"So throw away those Lamentations,
We both know them all too well.
If there's a Book of Jubilations,
We'll have to write it for ourselves.."

-Josh Ritter

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nora's First (Real) Christmas

This was the year. The year that Nora finally got what Christmas was all about. We read "Charlie Brown's Christmas" and sang carols and watched "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street." We ate and laughed with friends and family. We endured 24 inches of snow that were incredibly timely. Nora snowshoed through our backyard and the woods of Two Harbors. She made a snow fort with the neighbors. She set up "tea parties" for anyone who would sit still long enough and then offered them beer and hot dogs. Errrrrr...maybe we need to work on the TEA part of the tea party. (I have a video of this that I've been trying to upload for about a week to no avail.)

All in all, it was a wonderful holiday. Being stranded in the snow meant that we were helping shovel our neighbors out of their driveways instead of staying warm by the fire. It also meant that we had unplanned dinner parties and extra people around, just because it felt right to be together.

I'd like to think that Nora learned a little bit about "community" this Christmas. I've felt fairly rudderless since moving here- part of why I haven't been posting much, I'm sure. However, we chose this town and this neighborhood and this house because it felt like we could become a part of it all. The last week has made Duluth feel a little more like home.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Is it Christmas today?

That is the question that wakes me up every morning these days. Nora is super-excited about this whole Christmas thing, And why not? I'm more in the Christmas spirit than I've been for many years.
The lights! The snow! the tree! Company! Egg nog! Baking cookies!
It is pretty wonderful.
I think what has Nora so excited is the large red box next to the Christmas tree. It contains (shhhh- don't tell her!) a wooden play kitchen made by her Grandpa Dan. I don't think I've ever been so excited about a gift that I was neither giving nor receiving. I just can't wait to see her face when she opens it!
I hope it looks something like this:

Monday, October 19, 2009

Still processing

On Saturday morning I had the pleasure of helping to field dress, drag and hang a buck that our friend Cindy shot. I was hunting on her land, and I'd been sitting in a stand for a little over 2 hours, basically just freezing my tail off. She got home after an overnight shift, saw the buck grazing in her back yard, grabbed her bow, walked right up to it and shot him from 10 yards away. Then she texted me to come help.

Life is not fair. Doesn't she look happy, though?

In any case, Kat and I thought this would be a good chance to learn how to process deer. So we went over Sunday afternoon and processed it with Carl & Cindy. It was an all night afair (we didn't get home until after 11:00). But we did have fun, and we learned a lot.

We decided to go ahead and bring Nora with. We figured it would be a good chance for her to learn where our food comes from. We don't want to scare her or make her a vegetarian, but we do want her to understand that the meat we eat comes from a living creature and that it should be respected.

Whatever our intentions, this is the picture that will be forever singed into my brain when I think about the whole experience.

We're either really good parents, or really, really, truly awful parents. The jury is still out.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Nora's growing up (she said with a mix of delight and dismay). She has kept me busy and guessing the last week or so. Just when I think that I know what to expect, she goes and poops on the potty. Then, of course, she refuses to even try for the next week. It's toddlerdom at it's finest.

She did an aboutface on the whole water issue, too. I was beginning to think that she had seen "The Wizard of Oz" when I wasn't around and had a phobia of being melted by a sacchriny girl from Kansas. Now, suddenly, we're in for a tantrum if she doesn't get her bath. She likes to dnk her head, put her whole face in the water, splash, blow bubbles....I attribute this to that one page at the end of "Green Eggs and Ham" where Sam-I-Am and the unnamed guy are submerged.

Water and pooping are fine now and then, but Nora's new all-around obsession is letters. She likes picking them out of books, finding them on stop signs and attempting to draw them. "O" is clearly superior- and I'm sure that has nothing to do with how easy it is to draw....She has these Eric Carle cards with letters on one side and animals on the back. She likes to point to each letter and "spell" what the animal is. Most entertaining for me as a mother are "U" (which is known exclusively as "umbrella"- as in "o-c-t-o-p-umbrella-s") and "Q" (known as "O-with-a-tail").

Oops! The toddler in question is home. Back to parenting, while it lasts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Little Things

Eric bought a new monitor for our computer. It was hooked up to our television and set up to use with a wireless mouse and keyboard. Which sounds like a great idea, but my eyes just aren't that good anymore. So we found a desk on Craig's List, plopped it in our front room (now "The Library") and set the computer up on it. And here I am. Writing and reading comfortably, without buying a new laptop. It's amazing how a change of venue can improve the tone.

