Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Blues

I'm having a hard time getting in the holiday mood. I'm not procrastinating anything. In fact, everything is ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Christmas cards are done and (mostly) addressed. Almost all the Christmas presents are bought. But I feel like I'm just going through the motions.

The days have flown by, so I'm in denial that it is actually November, let alone nearly the end of November. And since I can barely register the fact that it is the end of fall, it feels that there is no way it can be Thanksgiving tomorrow.

I'm also just to-my-bone-marrow tired. I've been working some of my longest hours in a long time, working 80-90 hours a week for the last several weeks. I'm also on a night shift currently, which just makes me feel cantankerous. And being on nights means that I work 6 days a week, regardless of holidays.

So that means I will be working Thanksgiving day. Actually twice. I get home at 7:30 am on Thanksgiving morning, and have to head back to work at 5:30 pm. I feel that if I have to hear about everyone's 4-5 day weekend, and about all the family and friends they will be seeing, I might have a meltdown. There will be no holiday weekend. There will be no gathering of extending family and friends. There will just be us and a very tired me.

So that's my little pity party for one.

However...this does provide us with good opportunities. We are still planning on a full traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Which means for the first time ever, we have to cook a turkey. I am scared to death of this, but Hubster and I are doing this together. Our turkey is currently being brined, and I'm so excited about it. Tomorrow it will be injected with broth and butter and stuffed with onions and apples.

Given my schedule, there won't be down time after the dinner. But Hubster is planning on bringing our pies to the hospital, so that we can have dessert in the evening, and share it with the other residents that are also away from their families on the holiday.

I'm planning on being over my negativity by the time I wake up this afternoon. I'm planning on cooking with my family and make holiday memories together. I'm planning on forgoing some sleep to make sure that happens. Even if there is no large family gathering, or days off, and even if dinner is eaten around a hospital table instead of the dinner table, I'm planning on celebrating.

Update: I have made two realizations. First, every time I open my mouth (or my laptop) to complain, I have a moment when I realize how pathetic and whiny I sound. Second, I really shouldn't talk (or write) when I am tired. I've slept. And guess what? I'm not really that upset. I'm okay (ish) that I'm working Thanksgiving. It means that someone else won't be. I'm going to have time with my family, and I love them so much. The turkey, despite how afraid I am of it, is going to be awesome. The pies are already done. This is going to be an awesome holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shiny New Menu

Ever since I started meal planning back in September, it has become a little bit of an obsession. I've become compulsive about it (and there you have it, a diagnosis, just like that.)

I'm always on the look out for new recipes, keeping an eye open for what's in season and how I should cook it (which is really not a lot right now here in the icy, but not just snowy, state of Iowa.) Our evenings are so much smoother and our diets are so much healthier. The times that we just give up and go for a fast food run have been cut drastically.

Since this has become such a big deal, I couldn't continue just using a little sheet of paper stuck to the side of the fridge.

No, this was much more important than that. So much bigger.

So, I did what any normal, compulsively planning menu obsessing woman would do. I bough a can of chalkboard paint and painted out a large rectangle on a wall in my kitchen.

I love my new chalkboard menu (although I would like to point out that the walls in our house are textured, not flat. Hubster mentioned this to be just as I was starting to paint and asked if I wanted to sand the wall first. I didn't. I was in the zone and just ready to do this already. Turns out, he was right. A textured chalkboard isn't the most ideal writing surface. Another point to Hubster.)

Each week, I write out the week's menu (from the scrawled on monthly menu sheet on the side of the fridge - that's not going away.)

Now, not only is the hard work I spent planning meals for the family nicely displayed, but there is finally something on the blank walls in our kitchen. I personally think it goes with everything else quite nicely.

Everyday, the boys run into the kitchen and read out loud the dinner planned for that night. Sometimes the meals are a little nicer, a little fancier.

Other weeks, they are not.

The trick is still actually getting the boys to eat anything, no matter how pretty the menu is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Story About an Ottoman

Early on in our marriage, every singe piece of furniture Hubster and I owned was a hand-me-down. One of those pieces was a very large, rustic planked coffee table. And by large, I mean taking up half our living room large (yes, the living room was barely the width of a hallway, but still.) Despite the size and the unattractiveness of the table, we didn't replace it because it was (nearly) better than having nothing.

Bug loved the table. It was perfect for doing Superman leaps off of. But then along came Monkey. When the kid started walking, he fell down and hit his head so many times on the hard edges of that table, I was convinced he would never be normal. That's when I insisted that the huge wooden structure go.

We replaced it with a nice, soft, padded ottoman. Nothing fancy, just a simple piece we found at Target that also had the added benefit of extra storage. Now when Monkey fell and hit his head, at least it was against something soft (except for the walls and corners and chairs and floor...there is only so much a mother can do.)

However, our pretty little ottoman was not to last. Monkey, in his typical monkey-ish fashion, used it for teething. Bug, his previous launching pad gone, continued to use the ottoman for superhero take-offs. Just a couple years use, and the ottoman was tattered. It didn't help that Monkey, well past his teething phase, continued to pull it apart, one handful of stuffing at a time.

Being the frugal people we are, we didn't replace it. After all, it was (nearly) better than having nothing.

