Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blood Suckers

Months ago, maybe even last year, when I asked Monkey what he wanted to be for Halloween, he replied that he wanted to be a mosquito. 

Wait?  What?

What 6 year old kid wants to be a mosquito?  I had other suggestions.  How about a dragon?  A pirate?  Captain America?  A cowboy?  A firefighter?  Nope.  The kid really, really wanted to be a mosquito. 

And that's fine.  Only how does one go about making a mosquito costume?  The costume section at Target suddenly seems quite mundane.  This forced me to get creative and actually make a costume. I found some wire shaped fairy wings, that I bent into a more insect-like shape and then spray painted gray.  We bought gray sweats and a gray and black striped hat.  I got a black headband and fasted on black pipe cleaner antennae.  The nose was the hardest part: it ended up being a engineering feat that combined a blue baby suction bulb and a paper towel roll that was covered in duct tape (yes, a little red-neck, I know, but sometimes, you just have to go with what works.)  I painted the tip of the nose red for good measure.

Bug was a lot easier.  He decided to ditch the cuter costumes of previous years and go with something more Halloween classic: a vampire.  Fortunately, all the requisite parts of this costume were easily purchased at a store.

It was only when we were doing a trial run of the costumes that we realized there was a theme to the boys' costumes.  Both are blood suckers. 

Blood suckers hungry for candy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bug, Version 10.12

Dear Bug,

Being 10 is tough, isn't it?  Maybe it isn't for everyone, but it sure has been tough for both of us.

You vacillate between still being a little boy and almost being big. I think they call this being a "tween," although that term seems more appropriate for Justin Beiber crazy girls, wearing sparkly shoes and pink lip gloss than it does for my Greek mythology crazy boy, wearing hoodies and unkempt hair.

I know that there are a lot of changes going on right now, and I think that may have a lot to do with this being a difficult age. 

There are things that I think you will never forgive me for. 

Like making you take orchestra this year. 

You played the violin last year, and seems to really enjoy it.  You practiced over the summer without a single complaint.   When band instrument sign ups came around at the beginning of the school year, you told me that you would just rather continue to play the violin. And then things went down hill.  You never gave the me the orchestra registration paperwork. You didn't let me know that lessons had already started.  When I finally noticed other children at school with their instrument cases, you came unglued.  You said you didn't want to play anymore.  You said you were too busy with school.  You said that you weren't interested.  We had long talks about how important it was learning an instrument, about developing other talents, about being involved in something other than just school work. 

Finally, after many tears and frustrated conversations, we came to an agreement - you would continue to play, but would not be required to perform in any concerts.

We've also had run-ins over chores, being kind to your little brother, and how you talk to your parents.

I often worry that you'll spend the rest of your life mad at me.

So it was wonderful to take some time to spend, just to the two of us, on a date night.

We went to your favorite restaurant, a cozy little crepe cafe downtown. We watched them make crepes behind the counter, and you made the cook smile by asking for spinach on your bacon and cheese crepe.  We shared the pesto that came with my veggie crepe.

I told you stories from when I was little and when you were little, and we both had some great laughs. We watched the flood of college students pass by the restaurant window.

After dinner, we enjoyed some locally made ice cream.  You prefer your ice cream in a bowl and not in a cone.

We then strolled through the book store, looking for some purchase to make the evening out perfect.  None of the novels or picture books caught your interest.  None of the science books attracted you.  But then your face lit up as we came to a display of Calvin and Hobbes collections.  Of course, this is you, my boy with the tiger.

We needed this evening out, just to be Bug and Mom again.  To focus on how, despite all the difficulties, despite all the little tempests, that we still have this amazing connection, of mother and first born.  You needed the time to just be you, not to be the one setting the example, not to be the helping hand, not to be the big brother, but just be you.  I needed this time with just you, to recognize how much I ask of you and how much you already do, to realize that we still have an amazing bond.

Thank you for the evening out, Bug.  Thank you for reminding me of how this whole parenting thing began.  With you and with me.



Monday, October 29, 2012


At 36 weeks, there is only one more month to go in this whole pregnancy thing.  Which is good, because I'm pretty much done.

Except for the times I'm completely panicking.

Panicking because I'm starting to feel that I'm never going to be ready for this baby.  I still have so much to do.  The baby quilt is not done. I haven't packed a hospital bag.  I haven't deep cleaned the house.  There is still so much to do.  At 36 weeks, technically the baby could arrive at any time (although hopefully not until after Thanksgiving).  And this house (and mommy) are absolutely not ready.

