Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter


We celebrated a perfect day: family, church, egg hunting, and eating
- not necessarily in that order.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish,
but have eternal life.
For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world,
but that the world should be saved through Him.
- John 3:16-17

Friday, March 29, 2013


Another fun holiday first:

Jared's "masterpiece"
Isn't she a beauty??

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Weight loss mission: one month later

Yesterday marked four weeks of exercise and less junk food. It has gone by quickly, and honestly, it hasn't been that hard to incorporate exercise into my daily life.
Some days I only get 30 minutes of time to myself, so it can be hard to use that time to work out, especially knowing I probably won't get to do something else I would like to do. {ie: the reason why I am blogging at 10 PM when I should probably be in bed...} But I always feel better after I exercise, so it is worth doing.

Jared really helped me out by downloading different videos and finding a small set of weights for us to use. Shortly after I started, he started along with me, and it is nice to have someone else to hold me accountable to get a workout in. In the first three weeks, I only missed two days. Every day I worked out for at least 20 minutes. This past week has been a bit spotty. With a two-day trip to Omaha and the next day filled with extremely whiny children, I missed some days in there.

Results wise?
I don't feel they are all that impressive. As far as the scale goes, I am down 3 pounds - that is most days. Just this morning the scale said I was back to my original weight, so who knows? (Does everyone else's weight fluctuate this much??)

I am wishing I had measured myself before I started. Even though the scale isn't showing much in the way of progress, I feel like my jeans fit a little bit better - meaning I can button them without feeling like all of my internal organs are in a denim choke hold.

I cut out most of the junk (okay, except for this past week...oops) and literally eat a boring bowl of Special K for breakfast every morning. You would think cutting out the crap, along with the supposed 500+ cals a day burned by breastfeeding, that I would be getting further ahead...

But even if I haven't lost much weight, the exercise is good for me. I haven't worked out this much since college, so I have to be gaining some muscle. Right? And I know I have gotten stronger. When I first started, I did 15 lunges the first day and thought I was going to die. Now on the main video I do, 15 lunges is basically a warm-up. When I first started, two push-ups was about my max, and now... well, I am still not amazing at them, but I can do more than two at least!

I also face a challenge in this whole thing that most people don't have to deal with: my diabetes. I have Type 1 - requiring an insulin pump - not the other kind. If you are confused on the difference, please inform yourself by reading my public service announcement on the subject HERE.

The worst part about starting an exercise program when you are diabetic is that you don't know exactly what it will do to your blood sugars. I figured I would need less insulin, and I was right. Almost immediately my sugars dropped. And they dropped all across the board. This is a good thing because it means my body is requiring less insulin. The bad part is that I have to eat or drink something with carbs to bring my level back up. So basically it is like working out and burning all those calories just to consume them right back.
It's frustrating.
It took about a week of adjusting numbers and extra checks to get things regulated again. Right now I think I am in a good place. My body is used to the workouts so I don't drop low nearly as often.

Anyway, I am only a month into it.
I know I have a long way to go.
I have another challenge coming up too: I am having knee surgery this Thursday.

It's nothing huge, just a torn meniscus in my left knee. Apparently I have had it since a few months after Avery was born (and she turns 2 in a month or so). It hadn't really been bothering me until I started working out for a week or so and then I began to notice it. So it will be repaired this week. I am not sure what kind of exercise I will be allowed to do and how soon, but I will try and make do with some weights and upper body exercises in the meantime. And while I am keeping with the exercise, I also need to try and curb my desire for a 6-pack of Cadbury creme eggs. And those delicious Reese's peanut butter eggs...
Oh how I love Easter!

Monday, March 25, 2013

4 Months

It's crazy to me that it's been 4 months already.
I don't have any updated stats because he doesn't go to the doctor until next week, but I know my chubby little buddy is growing like a weed.
He is currently wearing 6-9 month clothes, although I can make some 3-month shirts still fit. The pants? Not so much unless we are going for the capri look.
I love this age because they start to show a personality. The smiling, the laughing, the overall engagement with their surroundings.
He seems to be the most chill of all of our children. He doesn't mind being in his carrier at the store or during church. He smiles at everyone, and I mean everyone. The little old ladies at church love him. And it's nice to be able to hand him off to other people who want to love on some baby. Granted no one else can feed him, so he still loves his mama best there. :)
He was very cooperative for his pictures today. And I had two very eager little photo assistants. Wonder who they could be?
Outtakes from the morning:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter's on its way

This past Saturday we attended Easter Fest, which was essentially a fundraiser to build a playground in a neighboring town. We went for breakfast, where Avery got our money's worth in pancakes, and then played games with the girls.

