Friday, August 26, 2011

And Another Year Goes By...

Sometimes I'm sad about my lack of blogging, but my life is full and the key to balance is not doing everything that you may want to do, so blogging doesn't happen. Anyway, I now have a break from school and thought I'd take a moment (or hour) to try to reconstruct highlights from the last year. Bear with me.

I mentioned last post that we sold our house in May and moved to a new suburb into a duplex. It has actually worked out great. While we struggle with some "old house" issues, things that break, become our landlord's expense. We have enough room for now and even though we're attached on 2 walls, we never hear our neighbors. The best part is we LOVE our neighborhood. We know more neighbors by name than we did in our old neighborhood that we lived in for 9 years. There are a few girls close to Grace's age or a little older (one was even in the same kindergarten class) and Grace spends tons of time outside "running the neighborhood." Thankfully we can see about 1/3 of the entire street from our front window and we've met all the other parents, so we feel safe letting her hang out with her friends. We intend to stay here until I graduate and we find out where I'll be working.

At last post, Eric was still unemployed. It was actually a real blessing to have him home when I started school. School was a big transition for me (more on that later) and it was very nice not to have to worry about when I got home for the babysitter or if my schedule changed. However, eventually (about mid-March) unemployment ran out and it was time to get serious about the job search. Eric had a very promising lead for basically the same job he used to do, but it fell through last minute. Then the husband of one of my school friends gave him a lead on a Management Training/Sales job at a mattress company. He was hired in less than a week and started right before Easter. It's actually turned out really well for us. Because it's retail, he has to work weekends, which on one hand stinks, but on the other that means his 2 days off per week are weekdays and he can choose his days off each month. So, we coordinate schedules, so that we are only using a sitter 1 or 2 days per week. The savings in childcare makes the salary managable.

We posted ads on Craigslist for a babysitter and found someone that had her own 3 year old son that she brought with her to play with Luke. That worked out well for a couple weeks and then she had a trip to the ER and found out she was 6 months pregnant, in preterm labor, and needed bedrest. So, no sitter. We had a week to find someone else. We posted another Craigslist ad and signed up for and interviewed a couple more people. We ended up finding someone who is a single mom with a 4 and 5 year old that brings them with her. She's been very flexible and reasonably priced, so we're pretty happy with for the last 3 months or so. Although we may be searching again as her son is starting kindergarten and they aren't in the same district as us.

So, back to Eric. He was doing good at work and went to the company training in Texas in June. Once he finished training he was officially a manager in training and was now eligible for commission. So, July (the first full month of commission eligibility) he was the top salesperson in Columbus and made about $1200 in commission over his draw. Yay, Eric! It looks like he'll at least make his draw in August and if he makes draw in September, they've pretty much guaranteed him a store to manage. He also became eligible for benefits, so we're switching him and the kids to his insurance to save some money (compared to my student health insurance premiums). So, all good news.

Eric has also been keeping up with the photography business. He's had several shoots this year (made just under $600 last year) including 3 shoots this month and a wedding earlier this year. He's got 2 more weddings lined up for next summer, so I'm so proud of him.

Grace started kindergarten last fall and just started first grade this year. She did awesome and loved kindergarten. Although we liked her school, Eric and I decided to apply for the magnet school program here in town. She was accepted into a Math & Science magnet school, so started a new school this year. She's also now in full day school versus half day kindergarten, and now rides the bus, so quite a few changes! This year at her 6 year old checkup at the Craniofacial Clinic at Children's Hospital, they noticed that she was becoming very nasal in her speech. They did a nasal scope and found that her palate wasn't closing completely in the back allowing air to escape during speech. The cause was likely shrinking of adenoid tissue casused by age. So, more surgeries needed. In April, she had her tonsils and adnoids removed, so they wouldn't continue to change shape and cause further gaps. Then on Monday (this week) she had her repair surgery, a Posterior Pharyngeal Flap procedure. It's kind of complicated, but the basically built a tissue bridge to close off her nose from her mouth most of the time, so when she speaks she isn't hypernasal. She's doing great and her recovery has been surpisingly easy. She'll go back to school on Monday and I hope her voice will start sounding "normal" within a couple weeks as things heal and any swelling goes down.

My year with Luke has been challenging. We've been dealing with the 2-3 year old defiance and lack of social skills. Our biggest problem with Luke is that he is so big for his age, (55 pounds and 3'6" at his 3 year check-up), that when he does normal 3-year old stuff like tackling his sister or throwing things, it hurts! However, for the most part he is very sweet and giving. As his language skills explode, we learn and more about his personality. He's very funny and loves to make people laugh. He's such a funny boy and loves all people. He transitioned from his crib to a twin bed right before his birthday. It was a little bit of a challenge to keep him in bed and now he gets up early (usually about 6:15 a.m.), but he's adjusted pretty well and still takes about a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. Luke took a very long time to become interested in potty training. We had to switch to pull-ups because he outgrew diapers. But even the pull-ups were becoming a challenge. We got to the point where he started telling us he wanted to pee, so he would. Eventually he started staying dry most of the day, but he wanted no part of sitting on the toliet or wearing underwear. Finally, we convinced him to wear a pair of underwear in July and he's had about 3-4 accidents since and no more pull-ups (even at nap and bedtime). Going #2 is still a challenge, he waits as long as possible before he goes and then gets extremely distressed when it's time. He has very clear signs that he needs to go, so if we take him in and physically hold him on the toliet, he'll go, otherwise, he just screams and cries and goes in his underwear. Still working on that one. We considered pre-school for him this year, but I'm not quite sure the potty-training is where it needs to be yet, so maybe next fall.

At last post, Faith was getting ready for her cleft palate repair surgery. It went well. We had problems the first week getting her to eat or drink. I think the bottle nipple hit her stiches, so everything was uncomfortable. She also HATED her arm restraints and her sleep schedule got all messed up. BUT, once we finished recovery, she's been doing great. She makes noises that Grace never made (blowing rasberrys, can say "Daddy", etc. She also can drink out of a straw and blow bubbles, so I'm wondering if her time in speech therapy may be even less than Grace's. She's coming up on 2 years old and is just starting to show us the attitude. :) Don't know why the attitude is still cute on this one. She's so lovable and cuddly, but has a stubborn, sneaky streak in her. But she carries out the mayhem with a dimpled-smile and a laugh, so she probalby gets away with more than she should! I think she knows what buttons to push and tries to stir up touble with her siblings. She has to be in everything that they are doing and is pretty sure she must be one of the big kids. She's also my climber. Surprisingly, she hasn't climbed out of the crib yet, but I pull her off tables, chairs, and everything else all day long. Her language skills are also developing. I don't understand alot of what she says, but she talks ALOT. I adore her. :)

Let's see, what have I been up to? Ha! Grad school! I started school in September and it was quite a transition period. Getting back into the habit of studying and having SO MUCH reading and studying to do was (and still is) quite overwhelming. Eric was sweet and insisted that he share the basement with me and got me a big, old desk, a desk lamp, and bookshelves to have a dedicated study area. At the time, I didn't know that it was necessary, but now I realize it was a great idea. When it was time to study, I went to my area and didn't have the excuse of watching television or anything else. My first quarter classes included a nursing basics class and clinical placement in a PCU (ICU step-down) unit at the hospital. We learned basic skills of personal care (bathing, bedpans, linen changes, feeding, etc.) and some basic nursing skills (sterile technique, catheters, suctioning, dressing changes, etc). We also learned medication administration for oral, topical, and injectable meds. We also learned the basics of assessment for all body systems. My other classes were Pathophysiology (hard!) and Statistics. Next quarter was med/surg nursing and I was placed on the burn unit for clinical. New skills this quarter were phlebotomy (blood draws), IVs including starting an IV, hanging IV medications, and giving IV push medications. I started my first IV and got to see a pretty horrific wound dressing change on a burn victim. I also had a surgery observation day and saw a MAZE heart procedure. Other classes that quarter were Pathophysiology 2, Human Development, and an elective on Women and Cancer. I believe I got 2 A's and 2 A-'s that quarter. Then spring quarter I got all hyped up. My clinical classes were Pediatrics and Obstetrics with clinical placements at Riverside postpartum floor (with a day in Labor and Delivery) and the Oncology floor at Children's Hospital (with a day in the NICU). My other class was a Culture class. Then summer quarter (that I just finished) my clinical class was High Acutity and I had a placement on a floor in the Heart Hosptial with post-MI patients and others needing procedures like heart catherterization or ablation or cardioversion. That was some tough material, but I buckled down. My other classes were Master's level classes in Nursing Policy and Politics and Theories of Advanced Practice Nursing. So far, I have about a 3.78 GPA, so I'm pretty pleased with my work. Now I have 4 glorious weeks off until I start up with Psych and Community nursing and my first Midwifery class in the fall.

