a whole year????

Good golly, Miss Molly. It has, according to my last post date, been nearly a year since I've declared my voice on this blog.

And what a year it has been.

A year of change. Of blessing. Of tough decisions. Of love. Of tears. Of life.

We added a new sweet baby girl to our family. We learned of her existence in April, thought she was a boy until July, and once we found out "he" was a "she", we rejoiced in our upcoming re-use of all of Olive's clothes/toys/baby gear. She -- Delia Lyn -- arrived two weeks early on Thanksgiving Day, and we've been loving her ever since. Her birth will have its own, more complete, blog post.

We have decided to move to Minnesota for my job at the end of my maternity leave. That decision brings the bitter promise of sad goodbyes here in Virginia, and I'm dreading the day we embark on our next chapter of life 1,000 miles away from my parents and Olive and Delia's grandparents. I'm so excited to be close to Ryan's family and to the friends that we've missed so much while we've been out here -- but it will be very hard to leave.

We sold our first house -- a house that we loved, a house that we brought our first child home to, the home that held us as we became three. And then four. In the end, the whole thing was really better than we hoped. It was a short time period, and we broke even. Not bad for two and a half years.

I can't think of anything else that needs recapped at the moment. Long nights with a baby will hopefully provide more opportunity to blog. Dedication will hopefully provide the discipline to blog more than once a year. Not too tough to beat last year's entries, eh?


down in the dumps...

It all started back on December 28. Ryan, Olive and I left my parents' house around 8 p.m. The plan was for Olive and I to return sometime the following day so my mom could babysit her while I worked. It sounded like such a good plan.

Early on December 29, I received a call from my brother that went something like this: "Um, Cal? I'm sick." "What kind of sick are you, Griff?" "I've been *gag* throwing up all night." Ew. "Mom's sick, too. She hasn't thrown up yet, but she feels awful."

Of course, being the caring, sympathetic person that I am, my first thought was, "Are we going to catch this?" I scolded myself for being so selfish, said a prayer for their health, pleaded with the Lord that we wouldn't get it, and then set to googling incubation time for flu bugs. According to the internet, we were looking at 18 to 72 hours. Of course, having a 16 month old around at Christmas time means lots of hugs and kisses. Apparently kissing is a really good way to spread germs -- especially explosive, nasty germs. I could think of about 15 times Livi had gone around the room in circles giving every family member a kiss. She's practically a cotton swab of germy saliva. Ick! So, the waiting began.

Mom and Griff were really sick. All the gore of the flu, and the extra long recovery time because of everything it "takes out of you." (Ewww.)

But, 72 hours came and went, and no one else seemed to catch it.

Cue Monday morning, a week later. The first Monday of the new year. I wake up to Olive puking. She continued all day long -- I lost count at 10 times. She didn't feel great, but still seemed to have some energy when she wasn't getting sick, which made it even tougher to take care of her. I thought the silver lining of sick children was that they slept all day and wanted to cuddle? She did wants lots of kisses from Mommy, and because she was sick, I couldn't deny her. I figured getting sick was inevitable anyway, and smooched away with her. (I'd welcome a little weight loss anyway. Ha!)

On Monday night, Ryan announced he wasn't "feeling too great" and was going to sleep on the couch downstairs. Apparently the flu hit him at about 11 p.m. and he too was physically wiped out for the rest of the week.

So, if you're keeping count -- four out of eight have been sick at this point. My dad, sister and I were still holding out.

Cue this past Monday. Mom calls and tells me Dad has the flu. Same story, just different character. Because Monday was Griff's last day before flying home to Oregon, we went over that evening to spend time with them.

On Tuesday morning at about 3 a.m., I received a call from my Mom. "Candra is sick now. Can you go with us to take Griff to the airport?" I certainly and without any angst at all obliged. :) (Read: sarcasm.) But honestly, I didn't mind going. It was good to have one more chance to see Griff, even if it was at 3 a.m.

So, now. Present day. I'm still convinced I'm going to get sick, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm the only one left standing. I'm not sure how long it will last, but if I do end up escaping this thing, I'm going to claim the effects of prayer and copious amounts of Diet Coke.


being present...

