Friday, December 26, 2008

Year in Review 2008 - And Keelie Pics

There's a brief year-end message below. If you want all of the details... just click through the archives of this blog. This is the alternative to those paper Family Christmas Letters.

First, a few pictures of Keelie! She likes playing in our backyard...

She likes telling Daddy a thing or two...

She likes playing with Shelby and Honey (the storied doll).

She likes wearing shades and making offers you can't refuse...
(The bear refused... and now look at him!)
She likes playing with her cousins Macon (pictured) and Blaine...
She likes dancing with Aunt Kirby and the singing snow man...
She is blessed to have all of her grandparens, aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby most of the time.
Okay.... if you must have a paper letter from us, print this update out and cut out the "letter" below...
=====CUT HERE=====
The Year in Review 2008
Greetings to you and your loved ones! What a year it has been.

I didn't change jobs. I still have one, thankfully.

Kori continues to be an excellent mother to Keelie, and thanks to our biggest news of this past year - our move into a house - she's also proving to be good at fix-up projects around the house. Getting the house was made possible by the settlement of the lawsuit we had been pursuing, plus the downturn in the market and our financial discipline. [NOTE: If you don't have our new address, e-mail us at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com. Our old address was the one with the "G2" condo number.]

Keelie, going from sixth months to eighteen months, has grown and learned so much.
She also, thankfully, learned to take real naps. The move was good for her - giving her more room to play around. She's finally starting to talk verbally, having been able to say quite a bit in American Sign Language for a while now.

The only real trip we took this year was for Uncle Gary's funeral. That took us back to Illinois in June.

Since we all live in Anaheim, it has been only a matter of coordinating schedules to spend time with Kori's siblings and parents. We also try to make somewhat regular trips to Pasadena to see my siblings and parents, and sometimes they come to us. We even hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the first time (with a lot of help from our families).

Kori and Keelie have been to some meet-ups with other moms and toddlers, and every three months or so we make the monthly gathering of some former coworkers of mine.

One of the ways we're keeping in touch is via MySpace – but even more through Facebook (see the links in the right-hand column). I wonder if those sites will be superseded by something else by this time next year? Well, if you haven't done so yet, connect to us there anyway. Of course, you are also invited to write to us at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com to let us know how you are doing and what you've been up to.

We're enjoying our new home, and each other – and of course we continue to enjoy our families and friends. We just celebrated Christmas in Pasadena and Anaheim with family.
And finally... here's the family Christmas picture, where everyone looks good and is smiling happily and sincerely into the camera...

Thanks for reading and thanks for your love, friendship, and support throughout 2008. We hope you had a great Christmas. We look forward to 2009 and pray the New Year will be a great one for you, full of health, happiness, and His love.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankful

Wow – it has been two months since our last photo update. That is because we've been keeping busy. We're still settling in to the house. With a toddler around, it takes a lot of time to do anything. Kori is very handy with fixes and improvements. She sometimes asks me to do part of whatever she is doing, but she's been doing most of the work. Let's face it – the house is her domain. That's why I have my cave. Every husband needs one. She does run her ideas past me, though.

We were also trying to get our condo rented out, which we were finally able to do a little over a week ago, thanks to help from Kori's father. We finished removing our last little tidbits from the place.

Keelie is over 17 months old now and has learned to speak a very few words, but has been acquiring American Sign Language signs at a rapid rate. She'll sign "More Oswald, please!" more than anything else. She's obsessed with that oxygen-deprived, hydrocephalic animated octopus. I’m sure you other parents in the DVR/VHS/DVD age can relate to the endless viewing of the favorite programs/movies of your child.

Keelie also sees us on the desktop computer and figures she wants in on it, so if we make the mistake of stepping away without pushing the chair in, she's on it like white on rice. She has also gotten in the habit of grabbing one of our fingers and leading us where she wants to go. If not by the hand, she will literally push against our legs, often so that we are walking backwards. She'll push harder if we stop, and will tug on our clothing if we turn the wrong way. She also brings us books and signs that she wants us to read them. She did a happy dance when she discovered that Kori had brought home more Oswald books.

Whenever we get up on a ladder or stepladder in the house, Keelie tries to climb up with us. Another little thing Keelie will do is use her sock-clad foot to "clean up" any drops of milk that have fallen from her sippy cup. And like I used to, she'll hum while eating.

As usual, we've been spending time with Kori's family when we can. We live even closer to them than we did while in the condo. We've also managed to make it to Pasadena to see my family a few times since I last wrote.

We had fun at Disneyland Park with my mother. While riding the Mark Twain riverboat, Keelie most enjoyed climbing up some stairs and then sliding back down them.

