Sunday, March 26, 2006

In [sort of] loving memory

Bruiser, our [sort of] beloved goldfish, passed away peacefully yesterday. Well, we assume it was peacefully as there was no screaming.

Near as I can tell, the bucket of water that I had left in the bathroom to adjust to room temperature may have received some additives from one of the other members of our household prior to my using it to freshen the fish tank. Freshen the tank it did--in what I thought might have been a particularly strongly perfumed scent for pure water. But alas, I did not know for certain anything was wrong until it was too late. Everyone here is [not really] broken up about it.

May his little fishy soul rest in peace.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dessert or death?

The final voting tally as of 4/5/06 was coconut pie 9, choco cake 4, cheesecake 3, and ice cream 2. Yummy. I don't think I can choose. If I have to die on principle, SO BE IT!!!
Update 3/27/06: The photo is what we had after dinner last night. I'm not trying to sway anyone's vote or anything, but look at that puppy! (note: the marred part on the right side was from Sammy's fist)
On a walk one day, the boss gave me the following important scenario to consider: A man pulls a gun on you and asks you what your favorite dessert is. You must answer him in three seconds or less or he will KILL you!!! What do you say?

I've decided to prepare myself for this unlikely contingency by determining exactly what my favorite dessert is NOW, before it's too late. You really can't avoid the tough decisions forever.

I have therefore assembled a list of finalists. They are:
  • Anne Marie's coconut cream pie
  • Breyers vanilla bean ice cream
  • Chocolate cake with chocolate icing (and maybe some Lindt truffles on top)
  • Cheescake with strawberries

I realize that the ultimate decision is my own, and that my very future may depend on it. Nonetheless, I could use some input.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sam's favorite movies

This is hilarious.

Sam thinks so too. He made me play it over and over again, pounding his little fists together (his baby sign for "more") every time it ended. I'm not sure if it was the jaunty music, the cute kid on the screen, or the fact that I laughed uncontrollably every time I saw it that made it so appealing to him. Maybe he just has a sophisticated sense of humor!

He also enjoyed this and this, and eagerly pointed out the "trr-ruck" and the "doggies" (which in this case look a lot like cats).


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Remember that one time? That was awesome!

As you may have deduced from my previous post, I'm doing a bit of de-cluttering in preparation for putting our house on the market and (eventually) moving. In the process I've unearthed lots of interesting stuff that I'm going to get rid of. Soon. But first I will share the highlights with you, Dear Internet.

First among the items of interest are several faded and waterlogged pieces of construction paper on which I made word collages--if you will--of all the funny memories, inside jokes and catchphrases tossed around with family and friends from roughly 1992 to 1994. At that time, I used these posters to decorate my bedroom. Let's reminisce together, shall we?
  • Look! A star!
  • Meet me in room 6!
  • I'm gonna sing that in the talent show.
  • I wonder if he's a good kisser
  • Armadillo/Bobcat Road
  • Saving the world
  • We'll take Pam!
  • I do not have a gun, let along many guns to necessitate a gunrack!
  • . . . so that's fake
  • Proud member of INSANE: InterNational Students Against Naked Envelopes
  • Civilization's nice and all, but I'll take a stretch of the woods any day.
  • I don't know about boys, I'm only 15.
  • "Not mental" is looking better and better as qualification for a significant other.
  • Ma'am! Fix your suit!
  • This doesn't leave the jacuzzi.
  • Revenge of the Tacky Police: The Movie
  • Surgeon General's Warning: Use of this product may cause swelling of the lips and tongue.
  • She'll rip your arms off!
  • Quit fooling around!
  • Don't make me spaz.
  • C! That's the way it begins!
  • Q: Boss, where are we? A: Janpo Jotyl*, we are in hell.
  • ODORS: Organization for the Destruction of Raunchy Smells
  • The guy from China called . . .
  • SNL rehearsals!
  • The Boss I knew was tough as nails, hard as an armadillo . . .

I share these with you now, in part, because those of you who knew me back then might find an item or two amusing. (And let's be honest. Most of you are related to me. So there's no point pretending you didn't know me.) But mostly I'm sharing them because then I can discard the scraps of paper on which these memories are recorded. Who's a packrat now, sucka?

*Names have been changed.

Unpacking my rat

I don't really think of myself as a packrat. I like throwing things away. I find a certain satisfaction in using the last of the dental floss, or laundry detergent, or mint chocolate chip ice cream, and disposing of the container. I like removing clutter from my visual space, and an almost empty bottle is just a nuisance. (The same can be said for an almost empty carton of ice cream. I mean, what's the point?) The trouble is, while I may not be a packrat, I am sentimental, thrifty, and just crafty enough to be dangerous.

