Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hope "Humming"

The other night Esperanza called to me from the living room, "Mom, Hope is humming!"  When I went in to listen, I was treated to this "cooing concert" which went on for about 15- 20 minutes.   Even in her sleep, Hope makes us all smile.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bright Hope

Here she is, our little Hope Rose, at 15 days of age:

Big Brotherly Love

After some initial shyness upon meeting his new baby sister, Frankie decided a good getting-acquainted method would be to demonstrate his "hokey pokey" moves with his partner, dancing Elmo.  Afterward, he felt a bit more confident approaching Hope (with some guidance from Mom).  Now, he frequently interrupts his play to plant a gentle kiss on little sister's head or cheek, or to request a short stint of holding her.  He seems very smitten with her in his own way.

Hope's First 15 Days

For a peek into life with little Hope Rose, check out the link below.  These photos chronicle her first 15 days in our family, in our lives and in our hearts.  As of today, October 4, she weighs 8 pounds, 5 ounces--a gain of 1 pound and 10 ounces since birth.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well-Baby Visit Today

     18 ounces!  Yes, in one week, our little princess has added that much weight.  Today, she weighs 7 pounds 12 ounces.  Obviously, she's keeping her mama quite busy with feeding times.  The other good news from the doctor visit today is that she finally passed her hearing test in both ears.  We weren't really concerned, because we'd seen plenty of evidence already that she hears quite well, thank you very much.  But if she hadn't passed it pretty soon, she'd have been referred to a clinic in Santa Fe (two hours away) for a further evaluation.  Nothing against Santa Fe--it's a pretty drive between here and there--but we feel like we're all busy enough right now without adding that to our agenda, too!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hope Rose is Finally Here!

Here at last!  Our beautiful little grand-daughter, HOPE ROSE, was born at 10:48 am (MDT) just two days ago, Saturday, September 17!  She weighed 6 pounds, 11.1 ounces and was 20 inches long.  She has gorgeous soft, black hair just as her brother did, and dark eyes.  We think she has her mother's eyes, nose, mouth and ears, too.  And we all think she is the spitting image of her brother who hasn't yet met her but will on Tuesday.  We are eager to know how he feels about being "big brother" and having a little sister around.  He has seen pictures and is already calling her, "my baby."  Everyone is fine, but Esperanza is not getting much sleep yet so she is pretty tired. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hope--Highly Anticipated

     Esperanza is now 4 days past her due date (40 weeks and 4 days into her pregancy.)  Yesterday the doctor ordered some tests at the hospital for early this morning.  We now know that little Hope Rose is just fine, that she IS a baby girl (who already has lots of hair), and that if she hasn't put in her appearance on her own by Monday, the 19th, Esperanza will go into the hospital at 8 am to have labor induced.  (Hope's big brother was born on the 18th of April; maybe Hope, too, will come on the 18th!) 
     It is now no more than three days until we meet this newest addition to our family.  We are all very eager to get acquainted.  Her big brother, Frankie, will soon be learning what all the hubbub about a "little sister" means.  Many changes ahead in all our lives--we can hardly wait!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

...But, We Have SNOW!

     Not that it's in the same category, or a substitute at all, but since there's not yet a tiny baby to write about and photograph, I can let you know that we are now looking at what I guess is the "first snow of the season."  Fortunately, it's at 6,000 feet higher than we are, on the peaks of the mountain range.  We've had lots of rain down in the valley the past several days, and as a result much cooler temperatures (it's 52 as I write this).  We find it quite fascinating to observe the long chains of clouds hovering about half-way up the mountains.  The clouds look like smoke except that they are not moving, just suspended, "halfway between earth and heaven," so to speak.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Maybe this Weekend...."