I love school. I'm so happy that I took the leap of faith and did this. Now that it's been a year I can't believe how much I've learned. I feel almost like a "real" nurse when I was freaking out about taking a blood pressure less than a year ago. I have 2 more quarters than I can take the NCLEX and will be an RN. In June next year, I will be starting my first Midwifery clinicals. Speaking of...I also added a specialty. I'm now doing both Midwifery and Women's Health. So, now when I finish I'll take the boards to become both a Certified Nurse Midwife and a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. I'm hoping it will even further open up my employment opportunities. I've made some great new friends and realize that I love the college atmosphere and lifestyle. Not that it hasn't been without challenges. Finding time to go to group meetings or study for exams when Eric is working can be challenging if we don't want to pay for an extra day of babysitting, but most days I can get stuff done and I just focus my available time. Perhaps most surprising to me is exactly how much more time I'm spending with the kids. And for the most part, I love it. I'm practically a stay-at-home Mom too.

Speaking of roles, my side business has changed too. I can't remember if I posted that I signed up in March 2010 to be a Premier Designs consultant. So, I was selling jewelry and doing ok at it. I actually had I think 5 or so shows lined up for September last year, but for one reason or another, several fell through and the ones I did do, I didn't push for bookings. Once school started, I had no time to work on the business and I had a lot of guilt when I did have shows because I couldn't study that night or I was missing time with the family. So, in March when my contract was up for renewal, I decided not to renew. I did get to keep all my jewelry and was able to sell pretty much all of my supplies. I didn't anticipate it being so hard to do in school, but still think if I was "just" a stay-at-home Mom or even still working, it would have been o.k.

So, I started a new side business! I'm a glutton for punishment (or addicted to projects). My friend S. and I were chatting (she's already a Bradley Childbirth Instructor) and she mentioned that she was considering becoming a Birth Doula. It clicked that that would be a great role for me also. So, we went through training together in June. I'm now a DONA-trained Birth Doula and just need to go to a few births and fill out alot of paperwork to finish my certification. In case you don't know what a doula is, a doula is basically a labor support person. Most doulas are hired for natural births because we specialize in emotional and physical support during labor, but can do medicated births too. I currently have one client booked for January, but hopefully will get a few more in the not too distant future. I really am doing this not for the money, but because I think the practice supporting women in labor will come in handy when I am practicing as a midwife. I'm including the link to my doula blog which I'm going to try to update monthly about the business stuff and any births I get to attend.

So, that's the nuts and bolts of the last year. Been a busy one, but good. My family is healthy and relationships strong, my school is going great, we're surviving financially and I couldn't be happier. I'd say I'll try to update here more often, but who am I kidding? Although, if you would like to be a friend of mine on Facebook (where I tend to do most of my posting), send me a message and I'll give you my contact info, so we can be friends. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Kids

The Kids
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
This is why I don't have time to blog anymore! All is well in our household. We've had a busy half year. We sold our house in May and moved into a better school district. We're renting a duplex with tons of space and nomaintenance worries. Eric has been staying home with the kids and it's actually very nice not to have to worry about babysitters.

Grace starts kindergarten on September 1st and she's so excited. Speaking of starting school, it's finally happening for me too! I've been working on it for years, but in just 4 weeks, I will be starting my Master's program full time! I've given my notice at work and been getting prepared by buying my books, parking pass, scrubs and equipment, and getting my clinical complance done (CPR, immunizations, background checks, etc.). I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!

Anyway, before all that goes down, Faith is scheduled for her cleft palate repair on September 7th. I'm praying it will be smoother for her than Grace's surgery. My parents will be coming to stay for a few days while she's in the hospital and first days home to help with Grace and Luke and make sure Grace doesn't miss school!

That's my short entry for now. Just wanted to let everyone know I'm still around. Just busy and happy!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Craniofacial Visit

My day started off kind of crazy. It started last night (yesterday afternoon) when I got a text from my best friend telling me that her baby was sick and so she wouldn't be able to watch Grace and Luke during our doctor's appointment with Faith so we didn't risk catching it. So, we called our old babysitter and left a message and tried a church friend (who unfortunately was back to work as a teacher) to find someone to watch them. We didn't get a return call from the babysitter before bed. Due to Faith's feeding schedule, I didn't attempt to really go to bed until after her midnight feeding.

We slept really well until about 3 a.m. and then Faith moved from the bassinet to my bed until about 4:40 a.m. when she let me know she really was hungry. I fed her, pumped, and then attempted to convince her it wasn't supposed to be "awake time" until about 6:30 a.m. when she finally fell asleep and let me turn off the TV (light). At 8 a.m., Grace burst into my room and told me that Luke was awake and that Daddy had sent her upstairs only one time. I informed her that Faith was not awake and she needed to leave us alone. About 20 minutes later, she came back in and told me that she got Luke out of his crib and sure enough he was all smiley beside her. I have no idea how she got him out of his bed. He weighs more than 30 pounds! I was a bit grouchy, but I changed Luke's diaper and took him downstairs and got his milk and handed them over to Daddy. I attempted to go back to bed, but I couldn't stop thinking about our babysitting situation, so I got back up and started my morning. Around 9 I started making more calls, but long story short, we couldn't find anyone on short notice to watch the kids. So, we decided that we'd attempt to give Luke an early nap, so he wouldn't be too horrible at the 1 p.m. appointment.

Around noon we left and stopped at McDonalds for lunch and then headed to Children's Hospital for Faith's craniofacial appointment. The kids were mostly well behaved except for Luke figuring out where the light switch for the room was and feeling the need to push the chairs all over the room and play with the automatic water in the sink.

Faith's appointment started with the Nurse Practioner and her weigh-in and measuring. She weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces! After 2 1/2 weeks she's made it back to her birth weight. She was born at 8 pounds, 2 ounces, was 7-8 at discharge (2 days). We had a weight check at 4 days and she was down to 7-2. At 1 week we rechecked and she was up to 7-6 and then again at 9 days and she was up to 7-8. So in the last 8 days she's gained another 14 ounces. I guess my pumping is doing some good at fattening her up! They asked us about her feeding and seemed satisfied that she's taking 3 1/2 to 4 ounces every 3 hours. Next we met with the surgeon. He explained that her cleft is both hard and soft palate. He will do a repair surgery when she is 9 or 10 months old (we got back June 1st for another consultation and to finalize the plans). The reapair will be the same as Grace's surgery. They will cut down the gum line to get some extra tissue and then pull the skin together and stitch it up the middle. Apparently, the bone on the roof of the mouth isn't that important as long as there is something separating the mouth from the nasal/sinus cavities. So, her repair will be all soft tissue and she will never have any bone on the roof of her mouth. The next doctor to come in was the speech pathologist. At this point we don't have much to discuss with her, but I'm sure around age 2, she'll become a vital part of our team. The ENT came in and told us that we can expect Faith to have lots of ear infections and unless she somehow doesn't have any ear infections and her ears look great, we'll have tubes put in during her repair surgery. Shouldn't be a big issue and we are used to that with Grace, so we'll just keep an eye on it. The last set of doctors we saw was the dentist group. She confirmed the cleft doesn't extend to the gum line. She did say it appears that her mandible (lower jaw bone) may be a little small and that if it doesn't catch up we may need braces or something, but for now, there are no major issues. The geneticist wasn't in today, so we didn't get to have that meeting, but they do want us to reschedule that appointment, now that we have siblings both with clefts. I'm curious to know why (if they can tell us) we had two out of our three children with the same birth defect, but at the same time, we don't have any intention of having more children, so it doesn't really matter as long as they don't find anything else wrong with Faith (or Grace).

So, that's the update on the appointment. I need to go make some more milk for Faith before she wakes up for our last feeding before Mommy's bedtime. :)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Faith's Going Home Duds

Faith's Going Home Duds
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
As mentioned in my previous post, here is a picture of Faith. Click for more pictures.

Happy 2010!

It would seem that I've been on a blogging hiatus for most of 2009. It was a crazy year that I never could have imagined, but we've made it through. Now I'm standing here looking forward to 2010 and not really knowing what is in store for my family. If I learned anything over the last 18 months or so, it is that I am not in control and my best laid plans don't always work out. I've become much more relaxed in that manner. I'm learning to go with the flow, have faith that God is in control of my life, depend on my husband and cherish our open communication, and believe that in the end as long as I have my family and my faith, things will work out for the best.

