Monday, December 15, 2014

Review of 2014: Part 2

Continuing on with my review of 2014, I'm covering the months of April, May, and June.


These months were very difficult for our family. Each time, when we thought we had reached a lull and would be able to slow down and process things, something else would happen.


I took my oral boards in April. It was one of the most ridiculous, stressful moments of my entire professional career.  I treated myself to a fancy lunch and a trip to the Chicago art museum to decompress after the exam.

I found out I passed those boards and became a fully board certified anesthesiologist.

Duck was sick multiple times and both Hubster and I missed a significant amount of work/school staying home with him.

Dental school really started to pick up with the notorious "Super Block" and Hubster was routinely in clinic or lab until after  9 pm.

We celebrated Easter.

The weather finally turned warm and we were able to go outside. We rejoiced in the sunshine.


My parents came to visit us. We explored parts of Iowa and Chicago.

We welcomed two kittens into our family.

Duck continued to be ill and miss multiple days of daycare. He started loosing weight and was diagnosed with failure to thrive. We started getting multiple blood tests and referrals to specialists.

Hubster and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. I wrote about what makes us work as a couple.

At the end of May, Hubster's father had a heart attack, and then two large strokes. He passed away just a few days later. Hubster had been flying out to see his father and discuss long term care; his father died while Hubster was on his last flight, just a couple hours before Hubster arrived.  I quickly arranged for some friends to watch the older boys, and Duck and I flew out to be with Hubster and attend the funeral.


A week after my father-in-law passed away, my father was in a very severe accident that broke multiple bones in his neck. He underwent two significant surgeries. Amazingly, despite the severity of his injuries, he had no long term damage and has no neuro defects, no paralysis, no complications.

Bug graduated 6th grade and left elementary school behind.

Bug turned 12.

Duck underwent endoscopy and was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  He went completely gluten free and the rest of us went mostly gluten free. Thjs was how we felt about the whole thing.

The boys and I ran a color 5K.

Many of my friends graduated residency and/or got new jobs that involved almost all of them moving out of state. I stayed put at my university job.


We had good moments during those months, but for the most part, they took a huge emotional toll on our family that we are still working on recovering from. At the time, everything felt too raw and difficult to write about. Sometimes, it still does. But it's therapeutic to look back, remember, and continue to work on moving forward.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review of 2014: Part 1

When I saw several bloggers teaming up to sponsor a review of the last year, encouraging bloggers to go back and review their year, several months at a time, I knew I had to participate. 2014 has been such a stressful, crazy, hectic, roller coaster of a year. I found myself with very little time to write. There are many things I wanted to share, but never got the opportunity to. So I'm taking that chance, and joining in the 2014 Review Extravaganza


January found us in the middle of one of the coldest winter on record. We had days on end of below zero temperatures, multiple school cancellations for the frigid cold, and became all too familiar with protocols to prevent frozen pipes.

We did our best to cope with the cold. We did indoor ice skating, we had game nights, plenty of evenings around our fireplace.

The cold weather made it possible to walk across the lake, freeze bubbles on the porch, and make ice lantern. Like I said, we dug deep to find the silver lining.

With the intolerable temperatures outdoors, I decided to fully commit to the whole running thing and bought a treadmill.


Bug and Monkey continue to compete in chess tournaments, so I spent many Saturdays in junior high cafeterias, cheering them on (but only very quietly, as to not disrupt the games.)

We went skiing several times.

Yes, you can ski in Iowa.

 I got the flu.

I thought winter would never end.

The one time I managed to blog this month, I wrote about one of the biggest struggles I face with parenting.


Things really started to pick up in March.  I started studying very seriously for my oral boards and that started to consume my entire life.

Despite the massive amount of book time I was putting in, we still managed to do plenty of fun activities.

We went to Wisconsin Dells for Spring Break. We packed in several days of water slides, laser tag, bowling, and just over all great fun and relaxation.

We tapped our maple tree, which I always look forward to with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm. We didn't end up getting any maple syrup though, because I forgot about the sap boiling while doing board study and ended up burning all the gallons of beautiful sap we had collected.

I turned 32.

I maintained what little sanity I had left by completing one of my life goals and hiring a cleaning service.


I may be a little guilty of using this review as an excuse to share many photos that I wouldn't get to post otherwise. But I really enjoyed the chance to sit down, look back, and remember how the first part of the year went. Which is how the entire year went: in a flash.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Little Extra Magic

As the holidays approach, each year I find myself in the exact same predicament. The struggle between not taking on too much and not doing enough.