     The midwife's words to Esperanza today:  "Maybe this weekend..." have made us all a bit jittery with excitement.  She's 4 days away from her due-date, and we're spending all our time together at this point.  Bob and I returned to her spare bedroom this past Sunday night and will be staying there for the next few weeks now.  We get out to our house daily, to water flowers, pay bills, check mail and e-mail.  After dinner, we return to Esperanza's for the night.
     Two more "bets" have come in for when little Hope Rose may put in her appearance.  Friend Carol in Montana thinks maybe it will happen on her hubby's 70th birthday, Sept. 14 (Esperanza would prefer not to wait that long) and Bob's sister Mary Lou in Michigan is betting on the due date itself, Sept. 12.  We'll soon know!
     It's hard to imagine life with two wonderful grandchildren to love and "spoil."  I sometimes wonder whether our hearts are big enough, we've felt so totally "in love" with Frankie.  Yet we know many parents and grandparents have wondered the same and found, in amazement, that there is always more love, and enough to embrace each child and grandchild.  Much more stretching and growing seems to be in our near future.

The Sweet Big-Brother-Soon-to-Be

This hardly needs any words.  But I'll just say that this little guy's smile lights up all our days here in New Mexico.  Frankie makes all the "work" of this move and transition more than worth it.  And today, he made Grandma's heart soar when, after she said to him, "I love you," he repeated, "I lub you!"

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Only 19 Days...

     Esperanza's due date, and Hope's expected arrival, is only 19 days away--September 12.  But anyone who knows about babies knows that is a "definite maybe!"  At the virtual shower, family members decided to "guess" when little Hope Rose might actually put in her appearance.  Because Esperanza promised to send the first photo to the one who came closest, I'm recording those guesses here:  Aug. 30--my sister Lee Anne
                                   Sept. 1--my niece, Stephanie
                                   Sept. 5--niece, Kim
                                   Sept. 6--Grandma (me)
                                   Sept. 7--niece, Jessica
                                   Sept. 8--sister-in-law, Kathie AND Esperanza
                                   Sept. 10--sister, Mary
                                   Sept. 11--sister-in-law, Terry
                                   Sept. 13--niece, Amy
If anyone else wants to get in on this, just for fun, feel free to comment here, or send me an e-mail.
Esperanza has another doctor's appointment tomorrow afternoon, so we may have an even better idea how close (or far) she is from "Labor Day!"
     We also measured Esperanza's belly with toilet tissue at the shower tonight.  Her cousin, Monica, guessed it exactly--11 squares around!

Taos Rocky Mountain High


     What a huge "high" we're on tonight after the delightful experience of the "virtual shower" for Esperanza.  It was like having a gathering of our women family members right in our living room.  We talked, laughed, measured Esperanza's belly with toilet tissue, got a little caught up on family, and, of course, opened gifts.  I don't think any of us quite knew what to expect of this experience, but everything went really well.  A couple of internet disconnects occurred, but those were easily remedied by another phone call.  Earlier, I had worried a little that the impending storm could cause a power outage and spoil the event, but no such "spirit dampening" happened.
     I had consulted earlier, with my sister who was hosting the shower, about her menu.  Then we had the same meal, with a slight variation on dessert:  Chicken Fajitas, Rice, Strawberry Cheesecake (they had Strawberry Trifle) and Margaritas (ours were the "virgin" version, in deference to Esperanza's pregnancy.)  We also bought flowers arranged in a baby crib that is also a music box, playing Brahm's Lullaby, and a colorful Baby Girl balloon.  AND, we sat down to eat at the same hour we knew the party-goers were eating in Illinois.  All of this made it seem as if there were no miles at all between us--until we had to sign off.  Kisses were blown and wishes for safe delivery were offered, as well as promises made to keep everyone posted about the baby's arrival.  And, yes, a few tears welled up but they were joyful ones at having had such a special experience, and feeling excited to think that "seeing" one another again, in spite of all the miles that separate us, is now only a phone call away! 



