December 16, 2010

A Word On Outdoor Christmas Decorations

There is a divide out there. And people seem to be quite adamant about their stance. Are you pro lights-and-blowup snow globes-and-"santa land here"-and glowing candy canes? Are you a "white lights only"? Are you anti-outdoor decorations as a whole?

There isn't much encouragement to express yourself here in the 'Shire. Our houses are all various shades of khaki, our bushes are trimmed, lawns mowed, and lots zeroscaped. We don't find it amusing when people paint their homes a non-approved color or leave their commercial vehicles on the street. I find it refreshing that the middle managers, engineers, high school teachers, generally anal retentives, and stay at home moms of the suburbs are stepping out of their "fear of HOA" shells and doing it up a bit.

For example, we have the Griswold's living across the street. There is a Santa landing strip, a few "featurettes" including frosty and the nativity and lots and lots of multi colored lights. At first glance, you may think, "fabulous, there goes the neighborhood and our real estate comps." However, during this time of year I say "you can either be a Griswold or a Todd and Margo!"

I chose Griswold!

Merry Christmas! Where's the Tylenol!?
Peace (on earth) Out,

Michele

December 3, 2010

High School Musical

Luke and I have discussed it, and its official: we are no longer part of a demographic when it comes to movies and pop culture. We are those people who don't go to the movies because "they all pretty much suck." They are either too scary, too relativistic, too many body parts of other people I don't want/need to see, too NOT funny, etc. I am not that hard to please, but I do have standards. This last statement you might question when you hear what I have to tell you next.

I watched High School Musical on the Disney channel last night. and. I. liked it. This is just as scary for me to admit as it is for you to hear, I'm sure. It was not an Oscar contender by any stretch, but it was cute. The characters periodically burst into song, which I appreciate, and I didn't feel the need to take a shower after watching it. It was sweet. There I said it. I won't throw Luke under the bus and suggest that he liked it as well, but he sat there (smiling) next to me for most of the movie. So there's that.

I'm just sayin'.

Peace Out,
Michele

October 27, 2010

Its Fall?


...I wouldn't know. I don't think I've been outside since it was still hugging 80 degrees (really unseasonably warm for September in Colorado)!

So, I should introduce our newest addition: Caroline Reese Riffle was born September 29th at 1:07am after a 3 hour labor.

No joke. 3. Maybe 3.5. It was fast. Very, very fast. Thank goodness the anesthesiologist was quick and available when they wheeled me in. (It may have helped that I was literally screaming for an anesthesiologist from the E.R. Mind you, she was on the second floor and could not hear me, but I think I got my point across). Those poor people. I mean I just sat there and SCREAMED! LOUDLY! I feel now as if I have gotten the "labor" experience. check that off my list. It was hell. (I'm sure right now half of you are "one-upping" me in your heads! Go ahead, but I went from 1 and 1/2 to 7 centimeters in 2 1/2 hours. ouch.) Sadly I only experienced my beloved epidural for 45 minutes before it was all said and done (every time anyone would walk in the room I would vigorously hit my little button), but it was worth it. I got the bill today and I would still do it again. I had to lay flat on my back for 3 days because she accidentally went to far and CSF leaked out, but I would do it again. And just to remind myself, since I am still close to the actual events, I am completely excited about being done birthing babies! and completely excited to have the next one delivered by FedEx! (j/k, we go get her!)

The second time around is so different. You know what to generally expect. You know that in about 3 months, their digestive system will catch up and hopefully the fussy times will decrease. That they will eventually sleep through the night. That you will eventually sleep through the night, too! Bonding with her has been easier because I know how I feel about Sam, and I can't wait for her to show her personality. Getting back on my feet has been easier too.

We have been totally blessed in the situation! Oh, and before I forget, BIG shout out to my husband, who ROCKED IT while I was on my back for a few days! Sometimes I think God just wanted to give him the opportunity to be my absolute hero, and he was. It was amazing. I had to let him take care of me (because I didn't really have a choice) and he exceeded my highest expectations! I totally married up! Thanks Luke!

Peace Out,Michele

September 22, 2010

Winding Up the Summer

Good news, people: I found my camera. I literally thought it was gone forever, but after a month of searching, my husband (of ALL people) found it in a bag! Happy day!

