Friday, January 30, 2009

Are You Blue?

I am a little blue. Just a bit mottled around the edges. Not a deep dark dreary sort of blue, but blue just the same. Maybe it is the weather - always a good blue scapegoat. Maybe it is the book "19 Minutes" by Jodi Picoult that I am reading. It is a fictional take on a Columbine-type school shooting. Columbines are blue. The book is engrossing and well written but the subject matter is less than joyful. If a book is good, I sometimes have a hard time coming out from under the fog of it.

Maybe it is the fact that my Dad is blue. Bluer than I am. Iowa winters are long and tedious, but they are even more so when one seems trapped in a house, and I would imagine your own body, by Parkinson's disease. We try to stop in, try to make small talk, try to make him feel better, but sometimes there are no more words or actions and we are all just blue.

Maybe I am blue because the Captain and I went on a date but ended up arguing. Marriage is hard work. Were my expectations too high? Was I just being unreasonable because I was already feeling a bit blue? I don't know.

Maybe we have to know a little blue so that we can appreciate those moments when we are -in the words of Jane Austen- incandescently happy. Or in the words of the Bible, when much to our delight, joy cometh.

One thing I do know, I have not been drinking a silver colloid to treat dermatitis like this man, Paul Karason.

Until morning then,


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

And the Lazy Mom Award Goes to...

Today, I did nothing.




No boxes have been checked off, no entries have been crossed through. The To-Do list is fully intact. I guess you could call that an accomplishment of sorts. I am not sick. The kids aren't either. I just choose, for this day, to be LAZY.

Usually Tuesdays are one of my most ambitious. I can get a lot done on a Tuesday morning with no work and no children in the house for five glorious hours. Laundry can be laundered, beds made, bathroom sanitized, groceries gotten, wall painted, floors vacuumed, bills paid, but not today. My intentions were good but somewhere along the way...well you know what they say about good intentions.

I did get my children off to their prospective places to be this morning. Then I stopped in at my parents to get my Lizzie fix - they watch my sweet 5 month old niece on Tuesday mornings. She was napping so of course I had to stay until she woke up. Gotta give her a little loving. The house was warm, the weather once again cold, and the morning dripped away like an icicle melting in the Oh-how-I-wish-it-were-Spring-sun.
I came home, sat in the chair by the patio door soaking up some Vitamin D. Read my Bible, prayed some, which then transitioned to a little snooze. I read somewhere that God probably doesn't mind that as much as I think He might. Would a parent be angry if one of their children drifted off to sleep while were quietly discussing the events of the day? Nahhh, we would just gaze at them lovingly and love the feel of their warm bodies at peace in our laps. Don't think He minds at all.

I picked up the Princess Maren from Pretty School and we went to the Library. Nothing quieter than the library in a small Midwestern town at naptime . No one was there. Just us and the books. A private party. The attendees were Little Bear, the Very Hungry Caterpiller, Three Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, Princess Maren and myself. A great time was had by all.

Sweet Marissa and I dueted the Loud and Louder versions of "Heart and Soul" on the piano in lieu of her actually practicing for her lesson this afternoon. I am sure Shelly, her very patient teacher, loved that.
Tonight I am ordering pizza or Chinese. I am going to start that Jodi Picoult novel I checked out at the library. I am not going to feel one bit guilty.
IA Lazy Mom.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ms. Mimi Divine

When the Captain and I first started dating he would often speak fondly of his Grandma Mimi. I though awww, that's a sweet name and that was that. I think it was at my bridal shower and Mimi's friend Betty was invited and kept referring to Mimi as Fran. This being the first time I had met Betty, I thought she was a bit off her rocker. I was like Fran who? I sure didn't know any Frans. And what was she doing at my shower. But, alas I was the one confused. The Captain's sweet Grandma's real name is Frances . I KNOW!

