The Frozen Calm Before the Storm

January 10, 2016

I know we can’t complain too much because we’ve had a really mild winter so far – but it’s cold today. The high is above 0 but just barely. So here we are on a Sunday morning stuck inside and trying to find ways to entertain the kids (and ourselves). We’ve done the board games already and I’m sure it will be movie time later but neither help to burn off all of that little kid craziness. So it’s bounce house time. Of all of the ridiculous toys our kids own this is probably the most ridiculous. It’s certainly the largest! But it’s actually the second one we’ve had. The first was a Craig’s List score and worth every penny. So when it finally got too leaky to hold enough air anymore we bought a replacement brand new.

The kids do the normal bounce house jumping around but their (and our) favorite activity is to take some soft balls and engage in a dodge ball like game. Here are a few pics of the game in action. So although it’s freezing and calm outside there’s a hailstorm of small balls raging in our playroom this morning. Hopefully this will buy some afternoon quiet time…


  

Sports during the school year?

January 5, 2016

Today starts our first attempt at after school sports. Both boys are starting with swim and then Zachary has basketball. While this is normal after school chaos for most families it’s a little extra challenging for us. We can’t go home before and when we finish up we have 45 minutes to drive home. So we’re trying it all on one night – 4:30 starts swim then 5:15 basketball. Snacks will bridge is over to a late dinner at home.

So far so good – we’re in the middle of swim now and it’s clear both boys need this. Nate is already giving his teacher a hard time and Zachary is trying to fake his way through jumping in. And Zachary just tried to give his brother a shout out halfway across the pool. The longer we wait to get this going the farther behind they’ll be – both in terms of ability to swim and just normal social stuff you get through sports. So we’ll tough out the logistics and see what we can do. I’m sure like most things this will be tougher on me than them.

   
   

Christmas and Commitment Mechanisms

December 30, 2015

In behavioral economics, a commitment mechanism is something you do in the present to force you to take a certain action in the future that present you values but future you might be tempted not to stick to. The example I use in my health Econ class is taking a different route home so you’re not tempted to stop for fast food instead of cook. In my case it’s mailing out our Christmas cards with our blog URL on them before posting any new content…  

So here we go as the cards make their way through the USPS, this is a brief update since my last post over the summer. At the end of the summer we spent nearly two weeks in AZ with “Gram and Grandpa Duck”. Zachary learned to swim and ride a bike and we got to hang out with my childhood friend Jacqui and her daughter Kaitlyn. We must have picked some of the hottest weather of the summer to be there but we made the most of mornings and late afternoons and the pool. 

Fall meant back to school for me and both boys. Zachary started kindergarten in Onalaska (la crosse metro area) and Nate started at the Campus Child Center. This means 5 days a week we commute down together about 45 minutes each way. It has it’s ups and downs. The kids love their schools and I even get a chance to volunteer now and then – but spending so much time in the car everyday has required some compromises and the evenings seem very short. Admittedly, part of that is just the stage of life we’re at. Thankfully we’ve had a super mild winter so the driving hasn’t been bad.

In October we traveled to Seattle for my brother Bob’s wedding – the boys were super excited to be “ring masters” and we’re all thrilled to have Erin as part of the family. We’re hoping to get back to Seattle again soon to do more exploring – it was tons of fun – although Nate was not a fan of the monkfish at Pike Market… We were lucky to have Grandma Sandy come along to help so Dave and I got to stay longer at the reception and have extra hands along for all of the travel. Fun fact – if your kid gets croup right before travel buckle up – the meds they have to take are like speed and our pediatrician literally told us to give him a chocolate syrup chaser because they taste bad. Of course this was Nate and he’s nuts on sugar as it is. It was a crazy flight out there. Thankfully things were back to normal before the ceremony and despite making me sweat it out until the last minute they walked down the aisle perfectly.

Croup was followed by a stomach virus and pretty much permanent colds- sometimes with double ear infections as a bonus. But I guess that’s to be expected in the first year of center based daycare and all day school. It does make all of our logistics really tough when we get sick and I’m still trying to figure out how to cope – for now it’s a scramble every time. But things are looking up – Grandma Sandy retired this fall – we’re super excited to see more of her and grateful that she has offered to drive up to the rescue when needed to help out with sick kids and work travel.

