Saturday, August 29, 2009

Somebody's Three!

I know my last post was all about Blaise. But my "baby" turning three necessitates another post.

Turning three in this house means a very silly turtle cake.

It also means turtle cake with possibly a little bit of, spit, after some enthusiatic candle blowing!

And it also means presents, which include a great swing for the backyard (I'll show you, I promise.)

As I was uploading the pictures from today, I looked over the pictures from his last birthday. I can't believe how much has changed in one year.

Actually, I can not believe how much has in the shortest and longest three years of my life.

Blaise: One day old!

3 months old

5 months old

9 months old

One Year Old!

18 months old, and finally starting to act like the Blaise we know!

2 Years Old!

Blaise was the happiest, chubbiest little baby I had ever seen. And I was completely enamored by the fact that he was all mine. I was able to spend six months home with him after he was born. Those six months postponed my medical school graduation, and led to me starting residency a year after my friends and classmates. But I wouldn't trade those six months for anything. In return, I had nearly another six months with him before residency started.

I'm sure that he won't remember that I took that time to be with him. He will remember the school years when I can't be there, when I'm taking frequent overnight call at the hospital, when I'm working 80+ hours a week, and I may miss birthdays, and holidays, and sporting events. But I will always remember it. And I will continue to do everything I can to make the most of every second we have.

Blaise took terrible twos to a whole new meaning. I've been asked to leave a store after Blaise was found licking the entire length of the store front window. I've had to apologize to fellow shoppers at the grocery store after they have been run over by a cart Blaise was maneuvering or hit in the head by an object he decided no longer belonged in the cart. Books, toys, entire pieces of furniture have met a painful and untimely death at Blaise's hands and mouth. We've had mood changes stronger and faster than anything previously witnessed. I've questioned my parenting skills and my sanity.

Through it all, Blaise has been so intensely cute that I get a painful heart squeeze nearly everytime I look at him. He greets me daily with a tight hug around the knees and a "You're my best friend!" He asks me to dance everytime I wear a skirt.

I don't think we are leaving the terribleness behind now that we've entered three. Not yet anyway. Blaise has taken to standing by my bedside at ungodly hours and crying. I can never figure out what he wants, as he rejects all offers of my bed, his bed, milk, cuddling, and stories. He eventually falls asleep on the floor next to me. He tattles incessantly on Roman.

But he is still potty trained. He is still happy and cuddly and cute.

And above all, he is still loved.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Body Image

Have you seen this picture floating around on the internet?

I don't normally post pictures of scantily clad (or not clad) people on my blog. But I felt that this was good enough, and maybe even important enough to write about.

I have self image issues. Major ones. Maybe, reading between the lines on my Wednesday Weigh-Ins, you've already ascertained that. I've been plagued by self image issues that have made their way into self esteem issues. I've fought my battles. Someday, maybe, I'll get brave enough to talk more about those battles. Today is not that day.

This picture was originally just a 3 inch by 3 inch photo in a major fashion magazine. When I saw this picture, it was amazingly refreshing. A woman posing for a major magazine who looks like a normal woman. She has a normal looking tummy. She has normal looking thighs. Nicer ones than mine, but still normal looking. She is a size 12-14. Not a size 0, 1, or 2. A normal healthy size.

And she is beautiful.

No matter how we would like to deny it, we compare ourselves to other women. We see covers of magazines, stick thin mannequins, impossibly thin actresses, and we do compare. We tend to focus on the thin women around us and think they are the ones we are supposed to look like. We tend not to notice as much all the perfectly normal women.

I'm not talking about wanting to be a healthy weight. I am not at an ideal BMI. When I exercise and diet (which I'll eventually get to. I promise you and me that.) I'm not aiming for a dress size or pant size. I'm aiming to be healthier.

Have you see this commercial?

When I first saw this commercial during the Super Bowl many years ago, I was brought to tears.