Mimi is really much more fitting. She put the south in southern let me tell you. She is all ooze and ahhs wrapped up in that Oklahoma accent. But, don't let her fool you. She will give you a run for your money and then some. Think Scarlett in "Gone With the Wind" at her orneriest. A Southern Belle from the top of her beautifully coiffed head to the tips of her well-pedicured toes.

Today is Mimi's Birthday and we wish her happy. We won't tell you how old she is, because that would not be becoming of a true Southern Lady and this one is not tellin'. We love you Grandma Mimi! Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Singing Sunday Morning Songs

Here's a good Sunday School memory (not sitting on the Pot, just the song), with just a little bit of Princess Maren flair and flourish at the rear end (no pun intended). Yes, we were potty training at the time (note the Big White Round One in the background) and I was desperate to do anything to keep her there a little longer. Glad those days are over, but look what came out (no pun intended) of those somewhat frustrating days. Happy Sunday!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Better Out Than In...

This is a common sentiment among nurses. Most everything is better out than in when it comes to a day in the life of the nurse and her patients. Gas (flatus), poo (bowel movement), vomit (emesis), snot (sputum), pus, (exudate) - you name it. If we want our patients to start feeling well, all of that stuff is better out than in. With the exception of blood - always good to keep that in.

This is also true for the IA Pilot Mom. After what seemed like weeks of brutal cold, it finally warmed up here a bit. A balmy 36 degrees. Lover-ly. I am serious. I didn't even have to wear my coat coming out of work the other day. Balmy Iowa. Anyway this sentiment rang especially true for the girls. It was time. Time to burn off some of that pent up energy. Better out than in.

I know I complain about the winter weather here in Iowa, but that is just part of the culture. It is required of an Iowa farm girl, no matter how long she has been off the farm. Secretly, there are things I like about it. Like sun dogs, the snow that falls so softly that you can see each individual flake (and yes each one really is different), a roaring fire during a blizzard, and the sound of kids laughing while they are sledding. The other day the whole town rang with it. The kids were at full peal.
The Captain took the girls sledding on the locally infamous "Golf Course Hill". This is a GREAT sledding hill, but also the site of a few too many concussions, broken bones, and blood (better in than out you know). It makes the IA Nurse and Mom very nervous. I tend to do better fretting at home. At the top of the hill is the clubhouse, and at the bottom is a ravine with a creek. If you are going too fast your options are either to: 1)ditch, 2)jump the ravine, 3)line yourself up with bridge and pray, 4) or fall in and die. I am sure the pictures won't do it justice, but a good memory jogger for me. This is a video of Marissa coming down, but the Captain thought she was going for option #4, so he dropped the camera to stop her.

This is M & M doing just a half hill.

A View of the Ravine

So, yes, everyone made it home safely to some hot cocoa, a very relieved IA Nurse and Mom, and a long winter's sleep. Not a muscle moved. No blood, concussions, or fractures. Like they always say, better out than in.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What President Obama and I Have in Common...

What does a female, middle class, mostly conservative, full-time mom and part-time working class nurse have in common with our 44th president? Well, there's not much, but there is enough.

  1. We are both left handed. I did not know this until I was watching the inauguration events yesterday.
  2. We have both been embarrassed about our middle names. My middle name is Gay. My mom said they didn't have gays back when I was born - just queers. I suffered through years of my mother calling me GayGay or ShannyGay. Then it was Junior High and I actually found out what a "gay" was. A pesky male classmate found out and called me Shannon Homosexual Vaas for the duration of both Junior and High School. It doesn't bother me much anymore. I am a "happy" girl. Maybe they called Obama a Hussy or In-seiny? But I think I have heard people call him much worse.
  3. We are both parents to two young daughters. I don't agree with some of his views and am concerned about some of his political connections, but I want to like him when I see pictures of him and his daughters. Maybe some might say that is a nice political play on his part, but I don't think so. You can see the love that Daddy has for his girls and those girls have for their Daddy written all over their faces. That is real. That gives me hope that he will take into consideration the future he is making for his girls (and ours) in the choices he makes today and tomorrow and in the next four years.
  4. We are both Americans. He may not be the candidate I would have chosen, but regardless, he has been chosen to lead this country. I don't envy him one bit. He has a tough road ahead of him. For that reason alone, he has my prayers. Prayers to be a strong president, a good Dad, a good American - and do us Lefties proud.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Chronicles of Narnia

