Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mom mobile

Looky. Looky. I got a new van!!! Ok. Not a brand new van. But new to me. 

I've only been dreaming about this day for the last 1,882 days. And yes it's just as wonderful as I thought it would be!!! 

The car salesman told me before I drove it off the lot tonight that "it's basically like driving your couch" which I thought was perfect since I like to live out of my vehicles. I think me and this van are going to get along quite nicely. And if all goes well I hope this a long term relationship. I know I'm committed. Call me crazy but I can (almost) picture myself dropping my kids off at college in this van. It's only 7 years away...

Ok. But back to the present because my heart can hardly handle the idea of my babies in college. I'm not gonna lie I'm feeling pretty fancy in this new ride of mine with its leather seats and back-up camera and all sorts of other bells and whistles that I have NO idea how to use yet. But more than that I'm extremely grateful for a vehicle that isn't falling apart. The doors don't crumble when my children touch them. And the drivers side mirror isn't duck taped on. The engine doesn't shudder or quit when I'm idling. And the radio works. It stays on the station of my choosing instead of changing at random (that was extra fun during our 5,000 mile road trip. Not!!!). And so far all the doors open and close correctly. All of which feels extremely luxurious to me. I feel safe and well cared for in this van. It might just be my new happy place. 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

First Week

We just finished the first week of school. (Should have been the second week. Thanks Harvey!) Last weekend as I was thinking about and preparing for my kids to go to school I was actually a little excited. I was dreaming about hours upon hours of just me and Levi time.  Playing with friends in the morning and naps in the afternoon all while OTHER PEOPLE would be educating my three older kids. Sounded like a dream. 

But then reality hit. Reality being my alarm goes off a little after 6am and by 6:30 the kids need to be up and getting ready so we ALL can be out the door at 7am to catch the bus for the older two. 

I am NOT a morning person. This feels painful to me. And them. Not dreamy. Not in the least. 

The first day actually went fairly well. We got a few pictures and were ON TIME. The older two jumped on the bus without hesitation while the younger two and I waved them off. Admittedly I had a lump in my throat and tears threatening to fall. What I wanted was to drive them to school and see them start their first day. But with Joe in the MICU and Hannah's school starting at the same time (and across town) that just wasn't possible. 

Next came Hannah's KINDERGARTEN drop off. (I'm in denial that my third child is old enough for kindergarten!) It was all going perfectly until I told Hannah I was leaving. She looked at me with fear in her eyes and told me "Don't go!"  I nearly lost it. I hugged her and kissed and told her to have a great day and walked away. This time the tears did fall. Hannah's teacher caught me at the door and gave me a (much needed) hug. I was emotionally and physically exhausted and it was only 8am! 

The rest of the day was a blur of grocery shopping, Levi's well-child appointment, and meetings (preparing for more meetings. Did I mention I'm one of the new co-coordinators for my church's MOPS group? Well I am. And there is so much planning involved!). I did manage to squeak in a small nap before it was time to pick up the big kids. Levi did not. (Which became the theme for the week - NO naps for Levi.) And boy am I glad I had that nap before day two because I would need it. 

The second morning of kindergarten drop off went a little something like this: Hannah woke up telling me she didn't want to go back! I had to physically dress her myself and put her in the van. Once we were parked (nearly a block from the school) she willingly hopped out of the van and walked towards the school. BUT she was cry/screaming "I don't want to go back. Don't make me go!" the entire way. By the time we reached the school entrance the tears were coming. For me. Hers had been flowing for awhile already. It was quite the entrance. I walked her to her classroom - with her screaming the entire time - helped her take off her backpack and she bolted! Literally made a run for it out the classroom and down the hall screaming the entire time. I immediately chased her - leaving Levi standing slightly dumbfounded in her class - but I was too slow to get her. Thankfully an office lady stepped out and blocked her from exiting the school. I then scooped her up and carried her back to her classroom. I plopped her in her chair. Hugged her, kissed her and peeled her arms from their death grip around my neck and walked away crying. Already dreading the rest of the week. 