While we were eating breakfast, the Easter Bunny was making the rounds.
We have never taken their pictures with the Easter Bunny before. Or even with Santa
{I know, I know. I am totally dropping the ball in that department...}

Avery looks like she might be enjoying herself.
Trust me, she is not.
This is the picture pre-freak-out. I believe she is actually taking in a breath to let out a huge wail. But at least she appears to be happy, right?!

Bailey didn't cry, but when I wanted her to sit next to Mr. Easter Bunny, she gave me a look that got her point across: "Who in the hell are you kidding?"
So we settled for her sitting in a neighboring chair.
Good enough.
Graham was an angel the entire time.
He hung out in his carrier and smiled at all the strangers.
Eventually he took a little catnap while his sisters played games.
He officially became the candy collector.

We didn't hang around for the Easter egg hunt as there was a pretty big gap of time in between the games and the hunt.
Hopefully we can take them to one this upcoming weekend.
Bailey now understands that candy is the name of the game and hopefully will do a little better than last year's haul.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Graham's Room

Awhile back I posted about all our Hobby Lobby purchases and projects we were working on.
One of them was to make letters to spell Graham's name for his room. Seeing as the nursery was all full of girl stuff for Bailey and then Avery, we needed some blue to make this room a bit more boy-oriented.

It wasn't until after hours of doing projects that we hung the letters up on his wall. It was then that we realized the A's were backward.  
We haven't been back to Hobby Lobby yet to purchase more blue paper to fix it, so it will have to work for now.
(And I am realizing just now as I write this blog post that the teddy bear is wearing Avery's headband. So much for a boy-oriented space, right?)

We have been slowly adding things to his room.
Right now we basically can't have a single thing on the lower shelves of the bookcase because his sisters come into the room and take everything that they can reach, especially books. The girls love to read "new" books: aka ones they haven't read in two days. The main problem is that Avery is still in the stage where it is fun to also rip apart those new books.

Jared refinished the dresser a few weeks before Graham was born. It was an oak color and we had it in our guest bedroom. Jared sanded and stained it to match the rest of the nursery furniture, as well as most of the wood furniture in our house. New knobs found for cheap online (seriously, who knew knobs were so freaking expensive?!) finished the update.

Making the letters was super easy.
We got the idea after seeing all kinds of cute nursery designs involving hanging letters. After a little research, we found most of the letters were upwards of $20 a piece. Yeah, they are wood and of higher quality, but really, how long will you be using them for?

We bought these flat letters from Hobby Lobby for $1.99 a piece.
The paper was less than 50 cents.
The dark blue paint was less than a dollar.
We already had Mod Podge and a brush at home from other crafts.

First we painted all the edges a dark blue that matched that color of the paper.

Next you simply paint a small layer of Mod Podge on the front side of the letter and press it onto the paper you are wanting to use. (You have to be careful that the paper is taut and smooth or you will come out with wrinkles in the paper.)

After letting them dry completely, use an exacto knife to cut the paper along the edge of the letters. Once done with that, apply another layer of Mod Podge to the front of the letters, protecting the paper.

You're done. That's it.
We used your basic sticky tack to hang the letters on the wall.

So in total we spent under three dollars per letter, which can really save you a lot of money depending on the length of your child's name.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Omaha trip

We spent the last couple days in Omaha.

Bailey has to see her dentist every 6 months and her cleft team just once every year at this point. (To see the links to her particular care givers, click HERE.) Thankfully we were able to schedule them on the same day and save a trip.

We headed down early the first morning so we could meet Felicia and hang out for the day. We decided to go to Pump It Up - an inflatables play place. It was cheap entertainment for all and also a great workout for all the adults involved.

{I have no pictures of Bailey because the girl didn't stand still long enough for me to ever take one!}

It was fun because the adults could go with the kids into any of the areas. Bailey and Avery's favorite was the slide. And boy, was that a workout for Mama. Whew! Carrying a 30-pound toddler up an inflatable staircase is a lot of work. Eventually Bailey figured out to do it herself and then became pretty independent about it. Jared, Fe, and I were pretty shocked at how tired we were after just an hour and a half.
We went and ate some lunch to refuel before hitting the hotel.