2010 was a good year -- don't get me wrong -- but it came with its share of turmoil and stress. Adjusting to life as a working mommy wasn't easy (I'm still figuring it out on a daily basis, it seems) and having a non-traditional set-up for both Ryan and I working from our home offices can be a challenge. Overall, parenthood has proved to bless us beyond what we could have imagined, but sometimes it feels as if the number of blessing directly correlate to lack of sleep.

So, as I reflect on 2010 and think about what I want to do differently in 2011, I've come to this conclusion: I want to be present. It's so easy to live life thinking about what we don't have -- the perfect figure, all our debt paid off, a clear direction for what the future holds, easy 9-to-5 jobs, 8 hours of sleep a night, all the storage space in the world, disposable income, etc.

For 2011, I don't want to always be looking to the future trying to get to a time when "life is exactly as I pictured it". I don't think that will ever exist. Instead, I want to focus on each day, each hour, each minute, each second -- and live each one fully. It sounds like a cliche, but it's true. I'm going to be defined by who God says I am, and not by where I live, what I look like, how I parent, where I work or how any of those scenarios "say" I should act.

I will be kind, always. Even when I don't feel like it and even if I've been wronged. I want to live a life of humility. I don't always have to be great in the eyes of others. I only have to be great in the eyes of those who matter -- and their criteria is often far different from the eyes of "others".


a blog updated more often than my own...

I have really been bad about blogging lately. Not sure why. I blame someone or something other than myself, but truth be told, I know all the blame lies with my laziness.

All that to say, my sweetie has recently started blogging, and, though they can be lengthy, his posts are funny, nostalgic, real, and in my humble opinion, overall fantastic.

Check it out: www.minnesotabert.blogspot.com.

Also, shout out to my dear friend Beth for reminding me that I actually have a blog. :)


strengths vs. weaknesses...

Our leadership team recently completed StrengthsFinder assessments, and I found mine to be interesting and a reminder of who I am. My top five strengths:
  1. Strategy
  2. Woo
  3. Communication
  4. Ideation
  5. Competition

A point of the book is that by applying a little effort, we can make our strengths even better, because they are natural for us. However, we often make the mistake of focusing on our weakness and trying to make those better, which really can just lead to mediocrity.

In an effort to blog more, I'm going to tackle my five strengths in upcoming blog posts and talk about the good, the bad and the ugly that goes along with each.


the house that built me...

I heard this song on the radio while driving home from work yesterday. I can't even find the words to describe the feelings this song brought to the surface. Being a girl who grew up in the same house for the first 18 years of her life, this song hit home. No pun intended.

Here are the lyrics; go find someplace to listen to it. (I can't find it in the online media system that I use.)

I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
Nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me



Livi loves her toes. She can't go long without sucking on them. (She didn't learn that from me. Ryan, maybe?) She's constantly trying to take of her socks to get to her toes. They are pretty much the cutest little toes I've ever seen.

Ryan's been working 60 hrs a week at a contract job. (Leaves at 6 a.m. and gets home at 8 p.m., MTWTFS.) Livi gets so excited when she sees him. She has the biggest grin on her face, starts drooling, and gives the occassional squeal of delight. Sweeter greetings I have never seen.


there's s'no days like snow days...

We're snowed in. Well, not currently, but we were snowed in from Friday until Monday and will be again beginning later today until at least Thursday. I must admit, it's kind of nice. We packed up on Friday morning and made the trek to my parents'. They have a generator* (and a big house) so we figured we'd stay here during the Great Snow of 2010 -- just in case. Plus, it's nice to have other people to take care of Livi. And my parents have vehicles with four-wheel drive, too -- again, just in case.

So, I've relaxed, eaten too much, took some naps while Gramma watches the baby; this is the life! And now, I'm sitting in the office working while my mom plays The Man at Mahjong tiles -- if she wins, it's her way of sticking it to The Man. If she loses, she says The Man beat her down again. She suffered a bad beat-down today and is retreating to work on her Christmas letter. See how entertaining this is?

