Saturday, August 29, 2009

Somebody's Three!

I know my last post was all about Blaise. But my "baby" turning three necessitates another post.

Turning three in this house means a very silly turtle cake.

It also means turtle cake with possibly a little bit of, spit, after some enthusiatic candle blowing!

And it also means presents, which include a great swing for the backyard (I'll show you, I promise.)

As I was uploading the pictures from today, I looked over the pictures from his last birthday. I can't believe how much has changed in one year.

Actually, I can not believe how much has in the shortest and longest three years of my life.

Blaise: One day old!

3 months old

5 months old

9 months old

One Year Old!

18 months old, and finally starting to act like the Blaise we know!

2 Years Old!

Blaise was the happiest, chubbiest little baby I had ever seen. And I was completely enamored by the fact that he was all mine. I was able to spend six months home with him after he was born. Those six months postponed my medical school graduation, and led to me starting residency a year after my friends and classmates. But I wouldn't trade those six months for anything. In return, I had nearly another six months with him before residency started.

I'm sure that he won't remember that I took that time to be with him. He will remember the school years when I can't be there, when I'm taking frequent overnight call at the hospital, when I'm working 80+ hours a week, and I may miss birthdays, and holidays, and sporting events. But I will always remember it. And I will continue to do everything I can to make the most of every second we have.

Blaise took terrible twos to a whole new meaning. I've been asked to leave a store after Blaise was found licking the entire length of the store front window. I've had to apologize to fellow shoppers at the grocery store after they have been run over by a cart Blaise was maneuvering or hit in the head by an object he decided no longer belonged in the cart. Books, toys, entire pieces of furniture have met a painful and untimely death at Blaise's hands and mouth. We've had mood changes stronger and faster than anything previously witnessed. I've questioned my parenting skills and my sanity.

Through it all, Blaise has been so intensely cute that I get a painful heart squeeze nearly everytime I look at him. He greets me daily with a tight hug around the knees and a "You're my best friend!" He asks me to dance everytime I wear a skirt.

I don't think we are leaving the terribleness behind now that we've entered three. Not yet anyway. Blaise has taken to standing by my bedside at ungodly hours and crying. I can never figure out what he wants, as he rejects all offers of my bed, his bed, milk, cuddling, and stories. He eventually falls asleep on the floor next to me. He tattles incessantly on Roman.

But he is still potty trained. He is still happy and cuddly and cute.

And above all, he is still loved.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A post for Blaise

When I asked Blaise to run upstairs and get dressed while I made breakfast, this wasn't exactly what I had in mind...


Keith has started back at school. Well, there's nothing really "back" about it, other than it is still school. He has transferred to the local university to take a few more prerequisites before he applies to dental school.

Keith going back to school means that Blaise must head back to daycare.

It's been six months since Blaise has been in daycare. Before the Big Move, he was home with me after I graduated medical school and had a little extra time home. For a month after the Big Move, our entire family was home together. An entire blissful month. Residency started in July. Meaning Blaise has been home for nearly two months with Keith.

We started looking for daycares nearly as soon as we moved to Iowa. We wanted the chance to get one we really loved.

I know. A daycare you love. Next to impossible, oxymoron, wishful thinking, all of the above. We had not liked the last daycare the boys were at. But it was the only one that could bus Roman to his elementary school that had room for both the boys, so we had to take it. It wasn't terrible. Just not very nice. Staff was hard to find. Things always felt disorganized and dirty. I felt terrible about leaving my boys there, but there wasn't much we could do at the time. We wished that they could go back to the center before that, but it was too far away from Roman's elementary school

With Roman now at an amazing elementary school with a great after school program for when we need it, bussing and other transportation issues would not stand in the way of finding a daycare that we, well maybe not love, at least felt comfortable with.

We looked at a lot. Nearly every single one nicer than the one in Utah. And all with waiting lists months long.