Nora agrees that simple pleasures are where it's at. Nana MJ sent her a homemade froggie pillowcase for a Big Girl Pillow, a smily face bouncy ball ("My Happy Ball") and a bunch of stickers. Nora then had to Aunt Mimi, Bella, Daddy and Nana to tell them how cool this was.

It takes a little more than a bouncy ball to make me happy these days. But not much more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Why I prefer to be behind the camera

A couple of weeks ago, Eric and I returned to Pennsylvania for a friend's wedding (Hi, Heidi!). It was a gorgeous, moving ceremony at a beautiful location. Afterwards, Eric and I had another friend (Hi, Carl!) take some pictures of us. I know, it's scandalous to use this venue to remind our friends and family (Hi, Mom!) what we look like. Still, it's good to know that my image does record on film.
Then, Eric decided to take some pictures of me, as there is a distinct lack of those. For good reason, it turns out. Even the birds object to me being photographed. This is me realizing exactly how they objected.
So, you sat through that. I'll throw you a bone. Here's a shot of Nora relaxing in the Duluth sun in July. That's right, July.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making Amends

So, I've been called to task by a number of people for not posting anything here. I know, I know....Life has had a way of getting away from me. If you, too, are irritated by my lack of blogging I recmomend one of the following:
1. Call St Mary's/Duluth Clinic Medical System. Ask for Information Services. Tell them to stop firewalling my blog.
2. Fly/drive/walk to my house. Clean it. Cook dinner. Put Nora to bed. Because that's about all I do outside of work. My life isn't really that interesting, but it takes time, right?
3. Remember, I blog only enough to assuage the guilt. Escalating levels of guilt caused by frequent reminders are likely your best bet.
4. Buy me a new laptop. What? It might help...

It isn't true that life isn't all that interesting, actually. Lately, we've had grandparents in town, flown to PA, leaving Nora in Minneapolis with the fam, and yesterday, we went on a 30 mile bike ride. Nora actually tolerated that quite well. For which, we took her for ice cream. Which she enjoyed immensely and hasn't stopped talking about.

Without further ado, here are some of the pictures from the above-referenced grandparental visit. They are Grandpa Dan and Nora on Rock Knob in Hartley Park, (a marginally toddler-appropriate walk from our house), Eric, Kat, Nora and Nana on Boulder Lake (a short drive from our house), Nora at the PortLand Malt Shop (downtown Duluth) and Nora at Bayfront Park ( on, strangely the bayfront in Duluth). Have I mentioned that I love where we live?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The North Shore

We biked up the shore of Lake Superior ast weekend. It was a beautiful northern Minnesota day- sunny and 60s. It's a little weird for me that this is August weather, but I have to admit, it was great biking weather. Nora had a great time.

Playing near the Split Rock lighthouse:

The view from near the lighthouse:

Hanging out at Iona's Beach:

God, I love those two.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Daddy took Nora to a toy store on Friday night and told her she could pick something out. We were waiting for our food at the Greek restaurant down the street and Nora was a little more rambunctious than could be reasonably corralled with crayons and a photocopied picture of Artemis, goddess of the moon. So what do Nora return to the restaurant carrying? It is an adorable umbrella. And it fits her personality. This is what I found her playing with later on. Her "pretty jewelry" is actually hair ties that I knotted together. A hair tie makes a convincing ring, if you put a tiny clip on the outside as the jewel. Necklaces...bracelets...the possibilities are endless. Well, actually the possibilities are quite limited, but it kept her happy for a long time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


The other morning, I was getting ready for work and Nora was helping me. We brushed our teeth and I had just spit my mouthwash into the sink when Nora very seriously laid her had on my leg.
"Mommy," she said. "You forgot to floss."

