Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Well, at least for me

Happiness is...

These darling fingerling striped eggplants at the farmer's market.

There were also pale purple, dark purple, white, and green ones. I wanted to get some of each. But little boys do protest so much.

They are even able to pick all the pieces of delicate, tasty eggplant out of their servings of ratatouille.

I'll be sure to hide it much better next time.

Stop by Leigh vs Laundry from The Happiness Project, and post a picture of something that makes you happy!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Owner's Manual

I'm pretty sure that this wasn't what the makers of Tonka had in mind.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Now Four

There is this strange, ambiguous line between toddlerhood and childhood. Where your children stop being babies and start being, well, children.

I think we've crossed that line.

Monkey is 4.

Which he announced by coming into our room at o'dark thirty and asking for his presents. Now.

It was a quiet day. As opposed to the loud hectic birthday celebrated earlier this summer. We celebrated simply, at home, with a few friends.

There was cake.

There were balloons.

There were presents (Automoblox are amazing!).

There was the quintessential "smile and pose with your cake" picture.

And the whole time, while we were enjoying the heavily frosted cake and the homemade ice cream, I was nearly dying on the inside.

Monkey is now 4. He is sprinting through this childhood faster than I thought possible. I keep asking myself how it's possible that we've reached this point already. The point of developing independence, the point of preschool, the point of no longer wanting to be carried and snuggled. The moment they are born, our children begin this sprint, out of our arms and into the future of their own.

He is proud of being 4. Because, according to him, he is now almost 5.

Slow down. One birthday at a time.

It was a wonderful day. A day of finger foods. A day of celebrating the transition from toddlerhood to boyhood. A day of capturing memories to hang onto as the years continue to fly past.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Last week, or A collection of unrelated thoughts

-Bug is back in school. It was the first first day of school that I've missed. From our conversation when I got home, that was obviously much harder on me than on him.

-Hubster's dental school interview is coming up in a couple weeks. We spend time in the evening going over questions and preparing him. I like to consider myself a valuable resource, considering the multitude of interviews I have done for both medical school and residency.

-The interview is also a reminder that Hubster has not worn a suit since our wedding. He also has not worn a tie in over 5 years. He was due for some shopping. Hubster is now the proud owner of an amazing tailored charcoal suit, with a blue shirt, new tie, and some very modern Kenneth Cole shoes.

-Hubster is very hot all dressed up.

-It has rained twice since I lost my camera in the woods. It makes me sad to think about it all waterlogged and alone.

-We bought a new camera. The last one I had I had bought 5 years ago, just as Bug was turning three. Turns out technology has changed quite a bit over the last 5 years. My camera cost the same amount that we paid 5 years ago, but does about a billion more things, and does them all much better. I'm sure it might just be a rebound relationship, but it sure feels like love.

-After three summers of swimming lessons, and some frustration on our part, his part, and his instructors' part, Bug finally can finally swim. He took his first independent, non-supported strokes at the pool today! We celebrated with ice cream.

-We spent the morning downtown at the sandcastle festival. It was hot. It was sandy. It was made all better by the street fountains.

-I ran out of contact lenses and have been forced into wearing my glasses. I feel so dowdy, I hate it.

-Hubster joined Facebook yesterday. Only because one of his uncles did and it made him feel old and behind the times. I think he's become obsessed already. Now the housework will never get done.

-Monkey is turning 4 this next weekend. I'm not sure I can allow this. He's still my baby.

-My kids are obsessed with Phineas and Ferb. I haven't seen a single episode, but I know all about it, since this has become the sole topic of conversations at the dinner table, in the car, on walks, at bedtime... I'm sure it's hilarious, but I'm tempted to ban it, just so we can talk about something other than Perry and Doofenshmirtz.

-Hubster is downstairs watching football. As if I needed another reminder that summer is practically over.

-I've realized blogging is a habit. Now that I only blog 2 or so times a week, it is occasionally hard for me to know what to write.

-I'm thankful for all of you that have stuck around during the changes in my life and my blog. Things are getting better, getting easier.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Not Ready

It's that time of year.

School starts for Bug tomorrow. School supplies are all bought, labeled, and packed.
Requisite forms and fees have been completed and paid. New clothes have waiting. New teacher has been met, new classroom visited.

Amid the hustle and excitement surrounding the new school year, I seem to find myself in the minority.

I'm a parent who doesn't want school to start.

Before you start and tell me that it's easy to feel that way, because Hubster stays home with the boys while I work, let me say, Hubster doesn't want school to start either.

