Monday, June 29, 2009

No more diapers...well, almost

We are celebrating!

Two days ago, we put Blaise in his first pair of little tiny underwear.

Is it terrible that I think him running around in his small WALL-E underwear is the cutest thing in the entire world? He just looks too little to be wearing such big boy clothes.

We never thought we would get to this point. Potty training, well, it's been rough, to say the least. We've struggled, taken breaks, tried again.

And the Big Move? Yeah, that didn't help at all.

A month ago (wow, a lot has happened in a month), Keith and I were nearly beside ourselves potty training Blaise. We both remember things being surprisingly easy with Roman (although I think there is some parental history skewing in those memories.)

I read several books, searched the internet, talked to people. But I hadn't found anything that I really wanted to implement. Until I read this post by MckMama over at My Charming Kids.

Her technique is very laid back. Which suited me. I don't need to be getting all worked up over pee. I have enough on my, er... suddenly "plate" doesn't seem like a good word choice here.

Basically, it is letting children go "bottomless" to connect their physical feelings with a physical result. "Oh, I felt like this, and "piddle" came out of me (yes, we have our own strange nicknames for bodily functions).

We didn't start bottomless training at our old apartment, because most of the apartment was carpeted, and we were getting it cleaned prior to the move. But once we got to our new house, complete with a wide expanse of laminate flooring, the pants came off.

And it worked! Blaise would go all day without an accident. Or he would come yelling that he needed to go potty. Then he would say that he had "piddled" on the floor and show me two or three small drops.

We've been doing this for a couple weeks and during his bottomless time, he had fewer and fewer accidents. Practically none the last several days.

We were now brave enough to go on to step 2: underwear. We put on his first pair on Saturday. He's still very proud of them.

Saturday went great, just two accidents. Sunday, a few more. Today, a few more.

All completely expected.

The important thing is that we are moving forward!

He still wears diapers (or Pull-Ups, but who are we kidding? Pull-Ups are just diapers with different pictures and side closures) at nap and bedtime. Because I have my limits on how much laundry I want to do.

I can almost see it now... the day we once again become diaper free!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bigger Today

Roman turned 7 today.

I still can't believe that it happened.

When he was born, I felt old enough to have this darling newborn cuddle up to me.

But now that he is seven, I don't feel old enough or prepared enough.

He, on the other hand, is perfectly ready to be seven. Even when he woke up, he said, "Know what? I actually feel bigger today."

During moments like these, it is hard not to look back and reminisce about the baby he was and the charming boy he has become.

Two years old

Three years old

Another three year old picture
I love his eyes!

Four years old...
And silly!

Four years old

Five years old

Six years old

(I would have loved to put some baby pictures in, but none of them are scanned into the computer yet.)

There was no big birthday party today. There was just the four of us. But it has been an amazing day.

First, another butterfly greeted us in the jar on the counter early this morning...

Then, a multitude of ducks greeted us at the river's edge...

After that, it was time for Pixar's "Up." Complete with 3-D glasses. (And I totally recommend this movie. We loved it!)

Then cake, candles, and presents.

You have to admit that the cake turned out awesome! Every year, I let the boys request whatever they want for their birthday cake. And then it is up to me to figure out how to make it happen. It can be a little time consuming. But I only have to make two cakes a year. And it is always worth it, to see their faces light up.

Roman requested the "Hot Wheels Logo" for his cake. (Yes, his exact words.) And that's what he got! He loved it.

Where has the time gone?

I wish that I could take credit for how smart he is, for how curious he is, for how sensitive he is. But I know that I can't. All I know is that Keith and I were blessed to have Roman. Before he came along, we were just a couple. Roman came and made us a family.

Happy birthday, Roman!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hickory Hill Park

Give us a free moment, and we'll be off exploring.

I know that we should be working on the house. I could have been painting yet even more trim. But the temperature and humidity was tolerable today.

So Roman, Blaise, and I set out for a much needed, much anticipated adventure.

