Monday, June 30, 2014

the pad

We made it to Iowa in one piece. But just barely. Our drive here was scary! And not because the children were acting like wildebeests in the backseats. I wish that were the problem. No they were pretty well behaved. Besides a few requests for food (which I fulfilled by chucking snacks at them over my shoulder) they quietly sat and watched Frozen...over and over and over for the duration of our trek here.  No the scary part of our drive was the weather.

But first let me share a few pictures from the first part of our trip. An hour in we stopped at our friend's parents' house and spent a lazy afternoon swimming in the pool. 

(Yikes! I am pasty white. First thing on my to-do list in Iowa is find some sun!!!)

We were blissfully unaware of the fact that we were about to drive into the eye of the storm. It was a perfect afternoon of sun, swimming, and snacking...all with our favorite people!

We hit the road in the early evening and I promised the kids a cheeseburger from McDonalds as soon as we got to Iowa. (Mistake #1.)

Turns out there aren't a plethora of McDonalds in rural Iowa. Who knew?!? About 80 miles down the road I finally spotted those beautiful glowing Golden Arches on the horizon. And for some odd reason I was feeling extra compassionate towards my children and decided we would actually stop and eat in the restaurant (instead of using the drive thru and me tossing their cheeseburgers at them). I also promised them icecream cones if they ate their dinner well. (Mistake #2)

After the slowest service, we were all seated and enjoying our burgers when the skies turned BLACK. Actually a greenish-black. I madly started texting Joe requesting weather information. Charlotte was trying to decide if it was lightning or if someone was taking pictures outside. Mysteries abound:) Upon Joe's suggestion, I quickly wrapped up dinner and loaded the kids into the van WITHOUT the promised icecream and made a beeline out of town. 

I assumed we were driving out of the worst of it. Wrong! About 10-15 miles down the highway (and in the middle of wide open fields) things got uglier. The sky was green. The rain was pouring down. And lightning was coming down on both sides of the van. The thunder was practically shaking my van.  It felt like a bad dream. A very bad dream. And then this popped up on my phone...

Shelter! Ack. I would have loved to taken shelter. I definitely felt like we needed shelter. But again we were in middle of a field with nothing in sight! So I kept driving and called Joe in a panic. He quickly did a little research and discovered (based on the mile markers on the road) that we were basically in the eye of the storm. Joe also suggested we find shelter! Since that wasn't an option I white-knuckled it and drove as fast as I could. (Can you drive faster than a tornado?!) It was a very scary 30 minutes before we made it to more normal looking skies. Still stormy. But just your ordinary appearing thunderstorms. 

But we made it. And I hope to never have a repeat performance of that drive. Never ever again thank you very much!

We are now living the dream in a two bedroom basement apartment. It's another fourth year medical student's apartment (he is away on a rotation elsewhere). It's a complete bachelor pad but it is sufficient for our family of five. Enough with the words. Here it is in all it's glory...

My only complaints about the place are these. The bathroom smells. Like a dirty bathroom. But it appears clean. Again with the mysteries! And second, there is no dining room table and chairs. Suffice it to say meal times around the coffee table have been interesting (and challenging)!

Charlotte's initial assessment was "kinda great" while Isaiah rated the place as "good". 

Our first full day here was filled with even more rain and tornado sirens! Enough with the bad weather Iowa. We want to get out and have fun! And by fun I do not mean exploring Wal-Mart as a family...though that was pretty fun. I think that activity won't be as entertaining the second time around. Just a guess. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

not just any Friday.

It's test day (again).  Meaning Joe is taking his second boards exam today. For NINE hours. Meaning he is almost done with his third year of medical school. 

All that stands between him and the beginning of his LAST year of medical school is one hugely important test. Ack. I am so excited. And nervous. I might just be a wreck all day. It's a good thing my cool-as-cucumber husband is taking the test and not me.

can't believe we are finally here! It feels like the promised land. Fourth year. The academic year that we have been looking forward to since...well before he started medical school! We made it. And mostly in one piece:) That means in a mere 266 days we will find out where Joe matches for residency. And in 344 days he will graduate as a MEDICAL DOCTOR! But who's counting?!? I can't believe we are this close to being done. (With this chapter of medical training that is. Residency will be it's own beast. A beast I am blissfully ignoring at the moment.)

