Monday, September 28, 2009

Because Moving Twice in the Last Year Just Wasn't Enough

Some of our faithful blog readers might remember that time where I posted and said that I got a job in North Carolina working for a sales company with crummy benefits. Of course I was just joking, but ironically it's kind of come true, sort of. We aren't moving to North Carolina, but we are moving to the D.C. area. Fortunately it's not a sales job with crummy benefits. The company I'll be working for is called LMI (Logistics Management Institute) and it is a non-profit government consulting agency. I'll be developing surveys, running statistical analysis, and writing and presenting briefings to different government agencies. Sounds exciting, huh? Fortunately I like the line of work and the company has great benefits and an even better work environment.

So this means that there is going to be an apartment available in Berlin, NH. If you like Walmart, Moose, and lots of snow, then call me and we can get an application started right away. We'll even throw in access to the garden that produced one red tomato and numerous slugs.

In case you were wondering, yes, the photos above were taken from the balcony of our high rise luxury condo in downton D.C. Okay, the truth is we don't actually have a place to live yet. The office building I'll be working in has an on-site gym, with lockers and showers, so we might stay there for awhile, at least until we can find a proper place to settle down. It also has a library which will keep Valerie and Brendan occupied while I work.

Although we've only been here in New Hampshire for nine months, we've managed to accumulate lots of junk and other items that we no longer need. We are scheduled to be in Virginia by Oct. 19th, which means that if anyone wants to rummage through our stuff before we leave, please stop by and take a look. Just as a preview we have a few broken Transformer Happy Meal toys, oversized white tube socks, and five or six half empty cereal boxes. It's going to be a total liquidation, everything must go event; you do not want to miss this.

Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering if this post is a joke, it's not. I realize I'm kind of like the boy who cried wolf, but this is actually true. I can provide references if more proof is required.

We are excited and would like to personally invite all our family and friends to move to the D.C. area to join in on our new adventure. If you can't relocate at this time, at the very least plan on flying out and visiting us for at least a few days. We can introduce you to President Obama, Hilary Clinton, the entire Washington Redskins teams, and many of our other new friends.

In conclusion, we are moving, anyone can apply to rent our Berlin apartment, we are having a rummage sale, we really are moving, and everyone should move out to the D.C. area as soon as possible.

The End

More Fall Colors




This tree was my favorite. Completely red and so bright it looks like it’s on fire. I love Fall.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who Needs Sleep Anyway?

It’s late but I’m not in the mood for sleep yet- too much on the brain to settle down. So instead of going to bed with Chris, I am posting on the blog!


IMG_4946 This is a fairly common occurrence at our house. Brendan loves my make-up and my brushes, and even though he’s not supposed to play with them, I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of him beautifying himself.



A little blush does wonders.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

2 Posts in 1 Day- In Honor of Fall


It is officially fall now! The colors are really starting to pop up everywhere and that makes me so happy.


I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful area. Every time I head down the road to go to the store, I am amazed at all the vibrate colors and it’s just going to keep getting better.



Hey look! I’m in a picture! Chris was kind enough to snap a couple of me with Brendan, who was in the mood for more karate kicking.


And I even got a kiss from the sweetest little boy.

A Lost Toy Found


Back in June, we picked up a giant bubble wand in Wal-Mart for only $1 and thought it would be perfect for Brendan. The first time we used it, the stupid thing wouldn’t make any bubbles and we figured that’s what we get for $1. So we threw it in a cubby in the kitchen and forgot about it.  Well, Brendan found it yesterday and demanded that we try it again. And what do you know- it worked!


He had a blast trying to pop the bubbles with his mouth. He didn’t seem to mind the soapy taste surprisingly.



Then, Brendan went ninja on the bubbles and proceeded to karate kick them, complete with the “hi-ya!”, which was pretty hilarious.

Our $1 finally paid off.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Little Part of History Handed Down



Ignore the unhappy faces in these pictures, please, and focus on that lovely green sweater that Brendan is wearing. This sweater was knitted by Chris’s grandma many many years ago and Chris wore this same sweater when he was Brendan’s age. I love that Chris’s mom held onto it for all these years and now Brendan has a special keepsake of his dad’s. A friend in our branch is an awesome knitter and is going to mend some of the loose threads so hopefully this will last a long long time. This is my new favorite piece of clothing and he wears it just about every day.

