Sunday, November 29, 2009


This was our first holiday away from family.

I had been approaching it with a mixture of homesickness, apprehension, and dread. The dread mostly came from the thought of having to cook a turkey. By myself. For the first time.

But I was rescued from this when some friends from medical school that also live in Iowa invited us to have Thanksgiving dinner with them. (Seriously, it is shocking how many people in Iowa are from Utah. Shocking.)

Having our little family of four expanded to a crowd of eight was wonderful. Dinner was delicious, company was wonderful, being rescued from facing an uncooked turkey on my own was heaven-sent.

Even so, I missed the loudness of Thanksgiving at home. Too many people in the kitchen at the same time. Turning around and finding new finger-shaped divets in the top of all the pies. Too crowded tables. Chasing children (and the occasional adult) away from the marshmallows on the top of the yams. The constant rumble of conversation.

Obviously, there is nothing like home.

But spending Thanksgiving with friends put the homesickness, apprehension, and dread at bay for some amazingly pleasant hours.

Not to mention, we have been enjoying what may truly be the best part of Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 23, 2009

White Water

I was told that I absolutely had to take the boys to the tailwater at the reservoir. I was told this by two people.

They tried to explain just why. It was noisy. There was a lot of water. The water moved fast.

I hope that you're just a little confused about why I absolutely had to take the boys there. Because after hearing this, I certainly was.

But we decided to go. In part, because, like I've said many times before, we just can't stay cooped up at home.

The reservoir is very high this time of year and at the tailwater is where the water comes out of the reservoir and joins the river. When the water is high, like now, it is quite impressive.

The water comes barreling out from under the dam at impressive speeds and when this fast moving water reaches the wide, slow, calm river, it collides with a roar. The crashing of the water creates spurts and waves and noise.

And all this delighted the boys.

So, yes, I guess I did absolutely have to take them.

I'm pretty sure I've done a terrible job explaining. I was sure that I would. So here is a little video that does better explaining. (with atrocious sound...I'm not sure how to fix it that doesn't involve a completely new camera.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Free Time

Today marks the first day of my first vacation of residency!

Well, vacation actually started last night, after a much needed girls night out to see New Moon. It was great. No work, no kids. I haven't had that in a long time.

I go back to work on December 1st, at which time I start Trauma Service. This excites me about as much as being told I have a cavity at an annual dental exam. Or Blaise falling asleep on my bed without a Pull-Up on.

So my goal is to make the most of the next 10, now 9, days. They are going to be the fastest days of my year so far, that much I am certain. Already, I can see the end of vacation and feel myself whirling through time towards it.

We thought a lot about going back to Utah for Thanksgiving. This is the longest I've gone in my entire life without seeing my family. I last saw them in June, 5 months ago. I'm not "homesick" in the slightest, since I don't miss Utah or our tiny, dingy apartment for a moment. But I am completely "family-sick." I do miss my family a lot. Since I managed to get vacation over Thanksgiving, we initially thought it would be perfect to go back home. But the 1200 miles were just an obstacle we couldn't overcome, at least this year.

We thought about flying. We could drive to Chicago and fly non-stop from there. But there are four of us, and financially that put that option out of reach. We thought about driving. But that would mean driving I-80 across Wyoming in November. First of all, the trip itself would take at least 1 1/2 days, one way. Which would mean 3-4 days out of 10 on the road. Yuck. Second of all, have you ever driven on I-80 across Wyoming in November? A storm would probably come up and then we would get stuck in Rawlins, Laramie, or Rock Springs for 3 days. Seriously. This happened to someone I know.

So we've made the decision to stay put here in Iowa for Thanksgiving. Although some good friends from medical school have invited us to spend Thanksgiving dinner with them, so we won't be spending it alone.

Keith and I also decided this "vacation" would be a great time to get some more work on the house done. We're already halfway through a project. Which I will post. Later.

We are going to finish Christmas shopping, put up Christmas decorations, sleep in, read books, and watch movies.