We first heard about Hickory Hill Park from our real estate agent. Although she had lived nearly her entire life in this town, she only "discovered" the park after her own children found it as teenagers.

And judging by how few people we saw (two others) it is a well kept secret.

It says "Park" but for me, it was more of a glimpse of what Iowa may have been like before it was covered in small towns and neighborhoods. Before the trees were chopped down and replaced with corn fields.

For over two hours, we wandered down curved trails underneath towering hardwoods. Squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits constantly darted across the path, some even taking their sweet time about it and giving us a look over while they were at it.

We discovered bright blue damselflies, a variety of butterflies, shiny green beetles, and some really creepy long-legged spiders.

We enjoyed wild blackberries, running to our hearts content, quiet, and nature.

All contained in 190 acres surrounded by the town.

Hickory Hill Park, in the space of one afternoon with my boys, has become my favorite place in our new city.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


We have been keeping caterpillars in a jar on our counter.

We caught them a couple weeks ago off the milk weed in the field next door. I wish I had taken pictures then, to show you their black, green, yellow, and white fat little bodies. And how Roman kept saying "They look just like they are make out of clay."

We actually watched one make his chrysalis. Even surrounded by medicine and the marvels of technology, the simple things of nature are sometimes the most miraculous. How in mere minutes, this fat J of a caterpillar covered himself in shiny, protective greenness.

And today, emerged as a butterfly.

It doesn't matter how common place these things are, or how often we see it. The fact that this transformation occurred in a jar on our kitchen counter is amazing.

(I, of course, missed the whole thing. I was at hospital orientation. But as I am now being paid for this, I will try to think of everyday differently.)

The boys were amazed. Roman said he did want to hold the butterfly with his finger, but it just wouldn't come of the stick they had used to retrieve it from the jar.

Although, from these pictures it looks like no one really wanted to hold the butterflies
Blaise especially looks thrilled about this

Roman and Blaise watched it dry and strengthen its wings in the sun.

And then it flew away.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Because dishes DO NOT do themselves

So after a very long time, I've decided to participate in the blog festival that is "Not Me! Mondays" created by MckMama. I've read these posts on many of my favorite blogs, but have never had a reason to participate...

Until now! I can't think of a better way to sum up this week then "NOT ME!"

Things are crazy when you're moving. Everyone knows that. Add a apparently not-so-minor home renovation on top of that, and, well, we've just approached a whole new level of craziness.

But even with that, every girl has her limits.

I DID NOT leave the dishes undone and piling up in the sink. Keith DID NOT feel obliged to mention the insane amount of dishes. Because I am always on top of housework. And Keith doesn't mind a little craziness.

And then, while I was NOT adding a seventh layer of paint to the trim, the dishes DID NOT do themselves. Or did they...?

I DO NOT hate trim. Because painting seven layers of glossy white paint on trim is fun.

I DID NOT cry when we pulled back the carpet in the family room.

Because we DID NOT find mold. We DID NOT find water. Our family room does NOT leak every time it rains. Who would buy a house like that? Not me.

I DID NOT get a massive sunburn on my back and arms and shoulders when we were at the lake. Because everyone knows that I'm obsessive about sunscreen. I still DO NOT think it was a glorious day.

I DID NOT panic when I came home from my lab coat fitting and found this in our master bedroom.

Because I am always very calm. I was perfectly aware that fixing the floor joist was going to be a big project. So I absolutely DID NOT freak out at the size of the hole.

I AM NOT having moments of complete panic about being a resident and all the responsibility that goes along with it. I AM NOT having moments of terror when I think about being in the ER next week. Because I am a calm individual and and completely prepared for residency.

I AM NOT blogging instead of making dinner. I would never do that.

What have you not done this week? Head over to MckMama to see what everyone else hasn't done?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Frogs and beaches and burgers...

In other words, we've had the perfect Father's Day weekend.

Since residency orientation starts this week, we've tried to slow down on the home renovations this weekend, so that we could enjoy some quality time together.

