Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Patches and Corn Pits

Those beautiful pumpkins we carved came from a local pumpkin patch. For us, going and picking the pumpkins is just as important as carving them.

I had been hearing a lot about this farm a little north of us, so we decided to made the trip. I was so glad we did.

This place was way more than just a pumpkin patch! (This also equates with way more expensive than just a pumpkin patch, since all the other places we have ever gone to, the only thing we had to pay for was the pumpkins.)

We ended up spending the entire afternoon.

There was a 10 acre corn maze.

There were piggy races (I cheered on Kevin Bacon.)

There were giant slides and tractor tire mazes.

There were corn cannons to fire and goats to feed.

There was a corn pit to roll in. We continued to find corn in the boys pockets and shoes the rest of the day.

And, of course, there were pumpkins.

We road the hay crib out to the pumpkin field. The boys strolled up and down between the pumpkins, trying to pick out the very best one. We then rode the hay crib back to the barn, with arms wrapped tightly around pumpkins.

This is how pumpkin picking should be. A pumpkin patch, between fields of corn, in the middle of Iowa. This not only makes for the best pumpkins, but the best memories.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Carving Pumpkins

Pumpkin carving is a big deal in our family. A VERY big deal.

It always starts out as all of us around the table, carving together.

This year, it also involved the boys being grossed out by pumpkin innards, squealing and running away from their pumpkins as I scooped out the stringy flesh and seeds.

That's how it starts. How it ends is all the pumpkins being finished, except for Hubster's. First, because he's helping all of us, and secondly, because his designs are usually so complicated that they take a long time. The the evening ends with me falling asleep on the couch and him waking me up some while later to take pictures of all the pumpkins.

That being said, I think the pumpkins turned out quite well this year. But then again, I say that every year.

Monkey, going along with his most recent obsession, choose an Angry Birds pumpkin.

Bug decided he didn't want any help with his pumpkin. He choose his design without help, transferred it onto the pumpkin without help, and then carved it out, without help. Although I hovered nervously over him the entire time.

I tried to break with my tradition of carving a feminine pumpkin (although I still love my Maleficent pumpkin from last year) by carving a scene from Nightmare Before Christmas.

And Hubster got to carve something that makes him giggle every time...Dr. Evil.

You can also check out our pumpkins from the last few Halloweens:
Pumpkins 2010
Pumpkins 2009
Pumpkins 2008
Other Pumpkins

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Candy Corn Crazy

I love candy corn. Yes, I know that it's too much sugar, loaded up with a hefty dose of artificial coloring and flavoring. But I love that candy. It's shape and color are so iconic of Halloween, not to mention that they taste good. Well, the first handful tastes good. And then I keep eating and end up feeling a little sick.

But I still love candy corn.

But do you know what is just as good as candy corn?

Candy corn ice cream. Oh, yes!

I used a recipe found here. Seriously, this stuff was so good, I think I need to make it again. (Although my taste buds and waistline slightly disagree about this.)

But candy corn can also be used for more than just guilty snacking.

It's decorating my front door.

I made a similar candy corn wreath last year. However, the instructions I was following last year had stated to cover the whole thing with Modge Podge. This didn't work at all. Trying to paint the candy corn made them all sticky and smeary. And two rainstorms into the season, my pretty wreath was a orange and yellow puddle on my front porch. So this year, I used spray varnish, which was less messy and has kept the candy off the porch and on the wreath were it belongs.

Every time I see this wreath, it makes me smile.

So there it is. At least three ways of ensuring that the myth of candy corn just being re-used each year is false!

What about you? Your thoughts on candy corn? Any more creative ways to use candy corn?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Graveyard Outing

The afternoon was partly cloud, slightly chilly, and perfectly fall. We pulled up to the gate of the cemetery. Bug looks slightly anxious. "We won't be in there when it gets dark?" he asks.

Arms loaded with blank sheets of paper, we trudge over the uneven ground, fallen acorns crunching under our feet. We walk uphill, to the oldest part of the graveyard.

I love graveyards. I love the old, crumbling moss covered stones and the miniature architecture of the headstones. I love the stories each grave tells, half of them made up in my own head.

This particular afternoon, I have brought my boys to the oldest cemetery in the city so that we can make charcoal rubbings of headstones. We wander through the markers, some tipped or sunken into the ground. We look for beautiful carvings, touching poems, and oldest dates.

There is so much history here, history that no one really knows any more.

We visit the Black Angel, rumored to be the most haunted site around. I don't mention this to the boys. They're actually enjoying our little outing to the cemetery, and I don't want to scare them.

When we find headstones we liked, very old stones or those carved with intricate designs, we unroll our paper, lay it over the stone and then rubbed the paper with charcoal. Well, Bug, my mom, and I do. Monkey just runs around, filling his pockets with acorns.

