Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas 2011

There isn't much to say other than that Christmas was a success. We all ate entirely too much food (sugar cookies and prime rib to be exact) and had a good time with family.

Have I mentioned how much I love these three people?


Bailey was really into the gifts ... for all of about two minutes. Both Bailey and Avery's piles of gifts were huge. Much more than any child - under 2 especially - needs. But aunts and grandmas don't necessarily care much about needs. We are lucky to have family members that buy them both needed clothing and fun things [sidenote to Aunt Fe: the baby Jordans are in this category!]


I noticed two different styles for opening presents:

Slow and neat:


OR...

Rip it open with your two teeth!:



The entire family was able to get together at my Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Ronnie's house for dinner on Christmas afternoon. There are only 17 of us total, but seeing as we are all so quiet and polite... well, most people would probably need earplugs. We do a grab bag exchange/game every year and it gets a little competitive. Unfortunately, I ended up getting robbed of my 4-packs of mini wine bottles, but at least I didn't get the peanut multi-pack that ends up in the mix every year!


The annual Weiss grandkids photo


There was so much extra stuff in the car on the way home, I am surprised the hatch door even closed! We are truly blessed and definitely not just in the material way. We are blessed to be able to spend time with our families all year round - not just at Christmas. Thank you Jesus for your blessings. And happy birthday, too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

When did I become such a softie?

It's totally okay and basically expected that you become a hormonal, crying mess when you are pregnant - at least on ocassion.  No one thinks you're crazy when you tear up over the littlest of things. So why am I still tearing up like that when I have a 7 month old?!  Did becoming a mom make change me into that person who cries at Hallmark commercials?

Like today for example... I am sitting on the floor with the girls, playing with toys and watching The Young and The Restless. {Don't judge me - it's good. And if you don't watch, I understand your skepticism, but I've followed along since I was probably in middle school and I am not about to stop now}. It was one of those so-not-a-new-idea Christmas episodes when someone in trouble [Nikki] gets visited by her guardian angel and they see what her loved ones are doing, she is inspired to change, blah blah blah. And I started tearing up! What is wrong with me?! It wasn't even sad! Ever since Bailey was born, I have cried at the most ridiculous stuff: a Maxwell House commercial, daytime tv, ASPCA informercials (but truthfully, those ones are trying to make you cry), and I am sure my family could think of even more.

Thinking about our girls and how quickly they are growing up can really get me teary eyed. The other night during their bath, Bailey sat down gently beside Avery in the tub and held her hand. They just sat there, not making a sound, holding hands. It choked me up. I just love how much they love each other. Quiet little moments like that are so precious amidst the whining and Sesame Street watching and snacks and diaper changes that seem to eat up our days.

But....Christmas is only 2 days away now! And I am excited to watch the girls open presents this year - wait, make that:  I am excited to watch Bailey open presents and Avery try to eat all the paper this year. We are headed to my parent's house to spend Christmas with them and my sisters. Bailey and Avery will soon find out that Santa Claus has nothing on the Ellis aunts!

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's just another day here at our house. Nothing exciting to speak of, but boring is good in my book. Excitement can mean drama. And drama is usually something like rocky relationships, crazy family members, money problems, or unruly children and we don't have much of that. (At least usually... But everyone could use some extra padding in the bank account, right?)

Speaking of money, I really had to work for it this weekend. It was my weekend on call. We worked until 12:30 AM both Friday and Saturday nights, with a few hours sleep in between. That added up to 20+ hours of call-in pay. {That more than paid for our Christmas, so thanks Med Center!} They were very long days though. An extra-busy 12 hour shift on the floor doesn't even compare to my day Saturday. Thank God I gave away my Sunday call... But I do find that nothing gives you that second burst of energy like (paid-for) pepperoni pizza and Jimmy John's delivery. Oh, and a nice DMD. Gotta have my Diet Mt. Dew. 