Monday, August 15, 2011

Expecting Hope

     Only 28 days until Esperanza's due-date, Sept. 12.  It also happens to be my brother Mike's birthday, but that will likely be overshadowed by the arrival of our second grandchild who we're expecting to be a little girl.  Her name will be Hope Rose.  We're all getting quite excited to meet her.  We've been buying pink and ruffles and feminine.  Frankie has learned to say "Hope," but we know he won't begin to comprehend all this talk about "baby sister," "big brother" until some time later. 
     Our plan is to move in again with Esperanza around September 1 so we can be there if she needs to go to the hospital during the night.  (She lives only about 5 minutes from the hospital; we live about 20 minutes from it.)  We may be needed to care for Frankie if he happens to be with her when she goes into labor.  We've imagined several possible scenarios for what may happen, but when the time comes, it will probably all unfold in ways we hadn't imagined.

We Hiked It!

That trail I mentioned in the previous blog?  Well, after about 6 weeks of no hiking because the National Forest Service had been closed due to extreme fire danger and drought, it reopened.   So early one day last week, Bob and I hiked the trail as far as we had gone at Christmas.  We didn't see any snow, as we had in December, but still saw some spectacular views which I'm sharing here.
Looking north, toward Taos--the town in the valley.  Taos Mountain, the one we see out our front window, is the high peak on the right.  It rises to over 12,000 feet.

Looking toward Taos again, and down at the road, where our little red Honda is parked (foreground).

In December, we turned around here because there was snow and ice on the trail. 

The same spot 8 + months ago!


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Joke's On Us!

     When we were here visiting last December, Bob, Esperanza and I enjoyed a really wonderful hike on a trail not far from town.   It was in the mountains but only moderately challenging, and rewarded us with a very spectacular view of a mountain peak to the south. 
Since moving to New Mexico, we have tried unsuccessfully almost a dozen times to return to that trail.  Each of us was absolutely positive it began just outside of town and on the left side of the road.  We were also all positive it began on a highway just east of where Esperanza's apartment is.  We even stopped in at the US Forest Service office and spoke with a trail expert who guessed at several possibilities, but who must have been shaking his head in puzzlement as we left. 
     Well, today we found it!  Quite by accident.  We weren't even looking for it.  No, we were headed to a music festival at a ski resort about 30 minutes away.  Shortly after leaving Taos, both Bob and I saw the trail head and exclaimed, almost simultaneously, "there it is!"   We had been right all along about its being near town and on the left side of the road--we'd just been picturing it on the wrong highway! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Birthday Surprise

      "Give it to Grandma, give it to Grandma...."  I heard Esperanza's words to Frankie as they were coming up the driveway.  When I walked out of the bedroom, there stood my grandson, proudly presenting me with a birthday cake he and mama had just purchased at the bakery.  My first-ever "Happy Birthday, Grandma" cake.  And well-timed, too, because even though my birthday is still a few days off,  Frankie will be with his dad that day.  This way, I was able to share cake and candles with him, too.  It was a sweet surprise--in both senses of "sweet!"--made all the more so by having Frankie share in the candle-blowing!  And, yes, of course, Grandma gave Frankie the cherry from the top of the cake!


Unwinding with Grandpa

      Frankie is a little boy on the move most of the time.  He rarely takes time to sit--except to eat.  So when he was enjoying books with Grandpa the other day, I finally went to get the camera.  Of course, I'd waited too long and by the time I returned, Frankie was ready to be on his way again.  15 minutes of laptime was a gift to Grandpa, and Frankie's limit!   

Monday, July 25, 2011

NOW It's 100% Official!