Now that we have 3 kids, it is getting a little hard (and probably inconvenient) for us to take over Fe's house for the night, so we got a hotel room. Jared gets a cheap state rate, so we figured, why not? The fact that there was a pool was also a big bonus. We figured that between swimming in the hotel pool and jumping on the inflatables, the girls would be exhausted come bedtime. Yeah right! (More on that later.) Both Felicia and Catrina came over to swim, too.

Both girls had a good time swimming.

Bailey was very independent with her Puddle Jumper on. She swam back and forth across the pool and jumped in over and over all by herself.

When Avery wasn't being thrown around by Jared, she spent her time trying to sneak into the hot tub. She had the naughtiest look of satisfaction and delight whenever she succeeded. {Family members: I know you can picture this exact look.}

After some pizza in our hotel room, it was time to wind down for bed.
Both girls got a quick bath (where Avery only tried to eat the bar of soap twice - whose child is this?!), put on their pajamas, and climbed into bed with their bunnies.

And don't be fooled by Avery's tired-looking face; these children did not give up without a fight. I think that after about 2 hours, they finally fell asleep around 10 pm. And just because they were sleeping doesn't mean that we got any rest. Bailey snores louder than most grown men. She finally cut that out around midnight, at which time Graham woke up from his 2 hour nap. I fed him and put him in bed with me, where he slept for the rest of the night.

Jared got the worst end of the sleeping situation. He originally started out with the girls, trying to keep them from hitting each other or messing around. After they were asleep he joined me until Graham took up room. He moved back to bed with the girls. Apparently Avery is extra lovey in her sleep. She kept cuddling up to him and stroking his arm, keeping Jared mildly awake, but it was the nipple pinch she gave him in the middle of the night that woke him up for good.

Morning came all too soon.
We headed off to Bailey's 8 AM cleft team appointment at Boy's Town.

Her cleft team consists of every specialty that a child with a cleft might need:
  • pediatrician
  • nurse
  • plastic surgeon
  • dentist
  • orthodontist
  • geneticist
  • ENT doctor
  • audiologist
  • speech pathology
We usually meet with all those people, with the exception of the genetics doctor since it doesn't really apply to us. It is extremely convenient that we can meet with the entire team of professionals all in one location at the same time with just one $10 copay. It's amazing.

She met with the dental staff first. Surprisingly Bailey now has a tooth coming into her cleft - a tooth we previously thought would be missing. Her mouth is going to be a huge work-in-progress, but for now we are just at a point where great tooth brushing is the only concern. Cavities are big problems for kids with clefts due to the already large chunk of bone missing, so we are doing the best job we can with oral hygiene. (Which is why we are mean parents that make her brush her teeth whether she wants to or not - no skipping!)

Following dental was audiology . This is the first year that she was able to cooperate with the hearing tests, so she went into the sound proof booth and played games corresponding with the tones she was hearing through the headphones. Along with other tests and an exam, it was determined that she is suffering from some mild hearing loss, most likely due to the fact that both of her T-tubes are clogged completely with ear wax. We have had this happen before - back when she was about 5 or 6 months old. {She is a very waxy child.} There isn't much you can do to prevent the wax buildup and she had to have her tubes removed and replaced at 9 months when her palate was surgically repaired.

Next up she saw her plastic surgeon, Dr. Miller, whom Bailey has always liked. She is always so cooperative with him: smiling for the pictures he needed to take and letting him get a good look in her mouth. 
We discussed the next step in her surgical process - a revision of her previous lip/nose repair surgery. As you can see in pictures, her scar site has a slight bump there and her nose is pretty flat. Dr. Miller plans to shave off the bump and try to make her upper lip more symmetrical, while also reshaping her right nostril, which will help her nose have a more natural shape. This surgery can be done anytime - usually before a child starts school - so we are probably going to do it sometime in the next few months. It is just an outpatient surgery, so no hospital stay  - yippee! We are blessed to have such amazing insurance through Jared's job, and it is a relief not to have to worry about the cost of these procedures.

The new ENT - Dr. Lusk - came in next.
We are both absolutely overjoyed that there is a new ENT for the team. We HATED the last one. I was always praying Jared would just play nice and not go off on him. We just couldn't handle that guy. Ugh, he was horrible. (You can read about part of why we disliked him HERE.)
Anyway, I digress...
He examined her ears and found that yes, they are both plugged with wax and it can't be manually removed without removing the tubes. Also, she has fluid behind one of the tubes, which is probably causing the ear pain she has been having. So our only choice is to have them removed and replaced. We were hoping to just do this with the upcoming plastic surgery revision, but it might have to be done separately since it needs to be done soon. We will find out in the next couple days what the game plan is.

