Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dizzy Spells = Scary Moments

This week my family and I had a bit of a scare. Monday morning I got ready for work like always, packed Liam into the car and took him to my mom's house as usual, and sat down to relax just as I always do before heading to work. I should back-up just a bit. I woke up that morning refreshed, feeling better than I have in weeks, ready for my last week of work before our holiday break. But while sitting on my mom's couch, talking to her about the week, or holiday plans, etc. I started to feel dizzy, light headed, and a bit nauseous. I thought that maybe I was just thirsty ( I knew that being hungry was not the issue, since I had a larger than normal breakfast before heading out for the day), so I walked to the kitchen to get some water.
Once there, I started to see spots, my ears felt plugged, and I had to lean on the counter just to stay upright. After drinking some water and taking a bit more of a break, I started to feel better. Since I was supposed to have students a half and hour later, I decided that I would go ahead and try going to work. As most of you can probably guess, this was not the brightest idea. I got about a quarter of the way to work and started to feel dizzy and weak all over again. Thankfully, I made it to the parking lot before the symptoms got worse.
I immediately called my doctor and explained what was happening. She told me that I was crazy for thinking I should go to work, and told me to go home and stay in bed. Luckily, we had already scheduled our next appointment for the next day, so she said we would check everything then. My husband and I spent the next two days being stressed and worried that something horrible was happening. My little gummy bear is healthy, but if he came this early, I would be very worried about him. I was born 5 weeks early and had many complications. He would have been 5 weeks early on Wednesday. I know that medicine/health care is far better now than when I was born, but still I was scared.
At the appointment we learned that my blood pressure is normal, they ran several tests that also came back normal, the baby is active, his heartbeat is perfect, and everything seems to be great. My doctor did say that if I have another episode like this one, I would be on bed-rest for the remainder of this pregnancy and that this baby seems to be on the fast track, so we should plan for a December baby rather than a January one.
No matter what, if this baby is healthy, then I am the happiest mommy in the world! I can't wait to meet him (although I would like him to bake a bit longer), so our family can be complete.
Happy Holidays to all! I hope that everyone has a safe, happy, healthy time with family and friends. We really do have a lot to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Showered with Love

This is the time of year where everyone is thinking about what they have to be thankful for. It's amazing how wonderful your life can seem when you focus on these parts rather than the parts you wish to change. I have so many people and things to be appreciative of. Never has that been more apparent than the last few months, and in particular, this past weekend. On Saturday, my mom, two of my sisters, my grandma, and two of my closest friends worked together to throw me the best baby shower imaginable.
Since we are being blessed with another baby boy, we really don't need a lot of things to prepare for his arrival. But that didn't stop the hoards of family, friends, and co-workers from celebrating the upcoming arrival of our gummy bear with us. Everyone was so generous and genuinely excited to meet baby Brooks #2, that our house was filled with people and love for hours. Even the folks who couldn't make it to the shower, sent their love and gifts for our little guy without hesitation. When I came home today, I was reminded once again how lucky we are, by the package sitting by our front door with my baby boy's name on it (figuratively).
One of the best parts of welcoming another family member, is the constant reminder of just how many people care about us and want us to be happy and healthy. As we head into our last weeks as parents of one, Joe and I feel as though we are not making this transition alone. We know that we have family to support us and friends to share our stories and experiences with. I know that this is about the time in a pregnancy where the nerves tend to kick in, but amazingly I feel more ready to welcome our bundle now than I did even a week ago.
Now that I have begun my wonderful five-day-holiday-weekend, am heading to a check-up for my gummy bear, and get to share lots of time with the people who mean the most to me, I can relax a bit and enjoy this amazing time of my life. also helps that we finally picked a name for the baby in my belly. We can finally take that off our list!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bath Time = Bonding Time

Before getting pregnant with baby #2, I was worried about how having more than one child would effect our family. I have always known that I want more than one, but after having Liam it seemed so scary to have to share my time with him with another baby as well. This was a driving factor when it came to waiting. I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of Liam not being the only person that I cared about that much. Ever since the day he was born, all I have wanted to do is be with him. It was very hard to imagine him not getting 100% of my time and effort.
It wasn't until the other night, that I realized that it isn't Liam that I have to worry about. The baby boy in my tummy is so far, getting the shaft! When I was pregnant with Liam, it was a common, nightly ritual to take a long bath. I thought of this as my time with my unborn baby. I talked to him, was able to really focus on his movements, and was finally able to relieve some of the pressure of carrying a baby. I felt so connected to him before he was even here. Although we still didn't have a name to call him, I KNEW him.
A couple of nights ago, I was actually lucky enough to find the time to take a quick bath. I realized that this was one of just a handful that I have taken since becoming pregnant. While laying in the tub, talking to this baby, it occurred to me that I don't "know" this baby like I did Liam. I don't talk to him as often as I did with Liam and I feel less connected some how.
Maybe this is why the middle child tends to be nuts. He is already getting the shorter end of the stick. This is just one example of the inequalities this baby has in store. Liam came into this world with his own room, decorated and filled with things, just for him. He has experienced two and a half years of being the only thing that we worry about. Unfortunately for the baby in my belly, this will not be the case for him. He will share space, clothes, toys, and attention with his big brother.
I should have never worried about how hard it would be to take attention away from Liam, I should have been worrying about how I would find the time, effort, and energy to give attention to my gummy bear. I know that when this little guy enters the world, things will be different and the connection, love, time, and attention will just come. But the idea that this baby is already being deprived of something that Liam received without hesitation makes me sad.
I love you gummy bear, and I will be sure to take more baths between now and when you arrive......I promise!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dessert Hoarders

Joe and I recently realized that we are dessert hoarders. Although we have been this way for years, we just noticed that we don't even share with our son! We have gotten into the habit of waiting until Liam is tucked, safely into bed and the house is quiet before pulling out whatever yummy treat we have any given evening. It was a bit of a shock the other day, when I made pumpkin cheesecake bars, gave Liam one before he went to bed, and thought about how excited he was. My thoughts, "We have dessert all the time. Why is this such a big deal?!" Then it dawned on us......WE eat dessert all the time, LIAM does not.
The dessert that cause the epiphany 
At first, I tried to rationalize what we have been doing. Saying things like, "Well, it's not good for him to have so much sugar." and "We are just making sure he fills up on healthy, nutritious foods. We're the ones who are really missing out." Then I realized that we are full of crap! We wait until he goes to bed because #1- we don't want to share and #2- we see that as our quiet, kid-free meal of the day.
This realization brought back memories of a terrible feeling I had about a year ago. I discussed my horrible habit in a post titled Stealing Candy from My Baby. It's so funny how I am more willing to share everything about my life (my bed, my tv, my free time, my potty breaks, etc) with my two foot tall monster, but I unknowingly and selfishly have kept this one amazingly yummy piece of my life for myself. Oh well, I guess I'm not the perfect mom (as if I ever thought that it was a possibility).

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

News Station or Rumor Patrol?