     One more trip today to the New Mexico Department of Motor Vehicles yielded a successful application for Bob's driver's license.  He, too, is now in possession of the NM document, making this branch of the family tree now 100% New Mexican.
     As the clerk handed him his temporary license and returned all his identity-supporting documents, I asked, "Did we pay you?"  We were surprised at her response--no charge since this is a one year license.  Once a driver reaches 75 in New Mexico,  they must renew every year.  We had known that, but didn't know that there would be no fee for his license from now on.  Welcome news! 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Another First for Us

     We've been feeding hummingbirds for years now.  The ones that have come to our feeders in Marquette were the ruby-throats--mostly a shimmering green with a bright red neckline (especially on the males.)  Now that the "hummers" have located our feeders in New Mexico, we've noticed there are two varieties vying for sole ownership.  The second is a rufous hummingbird which, when it catches the NM sunlight, looks almost golden.  We think we have about 4 regular birds coming to our feeders and they entertain us with constant "dog-fights" throughout the day, spending most of their time chasing each other away from the food source; once in a while, they pause to actually indulge.  Yesterday morning, we were flabbergasted to see 3 of them feeding simultaneously on the same feeder.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Stroll in the Neighborhood

Another rainbow tonight above "our" mountains.

Frankie ponders whom to squirt next and is oblivious of the rainbow and mountains behind him.

Heading north, and up hill from home.

Heading homeward, facing the town of Taos.

Sun setting behind a neighbor's hacienda.

Our place, as seen through a gap in the fence.  The small structure in the center is a storage shed.  The taller one on the right is a neighbor's house.

Home again, jiggety jig!

Viva Los "Yoopers!"

     It's not quite the same as "wearing one's heart on one's sleeve," but our new plate for the front of the car does declare our loyalty to a very special place in itself, and in our lives.  The plate may also serve as a conversation starter here--who knows where other Yooper transplants might be?  (Bob actually ran into a guy at Wal-mart who asked if Bob had graduated from Western Illinois University because Bob was wearing their logo shirt--a gift from a sister and brother-in-law on the faculty there.)  So, Yooper connections could be out there, too--we've seen a car around town a few times with another plate:  "Yoosta be a Yooper."  In the local parlance, "viva los Yoopers!"--long live yoopers--wherever they are living today!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Taos Plaza Live!

     A delightful summer event in Taos happens every Thursday from 6 pm-8pm:  Taos Plaza Live.  This is a fun (and free) evening of  live band music and dancing in the plaza (square) of downtown Taos.  Each week, there are 2 bands that perform for an hour each, and each week there are different bands so the community and visitors get to experience a variety of music and local talent.  It's a very popular event and we have managed to attend 3 times. 
     The first time, we took a picnic supper and were spectators all evening.  However, as we left, Bob said, "next time, we'll dance."  Well, the next time we went, all 3 of us were coping with new colds and no one felt much like dancing.            
     Tonight when we left home for the plaza, Bob remarked that we probably still weren't up for the dancing and I agreed.  Much to my surprise, however, near the end of the evening, Bob leaned over and asked if I wanted to join the dancers after all.  The band was playing a pretty fast tune but we danced with abandon to the whole piece.  When the music stopped, I asked Bob what moved him to get out and dance at that point.  He'd thought it was the last song!  To my delight, and I think his as well, there were two more tunes before the evening ended--so we "cut the rug" until the last note was played.
     Thus, today, for the first time, we danced in New Mexico at an elevation of 6,000 feet--and are still breathing! 

Old Michiganders to NEW New Mexicans

     One of Caryl's brothers known for his clever phrases remarked recently that he'd heard it was "better to be a NEW New Mexican than an OLD Michigander."
Today, we made it 66.66% official.  After 2 1/2 hours at the Department of Motor Vehicles, we walked out with a new temporary driver's license for Caryl and a plate and title for our car.  Bob is the involuntary holdout, however.
      To get a driver's license, Bob needed a Social Security card--which he says he has never had.  In place of an SS card, the DMV required him to present TWO documents with his identity which also showed his SS number.  Do you know how hard that is to come up with?  He had his Medicare card; that counts as one of the required two.  A second option that was suggested was a "bank statement" with the number on it.  Most banks, including ours, don't do that.  His veteran identification card is also minus the SS number.  Amazingly, even communications from the Social Security Administration do not show the actual number.  So what's a guy to do? 
     Well, a very creative representative at our bank sent us a copy of the "signature card" which Bob signed for our savings account; this card shows his SS number.  And in case that's not adequate, the next time we return to the DMV office, we hope to also have a letter from the VA identifying him by name and SS number.  The DMV list of accepted documents says such a letter, in conjunction with his photo ID which does not have the SS number, would be acceptable.  We'll see--hopefully after a much shorter stint in the DMV office!