I'm also panicking because I keep having moments where suddenly I think that this whole baby thing wasn't such a good idea.  Obviously, I'm pot committed at this point.  But there are times when I have this moment of terror that is basically, "What was I thinking!?!"  I'm already so busy, financially we're just making ends meet.  I'm not exactly sure how to continue to juggle my unpredictable work schedule with family time, how to pay for day care, how to study for boards.  I don't know how we're going to do it.

I'll have this panicky moments, and then I'll calm right down. 

We've made it work before. We've been much tighter financially in the past.  We've juggled busy schedules before.  We always find a way to make it work, and I know that we will do it this time.  And scrubbing the walls and all the baseboards is overrated, right?

Other sources of panic these days: having enough swelling that my wedding ring has been moved to a necklace around my neck and no longer being able to fit into any shoes. To have my maternity clothes not really fit.  In fact, one pair of my maternity pants ripped while I was trying to put them on.  How's that for a self-esteem blow? 

But I calm down about this too. I know that the swelling will go away after delivery.  And if some of that swelling actually ends up being extra weight, well...oh, well.

I haven't weighed myself once during the pregnancy (other than the mandatory weigh ins at my doctor appointments). With my other two pregnancies, I weighed myself daily, keeping track of every pound.  I freaked about about every stretch mark. This time, I went into this pregnancy already a little over weight.  So what was a few more pounds?  I've already got an exercise program in place for post partum, and even if I don't lose the all the weight, I know that I'll be all right.  I already had the stretch marks, so what is a few more going to do? 

And let me tell you, with a belly this big, there are a few more...

But with a belly this big, it also means that baby is right around the corner. And even though I'm (just a little) panicked about that, I'm also pretty excited.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to Make The Perfect Pumpkin

One of our family's longest standing traditions is carving our Halloween pumpkins.  But it's not just about the carving.  It's about creating the perfect pumpkin experience, which leads to the perfect pumpkin.  So how do we do it? 

First you need a gorgeous fall day.

Then you need a pumpkin patch.  This would preferably be a charming local pumpkin patch that can be reached by hayride and then can be strolled through slowly until everyone has found their favorite pumpkin.

The fall day can also include a corn maze and a corn pit.  This is of course, completely optional, but makes the pumpkin experience that much better.

The next step is to have an entire evening devoted to carving pumpkins.  The evening should include some great snacks, some squealing over the grossness of  pumpkin innards, and some music (ABBA is not required, but highly recommended.)

A great pattern is also needed.  Over the years, we've collected quite a few.  I pull out the folder of pumpkin patterns and the boys choose their favorite.  Or decide that they are too old to have Curious George on their pumpkin and they need something cooler, so I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to find video game related pumpkin stencils.

Creating the perfect pumpkin also requires a great deal of patience.  These pumpkins just take a while.  Especially since the boys are not actually able to carve their patterns themselves (even though they take all the credit at the end).

At the end of the evening, there will need to be candles and a very dark room.  Light the candles, then stand back and enjoy.  "Oh"ing and "Ah"ing and overall exclaiming at the pumpkins is essential.

I'm sure that there are other ways to carve pumpkins. I'm sure that pumpkins bought from a grocery store work just fine.  I know that a couple of triangles and a smile make children just as happy.  But for the absolutely perfect pumpkin, and the perfect memories to go with it, this is how we do it. Trust me, it's worth it.

And the pumpkins aren't that bad either.

 Monkey's Pumpkin

 Bug's Pumpkin

 My Pumpkin

 Hubster's Pumpkin (once again, the best one).

(And just because I think they are incredibly cool, here are the links to the pumpkins we have carved in the past:  2005-2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Monkey, Version 10.12

Dear Monkey,

Fine.  I'll go ahead and admit it.  You should know the truth.

I still think of you as a baby.

Yes, yes, I know that you are six years old. You are rapidly gaining on your brother in height.  You tell all sorts of funny jokes and know enough potty humor that I worry about your grandmother visiting. You bathe yourself and always remember your books on library day. 

But none of that matters.  You are my baby.  You are still small enough that I can scoop you up and blow on your belly.  You don't object to hugs and kisses in front of kids at school.  The crook of my arm is perfect size for snuggling.  You are still small enough for the occasional emotional meltdown.  You still need help with buttons and cutting up your chicken and enough other small things that I don't need to think of you as independent.  As actually growing up.

I still refer to you as my baby if anyone asks.

But all of that is going to change.  I'm sure once your actual baby brother arrives next month, you are going to suddenly seem enormous. 

I'm trying to take advantage of my illusion that you are still small. 

This week, we went on a date.  Just the two of us. 

I let you choose the restaurant.  You chose one of my favorite places.  You asked to sit outside, and then looked crushed when the waitress said there were no available tables on the patio.  We sat next to each other at our table, perusing the menu together.  You said that you didn't want to order from the kids menu, that you wanted adult food.  After reading through the options, you asked if adults ate chicken fingers, because actually, that was what you wanted. 