But most importantly, I'm going to use these days to spend as much time with my family as possible. Games, stories, outings, arts and crafts, blanket houses.

And in between and during all that, just being together.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Game Night

It now gets dark long before I leave work. The weather has been cold and wet (but fortunately no snow yet.) Between these, our ability to get outside and explore, or even take a walk around the neighborhood has been almost non-existent.

Many of our evenings have been filled with races, stories, or movies. But sometime, nothing beats a good game night.

While Roman and Dad fought it out over a very competitive game of BattleShip, I played Candyland with Blaise.

I can't believe that my "baby" is old enough to actually play a board game with me. Well, kind of.

Roman is able to set up his BattleShip board by himself, think out his coordinate calling strategy, and win a good portion of the time.

Blaise, on the other hand, is learning the ropes. After drawing a purple card, he kept insisting he be allowed to move to the purple near the end of the course. At least he knew you need to get there to win. He did tip over his piece so it was laying face down. "He doesn't want to play anymore," he said after I got the gumdrop card he had wanted. In the end, he did end up winning (completely fairly.) After a high five for winning, realization crossed over his face and he pointed at me.

"That means you lose, Mom!" He giggled loudly.

Yes, this is only the beginning. The competitive streak is alive and well.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Most of the time, I feel like our house is filled with stacks of unwashed dishes, piles of half-finished laundry, sand-filled shoes, books on the floor, paper airplanes stuck behind the couch, bouncy balls stuck behind the bookshelf, half eaten apples, untouched tuna sandwiches, too many text books, piles of junk mail, half-finished home improvement projects, unbalanced check books, missing coats, and "hurry, hurry, hurry."

But sometimes, I have a chance to clear my head, take a deep breath, and actually look.

And then I realize that our house is actually a home.

And it is filled with bedtime stories, extra marshmallows for hot cocoa, doors that open as soon as I get home, laughter, slobbery kisses, hugs around the knees, Candyland, bright shiny blue eyes, high fives for everything, jumping as high as you can, socks that slide perfectly, the chance to be a hero, stuffed animals that are real, memories, noses pressed against windows, stacks of artwork, snuggles, and love.

Oh, and a whole bunch of silliness!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Indian Summer

After an October that was the second wettest and third coldest on record, we are now enjoying delightfully warm days. Today was actually warmer than several days we had in July.

With the cloudless blue skies and warm breezes, there was absolutely no chance we were spending it indoors.

Although the first part of the day was spent raking leaves (which was been long overdue), the second part of the day was once again spent wandering along our favorite trails.

The warm weather lured us farther than we usually go. Even Blaise's normally strong little legs eventually tired out (although from the look on his face, it appears he may not have been quite as tired as he was putting on.) We can home with sore feet, tired legs, and well rested souls.

This beautiful weather is almost enough to make me forget that winter is nearly upon us. The weather forecast actually predicts that we may have just enjoyed our last nice weekend. But driving home with windows down and views like this, it is easy to imagine they will last forever.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Trails

The leaves are pretty much gone (everywhere except out of our front yard.)

The weather has been pretty chilly.

But that hasn't stopped us from exploring new places. If the day is even remotely dry and the temperature tolerable, we are gone.

(Don't ask me what we are going to do when there is snow and below zero temperatures.)

We just found an amazing trail that goes through forests around the reservoir, complete with the huge gnarled oak trees I have fallen in love with. This trail loops down to look out over the lake.

And the loop is a perfect distance to be exercise for everyone, but still manageable for the boys.

One of the things I miss most about Utah is the fast flowing clear mountain streams that gurgle loudly. Here in Iowa, while not flat, the streams and rivers are slow, quiet, and murky. I was commenting to Keith how much I missed seeing water that I had no reservations about the boys playing in, about how much I missed those fast, sparkling streams. Then we turned a corner in the trail to come across a beautiful wood and steel bridge.

And under the bridge was a small, fast flowing clear stream, complete with two sets of small waterfalls.

I am definitely coming back here in the summer. In fact, I may not wait that long.