I'm happy to report the rest of the week went well. No more big scenes (at least not in public). All of my kids like their teachers and are making friends. They willingly go to school each day and are happy to report the day's events to me at the end. But it's a lot. And we are tired. And I'd be lying if I said I don't miss homeschooling. Because I do. I really do. They don't. Hhhmm. So that's where we are at. 

Thursday, August 31, 2017


Some events in life are hard to describe. Words just don't seem enough. Hurricane Harvey is definitely one of those events for me. So I wasn't going to write about it. Just ignore it completely. Like it never happened. But it did happen. And it was big and scary. And truthfully very traumatizing. And Joe thinks I should write about it. He thinks it will help me process everything. He might be right. So here it is. My experience during Hurricane Harvey. 

Here are some background details that help make this story complete: 

Thursday August 17: I lost my wallet. Had to cancel my credit card, debit card and close my checking account. 

Sunday August 19: Joe and I surprise the kids with a trip to East Texas (for job interviews). We pack the van with a few overnight bags and head off. New credit/debit card/checks have NOT arrived yet. 

(Insert fun family trip HERE. Swimming in hotel pools. Eating out. Exploring new towns and parks. Watching a solar eclipse in two states at one time. All of that and more.)

Wednesday August 23: We hear a tropical storm/potential hurricane is headed towards Corpus Christi (i.e. our home). At this point we are still out of town but supposed to be driving back in the morning so Joe can work the next night (6p-4a). 

Thursday August 24: Joe and I both wake up ridiculously early (without alarms) and check the news. The tropical storm is now a Category 1 Hurricane with potential to worsen. It's decided - the kids and I will not be returning to Corpus Christi with Joe. We pack our bags and leave the hotel by 6am. A former ER resident that now lives in San Antonio has offered to take in me and the kids for the duration of the storm. 

We arrive in San Antonio around noon on Thursday. Joe quickly unloads our stuff (including a few groceries we purchased the night before) and drives off. He is literally driving into the storm as many many people are evacuating. I feel as though my heart is breaking. But I didn't have time to think about it as Joe needed a short list of supplies to buy and things I wanted done at our house to prepare for the hurricane. He would literally have 3 hours or less to get the house ready before he had to report to the hospital. Once he was at the hospital he was required to stay for the duration of the storm. There would be no going to check on the house. There would be no evacuating. He would be living and working there until it had passed regardless of what was to come. 

When it came right down to it there were very few things in my house that I wanted protected. (And by protected I mean moved to the second story because that was our only option). My computer and external hard drive. The quilts my mom has made for us. And my kids' baby books. Our wedding album. That's it. Everything else's could have washed away. Oh I did have Joe put my BOB strollers into the house (vs in the garage) because I didn't trust our garage door to withstand a hurricane. And I really love my strollers. 

And so began the long process of watching and waiting. Watching the radar and local news from afar. Waiting to see what would be. It felt surreal. Like this couldn't possibly be my life. My mind could not comprehend that my husband was in a hospital that is literally located on the shore as a hurricane was moving towards it. A hurricane that decided to grow bigger and stronger and uglier with every passing hour. Thankfully the kids and I - despite being homeless, vehicle-less, money-less, and husband/daddy-less were very well taken care of. Our hosts were amazing. They fed and entertained us. They stepped up in a major way. And for that I will be forever grateful. But the one thing I wanted was my husband safe and by my side. And nothing felt like enough - until I could have that. At this point I had a couple other resident wives reach out to me via text. Their husbands were in that same hospital as they watched and waited from afar as well. These girls became my instant comrades, my lifeline. They were the only ones that truly understood the very real fear. 

Thursday night I put the kids to bed and tried to sleep myself. I could not sleep. I tossed and turned and cried and watched that stupid radar all night. 

Friday August 25: I got up with the kids and went through the motions of life. They thankfully seemed completely unaffected by this entire situation (though I had explained it to them). They did not seem concerned and carried on as usual. It was bizarre to me but also a huge blessing. Time seemed to stand still. I was sick to my stomach. I was scared. I was angry. Angry that my husband had to stay back in the storm. Angry that my Facebook feed was filled with friends on their "hurricane vacations" WITH their husbands while I was seriously afraid my husband was going to be killed by this hurricane. Even half of the residents were evacuated with their families. To say I was envious of them was a major understatement. I was able to hold it mostly together until the afternoon when it was announced the hurricane had increased to a Category 3 and Joe's hospital was built to sustain a Category 2 hurricane. This is when I went numb. I just couldn't take it anymore. 

