Monday, August 29, 2011

Celebrate Like You're 5

That's exactly what we did yesterday.

Despite the fact that I was exhausted after a grueling 24 hour shift at work and that I was sick and feverish with a cold/flu, despite the fact that the work schedule precluded having a "friend party," I was determined that Monkey was going to have an awesome 5th birthday.

We went swimming.

We listened to this, and danced around crazily and wildly in the kitchen.

We decorated.

We had "guests."

We ate Angry Birds pig cake.

We sang "Happy Birthday."

We had mounds of presents (okay, not really mounds, but apparently that's how it felt to the newly five year old.)

We had laughter, sugar, fun, and silliness. We had a birthday!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Dear Monkey,

Today you are five. That makes five years that you have been melting my heart. I love you, dear little Monkey.

I love your silliness. It reminds me that every family needs a little silliness.

I love your blue eyes, which have a shade all their own, different than anyone in the family.

I love your curly toes, the ones that caused us to count and then recount when you were born, making sure that yes, there were indeed 10 toes.

I love your smile.

I love your perfect Cupid bow mouth, still so young now that you are oh, so big.

I love how you are outgoing and silly and loud one moment, and then the next moment, quiet and shy. It reminds me that you are still growing, still developing your personality.

I love your straight hair. It reminds me of your daddy.

I love your thoughtfulness, your willingness to help without even being asked. It reminds me to continue to nurture these wonderful traits.

I love your resilience. You went to the first day of kindergarten, with a new nanny at home, without a single whimper. You are brave and uncomplaining. It reminds me that I should be that way, too.

I love you, sweet five year old boy.

I love you because you are mine.

Happy Birthday, Monkey.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Day at the Fair

The end of summer wouldn't be complete without a day at the Iowa State Fair.

We actually thought about not going this year, because there was so much going on. My mother-in-law visiting, a camping trip, school starting for the boys and for Hubster. We were feeling a little overwhelmed by our schedules, and the two hour drive to the Fair just added to the overwhelmed feeling. But the boys got wind of the fair (seriously, we can't keep anything secret from them) and it was all over. You can only say no to children jumping up at down, screaming happily, "We want to go to the Fair! We want to go to the Fair!"

I'm glad we went.

The first part of the day is traditionally spent looking at animals. I did my traditional, "It's so cute and fluffy, I could die!" and insisting that we needed everything from a pet duck, to a pet bunny, to a pet miniature donkey.

And who doesn't want a pet baby ostrich?

After the animals, it's time for food. Deep fried and on a stick.

Lemonade shake-ups, deep fried cheese curds, funnel cakes, and corn dogs. Because, let's get real, the Fair is not about healthy eating. My favorite quote all day came from Bug, when we asked him if he wanted a hot dog or a corn dog. His response, "Well, does a hot dog come on a stick? Noooo." Okay, food on a stick it is.

This year, the Iowa State Fair made national news by offering deep fried butter.

I wanted no part of this. I watched several people eating it, and despite them saying it tasting like Cinnabon (which I do love), I still wanted nothing to do with it. The squirt of melted butter when they took a bit made me gag a little.

However, I did find myself in the 30 minute long line for the fried butter booth. But not for fried butter. For this delicious treat...

Deep fried pineapple. A large pineapple slice dipped in funnel cake batter and fried. This was delicious, juicy, and sweet. Well worth dealing with all the crazy fried butter people.

After food comes everything else...

The Giant Slide!

The Butter Cow!

Giant pumpkins!

I would need many more exclamation points to share how excited the boys were about everything single thing. Their excitement would make one believe that this wasn't the third year of seeing nearly the exact same things.

But the repetition doesn't seem to matter. It is all about a day spent as a family. A day where our wallets are lighter and our stomachs heavier. A day at the Fair.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Backyard Games

Even though summer is just barely hanging on, there are still warm afternoons for walks through the neighborhood, spraying each other with the hose, and playing backyard games.

This has become pretty much our favorite backyard game. And since we made the boards ourselves, we're pretty proud of it.

It's impressive how competitive a little bean bag game can get. Especially when the 9 year old always wins.

Go visit Leigh vs Laundry for 52 Weeks of Happiness and post a photo of something that makes you happy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yet Another Beginning

Today was the day I've been secretly dreading for the last two years.

Today Hubster started dental school.

And yes, I'll finally admit it. I've been dreading it. I look at his class schedules, his exam schedules, the study schedules, and I have to fight back the panic that flows up into my throat like vomit.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm so proud of Hubster. He has worked so hard. Getting accepted to dental school, especially this one, especially when this was the only one he applied to - this is all huge and wonderful and the fulfillment of so much planning, hard work, and sacrifice. It's been a hard road.

But in comparison, that was the easy part.

The next part is so much more difficult. The planning, hard work, and sacrifice are only just beginning.

Honestly, I've gotten used to our lives over the last two years. I've gotten used to having Hubster be home when I get home from work. I've gotten used to knowing that the boys are with their dad, and not at another babysitter or daycare. I've gotten used to the laundry, cleaning, and cooking actually getting done. While I wouldn't go as far as to call the last two years easy, I would say they have been relatively less stressful than many of the years that preceded.

Now we are back to complicated schedules. We are back to childcare, although this is way better than anything we had before. We are back to late night studying and cramming for exams. We are back to busy and we are back to stressful.

I don't resent Hubster. I'm not angry about this. Like I said before, I'm proud. I'm also incredibly grateful that I get the chance to support him on his dream and his journey, and I only hope I can do as good a job as he did supporting me.

But I'm also scared.

This is yet another beginning in so many changes we are going through right now.