Ok. I am not sure I have a point with all this rambling. I am just super excited.  And had to share. Today is test day. Hooray! Now the hard part (for me) begins...waiting 6 weeks for those test results. Boo. Hopefully we will be having so much fun in Iowa the time will just fly by. 

Since I don't have a current picture of our test taker I will end with the kids playing on the beach. Just because. 

Summer. It's the best!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

moving mountains

We are finally back at my parents' house after our 10 day camp/camping/visit relatives sojourn around Minnesota. And let me be the first to admit that I am currently laughing at my pre-move self of two weeks ago. Because two weeks ago I thought packing up and moving with children was hard. Ha! Want to know what is hard? Trying to unpack and squeeze your family of five into a house that is already occupied and filled with two decades worth of living. I have piles of boxes in the living room. More piles in our rooms. And MOUNTAINS of boxes in the garage. All of these boxes need to find more permanent homes that will allow my parents to still use their living room and park in their garage! Erg. This is far more challenging than I ever expected. Admittedly I am NOT a minimalist so the amount of stuff I deemed necessary to have out of storage is not helping this little situation. And I have a deadline too. This weekend the kids and I leave to join Joe on the road. We will be gone for 8 weeks. I presume my parents would like their house useable for those 8 weeks...

I will spare you the incredibly boring pictures of our boxes in their new home. Instead I will end with the photographic evidence that my grandparents' home is a magical place for children...

I almost forgot! This morning while Charlotte was talking on the phone with her daddy she asked if she could go home. When he said no (without missing a beat) she responded with, "Okay. Then I want to go to Disney."

Ha! Quite the negotiator already. Iowa will be just like Disney World...I am sure of it. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shiver Bay

My kids and I along with my parents, my sister and her two kids, my aunt and uncle and their two grown children plus their respective families spent the weekend camping along the shore of Lake Superior. I had joked to my dad on our way there that we would know we had arrived once we reached the Canadian border. I should have looked at a map before we hit the road because my joke wasn't so funny once I saw a sign that read 'Canada 100 miles' and we were yet to reach our campground! That and we had been watching the temperatures plummet the further north we drove. They were in the low fifties by the time we arrived. Admittedly, by this point I was convinced that we had made a terrible mistake and that the entire weekend was going to be miserable. And then to add insult to injury we discovered while setting up camp that one wing of my parents pop-up camper was broken and unusable!!!

But despite our rocky start, we had a good weekend. My uncle miraculously repaired the camper. The temperatures remained in the fifties so we put on many layers. And despite the rain (mostly a drizzle) we had many campfires and cooked some meals over the fire. We saw a lighthouse and waterfalls. We threw rocks in the lake. The adults managed to sneak in one card game...scrunched in one camper with five wiggly children surrounding us. The kids enjoyed playing in the woods and building a fort. Oh and my girls LOVED playing in the mud despite my best efforts to keep them out of it. 

Overall my kids have been such troopers as I have dragged them from place to place immediately after being uprooted. Within a week we have moved 400+ miles, gone to camp, stayed overnight at my aunt & uncle's house, gone camping...and now we are headed to my grandparents' house for a few days! Poor Charlotte, when she is tired, asks to go home. And honestly, I don't exactly know how to respond to this request. Because while our house in Illinois is technically still ours until the end of the month. And Joe is in the nearly empty house. (Studying. For 4 more days...) It isn't really home anymore. One relative joked that I should put her in our van and tell her "Welcome Home!" But even that wasn't an option this past weekend as we had ridden up with my parents!

Thankfully I know that her requests to "go home" mostly mean she wants to be with her daddy. And while I can not grant her her wish to return home, I can reunite her with her daddy in one week! Once his boards exam is done we are all headed to Iowa for his first "away rotation" and I can hardly wait. It will be good to "home". 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

summer camp (v.2014)

Every summer since Charlotte was a newborn I have volunteered as a camp nurse for a week or two. I LOVE it. My kids LOVE it. We all look forward to all year long. And then we actually get to camp (the promised land filled with buffet meals and swimming and boating!) and I totally get overwhelmed and FREAK OUT.  

(It's an internal freak out of course. I mean I am the camp nurse after all. I need to at least appear to have it all together.)

