Sunday, December 13, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

A dose of Van (for Sara and Papa)

And all you other closet fans

I'm not exaggerating when I say that as soon as Van wakes up in the morning he wants the piano open and he wants to be put up on the bench. He practices on and off all day long.

When he's not eating that is...

Or standing on the table...

Or practicing to be a tattoo artist...

He's got a pretty busy life. He's feeling the pressure to be a good big brother to the coming littles.

The word on the street is that they're both girls. Names in the works.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gratitude Countdown

3 -- Number of children under the age of

2 -- that will be living in

1 -- bedroom around here. As of May 15, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

After finally getting all of our new insurance information I had my first prenatal check up on Monday of this week.

In order to make sure the estimated due date was correct, the Dr. did a sonogram to measure the baby's growth. Well, the minute she put the device on my belly it looked a little different.

GK immediately correctly identified two little heads but kept quiet. I thought it looked like two heads and thought, "Wow, that little thing is in a weird position!"

Well the Dr. was quiet as she clicked around and then said, "Well, it looks like you're measure at 15 weeks exactly." (A little behind where I thought I was) "And I have a bit of a surprise for you, there are actually two babies in there."

GK jumped out of his chair and screamed, "I knew it! I knew it! I've been saying that from the beginning!" The Dr. probably thought he was insane... he is.

He really has been talking to the babies from the beginning. He will often say, "Hi babies, how are you. It's daddy." And up until yesterday I would just smack him and tell him to knock it off.

GK is strutting around the house like a peacock and I'm finally understanding why I've been so worn out and why this morning sickness seems to be lingering a bit. I'm carrying an extra parasite.

We are totally thrilled! And alternately totally petrified. But as GK has said from the day we found out I was pregnant with Van, "We're getting a bit of a late start. Twins would help us catch up."

Here we come!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Thank you Social Security

This morning, after months of putting it off, I got up my courage and drove to the social security office to apply for a new card for me (my wallet was stolen three years ago in Denver... I know, I know, they say never to carry your SS card in your wallet, well now I won't) and an original for Van.

He never got his because the hospital filled his birth certificate full of all sort of crazy untrue things including NO GIVEN NAME. Not sure what they did with all the paperwork I filled out, but... I digress.

I knew I couldn't put it off forever, but when I went in Denver to add Risser to my SS card it took four hours. I just couldn't imagine what Van would do for four hours in an office full of people, on a floor covered in who knows what, in a room where technically you're not supposed to eat or drink.

So after almost going in Brooklyn, and almost going in Salt Lake, and almost going in LA, I went in Sacramento. And can I just say? I love Sacramento! I don't know if living in the capitol city just has its organizational perks or if it took a brilliant westerner to think to create a separate office that just deals with SS card applications.

I arrived ten minutes before the office opened and was the FIRST ONE THERE! What!? When I asked one of the workers getting out of his car if this was the right entrance for replacement SS cards he looked at me quizzically and said, "yes, but we don't open until 9:30" and walked inside. Confused at his confusion, I looked at my phone and saw it was 9:21.

At 9:30 on the dot, the doors opened and after a brief lecture about not taking weapons "including tools of trade" inside. I and a band of five or ten others were greeted by 14 windows open and ready for business staffed by friendly, efficient employees.

In less than 20 minutes, the dreaded chore was done and Van and I celebrated our newly documented americanness with some yummy breakfast sandwiches and a trip to IKEA.

Monday, November 2, 2009

By Request

We procrastinated a bit in our Halloween decision making this year. But thank goodness for nap time! Just in time for the "trunk or treat" at church, the Risser-Frankenstein family was ready to go.
Frankenstein (middle) with his Bride (left) and creator (right)
The Bride acting more like the mother (Note Reggie. He was a bunny. Made entirely out of socks. This picture doesn't do justice to the ears, he was totally humilated and wouldn't walk.)Frankenstein in action. He didn't really understand the goal, but he liked the glow sticks and carrying around his pumpkin.

Maybe next year he'll raise the bar and try to get more candy. After all, he'll have to start showing his little sister (or brother) how it's done. Happy Halloween! Our way of scaring everyone is by announcing that we're expanding.

Coming April 28th (ish) 2010.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Tonight, we ate yummy burritos on fresh tortillas (cooked though not made by me... thank you Costco) with ripe juicy tomatoes from our local farmers' market (where Van was not only called "she" but "pretty princess").

Then GK loaded the dishwasher (something we've never had before) and tidied up in record time because of it.

Then we tucked our little turkey into his crib (he's been in a pack n' play in various locations for two months now), in his very own room (not a creepy long storage room that also holds our bikes and surfboards).

