Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Around here.

We are gearing up for Hannah's 3rd birthday. We are throwing her a "par-tea". Get it? It's a tea party. And by "gearing up" I mostly mean pulling out any and all girly party decorations I have in my party supply box + purchasing tea cups from Goodwill + ordering a cake from the grocery store. So yeah pretty elaborate preparations. Regardless the kids are excited. And every day Isaiah announces how many days until the party. (Nine. For the curious.) Tonight he decided he better pick out his party outfit. And try it on. AND lay it in neat pile in his room. Just to be ready. That kid! I sure do love him. 

Speaking of that kid. Last night Joe was working in the garage. I had a question for him but I was shoe-less so I slipped on the closest flip flops I could find. They were Isaiah's and much to my delight-quickly-turned-disbelief-turned-horror they FIT! Ack. When that kid get so big?!?

Today at the pool I was stuck in a lounge chair holding a sleeping Levi. (All around not a terrible place to be stuck!) Meanwhile the kids were 10 feet away from me feasting on all the snacks I had diligently packed. Charlotte sweetly saw me in my place of need and walked the box of crackers to me...and offered me the "crumbles". I guess it's the thought that counts?!?

My mom recently asked about house projects that we are completing. I was quick to tell her all about the entry wall Joe painted and the microwave he installed on his first day off in for-e-ver!    (Ok it was just ten days. But possibly 10 off the longest most emotional days for me. Not him. He's totally fine. Cool as a cucumber like always.)  She then asked what I had done. I laughed...and struggled to list anything other than keeping everyone alive. So um yeah...go me? Not. 

So I totally thought I was going to love, love, LOVE our residency town. And I don't. I just don't. I'm struggling to find my place here. I keep searching and striking out. Usually I love the library and story times. We have libraries and they are ok. Not great. The parks are also usually a favorite for me and my kids. But here they are pitiful. And old. And neglected. It's sad. And they don't have baby swings. Why no baby swings?!? I just don't get it! I thought maybe the YMCA would be "our thing". But then I called and they only have childcare in the evenings for potty trained children. Um. Ok. Not helpful. Joe keeps telling me that "my thing" might be bringing my kids to school. And sadly I am beginning to think he is right! 

That and Sonic. It has 99¢ corn dogs during "happy hour" and a (somewhat) decent playground...

So basically it's a magical place for us:) Corn dogs every day? Don't mind if we do. The half priced slush really helps way it down nicely. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Levi: 24 weeks

Gah. It's been too long since I've done one of these updates. I'm sure there is stuff I'm going to miss but I'll try to summarize the past 8 weeks of this guy's life as succinctly as possible. And don't even get me started on the missing picture from week 19. It was move in day. I had all of the picture taking supplies in the car with me so it could of happened. But it didn't. After 3 days on the road I was too frazzled. It just didn't happen. 


Likes: Hannah. Hannah. And Hannah. And that's it. Or mostly it.  Seriously she is his FAVORITE person in the world. And I think the feeling is mutual. Just this morning I told Hannah "I love you" and she promptly responded with "I love your baby!"  I'm glad they like each other because soon they will be spending a lot of time together (once the school year starts) but sheesh I felt like chopped liver. She makes him smile and laugh like no one else. 

Chewing on his hands and FEET. He discovered those at 17 weeks and it's been toe chewing heaven ever since!

Pacifiers. Any pacifier. He's not picky! I've never seen a less picky baby in regards to pacifiers. Which is handy considering I wanted to wean him from the froggy paci (so wet and stinky from all his drooling + summer heat and humidity) AND I have a dozen used one time only pacifiers from a non-pacifier loving older sister.  

Sleeping on his left side ALL NIGHT LONG! 

Being outside and swimming. As evidenced by his gradual increase of his little tan (& blonde!) head in weeks 21-24. Pool or beach. He'll take either. 

Dislikes: Baby food. He thought it was fun for the first couple bites. But then he decided it was AWFUL and won't let it touch his picky palate since. 

