Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008...

I can't think of any way to start this blog other than 2008 was a year to remember. Duh...

January: C-C-C-c-c-c-old... Violet is still sleeping in our room. This is the month where she started to reverse cycle and I started to sleep in the chair. Scott operas for CROT. Milo is hanging in there at daycare where things are tough due to the DCB (Day Care Bully). I am working with HR to help fill the position formerly occupied by a dear friend -- who happened to be my supervisor. This entail lots of extra work and no extra money, about which I am not happy.

February: Still cold, winter fatigue hang over the state like a fog. The end doesn't seem in sight. I swear that February is the longest month of the year emotionally. Violet is rolling over and sits when placed in a sitting position. Milo plays Cars like a maniac. Scott has shows, including Little Shop of Horrors. Taking Milo to rehearsal is amusing. He wanted to see the Audrey II puppet on stage, but was rebuffed by a conscientious student and comes bawling back down the darkened aisle. The student is appropriately horrified and guilty. I am still under the weight of extra HR work and am trying not to get cranky about it.

March: Still cold... winter will never end... Scott gone to Houston for USITT. Kids and I have fun while he's gone, but are glad to see him return. We offer Violet her first food. She eats well, yay! Milo builds the world's most brightly painted birdhouse, which, of course, we don't put out in the yard because there are still snow drifts out there.

April: Springish, finally! Grandma Sue comes with me and Violet to St. Louis for my Synchro Competition. We skate pretty well, at least for us. Milo and Scott were supposed to come, but Milo wasn't recovered from a tummy bug, so no traveling for lil buddy.

May: What a lovely month! I look forward to walking to the sitter's house every lunch hour to nurse Violet. The world is waking and one can feel the excitement of summer coming. A position as the Programs Assistant for the Berry Center and Dimensions is created on campus and I throw my name into the hat. And wait. And wait. And wait... Violet is crawling and cruising -- these things happened pretty much simultaneously. And Milo has begun singing, "When I am threeeee, I will give my binky to the babies that need them and go on the pottyyyyyyyy." It is adorable.

June: This was a big month this year. Huge, actually.

Trip to MN in the beginning of the month. I meet some of my online mommy friends and we endure a cold week. Good for fishing, apparently, but dull for those who didn't care to fish. It cost us more than we expected, so Scott and I decide that we will rotate our yearly vacations: MN, CA, FL. And we disliked having our bedrooms on the first floor near the door as both kids wanted to play more than they wanted to sleep and we were somehow annoying the rest of the family by asking them to turn down the volume.

We return from MN in blinding rain. It rains for three days straight, I swear -- torrential downpours. We anxiously monitor the river stages in Cedar Falls, learning that the first apartment Scott and I shared is dangerously close to where the flood waters have risen. We hear about Waverly's downtown under water and Waterloo's storm sewers overflowing. We watch as the river's crest starts creeping downstream... we figure that Ellis will be under water and that some other low-lying areas should evacuate. We hear that Independence is flooded, then Palo. Then it starts to rain... then pour... There is more water than anyone has ever seen. Cedar Rapids evacuates the 100 year flood plain on Tuesday, but the waters are still rising.

On Wednesday, as I am interviewing for my new position in the Berry Center and Dimensions, the program coordinator for Dimensions gets a call from her husband that they are going to close the highways into and out of Mount Vernon, so our interview is cut short as she packs up her tiny baby and we speculate about the flooding. Scott gets into his truck and drives into town to rescue his personal items from the backstage area of TCR. He makes two trips and by the second trip, the river is lapping the sidewalk one block from the theatre. He flies his scenery and helps move props and costumes into the balcony. The volunteers at TCR are in waist deep water in the dressing rooms and green room by the time he leaves. Eventually, the entire orchestra pit fills with water and much of the lower level house. The bottom two feet of the platforms for his Aida set are covered with brown, stinky, mucky water. Everything that he threw on top of the platforms, into the balcony and raised into the fly loft survives.

Water pours over all three bridges in downtown Cedar Rapids, the Czech Village is gone, the public library suffers the largest public library disaster ever recorded in US history. 9000 homes are flooded and the community stands agape and glued to their televisions as local news stations broadcast 24-7, powered by generators. Today, Thursday, in Mount Vernon is is a gorgeous day -- the sun shines on the lush green laws of campus and the trees sway gently in the breeze, their leaves sliding together to create a tranquil tune with the wildlife. The comparison is stark and jolting. I stammer on the phone to my dad to express how devastating this is.

Milo celebrates his third birthday about six times between the end of June and mid-July. True to his word, when we return from Kirstie's Denver wedding he tells me he's not going to sleep with his binky any more. The first night was rough going down, but he doesn't wake looking for it and sleeps soundly all night. If we'd only know how easy this would be, we'd have taken it a year ago! Incidentally, the wedding was fun and I enjoyed much of it until an unfortunate encounter in my sister's home.

