Monday, January 31, 2011

Bug, Version 1.11

Dear Bug,

When people ask how old you are, one of the first comments I get is that I cannot be old enough to have an eight year old.

And they are right.

Enough time cannot have passed for you to possibly be eight. I feel I'm the same age I was when you were born and you are the one that has grown. You are now all legs and arms and ribs and calic-ed blonde hair and giant blue eyes.

I love this age. For a while, I wasn't sure we'd ever get to this point, the point where things are easy. You're a strong willed child and it felt for a while that we spent the years jumping from one battle to the next. However, this age of eager to please, sweet as can be, offer to help, do chores without being asked is just a beautiful thing.

One of the things that warms my heart is your new love of reading. I come across you sitting in bed, in front of the window, curled up on the couch or a corner, your nose in a book. I have to smile, not just because of how animated you get while you read, but because this reminds me of myself as a child.

You are passionate about your interests. If something catches your attention, you go for it full-throttle. There is bird-watching. Not only do you have the bird identification book, but also binoculars and lists of birds you haven't seen yet. Lately, your interest has been origami. You attempt to check out every book on the subject, both at public library and your school library. I find bits of folded paper on every flat surface in the house. I admire your passion and dedication. And I do the best I can to nurture it, because this will carry you far.

The same dedication you show to your hobbies manifests itself as old-fashioned stubbornness in other arenas. There is no getting you to eat a food you have decided (sometimes arbitrarily) that you don't like. I have tried every method known to parenthood to get you to eat and overcome your pickiness, but to no avail. And there is no predicting it: today it's blueberries, yesterday it was peas, tomorrow who knows. You are also incredibly clever. You have decided that making your top bunk bed is just a little too difficult. Your way around that? Sleep on top of the covers.

This is you.

This fiercely passionate, dedicated, loyal, stubborn child. At times I'm frustrated, wondering how to get you do just do what I want you to do. But then I have laugh, because honestly, where do I think you got those traits from? I will just continue to direct that stubbornness, support the dedication, and make you eat your peas.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 Pin Delight

I hope that you can all be patient with me while I work nights. It's a very strange sensation to be on a schedule completely reversed from everyone else's. Sleeping during the day, working all night. It takes some getting used to and it doesn't leave me with a whole lot of normal time.


This week, happiness is...

Re-discovering how much fun bowling is.

It's one of those things we hardly ever do, but when we do, we always think that we should do it more often.

I bet you had no idea how many different ways there are to bowl (the granny and the shot-put being go-to styles of the night.)

Or how many different ways there are to watch the ball as it courses (or moseys) down the lane...

I must say, we're quite terrible bowlers. We're lucky to break 100.

But there were a lot of high fives, celebration dances, and laughing. Which was better than any amount of spares and strikes.


Go visit Leigh at Leigh vs Laundry for The Happiness Project, and post a photo of something that makes you happy!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monkey: Version 1.19.11

Dear Monkey,

Why version 1.19.11? Because you will only be this you once, today only. Yesterday, you were someone else and tomorrow you will be new all over again. Every day is like this. Still you, but still so different. This dramatic daily change is both exhilarating and heartbreaking, since I am deeply in love with the you that is gone, the you that is, and the you that will be.

You keep taking me off guard. I think that I'm snuggling on the couch with my chubby cheeked, bald headed baby. And then suddenly that dimpled baby says, "Mom, you are so exasperating." And that's when I see the little boy who is becoming taller, more lean. The dimples still exist around the cheeks, but are gone from the elbows and knees. The bald little head is now covered in wild, long blonde hair.

Other things you have said:

"You can say that again!"
"Did I just say that out loud?"

And since every thing is used in correct context, it's even funnier.

It's easy for me to be wistful and loving, but there are still the moments.

You still refuse to feed yourself. At age 4 1/2, this is an endless source of frustration. I don't understand what about a fork, a spoon, and a plate is so complicated, especially since you have mastered the skill of Legos, Wii controllers, and deleting features from my cell phone.

You are strong willed. You fix your mind on something and hell will freeze before you change it. I will not wear that shirt. I am only going to wear red socks. I must watch Phineas and Ferb right now. Ignore the fact that Phineas and Ferb isn't on at 6 pm on Tuesday nights. That is no excuse. And it will be something to have a complete melt down in the middle of the kitchen about. And to mention the next day, and the day after that as well.

