Thursday, June 28, 2012


Dear Bug,

Now you are 10. 

I'm still reeling at this fact.  How has the time gone so quickly?  How can you possibly be 10? 

I'm still so new at this whole thing, this whole being a parent thing, that it doesn't feel possible that I'm actually not new at it, that I have been doing this for 10 years.  Although, in my defense, every thing with you is new.  You are the front runner, the ground breaker for this whole little thing we call our family.

I look at you, bright blue eyes and freckles, and think that I love you more at age 10 that I have ever loved you.

There are parts of you that are so much older than 10.  Your sarcasm, your responsibility, your thoughtfulness.  You have always seemed so much older than your age in your reserve and your insight.

There are also parts of you that are so much younger than 10. Your timidity, your hesitation. 

I'm sure that the parts of you that are older and the parts of you that are younger all even out to be the amazing 10 year old that you are.

I wanted to throw you a huge, friend filled birthday party, full of sleeping over, movies, games, and pizza. But when I started going over invitations and plans with you, I noticed that you were hesitant. This hesitation grew and grew.  Finally, I stopped and, honestly, for the first time, asked you what you wanted for your birthday.  Your answer? 

"I just want to spend it with my family."

All at once, you sent me into the typical parental emotional ocean: I was both so touched and happy that you felt this way and so concerned that you didn't want to have your friends over.

But I let you have what you want.  And it was a wonderful day.  It's not the average 10 year old boy that requests steak and roasted asparagus for his birthday dinner.

We decided to surprise our budding scientist/explorer with a telescope.  And since you absolutely refused to choose a theme or request a specific cake, I decided to base the whole small family party around outer space. We covered the ceiling with blue, silver, and black balloons.

 I pushed my meager cake decorating skills to the limit by attempting to make a outer space decorated fondant covered cake (I've only used fondant once before.)  And while the cake may not have been close to perfect...

...your reaction was.

So here we are, a full decade later, both of us wondering what is in store.  I'm sure whatever it is, it will be amazing, just like you.

Happy Birthday, Bug!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Drive In

As part of my plan to make this the best summer ever (even though I think every summer is the best one ever, purely because it is summer and no longer winter), I made a long list of iconic summer things to do with the boys (or to have my sister or Hubster do with the boys while I am working.)

Things like get a Slip 'n Slide.  Play horse shoes and badminton in the back yard.  Go berry picking.  

On that list was go to a drive in movie theater.

The last time I went to a drive in movie theater was 1989.  I was an elementary-aged girl, all limbs and freckles. I saw The Little Mermaid from the roof of my aunt's van, eating pink and white Good & Plentys and wishing I could sing like Ariel.

Now that my boys are all limbs and freckles, I thought this would be the perfect time to see make another item from the list a reality.

Also, Brave just came out, and the latest Pixar movie is always one of two movies we see in the theater each year.

We let the boys buy over sized boxes of candy, made popcorn and packed it in individual small paper bags, packed up pillows, blankets, and camping chairs.

We drove through rolling farm land, passed small towns with their charming main streets and church steeples, and made our way to the drive in theater.

The weather was clear and heavy, the humidity clinging to our legs and hair the moment we were out of the truck.  We set up the camping chairs and made a pile of blankets in the back of the truck while the boys played tag and dared each other to touch the enormous screen.

We sipped lemonade, waiting for dusk to set in.

Once the sun set and the fireflies were flickering in corn fields that spread out in every direction, the movie began.  The boys were enthralled, not just by the Celtic heroine of Brave, but by the entire atmosphere. My elementary-aged boys, all limbs and freckles, ate Sour Patch Kids and Skittles, and wished they could shoot an arrow like Merida.

The iconic summer evening was made just more perfect by a shooting star flaming its way above the screen.

All sugared up and tired out at the end of the movie, we settles the boys back into their car seats and made out way back home through the now dark farm land.

Hubster and I looked at each other and said, "This is the best summer ever."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Wild Raspberries

A new favorite activity this summer is wandering the woods just down the street from us.  These wanderings are not necessarily aimless, because we have found a treasure in the woods - wild raspberries. The prickly sprawling bushes grow in throngs here, and the sweet tart berries they grow are in peak season.

While we pick, every one feels free to eat as many as they like at the time, popping them directly from the plant to their mouth.

Even after that, there are still plenty of berries to bring home.

And after eating wild raspberries on ice cream and waffles and pancakes and just by themselves, there are still plenty left over. Which in my world can only mean one thing.


So several evenings have been spent mashing berries over heat, mixing in sugar and canning the sweet deliciousness that is homemade wild raspberry jam. The rumble of glass Ball jars in boiling water has been the background noise of the week.