That being said, I do have a couple of resolutions/goals for 2010 (and then I'll attempt to catch up on 2009).
1. My pregnancy years have come to a close (yes, I gave birth to #3, more to come later), so as soon as I am cleared medically, I plan to start watching what I eat and exercising. I'm currently 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, so at a minimum I need to lose that, but ideally 20 pounds would put me at a very comfortable weight (especially if I can tone a bit).
2. Be a good wife. This year I read the 5 Love Languages book and think I've learned a little more about how to make my husband feel loved. I need him and that means I need to continue to show him that I love him, need him, and respect him. This means I need to be fully committed to supporting his dreams and aspirations, and being thankful to what he contributes to our family, be it financial or through work around the house or time with the kids.
3. Be a good mom. I have 3 children now, so it's vitally important to me that I remember to enjoy all the small moments with them. Each of my children needs quality time with me, so sometimes that means that the dishes or laundry have to wait until after bedtime, so I can play a game of Operation, give a bottle, or have a tickle fight.

Those are the only things I'm willing to put down as goals. Some other things that I'd like to see happen, but I can't 100% control are:
1. School - I'd like to start my Masters program full time in the fall.
2. Finances - I'd like to get in the position that we can get by if I am in school full time.

So, a little about what's been going on.

Baby #3
Faith Evelynn is my new daughter. I don't think I posted since my intial announcement, but Faith was born on December 19, 2009 at 4:39 p.m. She weighed 8 pounds, 2 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long. We did end up finding out she was a girl, although we had considered having this last baby be a surprise. In an early ultrasound (12 weeks) we thought we saw "boy parts" so we wanted to confirm and when we confirmed, we found out "he" was actually a "she." Because of all of our shoulder dystocia issues with Grace and Luke and Luke's extremely large size, we kept a close eye on her growth and decided to induce 3 weeks early to be sure she didn't get too big. We did an amnio on Dec. 17th for lung maturity and when we got the results, my parents and Eric's Dad and girlfriend came in on the 18th. Christie stayed with Grace and Luke on Saturday morning while my parents and Eric's Dad came to the hospital with us. My induction went smoothly. I seemed to stall at about 3 cm for a couple of hours (too early for an epidural), so I spent some time on a birthing ball for some pretty intense contractions. Finally made it to 5 cm and got my epidural. After that I progressed to 10 cm very quickly and when it was time to push I pushed twice during one contraction and she was born. No shoulder dystocia and the easiest delivery yet!

After birth, when we were doing the newborn assessments in our post-partum room our baby nurse surprised us by informing us that Faith had a cleft of the hard palate. We were shocked that we again have to deal with this birth defect. We will be visiting the Craniofacial Clinic at Children's Hospital on Tuesday (1/5) to determine exactly what the plan will be to get her fixed up. So far, things are going well. She has to use the same special bottles that Grace used and I'm pumping as she can't breastfeed. I haven't decided how long we're going to pump, but it isn't making me crazy yet, so I am just keeping going day by day.

Eric's Job
I think at my last post, Eric was still at home with Grace and working nights and weekends at Wal-Mart. He did take a job with a medical collections firm at the beginning of July. Things were going well when he was let go without a good explanation at the beginning of November. He did qualify for unemployment again, but now the "base" period used for calculating benefits only included the time he was at Wal-Mart, so our weekly benefit is significantly less than before. He's now keeping both Grace and Luke at home and will have Faith too if he isn't back to work before I finish up maternity leave. For now, we've decided not to have him take a part-time job as it would reduce the unemployment benefit and there's no way he could work late nights and take care of all the kids all day. We are also looking into ways for him to get started on some photography stuff. In the fall he took some pictures of friends in outdoor settings for his portfolio and he just used some of his birthday/Christmas money to buy some backdrops and studio lighting so he can start doing some indoor work too. I hope he can get a couple of shoots set up and eventually start doing some photography work on the side. It's crazy and I don't know why we have to deal with this unemployment stuff again. I am not sure what our plan is. He really needs whatever job he takes to pay well, as we'll have to pay for childcare for 3 kids.

Grace just turned 5. She's awesome and funny and so smart. She can almost read now. If we spent a little more time working on it, she'd have it down. She's an excellent colorer. She does imaginary games all the time. She loves dinosaurs and learning about anything. She also loves her baby sister and brother.

Luke is about to turn 20 months old. He's hitting the terrible twos I think as we are constantly saying "No, Luke." He's so sweet though and the "no's" are all because he's into everything. He loves the "moan (phone)" and watching "Mo" (Nemo). He runs, dances, and attempts jumping. He loves playing peekaboo and laughs and smiles all the time. His conversational skills keep improving. I feel like he drops a new word on us almost every day. He's grown up from my baby to a toddler. It's exhausting, but also wonderful. He loves his Momma and blows kisses and gives big hugs before bedtime (all other times of the day he's too busy to be bothered). He's become a Daddy's boy too. I love it.

I just finished my Columbus State pre-requisites for the Master's of Nursing program. My application to the Masters program was due December 15th. I completed everything and sent it all in. I haven't received the decision yet, but could find out in March. I expect I will be accepted, but am not sure if I'll be able to go or not. With Eric's job situation it doesn't seem to be possible financially to think I could quit my job. Now thinking of the possible future surgeries that Faith might need, I know I need my insurance, so I unless Eric gets a great job with comparable benefits, I'm not sure how it's possible. I do think this career path is what God wants for me, so I'm trying not to look too far ahead as I can't control the future. I'm hoping that something will work out by Spring when I have to make a decision as I can't defer and if I don't start in the Fall, I'd have to reapply for next year.

We're trying to sell our house again. When Eric lost his job in November we put the house up again. We're hoping to get out and break even. If we can rent someplace with at least 3 bedrooms for a little less than we pay now in a better school district, we can eliminate some expense, plus solve our delima of where to send Grace to kindergarten in the fall. We'd be able to rent until I finish school and then hopefully buy a bigger place in the same school district. So far, no luck, but we're trying to stay positive.

So, that's about it. I'm going to try to post more often because I missed writing. Now that I'm done with classes until at least summer (assuming I'm going to start full-time in the fall), I should have a little more time in the evenings. I'm not sure if the picture I tried to post with this worked, so if not, I'll add a picture of Faith soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Look What I Can Do!

Look What I Can Do!
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
Thought I'd update really quickly about Luke's walking skills. He's been taking steps for about a month, but is starting to get good. Although in this video he gets a little too excited, so doesn't get far. He can walk accross the room pretty easily now and tries to walk most of the time before he crawls. Yay Luke!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I Have An Announcement

Ultrasound 7w5d
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
While many of you that know me in real life, have already heard the news, I am ready to make my announcement on Blogger. We are expecting Baby #3, due January 8, 2010. As of today, I am 8 weeks and 2 days pregnant.

Even though I have not been writing about it here, I have so far been documenting all the details in a paper journal I keep by my bed. So I wanted to share a few of details so far here.

I had mentioned several months ago my desire to have a third baby, but that I was unsure about the timing due to school deadlines and Eric's employment situation. Eric and I spent more time discussing and praying and decided to continue to have faith that God will provide for us. I even had come to peace that when we did start trying I would stick to the window of needing to be pregnant by my August cycle or that if I wasn't, I would trust that the time was not right for us and focus on still starting school full time 2010 and deciding in the future if we would ever have a third child. But when to start?

I started charting my cycles again in January. I still had my IUD in,but mine is non-homonal (ParaGard rather than Merena), so I knew my cycles were not influenced. I was kind of thinking of maybe removing my IUD and starting to "try" in May or so, but after watching a couple months and having an anovulatory cycle and 2 cycles with only an 8 day lutal phase, I was beginning to get a little scared that my cycles weren't going to be regular enough to sustain a pregnancy. So, I talked to Eric in late March (3/23/09 according to my journal) and he agreed that I could make the appointment. They actually scheduled me really quickly for an April 1st removal. My cycle started on March 31st and on day 2, I had my IUD removed. Seemed a little fast and scary to me, because when we were chatting in March I never really thought we'd get everything done in time to make April a viable month to really start trying.

So, I charting in April. I also wanted to do a pregnancy test experiment this time, so I ordered some really cheap pregnancy tests online (seriously, I got 100 tests for $34 plus $6 shipping). I was getting kind of hyped up and decided to try using an OPK (Ovulation Predictor Kit) this month too. I started taking them on CD 14 and day 16 got an almost positive result, I couldn't tell about Day 17 and day 18 was negative again. My temperature rose on Day 19, so we estimated a Day 18 ovulation date. So, since I knew when I ovulated, I started taking HPT's at 1 DPO. I kept them all to see how early a pregnancy could possibly show up. I figured I had enough tests to last me until August if needed.