And you wonder why I don't stay at my own place...

*My mom just informed me they don't have a generator, they have a propane heater. Crap. Ignorance was bliss.


normal is just a setting on a dryer...

I remember reading that book title once. I didn't read the book -- just the title. Because at that time, my life was normal by all accounts. My daily activities were set, and I could be as gluttonous with my time as I wanted to be.

But now... Now is a whole different story. When I wake up in the morning, I have a list of things in my mind that I want to get done during the day. Work trumps them all, of course. Well, Livi trumps them all, actually. But work is a close second. I usually get 100% of the things Livi needs completed. Bath time, play time, nap time, diaper changes, feedings, etc. Work -- I get about 85% of those things done. Everything else -- cooking, cleaning, getting dressed, combing my hair, etc., etc., etc.... well, I'm lucky if I get 5% of that done. Thankfully I've got a pretty laid-back husband who doesn't care if I cook, clean or get out of my pajamas. I'm still waiting to get surprised by the What Not to Wear team from TLC when I make a quick run to the grocery store in my glasses, sweat pants, carhart coat and old tennis shoes.

I'm learning to not get stressed out by this. I'm sure there will be plenty of time later in life to 'have it all together'. In the meantime, I enjoy my time with my baby and am grateful that I get to work from home. I listen to music and pretend I'm the put-together gal I used to be, and I sometimes look at cookbooks and convince myself I'll try that recipe one of these days.

Maybe in 20 years.


word of the year...

Since it's nearly February, I figure I better get my New Year's Resolution up here. In 2010, I resolve to be austere -- Having no adornment or ornamentation. As I'm tweaking to make it my own definition, I'm going to try to spend as little $$$ as possible.

I don't expect it to be easy. My biggest downfalls are eating out and buying new clothes (frankly because my pre-pregnancy clothes don't fit). So, I figure by practicing some Callie-defined austerity, I'll save money, lose weight (eating out is apparently unhealthy) and fit into my old clothes (which will feel new), thus eliminating my need to buy new pieces of attire.

I think I could be on to something here.



a comparison: this year to last

Location: Minneapolis

Home: Renting a fun 'city' condo on the lightrail

Average number of hours of sleep a night: 8 solid, glorious hours

Evenings: spent horseback riding, dining out with friends at nice restaurants, a quiet evening at home with a glass of wine and a good book.

Average pant size: Much smaller

Site checked most often: Facebook

Job: Communications specialist, corporate headquarters

Children: 0

Location: Virginia

Home: Owned townhome

Average number of hours of sleep a night: 6, broken into intervals

Evenings: first spent puking, now spent wondering where the day went after doing nothing but sitting around in sweatpants feeding a baby.

Average pant size: Much larger

Site checked most often: Olive's diaper

Job: Mommy; regional marketing manager, home office

Children: 1

Wow, life has changed!


what's in a name?

In June of 2008, my Nana (Olive) had an unexpected stroke and after nine days in the hospital, she passed away. During the days in the hospital with her, it became so blatantly real to me that the only thing that matters in life are those that love you. With that truth in mind, Ryan and I decided to start trying to have a baby – instead of waiting for the ‘perfect’ time when we were where we wanted to be in our careers, when we had the right ‘family’ house, and when we were just more settled.

We tried for several months with no results. In December of 2008, I accepted a job out in DC, so we decided to put having a baby on hold. Then, low-and-behold on New Years Eve, we found out we were going to have a baby. It somehow seemed symbolic to find out about this new addition to our family in the same year we lost such an important member – Nana. When we did the math and learned our expected due date was September 11, I eagerly hoped that this little one would arrive on September 15 – Nana’s birthday, and the first possible birthday that we could have a child on since she left.

From the beginning, I felt like this baby would be a little girl. I don’t know why, but when I saw the two pink lines, the baby just seemed like a girl (and I was a minority!).

