Friday, October 15, 2010

So I'm now nine weeks into medical school. It's been crazy times, filled with...well, studying. Seriously, I'd love to share some hilarious anecdote with you, but it would be something like, "Oh, and THEN I realized that phosphatidylcholine can be made via TWO DIFFERENT REACTIONS depending on the tissue of synthesis! OHHH!"

And now you are all bored.

So, instead of witty tales of sphingolipids, I'll share with you something about my method of study. I'm sort of a tactile learner, I guess, because I can remember something really well after I write it down. As such, my study regimen has come to center around hand-copying the notes I take on my computer in class. Then for each test, I rewrite a condensed study guide of the major points from each lecture.

This is no mean feat, friends. I have killed three pens so far. They were good and faithful companions for about a week, after which they pretty much kicked it. My pen habit was going to get expensive, I could tell, because I had grown accustomed to a well-shaped gel pen.

Upon killing off number three, I reached into my drawer and realized that the only economically viable option remaining was use of--I am loathe to say it--a BiC pen.

Now, nothing against BiC.


No, pretty much everything against BiC. The price is the only attractive feature on these things. They're little sticks that dig into your hand and do not make for comfy writing, especially when you're going for the marathon like I often do.

I tried using a BiC, but after just two minutes of writing I could feel my fingers aching from where its hard plastic pressed into my flesh. This, I thought, will simply not do. But what would? I can't justify buying expensive gel pens just because they feel nice in my hand!

Then the wheels started turning.

I had a pen carcass with no soul, no essence, but a perfectly viable body.

I had a BiC with a usable cartridge, but no beauty that man should it desire.

I felt a mad scientist laugh well up within me as I realized that I, Doctor Frankenstein, could raise my beloved pen from the dead by forced transfer of a foreign lifeforce!


Frankenpen allows me to use BiC cartridges to my heart's (and wallet's) content, but sheathed in the surgically altered shell of my beloved gel pen.

What could possibly go wrong?

The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.
Mary Shelley, Chapter 3, pg. 34

Family Update!

As of yesterday, Ellie is one month old.  She weighed 11 lbs 1 oz, so she's growing like a weed and is a bit of a chunker.  The time has both gone by quickly and slowly.  It definitely feels like she's always been here, although I'm still learning how to juggle two kids rather than just one.  In some ways it's not much more work.  Like cloth diapers.  It's very little extra work to cloth diaper two kids rather than just one.  However, taking them both to the store by myself is definitely a juggling act.  I've been  very lucky so far on that front, but I'm sure it's just a matter of time.  So, just figuring things out.

Ellie is a very good baby so far.  She has had a fantastic sleeping schedule since she was born.  In the hospital, I decided I would keep her in my room the last night until she got cranky, and then I'd send her to the nursery.  However, she slept until 5 a.m. and then ate and went right back to sleep.  She has pretty much kept this schedule.  She likes to go to sleep at around 10 or 11 at night, and then sleep until 5 or 6, and then go back to sleep until 8:30 or so.  It is really a huge blessing to me, because sleep is something I don't cope well without.  Besides sleeping, Ellie LOVES to be held.  She's more of a cuddle bug than Lydia was and will snuggle and fall asleep on your chest.  It's nice.

Ellie does get bad gas though.  It's sad.  You can tell she has it when she cries really hard out of nowhere and then stops some and cries again.  We tried a number of different things, but recently we discovered a baby formula that works with her and significantly reduced her gas pains.  Now, rather than crying for a few hours at night, she lays there happily trying to smile at us.  It's a much better situation for all involved.

Lydia has reacted much better to being a big sister than I thought she would.  When I was in the hospital, she was weirded out by everything, but didn't get angry with me.  She didn't want anything to do with the baby, though, and that's mostly how things have stayed.  She calls Ellie "Baby Ella" and is not bothered by her presence at all anymore.  Sometimes she even likes to talk about her.  She says "Soft Baby Ella" and pets her head or "Baby Ella Bopful" (Baby Ellie's bottle) when I'm feeding her.  The funniest, though, is sometimes she blames Ellie for her misfortunes, like when she trips and starts crying, she'll say Ellie's name all accusingly, like it's Ellie's fault.  Hopefully she'll get over that.

In other Lydia news, Lydia has discovered a deep love of Winnie the Pooh.  Grandma Severson got her the original Disney movie on DVD, and Lydia asks to watch it almost every day.  She's learned all the characters' names and is generally delighted when the movie gets to parts she knows.  Also, her love of books has only gotten stronger, and she spends almost her entire day looking at them or asking me to read them to her.  Lately, she's started telling herself about what she remembers happening on the page.  It's fun to see her developing.

Tyler is doing extraordinarily well in medical school.  He already finished up his first two classes and received A's in both.  Right now he's taking two anatomy classes, and already got A's on the first tests for them.  He's really enjoying the material, and it's keeping him very busy.  He studies every day for several hours, on top of the time he spends in class.  It's stressful for him, but he is enjoying it overall.

As for me, I'm recovering quite nicely from my c-section.  I feel like I'm doing much better than last time.  Already I think my energy level is about back to what it was before, and minus a little understandable soreness, I'm managing the house and both the girls without too much trouble.  It's much trickier juggling two kids, but I love it.  I find it incredibly fulfilling to stay home with them and see them grow and develop.

We are very blessed in our lives.  We have a house that is going to make the next few years very comfortable, Tyler's doing well in school and it looks like we made the right choice, deciding to have him become a doctor, and our girls are both healthy and happy.  We are in a position where I can stay home with them, and somehow still manage to make our finances work out all right.  Overall, Tyler and I feel like we're getting more than our fair share of blessings, but you won't hear us complain about it!

Now, here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.  They are in order from oldest to newest:

Still in the hospital.  This is one of my favorites from then.

