Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two Candles

Even before Duck officially turned two over the weekend, he was already showing he was completely ready to be two.

He's talking up a storm and perfecting the ultimate temper tantrum.

He's also cuddly and so sweet it can almost break your heart, especially when he suddenly starts singing, "Let it go!" in his baby voice and twirling around the living room. 

As we celebrated his birthday, chasing balloons around the house and singing happy birthday about his fox cake (he stubbornly refused to blow out the candles), I was overwhelmed by how grateful I am for this beautiful boy.

The decision to add that third child to our family wasn't trivial. We were getting to the point where things were finally getting "easy," because everyone dressed themselves, went to the bathroom by themselves, and slept through the night. Both Hubster and I were in the thick of our training. But we knew our family wasn't complete.

Duck has added that completeness.

Getting Duck here wasn't trivial. Unexpectedly confronted by the possibility of infertility, the effects of residency plainly taking their toll on my body, we underwent multiple tests and fortunately only one round of medication. The pregnancy and the labor were difficult and trying. But we willingly faced each hurdle because we knew we could love more.

Duck has added that extra love.

Raising babies is never simple. We've had sleepless nights and sick days. We've given up the ability to eat at restaurants and go to movies (and some days, even the grocery store.) But we'd do it all again, because Duck is now a critical component to our family.

Duck has added balance and joy.

So for all that Duck has added to our lives, we celebrated by singing and eating cake, and taking our meals while sitting on the table.

Duck may have just added another year to his age, but for us, he's added so much more.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Early Holiday Start

I used to be one of those people that absolutely refused to do anything Christmas related until after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving deserved its fair share of attention and shouldn't be overshadowed by Christmas.

And then I started to buy wrapping paper before Thanksgiving, because I was worried my favorite patterns would be gone if I waited.

And then I started to get a couple gifts.

And it's pretty much just snowballed from there.

My goal each year is to have all my Christmas shopping done before Thanksgiving. I use all sorts of rationalization, such as concerns about longer shipping times over the holidays, items selling out, the crowds at stores as Christmas approaches, and that not having to shop during December allows me to focus on all the other aspects of the holidays.

Hubster is not nearly the Christmas fanatic that I am. He puts up with my constant barrage of gift ideas and plans in exchange for me not listening to Christmas music until December 1, and not putting up any decorations until after Thanksgiving.

Participating in Christmas activities before Thanksgiving used to seem like such a big deal But now, half way through November, I'm seeing lights going up and fully decorated trees through house windows. Maybe it's just getting harder to resist when stores have their Christmas sections up before Halloween, instead of just before Thanksgiving.

With how much I love Christmas, I'm honestly not upset. I'm happy to have that beautiful holiday feeling a few extra weeks.

Is anyone else all ready for Christmas, or are you still waiting until after Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Up In The Air

For as long as I remember, the next step in my life has been fairly straight forward. High school, undergrad, med school, residency. There was an expected and predictable next step. I'm not saying that the next step was easy or stress free, because it never was, but it was at least predictable.

Now, not so much.

The obvious next step after residency is to find a job. Because Hubster is still in dental school, I was able to get a temporary, locum tenens type job with the hospital I did residency at. It worked well, allowed me to have a more flexible schedule, remain in a system that I was familiar with, and get some more experience.

I've really enjoyed my job for the last year and a half.

But now that Hubster's dental school graduation in on the horizon, it's time to start making permanent plans.

We know we'll most likely be moving, that we'll sell our home, move somewhere else, put the kids in different schools. Knowing that has added an element of unrest to our lives, because we don't know where we'll be going.

For the last six years, I've been able to live with the feeling of permanence. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that things weren't permanent. That we wouldn't live in our little house or in this particular neighborhood forever. After all, the house definitely wasn't our dream house. We weren't sure we wanted to live in Iowa for the rest of our lives. We don't have any family in the area.  But I was able to ignore that possibility and for the first time in my life, actually feel settled.

I moved many, many times as a child. After Hubster and I got married, we continued to move multiple times, from one miserable apartment to the next. When asked where I grew up or where I'm from, I give a couple states, not a city or an address.

When we moved to Iowa, we bought our first home. A place we could paint walls and hang pictures and mark our children's height on the door frame. I have fallen completely in love with our little house, with its big yard and all its 1970s building standards. I have lived on our quiet street for longer than I have ever lived at one place prior.  I have finally felt allowed to put down roots, which I did with abandonment, becoming more attached to our home, our neighborhood, our city, and state each day.

Now, suddenly but not unexpectedly, all that stability is up in the air. We don't know where we are going to land come next summer.

I've applied for jobs on the West Coast, in Montana and Utah, seriously looked into jobs at other Midwest locations. I've interviewed several places. Hubster has looked and enquired about jobs right along with me.

I'm determined that the next move will be the last move. I promised myself long ago that I was going to offer my children more stability than I had. When someone asked them where they grew up, they would have an answer. I wanted them to have a childhood home, to actually be from somewhere, to put down roots without constant fear of being yanked out of the familiar.