Learning to sit up! It's just so much work. And unfortunately he's not such a fan of his exersaucer these days either. Maybe me overused the circle-o-neglect during the early days of this move? Perhaps. 

Quirks and habits: Levi (bless his little heart!) has finally fallen into a schedule of sorts. Eating at 7a, 10a, 1p, 4p, 7p. With a possible 10p feeding. Most days he takes 3 naps - one of which is usually 2 hours! And I'm finally feeling human again. 

He's also doing big baby things like hanging out on my hip much of his days and he makes the cutest sleepy noises (moans?) as he falls asleep. Where did my little nugget go?!?

Reasons why I am currently smitten with him...umm because he's my only child that doesn't (yet!) talk back AND he naps! What's not to love?  But in all seriousness, he brings so much happiness to our entire family. He's a delight to have around. Our very own silly goose monkey!

Monday, July 20, 2015

my weekend recap

I posted a few pictures on Instagram this weekend. Two to be exact. And they are of course beautiful, fun-filled rosy colored snap shots of our life. They are pictures that capture the highlights of our weekend. Moments I want to remember. I love both of them and the story they tell about us.  

However they got me thinking. First, about how much I really love my kids, my husband, and my life. But second how much the pictures DON'T tell. The rest of the story. 

This was Friday's picture:

What it shows:

Us. Happy. New pretty wallpaper hung. Well rested baby. Ready to head out to spend the late afternoon and evening at the beach grilling out with new friends.

What it doesn't show:

The HOURS it took to hang that wallpaper. And my short temper while hanging the wallpaper with my husband on his one and only day off this past week. The area of the wall that sadly isn't finished. Oh and the two year who kept interrupting our work. And later in the day all the lugging of ALL THE STUFF to the beach and back again with four sand and salt soaked tired children. 

This was Saturday's picture:

What it shows:

Happy baby. Sunshine. Palm trees. Kids playing. A relaxing poolside evening after a long, hot day. And ALL of those things were just as wonderful as they sound. Trust me. But...

What it doesn't show:

Joe at the hospital all day. Me at home with the kids. Cooking. Feeding. Cleaning. Playing. Disciplining. Unpacking boxes. Hanging curtains. Cooking. Feeding. Cleaning. Playing. Disciplining. Over and over again. Not having my husband notice all my progress on the house and feeling defeated at the end of the day. 

This was Sunday's picture...

Oh wait there was no picture. Because it was a repeat of Saturday + church without Joe.  And I'm learning that residency Sundays are hard for me. Emotionally hard. They are just this glaringly painful reminder that I am alone (minus the four small people constantly surrounding me). They make me miss my husband (even more than every other day) and my friends. And a picture of me crying and shoving my face full of nachos with my kids fighting in the background while madly texting my friend who has survived residency as the wife/mother isn't quite the beautiful picture I want to share with the world. But sometimes it's reality...despite the story Instagram tells. 

So after ugly crying over my refried beans I decided to pull myself together and do something...anything productive. So I set to work repairing one of my favorite wall hangings that was busted in the move. (Side note: Why do all the good ones get broken and the ugly old ones make the trek unharmed? Why?!?) After repairing it, I measured and leveled and hung the wall hanging. Stepped back and took a look at my handiwork only to see the picture was off-centered on the wall. And not just a little bit. A LOT off centered. 

It was like the icing on my this-isn't-what-I-expected-residency-life-to-be-like cake. 

And all I could do was laugh. Because I was all out of tears for the day. 

Thankfully it's Monday again. Life is looking up once more. The sun is shining. The pool is refreshing. And the kids and I survived another weekly trip to the grocery store so our fridge is full of delicious, fresh foods. Oh and I hung a few candle sconces in the master bathroom this morning. Perfectly centered. 