The IA Pilot Hubby/IA Pilot Daddy was gone this weekend. Out doing his thing, flying the friendly skies, hopefully avoiding all geese and the Hudson River. So while the Captain is away the girls often play...
...movies. I'll admit, I was sort of nervous to watch it with the girls. I knew some of the parts could get pretty intense for a four year old and an eight year old ( and even a 38 year old wimpy mom) and didn't really want the sole resposibility of taking on nightmare management single handed. Maybe a little selfish on my part, but you think of those things when you are going it alone for the weekend. But, it was GREAT. We all loved it! I had read the books a long time ago, but my memory definitely needed and enjoyed the refreshing. Here are some highlights of our evening.

1. We all huddled on the couch with Maren's comforter (a must for Maren when watching any movie) and the warm pink blanket, movie lighting just right (all lights off with the recessed lighting dimmers at their lowest - another must for Maren - Marissa too actually, well and the Captain has a thing about that too - hmm) with the girls all bathed and hair freshly shampooed. Ahhh, is there any sweeter smell for a Girl Mom?

2. We were at a really intense White Witch moment when Maren quips, " That's cute hair." I think this was the particular 'do she liked.

Leave it to Princess Maren. Speaking of the White Witch, wow, was she mean or what! Talk about Evil Incarnate. Yikes! I don't know that I will ever be able to watch Tilda Swinton act again without thinking of her playing this part. She freaked me out a bit.

3. We all nearly collectively peed in our pants at the part when the wolf showed up the first time. Seriously. They got us ever single time after that too.

4. I think the girls "got it" though. They made the connection. When Aslan was killed, Marissa looked at me and said, "that is just like what Jesus did for us". Maren just gave me a wide eyed nod. We all sniffled on the pink blanket a bit.

So a great movie all in all. The girls have been talking about it all day. Maren can't quite get the title right. I think she calls it the "Kronkinuls of Marmia", but not bad for a four year old. They can't wait til Daddy gets home so they can watch it with him just one (or two, or three, or four) more times. Thank goodness for Netflix, this one may be a keeper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sun Dogs

"Mom, why are there three suns today- two little suns and then the big one?" That was the topic of conversation that needed explanation as I was dropping off Princess Maren at "pretty school" (preschool) this morning. She had spotted the Sun Dogs who had come out to play with their Master Sun on this crispy, frigidly clear Iowa morning. If you haven't ever seen one, they are these little mini rainbows on either side of the sun- evenly spaced, sometimes connected by a perfect halo - a beautiful triptych illusion.

Naturally, I had to look it up on the Internet. Wikipedia had some fun explanations. Their scientific moniker is parhelia (singular), parhelion (plural). I have to say I have never seen just one Sun Dog (parhelia). They always seem to come in pairs here in Iowa. I find that comforting. I also find comfort in their rainbow colors - God's promise to us Iowans that surely winter WILL soon end.

Parhelion - they are the Sun's loyal companions. Sun's Best Friend(s). Go fetch us some warmer weather would you? Good Boy(s)!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Random (and not very deep) Thoughts

1.It was really cold here this morning. Yep, that 's a big old minus sign out there in front of that 19.3. H*** (Marissa says I should not say the real thing on my blog) truly hath frozen over and now we are living in it. Sorry, this winter has made me just a little bit bitter.

2. Watercolors by Marissa. An interesting perspective to say the least. This is a picture of the Statue of Liberty holding a large mint chocolate chip ice cream cone. Note the size ratio between the two. To Marissa - ice cream IS monumental. Miss Liberty looks a little minty green herself -but at least she is happy.