Monday, August 10, 2009

A New Favorite Activity

This is at Bagley Park, about a block away from Nora's school, on the campus of University of Minnesota Duluth. I rode my bike to school this afternoon and picked Nora up, thereby discovering that my cardiovascular health is somewhat subpar. Either that or Nora has been eating cement sandwiches.
This weekend, Nora also caught her first fish (a bass) and immediately asked, "Can I touch it?" I was proud.
This evening, during dinner, she looked over at the dog and said, "Suma lick her butt. Is she hungry, Mommy?" I was less proud of that one.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Goosesteppin' to her own drummer

Parents in the audience will recognize this face as "literally saying cheese." It should be a developmental milestone, but apparently the Denver folks thought it was too ethnocentric.
Also, clearly I am a dork. Do not let the rockin' boots on my toddler mislead you.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer in Duluth

Things are great. It's hard to talk about being here without sounding like I'm bragging, but seriously- it's awesome. I never thought that I would appreciate a cooler summer, having lived in California (twice), South Carolina and Georgia. Even Pennsylvania requires air conditioning for a couple of months.

We don't even have air conditioning.

It doesn't hurt that I hate shorts with the fire of a thousand suns. I've never really been a sun worshipper like some (lookin' at you, Kristin....) and remember hiding under the beach chairs in San Diego as a child. So maybe I've just found my latitude. Or maybe I just haven't seen winter yet.

Nora loves her school, especially now that they're moving her up to the pre-school this week. We at home are hoping that the peer pressure helps initiate potty training a bit. We're trying not to do it until she's ready, but those stinkbombs of diapers are getting old....

Nora also loves riding her tricycle around the neighborhood. Her favorite destination is the school at the end of the block. They have a playground with four (FOUR!) slides. I admit, it is pretty awesome.

Eric bought a mountain bike and has been riding into Hartley Park a few times a week as a break from studying. We also got a YMCA membership and they have a Kid's Club so great that nora cries when you come to pick her up. It's a good incentive for working out. They also have a warm therapy pool that's open for free swim sometimes. I haven't introduced her to that yet, but it's definitely on the list.

Work is great. I'm on call, it's a bad weekend and I still went out to breakfast with my family, rounded in a leisurely fashion and was done by noon. That being said, it's pretty intense when I'm there, which is why I appreciate being 80% time.

Oops! Nora just woke up from her nap. We're off to ride bikes, go to the beach or do something else awesome....

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crazy Eights

So I got tagged. Here it goes....

Eight things I did yesterday:
1. Ran on a treadmill. Granted it was only for 4 minutes and I was in a sling that off-loaded thirty pounds of my weight, but still...
2. Took lots of clindamycin for the MRSA abscess ON MY FREAKING FACE.
3. Showed up for a 7:00 meeting that didn't exist. For the second week in a row.
4. Was told by a teenager that I "seem pretty cool." (Really?)
5. Got a running shriek from a little girl when I picked her up at daycare and felt like a Beatle.
6. Saw this video in a work-sponsored format:
7. Played the piano. Poorly.
8. Worked with dying people and their families and somehow felt peace and joy that has never existed at work for me before.

Eight things I'm looking forward to:
1. A potty trained toddler
2. Not feeling like an intern on July first
3. Being able to ride my bike faster, hike more and run up stairs
4. Having another kid. Someday. When amnesia reagarding certain two-year-olds has set in
5. Making friends
6. Having our yard cleanup done so that we can start with the fun part of reclaiming a yard gone to seed.
7. Oddly, Monday
8. Also oddly, winter.

Eight things I wish I could do:
1. Sleep past 7:00
2. Build a greenhouse today, right now, right here. Or maybe I should change my answer to "learn patience"
3. Walk in the woods every single day. Preferably without limping, but I'm really not picky
4. Write a book
5. Figure out why the dogs just went completely ballistic
6. Raise parrots again
7. Travel outside the hemisphere
8. Ride my bike to work

Eight shows I watch (or watched and still love):
1. The Office
2. 30 Rock
3. Six Feet Under
4. The Boondocks
5. The Daily Show
6. Flight of the Conchords
7. Space Ghost's Cartoon Planet
8. Who needs television? I guess this is why the dogs freaked out:

That would be a freaking bear in our freaking driveway. Seriously, while I was writing this. Eric just ran in with the pictures on his phone. He was out in the front yard pulling a dead tree out of the ground with his truck. (Of course he was- why not?)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The back talk never stops

Nora is growing so fast right now that I swear the way her clothes fit changes while she's at daycare. Unfortunately, all my cute pictures of her are on my dead-as-a-doornail phone. I promise to post some when it is sufficiently charged.

In the meantime, I should relate some of the particularly amusing/appalling/adorable things that have some out of her mouth lately.

1. "Mommy, teeter-totter is a funny word, huh?"

2. "I do not like my new friends. I like Lilly McCord."