On a sad note, I was speeding just a wee bit on the way home from work at 1 AM on Sunday morning and got pulled over. [Side note: It is extremely easy to speed on a empty, dark road when you are half asleep, zoning out, and just ready to go to bed.] So apparently I was going 74 in a 55. Oops... In all honestly, I had no idea I was going so fast. I told the officer as much and casually mentioned how I was coming home from a long call weekend. {And then I prayed he took note of my tired demeanor and the horrible bags under my eyes and would take pity on me.} And he sortof did. I didn't get a speeding ticket much to my surprise, but a ticket for not putting my new registration sticker - which I got like 4 days ago- on my license plate . The current one wasn't even outdated yet! [It's really hard to put a sticker on when your car is covered in dirty gravel dust and I was going to wait until I washed it, but he apparently didn't understand that logic.] So while that stupid ticket is $80, at least I didn't get the $190 one for speeding. And I guess now with two warnings, I will have to slow my ass down...

Bailey is learning some new phrases. Early Access of Iowa comes to visit Bailey once a month to evaluate her development and speech since she was technically premature (my 7+ pounder preemie, yeah right) and because of her cleft. Our real concern is her speech. She know a lot of words, and she will repeat new ones back to us when we ask her to, but right now she very rarely just says them without prompting. They were asking me if she put words together to make two word phrases or if she walked up to things and named them out loud. I said "Nope, she hasn't been doing that." And like every other time they ask about something and I say no, she started doing it the very next day. She picked up a book, pointed to a ball and said "ball" out loud. I gave her her breakfast and she looked right at me and said "Thank you." {And before you think my child is just so wonderful and well-behaved, she says it so often now, she would probably thank me if I spanked her or something.} She is also on a  kick of saying "toot-toot" every time she farts.  Wouldn't it be nice if us adults could do that and people would just laugh and think it was cute?

Avery is our lazy little lump of cuteness. She is perfectly content to just sit in one spot and not move. And if she were to need something out of reach, she makes no effort to get it herself by moving her body. She just cries until Bailey brings it to her or one of us picks her up. At this age, Bailey was already crawling around the entire house and pulling up on furniture. This one is perfectly content to snuggle up on you and let you serve her every want and need. Why go get it yourself if you can get other people to do it for you? Crawling seems to be a ways off, which I suppose is fine. We're probably not ready for an extra child to help destroy the house just yet.

Jared is working today.  And after two long days alone with the girls and no breaks, I am sure he is fine with that. Since I am still catching up from the weekend, I really should be taking a nap while both girls are napping. But I just like the quiet time in the house so much, I can't bring myself to do it. Maybe it's time to go catch up on my Y&R. Sweet Jesus, please let them find a way to get rid of Patty and create a new storyline. Oh, and some scenes of Cane half-naked would be fine by me, too.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

R.A.K.

I like the Christmas season. I like the festive decorations around the house and the laugh-filled get-togethers with family. I like the food {big surprise there!} and special Christmas goodies we make only during this time of the year. But I really like that boost in friendliness there seems to be. People take the time to think of other people besides themselves. People just seem to be a little bit more cheery in general. There seems to be more kindness.

In 4th grade we had this weekly project called Random Acts of Kindness. {I believe we called it R.A.K. because you know that abbreviated things are way cooler.} Each week we would have to do something nice for someone else out of the kindness of our hearts and write about what we did, how it made us feel, and if the person noticed or not. So being 4th graders we would do things like "I put my dirty clothes in the hamper without being asked" or "I let my sister use my favorite (insert toy/video game/sweater here)."  I know some of mine involved loading the dishwasher after supper or picking up the mess us kids made in the living room [You're welcome, Mom]. You could say hi and smile at the "weird kid" on the school bus or let your little brother play with you and your friends after school. Little things. The project helped us see that when you do good things for other people, you feel good in return.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if people lived this philosophy year round; if everyone did tiny little things that didn't cost a cent, just to make someone else's day a little better?  Because it really is true: when you do something nice for someone else, you feel a little bit better about this world we live in. And I personally like knowing that there are lots of good people out there doing little things to make this world a better place.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

Carrots and Beans and Cauliflower, Oh My

Homemade baby food tends to intimidate a lot of people. People seem to think you need special equipment or an official cookbook or you have to be an all-organic nut. None of those is true. To be honest, I make my own baby food because I am lazy and hate being in the grocery store shopping for even a second longer than I have to. (Anyone been in WalMart around 6 PM on a Friday payday at the beginning of the month? Crazy white trash central.) Oh yeah, and because I hate spending money.