3. Shiny Happy Maren! Check out that belt! The more bling the better for this four year old. She gravitates to it - the shiny, sparkly, glittering, blingy things in life. Let's just say she likes to her live her life with embellishment.

4. My back hurts. I worked as a RN - real nurse last night. Just 4 hours in the trenches on the med-surg floor. I love my cardiac rehab job, but sometimes I feel like a sissy nurse., so I have to get out there in the Real Nurse world. Last night it was three knee replacements, a GI bleed, CHF with compensated respiratory failure, and a large BM. Seriously. Sort of looked like this. Can't wait to go back to cardiac rehab tomorrow. God love the real nurse. Check out to read up on the turdbeast. Thanks, Baloney.

5. I woke up talking to myself this morning. Not unusual. But today, I had a Scottish accent. I KNOW! That is a wee bit strange. Must have been my date with Craig late last night. Craig Ferguson that is. I find Dave a bit too cynical. I get distracted by Jay's chin. Craig is somewhat irreverent, a bit of a pervert, but when everything is delivered in that Scottish accent, it seems hilariously funny to me. Love to get lost in that vacuum of Scottish charm. Plus, he has a pretty cute first name. More on the vacuum of Scottish charm with James McAvoy at

6. Finally, an airplane crash with a happy ending. Honestly, this is the IA Pilot Wife's worst nightmare. My heart stopped and sunk just a bit when I saw that US Airways logo floating in the Hudson River. Thank goodness the Captain was home. The Captain's company actually flies for US Airways, so that logo is too familiar to this household. Praise God no lives were lost and what a miracle! It looks like the survivors are walking on water doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No More Snowflakes...

I cannot stand them any longer. They are everywhere. Falling from the sky. Littering our neighborhood with their horrendous piles. Blowing in from Canada. Everywhere I look another snowflake. I can't control the ones outside, but they are BANISHED from my blog. Whew... that feels better.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Got the Music in Me!

I've really done it now. I have failed as a mother. I have exposed my sweet children to....Abba. OH NO! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I came downstairs and saw and heard Sweet Marissa listening to Abba on iTunes. She has the whole outfit nailed though, doesn't she? Maren cannot help but dance to it. Abba compels her to move. She cannot not dance. Oh well, I am sure I have exposed them to worse things along the way.

I really do love music - and yes that includes Abba. (Some - like the Captain- may argue that Abba is not truly music.) Growing up, my mom always had music going around our house via a good old eight track player. Remember when we used to think those were so much cooler than records? The Captain and I get a kick out of reminiscing about what he used to listen to growing up (definitely a little more rock and roll) compared to the easy listening station at the Vaas household. We had Kenny Rogers (my mother's hero - I still choke back a bit of vomit when I hear "Islands in the Stream") Air Supply, Donnie and Marie Osmond (more vomit), Guy and Ralna (of Lawrence Welk fame) with a touch of redeeming Elvis and the Beatles.

I love the way music can transport you to that time and place where you first fell in love with a song. Sort of like what happens to the nasty food critic in Ratatouille- just one taste and time drops him off and shoves him out the door into his mother's kitchen where he first fell for his mother's ratatouille. Maybe not so much the ratatouille, but everything that went along with it. Likewise with a song - you just have to go along for the ride. I listen to the Mavericks and I am two-stepping with the Captain when we first started dating. I hear a certain Eagles song and find myself lying (unrestrained - and I am worried about Abba exposure?) in the rear window of the family car, warm sun on my back, driving west through the endless state of South Dakota in search of the All-American vacation to Mt. Rushmore. Abba? Well, I am strapping a pair of metal roller skates to my tennies with my brother Don, making laps around our basement - first around the pool table, figure-eight around the ping pong table, all the while, getting our boogie on. All good memories.

I do hope the girls have some fond memories of music growing up, but like my good friend Dawn says, a little Abba - goes a long way - about 30 years or so for me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Can You Give Me an OHHHH....

