Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rules of Engagement

Keith and I don't fight.

When I tell people this, there is usually the reaction that either I am lying or delusional. Some people have gone so far as to say that if we don't fight, it must mean that our relationship lacks passion; that fighting is "healthy" for relationships.

I disagree. Fighting is not necessary. Or beneficial.

When I say that we don't fight, I don't mean to imply that we never disagree. It would be unrealistic to think that two individuals would agree on everything. There are a multitude of things that we disagree about.

But we don't fight about it.

It's not always easy. Probably more for me, because I get very worked up over things and cry easily.

But we have rules. Rules for disagreements that have prevented us from fighting.

I'm not calling myself a relationship expert. And I'm not bragging. Or saying that my relationship is better than someone else's. But these rules have worked well for us. And I wanted to share them. Just in case.

Here they are..

1. Keep on subject. Don't bring up old arguments. Don't add, "And do you know what else bothers me...?"

2. Don't call names. Ever.

3. Don't attack the other person's occupation.

4. Don't attack the other person's education.

5. Don't attack the other person's family members.

6. Don't break things. Or slam doors.

7. It's okay to leave the room. But don't storm out.

8. If you need to, take a time out. If the conversation is getting heated, just stop talking, wait until you are calmed down, then try again.

9. Avoid talking about topics you disagree about in front of other people (related or not). It may just embarrass the other person and add more emotional fuel to the fire.

10. Don't yell.

I'm sure that I'm making this sound overly simplistic and easy. I'm not saying that. But it gets easier with practice.

Using these rules, we've gone eight years of marriage without a fight. (And please note: I did say fight, not disagreement. Just wanted to clarify that point one more time.)

I'm working on a list of rules about how to approach my children. Because I can get grumpy with them. More than I should. I've raised my voice to my children. While Keith and I have never raised our voices to each other.

(However, it is true that Keith does not color with marker on the furniture, or hit his siblings with baseball bats, or dump bowls of applesauce on the floor. He also does not try walking as slowly as possible when I am in a hurry. Or lick windows in stores.)

I realized just the other day that I need rules for me regarding them.

That's a work in progress.

There is one more things. For when all other rules fail. I love the person sitting across from me. Is winning this disagreement really more important than their feelings?

The goal of our marriage was not to sacrifice things we believe in or feel passionately all for the sake of just being able to say that we've never had a fight. I could just start agreeing with everything Keith says, for no other reason than to keep the peace. But that would make our relationship less meaningful.

The goal was to be able to trust each other enough to feel that we can express our opinion, even when it differs from that of the other person, without being attacked.

That in this world, so full of people treating each other so horribly, that our marriage can be a safe haven.

Cross-posted here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another list of Eight

My friend, todavine, tagged me on her blog with an 8 meme.

It's no secret that I love a meme, but I usually do them on my personal blog, since this is technically a blog for keeping in touch with family and friends.

But this one just works here.

So, Here are the rules.
1. Mention the person who tagged you (Check)
2. Complete the list of 8's (In progress)
3. Tag 8 other bloggers
4. Tell them they have been tagged

Eight Things I Look Forward To:
1. Moving into our first house
2. Not living in an apartment ever again
3. Finishing residency (I know that this one is four years away, but there was not a time limit given.)
4. Watching the boys play in their first backyard
5. Seeing my first firefly (I hear they have them in Iowa)
6. Finishing potty training
7. Getting a cat
8. Buying a digital SLR camera

Eight Things I Wish I Could Do
1. Travel to Europe
2. Take the boys back to San Diego
3. Sleep for two days straight
4. Get someone else to clean my house
5. Lose a lot of weight
6. Work part-time someday
7. Have a house on the beach
8. Be a better cook

Eight Shows I Watch
1. Lost
2. Survivor
3. The Amazing Race
4. Chopped (Food Network)
5. Monk
6. Psych
7. Mythbusters
8. Little Einsteins