3. This one goes in the "proof that she is her father's daughter" file. We've been working on potty training. She gets a mini M&M when she goes on the potty. Nora loves her M's. On the long drive from St. Paul to Duluth yesterday, she said, "Daddy, I need to go potty." Despite his best effort, Daddy did not get her to a bathroom in time and she didn't make it. This made her very upset. Daddy wiped away the tears, told her it was okay, and gave her an M&M for trying. At which point her sorrow turned to blind rage. She shouted "No!" and threw the M&M back at Daddy. A 30 minute tantrum ensued.

Don't placate me, Daddy.

4. "Mommy, don't walk there. I'm cleaning the floors." (She was, in fact, cleaning the floor. Silly Mommy.)

5. Nora has a really annoying habit of banging her fork on her plate at dinnertime. She knows it drives us nuts. So she started into it at dinner last night. We were talking, so we ignored it at first and kept talking. The banging fork got progressively louder. Finally, Kat shot her "the look," and simply said, "Nora?" To which Nora replied, "I go time out now!" then ran to her T.O. chair, set the timer, waited quietly for 2 minutes, turned off the timer, came out and said, "I all better." She was delightful for the rest of the night.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mimi goes to Duluth

Mimi and Bella came to visit this week. Nora's thrilled. She's played for hours with Bella and her "castle" (the plastic playcube the old owners left in our yard that we relocated to the basement), her swingset, her "fewfic"(the piano they left for us), and her chaulkboard. In general, she's been delighted to show Bella "Nora's new house." Best of all, I think they actually like eachother.

Today the Gimp had to work (to, you know, pay for Nora's new house). So us able-bodied members of the family got to go to the playground, then take a hike down the Chester Creek Trail. This is a 1.6 mile trail a few minutes from our house that starts at Chester Bowl (a neighborhood ski park and playground), then winds alongside a scenic little creek with 7 waterfalls and a couple of neat little pedestrian bridges along its way down the hill. Thrilling stuff if your 2. Or 5. Or 32. Or 38 for that matter. Best of all, the trail ends at Burrito Union, which is far and away the best burrito joint I've ever been to, putting even Tortilla's (the best burrito in the history of Atlanta, may she rest in peace) to shame. It was a really nice way to spend the morning.

Something about the light today made for fantastic pictures of the kiddos. And we know that's what you're all here for anyway, so dig in!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Daddy Time

It was a rainy day in Duluth, today. Daddy, god bless him, took Nora shopping for what was planned as a short run to a store called Menard's. It's like Home Depot, but they inexplicibly also have groceries. And apparently, an indoor playground.

Many hours later, they arrived home, shortly before I called the police to start looking for their mangled bodies. They were delighted and tired and had many pictures from Daddy's phone.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We're Back!

We finally got a phone line and got our internet working this morning. The move to Duluth is officially complete. Nora is coping well with the change and seems very excited about "Nora's new house." Every once in a while she asks for Lilly to come over and play and she does seem to be more attached to Suma than usual, but no meltdowns or tantrums about going home.

She has been to her new school three days now and had no hesitation about jumping right in. She especially likes that it's less than a mile from home and that Daddy has been riding her to school every morning on his bike.

She has a swingset in the backyard, a plastic playcube with a slide in the basement (for those snowy days we know are coming) and a park 100 feet down the street. She doesn't understand why someone broke most of the swings at the park (neither do I), but she insists that Daddy will fix them later. I just smile and nod.

She also seems to like the piano that the old owners left. I thought that her banging on the keys would drive me to drink, but it's actually not nearly as annoying as I thought. It must be because she has a gift for music. Excuse me- fewfic.

Nanna and Papa have been with us for the last week and helped ease the transition greatly. The boxes are all out of the house and have been recycled. I can't say that I can find things the first try or two, but I can say that everything is unpacked. We've started putting pictures on the walls, so it feels more like home every day.

The neighbors have appeared in droves to introduce themselves, bring us goodies, offer babysitting and invite us to parties. This neighborhood is incredibly friendly. The small town vibe definitely exists in that everyone knows everyone else, but it's a very inclusive feel. I feel like they're excited to have us around.

I start work tomorrow at St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic. Our biggest order of business for this afternoon is to figure out how to get there. One of the main thoroughfares in town, Woodland Avenue, is closed for construction. All of the tenuous grasp on the local geography that I thought I had crumbles when I have to detour.