We all made it to a "mommy meet-up" at a local park. It was before Halloween, so some of the kids - and adults - were in costume. I wasn't the only father there, thankfully. Keelie again had fun running up and down steps. If we had some in our home, she’d probably be indifferent towards them.

There are my two ladies!

Keelie considers a slam dunk.

She likes the slides, but sometimes she needs added excitement.

So here she is imagineering a new thrill ride.

Daddy and Keelie watch TV.

There's Keelie innovating new skin care products.

Also before Halloween, we went to a pumpkin patch with Kori's parents.

Below is Keelie trying her hand at Outdoor Vending. That's heresy to this old "jani". At least it isn't popcorn or cotton candy.

She's on the prowl!

Keelie wants YOU... to be ready to hand out candy.

She's carefully considering her options.

For Halloween, we went to Kori’s parents’ house. Kori was "faith", I was "hope" and Keelie was "love".

We took Keelie out trick-or-treating and it is a busy neighborhood for that.

Keelie started off with candy her Puma gave her. She wanted to hold the candy in her hand at first, and didn't want to carry the bucket we had for her. When we tried to hand her the bucket, she would push it away. When we put her candy in the bucket, she would take it back out. It wasn't until residents started putting candy into the bucket that she was willing to put her candy in as well and carry the bucket.

"This way to more candy!"

She would sign "candy" over and over to get more candy from the same person. When Puma offered to carry the bucket for her, Keelie let go of my hand and held on to the bucket with both hands until Puma retreated. It was hilarious stuff.

On a Sunday earlier this month, we woke Keelie up “early” and drove up to the L.A. Zoo. We were meeting with my mother and sister (Kim) so that Dr. Craig Stanford, USC professor and Director of the Jane Goodall Research Center, could give us a personal tour of the zoo. My sister won this in an auction benefiting the South Pasadena Educational Foundation. Obviously, the guy is an expert in primates and so he was able to point things out to us as we checked out the exhibits. Keelie seemed to enjoy herself a lot - mostly at a playground. It had been forever since I'd been to the LA Zoo – same for Kori. And Keelie hadn’t ever been there before.
Below: Auntie Kim, Keelie, Kori, Dr. Stanford, and Nanny. (I don't know the names of the people in the above shot, but they have even more hair than me.)

On Saturday the 15th, we had a playdate with a high school classmate of Kori's out in Murrietta, which is on the way to San Diego in Riverside county. That means that with traffic going full-speed, it takes over and hour to get there. I noted to Kori that there was going to be traffic because we would be driving right past a fire off of the 91 freeway. It was very windy, hence the fires.

So sure enough, we were crawling along on the 91 and the smoke was rising literally right off of the westbound side of the freeway, and the helicopters were flying right over us and the airplane that drops the reddish chemical was off to the side, too. These were the fires that made national news recently.

We made it out to Murrietta. We were late, but we’d made it. Kori's friend has four kids and her husband was at work. We went to a park to picnic and for the kids to play. Keelie kept running over to this large puppy, signing "dog" over and over, and the puppy kept knocking her over and wrestling with her.

As the sun came down and it was time to come home, we kept checking the news and sure enough, the 91 and the 57 were closed, so they were telling people to take the 15 to the 60 to the 605 to get back to Orange County. Instead, we took the advice of Kori's friend and drove back on the 15 toward Lake Elsinore, then got on the surface streets to take Ortega Highway. There were a lot of other people doing the same thing. That stretch of Ortega Highway is something like 20 miles, and it goes over the mountains, and is narrow and winding. So there I was, seeing the tiny lights of civilization out of the corner of my eye, but not daring to take my eyes off the car in front of me because I'm terrified of heights in certain situations and because I didn't want to slow down and tick off all of the drivers behind me or miss a turn and go rolling hundreds of feet down a steep drop.

Toddlers don't seem to like long car rides, at least not when they are awake.

Finally, we emerged in San Juan Capistrano and took the 5 north back to Anaheim. Ash was falling down everywhere. It was sad that homes were lost in the fires, but I’m glad they weren’t worse. We'll be heading into rain season here in southern California. January and February are traditionally when we're hit the hardest. Then, there might not be any meaningful rainfall for the rest of the year – which is fire season.
And now... something I had never in seen in person before... Kori with bangs...

After Kori worked so hard preparing the place, we hosted Thanksgiving here for our families-of-origin. On Kori’s side, Kirby, Kendra, and Steve were able to make it, and on my side, Kim, Mike, Blaine (back from college), Macon, and my mother were able to make it. I remember all those years I worked shifts at Disneyland, either opening or closing shifts, and often had two homes to visit for Thanksgiving. The advantage of hosting this year was not having to drive anywhere, especially two or three places. We do appreciate the invitations we get, though, and driving around the southland is a small price to pay to see family and have good eats. Things went well here, especially with all of the help we got. Thanks, everyone!
Here's a shot of the Great Room.