Then we sat in front of the fire and ate some pumpkin bread from Trader Joes, and we said to each other "I hope we never forget what luxury is."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Yee Haw!

We found a place in Sacramento (technically Davis). We all felt like celebrating.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

To Come

When we moved from Brooklyn to insert current state. We weren't exactly sure how long it would be for.

We have been homeless before (though never with a toddler) and we're pretty sure we will be again some day, so we weren't really concerned about that part of things. We just felt, in spite of our deep love for it and its folks, that it was time to leave Brooklyn.

Not knowing what was to come.

But our experience in the past has been that things work themselves out. And once again, at a time when jobs seem scarce and lots of people are searching, GK found the one. He'll be working as a Rep for Macmillan Publishing in Sacramento.

So this week we'll head up there and see if we can find us an apartment with some windows in it. Start booking your tickets folks because we can guarantee that this place will have a spot in it for you.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

September, I'll remember

A love once new has now grown old.

When I was a little girl, my mom was pretty good about having us write in our journals. Usually on Sunday we'd lie around on the trampoline and write about our week, once we were old enough to do our own writing (and drawing). Before we could, she would write while we dicatated.

It started a sort of a habit for me. A compulsion during some periods of my life, and at others a nagging feeling in the back of my brain for not doing it. That's kind of where I am now.

In the old days I had no shame in an entry that looked like this:

Jan. 5, 1989

Wow! A lot has happened since I last wrote.

End of entry.

And now, so much has happened since I last blogged that I'm not sure where to start. So here's a list for now. Each of these could be a post of their own.

-Van and I flew to Utah from Brooklyn on the the world's longest, screamiest flight (sorry everyone, especially Van)

-We hung out with my family for a bit (including lots of dinners with my Grandma) waiting for GK to drive the enormous truck hauling a car across the country- alone

-We went to Jackson Hole to cheer on my dad, sister and three brothers in Lotoja (206 mile bike ride from Logan to Jackson Hole. Amazing!)

-Walking down the streets of Jackson, Van threw himself off of GK's shoulders onto the cement landing smack on his head (scariest moment of my life, followed by an afternoon in the ER and a miracle-- no bump, no bruise, no scratch)

-We drove to California for a fun filled week at the beach with GK's family

-We flew back to Utah for my Grandma's funeral

-Now we're back in California waiting to hear if all of GK's job interviews have paid off, because if Van plans on being such a dare devil, we need health coverage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


This morning, to battle the blues that have chased me through the week, I woke up and decided to take Van and Reggie for a jog. Reggie doesn't have very long legs, so he does our warm up walk with us and then he lounges in the basket underneath the stroller for the run.

I used to jog several times a week in Prospect Park. The outer loop is just over three miles, and when pushing a stroller with a severe righthand veer, it's a good workout.

I've been slow to pick up the tradition here for a couple of reasons:

One, Utah is high! My dad's new license plate says "Life Elevated" and it's the truth. My little sea level lungs are taking a while to catch up.

Two, I didn't know where to go. I could run along the sidewalk and end up at a stripmall or a gas station or the freeway.

Then I thought of it--- Wheeler Farm!

I grew up playing in the wild woods at Wheeler Farm, sneaking into the hay loft (I think somewhere in there is one of my mom's electric blankets that my friend Melissa and I ditched when the farmer chased us out), visiting the little store, seeing the animals.

This was the first visit in years, and the first ever with my own little Van. It was so incredible to look at it all from his huge, curious, excitable eyes. He pointed at each animal, and giggled as the baby calf came close enough to the fence for us to feel his breath.

Be gone blues, we've got things to do.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


After putting Van down to sleep I turned on the TV to fill the silence.

I watched the last three minutes of "Raising Helen". Now, I can scoff at a silly chick flick with the best of them (or watch the same one five times in one weekend). But tonight as I watched them walk down the boardwalk by the Hudson River, I got all choked up.

I cried a little as I thought of the last week we spent together as a family in New York. I find that most of my stories and sentences these days start with, "In New York..." It's got to get a little old to those listening, but I can't help it.

I miss my city.

I miss my friends.

I miss my park.

I miss my sweet husband.

I miss my dungeon. I never thought I'd say that, but I do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

For Dada

We miss you. Pack fast and come soon. Things around here are changing.

Friday, August 21, 2009


Last night I went with my friend Valerie to a ballet class for the last time.

Actually this was the first time for this particular class too. We've taken others together: yoga, modern, sunday school. But because of GK's work schedule, this one took us a while to make happen.

