A few months ago, we started thinking about what trip we’d like to take for our tenth anniversary (which was June 25th). With the kids, we hadn’t been able to take an extended vacation for the past few years, so we had accumulated a few ideas. We knew we wanted to drive somewhere (and would, thus, leave the kids with the grandparents) and discussed a few routes, including a trip to Maine or down to the Florida Keys.
Ultimately, the Oregon Trail won out. I can’t remember how exactly that idea came up or who first suggested it, but Brooke looked into it and the National Park Service has a series of maps available to give you a driving route that’s relatively close to the course the pioneers took.
Thus, we will embark soon on an excursion that takes us from Independence, MO out toward Oregon City, OR (near Portland). We’ll spend a few days heading out, stopping at some of the key locations (Chimney Rock, Fort Kearny, etc…mostly the locations from the classic game…) on our way. Then, we’ll spend some time in and around Portland, followed by heading south along the coast toward San Francisco, CA. After a few days there, we’ll head back toward home.
Aside from the ultimate destination(s), we aren’t really planning the trip that carefully. Like the pioneers of old, we’ll take our time, sometimes staying in hotels, sometimes sleeping in the back of the car at state parks. We haven’t made any reservations, so we’ll take what we can find as we find it!
Though Calvin started off pretty slowly, so far as the whole “talking” thing goes, he’s been picking up pretty rapidly in the past month. Meg had 35 at this point in her development, but Calvin’s been able to rely on his big sister to help him out up until now. Still, it looks like he’s running a bit ahead on language than she was (though, again, it feels like an explosion in the last month, whereas Meg got them a bit more gradually).
Anyway, here’s a non-exhaustive list. I’m probably missing a few…
Yes, Meg was born five years ago today at 8:57 am. At the time, it was difficult to imagine how the next five years would go, and now, I don’t even know how this next one year will go for her as she begins <gasp> Kindergarten. Since Calvin was born, she’s taken to the role of “Big Sister” more than we thought she was capable of, sometimes making me forget she’s still extremely young, yet perhaps more responsible than some of my college-aged students.
This year also marked the first time for two birthday parties: one “Kid Party” this past weekend, when three of her best friends from preschool came over for a “dress up party,” and then the next one coming this weekend for “Grown-ups” (i.e. family). I think the “Kid Party” came off pretty well, as the girls mostly played by themselves and stayed out of trouble (mostly…). Meg got some play makeup, a “Cinderella” costume, and a copy of Tangled (which she’s been asking for since December…). She requested lemon cake with blueberries, and that turned out pretty awesome (thanks to Brooke, of course). I think she’s requested spaghetti for the “Grown-up Party” this weekend, as well as a strawberry cake.
Personally, I don’t see how it’s fair that she gets two cakes, but whatever…
This morning, she woke up to a bike at the bottom of the steps, so surely that will present its own new challenge for 2015. She literally, finally, learned how to make a tricycle “go” in 2014, so it’ll be interesting to watch her fight a 16″ bicycle with training wheels this time around. Good thing my schedule’s pretty flexible this summer…
Aside from the presents and parties, the crazy part still remains: Meg is five. She’s been with us for five years. Half a decade has blown by. She’s entering a stage of development that I actually remember in my own life. Which is to say, these are years that she’ll start remembering 10, 20, 30+ years down the road.
Again, haven’t posted much recently. I’m still on Break for another two weeks, but much of that has been taken up with various projects around the house (which I still need to take pictures of and post…) and various travels around the state for Christmas.
That, and I’m still fighting with access to this blog from within my own network at the house, as our router isn’t very happy about that…for some reason…
Anyway, Christmas has been pretty fun this year. Meg has been pretty hyper all week, so my patience has been strained recently, but we’re in Hannibal now completing our week-long Christmas celebrations, so that should subside soon. Calvin still doesn’t quite understand the concept of opening presents yet, but he certainly enjoys the new toys he’s been getting.
Regardless, this is mostly a “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” post. I’m still working on getting everything working properly with the system at home, so once that’s done, I expect to post quite a bit more often. There’s much to catch up on!
Let’s get this out of the way, first: Yes, we’re still alive.
