Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Holiday That I Almost Skipped

Friday, I was pretty sure that Easter wasn't going to happen. Oh, I knew that Sunday would come and go, but I was feeling that maybe that was all this holiday was going to be.

I've been pretty overwhelmed lately, each day wondering if I can keep above water.

I love making holidays special for my family. I want my kids to look back and think about the great times they had, about the traditions we made, and hopefully, pass them on to their families in the future. But this year, I just wasn't sure.

Saturday came, and you wouldn't have been able to tell that there was any holiday approaching. But by that afternoon, I decided to just muscle through and pull this holiday together.

So today, this wonderful day of celebrating miracles, today in my house, was just short of a miracle itself.

We stayed up late coloring eggs with the boys (using Kool-Aid, which makes such awesome eggs, I'm not sure I'm going to let them drink it ever again.). So this morning, we had our traditional Easter tree, with branches that I ventured out to grab in the dark and the rain.

Hubster and I worked furiously this morning to pull together a beautiful little breakfast.

All five of us made it to church, clean and relatively happy. We listened to an amazing talk that made me tear up.

I made darling cupcakes (I'm still wondering why on earth I wasted time making these, but I found them on this website, and thought they would be ridiculously cute- and they are.)

I had been growing some grass to put in the boys' baskets, and it had been showing very little signs of life, but this morning, it was thick and green and gorgeous.

The sun made enough of a showing to have an Easter egg hunt in the backyard (even though the boys put their winter coats due to a frigid wind immediately after this picture was taken).

We did decide to forgo the traditional family croquet game due to the cold weather and soggy lawn, but were able to spend enough time outdoors that it felt like maybe spring was coming.

We are getting ready to sit down to a lovely dinner that everyone in the house agrees they like and will eat.

In the big scheme of things, me pulling off a lovely and memorable Easter Sunday with my family is a little thing. It may be little, but it was beautiful, peaceful, and miraculous for our family. And given the alternative, given that I had planned on skipping this holiday all together, I'll take that little thing.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Enough Already

I woke this morning to find the backyard covered in snow, with flakes still falling thickly. 

This was the first year I can remember that the groundhog didn't see his shadow.  This is also the year where it is taking the most faith that spring will actually come.

It hasn't been a bad winter.  The fall was very mild. We were still able to walk outside comfortably in November. We got a decent amount of snow, enough that we could do all the winter things the boys wanted.

There was sledding.

There were snow angels.

There were snowmen and snowball fights and most sledding.

But enough already.

I'm done with school cancellations, cold feet and freezing rains. 

I want to see some green.  I want to see my bulbs sprout from the ground.  I want to see sunshine and flowers and just be warm again.  I want to take Duck outside without 34 layers of clothing and blankets. 

I'm desperate for spring.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

*Blink* Another Month

I thought about using the only picture we got of him smiling that day, or one of the pictures with him screaming. Neither seemed appropriate. I thought about editing out the drool. But that also seemed wrong.

Wow. 4 months. The time is just flying by.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Birthday Wishes

Despite the fact that I'm technically a grown up, I'm still one of those people that get excited about their birthday. Not in the "I want a big party with streamers and confetti and silly hats and lots of people" excited (well, maybe just a little), but more the "I just want to do something special" excited. Even though I'm getting old enough that people would be understanding if I didn't want to celebrate, I still want to.

Last year, my birthday was both wonderful and not so wonderful. I did have lunch with a friend, and got my very first pedicure, and best of all, found out that I was pregnant with Duck. But my work schedule was such that I only saw my family for a few minutes in the early morning. I spent the rest of the day alone.

So this year, I had some very specific birthday wishes. Because this year was going to be better than last year.

I wanted to not plan or cook a single meal.
I wanted to eat sushi.
I wanted a cake with candles.
I wanted to sleep in.
I wanted to spend the entire day with my family.

Hubster woke me up late, to a wonderful breakfast he cooked.  He surprised me with a wonderful cake, complete with candles. We went out for sushi (even if I was the only one who ate any.)  Hubster offered to find a babysitter, but I declined.  Because even if it might be a little stressful having all three kids at the restaurant, what I wanted was for us to be together.