Baby Girl Briese was born at 8:45 p.m. on September 15. Ryan and I had talked about the name Olive Jaymes. (My grandpa’s – Nana’s husband’s – name was James.) It was a surreal experience to name my daughter after my grandma on her birthday.

Back in June of 2008, when Nana was in the hospital and not able to speak anymore, Ryan and I were able to share with her that we were going to try to have a baby and that if it was a little girl, we were going to name her Olive after her. I never would have imagined that God would bless us by also allowing my Olive to share her great-grandmother’s name and birthday.


bob wehadababy itsaboy...

Remember that funny commercial about calling collect? And the guy calls his parents from the hospital to tell them, but he calls collect and states that his name is "Bob Wehadababy Itsaboy"? A very funny and memorable commercial, in my opinion.

Anyway, my announcement is much, much more exciting and important. Wehadababy Itsagirl. :) That's right; Olive Jaymes entered the world at 8:45 p.m. on September 15, weighing 9 lbs, 4 oz and measuring 21 inches long. We are so blessed to have her in our lives. We're still struggling through the sleep-deprived days and nights, but I think they're getting easier, and I can actually keep my eyes open for a few hours now without toothpicks.

There are many miraculous things about new life, and I will share them in another post, hopefully later today. Right now, I must go change and feed my little Livi...


top reasons not to attend your dream concert when 8 months pregnant...

  • Most of the evening is spent running to the bathroom -- and those bathrooms are pretty nasty.
  • It's very difficult to achieve the level of cuteness you've come to expect of yourself when attending concerts.
  • A cold beer looks even more delicious in the heat and humidity -- but is very off-limits.
  • Swollen ankles make it impossible to stand up for the entire concert, but everyone else will.
  • It's a long hike from the parking lot to the concert venue.
  • You'll be exhausted before the main act even hits the stage.
  • You will wonder with some concern if your baby's hearing is being impacted by the volume of the music, even though the doctor assured you it's not.
My mom and I attended a Brad Paisley/Dierks Bentley concert on July 26. It was fun, but I definitely learned my lesson -- I'll go see them again when I'm NOT pregnant.


are you ready for this?

  1. We bought a townhome in the end of June. Ryan went back to Minnesota and picked up all of our stuff in the end of July. We’re slowly getting moved into our place. It’s new construction, which is nice – and we spend a couple of weekends painting and hanging curtains before Ryan brought out stuff out. (Thanks for the help, Mom and Dad.) So far, no real buyer’s remorse. I’m hoping we never experience that.
  2. Yesterday was officially one month until my due date: September 11. (I’m aiming for September 15, which was Nana’s birthday.) I’m ready to not be pregnant anymore, especially since the nausea/puking has returned and the heartburn is now at almost an unbearable level – BUT there is still so much to do at home and at work that I am probably one of the few women out there hoping that Little Poopsie (our affectionate name for her) stays put for the next month.
  3. Work is going well. It’s very busy, but I think making the decision to move out here was a good one. I enjoy the people I work with and find the work fulfilling. You can’t ask for much more than that.
  4. Ryan found a job very quickly. He was only out here for about two weeks until he had a position as an attorney. This reassures us in our decision to head east, and let’s us know that God really does have a plan for our lives.
  5. Rory the cat is adjusting. She was probably more excited than anyone else to leave the confines of my parents garage and enter her new domain (complete with stairs – a new anomaly for her). She practically jumped for joy – in fact, she literally did jump on everything – when all of our stuff finally arrived and got unpacked. Oh, quick note on the stairs: for the first several days, Rory would sprint as fast as she possible could up and down the stairs. It was as though she thought they’d attack her if she didn’t move fast enough. It was quite humorous to observe.
  6. I don’t think I’ve gone this long without a vacation in the history of my work career. I’m saving all of my PTO for maternity leave, but can hardly wait to have a break from work. Soon.


i'm finding and assembling my wireless router this weekend...

... and it will be the start of my blogs once again. I will probably only have to go through about 25 boxes to find it. I can pretty much guarantee it will be in the last one.


guest columnist: rory the cat

*Editor’s note: Rory has been a cat on the move since her family, Ryan and Callie, moved out of their condo on March 14. Ryan has noted that she has been exceptionally loving and well behaved, which bodes well for this little cat.