Eight Restaurants I Eat At:
1. Sweet Tomatoes
2. Sconecutter
3. McDonald's
4. Wendy's
5. Olive Garden
6. Panda Express
7. Costco (okay, not technically a restaurant, but I do love their churros.)
8. Taco Bell

Eight of My Quirks:
1. I don't like ketchup and the lettuce on the same side of the hamburger
2. I occasionally talk in my sleep
3. Cooking stresses me out
4. I color-code everything
5. I organize things by color as well
6. I can't really spell, so I'm grateful for spellcheck
7. I have a hard time throwing things away
8. I hate clothes shopping

Eight Friends I Am Tagging:
I have eight followers, so if you all do this, I think that covers it.

Eight Things I Did Yesterday
1. Sign the papers on our house, then ship them back in time for the closing
2. Go on a picnic with my sister
3. Watch Keith take our washer apart
4. Make popcorn
5. Not blog
6. Go swimming as a family
7. Make fajitas
8. Sang along to Disney songs with my boys

Okay, your turn. (And please leave a comment here if you actually do it. Because I'm nosy curious.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eight Reasons

Today is Keith's and my eight year anniversary.

The feeling that those eight years have gone by remarkably fast is an indicator of how great the last eight years have been.

The fact that we are both deliriously happy in our marriage isn't a secret. Keith is an amazing person. If I had to pick anyone on this entire planet to spend nearly every day of my life with and come home to after the worst call night ever, it would be him.

Here are eight things we have done during our eight years of marriage

1. Had a boy.

2. Been brave enough to have another boy.

3. Complete three bachelors degrees between the two of us.

4. Survived medical school

5. Bought our first house (we close on Monday!)

6. Decided to go back to school to prepare for dental school (Yes, Keith is in the process of applying to dental school!)

7. Have not asked our parents for money

8. Not fight!

And if one list wasn't enough, here are eight reasons (yes, I am going to limit it to eight, even though there are a lot more!)

1. He always knows when to call my bluff. I wanted to drop out of medical school. He casually reminded me of my student loans. I say I want to lose 20 pounds. He passes me a bowl of ice cream. He's supportive of my ambitions and ideas, but he knows when I'm serious and when I'm not (even when I'm a little confused.)

2. He is incredibly laid back. I used to be an extremely uptight, stressed-out individual (most people who just meet me think I still am, but I promise, it is nothing like I used to be!) Keith has helped mellow me out.

3. He loves being a dad. We have never divided parenting tasks. If the boys need a bath, who ever is available does it. Blaise needs a trip to the potty? Keith does it just as often as I do. He does horsey rides and story time and teaches the boys the subtleties of golf and football.

4. He never quits. It took him 8 years to get both his bachelors degrees. (He was going part time while working full time and helping with the boys while I was in medical school.) And if that wasn't enough, he decided to go back. That takes more guts that someone who is already in school to just keep going.

5. He never says no to friends and family. While this can be slightly annoying (really, you gave him money again) I really admire that he never fumbles around for a reason to get out of helping tow a car or frame a basement. If you really need help, Keith will always be there.

6. Despite how laid back he is in nearly every aspect of his life, he gets very psyched up by sports. I love watching him during a football game or NBA playoffs. I used to think it was strange (why should anyone care so much?), but now I just love it!

7. He's very protective of me. He gets mad when people hurt my feelings. He despised people who have used me. He is always in my corner.

8. He has always supported me in everything I've wanted to do. To have a spouse (especially a wife) decide to go to medical school (especially after children) is very difficult. He has never once complained about the all the times he has had to pick up the slack because I've just been too tired. He has not once complained about all my complaining and break-downs. I once apologized for how difficult things were. About how things would have been easier if he had married someone who was just a normal, stay-at-home-type-of-girl. He hugged me and said,

"I wasn't going for easy. I was going for you."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Bryce Canyon

Today is going to be a two post day.

