Why, hello there!

Yes, yes, I realize it’s been almost a month since I posted anything.

I managed to be at home for three weeks and not write a thing, and then when I had to go back to work, I’ve been working 10 hour days and just haven’t had the energy to do much of anything when I get home.

So here I am, back again. It was incredible to see everyone this past weekend. We’re really glad that we and so many others decided to make the trip.

Pictures from the weekend are up at Flickr (you can see them over there on the right), but I’m going to post a few of my favorite.

The whole gang



Fishin for a frisbee

Max the cheerleader

She looks so natural

Time flies when you’re having fun…

Just a quick retrospective of what we were doing three years ago this month:

The wedding, three years ago today…


And our three week honeymoon:

Big Bend area…


That’s Mexico behind us in both pictures.

New Mexico…


Bandelier National Monument (north of Santa Fe)




Rocky Mountain National Park


Both of these pictures were taken on Trail Ridge Road…the top one was taken at about 12,000 feet above sea level, and yes, that’s snow on the ground behind us. The second was taken somewhere significantly farther down the road, and about 20 degrees warmer.

Grand Teton National Park


Yellowstone National Park


And finally, South Dakota…
Mount Rushmore


The Badlands


Happy Anniversary, Monica!

Two years, one month

Dear Rachel,

Today, you turned twenty five months old.


It has been an extremely busy month for all of us. We’ve traveled quite a bit, and you’ve gotten to see Nana and Dodd a lot this month. You’ve also had the chance to meet a lot of new people.


Let’s start with the talking. Holy cow, girl, your vocabulary has just exploded. We are having conversations all the time about everything under the sun. Your big thing this month has been this:


“Hi Rachel.”

“How you?”

“I’m fine, how are you?”

“I good.”

Over and over and over again. Of course, your other big thing in the past couple of weeks has been learning how to say your name and age. Last week, we even taught you how to respond to the question “¿Como te llamas?” and when we ask “¿Cuantos años tienes?” you tell us “DOS.” You’re getting really good at repeating what we say, although your brain will mix up the beginning and ending of words sometimes. You’ve been trying to say “diaper” this week and it keeps coming out “pie-der.” But you’re also very good about listening to corrections and trying them on your own, so as long as we have the patience to keep repeating the words for you, you keep trying to say them correctly.


Speaking of on your own, another new thing this month is, “No, no…my turn.” When we’re counting (especially in Spanish) or singing or whatever, at some point, you’ll stop us from leading and say “My turn” and become very upset if we don’t let you take over.


The traveling. You and I had a “first” together this month. It was the first time either of us had ever been to New York. I’ll admit, I wasn’t all the excited about going. I figured the second we got off the plane my wallet would be gone, I’d be fitted for concrete shoes, and the mafia would sell you off as child labor. But I was pleasantly surprised. The mafia didn’t sell you off. OK, so my impression of New York was completely wrong. The people were very friendly, and except for our car service, things weren’t all that expensive.

Swings in Central Park

You were quite the trooper in New York. I think the only day you got a regular nap was the day Aunt Sarah and Uncle Britton (Say-ah and Bit-on) got married, which was the whole reason for the trip in the first place. Ever other day, we were so busy doing touristy things, you just zonked out when ever you reached your limit, no matter where you were. One day in was in your stroller, then on my shoulder while we were fighting our way through the crowds at Coney Island. You slept through all of that commotion, but the second I gave you to Mommy on the subway (sub-bay tain!) you were wide awake. Hot, sweaty, people yelling and pushing – sleep. Comfortable, air conditioning, quiet – awake. Another time, we were taking a tour bus (ride red buth!) through Manhattan, and you knocked out on Nana’s lap. You did really well for having your entire schedule messed up, and even when our flight was delayed over 3 hours coming home, you were still pretty good. I think we might actually have to go back to New York sometime when you’re a little older, so you can enjoy it as much as we did.


The weekend after New York, we took a road trip up to Fort Worth to see a friend of our family get married. It was very interesting to see all of these people who knew me as a child see me now with a child of my own.


By the way, on both of our trips, you were quite the hit. Perfect strangers would talk to us and you, and tell us how beautiful you were. I don’t know how many pictures were taken of you (excluding those taken by you mother and me) but I’m betting it was in the hundreds. Two weekends in a row you got to see Nana and Dodd and dance the night away. Quite the lucky girl, I tell you.


We started potty training late this month, and it has been less than successful. You are telling us when you have to go “poo-poo,” but you’re afraid to actually do it in the potty. The two times we’ve gotten you to actually go, you cried the whole time. We are being patient with you, though, and trying to teach you that this is what big girls do because Mommy needs a raise, and when you get out of diapers, she gets to stop spending money on them.


