The other day, while examining a patient, he mentioned the name of a specialist he had recently visited, to which I responded, "Oh yes! I know him really well. In fact, he's a friend of mine." The foreign born patient, most recently from New York, kind of laughed to himself, and in his lovely accent said, "Oh yes, I forget that everyone in this town seems to know one another."
Though, the connection in this instance, isn't surprising at all, as I was the referring doctor, the observation from the patient remains significant. And true. And what I love most about my town.
Yesterday, my second born, requested we go to the "burrito place with red sprite". He was talking about Ninfa's. A quite literal, hole in the wall, family owned and operated, tiny little, as authentic as they come Mexican food restaurant that serves warm, fresh, handmade, melt-in your mouth tortillas instead of the "traditional" chips and salsa. These are the "burritos" to which Curtis referred, and the "red Sprite"? Strawberry Fanta. Seeing as I have a 2 hour lunch break on Fridays, how could I resist the opportunity?
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Scratch that. A few questions. Ok A LOT of questions. Like:
At what age do they stop crying!? Because at nearly 7 years, Brock still cries, probably EVERY DAY. Curtis every day, a few times even. George, about the same as Curtis. Mitch, every 2-3 hours, or every hour of you count his scream. And Diana. Well, she's a baby.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Back in 2010, I was determined to get a unique family photo. I wanted it to be "real" and almost have a "dark" feel to it. I wanted it fairly obviously photoshopped. I really wanted this photo just for myself, something that I felt really captured "us". I tried to describe this photo to Matt. I tried to find examples of what I was even talking about...none of which really existed in the exact form I was looking. But he seemed to understand what I was describing, and said, I know just the photographer to do this, Chris Mullins. So he talked to Chris, and we scheduled a day to do it.
The result blew us (and Chris, I think) away. We were astounded and in love. Every single tiny detail in that photo was US!! The dogs, the cat, the kids, the smiles, the mess. I found that photo to be the most beautiful, perfect image I had ever seen. So, naturally, I had to share it. We wanted the photo to be untouched, no writing on it. I also wanted to send it to a lot of people. Therefore, we opted for a simple postcard at Christmas. I am not the most "green" person, but when I see the opportunity to send 200 cards, minus 200 envelopes, I take that opportunity.
This postcard has become somewhat "famous" in my tiny world. There are expectations out there. People want to know what our next card will be, sometimes offering ideas. When Chris walked in to photograph our 2014 version, he said, "Hey guys. Another year, another baby!" As I was pregnant with #5 at the time. For a brief moment, I had almost come to dread the creation of our yearly Christmas card, as I feel the pressure to out-do the previous years. Then, I think about the first one. 2010. How excited I was to just take a family photo, a photo that captures "us", for us to keep forever. And share for fun. So, I got over the expectations. I got over my own need to compete, and always go the extra mile, and the perfectionism. I decided, you know what? I have been dying for a family photo at the tree farm we have visited for 9 years now to cut down our tree.
And, here my friends, you have it. The 2015 version of Us.
And it's perfect.
Friday, January 1, 2016
Now, one might be intimidated. Anxious. Nervous. Concerned. Worried. Or any combo of the aforementioned when it comes to just flying with a baby, let alone an unknown delay. To be certain, I would have been with ANY of the prior 4 children. But Diana? Nope. Not even the slightest bit concerned. With every one of the boys I had at least one moment (or a few in Brock and George's case) where it took quite a bit of effort to console them. So much effort that I was sweating. That I was panicked. That I set them down and left the room, so as not to shake them. That I handed them off to Matt after an hour and said, "here, it's your turn." This really only needs to happen once, for you to be somewhat apprehensive of the event ever occurring again. Therefore, a flight alone, with any of the boys, would have given me a moment of hesitance. But Diana?
We all got off and hung around the gate, waiting for information. We were delayed almost 4 hours. By the time we were boarding again, Diana had a following and multiple offers to be row-mates. You see, she never cried. Not once. Why would she? She was being held the entire time. She had nearly one hundred people looking at her and smiling at her and talking to her. She loves people. I always feel like the general attitude is somewhat negative when it comes to a baby on a plane. Not this baby. I'm writing this almost 3 months later, and nothing has changed.
I have no hesitance leaving her with sitters. I often wonder if she is eating enough, because she never seems upset or hungry. She lets me put bows in her hair. She let's her brothers hold her. Unfortunately, she finds those fools hilarious. She wants in on the action, yet is fine as a bystander. She truly seems content, at all times. When it's bed time, I feed her, walk upstairs and lay her in her bed. Then she falls asleep calmly, only to wake up 10+ hours later, well after her brothers, with quiet coo's (and sometimes an arm or leg hanging out of the crip with her pacifier on the floor). It's bizarre and almost unnatural how easy she is. Or, as my sister has lovingly started to call her, "a dud".
On a Sunday in May of 2014, with an extremely RARE moment of Matt and I aloneness, we stumbled upon an open house. I was finishing residency in a couple months, we had 4 boys in a tiny Cape Cod that suited us for now, but would require lots of work to make it ideal for us in just a few short years. So we thought, why not start viewing the market now? Start seeing our options for our price range? Of course, we instantly fell in love. The house met nearly every qualification I had in my head (upstairs laundry, 2 car attached garage, open floor plan, master suite with walk in closet, 5 bedrooms, updated kitchen, maintained elements of the 100-year old home charm) PLUS the price was right. Unheard of in that area.