Can you believe I had actually forgotten about this little gem of a video? I do have a New Year's Resolution to get my photos organized and in books via Scrapblog (playing to my strengths and not weaknesses - no more paper scrapbooking for me, thank you very much) and found this while going through Picasa.
Is it just hindsight that makes it all the more precious? Did I not appreciate what a memory this was the day the Captain shot it? Or is it time that gives us this incredible view of the really good and simple things in our lives? Besides the obvious, I love hearing the Captain sweet baby talking his little girl. I love the way Maren perks up when she hears the words "da-da". I love remembering this little game Maren would play so willingly with anyone who would give her an OHHH. Things to cherish and ponder in this IA Momma's heart.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Free and Easy Down the Road I Go....

I woke up with this Dierks Bentley song in my head. (Yes, God can even use a country western song to remind you of His blessings.) I do have a free and easy spirit this morning. Princess Maren is on good morning behavior, day three, and therefore has earned a brand new bottle of nail polish that she gets to pick out and then gets a free mani-pedi by mommy tonight. Sweet Marissa is MAW in the Pecos Bill play they are acting out in school and left with lines memorized, prairie bonnet intact and she is in her element. A little imagination goes a long way for her. And most importantly, the Captain is home.

I have mentioned in a previous post that the Captain and I are taking a class at church titled VP3 (sounds a bit like a surgical procedure to my nursing ears) but last night I had to give my narrative or testimony to three of God's beautiful women in our class. This exercise all started with yellow and pink post-it notes stuck on a poster board. The post-it notes stood for critical incidents in your life - yellow was positive - pink was negative. Seemed like I was slapping down a bunch of pink ones especially in certain areas in my life. This activity then translated into writing a full length narrative about your life and how God has been at work.

I have worked on this semi-diligently over the Christmas holiday. It has been hard, besides the fact that I felt I was back at college working on my senior nursing research paper, but dredging up some of the pink events in my life was really tough. The actual reading of it went well, although I was nervous, and I used up all Pastor Jon's kleenex on his desk. The women that God had placed in my group were there for a reason and there was not one note of judgment or condescension - just love and acceptance. I left with a lightness and God's peace in my soul ... free and easy down the road I go.

As Sam was praying over me last night, she thanked God for my story - that really is His story... and that is so true. We should write it and we should tell it. We are His song and we should sing it. How else will the world know about our Great God?

I am using this verse from Annie's blog and hope she doesn't mind, but it sums up my VP3 experience quite nicely. So sing your song to Him, about Him, for Him today even if it does have a slight country western twang to it. YEE HAW!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Resolutions - UGH!

