Wednesday, December 30, 2009

By popular demand

This morning I learned that it's a lot harder to take your own picture in the mirror than I thought

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Weekend Soundbites

Me, after telling him for the 400,000 time to stop doing something "Are you feeling naughty or what?"
E "No Mama, I'm just bored"

In a crowded, public bathroom "Mama, I can see your chonies! Giddyup chonies, giddyup!"

The morning after a particulary impressive fall from bed "I didn't fall out of bed, Mama. I fell out of the car because you forgot to close the door. But it's okay, we can still be friends."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Well shit, now what?

This is the first year that E has really *gotten* Christmas. His list has been at times a million miles long, but there have been a few core items that persisted. At first, in a fit of parental over-indulgence, we bought him each of those things. Then I saw the pile in the closet, had a brief moment of clarity, and we decided to pare down a bit. There were a number of reasons, but really it comes down to the fact that we are so incredibly blessed and we don't necessarily want to teach him that he can have everything he wants. Also, our families are very generous with him and in past years Christmas has had to be spread out over days to get the presents opened and given the appropriate amount of attention. With all that in mind, C and I try to be a little more reserved when it comes to gift buying.

So we finally settled on THE perfect gift. The one that was slightly age inappropriate but full of awesomeness and guaranteed to procure shrieks of delight Christmas morning. Today, E told us that he'd been too naughty and that Santa wasn't going to bring him anything. Now, I'm not one to waste a perfectly good scare tactic, but on the other hand the gifts had been bought and wrapped. So I explained that Santa was more interested in childrens' efforts, and that he still had three days to try really, really hard to behave and be a good listener. If he could do that, maybe Santa would reconsider. E thought about this for a little while and then decided that even if he tried to be good, Santa would only bring him *gift of awesomeness* but not *gift I returned for being overkill and unnecessary* and so what's the point of trying to do better tomorrow? So do we stick with our values and reinforce the kid's notion that he's too naughty, or buy the plastic crap so he knows that his efforts paid off?

Also, I kind of think the kid's a super snooper and already knows exactly what he's getting. He's been a little too "on" in a lot of his statements. If that's the case, he may in fact be a sociopath in the making.

*Update* E LOVED the age inappropriate skateboard, looked for the other gift for about 2 seconds, then moved on. I worried about that WAY too long. Overall, Christmas was a success. Even got to give the "It's the thought that counts" talk. Merry Christmas everyone! Pictures soon...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bug update

We had THE ultrasound today, and Bug looks good. Two ventricles, four heart chambers, the right number of appendages, and lacking another certain "appendage." I am so excited to have some back-up around this place! C is already calling her "Baby Girl." E, on the other hand, is not so sure about this whole sister thing. As soon as I can get some good scans of the ultrasound I'll post them, so that you can all say "Awww," although if you ask me they all sort of look like a Halloween mask or a topographic map of the moon.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Oh, Christmas Tree

I grew up in a house that revered Christmas decorations. At one point, my mother had four different kinds of Christmas trees going. There was the "Angel Tree" which housed all the glass and angel ornaments and had twinkling white lights. The "Little Tree," a miniature tree complete with tiny ornaments. The "Cowboy Tree," a wrought-iron tree that held all the Southwest themed ornaments. And of course, the big tree. The big tree had all of our collected ornaments, and last time I was home a tiny statue of Mohammed Ali had replaced the star at the top. We're a little non-traditional (I think this year she's added a palm tree). In addition to the trees, there were electric poinsettas (which I still covet and hope to be gifted, hint hint), wall hangings, special dishes. The works. When I moved out, I tried to recreate the same feeling by cramming the biggest tree I've ever purchased into the smallest house I've ever lived in. C reminded me that we couldn't walk past it without snagging our clothes for most of December. Later, time and money fell short and I started making do. We had a trash bag full of generic ornaments (blue balls, which never struck me as funny until right this second) and more strings of lights than I care to admit to. But slowly we've started a respectable collection of our own. This year is the first that E has really gotten into the spirit of the holiday, and without the stress of school, I found myself getting excited about breaking open our small box. I'm always a little surprised that the box isn't bigger, I think because I remember my mom's collection and the hours it would take to decorate the tree(s). I'm working on it though, slowly but surely. It was so fun this year to show him each ornament and explain when we got it and why. He enjoyed finding the perfect place for them on the tree. And this year, this is the first year our tree is without blue balls.