I shared my pasta with you and you offered to share your chicken (although, unfortunately, I still have a strong chicken aversion, so I had to decline.)  We toasted each other with glasses of lemonade. 

We talked about growing up, and music we liked, and you composed a thank you letter to me there at the table. 

We got a lot of sweet looks and smiles from our serving staff. 

After dinner, we went to a book store and picked out a new book for story time.  (Although you said that you really wanted a Star Wars trivia book).  We went and got ice cream and sang silly songs together on the way home.

It was a wonderful evening out with my boy.

I'm slowly, slowly coming around to the idea that you may not actually be a baby.  That you are actually a full fledged boy.  One that can order his own food at a grown up restaurant.  One that can propose a darling toast ("To time with Mommy!").  One that is ready to be a big brother. 

I'm going to stop calling you the baby.  I'll work on treating you less like an infant and more like the growing child you are.  We'll let that role be assumed by Duck.

But I still want you to know, that deep down in the recesses of both my heart and my memories, you will forever be my baby boy.


Sunday, October 14, 2012


Sometimes, when life is moving at neck break speed, there doesn't seem to be time to savor all the beauty that each day can offer.

I want to luxuriate in each moment, but between all the projects and deadlines and laundry, there is only time to grab a snapshot. 

Thank goodness for technology, which makes gathering those snapshots a little bit easier.  Then, when there is a quiet moment, I can take a deep breath and review the moments that passed in a blur.

The constantly changing view from here.  My belly is big enough to obscure my view of my feet, but I'm enjoying the cooler weather and the chance to wear my maternity sweaters.

Watching my alma mater play football.  Granted, they went on to lose this game (and this week's game as well), but for over a glorious quarter and a half, my beloved Utes were leading a top 25 team. 

A rainy afternoon downtown with my boys.  A trip to the library, passing all the painted benches that line the pedestrian shopping mall.

A sneak peak of the nursery.  The nursery is nearly complete.  I'm in love with this room and its future occupant.

Sun rise as seen from the hospital.  I'm seeing this view more than I would like lately.  Sipping my post-call latte, looking out at the sun rising over the steeples of downtown.  These few seconds of quiet and daybreak are nearly as energizing as caffeine.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cold Hearted

Talking to people outside of the medical profession about what I do at work, I often get the reaction that I am callous, cold hearted, or insensitive. 

After all, how could a person talk about going to codes, calling time of death, talking to patient's families about withdrawing care, how could a person do all these and not break down crying without being an insensitive, horrible person?

Because that's what I do.  In my job, I have frequently been the face associated with the worst news families may ever get.  I have told families and patients horrible things, such as diagnoses of cancer, brain damage, and worse.  At the bedside, I do my best to be sensitive, to be professional, to be available in every way possible.

Step away from bedside, and it is common to be casual and impersonal about the situations.  To talk about what happened in non-emotional terms.

Thus, the accusations of being cold hearted.

But I promise that is not the case.  After all, I'm the girl who cries at Johnson and Johnson commercials, who cried in front of a Monet painting, who gets choked up with each goodbye to my boys.  I gush over baby animals, I tear up at weddings and births.  I'm not an insensitive person.

But at work, it's just's work.

When I walk through the doors of the hospital, I do become detached, objective.  I think it is essential to become this way.  This is what allows us to be good at our job, our ability to be objective.  I have to focus on the physiology, on the numbers, and not the person.  When I'm transfusing blood as fast as I can during a trauma case, I have to think about normalizing the blood pressure and the labs, and not about the hopes and dreams the patient may have had.  When I'm placing an emergency airway, I have to think about the algorithms, and not about the patient's history and stories.  When I arrive at a code, and chest compressions are started, when I push on a patient's chest and feel the crunch of breaking ribs underneath my hands, I have to focus on what I'm doing, and not on the family standing outside the door. 

If I think about all the other things, all the stories and family and hopes and dreams, there is no way to stay objective, to think about what needs to be done.

The other part of this is separating the horror stories behind every door at work from the domestic happiness of my home life.

There has to be a way to call time of death and console a family, and then leave, drive home, walk through the door, sit around the dinner table and ask about what happened at school.  A way to separate the seriousness of my job from tickle tag and story time with my boys. 

I recognize the sadness and the hugeness and the terribleness of what so often goes on within the hospital, of what I am called to do. 

But at some point, I have to go home.  I have to go back to being a normal person.  I cannot allow the sadness I see to become my sadness. This is the only way to not only remain good at my job, but to remain sane.