So here are a few pics from the remainder of the summer:
Sam is a boy. He will try any way to make watching T.V. a risk taking event.


This is "Doggie" and "Bunnie." They are necessary for any sort of sleep attempt. They both carry the Plague. We wash them, but no matter. They still smell...unique.


Friends of ours family own a working ranch in Gypsum, CO. We were lucky enough to head up there last weekend for an "end of summer/beginning of fall" getaway. Sam has never had a s'more before. He LOVED it! As I knew he would.
We also made friends with some of the locals while in Gypsum. This horse was like a dog. It just wanted all kinds of lovin'. It was great for Sam to see horses up close!

There was a whale sighting, which is rare for these parts! Good lord, woman, birth that kid already!
And last, but not least...this is me at 39 weeks. THAT'S RIGHT: 39. Feel sorry for me. According to my doctor, she seems pretty comfortable where she is. Already non-cooperative. This is not a good start, Little Miss!

Peace Out,

Michele

September 10, 2010

Adoption Update: Logged In

Luke and I are so excited to share that we are finally logged in! We are officially on the waiting list! And a long list it is. It will most definitely be a lengthy wait, but at least we are in the game now.

This is such an answer to prayer. Its amazing to watch God move mountains right in front of us. It could have taken up to 4 weeks (since last week) to log us in, but it happened in less than ONE! If it had taken 4, we may have had to wait an additional year if this current baby came early or even on time.

So to recap:
Answer to prayer number one-Logged in at China before current baby arrived.
Additional blessings- seeing God work in practical, huge, and obvious ways. Knowing God has a baby waiting for us- already matched up. Allowing us to start getting excited about the arrival of the current little miss riffle.

Another reason that I am personally so excited about being logged in is that I HATE paperwork.

Loathe.

Despise.

My dislike for it burns within me like the fury of the fire of a thousand suns.

I would really rather NOT do more China paperwork than I have to if you catch my drift. And although there will be some renewals, there won't be nearly as many now that we are on the list. Praise God!

Thank you all for praying for this specifically and supporting Luke and I on this exciting journey!


Peace Out,

Michele

August 13, 2010

Adoption Update

It has been a while since I updated you all about our adoption proceedings. Things are going well, but we are in a time crunch. We have to be logged in IN CHINA before this baby comes. I am almost 34 weeks. Hmmm....this could get sticky.

We only have one more thing to do in the US and then everything gets sent overseas. As long as they get to us before the end of September, we should be ok, but with China you never know. Please pray that all of this gets done before the little miss shows up. If she comes before we are logged in, we have to wait an additional YEAR before we get our third little one. Not to mention the updating of this paperwork. God is sovereign, but we would really appreciate your prayers.

Peace Out,
Michele

July 13, 2010

What to do in the Summer Time...

We are well into summer now and I thought it would be nice to post about what we do (while we aren't saving the world) in the summer.

My sweet husband made me dinner for a "date night in", and since I can't drink anything too terribly fun, he made me wedding punch and put it in a martini glass. Does it count as a date night if Sam is there? drinking my punch? eating my green beans? if we ended up watching Madagascar?

Either way, it was very charming and fun.

During this time of year we also take prego pictures. Here's me at 26 or 27 weeks. I'm going to say 27 because DARN if I don't look bigger than that!
We also stretch after exercising. It is important to stay limber I always say. And to show the importance of exercise to the next generation (says the woman who hasn't exercised, other than walking, in like 7 months).

We had a great time at the Highlands Ranch Fourth of July Parade. Sam loved waving to the trucks and dogs.
We also frequent the park near our house. There are fountains and a great wading river for the little ones to play in. Please disregard the fact that my kid has a regular diaper and no swim suit...it was a spur of the moment trip!



And of course, since we can't stay in Denver and melt all the time...we also go to the mountains. We LOVE going up to Frisco and Breckenridge to cool off a bit and relax in the Rockies.


Viva La Summer!!