As I’m typing this, Brendan is sitting next to me at the table “reading” one of his books. When he got to the last page, he flipped it closed and said “amen”. It made me laugh. Love this little boy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Hey There Good Lookin’


Fall weather is upon us and it’s quite chilly in the mornings when we head off to Brendan’s pre-school, so he’s finally getting a chance to wear his awesome denim jacket that my parents got him. Doesn’t he look good?



We’ve done lots of coloring so far today and I’m foreseeing us doing lots more over the next 36 hours. Chris is going out of town so I’ll be all by myself trying to entertain him. Which is going to be hard because I know Brendan is going to miss his dad- especially at night. He’s such a daddy’s boy. But at least this is a short trip and Chris will come home late tomorrow night. I know both Brendan and I will be thrilled when he gets back!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The AABCCB Ballad

Hi! This post is coming to you clear from Henderson, Nevada. My name is Zachariah. I will be your guest poster this evening. Just sit back and enjoy the ride--it's liable to be long and a little bumpy.

My story begins, at least insofar as it is relevant to the Nears, back in 1999. See, that's when Christopher Russell and I first crossed paths. (Happy 10th, dude!) We were in Central America when it happened. It wasn't long before we were fast friends. That's right, we became fast friends fast!

While we were there, we wrote a few songs together. Well, let's be honest--Chris wrote the songs while I was learning how to master the Rubik's Cube. One of those songs was about "Mahana you ugly!" Another of those songs had a Flintsones motif, but that's not really important to my story.

See, the Mahana song is important because it's going to fast-forward us a couple years. Picture Chris and me (if you don't know what I look like, picture someone with features of Mark Walberg and Jerry O'Connell, add a little bit of weight (the muscle's still there, it's just somewhat hidden) and then change the features to look more like mine and voila! there I am) in Utah County. I lived in Branbury in Provo, and he lived near Geneva Road in Orem, though you wouldn't know it from how often he was hanging out with us in Branbury. (We even forged him a fake parking pass.)

Anyway, we learned a number of Chris' songs and then we went around to random girls' apartments and performed the songs for them. There was a third member of our trio back then, but he ended up taking the village bicycle for a ride and never coming back.

So one day this third member and I had an itch to go sing to some girls. Problem was, Chris was not around. With his blessing, we went without him. Well who do you think was behind the first door we knocked on? That's right--a girl named Faith who worked as a bagger at Macey's and occasionally comments on this blog. My memory is a bit foggy here--I don't remember if her roommate was there when we got there or if she came in a little later. What I do know is that we were able to perform and that Faith's roommate was Valerie! (I don't normally use so many exclamation points when I write, but this story has me really excited.)

Here she is:
Yes, this is the same Valerie that you know and love. Turns out her last name wasn't Near back then. It was Liebnewski. I don't know how to spell it, but I know it's Polish. Actually, I don't know that either, I'm just guessing it is. We were intrigued because she had a -ski last name but was half Argentine. I guess you could say she was Argen. Her hair was a lot longer back then, but she still had that same sarcastic smile. She was also in my humanities class, though she already had a buddy in the class. His name was Zach, too, if I recall.

Fast forward a little bit. Remember, Chris still has not met Valerie. (Just in my story, not in really life, silly.) When we saw him again he wanted a report on our little trip. Well, we had to take him back to introduce him to Valerie. Am I getting the details right? Again, I am a little fuzzy on this part, but what I do know is that a couple weeks later (Valentine's Day), after he'd only met her once or twice, briefly, we were getting ready for a little something called the Branbury Ball (huge dance in Mike & Leo's apartment--only really cool people were invited) and Chris didn't have a date. His mind had kept wandering back to Valerie and he decided he'd take the plunge. He invited her to the ball. She said yes.

This is the two of them after they'd met. I don't mean to spoil the ending for you, but in this picture they're married.

So back to our story. Chris and Valerie had a grand old time at the ball--in fact, you could say they had a ball at the ball--and they wanted to keep seeing each other. After some great times, some not so great times, and a few ambiguous statements (she loves me? or she loves this? this conversation is over? or our relationship is over?) they decided they'd better not spend the rest of their lives apart, or in other words, that they'd better spend the rest of their lives together.

Well, what happens when two people love each other? We learned this in elementary school. First comes love, then comes marriage, then wham bam--

Fast forward and we got ourselves a cute little ice-cream-eating, finger-licking kid. And that, my friends, is where today's story begins. (Lengthy introduction, I know--I told you it would be a long ride.)