Of course nothing happened for a while, but on on April 22 at 5 DPO, I started spotting and cramping. Considering the last 2 months I only had 8 DPO before starting, I assumed this meant that I was again going to have a short cycle. The spotting and cramping lasted 3 days, stopping by Saturday when I was in Chicago for GWO. I had brought my tests with me and got up and tested each morning. Although, I couldn't let them sit the whole 10 minutes, since no one knew what I was doing, but i put them back in my ziplock to take home with me. So, Monday after GWO, 10 DPO, I was getting encouraged that my new cycle still hadn't started yet, and when I used my cheap test, I thought maybe I might see a hint of a line. I couldn't be sure though, so I used the same urine (the cheap tests require dipping in a cup) and used a digital test I had gotten on sale. I went to get some clothes from the basement while it was processing and when I got back upstairs it was staring at me saying "Pregnant." I have to say I was completely floored. Of course, I had hoped it would work, but honestly, I never thought it would happen on the first try again. Wow, we are so blessed.

So, at this point, we hadn't told anyone we had started trying except for Samara and I had told 2 of my coworkers that I chat with daily, so after telling them the news, we decided we wanted to keep it to ourselves for a little while.

I think Luke is waking up from his nap, so I will go tend to him, but I will write again soon about how we told our family and our symptoms to date. I have a new set in Flickr with pictures from this pregnancy, including now a "weekly" belly picture, which I was inspired to do by my friend Danialle. So far, believe it or not, I haven't missed one of those from 4 to 8 weeks. Please ignore my starting flab. :)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Luke!

Blow Out the Candle
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
I can't believe I'm 3 weeks late on this, but wanted to be sure to mark the occassion. My baby is 1 year old!

His actual birthday was marked with very little fanfare, just a birthday shirt, birthday shots :(, and an extra sqeeze when dropping him off at the sitter. He did have his one year checkup on the day and weighs in at a healthy 26 pounds 12 ounces. Although, he's down to 93rd percentile for weight and about 80% for height.

The following weekend we had his birthday party. Very low key. We just had a cookout and had Nana, Grandpa Gary and Grandma Christie, and Will, Samara, Ava, and Clara over for cake and presents. He loved the cake and was a great little host opening his presents. After opening he gave each gift his full attention and spent some time that day playing with each new toy! His favorite is still the drum from Nana. He's such a boy and loves to bang on things.

So now that he's one, we should probably discuss milestones! He had 4 teeth on his birthday (we've added one more since then). While he stands and cruises constantly, still no walking. Although last week (or maybe two...) he took his first 2 steps first at the sitters and then later that night for me. Since then, he will turn and let go alot, but then changes his mind and drops to his knees for quick crawling. He is getting very good at standing unsupported, so I have to believe eventually the walking will come. I know he isn't late yet, he's just taking his time. I think we were expecting it to be like Grace who was walking across rooms at 11 months old.

We have completely switched to table food now. Luke LOVES meat. So strange to me, but any kind of meat product he will eat right up, bacon, sausage, ham, hamburger, chicken, etc. He's not nearly as adventurous on the fruits and veggies, but will still eat applesauce if you spoon feed him and does like bananas. He also is a huge fan of yogurt. We also switched him to whole milk. He drinks it fine, but won't take it completely cold, so we have to warm it up a bit first. I'm going to try to start warming it less and less, so eventually he'll drink it cold too. We haven't taken away the bottle yet, but probably could because he'll use a sippy cup very well and self-feeds the bottle. Mostly just didn't have enough sippy cups, so when we run out, I grab a bottle. I need to probably fix that soon!

His personality is still very sweet. He's definately adventurous and wants to get his hands on everything, but he does still want an occassional cuddle from his Mommy. He is starting to voice his opinions more than before (must be learning something from his sissy) and will cry if you tell him "no" or take something away from him or stop him from getting to something he wants. He definately understands alot of what we say, but doesn't say much yet. We get a Mama or Dada (unfortunately usually if he's mad about something) and now I think he says "dog" alot when he's pointing at Zeus. We used to think he said "Grace" but I haven't heard that one lately.

I think the most interesting thing for me to watch is how different boys and girls are. Now I'm starting to pick out true gender differences other than just differences between my children. Luke really likes toys that make lots of noise or have wheels. He would push things across a table, so we bought him some toy cars and he loves to roll them back and forth. I never remember Grace doing that. He also makes a lot of non-verbal noises. He grunts, growls, and screechs. Grace's noises all seemed more predictive of language. He likes to make noise, just to hear the sound it makes.

It's been a great year. It went by so fast! He's still an amazing little guy and I have to say I'm kind of excited to see how he turns out as a toddler. I think I may have my hands full! He's going to be sweet, but full of mischief.

Click on the picture to go to Flickr and see the rest of the pictures from party day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Grace and Luke
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
Happy Easter. I hope yours was a great one. More pictures from our Easter on Flickr. Hope to get pictures from yesterday's egg hunt off Eric's camera eventually.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Luke and the Gate

Luke and the Gate
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
One more video of Luke and Grace.

Luke at 11 Months

I started this post with a video from the zoo this weekend. We were watching some crazy monkeys at the zoo and Luke was enthralled. I thought it was cute.

So, my baby is 11 months old. I can hardly believe he's been here almost a year. Sometimes he still seems like my baby, but then again over the last couple of months he's been hitting so many milestones he seems like he'll be all grown up way too soon.

So what is Luke like as an 11 month old?

I have no idea his height or weight, but he seems tall to me. He can grab the top of the kitchen table when standing and his 12 month clothes are getting short in the legs. We have started buying 18 month clothes for spring and summer, but still are wearing some 12 month clothes for the warmer stuff. I just couldn't go buy 18 month winter clothes when it should start warming up anytime. We may be getting close to his first haircut, but I am not ready yet. He's still kind of thin in the front, but the back of his head is covered with the softest light brown hair that has just a touch of curl to it. His 3rd tooth broke skin on Sunday (4/5/09 - the top left) and I think #4 will be here anytime too.

His motor skills seem right on track for his age. He can get into sitting from his belly or standing. He pulls up on anything he can get his hands on and cruises effortlessly. Occasionally he will get busy with his hands and I'll catch him standing without holding on, but he doesn't know it. Yesterday I had him stand in the middle of the floor and he can stand alone for a few seconds before he gets scared and sits down. He doesn't really enjoy trying to "walk" if you hold his hands. He'd rather explore on his own. He is very coordinated though and can bend over and pick things up or reach for things while holding on and rarely falls.

It's kind of hard to tell how smart he is yet, but he does at least understand the word "no" now. He has a thing for our broiler on the stove, so anytime he tries to play with the stove, he hears "no" alot. Luke is also extremely vocal. He babbles all the time and makes the strangest noises. I've heard that boys do that alot more than girls and so far it's true.

He LOVES his sister. She can make him laugh whenever she wants and he always wants to be involved in whatever Grace is up to. Thankfully, Grace eats it up and will talk and play with him to make him happy. She just gets a little mad if she's trying to color and he takes her paper, wads it up and eats it. She's learned that if she doesn't want him to bother her, she should play at the kitchen table.

He is still my happy smiley boy, but we're starting to get some tantrums thrown in there too. He definately has wants now and if you don't fulfill them or take something away, he lets you know he isn't happy about it. He seems to be a "Mama's Boy." He will let Eric hold or care for him, but if I'm in the room, I'm the one he wants.

Regarding food, we're trying to increase the kinds of "real" food we let Luke try. So far, he likes most things. I can't think of anything he won't eat. Sometimes he prefers you to still "feed" him instead of self-feeding, but he'll eat it. He especially loves Chipotle rice, just like his Mom and sister. He can hold his own bottle and many times feeds himself the bottle. I still like to hold him though because that's the only time he'll sit still for me. I've given him a few sippy cups and he does ok, but I just don't really think about it often enough to give it to him all the time. As of now, we'll plan to switch to whole milk at 12 months, so we'll see how that goes.

From What To Expect The First Year (11 Months):
By the end of this month, your baby
...should be able to:
- Get into a sitting position from stomach (yes)
- Pick up tiny object with any part of thumb and finger (yes, he loves tiny objects)
- Understand the word "no" (but not always obey it)

...will probably be able to:
- play patty-cake (clap hands) or wave bye-bye (He claps his hands together a lot and just started waving last week)
- walk holding onto furniture (cruise) (yes, definately)

...may possibly be able to:
- pick up a tiny object neatly with tips of thumb and forefinger (he loves this little bottle of Graces with a ribbon tied around it. He picks it up by the ribbon and carries it around)
- stand alone momentarily (yes)
- say dada or mama discriminately (I think so. He said mama the other day when I was changing him and tonight he was crawling towards Eric and I said, "say dada" and he did)
- say one word other than mama or dada (we think he says Grace, sounds more like "Geese"

...May even be able to
- Stand alone well (not quite yet)
- Indicate wants in ways other than crying (he reaches for things and makes other noises)
- "play ball" (roll ball back to you) (I don't play with enough balls, but he will hand you things and then take them back)
- Drink from a cup independently (only a sippy cup)
- use immature jargoning (gibberish) (Yes all the time)
- Say three or more words other than mama or dada (not that we can understand)
- respond to a one-step command without gestures (no)
- walk well (no)

I cannot believe in a month he'll be 1 Year Old. Must not forget that update!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

March Recap

So much for weekly posting, right? March has been busy for me. So, tonight I have some free time and am going to try to get caught back up. So, what do I have to talk about...