Here's a little snippet of my yearly freak out session...

Ack! Campers. Meds! My babies. So many of them. And they all need my time and attention. How am I ever going to be a decent camp nurse and mom? 

It's okay. You have totally got this. It's just a little busy at the beginning. But every year it works out. You can do this Bear!

Oh my goodness! What was I thinking? This was a terrible idea. I can't be a good mom and a good camp nurse. I am definitely NOT doing this again next year! This is my LAST year. 

And yet here I am finishing up my fifth year as a camp nurse! And guess what? We all survived. Better than survived. We had a blast! And I managed yet again to balance my roles as mom and nurse. Although don't ask me quite yet if I am coming back next year. The stress of it all is a bit too fresh in my memory. Plus next year we will have Joe's graduation and move for residency to schedule around. Not that the move this year stopped us from coming to camp...

Enough words. Here are the pictures. The reasons we come each year. 

Not pictured is the amazing food! The fun staff. And a million other things that make camp so wonderful. We really do love it here. Maybe we will be next year. Maybe. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014


We are here. The kids and I arrived in Minnesota Friday evening. And thanks to wonderful friends (and friends of friends) we were able to get the truck unloaded, partially re-loaded and finally completely unloaded rather quickly. That process went much better than I expected and I am so glad it is done!

The trip here was mostly uneventful besides me nearly rear ending someone when in stop-n-go traffic. Oops. Oh and Hannah gagging herself and throwing up ALL over herself and her car seat a mere 90 minutes into our 8 hour drive. Despite having a van full of stuff I was majorly unprepared to deal with that little situation. She rode in a diaper and towel for awhile. Eventually I dug out her clothes from the day before:) We made it work. 

While we are unloaded, we are far from settled. In fact our first night here was one of the most unsettling nights I have had in a long, long time. Long story short, we spent the entire night in the emergency room as my mom was having stroke-like symptoms. THAT was not in the plans. Thankfully it was NOT a stroke and she is back to her normal self once again. If only we could make up for all the lost sleep as quickly as she recovered!

And it doesn't look like we will truly be settled for awhile as we are hitting the ground running. Yesterday Joe's family threw the kids a birthday party and they were completely spoiled with love, attention and gifts! It was just what they needed after the chaos of the move. And now today we are headed to camp. Isaiah will be a camper (for the second year). I am a volunteer camp nurse. And the girls will hang out and have fun! It's going to be a good week. Followed by camping with extended family and then visiting my grandparents. 

No time to settle in. There is fun to be had! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

this is really happening.

Earlier today when four guys from our church showed up to help my husband and father load up our 24' moving truck, I started to feel panicky. Slightly due to fact that I was convinced it wouldn't all fit inside said truck. It did. Mostly. We are leaving behind a sandbox, a kid picnic table, my desk (that I never painted!), a kiddie pool, an out-of-date car seat and a diaper pail. All things I am willing to part ways with. 

The panic was also partly due to the fact that I suddenly realized that tomorrow I have to unload and sort all of these belongings. Most of the stuff is going into storage. The rest to my parents' house where we will reside (off and on) for the next year. And this unloading process is 100% my responsibility as Joe is not coming with us. I am not sure I am up to that task. But then again I don't really have a choice, do I?

Lastly, panic set in as I began to question THIS ENTIRE MOVE. I mean, why are we moving everything and totally uprooting our children just do it all over again in 12 months?!? Is this the dumbest thing we have ever done?!? Are we making a huge mistake? Will we regret this decision? Why are we doing this?!?

I don't have all the answers. But as I lay on the living room floor next to my feverish daughter in my very empty and very clean* house, I am trying to remember all the reasons we are choosing to do this. Reasons like it will save us money. It will allow us to travel with Joe. It will allow us to live with & near both sets of the kids' grandparents (which has NEVER happened before). And maybe, just maybe Joe will be lucky enough to match into a residency in Minnesota. And then it will just be an easy peasy local move:) 

Admittedly I am still not convinced that this is a good plan...but ready or not this move is happening. No looking back now. I made my I have to lie in it! And I sure hope it's a lot more comfortable than this floor:)

*My house is clean thanks to two sweet friends that showed up after the truck was loaded, armed with scrubbing bubbles and paper towels. They cleaned. And cleaned. And cleaned some more. If we get our deposit back I feel as though I owe them a good portion:)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