(Although to be completely honest, I haven't canned a thing since I was a small girl helping my mother can tomatoes in Utah, so I had to learn to do this on my own.)

 There are now rows of filled jars on my kitchen counter, waiting to be sent to loved ones. There is also plenty of jam to be kept and eaten when summer has past.  There will be a cold wintery day in the future where I open a jar of wild raspberry jam and taste not only the berries, but the hot summer afternoon on which they were picked.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Images of Summer

I may have mentioned this once...or twice...a dozen times...but summer is my favorite season.  As we played bean bag toss in the backyard this evening, I heard the cicadas singing out from the tree tops.  Summer is now here in earnest.

The days are warm and mellow and long, with plenty of daylight after my long work days for walks around the block, strolls around the pond to catch frogs, and wanderings in to the woods to pick raspberries.

I sit on my porch and enjoy the pastels of my flourishing hydrangeas.

I let the summer dusk fade, but still have no desire to call the boys in from their bike riding up and down the street.  I let them stay outside and chase after fireflies.

When I finally tuck them in bed and kiss their blonde heads,  they smell like cut grass, popcicles, and water from the hose, which is what every little boy should smell like in summer.

The hot, green days could go on forever, and I would be content.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flashback Friday: My Secret Love

Discussing far future vacation plans as a family, I realized that neither of my children remember the ocean.  This is not their fault at all.  The last time we were at the ocean, Bug was 5 and Monkey was 18 months old.  To realize that my boys don't know what it's like to hear the surf, feel the sand and the waves, and smell the salt in the air makes me deeply sad.  The ocean was such a big part of my life growing up.

Which is why I'm sharing this post this week.  First written December 15, 2008, it still captures my feelings...

Confession Wednesday Button

I have a confession.

I have a love affair with the ocean.

Living in the land-locked, desert and harsh winter state that I do, it is sometimes easy to forget how strong my feelings are towards the ocean.

But all it takes is a moment, a glance, and all those emotions come rushing back.

Recently, I was traveling for school/work, and was driving from Loma Linda, CA to San Diego. As I wound through the hills, ever nearing the ocean, I could feel my heart beating faster and faint butterflies forming in my stomach. Just like the moment before you know you are going to see the boy you've been crushing on.

And then, I make a turn in the road. And the world falls away. There it is...the ocean.

(I'll even admit that there were tears in my eyes. Which, like the rest of this, is completely irrational and even a little silly. But it still happens.)

I managed to find time between my meeting and my flight to make it to the beach. Best 2 hours of my entire four day trip.

I'm not sure how to explain my emotions towards the ocean. Walking along the sand, just letting the water cover my ankles, I feel at peace. I only lived by the beach for 18 months as a young child. But the pull is always there.

Here, I feel the most connected to my childhood.

The sound of the waves, the feel, smell, taste of the salty air.

I always say (and yes, I am getting old enough to be able to say, "I always say...") that everyone needs a dermatologist and a therapist. (Maybe I'll explain that sometime.)

This is the best therapy session. I don't think about to-do lists, excuses, the hectic pace that normally fills my life.

I think of me (and not in a selfish, egotistical way). I feel connected to myself. My thoughts are clearer, and I find that I like my thoughts (at least in this place.)

I've lived elsewhere most of my life.

But this...

It always feels like coming home.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Best Bubbles Ever

When we were making the schedule for the entire next year last summer (completely true - this is how my life works), I had to make sure that the days the boys had off school were covered somehow.  This meant that nearly all my vacation for the entire year was spent covering random days off, such as the two days off around parent-teacher conference, and the strange day at the end of February.  A good portion of my vacation time when to when I knew the boys would be out of school in June.  Last May/June, we didn't know that my sister would be out here, we had no way of knowing what our childcare plans would be.  All we knew was that someone needed to be home with the boys.

And that's how I found myself home for four lovely days this week.  Each day has been packed with small local adventures, topped off by the occasional sunburn and sprinkler run.

By Thursday, however, I had nearly exhausted my arsenal of cheap, close family activities.

Time to dip a little deeper into my creative side.

Monkey and I mixed up a large batch of the best bubbles ever.

I let Bug and Monkey raid every drawer and cupboard of the kitchen for bubble making tools.

Everything was gathered on the back porch and the fun began.  The boys loved seeing which kitchen utensil would make the best bubbles, the biggest bubbles, the most bubbles.

The unanimous vote was that the apple slicer, the box grater, and the biscuit cutters worked the best.