Yesterday, we went back to the fossil beds to see how the tadpoles were doing (and to look for more fossils).

We found both fossils and frogs.

Roman with his fossil find (look closely around his feet)

Little tadpole becoming a frog

Tiny little frog (you can still even see a bit of his tail)

Another tiny frog

Our plans for Father's Day were to go up to the lake, do some swimming and boating.

We woke up to pouring rain.

But as the rain turned into a drizzle around noon, we decided to head out anyways.

We are so glad that we did. The clouds rolled away, and we enjoyed the beach under a beautiful blue sky and hot sun.

When everyone was sufficiently waterlogged and then stuffed with watermelon, hummus, (and, um, soda) we went for a long pedal boat ride.

Soaking up the sun

The lake is so beautiful. The day was so nice. It was such a wonderful day together.

Now, if anyone is still hunger, I do plan on making hamburgers this evening. Or just telling people that there is a lot of left-over watermelon.

I would also like to tell Keith how lucky we are that he is our dad. Roman and Blaise are so blessed to have someone for a father who is truly invested in them, loves them fiercely, and wants every good thing for them.

Thank you, Keith, for giving the title "Dad" so much meaning. We love you.

(And you'll notice there are pictures in this post. Which means I (actually Keith) found my card reader. Which means very soon there will be pictures of our remodel posted here. Hang tight!)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't make me feel worse than I already do

Today and Monday we are going to be looking at daycares for Blaise.

Roman won't need one this time, since we plan on getting him enrolled in his elementary school's after school program. The one at his school is supposed to be the best in the area (even some of the daycare directors I've talked to today have confirmed this.)

I hate that we need daycare.

I went back to school full time when Roman was 6 weeks old. It was one of the most difficult things I had to do. Fortunately, at that time, my parents lived reasonably close to us and my mom was able to watch my darling little baby for me.

But it was still hard for me to hand over my still very new little baby and leave for sometimes the entire day.

My parents moved when Roman was about 6 months old. At that time, one of Keith's sisters was able to watch him. She lived an additional 30 minutes away, but had a little girl close to his age. My SIL watched Roman until about 2 years old. At that time, she was expected another baby, and felt that it was too much to continue to watch him. After that, we found neighbors and friends to watch him.

The problem with having friends and relatives act as your very full time babysitter is that there was always a sense that we were an inconvenience to them. It means that they need to conform to your schedule, which can impact family activities or even vacations. During finals, when days might go longer, they would have to watch Roman longer. Some semesters, I had very early morning classes, which meant that I occasionally woke people up, much earlier then they probably would have liked.

We still appreciate every person who helped us out during that time. They freely gave of their time and support.

But after Blaise was born, we decided we could not continue to prey on other people's schedules. Especially with two children.

At that time, we looked to professional child care. I looked into nannies, but our "budget" just didn't allow it (I say budget, but what I really mean is extra student loans.)

So, when Roman was 4, and Blaise was 6 months old, and I was headed back to medical school after a nearly 7 month hiatus, the boys started in daycare. (I'm so glad I so much time with Blaise as a baby. A whole 6 months where he was just mine.)

In someways, it was easier for me. Especially since it was Keith who dropped them off (my days started at 5 am, way before any center was opened).

I don't like that my darling children have spent so much time in daycare. Obviously, I would much rather that they had spent most of that time at home, with me, surrounded by people absolutely invested in them.

But that, unfortunately, was not an option (unless I were to quit school. And don't think that thought didn't cross my mind nearly everyday.)

But daycare had definitely made somethings easier. We don't impact other peoples schedules. The center is there, for us, and if we drop them off earlier or later, or pick them up earlier or later, or have a day off and they don't go, it doesn't matter.

Roman and Blaise have had the chance to interact with more children, do more activities, learn more than they might have otherwise.

Blaise has been out of daycare since March. And he was only going part-time for several months before that.

Everyday we have together is so precious to me.