Hopefully, the media becomes full of pictures of real, healthy, happy women. And the next generation of girls will have an easier time of it than I did.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A post for Blaise

When I asked Blaise to run upstairs and get dressed while I made breakfast, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind...


Keith has started back at school. Well, there's nothing really "back" about it, other than it is still school. He has transferred to the local university to take a few more prerequisites before he applies to dental school.

Keith going back to school means that Blaise must head back to daycare.

It's been six months since Blaise has been in daycare. Before the Big Move, he was home with me after I graduated medical school and had a little extra time home. For a month after the Big Move, our entire family was home together. An entire blissful month. Residency started in July. Meaning Blaise has been home for nearly two months with Keith.

We started looking for daycares nearly as soon as we moved to Iowa. We wanted the chance to get one we really loved.

I know. A daycare you love. Next to impossible, oxymoron, wishful thinking, all of the above. We had not liked the last daycare the boys were at. But it was the only one that could bus Roman to his elementary school that had room for both the boys, so we had to take it. It wasn't terrible. Just not very nice. Staff was hard to find. Things always felt disorganized and dirty. I felt terrible about leaving my boys there, but there wasn't much we could do at the time. We wished that they could go back to the center before that, but it was too far away from Roman's elementary school

With Roman now at an amazing elementary school with a great after school program for when we need it, bussing and other transportation issues would not stand in the way of finding a daycare that we, well maybe not love, at least felt comfortable with.

We looked at a lot. Nearly every single one nicer than the one in Utah. And all with waiting lists months long.

One place stood out from all the others. A place just down the block from the hospital. The center is run out of a 100 year old home. And it was unlike any place I had ever looked at. They only take 24 children, ages 2-5. And the children are not divided by age. They all play together. Each room in the house has a different activity: blocks, dress-up, books, art, science. Each room is staffed at all times by college child-education majors. The children are free to move between the rooms as they please, no schedule other than morning circle time, lunch, nap, and snack. "Just like," the center director said, "life at home. If the child wants to play cars instead of blocks, or read instead of dress up, we let them. No one can say which is better and healthier for them." And the backyard was a huge playground full of trees and sandboxes and swings and slides and tunnels. Our first visit, Blaise grabbed a truck and headed to the sandbox.

We loved it. We added our name to the list right away. Then the director hit us with it. "Most families get a spot in 9 months."

Nine months!!!

We were going to need one in less than two months.

So we kept looking. We looked at academic centers and standard daycares.

Then we got a phone call. A child had moved and there was a spot availabe at the center we loved. How we got the spot, I don't know. But we took it.

Blaise started yesterday.

All morning, I wondered how he was doing, how he was adjusting after so much time at home.

Then, to my surprise, I got an e-mail for the director in the early afternoon, telling me exactly how Blaise was doing. She said he cried after being dropped off, and initially didn't want to play, but they sat outside for a while and she suggested filling up dump trucks in the sand box, which he did.

I was amazed to get an e-mail. What a wonderful thing to send when parents are dealing with first day jitters.

Amazingly, I got another e-mail today, telling me that Blaise did much better, and was a "lovely altruistic child." I wanted to reach through my computer screen at clinic and hug the entire daycare.

And even if there were tears, I was met at home by a darling little boy who shouted, "Guess what? I went to school today!"

We are so fortunate to have Blaise is such a place. One of the things I love about this place is that it is NOT an academic center. It is run like a normal home, to give children as normal a childhood as possible.

There is plenty of time for school later, as Blaise's parents are evidence of.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not me! Monday: Sugar High

At the fair this weekend, we did NOT eat candy bars dipped in funnel cake batter and then deep fried. And then after that, we absolutely did NOT eat powder sugar covered funnel cakes. And there was NO WAY we also ate cotton candy. I am fanatic about my kids eating healthy and would NEVER fill them up with sugar and let them loose on a barn full of animals. Nope, not me.