July: I start my new job, yay! I have my own office and enjoy very much having some privacy. I decorate on a shoestring budget and appreciate the results. One morning, as Milo was snuggling in his customary position on the couch, he hops off and scoots into the bathroom. Scott and I hear him taking off his diaper, then hear him tinkling in the potty, flushing, and washing his hands. He comes back to the couch, naked from the waist down, and crawls up in between us as if nothing has happened. And that was the end of diapers for Milo. We did pull-ups over night until the package ran out, but he was dry anyway, so after a month, he decided that he preferred to sleep in pajamas without his underwear and that was the end of potty training. Apparently, the key for Milo was to stop talking about it entirely until he decided it was his idea. Violet starts walking this month and Scott scrambles to redesign the scenery for the displaced Iowa Summer Rep.

August: A gorgeous month. Warm, but without some of the 100 degree temperatures we'd seen in previous years. The kids start back to daycare, minus DCB and the transition is quick and painless. The sitter is happy at the end of the day, not frazzled and everyone is cheerful. Classes begin and I enjoy working with the students in a completely different way.

September: Scott does two productions this month. Milo learns how to give me a cheerful goodbye from daycare. And Violet turns one! She celebrates by enjoying cake and ice cream and spiking a fever, which she ran for three days. She's walking, talking, and feeding herself, so no more baby in my baby!

October: The political race heats up, but Scott and I are convinced that we're backing a winner. I help host several events on campus and find myself blazing a trail between my office, the plotter in the Library, and the Commons. Scott assists his parents in replacing their windows and blowing insulation into their attic. He also helps his high school alma mater with the scenery for their fall musical. We've learned this month that his brother and wife are divorcing, and this has him a little blue. The kids are great and enjoy fall, particularly Halloween. Milo dressed up as Jango Fett and Violet dressed as Yoda. They went trick-or-treating with the sitter and her youngest (Milo's best bud). I am apprehensive about Scott;s trip to NYC, but try to enjoy the little time we have with him before he travels.

November: We vote, and Scott flies to NYC as the polls remain open. We're on the phone together as Obama is announces as the next president-elect of the US. There is much celebration in NYC, on campus, and elsewhere in the world. Then reality hits and I'm home alone with both kids for 16 days straight. I get a few calls from my family, but hear not one word from the Olingers. I feel very unsupported, but do my best to take good care of the kids. Scott arrives home the week before Thanksgiving, but spends the weekend working on the touring show for which he designed the lighting. He also works the weekend after Thanksgiving on this show.

December: Scott takes his annual deer hunting trip with his brothers and bags two deer. They come home a day early, which is good for my sanity. My sister delivers Luke Wyatt into the world, welcome baby! One more weekend away for the touring show and he's home for the holidays. The kids enjoy our many Christmas celebrations. I am left with a warm fuzzy glow as I get to spend a week off work with them and with Scott.

What lessons have I learned from 2008? 1. Do everything I can to never be a single parent. 2. Don't buy a home in any flood plain. 3. Hope for change, but insist upon it when it is needed. 4. Facebook is fabulous. 5. There is nothing better than snuggling my husband and kids on the couch on a lazy Sunday morning. It is hands down the best part of life.

Monday, December 29, 2008

'Tis the Season..

Well, Christmas has come and gone and we're hanging out in the not-quite-holiday status of between Christmas and New Year's Day. Students aren't back on campus until January 5th, that's also when daycare opens. Scott is on sabbatical this spring, and it dawned on me suddenly last night that he wouldn't really be returning to his office this semester. Oh, he'll still GO to his office occasionally to retrieve things and such, but he won't be working out if it. He'll be working out of the lovely butt-imprint on the left-hand side of our family room couch. Where he sits to watch TV, read, pretend he's not getting irate emails, and plays World of Warcraft. Oh yeah, doing what he's supposed to do for his sabbatical, too. I asked him if this means I'll have a clean house for the spring and hinted that there's nothing sexier than a house I don't have to clean... I guess we'll have to see if that fantasy comes true...

The kids were awesome this Christmas. Both traveled to Clinton well and enjoyed a grand fun time with Grandpa Gil and Grandma Robin. Violet is at that wondrous stage of being old enough to understand how to unwrap gifts, but lacks any understanding of which gift is hers and blinks innocently at you when you suggest she wait to unwrap packages until after dinner. Milo can now read (and write!) his name, so he was able to sort his gifts and Violet's out of the pile. He knows that V is for Violet and that Scott has "S, O and two Ts" and that "g - o " spells go!

As the year draws to a close, both kids suddenly seem older. I really think that Santa brought them more than gifts this year, maybe he brought them some "grow-up" dust or something, because the change seems to have happened over night. Violet is now playing puppy -- she drops to all fours and crawls around panting. Don't most kids do stuff like that closer to two -- not at 15 1/2 months? Yesterday, she sorted her crackers by shape -- there was a pile of rectangular ones and a pile of circular ones. She took one bite out of all of the rectangular ones, then one out of all of the circular ones.

