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
Making cookies – lots of cookies
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!