Teenagers can be so mean, cruel, and gossipy. Adults scold them for this behavior, but then they call it newsworthy. A local news station has been running a "story" about a teen that may or may not wear a mask in the hallways, dresses strangely, and acts abnormal. Have none of these people ever entered a middle school?! Well, I have! I teach in one, and these things are not abnormal, nor are they newsworthy.
This teen possibly has a "hit-list" and (once again) may or may not making stabbing motions when walking through the halls. Even the students that the news station interviewed said, "I heard that he....." and "....but it may be just rumors." It even says these words in the story that is posted on the website. Even the school is not admitting to any wrong doing by the student, in fact they said that they "asked the student to stay home from school today." If there is any evidence of a real threat, schools don't ask the student to stay home! They  would have suspended or expelled the student immediately.
As a parent and a teacher, I believe that we should all be made aware of real threats, but to put hearsay and speculation on the news for all to hear is not right. All I know about this story is what the news station is reporting, but I for one don't think that they have enough to report on to ruin this student's reputation. If they are wrong or are blowing this out of proportion, think of the life this poor kid has in front of him. Not only are his peers going to harass him (probably more than before), but now parents, and KATU viewers as well.
There has been a huge focus on anti-bullying campaigns both in schools and out, but this sure seems like people jumping to conclusions about a boy because he is different. Maybe I'm wrong, but that seems a lot like bullying. As I said, I don't know the specifics of this situation, and maybe this boy is a threat. But I just think that there should be a line between facts and guesses, and that what airs on the news should only fall under the first category.
If you would like to read what little information KATU has on this story, here is the link:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pretty Toes

Not too long ago, there was a big uproar about an advertisement where a mom was painting her son's toe nails. So many people felt that this was an issue important enough to publicly complain about it and even demand that the ad be removed. What is the world coming to, when you can;t just not look at the ad if you don't like it?! Why is it such a big deal to people if a little boy wants to wear nail polish? I thought the hoopla surrounding the advertisement was nuts.
The other day, Liam saw my blue painted toes and asked if I would paint his for him. I said, "Sure." To which his daddy admittedly disagreed. He made a comment like, "Boy's don't wear nail polish, that's for girls!" This was infuriating to me. Maybe it's because of all of the family/child/gender studies classes that I took in college, but I could see that my husband was imposing a horrible stereotype on my son right in front of me, and I was having none of it.
When Liam went to bed, we talked about it. Soon Joe agreed that it really isn't an issue if he wants his nails painted, but he said that he still just had this inner voice telling him it was not ok. It was then that I realized how ingrained these gender stereotypes are. He was firmly against it earlier in the night without really knowing why. It was just the "feeling" that he had when it was brought up.
I think that it is so strange that when girls like "boy things" (trucks, climbing trees, playing sports) it's not "proper", but it's ok. She's just a Tom Boy, but when a boy likes "girl things" there is something wrong that needs to be fixed. Liam's favorite toy from his first birthday on, was a pink shopping cart that he picked out with his birthday money from his Great Grandma D. Even then, Joe was unsure of this being an acceptable purchase.
It will take a lot of time, but I hope that we learn to reprogram ourselves, so this isn't as much of an issue as it has been. Liam is a boy, who plays with "boy things", but I believe it is perfectly normal for him to want to play with any toy. We are the ones putting the gender label on it, to him it's just a toy. To end this post, I will share that Liam got his painted toe nails. They are red (the color of his choosing), and he is quite proud of them. Telling everyone he sees that he has "pretty toes!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Involuntary Vegetarian

My whole life I have been what I can, a half-way vegetarian. I love pork, turkey, and chicken, but have never been too interested in beef, seafood, or any other meat for that matter. I refuse to eat things like deer, elk, lamb, etc. for personal reasons, but have never gone 100% meatless. Although I have very few choices, meat is almost always on our home menu in some way or another. Until this month that is.....
My blue gummy bear has made it quite clear that he is a vegetarian and that he strongly believes that I should follow suit. I have tried all of my favorites and they have taken turns making me feel nauseous. First it was just chicken. I have always been a bit of texture snob when it comes to my food, but the stringy, chewy texture of chicken made me sick for days. Then I made jambalaya for the first time. I was so excited about the sausage and shrimp (the only kind of seafood I have ever been able to swallow). But the ended even worse! I had a whole crock pot full of, what I'm sure was a delicious meal, but all I could taste and smell was the shrimp and my baby boy was not happy. Next it was ground turkey in our pasta, then turkey burgers from the BBQ, who know what's next!
All that's left are sausages (which even at this very moment sounds disgusting) and bacon. Otherwise, I have become a full blown vegetarian thanks to the little guy who now rules my body. My diet is dwindling, my husband is having a difficult time w/o meat, and my son misses his chicken nuggets. : ( 
Even as I add this picture, my stomach churns!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Gender Reveal, Laced with Guilt

I may sound like a horrible, terrible, very bad mother during this post, but I want to be honest about my feelings and my pregnancy, so here goes!
For the past week or so I've been a little anxious about finding out the gender of baby #2. Yesterday was the big day, and by the time I woke up I had all but decided not to find out what we were having. I wanted to know so I could prepare for this little one, but it made me worried that I would end up being disappointed with the outcome.
To understand why, you need to know a little back story. Joe and I agreed long, long ago that we were only going to conceive two babies of our own. I have always wanted to adopt older children, and we agreed that stopping at two with the making of babies would be best. Although I wasn't completely on board with two at the beginning, after having Liam and dealing with all of the stress and emotions I felt with him, I have whole heartily-agreed. In fact, Joe was the one who had to convince me to have two!
The drive to the ultrasound was stressful and packed with racing thoughts. Knowing that this would be our last gender ultrasound, that whatever gender this baby ended up being was what we had for life, made me so scared! What if I was disappointed? What if I cried? I will feel like such a horrible mom!
With Liam gender didn't really matter to us, we have always wanted one of each, so he was just the first of two. We were thrilled to be having a little man, and I was so sad that I might not feel the same way about the gender of my gummy bear. I should be happy with any healthy baby that was growing inside me, and my biggest fear was that my heart would not agree.
I thought about the dirty looks I would get from the ultrasound tech., the "Oh, I'm so sorry!" from my friends and coworkers who knew about my hopes for one of each, and it was almost unbearable! On the way there, I told Joe I didn't want to know, but when we discussed why not, he told me that he felt the same way. That he was worried he would be disappointed too. But then he brought up a good point, this baby, boy or girl, will be ours and some day we won't even remember feeling this way, because we will love them for who they are.
This made me feel a great deal better, and we decided to find out. When the ultrasound tech. asked if we wanted to know, we both said, "Yes!". Before she could even tell us, I knew. The tell-tale body part that I saw on Liam's ultrasound was plain as day. We were having another boy!

I will admit, I felt a bit of a let down for about 30 seconds, but then an amazing thing happened. The baby started to move. I could feel it and see it. He is beautiful, just like his brother! I have to say that I am mourning the girl section at the store and shopping trips with my little girly-girl just a bit, but I already love this little one, just the way HE is!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Potty Training Tips

After the crazy success of my post sharing tips about how to get your little one to sleep in a big boy bed, I thought that it would be a wonderful idea to share what I have learned about potty training as well. The transition from crib to big boy bed was almost flawless and easier than I had expected, but potty training has been a bit more of a process. There has been a great deal of trial and error, discussions with friends, and some reading on the subject too.
We started the long process way back in March. I thought (naively) that it could be done during my one week spring break. It went very well. In fact, he had no accidents for most of the week. But I didn't realize how much of potty training is truly up to the parent, and once I went back to work and he went back to daycare, I realized that we were not able to be consistent enough for him to be successful.
We kept talking about it, rewarded him if he went in the potty, and tried to stay as positive as possible, but I quickly realized that if I were home, it would be far easier to keep him on track. So we somewhat let it go, with the plan to come back to it in June when I was finished with school. Of course, life got in the way, and once again it was pushed back due to my laziness and lack of consistency.
Although it took me quite a while to get to this point, I knew that I wanted to get Liam out of diapers before his baby brother or sister arrives, I also knew that at least starting the process while I was at home would help us get a head start. I finally got serious about it and got my husband 100% on board, the week before I was to head back to work.
So far we have been doing very well. We have gone almost a week with no diapers (other than at bedtime), and have had only a handful of accidents, even while he is at daycare. I know that we have quite a way to go, but I also know that we are making progress, and that we are much farther than we were a few weeks ago.
Below are some tips that worked for us. Once again, I'm sure that there are more ideas out there, I understand that some things work for some kids/parents when they won't work for others, and I also realize that some people don't have a lot of time at home, but I thought I would share what we learned.

* Wait until they are really ready: I think part of our issue was that we tried too soon for his body. Our pediatrician said that you know they are ready if they wake up in the morning with dry diapers consistently. We saw one or two and thought, "We're ready, lets try!" It didn't work out for us, until it was more like one or two wet diapers a week in the morning.

