Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I should have spent tonight completing a long, tedious online job application. But I didn't. Whoops.

Instead I roamed randomly from blog to blog and happened to come across this post.

I instantly became a follower.

The author tells her story so beautifully that you can actually feel her joy intermixed with heartbreak. As I read, tears rolled down my cheeks as if she were my best friend and I were experiencing this right alongside her.

Afterward, I felt inspired.
There is beauty in all things. in all people. in all experiences.

Almost to the finish line

Before I even write, just want to throw out a big "sorry, awkward" to my dad or any other male relative who is going to blush at just the thought of this topic. 


I am afraid that the days of Avery and my boobs having up-close and personal bonding time are drawing to a close. She will be turning a year old in another five or so weeks and lately she has very little interest in hanging out near my chest to gain nourishment. She eats well in the morning and usually one other time, but other than that, she is way too busy to remain still and eat from her mother.

The thought of being done leaves me feeling sad and ecstatic at the same time. Breastfeeding is definitely a love/hate relationship. (although much much much less hate than exclusively pumping. Don't even get me started on that.)

I love that breastfeeding provided her with the best food possible. I love that it has allowed us to have lots of quiet moments together. {Ya know, those precious moments that Pampers wants you to think exist all the time? Yeah those. They really do happen every once in a while, and especially while nursing.} I love that nursing helped me lose all the baby weight, plus the extra 10-plus pounds I had left from Bailey, too. It might have taken 10 months, but it happened! And I really really love how much money we saved from never having to buy formula. Love that.

But as wonderful as those things are, one thing is for certain:
breastfeeding is hard work.
It's definitely not like the rosy picture you have in your head, expecting moms. That one of you and your brand-new baby settling into a nursery chair made out of clouds and rainbows while you lovingly smile down at baby as she eats with ease.
Yeah, it's soooo not that.

Breastfeeding takes patience and perseverance. There are basically hundreds of things you can use to convince yourself to stop in the beginning, with bleeding nipples ranking high on the list.  {Sorry Dad!}

And I am not going to sugarcoat it, the first 2 weeks were just plain awful. Week 3 was better, but still not good. And Week 4 was finally getting to the tolerable stage. I remember Fe looking over at me as I braced myself with a grimace, waiting for Avery to latch on and she was horrified. Why would anyone want to do that?! (Let's just blame the hormones, they are responsible for everything else anyway.) But really, it's worth it. It might not feel like it when you are out buying your 10th bottle of nipple cream that week... but in the end (or at least after the healing), you will be glad you stuck with it.

I didn't really know how it would go, so my realistic goal from the start was 6 months. When I met that goal, I set a new one. A full year. We're at 11 months now, and I will be damned if I quit a month short! :)  I am stubborn like that, and I want to be able to say with pride that I breastfed her for a full year. And maybe this post sounded like I was patting myself on the back, and I am a little. It might sound stupid to some, but I am proud of myself. It was hard work and I stuck with it.

So over the next month or so, I am going to feel it out and start dropping some feedings. I am sure Avery probably won't even notice since she is content eating anything and everything else in sight. It's probably going to be a little bit sad when we are done. Being done means acknowledging that my little baby is getting so big.  I will miss those quiet moments with her...

But on the other hand-
I can't wait to retire every faded, stretched, over-used nursing bra and tank top.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Justy passed! Justy passed! Party time! Excellent!

It's been busy.

We have officially begun to take over Justy's house. And I am pretty sure as the boxes made their way in, Justy's sanity started to make its way for the exit.  {Which she denies of course.}
Justy, you sweet girl, you.

It was a long day Friday. 

Jared spent his last day at work. I think it was more bittersweet than he thought it would be. Many of the residents have come to love him and wanted to give him cards and candy and hugs to let him know he will be missed. There was a nice food day, which - let's get real - is how you truly show appreciation in the nursing field. It sounds like his coworkers had fun giving him a fond farewell also. Since Jared is taking a prison nursing job, messages like "Don't drop the soap!" made their way in SensiCare butt cream onto his car windows.

In other family news, Justy passed her massage therapy boards yesterday.
Congrats baby sister!!
She can now begin the work on her room she will be operating within a chiropractor's office. And on a side note, I can't wait to start doing her laundry in exchange for free massages.