Because if I don't, I'll never be able to catch up. But if this is the first time you're looking at my blog today, make sure you don't miss my sister's graduation.

And I could have made it a three post day, because we had an amazing Memorial Day at Red Butte Garden, but we'll save that one for later.

The Big Move is less than two weeks away now. Keith and I originally had these amazing plans that we were going to take the boys to all the amazing sights in Utah before we left.

Of course, our time and budget didn't allow us to see everything we wanted. Well, really, we realized only one trip would be possible.

So we choose what we thought would be the most memorable and striking.

Bryce Canyon.

Panoramic view from Bryce Point

We drove down early the day after my sister's graduation.

It rained nearly the entire drive. It honestly had never once occurred to us that it might rain on our trip. We hadn't even bothered to look at the weather. Silly us.

But when we arrived at Bryce Canyon, the sun had come out.

We were able to find a camping spot in the park without any trouble (I'm pretty sure the rain scared off the holiday crowd.)

Then we took the boys to Sunset Point for our hike.

Plenty of water and sunscreen!
Ready for our hike!

We really wanted to take the boys to see the canyon, not just from the view points, but from the floor. To look up at the amazing rock structures ("hoodoos") and be awed.

View of "Wall Street" from canyon floor

So we had planned a 2 hour hike on the Navajo Loop.

Only the rain had turned the trail into the most amazingly slick and sticky mud. Tromping through the mud went against everything that Blaise had every been told about mud. Normally, it is "Stay out of the mud!" But this time, it was "It's okay. A little mud won't hurt you. Isn't this fun?" Blaise was not buying it. He screamed and cried nearly the whole way down. We tried to carry him a couple of times, but his mud-covered legs and feet attempted to cover us with the same goo. We got a variety of looks from fellow hikers. The looks ranged from "You guys are crazy!" to "Good luck with that" to "You guys rock for doings things like this as a family." I guess Blaise's screams reverberating off the canyon walls didn't really help enhance the scenery.

On the trail
Get a look at the mud on our shoes!

Fortunately the trail was nice and dry at the bottom of the canyon. And the rest of the hike was wonderful.

Keith, Roman, and Blaise
At the Twin Bridges

The boys didn't complain once. Roman walked the entire 2-hour-nearly-2-mile hike. Blaise probably would have. However, we encountered a little more mud on the ascending loop, and Blaise lost his shoes in the mud. So walking was no longer an option.

We made it!
At the end of the hike!

After the hike, we enjoyed a few more view points, then headed back to camp. We had anticipated enjoying hot dogs and marshmallows over a campfire, but it started raining again. We got our tent up just before we got drenched.

The rain did let up just long enough for us to enjoy hot dogs, but as soon as we broke out the marshmallows, it started to rain again. It rained until 2 am. (Ask me how I know. Rain on a tent is loud.)

The boys slept great! Surprising considering the noise of the rain and the chill of the night at 8000 ft.

The next morning was a gorgeous day, complete with blue sky. After pancakes cooked over a campfire, we enjoyed some more canyon views.

We drove home through a small town where Keith's father has lived as a child. There was a mill there that Keith remembers playing in as a child. But it was all fenced off, supposedly because some endangered owls had been found there. But it still made for amazing pictures.

We may not have been able to take Roman and Blaise to see all the amazing things there are to see in Utah. But at least we took them on an unforgettable trip.


Congrats, Sis

On Friday, my now not-so-little sister, Mercy, graduated high school.

I'm sure that this will embarrass her if she reads this, but I would like to talk just a little bit about how amazing she is.

Mercy, now 18 years old, was diagnosed in utero with a large diaphragmatic hernia. With this hole in her diaphragm, her internal abdominal organs had migrated upward and prevented her lungs from developing. At the time she was diagnosed, very few children with a defect as severe as hers had survived.

Despite physicians telling them that there was no chance she would survive, my mother decided to carry the baby to term.