As far as sentimentality goes, if someone I care about put time, thought, or money into something I now own, I must keep it. It would be ungracious not to, right? I mean how would my cuddly sister, Teresa the Bookie*, feel about me tossing this note (circa 1992)? Believe me, you don't want to cross Teresa the Bookie. When she says cuddle, you cuddle!

By the same token, if you have ever sent me a card, or passed me a funny note during class, or (here's the kicker) written me a letter, I probably still have it. Witness the following, penned by my sixth grade pal, Lidia the Hammer.*


The soc test was sort of easy. I finnished in 15 min. How about you?
The math was easy. I was done at 10:45. How about you? What do you think you got?
I don't really like anyone now. Why were you wondering? Do you like anyone? I don't really care if you do or don't because you won't tell me anyway.
Let's be in a fight all day. Write notes and at the end of the day we'll make up, OK!?


I don't like hanging around short people. You should grow a little! (You really have grown taller!) Even if you're almost as tall as Catie you're still short! Grow UP ^ a little!

Write back or else!



PS: Don't tell anyone we're pretending

The note is folded into a self-enclosed square and marked "DROL," which, if I recall correctly, stands for Don't Read Out Loud. I'm sure I didn't.

Even when I'm not sentimentally attached, frugality keeps me from disposing of the baby swing, the exersaucer, and the velvet Elvis painting currently gathering dust in my basement. I might need them again later. And I wouldn't want to buy them again. Have you ever priced a velvet Elvis? Those things are expensive!

But it's the craftiness that really gets me into trouble. There are stacks and stacks of things that I would like to throw away, but I can't because they're still useful. If not to me, then to someone, somewhere. I'm practical enough to know that I won't make a quilt out of my worn out stonewashed jeans, but somebody else might. And when the need arises, I want to be there with my denim booty (the pirate kind, not the rear end kind). My frayed and faded Lees may be just the thing to fill that last square.

In addition to the fabric, there's ribbon, paper, silk flowers, pipe cleaners, and assorted glues and guns. It's not a crazy jumbled mess. Most of these things are carefully categorized and labeled. (The box with the lovely iridescent green glass I thought about making into a mosaic is clearly marked "broken vase.") Ask me for something and I can tell you right where it is. The trouble is there's just so much of it. I know I'll never get to all these projects, but I can't just abandon the raw materials to the trash heap, can I? Who would look for shards of broken glass there?

Finally, there are the things I've kept by accident. The 1998 BYU Winter Semester Course Schedule falls into this category. I found it a few days ago at the bottom of a box, the contents of which I assume were dumped directly from a drawer the last day of winter semester 1998. Corresponding, as it usually does, with other major life changes, moving always seems to take more time that I have. And inevitably, I end up just throwing things anywhere, planning (of course!) to sort it all out when I get where I'm going.


And so, my basement and my closets and my boxes and boxes of letters make it look very much like I am a packrat. But I promise you, I am NOT. And I'm going to prove it by getting rid of it all. Well, most of it. OK, a lot. So if any of you are in the market for some lovely shards of iridescent green glass, just let me know.

*Names have been changed.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Angel dogs

I'm on call at the hospital right now. And while you may think this involves saving people's lives, it very rarely does. For a student like me, it mostly involves waiting around wondering where everyone else is. So, I post.

This morning I helped sew up a man who was in a car accident last evening. It snowed here in Iowa and the roads were terrible. Apparently, he missed a fork in the road and went nose first into a ditch, rolling the car and losing consciousness. Luckily for him, his trusty golden retriever pulled him from the car, he awoke and was able to walk a half mile to help.

I like to think Malcom would do the same for me (if he had a little more flesh on his bones!). He's a very loyal dog--one I've grown to love a lot more than I thought was possible when the boss and I got hitched. And I'm not just saying that because he's the head of human resources and must approve any in-house promotions.

Here's a poem I really enjoyed and got from this blog.

Why Dogs Stopped Flying
by Kenneth W. Brewer

Before humans,
dogs flew everywhere.
Their wings of silky fur
wrapped hollow bones.
Their tails wagged
like rudders through wind,
their stomachs bare
to the sullen earth.

Out of sorrow for the first humans--
stumbling, crawling,
helpless and cold--
dogs folded their
great wings into paws
soft enough to walk
beside us forever.

