Friday, September 26, 2008

Life is full and busy - I feel like we've joined the rest of America. We're both working, we drive everywhere and have a kid in preschool/daycare. Honestly, I think I've driven more in the last month than we did in Juneau and Cordova combined. I'd like to cut down on it but I don't see a decrease in our near future. 

We're looking for houses with the highest priority being bikability to work. Unfortunately, while there are many houses for sale, there aren't many close to the hospital that also meet the rest of our criteria. So I've thrown in the towel on the house hunt and tonight Murray directed his laser beam energy on it - we'll have one by the end of the weekend no doubt. Either that or at least another rental. Our one bedroom and minimal kitchen is wearing on me. And if our little cottage was cheap I could rationalize it and make do, but it's not. I don't think we can find another surrounded by Audobon/Conservation land like this one is and we'll miss the fabulous setting. But life is a balance and we need to find a better one. 

An unexpected upside to work is that my posture is improving. After years of Mom reminding me to stand up straight, I did have good posture  - until I had a child. 3+ years of leaning down to hold her hand, listen to her stories, pick her up and generally incline to her level have left me with a stoop. It's not attractive. But now that I have 8 hrs a day relating to people at my level I am straightening out. It feels good! And with the growing baby belly, it's even more important for back health. 

Another random, wonderful thing in our life is that I made tiramisu the other night. I wasn't too excited about it - I like tiramisu, but am not insane for it. And putting it together I just didn't see how it was going to be that great. Natty and I tried the ladyfingers and they weren't very yummy, the marscapone has a fabulous mouth feel but not a dessert flavor, and the coffee, egg whites and sugar didn't seem like they could pull it all together. But I went ahead and did the whole thing (including whipping the cream and egg whites by hand - not as hard as it sounds) and layered it, stuck it in the fridge for the 24 hrs and served some last night. Oh. My. Goodness. Amazingly good - just shocking. The sum is much, much greater than the parts. I went on to eat some for breakfast and more for an after work snack. It's a dessert that's worth making at home. Go on - make it. You'll be glad you did. 

Parenthood continues to keep us on our toes (pulling our hair out?). Natty is excited to have her cousins come to Marmee and Poppa's this weekend. We might be planting daffodils if the weather cooperates - whatever we do it will be fun to celebrate Lindsey, Phoebe and SooJin's birthdays with everyone.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A star is born

Natty has been begging to take ballet classes for awhile and we promised her that when we moved to CT she would go. So last Thursday I saw a dance studio and we went in to check it out. Some 6-7 yr olds were having a class and Natty was entranced. I signed her up right then - both of us were so excited. She told everyone we saw all week about it.

Monday was my "Saturday" so we went and bought her outfit - leotard with skirt, tights and ballet slippers. She was beside herself. Practicing twirls in the store as she tried on the shoes. The sales lady was so sweet which I loved and appreciated. She took Natty's excitement seriously, made it a big deal and made sure she got the right stuff (which I, having never taken ballet except as a PE credit in college where I was an elephant among swans, didn't feel qualified to do).

As soon as we got home she had to put the whole outfit on "so Daddy can see" never mind that Murray wasn't due home for 4 hrs. So she twirled around the house all in a 3 year old flutter until he came and made the obligatory oooohs and aaaaaahs. And they danced together! So cute I could die. Murray took some pictures of the glowing ballerina, but I can't download them since we uploaded the new iLife/iPhoto program. Grrrrr. (I've been tinkering with it all week and no cigar so I thought I'd just post this anyway)

Wednesday was the first day of ballet class. Work is cramping my style a bit - I couldn't come to The First Ballet Class because class starts at 3 and I get off at 3:30. Thankfully Murray could take her there and get her dressed (although I worry about men and tights - there's a trick to getting them on a wriggling little girl. But he is full of surprises and had no trouble). Sadly - shockingly- he wasn't allowed to stay and watch. So he came back to the hospital with the car and I picked her up after she was finished. Which really was fun - a stream of pink tutued little girls came out and there she was in the middle, beaming at me! She showed me what she learned right there in the seating area. We're not talking about it too much but, you know, she's gifted. 

It is really cool that her cousin Sophia is also just starting ballet classes - and just as enthralled. They had a cute Skype call about ballet.

After the ballet class we had another fun event - an informal ultrasound with a CNM I had started my care with (I'm transferring up to a bigger hospital where I can do a trial of labor for a VBAC). We were chatting on the unit that morning and she invited me down to her office for a peek. All is going good - and it's a boy! Any boy name ideas?

Monday, September 8, 2008


It's Monday morning. We took Murray to work and now are enjoying a Jen style morning. Still in nightie (Natty) with a second cup of coffee (Jen), watching a movie (Natty) and playing on the computer (Jen) - both of us sitting in the morning sun streaming in the window. Aaaah.

I got more done in the mornings when Murray "the morning man" was at home, but I love my peaceful mornings. My family used to call me a grump in the mornings, to which I always replied that I was in a great mood until someone talked to me. Thankfully, I've moved beyond that response. Funny how a husband can knock some rough edges off that sisters can't touch.

Sunday we went to the Corn Maze here in Pomfret. Absolutely hysterical. It is a maze made out of growing corn that covers 7 acres. All the shivery issues of being lost in cornfield - but there's a map and activities to keep kids focused. The Lynrd Skynrd booming out over loudspeakers really was the crowning touch. The Boston Buttners are coming down next weekend and we're all going back. I tried to take some pictures on Murray's phone, but haven't downloaded them yet. I'll add those later. 

We took the above pictures at sunset last night. They are the driveway and barn on the property where we live.

Natty's video is over so it's time to get dressed and face the day. Have a good one.  