Take that Monday morning! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

House update #1

So today I walked around the house with my camera determined to snap some "after" pictures of projects we have completed. To show off a bit. But it turns out I didn't have much I could photograph. That doesn't mean we haven't already put a ton of work into this place because TRUST ME. WE HAVE! However before and after pictures of dirty/dusty blinds/fans/light fixtures/door frames that are now clean just aren't all that exciting. And bathroom cabinets that were dingy white at move-in time but are now bright white...umm not very picture worthy. Or hall closets that have been arranged and re-arranged and re-rearranged and still look messy are not worth documenting. But I persevered and found a few things to share.

Eat-in Kitchen

This is very obviously the BEFORE picture...

because oh-my-goodness that wallpaper! And that daisy light fixture! They hurt my eyes every single time I walked in the room. Which of course is only 100+ times per day. So just a slight pain.
And now, the much easier on the eyes AFTER version of our kitchen:

So much prettiness in one spot! Including that adorable girl in pink:) A fellow resident's wife offered to watch Levi so Joe and I could go on a date the other day (the big kids were at VBS). We quickly and gladly said YES. And promptly went home and wallpapered. Not the most romantic "date" in the world, but wallpapering just wasn't going to happen otherwise. I am so glad we spent our three free hours working on this "little" project. Joe probably isn't. (Wallpapering is HARD. And stressful. And I'm not very kind in those situations.) But its done and I LOVE it and my husband still loves me. So I'm calling it a success. Even if that one area above the door still needs to be completed...meh. I'll get to that someday.

So pretty. Even with a few light bulbs missing.

The kitchen cabinets were in ROUGH shape when we moved in...

I have spent many, many post-kids bedtime hours working on them. Cleaning, sanding and staining. I have done three tedious layers of stain. Oh and the knobs got a little spray paint make over. And all I have to show for that work is 1/3 of the cabinets completed...

And I could just cry. Not because it is slow, tedious work. But because I don't like the results! They just look like I painted them brown. Poopy brown. And I didn't. I stained them!!! Originally I was going to paint them gray. But then I thought stain would look better. Sadly I thought wrong. Very wrong. Painting them would have been so much easier! I am so frustrated. Joe wisely made me take a break from the cabinets. At least the knobs look a little better. 

Main Bathroom

I had to dig deep through Joe's phone to find some BEFORE pictures of the kids' bathroom because unfortunately I did not think to take pictures before my mom went to work transforming this once dingy little space into this...

We are embracing the green counter for now. Because honestly it was the least of our bathroom concerns when we moved in. Take a gander at how far this bathroom has come already...

Those pictures are from the day Joe toured the house. The day he decided this was THE house for us. I shudder a little bit looking back at these pictures. That faucet was broken. And the cabinet was dirty and gross. The towel bar and toilet paper holder were old. I would bet money that they were the originals to this almost 40 year old house!  My mom was a saint to clean and paint that space. I definitely owe her.

And that ends the before and after section.

Now just a few pictures of the house as it looks today in all it's not-quite-all-the-way-unpacked-messy-lived-in glory. Boxes in the corner and toys strewn about everywhere all the decorating rage, right? Right. 

Living Room

the wall above the couch needs to become a picture collage wall

this guy doesn't seem to mind all the unpacked boxes!

And just around the corner is the dining room playroom. Because who needs a formal dining room anyways? Not I.

lots of playing happens here. and a few sibling squabbles too.

Master Bedroom and Bathroom

Taken from this angle because the rest of the room is a DISASTER zone.

This wallpaper gets to stay a little bit longer because I think it is kind of fun. Plus it really shows off that green counter well:)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE perfect curtains

We have been here in Texas for 33 days. And the number one question I have been asked during this time has been "how are you doing?"  And mostly I can answer with an honest "GOOD". The kids are adjusting that they finally know simple things like where the bathroom is located in our house and have differentiated between the front door and the back door. Life is pretty good for them. We've even managed to fall into somewhat of a rhythm with our days. And Joe is enjoying his work at the hospital. It's not without its challenges obviously but he's learning and gaining confidence in his brand new doctor role. And me? Well I was doing well. Enjoying setting up our new home. Exploring our new town. Meeting the other residents' families. Finding my new Texas groove.  But today, day 33, it hit me. 