Already, the prospect of moving and leaving behind what we have built for our family is difficult. Bug, comfortably settled in middle school with his close group of friends is struggling with the impending changes. Even Monkey, who was initially excited about something new, is now more and more reticent about moving.

Even I'm not handling the possibility well. Frequently, we'll be out for family walks and I'll be taking in the tree line streets and familiarity, and just stop and cry out, "I just can't move!"

So there's a lot of pressure to make sure the move is worth it. It would be wonderful to move closer to family. It's not been easy being hundreds of miles away from our families. But we are weighing that benefit against the cost of taking our children away from what they know.

And Hubster and I really both need jobs in the same area, which is not as easy as one could wish. Both job markets for anesthesiologists and dentists are tight with limited options.

I know that we'll figure things out, that we'll make what we feel is the best decision for everyone (even if Bug continues to insist that we are only doing this to make him miserable.)

But until we make that decision, I'm up in the air, unsettled, distractable, stressed, and slightly unhappy.

This prolonged process of uprooting oneself, slowly pulling each tendril free, is painful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Running Shoes

My boys go through shoes at an almost unnerving rate. It doesn't matter the brand, the type, or the quality. Without fail, within 3 months, their shoese are falling to pieces. Holes at the toes, soles coming off, stitching unraveling, falling to pieces.

So, this weekend, right on schedule, I was shoe shopping with my boys.

Monkey insists on velcro, because stopping to tie shoe laces apparently slows him down and cramps his style.

We finally found a pair of sturdy looking, gym appropriate, acceptable style and color, velcro securing shoes.

As Monkey tried them on, his face lit up.

"These are perfect!"

He quickly slipped the second shoe on and started running laps around the display shelves.

"I'm so much faster, Mom!  Look how fast I can run in these! I'm even walking faster! I can't wait to go home and run on the treadmill and see how fast I can go now!"

I remember being a kid and having that same feeling, being so sure that my new shoes made me able to run faster, jump high, and be all around amazing.

To be completely honest, I'm not sure I'm over that feeling.

When I replaced my running shoes, I had that same feeling. These shoes were awesome, the cushions and fit were amazing. How could I not run faster in these shoes? 

I got the same feeling when I bought a pair of running socks. They were padded in all the right places, didn't bunch up in my shoes at all, and were breathable, so my feet were never sweaty. Of course I would run faster with these great socks!

When I got my compression running pants, yep, I got it, the same "now I can run faster" feeling.

As it turns out, despite all that fancy running gear, I'm still slogging through the miles at the same turtle stampede pace. Not one piece of running gear that I added took any time away.

Do I feel better running? Yes. My feet don't hurt or get sweaty. My running pants actually fit and I'm not stopping to adjust things mid run. The sweating wicking material is great for so many reasons.  But am I faster?  Not at all.

But am I going to tell Monkey that his super cool, awesome, new shoes won't make him run faster?  Never!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Halloween Recap

I'm wondering if we haven't had our last Halloween where we trick-or- treat as a whole family. Now that  Bug is 12, I think putting on costume and running around the neighborhood might have lost its appeal. He actually asked if we could trick-or-treat in a diffent neighborhood this year, driven by a possible motive of avoiding being seen by friends.

In fact, if he hadn't be so excited about his costume, I dont think he would have gone this year. So thank goodness for awesome costumes. 

Bug has planned for the last several months to go as the tenth Docotr. We scoured thrift stores, collecting all the pieces. We ended  up making our own 3D glasses, because finding a pair proved to be elusive. 

His outfit turned out amazing, and he wore it without the least bit of self consciousness. In fact, his enthusiasm for this made me wonder if we don't have a bit of cosplay in our future.

Monkey didn't decide on his costume until the week before. He had thrown out ideas of being a Pokemon character or some obscure Minecraft characters, all of which had complex costumes. I finally convinced him to settle on something manageable: Steve, the main Mine raft character. All of Steve's parts are available at the store, but after checking prices, I decided we would be making Monkey's costume. 

It was actually very fun, all of us around the kitchen table, cutting out a cardboard pick axe, painting colored squares, actually making a costume instead of buying "off the rack."

Duck went as Tigger. Both because we already have three Tigger outfits and he wears them almost daily anyways. 

He makes a super cute Tigger. And when he was running around the grocery store, I could just tell everyone he was getting into character. 

This was Duck's first year experience trick or treating. The first house, his brothers helped him walk up, holding his hand as they rang the doorbell. After the first treat was placed in his bucket, he just stared at it as Bug led him back to the sidewalk. About halfway down the walkway, he suddenly understood, and turned around to run back up to the door we had just left. Getting him up to the next door wasn't hard. 

Our neighborhood is a perfect trick or treating neeighborhood. There are enough children for it to be fun, but it's never crowded  There are enough bare branched trees to give the right ambience. 

Overalll, it just felt perfect. 

This might be our last trick or treating together. I hope not. But if it is, we'll have the most amazing memories.