We are excited for the new things that third grade will bring for Bug: multiplication, cursive (both of which he insists he already knows.) His teacher is great, he already has friends. He'll do amazing things, learn new things, and have a great time.

I still don't want school to start.

It's not just the way that saying "third grade" makes me panic a little about Bug getting older every second. It's not just that school starts means the summer is officially over and winter is getting closer.

I love the time that summer gives us together as a family. Long afternoons in the backyard. Camping trips. Sprinklers, popcicles, the lake, fireflies. We get to enjoy everything so much more because there are no interruptions to our time together. Nothing to hurry our time together. During the summer, any schedule that exists is our own. No early morning rush, no deadlines. I love the uninterrupted expanse of togetherness that summer provides.

I'm not at the end of my rope, trying to keep my children entertained. I'm not desperate to get them out of the house and onto school. I'm not sick of them. They are not (usually) driving me crazy. I love that no matter when I get home, they are there. Hubster can take them swimming or to the park on a whim. If we want to stay up late watching the stars or a thunderstorm, we can. And do.

I've heard criticism of the traditional school year when compared to year round school. People say that with a three month break, children forget what they learned the year before, and by the time summer is over, they are bored. We bought Bug and Monkey an activity book for the next grade, to do a couple of pages in each day. They haven't forgotten things. And it was another activity they enjoyed. And I will tell you, they are definitely not bored. I might have heard the dreaded "B" word once. It was instantly met with offers to either do laundry, yard work, or tiny the basement. The word wasn't said once.

There was something as a child about having those three summer months in front of you, loaded with possibility. The joy of summer was tangible. And I also think there is benefit to children learning to entertain themselves. Using their imagination. And for parents, learning to enjoy their children.

School starts tomorrow.

The backpack is full, clothes laid out, schedule in place.

School starts tomorrow, but we're not ready.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Deep-Fried and Farming

Well, I was going to have this fabulous post about our weekend and all the fun things we did, full of colorful pictures and darling shots of my boys.

But my camera is lost in the undergrowth of the Iowa forest and so...you get a summary of my weekend, without the pictures.

I've noticed that here in Iowa, it's very easy to get caught up in the crowd mentality. Hawkeye football, corn-eating, etc. It's so easy to go jump on the bandwagon. I suppose it's not really that surprising, since there isn't actually a lot going on in these sleepy little Midwestern towns. On of the things that definitely sucks you in, no matter how hard-core West Coast you thought you were is the Iowa State Fair.

We went last year, and had a great time.

This year, it was even better.

The pigs were enormous (1200 lbs!). The pumpkins were even bigger (1300 lbs!!). There were cows, and horses, and sheep, and chickens, and ducks, and llamas, and alpacas, and elk, and ostriches (Oh, my!).

Hubster had to deal with me squealing over each new tiny animal.

Oh, these ducks are too cute! We should get a duck!
No. We shouldn't.
Oh, look at this tiny little bunny. We should get one of those.
No. We have a goldfish. We don't need another pet.
Oh! Oh! Oh! A baby sheep!

Yes, this is how much of the conversations went that day.

We enjoyed Midwestern food. I'm sure that this is actually a real type of food. But in my experience, Midwestern food means anything involving batter and deep-fried. For example...the funnel cake. My new guilty food item. Other fair-worthy food: deep-fried candy bars and deep-fried cheese curds. These may be the best thing on the planet. But there was deep-fried pineapple that I didn't get to try, so I'm holding all opinions until next year's fair.

One of the things that I love about the Iowa State Fair is that it doesn't just display animals and large squash. It goes beyond to show fair goers about farming, which is important since 90% of land in Iowa is used for farming.

There was a hands on (and free!) farming exhibit that took children through the steps of farming, from planting, to harvesting, to plowing, to farmer's market.

My children got to see baby sheep and cows, just hours old. They saw newborn silky piglets nursing. They spent 45 minutes watching a chick hatch from its shell. The magic of life and land was alive in their faces.

Maybe it's not such a bad thing that my camera (along with all my state fair pictures) is lost in Hickory Hill Park. I spent the whole weekend thinking that there were no pictures that would do justice to the joy in my boys faces as they saw a damp-feathered chick finally emerge victorious from the remains of its shell. There was no shot that would capture the enthusiasm as they zipped down the "Giant Slide." There was no picture I could have taken to capture the contentment of holding hands as a family, swinging our boys between us as we hiked back to our car, full, tired, and happy.

But I would have liked to try.

Because, dang, my boys are cute.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Happiness is having weekends free.