While I was showering last week, I was NOT shaving my legs with my feet propped up awkwardly against the shower wall. No, I would have definitely have found a better way to shave my legs. And while I was shaving, my foot DID NOT go through the wall. Tiles did NOT fall down and sheet rock did NOT start crumbling. And I know for sure that I DID NOT calmly finish showering and getting dressed before telling Keith. I love our house and would never try to downplay such an event. And I DID NOT feel terrible that I have created another project.

I did NOT invite three families over this weekend for Blaise's upcoming birthday party. Our house is SO CLOSE to being done and three year old's need big parties. Or NOT.

I absolutely did NOT postpone doing my anesthesia textbook reading because I was trying to finish reading the entire Harry Potter series (again.) No, I would NEVER do that. I always have my priorities straight.

Feeling guilty for something you totally DID NOT do this week? Hop on over to visit MckMama, and see what else everyone has NOT been doing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

State Fair

The Iowa State Fair, to grossly underestimate, is a big deal.

Everyone kept asking, not "if" we were going, but "when" we were going. When I'd say that I wasn't sure, we didn't know if we wanted to drive all the way to Des Moines, I would get the same crazy look from people that I did when I said I didn't like "Field of Dreams." Because that too, is a big deal here in Iowa.

Finally, they broke us.

We took the boys yesterday.

And to say it was crowded would also be a gross underestimation.

The scale took me by surprise. Hundreds of sheep, goats, horses, cows, pigs, and rabbits (which were definitely the favorite.) There were also elk, llamas, and ostriches. Massive pigs weighing 1100 pounds and tiny adult cows the same height as Blaise were also included.

We also saw the famous butter cow.

One thing the Iowa State Fair is famous for is its "Food on a Stick." Chicken, cake, cookies, pork, even salad, can all be bought and eaten off a stick. What the Iowa State Fair is not known for is its health food. Nearly everything is deep fried. I'll admit that we saw "deep fried Snickers bar," and there was no going back. Although we did forgo the whole pickles wrapped in cream-cheese spread pastrami.

And I've found a new love: Funnel cakes! I am currently looking for the recipe and I predict only bad things for my waistline once I find it.

The highlight of the day had to be the "Little Hands on the Farm" exhibit, a(finally!) free exhibit that lets small children understand a little more about farming. Walking in past sprawling pumpkin vines, they were both given aprons and a bucket.

We followed the path that lead to a garden where they planted "seeds" and "harvested" vegetables.

We then went to the grain silo where they picked up corn and soybeans (yes, the staples of Iowa.) The soy was later turned in to be made into fuel, earning them a ride on a tractor. The corn was "feed" to cows in exchange for dairy products. The boys also collected wool and eggs from displays lifelike enough to startle Blaise on several occasions.

That the very end, they go to the farmer's market where they sell their products. They were given a "dollar" to take to the store, where magically, everything cost a "dollar." The boys left, happy with their popsicle they had worked so hard to earn.

As we sat in some much coveted shade, Roman happily licking his rapidly melting popsicle, sagely said, "Wow, farming's hard work!"

I guess they made their point.

We decided to skip the rides this year. The boys were starting to get cranky from all the walking and too much sugar.

We made it back to the car just after the break-downs and tears hit. These were rapidly vanquished with "So, what did you like best?" It was a tie between giant animals and pumpkins, the snake house, and the little farm.

The long ride home was spent with Roman discussing what we will do next year at the Fair.


The patient goes into a long train of profanities, hoping to portray the amount of agony he has been endured since his failed back surgery three years ago.

I wish I could say that I learned some new words and phrases. But I've heard everything variation on the theme from other patients.

He suddenly falls silent and looks at me, probably realizing for the first time that I am half his age and female.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."

I reassure him that he didn't. That I understand how frustrating his condition is and how discouraging it can be to have dealt with it for so long before finally getting a referral to our clinic.