So, you want to know something interesting about Brendan? He likes ice cream. Yeah, I know, what kid doesn't, right? But that's the kind of material Chris gave me as he briefed me for this post. I'm afraid I am going to have to depart from the script a little . . .

Now Brendan's much more fun when New Hampshire's got sun
And he can go outside and play;
But those months are few when there are things to do
Because the warmth, it doesn't stay.

And though we're told that the winter's too cold,
And it is coming much too soon;
Brendan's got one thought--right now it's much too hot
So he eats his ice cream without a spoon.

Although the summer won't linger, at least it's cold on his finger
Something we relish when we're young;
There are benefits besides, the ice cream cools his insides
And it tastes so sweet on his tongue.

Not too much later, still far from the equator
The Nears went to get sundaes;
They left before dark to take advantage of the park
Where Brendan plays and plays.

Brendan could teeter, life couldn't be sweeter
But he soon realized something was amiss;
It didn't need to be spoken, the see-saw was broken
There was no totter without Chris!

The parlor where they ate gave a special rate
All-you-can-eat toppings for free;
They got fudge and cherries, gummy bears, and strawberries
They scarfed it down with glee.

But before too long they could tell something was wrong
Perhaps all the toppings were a mistake;
From their faces you could tell they weren't feeling well
And they each had a tummy ache.

It was time to drive back so they could clean off the plaque
And get the little one to bed;
They were traveling thus when they began to discuss
All the books that Valerie had read.

Ms. Valerie Near already this year
Has proven she's a book lover;
She's been through seventy, that's right, seventy!
And read them all cover to cover.

Catching Fire she really admired
And its predecessor, Hunger Games;
There were many more, in fact several score
But I don't know their names.

Before I conclude, while you're still in the mood
I've got one more yarn to spin;
This one's about when the coloring books come out
In that little place called Berlin.

Now Brendan's only two, but if you could see what he could do
You'd see he really shines;
Because despite his youth, I swear this is the truth
He can stay within the lines.

Brendan picks the hue, his daddy gets the cue
And colors within the borders;
So despite Brendan's age, the colors get put on the page
Because Chris is good at following orders.

Comment freely--as Dr. Seuss said, "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How We Pass the Time

We are spending as much time as possible outside while the days are still warm and inviting. So far September has had the best weather all year. The days are mild and sunny; the nights cool and calm. It’s been perfect. We’ve even begun to see the leaves slowly changing color in a few spots!IMG_4736 When we were outside today, I tried to get Brendan to sit nicely for me so I could take a few photos of him, but he wasn’t in the mood for cooperating. So instead I just took a lot of photos of him doing what he does on a normal day out in our yard.

IMG_4743 Here he is in the wilderness that is the back half of our garden. I was too lazy to clear out this part in the spring so we just let it grow wild.

IMG_4739 It turns out that it didn’t matter that we never cleared out that part of the garden since nothing but our beans and one small tomato plant grew. I had such high hopes for my garden- oh well. We may get to eat a few tomatoes, if they ever ripen. They are still green and I’m praying that they hurry up and get ripe already before it’s too late. I want to make salsa!

IMG_4753 Playing with rocks and sticks are a big part of his life and it’s a good thing we’ve got so many of them. I don’t think the young man who cuts our grass appreciates Brendan’s rock and stick throwing skills. He has to do a sweep of the yard before he can cut the grass to remove all of Brendan’s little gifts.

IMG_4754 Here he is picking up another rock but this one came with a Daddy Long Legs spider which proceeded to crawl up his hand. Brendan freaked out for a second and I don’t blame him. Ick.

The rest of the time is spent running up and down the hill over and over and over. Sometimes he even does a lap around the house.

IMG_4763 He wore himself out and needed a few quiet moments laying in the driveway.

Now he is peacefully taking a nap in his crib. I’ve been thinking about getting him a real bed and I like the idea of it but not the actual process of getting him to learn to sleep in it and stay in it. Brendan doesn’t like change and resists it as much as possible.  Anyone have any good tips?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I’m in a Good Mood and Feeling Extra Blessed

I am quite content today and that’s a great feeling.

I had a wonderful dinner party with some extra-wonderful women. It was a very nice night out and I made a delicious Spinach Artichoke dip that was divine.

When I got home, this is the adorable face that I saw.

IMG_4709 Chris drew a hilarious Hitler mustache on my sweet, innocent boy. Oh my.

IMG_4714 That’s not blood on his lip- just jelly.