Two whole days to fill up with summer, sunshine, and memories.

Two whole days filled with...

...apple cider slushies at the local orchard...

...locally grown produce from the farmer's market...

...campfires, bug bites, tents, roasted marshmallows, and waking up surrounded by nature...

Okay, the bug bites weren't wonderful. But everything else was.

Visit Leigh at Leigh Vs. Laundry for The Happiness Project, and post a photo of something that makes you happy.


Sunday, August 8, 2010


There is nothing like not blogging to make one think more about blogging.

Let me explain.

My ability to post has gone down. This was an essential change. While I still miss blogging and following everyone as much as I did before, the changes in my life really have been for the better. I'm getting more sleep. I'm building up more emotional reserve. I'm less stressed and more productive.

But I still miss blogging. For several years, as my job demanded more and then I moved halfway across the country to a state full of strangers, blogging was my only social life. Away from blogging and the friends I've made here, I feel isolated and lonely.

The less I've blogged, the more I've thought about it. I've worried that I'll lose touch with people, that I'll lose followers.

Which made me start thinking about why I started blogging in the first place.

I started blogging, first as a method to show off the grand kids to the grandparents.

Aw, aren't they cute? Sorry, just has to throw that in there.

But it gradually grew. It grew for a place for me to express myself, share, vent, understand, and ultimately connect to amazing people.

Those have been my only motives. I don't blog for money, Google ranking, or followers. My blog is free from advertising. I understand the many women make an income from their blogs. Some have even made a career from it. I think that's amazing. That a media like this can change lives.

But that's not me. That's not this blog.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love every follower I get. I get excited when I see that little number on my dashboard grow. But for me, it's not my goal. Followers are like new friends, not statistics. I will never get a thousand visitors a day. Honestly, I most likely won't even get a hundred. But I know my followers. I know the people who comment. I have relationships with them (albeit in a long distant, Internet, never-actual-met kind of way.)

My plan is to continue doing what I've done for over two years now. Continue to write. Continue to share. In a way that continues to mean something to me. And hopefully, something to you as well.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Local Food

Happiness is...

Sitting on the back porch, together, peeling corn for dinner.

Making the most of few summer days that are left.

Ignoring the fact that school starts back up in less than three weeks.

Enjoying the taste of Iowa and summer.

Visit Leigh vs. Laundry for The Happiness Project and post a photo of something that makes you happy!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

The good, the bad, and the absolutely miserable

Or in other words, a summary of July.

Because I want to end on a high note, we'll start with the miserable.

-This month has been tough. I had a breakdown the middle of last week. There was a lot of hysterical crying and self pity.

-I took a mandatory stress level test and qualified based on my test score for burnout.

-I was pulled out of the OR to meet with my residency director to talk about my emotional well being and my future in the program and in anesthesia. I did a little more crying. The summary was that yes, things are tough. But c'mon, it's July! I'm just starting. Give me six months. And things will be okay.

So, if that wasn't enough miserable, we'll move on to the bad.

-The school yard care people were trimming along the fence that divides us from the school and in the process took out most of my grape vine. So the beautiful vine covering the arbor over the gate is no more.

-I found a dead cardinal in the back yard. I'm not sure why this bothers me so much.

-I miss blogging. I told Hubster that blogging is part of how I cope with my life, so I need to do it more often. We're still looking for room in the new schedule for blogging.

If you know me at all, you know that while I like to complain about my life and my job and well, most things, I'm actually a very optimistic, happy, glass-half-full type of person. So here is the good.

-Hubster got an interview for dental school. Of course he did. He's brilliant.

- My sister had her baby on Friday. A little boy (which makes 4 out of the 5 of my parents' grandchildren boys.) Congrats, sis! I can't wait to see him.

-Monkey, after a set back a couple months ago, is now sleeping dry throughout the night and hasn't had a nighttime accident in over two weeks. Good-bye Pull-Ups.

-The weather is gorgeous. Perfect for grilling and camping and swimming.

-I've gone out of my comfort zone and taken the boys with me to two social gatherings this last weekend. I'm glad I did. I socialized, relaxed, and last night, had a full out therapy session with a couple of my closest friends in residency. It was wonderful. I have great people in my program.

And that was just July.

I'd like to say, bring on August. But I'm sure it will come, with everything it brings, whether I'm ready or not.

Update: Another good thing...

I just realized that today marks exactly two years since I first started blogging. Since then, I've changed names, locations, and looks (and I'm not just talking blogging here.) Wow, how the time flies.