But truthfully, it's easy and requires very little time {a definite prerequisite at our house}. All you need is a food processor (which we already had), a few cheap ice trays, and some Ziploc bags. And the food of course. I usually buy the $1 or less bags of generic (keepin' it cheap!) vegetables. For fruits with Bailey I bought pears and apples, but you can do bananas and some other fresh fruits and don't have to worry about making them up ahead of time.

It couldn't be simpler. You just prepare the vegetables like you normally would. Then you throw them in the food processor. If the food seems too solid, you can add some water, formula, or breastmilk to it to thin it down.

Appetizing, huh?

After that, you fill up your ice cube trays with the pureed food.

A cookie scoop is the perfect size.

You leave them in the freezer for a few hours to firm up. Then I remove them and place in labeled quart sized Ziploc bags. They keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.  And the best part is that a $1 bag of vegetables makes 16-20 ounces of baby food.


So when it comes time to feed your baby, all you have to do is pop one or more of these cubes in a small dish. You microwave them for about 30 seconds and then use rice cereal or formula if needed to bring it to the correct consistency. One cube is approximately one ounce. With Bailey I mixed in some of the less-popular veggies with the foods she loved, like apples and pears. (Carrots + apples = Bailey's version of carrot cake.) So while you can make them into combinations before freezing, it was just as easy to tailor them to her liking by mixing them up later. And if you want new recipes or ideas, the internet is full of websites solely devoted to homemade baby food.

Then it comes time to actually feed these lovingly made foods to your baby. Now you just have to pray your child likes them. Bailey has always liked to eat:



My latest batch of baby food has been less well received. Somebody doesn't think carrots are all that fabulous:


Oh well. Maybe she will like carrot cake, too.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Smiles

Two years ago this month we had our "big" ultrasound of our daughter Bailey. I was 24 weeks pregnant. I already had a love/hate relationship with ultrasounds. On one hand, they are simply amazing because you get to see your tiny, little, alien-looking baby kicking around inside of you. But sometimes you get devastating news instead - like a miscarriage in the case of our first pregnancy.

This particular day in December was the day we learned that our child would have a cleft. To a pregnant woman, it can feel like the end of the world if the grocery store is out of your favorite kind of ice cream, so it is no shock that I was devastated. Jared was also upset, but he held it together much better. [I attribute part of that to the lack of crazy hormones raging through his body.] Since the OB doctor told us there was still a chance our baby could have a cleft as a part of some other syndrome, I went into worry mode. I was a hot mess. Like a crying at work hot mess. (In hindsight - definitely should have used up a sick day on that one.) It took a good two weeks for me to chill out and stop crying at night.

Our family, friends, and coworkers would tell us things like, "At least they can fix it." (I even had my manager tell me, "It's not a big deal. You can be glad it isn't worse." She also did/said some awesomely not-cool things later, but that is a story for another day...) Everyone had good intentions. All those comments were basically true, and I knew that deep down, but I didn't need to keep hearing it over and over. {Remember the pregnancy hormones, people!}

A co-worker at the Med Center gave my email address to someone she knew. This friend of hers had just given birth to a sweet baby boy with a cleft lip and palate. Her email to me was like a blessing. It felt so nice to have someone to talk to who understood what we were feeling and could reassure us that everything would turn out okay.

And it was. We have a precious daughter who was born with a different smile than most babies. We only had that unique smile for 3 short months. I look at pictures and can't believe that was her. God bless all the wonderful strangers who approached us in stores and told us how beautiful she was. God bless the people who commented on our Facebook pictures and saw past her cleft just like we did. Those first months were hard, hard work. But we are lucky to have had the means and resources to help Bailey get the surgeries she needed.

