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 Care.com 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. :)