What we did this summer…

We had quite a busy summer, though you wouldn't know it from our picture gallery. That is, you wouldn't know it until now. I just posted four new albums to the gallery. And, there's much more to come - as soon as I get the time. (I stayed up past 2:00 AM to get these images uploaded.)

In case you don't have time to view all of the images now, here are a few samples:

We learned how to peel oranges…

Peeling oranges Yummy oranges Silly oranges

We threw rocks at Alki Beach…

Puget Sound & Olympic Mountains Removing rocks

Family on the beach Throwing rocks

We checked out the tide pools at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach…

Haystack Rock Bunny!

Tide pools   Feeling the flowers   Getting to the beach

And, we spent the day with Thomas the Tank Engine…

Thomas the Tank Engine Excited to ride on Thomas

Happy to ride on Thomas Family in front of Emily

And, there’s lots more to come!

The songs I sing to Hunter and Grace

It's my job to put the kids down at night. Generally, I sit in the big, cozy rocking chair with Grace on my left leg and Hunter on my right. I read a few books, then I turn out the light and sing songs. Unfortunately, my repertoire is rather thin:

  • Twinkle, Twinkle
  • A, B, C (same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • Bah, Bah, Black Sheep (same tune as Twinkle, Twinkle)
  • Rock-a-bye, Baby
  • Hush, Little Baby
  • Hey, Diddle Diddle
  • Are You Sleeping (modified for night time)

And, sometimes I'll sing these songs:

  • The Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
  • Row, Row, Row Your Boat (including alligators!)

Rather than learning new tunes, Jill and I have both made up some new songs based on tunes we already know, especially the eternally flexible Twinkle, Twinkle. Here's one Jill wrote:

Little Babies, Go To Sleep Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Little babies, go to sleep. Close your eyes and slumber deep.
  • In the morning, you will wake; Then fond memories we will make.
  • Little babies, go to sleep. Close your eyes and slumber deep.

And, here's one I made up: I Love You Sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle

  • Hunter O'Neil, I love you. Sarah Grace, I love you, too.
  • Mommy loves you, yes she does. Daddy loves you, just as much.
  • Hunter O'Neil, I love you. Sarah Grace, I love you, too.

That one is probably my favorite song to sing the kids. I usually sing it last, really softly, just before putting the kids in their cribs. The kids seem to like it, too. They both know the song, and often sing it with me. Grace even made up her own version, it goes like this:

I Love You Sung to the beat of Gracie's own drum

  • Haha, I laa loo. Mama, I laa loo. Dada, I laa loo.
  • Mama, Dada, Haha, Gigi, I laa loo.

But, that's apparently not the only thing the song has taught the kids. Tonight, when I asked each of them to tell me their name, they both gave me versions of their full names: Hunter said, "Haha O'Neil;" and Gracie said, "Sarah Gracie." I'm so proud!

Today is the day!

What's that you say?  What happened to the first day of spring? Well, the best laid plans... Last week, Jill strained a muscle in her abdomen.  She might have done it turning over in bed.  Or, she might have done it getting in the car.  We're not sure.  But, the pain was strong enough that Jill couldn't take a deep breath.  At first, we thought maybe she was going into labor.  Fortunately, we were already scheduled to see our doctor that day.  So, he was able to diagnose the muscle strain and send us home with some Vicadin.  Jill's been taking it easy ever since - sleeping a lot, only leaving the house for doctor appointments.  I've been at home with her since the middle of last week. After seeing Jill in so much pain last week, and after recording an elevated blood pressure, Dr. Zimmer decided that we should go ahead and schedule a C-section sooner rather than later.  He set it up for today at 7:30 AM.  So, sometime shortly after that, Jill and I will be new parents!!!  We couldn't be more excited - or nervous! We'll do our best to get word out when the time comes.  But, for those of you who'd like to call or drop by to check on us, we're delivering at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue.  The number is (425) 688-5351.  We'll probably be at the hospital through Sunday. Keep us in your thoughts!

My wife is soooo pregnant...