At 11:31 AM today my baby turns seven years old. Being the sentimental fool that I am I can NOT wrap my brain around this fact! It seems impossible that it has been seven years since I first met my son. Instead of rambling further about the mysteries of time and how it passes, I will use this opportunity to honor Isaiah on his seventh birthday with SEVEN fun facts about him:

1. The boy is OBSESSED with Hero Factory. If we allowed it, it would be the ONLY thing he talked about all day, every day. He loves to put them together. He loves to take them apart. He loves to make them battle (and rescue Charlotte's princesses). He loves to make his own unique Hero Factory creations. He even loves watching videos of other people putting together Hero Factory!

2. He is constantly moving and/or making noises. Clicking his tongue. Tapping his foot. You name it, he's doing it, much to my chagrin:)

3. His favorite colors are gold and lime green. Two very common Hero Factory colors...coincidence? I think not:)

4. He is a very caring and thoughtful big brother. Sure he loves to antagonize his sisters and prove his superior wisdom, but he loves his sisters fiercely. He is constantly thinking of them and finding ways to share special treats and experiences with them. He checks on them often to make sure they are okay. And he is almost always willing to lend them a helping hand or a hug. It totally melts my heart.

5. He is an AVID reader. At bedtime he reads and reads and reads. He has read through his entire Action Bible once already!

6. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up. And given his natural abilities to build and invent, we believe that someday he will create something that will help many people.

7. The boy is FAST. He loves to run (like his father). Lucky for him today is field day at school. Lots of running. Joe thinks someday Isaiah will run a 4 minute mile. (Which blows my mind since I can barely run a mile at all!)

And for that we are very grateful!
Thank you for adding a lot of noise and dirt and fun to our lives.
We can't imagine a life without you here!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


This past Saturday (after surviving our first sleepover as the parents) our sweet friends from church threw us a going away potluck at the park. It was a beautiful evening of eating and playing and saying "thanks for being my friend". And of course (the dreaded) GOODBYE. Honestly it felt very deja vu-ish as it seems like our Wisconsin friends just threw us a going away party before we moved here! But it really has been (almost) 3 years!

I joked at the party a few times how I didn't realize I had so many friends until it was time to leave:) But all jokes aside, I try to live by the motto "BLOOM WHERE PLANTED" as we live this nomad life of ours. (It is motto I first read during our first year of marriage. I instantly liked it, but never imagined it would become a way of life for me!) And honestly, when we first moved to Illinois it did not feel like a place I could (or would) bloom. It felt all wrong to me. But thanks much in part to these sweet friend (and more who are not know who you are) I did bloom as a wife to a medical student, as a stay-at-home mom to three young children and as a person in general. Thank you friends. I couldn't have survived these CRAZY past three years without you and your support.

Charlotte was miserable with seasonal allergies. The other two just wanted to eat:)

(I apologize, if in person I do not seem as sad or sincere with my goodbye. I am exhausted these days, which has left me with a pretty flat affect, but know that I truly am sad to leave all of you.)

running with suckers. what could be more fun?


And thank you friends for making us feel so LOVED in our final days* here in Illinois. We will miss each and everyone of of you (and your amazing, fun kids)!

Speaking of final days, today with less than 72 hours of living in this state and in this town left, I discovered a thrift store a mile from our house!!! How did it take me this long to discover it!? If I hadn't been so happy to find it I would have been down right mad. I love a good secondhand store.

And yes I bought the jeggings. For $6. Made my day. That and Harry, the-moving-truck-man, telling me that they found our moving truck. The truck that I am going to pick up tomorrow that was MIA until about 2 o'clock this afternoon. That too felt deja vu-ish. Since I am already rambling too much, suffice it to say we do not have good luck with acquiring moving trucks despite making proper reservations well in advance! But Harry promises my truck will be there at noon tomorrow. We shall see...

*The thought did cross my mind today that in a year we could be moving BACK to Illinois if Joe matches (into residency) in Illinois. Which would make this entire moving process feel like a big ole waste of time, money and A LOT of people's energy! As much as I would love to be back with all of you friends, the thought of coming back in a (short) year makes me want to cry....but a lot of things make me want to cry these don't take it personally.