Not everyone does, especially in other countries. That is why I love these sites: Smile Train and Operation Smile. {I seriously doubt you can watch the videos on these sites without tearing up. Just try it.} Just $250 for one surgery and a child's life is changed forever. They are no longer outcasts in their own communities. They truly get a second chance at life. Right now is the season for giving. Many television commercials ask for your help for abadonned animals, premature infants, domestic violence victims, the poor, the hungry. If you ever feel motivated to donate to a worthy charity, keep Smile Train and Operation Smile in mind.


***And if anyone reading ever wants to talk about having a child with a cleft, or if they have a friend who is having a child with a cleft - whatever, feel free to leave a comment and I will write you back. I am grateful for the help when I needed it, and I am happy to pass it on. ***

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today I have just been reflecting on how fast the days, months, and years really do fly by.

Bailey has been sleeping in her own big-girl bed for about a week now (with the exception of a couple night's at Grandma Sherri's house). We got her room all decorated and ready for her a few months ago. New bedding and cute pillows courtesy of Grandma Cathy, her name on cute decorative letters up on the wall, a doll house bookcase filled with books and stuffed animals... but she had absolutely no interest. Then one night last week Jared went and laid her down in her daybed and she just went to sleep there. All night. Ahh-mazing! Today I just put her down for her nap in her bed. We haven't tried that before. {And just to preface, while Bailey likes going night-night, she hates naptime. She screams and kicks and cries: the whole nine yards. But usually after about one minute she is sound asleep.} So she did the same routine today as expected, but she never left that bed. Thankfully I can play deaf for a good 5-10 minutes when it is for her own good. She went off to dream land with her faithful Bun-Bun by her side. My little Bailey Boo is getting so big!

[Bailey and her Bun-Bun]

Same goes for our little Avery. She grows by the second I swear. Just the other day I felt a little bulge on her gumline. Not even 24 hours goes by and she has two little teeth poking through. It makes sense. She is drooling all over everything lately. I change her clothes and she has her whole outfit drenched in saliva in about half an hour. And it's a little weird perhaps, but I must admit I was a tiny bit sad when I saw her teeth coming in. She is our baby and I am realizing she is growing up so fast. {Plus as a breastfeeding mom, teeth are always scary to think about at first!} And who knows - we might not have another toothless, all-gums baby smiling up at us again. It makes me want to cuddle her and not let go. [And beg her to go easy on her mama with the teeth.]

We love you, you chubby little drool queen.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

It has been a pretty low-key Thankgiving for the Solko tribe. Jared had to work today. It was an extra wonderful holiday workday for him since the sewer backed up and the entire place smelled like....well, you get the idea. {He probably thought he was back on 5 West!} Thankfully he was able to leave at 2 this afternoon, so we loaded up and headed to my parent's place. Packing with two children and a new puppy is frankly just a lot of work, especially when you are doing it by yourself. I feel like I spent the whole morning trying to make sure I didn't forget anything. (Bailey's bun-bun: check. Stash of breastmilk: check. Sanity: not sure...)

The drive turned out to be the best part of the day. Avery finally took a nap and Bailey was cooperative for the most part. About every half an hour she would wake up Avery by getting in her face and yelling "boo!" at her, which of course made Bailey laugh and laugh. Once we got to my parent's house, everything was good for awhile. But then our typical Ellis loudness kicked in and we were done for. Avery apparently likes things quiet and mellow. [The exact opposite of the Ellis household.] We sat down for Thanksgiving dinner and the screaming began in ernest. The only thing that would stop the waterworks was a spoon from the table. She sucked and gnawed on that spoon for about 30 minutes. {Hey, whatever it takes to give me enough time to shovel in some turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes!}

So right now on this Thanksgiving I am thankful for the silence of a sleeping baby.

And a good game of euchure. And some wine. And leftover pumpkin pie.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Making a difference

I have chatted with some fellow nurses recently. Many of them talked about feeling disillusioned with the nursing profession, that maybe they chose the wrong field. I truly think a lot of us picked this career because we honestly wanted to make a difference in someone's life. But being in the health care field, it's really easy to feel underappreciated for all that you do. And while attending a "Code Brown," it's even easier to feel like we aren't getting paid nearly enough. I have always thought of nurses as the ones who "humanize" health care in a way. We aren't supposed to treat them like a diagnosis or just a "patient." But it is all too easy to start seeing them as "Room 35, bed 2" or "the chemoembolization case going in 1." And truthfully, how often does anyone thank you when you have done your job well? Probably not often enough. And that got me thinking...