And because I know that there are those of you who want to know, the detour takes you directly past the first house that we put an offer on. It is, in fact, still for sale.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's that time again!

The sun is out (in general, not today), the days are warm and getting Nora inside involves bribery and/or violence. But the pictures are great!

Friday, May 22, 2009

The hooligan

Last night was my birthday and Eric took me out to dinner. Afterward, we picked Nora up at the babysitter's house. All the way home, she was repeating, "Don't pull the firm 'larm. No, Nora. Don't touch it. Nora pulled the fire 'larm..."
Should I be worried about this?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bad Doctor, Bad Mommy

We took Nora to see Dr. Dan today, which is apparently more exciting than Christmas. Even getting her second Hepatitis A couldn't keep her down for long.
I did manage to feel completely incompetent when I took down Nora's diaper and she had a raging yeast infection that I didn't even know was there. I had been treating a ringworm on her thigh for the last few days, but no yeast.
Oh, well. Such is life, right? I know you don't care about my Mommyangst.
Here's what we all really want to hear: 30 pounds (75%ile), 34.25 inches (50%ile) which is how she has charted all the way along. She's growing and developing normally. Nay, exquisitely.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cute, right?

I know, I can't believe that Eric and I made that one either. I had to say it before someone else did.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New-found Counting skills

Nora saw her father naked the other night and prolcaimed, "Daddy has one...two...three legs!" Elmo would be proud. Daddy certainly was.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Rainy Day Nora, Again

I submit to you further proof that Nora prefers to be outside in any weather to being inside. She dragged Nana out to play bubbles in the pouring rain yesterday. And to ride her tricycle. And to stomp around. She saw nothing unusual or wrong with this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Behold, Spring!

I made the long trek out to my garden yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful day and I just had to see how the plants were growing. As I pulled up the weeds that were most threatening to my young plants, Nora decided to join me in her diapered toddler glory.

Some may say that toddlers and vegetable gardens don't mix. I disagree. Every spring onion that was trampled became a tasty treat- right out of the ground! And some of my spinach may have been beheaded in the name of snackdom as well.
Nora went to bed last night talking about "minich" and "munyuns" and informed me quite seriously that the beans are not delicious yet. They will be, kid. They will be.

Monday, April 27, 2009

How do you keep a toddler happy on an airplane?

Elmo and juice boxes.
And for some reason, Nora felt that keeping her jacket on was a critical part of this equation.
But it makes for a cute picture, no?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nora and Bella

While we were in Minnesota this week, we visited with family, including Nora's cousin Bella. Nora thought this was awesome. Check out the adoration on her face in this picture. She had a two-fisted death grip on Bella's hand and refused to let go, even after falling asleep to the point of snoring.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Nora sit on the Bearplane?

We're heading out to Duluth tomorrow morning to look for houses. I'm half deliriously excited and half ready to ralph on my shoes from anxiety. Nora, on the other hand, can hardly contain herself. I wanted to warn her about our plans for the weekend, so last night at dinner, I told her all about going on the airplane and seeing family and staying in a hotel with a pool.
This morning, she woke me up with "Bearplane?" And we aren't even packed yet. It's a good thing that she's never been anywhere nice.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Who needs a zoo?

I had to laugh today watching DVR episodes of "Flight of the Conchords." For those of you who have seen the show, that may seem like an exceedingly obvious statement. I am speaking of a particular episode where they refer to a pet shop as "the cheap zoo."
Yes, I have done this. And here are pictures of Nora and Nana at "the cheap aquarium," aka Bass Pro Shop. Before you judge me, look at how happy Nora is!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Mommy's stir crazy!

And what happens when cabin fever sets in? Sewing!
I made Nora this dress over the weekend. There are three pictures, because there isn't one single good picture, on account of Nora being a two-year-old moving target and all.
Today, I made a hat to match the dress and wrap shirt from the same pattern. Sorry- no pictures of those as yet.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dinnertime conversations

Nora is feeling better. She is eating and drinking, pestering Nana for inappropriate things (Your blankie? Really? But you're in the bathtub....) and doing her best impersonation of a whirling dervish.

It's definitely nice to have her back. She's back to school and seems really happy to be there. She likes to tell me about the things she did that day. Becky went down the slide? Lilly jumped? Monkey said, "no-no" and Nora said "What?" Sure. Why not? I have no idea if a two year-old actually has an imagination or if these things actually happened in some odd way.