However, they had gone to the cemetery to pick out a plot and headstone.

When Mercy was born, she cried. It should have been impossible without developed lungs. But that cry showed that Mercy was a fighter.

She spent months in the hospital. She had her lovely dark curls shaved off for IV placements. She had multiple surgeries to rebuild a diaphragm using her abdominal wall muscles. She was on ECMO. She received sheep surfactant to help with her lung development.

She still has significant scars on her neck, chest, and stomach.

But she is alive.

And she's still a fighter.

Now, she loves costume jewelry and ball gowns. She wants to be an actress. She's fiercely loyal to her friends.

I've been there to see her grow up. I was so glad that I got to see her close this chapter of her life, tears and all.

Good luck with everything, Mercy. We'll be cheering you on like always.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nearly Summer

I love days like today.

Roman got out early, having a four day weekend for Memorial Day.

Instead of having our daily snack at home around the kitchen table, we took advantage of the warm weather and extra time by packing up our snack and taking in to Wheeler Farm. This is a working farm contained within a city park. It is truly wonderful.

We ate our snack of carrots, crackers, and cottage cheese under the shade of fruit trees. Or rather, I ate our snack while Roman and Blaise raced stick boats in the irrigation stream.

Afterwards, the main event. Feeding the ducks. I never throw out bread that is questionable, because it always good for an afternoon out.

We then strolled through the rest of the farm, climbing trees, petting baby cows, and "aww"ing over new chicks.

The day was very warm. I kept thinking that spring just started a few weeks ago (we got snow after Easter) so where has it gone to?

Seeing this made me realize that I have no reason to be
overwhelmed with my two ducklings.
I counted 16 babies, and the parents were running back and forth
trying to keep them from wandering off and
keep people away from them. 16! Whew!
And I thought I was busy!

After a trip back home for a much needed nap for Blaise, we all headed off to Roman's school carnival.

Roman surprised me with his bravery.
Blaise thought about it, but I helped him change his mind.
There were no other two year old's on the equipment.

As the sun set, and the day cooled, we headed home, slightly sticky from melted sno-cones.

When I said, "Thanks, boys, for doing so many fun things with me today," Roman gave me the best reply...

"I wouldn't miss it for anything!"

Neither would I!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Case of the Grumps

A bad bug has been going through our family the last couple days.

That is...a bad case of the grumps.

The moment I walked into Blaise's room this morning, he started yelling. "I don't want to get out of bed. I don't want breakfast. Go away. Go AWAY!"

If I have the gall to say no to Roman, he has been falling on the floor in tears and screaming, "You don't let me do anything. You are always trying to keep me from doing anything!"

And by saying no, I mean, no, you can't stay up until 11 pm. No, you can't eat that entire package of Reese''s Pieces by yourself. No, we are not going to Disneyland this week.

Blaise's word of the week is "Stupid!" And he has been using it very generously.

Right at this moment he is screaming from his bed that he doesn't want to go to school. It's stupid!

And let's just say that this current bug is slightly contagious. It's hard to be screamed at all day for three days without, um, um... yeah.

I'm not going to deny that there have been very cute things over the last several days.

So, if you'll just all hang tight until I'm in the mood to share them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Breaking Boards

On Saturday, Roman's karate studio had a large charity event.

The Break-a-thon, an national event, raises money for Break the Chain, a child abuse awareness, prevention, and intervention program.

And when they said that every single student would have the opportunity to break boards, there was no way Roman wasn't going.

After arriving, the students were paired with others of similar height (and hopefully, experience.) Then, they did timed blocks, four separate blocks called off by their instructor's "Ke-yah."

Lining up

Giving it all he's got

Holding strong for his partner

The kid who was holding for Roman struggled a little, resulting in Roman only breaking one board during the actual timed event. (But the other kid only had one break as well, as did most the smaller students around us did.)

Roman successfully breaking a board
with a palm strike.