One place stood out from all the others. A place just down the block from the hospital. The center is run out of a 100 year old home. And it was unlike any place I had ever looked at. They only take 24 children, ages 2-5. And the children are not divided by age. They all play together. Each room in the house has a different activity: blocks, dress-up, books, art, science. Each room is staffed at all times by college child-education majors. The children are free to move between the rooms as they please, no schedule other than morning circle time, lunch, nap, and snack. "Just like," the center director said, "life at home. If the child wants to play cars instead of blocks, or read instead of dress up, we let them. No one can say which is better and healthier for them." And the backyard was a huge playground full of trees and sandboxes and swings and slides and tunnels. Our first visit, Blaise grabbed a truck and headed to the sandbox.

We loved it. We added our name to the list right away. Then the director hit us with it. "Most families get a spot in 9 months."

Nine months!!!

We were going to need one in less than two months.

So we kept looking. We looked at academic centers and standard daycares.

Then we got a phone call. A child had moved and there was a spot availabe at the center we loved. How we got the spot, I don't know. But we took it.

Blaise started yesterday.

All morning, I wondered how he was doing, how he was adjusting after so much time at home.

Then, to my surprise, I got an e-mail for the director in the early afternoon, telling me exactly how Blaise was doing. She said he cried after being dropped off, and initially didn't want to play, but they sat outside for a while and she suggested filling up dump trucks in the sand box, which he did.

I was amazed to get an e-mail. What a wonderful thing to send when parents are dealing with first day jitters.

Amazingly, I got another e-mail today, telling me that Blaise did much better, and was a "lovely altruistic child." I wanted to reach through my computer screen at clinic and hug the entire daycare.

And even if there were tears, I was met at home by a darling little boy who shouted, "Guess what? I went to school today!"

We are so fortunate to have Blaise is such a place. One of the things I love about this place is that it is NOT an academic center. It is run like a normal home, to give children as normal a childhood as possible.

There is plenty of time for school later, as Blaise's parents are evidence of.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not me! Monday: Sugar High

At the fair this weekend, we did NOT eat candy bars dipped in funnel cake batter and then deep fried. And then after that, we absolutely did NOT eat powder sugar covered funnel cakes. And there was NO WAY we also ate cotton candy. I am fanatic about my kids eating healthy and would NEVER fill them up with sugar and let them loose on a barn full of animals. Nope, not me.

While I was showering last week, I was NOT shaving my legs with my feet propped up awkwardly against the shower wall. No, I would have definitely have found a better way to shave my legs. And while I was shaving, my foot DID NOT go through the wall. Tiles did NOT fall down and sheet rock did NOT start crumbling. And I know for sure that I DID NOT calmly finish showering and getting dressed before telling Keith. I love our house and would never try to downplay such an event. And I DID NOT feel terrible that I have created another project.

I did NOT invite three families over this weekend for Blaise's upcoming birthday party. Our house is SO CLOSE to being done and three year old's need big parties. Or NOT.

I absolutely did NOT postpone doing my anesthesia textbook reading because I was trying to finish reading the entire Harry Potter series (again.) No, I would NEVER do that. I always have my priorities straight.

Feeling guilty for something you totally DID NOT do this week? Hop on over to visit MckMama, and see what else everyone has NOT been doing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

State Fair

The Iowa State Fair, to grossly underestimate, is a big deal.

Everyone kept asking, not "if" we were going, but "when" we were going. When I'd say that I wasn't sure, we didn't know if we wanted to drive all the way to Des Moines, I would get the same crazy look from people that I did when I said I didn't like "Field of Dreams." Because that too, is a big deal here in Iowa.

Finally, they broke us.

We took the boys yesterday.

And to say it was crowded would also be a gross underestimation.

The scale took me by surprise. Hundreds of sheep, goats, horses, cows, pigs, and rabbits (which were definitely the favorite.) There were also elk, llamas, and ostriches. Massive pigs weighing 1100 pounds and tiny adult cows the same height as Blaise were also included.

We also saw the famous butter cow.

