since he got to get out and run around every couple hours while I fed the baby, I didn't even have to pull out the DVD player until an hour or so before we stopped for the night. Andrew, thankfully, slept most of the trip, and only really protested the carseat about and hour from our final destination.

Our new home is great! I
will post pictures soon, once we get unpacked. In the meantime, here's a few key points: Two floors (which Timothy and the cats love), a washer and dryer (my favorite part), and our own mini backyard to let small boys loose in when they get antsy. Oh, and John's favorite part: remote control ceiling fans. =) It's the little things. =)

My Dad came out this past weekend, to see our new hometown, and of course, to see his newest grandchild.

While he was here, we explored the university area, and a few tourist destinations nearby. I was surprised to find so much here. I knew it
would be bigger than where I grew up, but this is much more than I expected. There's plenty to do here. While it may not be DC for tourism, I'm okay with that. This is going to be a great place to raise our family.

P.S. While my parents were here, we also went and got Timothy's birthday present from all his grandparents: a red wagon. Here's some shots of our excited little boy in his new toy. =)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Andrew Joel Keisling

Andrew Joel Keisling was born at 4:05 am Friday July 31st. He weighed 7 lbs 15 ozs and measured 21 1/2 inches long. Mommy and Baby are doing fine. Also, Timothy loved getting to meet his new brother.

Now for Pictures

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

So, still no baby. We're starting to get more than a little anxious, since we've hit the final 2 week countdown before we move. We've packed everything but Timothy's toys, the kitchen, and the clothes we need until the move. That will help when we get down to the wire and I'm managing 2 kids, but for now, it's only making us stir crazy. There's not enough to do... We have been enjoying the beautiful summer weather, and taking many opportunities to get Timothy out of the house. Storytime at the library, playgroup, the pool, and the park on our own.

Timothy is loving it, and it will be hard this week when John's away this wee
k. He was offered some work for the week, and took it -- provided I don't give birth first -- so that will keep him busy, but keep Timothy and I semi-confined. We'll be okay though. The bus can take us where our feet can't. And, if we're lucky, it will only be a few days before small one makes his appearance anyway.

We're trying to figure out what this kid is waiting on. We've packed everything we can pack, the house is clean, I've packed and repacked the hospital bag, and I've finished his blanket (a week ago!). See? Timothy didn't get his until he was almost 3 months old...
I've tried almost every recommended self-inducing method to bring on labor (I draw the line at castor oil), and still no baby. The contractions even seemed to have pretty much stopped since last weekend when we thought he was coming and even went to the hospital. I get a few here and there, but nothing regular... Someone at church today even commented they'd never seen anyone carry a baby so low, and she'd seen a lot of pregnant women... Oh well, We know the Lord has his time in this, just like everything else about this move. I'd just like time to recover before we leave!

I do want to thank you all for your continued prayers and support. It's made it much easier knowing we're not alone in this. And you
r good wishes have helped us through so much these last few months. Now we're in the home stretch, and we're very excited! (Well, when we're not tring to get the baby to show up....) =)

Oh, one more fun bonus pic. We realized we didn't have a belly pic for this one, and Timothy decided to get in the picture. =)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Still Waiting....

So, Wednesday, in an effort to induce some labor (or to see as-yet-unseen parts of DC before we leave), we boarded the metro and took in the sights. We went to the National Aquarium in DC, which was a BIG disappointment. The National Aquarium in Baltimore is amazing, this was like a bad sideshow at the circus or something. Just one dark room that took us less than 45 minutes to get through. Timothy liked the alligators though.

Then, we walked halfway across the mall to the Botanical Gardens by the capitol building. That WAS worth the trip. It was beautiful, inside and out. The landscaping was lovely, and inside they had rooms of plants from all over the world, as well as a room of endangered plants, and an exhibit on medicinal plants. Informative, but very interesting. Then, we stumbled into the children's garden. Here, your child can dig in the dirt, water the plants, or play in the fountain. Timothy loved it! He didn't really want to water the plants though. The flagstone was much more fun to water... And sweep... =)

After our siteseeing, Timothy and I headed home, and John went down to Crystal City for his exit interview with Arena. Now he's officially in between jobs, but only for about 3 more weeks or so. (Wow this move is coming up fast...) He called me when he got on the metro, and I ordered a pizza before going to pick him up. We joked that maybe that's what the baby was waiting for, since that's what happened with Timothy, but no such luck. Oh well...

Thursday, we thought my water broke, but I was wrong. Just wishful thinking. Then, last night, the contractions were coming pretty regularly, and didn't fizzle out after an hour like they usually do. In fact, after 2 hours, they were starting to hurt. So, we dropped Timothy off with some friends, and headed off to the hospital. After a few hours there, most of it spent walking the halls, there hadn't been enough progress to keep me, so they sent us home. Now we're back to waiting. =(

I'm not too worried, since I know the Lord will bring this baby in the right time, just like everything else has fallen into place for this move. But I would really like to be done being pregnant. I'm starting to get really excited to see our newest bundle...