Miss Violet seems to be on the cusp of a language explosion. She is listening carefully when you ask her questions and has started following simple directions. More impressively, she seems to have an innate knowledge of manners -- you barely need to tell her that an object belongs to another person and she's running across the room to take it to that person. She says "thank you" unprompted and hands you her dinner plate when she's finished eating. I don't know if it's the difference between boys and girls, but at 15 months, we were still watching Milo like a hawk to determine when he was done eating so that we could whisk his plate away from him before he threw it to the floor.

Violet has also taken to imitating faces and body positions. This is endless fun as she's dang cute as she tries to wrinkle her nose like I do or squints her eyes like Scott. The one look she has mastered already is a very strong Death Stare. She tried it out on Daddy yesterday when he told her she couldn't chew on the skirt of her Christmas dress. Grandma Sue and Mommy had a good laugh over that one. I don't think this Violet will be a shrinking violet...

We've had to teach Milo a new word: sassy. We defined it as saying something in a mean voice to mommy, daddy or another adult. Although, perhaps the funniest quote from the holiday break was completely innocent:

Me: Milo, why don't you put your socks on. Aren't your feet cold?
Milo: (looks at my bare feet) Aren't yours?
Me: Not really... I guess you don't need to wear socks in the house if you don't want to wear them.

For a bittersweet note, he has dropped his mispronunciation of pretzel (cretzel). He has also begun taking over all of his pottying care. We pretty much do a "bum check" after he's wiped. He completely remembers to flush, wash, and return the bathroom to the state it was upon his entrance. And he's no longer afraid to go upstairs by himself.

On a positive note, he has been using the word "May" correctly when asking for things, greatly impressing all of his grandparents. In fact, Grandpa Richard thanked me and Scott for teaching him manners as he grows. Scott said simply that we'd be appalled if he was egregiously impolite, so we never want him to think that being impolite was acceptable in any way.

And as for me? I'm gearing up for my perennial resolution to lose weight. Once more unto the breach...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Last Mom Standing

So, a plague and pestilence has descended upon my house. Scott, Milo, and Violet all have ear infections. I'm completely healthy (unless you count being fat). But Scott is home for the short-term and I am so glad that we're all together for the next couple of weeks, yay!

I'm not intimidated by taking care of my children alone -- they are always the top of the list. I am, however, completely overwhelmed when it comes to taking care of my home when all alone. As in the laundry and dishes get done and I'll vacuum when I can, but the rest of it? Nope... and I hate feeling like I'm living in a pit. And that's exactly how I feel right now. Like my house is a frat house or something. I swear I take out the recycling daily, but it multiplies when I'm not looking. Glasses and sippy cups wander all over the house, rolling into buckets and behind furniture, gathering like sentinels on Scott's nightstand. I am failing miserably at housekeeping.

Winter has officially arrived on campus. My office has a window under a set of stairs and the draft that sneaks in around the window air conditioner unit quickly defeats the wisps of heated air that creep from the radiator. There's a six inch band of warm air right next to the heating pipes, but the windows are directly above the radiator, so I'm assuming that the cool breeze (yes, breeze) that I feel on my neck has simply overpowered the old, old steam pipes.

I came up from my basement office to find that almost an inch of snow had fallen since I'd arrived at work. I actually love listening to the snow fall. Yeah, it doesn't really have a sound, but I love how muffled everything is when the snow is falling deep and fast. It feels so insulated and calm. It reminds me of the blizzards Laura Ingalls Wilder (my childhood hero) describes -- how the winds whipped the snow through the air, indiscriminately burying everything and everyone. Last year was our Long Winter and I'm not really looking forward to another one this year, but I do love a good occasional snowstorm.

Mount Vernon is sleepy enough that a storm like this really takes me back 100 years to when the town was young. I can just imagine it before paved roads neatly divided the blocks into floating parcels of neighborhoods. There is a sledding hill on a street -- the street closes as long as there is enough snow upon which to sled. Milo has been to young to try sledding on this hill as older, bigger, and heavier kids use it, too. But maybe this year he and Scott will give it a try.

In cute kid world: Violet calls, "Buh-duh" after Milo -- as in "Where are you, brother?" Probably because I always scoop her up and say, "Let's go find your brother!" or tell her, "You have the coolest big brother in the world!"

And Milo can write his name. He doesn't always get the letters in order, but he does write them all. Milo, oliM, oMil are the most frequent versions that he writes.

And my baby sister has had her baby boy! He's a tiny little peanut -- 6lbs, 12oz -- and early photos show that he had quite the conehead after birth. Not surprising as he'd been really low for a lot of the last part of her pregnancy. Both are doing well and I am very excited to meet my new baby nephew! Yay for babies! He's a cutie with loooooong feet that crack me up.

So think a good thought for me as I prepare to had out into the blizzard to pick up the babes. I think we might make and frost some sugar cookies for fun tonight. And for me -- I love icing! Hopefully I'll get to the car and home upright...