They still weep for us,
pity our small noses,
our unfortunate eyes,
our dull teeth.
They lick our faces clean,
keep us warm at night.
Sometimes they remember flying
and bite our ugly hands.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Anything dirty or dingy or dusty

A few of our readers have asked whether the pictures posted on Sam's photo tour of D.C. were posed. Let me assure you that they were not. Starting with the first can we passed in the parking lot of the Cedar Rapids Airport, Sam identified every trash receptacle from here to Our Nation's Capital. And back. It's just what he does. When free to run on his own, he approaches every garbage can he sees with alacrity and enthusiasm. When confined to a stroller, he points, leans and yells "ba-bage" until his discovery is acknowledged.

I'm not sure where this obsession of his came from, but it is persistent and pervasive. As evidence, I present the following:
  • "Garbage" (pronounced "ba-ba" or "ba-bage") was his fourth word, preceded only by "airplane" ("da!"), "monkey" ("ooo-ooo-ooo"), and "uh-oh!" ("uh-oh!"). Non-essential words like "Mommy" came much, much later.
  • During those torturous months when Sam was too young for nursery (15-18 mos), but too old to be entertained by quiet books during Sunday School, I could position the classroom trash can next to my chair and give him a pocket-sized package of tissues. He'd keep himself busy wadding up the tissues and throwing them in the garbage for half an hour. Now that he's old enough to go to nursery, he runs straight for the garbage can--not the puzzles, games, and toys laid out to distract clingy toddlers when they are dropped off by their parents.

After removing an over-flowing garbage bag from the kitchen trash can and taking it to the front door on its way to the garage, I have returned to the kitchen to find Sam completely inside the under-sink cupboard (you know, where we keep the oven cleaner!) retrieving a new liner for the can. If bags of garbage stay at the front door more than a few minutes while I empty cans in other parts of the house, Sam will busy himself dragging the bags up and down the stairs until I come to collect them all.
  • Wednesday is Sam's favorite day for walks to the park because it is garbage day in our neighborhood. He stops at each bin and reverently pats the City of Iowa City logo while whispering "ba-bage." On other days of the week, he is happy to find a can still out at the curb, but failing that, he'll march right up strangers' driveways and into their garages to caress each garbage can.
  • Because of its resemblance to his bedroom diaper pail, he identified Tutter's mouse hole in his Big Blue Bear boardbook as the "ba-bage." It's usually the first--and most exciting-- item he picks out on the page each time we read.

Garbage is his most prominent obsession, but Sam also holds a great fondness for brooms, mops, and vacuums. I'm convinced that if we could teach him to knock on doors and say "housekeeping!" we could make some serious money.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The trouble with smart toddlers

After seeing her son, Posco* (age 2 ½), attempt to remove Sam from a step stool, my good friend Dimple Bumbleroot* offers gentle correction.

Dimple: Posco, that's not nice. We don't pull Sam off the stool, do we?
Posco: No. I will yank him off.

*Names have been changed.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A great lady

Disclaimer: We've recently been telling a bunch of people about our blog, and then I went and posted this without any prior notice. Boss, understandably, feels a little self-conscious about asking her friends to visit a blog that's featured post is a tribute to her. Well, your humility is duly noted. Neener. Back to the previously scheduled blog...

I've been feeling a lot of appreciation for my sweet Boss lately. And I wish I were more capable of expressing it. Have you read this before from ee cummings?:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

I'm very grateful for Boss, whose heart is carried in my heart. She is understanding and supportive beyond measure--beyond what anyone could ask for. She is a wonderful mother, willingly giving her efforts and time for another little person who is too small to fully appreciate it. She is honest and good and makes me a better person.

Thank you, boss!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Envelope please...

And the winners are [drumroll]... Akron, Ohio for transitional year and Buffalo, New York for radiation oncology advanced program!!!

So, we'll be just 45 minutes or so away from Ohio Mom and Dad starting in July. This will be wonderful and we're very excited. The program is at Akron General Hospital, a really great one.

Everyone who has commented on Buffalo so far has mentioned cold and snow, but we're pretty excited about that one too. It will be four years away from most relatives, but it's a top program in a community with excellent education, a library and information science program, a lower cost of living, and lots of other advantages. The Institution itself is Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a leading organization for research and cancer treatment.

So, we are happy!

Many thanks to all who fasted and prayed when I was taking the board exam back in the summer. And many thanks to all of you who wish us the best as we go through lots of transitions for the next year and a half.