I read this book about a year ago or so when I was taking a class at church. Then I happened to catch Oprah the other day and saw she had the co-author Marcus Buckingham on to promote his new book. Not often that Oprah and our church happens to be promoting the same material but I found the program to be really fascinating.
The book and the show talked about how we are typically programmed from birth to strengthen our weaknesses instead of developing our innate strengths. If you got all A's and one C on your report card, guess what your parents, teachers, everyone told you to work on most - that subject you got a C on. We are encouraged to be well rounded, balanced individuals, right? But, what if we put more effort and thought into discovering and actually more fully developing our strengths? Would that make us all a bit happier and more productive in our lives? That is the argument the author makes.
I guess the reason I am bringing this up is here it is January 5th, and I am thinking I should make some New Year's Resolutions. Obviously, punctuality and details are not high on my strength list. One of the things that are available to you when you purchase one of Marcus Buckingham's books is a StrengthsFinder quiz. It outlines 34 different personality or strength characteristics and after you have answered the questions, it spits out your top five strengths or themes. I took this last year. It was a bit surprising.
So here were my Top 3 Strengths:
Adaptability: I laughed hard when I read this one. I did not consider myself adaptable - until I read the description the book gave. You live in the moment. You don't see the future as a fixed destination. Instead you see it as a place that you create out of the choices you make right now. That doesn't mean you don't have a plan, you probably do. Unlike some, you don't resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours, you expect them, and on some level actually look forward to them. I guess I was born to be an IA Pilot Wife after all, because being the wife of a commercial airline pilot, things never really go as scheduled. HA! But I think that is why I enjoyed being a critical care nurse. You always went into work with a plan, a plan that your patient would live through your shift. You formulated that plan a little bit about what you needed to do, but a lot but what could possible go wrong - because it usually did. There might be many unexpected detours throughout the day, but if at the end of the day your plan still came together quite well , the victory was just that much sweeter. I am a sick cookie, aren't I?
Empathy: I always knew this was a strength of mine. So yes, I became a nurse. Suffered through all that chemistry and math so I could help people when they needed it. It has been a good career choice for me.
Connectedness: This is the book description. Things happen for a reason. You are sure of it because in your soul, you know that we are all connected. Yes, we are individuals, responsible for our judgments and in possession of our own free will, but nonetheless we are part of something larger. Sensitive to the invisible hand, you can give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond our humdrum lives. Hmm, not sure what to think of that one yet... but definitely feel in describes me to some extent.
You see, New Year's Resolutions do not do well by me. Notice there is not a strength mentioned above that contains the words, responsibility, focus, discipline, or strategic, - none of those knock 'em dead characteristics that I really do wish I had sometimes. I live by feel it seems. In a way it is oddly freeing not to have to live up to those things that you think you should be good at - and you just aren't. I am going to accept that as the way God made me. So yes, I still need to do a little "weakness management". Being empathetic is not going to get the girls to school or me to work on time unfortunately. The author also gives tips for that. 1) Get a little better at it. 2) Design a support system. 3)Use one of your strongest themes to overwhelm your weaknesses. Good advice, I think.
Just one New Year Resolution for me: Do more to develop and utilize my strengths, and stop beating myself up about the strengths I do not have. I'll let you know how it goes next December.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Marissa's To Do List

Honest. Simple. Direct. Eat and Wii. Mission Accomplished.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Skaters Away!

We had a fun New Year's Day adventure .... we went ice skating yesterday! Good northwest Iowa New Year's Day thing to do right? My buttocks really hurt. Not only does ice skating require engaging muscles seldom used on a daily basis, I also spent half the time crouched over my somewhat reluctant four year old daughter, pushing her around the rink with her little skalker ( sniglet for skating walker - more on that later - and see previous post). Seriously, we had a lot of fun!

Marissa asked her best friend Abby along too. It was Abby's first time skating. But, one change of wet, icy pants, a really cold bottom, and a couple of banged up knees later - she had the hang of it and was skating like a pro. Marissa had her share of spills and thrills too, but they were really too busy giggling to notice. Better their young bodies falling on the ice than mine. One spill from me and they would just have to call out the Zamboni and spray me with a very large jet of water toward the nearest door. It would not be pretty.

I did manage to stay semi-upright. No falls. Maren, of course did not go easily or quietly, as is her nature. She was all for the cute little figure skates, thought the skalker ( they are these little mini skating walkers that kids scoot across the ice and hang onto while they are learning to skate) was great, and stepped one dainty little foot out onto the ice and screamed bloody murder. You'd think Tonya Harding had just swooped by and taken a club to her knee! That left the Captain and I coaxing and sweet-talking her to try it again for a good portion of the afternoon, and once we accomplished that, we took turns stooping over the skalker while she enjoyed gliding along and looking cute. Anytime either one of us stopped doing this, she would protest - LOUDLY. Finally, it was the Captain's turn to skalk the skalker and he stood up to take a break. Maren looked at him, took pity, and proceeded to skate off without him and made five more laps, all by herself - no help needed. Little Miss Independent. She did us proud - the skating - not the attitude.

And that is why my buttocks, no, let's just be honest, that is why my almost thirty nine in 2009 year old A** hurts really bad!