But now, we are on the search again. Hopefully for a place that we both feel comfortable being his second home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Better now then, say, Thursday

I feel like I really need to do a recap of my week. I know that it's actually been a week and a half, and that weekly recaps are best done on a Friday, or Sunday, or maybe even a Monday. But mine is going to be on Wednesday. Because that's what I've got.

So here we go...

(And there will be pictures for the post. Someday. As soon as I figure out which box has my camera card reader.)

Friday, June 5:

Roman's last day of school. First grade sounded so old and grown up to me, and now it's gone, and he's going to be a second grade.

We picked up our ginormous U-Haul truck. We finished packing the last few boxes. My brothers and sisters and mom came over to help us load the previously mentioned beast. This took nearly all day.

And then we still had to clean the apartment. And the apartment management said "please focus on the blinds." Two blinds in, I was ready to go buy new ones. But that would have eaten into our refundable deposit. And these days, we need every penny. So I just kept on cleaning blinds.

Saturday, June 6:

Got our sleepy boys, my mom, my little brother David, all loaded up in our SUV and truck, and started out. No fanfare, no crying. Just a full truck and a very long drive. (We did head out nearly 2 hours later than we originally wanted, but still early enough to miss morning rush hour.)

So, I had this brilliant idea to take a picture of the surroundings we were driving through once every hour. And I was going to post them in order. 8 am: Parley's Canyon, 9 am nearly out of Utah, 10 am, Evanston (sarcastic yeah!) And then late in the day, I realized that no one wants to read a post with over 20 hours of scenery pictures. So I'll just post the highlights (yes, there were highlights.) Eventually. When I find that particular box.

We drove out of Utah, and into Wyoming. And no offense to anyone living in southern Wyoming...but it's ugly. It was by far the worst part of the trip. My mom drove from Rawlins to Cheyenne and I slept. Around Cheyenne, the scenery started to improve.

Then we drove part the way across Nebraska. Everyone kept saying that would be the worst part of the trip, but I liked it. We drove along the Platte River, and there were a lot of trees, and ponds. Everything was so green and pretty.

Sunday, June 7:

First real meal in 2, maybe 3 days: Waffles at La Quinta. Food that was not out of a box or from a drive through!

Drove the rest of the way across Nebraska. And into Iowa.

Got stuck in traffic for nearly one hour because part of a wind generator had fallen off a truck.

Got to our hew home at 6 pm.

Explored the area.

Love it, love it, love it!

Monday, June 8:

Try to go and buy carpet for the upstairs. Realize it is going to take a long time. Cry just a little. Pick up lights, doors, paint.

Let the real fun begin.

Tuesday, June 9:

Decide we DO NOT want to live with popcorn ceilings. Make sure it is not asbestos. Start scraping ceilings.

Very, very dirty.

Wendesday, June 10:

Finish scraping popcorn ceilings. Now have one trash can completely filled with popcorn and plaster.

Sand ceilings so they are relatively smooth. This is awful. As in no description. There is dust over everything. The cabinets are covered with plastic. It looks like a demolition zone. I may or may not cry a little at this point.

Thursday, June 11:

Start priming now smooth ceilings. Prime trim, bright colored walls as well.

Friday, June 12:

The real paint finally comes out!

Start painting walls. And trim.

Start hating trim.

Get internet again!!

Saturday, June 13:

Touch up paint in the three upstairs rooms.

Set up the boys' new bunkbed. I can't wait to show you how cute their room turned out.

Paint ceilings on main floor and downstairs.

Tear up carpet in family room. Find some water damage and mold. Cry again.

Everyone finally sleeps in their own rooms.

Sunday, June 14:

We really need a day off by this time.

We go to the Devonian fossil beds, look at swarms of tadpoles, catch frogs.

Go to the lake for a picnic. Don't have swimsuits, but let the boys play in the lake in their clothes.

Take pedal boats out on the lake. Blaise rides with Keith and me. Roman rides with Grandma and Uncle David.