I kind of fell off the bandwagon in March. I haven't been horrible, but I haven't been exercising or journaling my food intake. I think I'd lost about 3 pounds a month ago. I'm at about 6 right now. Only 1 pound from my pre-pregnancy weight. I keep saying I'm going to get serious again, but I really don't know. I'd like to lose about 10 more pounds still.

This is the major reason for falling behind on posting. Anatomy was tough. Not that the subject matter was overly difficult, but there was just so much of it! The lab part had usually a 2 to 3 page list of bones/markings (i.e. there was a whole page of terms for the skull/bone section)/muscles/organs(usually 2 or 3 columns per page). Our lab practicals consisted of about 70 identification items. Then the written exam went into more detail. Hard to explain exactly, but it was different information than the ID part, more like the function of different body parts or how they related to other areas of the body. Anyway, I had to study nearly every night just to get through the material to be prepared for the exams. My final was on 3/14 and 3/16 and I needed to get a 90% average on the final practical and exam to get an A in the class. I got a 93 on the practical, not sure on the exam, but did end up with an A for the quarter. Whew, I was sweating that one a bit. Next is Physiology which I also think I'll enjoy. I'm taking it on Friday nights for the Spring quarter and start this Friday. I've been slacking a bit about studying for the GRE, but eventually will get to it. I'd like to get serious on all the application stuff over the summer.

No, not me. Late February, Samara had a bit of a scare with preterm labor and had to do home bedrest for about a week. It was a bit scary, but she and baby behaved and they let her off restrictions. She's now 3/4 of the way through her pregnancy and I can hardly believe another friend is about to have her 3rd baby! Speaking of having babies, on Monday 3/23 Danialle after going almost 2 weeks past her due date had her daughter Addie! I wasn't able to travel to Chicago for the birth, but got frequent texts from Jamie (her sister) on the updates. She is a GORGEOUS baby and I can't wait to meet her in about a month. Yay for new babies!

Mini-Home Makeover
For at least a month, I planned to take Friday 3/20 and Monday 3/23 off of work to clean the house. I knew that weekend I'd be done with class and not have to study. I also knew, I'd have a really hard time getting done what I needed to get done with the family around, so I had Eric make a trip to Indiana to visit his Mom and take both kids. After getting so psyched about all the alone time with my house, we expanded our plans to include doing a little revamping too. We took some tax money and bought paint, new bedding for our room, some new rugs, curtains, a slip-cover, some throw pillows, a couple lamps, and new matching frames for the kid's milestone pictures to make the whole house look like new. I ended up painting 6 rooms in the house (family room, dining room, kitchen, 1/2 bath, master bedroom, and kid's bath) in addition I added the new stuff and CLEANED everything. I took before and after pictures for reference. You can view the set on Flickr if you follow this link.

My Family
My family is doing awesome. Sorry I didn't get Luke's 10 month update done. I'll do an 11 month one next week. Just a short re-cap, he's gotten really good at crawling. He now is 100% hands and knees rather than the belly crawl. He loves standing all the time and will pull up on anything. He's really coordinated at getting back down too and will even hold on with one hand and lean down to pick something up off the floor. He seems much more coordinated than Grace (unfortunately Grace inherited my clumbsiness). Still no walking, but I have caught him not holding on a couple times, but he hasn't noticed. This weekend at church I was holding him up by his hands and let go and he stood by himself for 3 or 4 seconds before freaking out and sitting down.

Grace is exceptionally smart and hilarious. She's getting really good at writing all her letters and while we haven't spent a ton of time working on "reading" I think she's picking up a little about how letters go together to make words. She seems to get simple math too, although we haven't formally worked on it. Although she still skips 15 and 17 everytime she counts to 20. She can't tell you what 2 plus 2 is, but can't count to 20, don't ask me! (Just tried out 5 minus 2 and she got that one right too). She is really good at reasoning. You can almost see her putting things together in her head. Eric and I have to really watch what we talk about in front of her, because she'll start asking questions or remember if for later. That explains why, it's likely that she'll make Eric help her plant flower seeds tomorrow. We got a seed packet in the mail a couple of weeks ago and I told her we had to wait until April when it was warmer to plant them. She keeps asking if it's April yet, and on Sunday, I told her 3 more days. This morning, she said, "Just one more day until April and we can plant our seeds!"

Eric is doing alright. He still doesn't have any really good leads on a job. He kind of prescreens them, because our financial situation at the moment including his unemployment, the extra money from his night job, and the money we're saving on childcare from keeping Grace at home, is pretty much exactly the same as what he was bringing home while working full time. He doesn't want to take a job at this point that pays less than he made before because we'd end up coming out further behind than we are at the moment. His first set of unemployment did run out, but he was approved for a 33 week extension. Considering he doesn't take the full benefit (because of the night job), I calculate that we have probably 9 to 10 more months of unemployment. I would hope that in that amount of time, he'll find something appropriate, or he'll have to accept something paying less than before. But, at least for now, we're in good shape. Also got a nice tax refund and some other money, so we're fully funded for my school for the year, Christmas, the annual trip to visit my parents, clothes for the kids for the year, plus have an emergency fund of about $4,000 that isn't allocated to anything and we haven't been using the credit cards at all since Eric's been getting his unemployment. We feel so lucky and blessed that God has provided over the last 8 months that we've been on "one" income.

April Plans
As previously mentioned, school starts again on Friday 4/3. We don't really have any plans for Easter, but I may see if my coworker and her fiance want to come have dinner on Sunday night, since they aren't traveling to visit family either (Will and Samara are going to NY and we're not going anywhere). Mom is coming to visit the weekend of 4/17, and I have my Chicago GWO to meet the new baby on 4/25. I think Samara can come this time too and we're considering flying over together. This month will fly by! May is busy too with Luke's 1st birthday, Ava's birthday party, a bachelorette party for my friend Tara, my 8th anniversary, Memorial Day, and possibly Samara's new baby (or early June).

That's all for now. Next week, I'll try to post some new Luke pictures and do a proper update on his 11 month milestones.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I Know I'm Behind

Yes, I realize my weekly posting has gone awry. I will try to correct soon, just not tonight. I will blame it on trying to finish this quarter of Anatomy (just took my final exam and final practical tonight), a new internet service provider and a couple of days of inability to access secure servers, and just plain business. I owe an update on Luke at 10 months and by next week I want to share some pictures of my Spring Clean/Mini Home Makeover project that will be taking place this weekend while I send my husband and kids away for the weekend to visit Nana. Tonight, however, I'm just brain dead and want to veg for a bit with no guilt about lack of studying.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Update

Last week was pretty good. Made some progress on the diet. I lost 3 1/2 pounds. Was up to about 5 around Thursday, but weekends are a little tougher, so I'm still happy with the total outcome. I also managed to work out a bit too. I was on the treadmill 3 days, lifted weights 1 day, and did Pilates DVD's 3 days. Eric lost 6 1/2 pounds just by watching what he ate. Men are so lucky!

This week still trying and I found a really great website to track what you eat and activities. I just found it today, but it seems really cool and it's free!

Ok, back to studying and stuff, really big exam and practical this weekend coming up. More when things settle down a bit at work and school.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Getting Healthy

Not to eclipse my last post about Luke, but I wanted to make a note that I am officially dieting again. I think I have my motivation this time though. Eric is going to do it with me. Yay! He actually brought it up and we spent some time last night reviewing menus, he went grocery shopping with me today, and we cleaned out the garage today so that we can use the treadmill and weight bench. I'm so psyched because now we shouldn't have any temptation foods in the house and we're in it together. We actually made a deal that if one of us exercises on any given day, the other one has to too! I'm going to attempt to do at least 20 minutes on the treadmill and some sort of toning exercises every day, probably in between Luke and Grace's bedtimes, considering I still need to study (which I should be doing right now).

My goal is 17 pounds (would have been 15 if my start weight today were my "usual" weight). I don't really have a timeline, but I'm shooting for beginning of May. I kind of think the first 5-7 will come off super quickly. I have a really strong personal incentive and I think it will keep me on track every time I want to quit or cheat. Eric's goal is about 45 pounds (I think). He hasn't come up with an incentive yet (except that he doesn't want to die, which I suppose is a good one). I just hope doing it together will keep us on track. I would love to feel good in my body again.

