Friday, December 31, 2010

Klaw's First Christmas

I'll be honest, I'm not the most sentimental person nor the biggest fan of holidays.  Chris is a much bigger fan of decorating and standard Christmas traditions.  I pretty much like a simple tree (if one at all), a cr├Ęche, & an Advent wreath.  The general hustle & bustle, large crowds, and overabundance of gifts (and often greed from my cynical point of view) is overwhelming for me.  I was very worried about what a first Christmas with a new baby would be like for our little, quiet family.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Photobomb: Christmases Past

I'm sorry I've been so slack about updating the blog.  It's been incredibly busy since Thanksgiving...from doctor appointments, housecleaning, car repairs, car repairs that messed up other stuff, rescheduling Klaw's christening before making sure we had a house/pet-sitter (still not confirmed), parties, shopping, etc.  Writer's block has also halted the next "Debt Freedom" post for far too long.  So, to make up for lost time...here's a photobomb of Christmases past...I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Babywearing

I am often asked about babywearing by friends and family members. Most people who know me know that I go a bit overboard when something interests me and I try to find out as much as possible...almost to the point of obsession!  However, this also means that I rarely have an opinion that I can't back up with decent research.  I decided to create a blog entry to cover what I have shared with other people.  Keep in mind, this is just my personal opinion!  I am not paid by any companies nor have I received any free items (although, I would love to get some free stuff! hahaha).

Here goes....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Beauty of Babywearing


Red Moby Wrap

Wrapsody Bali Breeze Wrap in Iris
Front Wrap Cross Carry with Lexi Twist due to the heat

 Beco Butterfly 2 in Espresso Brown

Didymos Ellipsen Primavera Wrap
Reinforced Ruck Carry
Boutique Bella Bambini Ring Sling Wrap Conversion
made with Girasol Carson's Cove
Ellevill Jade Fog
NuzzleMe Creations UMC (Ultimate Man Carrier) mei tai

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Klaw's Visit to Pittsburgh

Well, we finally got to meet with Dr. Vockley at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.  He confirmed a lot of what Dr. Proud has been doing with us and also gave us some more information.  A lot of information...a lot to process...a lot to try & share in a blog entry!  I apologize if this posting is rather bland and very long, but I promise I'm doing my best to make it interesting.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Civic Duty

I voted today, did you?

An interesting discussion on Facebook got me to thinking about our "right" and "duty" to vote.  I vote every year.  In fact, I haven't missed an election since I turned 18.  I love politics (well, love might not be exactly the right word) and I love being informed about current issues and candidates.  I have never really understood why some people do not exercise their right to vote because I can't imagine not voting.

Anyways...back to Facebook.  One of my friends made a conscious decision to not vote.  It wasn't because he was too tired to make it to the polling location or too apathetic too care.  He didn't feel that he was as fully informed as he should be before voting.  A few people came down on him pretty harshly for being "un-American" and "un-Patriotic" (two phrases I am personally sick of hearing).  They were especially upset that he is active duty military and not voting.  (I guess that somehow makes it worse???)  I can't, for the life of me, understand how this friend, this member of the Armed Forces, can be considered "un-American" and "un-Patriotic" when he has spent the better part of his adult life literally living the life of an actual American Patriot.  What's more patriotic than serving your country???

The more I thought about it...the more I realized that I wished MORE people would recognize the fact that they are uninformed and not vote on issues/candidates they don't fully understand.  I would never tell someone they couldn't or shouldn't vote, but shouldn't we all take the time to get informed before we head to the election booth?  I have only voted a straight one-party ticket ONE time and it was because I was so disgusted by the incumbents and they all happened to be from one party.  I vote my conscience for each individual candidate and each issue.  Sometimes it's hard.  It definitely means I have to put a little extra effort to find out how the candidate stacks up on the issues most important to me and how the individual issues/referendums/amendments will affect me, my community, & the nation.