Seriously, this semester has been crazy. A good kind of “crazy,” but still quite busy, nonetheless. There’s actually been quite a bit to post about here, but I simply haven’t had the time. That, and the new router I picked up a few months ago, for some reason, makes it difficult to actually access my own website from my house. Long story short, we’ve all been very busy and I’ll be back to posting more regularly soon.
Briefly though, a post about Halloween…which was a few weeks ago… Meg had originally wanted to go as Doc McStuffins this year, a character on Disney Channel she’s been exposed to in recent months. However, as these things tend to go, she had seen all those episodes enough times and wanted to watch something else, so Word Girl took its place (though she’s been watching Doc McStuffins again, recently…I dunno…goes in phases, I guess…). Regardless, she changed her mind and opted to go as Word Girl, which gave Brooke the opportunity to actually make the costume instead of just using the store-bought version Meg got as a gift from Aunt Mal back in September. This actually worked out in our favor, as the costume for Word Girl’s side kick, Captain Huggyface, worked pretty well for Calvin to wear. Brooke did an excellent job with them, but as very few people in Marshall really know who these PBS characters are, we had to explain the costumes to more than a few people.
I don’t have much to do on Friday afternoons, so I picked Meg and Calvin up from school and brought them over to the college, where multiple offices have candy available for trick or treaters to come by and visit. This actually worked out pretty well, as that way, we could get Calvin in his costume for awhile, get some pictures taken, and then he wouldn’t necessarily have to go out for the real thing with Meg later. It happened to be pretty cold that day, so walking around campus for a few minutes was a bit warmer than the alternative.
Still, we ended up going out trick or treating anyway. Calvin was in a good mood and Nana came along to help out. That way, Brooke could hang out at home for other kids to come by and Nana and I could take both kids out in the wagon. We only ended up hitting maybe 7 or 8 houses, but as cold as it was, I think Meg had her fill of it. Really, Calvin didn’t have any idea what was going on, but I think he enjoyed going on a wagon ride close to his bedtime.
Ultimately, Meg had a pretty good haul of candy, combined from daycare, a visit to Missouri Valley, and then walking around our neighborhood (which, apparently, has a pretty good participation rate on Halloween, so walking around our block will probably be “enough” for the next few years!). All in all, a pretty good Halloween!
Other than that, again, we’ve been busy. Lots of work around the house has been completed (and I’ll still post about that…I promise…), and much has happened with both of our jobs out here. For my part, I’m now within a few days of Thanksgiving Break and, thus, within only a few weeks of the end of the semester. Time flies! I’ve enjoyed my time thus far, despite the number of hours I’ve been putting in. Next semester should be markedly easier, as I won’t have to develop three courses worth of material again.
A year ago today, we welcomed Calvin into the world. And what a year it’s been.
Granted, the last half of this past year blew by incredibly quickly because of Life Changes for the whole family. I barely remember what we did 4 months ago, as most of our time was spent packing and cleaning and looking into buying houses.
Through all that time, though, Calvin kept getting bigger! It’s amazing how much progress he’s made, especially in comparison with his big sister. Due to ear infections, it took her a bit longer to be mobile. Perhaps Calvin is more motivated to follow Meg around though, because he’s been crawling for a few months now and late last week started to try taking a few steps for the first time. He’s routinely standing up from a squat all by himself, standing for nearly a minute at a time before sitting back down again. He’s ready to walk, but hasn’t quite taken the plunge yet.
Within the last month or so, he’s also finally, finally, slept consistently through the night. He’ll cry out occasionally but can usually get himself back to sleep. I’m thinking the creepy peacock wallpaper in his room has something to do with it, but it seems like shortly after the move to the new house in Marshall, his sleeping situation (and ours…) improved dramatically.
Now that he’s a year old, we’re also in the process of weaning him off of Brooke faster than we were before. Meg was on a bottle long before this point in her life, but Brooke’s been able to keep feeding Calvin. Generally, she’s only doing it first thing in the morning and right before bedtime. We don’t even have to do it at naptime anymore to calm him down. She’ll slowly scale it back, but at this point, it seems like he can make it pretty well without needing that particular form of comfort. Big boy finally growing up a bit!
