Monday, June 30, 2008

I love to see...

My kids love to see the do I.  
I (also) love to see my kids loving each other.  It's right up at the top of the list - you know, the "best Mommy moments" list.  Nothing makes me happier than watching Noah and Alex take care of one another and show love and affection for each other.  
I love that Noah taught Alex the primary song he has been "practicing" all week.  I love the way Alex adores her big brother and the look on her face as she looks up at him.  
This week I've also seen (when they didn't know I was looking)...

Alex sneak over to Noah's bed while he was sleeping because she "just had to see Noah"

Noah bringing Alex her blanky when she cries

Alex ALWAYS willing to share whatever she has with Noah (as long as he asks nicely)

Noah asking Alex for "big bear hugs" and kisses - and getting them

Alex telling Noah that he is "the best big brother ever!"

Noah teaching Alex new tasks or games and hearing him encourage and praise her enthusiastically along the way

Seeing the kids "read" to each other

Don't misinterpret this post - a good portion of the time my kids are butting heads, pushing each others buttons, and fighting like cats and dogs.  But as long as these other moments are sprinkled in between...I think they'll be ok.  These are the moments that make it all worthwhile - the moments I love to see.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On my mind...

What to wear to the Anesthesia Banquet tonight?  None of my "church dresses" really look like "cocktail dresses"

There is something about toddlers in underwear that is hilariously cute!  No, Alex isn't potty-trained yet.  But we did receive a package from my mom with some cute little undies for her and she insisted on putting them on.  SO FUNNY to see her running around in'em.  She threw a major fit when I tried to put a diaper back on her but finally acquiesced when I let her carry the undies around in her hand the rest of the day.  She also insists that they are "undies" and not panties - gotta be like big brother.  (I've only recently convinced her that she doesn't have a penis).

It is possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by other people.  Everyone we've met has been so friendly and kind and welcoming.  The other moms have invited us to their houses, to the park, to the pool.  But it's still hard to be the "new" person.  It takes time to get to know people well and to build deep, strong friendships.  I know that - I need to be patient.  But it's still hard.

WOW.  We are in a WHOLE LOT of DEBT.  I already knew this - but it's just now sinking in.  When we were med students I didn't dwell on it too much- I mean what else could we do?  We needed the loans to pay for school and to survive, that's just how you do it.  But now that we're about to get our first paycheck (which, by the way, is VERY exciting) I'm looking at the size of the paycheck...and I'm looking at the size of the loans...and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.

Oh, so this is why kids start going to school when they're 5!?!  Noah's not 5 yet, he'll do another year of preschool (which he's so excited about).  But I didn't realize how much work it was going to be to keep him entertained all summer long.  It's not unusual for us to do several outings a day now - not usually my style but if I don't he'll drive me insane!  It's been good for us though.  We're having a lot of fun together and it's forced me to get out of the house, interact, and pay more attention to my kids (as opposed to the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, emailing, blogging, phone calls, bills, etc.) 

It's amazing what you can get used to (i.e. bathing everyday because you're shower hasn't worked since you moved in).  It's a long story that I don't feel like telling, but that's what we're doing.  Don't get me wrong, I complain about it (way too much, I'm sure) but it's almost become the norm.  I went to get in the bath yesterday morning and didn't even think twice about it....until it was time to wash my hair of course : )

Why don't I have anything to blog about?  We're busy, we're happy - a little stressed and overwhelmed and still adjusting to all the changes - but overall we're happy.  Yet, for some reason I'm having a really hard time coming up with anything to say.  Hence, this post with nothing funny, creative, or interesting about it...just what's going thru my head at the moment.  Hope you don't mind : )


Sunday, June 22, 2008

What I wish I'd taken pictures of this week

Noah's swimming lessons (major hurdle: he puts his face in the water)
Playing at the park (Soldiers Field Park)
Swimming at the kiddie pool with friends
Ward park day (Quarry Hill Park)
Playdate at the park (Churchill Park)
Our first dinner guests
McDonalds playground and Happy Meals for lunch
Walking the trails, discovering the beach, and 2 MORE parks (I think there's one on every corner here)

We're busy and we're happy (and I even have some suntan lines - who cares that it's a farmers tan!?!)