I searched for this star for.ever. the first year C and I had a tree. It was the best one that 1) we could afford and 2) wasn't horrible. It's clear plastic with silver glitter. I promise it's not as tacky as it sounds. I love it, and even though there are much nicer stars out there I think we'll keep this one.

This is one of my favorites. It was a gift from my aunt the year C and I got married. The front says "Our Love Story" and then it opens to a picture from our wedding.

This is E's first ornament. That year, the week before Christmas, I freaked because I realized that we hadn't gotten him his obligatory "My First Christmas" ornament and now all the stores were sold out. Then on Christmas day we opened a gift from his uncle and alas, a Christmas miracle! The back says "2006" which was important to me because I knew eventually I wouldn't remember who's was who's. My mom's got 5 kids. I know how these things work.

I love photo ornaments. This one is of E's first visit to Santa, and the last time he looked anything less than terrified in the picture.

This one is easily one of my favorites. E was about a year and a half and his daycare put these together. Look at that face!

This yarn angel is one of the only ones I have from my mom's collection. I'm not sure how she ended up in my box, but I love her. There's also a Mrs. Claus that's made the same way.

It turns out we've got a pretty respectable collection of 49ers ornaments. At least we're finally in a place where we can display them proudly. And we've followed my mom's lead and hung a 9'ers ornament from the star.

Last year I got a little obsessed with bird ornaments. I'm not sure why. I like this one though, because last year there was a cardinal that lived in our backyard all through the winter. I also just learned that birds on a Christmas tree are supposed to be good luck.

And the newest addition, in honor of E's fascination with all things superhero. It took me two days to get this picture because E insisted on carrying it around everywhere, including sleeping with it. I see this becoming one of his own favorites, and hanging in a place of honor on his own tree someday.

It's so much fun to unearth these treasures and to slowly add to the collection. I bought a few more this year, including a Montessori-style Santa and Mrs. Claus. I'm still looking for the one that will define this year for us. I'm thinking maybe a car to symbolize the big move, or a palm tree for California. We'll see. There are other decorations that I want to share, so I'll be posting pictures every so often until Christmas. It's like virtual decorating.

Christmas is in the air

We're feeling very festive now. We got our tree last weekend, but had to wait until Thursday to decorate (gotta love working families!) Now the tree is up, the stockings are hung with care, and we're hard at work getting the Christmas cards out by New Year's. Inspired by a friend, I plan to show you a few of my favorite ornaments that we've collected over the years, but the house needs some desperate attention today and if I wait much longer CPS may be called. So until then...

Feel free to start singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." I am.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I saw this picture and had the most vivid vision of who he'll be in 10 years. He is most definately not a baby anymore. When did that happen?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where I spend way too much time talking about a cat

This is Tical. C and I took her in about 8 years ago, after a friend of ours moved and couldn't keep her. Almost immediately after she came to live with us she started gaining weight, and she really hasn't stopped since. We've tried the fancy food, the restrictive diet, we even looked into feline aerobics. If we hadn't been in school the whole time, we probably would have tried kitty lipo. But alas, she's still huge.

Tical used to keep our home rodent free, and for that I was eternally grateful and willing to put up with her girth and quirks. However, I think she's officially reached the "I have to wash myself with a stick" size. Actually, she reached that a couple years ago. Ask our vet. Nothing like paying a couple hundred bucks to learn that your cat's crusty because she's too fat to wash her own butt. So yeah, she's now "Whoa, look at that cat!" fat, which makes her a decidedly less adept huntress. And now she's just obnoxious. Really, really obnoxious. And fat. And crusty. And loud. Did I mention loud? And sneaky.

This morning was particularly bad for Tical and I, who have at best an Odd Couple type relationship these days. See, Tical's fat. And as such, she NEEDS to eat. So the split second that she senses I may be nearing consciousness she feels that it's her duty to remind me that it's time to feed the f-ing cat. She will meow incessantly until there's food in her bowl. And if there's already food in her bowl because by some miracle of God the dog didn't eat it during the night, she still needs MORE food.

I tried to fight back. I really did. I thought "I'm the human in this relationship. I am the alpha female in this house. I will call the shots around here Cat!"So I ignored her. I tried locking her out of the bedroom. Shoot, I tried locking her out of the house. You know what that damn cat did? She figured out that if she woke up the baby, now kid, then I would have to wake up too. I have been bested by a fucking cat.