Tonight we are celebrating her graduation with a party - small-town style of course.  Aka baked beans are on the menu.  But hey, as long as there is cake, I am a happy lady.

As always, the day here has been random and funny, at least as long as my dad is talking. Our conversations have ranged from testosterone cream to how boring Catrina's blog would be if she had one ("I woke up, I taught school, I came home, I petted my cat, I watched tv, I went to bed"). And as loaded down as the fridge is with adult beverages, tonight should prove to be thoroughly entertaining as well.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


shopping in Target with Bailey attacking everything on the shelves with a vengeance. {At the time I was thinking Oh yeah, now I remember why I never do this...}

Avery saying Mama. Extra cute points because she looks like an old woman without her teeth in when she does it.

Jared picking up extra hours and not getting off work til 10 pm. Boo.

putting Bailey down for a nap and hearing her shout "HUG!" and "KISS" over and over before going to sleep. {Okay, after about 30+ times, it got kinda old, but someday (too) soon she probably won't want my kisses or hugs and I will smile and think of days like today.}

knowing that we will be moving in 10 days.

knowing that we will be all moved in 10 days.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Avery Jo...

                                                                           ... how I love this little face of yours.

You scrunch up your nose and snort air in and out like a little bull. or like a dog sniffing for a scent. or like a little piggy {which you are}.
And you think it is hilarious.
Because it is.

Solko Family Visit

This past weekend Jared's dad Alan, stepmom Ann, and brother John came for a visit.  Bailey immediately loved the attention of extra people. Avery {now that she is a reformed child and has experienced a personality switch in the last month or so} was happy and loving and allowed everyone to give her some love, too.

Bailey wasted no time and got Grandpa Alan and John to work reading her book after book.

Then Avery got in on the action.

We went into Omaha on Saturday afternoon and walked across the pedestrian bridge that connects Iowa and Nebraska over the Missour River.  It was a gorgeous day out, and it was nice to go get some exercise and fresh air. Avery enjoyed being pushed in the stroller and Bailey loved the thrill of almost being run over by a bicylist every few minutes.

On Sunday we spent the day just hanging out. Bailey had a "tea party" with Ann. The two of them, along with a teddy bear, had a nice "snack" of decorative rocks Bailey stole from a vase. And when the bear would take a drink, Bailey would say, "Ahh... Delicious!"  {So cute!}
Later we went to the park. Bailey loves going down the slides by herself now, although she did enjoy the "train" she made with her Uncle John and Grannie Ann.

Avery was all smiles.

Even the grown-ups had some fun...

Before they left this morning, I attempted to take a group shot. Bailey was already upset that they were leaving (or that she couldn't stay outside, but sadness from them leaving sounds better) so she is crying in every single one of them.
Typical really.
[I'm pretty sure that in every picture we ever took as kids, someone is always crying or pouting.]

All in all, it was a nice visit. We always have a lot of laughs. The girls loved having them here, and let's be honest, I liked the extra half hour or so of sleep in the morning. :)

Hopefully Bailey's plentiful hugs and kisses hold them over until their next trip.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

day at the park

Today we met our friend Randi at a park. Randi babysits a little girl named Megan once a week, so we thought it might be fun to get the kids together to play. Megan is 3 and wasn't so sure about Bailey following her around on the equipment. They did pretty good together seeing as it was their first time meeting. There was a lot of play with the rocks, including a very impressive snow rock angel. 

The weather was beautiful. It was nice to get out of the house and switch up the routine. {Speaking of routine, currently it is 2 pm and the girls have decided that they will not be going down for naps easily, but I am tuning that out...}  After playing at the park we went to eat lunch. Randi told Megan to go collect her shoes so we could leave for the restaurant. Megan pointed to Bailey and said, "Okay, but does that guy have to come?" 

Oh Bailey. I could dress you in only bright pink dresses and you would still get called a boy. Also while we were there, a maintenance man came up to Bailey and said, "Wow, you look just like Bob Dillon!" 

Thank you sir...
but I am not sure that is a compliment when you are talking about a two-year-old girl...

-Okay, so maybe he was on to something when it comes to the hair.
It's okay Bailey. That is what hair products are for...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I am going a little stir-crazy here.