Peace Out,
Michele

June 24, 2010

Escape From the Rock



Almost since I have known him, Luke has wanted to see if he had what it took to make the swim from Alcatraz to the mainland. This Father's Day weekend, we got to find out! For the past 6 or 7 months Luke has been training for the Escape from the Rock Triathlon in San Francisco. (the top image is a view of the island from our condo. the boat is dropping off the swimmers next to the island).

Luke's training was pretty extensive. He started seeing a personal trainer, swimming 3 times and week, running almost every day and biking when there wasn't snow on the ground. Rufus and Daisy went on the morning runs and for those beautiful months, they were relatively calm! Sam also got to benefit from Luke's training. Almost everyday after work, they would hook up the burley and go for a bike ride before dinner. He also worked out with his fellow competitors, Chad and Seth.

As the race drew near, you could almost sense the anticipation (dare I say panic) in the air. All of the guys had a strength and all of them had a weakness, and all of them were pretty darn scared of the swim (and the currents and the sharks, etc).

Six of us made the journey to California for the race. There were three couples and all of us were fortunate enough to have grandparents come out and watch our kids while we were gone. We rented a three bedroom (ONE bathroom) condo right across the street from Ghirardelli Square. They just GIVE chocolate away there. Seriously. No purchase necessary. Have a caramel square and be on your way. It also over looked Aquatic Park where the swim ended and had a great view of Alcatraz!

We got there early so the guys could pick up their bikes and check in all of their gear before the race on Sunday. Saturday night we all carbo-loaded at Tomasino's in Little Italy. It was worth it! What a great meal at a neat little dive!

It was early to bed because the guys were up at around 5am Sunday morning. They went down to Aquatic Park and waited to get started:
The first step was to walk down to Pier 39 and board the boat out to Alcatraz. Once they got there, everyone jumped into the water and waited for the boat horn to signal "go." They didn't have to wait long and they were off!

About 20 minutes after they started, we headed down to the beach to cheer on our husbands! It was so exciting to watch all of the athletes come in. I thought it would be boring, but it was actually really exciting!

Now for those of you who don't know, Luke had a cervical fusion about 7 years ago and it has limited his range of motion. In order for him to do the swim, he wore a special snorkel. So we were all very excited when we saw it sticking up out of the water! Closely followed by Chad and Seth!

From here the guys ran 4 miles after stopping at their first check point to dry off and change.
During the run, Lisa (Chad's wife) and I took a cab to the next check point. Long story, but our cab driver didn't know where he was going, so we missed the transition from the first run to the bike. By the time the guys were done with the bike, they were feeling spent and not necessarily looking forward to the last 5K.
But Luke muscled it out and finished the triathlon in 3 hours, 39 minutes!!

It was a great trip that went on for 3 more days after the race, but I fear this post is getting lengthy. Real quick: lots of seafood, sourdough, Marin, Muir Woods, Chinatown, Golden Gate Park, The Haight, Beach, lots of walking, Farmer's Market, not warm weather, chocolate, etc. I think that about covers most of our trip. There were many adventures, funny stories and naps as well. It was a great trip and I'm so proud of Luke for checking a big one off his life time "to do" list.

Peace Out,

Michele

June 15, 2010

Just Didn't Want to Forget This One

Tonight I had small group. Since Luke is out of town, I took Sam with me and put him to bed in a pack n play (per usual). He's such a trooper. Goes down easy and stays asleep until its time to go. So I pick him up to take him to the car after small group and because of the belly, he's riding a little high. He is so confused as to where to put his little head. My shoulder is usually a little closer. So I lean my head to the left, and his precious little head head leans over too, and he falls back asleep (cheek on head) as we walk out the door. And I love him.

Peace Out,
Michele

May 6, 2010

This One Goes Out to All the Shoe Lovers Out There


Dear Sam,

Its nothing personal...but I have to post this one.

There are so many amazingly wonderful things about you: your love of order, oatmeal, and trains, just to name a few, but these pale in comparison to your love of shoes...my shoes to be exact.

To be fair, you come by it honestly. Your father has like 3 pairs of shoes, just for the O.R. Your grandfather is truly astounding with 23 pairs of boots. and that's JUST BOOTS!