Other than his progress, life has been busy for the rest of us. They say your first semester is the hardest and they aren’t kidding. I’m frequently working 12 hr days during the week in order to stay ahead, but I don’t mind it so far. Brooke’s still getting settled with her job in Sedalia, but things are starting to look up on that front, too. I’ll post more about the house later, but we’ve got half of the electrical system done, some important plumbing done, some new appliances, and we re-did the bathroom upstairs by ourselves in a little over a week (there will definitely be a post on that one). Long-story short, we’re making progress with the house and are nearly “settled.”
Because of that, we were able to have a birthday party for Calvin this past weekend at the house. We had around 16 people over and, as the weather was gorgeous, we set things up outside. Grilled burgers, had many sides, and of course, birthday cake. Calvin napped through half the party and wasn’t exactly “smiley” after he woke up, but I think he still had a fun time, and definitely got some fun toys.
Regardless, Calvin’s done well this past year and, though his sleeping schedule was terrible for, oh, 10 months of his life, I think we’re finally past it. At least we’re to the point when he and Meg can play together in their room(s) by themselves, giving us a few extra moments of peace.
So, it’s been quite awhile since I last posted something. There’s a lot I could delve into, but for now, I’m going to bullet a few points of “updates” to get you a cross-section of how things have been going.
1). We closed on our house on August 6th, and there’s a whole story behind how that went down, but suffice to say, we successfully closed and got everything moved in. The house is doing pretty well, but we’ve got some long-term projects in process that prevent us from unpacking all the boxes. I’ll go into this in a later post, but for now, know that we had some plumbing done, getting me all squared away for brewing and getting us a new (more functional) toilet installed upstairs. Hopefully tomorrow, we will have electrical work done, where our house is going to be effectively re-wired. This is stuff that needs to get done and we’re glad we can get it moving within a month of moving in!
2). Brooke’s new job (with the same company) is going well, but she has her work cut out for her. Lots of things to get done, so she’s been busy incorporating her old duties at Bridges CSS (St. Louis) into her new duties at Bridges of Missouri (Sedalia). She’s enjoying it and things have been steadily improving this past month, but there’s lots more to do!
3). My job is going well so far, but this is only the second week of school. Our first exams will start late next week and continue into the following week, so while I’m trying to keep ahead on lectures for three separate classes, I’ve also got to do the “in the present” kinds of stuff like grading and test design. It’s work, but I’m enjoying it so far!
4). Calvin is sleeping through the night. It started August 23rd, on his 11 month birthday, and has continue on and off. Some nights are better than others, but aside from a few cries in the middle of the night, he’s staying down from 7:00 pm to 6:00/6:30 am. Oh, how long we’ve waited for this…and we hope and pray it continues…
5). Meg and Calvin are enjoying their days at the Missouri Valley Lab School. They started on August 18th and Meg took to it immediately. Like, I’m surprised just how well she’s done there. Compared with previous places, where she’d cry for 2-3 weeks as I’d leave her there, she’s been nothing but easy to deal with there. Calvin, on the other hand, took about a week-and-a-half to get settled where I can leave him with a teacher and not have him scream as I walked away. Still, that’s been better in recent days, too.
6). I got a new router and a new Linux server, so that’s why the site’s been down recently. I think I figured it out so it should be working fine, albeit a slight bit slower than it used to be. We’ll see how it goes…
That’s enough for now! I’ll expand on some of these points in the future, but this should tide you over for awhile!
This time, however, it’s so I can (finally) begin my first “grown up” job as Assistant Professor of Biology at Missouri Valley College in Marshall, MO. I am charged with teaching Anatomy & Physiology I and II, as well as Principles of Anatomy & Physiology. That’s going to be 15 credit hours worth of teaching each semester, so I’ve definitely got my work cut out for me. It will absolutely be challenging, but I’m looking forward to moving off the lab bench for awhile and instead focusing on getting students to appreciate, if not love, physiology as I do.
When we moved to Iowa, Brooke had to leave Bridges CSS and, unfortunately, it took awhile before she was able to find anything comparable (or even acceptable…) doing similar things up north. Thankfully, unbeknownst to us, Bridges CSS was in the process of buying Bridges of Missouri, their sister company based in Sedalia, MO, which just so happens to be 30 min south of Marshall. Thus, with a stroke of providence or blind luck, she gets to keep doing what she loves while I begin this new adventure. She will return to St. Louis once or twice a month to help facilitate the connection between these two arms of the company, but she’s already got her work cut out for her in integrating the workings of the two companies. She’s excited to mix up what she’s been doing, too!