I was sitting up late last night on the couch with Avery, trying to coax her to sleep {with a boob as bait of course}. [And "late" for me in this case is 10 PM. And shut up, I know I am lame.] I was thinking of how I need to make our Christmas photo cards in the next week and get them ordered. We will be sending them to the usual family and friends, but this year I am also adding people I didn't think of last year: all the people who made a huge impact in our lives. Like Dr. Berg -my OB- who supported my decision to have a VBAC and delivered Avery. And the NICU staff that was like family for the month of May. And even Bailey's plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Miller. Without him our little girl wouldn't have the smile we love today. And she definitely wouldn't be able to pig out {and still beg for "more"} on all the foods she loves without his expertise and the surgeries he performed.  These people were just doing their jobs, but it was so much more than that. They changed our lives for the better.

When I think of humanizing health care and making a difference, I think of Dr. Ann Anderson. She is a neonatologist in the NICU at The Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. She was Avery's main doctor throughout most of her three week stay. From the beginning she struck me as a good person. Not just an experienced MD. Not just as a pleasant person you can talk to. I could feel that deep down she had a kind soul. Not knowing what is wrong when your child is sick is a scary, scary thing. After two days, we still weren't sure what had caused her bilirubin to reach such epic levels. While some other doctors and neonatal nurse practitioners would try to just give me snippets of only good news, Dr. Anderson didn't beat around the bush with me. She could tell I wanted the truth and I wanted the full picture - good or bad. I ran into her in a hallway and said I wanted to know what she feared the brain MRI could show. And while she explained how bilirubin could cause brain damage and that it was a real possibility for Avery, I began to cry helpless, fearful tears. She gave me the information I needed to hear and then when she was finished, she grabbed me into a hug. She cried along with me, right there in the hallway. And as we cried she told me,
"This is how much I care about your daughter. We will do everything possible to help her."

Wow.

I had never felt such warmth and love from a virtual stranger. And at the moment I needed it most.

I am betting some people might think that if a doctor shows emotion like that, she is weak. Or they might respect her a bit less for not being able to "hold it together."  I feel the exact opposite is true. Seeing her care so deeply for my child - almost like she was her own, put some of my fears to rest. I knew that Avery would get the best care possible. I knew she cared. That made all the difference. I respect her so much. That moment in the hallway made it clear that she is in medicine for the right reason. Not for the prestige. Not for the salary. She is a doctor so she could help a sick little baby girl and her scared mama.

So this Christmas season, I plan to thank those people who made a difference to us. People who were just doing their jobs like they always do, but did it well. I want them to know: We noticed. So while nursing sometimes leaves me feeling drained and underappreciated, I will keep trying to do my job as well as I can. Who knows - one day I might be that person who makes a big difference in the life of someone else. Afterall, that's why I became a nurse in the first place.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How we spend a Tuesday night

While it is nice to go out, sometimes there is nothing better than a night in.

Peek-a-boo!

Cuddling on the floor with Daddy

Bailey's "smile" for the camera

Avery taking it all in

Bailey & Mommy


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Welcome the newest Solko family member...

In early September we lost our dog Willie. We were back home for our friend Shelby's wedding and Willie was at my parent's house. He loved my parent's house and had been going there for years. He would chase my mom's ducks and go eat disgusting things he shouldn't have. But he never got lost or tried to run away. He would never run on the road. My parents attended the reception and three hours later when they arrived home - Willie was gone.

We looked for miles around my parent's house and called and called for him. We put up posters in the surrounding towns. We called all the neighbors, the local animal shelters, and local vets. No one ever saw him. We have been heartbroken. We had Willie since 2007. He was our first dog together. Jared bought him home after spending a weekend in Herndon helping his Aunt Jane.