When I come back with my attending to have the patient sign the consent for the procedure we hope will ease his pain, he launches into the same stream of profanity, only to apologize again.

My attending disregards it with a casual wave of his hand.

"Don't worry. We're all Teflon-coated here."

Maybe that's true. And maybe that's the problem.

Our training teaches us to be accepting and empathetic. Yet our training also teaches us that we can't become too involved. I used to think that this was harsh. Of course I want to be involved! my newly trained self would shout. But quickly, we learn that we can't.

I can shrug off a patient's accusations or crudeness or flat out rudeness and act like a professional. I can provide the best possible care without prejudice or criticism. I treat IV drug users and parole violators and moms on meth with the same carefully thought out decision making process I use for university professors and preschool teachers and stay at home parents. I can Teflon-coat myself to be immune to the emotional and, occasionally, moral onslaught that occurs daily.

But like most things in medicine, this non-stick coating is a two edged sword. Yes, we can treat your cancer, but you will be sick and weak and bald. Yes, we can treat your pain but you may end up addicted to the drugs we prescribe. Yes, we can fix your problem but it will take you weeks, maybe months to recover from the surgery and you will always, always, have the scar.

Self-protection is no different.

The rudeness and insults an unhappy drug-seeking patient hurl at me as she storms out of the exam room do not bother me.

But neither does telling a patient that their diabetes had completely ruined their kidneys and we need to start talking about dialysis.

I can stand by the bedside while we, as a team, tell sobbing parents that their teenage son will not wake up again. I don't make a sound as we tell a young mom that her once cooing, crawling, smiling baby has had a stroke and will not do any of those things again.

Let me take that back.

Yes, it bothers me. It all does.

I have hunched on the floor behind the coat rack of the locker room and sobbed. I have escaped to stair wells to break down. I have walked away from yelling patients shaken.

But we must not be involved.

We can be empathetic, yes. I can sit with a patient while they take it all in. I can answer their questions. I can occassional provide answers, and hopefully, comfort and reassurance.

But I can't be involved.

The amount of hurt and grief and anger that spins past me everyday is enough to grab me, take me under and never let me surface again.

But I must surface. I must go home everyday where I am greeted by the sound of little running feet and happy blue eyes.

And so I'll take it. I'll take my Teflon-coating, the good with the bad.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second Grade

Backpack full, new clothes on (which he picked out last night himself), facial expressions alternating between excited and close to tears...

Roman started second grade at his new school.

I was lucky enough to be the one to walk him down the side walk and to the door where his class was lined up. (Keith had orientation for transferring to the local university, and I had to request a day off so someone could be with the boys. I chose today...just for this reason.)

I keep thinking it will get easier, this whole time flying by and my boys getting taller and first days of school. But it doesn't. I watched him, looking anxious but trying to look cool and unconcerned, follow his teacher into the school. The door shut behind the row of other four foot high, new clothes clad children, and I instantly became teary-eyed.

Why am I crying? I've done this before, both new schools and new daycares. I should be used to this. And there's still 3rd grade, and 4th grade, and 5th grade, and then middle school, and high school...and no, don't think about it, or I'll start crying more.

I was shaken out of my reverie by Blaise, who had crumpled onto the sidewalk and was in his own pile of tears. I scooped him up. "Why are you crying, darling? Do you miss Roman?"

"N-n-n-ooo! I-I-I want to g-go to school!"

I decided a nice long walk was the best way for the two of us to cope with our tears.

All day, between emptying the garage and balancing the check book, I peered out of windows, or stood on the front porch, looking at the school, wondering how Roman was doing.

Then, minutes before the final bell rang (which by the way, we can't hear at all at our house, even when we are outside) I stood on the front porch, waiting for him. Watching him run down the sidewalk, I couldn't help but grin.

"Tell me about school."

"It was fine."

Yep, that's about as much as I could get out of him. Of course, he doesn't remember what they talked about or the names of any other students. Typical conversation for first day of school at a new school (this is the third time we've done this.)