At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. I just love the way she collapses into peals of laughter everytime she tells me how she yelled at a cow. I'm sure that when I'm a demented shriveled old lady, you'll still be able to make me laugh by saying, "Get DOWN, Monkey!" Particularly if you hold a stuffed primate over your head when you do it. Of course, I'd probably laugh at that anyway.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sick puppy

Nora has been as sick as a puppy with parvo the last three days. She's spiking fevers, puking, having diarrhea and complaining of her tummy hurting. Here, I didn't even know she had that vocabulary.

Through it all, she has been a champ. She is a sweet, sweet kid underneath all the toddlerhood and I never love her more than when she is retching on me. Weird, but true. There's something about a cuddly, sweet, sick kid who has no energy for boundry testing or independence fostering that makes that bond grow just a little stronger.

I'm so proud of how cheerful she's been and how easily she's adapted to my limitations. I never would have fathomed that she could possibly carry that over when we both are feeling bad. But she has. And it might just be evolution making sure that she doesn't end up in a dumpster, but I like to think that Nora is just turning out to be a really cool person.

Monday, March 23, 2009


That's pretty much the only way to describe the events of the last 3 days, without swearing. Overall, it's been an amazing, incredibly good weekend for our little family. But I don't think I'd want to go through it again.

The first night after Kat's surgery was a little rocky. Her pressure sucked, her hematocrit sucked, she was wifty, she either itched or was in pain or both, she couldn't get comfortable, and there was someone in the room about twice an hour all night, so sleep was out of the question. For both of us. Saturday was a little better, but still pretty rough. Sunday she turned the corner. She looked like my wife again. She was even busting my balls over the nominally perceptible, so I knew she was feeling like herself.

I had to take call for the weekend, which made the lack of sleep a little more painful, but I was fortunate enough to be on call with a superstar junior resident who busted his tail to make sure that I was able to devote most of my attention to what was going on with Kat. It's sort of been a theme for us lately... friends and family busting their tails to get us through this. We are incredibly blessed.

This morning, when I got to the hospital, I took one look at her and knew we were taking her home today. Which was good, because I couldn't take it anymore. I had to get her out of there. I pulled strings and rattled cages all morning to speed up the process of getting her epidural out, getting her through PT and OT, getting her all the equipment she'll need, getting her lovenox, and getting her out the door. I used just about every trick in the manual they give to irritating, overly-driven surgical residents on the first day of internship. But it worked. We were home by 11:30, which is nothing short of a miracle by HMC standards.

Let me just say, Kat was an absolute champ through all of this. Bear in mind that someone fractured her pelvis 3 days ago. This morning, she dressed herself, learned how to walk with a walker and with crutches, learned how to climb stairs, then hopped in a wheelchair and said, "get me out of here."

God I love that woman.

To add to the drama of the weekend, we had two competing offers come in on the house. Today, an hour after we got home from the hospital, our realtor came to present them to us. We got one very good offer, and one that was everything we could have possibly wished for, plus more money, plus a bunch of other good things we hadn't thought of but will actually make life much better for us over the next 3 months. So we took the second offer.

The house is sold! Yippee!

Meanwhile, back at the homestead this weekend, Nora was having her way with Nanna and T-Dan. They spent a lot of time "O-side." She even convinced them to take her to the public playground in Hershey.

I'm not sure if she even noticed that Kat and I weren't home. Later she showed them around the kitchen.

"This is how we clean up after dinner, ok guys? Now put this in the dishwasher and give me something else to clean"

Although Kat was home this evening, Nora was unaware until she wandered into our bedroom after dinner to find Mommy in a Percocet and MS-contin induced haze. She crawled up on the bed to check out the whole situation and pointed out "Mommy's boo-boo" several times as she inspected the enormous pressure dressing overlying her left side. She was also ready for some cuddle time, and she left that little snugglefest to go take a bath only after a good deal of stalling. My favorite moment of the day came about a half hour later, though, when she emerged after her bath topless, with a green band-aide stuck to her belly, crawled back onto Mommy's bed, and pointed out, very ernestly, "Nora's boo-boo." See Mommy, I have one too. We're relating to each other.

God I love that kid.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Regrets

Let me start with a warning that this post is going to be heavier than most. It's been a tough day in the Lauer camp.