Jared & Willie  - May 2007
He was a Shih tzu-poodle mix. Admittedly, he was a weird little dog sometimes. [He would suck -not chew- on blankets or clothes until he made a hole in them. yeah...weird...] He was fiercely protective of Bailey the minute we brought her home. "Willie" was one of Bailey's first words. He was a good dog. And he loved to visit his Grandma Sherri's house.


 We miss him. I miss him sitting under Bailey's highchair waiting for her to "accidently" drop some food {talk about easy clean-up}. I miss him resting his front paws on the rim of the bathtub while the girls got their baths. I even miss him trying to sneak off with Bailey's farm animal toys. For weeks I would think I heard him running to come eat or to accompany me while I used the bathroom [I told you he was weird]. Nevertheless, we miss him... If someone took him from my parent's house, I would like to believe they are loving on him right now. And if he died, I would like to picture his furry little ass running through grassy fields in doggy heaven (you know there is one!) and sucking holes in all the blankets his little heart desires.


But now there is a new guy in town {aka the Solko house}. His name is Murphy and he's a Malit-Poo. He was born in May (just like Avery) and soon will be 6 months old. And he is tiny. Like TINY tiny. Like we-could-sit-on-him-and-crush-him tiny.



The potting training is going as well as can be expected. I think Jared and I both forgot how tedious and annoying toliet training a puppy can be. While taking care of two kids during the day, the potty training can sometimes take a back seat. Speaking of the girls, he loves them. Or maybe I should rephrase that... He loves Avery; he tolerates Bailey. On his first day Bailey proceeded to give him about 10 kisses in a row on the top of his head and then chased him around the living room. She thought this was all in great fun - Murphy not so much. With Avery he loves to curl up on the couch near her head while I am feeding her. They have both fallen asleep cuddled up together. {so sweet!} He is very much a lap dog. (Which is fine because like I said - tiny!)

So as much as we miss Willie, we are moving on with our newest furry friend. I hope he can be a loyal {and tolerant} friend to our girls as they grow up.

[And let's hope he likes rides in a stroller and playing dress-up!]

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Horray for date night!

Last weekend I was at home with the girls while Jared worked. Bailey wasn't being the most well-behaved, and that is putting it mildly. In my desperation I texted my sister Fe (government name: Felicia) and begged her to please please please watch our children on Saturday so we could go do something sans children. Thankfully she agreed. So now for two girls, we will have three babysitters: Fe, my other sister Beaner (given name: Catrina) and our friend Jodie (Fe's roommate).  The fact that I will be able to leave the house with Jared and know that there is no possibility of thrown-up breastmilk being on my shirt when I return: Priceless. Just the knowledge of this night out has given me a better attitude this week. It's kept me going! 

We can barely remember the last time we went out without the girls. With the exception of summer weddings and all that comes with them (showers, rehearsal dinner, and the actual weddings), I think the last time we went out just Jared and I was back when Avery was in the NICU. And obviously I looked amazing in what was probably a nursing tank top, sweatpants, and flip flops. Wow ... sexy... 

Don't get me wrong, they are our kids and it is no one else's obligation to watch them for us, but occasionally isn't that what grandparents are for? ;)  My sisters love to watch the girls, but I know they have lives too and we try not to impose on that. [But seeing as they teach Bailey great things like how to scream {Justy}, "get low" while dancing {Beaner}, and "pound it" {Fe}, they should probably babysit a bit more often.] 

I am glad our girls have such wonderful aunts to look up to and have fun with.
    
Aunt Fe
Aunt Beaner
Aunt Justy
Being a parent is hard work. I am glad we are able to work opposite days and stay home with our kids. {It's also a nice perk to avoid the expense of daycare!} But sometimes you just need to get away for a few hours and remember you were a person before you became a parent. So here's to a nice night out. Now let's just hope we can think of something else to talk about besides the kids.  :)


Monday, November 7, 2011

Has it really been 6 months already??