On the docket for this week:
storytime at the library
nature center
and the not so fun one...the kids first ever dentist appointments

We're livin' it up this summer...and the wallpaper removal and potty-training that would keep me inside are looking less and less appealing every-beautiful-day

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Me: thru the eyes of my 4-year old

When I walked out in my swimsuit the other day Noah said, "Mom, I don't think that fits you."

Then, this morning we were reading a book about moms.  The line in the book (with corresponding pictures) is "Some mommies have short hair, some mommies have big hair."  Noah looked at the big hair and said, "Like you mom."

A few minutes ago, at 11am, Noah looked at me and said, "Mom, did you forget something?  You're in your pajamas!"  I played along like I'd forgotten and Noah laughed and said, "Good thing I reminded you Mom!"  Thanks Noah, what would I do without you?  (The reality of the situation is that I just haven't had a minute to spend on myself since we woke up at 7am this morning!  The farthest I've gotten, as far as personal hygiene, is brushing my teeth.)

As for Alex...anytime I try to set boundaries and enforce rules she reminds me who's boss. 
(ex: yesterday at the McDonald's playground I told her she could go down the slide one more time and then it was time to go.  She looked at me and said sternly, "No mommy.  1,2,3,4,5 more times" then she turned around and marched off.)  

I command a lot of respect around here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So I don't forget

This is a little random.  It's the kids eating breakfast out on the deck our first morning in our new house.

It was cold and rainy but that didn't deter them.  They donned their hoodies and enjoyed breakfast with a view.
I thought it was cute how excited they were about the yard.
It's a fun memory from our first day in Rochester - that I obviously didn't get around to posting at the time : )

Monday, June 16, 2008

We love this guy!

Here are just a few of the reasons why:

he takes me in the car 
he takes me to the ATM
he wrestles with me
he gives me loves

he wrestles with me
he takes me for walks
he takes me to the store
he's a good painter
he plays with mommy, Noah and Alex

he works hard at work and at home and he NEVER complains (ok, sometimes this drives me crazy) 
he always looks at the brightside (this sometimes drives me crazy too)
he always does the right thing, no matter what - he lives with integrity and is a great example to me and to our kids 
he knows how to make me laugh everyday
he makes time to do fun things with the kids, giving them his full attention
(and those last few things never drive me crazy)

To sum it up - we are one lucky family.
Thanks for making life wonderful honey - we all love you!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Paul's Masterpiece

Remember way back when...when Paul was building us our first bed? 

(sidenote: when I say first bed I don't mean the first bed that Paul's ever made - although it is that too - I literally mean our first bed.  we've been sleeping on a mattress and boxsprings for 6 years.  and you thought being married to a doctor was glamorous)  

Here is the finished product.

I LOVE IT!  Very impressive too, considering Paul had zero experience with carpentry prior to this project.  (Of course we both harbor a secret fear that the bed is going to collapse - the kids have been strictly forbidden from jumping on or hiding under the bed - but so far so good)

Thanks Honey!

P.S.  I love my new comforter too - Happy Mother's Day and Happy Birthday to me!  (It goes great with the wallpaper too, don't you think?  I really don't know why we decided to remove it in the first place.)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Life in Rochester

The House:  
We arrived in Rochester on a Tuesday evening, checked into a hotel for the night, and then had our first and final walk-thru of the house.  Luckily, we still liked it and we closed on the house Wednesday morning and began moving in that afternoon.  The Young Men from our new ward (yes, we have young men!) came that night to help.  

The Yard:  
It's not perfect, but the kids sure love it.  Noah and Alex love climbing the retaining wall

I just hope no one falls off of it
They also love running down the hill  - all the way from the backyard to the front yard - and it's quite the slope.  I have to "catch" them at the bottom so they don't run right into the street.

But this is the view from my kitchen window - you can't beat that!  It's beautiful and it's private.
We also have a lot of wildlife.  Our regular visitors are these bunnies, which the kids have affectionately named Mr. Kadoodle and Donald.  They love to come out of the trees and munch on the grass while we eat dinner.

The Projects:
Ikea - Paul has decided this is the most stressful place we've ever been together.  Or maybe it's just stressful when you're on a tight budget and can't agree on how to spend the $ - or how much $ to spend - and you have a whining crying toddler hanging on your leg and screaming the whole time.  But Paul has been great about getting all of our new stuff assembled - from end tables to a couch.  Who knew you could buy a couch un-assembled?!?