It's important to note that my communication with Joe was very sporadic through out all of this. I received an occasional text from him here and there. And most things I heard from him were upbeat. I mean...this is the kind of stuff EM doctors LOVE. Natural disasters and trauma. It's what they love doing. Me? Not so much. 

Friday evening our hosts fed us dinner and I stepped away from my phone during the meal and tried to eat. After dinner I was starting to get the kids ready for bed and I decided to check my phone. It was at this point I learned Hurricane Harvey had become a Category 4 and it was expected to hit land that evening. I had previously thought it would hit in middle of the night and I still had time. Suddenly all that time was gone. It was happening. And THIS is when Joe called me. It was my first time hearing his voice in over 24 hours. It was the sweetest sound I'd ever heard. We talked. We laughed. We cried. Ok. I cried and Joe told me to calm down. He reassured me that it would all be ok - which I wanted to believe - but couldn't. He even talked to the kids. Told them he loved them and wished them a good night. Then the hospital lost power and he had to get back to work. I made him call me back and leave a voicemail so I could listen to it all night long if I needed to. He laughed at me but complied. 

The kids went to bed. Basically they put themselves to bed because I just couldn't. And then I laid in the dark room with them and watched. I watched as that stupid hurricane miraculously veered north at what felt like the last minute and missed Corpus Christi. I cried. I breathed again for the first time in what felt like forever. I listened to Joe's message and then I slept. A little. Because I knew while we had missed the eye of the storm Harvey wasn't over yet. 

Monday, August 7, 2017

5,000 miles later

And we are back in Texas. This year our return feels a little bit more like coming home. A year ago driving back was torture. I forced myself to do it with white knuckles on the steering wheel and tears in my eyes. This year the only white knuckle driving I did was due to windy mountain roads with low visibility. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

These people.

These people. They are some of my favorites.

My Texas favorites. Except they don't live in Texas anymore. Since we have been gone they moved from Texas to Colorado. Just typing that makes my heart hurt a little bit. Because while they are not residency people (GASP! Wait? There is life outside of residency?!) they are a HUGE part of why the last year...year and a half of residency have been bearable for me and my kids. This amazing lady has opened her home to my kids and me nearly every Sunday for almost as long as we have lived in Texas. Oh and we were even allowed in on other days too;)  She loves my kids fiercely and I love hers like they are my own. And she has encouraged and challenged me to be a better me - just by being her. I am so incredibly thankful for her friendship. Texas isn't going to be the same without her there. Good thing Colorado is practically on my drive home from Minnesota. Okay it isn't at all on my way home...but whats an extra 500 miles? Nothing when it comes to friendship. Thank you for being my friend Tami.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The kids and I left Texas 2 weeks ago. As of today we have driven 1,900 miles. And slept in 7 homes + 1 hotel + camp. We've missed naps and eaten dozens of meals out of our van. We've stayed up way too late - way too many nights in a row. We've also slept in and slowed down. Enjoying time with friends and family - people we only get to see once a year. People that we love dearly. 

Just this morning we started our day at my grandparents' home. Playing in the garden and visiting. 

And tonight we ended our day at Joe's great grandparents' house. Swimming in the lake and going on a pontoon boat ride. 

There was a 2 hour van drive between the two houses. But the effort of traveling solo with my four's always worth it. Time spent with family is the BEST time. And as a bonus Minnesota has the best summers. Warm and sunny during the day and cool in the evenings!  