But he's excited to go back tomorrow.

It's going to be a great school year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I got an a-mail recently, asking about my diet. To be more specific, wondering what happened to those weekly posts about my weight and what I was doing to finally lose it.

There's a reason it's been months since a "Wednesday Weigh-In."

It's because I've been avoiding the scale.

Between the Big Move, the constant work on the house (pictures to come very, very soon), adjusting to a new city, and my anesthesia residency, time for me has been in short supply.

My drive to work follows the river. Next to the river is an amazing running/biking path. As I drive to work at 6 am, in the early morning grayness, the path is full of old ladies walking in groups, cyclists in yellow spandex and helmets, college girls in tanktops and headphones. And I wish I could join them. But while they are out walking, cycling, and running, I'm already headed to work. I pass them again in the evening on my way home. And I think maybe I could fit it in. But at home, there are textbooks and journal articles, and dishes, and meals, and home renovations, and the two most darling boys ever. And I don't go out. I stay put and work hard.

And I'll admit that I haven't been eating as healthy as I should. We've allowed ice cream back in the house. It was for rewards for Monkey completing potty training, but I'll admit I've had at least my fair share (if not a little more). The short evenings and heavy work load have translated into more meals of pizza and fast food. Breakfast is a bagel or English muffin. Then I get home after 12 hour days, not having eaten all day. And I'll break into a box of crackers.

During all this time, the scale has remained pushed back as far as I can get it into the back corner of my closet.

I can't bare to look. All the hard work I did earlier in the year surely is gone.

I'm not sure I foresee a time when there will be more time to take care of me. I've got more balls than I can handle in the air, burning the candle at both ends, hanging by my teeth, whatever you like.

I'd like to say I'm doing the best I can, but I know that's not true. Everyone can always to better. I could eat healthier, even when I'm stressed. I could stop blogging and pull out my stationary bike.

Someday, I'll get brave enough to pull out the scale. And then someday I'll stand on it. And someday, I may even look down and read the number between my feet.

But for now, I'm just going to keep plowing along.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meeting the Teachers

Roman starts 2nd grade on Thursday. 2nd grade!

I'm sure I should at some time get to a point where I stop putting exclamation points after my childrens' age or grade level. But today is not that time. I still don't understand how they grew up so quickly and how I suddenly find myself with a second grader.

This evening was the elementary's ice cream social. We strolled over to the school (very glad that we live right next door and didn't even have to think about trying to find parking among the overflowing parking lot and street sides.)

We got a little last minute paperwork done. Roman met his new teacher. She seems very nice. We are all a little excited about school starting (between the mourning of the end of summer. Seriously, not ready yet.)

Roman's school does something I haven't seen done before. Maybe it's normal here in the Midwest. The school is divided into Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Alpha is 1st and 2nd grade. Beta is 3rd and 4th grade. Gamma is 5th and 6th grade. Each section (Alpha, Beta, Gamma) is divided in half. Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta 1, etc, etc. Alpha 1, consisting of half the children in 1st grade and half the children in 2nd grade is taught by one teacher. (I'm sure that I've done a terrible job explaining. That is what happens when you find out your DVR chose tonight to have a tantrum, your two year old threw a cup of milk at you, and you are seriously withdrawing from caffeine.)


This way, the children have the same teacher for two years. It minimizes changes, allows teachers to know their students better and address individual educational needs better.

Everyone we've met tells us how wonderful the elementary school is. It's a big reason we bought the house we did. Now, it's time to see if it lives up to its reputation.

Corn Country

They grow good corn here in Iowa.

At least that's what we've heard.

And if quantity is any sign of quality, it must be true. Because corn fields flank nearly every road and make up much of the scenery.

We decided to try the local corn out. Because honestly, Wal-mart corn just wasn't cutting it.