I'm lonely. 

I want a friend. A true friend. Not just acquaintances. (The other residents' wives have been fabulous...really! But...) I want to be known and to know someone well. I want to tell a story without having to give a detailed backstory so that it makes sense. I want to be with people that I know enjoy my company. People that I know for sure are not annoyed by my children. Or even if they are annoyed they still love us. I want to have someone I can call up for no reason. Or have over to my house and not feel the need to apologize for the constant mess that is our home. 

I want a friend. 

And I know (from past experience) that I will make a friend...eventually. But right now it feels like it is never going to happen. Because it's hard meeting new people and forging new friendships. It takes time and work. It takes a whole lot of "this is me. Who are you?" conversations. And "I have these quirks, habits, preferences and beliefs. So how about you? What are your quirks, habits, preferences and beliefs?" interactions. Until you find just the right match. 

So until then I'll just keep on keepin' on. Which these days looks a lot like searching like a mad woman (online and in stores) for THE perfect curtains for our living room. As I type this I have four different curtains hanging on my two living room windows. Because clearly the correct drapes will make everything better! Kidding. It won't fix anything really. Except making my house prettier. And that's gotta count for something, right?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

this old new-to-us house

I plan to share some of the home renovations we've done since buying our house nearly a month ago. (Wow. That was a fast month!) But before I share all the pictures of the changes I want to explain that I truly do LOVE our new house and I'm thankful for it every single day. However our house is a bit older (built in 1977) and dated and in need of a little TLC (as it was a rental for the past few years). But despite some of its shortcomings there are many, many things I love (or at least like) about it. So without further ado my list of twenty reasons I love my new house. 

1. The space! Oh the glorious space. To run and play and just be. We have nearly twice the space we had in our med school rental house. Twice the space!!! It's amazing. 
2. The front door. It's solid wood and pretty. And unique. And I like it. 
3. Ceiling beams and...
4. Vaulted ceilings. In the living room and the master bedroom. They make the place feel fancy. 
5. A real wood burning fireplace and...
6. Built in book shelves. I've always wanted built-ins. And now I have them surrounding the fireplace. 
7. The arches. Arched windows and doorways and walls surrounding the bath tubs. 
8. Main floor laundry (which apparently is the norm in Texas but new & wonderful to me!) 
9. Built in desks in two of the bedrooms. Isaiah has one and the other is my sewing desk! 

10. HUGE closets. I thought I was going to miss having a basement. But I don't. The closets fit all our stuff and there is just no need for a basement. (See #1) Life above ground is nice. 
11. Master bathroom. Oh the luxury! 
12. Which means the kids have their own bathroom!!!

13. An attached garage large enough to park in. 
14. A large fenced in backyard with a playhouse. So when the kids are driving me they tend to do from time to time...I can send them out and monitor them from the kitchen window. 
15. Eat in kitchen. It's not grand. And it's not fancy. But it's practical. And makes my life so much easier. I love it!
16. Ice maker and cold water dispenser in the fridge. Because Texas is HOT. (Technically the house didn't come with this feature, but it was a good Craigslist find) 
17. Wood laminate and tile floors throughout most of the house. 
18. White walls and white trim. Lots and lots of white. It's like one big fresh blank slate. 
19. Ceiling fans in every room. Did I mention Texas is hot?!
20. It's within walking distance of my kids' school. Drop off and pick up is going to be so simple! 

Mostly I love the people I share this house with and I'm excited to make it our home. To build memories and watch my babies grow up here. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Red, white and (not) cool!