Plus, it would make John a lot more comfortable if he didn't have to worry about loading the truck while I'm in labor... =)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Act II (or is that three)

If you've been keeping up with our blog then the first thing that you'll notice about this post is that it's not written in italics. That's right, that means this is a unique look inside the head of John (read at your own risk).

Back in January, Margaret called to me one morning from the bathroom as I was waking up and getting ready to work. I figured she had forgotten to get more toilet paper as often happens, and brought her a roll. As I walked into the restroom I noticed that she was holding a little white stick, and she said "Honey..." That's right, she had just peed on that little stick, and somehow that stick was smart enough to know that she was pregnant. My answer to this was "Well.... Crap..."

You may say that's not an appropriate response, and if that is the case, then you should hear the rest of the story (that's right, that's a Paul Harvey reference, for those of you with radio culture). Margaret had been laid off in November, was having absolutely zero luck finding a job, I had been told that I would be laid off for two months without pay over the summer, and the news about the economy continued to get worse. Margaret and I did the math and realized that even if she did find another job, it would do little more than cover the cost of two children in full time day care, and there was no way we could live in the DC area on the salary I was making at my job.

Well, we prayed about it and the answer I got was "Hey, idiot, I obviously have something else planned for you, and evidently I don't think you've screwed up your first kid too badly, so here's another one for your efforts."

With all this in hand, I began applying for jobs in other areas of the country, where it is much cheaper to live, and where we would have a fighting chance of living off of one salary. I interviewed with about a half dozen places, all of which I felt I was well qualified for and kept getting different reasons why they didn't hire me. One university theater program interviewed me, said they liked me, but were choosing to hire a former student for the position. Another theater interviewed me, told me that I was the person they liked the best after the interviews, only to call me and instead of offering the job, inform me that the funding for that position had been cut.

Many restless nights were spent in prayer, and more than I would like to admit were spent in anger and frustration. One of our friends said to Margaret during this process that God obviously had something really special in store for us since everything was falling through.

Well, in the end that friend was right. Today, on my birthday nonetheless, I received an official job offer to be the scenery supervisor at the University of Iowa. The pay won't blow any one's mind, but it is enough for us to live on one salary, and the benefits are ridonculous (yes that is a word). I'm talking a 14% contribution to a retirement account, full health, dental, vision, and disability for the entire family, oh and not to mention free tuition for any of my immediate family who chooses to attend the University of Iowa (That's right, practically free college for my kids).

Needless to say, God had something in mind when Margaret waved that recently peed on stick at me 7 months ago, he just wanted to test our faith, and evidently it needed some work.

On a different note, today was indeed my birthday. I was woken up earlier than I would have liked by a little boy who had gotten out of his "big boy bed" and climbed in to tell daddy "Happy Birthday". Then I was given a new Dallas Cowboys ball cap (honestly the old one shouldn't be worn in public it's so gross) and Margaret made blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

After breakfast, we thought Margaret was going into early stages of labor, but after lying down for an hour the symptoms went away and we decided to spend my Birthday at Mt Vernon, touring George Washington's estate. Here's some of the sights we saw:

After a lot of walking and a few more contractions we headed home for lasagna and apple pie with ice cream. All in all, this has been one great birthday highlighted by the wonderful news that we are indeed moving to Iowa. just to pack the apartment, find a place to live, reserve the moving truck, repack the boxes that Timothy has unpacked, figure out if we want to take the cats or leave them, make sure the car's ready for a trip across the country, change our address at the post office, change our address on our bills, find a new bank since there isn't a branch of ours in Iowa city, oh, and have a baby... All between now and August 17.

(Margaret's note: Please pray that the baby comes early, so I have time to recover.) =)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Blueberry Picking and Fireworks... The best of summer fun.

Last week, Timothy and I joined our playgroup at a local farm for some blueberry picking fun. The farm apparently does all kinds of picking, depending on what's in season, but this time of year, it's blueberries. It wasn't the strawberry picking of my childhood (THAT farm was just down the road), but considering my current shape and Timothy's age, this was probably better. =) We had a lot of fun, and are still enjoying the fruits of our labors. Timothy was very serious about picking, and ate considerably less than I thought he would. He was all about getting them in his bucket. =)

Then, this past Saturday, being the 4th, we had lots planned. At 8am, our church had their annual flag raising service and pancake breakfast, which Timothy thought was the best. Especially tearing around the gym after breakfast.... =)

We relaxed for most of the rest of the day, and then shared a delicious BBQ dinner with our friends the Marchants. Grilled Kabobs, Corn on the Cob, and Watermelon, followed by blueberry cobbler a la mode. Mmmm! After our very excellent meal, we went off to watch the fireworks. Timothy was thrilled. He loved them. "Daddy! Boom in the Sky!" "Mommy! Look!" We paid the price with a very tired little boy all the next day, but I think it was worth it. Here's some photos for you to enjoy... =)

P.S. The last pic is a little bonus. We just took the side off the crib and put on the training rails in preparation for Timothy moving to a big boy bed. He's so excited!