We made our way to the local farmer's market. I wish that I had brought my camera. The tables of heirloom tomatoes, and new baby squash, and jars overflowing with fresh cut bundles of herbs, and the backs of trucks filled to the rim with corn was beautiful.

We bought our dozen corn and went home and peeled it on the back porch, enjoying the evening.

Turns out, they're right.

The corn here is mighty good.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Behind the curve

I have a brother-in-law that buys new technology the moment it hits the shelf. He is always the first one with the newest iPhone, the latest movie-viewing machine, the most recent gaming system.

We take turns making fun of each other.

He reminds me of that scene from "The Wedding Singer," when Glenn buys a CD player for $700. If my BIL would wait, even a couple months, many items would be cheaper and better.

He makes fun of me for waiting so long. When I mentioned the Wedding Singer scene, he asked if I would wait 20 years to buy new technology just so I could get it cheaper.

And I'll admit it. When it comes to technology, I'm usually behind the curve. And it really doesn't matter what form that technology comes it.

I didn't get an e-mail address until I was a freshman in college in 2000, well after all my friends had e-mail. I was the last one of my friends to get a debit card, and it was getting fed up carrying a newborn Bug into the gas station to pay for gas that finally convinced me. We had dial-up internet forever! Well after high speed dial-up, DSL, and then cable internet came along, we were still trucking along with our good old NetZero account. I don't have a laptop. I just got an iPod.

Some of it because I'm cheap (or frugal. Yeah, let's go with that). I'll admit it. It was hard to imagine that paying $30 plus dollars a month just for internet would ever be worth it, when we were getting our dial-up for $6.95/month (we had gotten a special deal by threatening to change services.) So what if I spent much of my undergraduate career wanting to throw things at the computer while waiting for pages to least my frustration was cheap!

The other part of it is I'm always a little skeptical if the new technology will really make things better. Maybe it's just another way to brag about how "with it" you are.

But this week, we've made a change that would have my BIL cheering for joy.

We got DVR.

I wasn't sure we needed it. After all, we had a VCR. I could just set it to record shows while I was at work or at the lake. I had even gotten quite good at setting multiple grograms on the VCR. Yeah, it was inconvient. Yeah, sometimes we misjudged the start or end time and never knew how LOST ended. Yeah, the quality of the picture was lacking (nowhere near as amazing as the HD picture Hubster insisted we sign up for the minute we bought a new TV.) But still, we already had the VCR.

(But now that I think about it, I'm not exactly sure what happened to our old, boxy, non-LCD-flat-panel. I'm beginning to think it may have had some help meeting it's untimely demise.


So, I wasn't convinced.

But we have crazy schedules. Now probably more than any other time. And I've started the nasty habit of falling alseep during the season premier of Psych, or before the champion is named in Chopped. Hubster doesn't really have time to constantly be programming the VCR, especially now that fall premiers are right around the bend.

I was sold on the DVR within 2 minutes of having it. I could record all the new episodes of America's Got Talent. And watch it whenever I want. In HD! We can record two shows at once. No more conflict between Survivor and LOST. And recording is easy: just a push of a button. No more timers, making sure the VCR clock is aligned with the TV clock, worring about how much tape I have left, wondering if I really turned the TV to the right channel.

I thought the cable menu was the best thing that ever happened to TV watching (seriously, how does anyone do it without it?) I've decided now that DVR is going to take TV watching to a whole new level.

I think I'll call my brother-in-law and let him tell me "I told you so."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hair Cuts

Between residency starting, working on our home, and just plain having fun exploring our new surroundings, some things got moved to the bottom of the to-do list.

Meaning that Blaise and Roman have spent several weeks looking looking a little scruffy. Blaise especially started looking like a little sheep dog.

The Before

So with both boys' hair hanging in their eyes and combing hair in the morning become more of a "snarl-and-tangle" fest, we made our way to get haircuts.

Roman, in typical fashion, didn't say a word to his stylist, except, "Fine," when asked how he liked his hair cut.