We are also hoping this will help Grace out as she's on the heavy side for a 4-year old. We're not talking about losing weight, but about being healthy and talking about what kind of foods are good for us. On Sunday I got sucked into the shows about the World's Heaviest Man and Grace told me he was "enormous". Today, at the store she asked if she could get candy and I told her know that candy wasn't good for us. She said, "If we eat lots of candy that isn't healthy for us, we will get really big like that guy on TV and that isn't good for us." Yes, indeed. She didn't even through a fit afterwards. We're very careful not to say she's "heavy" or "fat" or anything negative. She has no idea we're concerned about her weight, and she's 100% self-confident about her body and looks. I want to keep that innocence as long as possible, while still trying to keep in under control.

Ok, enough about that. I'll give you an update in a couple weeks and let you know how we're doing on this project.

Luke - 9 Months

Luke - 9 Months
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
I'm a week late, but Luke is officially 9 months old. This picture was from this weekend, so you are seeing a new skill that he didn't quite have at 9 months. Phyical milestones include crawling on hands and knees now, although he's a bit faster on his belly, so he'll switch between hands and knees and army crawling depending on what he wants. He has also learned to pull himself up. At 9-months exactly he had only figured out how to get to his knees, but over this weekend he learned to get all the way to his feet, demonstrated first when we walked in to see him standing in his crib! Now he does it constantly and has even taken a couple of sideways steps (cruising!). Also, tonight, he transferred from the coffee table to the couch via my leg. His other new thing is splashing in the bathtub. He LOVES it. I actually took some video tonight that I'll have to upload later of both kids in the bath.

His personality is still great. He's extremely happy and smiley, although we are getting a taste of his frustration cries when he can't get to something fast enough or wants me when I'm making dinner, etc.

Still just have the two teeth. Not sure when the next ones will be in.

Other stats, at his 9-month check-up on the 9th, he weighed in at 24 1/2 pounds (down from 96 to 93rd percentile) and was 29 1/4 inches long (80th percentile). So still a big boy, but not quite off the charts anymore.

Here are the milestones he's met according to "What to Expect the First Year," The Ninth Month:

...should be able to:
- work to get a toy out of reach
- look for dropped object

...will probably be able to:
- pull up to a standing position from sitting
- get into a sitting position from stomach (I think he could if he tried, but I've never actually seen him do it)
- object if you try to take a toy away
- stand holding onto someone or something
- pick up tiny object with any part of thump and finger
- say mama or dada indiscriminately (he says dada, but not mama)
- play peekaboo (he doesn't initate it, but loves it when we do it)

...may possibly be able to:
- play patty-cake (clap hands) or wave bye-bye (clap hands only)
- walk holding onto furniture (cruise) - got this one at 9 months 1 week
- understand word "no" (but not always obey it) - Not sure, he will look at you when you say no, but not sure if he knows what it means, although if he paid enough attention to Grace, he should!

...may even be able to:
- "play ball" (roll ball back to you) - He LOVES balls
- pick up a tiny object neatly with tips of thumb and forefringer

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
I was requested to upload more pictures, so here's one. I love it.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Good Week

I had a really good week this week. Although, my studying skills slacked on Monday (got caught up in The Bachelor) and Tuesday (actually had a long conversation with my husband), I did study enough on Wednesday and Friday to feel fairly confident going into my lab practical on Saturday. Although, I have to admit this one was much harder as out of the 70 questions, 21 were identification on a cadaver, which is much tougher than looking at drawings/pictures of bones/muscles/structures. I still think I did ok. Also got my first exam score back as a 75/80 (94%), but after reviewing in class I had two "scantron errors" so that will actually bump up to 77/80 (96%). Exam #2 is this Saturday.

In addition to class, on Saturday I got to go out with Samara for dinner and a chance for the two of us to catch up sans children. Will couldn't watch Samara's girls last minute, so Eric volunteered to watch all 4 of the kids so we could still go out. Yay! They all survived and seemed to have fun too, so that's good.

Wednesday was a snow day, so it was fun to get to spend a day in the middle of the week with the family. Friday, I was supposed to go to "open lab" after work for some practice with the cadavers, but apparently they decided not to do it on Friday's anymore, so no practice for me.

Saturday morning Samara came over again with the girls. I'm trying to do a little research on the Bradley Method of childbirth as Danialle is planning on attempting an all natural delivery in March and Samara in June. So, I'm trying to learn a little so if I get to be in the delivery rooms I will know what to say or not to say to help them both experience the birth's they want. Anyway, Samara is taking a class and had a video she brought over for us to watch together. She also lent me a book that I'll be taking with me on my business trip to Texas later this week to read up.

Eric's been sick which isn't so good, but he did take off a day and a half of his night job, so I feel his more well-rested and I didn't have to worry about him driving home on Wednesday morning.

Today was weird. This morning I told my boss about wanting to attend Danialle's birth and that if I got the call in a few weeks, I'd want to leave as long as work permitted. She was cool with that and then an hour later Danialle calls to tell me she was heading to the hospital! Turns out it was a false alarm, but I did some flight checking and was ready to go if it turned out to be the real thing. Hoping the real thing holds off a bit longer so baby can get bigger and healthier. Also, work clears up alot after Feb 17, so that would be much nicer. :) So then later this afternoon Mom calls and tells me that my brother is in the hospital. He's got some nasty infection in his foot and needs a big dose of antibiotics and rest so hopefully it will clear up and not require surgery. Yuck!

Planning to study tonight after I get off here and put Grace in bed. Tomorrow I have a half day vacation and am going to an Overview at Ohio State on the Nursing program. Don't really know what questions I have except for how I can pay for school/living expenses and how to find the right people for recommendation letters. I'm really pumped up about this! If I get some good info, maybe I'll post again tomorrow.

As an update to my last post, I'm feeling a bit more peaceful. None of those decisions need to be made at this point, so I'm putting them aside and working on the things that need to be done now. I still trust God will show me the right path when the time is right.

Ok, better get Grace washed and in bed, so I can start studying before 9 p.m.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Devil is in the Details

Literally. I've spent a lot of time thinking about details this week and I think it has not necessarily been a good thing. When I started the process of going back to school in 2006, I was initally completely freaked out and terrified. Then after significant prayer and reflection, I decided to take it one step at a time and trust that if God called me to go back to school, that he would provide the means to do so. Since then, I've plodded along step by step. Now I feel like the pace is picking up and I am nearing the finish line of the preparation stage of this process.

I could be really freaked out right now. I am still working full time and going to school. I have two young children. The economy is horrible. My husband has been unemployed for 6 months. But, I haven't been stressed. I still believe that the right job opportunity will come along and until then with the combination of unemployment, the part-time funds, and saving child-care expenses for Grace, we are in the same financial situation we were before Eric lost his job. We still have about 6 weeks of the initial unemployment and then are eligible for an additional 26 week extension, so we are ok financially for a while.

Regarding what will happen when I get to go to school full time, I honestly haven't focused on the financial part of it. I have been just having faith that God will provide. Last week, however, Eric made me focus on it just a little bit more. We started discussing the possibility of having more children and he shared with me his anxiety of how we are going to afford for me to go to school with only one income (regardless of how many children we have at the time). Considering I'll be going full time, we'll still need at least part-time childcare and unless Eric's new salary is significantly (at least 50%) higher than what my salary is now, we won't have enough money to pay our bills, not to mention pay for childcare or any extras. That is one detail I haven't been concentrating on. I guess I just assume that somehow we'll figure out how to pay the bills and I'll get scholarships or loans to cover the actual school costs. Add to the financial strain, my desire to have a third child at some point, and now, I'm starting to freak out a little. The timing of the next baby is hard for me. I don't really want 5 years between Luke and the next one, but I also don't want to put off full-time school until 2011. The only other option would be to get things started in the next 6 months or so, but that is so questionable because of the employment situation and if we'd be able to afford 3 kids after I quit my job.

I have alot of unresolved issues that are keeping me unsettled. So, I'm trying to get back to that place where I put one foot in front of another and trust that I'm not walking off the edge of a cliff.

I'd like to share with you the prayer I've been praying and will be praying all week.

"I pray for faith. Give me faith that you will find a way to provide the desires of my heart. If the desires of my heart do not align with your will for my life, I pray that you will change the desires of my heart to fit your will and give me peace. I pray for faith that you will supply all our needs and give me the wisdom to see the doors you open before me and take what you are giving me. I pray for faith to trust that your will is perfect and you will bless me and my family."