The other day the front door was open and Luke thought you had escaped, only to find you upstairs in my closet, trying on my pumps. We don't discourage it other than to inform you that over time you could experience anterior knee pain with prolonged high heeled shoe wearing.

The "pink ones" as you say, are you favorite, and I don't blame you. I mean, who doesn't like pink?

You are awesome!



Peace Out,
Michele

PS: This picture is rotated correctly in my photo's, but not here. SO annoying. Sorry!

April 16, 2010

Life is Full of Surprises

Surprise number one: I turned 30 on April 12, 2010.

Ok, this is more of a shock than a surprise, but there it is.

Surprise number two: My husband is the best gift-giver/thoughtful holiday person. EVER.

Since we've been married almost 8 years, this again is not a surprise, but an anxiety-filling quality, that (come his birthday) tends to bite me in the butt (my gifts are never as good).

This being a big one, I expected either crazy birthday mayhem, or a complete drop of the ball. Lucky for me, I got the former.

My gift was a card. Inside the card were 6 folded mini-cards that were taped closed. I was instructed to open them only when told. Oh my, this could be interesting.

The next morning I got to open my first clue: it said "mustang sally." Huh. I have no idea what that means. Next, Luke has me get in the car and start driving.

Now for those of you that live in Denver or have ever been through our airport, you will probably have seen "the bronco." Its this HUGE monstrosity of "art" of a bronco on its back legs, making visible its intactness! It looks like it just dismounted the 4th horseman of the apocalypse. That was my mustang sally.

I was so excited to see my parents waiting at the baggage claim! What a great surprise. So much so that I accidentally drove my front tire over the sidewalk. Luke yells, "if you don't like my driving, get off the sidewalk!" to this innocent by stander from Nashville. Thanks babe!

How fun! We hung out for most of the day. Dad is cooking (of course). I'm visualizing a stocked freezer. Then I get my second clue: "Brittney Spears." Ok, seriously no clue. I'm thinking of her songs, wondering if I'm going to have my head shaved. I have no idea.

Well, there is this nail place that Luke and I went to for pedicures (yes, he had one, and loved it) and they were playing a Britney Spears concert that this one nail guy was just rocking out to. Luke sent my mom and I to have pedi's and requested that they put on the same concert when we got there, which they did. So funny! I laughed the entire time!


Upon arriving home, I see Sam's sweet face plastered against the front door. "MAMA!" he was so excited. I walked in, and SURPRISE!!! Luke had organized a surprise party with our small group (which isn't that small)! Dad made everyone food (there goes my freezer stock), but they all enjoyed it and we all rocked it out to some American Idol on the Wii. So fun!

Next day, we just relaxed, had fun, played with Sam, hiked some trails. GREAT DAY!

Such a sweet time with mom and dad, but that was just the beginning...

Sunday afternoon, Luke says "the adventures continue" and in the car we go.

My next clue: "mustang sally...again"

Back to the airport. We park. Luke opens the back of the Explorer and there are two packed suitcases. Off we go!

TO LAS VEGAS AND ZION NATIONAL PARK!!!!!

Ok, this post is getting lengthy, so i'll try to keep it short. We get there, change, go to a really nice dinner and my next clue is: "slippery when wet".

Luke got us tickets to see "O" the cirque de soliel show. It was AWESOME! The next day, the next clue: "the old man". We went to Gold and Silver Pawn, the place where they film the History channel show "Pawn Stars". SO COOL (in the dorkiest of senses)! They were filming that day, so we only got to stay for 15 minutes, but I saw the death clock and got a picture of Chumlee! We also went to Serendipity 3 and got a frozen hot chocolate for my birthday treat!


Onto Zion National Park where we hiked Angels Landing, ate some In-N-Out burger (praise God from whom all blessings flow!), and relaxed. Its an amazing and beautiful place and Luke was so excited to show it to me!



The rest of the trip was just fun. We ate, watched movies, walked around town, talked, just had fun being together for the first time on a trip without Sam.

And now back home! Thanks to mom and dad for watching Sam. I think he loves you more than me! And to all my friends who partied and wished me well on this most depressing of birthdays (not really...much). I am very lucky and blessed!