Drive one hour south to drop my mom and brother off at the Amtrack station. Cry again.

Go back home, and finally realize we are alone here. Maybe cry a little more.

Monday, June 15:

Shop: more lights, a "big boy" mattress for Blaise, the missing door knob, food (there has been a surprising lack of food in the house.)

Try to find a jar to put bugs in for the boys. Realize that we don't know where anything is.

We took the boys to the field near our house, and found caterpillars. Took them home.

Tuesday, June 16:

Touch up ceilings. Paint more trim. Put up all the lights! Feel happy, but wish we had somewhere to put a couch.

So, if you are still reading, that gets us to today. When we woke up, sun shining, and realized that our lawn hasn't been cut in over 2 weeks. And looks terrible.

Keith will finish the last door today, and work on the yard. I will hopefully finish painting the living room so we can finally bring our couch in out of the garage and have somewhere to sit.

I guess that means I have no more time for this.

But I promise, there will be pictures. Someday.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


We've been in Iowa for 6 days.

We've unpacked 5, maybe 6 boxes.

We are still getting our clothes out of suitcases. We are sleeping on the floor.

There is sawdust, and plaster dust, and paint everywhere.

I'm beginning to think that trying to do an entire home renovation in 10 days was a really, really, really bad idea.

But we love Iowa. We love our neighborhood. The woods next to us are filled with fireflies, caterpillars, cardinals. There is a little bunny that lives in our backyard and squirrels in our front tree. It is a little boys paradise.

For the first time in, well, forever, we can really say we are home.

Even if there is nowhere to sleep.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The BIG Move

Well, it's finally here.

The boxes are completely full.

The moving van is out front and half full.

The cupboards and closets are empty.

We are ready to hit the road.

I can already see the signs of the stress of change in my boys. Blaise is crying a lot more than usual, potty training has almost stopped, and he hasn't slept through the night in almost a week. Roman is much quieter than usual.

It's a big change. For all of us.

I'm not going to have internet for several days (maybe longer.) So you'll just have to use your imagination about how things are going. Until I get internet again and can tell you.

Goodbye Utah, hello Iowa!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I should be packing...

but I'm blogging.

Because I'm so overwhelmed that I need a break.

Wouldn't waking up to this overwhelm you?

The unfortunate thing is that I keep taking breaks. And every time I come back from them, I'm even more overwhelmed.

Today my breaks included a trip to Thanksgiving Point, a local garden. So beautiful.

Rose season is in full force, and it gave me the opportunity to photograph flowers, one of my favorite hobbies.

(Is it pathetic that I have hundreds of pictures of flowers on my external hard drive?)

Roman, Blaise, and I also took a stroll through Farm Land to see the animals. There were babies galore, wagon rides, and peacocks.

It's things like this that I'm going to miss. I'm sure that Iowa has gardens and petting zoos and such. I just don't know about them yet.

I've been trying to make it to all my favorite places over the last couple months...

Red Butte Gardens...

Feeding the fish

Playing on the giant lizards

Wheeler Farm...

Feeding the ducks

Thanksgiving Point...

Enjoying the amazing flowers today

We didn't make it to the zoo or the canyons.

And I know for a fact, there are no canyons in Iowa.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Let the countdown begin

We closed on our home today!

We are real home owners now. We are saying goodbye to apartment living. Goodbye to sharing walls and floors, and ceilings with people. Goodbye to too little space and too many restrictions.

With the joy of closing, comes the not so joyful start of packing.

Keith and I have spent the last two days cleaning appliances, carpets, and blinds. We seriously better get our deposit back.

(And why do you have to pay an extra deposit for having a pet, but not a two year old. I bet the neighbor's tabby cat never colors on the wall with marker. And I doubt that basset make dents in the hall wall with a golf club.)

I'm sitting here tonight surround by bare walls, empty bookcases, and stacks of boxes.

The next time I open these boxes will be when we're finally home.