We spend a good portion of the afternoon, wandering further and further in the cemetery, which turned out to be much larger than I imagined. Finally, the last light was filtering through the pine boughs, and we make our way back to the car, our rubbings rolled carefully under our arms, our hands black smudged. We leave well before dark.

The rubbings are now hung by the front door, the perfect Halloween decorations.

I think this will be an annual tradition.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Golden Autumn Light

There is a light in autumn that is golden and warm, a light that makes my soul sing. Light that makes the poet and painter and photographer inside of me leap to the surface.

These golden days are filled to overflowing with hectic schedules. It feels that our days fly by faster than the Vs of geese overhead.

But the moments that the golden autumn light filters in through the now bare branches, in through the windows, it also filters into my soul, encouraging me to be still, breathe, and enjoy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Death on the Table

I had my first patient die in the operating room.

The call came at near the end of a grueling day. There was an emergency case coming from the ICU. I rushed to set up the operating room. Minutes later, the patient arrived, already the color of barely hanging on. We ignored that, and just went to work.

It was all hands on deck. There were three surgeons, and three of us with anesthesia on the other side of the blue drapes. We worked quickly, giving fluids, hanging infusions, pushing boluses of medications. The patient's blood pressure would drop, down, down, down, far enough down that my own heart would skip a beat with fear that this time would be it. But no. We gave medications, we gave more fluid, and the blood pressure would come back up.

Within minutes after incision, the surgeons informed us that things didn't look good. They didn't think the patient's condition was a survivable one. The plan to was close the incision, take that patient back to the ICU, and talk to the family.

That's when it happened. The patient's heart rate went from fast but regular, and degenerated into a dangerous rhythm. We pulled the drapes down to start CPR. But there was no bringing the patient back this time. There was no fighting death, who had been standing at bedside for so long, there was no fighting him off any longer.

There are patients who are too sick for us to save. And I know that. I know that. I know that! But right at the moment this is happening, when the blood pressure is falling to undetectable, and the EKG tracing is a chaotic scribble instead of a pattern, at this moment, I don't believe it. I believe in this medicine. That this medicine is good, and it's strong, and it saves people. Every day, I watch it save people.

And I know that people die. That we can't save everyone. But they don't die on my watch, they don't die on my table.

Except, now, they do.

Whatever it is that I know, right now I don't believe any of it. What I do believe at this moment goes against everything I know.

There are no more beeps of the monitors. I've shut them all off. It's quiet in the OR, a quiet that doesn't sit well, a quiet that turns and pulls at my insides. I stand there for a while, too long, not sure how to leave when my patient is still on table. But there is nothing else for me to do except to leave.

And now I have to go back to being normal. I have to pull off my mask and scrub hat, change out of my scrubs, and go back to my life. Except there is no going back to normal. There is still the buzz in my head from silenced alarms and the weight in my stomach from the failure of what I believed.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Happy Anniversary of Your 25th Birthday

Every single year, when Hubster's birthday comes around, I start hearing a familiar refrain.

I'm so old. I just keep getting older. Why am I so old?

Obviously, Hubster is NOT old. Older, yes. But old? No. However, there is no way for me to convince him of this. Every since the day he turned 26, he has, in his mind, been old. 25 was his ideal age. Every year, he complains about his birthday. Since he is not turning 25, than he must be old. Every year, he attempts to convince me that we shouldn't do anything for his birthday. According to him, he just can't take any reminders that he just continues to get older.

This is coming from a man who watches Phineas and Ferb, eats cold pizza for breakfast and can do more pull-ups than anyone else I know. Yes, doesn't he just act so old?

I'm pretty good at compromise. Overall, I don't push Hubster to do things he doesn't want to do. But not celebrating? That isn't one of the things we are going to compromise on.

We will have cake.

We will have candles.

We will have presents.

I will find a babysitter and we will go out.

But it's all good. We aren't celebrating a birthday. We are celebrating the anniversary of him turning 25. Because that doesn't make him sound old at all.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How do you do it?

Over the years, Hubster and I have heard it a lot.

How do you do it?

Meaning, how do we juggle two different jobs/careers/school/whatever with having two boys.

So many people do the same thing. There are many, many parents out there, both of whom are working, who have children. And somehow, we are all making it work. I'm sure that all those other working, ball juggling parents have heard the question, too. How do we do it?

For the longest time, I didn't have an answer to the question. We had been doing "this" for so long, that I wasn't exactly sure what my life would look like any other way. My go to response was we wake up each morning, and we just do it. There wasn't a lot of other options other than to keep waking up each morning and to keep doing it.

Along the way, I've been able to identify things that I feel have made it more difficult. We don't live next to any family. We don't have high paying jobs. We work more than nine to five (a lot more). All these things could result in why we just couldn't do it.

But we were. Everyday for nearly 10 years, we've been doing it. And hopefully, not just scraping by, but actually enjoying the journey. I've kept looking for an answer to the question on exactly how we have made this whole crazy, juggling circus act work. I think I've found it.