But then, Daddy to the rescue. Keith held up all the unbroken boards for Roman. And he broke them all!!!

Breaking boards
Way to go!!

I can't really imagine anything cooler for a six year old to say than "I can break a board with my hand!"

Afterward, we watched the black belt students and instructors break more boards and bricks.

We left, hours later, slightly sunburned, very tired, and for one six year old, much more confident.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I hope your Wednesday was as wonderful as mine...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Okay, now back to my real life

It has been one of the best weekends ever.

Friday: drove the hour down to visit my mom. During the afternoon, we took the kids and had a picnic in an orchard that was in full bloom. During the quiet moments between the squeals of delight, the air hummed with bees.

One of my cousins got married that evening, and the wedding was absolutely beautiful. It took place in my aunt's amazing backyard. The yard was surrounded by lilac hedges that were at their peak. The trees were filled with lanterns. Between the lights, the flowers, the scent, and the great company, it was just magical.

Saturday: My mom, my sister, and I cooked ourselves a Mother's Day Brunch. (Yes, we had to cook for ourselves, but it was worth it). We had delicious pear, watercress, and pecan salad, risotto, citrus chicken, and lemon-berry angel cake. Fantastic.

Sunday: woke up to sweet gifts. And did not cook or clean all day. After a "traditional" breakfast of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and orange juice and a long afternoon nap, we went to dinner at The Mayan. I could have chosen a restaurant with better food or a more refined atmosphere, but I really wanted something that would be fun as a family. And The Mayan fit the bill. Besides quite delicious fajitas and margaritas for Keith and me, the boys were awestuck by the surroundings. After all, isn't it every 6 and 2 year old's dream to eat in a treehouse overlooking a waterfall, surrounded by butterflies and tropical birds. Blaise could care less if they weren't even real. And the cliff divers? Well, it was hard to keep the boys at the table long enough to get two bites of food in. But we didn't worry about having to tell them to be quiet, sit down, stop squirming. Which is what I really wanted. was perfect.

Well, now back to Monday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Best Mother's Day Gifts Ever

My boys have made today the most wonderful day.

Keith got me flowers (without even a hint from me!).

Blaise keeps coming up to me and saying, "You are my best fweind!"

And Roman gave me these.

Priceless. Each one.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thank goodness for back doors

Yesterday, I took Roman and Blaise to the Museum of Natural History. We probably go about twice a month.

I like to think that if I surround them by academics, they will take something away, even at this age. It really seems to be working. Roman loves our museum trips. And yesterday, Blaise did lick fewer display windows and didn't climb into any exhibits.

We went yesterday because currently, there is this amazing exhibit about frogs. And nothing captures little boys attention like frogs.

We had a great time, talking about what they ate, being grossed out by really big or really slimy ones. Fabulous.

A little fellow just like this one hopped up to the glass
and spent as much time looking at us as we did looking at him

My personal favorite: Strawberry poison dart frog
Seriously, it carries its tadpole babies around on its back

Afterwards, we proceeded, like always, to tour the rest of the museum. My boys probably know this place backwards and forwards. I'm sure even Blaise could give a pretty good tour.

By the time we reached the paleontology hall, it was nearing 5:30, closing time. There were still a couple other families milling around.

And by that time, both Roman and Blaise were pretty obviously in need of a bathroom break. So we took the elevator downstairs to use the restroom. We went in the restroom at 5:26. (I know, because I heard my phone take a picture, so I pulled it out, turned off the camera, noticed the time, and then put it back in my purse.)

We came out of the bathroom at 5:33.

All the lights were off. As in pitch dark except for the light from some windows and the emergency exit lights.

Roman says, "Mom, I think we should go home now." Good idea.

The doors between where we were and the main lobby was shut. I went over to it. Locked. I wiggled, and knocked, and called. Nothing. Well, lets just take the elevator back upstairs and go down the main staircase into the front lobby. Nope. The elevator has been shut off as well.