Blaise sat in the chair by himself and didn't even whimper once (not even when the clippers came out.)

No more hair impairing their vision. No more, um, nearly mullets (hey, Blaise's hair just seems to grow a little faster in the back) or Elvis sideburns. And they both look pretty happy about their new dos.

The After

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mission Accomplished

We decided that we should hurry and celebrate while we still can.

Blaise is potty-trained!

Oh, he still has the occasional accident, and still wears a Pull-Up for naps and bedtime. But other than that, we've done it!

He can wear underwear all day, and keep them dry. We can go shopping, to the park, or on a walk, and he stays dry.

He tells us when he needs to go. Sometimes, he goes by himself and then comes to find us to tell us he's already gone.

We owe a lot of his success to popsicles. Once we started using popsicles as a reward for going potty, we started making a lot of headway. We were already having a lot of success having him go bottomless. Once we added popsicles to the mix...well. Blaise is potty trained. It helps that he would always give half his "piddle Skittles" and half his popsicle to Roman. Once Roman figured out that he got treats when Blaise went potty, Blaise got a lot more encouragement.

We're celebrating now, because we know it may not last. School is starting back up. Roman will be starting 2nd grade. Keith will be going back to work on some final dental prerequisites. Blaise will start attending daycare (more about that later.) With all these changes, there is sure to be set backs.

But we are not going to let that distract from the happiness we feel at being once again, diaper free!

Now, if only we could get Blaise to wear clothes again.


I'm just going to come right out and say it.

Monkey has been a difficult child.

It nearly kills me to say it. Because he is so ridiculously cute. But nearly everyday, Hubster and I look as him after he has finally fallen asleep, and just stare at the occasionally still dirt-smudged pile of smooth blond hair, little nose, and dimpled elbows and knees, and wonder. How can he possibly be so darling, but so exhausting and frustrating at the same time?

From the moment he was born, the personality differences between him and Bug were apparent. He was always awake, more social, and grinned at every object within view.

Little did we know, that was just the beginning.

Bug, now 7, was always content to just read, draw, or do nearly anything that would allow him to be busy, but by himself. He was usually quiet. And although occasionally moody, he was usually quite well behaved.

This, of course, allowed Hubster and I to clap ourselves on the back, foolishly thinking it was our exemplary parenting skills that had lead to such a wonderful child.

Monkey, on the other hand. Well, we thought our house our house was child proof...

The minute he could crawl, he would go to the cupboards and try to open them. Of course, he couldn't get past the child locks, but this did not stop him from trying everyday. Just like a velociraptor on Jurassic Park, he would daily try the locks on the off chance that one day, he would get around them.

He would follow his older brother every second, and destroy anything Bug tried to do. Block towers, beware. Train tracks, doomed. Puzzles, not a chance. He even enjoys a little independent destroying. There are only a handful of toy cars that still have ownership of their tires, the rest having been chewed and pried off. Books that made it by Bug unscathed met their untimely demise during the moments we suddenly realized we hadn't heard Monkey making any noise for 2 minutes.

We have an ottoman that no longer resembles a piece of furniture, after being used as a chew toy by Monkey.

Once, when he was about 18 months old, I was cooking dinner. I turned around to see Monkey holding a huge ball of dryer lint that he had fished out of our (covered) kitchen garbage bin. He was chewing and shuddering. In the half second that I had been frozen with the horror of it all, he took another bite. I immediately became unfrozen and extracted the fuzzy gray mass from his chubby hands, and held his still lint covered hands under the facet. And the whole time, despite the screaming I was being met with, wondering why, WHY, did he take a second bite?

The terrible twos have been especially terrible. We haven't escaped a store without a display being knocked over, the shopping cart being pushed into some unsuspecting shopper, a fit in the middle of an aisle (all for unknown reasons, as he never asks for candy or marshmallow laden cereal), or some content of our cart being chucked out and occasionally hitting an innocent passer-by. We've even contemplated giving up food shopping and living off the grass in the backyard. (Of course, we've tried just not taking him, but sometimes circumstances just don't allow it. And leaving your two year old child in the car like a golden retriever is frowned upon.)