I want to focus on the season and meaning and feeling of Christmas and create good memories and traditions and spend high quality time with my children. So I cut back and remove all non essential portions: no big outings to the city, no extravagant decorating, not too many social functions. And as soon as I do that, I worry that I'm not doing enough for the holidays, that there isn't enough magic and activity, and that I'm just failing at the whole thing.

I'm sure one of these years I'll feel that I got it just right and it was the perfect combination between magical and simple. Until that mythical day arrives, we'll just keep doing what we always do, trying to find the little extra holiday magic where ever we can.

No matter how many carols I listen to or presents I buy, the Christmas season doesn't feel like it really starts until our tree is up.

This weekend, we went out in the unseasonably warm weather to the same local tree farm we've visited nearly each year we've lived in Iowa. 

This year's tree hunt was a little extra magical, because I let the boys have the final say in what tree we took home.  

And Duck was overly excited about everything, from the trees, to his Santa hat, to the farm's bunnies.

After getting the tree home and adding hundreds of lights, the boys took on the decorating. 

It's so strange how much decorating the tree has changed. It used to be that I decorated the tree by myself. Then the boys got a little older and I let them hang a few ornaments. That progressed to them hanging all the ornaments themselves, and me rearranging them after they went to sleep. Now, the tree is completely decorated by them, without any parental revisions. Bug oversaw the process and would move things around as he saw fit.

 Seeing the extra bit of pride in my boys that they picked and decorated this tree themselves added just a little extra magic.

Each year, we try to add a few new ornaments. Some years, I just buy them because I really can't do anything more. This year, we made some. We tried some painted ones that are still drying on the kitchen counter. I think they are going to be lovely. Add the minimal amount of mess and that everyone had a great time doing it, I think they were a win. 

But the magical ornaments came from slices of past Christmas trees we've been saving. We finally gathered all those pieces and with our wood burner, added the year that each tree was from. It was the perfect touch to this year's tree.

As we continued to decorate our house, adding garland above windows and paper chain in the hallway, the boys were delighted that our house was looking like a completely different home. Which motivated me to continue to add little touches. Some long stored away red towels were placed in the hall bath for some holiday color. LED candles were tucked into random corners. Colored lights were draped over the curtain rods in the bedrooms.

Then, on a whim, I decided on one last project.

Taking some red washi tape, I added a little extra magic to our stairs. 

Now, there really is Christmas in every corner of our home. And the smiles that brings, both to my children and to me. That's all the extra magic we need.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


A two year old is simultaneously one of the most amazing things and one of the formidable things that exists.

Duck is no exception. 

Each day, I'll find myself marveling and rejoicing in the delight of his two year old self dozens of times. And each day, I'll find myself utterly exhausted and practically defeated by his two year old self.

At two year old, Duck...

Talks up a storm. I delight in each word and phrase. I'm that annoying parent who overshares all the things her kid says (and that's even after I filter myself). From the way his Ks sound static filled, and his complete phrases of "be right back" and "read books on couch."

Knows his colors. Took some convincing to say purple and orange, but now has those down pat.

Counts to three. Constantly. When jumping off things. When stacking things. When asked how old he is.

Is a dare devil. He will jump off anything, and has the head bumps to prove it. 

Is still a picky eater, which makes being gluten free extra hard. But he does love spaghetti and gluten free pizza and apples. 

Can watch Dumbo and Mater's Tall Tales on repeat. The entire time he is watching Dumbo he jumps on the couch and shouts, "Dumbo!" As soon as the movie is over, he calls out, "Dumbo again!" Replace "Dumbo" with "Truck" for the other show and you have a full weekend.

Loves being read to. Always asks for another story.

Makes faces as himself in his car mirror and loves to take selfies. As soon as he sees a phone out, he runs over and says, "Picture. Cheese." 

Still lets me snuggle him at bed time. We're working on a new bedtime routine that we keep telling ourselves will be worth it at the end. Every 5 minutes each night we tell ourselves this.

Can through the most impressive tantrum.

Can empty three dresssers of clothes, relocate all the items on your night stand to the laundry hamper, most the toys to the kitchen trash can, and your purse contents to the litter box while you are trying to empty the dishwasher.

Sings "Let It Go" and "Baby Beluga" in such a sweet baby voice that it can break your heart.

Loves hugs, being back carried, his daycare classmates, trains, trucks, and emptying his bath tub onto the floor.

Dislikes being in grocery carts, eating most foods, footy pajamas, or taking his shoes off.

Is just a wonder and a terror and a delight and a headache and a joy and a whirlwind all at once. And I just want to enjoy every moment. After I catch up with him.