And that's what we were.

I feel absolutely spoiled and very birthday girlish.

This birthday, I got every thing I wanted, even before I blew out the candles.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Another Midwestern Spring Break

Finally, our computer is fixed (thanks to a wonderful husband who is not afraid to open up the back of the thing, pull out some wire-sprouting piece, and replace it). I can go back to blogging with pictures, which, let's be honest, is almost the only kind of blogging I do.

Each time we get vacation all together - me off of work, Hubster and the boys out of school, all at the same time - we feel that we have to make the most of it, because we never know when, or even if, it will ever happen again.

Okay, fine.  Going to St. Louis, Missouri, may not exactly be "making the most" of a vacation for some people, but for us, it absolutely is. We had a goal when we moved to Iowa that each year, we would visit one of the four big cities that are close to us: Chicago to the east, Omaha to the west, Minneapolis to the north, and St. Louis to the south. And after this week, our goal is complete!

I love being the tourist. I enjoy playing the tourist in my own town, my own state. It doesn't take much for us to have fun. That's why, even though there was no tropical temperatures or sandy beaches, this was still a great adventure for us.

There was City Museum, which everyone we asked about St. Louis said we had to go to. When I was doing research about places to visit, I couldn't ever find out that much about this place. People I asked never told me much either, saying it was just kind of hard to explain. Really?  Well, after going there, I can say, Yes, really.

Even after 6 hours of running all over the place, I'm not exactly sure what to say.  It's a little bit of Hoarders meets Swiss Family Robinson, in that it's a place for kids to climb, run, and hide, build out of things recycled from the city.  (Hubster says it's more like someone was sniffing glue and then decided to build a children's museum. That might be a little more accurate.) It has the world's largest pencil and a 10 story slide. And a giant whale.

There was Forest Park and the St. Louis Zoo.  I'm such a huge fan of these free city zoos. This zoo was huge! And beautiful! And even if we had to spend most of the day wearing our winter coats (because even though St. Louis is south of us, it's not that far south), we had a fabulous day, full of elephants, hippos, tigers, and sea lions.

And there's the Arch. What tourist trip to St. Louis would be complete without a trip to the Arch? Although, after all my reassuring Bug that he would be just fine in the little tiny tram car that takes you to the top, I'm the one that almost freaked out on the thing. After all, I was putting my life and my family's life in the hand of 1960's engineering. Which apparently is just fine, since we got to the top and back down just fine.

The Arch was my favorite part. It was so much more beautiful and impressive than I thought it would be. It even was worth the nearly 3 hour wait.

We ate at Ted Drewes and Amighetti's Bakery at The Hill.

And now, with all corners explored, we are left to come up with some new adventures for next year.  I have a feeling we are up for the challenge.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bug, Version 3.13

Dear Bug,

I was looking through old photographs of you last week. I love going through our family pictures, reliving all our little adventures, all our memories.  While looking at pictures of hikes through the woods and trips to the city, I was struck by how young you looked.

Which is silly, because you are young. The funny thing, is that I don't remember you being as young as you looked in all those pictures.  Thinking about it, I don't know if I remember ever thinking of you are being young.

Even now, even though you are only 10 years old, I still think of you as much older. Since you are the oldest, you've never really gotten to be the baby. Even before your brothers joined the family, we never really let you just be the baby.

The obvious repercussion of this is that I've treated you like you are much older.  I realized that I've been doing this for a very long time. I've expected you to behave like someone older, to shoulder responsibility of someone older.  And you've always risen to those expectations. You are always well behaved, always responsible, always the ideal child.

It's hard to admit our parenting failures.  I want to think that the reason you are an amazing child is because I'm an amazing parent. But too often, I realize you are amazing all on your own, often in spite of my parenting. 

I do recognize that you are growing up, flying through childhood at neck break speed.  And I know that adding responsibility and expecting good behavior is important. But I also know that you not be a little boy for much longer. So I'm going to do my best to make the most of the time we have left, of the few precious years of being little there still are. I'll not worry so much about dirty shoes and chocolate covered faces. I'll spend more time reading silly books and building Legos with you.