My business trip

It was nice that the coach and boss found some amusements for themselves while I was busy with my important work in the capitol. But don't get me wrong, we had some play time. It wasn't all just lobbying the baby congress.

So here are some of my favorite leisure shots.

Here I am at the National Zoo. The boss wasted my time looking at a baby panda, but I politely excused myself to pursue my own interests.
Here's the Washington Monument (in the top right corner). There was some litter on the grounds, but I helped take care of that in short order, believe you me.
We stopped at a Mall that had a beautiful, sleek trash receptacle. You've got to admire that kind of classic style.
Here's the metro. Boss already mentioned our using it quite a bit.
The Smithsonian Museum is quite a remarkable place. Inside the Museum of Natural History there were some quite thought provoking exhibits.
At the airport I met some friends. This man didn't even appear to notice the brushed stainless steel beauty he was brusquely passing by.
William Sonoma had an interesting garbage... Apparently, fancy kitchens need fancy garbage receptacles. Who knew?
Well, that's all I have time to post about right now. I'll be putting up more of my photos later.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Life's Little Luxuries

As you know, there are a lot of hassles and inconveniences to traveling, but there are a lot of really great parts too. For example: our bed. This might just be the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. It's just the right combination of softness and firmness, the bedding is luxurious, and the pillows make me feel like I'm on a marshmallow cloud, but without getting all that sticky stuff in my hair.

I can certainly live without such decadence. I don't even miss it when I'm at home. But on the road, life's little luxuries make all the difference.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a marshmallow bed to get to.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The real reason FDR didn't use his wheelchair in public

My primary mode of transportation for the week is the Metro. Sam, on the other hand, is traveling primarily by stroller. These two modes of transport to not always go well together.

Take, for example, our trip to the zoo on Friday. After arriving at the designated Metro stop, we discovered that the elevator to the street level was out of order. Instead of waiting for another train and riding to the next station, as a posted sign suggested, I decided to collapse Sam's stroller and hold it and him while going up the escalator. Halfway up, I regretted that decision. It was one of those huge escalators that travels up about 5 stories over several hundred yards. As I looked down, I could think of much worse things than getting "sucked under" the moving steps. (Was I the only one afraid of that as a kid?) My load was awkward and unpredictable. I was terrified that the stroller would knock us off balance, or that Sam would lurch unexpectedly and we'd all tumble down. I whispered silent prayers that Sam would be still all the way to the top. He was, but I didn't want to risk it for the return trip, and used the next station instead.

Of course, accessibility issues go beyond the public transit system. Before trekking from the Metro station to the zoo we stopped at McDonald's for some lunch. The restaurant was at the bottom of a flight of stairs. A sign informed us that the wheelchair-accessible entrance was around the back, which meant walking around the block. Once there, I discovered the wheel chair lift was out of order. I was about to turn around to find another place to eat when a solicitous McEmployee volunteered to help me carry the stroller down the stairs.

To get around you just have to know the system, and that takes trial and a lot of error. Some of the Metro stops only have elevators on one side of the station. At some stations you have to take multiple elevators to get to the right side of the tracks. Some of the museums have separate accessible entrances around the corner. Some crosswalks don't have curb ramps. Some destinations should just be avoided altogether. These are tips the tourist brochures don't mention. And it's frustrating to figure it out for yourself.

I find myself relieved that this is a temporary scenario. We do a lot of strolling around Iowa City, but it's not the same kind of logistical nightmare. Under normal circumstances, it's not much trouble for me to get everywhere I want to go.

But there are so many people who don't have it so easy. The first few days of our stay, we shared the hotel with a group of disabled veterans, many of whom were in wheelchairs. I find myself thinking about these folks frequently as I take the long way around buildings and stumble through sidewalk potholes. It makes me feel both blessed and selfish, because amidst the hassles, I've encountered more than my share of kindness. Strangers make room, hold doors, offer their seats, and help us down stairs, all while gooing about how cute Sam is. After a week reaping the benefits, I’m committed to returning the favor. Join me! Share the love, pass it on, pay it forward, lend a hand--whatever! And enjoy the thanks of a grateful, frazzled mommy.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Congratulations Dr. Coach!

For those of you falling off you seats in anticipation of today's match news (OK, maybe that's just us), here it is: Coach matched in both transition year and rad onc programs!