One thing the Iowa State Fair is famous for is its "Food on a Stick." Chicken, cake, cookies, pork, even salad, can all be bought and eaten off a stick. What the Iowa State Fair is not known for is its health food. Nearly everything is deep fried. I'll admit that we saw "deep fried Snickers bar," and there was no going back. Although we did forgo the whole pickles wrapped in cream-cheese spread pastrami.

And I've found a new love: Funnel cakes! I am currently looking for the recipe and I predict only bad things for my waistline once I find it.

The highlight of the day had to be the "Little Hands on the Farm" exhibit, a(finally!) free exhibit that lets small children understand a little more about farming. Walking in past sprawling pumpkin vines, they were both given aprons and a bucket.

We followed the path that lead to a garden where they planted "seeds" and "harvested" vegetables.

We then went to the grain silo where they picked up corn and soybeans (yes, the staples of Iowa.) The soy was later turned in to be made into fuel, earning them a ride on a tractor. The corn was "feed" to cows in exchange for dairy products. The boys also collected wool and eggs from displays lifelike enough to startle Blaise on several occasions.

That the very end, they go to the farmer's market where they sell their products. They were given a "dollar" to take to the store, where magically, everything cost a "dollar." The boys left, happy with their popsicle they had worked so hard to earn.

As we sat in some much coveted shade, Roman happily licking his rapidly melting popsicle, sagely said, "Wow, farming's hard work!"

I guess they made their point.

We decided to skip the rides this year. The boys were starting to get cranky from all the walking and too much sugar.

We made it back to the car just after the break-downs and tears hit. These were rapidly vanquished with "So, what did you like best?" It was a tie between giant animals and pumpkins, the snake house, and the little farm.

The long ride home was spent with Roman discussing what we will do next year at the Fair.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second Grade

Backpack full, new clothes on (which he picked out last night himself), facial expressions alternating between excited and close to tears...

Roman started second grade at his new school.

I was lucky enough to be the one to walk him down the side walk and to the door where his class was lined up. (Keith had orientation for transferring to the local university, and I had to request a day off so someone could be with the boys. I chose today...just for this reason.)

I keep thinking it will get easier, this whole time flying by and my boys getting taller and first days of school. But it doesn't. I watched him, looking anxious but trying to look cool and unconcerned, follow his teacher into the school. The door shut behind the row of other four foot high, new clothes clad children, and I instantly became teary-eyed.

Why am I crying? I've done this before, both new schools and new daycares. I should be used to this. And there's still 3rd grade, and 4th grade, and 5th grade, and then middle school, and high school...and no, don't think about it, or I'll start crying more.

I was shaken out of my reverie by Blaise, who had crumpled onto the sidewalk and was in his own pile of tears. I scooped him up. "Why are you crying, darling? Do you miss Roman?"

"N-n-n-ooo! I-I-I want to g-go to school!"

I decided a nice long walk was the best way for the two of us to cope with our tears.

All day, between emptying the garage and balancing the check book, I peered out of windows, or stood on the front porch, looking at the school, wondering how Roman was doing.

Then, minutes before the final bell rang (which by the way, we can't hear at all at our house, even when we are outside) I stood on the front porch, waiting for him. Watching him run down the sidewalk, I couldn't help but grin.

"Tell me about school."

"It was fine."

Yep, that's about as much as I could get out of him. Of course, he doesn't remember what they talked about or the names of any other students. Typical conversation for first day of school at a new school (this is the third time we've done this.)

But he's excited to go back tomorrow.

It's going to be a great school year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Meeting the Teachers

Roman starts 2nd grade on Thursday. 2nd grade!

I'm sure I should at some time get to a point where I stop putting exclamation points after my childrens' age or grade level. But today is not that time. I still don't understand how they grew up so quickly and how I suddenly find myself with a second grader.

This evening was the elementary's ice cream social. We strolled over to the school (very glad that we live right next door and didn't even have to think about trying to find parking among the overflowing parking lot and street sides.)