Six months ago was probably the happiest day I have ever had. At 6:58 PM Avery Josephine joined the world. (I would love to say that the day Bailey was born was also one of my happiest days, and it was to a certain extent. Obviously I was overjoyed at her birth and relieved she was healthy, but an unplanned c-section and a 20 hour period of fog from the morphine PCA made for a less than ideal first day of motherhood.) With Avery's birth I felt like I was more present. 17 hours of labor got me very prepared and it felt extremely real as I pushed her into the world. The feeling of absolute happiness [and relief!] is something I cannot adequately put into words.



A few days later we experienced another extreme emotion: fear. Five days after Avery's birth she was admitted to the NICU after her follow-up visit to the pediatrician. She had extremely high jaundice, so high of a level that the nurses in the NICU that day said it was highest they had ever seen. Two days later the neonatologist told me that she would be ordering an MRI to find out whether Avery had any brain damage from the high bilirubin level. No parent ever wants to hear those words: brain damage. I have never been so scared in all my life. I have also never prayed harder in all my life. I do know that God answered those prayers - eventually we got the news that there were no changes in her brain. But we weren't out of the woods yet: she had developed a blood infection (MRSA) from a line they had placed through her umbilical cord. Avery was one sick little baby. She was on IV antibiotics for three long weeks. During those weeks we had a lot of mama and baby bonding time. Avery mastered breastfeeding and I watched way too much daytime tv. It felt so good to walk out of those doors and head home with a healthy baby.

She has changed so much in these short six months. She is almost blonde now after losing most of the black hair she was born with. She has multiple rolls down both legs, and some on her chubby arms. {Bailey was such a skinny baby; we celebrated when she finally got her first fat roll.}
The official stats:
                                    At birth:                                         6 months old:
                                  7 lbs.  12 oz.                                      16 lbs.  7 oz.
                                   20 inches                                          25 1/2 inches

These last 6 months have been anything but easy, with the challenges of a typical newborn and the stress of spending almost a month in the hospital...{and then throw in some older sibling jealousy...}. But I am glad we are where we are today. We have a healthy 6 month-old mama's girl that loves to suck her thumb and roll around all over the floor. And we love her more than words.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thankful

Yesterday a former co-worker of our's buried her 3 year-old son, Ryder. He had been fighting a rare form of cancer for the past year. I simply cannot imagine the pain of losing your child... the pain of having to say goodbye... the pain of missing them every single day. Their journey together helped make us aware of how special the time we have together is. Every day I try to remember that; to cherish every moment.

It's so easy to forget though. Just today I was feeling overwhelmed and losing patience at a pretty rapid rate. I was trying to feed Avery on the couch. I had just gotten readjusted with pillows and had Avery positioned just so... Then I needed to get up to get Bailey because for about the 4th time today she decided to start unloading the {dirty} dishwasher into the drawer of {clean} silverware. I had to force myself to take a deep breath and calmly reload everything and lock the dishwasher - again. [Thank God for naptime.]

I went back and got myself and Avery settled in again. I turned on a DVR'ed episode of Oprah's Life Class on OWN. (Don't judge me! OWN was free last month...) I have always loved Oprah. With the exception of the worthless celebrity episodes, I loved her show and felt like I always took something away from it. Life Class revisits old episodes in which a valuable life lesson is learned. The episode I happened to turn on today was about a woman whose 4 children were murdered by her ex-husband. Now I know this sounds depressing, but in this episode you see how a woman walks through the ashes of her life and finds happiness again. And for God's sake, if this woman can deal with the stress of just living every day, I can find some patience for my toddler! {Plus, sometimes you can just use a good cry.}

The point of my rambling is that I want to be thankful for the present. It might be tiring or overwhelming, or just a pain in the butt some days, but I am thankful for my life. I am thankful for my two healthy children and a husband who loves us and works so hard to make my life easier. I am thankful for my parents who are always so supportive. I am thankful for my sisters who are my best friends. I am thankful for my friends that I never seem to see enough. I am thankful for all of our family that loves us so much. I say a prayer to God for every day that I get to spend on this earth with the people who mean so much to me.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

This was our first Halloween with kids, or at least the first year we dressed any up. We didn't bother last year since Bailey was only 8 months old and it would have been very obvious we were taking her just so we could eat her candy. {Which is basically what happened this year too!} Jared and I aren't the biggest Halloween fans.  We do carve pumpkins every year, but we have only dressed up together one year  - way back in 2006 (notice how we look just a wee bit thinner...).
Jared was an old-time sheriff and I affectionately called my costume the "saloon slut."