As most of you know, I like to be in control of things and to be "in charge." {I am sure all of my sisters just thought that was the understatement of the century.} It pains me to not be able to "supervise" the cleaning and junk decluttering of our future floor in my sister's house. I really want to be there so I can envision where things are going to go and how I will be organizing it all.

So it is a little hard to know we are going to be moving in like 2 1/2 weeks and essentially be doing nothing about it right now. Honestly, we shouldn't have all that much to move in the first place. But believe me, I do know what we are moving because I have made some very nice, very detailed lists. [I am definitely a list-makin' kind of gal.] But even the list didn't make me feel better. Most things we are taking are essential to our daily lives: clothing, beds, etc. And since Jared's family is coming to visit this weekend, I don't really want the house to look void of any homey touch by packing up our photos and decorations.

So here I am writing a (boring) blog post instead.

Regardless of all those reasons to wait, I just feel like I should be packing things. I need to be labeling a box or something! This afternoon the girls and I are going to go on a walk and visit the park. And then I will swing by and pick up a bunch of boxes the local businesses have been holding for me. And then I can pack up a box of photo albums. Maybe that will quench my organizational thirst - for a little while at least.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Moving On Up.... to northwest Iowa

So my last post was titled "March Madness" ...  Yeah, that was a little premature.

And as I hinted about, we are indeed packing boxes. Jared accepted the position that he interviewed for a few short days ago. So now we are moving.


Not so much ughhh at the thought of being moved, but ughhh at the moving itself. I dislike moving, as I am assuming most (normal) people do. All that packing and lifting and hauling and loading. Then doing it all in reverse to unpack all that crap.

I put in my three weeks notice on Friday. It was kinda weird. Everyone was really understanding and happy for us to be moving on in life. It was just weird because of the fact that The Med Center has become a little home in itself, a place where I see familiar faces in the hallways and a place where I feel comfortable (once I stopped being lost constantly). I will miss it. I made a lot of friends and have lots of great memories {and stories -  hello, I worked on 5West!}.

But we are excited for the weeks to come. We're moving in with my youngest sister Justy, who has a house with an upstairs for us to take over occupy. We will have our own bathroom and bedrooms up there, so there might be some semblance of normalcy for Justina.  We picked out some paint colors and will be painting over the black-and-white 70s era psychedelic wallpaper in every room. {Please, Jesus, let that paint provide adequate coverage...} There are huge walk-in closets in every bedroom, so we will have plenty of space.

The downside is that our house is still on the market. {Want to buy a house??!} Hopefully this spring we will see some serious activity. Two couples are actively interested and have told our realtor they want to buy it, but they are needing to sell their houses too.

Same. old. story.

So right now we are still stuck. The bright side of living with my sister is that we can leave our house  furnished - with the exception of two bedrooms. We will be taking what we need and boxing up a lot of other things. Everything will look clean, organized, and in its proper place. There won't be any more last minute scrambles to try and make the house perfect for a showing (while both children simultaneously undo all I just did). Our wonderful neighbors even offered to mow the lawn for us! Bless them.

Things are seeming to fall into place pretty easily. I like it when that happens. It makes you feel like you made the right choice and takes away some of the stress that comes with change.

So if you're a praying person, I would appreciate a nice prayer that we can keep our sanity during these next three weeks. March 30th is moving day, and it will be here before we know it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

March Madness

It's been a busy couple of days for the Solko household.

But today I have some peace. Bailey is spending a few days at Papa's house. {Aka my mom and dad's house, but they are both "Papa" to Bailey right now.} It was amazing to wake up in the morning on my own - not to the sound of Bailey trying to tackle the baby gate to get out of her room. I had forgotten just how much easier life is with just one child. Avery and I have been spending time reading books and playing together - just the two of us. And I know Bailey is having a good time with Grammy Sherri watching Elmo's World and destroying her house instead of our's.

This week we had Bailey's yearly meeting with her cleft team at Boy's Town. It's really convenient. With just one copay, we see all the specialists that help Bailey with her cleft needs: pediatric dentist/orthodontist, plastic surgeon, ENT, speech pathologist, and audiology. But just because it is convenient doesn't mean it is necessarily easy or anywhere near pleasurable to take her there.  She is borderline skittish of doctors or health care workers in general. (You would be too if you had surgery twice before the age of 9 months.) By the time we had been there a few hours, she was completely over it. When her plastic surgeon Dr. Miller tried to just talk to her, she started hysterically crying.
Yep, that's our girl.