So, if you ever hear me tell a story about a terrible thing that happened at work, and I don't break down crying, if I don't seem that I'm falling apart, it's not because I'm cold hearted.  It's because this is what is required. 

This is how I survive.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Enjoying the Season

Every time the end of summer approaches, I work myself into a frenzy about how sad I am at the change of seasons.  Because summer ending can only mean one thing - that there is only one season between me and winter and I'm never sure if my bone marrow has sufficiently thawed out from the previous winter.

Then autumn descends, and I calm down (a little bit) and realize that I actually enjoy this season.  The slight dip in the temperatures give me an energy burst for bike rides and forest walks.  The fiery blush of color spreading through the tree branches is beautiful.  The daily change in the world is so different from the stable, comfort of daily green and sunshine of summer, but finds its own way to be peaceful and welcome.  And the excuse to eat soup.

I do continue to feel a certain amount of anxiety to get outside as much as possible.  Every time the boys groan as I push them off for another bike ride or a walk around the lake, I remind them that winter is coming and they won't be able to go outside for months, and that we must work on our vitamin D storage now.

This is what I need to work on.  I need to work on just enjoying the moment, for what the moment is worth, and not because of how much it will mean in the future, or because of how much I will regret it if I don't do it right now, or because I think it should mean or represent something so much more.

 I need to just enjoy fall for what it is:

-Walks around the lake (a pleasure obviously shared by wildlife)


-Gorgeous golden sunlight

-Another season spent with my beautiful family.

Yes, I'll admit that I still can't shake the thought that the glorious colored leaves covering the tree branches and ground will soon be replaced by snow, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the golden, changing days.

And eat soup.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Getting past 30 weeks in my pregnancy felt like such a milestone, even more than reaching the third trimester.  It felt like finally, finally, I was in the home stretch.

Because that was the one thing I had forgotten about pregnancy.  They say that eventually, you develop a sort of amnesia towards the more unpleasant parts of pregnancy. I hadn't felt that was true.  I remembered how horrific the morning sickness was, how terrible the heart burn was, how much my feet swelled, how my back and hips hurt, how it was impossible to get comfortable at night and get a good night's sleep. (Such a lovely picture of pregnancy, isn't it?).

But the one thing I had forgotten about pregnancy is just how long it is.  I mean, come on, it's almost a year!  It seems never ending.  I still have over 7 weeks to go, and I keep feeling like I'm done now.

Granted, I'm not actually ready.  The nursery is set up.  The baby clothes are all washed and put away.  The day care waiting lists are signed up for.  The stock piles of diapers, wet wipes, pacifiers, and bottles are at the ready.  We have a name picked out.  But we don't have a car seat.  We don't have a diaper bag.  I haven't finished the quilt.  And I still have 6 call shifts (4 in the surgical intensive care unit and 2 in the operating room) that I have to complete.  I still need to have one on one dates with my boys before my attention is divided.  I still need to get a pedicure, and get my hair cut, and get a massage, and have lunch with my girl friends before the demands at home grow even larger.

Speaking of larger, here is the 32 week belly shot. 

I feel enormous. A couple of my maternity shirts are actually having a hard time making the complete journey to meet my waist band - always a classy look.

Despite the fact that I am willing the days to pass as quickly as possible (partially just to be able to take a deep breath and to not get winded while putting on socks, but mostly out of excitement to meet my newest little man), there are things I want to remember:

-I still am having food aversions: I can't stand the thought of eating (or cooking) chicken, which has made meal planning much more difficult. I also can't eat strawberries, which is terrible, especially considering my town just got a Costco and the large trays of strawberries call to me.  But I throw them up nearly every time. That and toast.  I can't eat toast.

-I don't have any noticeable cravings.  I have been able to drink milk and orange juice, something I couldn't do with my previous pregnancies.  But unlike the time when I was pregnant with Bug and craved anything with cinnamon on it, or the crazy onion ring cravings I had with Monkey, I haven't noticed any new food loves.  Yet.

-The baby is most active between 9 and 10 pm.  Every night without fail, he starts a little gymnastic routine right around 9 o'clock, delighting Bug and Monkey with the associated stomach distortions.  I know he has active periods during the day as well, but my schedule is usually so busy, I'm not as  in tune with those.  I'm predicting that he continues with this schedule post birth.

-I'm having those typical vivid pregnancy dreams (when I'm not sliding down my mattress that has 3 pillows stuffed under it to combat my reflux symptoms).  A lot of my dreams involve preterm delivery, hemorrhaging to death, or having a huge audience at the birth, but I've also had dreams about the most beautiful little boy ever.

8 weeks left.  That is all.  That's what I keep telling myself.  That is all.