There have been times when I have abstained from voting for specific issues on a ballot, especially when I was voting absentee.  I didn't feel that it was fair for me to vote on local issues when I wasn't currently enmeshed in the community.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that is exactly what my friend did by abstaining to vote at all this election cycle.  He exercised his right to vote by not voting blindly.  That, in my opinion, is a more educated & informed decision than many people probably made at the poll today.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

PHOTOBOMB: September/October

This is long overdue...Klaw is now 7 months old and getting cuter by the minute.
Yeah, I went a little crazy with the photo-editing...





Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

Klaw is out of the hospital & no longer sick, thank goodness!  However, he managed to get me sick in the process.  Ugh.  I'm fairly pathetic and miserable when I'm sick, as a general rule.  Throw in a complete lack of sleep due to a VERY ACTIVE BABY, and I didn't know which way was up.  I'm finally better, too, even though I still feel like I'm about a day behind on sleep.

Since Klaw is male, intact, & a baby, the standard of care after a urinary tract infection is to evidently get a renal ultrasound followed by a VCUG.  I declined the VCUG because, without any other issues, I felt like doing something invasive was overkill for one UTI.  We did go back to CHKD for the renal u/s today & if anything abnormal shows up, we'll obviously go forward from there.  Fingers crossed, nothing is out of the ordinary.

I know this is short, but I'm way behind on a lot of stuff...and I apologize for the lack of pictures.  My camera has been messed up since May and it's only gotten worse.  Chris will be home soon and life will be a little bit easier!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

1 - Pseudoephedrine - No, I'm not a tweeker.  It's the only decongestant that actually works.  In fact, I'm pretty angry that meth addicts have made it so that we have to jump through hoops to obtain this magical, sinusitis relieving medication.

2 - Whole Foods App for iPhone - This app is awesome.  I can search for recipes by diet (vegetarian, vegan, low-fat, gluten free, etc), meal (breakfast, appetizer, dinner, etc) and by category (one-pot, budget, quick & easy).  I can then make a grocery list based on the recipe and edit that list as I see fit by adding or removing items.  It also gives me the ability to email the recipe to other people.

3 - Chris Bra' - Yep, I'm thankful for my husband.  He flew home this weekend and spent each night in the hospital with Klaw so that I could get some sleep at home.

4 - Half-caf coffee - Yes, I know this is a repeat but it has earned the recognition.

5 - Health Insurance - Even with insurance, Klaw's medical bills are stacking up (especially since the deductible started over Oct 01).  Even with a stable income, we would be hard pressed to afford his bills if we did not have Tricare covering the bulk of the costs.  This experience is making me more compassionate towards people who support a national health insurance program.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

'Cause it was so much fun in September...

-quote from Chris Bra'

Klaw is back in the hospital.  He has what started out as normal cold symptoms.  About 24 hours after he first started showing signs, he became too congested to drink from his bottle so I had to take him to the CHKD emergency room.  As was expected, he was admitted and we got a room around 6:30am Friday morning.  He's on d10 fluids to keep him hydrated & nourished.  His initial flu screening came back negative but the fact that they suspected the flu got us a private room.  SCORE!  His first urine screening showed a large amount of e. Coli, so they are going to start him on antibiotics & retest his urine.  If the second urine screen is different (not an overabundance of e. Coli), they can assume the first test was contaminated and stop the antibiotics.

Dr. Proud is concerned that he may fall into the group of Fatty Acid Oxidation Disorder kids who have compromised immune systems, so we will be testing his immunoglobulin levels before he leaves the hospital.  There is a once-a-month injection he can receive to help boost his immune system should he need it.  As with everything, there are risks and benefits.  Since this is the first time it has been brought up, I don't have much more to share at this point.  Hopefully, it will be a moot issue and nothing is wrong with his immune system.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