We are loving this part of your life because we’re learning so much more about you now that you communicate with us. We can’t wait to see what the next months will bring as you continue to grow and learn.


We love you very much.



We made it back from our trip to New York. It was a great trip, and all of my worries about going there turned out to be just that…worries. Nothing more.

We had a wonderful time and I’m glad I don’t have to be back at work right away so I can take some time to recover. We walked way more in those 5 days than I think we walked the rest of the year!

Instead of posting a bunch of pictures here (I took over 300) I’ll just direct you to my Flickr photostream. If you’ve been checking in over the past couple of days, I’m sure you’ve seen those four thumbnails on the right changing every couple of hours as I upload.

I’ve created a few sets on Flickr to kind of categorize things, so if you want to see the wedding pictures or touristy things, or architecture, pictures of our family, gargoyles, or pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge (yes, I took enough pictures of it for its own category), they’re all there. You don’t have to go wading through all of them to see the things you like.

I think we’re going to have to go back. Soon. The list of things we didn’t do is about as long as the list of things we did do.

An unexpected trip

So, as most of you who read this blog already know, my Grandma Jean (mom’s mom) passed away on St. Patrick’s Day. This, of course, prompted a flurry of activity on our part in order to get up here for the memorial service on Friday.

Since trying to find airfare last minute is a financial nightmare, I decided to go with a “last minute” deal that you can find on certain websites. Unfortunately, this last minute fare had us leaving from Austin at 6 AM Friday.


That wasn’t the bad part, though. The weather had a little winter in store for us, and flying into Chicago turned out to be a bit more tricky than planned.

The reason we left Illinois

Luckily, we did make it, just 30 minutes late, which gave us plenty of time to get our car and drive to Geneseo. The memorial service was wonderful, and Mom made it through her speech about Grandma without too much trouble. Afterward, we had cookies and lemonade in the church basement, then went over to Grandma’s house to say goodbye.

(Thanks to Aunt Linda for the pictures from Grandma’s house)

Friday night, we hung out with the rest of the Laleman clan at Grandma Betty and Grandpa Al’s house. Since they’re in Florida, we had a house party and Rachel got totally trashed.


We’ll be in Illinois until Monday…enjoying this lovely weather.

And we’re back…

I think that driving to Illinois this last time was the cure for driving to Illinois ever again.

In other words, we’re flying the next time.

Our trip back wasn’t bad, but the trip up…my oh my.

We left on Friday night, which was planned, but what wasn’t planned was that it would take us damn near 20 hours to get to mom and dad’s.

This is usually a 17 hour drive. I’ve made it in 15 1/2 hours before.

Not 20.

We left around 6:30 and we expected to hit traffic in Austin. That was around 8 PM. Then at 10, we came to a standstill outside of Hillsboro (not even to Dallas yet) and traveled at anywhere between 10-30 mph for the next 10 miles because there was construction. But there wasn’t any construction actually going on…just reconfigured lanes which evidently confused EVERYONE who was driving north.

Around midnight, we had finally made it through Dallas, and were traveling at a pretty good clip. Then, suddenly, everything stopped. I was trying to see what was going on, but it wasn’t until we had sat for almost 45 minutes that we saw all 5 lanes of the expressway were being forced off onto the access road.

After we got past that (now 6+ hours into our trip) we headed up the road some more trying desperately to get out of Texas. Then at 1 AM, the road was closed again, this time in Sherman, Texas, just south of the Texas-Oklahoma border. This one was really big because they even had the access road closed…an air life helicopter was sitting on it. So we had to traverse through Sherman to get back on the expressway.

We finally made it out of Texas 7 hours into our trip. This portion of the drive usually only takes 6 hours max.

And so went the rest of our trip. Between having to stop in BF Misery (or Missouri) to sleep so I didn’t run off the road, and having to rescue a runaway truck that some kid forgot to put in gear, WHILE keeping Sparky’s leash in my hand, it was one hell of an adventure.

But we made it there, and we made it back. Grandma Connie and Grandpa Rick enjoyed having their granddaughter around, and Sparky enjoyed playing with Rhett.

We had a great week, and enjoyed visiting with the folks we saw and I’m sorry that we didn’t get to see everyone, but when you’re traveling with a 9 month old, everything is on a tight schedule. We had a limited amount of time at each of our destinations, and the only days we didn’t travel somewhere were Monday and Thursday. Every other day we were on the road for at least 4 hours. I think our next trip is going to be just to Bloomington.

And have I mentioned that we’re flying?