Good afternoon. I’m not quite sure what’s going on here. The woman named Callie left approximately two and a half months ago. She came back for a week (during which all she did was lay on the couch, throw up and cry) and then left again. I have not seen her. A couple of weeks later, the man named Ryan hauled all of my stuff out of our condo. He put me in a car and drove me to a place he called “Ric and Pat’s”. I had not been to this place before.

I stayed in a room with two big white machines for about two weeks. At one point I found a rafter I could jump up to and look out into the living room, but the man named Ryan made it impossible for me to leap up there. The woman named Callie called all the time and the man named Ryan would hold the phone up to my face while she said hi. I pretended to enjoy this. I wonder where she is?

About a week and a half ago, the man moved me out to a contraption called a car. While it was smaller than the other room, this so-called car provided much more sunlight for me to stretch out in. Apparently this thing called a car can travel at high speeds – and every day the man named Ryan would drive to a place he called Mankato to do something known to humans as ‘work’. I enjoyed these trips tremendously. The man named Ryan gave me a lot of attention, and I would sit on his lap and sleep. When I wasn’t sleeping, I would either sit on the passenger seat or lay in the back window. For some reason, people would laugh when then passed us. I don’t know what’s so funny about a cat in the car.

Last weekend was some sort of celebration, and a very small human named Truman discovered me in the car. He and his compatriots (Ellie, Cameron and Santiago) came over to pet me. I enjoyed these small humans tremendously. They were sweet.

I should note that the man called Ryan would take me out of the car occasionally. I didn’t mind walking on the hard, gray surface outside, but there is the spiky, green stuff covering vast amounts of space – and it scares the living daylights out of me. I refuse to touch it.

This morning we left very early for a long “car trip” – at least that’s what the man named Ryan called it. We haven’t quit driving for about six hours. I’ve been sleeping and wandering. He says we’re going to see the woman called Callie and that she’s going to have a baby (whatever that is) so I have to be good.

“I’m always good,” I told him. And we drove on.


random thursday thoughts...

1. Did you know you can buy pills that will give you a good day? Apparently they're called 'Good Days' or something like that. I heard it advertised on the radio, shook my head and chuckled, and then forgot the website. But it does strike me as odd -- there's a lot more that goes into a good day for me.

2. I have not thrown up for eight days in a row. (Knock on wood.)

3. I felt good this morning, and my boss mentioned that I finally looked like I was starting to feel better. I believe her exact words were, "I almost didn't recognize you!" which gives credence to my thoughts of looking like hell warmed over (what does that really look like?) the past three months. Sweet.

4. I've found about seven more gray hairs. Lame. I'd best make an appointment with a new salon out here in the DC area.

5. Most of all -- I miss Ryan. I can't wait for him to get out here to DC so we can begin our new adventure together.



Have you ever just sat back and wondered how you got to where you are today? For some reason today has been a day of reflection for me, and it's pretty mind-boggling to think of the changes the past 12 months have held -- changes I would have never dreamed of.

A year ago, the biggest change on the horizon was my little sister's upcoming May wedding. And now, the loss of a grandparent-new apartment-new job-sick pregnancy-move across the country-husband looking for a job year later, I wonder how I've changed as a person. I think the past 12 months have been the most defining of my life so far, though I'm sure there will be many more defining months to come. Have I used these changes to define me as a better person, or have I become a little sadder and a little more skeptical?

All deep questions for a Friday afternoon, but all things I'm wondering. Change is always imminent I suppose, and the changes that impact us the most, for good are bad, are the ones we never see coming. And I guess that's the blessing and the curse.


wonder if my baby will make funny faces like this...

(I can still make this face, by the way...)

yay. boo. yay. friday edition.

Yay! I think there's a barista at my new Starbucks that shares my quirk for having perfect alignment with lid, logo, and sleeve. This means I can now drink my coffee as soon as it's inhand from the drive-thru window! This is a big win for me.