The only time Lydia would come near me or Ellie.  She was very nervous about that baby, but a book enticed her.

Lydia reading her favorite book, Madeline, near Ellie.  She kept taking breaks and touching Ellie's head and saying, "Soft Baby Ellie, soft."

The last week or so, Ellie has been trying to smile.  It's hard to catch them on camera, though, and this was the best shot I could get.

I thought she looked a lot like Tyler in this one.

Baby Ellie

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Eleanor Faith Severson was born at 12:58 pm today. She measures 21 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Mother and baby are doing just fine, so I don't really have much to report. Here's some photos!

Scheduled Baby-Havin' Time

Monday, September 13, 2010

 **Note: Sorry for the influx of RSS articles.  We temporarily un-privatized our blog and the result has been about 30 posts or so in people's readers.  Sorry about that.**

Meagan went to the hospital today for a standard non-stress test, just to make sure the baby is doing all right. The baby passed all the tests with no problems, but upon taking an ultrasound, the doctor found that Meagan's placenta had started to calcify and her amniotic level (which is supposed to be over 10) is at 3.

That's no good.

The baby's strong reactions to the tests indicate there's no harm to her yet, but the doctor says that if we wait much longer, things aren't going to be good. As such, we've scheduled a c-section for tomorrow, September 14, at 12:00.

We're a bit bummed as Meagan has been trying really hard to avoid another c-section, but there simply isn't a choice on this one. If conditions get any worse, the baby will be getting less oxygen and nutrients and damages will occur. A natural birth simply wasn't in the cards. Still, there's a sense of relief that comes with this. No more waiting! We know when it's all going down.

Also, several people have asked if I'll be doing a blog detailing this baby's birth. The answer now, I guess, is probably not. With any luck, there won't be much of a story to relate. We're going to the hospital tomorrow at ten for a pretty routine procedure. The last thing we want is a story. As such, I guess you can just check back tomorrow afternoon for pictures.

Thanks to the family and friends who have been supportive up to this point. We appreciate your continued prayers. I'll post any news as it comes, but we'll mostly just look forward to showing off our new baby tomorrow afternoon.

Still Waiting...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Well, my due date was two days ago and still no baby.  I thought for sure she'd come early, but I guess I was wrong.  The doctor told me at my last appointment that he thinks I'll go at least a week late, which was oddly comforting.  Now I'm not worrying about every contraction and wondering if "this is it".  I'm just assuming it's not "it" unless I have some powerful evidence to the contrary.

In the meantime, I've just been hanging around the house doing a whole lot of nothing. Mostly I've just been trying to keep up with the cleaning and laundry so that I'm not behind when this baby decides to make an appearance.  The laundry in particular became tricky this weekend because one our our hoses decided to spring a leak and cause the water to leak through our ceiling.  (Our washer and dryer are in the attic, which is weird, but whatever.)

Lydia and I have read together a lot this week.  Her favorite books at the moment are Olivia, Madeline, and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  She loves to "read" them to herself, and loves to have them read to her as well.  Her other favorite activities include playing with her hotwheel cars, playing with her dinosaurs, and playing with her magnetic letters.  She also loves to watch Leap Frog Letter Factory, Winnie the Pooh, and Little Einsteins.  I only let her watch one show a day, but that doesn't stop her from asking over and over again.

Tyler's been really busy with school.  He has a test on Friday, and in anticipation of this baby being born, he studied all day every day over his three day weekend, just in case.  He did really really well on his first test, and we're hoping for a repeat.  He's working really hard and I'm very proud of him.

And that's about our lives.  We continue on in pretty much the same fashion.  Tyler studies, I'm waiting to have a baby, and Lydia reads aloud to herself.  Hopefully, this new baby will shake things up a bit here.

The Legend of La Cucaracha

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

To set the stage, we recently moved to Little Rock. I'm sure we'll say more about that later (I'm actually not sure at all. YOU WILL GET WHAT WE GIVE YOU AND LIKE IT), but just know that we've rented a nice little house.

We had been here for two days. The first day was "Moving Day," in the which I, with the help of two guys from church, moved all of our earthly possessions into our house. The second was "Soreness Day," in which I was sore in pretty much every muscle I have. It was also the first day of unpacking, a long and arduous process that is only doable because you know that eventually you will run out of boxes to unpack. Hell will be an eternal house full of eternal boxes that you must unpack, clean, organize, arrange, and make homey. Then you move on to the next room...FOREVER.

We were retiring for the night. Meagan went to get a pre-slumber drink. Suddenly I hear her call me to look at something. I join her in the dark kitchen, wondering what I'm supposed to be seeing. She tries to point something out, but I don't see anything. Then something moves. Quickly. She turns the light on, but it's already escaped to the dark underworld from whence it came.

"That," she said, "was a gigantic cockroach."

"...Neat!" said I, uncertain as to what else we should do at that point.

The answer? Wait for another visitation.

The next night I went out to the kitchen, in which I had fortuitously left a light on. And there he sat, perched atop our kitchen sink in all his glory.

His shiny-carapaced six-legged, holy-crap-that-is-a-big-cockroach glory.

You might be shouting "SMASH HIM!" at your computer right now. It's probably what I should have done. But something in me needed to preserve this moment. A mason jar was fetched. I comically tried to shoo the roach into it. Cartoon hilarity ensued.

Finally, I managed to trap the roach under my jar. He ran about its circumference for a moment, but then realized that he had no options left. He paused and looked at me.

At least I think he did. I didn't see his tiny little eyes or anything. Let's say he looked at me. It makes the moment more profound.

For some reason, I wanted him to live. Maybe it was the fact that I felt bad about chopping off one of his majestic antennae in the trapping process. The reason I told myself was that I needed to demonstrate the problem to my landlord, and that this would be an indisputable method of illustration.