Out of everyone in our family, you are the morning person. You have come into our bedroom at 4:30 am, asking for breakfast and cartoons. Even if we tell you it's the middle of the night, this will only buy 1, maybe 2 more hours. You are happiest in the morning. You grin, laugh, and cooperate easily. You feed yourself breakfast, amazingly enough. But at 6:30 in the evening, something happens. The happy, bouncy morning Monkey replaced by the grumpy, pouting, stubborn, occasional screaming evening Monkey. I've yet to catch the alien ship that makes this switch. I'm convinced this transformation wouldn't happen if only you would take an afternoon nap, but all hope of a nap was lost months ago.

We have yet to get you into the car without your entourage. Usually this only includes your Dog, bear, raccoon, and dolphin. But lately, you have expanded your traveling group to include three dozen kids meal toys, 10 action heros, and toys for your toys. You stuff everyone into a couple of buckets and insist they come with us - to the store, to the library, to school. It doesn't matter. And without fail, we get everyone, action heros included, into the car, only to have you realize that you've left someone behind. And at that point we are torn between making you leave them behind or listening to you scream about it for however many miles until our destination. Sometimes longer. Let's just say you can be very persuasive.

Every day, you check the mail. Snow, rain, ice, weekends, holidays. It doesn't matter. Most of the time, I don't know you are checking the mail until I hear the door shut. You put on your boots, your coat, and off you trot to the end of the driveway. Life has been a lot less stressful without all those obnoxious bills.

This is you, this brand new you. The you who had to hug me three times before I left for work. The you sitting on the couch with a carton of strawberries at 6 am. The you that stood waving goodbye at the window, wearing your pajamas that are already too small. I waved goodbye, both for the day and to you. For you will be both gone and brand new when I get home.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A glimpse of summer

After another snow storm, and the prospect of sub-zero temperatures approaching in a few days, winter is quickly being fatiguing. Knowing that there is at least another two months of cold, gray gloominess wears on me mentally.

So, today, happiness is...

A glimpse of summer.

Corn fields...

Lily Lake in full bloom...

Last winter didn't last forever. I needed a reminder that this one won't either.

Go visit Leigh vs Laundry for The Happiness Project and post a photo of something that makes you very happy.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Project 52: The Three Day Weekend Edition

I didn't actually have a three day weekend, since I had to work yesterday. But it was fine, since I mini-rocked the OR yesterday.

I don't actually plan on posting goal updates every week (that was not one of my goals) , but since I'm home on this delightfully snowy day, I figured why not. It's been amazing to me how much I've accomplished in just one week. Here, let me show you...

3. Get my passport.

I filled out the paperwork and printed it out. I'm dragging my feet on actually submitting everything, because the $150 fee seems a little steep, especially when I have no current plans to leave the country.

7. Plan monthly menus.
We actually made a menu for this month. The problem is, I want to put things on the menu and Hubster keeps pointing out that he doesn't know how to cook those things. He likes to ignore the cookbooks above the stove.

8. Meet my girlfriends for brunch one a month.
Brunch is planned for next Sunday!

9. Send birthday cards to all my siblings and be on time this year.
I've already fallen behind. I did send off two cards, but I was late, dang it.

23. Go to the doctor and get my hand looked at.
This was actually the easiest thing. The ortho clinic was able to see me in just a few days. But this has opened a huge can of worms. Now, they want to me see Physical Therapy, get fitted for a splint, and get a second opinion from a rheumatologist. What a pain. But at least I've stopped ignoring the problem and am finally doing something about it.

24. Introduce my children to musicals.
I borrowed "The King and I" from the library. I'm so excited to watch it with them. I fully plan on us walking around the house, singing "Getting to know you! Getting to know all about you!"

27. Read 5 non-work related books.
I've started my second book. I'm well on my way!

34. Go skiing.
After looking at my schedule and the amount of snow, I may have to take this one off my list. But we are going sledding today. That's almost the same thing.