P.S. Don't be confused by this post. Traveling cross-country and living like gypsies for weeks at a time with small children is NOT easy. I don't mean to gloss over the hard or ugly parts. Trust me there have been plenty of those my sunglasses falling in the toilet at our very first rest stop. Or waking up with a neck so stiff I cried out in pain and could not turn it on day 9. Or being so tired that driving just one more mile felt impossible. Or having kids ready to brawl to the death over the last ________ (insert pretty much anything) while family-you-see-only-once-a-year watches. All of those moments plus many more have happened on this trip. But it's been worth it. Family time is the best time. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Drive

The kids and I are started our annual summer trek to Minnesota. We covered 400 miles 11 hours. Oops. We are going to have to pick up the pace tomorrow. But we were just having too much fun - playing along the way. We hit up a playground in one town, a splash pad in the next and our last stop was McDonalds. 

And since we had been having such a great travel day and the kids were being such great travelers I decided to splurge and buy Happy Meals for the girls. Upon the discovery of these...

...instead of the advertised Beanie Boos (stuffed animals) the tears flowed. Those were the least happy Happy Meals I've ever witnessed. Overall though this trip is going well. We've had a few minor mishaps...sunglasses in a (used) toilet, another pair of sunglasses broken, one cut chin at the playground and a few sibling squabbles. But really we are all healthy and mostly happy travelers. I couldn't ask for more. 

400 miles down. 1,000 to go!

Friday, June 9, 2017


Double DIGITS. 

As a child I can remember how exciting it was turning 10. I mean double digits! How cool was that?!  Now as the parent of a soon-to-be 10 year old double digits doesn't sound quite so cool. In fact I can't stop crying because ten YEARS has absolutely flown by. All those people that said "don't blink" and "they grow up so fast"...they were right. Darn it. I blinked and he's more than half grown. 

How did we go from the mom + baby on the left to the kid + mom on the right so quickly? I'll never understand it. Don't get me wrong I'm incredibly proud of the kid Isaiah is today. He's smart and funny and creative. He's an amazing big brother. This kid is the definition of a book worm and his use of language cracks me up. Just tonight he was pushing the coffee table out of the way so "we would have adequate floor space" (for our family dance party). But he will always be my baby. The one who made me a mom. The one who made me love so deeply it feels like my heart might just burst at times. The one who has taught me how to be a mother. (Sorry kid I really don't know what I'm doing but you've been a great experiment!) Being his mother has been one of my greatest joys and accomplishments. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sweetest Seven

Tomorrow morning this girl will wake up a SEVEN year old! 

And just like I've said every year...I'm not sure how that happened. Because seven years ago tonight I was nine days past my due date and HUGE and 100% convinced I would be pregnant forrrevvvverrrrrr:) 

And now she is seven. And I'm very much not pregnant;-) I loved looking back at these birthday celebration pictures but more than that I really enjoyed celebrating Charlotte today as a family. 

Because of Joe's trauma schedule we did not have a party but instead chose to have a family fun day! It started with donuts for breakfast followed by gift opening and an hour of jumping at an indoor trampoline place. Which Charlotte deemed "the best birthday ever - even without friends". Then we had pizza and ended our day at the beach with our residency family. 

P.S. After every last morsel of those birthday donuts were consumed Charlotte decided to inform that she doesn't like sprinkles on her donuts! Say what?!? That information would have been hugely useful years ago considering 3 of her 7 birthdays have included SPRINKLE donuts. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

We did. We finished the 2016-2017 school year!!! One in public school. Two in homeschool. And one just causing trouble. It was quite the year. 

I'd be lying if I wrote we ended strong. We limped and puttered to a crashing stop. But we made it! And to be completely honest the girls' homeschool ended weeks ago but today was the end of year party for our co-op. So I'm calling today the last day;-) 

Next year school will look different once again. (Three in public school...I think.)  But I'm so glad we had this year. We were stretched and learned and grew together. It was a good year. I gained confidence in deciding what is best for my children and taking action regardless of what others thought. And my children - ALL of my children thrived this year. 

I know I'm going to look back on this year fondly for years to come! Plus it was (supposedly the hardest year of residency or so we've been told) and we are a month away from finishing that too!!! 

P.S. While I was taking these last day of school pictures Levi was playing quietly in the other room...

I should have known he was being TOO quiet! This doll got her teeth and hands and feet thoroughly brushed with an entire tube of paste! That stinker.