* Offer treats when they use the potty/tell you they need to use the potty: We had a couple of big issues when we got to this tip. Issue one- we had a difficult time finding a treat that would be exciting enough, that he would want it over and over again. We had to change it up pretty often. Issue two- we started out giving M&M's for treats. One for pee and two for poop. It wasn't long before we realized that kids use the toilet a lot and that we were not comfortable giving him so much candy. The remedy for both of these issues was finding some recipes for healthy, yummy snacks to give to him instead. I chose to make yogurt melts and homemade fruit snacks. We alternated so that he wouldn't get bored, and by making them myself, I felt as though it was a healthier choice. We also tried to give him a potty toy for a successful week, but that seemed too difficult and he quickly lost interest. Maybe if the time period were shorter, it would work better. Who knows!

* Give them something to do while sitting: This is a great tip, but with some serious downsides. At the beginning, we filled a basket with books and magazines for Liam and I to read while he was using the potty. This was a great way to introduce the potty routine, but it also created the issue that Liam wanted to sit on the potty forever! We slowly took the books away and gave him a time limit for siting, because I was spending ten-twenty minutes in the bathroom with him, each time he "had to go".

* Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page and are equally invested: One of the biggest reasons that I gave up on potty training at the beginning, was that it's far more work than I expected and I was doing the bulk of the work while my husband was at work. Once he got home, I wanted more support but we didn't go about training the same way, so I would get frustrated and end up doing it myself. It was exhausting! Once we sat down, talked about the ques we would use, and created a loose schedule of how to go about it, it was far easier to keep with it. Having a partner makes all the difference!

* Be patient and positive: Just as with the big boy bed transition, patience was key to getting through the more difficult times. You need to have patience with your child, your spouse, yourself, and the process, because it is a long one with speed bumps every where! You also need to be excited about it, so that they will be excited about it. If you get frustrated, so do they.

* Make sure your childcare provider is on board and can be consistent: This process really made the whole "It takes a village...." statement clear to me. Just as it's helpful to have your spouse's help/support, it is absolutely vital that you have the support of your childcare provider. They will be in charge of enforcing your rules/schedule while you are away from your child, and without their consistency, it will never work. But you also need to keep in mind that most daycare providers have more than one child to take care of, and you need to be prepared for less consistency than you offer at home. You need to think about whether or not your expectations are fair and realistic for someone in their situation.

* Expect accidents/speed bumps: Potty training is a process, it doesn't happen over night. I have heard crazy stories about kids being potty trained in two day. I'm sure it's possible, but it wasn't for us. Praising them for even trying seems to help during these times. It reminds them that they are doing a good job and helps you both to not dwell on the downfalls.

* Be consistent: I'm sure that this tip has already jumped out from between the lines, but just in case, and because it's so important to your success, I wanted to make sure to touch on it. Make sure that your little one goes potty at roughly the same time everyday. This way they get used to it, you get used to it, and their body gets used to it. We tend to go right after waking up, after breakfast, once in between breakfast and lunch, before nap, after nap, before dinner, and before bed. We also take him anytime that he says he needs to go. I know that this sounds like a lot of trips to the bathroom, but it has really worked for us, and we thought that it is doable for his child car provider, since it will only be 3-4 times while he is there.

* Trust your kid: At some point you know that your child has the hang of it. There still might be accidents here and there, but they frequently tell you that they have to go and you tend to go a day or two without accidents. This is the time to back off a bit. I use this phrase with my son often. "I'm trusting you to tell me when you need to go." I know he's two, but he gets it. Joe and I will remind/ask about a potty break at the times listed above, but if Liam says he doesn't have to go after we ask a couple of times, I use that line and let it go. At some point they have to know it's up to them, and we need to back off. I noticed Liam would get tired of our constant nagging and would go in his underwear just to show that he was in control. Once we realized this, we gave him more choices/control and it's worked very well.

* Get rid of the diapers!: This is by far, the most helpful hint I have. It has been what has motivated all of us to stay on top of his potty training. Once we decided there was no going back, we were fully invested in the process. Also, once his lack of making it to the potty in time caused all of us grief, we all wanted to work harder at it. Joe and I are motivated not to clean up after an accident, so we stay on top of the schedule and give reminders often. It also has helped Liam to care more about whether or not he makes it to the potty. He doesn't want to miss out on playing with his friends and toys during the time it takes to clean him up. I'm sure that it is also uncomfortable to pee or poop on yourself, as evidenced by his immediate shedding of the yucky clothes.

 I hope that these tips are helpful, and since we are still in the midst of it, I would love to hear any more ideas and advise that my readers may have. Good luck with your big boy or big girl!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Almost Unimaginable

Being a parent has changed many things about me, my husband, our goals, our plans, etc. But the one thing that has never changed is my absolute love for teaching. Even after having Liam and dealing with a year of frustration, stress, and guilt from working full time, the thought of leaving my job never occurred to me. When something is so ingrained in who you are, you can't imagine life without it. Since the moment I got the call from my principal offering me the job, teaching has been like breathing.
When the option to work part-time came about, I was very excited. It offered everything I was looking for! I could be home with my son more, be less stressed about leaving him as well as work, I could still do what I was born and love to do, I could continue to help support our little family, and both Liam and I could have some social time daily. It was the best of both worlds and I loved everything about it!
Working has always been important to me. I love my son, and the baby that is on it's way, which is why I feel so passionate about them seeing the drive and focus I have toward being a teacher. Both Joe and I came from middle class families where all of our parent had to work. My mom didn't get to stay home with me, and because of that I grew up knowing that you have to work for what you want, you have to make goals and strive to reach them. I want my children to know these things as well. Although I want to be there for them as much as possible, I also want them to see how rewarding and important a personal passion and drive are. I have never wanted to be a stay at home mom, not because I don't love every second that I'm with my children, but because I love my career too. I don't want to give that up, nor do I want my children to not know that about their mommy.
A week ago I found out that the schedule that I planned to have this year, had changed in a way that could have definitely caused problems both family-wise, and with childcare. It was even more stressful because the news came with only two weeks to figure out the childcare portion. I called my mom in a panic, crying, stressed, and hyperventilating. Luckily, she was supportive and offered her help until baby #2 comes along.
With this news, not only did my daily schedule and my childcare plan change, but also my maternity plan. I had fully intended to go back to work the beginning of May, but I'm no longer sure that is going to happen. I'm just glad that it happened this year, when I already know I get to be home a good portion of the time.
Last night a co-worker suggested that if it were an option, and if plans continue to be this frazzled, that maybe I should think about taking a leave of absence for a year or two while my kids grow. Until this last week that would have never been an option for me. I love my students, co-workers, and career far too much to leave it, but if things continue to be this unknown and stressful it may be the best option for the coming years. I'm lucky enough to work in a district that supports parenting and that offers up to a two year leave, while still securing my job for the future. This has helped to make this option seem like less of a loss for me. Knowing that I'm not giving up my passion to stay at home, knowing that my job will be waiting for me when the time comes, and knowing that I'm not leaving a wonderful job in a crappy economy are all points that make it easier to consider this option.
Although we have discussed the possibility of me staying home with our two growing babies, we have not even come close to making a decision. Obviously, money is still a concern. We have been working like cattle to pay down debt, and live on a budget for quite a while now and I for one, am loving it! I see our progress daily and feel good about the choices we're making. It scares me to think that these goals and this focus could easily be lost if I were to take a leave. We also have longer-term plans for our family that could be put off or lost all together if staying home becomes my reality. But we are also considering the cost of having two children in childcare vs. my part-time pay check. Would I be working to have someone else watch them? Possibly! We are very blessed that we have a whole year to think these things through, to test it out while I'm on maternity leave, and to work out the details before we have to make a definite choice.
I have always, and I mean always, known that I should be a teacher. I spent my entire education focusing on being not only an educator, but being the best one that I could be. I love my job, and in fact, have never felt as though it is a "job". It is a career, a passion, a calling. Up until yesterday I never thought (not even once) about giving it up. I still wouldn't completely give it up, but taking a break to raise my children is starting to seem like an option I have to consider, both financially and parenting-wise. This is such a difficult decision, and I don't know what to do!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Body Baggage