At this point, Roman starts into hysterics. "We're going to be stuck in here, and no one will ever find us, and they will all wonder what happened to us, and I hate this, and I want to go home!!!" (He did say all these things, although between the tears and near shrieks of terror, it was a little hard to understand.)

I, rather firmly, told him to calm down, we would be fine. I just followed the signs for emergency exit (because being locked in a buiding afterhours does count as an emergency in my book), down two flights of formadehyde smelling staircases that eventually deposited me and my hysterical boys behind the museum. Outside.

I guess when they say 5:30, they mean 5:30.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Confidence Boost

As mentioned before, Roman is currently in karate lessons.

The only reason we started was because Roman earned an award in school that came with several months of free karate lessons. Since he isn't currently in other extracurricular activities, we thought we would go ahead and let him do this before we move.

I'd never considered karate for him. He's done swimming lessons and tennis lessons in the past and we loved both of those. (Yes, we can see our very own Roger Federer in him. But we are being good, quiet, non-psychotic-push-your-kids-to-their-breaking-point parents.)

The first day of karate, I was worried.

Roman is a quiet kid. He's very subdued and very shy. He's been like this since he was very little.

So, taking my quiet, timid child into a room of screaming, "kie-yah"-ing kids scared us both. Roman was so shy, he couldn't even crack a smile, not even on demand. He would get so scared when people talked to him that he wouldn't look them in the eye and couldn't follow directions.

I sat at the edge of the mat, wanting desperately to run out and protect him. It's painful to watch his instructor say, "No, look at me when I'm talking to you. No, look at me."

But it's good for him. He's already more confident. He is able to go and introduce himself to other students. He's starting to smile in class.

Maybe this is just what he needed.

Now, I just have to control the urge to push through all the other kids and hug him.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Simple Afternoon

In the cool morning after a night rainstorm, Blaise and I headed outside for the quintessential childhood activity...

Soooo happy!

Blowing bubbles.

The air was cool, making the bubbles extra sturdy (well, for bubbles.) They would land on the grass and stay there. This made the perfect activity for Blaise. Instead of having to run around and pop the bubbles in flight, he waited for them to land. Then he would walk around and stomp on them.

Stomping on bubbles

I love the giggles, fun, and simplicity of bubbles.

The only problem is.. "Mwore bwubbles, Mommy!"

He eventually had to be bribed inside with the promise of "yellow eggs" (mashed boiled eggs with butter, salt, and pepper. Seriously, his favorite thing for lunch.)

Bubbles, giggles, lunch, and nap. Perfect.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Free to Run

I spent the weekend at my mom's.

View of orchards on the drive to Grandma's house

I had a long list of reasons for doing this. Keith has finals early next week, and he really needed uninterrupted time to study. I've started several projects, then left all the materials at my mom's house. It was really time to work on and finish these. And with just over a month until the Big Move, I'm trying to spend as much time with my family as possible.

But in additional to all these well thought out reasons, it is just nice for Roman and Blaise to have somewhere they can run around, which out me hoovering over them every second.

We pulled up, I unbuckled them, and in less then two minutes (after I was handed now unwanted stuffed animals and books and sweaters) they were gone. They has disappeared into the towering bushes of just blooming lilacs, into secret hide-outs and grape hyacinth dotted lawns.

The entire two days we were there, I hardly saw them. No "I'm bored," no "I'm starving! When's lunch," no "Can we please play outside?" like there is when we are cooped up in our tiny apartment at home. My role, between visiting with my mom (and not really finishing any of my projects) was to kiss and bandage any accidents, find above mentioned stuffed animals and sweaters, and to hug as they occasionally ran past.

And although I'm going to miss my family so much I can already feel the ache, I'm hoping that our own tree covered, hedge-surrounded yard that is waiting for us in Iowa will provide the same happiness, memories, and room to run that they find at Grandma's.