Other than that minor breakdown, she did okay. She is right on track. Her speech is where they expect it to be and we got pointers on how to help her say difficult words better. (But for right now we are completely content to let "frog" sound exactly like a certain 4-letter word...)  She is missing one tooth on her upper right where the cleft was. Our dentist told us most likely that she will be missing the adult one, too. We briefly discussed the future in terms of bone grafts and braces and dental implants, but for now I am just fine putting that out of my mind for the next 4 years or so. Her hearing tested normal and I am still not sure whether she has both tubes left in her ears or just one. And apparently neither was the ENT who is like 75 years old and confusing and didn't know what he was doing - just like every other time we have seen him. Is it any wonder we use a different ENT from the Med Center? 

[And just a side note: We like everyone on the cleft team, but I have ZERO respect for the ENT there. Any doctor that makes his assistant call a parent and tell them over the phone that their child could have brain damage {nevermind the fact that it was completely ridiculous and not even a possibility}, is not a professional in my mind. He also did some other inappropriate things, but I think the "brain damage" phone call story drives the point home. And believe me, it is all Jared can do to stay civil when we have to see this man for ten minutes once a year at cleft clinic.]

After the appointment we went to lunch with Fe. The following photo isn't the best piece of photography, but it is real evidence that Avery let someone else hold her for an extended period of time. A miracle.

After Bailey devoured her meal and Avery got a nice bite out of my bun and sampled a few fries, we got on the road to my parent's house. We headed back to the area because Jared had a job interview for a state nursing job. He felt like it went pretty well, but at least seven other people applied, so you never know. They said they would let him know in the next few days, so now it is just a waiting game. A lot is up in the air right now. If only our house would just sell...!

We got to spend a bit of time with my parents and sister Justy. My mom always hauls all the toys out for Bailey and she quickly explores all the toys we played with as kids. That night we ate at the Pizza Ranch {because Bailey and Avery requested it} with my Grandma Joyce and Grandpa Ronnie. Both of our kids love fried chicken - just like their Papa Jeff. :)

Aunt Justy & Bailey

The rest of the month is sure to fly by.

Next weekend Jared's dad, stepmom, and siblings will be coming to visit. Then the next weekend Justy graduates from massage therapy school and we will be having a party to celebrate. And who knows, we might even be packing a few boxes in there too...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book It

The Hunger Games.
You need to read it. And then read the next two. Totally addicting. And hurry up and do it before the movie comes out later this month. And btw, I saw the extended trailer online... I will have to see it. And in-the-theaters-see-it, which is basically unheard of anymore in my child-filled world.

And while I am talking books, I have another recommendation for anyone reading this: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. A-mazing. It is a bit intimidating at 900+ pages (I know, I know...) but just trust me on this one. And don't judge it by its book jacket description either. I will admit when I first saw Jared reading it a few years back, I took one look at its description and its size and literally said, "Why in the hell are you reading that?" But after watching him blatantly ignore me for a week to read it, I figured it must be pretty good.

It's more than pretty good. It's great. I think it's safe to say it is my favorite book of all time. It's got all the components of a stellar book - mystery, love, drama, revenge, sex, killing (not necessarily all in that order) - against a backdrop of the 12th century and building of a cathedral. I have made lots of people read this book: my mom and sisters {excluding Felicia, seeing as the only book she has read in the last 10 years was Alan Iverson's biography...which I am sure was a work of literary genius...}, my grandma, some friends, and anyone else who would listen to me.

Ken Follett is also writing a 3-book series set from World War I to World War II called Fall of Giants. Only the first one has been released, but it is also a great book. Apparently I have become a bit of a Ken Follett fan, but anyone who can paint a descriptive picture in my mind of the building of a beautiful 12th century cathedral and a down-and-dirty sex scene gets the official Vanessa stamp of approval.

I love getting recommendations for good books.

[I used to trust Oprah and her book club, but then she recommended Jonathan Franzen's book Freedom... And for that I would love to request a refund. And I would also like those hours of my life back as well.] 

So if anyone reading has some good book recommendations, I would love to hear them! Just leave me a comment.  :)