Hubster and I share the burden. I think that this is the only way we have been able to pull this off successfully. We don't fall into the stereotypical gender rolls. We don't have "his" jobs and "her" jobs. We have "our" jobs.

Whoever is home earliest makes dinner. Whoever has time bathes the boys. If one of us has a test or a project coming up, the other one will do laundry and take out the garbage. We both do dishes. We both clean (or we both don't clean, which is a little more accurate.)

There are things that I do or Hubster does because they fall more into our skill set. Hubster has never used a sewing machine, so I do the mending (even though he has asked me to show him how next time.) I don't know the first thing about cars, so Hubster does vehicle maintenance, such as air filters and oil changes.

We are a team. There is no "her" side and "his" side. It's just us. And we are doing this.

For all those of who out there who are also juggling two working parents with young children, please share how "you do it." Even though we may look like we have it all figured out, we don't! We still need all the help we can get.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I have hobbies...right?

Several weeks ago, I had a medical student working with me in the operating room. He hadn't decided what he wanted to go into after medical school, and we were talking about the advantages of anesthesia. I try to convince everyone that they should do anesthesia. We talked about the autonomy, the problem solving, the close interaction with a patient's physiology. We talked about greater job flexibility and the chance to continue having a life outside the hospital, to continue to have hobbies.

"What hobbies do you have," the medical student asked me.

I paused. Well, I, um...I...sometimes

The only thing I could think about were my boys. How really the only thing I wanted to do was to do things with them. I kept trying to think of a hobby that I did besides be their mom.

I came up with nothing else.

It had happened. I had become one of those crazy moms who had no life outside being a mom. Yes, I work more than full time. I study as much as I can. But when I'm not doing anesthesia, what I'm doing is being a mom. I used to paint, do photography, play the flute and the piano, read, play tennis. Now, any free moment is spent preparing meals, doing homework with the boys, planning activities to do with them, going on family outings.

My kids are my hobby.

Do not misunderstand me. Being a parent has been the most amazing experience. I love being a parent. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

But I was surprised to realize how parenting had filled every nook and cranny of my life. I have always preached that as parents, moms or dads, we need to make sure we keep a balanced life. I know that I need to keep all the parts of me that aren't anesthesia and that aren't mom healthy and functional. It's not just about finding "me time" occasionally. I've been better at carving out time for just me, but it's usually spent watching a show late at night or playing on the internet. I have let all my hobbies get pushed to the back of the closet and covered in the piles of laundry and dishes.

I had thought for a while that blogging was my new hobby. It allowed to combine my love of writing and photography. But when I looked back over the past several months, it was clear that the mom side of me was taking over my blog as well. I have always used my blog as both a place to talk about my family and our activities and as a place to write about my thoughts. But the family and activities have dominated over any personal posts for quite some time.

I have become the kid-obsessed, annoying mommy blogger.

Most of me wouldn't have it any other way.

But there is that little piece, a tiny piece that wants to write and sing and paint, the a tiny piece that has been tucked far back in a corner behind the boxes of physiology and pharmacology and monthly menus and back-to-school nights, a tiny little piece that wants to be taken out and dusted off and see the light of day again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Playing Tarzan

Happiness is...

A new way to swing.

During our weekend adventures, we came across vines in the woods, vines hanging from high up branches. If you happen to have a family full of boys, well, then you would know that vines attached to trees means swinging. Why else would there be perfectly good vines just hanging from the trees?

Swinging higher and faster and then doing running take offs.

If playing Tarzan and swinging through the forest on vines isn't happiness, I'm not sure what is.

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Golden Weekend

Fall in the Midwest is one of the most glorious things there is. It is an actual season, not just three flips of the calendar. And, just like I try to do with everything, I've been trying to enjoy every moment of the beautiful, sun-laden, golden fall days.

This last weekend, we headed to Galena, Illinois, with is a beautiful, little touristy town by the Mississippi River. It was a gorgeous (but unexpectedly crowded) weekend. (As it turns out, other people are all about taking advantage of sun-filled autumn weekends, too.) The golden light, the fall colors, and the old brick buildings all mixed to make the entire day feel gold and red.

We spent the early afternoon wandering the streets of Galena.

We watched a blacksmith work. We explored little shops. We found a fabulous candy shop, a store that sold only popcorn, and many beautiful restaurants.

After we had exhausted the boys' ability to window shop, we drove up to a resort. By this time, any childhood ability to enjoy "scenic views" was nearly over, so an exciting ride down the alpine slide was called for (Despite the fact that Bug kept shouting at me, "We're going too fast. Slow down!!" If we went any slower, I thought we may have been at a dead stop.)

The slower ride back up the hill in the lift provided amazing views.

The light was perfect, everyone was happy, we were all together and filled with Candy Legos. The weekend could not have been any better.