We got a little last minute paperwork done. Roman met his new teacher. She seems very nice. We are all a little excited about school starting (between the mourning of the end of summer. Seriously, not ready yet.)

Roman's school does something I haven't seen done before. Maybe it's normal here in the Midwest. The school is divided into Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Alpha is 1st and 2nd grade. Beta is 3rd and 4th grade. Gamma is 5th and 6th grade. Each section (Alpha, Beta, Gamma) is divided in half. Alpha 1, Alpha 2, Beta 1, etc, etc. Alpha 1, consisting of half the children in 1st grade and half the children in 2nd grade is taught by one teacher. (I'm sure that I've done a terrible job explaining. That is what happens when you find out your DVR chose tonight to have a tantrum, your two year old threw a cup of milk at you, and you are seriously withdrawing from caffeine.)


This way, the children have the same teacher for two years. It minimizes changes, allows teachers to know their students better and address individual educational needs better.

Everyone we've met tells us how wonderful the elementary school is. It's a big reason we bought the house we did. Now, it's time to see if it lives up to its reputation.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hair Cuts

Between residency starting, working on our home, and just plain having fun exploring our new surroundings, some things got moved to the bottom of the to-do list.

Meaning that Blaise and Roman have spent several weeks looking looking a little scruffy. Blaise especially started looking like a little sheep dog.

The Before

So with both boys' hair hanging in their eyes and combing hair in the morning become more of a "snarl-and-tangle" fest, we made our way to get haircuts.

Roman, in typical fashion, didn't say a word to his stylist, except, "Fine," when asked how he liked his hair cut.

Blaise sat in the chair by himself and didn't even whimper once (not even when the clippers came out.)

No more hair impairing their vision. No more, um, nearly mullets (hey, Blaise's hair just seems to grow a little faster in the back) or Elvis sideburns. And they both look pretty happy about their new dos.

The After

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mission Accomplished

We decided that we should hurry and celebrate while we still can.

Blaise is potty-trained!

Oh, he still has the occasional accident, and still wears a Pull-Up for naps and bedtime. But other than that, we've done it!

He can wear underwear all day, and keep them dry. We can go shopping, to the park, or on a walk, and he stays dry.

He tells us when he needs to go. Sometimes, he goes by himself and then comes to find us to tell us he's already gone.

We owe a lot of his success to popsicles. Once we started using popsicles as a reward for going potty, we started making a lot of headway. We were already having a lot of success having him go bottomless. Once we added popsicles to the mix...well. Blaise is potty trained. It helps that he would always give half his "piddle Skittles" and half his popsicle to Roman. Once Roman figured out that he got treats when Blaise went potty, Blaise got a lot more encouragement.

We're celebrating now, because we know it may not last. School is starting back up. Roman will be starting 2nd grade. Keith will be going back to work on some final dental prerequisites. Blaise will start attending daycare (more about that later.) With all these changes, there is sure to be set backs.

But we are not going to let that distract from the happiness we feel at being once again, diaper free!

Now, if only we could get Blaise to wear clothes again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Still Summer

As the days to the start of school count down and the occasional yellow leaf appears in the trees on my way to work, I can start to feel it.

The end of summer.

We're trying to take advantage of every sun-filled, warm-temperature day we have left (even though this sometimes competes with work.)

Home renovations have occasionally been put on hold.

Dishes have not been done.

There are more important things to do.

Ride bikes. Play at parks.

And visit the beach.

I know that I've said Hickory Hill Park is my favorite place in Iowa. But Lake MacBride is in constant competition for that spot.

We spent a day splashing in the cool water and sprawling on the warm sand.

Blaise would shout, "Look how brave I am," and then run out to shoulder depth in the water, instantly making me panic, rush after him, and drag him back to safer depths. Gotta keep a close eye on that one.

Roman was content to build sand castles with the occasional run and splash through the water.

And we all made it home without sunburns.