We're getting there. You can see the kitchen on the left and the entryway on the right.

Oh – and one last thing I wanted to mention that Keelie does. She climbs on top of this ball that is wedged between the sofa and the excercycle, and bounces up and down. Sometimes she has a pratfall, but she’s a tough one.
video
Thanks for stopping by and reading up on what we've been up to. Find us on Facebook and MySpace (see the links on the right). Go ahead and write a comment here or e-mail us at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com to let us know what you have been up to.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hey, Ken Does Have His Own Blog

It is where I post stuff that doesn't really relate to the family as a whole. Now would be a good time to click over there.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

House It Going?

It has been way too long since we’ve done a real update and uploaded pictures. So here's an update. Remember - you can click on each picture to see a larger version.

As I wrote earlier, we’ve moved! We’re still in Anaheim, closer to Kori’s side of the family, closer to Disneyland, and a couple of freeway exits closer to the office. We moved from our condo to a house - doubling our square footage - and are still settling in and working out the kinks. This has kept us very busy (and we got sick, too… nothing too serious).

Here’s Keelie a couple of months ago, packing herself for the move.

Our house has an attached garage, and plenty of parking space, too, so I won’t have to bother with finding a parking spot or moving the pickup to avoid getting a ticket.

There is a large room with a fireplace that was added on to the house, taking up some of the backyard.

When that happened, what had been the living room area, directly to the left once inside the front door, was walled off and given a door and became a smaller room with a fireplace.

Also when that happened one of the bedrooms lost its windows/outdoor access, so it is now like a giant closet with its own closet. That is my cave. Kori will retain control of the rest of the place, of course, like any wife. But I will have my cave in which to retreat and concoct my elaborate plans for world domination.

Look at that! Shelves already built in. Which is good, because we have more books than some bookstores. That was painfully obvious during the move.

Our bedroom has a bathroom with a shower. Hopefully someday, we can push the front of the house out a little (there is plenty of front yard) and give our bathroom a nice big bath. On the other side of our bathroom is another bathroom that does have a bath. However, it currently does not receive hot water (long story). Oh well.

Then there’s Keelie’s room and the baby’s room. Since there is no baby right now, it is storage space.

Before we actually moved ourselves in, we had the old heater removed, which gave us an additional closet, and we had a new HVAC system installed, extending it to the addition. Otherwise, the place was just going to be too hot on the warmer days.

We also had a lot of other work we needed to do, including getting a washer and dryer, and a gas range/oven. Kori’s father did a lot of work around the place (bless him!) but what he couldn’t do, the good folks at Rescue Rooter did, including taking care of several plumbing problems and installing the appliances. They were great.

The neighborhood is mostly single-family homes, and the way our street is situated, the only traffic is for the homes on the street.

Keelie has been enjoying the extra room. She’s fifteen months old now, after all. Both she and Shelby like having a bigger backyard. Also with the move, Keelie finally started to sleep in her own room. And to think some people with a fifteen-month-old already have another baby.

Based on the condition of the house and the finance history, it looks like someone tried to flip the place not too long ago. It also looks like someone wasn’t able to handle all of the costs of the place and stripped it (like taking shower heads) before they left. There are mostly new windows and carpeting, which is good. It is interesting to see what the house value was at the height of the market and compare that to what the bank ended up accepting.

In addition to Bill (Granddaddy) and Pam (Puma) helping out of a lot around the place, Kori’s siblings have all been of great assistance in doing such things as watching Keelie, helping with the actual moving, and getting the condo ready to rent out. Our friends Dave & Jenn were a great help with the actual move as well, and James and Chrissy babysat Keelie during a key day of the move, and Keelie had a great time playing with their son Isaac.

My mother (Nanny) has also taken Keelie to the Disneyland Resort at least three times now, making it easier for Kori and me to both work on the move. Before the madness really began, we’d all visited the Resort together and had a good time, though Keelie has a problem with experiences (like rides) that get dark and noisy – which is just about everything.

Whitewater Snacks is great. Now that I've said that here online, Disney will probably get rid of the place.

And here are the ladies at a very special place.

Speaking of madness, towards the end of July, our water heater in the condo decided to leak, and so we had to replace it. It happened at the end of a weekend that started with rushing Shelby to an emergency vet because we thought she’d broken some bones. She’s okay, but it sure took a lot of money to find that out. That was an expensive weekend.