This year we went back to my hometown to take both kids trick-or-treating at their Aunt Justy's new house. Bailey was the world's cutest little bumblebee, complete with stinger on her butt. Avery was our little pumpkin and actually tolerated the costume pretty well.

We put Bailey in her costume and then had the big reveal to Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Beaner.
Bailey sortof liked all the attention she was getting:



She laughed and laughed and laughed.  She thought she was pretty special (and I think Grandma and Grandpa agreed.)

We took both girls out to some houses up and down the street from Justina's. We weren't sure how Bailey would do trick-or-treating; usually she is pretty shy around people she doesn't know. She was pretty timid at first, but then she got in the swing of things. She would march right up to the door holding her orange pumpkin bucket and put her whole hand into the candy bowl. At one of the first houses, she looked at the bowl full of candy and took some from her own bucket to add to the bowl. [We really have a good grasp on this whole idea of sharing!] She signed "thank you" at every house we went to, so it was good practice on using her manners. However, we do need to work on her candy selection. I think it is an understood rule that chocolate trumps suckers or pencils every time {We gotta work on that for next year, Bailey.}  Avery meanwhile just hung out in the stroller and took it all in. She didn't even cry, and for those of you who know her well, that is quite an achievement in itself!






Later in the evening we all sat around Justy's house and talked and ate some Casey's pizza. Bailey provided the after-dinner entertainment. That girl loves to dance! Her favorite song right now is Nicki Minaj's song Super Bass. If she even hears me humming this song, she will begin to shake her hips to the beat. She dances in circles with her arms up and puts her hands on the ground to "get low." We're not quite sure how she knows to do these things. {We don't even get MTV with our cable package!} We didn't have the song that night, so we all just sang the chorus. Apparently that was all she needed. And her sweet moves got a lot of laughs. All in all it was an excellent first Halloween.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Meet the Solkos!

Let's get real.
You probably already know us.
Most likely you are our family and maybe some friends and we probably begged you to check out our blog.
But go along with it, okay?

I'm Vanessa.  I work as a nurse in Omaha. My husband Jared is also a nurse. We were married June 7th, 2008.


Since then we have added two little girls to our family: Bailey and Avery.




Bailey Marie was born February 19th, 2010. She came exactly 4 weeks early [and breech to boot] because that was the way she wanted it. And ever since then, she has expected us to realize that she is really the one in charge. Bailey was born with a right unilateral cleft lip and palate. It presented a few challenges during her first year of life, but in typical Bailey-fashion, she has never let it slow her down. Right now her favorite things to do are all the things we don't want her to do (ie: finding her on top of the dining room table). However, she makes up for it with the cute things she does, like calling my mom on my cell phone herself and then proceeding to have a "conversation" with her, saying BYE! at the end when she was finished.



Avery Josephine came into the world May 6, 2011. She was slightly more cooperative than her big sister. After being at home for a few days, she was admitted to the NICU for an extremely high bilirubin level and while there she developed a hospital-acquired blood infection. After 3 long, lonnnnggggg weeks, we were finally able to bring her home for good, and she has been a huge homebody ever since (believe me - it's true - we can barely leave the house - ever.) Right now she is approaching 6 months old and is a joy. She loves to laugh and stare up at her big sister {who is quite frequently trying to "help" hold her or wipe her mouth with a burp cloth}. Recently she showed her true self when I turned my back for about 30 seconds... I think we have a chocolate addict in the making.



That's our family in a nutshell. We like to cook and bake {and eat}, so there will probably be some posts of food we find delicious. We both like to take pictures, especially of the girls, so expect many of those. [Credit to Jared for the editing - definitely not my area of expertise.] So tune in periodically to keep up to date on Our Blessed Nest.