We find out where on Thursday. More news then.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Chunks of another kind

Pushing the limits of allowable carry-on luggage, we thought we were ready for anything. We had in one bag: 2 laptop computers loaded to the gills with various music and video presumed attractive to the one-year-old crowd, a camcorder, a digital camera, a cell phone, and an iPod, not to mention some reading materials—you know, just in case of an EMP. And in another bag: enough books, puzzles, and snacks to accommodate a single toddler for, well, hopefully a week. But, unfortunately, all of this seemed moot once it was clear we were unprepared for one particular thing.


Lots of it. As the flight was departing we were surprised how quiet and low key Sam was actually being. He cuddled and just munched slowly on fruit snacks. As we started to gain elevation, he fussed a bit, but we just kept cramming gummy fruits in his mouth and he seemed to work through it.

But then, on the descent, several days of meals showed up on my lap without any prior warning at all. Sam was sitting on my lap facing Boss and we were both covered in his, shall we say, voluminous spew. It was on our shirts, our pants, his jammies, the blanket, the seat, the floor, and probably the captain. Boss's motherly reflexes had a wet wipe under his chin in no time, but a west wipe was no match for the not-so-meaty chunks that awaited her.

Moments before, I had been thinking about how they always say “flight attendants, prepare the cabin for landing” what seems like 14 hours ahead of time. Well, the rest of the flight went by surprisingly quickly as we used our 2 Northwest airlines cocktail napkins, a box of wet wipes, and the complimentary airline blanket to wipe up the wreckage. Boss suggested I ask the woman next to me if we could use her little barf baggie, but I had noticed that since the “incident” she had completely turned away from the sights and smells, perhaps in an effort to keep her own cookies battened down. I thought she might need the baggie for herself.

Well, we survived. I’m proud of us for dealing with it so well. We had him changed into a new outfit and the now rank former clothes banished to an airtight bag before landing.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Up up in the sky, the wee toddlers cry

We're heading to Washington DC on Thursday. Coach has an AMA meeting, and we had a flight voucher that was about to expire, so Sam and I decided to go along. I'm really looking forward to it. There's lots to do in DC, the metro makes it easy to get around, and it's a rare chance to stay at a really nice hotel on somebody else's dime!

I do have a few reservations, however. We haven't flown with Sam before. We opted not to buy him a ticket, so he'll be traveling on our laps. He's never been good at napping away from home, and I'm afraid we're in for exhausting travel days there and back. So I want to hear from you veteran mommies and daddies. What do I need to know about flying with a toddler?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Yo Mama, Part II

Here's a quick test for you. Identify the subject of the following photo:

According to Sam, the subject is neither me nor my protruding belly. It's not even himself sitting cozily inside said belly (a mere four weeks before delivery). No the subject of this picture is Malcom. That's right. Malcom, whose out-of-focus photo appears in the top right corner of this picture. Go ahead, take a closer look. You'll see half of his face smiling back at you.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Yo Mama

At long last, Sammy has given up calling me "ehh," and has begun to refer to me as "Mama."

He might not be a genius (although I'm not ruling it out), but he's certainly a pragmatist. He knows that a well placed "Mama" can get him pretty much whatever he wants. I mean, can YOU say no this face? I didn't think so.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

C'mon baby!

This baby is a genius baby. I know everyone likes to gush about their kids, but Sam is truly truly the best darndest kid on the planet.

Points to consider:

  • I taught this kid everything he knows.
  • Check out that fancy footwork.
  • He was 14 months at the time.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

How to tell if your wife is sarcastic

The scene: Bedroom, 11:45 PM

The Coach is shocked that after a night of intensely stimulating conversation, most of which he memorized because he was paying such close attention, it appears the Boss has fallen asleep. This threatens to put an end to the night's festivities.

Coach: What are you doing?

Boss groggily raises head from pillow: What does it look like I'm doing? I'm running a multi-national corporation.

But you see, there was no corporation.

How to know if your husband is listening

The scene: The computer desk, 10:45 PM

Coach: What are these for? (Gestures to a stack of baby photos mounted on foam. Sits down at computer.)

Boss: An activity book for Sam. I'm going to attach them to the page with snaps, and a picture of Sam goes in the middle.

Coach: Hmmm.

Boss: With a poem. Something like "babies happy, babies sad ... of all the babies I can see, there isn't one as cute as me!"

Coach: Hmmm.

Boss: I'll also attach live monkeys.

Coach: Hmmm.


Boss: And dinosaurs.

Boss: And pictures of women in lingere.





Boss: Sweetie? Are you listening?

Coach: Huh? Yeah.