Whatever the reason, I decided to turn the jar over and put a top on it. But it had to be something that would let him breathe. Roaches breathe, right? Probably!

I grabbed a piece of paper and secured it over the top of the jar. I watched as the roach tried to skitter up the sides, failing each time. He would right himself, scratch at the side, and then fall again. Surely, I thought, there's no way out. I punched a few air holes in the paper and went to bed.

The next morning, Meagan and I woke up. We went about our morning routine in a usual way, until I asked, "Say, did you see the jar on the counter?"

"Yeah," she replied, "I was meaning to ask you what was up with that."

"Is that not a gigantic roach?!" I enthused.

"...There....was no roach in that jar."

My blood ran chill.

"Oh no." I muttered. "He ESCAPED! AND HE'S MAD!"

I went to the kitchen to find that somehow, the cockroach had managed to not only reach the top of the jar, but to chew a hole through the paper I had affixed.

A big, cockroach-wide hole.

Truly these creatures will outlive us all.

Now for the odd part: Ever since the Day of the Empty Jar, we haven't seen this cockroach. My wife wanted to name him James, but I find the name a bit banal for such a survivor. Whatever he's done, he has managed to avoid my wrath. I like to think that he chewed through the paper and before escaping looked in the direction of my bedroom and said something to the effect of, "Nice try," but then, realizing that I would not be so kind next time, retreated, figuring that there were other kitchens out there, a whole frontier that was utterly unaware of his presence. These greener pastures, he thought, would be his home.

In reality, he probably found his way into my bag of flour and I'll someday find him and all his relatives. Who knows? The cockroach is a wily beast, full of surprise and mystery.

Tales from the Intermission: Chapter the Fourth

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In which the narrator catches you up on everything so this blog is in the present and can stop being broken into numbered chapters

The funny thing is that several of you are probably thinking that Meagan has been working all these past months at Lowe's. Well, here's the awful part: Shortly after I posted that blog about her interview series and everything (AND, may I add, after she had been given an established starting day), Lowe's decided not to hire Meagan. Everything involving them was a colossal waste of her time. We were a fair bit hacked off. But rather than fuss about it, we looked at our family needs and decided that this could be a blessing in disguise. Sure, we wouldn't make quite as much money, but there were other things Meagan could earn during the summer. Meagan laid out a rather intense curriculum for her few remaining independent study classes and decided to finish her degree before we move. We're proud to say that she will be taking her last three finals next week, finishing all classes she needed for her BA in political science. I'm incredibly proud of her for managing to finish up all of her classes (not to mention doing pretty well in them) while also taking care of Lydia at home. She's done amazing things.

As for me…well, I've been in the Wal-Mart temp program with a great group, but they weren't especially skilled at putting me to use. That is to say, I got a pretty good paycheck for surfing the internet. I was happy to work when it came around, but that wasn't as often as you would think. A few weeks into the position I actually scheduled a meeting with my manager to discuss the matter, and the best way my position was described was "like a service industry employee," who just stands around waiting, getting paid, until there is something for them to do. OK, then! It's given me plenty of time to work on some writing and some administration projects I needed to work on. I got paid to pursue hobbies! Unfortunately, you can only do that stuff for so long in a day, and so my time at my desk got pretty darned boring. I've been grateful for the job, but I'm not going to be very sad to move on.

Speaking of moving on, I don't think we ever actually talked about where we're going for med school. Short story: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), College of Medicine, in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Long story: By the time medical school interviews wound up, I had been accepted to UAMS and Case Western Reserve in Cleveland and I had been wait-listed at Vanderbilt and Wake Forest (I had also been wait-listed at Saint Louis University, but a bad interview experience made us want to avoid that so long as there were other options). We started to examine CWR vs. UAMS (I was personally holding out some hope for Vanderbilt, but alas! They never called me up off the waiting list), and found that both would offer me a pretty great medical school experience and that most of the quality of my education would come down to not where I went, but what I did when I got there. My education is in my hands. As such, we decided to go to UAMS, which offered several distinct advantages, including:

1. It's not in Cleveland!
2. It's significantly closer to both Meagan's family and my own
3. Little Rock has safer housing closer to the school
4. UAMS costs about 1/3 as much as CWR
5. UAMS gave me scholarships; CWR did not

So basically, we found very little reason to pick the stingy, expensive, Cleveland-based school when we had UAMS as an option.

Since deciding to go to UAMS, I have been awarded a 1/4 tuition scholarship for my first year. That's nice. But the most exciting thing at this point is the new house. In our marriage, Meagan and I have lived in three different apartments and one parents' basement. We've never rented a house before, but with child number 2 on the way and a third being likely to show up at some point during school, we thought that getting a three-bedroom house would be our best option. We found one that we were OK with and started putting the paperwork through…until we found a BETTER one. We quickly pulled out of the first deal and signed a contract with the second.
This place is about what you'd expect for people in our position. It's not awesomely nice, but it's well-kept and homey. Three beds, 1.5 baths, a large backyard (in which yardwork is taken care of for us!), and, perhaps my favorite part, it's only two blocks away from campus. I can come home and see my kids during my lunch break! We don't have to use the car! That's pretty great news! That is why I am using so many exclamation points!

Oh, and the monthly rent is under the budget we set, so that is also good times.

But we haven't spent our whole time in Bentonville working and looking forward to leaving. We figured that while we were here, we may as well do some stuff.

Meagan has spent the last few months as a church Activity Days leader for the eight- and nine-year-old girls in the ward, and I was called as the assistant Venture Scout leader (ages 16-17). We have both had great experiences working with the youth of our ward. Along the way, I got to substitute teach the 16-year-old Sunday School and teach a lesson or two to the priests, which was a great part of the calling.