She saw the rest of her providers just casually as they popped in and out during our meetings with plastics and ENT. The speech therapist was impressed with her language skills and said she is right on track for her age with absolutely no cleft-related speech problems. She will have to start being monitored through the school system when she starts preschool in the fall, but for now is doing great.

After the cleft team visit we made a very-painful-on-the-bank-account trip to Costco and then met Fe for lunch before going to the dental appointment.

It was much like last time, with the exception that this time Bailey had x-rays. It turns out that she doesn't have a permanent tooth for the cleft, which is what we figured. So in the future she will need a dental implant, but that is many years down the road. She did pretty well getting her teeth cleaned, especially since she was crabby and running very low on sleep. The promise of some Disney princess stickers and a toy from the machine was enough to enlist her cooperation.

And after the dental appointment we were free to finally go home.
Hallelujah, praise Jesus!
It was only 36 hours, but we were wiped out. Thankfully everyone slept well last night (okay, everyone but Jared who had to work). Even Graham was nice to his mama and slept a full 9 hours straight. (Fingers crossed that he keeps that up!) 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Laugh of the Day

I randomly stumbled across a new blog called Baby Sideburns through a Facebook friend.
I clicked on the following article and was literally laughing out loud.
Jared had to tell me to knock it off because I was annoying him.

And it is mainly funny because it is just So True!
Parents out there, I dare you to read it and disagree.
My favorite was #5. Bailey always catches me in the act.  How does she know?! 
And Jared is definitely more than guilty of #8, especially when it is Book #7,246 of the night.
Oh, and #3? Change "dressing" to "feeding" and you have breakfast with Bailey. And lunch. And supper...

Be forewarned, the author does like her swear words. But then again, who doesn't?
The medical profession is full of foul-mouthed people - and I am talking about us nurses, not the patients. {Although I had my fair share of cuss-outs working at my first job on 5 West.}
And don't take it too seriously.
Of course I love my kids, but certain aspects of mamahood aren't all that magical, and I find it quite hilarious to read that someone else is having the same thoughts I have on occasion.
Hope you have a good laugh too!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Getting Away

I love having something to look forward to. Before Jared and I had kids, we would plan vacations. It gave us something to look forward to during a particularly hellish day/week/month at work. It was extra motivation to pick up a bonus shift or two.
Now it is rare for us to have more than a few hours alone; unheard of since Graham came along. {That needy little baby...}

So I am particularly excited about the month of April.

For one, I will be reuniting in Kansas City with my hometown friends:
Holly, Shelby, Sarah, and Kevin.
It will be a girls' weekend {Kevin's words}.
And while it is actually only one night since both Holly and I have newborns, I am still psyched for it. It will be a much-needed break from my never-ending routine around here.
Plus, a certain little man can't attempt to nurse on me if I am hours away.

I love my kids dearly, but they are tiring.
And while I really do love the baby stage, there are moments when I am in the same recliner every evening for a 2-3 hour stretch, unable to move with a little boy latched onto me where I literally feel like I just need to do something else - anything else!
Forget restless leg syndrome, it is more like restless body. I just feel claustrophobic.
I think a good 24 hours away will help me feel refreshed. {Usually the word "refreshed" doesn't apply to a night spent drinking and eating way too much while sleeping too little, but it just might in this case.}

And then a few weeks later, my three sisters and I will be meeting up in Des Moines for a night.

{one of my faves of all time. doing what we do best: laughing}
Jared was given two vouchers for a free night's stay while he was in Des Moines for training last April. We used one of them ourselves back last June for our anniversary {story here}, so we still have one remaining free stay.
Jared - being the wonderful husband that he is - suggested I use the voucher and meet up with my sisters for some shopping and a night away. And believe me, I jumped on that offer!

I know some women probably don't think a night hanging out with their sisters sounds that amazing, but I definitely do. I love my sisters. As much as we can piss each other off, they are my best friends. Each of us knows exactly what to do or say to crack the other one up. Throw in a million inside jokes and old family stories - along with some beer and vodka - and you have the makings for a really good time.
Oh, and food.   
It wouldn't be fun for Felicia if we weren't planning on some delicious food, too.

Friday, March 8, 2013

So Big

This week has been a blur.
Mostly a blur borne of sleep deprivation, chocolate deprivation, and too many appointments. I still managed to workout every day, but that is it as far as "free time" (haha - What is that?) goes.
There are many points during the day when I think to myself, please nap time come quickly! Those points usually come as I am reiterating for the 114th time that "no, we are not watching Barney" or breaking up a fight over a plastic fork for the play kitchen - never mind that there are three other identical plastic forks up for grabs.