But finally, I couldn't take the eyesore at the center of our otherwise pretty living room. We started looking for another ottoman. We ended up going to Target and buying the exact same one. It's affordable and cute and worked well in our space.

Instead of being all saggy and tattered and shreaded with stuffing hanging out at all sides, the ottoman is now clean and shiny and pretty again.

I had forgotten how nice it looked before kids.

Then I realized something...

The ottoman before kids...

The ottoman after kids...

I feel pretty much the same way.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Iowa Houses, Part 3

When my mother visited us last month, we did so many fun things. We explored graveyards, spent a day at a pumpkin patch, and made enormous leaf piles.

My mom and I share a love for little adventures.

But by far, my favorite thing we did together was spend a sunny afternoon riding bicycles through some of the prettier neighborhoods in my town. The air was perfectly fall, the sidewalks covered in a crispy layer of leaves. We rode slowly up and down the tree lined streets full of older homes.

We admired windows, archways, and brickwork. We discussed Tudor and Colonial and midcentury modern.

And I took pictures of all the pretty colored homes.

That afternoon, pedaling through the crunch of fallen leaves, every mundane side street became an adventure.

House watching is done best from the seat of a bicycle. And with your mother.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Regrets and Choices

At my work, when people find out that I have children, they are usually surprised. Apparently, I look much too young to have any children, let alone a 9 year old and a 5 year old.

I get asked a lot of questions. How do I do it? How do the kids manage with my work schedule? How do things work with Hubster's schedule?

One of the questions that I have been asked too frequently, especially by other physicians, is whether I regret having children. It's usually phrased differently, such as do I regret having children at such a young age, or do I regret having them so early in my medical career, or do I regret having children that distract me from medicine.

Regardless of how it's phrased, or how tactful the questioner attempts to be (usually failing completely), all they want to know is whether I regret my children.

Balancing medicine and family is difficult.

I find it a little ironic that I never once have been asked the reverse question. Do I regret going in to medicine?

After all, Bug was part of my life before medicine was. So asking me if I would choose medicine over my children is ludicrous.

I've answered both questions to myself, both the one I've been asked multiple times and the one I've only asked myself. I have never once regretted my children. Not once, not even in my worst parenting moments. But I have regretted medicine.

During the application process, I wondered if I was brave enough, outgoing enough. During medical school, I wondered if I was smart enough. During residency, I've wondered I'm dedicated enough. It's been a long process, and I've spent a lot of time, too much time, wondering if I made the right decision all those years ago.

I was driving home yesterday after a 90+ hour week, in tears because I was getting home too late to see my family, the family that I don't regret at all. I've worked so much the last several weeks that I feel I've become a non-entity in my family. I'm tired and frustrated and upset.

But I have come to terms with my choice. Just like my children, medicine was a choice. No one forced me to do this.

I know that I'll continue to be tired. And I'll continue to be questioned about my choices.

But I'm done regretting.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Leaf Pile

Our backyard is nearly circled by trees, meaning that in fall, our backyard becomes a thick patchwork blanket of leaves. Which really only gives you one choice...

Leaf piles!

It started out with me raking and the boys running around the yard, kicking soccer balls, swinging, and chasing each other with sticks. Then I realized that was a lot of wasted energy.

It only took a little while for them to put that energy to good work and make the largest leaf pile they had ever seen (which is good motivation to continue to make it even bigger!)

And after a leaf pile that big is made, there really is only one option...

Jump in it!

First there was just jumping. Then there was burying each other with leaves. Then, we would start at the back of the yard, all hold hands and run, yelling at the top of our lungs and jump all together in the leaves. We were loud, leaf covered, and happy.

While the boys were jumping in the leaves, they were required to hold still momentarily to let their crazy mom take cute pictures of them. These are the rules.

After we were all raked, jumped, and photoed out, we went inside for warm drinks, where we continued to pull bits of leaves and sticks out of our hair and clothes.

The one added perk of all these leaves? The city leaf program that came and vacuumed them all up the next day.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tricks and Treats

I wish that I could tell you what a great time we had trick-or-treating, or how wonderful it was to watch my children finally be brave enough to ring a doorbell by themselves.

(Pictures by Hubster)

But Halloween handed out more tricks this year than treats. I was working a 28 hour shift yesterday, so I wasn't there. Halloween isn't like Thanksgiving or Christmas, where we could just celebrate on a different day if necessary. Halloween is pretty much just a October 31st thing.

I was keeping plenty busy, with barely enough time to think about the fact it was a holiday. But as I took some time for dinner, and saw that the sun was sinking low and the light was beginning to fade, I thought about my boys and hoped they were having a fabulous time.

However, despite the tricks of the schedule, there were still treats enough. After the candy amassing was over, my little ghost and boxer came up to the hospital to visit me. Every nurse and patient who saw them had to smile.

We shared candy, Monkey constantly trying to give me all the sour ones out of his pumpkin. They told me about the scary houses they wouldn't go up to, and how much fun they had had.

The pager went off again, and it was time for good-byes, and definitely time for bed for two sugar saturated boys.

Part of me wanted to cry for missing Halloween. But kissing goodnight to the Jolly Rancher scented boys, I realized that really all I missed was them.