Friday, September 5, 2008

Back to work

This week has been "welcome to the real world." And we've survived. 
Natty went to school 6-8 hrs a day, all 4 days and liked it - although the hug tonight when I picked her up was a long, tight one. She enjoys school and they do neat projects - today all the kids brought in an ingredient for soup and they ate it for lunch. Kind of a "Stone Soup" idea. She was very excited about the zucchini she brought to add. 

I have started my orientation with a month working day shift so I go into work at 6:45 am. Then Murray drops Natty off on his way to work - between 8-9 and I pick her up when I get off at 3:30. RNs at Day Kimball Hospital work 8 hr shifts, which is new for me and I really like it. Very civilized hours.

Going back to work has been fun for me. I had to do computer modules for a total of 4 days and that was soul-sapping. But then I got onto the floor and it was like discovering a box of clothes that have been in storage for a long time and you remember how much you liked them and, hurrah! they still fit! The nurse precepting me and I went into a delivery right off the bat my first morning and things just kept going along from there. It's all coming back to me. I still need to do a lot of studying, but the basics are firm. To continue the clothes analogy, there are some things that are old irritations ("I always meant to change those buttons" or "the length of that skirt was never quite right") but I'll cope with them - I did before. 

Murray's work is also the same but different. It's a busy practice, taking over from a "old school" MD who has practiced here for 45 yrs, has a huge patient load and no chart notes! I guess he just knew everyone so well he didn't need them. Murray is bemused, having always felt that his own chart notes were pretty minimal. Following someone who took minimalism to a whole new level makes him feel better about his documentation. 

Natty and I are getting used to not having him around as much.  And there's the familiar 5 o'clock phone call he makes every evening to touch base and give an ETA. After chaffing at having him so much in my space at the beginning of the sabbatical, now I miss him zooming around the house. We're both so grateful we were able to spend some great time together and happy that we took the opportunity when we could. Highly recommend it (but maybe don't go to the most expensive city in the world when the exchange rate is at it's worst - just some friendly advice from those who've been there).

What do you think of the new blog? Let me know. I still haven't figured it all out but I'll keep working on it. The previous one was a little unwieldy so I thought I'd try another - we'll see how it goes. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blueberries for Natty and other Buttner adventures

Monday we went blueberry picking to celebrate Labor Day. It was fabulous. We had been once before we went to Alaska and thought it was the end of the season, but these bushes were still laden with fruit. It's like picking grapes! Or how I imagine picking grapes anyway. Big berries, at standing level, in clusters. So sweet and yummy - I was in heaven. We picked for 40 minutes (eating a lot) and got at least a gallon and a half. How have I gotten to be 36 years old without knowing there are blueberry bushes like this? Well, now I know. Fortunately, our freezer is miniscule and I started work for earnest on Tuesday so I won't turn out like the blueberry girl in "Charley and The Chocolate Factory." Greedy. 

Continuing on the food theme (or rather, backtracking): Saturday we went to the Woodstock Fair. At the end of the day I felt like "The Very Hungry Catepillar" after his binge eating. Murray and I ate: One portion of Ray's Fries, one cannoli, one bratwurst and Sourkraut, one piece of pizza (bought for Natty but she didn't eat much of it - too excited) and one bag of Kettle PopCorn. Then we weren't hungry any more. Too bad we didn't have a nice green leaf to settle our tummies. 
Natty went on a lot of great kiddie rides, including a merry-go-round, a petite rollercoaster, the bouncy castle and many more. She loved them! Murray went on most with her, even though he doesn't like rides, and I went on a few too (pregnancy is a contraindication for most of the rides, even the kiddie ones - go figure. I didn't fit in them anyway). The carnival area is always so surreal. I can't stand it but keep getting sucked in - I always wonder about the ride operators - what kind of short story they'd be in.
We moved to the agricultural area and saw some little kids showing their prize calves - very, very cute. And got to pet a 16 hr old calf. And saw lots of bunnies, chickens and sheep. We watched a cattle pull - which is not that interesting after a few pulls. They hitch the team up, pull the sled about 10 feet, unhitch them, a tractor yanks it back to the start and another team gets hitched up. Now, I'm not saying it wasn't heavy - I couldn't have pulled it - but the process didn't have much drama.  It does give one a clear understanding of how tractors replaced animal labor however.
The horse show was more interesting - and we caught a "period costume" competition. The riders (all women) were riding sidesaddle in pretty dresses. Riding sidesaddle looks precarious to me, so that had some drama. And the pretty horses and pretty dresses got us all ooohing and ahing. 
Since I hadn't been to the AK State Fair in years, going to a fair was overdue and really fun. We all had a great time and are full up until next year. 
A tangential thought that struck me at the fair is how ethnically monoculture this area is. Anchorage isn't exactly NYC, but it's pretty diverse for it's size, and I was expecting at least some ethnic food at the fair. They did have a Thai food stand in with the usual corn dogs and funnel cakes, but that was the extent of it. Interesting. When we pointed it out to a friend who lives here they agreed that the pickings are slim - but this area is rich in pizza places! Pretty funny.
Driving to pick Murray up tonight I decided that a good way to describe NE CT is that it's like an American Shire. It's not an English shire - too sprawling and not tidy enough - but pretty and pastoral with sweet nooks and crannies. Stone walls, green fields and pretty farmhouses. 
After we got back home we went on a walk on the Audabon trail right behind our house  - wandering through a forest with big, grey shelf rocks, crumbling stone walls and beautiful trees. What a lovely place. We're very happy in our little farm cottage. We don't know how long we'll be in this house, but it's cozy and convenient and we're enjoying it for now.