One of the joys of carrying a baby is the wonderful belly that you grow. It's beautiful and natural and I've always loved the glow that women get while pregnant. However, we don't all carry our growing babies the way that supermodels and actresses do. Unfortunately, it's not just the lovely swollen belly that women gain. As I learned with my first pregnancy, you gain weight everywhere: thighs, butt, breasts, hips, name it, it gains some volume. With my little man, I gained more than fifty pounds and my whole body changed. I will admit, I didn't watch my eating patterns quite as much as I should have, and being pregnant mainly in the winter, I didn't get as much exercise as I would have liked. Each of these played a part in my growing body, I'm sure of it.
This time around, I made it a point to try to salvage as much of my pre-pregnancy #2 body as possible. I worked very hard after Liam was born to loose the baby weight, eat healthier, and stay active. This resulted in not only loosing the baby-weight, but another 15ish pounds. As of yesterday, I felt as though I was doing a wonderful job of this. Although I have been eating a lot, it has been fruits, veggies, lots of whole grains, and dairy rather than fast foods, chips, cookies, and candy. I have also refused to go down the milk hole that I dug for myself with Liam. I got up to about 3/4 of a gallon a day!
Today though, my larger, normal pants are tighter than they were last time I wore them. I can feel the denim squeezing in on my thighs, my baby belly is muffin-topping over my jeans, and my hips are looking quite a bit wider. I know this did not all happen over-night, but I realized all of these lovely changes once I felt the familiar squeeze. I will continue to focus on my (and subsequently my baby's) health, but I also need to come to the realization that babies come with body baggage, and that I can't keep my body in it's pre-baby condition, while it is focusing on growing a little life. Darn!
Almost 18 weeks!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Name Game

Ever since Liam was born, Joe and I have been busy at work trying to come up with names for our future babies. The reason for the excessive thought about a future event, is that we had narrowed Liam's name down to two far before he was born, but when the time came to choose we had a lot of difficulty picking. He was nameless for two days after birth, and we don't want to do that again.

We have always had a long list of girl names. Joe and I have very similar thoughts about what we like when it comes to having a daughter. Over the last two years we widdled the list down, and made a definite decision for a little girl (which we will share once we know for sure what we are having). Although we have a name picked, we still have several other girl names approved by both of us, that we are a bit sad not to use.

On the other hand, boys names are so difficult for us! When we walked in to the ultrasound for Liam, we said, "If this is a boy, we have our work cut out for us!". Obviously we were right about that. This time around it's even harder. We have a much shorter list of boy's names, that consist of "my names" and "his names". Neither of us are overly excited about any of the other's names.

Another reason for our indecision about boy names is that Joe is sure that this next little one is a girl, and that we don't even need to think about boy names until the ultrasound tells us otherwise. This frustrates the planner in me! I don't want to have an unnamed child this time around and I think that it's a far better idea to plan for both.

At this point, I think we need some help with boy names. If you have a wonderful boy name that you are willing to share, I would really appreciate your suggestions. My feeling is that the more options we have, the more likely that we will agree on one-hopefully, sooner rather than later!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Close Call

Earlier this week, my husband and I almost made a horrible financial decision. For the past eight months we have been working on a financial plan that is smart, doable, and will help us be debt free ASAP. We have done an amazing job so far! We have stuck to our budget almost every month, and even if we don't it's by a few dollars here and a few dollars there. Either way, we have done some great things with our money and already have quite a bit to show for it.
It hasn't all been easy and happy though. I have had a difficult time with the no vacation part of this budget. Before we got pregnant with our little gummy bear, we had fully planned to take a small family vacation this summer, our last one just the three of us. But since the news hit, we switched the plan just a tad and decided to try to pay off the car sooner, making it easier for me to stay home after the baby is born. This change of plans required no family vaca.
It's been hard, but worth it! There are days when I wish I could be planning something fun, but that has really been then only difficult part of the financial plan. I don't mind the budget at all, because I have really gotten into couponing we have saved tons of money on food, and I love seeing our debt dwindle so quickly (thanks Sarah for the arrow idea!).
But things almost came undone when we decided to use the extra cash we have been accruing through garage sales and watching a friend's little girl to restore my Grandma Smith's armchairs. She passed away a year ago January, and since her passing they have been hanging out in our garage. We were a bit naive when we thought about a budget for the chairs. We were hoping that we would have some money left over to put towards the car payment. Little did we know, that it would take all of what we had saved to do just one of the two chairs.
In the heat and excitement of the moment, we decided to have both done, planning to pay the second one off by adding the bill to our monthly budget and paying it off as soon as we could. The second we left the shop we began doubting our decision. We had been working so hard for months, had stuck to our budget, and missed out on a family vacation, and now it seemed that was all about to go down the drain. It was so hard to decide what to do, because obviously the chairs are important to me and hold tremendous sentimental value, but our budget and life plans mean a lot to us as well.
After a night to think it over, we decided to go ahead and have one of the chairs refurbished now since we could pay for it in cash and in full without touching/hindering our budget in any way, and then once the car is paid off, take two months off putting that payment toward the first student loan and save to have the second chair done. This way, our plan stays the same, we get a bit of reward for doing so well now (the first chair) and a second one (the second chair) once the car is paid off.
This decision gave us the best of both worlds. We keep to our budget, get both chairs done, pay off the car as planned, and get to continue on with our financial plan without a hitch. I'm so proud of us for coming to this decision. We have never been big impulse buyers and have always been somewhat financially aware/responsible, but this situation showed both of us just how much we have grown as a couple, as a family, and as adults. Nothing can stop us from reaching our goals, on time and under budget!

Friday, July 27, 2012

To Leash or Not to Leash?

Ever since seeing the episode of Modern Family where the family takes a trip to Disneyland and Cam puts Lily on a "child safety tether", this controversial choice has been on my mind. Before having a child, I thought that people who used leashes were crazy and lazy. But after listening to some parent discussion about it, I was a little more receptive to the idea. Right after this episode aired, there was a segment on Good Morning America discussing the pros and cons of leashing your children.
There were the usual and common sense cons: you are treating your child like a pet and it's embarrassing for the child. But then there were the pros: children have the ability to explore in a more independent way, they can walk freely without holding hands, and most of all, it keeps them within a safe distance and gives you the power to keep them out of unsafe situations.
Like Lily on Modern Family, Liam can be a runner at times, and I worry about his safety when we are out and about. What if I can't reach him fast enough? What if he gets lost? and some of the pros sounded like they may be just good enough to try it. What if all of those disgusted, dirty looks are unwarranted? What if the leash really is the best way to go? But then we went to a local park with a fountain for toddlers and babies, and all the evidence I needed to make an informed decision, was right in front of me.
Like all of the other kids at the park, Liam was playing in the water and running a muck. At one point, I noticed that he was playing with a little girl who must have been about a year old. I also noticed that the little girl was crawling around in the fountain attached to a leash. Liam kept trying to get her to follow him, and when the little girl tried she had to pull her mother along with her, which slowed her down considerably.
It wouldn't have been quite so difficult for her to keep up with Liam, if her mother were paying attention to her daughter and not having, what seemed to be, a very focused phone conversation. I realized that the mother wasn't even looking at her daughter most of the time. She even had her back to her on a regular basis. At this point, I realized that I was right about this topic from the beginning. At least for this mom, putting her child on the leash meant that she could take that phone call and ignore the actions of her child while she was playing. It helped her to be a lazy parent!
Every pro that was listed in the morning news segment is only present if the parent is still involved, and the observations that I have made do not support that this is the norm. Although this woman was the most blatantly distant parent, I have witnessed many similar situations: a child wearing a leash while climbing on a fence, the mom having a conversation with a friend, back turned from the child; a kid trying to pull their parent through the store, while the parent ignores them; (now this is gross) a baby eating something off the ground while the mother eats lunch. Obviously, it's not always safer for a child to be on a leash.These observations made me realize, that maybe lazy parents are not always the ones who pick to leash their children, but the leash gives parents a false sense of safety and security, so they become lazy and disinterested. 
When at the park I discussed earlier, my husband and I were engaged in play with our son, we enjoyed observing his play with other children, we have memories of that day that make us smile. It makes me sad that the mother of the young girl doesn't have that. I came to the same realization at the end of this trip, that Cam and Mitchell came to at the end of the hilarious episode. Parents keep their children safe, not a leash. Safety is my number one concern for my son, and I believe that it is safer for me to be an interested and engaged parent than it is for me to put him on a "child safety tether".