Speaking of work travel – this October I was back in Ann Arbor to present some of the work on German retirement policy I’ve been working on for awhile now. It was a huge opportunity and the presentation went well. In general it’s been a good year for my research – my friend and colleague Kandice Kapinos and I published 3 articles on colon cancer screenings – one of which even got some press. Within 5 minutes of the online post of the local news article I was called a socialist because our work was examining the effects of the Affordable Care Act. Ironically we were essentially testing the law of demand – which is at the heart of “free market capitalism”. I’m learning that when it comes to the press a sense of humor helps.

Dave also had a great year at work – he’s coming up on the end of his first year with Central Wisconsin Ag Service and he and the company are both doing great! In fact, in December he went to Bulgaria to scout consulting opportunities and there may be more trips ahead in 2016.

Thanksgiving this year was a huge treat! We had a table full of family and friends – Grandma and Grandpa Duck were in town from AZ, Uncle Glen came up and the Hirschboek family joined us. The kids and the adults had a blast – and MSU’s football success this year made Dad and I especially happy. Go Green! 

December was a blur – thankfully while Dave was out of town my friends and their kids came up for an overnight despite the fact the we had nasty colds just to help me out and let the kids play. It’s a good thing they did – I had completely lost my voice! Someone had to yell at the kids for me 🙂

At the end of Decemebe Steve and Sandy came up for a grandparents day at Zachary’s school. It was great to see them as always and especially good this time as we lost Dave’s Uncle Wayne (Sandy’s brother) to a short and aggressive battle with cancer this fall. He and Aunt Debbie had just retired to Florida.  This has been really tough for all and we miss him.

Christmas this year was probably one of the best we’ve had as our little family on our own. The kids and I wrapped up class and finals on the 22nd and on the 23rd we met up with our friends the Fredricks and their three little girls at the MN Zoo in the Cities. We had an awesome day exploring the inside exhibits and even braved the snow to see a few outdoor ones. The drive home that night was a little scary in the weather but there was enough slushy snow the next day to take the boys sledding! Xmas day was nice and quiet at home with tons of presents in PJs. Then the next day we surprised the kids with a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge in the Dells. It was so much fun that it may just have to become a Christmas tradition.

Well, that’s all – and as I look back it’s a whole lot! No wonder it’s tough to find time to document life – we’re pretty busy living it.

We wish you all a wonderful new year with your families! Thanks for checking in on us.

Love, the Hammans
At Great Wolf Lodge

  

Writing to Santa
    

Christmas Eve 
  

Making cookies – lots of cookies

  

Bedtime stories
  

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

A long overdue picture

August 8, 2015

I don’t really do Facebook much anymore and haven’t posted here in ages. And it’s not that I’m being antisocial. I just have found that juggling work without purchasing full time childcare has meant any screen time I do steal has to be used to keep my work going. But I’m rounding the bend there – research has really gone well over the past year. And we’re very close to purchasing childcare like normal people! Zach will be started kindergarten in the fall and Nate has finally gotten a position at the Campus Childcare Center. It will mean a lot more car time for the kids but I think they’re ready for the social experience. And their nanny left us this spring to take a job at Ashley with more hours and better play – very happy for her – she also got married and bought a house!

Dave and I are doing great. He’s working hard at his new practice and enjoys being a dairy exclusive vet now – no more middle of the night horse or cat calls.

Anyway, enough update stuff. Here’s what you really want- a pic of the boys this morning playing together at the park.