47. Calculate my monthly grocery budget.
I've started doing this. I'm saving receipts, seeing how much money we are spending. This is a lot more work that I thought it would be. I was inspired by this blogger's post. I think she must be a lot more organized than I am.

48. Start my blogging project for my boys.
I wrote about this here. Look for the first post coming this week!

I think that having worked on 9 things off my list is pretty good. If I kept this pace up, I would be done by the end of March! But not really, because camping in the winter in Iowa would suck. And I would definitely not do it four times.

It's been a great week. How is your week going?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What This All Means

As I've mentioned before, Hubster started dental school in the fall. Now that we've turned the corner into 2011, mentally I have to start thinking that he is starting this year, not next year. This is such a huge thing for our family and I spend a great deal of time thinking about what this means for us. Things such as:

-Our boys will be back in daycare of some form or another. We're hoping to get them in the before and after school program at their school, but there is a long wait list.

-Who on earth is going to clean our house now? It's not exactly the cleanest house ever, but Hubster keeps the major messes under control. And he does laundry and dishes. With him going to school, I'm just not sure how it's going to be done.

-We get to double our student loans. Actually more than double, as it turns out that dental school is a lot more expensive than medical school. Although with all the interest that I've capitalized, we may just about be equal.

-This sure makes baby planning thing a whole lot more difficult. I think this is entitled to its very own post.

-We'll absolutely be sticking around in Iowa for several more years. I am perfectly happy about this. Iowa has really begun to feel like home.

-I need a job here after residency. There are only 3 real options. I hope they like me.

-We are once again on a "five year plan." I think we've gone through three or four of these by now.

-I'm trying to not think about how complicated our schedules will be. If only I could have a somewhat predictable schedule so that everyone could count on me a little bit more.

-I see a significant amount of pizza in our future. Because if I thought cleaning our house is going to be difficult, cooking meals will be even more so.

-People can finally stop asking Hubster what his plans for the future are. Apparently, being a stay at home dad wasn't a good enough response.

-We are going to start being asked that question again. The "how do you guys do it" question. I need a better answer than just one day at a time.

These are some of the things that have been running through my mind ever since we got Hubster's acceptance a few weeks ago. I don't have solutions to many of them, and many of them stress me out. What I do know is this. It's going to be hard. It's going to be crazy. It's going to be worth it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Reminder and A Plan

As if I need another reminder about how quickly time passes.

Notching off their height on the door frame a couple of times a year, I am brutally confronted by change and growth.

I keep going back and checking, did they really grow that much since last time. Where did those inches come from and where has the time gone?

When my boys were first born, I bought a journal for each of them. Initially, I had planned to write a least once a week, documenting their little phrases, their milestones, the memories. But, par for the course, our lives became busier and more hectic, and only a few pages were filled. Shamefully, I'll admit, that writing in that journal became just another thing that needed to be done, and it wasn't.

I've decided to change that initial poor attempt at journaling to here. Because time is flying by.

Once a month, I will write a letter to my boys. I will document, remember, and celebrate. I will be honest and nostalgic. I will do my best to not let the time continue to slip by so quickly.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Evening Meal

I'm sure that having food be the thing that makes me incredibly happy this week is a little odd, but I can't help it.

It was that good.

So, this week, happiness is...

Apricot-champagne glazed Cornish hen, wild rice, and peas.

Absolutely delicious.

Go visit Leigh vs Laundry for The Happiness Project and post a picture of something that makes you happy!


Monday, January 10, 2011

Project 52: The List

Making New Year's resolutions is a tradition that nearly everyone does. Nearly as traditional is not actually doing them. Last year, I participated in Face It Friday, which was a new take on New Year's resolutions. Instead of making resolutions once a year and then subsequently abandoning them, the idea was to make a list of goals and then revisit that list frequently throughout the year. While I only managed to accomplish 50% of my goals last year, those goals were always in my mind.

Now, in 2011, Karen and Jennee have recreated Face It Friday into the brand new Project 52. 52 goals over 52 weeks. I'll be completely honest. I'm not really that ambitious. I'd be proud of myself if I were able to complete a Project 12 (12 goals over 12 months.) I had only planned on doing 12 goals. But over the last week, after reading several people's goals, more and more ideas came to my head. I kept thinking how great different ideas would be. Some of these ideas are from last year. Some are borrowed from other people. Some are things I have to do anyways, but I'm putting on the list so I can have the satisfaction of crossing them off.