Since Joe was lucky enough to have the fourth off we all dressed in our finest red, white and blue attire....or just any red, white and blue attire we could find in our (mostly unpacked) closets and loaded into the family van to find the local parade. Because inevitably there is a parade on July 4th regardless of where you are in this country. But first we took our obligatory patriotic family picture. Just like last year. Except this year Levi is HERE and a big part of our family...and not just in the-embryo-that-is-making-mommy-sick-and-tired-all-the-time kind of way. Instead he is a real member of our family. With thoughts and opinions. And quirky little habits. He's been here for five months and now I can hardly remember life without him. I certainly can't imagine our family without him! But a year ago I couldn't imagine our family with him (though I knew he was on his way). That's the funny thing about having kids. Each one completes your family a little more. In ways you didn't even know you were incomplete.

And this ends my deep thoughts.

Back to the parade. And silly things like candy. Or the lack thereof. Because unlike last year my kids did not come home from the parade with a pound of candy each. Which (in theory) is not a bad thing in and of itself. But it was HOT, humid, and windy at the parade. And while watching the trucks, cars and floats go by was fun...candy definitely would have made it better/tolerable.  But that was small fries in comparison to the "rat half the size of Eddy (my dad's dog) and the dead dog on the street corner" that Isaiah claimed to see on our way to the parade. Um what?!?!? No. No. No. Rats and dead dogs? Where do we live?!? (Thankfully not in that part of the city)

No one beside Isaiah saw this wildlife. And Joe thinks Isaiah was exaggerating. "Probably a stray cat and a sleeping dog." Either way I'm in no hurry to head back to that part of town. Maybe we'll skip the parade next year. The beach is much more my style anyways. 

Little Life Updates

Oh my goodness. This move. It has totally kicked my butt. Physically and mentally. It's just plain exhausting moving cross country with a small cohort of children. And the unpacking and settling feels endless. I'm beginning to think I will always have boxes stacked in every corner of this house! I suppose all of that is obvious and to be expected of a move. But I wasn't expecting it to be this bad. 

But life keeps on happening so in no particular order here is the latest and greatest...

I grew up in Minnesota. Therefore I grew up with "Minnesota Nice". Which lead me to believe that Minnesotans are the nicest people. Wrong. Texans take nice to a whole new level. And SO polite too! I've never been called ma'am so much in my life. (Although admittedly I'm undecided on how I feel about being in the ma'am category...) Last week I took all four kids to the grocery store. I didn't want to. But my desire to eat outweighed my desire to avoid public embarrassment. So with much dread and a little trepidation I entered the grocery store with Levi strapped to me, Hannah in the cart and the big ones trailing behind me. Yes. I am that mom. But much to my surprise and delight in addition to a few obligatory "you've got your hands full" comments, I had half a dozen shoppers stop me to tell me how well I was doing/how well behaved my children are/keep up the good work/your kids are adorable. It was shocking. In a good way. I left feeling like a rockstar. A sweaty, hot weighed down by a million pounds of food and children rockstar. It made going to the grocery store with the kids this week a lot less scary.

Oh and the girl at the take n bake pizza place on our first day here that insisted on carrying my pizza to my car for me...totally brought tears to my eyes with her kindness. That's the kind of Texan nice I'm talking about. 

Speaking of Texans, for as much as they don't seem to mind all the cockroaches many of them have told me how much they dislike the lizards that are everywhere here! Meanwhile the kids and I love them. We love watching them, chasing them and even photographing them. They are so stinkin' cute! 

I've been staining our kitchen cabinets at night (more on that later). It's somewhat boring, tedious work. But every night there are a couple lizards that visit me. They crawl on the outside of the kitchen window and I watch their adorable little bodies wiggle around as my stain dries. I like my nightly visitors. 

Speaking of nights...

How cute are these two sharing a bed? Arms and legs and baby dolls everywhere! This transition to sharing a bed has gone pretty smooth. Better than I expected actually. Besides a few nights of lively conversations and not being able to settle down without a stern word (or two...or a dozen) from mom and dad we haven't had any real issues. 

After I finish staining every night I love to peak in at the girls and see what sort of pile they have settled into. 