So now, we've settled into this lovely routine of waking up at the butt crack of dawn, the cat meowing away while I swear and use all the words E's not allowed to repeat. I was resigned to my fate and figured she's so fat, this can't last too many more years. But this morning? She added a new trick to her morning routine. Now she wants to be let outside after she's had her morning feast. Which was fine by me. Out you go! Except. Except that now she wants to go outside, decide it's too cold/dark/wet/breezy/outside and wants back in after less than five minutes. And I think I've already shown how persistent she can be. Plus she scratches at the door. One of us is going to cave soon, and I'm thinking she's got me beat. Fuck.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just wow

Yesterday, by the grace of God, C and I both had the day off and nothing planned. We took advantage and headed to the mountains. Driving up, we saw this. Fog is really the only "hazard" around here (you know, besides earthquakes and heatstroke). This picture makes the slow drives seem worth it though. Isn't it amazing?

Friday, November 27, 2009


This was maybe one of the best Thanksgivings ever! The only think that would have made it better would have been to be closer to family. As it turned out, it was just the three of us, and it was easy and laid back and relaxed. The food was pretty delicious too! E was a big helper in the kitchen this year, helping me make the pumpkin cheesecake and cranberry sauce. C deep-fried the turkey (yum!) and no one blew up or had to be hospitalized. All in all, a total success.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how I get bogged down in the daily stuff. There's laundry to fold, dishes to wash, meals to cook, boys to wrangle, bills to pay, money to worry about, animals to ignore, work to do... The list goes on and on. If I let myself, I forget that these things are the result of all the great things that I have in my life and the things that I most thankful for.
A job. I may not love it yet, but it's getting a lot better. And I get paid to do something that I really, really like and that I'm pretty good at. There are a lot of people right now who would give anything for the same opportunity.
A house. And clothes to wash. And meals to make. And dishes to clean. Heat and running water. If the worst thing I'm worried about is affording premium cable, I'm doing alright.
The animals. They get the short end most of the time, and they take the brunt of my frustration when it gets overwhelming. But the truth is, our dog has been an amazing companion for the last ten years and doesn't ask for much in return. She's kept us safe, tolerated babies, and hung in through three interstate moves. She's a good dog. Our cat used to keep my home rodent free and play with the baby. Now she pretty much just provides comic entertainment by her sheer size and obnoxiousness, but we love her. She also makes sure that I never get used to sleeping past 6:00.
And of course my family

This guy

And this guy

And for this one too, who hasn't gotten the attention he/she deserves yet. We are so thankful for you Bug, and we can't wait to meet you!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The job

I've been stalling on this post because the jury's been out on the new job. It most definately isn't what I expected, or for that matter what I'd been told it would be. However as my husband, who has picked up a little too much psychology over the last 10 years, says, I do this with every new job. So I remain optimistic and try to find opportunities to find my own place in this new environment. So from the beginning...

The new job, and the reason that we moved, is a staff psychologist position at a large women's prison. From what I understood, I was going to be starting a chronic pain program and carrying a caseload of therapy clients. The reality is that I'm part of this program that is not quite developed yet. It's me and one other psychologist who's never worked with inmates before, which is a whole other issue. We'll talk/rant about that one later. I'm also doing this triage thing where I essentially hang out in the living units and see everyone before they get referred to a therapist. I also deal with any emergencies that may come up in my area. The kicker though? The best part? On the days that I'm on the units I may be expected to ride a tricycle. Seriously, a tricycle.

The chronic pain program, and it's other groups, are still totally undeveloped. The mental health staff is bigger than any other place I've worked, and there's all these political cliques that are complicated and super nasty. I'm working my way through them, but every day feels like I'm walking in a minefield. Also, no one uses first names. At all. Ever. So every meeting, every walk down the hallway, every silly chat in the mailroom sounds like some Monty Python skit. It's only been a couple of months since I've been able to officially use the title, but I'm already tired of being called "Doctor." On top of that, some people, including my new partner, shorten it by just calling people by their last names. So now I'm being beckoned by people just yelling "Chiconky!" in the courtyard. I don't have an office, or a desk, or even a drawer to keep my stuff. That's been pretty humbling in and of itself.

It's not all bad though. My boss seems to really like and appreciate my style (even calling me "abnormally normal"). Because the program is so new, I have the chance to develop it in a way that works for me, and because my partner is new to the population I can take more of a leadership role. The needs are so great that I can start pretty much any groups I want and there will be a need. For example, I'm going to start a group for sleep issues while I get my pain program up and running. The population is awesome and the officers have been great. I've already had quite a few really cool opportunities, like sitting in on a treatment team meeting in segregation and seeing Condemned Row. I've also met a few really great psychologists. My supervisors are great, and a lot of the staff is right out of internship. It's nice not to be in the minority.