Meagan has been working on building our new baby, and she's entered the uncomfortable stage of the third trimester. We've been blessed to have an incident-free pregnancy. Dang, have we even mentioned that the new baby is a girl? She is. We are pretty sure of this, as the ultrasound tech said that our baby was the easiest gender identification she'd made all week. Apparently we produce exhibitionist fetuses.

Lydia has very much enjoyed the attentions paid by her aunts and grandparents. We think it's going to be a rough transition to suddenly having just Mom and Dad…and THEN having them taken away by the new baby. I sense psychological scarring in the near future!

We have one week left here, and then we're on our way to Little Rock. We're excited, of course, but we have a slight case of the very common pre-moving jitters. A new chapter in our lives! Who knows what it will hold? The best we can do, I suppose, is realize we're in it together, join hands, and boldly move forward. Bentonville, it's been great. We have enjoyed you. But we're out of here.

Tales from the Intermission: Chapter the Third

In which a doting father shares anecdotes and tales of Lydia since we moved to Arkansas

So, today I am feeling a strange mix of boredom at work and pride in my progeny, so I think today is a good day to write up a post about much better my kid is than every other kid.


Lydia has tended to take her time with achieving certain milestones. She didn't crawl or walk quite on schedule, but when she started doing them she picked them up quickly. The same has been the case for talking. Lydia's started to pick up words all over the place. She understands a LOT of things we say, and knows how to go upstairs, downstairs, outside, to the car as well as how to identify her toys, including balls, hammers (don't ask), and a plethora of stuffed animals.

What she's not so good at, though? Enunciation. You have to sort of become a master of her language to understand, for example, whether she is referring to her bear ("boh"), a bird ("bih"), bed ("bee"), or a ball ("bah"). "Nana" can mean she wants a banana, that she wants to play the piano, or that she wants to hang out with Grandma. It's all about context clues, really, but if Grandma is eating a banana on the piano bench...well, the meaning would be nigh impossible to decode. Thankfully, Grandma has a strict no-peelable-fruit-near-the-keys policy, saving us all a world of confusion.

Other favorite words: "piz" (please), "pmpa" (Grandpa), "dazdie" (Daddy?), "dada" (The Cat in the Hat, for reasons we remain absolutely baffled about), "flowfuh" (flower), "bikka bikka" (book...?) and the all-powerful "up!" She also knows several animal sounds, including a Scandinavian dog, ("voof voof!"), an inquisitive French duck ("Qua qua qua!"), and an adorably gentle bear (she roars "Raaaah!" but does it in a very quiet, happily excited voice).

Of course, she still cuts loose with some good babblin' now and then. She should really be using real words by now, but I have to admit that it makes me laugh to hear her just wandering the halls and finding some syllable she likes and repeating it in different tones and volumes.

Books (Bikka bikka)

Of course, some of her best rambling comes when she sits down and reads to herself. Lydia has always been fond of books, and has generally proven herself to be quite capable of not ripping pages. As such, we're OK with her playing with her books. She'll just plop herself down, prop the book up in her lap, and start "reading" in a very authoritative tone. She is not just reading; she is sharing wisdom. She can do this, occasionally turning pages, for quite a while--sometimes up to an hour. The funny thing is that she actually DOES realize a few things. Even in books without pictures, she will always hold the book right-side-up. Even if you give it to her upside-down, she'll reverse it before she begins reading. Neat!


Lydia has sort of a love/hate relationship with beds. When we came to Arkansas, Meagan and I decided that rather than giving Lydia a crib, we would give her a "bed." The reason that's in quotes, you ask? Well, her bed technically consists of her crib mattress on the ground in our walk-in closet. That's right. Our baby sleeps in our closet. She has a story for the future!

The bed, however, hardly matters. Lydia has slept on her bed maybe once or twice since we came here. Most of the times we check on her at night, we find this:

The bed, I suppose, is just there for the feng shui.

So, I guess that's not HATE, per se, but it sure isn't love. The love element of beds, though, is a very special one for Lydia. She has made the magical discovery that Mom and Dad's bed (as well as Grandma and Grandpa's) is simultaneously bouncy, soft, and large. These attributes combined make a perfect playground. Lyddie can spend a long time just knocking herself over on the bed, flopping all over the place and trusting that all will be well. I am certain it's just a matter of time until she misjudges it and flies straight off the side. On the other hand, she just has so much fun doing it that it seems churlish to not allow it. She grins like a maniac the whole time. AND--this is important--it has gotten her to do an accidental somersault. If you have never seen one done on accident, you're missing out. The look of shock on the child's face at suddenly being on her back is just pricelessly hilarious.

Lydia likes attention generally, but when she's on the bed, she REQUIRES active involvement. She will stand in her proudest gymnastic pose and say, "Ah ha!" This, we've discovered, is her call to attention. If she "ah ha!"s and you aren't paying attention, she will walk over to you, and "ah ha!" in your face until you look up at her and repeat, "Ah ha!" She is then free to go about her business, NOW THAT SHE HAS YOUR ATTENTION, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Random Anecdotes

The other night Lydia was in a particularly whiny mood as we led her on her death march to her bedroom. Grandpa was heading the same direction and walked right behind the Whiny One as she was letting loose a mighty "enhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." Grandpa thought it would be funny to do a (pretty much spot-on) imitation of the whine. Lydia, suddenly incensed, turns around and just shoves his shin with force equal to her indignity. Then, as though she realized that what she had just done was certainly not a good idea, she ran and took shelter behind her mother's legs. We're not sure if she was afraid of being punished or what, but Grandpa cracked up not just at the insolent spunk she showed, but also at the rapid transition to cowardice.