  

Goodbye Preschool

June 8, 2014

Zach’s last day of preschool was right before Memorial Day – and it caught me off guard. I hadn’t thought about it much until the night before, but saying goodbye to his teacher and classmates was hard… on me. Zach didn’t fully comprehend. I think he’s still realizing that preschool is over. But we had such a wonderful year at Congregational. Zach thrived there. He can write his name now, he loves singing the songs he learned, and he talked about his friends all of the time. For his 4th birthday we had a little party with friends from preschool. And I was lucky enough to get a chance to go along for his end of the year field trip. I think that actually made it tougher to see the end of the school year because watching his class together was just so great. I took a few pictures and I also got some of Zach on the playground with his friend Vivian after their end of the year celebration. Unfortunately I had to go to that on my own with Nate and Nate was really upset to see brother but not be able to go up and stand up front with the big kids. So I missed most of the program. According to the other parents Zach was a ham and sang at the top of his lungs. I’m was pretty bummed to miss it. But he was up for giving us an encore performance at dinner time so Dave got to hear him too. I just can’t believe he’s headed to 4K.

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Summer at Last

June 7, 2014

It’s official. We’ve survived my first year on the tenure track. And although the summer is pretty busy too I feel like we’re finally catching up. I’m not teaching and Zach is now done with preschool. So we’re spending much less time in the car. And after the winter that felt like it would never end, we finally have beautiful weather and we’re loving it.

Dave has mowed some trails around our property and we hike often with the boys. Nate is still riding in the wrap with me when we’re hiking but he insists on walking on his own in the yard or when we go for a walk down the street. And when we’re in the house he’s running. It’s amazing to me how fast he’s become a “kid” and no longer a baby. He wants to much to be one of the big kids. He’s now stair safe and he and Zach often wander upstairs to the playroom together. It’s been a strange and wonderful change to have the boys be so independent. And so cool to see how much they truly love playing together. And they’re both getting huge!

Dave has been really busy at work since they’ve been down to just four vets for about a year. But their new hire just started after Memorial Day and soon the on call time will ease up and hopefully the schedule will become a bit less hectic with the work shared with another guy.

In a week we’ll be in the UP for the fishing trip with my family and Meg, Joe and Tatum. And for the 4th, we’ll be with Dave’s family, and in August we’ll be out in California and then it’ll be back to the classroom after Labor Day. I hope we’ll have some long lazy summer days in between. It is amazing to watch my kids play and know that in their world the summer seems to last forever like it did for me as a kid. For us it just flies. But I’m trying hard to set the work and thoughts of what must be done before I’m teaching again, leave the house dirty, and just sit down and watch them play. When I do that I remember my own summers – playing with my brother, pissing each other off because we were bored and couldn’t think of anything better to do, laughing like maniacs together over absolutely nothing, and hanging out in PJs all day because there really was no where we had to be.

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There are No Words

January 17, 2014

Growing up, my family was always loud. Most dinner table conversations sounded like a session of British Parliament – lots of talking over one another, sarcasm, and our fair share of gaffaws. My mom tried to get us to quiet down and not interrupt one another. She’d try to lead by example and stop talking all together when interrupted. But the floor generally went to the loudest voice and she soon fell into it too. To the uninitiated, it was pretty overwhelming. It drove Dave a little nuts the first few times we hung out with my family while we were still dating. But now he jumps in too. And I can hear it around our own dinner table now as well despite our efforts to teach “excuse me”.

But tonight, something bizarre happened. I lost my voice.

I’ve been battling a nasty cold (and bed bugs, and another round of norovirus – thank you Chula Vista Resort) over the past week and tonight after two morning meetings and a long day of keeping up chatter through dentist appointments for Zach and myself my voice finally quit. I really can’t remember the last time this happened. I can remember faking it a bit to sound more pathetic when I had colds in high school but I don’t remember it truly vanishing like this before.

And with it gone, I realized how much quieter our house was and how much our children have to say. I love talking with Dave at the end of the day and we often are so into catching up with one another that we dominate conversation during dinner entirely. But Zach really does have things he wants to say now and we’re (me especially) not always great about letting him get a word in. Tonight he really had a chance to talk – although he was pretty fixated my lost voice. Nate is getting more words now too and he loves to make noises at the table as thought he’s participating in the conversation. Although it was frustrating to be without my voice, it was kind of great to sit back and listen a bit. And realize that despite my best efforts I couldn’t whisper over anyone.