The other evening we met some neighbors. Said neighbors have a seven year old boy. Isaiah and Charlotte said their obligatory hellos and then quickly retreated into the house to play Legos. The neighbor boy then started scootering up and down our sidewalk. I saw a perfect opportunity for a potential friendship so I went inside and asked the kids if they would like to scoot too. They immediately declined. I re-structured my offer...scooter time orbedtime. They wisely chose to scooter. And lo and behold within ten minutes of being outside with the neighbor they were sitting on the lawn under the shade of a tree trading Pokemon cards! Instant friendship.  

Sometimes mom knows best. 

And sometimes a little Texan twang escapes the lips of my Midwest born children! While playing cards last week Isaiah asked if "ya'll get another turn?"  Later he was quick to explain it was AN ACCIDENT.  But I think it was adorable. Accident or not. And it's a very useful word. So short, sweet and all encompassing. I'm just not ready to use it...yet! 

Levi just keeps on growing and changing and I'm long overdue for a proper baby update. But until that happens this will have to do. He's started sitting on my hip like a real big baby. And even more shocking is that he put himself to sleep the other night while I was reading the girls' bedtime stories. It was adorable. And convenient! But it totally made me sad. I like rocking my baby to sleep.  I hope it was a fluke! Although the (finally!) sleeping through the night thing can stick around forever. I'm liking sleeping at night again. It does the body and mind good!

Since we've arrived here almost a month ago we've tried a few different churches. Our first Sunday here we didn't make it to church. We had been in the state less than 48 hours, our truck wasn't even fully unpacked and we didn't know where our church clothes were. Excuses. Excuses. I know. But it just didn't happen. The second week my parents and mother-in-law were with us so we visited a church my dad wanted to see. The third week Joe was at the hospital so I was tempted to skip the whole church alone with four kids ordeal but I put on my big girl pants (aka these-are-my-kids-and-this-is-my-life-so-I-better-own-it pants) and went to a nice nearby Baptist church. It was good. And I'm glad I went. The church felt like a good fit for our family. Very warm and welcoming with good preaching and children's programs. Then last week, our fourth Sunday here the kids and I tried a different church. And while this church was also warm and welcoming, it just didn't feel right. I felt out of place and very much like a visitor. I felt lonely and sad sitting in the pew alone (with my baby). I was on the verge of tears for most of the service and I'm not even sure why. 

And THAT is pretty much how this whole settling into our new life has gone for me. One day/hour/minute it's great! I love it/I'm super excited/feels like home. And then the very next day/hour/minute I'm in tears because it's the worst! And everything is wrong/different/overwhelming. It has reminded me A LOT of being post-partum with all these quickly fluctuating mood swings. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 1.

To most Americans the first of July is not a significant date. It is three days later on the fourth that gets all the fanfare (for good reason). But to those of us in the world of medicine today - July 1st - is a big deal. It's the medical new year. And this year it is especially significant for our family. Because today Joe started his first shift as a resident physician. An intern. 

He's four hours into this doctor gig. Another eight to go before his day in the MICU is scheduled to end. But who's counting? Oh. Yeah. Me. That's who. I'm not sure why though. Because if there's one thing I've learned in the past four years, it's this..."shifts" and "schedules" mean very little. Something always comes up and the hours always grow longer. 

(But that's not really what I wanted to write about today.)

I have mixed emotions about today. It's obviously very exciting! The beginning of a great new chapter of our life. It's what we have been working towards for years. Literally. But at the same time I didn't want today to come. Because now it begins. The 80 hour work weeks. The overworked and tired doctor husband. Me and all the kids at home filling seemingly endless hours without him. The past two weeks of orientation have been great. Sure Joe has been at the hospital during the day. But the evenings have been filled with grill outs and beach parties and an outdoor concert. Lots of swimming, eating and socializing. Getting to know the other residents and their families. Today it seems the party ends and reality begins. 

So while exciting, it kinda feels like a sad day. Even the weather is sad. Down pouring for hours.