I am man enough to admit that I had a less-than-flattering nickname as a child. It was related bathtime activities. My father dubbed one-year-old me "The Mad Crapper." Apparently warm water worked its wiles on my bowels, and I was powerless against its persuasion. Now that you can no longer look me in the eye, I'll tell you about Lydia. Meagan and I have felt grateful that Lydia seems to have avoided the nickname her father was once saddled with. Her bathtimes generally go unsoiled. In fact, it only happened one time in her first year: on Mother's Day when I was getting her ready for church. That lovely May morning became a horrific nightmare as Lydia cut loose in the tub. And, of course, it fell to Daddy to clean it up. JOY. As Mother's Day approached this past May, I grew fearful. Lydia's record had been clean after the Mother's Day Movement...but what if she decided to strike again? Meagan assured me it was just my persecution complex kicking in. Mother's Day came. I bathed Lydia. Lydia crapped the tub. OK, that was hilarious. But the REALLY funny part is that she was TERRIFIED of what had happened. She just FREAKED OUT in the funniest possible way. She cowered at the far end of the tub, as far away from the floaters as she could manage. I cannot help but think that this will leave scars. Oh, and the best part? It happened AGAIN the next day. She has hated baths ever since.

Lydia turned 18 months old in February, and in the LDS Church, that meant she was now eligible to attend Nursery! Meagan and I were pretty excited about the prospect of a few baby-free months of Sunday School. Lydia, as it turned out, was not. She HATED Nursery. She flipped out and would often had to be returned to Meagan. Sometimes she would settle enough to stay, but it was a nervous fist-sucky kind of settled that lasted only until one of us picked her up, at which point she got really clingy and, presumably fearing further abandonment, would not unlatch from Meagan's shoulder. During stake conference, she flipped out when we stood up to sing the intermediate hymn because she figured it was now time to go to nursery. She did it AGAIN during the closing hymn of the same conference, just SURE that Nursery was only moments away. As time went on, though, she grew to accept Nursery and has since embraced it. She now leads Meagan by the hand down to the Nursery room after sacrament meetings, and plays happily (mostly by stealing other kids' toys, the little bully (OK, parenthetical anecdote: One time the Nursery leader gave each of the kids a toy egg. Lydia went around and stole everyone else's egg until she had a collection sufficient for her wants.)) until we come and get her.

Lydia tends to be more of a snacker than a meal-eater. Dinner is the worst. We practically have to force food down her throat in the evening. So after a while of just sitting at her high chair watching us eat, she gets bored and Mom lets her down. At this point, she delightedly runs to Grandma, who has mastered the art of eating dinner with a child in her lap and welcomes a bit of company. Lydia will then sit in her lap for the remainder of the meal and--this is the weird part--plays salad dressing games. We are honestly not sure what's going on in her head, but Lydia will get all of the salad dressings on the table in front of her, and she will then move them around, examine them, arrange them in different ways, and generally just be a total weirdo for the rest of the meal. If you need to use one of the salad dressings, she'll let you, but she'll whine at you while you have it. I have yet to see her voluntarily get down from this activity, so I can only presume that, if we allowed it, she would do it until she fell asleep at the table.

In short, Lydia is well on her way to being one sassy broad. We adore her.

Tales from the Intermission: Chapter the Second

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In which our heroes bum around and eventually find work, eventually missing the former and regretting the latter

Our arrival was followed by a week of takin' it easy. This was something we were grateful for. The cross-country move kind of took it out of us, so having a week to max and relax was lovely. After we were maximized and relaximized, however, we realized it was time to start seeking work.

The job hunt was not a fun one for us. I hate to be one of those guys who just whines about the sorry state of the economy and all that, but let's face facts: it's a bit hard to find a job out here. I applied to several places: Wal-Mart, the movie theater, several bakeries, and, of course, Bath and Body Works.

Now, those of you reading know me. I'm a decently bright guy. I have a good degree from a good school. My resume is pretty nice. I have good references.

You guys, I could not get a job taking tickets at the movie theater. Bath and Body Works wouldn't even call me. IT IS THAT BAD.

Luckily, Wal-Mart's temp program was hiring. I figured that would be a good way to spend my time, since the position itself is based around capriciousness. I like to think I could have gotten a good, serious, "career-type" job if not for the fact that I'm only here for a few months. I like to think I'd be qualified for it. But as I'm only here for a short time, not many folks are willing to hire, train, and mould someone for several months just to have them pack up and head out.

Anyway. Now I'm big tempin'. I spent the first month of my illustrious temp career in Specialty Tax.

It is exactly as much fun as it sounds.

It's basically the element of Wal-Mart/Sam's Club that deals with state tax exemptions for certain vendors and resellers. My basic purposes there were scanning in documents, copying down license numbers, and doing a LOT of cut-copy-pasting. It was not the most engaging work, but the people I worked with were good folks who took a shine to me. They even got me a cake when I left their division.

Now, though, I find myself in the Private Label Marketing team. I'm not sure if I came as a surprise to them or something, but my employer (again, a very nice lady) just can't come up with anything for me to do. I spend my days getting paid for what is, quite honestly, not very much work. It's not something I'm proud of, but then again, it's not something I can exactly control either. I don't really have the power, knowledge, or experience to really start something out of thin air, so I'm reliant upon assignments and instructions. Alas.

Meagan's job hunt started very similar to mine. She also applied for jobs all over the place, and, despite her great overqualification for them, she didn't get any calls either. When Wal-Mart hired me, they told me that they had looked at her resume and would be happy to hire her, but there was some trouble. Meagan is looking for part-time work so that she can still be home most of the time with Lydia, and Wal-Mart's temp program doesn't do a lot of part-time work.

Finally, after weeks of hunting, Meagan got a call from Lowe's, asking her to come and interview. Think about every Lowe's you've ever been to. You don't really expect the workers there to be rocket scientists, do you? I didn't. But Meagan had to go in not for one, not for two, but for THREE SEPARATE INTERVIEWS just to get the job at Lowe's. And this isn't for a management position or anything--she's just looking to be a cashier.