I've been asked to leave a shoe store after Monkey was discovered licking the entire front window of the store that was within his reach. All within the time limit it took me to turn my back on him to look at a cute pair of red pumps and think, just think, about trying them on.

Not everything is difficult. He is a better sleeper than Bug was (or is.) He's not a picky eater. He is happy 90% of the time. And we try to focus on these (and his overwhelming cuteness) anytime we start feeling our nerves being stretched a little too far.

We've had months of frustration, wondering if any of us would survive this time period. But then, he curls up on my lap, smelling of sunshine and grass and stuffed animals, asking for a story, and my heart just crumples inside. He looks up at me with his amazingly wide blue eyes and tells me I'm his best friend and I wonder how I ever get mad at him. I walk in the door after a 13 hour day and he runs up, grabs my legs, and says "I missed you and I've been good!" And I get an ache in my chest from the love I feel towards him.

Monkey turns three in a few weeks. We're not sure if we will be leaving the terrible twos behind or just entering the terrible threes.

What we do know, without a doubt, is that we are in for an adventure.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Slipping Away

The days until the start of school tick down. The evening comes sooner and dusk is shorter. Sun no longer pours through my bedroom window at 6 am. There are yellow leaves in the backyard, just a few, hiding away between the crowd of green, but they are there, just the same.

I can feel it.

The end of summer.

The days are still warm. The mosquitoes are still plentiful. The corn is still tall and rippling in the endless fields as we drive to the lake.

But it is still there.

The end of summer.

Summer ending makes me sad in a way nothing else really does. It is not the heartbreak of losing someone dear. It is not the twinge of sadness I get when I watch Finding Neverland. It is not the nearly crushing sadness that overcomes me when I'm sorting through boxes and find a picture of Bug or Monkey when they were just weeks, months old and I wonder where the time has gone and what did I do with it and how, why did I waste a second of it.

Summer ending is a diluted emotion compared to many of these. But real regardless. I feel some of the same ache that I wasted any of the sun laden days. That I will soon say good-bye to the hum of the evening insects, the rustle of the leaves, the glow of the fireflies, and the soft hush and ripple of the corn.

The season, that like so much of my life, I take for granted until it is gone.

I love fall with all the dynamics fall offers, everyday different. I can't help but smile when the first layer of quiet silver snow finally obscures the starkness of empty branches and bare ground. And I enjoy the energy and growth that each spring gives.

But summer...summer is my dearest friend.

Relaxed. Mellow. Good for me. Reassuring me that if I don't get to it today, it's okay, because it will still be there tomorrow. Tomorrow will still be warm, sunny, and happy.

But gradually, daily, I can feel it slipping away. My mind immediately jumps to fall, winter, spring. And now, even now, with the thick humid air still around me, I'm already looking forward to next summer.

Still Summer

As the days to the start of school count down and the occasional yellow leaf appears in the trees on my way to work, I can start to feel it.

The end of summer.

We're trying to take advantage of every sun-filled, warm-temperature day we have left (even though this sometimes competes with work.)

Home renovations have occasionally been put on hold.

Dishes have not been done.

There are more important things to do.

Ride bikes. Play at parks.

And visit the beach.

I know that I've said Hickory Hill Park is my favorite place in Iowa. But Lake MacBride is in constant competition for that spot.

We spent a day splashing in the cool water and sprawling on the warm sand.

Blaise would shout, "Look how brave I am," and then run out to shoulder depth in the water, instantly making me panic, rush after him, and drag him back to safer depths. Gotta keep a close eye on that one.

Roman was content to build sand castles with the occasional run and splash through the water.

And we all made it home without sunburns.