Hubster and I tell each other on a regular basis, whether it be daycare dilemmas, car problems, or dental school, we say, "we'll be okay and we'll get through this." That's what I have to remember right now: We are okay, and we always get through everything.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When Does This Get Easy?

Today is the first day of school.

Last year, I missed the first day of school for the first time. I was working, so I wasn't there as Bug went off to third grade.

This year, I almost missed the first day of school again. Just the thought of not being there to see Bug and Monkey off to school would drive me to tears. Especially for Monkey, just starting kindergarten. The original plan was to have him at the before school program and then picked up by the nanny after school. Just the idea that no parent would be with him to see him into his classroom for the first time was almost unbearable. But, due to the fact that on my call night I spent several hours in the middle of the night at the hospital, I got today off! So, despite my complete sleep deprivation, I walked with both my boys through a slight drizzle of rain to see them off to school.

This year, amazingly enough, it's fourth grade for Bug. Just saying that out loud gives me a little panic feeling. How did he get to fourth grade already. It was just moments ago we were starting this whole school thing for the first time. I had thought that this year would be a little easier, since this will be his third year at this school.

However, for Bug, today held new anxieties. We've been telling him that he really needs to wear his glasses, but the fear and anxiety this causes almost made it impossible to get him out the door this morning. Once we compromised and decided he could have them in his backpack and use them during class, he instantly perked up and positively flew through preparations this morning.

The biggest change is that Monkey is now in kindergarten. This should be it, right? The moment where he is no longer a "baby" but an official "big kid." Well, it sure doesn't feel like it. Despite the fact he walked relatively confidently into his classroom, found his backpack hook and desk by himself, and sat quietly reading books, I couldn't quite see the big kid. All I could see was my baby, surrounded by other big kids.

There were no tears this morning. Chocolate chip pancakes and new shoes added excitement. Classrooms were found easily. Hugs were given. And at the ringing of the school bell, I resisted the urge to sneak back into Monkey's class to see how he was doing.

Did I say there were no tears this morning? I meant was there were no tears from the boys.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Is there anything that says summer more than two little boys floating down a river on an inner tube?

I didn't think so.

As we start seeing the end of summer, I'm going to carry with me this lazy afternoon, spent inner-tubing down a crystal clear, sandy bottomed creek.

That's all the happiness I need right now.

Visit Leigh vs Laundry for 52 weeks of Happiness and post a picture of something that makes you deliriously happy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Nanny

I realized that I did something very unfair. I talked about our childcare crisis, but then never did a follow up.

I am happy to let you know that we have a nanny!

I was so worried about how many people to interview. After your great advice, I decided that I would interview practically anyone who applied. As it happened, after eliminating people who had schedule conflicts, or who never sent me resumes or references, we ended up doing 5 interviews.

And I have to tell you, I'm very glad that we did. As it turns out, two of the applicants had scheduling conflicts they didn't let me know about. In the ad I placed, I was very clear about the hours we needed: Monday through Friday, after school to 5:30 pm. The ad was in a university job site, so I knew that all the applicants would be college students, and that they would have classes. But I imagined that a person would only apply for a job if they could work the hours indicated. One girl stated that she had classes on two of the days, so had I considered actually hiring two different nannies. Another girl said that she has a class that would run late on one day, but not to worry, she would get one of her sorority sisters to be there with our children.

What....?! Who thinks that is would ever be okay?

One applicant's personality just didn't mesh well with our family.

So that left us two real applicants.

Although, to be honest, I knew that we had found our perfect nanny on interview three. She was bubbly, enthusiastic, a little bit of nerd (which is perfect for our science majoring family), had fabulous references. I wanted to hire her on the spot. But I didn't. We still had two interviews to do, and I didn't think it was fair to continue to interview people when we had already filled the job. She then mentioned at the end of the interview that she was interviewing with several other families. I was sure that some other family would grab her right up.

All during the following interviews, even the last interview, which was with a great graduate student, all I could do was compare them to my "perfect nanny." So, immediately following the last interview, I sent a e-mail to her to offer her the position. Which she accepted almost immediately, stating we were her favorite family she had interviewed with.

We've met with her again since then. And I am confident in our decision.

I wasn't sure how I felt about the boys having a nanny. I had wanted them to be with other kids. But there are so many things going on right now. They are starting school. Monkey is going full time for the first time. Hubster is starting dental school. I think this option provides the boys with the most stability. They get to be home. They will have someone dedicated to watching them. They won't be in a large class with a 10 to 1 or 20 to 1 ratio with the teacher. This is a good thing for our boys.

And the nanny is the right one for our family.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Last Nine Days

I've enjoyed a truly glorious 9 days of vacation. 9 days away from the hospital. 9 days without a pager, a call room, an operating room, or a stethoscope. While there were not any exotic locations or lounging on beautiful beaches, the last 9 days have felt nearly as luxurious as any location I could imagine. Okay, that might be overdoing it just a little. Costa Rica or Italy still sound divine.

My mother-in-law came to visit us over my vacation. It was her first time to Iowa, or the Midwest for the matter. This visit was the first time we've had the chance to spend some real time with her since we moved here over two years ago. This visit also provided us the perfect opportunity to tour the local surroundings, sharing with her the things we love so much about Iowa.

These are my three favorite things in Iowa...

So instead of foreign or tropical destinations, my vacation consisted solely of places within 2 hours driving distance.

Instead of views of palm trees or European cities, my vacation consisted of views such as these...

I participated in fabulous activities, such as these...

It's been a wonderful, relaxing 9 days. You would think that I'm all ready to go back to work now, wouldn't you?

Well, you'd be wrong.

All these 9 days have done is make me long for my next vacation. Which occurs sometime in March. Hopefully, the past 9 glorious, sun-filled, overly food filled days have enough memories to last until then.