So like I said, the jury's still out. I'm hoping that as I get more comfortable I'll begin to like the job more. It's definately not what I signed up for, and a lot of the time I'm thinking to myself "What the f*$# is going on here?", but all in all I think it will be okay. Plus, E and C are doing so well that it makes it a lot easier to put up with some of the BS. C says "There's a club for people who don't like their jobs. It's called 'Everybody' and they meet at the bar."

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Why pay for family portraits when you can get gems like these?

Have you ever seen a cuter Superman? (He wore shoes later, I promise)

Birthday mani-pedi's with Mom. This place is special because they offer never-drying nail polish. Ask Mom, it's probably still not dry.

But we ROCKED the flip-flops, and our toes are bee-u-tee-ful!

Man, this whole post just goes to prove how redneck we still are. Now I have to go shovel dinner off the road out front.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pictures from the move

So first, I forgot to get any pictures of the truck, both leaving and arriving. Fail. So picture in your mind a long semi-trailer packed to the brim with boxes and furniture, then covered with camping tarps. On the top are all the things we forgot to pack, thrown wherever they'd fit. The laundry hamper survived, despite all indications otherwise.

Day one and he's already dubious

C, true to form, golfing at a rest stop

And breaking in the new front yard.

There aren't many pictures from the trip itself. What you missed is E likely having swine flu for the first half, and then us driving like bats out of hell through Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada.

The truck arrived that night and was unloaded the next day. Everything came out fairly well, with just a few casualties.

We're getting more settled in, but there are still boxes in every corner. I may end up throwing blankets over them and calling them "occasional tables" I don't think anyone will notice, especially not if I start collecting porcelain dolls and using doilies.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

We're Here!

After a VERY long road trip, we finally made it to Fresno on Thursday night. Highlights after Denver included Wyoming, which is lovely, Utah and Nevada, which are not, and driving through Yosemite National Park in the middle of the night. We hope to see it in the daylight someday, as we hear it's beautiful. I do not love driving mountain passes, or letting other people drive, and so I was a teensy bit nervous as my mother drove the van over the pass (again, I know, What self-respecting Colorado girl? and Dude, deal with your control issues... etc.) I kept reminding myself that she'd been doing this for years and was feeling a little better when she turns to me and says "If you look carefully, you can see the gremlins in the trees!" At that moment I thought, "Well at least they'll find our bodies somewhere pretty and I have clean underwear on." Turns out she was not delusional and we made it safely. The house is great (thanks Dave!) and the neighbors are already friendly but eccentric. There was a brief encounter with cockroaches but that's been resolved. So now we're just unpacking and trying to figure out how to get around. The town is nice but very urban. The weather is amazing, 70s and 80s since we got here. Pictures and more details will come soon. First impression though, I think we're going to like it here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On the road again...

Just a quick update: We left Minnesota on Saturday (at 5:30) and made it to Iowa. The next day we took in the beautiful landscape of Nebraska. Highlights included a gas station that catered, the most roadkill I've ever seen, and a water tower painted like a space ship. Truly, those were the highlights. Yesterday we got into Denver. We had planned to stay with my grandmother, but given E's illness and the small, but present, possibility of it being H1N1 we decided to get a hotel instead. C was able to get together with a couple of his old friends from back home and E and I spent the day laying in bed and watching TV. Tomorrow we're off again.

E seems to be getting a little better, or at least slightly less pathetic. The animals are faring well, and the cat is getting used to living in the car. Both cars are holding out, and the drivers aren't doing too bad either. We're still hoping to make California by Friday. Fingers crossed!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Saying goodbye sucks

Tomorrow we are planning to hit the road and head back West. I'm really excited for the trip and the next chapter, but I've been in denial about actually having to say goodbye to the friends that we've made here. E woke up sick, and so had to miss the last day of school. The first tears were shed as I packed up his cubby and said goodbye to his great teachers and wonderful director. His teachers had a going away gift for E, and E gave his class blue cookies. It's amazing what a difference a good daycare makes, and I'm hoping we're as lucky in California.

Then I went to have coffee with my best Minnesota friend and her beautiful little girl. I think I'm still in denial about leaving these guys.

The trailer is packed and has been picked up. I'm still working on getting us organized and the cars packed, but it looks like we're actually going to have to leave. So Minnesota, thanks for being so good to us. I will gladly be mocked for the accent and feel offended whenever anyone invokes Fargo as being a good example of the state. Oh geez. And in true Minnesota fashion, I will always say "This isn't cold! Remember when it hit -35, -55 with the windchill?"