If any of you out there are also the praying type, I wouldn't mind a little extra prayer for the following:
- Eric's permanent employment options
- Continued success in classes and other preparations in order to apply to school this fall
- A clear path to be revealed regarding the future of our family planning

Well about that success, I should get back to studying as I have Lab Practical #2 this Saturday and want to keep that 95% grade in tact. (Have I mentioned that I love my Anatomy class!)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle

Twinkle, Twinkle
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
Didn't post yesterday, so this will be it for this week. I have more videos to try to upload, but this was a "practice" video with my new super cute digital video camera. It's the size of a regular digital camera and uses a memory card instead of tape or DVD. I think the picture and sound aren't bad either. So here's my cutie pie!

I'll try to be a bit more interesting next week.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Second Tooth

Just a quick update because Luke's baby book only has a spot to record his first tooth, rather than an update when each of them came in. Tonight I noticed his second tooth has broken through the skin. It is the bottom front right (his right) tooth.

It's almost exactly the same as Graces. Her first tooth was at 8 months exactly with #2 following 15 days later. We noticed Luke's first tooth on Jan 1 or 2 (5 or 6 days before he turned 8 months) and #2 is 12 to 13 days later.

Fun! Speaking of fun, better get to studying! I'm kind of hoping for a snow day tomorrow where I can catch up on TV and do some things around the house. Thursday's are my day off of studying.

Monday, January 12, 2009

School Plans

So, it's Monday and I'm updating as promised. Will have to be quick as I'm about to start studying. On Saturday I started my first class since last January-March. I'm taking Anatomy and it promises to be very memorization oriented class and supposedly requires 18 hours of studying per week outside of class (yeah, right). I already have a written exam and lab practical (exam) this Saturday.

I'm sure I didn't explain here, but after Eric lost his job and I postponed returning to school this fall, I started re-thinking my med school plans. My pre-req schedule was tight, so by skipping the fall quarter, it would have delayed my school plans by another year, so the earliest I could start med-school would have been fall of 2011. Add 4 years of school and 3 years of residency, I would finally get to practice in 2018 or 10 years from now. We've been blessed to not be hurting too bad financially considering Eric's situation (after 2 months of fighting, he was awarded unemployment, plus he works retail overnights 3 days a week). But the 2 months on one salary gave me a hint of how tough it will be to live "poor" while I'm in school. Add to the fact that I'll be in school during the prime years of my kids life (Grace would be almost 14 by the time I finished residency and Luke would be 10) and the fact that I am pretty sure our family isn't yet complete (yes, I think I want another one), I started thinking that med-school would be quite a sacrifice.

So, short story, after some research and praying, I think I found a compromise. I'm going to apply (and hopefully attend) a Masters in Nursing program at Ohio State. They have a Graduate Entry program for people with undergrad degrees in non-nursing majors and after a 3 year full time program, you graduate as a Nurse Practioner. However, after 2 years you are eligible to become an RN and can work part-time during your 3rd year of school. When you enter the program, you pick a specialty and I am going to choose Nurse Midwifery. So, I'll still get to deliver babies and provide pre-natal care, just not the high-risk stuff or c-sections. The program has 5 required pre-requisites (of course none of which I've taken yet). Four of the pre-reqs are offered at the Community College I've been attending. The fifth class is offered during the summers at Ohio State. So, the plan is for me to start the 4 pre-reqs now (Winter 09, Spring 09, Summer 09, and Fall 09). Sometime this spring I'll take the GRE exam and work on the other application requirements. I'll have to apply by December 1, 2009 and will be notified by March 2010 if I'm accepted into the fall 2010 class. If yes, I'll be quitting my job in the summer of 2010 (unless my work surprises me by being flexible) and I'll take the final pre-requisite class before starting full time in the fall of 2010. By 2013, I'll be a practicing Midwife.

This is so exciting to me, that in just under 5 years I could be in a brand new career that I will love and really be helping women and delivering babies! Well, first I have to pass Anatomy (who am I kidding I want an A!), so I better quit for tonight and start studying. Later!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Luke 8 Months

Luke Crawling
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
Today Luke is 8 months old. It's been a busy month for him! Of course our biggest milestone is crawling. He really just army crawls (see video evidence), but today he really seemed to be trying to get the hands and knee thing down. He can really get to anything he wants and is very happy about it. He's also grabbing onto things and trying to pull himself up. Not really successful yet, but I think that will come soon.

Other big milestone was his first tooth has broke the skin. Still not completely in yet, but you can see it if he'll let you get his mouth open and tounge out of the way.

We also are officially done breastfeeding. I hadn't nursed at all since before Christmas, but once last week, Luke had a rough patch overnight and I went to his room and held him in the rocker. I decided to offer the breast and he latched on for a few seconds then stopped and looked at me and gave me a big smile. Then he tried again for a few more seconds and then stopped and decided to suck his thumb instead. So, I guess that's the end. Amazingly, I haven't been uncomfortable at all. I think I dropped feedings/pumping slowly enough and supplemented even when my supply was dropping, so I never got engorged. A little sad, but hopefully someday there will be another baby and we'll get to do it again.

Another skill I've noticed is that he is picking up items using his thumb and forefinger. He loves to eat "puffs" and can feed them to himself off of his highchair tray.

That's about all that's different from the midmonth update I did a couple weeks ago.

Also, as an FYI, I just figured out how to take video on my digital camera and I may be purchasing a digital camcorder soon, so stay tuned for more videos!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning
Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
Just learned how to upload video to Flickr. Not sure how good the quality is on our camera, but it's better than nothing right? This is a clip of Grace's Christmas morning reaction. Priceless.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a clip of Luke crawling as part of his 8 month old update!

Monday, January 05, 2009


So, I promised to post today, so I am. Not much to say though, just spent a good 2 hours tweaking the blog format. I know it doesn't look much different to you, but now it's much easier for me to change any of the sidebar stuff. Now I need to watch a little football, so I'm not the only one in Ohio tonight that has no idea of the score of the OSU/Texas game.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Happy 2009!

Didn't get to post on the 1st. My parents came in on the 31st and left this morning for our Christmas visit. As always, it was really nice to have them here, but unfortunately this time, we passed around a yucky stomach bug. I think it started with my niece Ashton who was sick on Christmas Day. We went to their house on the 26th for the weekend. When we got back, Grace was sick on Monday morning (vomitted twice and diarreah). She seemed better by the afternoon, but on Wednesday (31st) I felt really icky. I spent the morning nauseous and in the bathroom with other stomach issues. I was zapped of all energy, but still picked up my parents and hung out during the evening (Eric was sleeping all morning and early afternoon after working Tuesday night). New Years Eve we ended up skipping the fondue dinner I planned to make and ordering pizza for everyone else (I couldn't eat). By Thursday, I was feeling better, but we still decided to just hang out at home and we made our fondue dinner. On Friday, we noticed Luke was getting his first tooth! Yay! And we also went to the mall in the morning to get Grace's 4 year pictures taken, then after naps, Grace, Grandma, Grandpa and I, took her to her first movie in the theater (Bolt!). Friday evening Grandpa started feeling a bit sickly. By Saturday morning, Grandpa and Eric were fighting over the bathroom with both kinds of stomach issues. Grandma, me and the kids went to the library in the morning and hung out in the evening. The guys started feeling better towards the end of Saturday night. This morning, I had a headache and was again nauseous and other things, so I had Eric drive my parents back to the airport and when he got back, I spent a couple more hours in bed. Feeling mostly better now, and everyone else is asleep. So, that was our New Year's weekend.

So, onto 2009. I just wanted to post on the 2008 goals and set up 2009.

2009 Goals for the Year
1. Diet - My 2008 goal was to be at 155 at the end of the year (5 pounds above pre-Luke weight). I regularly weigh-in between 154 and 156, so I'd say close enough. So, for 2009. I would like to lose the last 6 pounds, by my 30th birthday (March 1). If I lose 10 by then, I will allow myself a special treat of a facial before going out for my birthday. If I lose 15, I think I deserve a new outfit too! Nothing too crazy, just want to get the rest of the baby weight off.

2. Finances - 2007 we did great and reduced debt by $15,000. 2008 was a bit tougher considering we had another baby and Eric lost his job at the end of July, but in 2008 we still reduced our total debt by $4,245 which is better than an increase. We need Eric to get re-employed full time, but even then, I want to set our 2009 reduction goal at $10,000. Although, pretty much as soon as he's working full time again, we need to get rid of his car and get a more reliable one, so that will increase our debt. Hopefully though, he'll get paid enough that we can hit the reduction HARD and still have a decrease even if we get a new (to us, probably will be buying used) car.