We’ve had issues with these markers before. They DO NOT wash off. So now my son is going to have to attend pre-school tomorrow with a faded out Hitler mustache.

2896171589_2257a43238Chris brought me home a bag of my favorite candy- Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses. I have already eaten half the bag. I think I am the last person alive who loves these candies, although I don’t know why more people don’t like them.  Oh well- More for me! I can’t believe that the Halloween candy has hit stores already though. Last night as I ran to Wal-Mart to pick up some last minute items, I saw the workers shelving all the Halloween goodies. Geez. Yesterday it was still summer and now we’re prepping for Halloween! Good thing I’ve got an idea brewing for Brendan’s costume already.



This movie makes me so happy and I CANNOT WAIT for it to be October 16th. If you haven’t seen the trailer for it yet, go here.

Reading the First Presidency’s message in this month’s Ensign also made me very happy. It was also a good reminder that Brendan is going to learn from my example so I better set the right kind of example.


I finished this book last night and LOVED it. This is definitely one of my favorite things that I’ve read this year so far, along with the first in the series, The Hunger Games. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Now I am sitting peacefully on my couch next to my husband with a quiet two and a half year old sleeping soundly in his crib. That is a great feeling.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mystery Solved

For several weeks now, we’ve had some nasty little friends living in our basement which have been wreaking havoc on me. One day, I went downstairs to do some laundry when I spotted a rather large spider but when I got closer I realized it was not a spider at all. I knew this because it jumped at me and nearly made me faint from fear. We figured they were some kind of cricket but not like any we’ve seen before, and I have no idea why they chose our basement to live in. So for the past few weeks, I have lived in fear and just about every time that I descended into the basement one of those nasty things would be waiting for me. And for some reason, they jump AT you instead of AWAY from you. Chris has become very skilled at killing them.

I finally broke down and did some internet searching, which turned out to be quite easy. I just googled “crickets in basement” and the first thing that appears is a bunch of information on Camel Crickets, also known as Spider Crickets. Oh great. Just what a person who is deathly afraid of spiders needs.


Apparently they also go by the name of Cave Crickets because they live in caves, which I guess our basement appears to be to them. Normally they don’t breed in basements, but the ones we have appear to be doing so. Chris has killed several tiny baby crickets. My parents tried telling me that we should catch them and release them outside. No way, Jose. You couldn’t pay me enough money to do that. Plus, they probably would just come right back. They thrive in dark, stony, damp places- which perfectly describes our basement.

Luckily they are harmless and I’m hoping the much cooler weather we’ve been having will get rid of them naturally because I’m really tired of being attacked every time I want to do a load of laundry.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On Top of New England

IMG_4652 We finally made our way up to the top of Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in the northeast and known for it’s dangerously erratic weather. When we left our place, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in sight but once we got to the top, there were plenty of clouds to ruin the views. But it was still pretty amazing.

IMG_4645The drive up was a little nerve-racking. The road looks like it shouldn’t be able to fit two cars but somehow does and the drop-offs were seriously frightening- with no guardrails. It was a long 20 minute drive.

IMG_4649It was a balmy 45 degrees at the top and I wasn’t ready for temperatures that cold even though we had brought jackets. The worst part was the wind- it was crazy and I was a little afraid of being blown over a few times. Seriously.

IMG_4666 Brendan did NOT like the cold or the wind. He was ready to be back in the car watching Toy Story on our dvd player.

IMG_4660 But it was worth it all. We can now cross off Mt Washington on our list of “things to do while living out east”.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Our Little Nudist

Brendan was running around the house naked this evening so I had to snap some photos of him.


It’s always a little unnerving to have him jumping and playing on our bed without a diaper but he loves it and we can’t say no to him.


And since he was naked, I figured it was a good time to let him eat Oreos and make a mess.


And a short update on his speech therapy: it’s going well. His speech therapist, Todd, comes to our house once a week for an hour and plays with Brendan. So far, most of the time has been spent with Todd trying to see what skills Brendan has already and what his limits are, so he can plan what activities will help Brendan the most. It’s amazing to see how small, little things make a big difference. For example, one of Todd’s suggestions was to wait 5 to 7 seconds after asking Brendan a question to give him more time to process what we’re saying and what his answer is. Usually if Brendan didn’t answer right away, I would jump in and try to guess what he wanted or needed but now, just by giving him more time, Brendan is able to tell me on my own. I’m hoping that we’ll continue to see progress so quickly and I’m so glad that we’re able to give Brendan a little extra help where he needs it.