So here it is, my list of goals for 2011:

1. Organize my closets.
2. Complete 3 home improvement projects.
3. Get my passport.
4. Plan an awesome 10 year wedding anniversary celebration.
5. Find 3 unfinished projects and finish them.
6. Visit 3 new restaurants.
7. Plan monthly menus.
8. Meet my girlfriends for brunch one a month.
9. Send birthday cards to all my siblings and be on time this year.
10. Paint at least once.
11. Go visit at least one new church.
12. Visit the Herbet Hoover Historic Site.
13. Go camping four times.
14. Find 3 ways to be green.
15. Use my crock pot once a month.
16. Catch up on my book reviews.
17. Set up electronic bill paying.
18. Start saving some money, no matter how little.
19. Register Monkey for kindergarten (sniff!).
20. Grow herbs.
21. Visit Wisconsin.
22. Walk 5 times a week on weeks the temperature is not freezing.
23. Go to the doctor and get my hand looked at.
24. Introduce my children to musicals.
25. Have a Harry Potter marathon.
26. Donate blood.
27. Read 5 non-work related books.
28. Work on my kids' baby books at least once.
29. Figure out this baby planning thing.
30. Start looking at jobs.
31. Try to go visit family in Utah.
32. Visit the farmer's market 5 times during the summer.
33. Inner tube down a river.
34. Go skiing.
35. Take my children to 3 different museums.
36. Host a dinner/barbeque at my house.
37. Go antique shopping.
38. Schedule date night with Hubster at least once a month.
39. Get a better sleep schedule.
40. Scan my wedding pictures into my computer.
41. Take a multivitamin daily.
42. Look into getting a pet with fur.
43. Get a rough draft of my research project.
44. Go ice skating.
45. Make jam.
46. Study 1 hour a day, 5 days a week for at four weeks in a row.
47. Calculate my monthly grocery budget.
48. Start my blogging project for my boys.
49. Get our home videos transferred to DVD.
50. Organize my children's boxes of art work.
51. Volunteer for something at my kid's school.
52. Get my hair done.

Whew, that was hard. I can't believe I actually came up with all 52. When I started, I had only planned on doing 12-25. But by the time I got to 30, I thought I might as well just keep going.

The overall goal isn't necessarily to have done a certain number of things, but as Karen said, to look back at the end of this year and feel like I've accomplished something.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Funk

Taking a multivitamin.



These are all things that I know I should do. But lately, I just feel like I can't. Alright, I know that blogging isn't technically something that I "should" be doing, more like something I'd "like" to be doing, but it feels about the same.

In the same way that I look at my bottle of vitamins and think, "You know what? I just don't feel like taking one today." Or walk past my weights and stationary bike and think, "I could...but I'm not going to." That's how blogging has been right now.

It's not writer's block. I have whole posts, completely formed, tumbling around in my head. They are somewhat good, too (at least in my head they are.) I just completely lack the motivation to sit down and right them.

I'd apparently rather spend my time off work perfecting my Wii sword-fighting skills or shopping online for that dining room table we can't afford.

I could blame it on the weather, but I don't really feel like doing that right now either.

So, excuse me while I leave you with this post about how I don't want to post anything while I go and lose to my eight year old at Wii again.

I wonder if I'd win if I took my vitamins.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Iowa in Winter

There is nothing like a Midwestern winter.

I've spent winters in Utah, Nevada, Oregon, the Sierra Nevadas, Montana, and even Southern California. And still, there is nothing like a Midwestern winter.

It's the reason I planned never to live in the Midwest. Life is funny like that.

There are subzero temperatures for weeks at a time, endless gray sunless days, ice storms, and frigid winds.

But, just like the rest of the Midwest, it grows on a person. At at least, stops inhibiting us from going outside. And when we get brave enough to venture out into the cold, this is what we find...

Frozen lakes...perfect for sliding on and ice fishing (we did not participate in the ice fishing.)

Snow covered hills...perfect for sledding.

Ice covered trees and rivers...perfect for eagle watching.

Snow covered children...

And, in my opinion, that's the best view of all.