The rest of the afternoon was spent happily blowing bubbles.

Sometimes the best memories don't require buckling the kids in the car, don't require any traveling, and don't require any money.  Sometimes, they only require a summer afternoon and some bubbles.

P.S.   For those of you who want it, but can't read my scribbles on the side of the container -

The Best Bubbles Ever Recipe
1 part corn syrup
2 parts liquid dish soap
12 parts water.

Thoroughly mix the corn syrup and water together and then gently stir in the dish soap.

This will keep for a couple of weeks, but it won't last that long.  At least not in our house.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Best Summer Ever

Summer is hot, humid,sunny, and full on here.  My favorite season!  I've decided to make this the best summer on record.

What better way to do that than with haircuts?.....

Um, yes, my boys felt the same way about my approach to welcoming summer as any other children would.

But that's okay. 

I bribed them into saying that this was already the best summer by buying them ridiculously bright colored ice cream at the most darling ice cream shop I have ever seen.

Now, I have to figure out how to keep them believing that this is the best summer ever (and by implication, that I am the best mom ever) after their dentist appointment this afternoon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Project 52: The Halfway Point

 I'm still wrapping my head around the fact that it is June.  And that a good portion of the year has been spent on the couch. 

Due to some pretty big changes around here, I decided that my Project 52 list also needed some pretty big changes. There are several things that it's just not going to be possible to do.  Here are the changes I have in mind...

14. Do the Couch-to-5K program: I had started doing this, and was 2 weeks in when I found out I was pregnant.  I had every intention of continuing to run (especially since I found this 5K I want to do so badly!) I continued to run for another week before morning sickness and fatigue took me out.  And honestly, pregnancy isn't a great time to be starting a new fitness program.  So instead, I'm replacing this with daily (or near daily) evening walks. I'm save the 5K for next year.

31. Plant a garden.  There is not going to be a garden.  There are tomatoes and basil in a pot on the back porch and that will have to be enough.  I don't need another project in my life. So growing tomatoes and herbs have replaced the goal of a big garden.

34. Volunteer at the school.  I don't see this happening this year.  I was at the peak of my fatigue when the school carnival happened, the usually event I volunteer for.  And when school starts pack up in the fall, there will be a lot of other things going on.  This goal is being replaced with getting a handle on all the boys' school papers.  I have boxes of them that need to be organized.

37. Write at least 10 blog posts a month. Ha, ha.  I've already failed at this.  2 posts during April: that's just pathetic, no matter how good the reason.  My goal is now going to be 5 posts a month.

43. Ride my bike to work at least 10 times.  When I mentioned that I still planned to ride my bike to work despite being pregnant, I was met with resistance from both Hubster and my friends. So this is a no-go.  However, I still love being on my bike.  So I'm replacing riding to work (and all the traffic and hills and early mornings and late evenings that this carries with it) with at least 5 family bike rides this summer (ones that are on nice smooth, car free paths.)

44. Visit family.  There is not going to be any big trip to go visit family this year.  My schedule doesn't allow it. So this goal is changed to convince family to come visit us.  I already have my sister here with me, we're hoping to get Hubster's mom out later this summer, and then use a new baby as argument to have a lot for company.

50. Sign the boys up for swimming lessons. I had every intention of doing this one.  I even sat down one evening, all ready to do it, only to find that I was too late and every swimming class for the next 10 years was booked. Instead, Bug is taking tennis lessons.   Monkey also wanted to take tennis lessons, but the age cut off was 5 and 10 months; Monkey was only 5 and 9 months, so there are no tennis lessons for him.  So instead of swimming lessons, we are going to try to go swimming as a family once a week.

When I looked over my list, and realized that it wasn't going to be possible to make all the goals I set in January, I initially started feeling like I had already failed.  But that's the beauty of this project.  It isn't set in stone.  Life changes, priorities change, and that's perfectly fine.  So instead of feeling bad, I just adjusted my goals in the direction my life has adjusted. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

24 Hour Sickness

It's been said before: morning sickness is misnamed.  Those of us who have survived it know that it doesn't have to be just a morning thing, or just an evening thing, but can be an anytime sickness or, for me, and 24 hour sickness.

With both Bug and Monkey, I somehow managed to survive the entire 9 months of pregnancy feeling nauseous the entire time. With Bug, because I hadn't experienced it before, it took me off guard and frankly made me think that death was preferable to the puking 20 times a day, hating the sight of food, people talking about food.  I would spend ridiculous amounts of time constructing driving routes to and from school that would avoid driving past fast food joints, because the smell would send me into heaving fits.   I was sick enough both times that I required IV fluids due to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.  I was started on strong, ridiculously expensive anti-nausea medication when all other remedies failed, and that medication only just managed to take the edge off.