Things got better though as August got into gear. We had a picnic with some of our friends that we hadn’t seen in a while. One of the families had been in Africa and was passing through town on their way to settle in another state, so we all got together. Jon and Jeni have two small children now, one older than Keelie (Gracie) and one younger (Isaiah). James, Chrissy, and Isaac were there, too, as was Dave, and Aaron & Cherise. Keelie had a lot of fun playing with the other kids and running around in general, and it was nice to see most of the gang again.

Here's Keelie leaning on Gracie.

And here's Keelie playing with Isaac.

And here's the group (Kori took the picture).

It had been too long since we’d seen Bob and Julie, and we needed to meet Katie, so all six of us had dinner together at the Disneyland Resort. Keelie had fun dropping crayons on the floor.

There isn’t much else to say. Life has been about moving and settling in to the new place and getting the old place ready to rent out. Hopefully, we’ll be settled in and squared away soon.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. Keep us up to date on that you’ve been doing. As always, you can reach us at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com, and you can submit a comment to the blog as well. You can find us on MySpace and Facebook - the links are in the column here on the right.

Monday, September 08, 2008

We'll Be Back Soon

Just wanted to check in and let you know wer'e still alive, we have all sorts of things to tell you, and some great pictures to upload, too. But we've been very busy...


Moving.


We're moving into a house we bought. It isn't too far from our condo. We'll have much more to show you and tell you once the move is complete. For right now, we're just too busy!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Thirteen Months and Counting!


Keelie has passed 13 months! It has been too long since we’ve uploaded pictures and video.

Also, as I mentioned in the previous entry, significant events have been happening for our family.

The first was that the three year legal battle in which Kori was the plaintiff was settled ahead of formal arbitration, saving a lot of people a lot of trouble.

As typical with such out-of-court settlements, we won’t be able to go into details, and nobody - especially not the people who had to pay a bunch of lawyers and still issue a settlement check - admits guilt… blah blah blah. Most of the people we maintained were responsible are no longer with that company anyway. Most. They know who they are, we know who they are, and so do a lot of other people.

Anyway, the lawyers have been paid, the check is in the bank, and the matter is over. I guess it is fitting that it happened near Independence Day.

Speaking of Independence Day – we celebrated at the home of David & Jennifer, along with some other friends.

Certain fireworks are legal in that city. Keelie wasn’t exactly captivated by them. But then, she’s teething more teeth - they just keep coming - and it is hard to tell if she is having trouble with that, or is frightened by something.


Summer has brought a welcome return to swimming, and getting Keelie used to pools – which, despite her expression in the picture above, she tends to enjoy. The three to which we regularly have access are outdoor pools – the one at our condo complex, the one at my mother’s condo complex, and the pool at Puma & Granddaddy’s. So it isn't like we can enjoy them much in the winter, when Anaheim and Pasadena are known to get down to a chilly 60 degrees F.

Below, Keelie reaches for her cousin.

The other big news is that we found a house in Anaheim! We hope to get everything squared away so that we can officially call it ours. Our plan is to hold on to our condo for a while and rent it out. We’ve been waiting for conditions to be right to upgrade, and with the housing market being what it is these days, and with our settlement adding to our savings, the time was right. Who would have thought it would turn out to be a good thing that those people kept dragging out the inevitable conclusion of Kori’s case? A big thanks to them.

Here is Keelie in a secret undisclosed location.

She reaches for the outlet and is told “no”.

So here is a video of her performing what we call “The Tripod”, which is one of her signs of pouting or despair.
video
You can see in the picture below an example of something else Keelie has been doing lately – putting herself inside boxes and baskets and shelves – basically, wherever she will fit.

Recently, we helped Aunt Kendra celebrate her birthday at the beach.

It was nearing sunset when we got there. Keelie had never been to the beach and we wondered how she would react to sand, considering how grass and dirt freaked her out. She was tentative at first, then she loved it.


She was even flopping over on her belly and making "sand angels". Here is some more video, alas with no sand angels.
video

Awwwww!

We tried to take her down to the water, but she didn't like the wet sand and never got near the water.

Lightning provided a beautiful show and we could even see the Disneyland fireworks from the beach.

Keelie has been learning more sign language. Soon, she’ll know more signs than I do!

Here’s Keelie in a favorite spot – the bookcase.

Look at Elmo. As Moe from The Simpsons would say, "He ain't laughin' no more!" Actually, Keelie will put herself in that box, too.

She's always loved climbing on stuff, and she’s getting better at it. She’s figured out how to climb up on a wooden rocking chair, on which she will wobble precariously while standing. I tried to discourage her from climbing onto the chair by tilting the chair foward and resting it like that, but she climbed up on the chair anyway, as you can see in this shot.

Yeah, she's determined and creative. I blame her mother.


That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by. You can find us on MySpace and Facebook (see the sidebar). You can leave us a comment here or e-mail us at KEPellman [at] yahoo [dot] com.