The Decks - The front porch is new and unfinished, the back deck needs to be sanded and re-finished.  It's taken awhile to get some decent (dry) weather here but Paul has finally been able to get started - albeit a rough start.  He started staining the front deck only to find that the color looked much different on the wood - like RED.  Very very RED.  Which meant scrubbing it off and another trip to home depot for a new stain color.  And then it started raining : )

The wallpaper - All I can say is that I will never again buy a house with this much wallpaper in it.  Never.  Maybe it's good I didn't know what I was getting myself into with all this wallpaper removing because I really love our house.  Luckily, Paul has taken over, at least temporarily.  As of next week, we won't be seeing much of him.  Just to give you an idea though, this is day 3 of wallpaper removal from our bedroom and it's only about half done.  Then we still have to paint it!  And then all I have left to do (on my own) is the living room, dining room, kitchen, and hall.  Right - so I should be done in about 5 years, when it's time to sell the house.  Luckily the wallpaper is very neutral and subtle.  It could be worse.  Right?!?

The City:
I've said it before and I'll say it again.  We LOVE this place!  It's a great size, it's affordable, it's very family friendly/family oriented, it has everything we need, and everyone is so NICE!

We now have the Discovery Channel (Paul is obsessed).  They're airing a series on Sunday evenings about space/going to the moon.  Noah watched some of it the other night with Paul.  Yesterday I found him tipped backwards in Alex's carseat in the living room.  He just looked at me and said, "I'm going to outer space mom."  
Noah had his first day of swim lessons yesterday!  He's taking them at the YMCA and he loves it.  He was really brave.  I was a little worried because even though he loves to swim he tends to be a little nervous and clingy in the water.  So this will be great for him.  After his first day he said, "Mom, I love the Y."

Alex won't stop taking her diaper off.  Every time she goes in her diaper she takes it off - this is especially bad if she's poopy - I'll spare you the details.  We've also had some pee on the floor because she was running around in the playroom naked for an hour or something before I discovered her like this.  I know this is a good sign that she's ready to potty-train.  But why did she have to start doing this THE DAY we moved to Rochester?!?  It's just been too crazy for me to take on potty-training.  But I don't think I'm going to be able to hold off for much longer...we can't afford to go thru that many diapers a day!  As for my personal feelings on potty-training - it's the worst thing I've experienced to-date as a mother.

Overall, life is good!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Re-cap Part 4: Last Days in Cleveland

Once we got back from Palmyra we had 3 days to pack and clean our apartment.

Things were a little crazy...

But we managed to see our friends a few more times before taking off.  This is my best Cleveland buddy Jen.  Love and miss you TONS Jen : )
Moving Day:  I had to get one last picture of the kids in our apartment in Cleveland.  They were chowing down on their donut breakfast before we took off Monday morning (Memorial Day).  We had (miraculously) succeeded in getting Noah excited about the move to Rochester.  He even said the prayer before we left the house that morning [thank you for the moving truck, thank you that we could move to Rochester, thank you for Sam and Sarah (the only kids he knew in Rochester at that point) thank you for their bounce house].  After his prayer I told him it was time to go and...he broke down.  "But I don't want to go!  I never want to leave!  I want to live here forever!!!"  I'd been feeling ready and excited about the move but I admit it was hard for me to pull myself together at that moment.  It's like the end of an era!  (For all you Friends lovers out there...Debbie)
To all our Cleveland friends - we miss you!!!

Re-Cap Part 3: Palmyra

Ok.  I always post way too many pictures.  I know.  (Explanation: I can't make decisions.  I think I'm getting worse, not better.  Now I can't even decide what pictures to post on my blog -  so I post them all (almost).  Pathetic.  So for me, more pictures is actually more efficient.  I don't waste way too much time trying to decide which to post and which to eliminate.)

The day after graduation we took a road trip to Palmyra with Paul's parents.  The kids loved running through the Sacred Grove - and not very reverently.  Luckily there were not too many other people there, due to MORE bad weather.

Alex always had her blanky in one hand and a flower in the other.
On the steps of the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center
The Hill Cumorah Monument with Grandma and Grandpa.  
Paul told Noah that it was Angel Moroni on top of the monument.  Noah looked up at it and said, "Well it looks like him - so it must be him."

The highlight of the trip (for the kids at least) was climbing up and running down the Hill Cumorah.  Once was enough for me.