I also realized how much I rely on my voice when I’m with my kids. I try not to yell a lot but I do use my voice constantly to get their attention, to play, to redirect behavior, and to read to them. Nate loves books just as much as Zach does now and he’s really insistent about being read to. So tonight when it was time for his bedtime story he was totally confused because all I could do was whisper. And I’ve sung to both of my boys every night at bedtime since they were born. It’s one of my favorite things. Tonight I whispered “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to Nate and I got in my PJs and cuddled Zach while he say me a lullaby (Lightning Song aka Life is Highway of course).

And now, before my NyQuil kicks in, I figured I’d make a minute to find my voice here since it’s certainly been quite awhile! Much has changed in the last few months – Nate is walking now and says Mama, Dadda, milk, brother, yara, down, night night, and bye bye. I’m sure there are others we just haven’t quite figured out yet. He turned 1 earlier this month and he loves playing with Zach. I absolutely love this age. Still cuddly and not quite so cranky as he’ll be at 2, but capable of so much more than he was 3 months ago. But I feel like this phase just flies by so fast and then it’s fights over potty training and a billion time outs a day. I think tonight was a good lesson though. If I can possible force myself to shut up and just listen a little bit more, time slows a bit and I focus on just watching and listening to my kids. Hopefully I will remember this lesson without needing to get laryngitis ever again to remind me! Now if only I could get my hands on an air horn so I can manage parenting tomorrow without my voice while Dave is on call…

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Back in the kitchen

September 22, 2013

Well, it took longer than what I want to think about to get all of our appliances delivered but they did finally all arrive and we’ve been enjoying our new kitchen for a few weeks now. So it’s about time for a picture! For some crazy reason I was thinking I’d take a nice beautiful magazine type picture of our brand new kitchen that I spent so much time dreaming of. But I think this is better. This is what our kitchen looks like most evenings as we’re cooking dinner – an I love it just as much as I always thought I would.

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Ready or not…

August 25, 2013

Zach and I go “back” to school after Labor Day, but for both of this it’s a big transition. Zach is headed for his first day of preschool and I’m starting my first semester in a tenure track job and first teaching position since I left MSU. We’re both excited but a bit nervous too. Actually I think Zach is hanging in there better than I am. We’re on our way down to open house to meet his teacher now and he’s thrilled. It may be a different story when I drop him off for his first day but I think he’ll live school.

And although I know I will eventually too this transition is tough. Being away from the kids during the week is rough for me even though we have a great nanny. I feel a bit stuck between two worlds right now – my family life and my professional life. But this is life as a working mom. This is an aspect I did not miss about traditional employment. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find others at my university in similar situations – tenure track and dual career but not dual academic with little kids. So far I know two people in my department with young kids but both have stay at home or limited part time working wives. And of course I met an army of fresh out of grad school single people at orientation stressed out about having enough time to work. Funny on many levels…

And while all this is going on ready or not, Nate is really on the move! He crawls around the entire playroom like crazy and creeps along furniture and pulls up on everything. So our baby days are numbered – toddlerhood is fast approaching. And that’s a little bittersweet for me. I loved this stage with Zach and I don’t want to miss it with Nate. So Dave and I are doing our best to set boundaries and spend quality time while we are home.

Ready or not, the first week of class will be here soon. And I’m guessing a lot of this will seem less daunting when we’re done planning and anticipating and just getting down to doing it.

In the mean time, here are a couple pics of the boys. The one of Zach is on his “date” with me two weeks ago. We went school shopping and out to dinner at Olive Garden. It was a great night! And nate’s pic was taken hanging out in the playroom.

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One room down (sort of)

August 8, 2013

Well we survived the move out but ate still very much in the midst of moving in. And progress is slow. We don’t have our kitchen appliances yet and until Monday didn’t have water we could use for anything more than dishes baths and toilets. It is safe but really red – full of iron. Now with that fixed it’s starting to feel less like camping. And we have one of the most important rooms in the house unpacked – the playroom! No decorations on the walls yet but we have some cool decals gifted from Gram that I hope to get up this weekend. The boys are loving it! It’s obscenely large and such a great place to play as a family. Here are a few shots. More of the rest of the house soon too I promise 🙂

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