Modern Family: the leash episode

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yet Another Choice

Written 6/26/12:

Earlier in my pregnancy, I discussed my reasons for choosing to give birth to my children in a hospital setting. After my last prenatal appointment, my husband and I discovered that where to have our little gummy bear wasn't the only birth-related choice we would have to make. Ever since I found out I was pregnant with Liam, I was terrified that I would need a c-section. I even went so far as to turn off A Baby Story whenever it followed a woman who was having one, planned or not. I hated the idea, but had a feeling deep down that it would end up being the way my son would enter this world.
I was right. Between being positioned in a complicated way, Liam having his daddy's head, and me being on the smaller side, having a c-section became the safest option after 24 hours of labor and two hours of pushing without progress. I cried through the whole procedure. I was so scared that something would go wrong and felt like a failure as a mother because I couldn't even push my kid out the "right" way. Once I saw my son and heard what my doctor had to say, those feelings were gone. I still feel guilty from time to time, but I know for a fact that it was what was best for my son and myself.
Soon after Liam's birth, I decided that I would like to try to have baby #2 naturally, if possible. I had already been told that many hospitals (including the one where my midwife practices) will not accommodate a vaginal birth after a c-section due to the risks to baby and mommy and the doctors that would be needed on call. Although this was frustrating, I didn't let that stop me from looking into the possibilities. I found out that OHSU and the McMinnville hospital are both open and equipped to give it a go.
I decided to ask my beloved midwife about what I would have in store, if I were to choose this route. I trust her opinion more than anyone else's when it comes to pregnancy, labor, and recovery. She is amazing! Unfortunately for my husband and I, at the next appointment, her partner in the practice had to facilitate my appointment. Even though I wanted Nan's opinion, I asked her associate about the possibility. She was so excited that we were interested and made it seem like a wonderful choice. We were pretty excited to hear that there may be a possibility for me to try again.
Luckily for us, we saw Nan in the hallway on our way out and mentioned our plan to her. Instantly we could tell that she was concerned. Within seconds, she gave us several reasons to think about the option more before making a decision. So we did. We read every article, every statistic, every personal post we could find, about having what is called VBAC.
It didn't take us long to realize that this was in no way the option for us! A VBAC requires constant fetal and mommy monitoring above and beyond the usual labor. There are sensors placed on the babies head throughout the labor and monitors covering just about every inch of my body. More than a couple of doctors and nurses would be involved, as well as several more on call in case of complications. If there is the slightest hiccup, the doctors will preform an emergency c-section.
My original thoughts were that having a natural childbirth would be more relaxing in some way, feel more "right", but a VBAC sounds like the opposite of that! I hate, as I always have, the thought of having another c-section, but my unborn child's health is far more important than my thoughts about "how things should be". A VBAC sounds stressful, uncomfortable, and in no way- natural. The thought of going through something like that without Nan, scares me more than I can put into words. I trust her with my life and (more importantly) the lives of both of my children, and if she were not there to help me through the process, I know it would be harder than I could bare.
There are also much higher risks for me and the baby, if something goes wrong. There is the risk that my uterus will rupture, causing severe blood loss and oxygen deprivation for my baby. This would require an emergency c-section and could carry even more risks for both of us. Every risk associated with a c-section is heightened if it becomes an emergency situation, and having a ruptured uterus and fetal distress carry even more risks. The risk of the baby having long-term neurological damage or even dying, are far higher if a c-section is needed after the VBAC process has begun.
For these reasons, my husband and I have crossed that option off the list. Having a VBAC would be a selfish thing to do, knowing that it could be harmful (or even deadly) for my baby. If I had one, it would be for me and my sense of pride, and that is not what is important. I will be having a scheduled c-section and for the first time, I am completely at peace with it. I know it is the safest decision I could make for my baby and myself. It's my job to protect him/her and this is just one of the first ways I will be doing that.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pregnancy Addiction

Written 6/20/12:

Throughout my pregnancy with Liam, I had only one craving- milk. I drank about a half gallon a day, which is in no way normal for me. But I didn't really feel the whole "craving" thing. Based on TV shows, movies, and information given to me by other women about their pregnancy cravings, I felt like the milk thing was nothing. This pregnancy however, has been filled with firsts, including cravings.
For the past month or so, I have not been able to get enough fruit. Any fruit will do, I'm not picky, but I have to eat at least one a day. Lucky for me, it's the time of year where fruit is plentiful and there are several varieties to choose from. I have been taking full advantage of our local farmer's market, fruit stands, and the produce aisle at the grocery store. I hope that this craving doesn't continue into the winter, because I'm sure I will get pretty tired of bananas and oranges.
Yesterday, my mom brought me cherries picked from a friend's tree. They are my favorite, Royal Anne. She brought me a grocery bag filled with them! I was so excited that I got started on them right away, and couldn't stop eating them all night. Before cherries (and even still now), the cravings have included peaches, nectarines, apples, bananas, fresh pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, and plums.
I have always loved fruit, but this is crazy! I guess if I have to be addicted to something while pregnant, fruit is not a bad thing to "need". But after this, I sure hope that my cravings don't shift to something like fast food or candy, because it feels like eating what my body wants is like needing to breathe and I'm not sure I could say "No!" for very long.

Yet another addiction caused by my babies! : )

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What No One Tells You About Pregnancy

Written 6/4/12:

This is my second time around, which has reminded me of all of the little things about being pregnant that I was not at all prepared for. Sure, everyone knows your going to gain weight, have to pee every 5 minutes, have a hard time sleeping, maybe even have morning sickness. But there are several symptoms, situations, and uh.....lets just say, after effects that no one deems important enough to share with you before hand. Here is my list of things that women need to know about pregnancy, that I wish I would have known.

#1- Not all ultrasounds happen as you see them on sitcoms: I was shocked....ok, horrified when my doctor explained that I was too early on and that my first ultrasound with my son would be an internal one. What?! I had no idea this was even a thing. The only ultrasound experiences I had ever been privy to included gooey gel on the belly. So comfortable and sweet looking. Nope. This is not the case if you get an ultrasound earlier in your pregnancy.  Most done that early requires being done internally. It wasn't as bad as I thought, but it would have been nice to know ahead of time.

#2- Cramping doesn't necessarily mean a miscarriage: Before getting pregnant with Liam I read several books, countless blogs/advice posts, and magazine articles about early pregnancy. They all specifically made statements explaining the correlation between early cramping and miscarriages. This scared the crap out of me when at six weeks pregnant I started cramping excessively. This was made worse by the fact that I rarely cramp during my menstrual cycle, so not only were "experts" from all corners saying my pregnancy was doomed, but it was also extremely abnormal for me. However, my son is here, happy, and healthy and I have since learned that this is completely common in the early months. Your uterus is expanding to make room for the little visitor and the cramps are just part of the process.

#3- You never regain bladder control: This too was a shock! I have heard my whole life about the pressure your bladder feels while a baby resides near it (which makes perfect sense), but no one ever told me that knowing where a bathroom is would still be an issue months later. Also, beware of the sneeze-pee!

#4- Charlie-Horses: This was by far the worst symptom of pregnancy that I faced, and I didn't even know it was coming. It didn't start until about the 6th month, but from that point on I would wake up screaming and in pain several times a week. Joe had several sleepless nights because of my response, so maybe warn your husbands too.

#5- Your baby will be a literal pain in your butt: The siatic nerve is one that stretches from your back to the bottom of your leg. If your baby is sitting just right, they trigger this nerve and the pain can vary (in my experience) from slight aching to severe shooting pains in the rear. I have heard that it can go down the leg as well, but mine stayed put directly in the center of my right butt cheek. It felt like getting a shot constantly for weeks. Not fun!