I'm a slacker.  This I know.  It's been a very long time since I last published an update about Jill and the twins.  In my defense, I have been on the phone to many friends and family.  But, it's past time... So, let's start with some numbers:
  • Today is 35.2 - That means that today is the second day of the 36th week of this pregnancy.
  • On average, twins are born after 36 weeks gestation (of 36.0).  That would be next Wednesday (3/5).
  • Full term for twins is considered 37 weeks gestation, which would be a week from next Wednesday (3/12).
  • And, if labor hasn't started by about 38 and a half weeks, it is usually induced.  That would be the first day of Spring, Friday, 3/21.
  • For reference, a full-term singleton pregnancy is 40 weeks, which is why our official due date is actually 4/2.
Jill says she's shooting for the first day of Spring!  And, you know what?  She might actually make it! She's doing great!  She's still working (some - from bed, mostly).  And, she's still able to do things around the house (despite my repeated requests to let me do it).  In fact, all of the medical professionals we talk to are astounded at how well she is doing, especially considering that there is now about 12 pounds of baby in her!  That's right - 12 pounds!  We learned today that baby A (the boy) is about 5 pounds, 2 ounces.  And, baby B (the girl) is a whopping 6 pounds, 13 ounces!  Though, Phil (our ultrasound guy) said that the measurements are probably a bit low for him and a bit high for her. This was our last "growth" ultrasound before the twins are born.  The next time we know their weight, they'll be on a scale in the delivery room.  It seems so far off, still.  But, it's just around the corner.  It could happen any time.  So, the bag is packed.  We're on pins and needles...