Boo! It's cold (relatively speaking) here today, and I think it's supposed to be cold this weekend. Plus, it was snowing this morning. Blah.

Yay! My Aunt Cheryl is here visiting from Helena, and tomorrow aunts, cousins, siblings and parents are heading into the District to go to the Capitol, to lunch at a great bakery, and to Filene's Basement (some of THE best shopping ever). I'm hoping to get a pedicure this weekend, too.


this child is giving me gray hair...

Only once before in my life have I found a gray hair on my head. And I think I blogged about it, but I'm not going to take the time to find that blog and link to it. If I didn't blog about it, I considered blogging about it.

Anyway, this morning I was getting ready for work and while fixing my hair, happened to catch an odd-colored hair in the mix. Bother. This isn't helpful. It's difficult to go through all the physical pregnancy changes -- the expanding waistline, the dim, sick look in my eyes, the tired look on my face -- let's face it, pregnancy is taking it's toll on me. BUT -- a gray hair? Is that really necessary?

I also blame the gray hair on the stress of moving to DC, being away from Ryan, starting a new job, etc., etc., etc. Now I'm adding another stressor to the list -- getting gray hair. Can stressing about gray hair give you more gray hair? I suppose I could always dye it -- and believe me, I should diet! :)

As a follow-up to the post about the GPS, I kept driving. Though I was scared spitless, there was this part of me that was strangely mesmerized by where this little black box of directions would take me. And it did get me home safely...


names that just won't do...

As we talk about baby names, we've run across several that don't work with a last name pronounced "breeze". Here are a few: (Note: It's not that we necessarily like or dislike names on the list, but they're names we've heard.)

Chase -- Chasing the breeze is like trying to rope the wind.


i'm back...

... and I nearly forgot my password to get into my blog! How lame is that?

I apologize for my absence. There's been a bit of change going on in the lives of Ryan and Callie. I don't think I've actually blogger this yet -- but we're going to have a baby. How scary/crazy/exciting/mind-blowing is that? That's not the only change we're in the midst of, but I'll blog more about that later.

Things to look forward to in future blogs:
- More changes for the Briese fam.
- Names we can't use because of a last name pronounced "Breeze".
- The joys of morning sickness.
- Other happenings/musings.

In the meantime, let me share this little story for your enjoyment. Imagine you're on a trip for work to the suburbs of Baltimore, MD. And imagine your mother has spent a small number of hours warning you about the "bad neighborhoods" of Baltimore and how they just seem to come out of nowhere. Then imagine that you're using a GPS to find your way back to the hotel. And you accidentally turn the wrong way. Instead of telling you to turn around, the GPS instructs you to turn down a little one-lane road. And you assume that it's going to tell you to quickly turn around again and send you on your merry way, but instead it sends you down this road for two miles... through what looks like something from Deliverance.

What would you do?


view from my mom's office

Thought this was interesting. These porta-potties are set up for the inauguration ceremony and other celebrations that are planned.

It will be interesting to see how the next four years unfold for our country.

It's a different world from Montana.


my favorite word that isn’t a word

Am not. Have you ever thought about how nice it would be to have an easier word to say instead of the words “am not”? You know, something along the lines of a “didn’t” instead of a “did not” or “couldn’t” instead of “could not”. Well, have I got a word for you: amn’t. [pronounced em’nt].

When to use:
Say a coworker is asking you if you’re staying around for the holidays. You can respond with, “No, I amn’t.” (Unfortunately -- and I know this to be true from experience-- the coworker will look at you like you’re a five year old child. “Amn’t” isn’t a widely-accepted word. Yet.)

Apparently our parents thought our made-up word was so cute growing up, they didn’t bother to tell us it wasn’t real. And because of that, we proceeded to use the word in everyday conversation.

E.g. “Callie, are you going to share your toys?” “No, I amn’t.”

Sometimes when the word slips out of my mouth during conversations with intelligent people, I feel silly. Other times, I feel a pang of nostalgia and remember the good ol’ days when my parents thought our made up words were so cute, they didn’t correct us.

That would not happen today.