3 Generations in the Sacred Grove
This was supposed to be a picture of just me and Paul but the kids didn't want to be left out - of course when you want to get a picture of the kids it's a-whole-'nother ball-game.
Noah, keeping warm - I'm pretty sure he managed to work up a sweat running thru that place while we all froze.

We love you Grandma and Grandpa Gunn!
We stopped at Niagara Falls on the way home - despite the cold, rain and wind.  We were wet before we even got on the boat.
We were worried about the kids although I don't know why - they loved every minute of it!  We were the ones bundling, huddling, shivering, and trying to stay warm and dry.
But it was worth it - the Falls were beautiful.
Other highlights of the trip:

me spilling my drink on my mother-in-law while trying to clean up the kids spilled drinks at the restaurant 

Paul and I attending a session at the Palmyra temple - it's so beautiful (stained glass and a view of the sacred grove)

The hot tub - the kids "swam" in it every night

and much more!

Thanks for a great trip Grandma and Grandpa!  We loved it and we miss you!

Friday, June 06, 2008


Paul received an award the day before graduation at a special ceremony - that day also happened to be our 6-Year Anniversary.  

6 years = 2 great kids + 1 hardworking doctor + one happy wife and mom

Love you hon!

Re-cap Part 2: Graduation

On May 18th Paul graduated from Case Western Reserve University Medical School.  What an accomplishment!  It was such an exciting day for us.  Noah was funny - he kept saying in his prayers, "thank you that daddy can graduate."  He was also excited to see daddy in his "graduation costume."  

Here's Paul walking into the school-wide convocation.  Paul told me before hand what section the med grad processional (led by bagpipes - totally cool) would be coming through but I ended up sitting on the far end of the row.  I stood on my chair to catch his attention and get this shot - totally worth it.
Each student only got 2 tickets to convocation so although both sets of our parents were in town for graduation I was the only one able to attend that part of the event.  However, we all got to go to the med school commencement where Paul received his diploma and got hooded.  It was in Severance Hall which is the most beautiful building on campus.  This time I sat on the right side of the section and he walked right past us - and squeezed my hand as he passed : )
I love this picture!
Severance Hall
This is the picture and information that flashed across the screen when Paul walked across the stage.  Paul was, of course, one of very few to graduate married with kids.

Paul and I with our parents -thank you so much for coming out for graduation.  It was so great to have you there on such an important day!
Paul - what can I say?  You know how I feel.  I love you and I'm so proud of you.

Now the real hard stuff begins...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Re-cap Part 1: Graduation Trip

Paul and I were lucky enough to be able to take a kid-free vacation together, to celebrate his graduation from medical school.  I flew the kids (alone) to California on a Monday, to stay with my parents while we were gone.  I'd been dreading traveling alone with the kids (and with good reason, I've done it before) but was pleasantly surprised.  While it's never a piece of cake to do anything with a 2-year old the kids did amazingly well (i.e. minimal blood curdling screams from Alex very little sass from Noah and almost no fighting between the kids).  I spent Tuesday at my parents house and wednesday morning got back on a plane to Cleveland - alone.  I usually love to travel without the kids but I've never left them for more than a few days - and even that has only happened a couple of times.  So it was really hard to say goodbye to the kids for 9 whole days and to be so far away from them.  I was a little emotional all day, but I survived.

Paul picked me up at the Cleveland Airport late Wednesday night and we drove straight through the night to New York City.  Well, Paul did.  I slept part of the time : )  We arrived in NYC before 6am and couldn't check into the apartment we were staying in until 1pm.  So we did some walking, eating, and exploring in the East Village, the area we were staying in, but we spent a good portion of the morning securing our FREE parking spot on the street right in front of our apartment.  We had to do some crazy maneuvering but we were so proud - we felt like locals : )  After checking into our tiny one bedroom New York apartment we crashed for a few hours then cleaned up and rode the subway uptown to see some of the sights:  Times Square, Rockefeller Center, St. Patricks Cathedral.  The next day the weather was miserable. Cold, rainy, and windy.  We had wanted to rent bikes and ride through Central Park but that was out of the question.  So we spent the day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Which worked out great because we could have spent several days there.      
Paul liked the armor
I loved the impressionist paintings and european sculptures.  And the audio tour (hence the headsets) was well worth it.
That night we were back in Times Square on our way to the Theater District for a show.  We saw Xanadu, a musical comedy and it was great!