We’re on a pretty short time table now. We spent the last few weekends in Sedalia and Marshall investigating houses (more “grown up” things we’re finally doing…) and we think we’ve settled on one that we’re going to make an offer on shortly. My position officially begins August 1st, but I technically don’t have to be on campus until August 18th (school starts August 25th). There are all kinds of challenges with pulling that off in a limited period of time, but we think we’re moving in the right direction and can make it happen.
So, Meg was born in early March, meaning she turned 6 months old in September. Her first six months involved the experience of Spring and Summer. Calvin, born in September, just turned 6 months old this past weekend. His first six months involved the experience of Fall and Winter.
Guess which one got sick more often?
We’ve added it up and came to 11 days. That’s just 11 weekdays of illness from Calvin since January, not even accounting for all the snow days we had to take off for Meg (where Calvin frequently stayed home, too, whether daycare was open or not). Here’s the run down:
4 mo vaccinations- 2 days
Random Virus – into – Bacterial Pneumonia (4 mo) – 5 days
A few of those only seem short because they started over a weekend. For example, this most recent bout of RSV started last Friday and Cal held a fever all weekend (thank God it started over a weekend, though…). On Sunday at Urgent Care, he didn’t have an ear infection. He started feeling better Monday, then got worse Tuesday. I took him to the doctor and found he had fewer signs of breathing difficulties and instead had an ear infection. The “Unnamed Stomach Virus” started on a Sunday and kept him out on Monday. By Tuesday he was fine, but Meg and I had contracted it, so even if he got to go to school, two of us became afflicted.
Just can’t win.
More generally, this Winter has been pretty disruptive, largely because of the onslaught of snow, ice, and blistering cold (that mostly affected Meg), and also because Calvin just got every sickness imaginable for an infant. Brooke and I have weathered all this by splitting days at work, or taking turns taking days off here and there. It’s great that we both have flexible jobs, but I can’t imagine what this would be like if we didn’t.
Needless to say, we’re ready for some consistency in the weather. And by “consistency” I mean “Spring.”
I’ve been meaning to write something on this subject for a few weeks but never seem to get around to it. From the beginning, we were curious how Calvin would integrate into our existing threesome (or nine-some, depending on how many creatures we’re including…), and more specifically, how Meg would deal with him and how Brooke and I both have to shift our attention from entirely on her to entirely on her andhim (that’s 200% “attention,” for those keeping count).
Surprisingly and thankfully, it’s been shockingly easy. Meg has displayed nary a hint of jealousy toward him, though she certainly still wants more attention than we can sometimes give her. In general, she’s actually been pretty helpful these past few months, frequently grabbing a rattle or other toy when we can’t reach one, or staying in the room to watch him as we go downstairs to exchange the laundry. If he starts crying, she’s quick to say “It’s okay, Calvin. I’m here!” This rarely helps, but it’s still kinda sweet…
The more surprising aspect of their burgeoning relationship is how Calvin looks at her. I mean, he gets excited when one of us walks into the room after we get home from work, but when Meg walks in, he lights up like nothing else. The other day, I was driving the two of them home and Meg was facing forward singing some song she’d made up. She wasn’t even singing toward Calvin, but he was just staring at her, laughing randomly. Meg didn’t think she was saying anything funny, of course, so she didn’t really understand why Calvin was reacting this way. Still, it’s pretty obvious that she amuses him greatly.
As I’ve mentioned to Nana and others, I’m just waiting for the relationship to turn toward the typical hostility one would expect between a brother and a sister. Clearly they aren’t going to wait until their teenagers or anything, but will it happen when he starts crawling? Walking? When he starts recognizing her toys and messes with them? There’s already some element of this, as most of “his” toys were previously “Meg’s” toys, and she’s fully aware of this. It isn’t like she says “No, Calvin, you can’t have that,” but sometimes when she’s playing with him, she’ll take a toy he was currently chewing on as she’s done playing with it, so now he must also be done.
Regardless, he almost always wants to be around her (or, at least, he is happier when she’s around), and she usually wants to be around him. She still asks to “play with Calvin” just before bedtime, despite being bored with it after maybe 15 minutes of actual “playing.”