3. Classes - I wanted to take 2 classes after maternity leave. That didn't happen. I haven't taken any since Luke. The main reason was to save money and make sure I was available if Eric took an evening job (after he lost his). However, I've regrouped, changed my plans and decided to go for a Nursing Masters program where after only 3 years I'll be a Nurse Practioner (specializing as a Certified Nurse Midwife). So, the 2009 plan will be to do everything needed to start that program in 2010. Including 4 pre-req classes at Columbus State (first one starts this Saturday), the GRE, applications, transcripts, letters of recommendation, all due by the December 1, 2009 application deadline.

4. Blogging. I really slacked this year. I feel like I missed alot. I am going to make a goal to update once a week. The weekend is too hard, so I'm going to shoot for Monday nights. Eric has to work, so I have the house to myself. I will try to update after I put Grace to bed. Either about the week, about the kids or whatever. I miss keeping a journal of my life. Maybe some of you (if anyone still checks in) miss it to.

Ok, that's all for now, I'll try to be back tomorrow for my first Monday post. Right now I need to do another load of laundry while the house is sleeping and maybe try to start paying the bills for this week.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Grace 4 Years Old

I'm a little late on this update, but yes, Grace turned 4 years old. She is so amazing and wonderful and challenging and frustrating and beautiful and funny and smart and I can't imagine life without her.

So, what can I say about Grace?

Physically, she's a healthy little girl. We didn't have any trips to the doctor (or stitches!) this year, other than the normal check-ups and her speech therapy. At her 4 year old cleft clinic appointment, she passed all exams with flying colors and they made us an appointment for next December. Her 4 year old regular check-up did bring some tears with an unexpected shot, but otherwise she did that great too. I need to check how tall she is, but she was about average. However, she weighs 50 pounds and was in the 94th percentile for weight. Some of it is what she eats and portion sizes (I'm sure), but she also has a fairly muscular/athletic build and is just really solid. She's wearing a size 10 shoe and size 6 clothes.

Grace has been fully potty trained for over a year. She can also take care of most of her personal hygeine. She can wash herself in the bath (we still have to do her hair). She can wash her hands by herself after using the restroom (if we could just get flushing down). She brushes her teeth by herself after we put on the toothpaste (she would do that herself, but uses too much). She can brush her hair, but we usually do that for her. She can completely dress and undress herself including shoes, coat, and recently gloves. Sometimes her fashion choices are questionable, but at this point I only require that we dress for the appropriate season.

Grace can recognize all shapes, letters, and numbers. She practices writing letters and can write her own name (first only) and Eric. Although she recognizes my name. She understands the concept of rhyming and is beginning to understand all the sounds the letters make. I think if we worked at it, she could start reading soon. Her coloring skills have made leaps and bounds and she now almost always colors within the lines.

Grace has an active imagination and I catch her pretending and talking with her dolls, ponies, or bath toys. Bedtime is usually between 8:30 and 9 p.m. We begin the process at 8:00, but bedtime depends on how much we play in the bath or how many stories we read. After her bath, she brushes her teeth, puts on her pj's, brushes her hair, and then we usually read 3 stories and go straight to bed. If there is a special situation (visiting a friends house, other family over, etc.) Grace is allowed to have a "pajama party" which means she can go back downstairs after her bath. She love it!

Grace is the smartest funniest kid I know. She cracks me up with the things she says. She also is a sponge for vocabulary and uses words that I feel are a bit above her age range. Some of my favorite quotes:
1) While describing a dream she had one night, "Grandpa built a contraption for the bit-bug."
2) While getting ready to read stories, "Wait a minute, I just have to get situated first."
3) When throwing fits, "I am very angry at you!" I would have expected "mad."
4) When working on an "object." "This is very difficult."

Sometimes her intelligence is especially hard to deal with. Discipline is a real issue with us. She constantly talks back. When we tell her not to do something, she will say, "but I was just..." or "no, I need to..." It is as if she feels her opinion is just as valid as ours and deserves to be heard. We are consistent that she gets a time-out every time she talks back, but often, she will continue to tell us how she feels even sitting in time out. Other times we make her mad and will get "I am very angry at you. I am going to my room to think about it." I keep telling myself that someday all this self-confidence and assertiveness will make her a stronger and self-sufficient woman, but it is hard at age 4.

Grace is extremely sweet and loving. Around Thanksgiving she often told me, "I am thankful for my family." She also says things like, "Lukey is the best baby in the whole world." "You are the best mommy in the whole world." "Zeus is the best puppy in the whole world." Etc. Even at her birthday party (and Christmas) she would open a gift and say, "I really wanted this" and hug the package. She also requests kisses and hugs by walking up to you and saying, "Kissy?" or "Huggy?" She requires hugs and kisses and being tucked in every night.

I know I've missed tons of the little tiny quirks, but that's the main gist of it. She's an incredible little girl and I'm so glad that we were blessed with her.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had a good one. Click the picture to go to Flickr and see the rest of the photos from Christmas morning (and Christmas Eve if you go backwards).

Hope everyone out there had a Merry Christmas too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Eric called me at work today to tell me that Luke crawled about 2 feet today. He said it was probably an accident, but a combination of getting his feet planted and subsequently his knees underneath him resulted in him being on all 4's for the first time. He seemed surprised, but decided to move a leg and arm and lunge forward and had his first forward motion.

I still haven't seen it yet, but I am guessing over the next 2 weeks or so he'll start to get the hang of this. I guess I need to go get a gate for the top of the stairs soon.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Luke - 7 1/2 Month Update

Originally uploaded by Jenmomma
So, I missed the 7-Month update and we're not quite 8 months yet, so I'll do a mid-month one. Grace's 4 year update next.

So, Luke is still completely awesome. As you can see in the picture, he's a little orange, which I've been told is from eating all those carrots, squash and sweet potatos! So here's Luke's milestones:

- Sitting - Luke is very good at sitting unsupported now. He got this down about a week after he turned 6 months. He will sit for long periods of time when playing and can ride in a grocery cart or sit in a restaurant high chair now. When he's had enough he just leans to the side and topples over.
- We did end up switching to a regular carseat which is nicer than carrying the infant carrier, but now we have to wrestle with a coat.
- He has grown more attached to his teddy and monkey, but really likes about anything soft.
- Luke's favorite game is to take off (and then chew on) his socks. He rarely has socks on in the house for that reason and I always have to put at least one sock back on after any time in the car.
- He will stand if you hold onto him, but doesn't seem to want to bounce or have any desire to pull or hold himself upright.
- Luke still loves playing on the floor and I think anytime will learn to crawl. He trys to army crawl and really stretches to get to things. He pivots and turns really well, just hasn't quite figured out forward motion. But oh he wants to. In fact he's just a bit more cranky because of it.
- His hand/eye coordination is very good. He reaches, picks things up, will transfer from hand to hand, objects if something is taken away, and can even pick up small items now.
- He loves games like peekaboo and loves to be tickled or "eaten."
- He still laughes alot and likes to babble and hear himself make the strangest noises.
- Lately we're getting some angry cries when we take away something or if we aren't fast enough with the food.

Moving on to food... Over the last 6 weeks we've progressed a lot.
- Nursing is coming to an end. I dropped another pumping session at work to once per day and then a week later dropped that one and just was nursing at night and in the morning. Then I started supplementing at night after nursing. Lately, I've dropped the evening nursing session and this week am starting to skip any morning nursing session if I'm not uncomfortable. I'm guessing we'll be done by the first of the year.
- Formula - Luke has no problems with formula and now has a part of a bottle in the morning after nursing or instead. Two during the day and one in the evening. Usually about 6 ounces at each feeding.
- Cereal - This weekend we started adding cereal after the morning bottle and sometimes if he's still hungry he gets some at lunch time with his fruit.
- Baby Food - We've moved to Stage 2 foods and he eats a fruit at lunch and a veggie or meat and a fruit at dinner.
- He also has started eating "puffs" as an appetizer while I am getting his meals ready and he waits in the highchair.
- We've let Luke try some table foods too. He ate a pancake a couple weeks ago and last weekend ate 1/2 a biscuit. He's also fed himself saltines.
- We've introduced the sippy cup, but he's not great at it yet, but he does try to hold his bottle, so we're getting there.

- Finally, we're sleeping all night. Funny, it corresponded with when I started supplementing with formula after his evening nursing session. I think he just wasn't quite full enough to last all night. He now goes to bed around 7:30 and sleeps until I get him up between 7 and 7:30 on weekdays or around 8:30 on weekends.
- Napping. He normally naps about 30 minutes in the morning and 1 1/2 hours in the afternoon. However, on weekends, I can usually get the afternoon nap to last a bit longer.

That's all I can think of at the moment. He's such a sweet heart and everyone loves him. He's still incredibly social and smilely. Just want to eat him up sometimes :)