On the way home from ballet, she asked me if it was daunting to think of all the things I wanted to do for the last time.

With only two and half days left? Yes.

This morning after stopping an unsuspecting passerby to take our picture (he was wearing a Patagonia bag, so we were pretty sure we could trust him)Van and Reggie and I walked GK down to the subway And waved goodbyeAs he headed off to work.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Three years ago, I married the man of my dreams. In spite of the hundreds of syrupy photos of us looking smitten, I couldn't have known how much better he would make my life.

I do now.

Monday, July 20, 2009



Van Giles Risser - July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Vanny Guy! You've made our year.

Monday, July 13, 2009

One Week

Is it possible that this little monkey has been a part of our lives for almost a whole year? More really, if you count the nine months he rode along. The strong, silent type.

In the first 51 weeks of his life, he's done a lot.
He has conquered one of the most powerful cities in the world with his cool blue eyes and drooly smile: He's given concerts on the art in Battery Park:
He's robbed many unsuspecting picnickers (who forgive him immediately when he flashes a grin)
He has become the heart and soul of a very happy family:

It's hard to remember life without our Van. Back when we were on time for things. Back when we didn't have to pack up the fridge to go out on the town. Back when our house was a little quieter, and a little less filled with toys.

Nietsche said, "Without chaos in your soul, you cannot give birth to a dancing star."

Well thank goodness for chaos, because it fulfilled its duty.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

Loud and Clear

*Did I mention that this is the view from my porch? That's pretty cool.

I guess you win some, you lose some.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Remember Father's Day?

Growing up in my family we had a saying "We spread out the fun". Usually it had to do with birthdays. It meant your birthday party was going to be a few days after your birthday, or your card was coming a little late, or your present wasn't quite "ready". I always kind of loved it.

My mom made me feel special, even (or maybe especially) when we were spreading out the fun. I have been accused of spreading out my fun a little too long. Like the year I used the "You Are Special Today" plate through my brother Alex's birthday- nine days after my own. I don't remember how I ended up with the plate, but my sister Elizabeth remembers and in her version of the story I was still using it on her birthday- six weeks after mine.

Now that I'm a mom, I appreciate the various benefits of spreading out the fun. I like the idea of literally celebrating birthdays for weeks or graduations for months. As someone who has a lot on her plate, I also need the quick forgiveness that comes when celebrations happen a little slower than I'd like.

But with all that said, I recognize the deep satisfaction when the stars align and the catastrophes halt to allow things to come together just in time for one perfect day. A day to recognize GK the father, the husband and the man. I guess that's why I feel okay that this post is about three days late.

I love giving gifts. Correction: I love knowing what people love. Once I do, I can't help myself. I like to take note of random clues and unintentional hints and when the opportunity arises, make them a reality.

Since Van was born, he's had a plethora of soft comfy pants with horizontal stripes. On many occasions, GK said, "I wish they made pants like this in my size." Hint number one.

One day getting dressed for church, GK put on a blue silk tie only to pull it back off grumbling something that contained the words spot, stupid and ruined. Hint number two.

Last year after teaching seminary for several months, GK started taking some inexpensive paperback scriptures instead of the ones from his mission, afraid they had become too tattered and fragile. Hint number three.

With a little crafty magic and some brilliant book binding buddies, GK's celebration exceeded expectation (something we all know I have a problem with). But to stay with tradition, the pictures are yet to come. Just to spread out the fun.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

No Big Surprise

Although we are sad to leave behind what we have come to love: good people, great culture and a unique way of life, it comes as no surprise to those who know us well that we are officially moving.

We put in our notice for our apartment and have been researching moving trucks and car tows, and as of August 31, we'll be saying adios to our two year home. We're off to seek our fortune in the West.

There have been moments over the past couple of years when I thought this day couldn't come too soon.

Like the time GK found someone's dirty underpants in our windowsill and another pair stuffed in our radiator
Or like the time our upstairs neighbor's illegal whirlpool tub flooded all over our bed
Or like the times we got parking tickets for not moving the car for street sweeping
Or like the hour (plus) it takes to get anywhere
Or like paying triple our Denver rent

But as the time of our departure gets nearer I think about how sad I am to leave.

I think about the time we brought our first little boy home from the hospital and our crazy little apartment turned into a home
Or the times we met our friends at the park for a visit or a picnic or a concert or a rainstorm
Or the times we walked out our front door and watched the fireworks over Lady Liberty
Or the times we sat on the train and listened to live performers and gave them a buck
Or the times we went to church and saw one face we loved after another after another
Or the times we laid in bed talking about what a good life we have

I am a bit surprised that it will be so hard to leave. But now this city will always feel a bit like home.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blogging Irony

Sometimes I just feel like writing. Blogging I mean. I think, "What could I write about that might be fun to share?" And I rack my brains for things to write about.