I'm going to do my best to just let you be the boy you are, because it's already more that I could imagine.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Getting Things Done in March

So far, this monthly goal thing isn't going so well for me. I'm starting to see why people dislike resolutions so much. You come up with a long list of goals, and then there is absolutely no way you can do them, and so you just start feeling overwhelmed and like a failure. I do start each month with absolute conviction that I'm going to accomplish all my goals.  But my schedule and the demands on me fluctuate so much that doing anything over the short term is difficult. I'm definitely more of a long term goal person. 

That being said, I'm not that upset with myself over my lack of success with my February goals.  After all, there have been three snow days, a set of night shifts, and a huge exam.   There is only so much a girl can do.

February To-Do List:
-Work out as a family for at least 10 minutes 3 times a week: Fail. We did this for two weeks, and then I started nights.  I know that it's only 10 minutes, but since I haven't figured out when I'm going to shower or do laundry, it's a 10 minutes I'm just not sure where to fit in.  Especially since it's not just 10 minutes: it's the getting changed, the stretching out and cooling down, the shower afterwards.
-Match my January weight loss: Fail. Or at least I think I did. I didn't actual weigh myself this month.
-File my taxes (or have Hubster file my taxes): Success! We not only filed, but have already got our tax return back.  And we already have big plans for it. Most of it involving our credit card balance.
-Board study: at least one keyword a day, and all my review questions by the end of the month: Fail.  I did quite a bit of board study, but only got through about half my keywords and half my review questions.
-Finish my licensing paperwork: Fail. But this is only partially my fault, because I just got another e-mail listing about 20 more forms I need to do.  I actually thought I was done with this one. 

I'm hoping that eventually we will get some warmer weather here - we have had more snow in the last couple weeks than we did the entire winter - and as the weather warms, I'm hoping that my goal achievement will also take an upswing.

So, in anticipate of better things this month, here are some March goals:

March To-Do List:
-Spring Break: Finalize our trip plans and actually do this.
-Buy plane tickets for our summer vacation
-Do something fun for my birthday (could I be any more vague?)
-Movie night with Hubster
-Get a jogging stroller (and start jogging if the snow melts)
-Try again with family exercise: 10 minutes a couple of times a week
-Keep my board prep ready: finish key words and review questions
-Cook with one new ingredient

The list seems a little long, but I'm going into this month with a lot of optimism and determination that this month will be better. Even if the just means the snow eventually melts.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Grief, Revisited

In my line of work, it's inevitable that there is illness, disease, and yes, even death.  There is hardly a day that goes by where I don't come in contact with this, where I don't play a minor role in all these sad stories.

How I'm affected by these stories vary. Most of the time, I'm learning to not be as affected. I'm learning to recognize the things I can change, the things I can't, the inevitable from the preventable. It's not easy, but an essential part to maintaining my sanity.

However, there are still events that knock me out of my comfort level, that rattle me to my core.  Things I see that leave me hollow, sad, and waking up from bad dreams in the middle of the night.

That's what this last week has been. There was one patient that I can't get out of my mind. A patient that I desperately wanted to save, a patient that I desperately wanted to return, whole and healed, to their family. But that was not the case. Yes, against all odds, we worked as a team and were able to get the patient out of the OR. But that's where the good news ended. The patient was too ill, too broken, and didn't survive the week.

I cried in the car on the way home.  I cried at home to Hubster.  I woke up from bad dreams crying.

I recognized that some of my grief stems from my inability to not project my own situation on what had happened.  What if it was my loved one?  How would I feel if I had to go home, and my own family member was suddenly not there? 

I met the family several times. I saw grief etched in every aspect of their expressions, their posture. Witnessing their grief, it felt that my own sadness was selfish. Despite all my attempts at empathy, how could I even image what they were going through?  How dare I even pretend that my tears compared in some way to theirs? 

I had thought I was past this, that I had built enough emotional distance from all the sad stories.  Despite how emotionally draining, how acutely horrific this last week has been, a small part of me is actually relieved to find that this is not the case.