Peace Out,
Michele

April 7, 2010

The Only Thing Constant Is Change

So lots going on at the Riffle house these days. First off, I am pregnant again with our second little Riffle. I am due September 30th (but we are expecting him/her the 23rd...we have a deal.) So far, so normal. Nausea: check. Hormone headaches: check. Vomiting due to headaches: check. Eating my weight in carbs to keep stomach from eating itself: check. I remember not being pregnant and thinking "I kind of miss it, it was neat. The bad stuff wasn't so bad."

LIES. Lies women tell themselves to get knocked up again. I am writing this as a reminder for after this child gets here: "michele, pregnancy is great, and be grateful for the ability, but know when to say when!"

Don't be deceived, we are very excited and I am completely blessed in this situation. I'm just a pansy when it comes to throw up. I'd rather someone just punch me in the face.

Another change at the Riffle estate: I am a full time stay at home mom now. This was a very difficult decision, but I have received a peace about it and Luke and I feel the same way. I've been praying about this since Sam was born and recently God has made it clear that this is where I should be right now. I am still able to retain Misti, our super sitter, one day a week, so I can do PRN at the clinic if they need me.

To be honest, I'm not afraid of being out of the profession or being bored, I'm scared to parent! How terrible is that? Sam is at an age where its difficult to tell what he understands and what is effective discipline. We have a plan, I just don't want to jack up my kid! I like algorhythms. A plus B equals C type stuff. With kids, there is no formula! They are all different. Which is quite in contrast to being a PT where at least some of the human body is predictable. I mean, I know if you are having pain shooting down the back of your leg from your butt, chances are I'm going to be treating your back! No such convenience at home.

I know I sound desperate, but I'm actually excited. It is challenging so far, but I think it is going to be good for all of us. My first day saver: don't judge an entire day off of a morning or an afternoon, they are two separate entities. When Luke gets home, he asks how my day was, I break it down into morning and afternoon. That way, a bad morning doesn't kill the day!

What else, what else? I guess thats about all as far as big stuff going on. I'll post easter pictures soon. We had such a great easter!

Peace Out,
Michele

February 16, 2010

Details, Details

So I don't have a cuddler. Sam is always on the go, even in his sleep. So today, when he woke up a little grumpy from his nap, I took the opportunity to snuggle on the couch for a little while. So for the brief moment he was still I observed a few little details.

My little man has long eyelashes. His hands are still chubby like a starfish. When he is captivated by a show (in this instance, the Olympics) he chews on his blankie ("bownie") and plays with the rest of it with his first two fingers and thumb. Just sitting there, lightly moving his fingers. He crosses his legs at the ankle and rubs his feet on top of each other.

Occasionally, he rested his head on my shoulder, and let me kiss him on the head. That was sweet. I wish I could bottle all of that.

Makes me think that God feels that way about me sometimes. I'm always on the go. No time for snuggles. I bet sometimes He wishes I would just sit there and let him hold me and kiss me on the head. Help me change my attitude about waking up on the wrong side of the bed.

Love it.

Peace Out,
Michele

January 27, 2010

Viva La Winter Warm Up



Luke, Sam and I were lucky enough to travel to Riviera Maya this January for a week of fun in the sun! We were also lucky enough to have my parents along for the fun!

First of all, I didn't know that it was a 3 and 1/2 hour plane ride to Cancun. Wow. I asked how long the flight was on take off. We took off at Sam's nap time. Sam doesn't nap on planes. It was at that point that I regretted the lack of DVD selection that I brought. We weren't "that family" with "that kid," but we were a close second.

We arrived...to rain. Ok, Ok. We have seven days, right? My prayers were answered! The next day, no rain, and all the days after: sunny and 80 degrees!

No one got burned. Everyone got a little tan. Sam, of course, is the darkest (maybe Dad is darkest) even whilst sporting SPF 70 (no joke) all week.

Mom and Dad were awesome! They took Sam for a day while Luke and I went to Xel-Ha for some snorkeling. We all switched off staying in the room for nap time. We switched around some for dinners as well. For the first few days, meal time was...a challenge to say the least. However, after we got Sam cranking on a schedule and he knew what to expect, he did just fine.