Then I think about things like the time in 7th grade when my friend Kara had a Caruso Steam Curler and we curled our hair and made up a song called "Peace in the World Through Ringlets"... only the entire song was based on our belief that ringlet was actually spelled wringlet.

But then, when truly significant things happen (like the graduation of my sweet husband and the cross-country visit of 8 family members simultaneously), it seems like such a daunting task that it takes me weeks to muster up the courage to attempt it. That is obviously dramatic (I have a couple of degrees in that), but not far from the truth.

I guess you could say I have a small problem with expectations. I have very high ones of most things. I am also often hopeful long beyond when others aren't. This often works out well. At other times it only procrastinates the day of my disappointment. For example in high school when I wasn't selected to attend a leadership conference called HOBY, I was still hopeful til the day it started that something would work out and I could go. I didn't go and was really bummed at the time.

That may not make sense. GK certainly doesn't understand it and many would call it naive. But it remains a part of my character as one of my double edged swords.

I want the record of events to match their importance. But just when I'm about to feel up to the task, something else of extreme (thought not as extreme) importance happens--like a haircut-- and I don't know what to do. So until I figure it out, here are a couple of pictures to whet your appetite (is there an h in whet? or is that just my imagination, like that silly w in ringlet?)

Pictures of the graduation, not the haircut, since my expectations once again have bitten me in the fanny.

GK's Mom and Dad (proof that Kyle and Kayla came, yet to come)

GK and his Dean Andrea.

The Florence/Risser/Ashdown Clan

Every one of these images was stolen from the Risser Blog. I'm pretty sure we took some too.

Maybe when I start liking my new haircut for more than five minutes at a time, I'll post some pictures of that as well.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Family's Here

This morning, after a red-eye flight from CA, GK's parents and brother and sister arrived to celebrate his graduation.

My mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law arrive tomorrow.

I am so proud of GK and so happy to have so many from our family here to celebrate his accomplishment.

Much more on that to come. But for now, after the travelers nap, we're off to show them our fair city.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Father and Son

GK has talked about taking Van climbing and surfing since before he was born.

Before he could really crawl, Van would climb. Two or three days after he first lifted his little belly off the ground and began inching forward, he lit up the stairs in our basement apartment and succeeded right away in his first ascent.

Recently we were in Central Park bouldering with friends and after this skilled instruction:

Van didn't think it looked that hard and he pulled himself up on the side of the rock. Still working on his balance, he needed a little support. But here is Van's first aided climb; Rat Rock, East Face, Central Park, New York City.

Along with his quick temper and his intense focus on the task at hand, Van seems to have his dad's natural gift for conquering the rock. And now that the weather is warm and he can climb around in the dirt to his heart's content, his beloved baths are becoming an essential part of the nightly ritual.

In answer to GK's prayers, Van has always loved the water. He stays in the tub until he climbs out on his own (usually 30 minutes or more), loves having water poured over his face, and before he got too big he loved to lie on his back and kick and splash. We're pretty sure he'll make a seamless transition to the pools once they open and then to the nearby ocean.

Once we get him swimming, then we'll get him on a board...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Van has many toys.
More than I thought he would have. Mostly from generous grandmas or uncles or friends, he plays with them all with great appreciation.

There is one that seems like his above all the rest.

Maybe it is the consistency of the reaction; a brightening of the eyes and face, a speedy crawl across the floor.

Maybe it is the length of play; long periods fiddling, chewing, patting, enjoying.

Some people have sophisticated taste in toys. They raise their kids on wood toys and classically beautiful toys. I always look at them in admiration.

Well, my boy is just like his mama I guess. Easy to please, maybe not too sophisticated, a little bit out of the loop of what is stylish or cool.

This book:

Complete with it's cheesy pictures, flashing lights and sounds, this book never gets old for my boy. He got it from his Mimi for Christmas. And actually, since I took it out of it's box, it hasn't worked quite right. Instead of singing the songs and saying the words, you hear this sort of droning that resembles a dying robot or something out of Wall-E.

As we lay in bed last night, in my best broken robot voice I sang the book's "song" to GK. We laughed until our stomachs hurt and said, "What a cool boy we have."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Update for Papa

Tonight on the phone, my dad said he wants more pictures of Van.
Just in general.

He's not a bloggie. Not even of my bloggie. But if I email him, he'll check this. And see these:

We're excited for you to visit Papa (and Grammy and Poppy and Mimi)!