By Saturday morning the weather had cleared, thank goodness, and we were able to do the bike tour of the city that we scheduled months ago.  It was AWESOME!  It was an all day deal, about 8 hours and we were able to see so much - many things we never would have done on our own.

We rode across the Williamsburg Bridge into Brooklyn
My favorite part of Brooklyn was Williamsburg, a neighborhood of Hasidic Jews.  We stopped for pizza at a famous brewery and a little later stopped for a treat at a chocolate shop.  It was the BEST chocolate I've ever had.  Really.  
We rode across the Brooklyn Bridge
You can't tell from this picture but we actually had a good view of the Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline.
We weaved our way through the streets and narrow back alleys of Chinatown. Really cool.
That's me, dodging traffic on the far left : )
We were pretty worn out by the end of the day but decided to hurry and change our clothes and rush uptown to see if we could get student discount tickets to a show.  It turns out they don't sell student tickets on Saturdays but we were able to get standing (yes, standing) tickets for dirt cheap.  We stood for 2 1/2 hours but I thought it was worth it : )  By this point we were so dead - but found the strength to stop off for a midnight snack at Sugar, this great place across the street from our subway stop and 1 block from our apartment.  Paul's favorite thing was their gelato and mine was the bagel with lox and cream cheese.  MMMmmmmmm.

We crashed that night but had to wake up early to beat the traffic and drive to D.C.  We went to the D.C. temple, which is so beautiful.  It was Sunday, so we couldn't do a session but we spent time in the visitors center talking to all the senior couples and also looking at a really cool exhibit they had on Gordo B. Hinckcley - photographs documenting his time as prophet of the church.  We considered doing Arlington that day but we were so worn out from our days in New York (and my bum was SO sore from our 8-hour bike ride) that we ended up laying in the hotel room the rest of the day.  It was so nice to just relax.  

The next day, our first stop was The Capital where we had a personalized tour (thanks Greg).  It was really interesting.
From there we headed to the Library of Congress.  This was one of my favorite things and we spent a good portion of the day there seeing, reading, and learning about the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights.  They have also recreated Thomas Jefferson's personal library, which was really cool.  The building is beautiful too, with so much history and symbolism and meaning.
We also spent time in the Supreme Court that day.  Court was not in session and so, unfortunately, we were not able to hear them deliberate but we did get to see the rooms and learned a lot of interesting things from the tour.  This was another favorite for me.  As you can see below, the weather was bad in D.C. too and we spent the day running from one building to the next trying not to get soaked.
Our hotel was in Oldtown Alexandria and we decided to brave the weather and walk the 6 blocks to the historic district where the shops and restaurants are for dinner.  We couldn't bear to give up our, once again, FREE parking spot.  Well, our umbrella was pretty much worthless in the torrential downpour and we were soaked head to toe - but we did find some yummy dinner and it's a really cute place to walk around and explore.  Just not in the rain : )

Tuesday was our last day in D.C.  We spent the morning at Arlington National Cemetery and, as you can see, it was a beautiful day.
After that we went to the Holocaust Museum, where we spent most of the day.  It took us about 4 hours just to get through the main exhibit.  It is very well done and there is so much information but it is grueling and emotionally draining.  I'm glad we did it but it was tough.  

By the time we were done there the museums were about to close but we managed to dash into the Museum of Natural History to snap some pics for the kids.
These are Noah's favorite dinosaurs : )  Can you tell we were missing the kids TONS by this point?  Luckily they did great at my parents house and talked on the phone with us every night.
That evening we did a bike tour of the D.C. monuments, which was really cool.  We got so much information about the history and the symbolism behind the monuments and they were so pretty at night.  Also, we were able to see a lot more than we would have been able to see on foot.  
Wednesday morning we drove to Charlotte, NC to spend time with some great friends from our Provo days, the Johnstons.  We talked, laughed, relaxed, ate great food, watched Enchanted (well, the girls did anyways) and I even learned to bake bread.  It was so much fun, thanks for having us guys!  We miss you already!

Friday morning, again very early, we made the drive back to Cleveland.  My parents flew in that night with our kids and it was so great to have the whole family back together again!!!  Thanks mom and dad for taking such great care of the kids and for entertaining them for 9 days and flying across the country with them : )  There is nothing easy about any of that.  Thanks for making our trip possible - we loved every minute of it!