Without much further ado, we set out to see about obtaining a loan. Nightmare. Word to the wise, check your credit score at some point between college and graduating residency...turns out little outstanding debt (like $2 at the public library) start to add up, big time. Matt spent countless hours, and I drove all the way to and from Topeka, with all the children, to try and get things on the up and up...we still fell 2 points short of the goal credit score. The house was out of reach. There is simply no way we could list, show and sell our Prairie Village home while we both continued to work full time, and the house was full of children.
We moved on, and mostly forgot about the home as well as the idea of moving anytime soon. Until, in July, the owners reached out to us because they "felt we belonged in the home", with information on a bank that might offer a Doctor's loan. And, they did! Before we knew it, we were negotiating and buying a house. By the time it was all said and done, we had a contract in August, with a close date of September 29th. Sounds scrumptiously serendipitous, wonderful. Perfect.
Now, what I am failing to mention in this summary of how we came to live at 6022 Belleview Avenue, is ALL of the rest of life that is happening in conjunction with the home-buying saga. In June, I was frantically trying to finish all my requirements for residency graduation at the end of the month. I had not signed a contract yet for a job. So, I also was busy getting applications sent, interviewing and compiling info and creating a schedule for my temporary job. The week of graduation, I found the perfect job, and signed a contract to start September 1st. I worked random days through July and August. My oldest started Kindergarten, at a school just 3 blocks away from our OLD house, 11 minutes drive from the new one. Then, after working my new job for 1 week, I found out I was pregnant with our fifth child.
Before I knew it, I was 4 weeks into a new job, 8 weeks pregnant (aka: miserable and worthless), and packing up our home to move all of our stuff as quickly as possible into the new home, so we could prep, list and sell our old house before the dead of Winter (the housing market down time). I remember multiple days of shaking from exhaustion. Matt worked tirelessly at the old house to paint, tidy up and perform multiple little handyman tasks. He was at the PV house all weekends and evenings. I've never seen him so tired.
Meanwhile, I was at the new house, unpacking boxes, caring for 4 children, first trimester pregnant, trying to learn the ins and outs of a completely unfamiliar space. This was not home. Our old house was no longer home. We were in some kind of limbo land, where no space felt friendly, or inviting, or comfortable, or warm, or relaxing. Our entire life was unsettled and stressful. New job, new home, pressure to sell old home, no money, new pregnancy, new school schedule. On top of all this, the one piece that hadn't changed, my rock, our nanny would be going on maternity leave in October, so I had those arrangements to make. Thank goodness Matt had a nice, steady day job. I will never take for-granted, the wonderful feeling of security a home offers. Whether it's too big or too small, or dirty or clean, old or new, it's home.
Matt's parents helped immensely. My mother and siblings were around almost daily, helping me organize and unpack. Driving children too and from school. My head was never above water, but somehow, with the help of my entire community, I was able to bob up and down, with brief moments to gasp in some air. I was frustrated with so many things. Even things a minimal as waking up in the middle of the night, getting out of my mattress on the floor to go to the bathroom seemed to thrust horrific reminders in my face at just how foreign a place I was in, where was the damn light switch!? The new dishwasher was supposedly more high tech, but nearly impossible to load logically. Our giant oven and stove range wreaked of gas if you used the right side. Outlets are scarce and poorly placed. The stairs had a giant open space death trap on the first landing...that remains to this day, and I'm really not sure how or why no one has plunged off the side, but I'm not going to question it. The yard? It's oddly shaped. There's no fence. There is no great solution as to where to add a fence. For 15 months, we have been personally walking the dogs outside to go to the bathroom. I still miss opening a door and letting them run free, without a worry.
I missed walking through my front door, into our cute, well decorated and painted living room. I had grown to love the giant crack in our front door, and our non-working doorknob. I knew where not to step to avoid making creaking sounds on the hard woods. My bathroom was like an in home spa, the shower perfect. The little galley kitchen drove me crazy, everyday, but, it had helped store and prepare food for my family for so many years. Each room had a purpose, design and order. We could pick up and clean the house in less than 45 minutes if needed. For so many months, I remained somewhat bitter about our seemingly "hasty" decision to move. We simply did not need that in our lives at that time. We kind of still don't. And, there are still moments have to remind myself that we did it because opportunity knocked.
Though finally, this Christmas, it became evident, things had finally shifted somewhere along the way. I felt good about how my home looked for the Holidays. I was actually excited to invite people over for our 10th Annual Sweater Party. While giving a home tour, I was walking backwards, and right as the person started to warn me there was a drop in the floor, I automatically and subconsciously adjusted my step, because I knew the floor. As I continued the tour, I simply accepted that rooms were not fully purposed, picked up, unpacked, painted. I walked through the backdoor on Christmas day, into our awkward entryway, carrying all of our gifts from our 3 family events, and did not feel that overwhelming panic about where to put everything.