This incapacitating sickness was one of the major reasons I was hesitant to become pregnant during residency.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to function in an operating room, maintaining the level of focus and vigilance requiring.  I had images of me throwing up into the garbage can by the anesthesia machine. 

A week after my positive pregnancy test, I was still feeling pretty good.  Tired, tender, but not sick.  I waffled between thinking that this pregnancy would be different and that something must be wrong if I was feeling okay.

And then, it happened.  The nausea, the vomiting, the bitter taste of puke and acid in the back of my throat at all times.  I tried all my old tricks: eating the foods I had tolerated the last time around, eating small frequent meals.  I wanted to stay away from medications as long as I could, to give my new, growing fetus the healthiest environment. 

I couldn't focus in the OR.  I had used to be able to care for the patient and get some studying done as well.  Now, every extra ounce of focus I had outside of watching the patient went to keeping the overwhelming sickness from taking over.  My routine of small constant snacking didn't work because food isn't allowing in the OR and I was lucky for two breaks a day, if that.

I started to lose weight.  I was weak and shaky.  And I wasn't nice.  I stopped talking to people.  I was short tempered at home and stopped playing with my boys, because the only thing I could think about was the nausea.  All my evenings and free moments were spent laying on the couch and crying. I contacted the OB office, and they said as long as I was still making urine, not to worry.

Less than two weeks of this, a friend at work said enough.  I was given a prescription for anti-nausea medication. 

I'm now almost 15 weeks along.  I am still taking the medication around the clock, every 8 hours.  I still throw up at least once every day.  I still can't eat chicken or Mexican food or toast or chocolate.  But I'm doing better.  I've stopped losing weight.  I lost 15 pounds.  Normally, I would be excited about a 15 pound weight loss.  But this is not how anyone should lose weight. 

I'm not back to normal.  The nausea is still there, always constantly on my mind and in my throat. But I'm starting to feel more like myself.  I'm starting to remember all the reasons we wanted this baby in the first place.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flashback Friday: Finding Out

What?!  It's June?  How did that happen?  I'm still several months behind and am slowly, slowing working on getting back into the swing of things.

Part of getting back to normal is get back into blogging. And Karen, at A Peek at Karen's World, has offered me a great way to do this with little effort - Flashback Friday, re-posting over the summer some of our favorite posts.

Confession Wednesday Button

Going through this whole pregnancy thing again has made me realize a lot of things, currently a lot of miserable things. But I know that there are wonderful things too.  Which made me think of this post, first published February 2, 2009.


Every parent has thought it.

"Why didn't anyone tell me?!!"

It can be about anything.

For me, it pretty much started a week after I found out I was pregnant with my first. I had seen my mom be horrifically sick throughout her pregnancies. But I went into my first with enough naivety and optimism that it never crossed my mind that I too could be sick enough to not want people to talk about food around me.

On a nearly minutely basis I would wail, "Oh, why didn't anyone tell me how bad it would be?"

I said the same thing about the weight gain, the stretch marks, the ankle swelling, and the inability to sleep.

My mom would only say one thing. "Well, if I told you, would you have ever wanted to have kids?"

Parenthood is pretty much the same way. The crying, the (not)sleeping, the teething, potty-training, terrible twos, sibling rivalry.

Parents who've been through it just smile sympathetically at you as you stand over your child, who is face down and bawling on the floor of the cereal isle.

And we think, "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

But thinking back, everyone did. Okay, no one took me aside, sat me down, and said "Look, this is how it is." (Maybe someone did that for you.) But there were the "Oh, just wait until's." The "Enjoy it while it lasts's." Any many other subtle hints about the difficulties ahead.

On the same note, no one ever tells you about the wonderful moments either.

The first time you feel your baby kick against the inside of your stomach. The bliss of reaching out your arms to hold your world just after he is born. The first smile, the first word, the silly games that he only plays with me. The happy twinge when they say "I love you and you are the best mom ever." The silly words and phrases. The signs of intelligence that make us sure that our child is a prodigy (admit it, we have all had that moment.)

And I think that we don't want anyone to tell us. Good or bad.

Having learned the ups and downs for ourselves makes us feel more proud of both surviving and enjoying. That we are navigating the oceans of parenthood by ourselves. We don't want to think of the difficulties as just run-of-the-mill. We don't want to think of the cute phrases and amazing landmarks as "typical" or "expected." We take pride in our work as parents.

And we want to take all the credit for the outcome.