*It also sucks to be sick when there's no TV or furniture. REALLY hoping he gets better soon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dude. Seriously?

This is what we woke up to this morning. I haven't decided whether to be happy or not, but I am a little worried about the movers on Thursday. In unrelated news, it's supposed to be 71 in California today.

And just for my own accountability, I haven't been entirely successful in procrastinating. Those of you who were lucky enough to witness our preparations for moving to Minnesota will appreciate that this is the bulk of our boxes, total. Really. Our house in Oregon was like an episode of "Hoarders."
And this is the Goodwill pile. Again, I think this shows a lot of personal growth. Last time we moved I had 3 garage sales and still donated a cubic ton of crap.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can you tell I'm procrastinating?

Yeah, so no blog posts in months, then you get three in two days. That could only mean one thing. I have other shit I should be doing. With my thesis, it was cleaning. Dissertation was first exercising (good) and then baking (negated the exercising). Moving is obsessively refreshing Twitter and catching up on blog posts. And a renewed interest in 90210 and Gilmore Girls reruns.

Oh that's right. Moving. We're moving to California (I know, WTF? where did that come from? what self-respecting Colorado girl? and all that). Actually we're moving to California next week. Hence the procrastination. I HATE packing. Hate it with the passion of a thousand burning suns. Or not. I like the organizational part, but I go through emotional phases while I do it (come on, I'm a doctor now. You knew this was coming). First, I'm all gusto and get-to-it-ness. This leads to the Oregon in me coming out and deciding that we are evil disgusting materialistic consumers and "why the hell do we need all this crap, whine, whine, self-rightous rant and compensatory recycling." Then I find my ass glued to the couch for a week with so many more *important* things to do *(see above re: 90210). From there I freak the f--- out, rendering myself completely paralyzed by anxiety and alienating all who know me with my amazing level of bitchiness. This inevitably leads to illness, leaving me whiny and useless. After that, I usually return to being a normal human being, and pull it off at the last minute. So the truck comes Wednesday and I'm just getting over a cold. We'll see how it goes.

I ended up taking a job at a women's prison in California, where they want me to start a chronic pain program. This is so exciting and so grown-up that I still have a hard time believing that I'm talking about myself. We found a house (thanks to my dad and brother who made sure there were no crack houses or dirty brothels next door), and C was able to transfer to a good position. E will stay with the same daycare company and so hopefully the transition will go okay. Fingers crossed. It seems a little bizarre to be moving somewhere none of us have ever been, but this is how we roll.

I'm excited that I was able to find a position in a prison, and even more excited that I get to continue working both with women and with the chronic pain patients. There aren't many, if any, chronic pain programs in prisons, so I get to blaze my own trail. California prisons are huge and well known for their "atmosphere" and so I'm interested to see how this will be different. Obviously going from a population of 500 to a population of 4,000 will be a big deal. California also has the furloughs, which means a lot of unpaid days off. It could be so much worse, so I'm just rolling with that part. Being me, I'm more concerned with whether I have to carry a clear bag and if there's a strict dress code. It's all about priorities.

E and C are excited about the change. C, who was ready to leave Minnesota by the end of November last year, and E, who says that he's ready for "fun in the sun." I'm not sure what he means, but he also wants to go surfing, take swimming lessons, and have a birthday party. I'm not sure how much he understands, but he's been a trooper through the chaos.

So yeah, should probably go pack some more boxes. Or just shovel it all out the door. Either way.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pretty sure this is where the gray hairs are coming from

AKA: Parents of the Year

Minnesota State Fair - the belated edition

Around here, the State Fair is a Big. F-ing. Deal. Although it was over a month ago, life has been super crazy and so this is the first chance I've had to load pictures.

The butter sculpture of the Minnesota State Fair Queens and Princesses

My turkeys

The view from the sky tram

Cheese curds. Our local delicacy and so, so good! You can practically feel your arteries hardening.

E played two games and won two prizes. The kid's a shark.

And then... he spotted it. He immediately wanted to ride this. I had my doubts, because he's not always known for his fearlessness. This time last year he wanted to ride a pony ride and I ended up having to sprint along side holding his hand. Embarrassing AND exhausting. Double Win! However, we figured we'd give it a shot.

I'm not sure I've ever seen him wait this patiently

And he's off!

Doesn't this just make you feel happy? He still talks about it. I guess he's got a little fearlessness in him afterall.