Last night, we had a long, painfully involved discussion with Kat's orthopedic surgeon about whether we really ought to go through with the PeriAcetabular Osteotomy, or whether we should try a less invasive procedure first, with the thought in mind that she'd have a shorter recovery, and if it didn't work we could always come back again in a few months to do the PAO.

In the end, after much agony and a lot of tears, we decided to go ahead with it today. For many reasons, we needed to give Kat the best possible chance of getting better now. Though doing the bigger operation today may involve more risk and a more difficult recovery in the short term, we had to accept that. Though it may be medically safer to do so, unfortunately we just couldn't afford to take the "wait and see" approach. Kat expended an enormous amount of energy and rearranged her entire life and career to prepare for this operation. We have also been fortunate enough to have family and friends commit to making big sacrifices to help us through this. Sadly, our lives are now so mired in responsibility that it will be years before the stars realign in such a way that we'll have another opportunity to commit to this operation and its inherent recovery period. We just couldn't accept the possibility of another year or two of living with the pain, or with all of the limitations that it inflicts; no hiking, no biking, no gardening, no running around after Nora, and no chance of conceiving again. All the while, her hip could be getting worse, making the chances of a successful PAO ever more remote.

So, today was the big day. MJ and Dan came to town last night and took over Nora's care, so that Kat and I could turn our attention to her left hip. We hit the hospital doors at 5:15 this morning, she was in the OR by 7:30, and she woke up 9.5 hours later.

I was too anxious to just wait around, of course. I had to do something, so I did what I always do... I went and did some operations of my own. Right across the hall. It was a good distracter, but unfortunately we had some cancellations so I ran out of cases by lunch time. Initially, I resisted any temptation to even peek in the door of her room. Then, at about 2:00, her surgeon called me and said things were going great, and asked me if I wanted to come take a look. My stomach initially turned at the thought of seeing my wife laid open, her pelvis in pieces and her muscles detached. But then it occurred to me... what an incredible opportunity! To be able to see for myself exactly what we're up against.

To be clear, the surgeon was careful to invite me down only for the most controlled portion of the case, when everything was exposed and he could demonstrate for me what the problem was and what he had done to fix it. He wisely chose to make sure I was not in the room to see anything gruesome. I saw no bleeding, and thankfully I do not have to live with the image someone breaking my wife's pelvis.

What I did see was nothing short of amazing. I saw for myself why she was hurting so much. And I saw what he had done to fix it. I stayed for nearly two hours, and when I left I was neither disturbed nor upset. I was relieved. We made the right choice. She's going to get better.

Even as I scrubbed the adhesive from her face and the soap from from her side tonight, as I adjusted her SCD's, held her emesis basin for her and cleaned up afterwards when she missed, I felt not a hint of regret or doubt about this decision. She's comfortable now, resting quietly next to me in her hospital bed, and I'm incredibly grateful for that. Most of all, though, I'm grateful that I can sleep tonight (and for the first night in three days) knowing that her suffering from this surgery, and all the sacrifices our loved ones have made to help us through it, are not in vain.

To everyone who is pitching in, thank you. You're giving Kat a chance to take control of her life again, to reclaim her identity. This next couple of months is going to be tough, and we couldn't do it without you.

We'll try to keep this blog lighter in the future, and turn the attention back to the reason you're really all here in the first place (pictures and videos of Nora being Nora). As she mentioned in her last post, Kat keeps a separate blog for all the fussing, but that one is really just for her... tonight I just had to say my bit.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Kat's surgery

So, this is it.
It's down to the wire. Yesterday was my last day of work. Today, I go in for my pre-operative physical, x-rays and blood work. Then, tomorrow I show up at the hospital to voluntarily have my pelvis broken.
Seems like a bad idea, right? Be that as it may, it's kinda late to back out now. I've already given them 2 units of my blood.
I anticipate a lot of whining (you know, from me) and I'd really like to keep this blog positive and focused on our family life. So, if you would like to know where things stand with the surgery and recovery, or if you just enjoy my navel-gazing, head on over to mdconfessional.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My own nepharious purposes

I've been thinking a lot about the influence we have on our children. Do they come out predetermined to be feminine or masculine? Or do we subtly influence them from the moment that we slap on the pink newborn onesie? My suspicion is that it's something of a combination of the two. But leaning heavily towards the latter.