#6- Swelling doesn't just happen to your feet: I had minimal swelling of the feet throughout my pregnancy with Liam. It wasn't until the week before he was born that I noticed my shoes didn't fit quite as well as they used to and my wedding ring was a bit snug. Actually, it wasn't until the day I went into labor that the swelling was really an issue. However, it took days to go away even after our little man had entered the world. My hands ballooned up to about three times their normal size, my face and arms followed suit. I felt bigger after labor than I ever did before hand. Great for your post-pregnancy self-esteem!

I'm sure that there are several more tidbits that I could add to this list, but they haven't been triggered yet. Once my little bean sprout starts making itself known I'll add anything that I think newbies should be aware of. Happy baby growing!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Want to be Like Them!

I have always had a huge place in my heart where people with disabilities reside. Since I was a little girl, my Grandma would take her daycare kids to the park to meet her sister (my Aunt Margie) and the disabled adults that she worked with. Having lunch with the amazing people Aunt Margie brought along, prepared me for a life of understanding and compassion for people who are in anyway different.I continued my wonderful experiences with my fellow high school students who had disabilities, as a peer tutor. This means that I spent a period everyday helping the students in the class with school work, life skills, and even got to participate in their P.E. classes. I still can't believe that I actually got credit for playing kickball with those amazing people!

In college, I had to participate in a Senior Capstone class. This was a requirement for all students to graduate. The Senior Capstone classes that we offered usually consisted of some sort of volunteer/community outreach program. Also, most of these classes were scheduled just as most college classes- meeting once or twice a week, for a three month term. Instead of choosing one of those classes, I opted to participate in a two week summer camp for teens with disabilities.

During those two weeks, I lived and breathed those kids! We helped them get ready in the morning, ate meals with them, participated in exciting camp activities (obstacle courses, fishing, hikes, canoeing, swimming, etc.), participated in plays, sang songs, etc. Those two weeks were the most emotionally and physically exhausting two weeks of my life (at least to that point), but it was also the most rewarding and life-changing two weeks I could imagine participating in.

After seeing the teens and their absolute love of life and their fellow man, I wanted to continue to keep that feeling going in my own life. I worked for a year at a middle school in the special education program. Once again, it was difficult and exhausting work, but the rewards that came with it were unimaginable! For the past few years, life has gotten in the way and I have had very few experiences with this amazing population. But last weekend that all changed!

The Bocce Ball Field
I spent Saturday morning volunteering with my mom and my sister Mystery, at the Oregon Special Olympics which was held in Newberg. After just a few minutes of talking and interacting with the athletes, the rewarding feelings and excitement to have these people in my life, returned like a dam breaking. I loved every second of it! The amount of love and compassion that those wonderful people possess is nothing short of inspirational.

Mom keeping score

Every athlete that competed in the games was kind to one another, while still giving their all every time they participated.  They cheered one another on (even those from other teams), they reminded each other of the rules without being rude or insulting, they smiled and showed great sportsmanship even when you could tell they were heartbroken at the outcome of the game. I wish everyone could be more like the amazing men and women I met over the weekend.

Mystery trying to stay cool
When I left the games on Saturday, all I could do was talk about how great of an experience it was. My husband (who had also participated in peer tutoring in high school) was soon convinced that he too should volunteer on Sunday. Although neither of us had signed up to be there, we showed up bright and early to offer our assistance. They were happy to have us, and day two was even more memorable than the last.

Our turn to play!
 Joe and I had such a great time, that we have decided to continue this as a family tradition. We will volunteer every year from now on. When our kids are old enough to help, they too will participate. We both have a passion for this population, and we want to pass that on to our children as well.
Joe enjoying the games

Not only was this a personally valuable weekend, it may also turn out to be a professionally valuable weekend as well. I have always had the long-term goal to continue my education, and become special education endorsed. Since having Liam and continuing the reading endorsement, this has been put on the back burner and has slipped further into my pool of goals. But this is no longer the case!

Taking a break between games
Obviously it is still a long-term goal, but it has been renewed with a new passion and focus. I know that it will still take me years to get to the point of being endorsed, but it WILL happen. I still have to pass the reading specialist test (hopefully on Saturday), and there is the little human growing inside me which I'm sure will take a lot of my time, plus the two year old that is currently potty training and has his own opinions, not to mention my career and family. But the point is, it's once again on the list. A goal that I will focus on in the coming years. A passion that will be fulfilled!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Birthing Choices

Written on 5/31:

Everyone has to do what is right for themselves and their family, especially when it comes to parenting. This post is in no way supposed to be a sermon about the "right" way to give birth (as if there were such a thing), but I just want to share my reasons for choosing to give birth to not only my son, but the one on the way, in a hospital setting and with a mid-wife.
There has always been a lot of talk about natural child birth, mid-wives, epidurals, c-sections, and so on. As a soon-to-be parent all of these choices and the opinions that surround them, can seem overwhelming and confusing. I believe that the very first rule about choosing your labor plan is deciding what YOU want. Once you know this, it's important to surround yourself with supportive people.
For my husband and I, the safety of a hospital setting was what we felt most comfortable in. My mom had some labor complications with two of her four daughters (one of them was me), and I just wanted the security of a highly trained hospital staff by my side in case there were complications with my labor. Also, I have friends who would not have their little ones today if they had not been in a hospital at the time of their child's birth. I know that this is not necessarily typical, but for me any risk was to high.
This turned out to be the best choice for us, considering my son was angled down and to the left, has a large head, and after hours of pushing was hopelessly stuck. When he finally made his debut, he had not only a large bruise but also a blister the size of a penny on the top of his head, thanks to all of my smoshing and squeezing. I don't know what would have happened to either of us, had we not been in the setting we were in.
I also liked the nursing support that was offered to me while in and even after leaving the hospital. Within an hour of my son being born a lactation consultant was there helping me and Liam figure it out. We had a rough start, so the support, encouragement, and expertise were really the only things that kept me going. Newberg hospital is so pro-nursing that they offer donor breast milk which has been processed and screened to make sure it is clean and healthy. Because we had to take advantage of this the first few days out of the hospital, I am confident that we would have had to supplement with formula had that option not been there.
To help me stick to my birth-plan and to feel 100% comfortable with any situation that arose, I wanted to choose a doctor that we trust and can rely on no matter what. For us, this was a mid-wife who had delivered two of my siblings and my nephew. It was nice to have a bit of a mix within the plan. We had the hospital setting, but the mid-wife running the show. This helped us to feel as though our wishes would be followed unless it was absolutely necessary to deviate from them.
She was more supportive than I could ever imagine, and when the time came to have a c-section, I was confident that it was not only the best option for me and my son, but the safest. I trust her with any decision, and if she tells me it's what's best for me and my baby, it's what I'm going to do! Having a hospital birth was not a difficult decision in any way. It was what was best for me and my baby boy. But choosing someone that you trust whole-heartedly was a far more important piece of the birthing puzzle.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Who to tell?

Written 5/29/12:

One of the hardest decisions to make when you find out your going to have a baby, is who to tell and when to tell them. My husband and I have very different opinions on this question. He, being someone who thinks quite logically and puts a great deal of thought (and an hour of pondering) into which light bulb to choose, strongly believes that we should wait to tell anyone until we get through the "dreaded" first trimester. He has some pretty sound reasons for this. Well one, sound reason to be more precise: if anything happens and it doesn't work out, he doesn't want to explain it over and over again.
I on the other hand, thought of this exact situation as a reason to tell those who are closest to us. I know that if something were to happen to this pregnancy, I would want to talk to my mom, sisters, and closest friends. I would want their support through what I'm sure would be, the hardest thing I would ever have to go through.
But how to decide who "wins"? This is such a difficult decision either way. I too can see where my hubby is coming from. I wouldn't want to have to explain a miscarriage to my co-workers or have awkward moments at the next family gathering. He could also see my side of the coin as well. Even with these main points in mind, there is always the excitement of the situation. It took almost all of my willpower to not shout it from the rough tops the second I saw the little pink plus sign.
After much discussion, we decided to meet somewhere in the middle. We agreed to tell close family and a select few friends early on, I plan to tell a couple of my co-workers right before school ends, and the rest of our family and friends once we reached twelve weeks. This way we have our life-line and support, but also protected ourselves from any possible complications.
This worked very well for us when I was pregnant with Liam, but it didn't come without stress. When you choose to tell a select few a very exciting secret, you always worry that the news will leak. Social media can add a little something extra to this. All it takes is one little slip-up and the whole world knows! Once again, we got very lucky last time and this didn't happen in our situation. Telling the people in your life that you are expecting is a personal decision that has to serve your purpose. It wasn't easy to choose a path, but it was the right one for us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing

Written May 28th:

This isn't just the title to an amazing song, it's what Joe and I have been doing since December. When Joe and I decided we wanted to start a family, we had to work hard for it. I'm a teacher, and because I wanted to make the most of my time at home with my future baby, we felt as though we were on a pretty tight schedule. Lucky for us, Liam was on his way right away. It only took us one month, and we were future parents. This time it was a bit more complicated. We are in a much better situation financially, so time of the year didn't play quite as much of a role, but it was still a consideration.
The new factors to consider were the short-term disability policy that we took out after the first of the year. For the policy to kick in, we had to wait at least a month. We did. When the month was over, we were still in the process of a renovation project that was taking place in Liam's room, which meant he was sleeping in our room. We got creative, but with all of the stress associated with a toddler in your room, plastic and dust filling your house, and a bit of potty training, the end of that cycle didn't come with news of a little sibling for our big guy.
The next chance we got, we put a little more effort into it. But once again, no dice. Between preparing for the party of the century (otherwise known as Liam's 2nd Birthday) and studying/taking an assessment that could change my career path, we once again didn't get the outcome we were hoping for. Life had gotten in the way of our efforts twice, and I was starting to get a bit discouraged.
I have known many people who have had far worse luck with conceiving, so I tried to keep my emotions in check and my hopes high. It just seemed so much harder this time around. As I said before, Liam happened the first try, and that was the only experience Joe and I had with this process. Lucky for us, the third time was the charm! We found out mid-May that we would be welcoming a new member to the family some time in January.
I learned a great deal throughout the many months that baby #2 took to prepare for, plan for, and try for and I think that I appreciate this pregnancy and the work it took to achieve it, more than I did with the last. I have already been reminded, that nothing having to do with little ones goes as planned....they make sure of that!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Gummy Bear

For the first year or so after Liam was born, I thought I was good with one kid. The tremendous amount of responsibility and protectiveness I experienced were overwhelming. I knew that I would love my little man more than anyone who has ever lived, but I was in no way prepared for the flood of worry, happiness, exhaustion, and pride that I would feel. It was scary. I always worried about him. It never got to the point (or anywhere near it) that I wouldn't let others hold him, watch him while my husband and I went out, or follow him around making sure he never experienced life on his own. It was more of the in the middle of the night fear of: is he breathing? did he get enough to eat today (while nursing)? what if something happens when he's at the sitter's? I worried about how I would keep him safe constantly.
As with every mother, the worst tragedy you could ever imagine, is loosing your child(ren), and that stress that I put myself through made me believe that another child would be completely out of the question. I often wondered how others did it. How do they have more than one to protect and still stay sane? I love my son with all of my heart and soul and bringing him into this world was my best and proudest accomplishment, and I know I would feel the same way with another, but how could I possibly go through all that fear and worry all over again?
Luckily for me, my son, and my husband, those fears (although still very much there) began to be more manageable and less constant. The idea of having a second child became more conceivable and then eventually became exciting. The one point that absolutely made the decision for us, was that neither of us want Liam to be an only child. We want him to grow up with a brother or sister with whom he can share his childhood with.
We began working on plans for a second child in December. Knowing we had a few things to do before-hand we started planning far earlier than we did with Liam. After everything was in place, we began "trying" the end of February. We took the whole "If it happens, it happens" stance. About a month and a half of that without a baby and I became incredible impatient and we stepped up our game. With Liam it took one month to get pregnant, so this trying thing was new to us and a bit frustrating.
In mid-May we got the news we were hoping for! We were finally expecting a sibling for our little man. I am now almost 12 weeks along and very excited to be done with the first trimester. Although we were not quite ready to share the news with the world before this point, I have been writing posts throughout the pregnancy that I will be sharing with everyone. I'm a little nervous, very happy, and more than a tad exhausted, but I can't wait to meet our little gummy bear!

My due date is extra special, it's also my dad's birthday!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Just Like Me!

I am so excited and proud to see that little girls with Alopecia and Cancer are finally getting some affirmation that they are normal and that they are not alone in dealing with hair loss. Recently two major toy corporations have designed dolls that are bald to help girls dealing with these horrible diseases to feel more excepted and "normal". w/ alopecia and cancer get a doll that looks like them! Wonderful!
Mattel's bald Barbie
As a young girl, I felt as though I was the only one who had to deal with being bald. I felt very alone and self conscious about my lack of hair. I felt left out when my friends did each other's hair at sleep-overs and when my sister got to pick out cute barrettes and headbands. It was always frustrating as a teenager when peers would complain about having a bad hair day when all I wanted was a hair day of any kind. It was uncomfortable when playing with dolls, because brushing their hair seemed somewhat unnatural to me. 
The American Girl doll for girls with Cancer and Alopecia
Luckily for this generation of kids, there is far more awareness about hair loss. If Mattel and American Girl are any indication, it is becoming part of the "norm" to be bald and a young girl. Bravo to these companies for helping these little girls feel a little less different, and for giving them reassurance that they are beautiful just the way they are! I am so proud of these companies and I hope with all of my heart that more follow suit and continue the progress being made.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Big Boy Bed Tips

Last night my little guy turned into a big boy. It's crazy that it can literally happen over-night! A couple of months ago, Liam learned to climb out of his crib. Luckily for us, there was one more set of brackets, so we were able to lower his mattress and buy us a little more time. Knowing that he had learned the skills needed to escape, we knew that lowering the mattress would not solve the problem long-term, so we began to prepare for a big boy bed.
We are so thankful that Liam's cousin Aiden out-grew his big boy bed right about the time we were in the market for one. We were also very lucky that the bed fit the Cars theme that Liam had already picked out. Before we got started, we both did a lot of reading about how to make the switch from crib to toddler bed an easy one. I also talked to several friends who had already made the switch to get any ideas that they had.

Here are the tips that seemed to work for us:

*Talk about the move from crib to bed before actually making the transition- We talked to Liam about the move many weeks before it actually happened.

*Let the child help pick out the bed/bedding- Although we were extremely lucky that what Liam wanted fit what we were given, we took him to Target and let him browse the bedding section. He just happened to pick out a sheet set that fit the bed!

*Have the child help with the assembly process- My husband, Liam, and I spent about an hour putting the bed together as a family. It didn't necessarily take that long to put it together, but we took our time and made it fun.

*Keep the crib in plain sight for a bit- We found this to be a big help! A child's crib is the place where they feel the safest, so taking it away the same time that you put them into a new bed can make it scarier for the little one. We left it up in the same spot it's always been.

*Once you make the transition, don't go back- We haven't had to deal with this yet, but I completely understand why this is an important step to follow. Even though we left the crib in the room, we used the crib mattress for the big boy bed. This way we won't be able to easily transfer him from one to the other. It's just as much for us as it is for him.

*Use a nightlight- Liam has never been afraid of the dark, but we were concerned that he would be nervous about the switch so we did it anyway.
*Be consistent- The first time that Liam got out of his bed, we took him back, laid him down, said goodnight, and left the room. The next time he got up, he tried to open the door (we are very lucky he can't yet) and after a failed attempt, went to bed.

*Think ahead- Look around the room and make sure that anything that could be unsafe to a wandering child, is put up or secured. A couple of examples are that Liam's dresser could be a bit unstable if it were to be climbed on, so we secured it to the wall. Also, his changing table was placed under the window. Knowing that he has learned to climb up it, we put it in the closet. Even picking up any toys that they could trip over and making sure that any cords (blinds, monitors, etc.) are out of reach.

*Follow the same bedtime routine- Liam has always been easy to put down. We read a couple of books while rocking, then give hugs, kisses, and say goodnight, we lay him down, turn off the light, and close the door. It has always worked for us, so we followed the same steps to put him to bed. I think that this helped greatly!