Yet, somewhere in the midst of it I came to the realization that the days are going by way too quickly. I was sitting on the couch, holding Graham and talking nonsense to him in the typical over-animated baby voice, when suddenly I am crying. Like tears streaming down my cheeks crying.
What is wrong with me?   And then it happened two more times!
I was just looking at his sweet face, realizing that we won't ever again have a baby this small, and there they were: tears. Later that night all five of us were up in the girls' room. We had been reading books and the girls were dancing around the room to music playing from Jared's phone. Avery bent down and picked up her doll, gave it a kiss, and slow danced with it for all she was worth. Her sweetness and innocence just choked me up.
Our babies are getting so big!
Jared saw me crying, shook his head and went back about his business with the wiseness of a man who has endured his wife being pregnant three times.

We had decided that Graham was going to be the last one before we even knew it would be a Graham and not a Blair/Paige/Lainey (okay, Jared didn't like Lainey but I was holding out hope). A 4th baby wouldn't be very wise in many ways. But it still feels bittersweet to pack up the tiny clothes he has outgrown and see firsthand all the ways he is growing and changing. It seems to happen overnight.

I want to make sure I am soaking up all this baby-ness.
Amid all the sleeplessness nights (still!) I am trying to remain positive because I won't get to do this again. I enjoy his snuggles in bed with me, even if they are more like jabs and kicks, because I won't get to do this again. I smile and hold him close as he eats for hours every evening because I won't get to do this again. I breathe in his sweet baby scent because I won't get to do this again.

With the last two, when my heart was aching with the thought of my baby growing so big, I could console myself with the promise of another future tiny baby bundle to love. That isn't the case this time.
I think I am starting to reach the acceptance stage, the one where I finally come to the realization that while I won't feel little baby fingers wrapped tightly around mine forever, the promise of finger paintings and school plays and birthday sleepovers and family vacations is pretty sweet, too.

It doesn't stop me from feeling sad sometimes though, or worrying that I am not doing enough to remember every little moment.
Most of the time I feel like I have to "look good" (which in mom-speak means not covered in baby spit and maybe -just maybe- some eyeliner was applied) to take a picture. But I realize that is dumb. Because this is the mama he knows and looks at every day: the mama in a nursing cami and sweatpants who hasn't touched her straightener in a few weeks. He isn't going to look back at his photo albums and think, Man, would it have killed her to put on a nicer shirt? (Or at least I hope he doesn't!)
So we had ourselves a little impromptu photo shoot.


Oh my little Grahamy, you are getting so big...

Monday, March 4, 2013

One Week

It's been one week since I have started my quest to lose the baby weight.

And I must say, I have stuck with it.
      every day.
Each day I have done something workout-wise. Most days it is around 30 minutes. One day I only got in 15, another day I did 50.

I get bored pretty easily, as I think most people do, so I have been switching it up. I started off with random workout videos I found for free on YouTube. Then after a few days Jared downloaded some videos to burn to DVD - lots of the Biggest Loser series and Zumba.

I like most of them.
The Biggest Loser series has titles like "Body Boot Camp" and "Cardio Max" - which sound pretty intimidating. But most of the ones we have done are for beginners. That being said, they still kick my ass. Nothing makes you feel more pathetic than seeing the 300+ pound people on the screen jumping and kicking and squatting away while you feel like you are going to die. So while they weigh much more than me, they clearly are in way better shape.

I like to do the Zumba videos for 20-30 minutes and then do something else. Zumba gets your heart rate up and definitely tires you out, but I like the feel of working different muscle groups that the Biggest Loser series gives me.

And sometimes I just make a point to turn on some music and dance around with the girls. Who needs 3-lb weights when you can just pick up your hefty toddler and dance around the living room?

My eating hasn't changed, except that I try and be conscious of my snacking.
I am such a snacker!
I think breastfeeding makes it worse too. Some days I am just starving all day long.

The scale also hasn't changed. But I also wasn't expecting it to. Right now I am just proud that I have made an effort to get up and moving every day. I am, however, hoping to be positively surprised one of these days.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Things I love

cooking supper with Jared
clean baby scent
Avery's pigtails
one less kid using diapers
Downton Abbey (just finished Season One)
breastfeeding Graham
peach yogurt
a 6-hour stretch of sleep
the feeling of accomplishment after a workout