The following clip is very clearly a case of manipulation of the parental variety. Once upon a time, about 2 months ago, I posted about how Nora could now talk and thus was talking back. After a long lament about the mixed bag that parenting a toddler inherently is, my brother sent me a prophetic email. He said, "Yes, but one day, you will be able to reap endless entertainment by teaching your child to unwittingly repeat your favorite movie quotes."

Jim, this is for you:

That'll do, since she's two and probably not ready for the ones I really want to teach her. Please feel free to recommend your favorites...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Nanna reads this blog...

Apparently. Because when she came to visit this weekend, she came armed... with play-doh. And scored huge points with Nora.
Here's Nora showing off her "Elephant Ears" trick.
Later she requested that I help her make "frowurrs," and she added the finishing touches.
And finally, her masterpiece, the play-doh monster.
And his dog.
In non-Playdoh related news, the McCords came to visit on Saturday. They were great company, Kat made a really nice meal, Gregg brought the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had, and Lilly was wonderful.

Unfortunately, Nora was a complete twit. She pitched a fit just about every time Lilly tried to play with one of her toys, and was just generally whiney and out of control most of the night. Hence the total lack of pictures. Gregg and Jenni, bless their hearts, were really understanding. I know in my heart that behavior like this is just part of Nora being two, and that it's perfectly normal. But still, I was disappointed. It left me questioning whether we're really doing anything right in our attempts to shape her behavior and help her be a happy, well-adjusted child. Because she was neither happy, nor remotely well adjusted all freakin' night. Then, as if to redeem herself, she was absolutely fantastic the rest of the weekend. It's incredible how she does that. I really do think it's a defense mechanism that children have acquired through the milenia to keep from ending up in a dumpster somewhere.

On a little bit brighter note, our house appraised over the weekend quite a bit higher than we were expecting, and is now officially on the market. We had our first showing tonight. It's strange how vulnerable you feel letting strangers in to "kick the tires" on your home.

On one hand, I'm truly excited about this next move, and what it means for our future as a family. On the other hand, I also can't wait for this phase of the transition to our new lives in Minnesota to be over with. Not only are we really anxious about whether or not it's going to sell, but it's also going to be really exhausting trying to keep the place clean all the time in case anyone shows up wanting to take a look. Ugh.

Soooooo, are you sure you don't want to buy a house? Anyone?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

House for sale

So the house is going on the market in preparation for our move to sunny Duluth, MN. If you know anyone who's looking to buy in the Hershey, PA area, send them to the blog that Eric made for just this purpose.

An added bonus for those of you who saw the house in it's original splendor or at various torn-apart phases along the way- it has a ton of great pictures of all the improvements that we've done over the last 5 years.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pay Dohs Pease?

Our daughter is obsessed with Play-Doh. We opened up her first pack, which she had received as a present, just after Christmas. She initially took no interest, then all of the sudden last month she semed to finally notice it, and now its an obsession.
I have to say, what an amazing toy for a two year old. Yeah, I know, it's a classic and it's been around forever. But as a father watching his child entertain herself with piles of colored clay for hours at a time, my perspective on the stuff has completely changed. I have got a whole new respect for this magical goop.
It's like you can actually see the synapses forming in her little brain as she works with it. I love teaching her how to use all those little tools to cut out shapes and then put the shapes together to make neat stuff, like flowers or cars. Last night Nora and Kat fashioned big floppy ears and a trunk and pretended to be elephants, which was maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen in my life. Tonight they made jewelery. Last Sunday, when Nora and I were alone together, she asked for "pay dohs" after her nap, and she stayed at that table and played with the stuff for over 2 hours! That's like 5 times longer than I've ever seen anything hold her attention, ever. Including Sesame Street.

By the way, that's Nora's new table and chairs from Ikea that she's playing at. We got them for her about a month ago, but I'm pretty sure those are the first pictures we've posted of them. She thinks its pretty neat having furniture that's her size. And we think it's pretty neat not having to either pick her up or get down on the floor with her every time she wants to color... or play with Play-Doh.
In other family news, Nora and her mother are getting along again. And I have proof:
It was a rough few weeks there, and for a while I wasn't sure if they would both come out of it alive, but it's quite a relief to see them re-connect. Of course, the down side of this is that now that Kat's back in the game, I'm apparently not. Last night when I offered to read to her, and when I suggested that I help with her bath so that Mommy could have a break, Nora pushed my legs until I backed out the door and said, "Daddy away," then promply shut the door in my face.

She does know I could totally kick her ass, right?