*Be positive!- When we discussed the big boy bed we always made it seem fun and exciting. It was always expressed as something that was a big deal and a huge step toward becoming a big boy. By the time the bed actually came out, he was jumping up and down with excitement.

We have only made it through one night so far, but already these tips have come in handy. If things change and more tips are useful, I will be sure to share them. But my fingers are crossed, that this will be one part of parenting that will be easier than expected. Here's to being hopeful!

Sleeping 10 minutes after turning the light out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Oh, Summer Break

It is only day two of summer break, and Liam and I are loving it! My little guy is and always has been, a morning person. An early riser at heart, Joe and I are lucky to sleep until six on the weekends. However, it is quite obvious that summer break was well needed for the both of us. Since Saturday, Liam has slept in at least until 7am every morning. This is absolutely unheard of! Since the day he was born, this has happened just a handful of times until this week.
His need for some extra Z's doesn't stop there. He has always been a very good napper. A typical nap is about 3 hours. Once again, he is more in need than usual. He has been taking 4 hour naps off and on since Saturday as well. His extra rest has come at the best possible time for me! I too have been more sleepy than usual. I have taken advantage of all of his sleeping in (until this morning, when I just couldn't sleep after 6:30am). Unfortunately for me, I have also fallen into a nap pattern.
I'm so glad that summer came when it did. We both need a break, lots of sleep, and some Liam-mommy time. We have a great deal of exciting plans for the summer, but for the next few days we will be resting, rejuvenating, and cuddling up a storm!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ready to Relax!

In between Liam's birthday party and Memorial Day weekend, our little family had a bit of a quiet streak. It was lovely to relax at home, take little family trips/walks, and actually feel like we were keeping up around the house. Then Memorial Day hit and ever since, we have been on the go! We went to Bend that weekend on our yearly friend vacation. It was so fun and relaxing, but coming home from a vacation is always exhausting. Unpacking, laundry, being tired from the long drive, these were all packed into the half a day we had to get back on track.
The next Saturday we attended my sister's 9th birthday party, I helped celebrate baby Olivia's arrival at Emily's baby shower, then rushed to have dinner with friends. That Sunday we spent the day at the in-law's house celebrating a way-early Father's Day while Liam played with his cousins.
These past few weeks at work have been challenging too. The kids are crazy, the days seem long, and now that there is some sun shining through the windows, it doesn't feel like we should be cooped up in the classroom anymore. Between scoring mounds and mounds of writing tests, finishing up several projects, cleaning and packing up my room, and studying every free second I can spare, even my work days have been packed to the brim.
This past weekend was crazy too! My second round of the Praxis began at 7:30am Saturday morning, followed by my mom's graduation at 10:30am, then lunch with the family. Finally, we got some peace and quiet yesterday, and it was wonderful! We still took a walk down to the fruit stand, then did the usual weekend grocery shopping, but it was calm, relaxed.
This up coming weekend as well as the next, are going to be busy as well. We are attending, what is sure to be, a wild birthday party Friday night, having a BBQ with friends Saturday, and then Joe's third annual Father's Day celebration on Sunday! But once we get through the next couple weekends, we are in the clear for a bit. Some family time is in our future and the calendar is clearing up (for now).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Efforts Not Rewarded

For the past three years I have been working on earning a reading specialist endorsement. This has excited my building's administration, who have been following my progress closely for over a year now. About a month ago I finished my last class and took the Praxis (which is a required test to earn the endorsement). Unfortunately for me, I did not pass it to Oregon standards the first time. Because both principals have voiced interest in moving me to a specialist position once the coursework is done and the test passed, I felt more than a little pressured to pass the test before the next school year.
This is why, the second that I found out that I had not passed, I signed up for the next one offered. There are only two more options before September, and I wouldn't get the scores back for the last one until a week before school starts. I wanted to give myself the best chance for passing before they needed me. Today, all of that changed. We've known for about a week that we will be cutting some programs/positions due to the budget projected for next year. Unfortunately for me, one program they will be "scaling back on" are reading intervention classes.
This means that the work that I have done, the stress that I have felt, the pressure that I have put on myself, was not at all needed. I have at least another year before there will even be the possibility that I will use the degree. It's not only frustrating because I have been expecting a new focus for quite a while (with admin. reassurance), but I'm also frustrated specifically about the next test that I am now signed up for. It just happens to fall on the day/time of my mom's college graduation. When I thought people were relying on me and that there was a time schedule, I was frustrated, but willing to take the test that day. But now that none of that is happening, I'm more than frustrated.
I've already looked into canceling the session, but in perfect ETS fashion the deadline has passed and at this point, I would pay for the test either way. I still want the degree for myself, and would re-take the test either way, but I would not have chosen the day of my mom's graduation and would not have been so stressed had I known this would be the situation. I do not blame the administration at all. I would much rather they "scale back" a bit on some things than loose people, days, or programs all together. It just would have been so nice to know a while back, so that I wouldn't be missing an important moment in my mom's life. : (

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Everyone Says "They Come in Threes"

Everyone says that terrible, horrible, very bad things come in threes. Well, I sure hope so! That would mean that Joe and I have met our quota and should get some good luck for a bit. Over the weekend, Joe mowed the lawn. Well, sort of. It took him three times longer than usual because the mower was running slow and not really doing its job well. By the time the front and back yard were done, it was almost dead and now it won't even start. Looks like we will either be buying a new lawn mower, or paying to get it repaired.
A few days ago, I started the dishwasher and it made several new sounds that I have never heard before. The dishes came out clean (this time), but I have a feeling the end is near. We can handle washing dishes by hand for a while, but eventually that will be another thing to replace.
Then just today Liam and I came home to a very cold house. I thought that the timer just wasn't working, so I turned it on and walked away. A little while later, Joe came home, noticed it was still cold, checked the furnace, and realized that the igniter was broken. This too is not a huge deal. It's an easy fix, and is relatively inexpensive to fix. However, we leave tomorrow morning for Bend for the long weekend. My poor sister is going to house-sit. Hopefully in a warm house.
This is only our third month on our new budget, but situations like this seem to keep popping up. This is making it quite difficult to stick to our cash-only, money-allotted financial plan. As I said above, hopefully this is the end of our crappy luck and things will turn around just in time for my summer days with my little man.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Writing Makes Me Happy!

This week has been extremely crazy! So many ups and downs, and it's only Wednesday. Yesterday, I found out that although I passed in every other state (by far), I did not pass the reading specialist Praxis to Oregon standards. This means that I will be taking the test @7:30am on the day of my mom's college graduation, which will begin at 10:30am. It's going to be a busy/stressful morning. I hate to miss any part of my mom's graduation, but I don't have much of a choice considering that the test is only offered two more times before I begin teaching again in the fall. It makes me feel like a horrible daughter, but not passing the test the first time is making me feel like a terrible teacher and as though I have let down my principal.
As for work, I have spent the past two days, full days mind you, scoring sixth, seventh, and eighth grade writing assessments. I don't want to read another word! I'm exhausted. Also, the SSD budget for next year was approved last night, which has caused a great deal of stress within out building and throughout the district. I think that we (myself included) are in a much better situation than many other districts in the area, but it is still scary to think that we could loose friends in this process.
But in the midst of all of the hoopla, there are some very bright spots this week! We leave for Bend on our annual "friend va-ca" as soon as I get off work Friday. It will be a short trip, but I think it will be just what I need to get through the school year. A change of scenery, relaxation, a hot tub, shopping, and great friends is exactly what I need right now! Also, Liam's little sickness passed very quickly and his nightly routine, miraculously, was unchanged. Work-outs with mom have been a great stress-reliever, and the school year is quickly wrapping up.
When I began to write this post, I was thinking about all the tiring, stressful, sad stuff that has been weighing me down all day. But as I wrote, the positives started to jump out at me. Now, all I can do is think ahead. All of the great plans and the milestones in my near future are exciting and exhilaration. Life is so funny! One minute you feel like junk, the next you can't stop smiling. I love it!!