This was Sam's first trip to the ocean and the beach. He was hesitant at first, but eventually LOVED it. He would wake up from his nap, yell for papa, and grab a swim diaper. So fun!

Other things Sam enjoyed: flirting with Canadians (they were EVERYWHERE), drinking strawberry daiquiris (virgin...almost always completely), drinking pina coladas (virgin...again almost always-so maybe I gave him a sip of my VERY weak drink while we waited for his, how else are we supposed to get him to nap?!), feeding the fish (the giggles! oh the giggles!), laying in the sand, dragging around a yellow "caution: wet floor" sign like rolling luggage, yelling for PAPA all the time! and so many other fun firsts and great memories!

It was such a treat and very relaxing.

Sam loved playing in the sand:
This was Sam's favorite night time activity. Carry around the caution sign and apparently getting a chocolate Hitler mustache:
Sitting on the beach:
Good picture of mom and dad:
Good picture of the fam:
It was awesome.

Peace Out,
Michele

January 14, 2010

China Update: Paper Work (Keep reading, its not as boring as it sounds)

Oh my, ya'll. We had our first meeting with CCAI this morning and it was a doozy!

A lot of Chinese adoption is "hurry up, and wait." For the first 6 months, we hurry.

The first big part is called the "Dossier" a very French word for "Paperwork. And lots of it."

We have to compile a bunch of legal documents stating where we were born, married, etc. We order these documents from the states in which they occurred, in our case, 3. They send them to us and then, GET THIS, we send them BACK to the state of origin for another seal/stamp to certify the certified copy I kid you not.

Then we get finger printed at one place for one government agency and 2 months later we get finger printed at a very different finger printing location for a different government agency. Lets not get too streamlined people, geez, we have a bureaucracy to run!

So for the next 6 months, if you don't see me for a while, assume that I am on hold. with someone. from another state. forever. good times.

Now, the person we met with at the agency was so great! Her name is Hillary, and she didn't mind that Sam was a bit charming, we'll say, (he was all over the conference room). She just adopted a little girl last Christmas from China and she's a single mom. I don't know how she does it, but she was lovely and fun and I think we would get along nicely at a cocktail party (which we go to all the time, doesn't everybody?).

Well, that's about it for now! I WILL eventually figure out how to download pictures onto my Mac!

Peace Out,
Michele

PS-It bugs me that my Mac thinks that "ya'll" is misspelled or not a word. Work on that Steve Jobs. Or do I just spell it wrong? *Gasp*

January 6, 2010

The Food of Christmas

Before I post pictures from the holiday, I would like to give a well deserved shout-out to the food of Christmas:

Breakfast: honorable mention to The Country Boy Restaurant in Leiper's Fork, TN. It used to be a place that OSHA would IMMEDIATELY shut down upon entrance, but in new ownership has shown promise (they lost the chittlins' and added a coat of paint...smells better too, fewer rats, etc).

Lunch: At our house, we (like most red-blooded Americans) eat around 2-3ish, so you could say that it doesn't count as lunch, but when Mom and Dad do the cooking, you give a shout out. Also the Most Improved Side Dish Award goes to my sister-in-law Meghan, who after 4 years of leaving the potatoes to Luke and Mom, took things over and did us tuber fans proud.

Dinner: Soooo many options here. Sheryl (luke's mama) did a GREAT new year's eve dinner of pork tenderloin. My folks held solid with homemade pizza and big salad night, but this year we are going off the reservation and down to Cottonwood Subdivision. This is where Leisha's mom went rogue and made some kick butt Gumbo! Being a native of The Dirty Dirty, she brought the heat, and we thank her!

Drinks: The Cavener's win this one every year, and this year is no different. Dad made a great Chianti (much improved from last year's which was promptly made into sangria). Also (and this will be no surprise) THE LEMONCELLO!!!! LOVE IT!!!! A new addition to this year's drink line-up was Moonshine. Yes Moonshine. Mom and Dad's neighbor made it. I kid you not. It was about as bad as one can imagine. Check that off my lifetime "To Do" list.

So those are the big hitters from this holiday season. If I have forgotten a favorite, I apologize, but there is only so much room for:

THE FOOD OF CHRISTMAS!!!

Peace Out,
Michele