     Part of the reason our office visit took so much time was that the first print-out of our New Mexican title had our last name misspelled; the clerk had left out the "u."  She was a bit befuddled about how to remedy this and had to call over another woman who seemed to be a supervisor.  This woman helped the first woman to void the previous title, and the charges for it, BUT she thought that the mistake had been to put in an "r" where the "u" should be.  So when we were handed the corrected title, we noted that now our name was missing the "r!"  Oh, bother!!  At this point, the poor clerk (who was probably already an hour past her lunch time) looked really frazzled.  Fortunately for her, and us, the supervisor offered to finish the process.  Third time was the charm--all information on the title is now correct and our car is sporting its New Mexico license plate.  Now if we can just get Bob's paperwork together, we can make it 100% official!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Car Games We Play

     Sometimes when we're in the car, Frankie becomes quite the little chatter-box.  He loves to spot "bac-cos" (back-hoes) and calls out whenever he sees one.  He also points out "koo-buses" (school buses), "cuckies" (truckies), and "orsies" (horsies.)  Sometimes his game is imitating or repeating something we have just said, often carrying it to the point of complete silliness.  Of course, we don't egg him on, or anything!

What's Missing from This Picture?

Here's a hint:  It's 12,000 feet tall and older than much of the life on this planet!  Yes, it's the same Taos Mountain in the Sangre de Cristo range which is usually seen from this vantage point in our front yard.  However, since the wildfire began near Los Alamos, less than 70 miles away, we have had days when the mountains are entirely obliterated by the smoke in the air, as in this picture taken just after dinner this evening. 

Our View on Clear Days

Taken on May 14 and April 27, 2011, respectively.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's "Up"?

     We are sometimes asked how we are adjusting to the altitude here.  For the most part, we're taking it slowly.  We limit our hikes in the mountains to about an hour or 90 minutes.  And we learned very early on that we need to be very faithful about staying hydrated.  Everyone says that's a huge factor in avoiding altitude issues.  Esperanza was very good at reminding us, whenever we went out, to be sure we were taking water bottles with us.  I learned very graphically what happens when one doesn't heed this advice.
     About the 3rd week we were here, while still living with Esperanza, the 3 of us were in the grocery store.  I was leading the way toward the produce deptartment when I realized that I wasn't really in control of the direction I was walking--I sort of unintentionally veered off to the left.  Esperanza was right behind me and thought I was just moving over for her to catch up with me.  I leaned briefly against the cooler I had wandered over toward, thought the "light-headedness" had passed, and moved on again. 
     As I did, I began to tell Esperanza and Bob what I was feeling.  Just then, I felt the sensation again.  I was afraid I'd faint, fall, and get hurt, so I just sat down in the middle of the floral displays (a lovely spot, don't you think?)  Of course, as they were bending over me, I attracted a bit of attention--including from the manager who offered to get me any help I needed.  When I explained and said I was sure I would be okay, he left.  Right after that, we all walked out to the car where I proceeded to drink ALL the water in our water bottle.  Bob and Esperanza went back in and finished our shopping.  I was fine and never had another episode--but have become very conscientious about drinking water ever since!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh, the Inexpressible Delight

Yes, pure delight.  To scoop up my little grandson out of his carseat where he'd fallen asleep on the way home, and have him wrap his little arms around my neck and snuggle into my shoulder.  Once he was in my arms he awakened a little, so we stopped for a while to "rock" in the front swing.  He'd stir a bit, check out where he was, and then nestle back against my shoulder.  There aren't words to express how gratifying this shared tenderness was, but I treasure it in my heart.