The three interview system wouldn't have been terrible of itself, except for the fact that the people scheduling the multi-interview weren't exactly on the ball. She did the first, then waited a week, then got the other two in the same night, then waited a week to hear back that she needed to have a drug test….and that she would then have to wait another week to get the results of that test (compare this to my job at Wal-Mart, in which I interviewed, drove straight to the drug test, and got a call that afternoon telling me I had the job and that I could start the next day). So, we fully expect that Meagan will at long last be gainfully employed within the next year. She may even get the chance to start work before we leave town in July!

Tales from the Intermission: Chapter the First

Monday, March 8, 2010

In which our heroes drive across the country and get burned by a Taco Bell's poor parking facilities.

We had just finished loading up a far-too-full moving truck. We sat in our empty living room. Lydia was busy having a nervous breakdown. Really, it was one of those parenting moments that is made up of a combination of sadness for the child's suffering, entertainment at the hilarity of the child's suffering, and guilt for enjoying the hilarity of the child's suffering. She was trying to get into her room, pounding frantically at the door, and then freaking out even further when the door was opened for her and she realized that nothing was in there anyway. We ate one last meal in Provo (Beto's burritos…perhaps the only non-human element I will miss about Provo, Utah) and then got in our terrifyingly huge truck and got on the road.

It was worst in the beginning. I drove the behemoth through the hills and winding roads of the highway to get us out of the stinkin' Rocky Mountains. This drive was useful in that it was a final assurance that I would absolutely not miss the West. Mountains, man…you can keep 'em. It was a white-knuckle affair for a few hours, as I had to alternately floor the gas to achieve record speeds of 45 mph on the highway and then press the brake to the floor to keep my hulking vehicle from careening out of control. FUN TIMES WERE HAD BY ALL.

Once I broke out of the Rockies, it was awesomely smooth sailing. Straight roads, no issues at all. Man, it is EASY to drive across the Great Plains states. Just put on the cruise control…

Oh, yeah, wait, I didn't have cruise control. Yeah, THAT was great. By the time we finally arrived, my right leg was shockingly tired from the constant pressure I had to apply to the giant diesel's gas pedal.

Well, even without cruise, it was still pretty awesome to drive through those highways. I'll grant that there's not much in the way of scenery, but hey, I'm not there for the scenery. I'm there simply to get somewhere else. And the highways obliged me that much.

We ended up getting a hotel just a few miles away from the Colorado/Nebraska border around midnight. We had a good sleep (Lydia got a Pack 'n Play in the closet) and got en route early the next morning. Also, the hotel had waffles! Like the kind you make right there in the flippy waffle iron. YES, I KNOW IT IS AWESOME, THANK YOU FOR POINTING OUT THE OBVIOUS. You are surely jealous.

Replete with fresh-made waffles, we hit the road. The road to lunchtime (the temporal lunchtime, not the legendary Lunchtime, Iowa, home of the world's largest Thermos) was uneventful. But lunchtime…oh, lunchtime, you betrayed me so.

All I wanted was a burrito. Taco Bell seemed a fitting place to assuage this desire. And the Taco Bell in Kearney, Nebraska, seemed so spacious. It would be so easy, I thought. We get a burrito and then we leave. The world keeps turning and all is well.

Taco Bell betrayed me.

The parking lot was not nearly as large as it looked from the road, making turning around in my massive vehicle (which I could not put into reverse due to the car tow dolly I was dragging behind us) impossible. As is my usual response to family crisis, I freaked out. I had no idea how to get our stupid vehicle out of the stupid Taco Bell parking lot. Luckily, my car trip utility belt includes a marvelously sane wife who realized that all we really needed to do was detach the car tow dolly. That would allow us to put the U-haul in reverse, do a 17-point turn, and finally get out of this asphalt Alcatraz.

Leaving our screaming baby strapped into her seat alone in the U-haul (there are so many things wrong there), we figured out as best we could how to get our car off the dolly. It was freezing cold and everything was wet and slushy. My hands turned a rather lobstery shade of red (lobstery, a word used to refer to something resembling an attribute of a lobster, is obviously superior to the traditional adjective lobster-like, though inferior to the intellectual and sophisticated lobsteresque, as made famous in Lord Byron's immortal couplet, "Sittin' at my writin' desk/Feelin' pretty lobsteresque," which many of our readers no doubt memorized in grade school). After struggles with pretty much every part of the dolly (I'm not really handy, you know?), I finally got the car off. We then figured out how to detach the dolly. Our baby still screaming, our burritos growing cold in the cab of the U-haul, we finally managed to get the U-haul facing the exit. Excellent! Now…we just have to move the dolly across the parking lot, reattach it, put the car back on it, secure it properly, and pray it doesn't fly off in the middle of our trip. Simple!

We finally ate our burritos about an hour after ordering them, ready to get the dust of Kearney, Nebraska, off our feet, tires, and anything else the dust of that terrible place touched. We pulled into a gas station to fuel up and get going.

The town was not done with me yet.

Those of you who have driven a large U-haul (or U-haul type vehicle) know that they have a massive fuel tank. This is a good thing. It allows you stop at less-frequent intervals. But it can take a while to fill up.

It can especially take a while to fill up if you pull into the only diesel pump in Kearney, Nebraska, which takes about 30 seconds to pump a gallon of gas. The tank held about 55 gallons. Do the math. We were there for a while. As I watched the ticker on the gas pump climb ever so slowly, I could feel my rage and hatred for Kearney, Nebraska, increase with each slow-flowing gallon.

