29 December 2008

The Year in Pictures (of The Bear)

Happy New Year! Here's to a productive and happy 2009!

An Oldie But a Goodie

Phat Pat hasn't made an appearance on Life's a Bear in awhile. Nate and I were reminiscing about a classic Patism over our long drive to Iowa last week. Enjoy!

In October, Nate, Benny, and my parents traveled to Omaha for a wedding. We stuck around in eastern Nebraska for the weekend to meet up with Nate's grandma, Lila. She doesn't get to see Benny much and we thought it would be a good opportunity to meet up. Lucky for us, my entire family decided to stick around too. My family can be slightly overwhelming - especially for a great-grandma.

Anyway, my dad was singing Benny's praises to Lila. He was telling her about how he knows where he takes his bath, how he knows where to get his milk, how he can life a dumbell over his head, how he can walk on water. In his story about Benny's ability to locate his bath and his milk, he detailed out Benny will sign "milk," run to the refrigerator, open the door, grab his milk, close the door, and gulp up his milk.

Wahhh? For those of you who are familiar with 15-month-old kids, you know that most of them CANNOT open a refrigerator. Benny is no exception. But my dad, in all his pride and his inability to tell a story without elaborating it, had to up the ante.

Nate and I looked at each other after my dad finished this story and just rolled our eyes. Another classic Phat Pat moment.

20 December 2008


So, I sort of feel like a moron. I've been wondering how to post a photo in a blog post, thinking there was some sort of really high tech, confusing way to do it. Well, as it turns out, I can post photos via the tool bar. Doy! But while I was trying to figure all of this out, I also decided to change the layout. You know, shake things up a bit. It's nearly a new year. Why not? Benny and I leave for Nebraska tomorrow and then the whole Struckman/Brown family (including the Matt - yes, the same Matt of the "Brother-in-Law Experiment") will embark on an epic Christmas journey to the Quad Cities. OK, OK, perhaps it's not epic. But it will be longggg. If I don't post until after Christmas, have a very merry one!

P.S. Here's our family picture for the holidays - embedded in the post!!!

19 December 2008

Total Bummer, Dude

This just in: I didn't get the job. They didn't even call me to tell me. They emailed me. I'm bummed, for sure. But, to look on the bright side, this may be a sign that I need to concentrate on my dissertation. Truth be told, I wasn't looking forward to working and writing full time.

15 December 2008


Benny finally said it. And said it with authority. And he was referring to me. My heart grew five times its normal size last night.

He's also added a few other words to his vocabulary: "ball," "all done," and "clock." And now he's signing "book," "bread," "outside," and "hot." Oh, that Bear. What amazing little fella.

13 December 2008

Top 10 List

I've been day dreaming of all the things I'll do once I'm finished with my dissertation. I'm ready to throw this thing out. Here's how I'll spend my time when I turn this damn thing in...

10. Volunteer
9. Shop
8. Paint
7. Socialize (even go out on dates with my husband!)
6. Watch movies without feeling guilty
5. Help out more with home improvement projects
4. Plan more exciting, fun things for Benny
3. Take a yoga class
2. Have another baby
1. Read books for fun!!!

These are in no particular order. I'm excited for everything. Particularly with doing more fun stuff with Benny and reading books for fun!

Someday. Someday.

12 December 2008

The Double Standard

The scoop: I had a job interview on Wednesday! Hurray! I'm not getting my hopes up about getting this job because it's very likely that I won't. But, having an interview certainly made me think about many issues, most of them regarding Benny and my dissertation.

If I start working, we'll have to put Benny in daycare. I have VERY mixed emotions about this. But, just like everything related to Benny, we'll get through this by trial and error. I'm also a little concerned about my dissertation. I do have a decent amount written, but I don't like the thought of working full time while trying to finish a dissertation. That's how I wrote my thesis and it wasn't fun.

The issue that has bothered me the most, however, doesn't deal with the present. It's about the future. Of course, if we have another child, this child will probably be in daycare from an early age. With a house and two kids, I don't think I could take a year off to hang out with both of our babies. Because I'll probably work for a nonprofit, my maternity leave will probably be short and I'll probably have to take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act. This act allows employees to take up to three months off without the threat of losing their job. Three months. That's not very long. The upside of the law is that it allows anyone to take the time off, including men. That means that Nate could take advantage of the law as well. Our second kid could, theoretically, stay at home for up to six months.

The problem: When I brought this scenerio up to Nate, he was insistent that he couldn't do it. What bothers me isn't that he probably won't be able to take it, but that he isn't even willing to try. I'm expected to (and I'm happy to) take the time off. In fact, I think it's a sad state of affairs that women AND men aren't allowed more time off to stay at home with their new babies. I realize that Nate is in an industry that doesn't really have to leave with maternity/paternity leave because it's considered a feminine issue. Engineering is male dominated. But the fact that Nate won't even entertain the possibility bothers me.

If more men made taking FMLA a priority, families wouldn't have to deal with this issue over and over and over again. It's not just Nate, it's our society in general. Men need to cherish the time they have with their new babies. I'm not saying that Nate didn't or won't, but it was certainly different for him.

I'm sure I'll struggle with this issue over the next year or so as we consider having another child. If you have any thoughts, please send them my way...

09 December 2008

First Time for Everything

I was wondering how long we could carry on our lives before Benny got sick. It happened this morning. He woke up with a low-grade fever early this morning and spent most of the day cuddling with me. We watched "Bee Movie" and "Shark Tale" - his first feature-length films. His first films over three minutes long. His first cartoons.

It's funny to watch Nate with Benny. Usually Nate likes to "roughhouse" with Benny when he gets home. He wrestles with him on the bed, the couch, the floor. They chase each other through the house; Benny is usually trailing Nate, squealing in delight. Not tonight. Nate snuggled with Benny on the couch and they finished "Bee Movie." Benny fell asleep about five minutes in. I asked Nate if he wanted to lay Benny down, but Nate refused to surrender our sick little Bear.

I'm a little conflicted. I certainly want Benny to get better and back to his old self. At the same time, I enjoy the endless cuddling. I love being able to sit down on the couch, with Benny on my lap, and watch a movie. I love that he won't fall asleep unless he's next to me in bed. It's nice to be needed and it's nice to have that contact. Then again, if this continued for more than three days, I would probably be begging Benny to get better already!

07 December 2008

How Did This Happen?

How is it already December 7? How? It was just Thanksgiving. It was just Halloween. It was just my birthday - in August.

We've been busy little bees at the Struckman-Brown casa. It's been a good month so far. I'm attempting to write, write, write with the help of a neighbor who watches Benny one morning a week. Nate's brother moved in last week. So far he hasn't been around much. He's a strange duck, that kid. I'm still not sure how this is all going to work out. I can say one thing: He's messy like his brother. Maybe worse. Is that possible?

Nate turns the big 3-0 tomorrow. To help him celebrate, I organized him a little surprise party last night. It was a good excuse to have people over to the new house. We had a grand time. Nate wasn't surprised (long story) but it was fun to plan anyway. It's another reminder of what fantastic friends and family we have.

Benny was so shot that he took a 3.5 hour nap today. That's almost unheard of for the Bear.

And here I am again, wishing that the weekend was one day longer. Wonder if that will every happen???