My friend, Vince

We all have those people in our lives who leave a special mark.  We may not see them every day, but our memories and the emotions attached to those memories come on strong each time we think of them.  They bring a smile to our faces and warmth to our hearts. I had a friend.  He was a significant force in my life during our high school years.  He was there for many of the 'firsts' in my life - those rites of passage that we never forget and that, in many ways, help form us into the person we've become today. Vince Gallapaga and I were friends, never boyfriend and girlfriend, but always true friends.  We went to our first Sadie Hawkins dance at Rio together.  That's the event where the girl is supposed to ask the boy.  We were sophomores, and I didn't go to school at Rio so technically I couldn't invite someone to the dance, but somehow we decided to go together.  We dressed up in matching outfits: blue jeans, blue and white checked shirts, red suspenders and straw hats - I guess it was a western theme.  We double dated with Kim West and Jimmy Cuttle.  I don't remember the actual dance as much as the outfits and the friends, but I do remember it as a happy memory, and I have the picture to prove it. Vince was part of the first, and only, time that two boys nearly came to blows over me.  Well, technically, Vince wasn't fighting over me, but Kevin Anderson, my high school boyfriend, didn't always appreciate my friendship with Vince, and there was one night that he threatened to punch him.  We were in my parents' driveway on Ashton Drive.  Vince and I arrived home from a drive in his brother Keith's GTO.  Vince didn't get a chance to drive the GTO very often, so when he got the chance, he jumped at it.  When we got home, Kevin was in the driveway, quite upset.  I think we were going out that night, and when he arrived, I wasn't there.  We got out of the car, and Kevin threatened to punch Vince.  Vince had just had surgery on his nose, and was still quite bruised.  Needless to say, the last thing he needed was to get in any kind of fight.  My mom and sister, Carrie, were both outside, as well, and I have a vivid memory of Carrie jumping in between the two boys, yelling at Kevin to stop.  Ultimately, punches never flew, but there was a lot of teenage adrenaline in the air.  To this day, my mom tells that story every time Vince's name comes up! Vince was there the first time I drank a whole beer.  I believe it was Miller High Life and we were both so proud of my accomplishment!  That was the same night that The Vinces (Vince Gallapaga and Vince Meza) and I acquired the Vincent Avenue signs that hung in their bedrooms for years after that!  I can still remember clearly, sitting in John Gallapaga's Buick Regal, being the lookout.  I'm not sure what I would have done if anyone came along, but there we were, teenagers on a summer night, taking risks and building lifelong bonds. Vince G and I also had our first 'real' jobs together at Happy Steak on Arden Way.  He was the busser; I was the cashier.  We worked with people from the other side of the tracks, and realized that they were no different than us, trying to make their way, just like we were.  That was where we both figured out we were pretty good at taking care of people and making them feel comfortable.  We both carried this knowledge and this skill into our adult lives and continued to nurture the people we met along the way. Vince and I also experienced our first fender bender together - at the corner of American River Drive and Wilhaggin.  We had just gotten off work, and we were looking for a party - there was always a party going on somewhere.  We were debating whether to turn right on to Wilhaggin or continue straight toward Watt Ave.  At the last moment, Vince decided to turn, not realizing that another car was coming up behind us in the right hand turn lane.  We were hit from behind and the car spun, leaving us facing the wrong direction.  No one was hurt, and there was minor damage, but I remember thinking we were in trouble!  We had a six pack of beer in the trunk of the car, and thought for sure we'd be busted.  We traded numbers with the other driver, another teenager who was probably looking for the same party, and then made our way home to tell Vince's parents.  On the way there, we stashed the beer in the ivy in front of my parents' house.  I'm not sure what ever happened to that beer.  A few days later, I can recall sitting at the Gallapaga's kitchen table, with John at that helm, filling out insurance paperwork, and trying to remember the details of the collision.  I remember thinking it was such a hassle to deal with all that paperwork, and I told myself it would be easier just to avoid such incidents in the future. Vince and I had many memories along the way, and not all of them were 'firsts'.  After high school we went on to college; me to Davis, and Vince to Sierra College, and later to Chico.  We met up a few times during those years, and kept up with each other's lives from afar.  In 1997, when I moved to Seattle, Vince and I reconnected.  I learned that he was working at Anthony's in Ballard, and one Saturday night, I showed up at the bar, to find Vince doing what he always dis so well...  nurturing his guests and setting a great example for his employees.  He welcomed me with open arms, and with that our longtime friendship resumed.  We created some new memories; walking the dog at Shilshole, meeting for dinner on Queen Anne, going to a holiday party at the top of the Columbia Tower. Around the time that I met my husband, Alan, in 2001, I lost track of Vince.  I think that's when he went on his journey to Australia.  I became wrapped up in my new romance, and Alan and I married in 2002.  One thing I truly regret is that I didn't take the time to find Vince and invite him to our wedding.  He would have loved sharing that with us, and our other lifelong friends who were there. About a year later, my mom ran into Vince's parents, and they told her about his new venture - establishing a neighborhood restaurant in Seattle that featured Australian meat pies and good beer.  Mom didn't remember the name, so I googled Vince's name, and discovered the Pies & Pints website.  When my parents came to visit a few weeks later, we, once again, showed up in Vince's world to find him thriving.  The restaurant was new, but it was packed.  He was so excited to see us, and to meet my new husband, and although he was running from table to bar to oven and back, he ended up sitting with us for nearly an hour.  He told us all about the making of the restaurant, and his vision for what it would become.  He introduced us to hsi staff, whom he clearly cherished.  He was so proud to show off his creation.  Since then, we've visited Pies & Pints several times and each time Vince was there, nurturing his world.  The last time I saw Vince was a balmy summer night at the restaurant.  We were the last ones there, and Vince had gone home for a shower and then returned with his beloved dog, Darby.  Our friend Susie was visiting from California and there we were, doing exactly what Vince had envisioned - hanging out with friends in a comfortable neighborhood bar, talking about life and enjoying one another immensely. Vince died on Sunday, June 3, 2007.  He died in his sleep of a cardiac event at age 42.  All indications show that he wasn't aware of what was happening to him. Vince's death marks another rite of passage in my life.  He is my first peer and longtime friend to pass on.  I'm surprised by the depth of my mourning, and as Vince would advise anyone, I'm letting myself feel the pain.  It hurts and it heals.  Vince would appreciate the value of this experience and would tell me to embrace it - that it adds one more dimension to who I am. I am so fortunate to have had Vince in my life and to have been able to celebrate his life with his family and his collection of friends.  Sadly, I realize now, that I have experienced my last 'first' with Vince. (posted on behalf of Jill Ridlehoover)