Basically, Kearney, Nebraska, can just burn. When the revolution comes, that town will be the first against the wall. Readers, I entreat you all to pray for the destruction of Kearney, of its Taco Bell and its accursed parking lot, of its horribly slow gas pumps. Perhaps if our faith is combined, a meteor will come down and wipe it from the earth, instantly raising Earth's cool points by a factor of two.

The trip continued without incident until we were about an hour away from our destination. Then the snow hit. Guys, we drove through Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa, states all famous for horrible snow and ice in the winter. The only trouble we had was in southern Missouri. It was funny to watch our ETA increase even as our distance decreased. When we were 65 miles away, we were an hour away. When we were 55 miles away, we were about an hour-twenty away. When we hit 40 miles, we were looking at nearly two hours of travel. I was worried we would eventually drive straight into an asymptote and just have to eternally get close to our destination without ever actually arriving.

THAT was for all the readers who keep up with us for our legendary math references. Elevated multiple-digit/palmar impacts* for all!

Eventually, though, we broke through the storm and drove into my folks' driveway around 2 am. We all promptly crashed. The deed was done. We were there. We were home, as it were--at least for a few months.

*Known in the lingua franca as a high-five

What times? Valentimes!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Being the LDS folk we are, Meagan and I were debating whether or not we should celebrate the pagan holiday of the Most Holy Feast of Saint Valentine, Servant of the Lord and Martyr to His Gospel on the Sabbath or not. We ultimately ended up celebrating Valentine's weekend, which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in making your life a lot better.

We started the festivities after I got off work on Friday with the most romantic activity in all of Bentonville, Arkansas: a trip to Wal-Mart. Amorous!

The plan was an amazing one, hatched by my lovely wife: we'd have an extended fondue dinner. Those of you who have ever had a full fondue meal (like at the marvelous restaurant The Melting Pot) know that A) it is awesome beyond most languages' abilities to describe, and B) it can go for HOURS. Here's the basic rundown of how the meal went:

Cheese Course

We made an excellent sharp cheddar cheese dip, which I cooked to an excellent consistency. Into it we dipped summer sausage, smoked sausage, ham cubes, sourdough bread chunks, and well-crusted hard rolls. Amazing. This is one of the faster courses in a fondue dinner. It's first, so you're really ripping into it with crazy hunger-passion. It is also all ready to eat. Everything before you is cooked and ready to go. You can eat as quickly as you want. We wound this one up in about half an hour and took a break to digest.

Broth Course

This is where time kicks in. I seasoned some beef broth and brought it to a boil in our fondue pot. We then set out plates of raw shrimp, filet mignon, broccoli, and mushrooms. Where you go from here is fairly obvious. Each food item needs to cook for about three minutes. Taking bite-sized pieces of food and cooking them one at a time takes quite a while. We were doing this for about three hours. Delicious.

Chocolate Course

And, of course, chocolate. Ohhhh my. We made a creamy dip from a mixture of milk and semi-sweet chocolate that had a wonderful texture to it. Into that we dipped strawberries, pineapple, pecans, pound cake, vanilla wafers (classy!), biscotti, and Granny Smith apples.

All through this, we had the chance to watch the Olympic opening ceremonies. Now, I am not a fan of watching TV on dates or at dinner. But this was special. Because we pretty much knew what was going on, we chatted through the whole thing. Sometimes it was about what was on screen, and a lot of the time it was about other things. But we talked through the whole dinner, and it was wonderful. It was one of the most fun nights I've had in a long time, and one of the best dates Meagan and I have ever had.

And THAT was just Friday!

Saturday was simpler; just some gift exchanging. Meagan got me an edited movie of my choice from a website that somehow still offers them, and I got her half a dozen chocolate covered strawberries, which she had earlier hinted she "would take over flowers any day of the week." I also got her one of the great romantic gifts of our time: an Arby's gift card.

Before I'm laughed off…um…the internet, I guess, let me explain why this was something that made her very happy. Meagan is blessed (so far!) to have pretty easy pregnancies from a morning sickness standpoint. She develops some minor food aversions, has a heightened sense of smell for a while, but she never throws up or has too rough of a time. Where the hormones kick in, though, is in food cravings. She can get utterly addicted to something while pregnant. It's amazing. This pregnancy, it's been Arby's. She always wants to go there. Luckily, she's strong enough to forbear and not spend all our money at every drive-thru she passes. As such, despite how incredibly white trash it sounds, I actually really nailed V-day this year! Hooray!

Sunday, V-day proper, was celebrated with a wonderful steak dinner (thanks, Mom!) and a lot of cookies. There is no better way to celebrate any occasion than with a bunch of cookies.

That, madams et monsieurs, was our Valentine's Weekend. It was a great chance to realize how lucky we are to have each other and to have such a great marriage. We hope yours went equally well!

Grand Announcement

Monday, February 15, 2010

As Meagan already mentioned, there are several reasons we’ve had for not keeping up with our web log site. We’re sorry about that. In fact, one of our readers chastised me earlier for not being sure to keep them up on the elements that make up our lives. While I’m still not certain that “Hey! You didn’t post any pictures of your child taking a bath!” is a legitimate offense, we do aim to please.

I write today with a bit of news. As it turns out, Meagan and I are expecting a new addition to the family. The TBA son/daughter should be arriving around September 4. We are now accepting congratulations in the form of gift cards, cash, and foodstuffs. Also, iPods.

So, let’s consider this the official press release. The rumors you’ve heard are true. The Severson Family is working on developing the next generation of child. Features are expected to include ten fingers, ten toes, fully-functional organs (including appendix and gallbladder*) and an IQ surpassing all human children** produced to date***. Release date expected to be September 4.

The Severson Baby: Next – Everything you’ve come to expect from a Severson Baby, swaddled in one adorably convenient package.

*Optional; may be removed at convenience of user

**Excepting other Severson Children, who are a proud demonstration of the pinnacle of genetics you’ve come to expect from the Severson Family

***Rumors of this feature may be slightly exaggerated; updates to follow through product development

Update on Lydia

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lydia has changed a ton in the last few months. Her biggest change has probably been socially. She used to cry whenever strangers would come near her. She was very shy and didn't really know how to act around other people. Now she is bouncing off the walls bring strangers toys and generally being a happy kid. I attribute this mostly to the fact that she's had so many changes in her life, what with moving. She went from having about 400 square feet to play in to a whole big house. She's learned to climb the stairs and is a lot more independent. She loves to explore and get into things. She loves to play in the driveway and her favorite part is the rain gutter. She loves to put her feet under the trickle of melted snow water that comes out of it. She's still wary of the grass, but has been venturing a step or two onto every time we play outside lately.

For a while we were worried about all her delays and what they'd mean. We were worried she might have some sort of autistic spectrum disorder, and her therapists told us that 18 months-old was the crucial point for that. We were to look for a lack of progression or regression. Well, I'm happy to say she's been progressing like crazy.

She had a growth spurt a while ago, and for the first time in her life, she fits the clothes that she's supposed to fit. She's still skinny, but with her cloth diapers, she's fitting into 18 month jeans and shirts. We bought her a little dress right after we got here to Arkanasas and she wore it for 2 Sundays and now it's too small. It's good to see her finally growing after being worried about her for so long.

The only thing left is for her to start talking. She is not talking at all and this does keep us a little worried. If it's not one thing, it's another with Lydia. Babies are supposed to be saying their first words by 16 months, so we're getting her evaluated for speech therapy. I'm not too worried, though, because she's done everything right when she wanted to so far, and I'm thinking this will be the same. She completely understands what we're saying, and learns new words every day. Today she learned "whale" and "boat". She has toy ones and I asked her to go get them from amongst her other toys and she brought them strait to me. She's understanding, just not reciprocating. It's really starting to frustrate her, too, because sometimes I have no idea what she wants. Hopefully that will motivate her.

Another big milestone for Lydia is that she is no longer in her crib. Because of our arrangements, Lydia is sleeping in our walk-in closet, which wouldn't fit a crib. So we just put a mattress on the floor and let her have free reign. Unfortunately, the carpet at Grandma and Grandpa's house is comfy and she prefers sleeping on the ground by the vent. We've given up trying to get her to sleep on the mattress.

Last Sunday was her first Sunday in nursery. I felt sort of lost without her with me, but she did well for the most part. At first, a baby cried so that set her off. She was inconsolable, so Grandma went in and helped calm her down. Once she calmed down, however, she was good for the next hour and a half! When I went to pick her up, she was drenched in water. The nursery leader was very apologetic and said that Lydia had been to quick and got a sippy cup loose and dumped it on herself. Lydia didn't care, so I just wrapped her in a blanket and all was well.

Lydia in the bath this morning. She's gone from hating bathtime to loving it and splashing around for 45 minutes.

Last night this was what we found when we went to check on Lydia. She had fallen asleep with her hand under the door. It was both sad and creepy

This is a standard night for Lydia in her little "room". You can see her mattress over to the side.

The following are after a large snowstorm here in Arkansas. This was our attempt at having Lydia make a snow angel.

This last one is the last picture we took of Lydia in our old apartment. Goodbye orange carpet!


I'm sorry it's been so long since we posted. Those of you that keep track of us in real life will already know that a lot has been going on in our little family since November.

First, our SD card reader broke on our computer, so we had no way to get pictures off our camera. That alone made it so we didn't really want to post.

Second, Tyler graduated in December! He received a Bachelor's Degree in Business from BYU. This was a major achievement for him, and we're very proud. He graduated Cum Laude, even!

Third, we moved to Arkansas. Yup. we're here staying with Tyler's family until medical school starts at the end of the summer. We arrived right before New Year's and have been getting settled for the last month or so. It is such a pain to move across the country, especially when you know most of your stuff will stay packed. It was almost my job completely to pack and make the arrangements (Tyler was busy with finals). That was the most stressed out I've been in a long time, but everything worked out an here we are. I have to say, having a toddler makes moving A LOT more difficult than just being by yourself. The actual trip wasn't too bad, although it was long. Luckily, Lydia really enjoys car trips, especially when she gets to be in the front seat with Mommy and Daddy, like she was this time in the big truck. Poor kid won't sleep in the car, though, so she was completely exhausted by the time we arrived, 22 hours after leaving (with a short layover for the night).

Forth, we spent Christmas in Moab with my family. It was fun, although weird, because it snowed. We got to see the arches covered in snow, though, which I'm sure is unusual. Lydia really enjoyed spending time there. She was a little overwhelmed by all the people at first, but ate it up once she got used to it.

Fifth, Tyler started a new job. He's temping for Walmart right now. It was a major blessing for us because he got the job almost a week after getting here. We thought it'd be a few weeks at least. Not his dream job, by any means, but it's better than what we were hoping for.

Sixth, I got a job! Yup, for the first time since Lydia was born I'll be working. I'm not very excited about this, but she'll be staying at home with Grandma, and it's only part-time, so I think I'll be ok. I'm sure Lydia will be. I'm working as a cashier at Lowe's, right down the street. Certainly not my dream job, but our goal right now is to save as much money as possible, so this will help.

Seventh, Tyler and I both got callings. Tyler is an assistant in the Priest Quorum. It's going to be challenging and a growing experience for him, but he's going into it with a good attitude and I think he'll be great. I got called to be an Activity Days leader, and I'm over the 8 and 9 year-olds. I'm not really sure what I'll be doing exactly, but it should be fun.

Well, now you're officially caught up in the life of the Seversons!