When the Watchdog Goes Awry: The CPSC’s Misguided Assault on Slings

When the Watchdog Goes Awry: The CPSC’s Misguided Assault on Slings

This is International Babywearing Week. If you know me, you know how much I enjoy wearing Klaw. He has loved being wrapped up and worn since birth. It has provided constant cuddles and almost instantaneous relaxation for Klaw during fussy moments. I am constantly complimented about how happy Klaw is and how comfortable he is in new situations and with new people. I give some of the credit to babywearing. He is a confident & secure baby. He knows Chris or I will be there to care for him; there is no reason for him to be fearful. Klaw is absolutely giddy with excitement whenever he sees us bring out one of the carriers. He loves being worn, cuddled, snuggled, whatever you want to call it. Not only is it a beautiful experience to share with our son, but it is a huge help. I can wear him while doing housework and I don't have to worry about him getting bored or getting into something. When we are out & about, Klaw isn't stuck in a carseat precariously placed on a buggy or on the floor. He's in the middle of the action...eye level with the big people. He is engaged with the environment and has a clear view of Mom &/or Dad so he can gauge our emotions; if we're comfortable, he knows it's safe.

The practice of babywearing has been around for thousands of years and now the CPSC is threatening it in the United States without just cause.

Babywearing is safe. Babywearing is life-saving.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Livin' Like No One Else!!! Baby Steps

Finally, I think it's safe to get back to the subject of Financial Freedom.

So, fast forward a little bit - we sold Chris's beloved SportTrac, he started driving the Granny Grand Am, and we moved to the great state of Washington.  Chris was attached to his first boat...SSBN 730 Henry M. Jackson (blue crew).  I got a job as a nanny for two families.  We found a nice little pet-friendly apartment (Callie & Mocha are with us).  During my commute to &/or from my nannying job, I started listening to Dave Ramsey again (I hadn't listened since I lived in Charleston).  I also started trying to get Chris to listen to it...but he was/is/always shall be bored out of his mind with talk radio.

The more I listened to Dave, the more insistent I was that we really needed to become debt free.  Chris did not agree with getting "gazelle intense" and putting debt freedom before everything else.  He had already given up his beloved truck...so this became the source of more than a few arguments.  Luckily, it wasn't long before Chris had to go to sea for the first time.  I used that opportunity to start paying off debt on my own without anyone arguing with me.  I didn't care if I ate PB&J sandwiches every day!

Eventually, Chris noticed that he was one of the few husbands who came home to more money than he left with.  I'll just say that it wasn't (isn't?) all that uncommon for many wives to spend a lot of money when the husbands are away.  I was able to start the debt snowball during one of his deployments.  Imagine his surprise when he came home to find some debts paid off and significant headway made on others.  This was what it took to get Chris on board...at least somewhat.  He is a hard sell, sometimes.

Now, we weren't following the Dave Ramsey plan 100%, myself included.  I was just sold hook, line & sinker on the debt snowball method.  It made sense to me and it definitely worked.  Getting out of debt requires a change in behavior more than it requires a calculator.  We committed to the debt snowball and didn't increase our lifestyle as he moved up in the Navy & received various pay raises.  This allowed us to get a good handle on paying our debt off.

I had promised Chris he could get another truck once we reached some financial stability and we both felt like we had made it there when we paid off the American Express card (we had previously closed the account because our rate jumped & they refuse to lower it).  *Remember - I said we were not following the plan 100%* Chris traded in the Granny Grand Am and we bought a brand new Ford F-150 FX4 SuperCrew.  We negotiated well and the payments did not significantly change our financial status at all.  I do believe I said, "I will never buy another new car," after this purchase.  (foreshadowing)

So, to summarize, our 3 years in Washington helped us both get mostly on board for getting out of debt.  We didn't significantly change our lifestyle, we just didn't increase it as our income increased.  We didn't get on a budget, we didn't sacrifice anything, but we did, for the first time, have a common financial goal as a couple.  Money was no longer a source of arguments in our house.

Our next move would take us to the beautiful and ridiculously expensive Monterey Peninsula...and the next phase of our debt free journey.

Continued...

Monday, September 27, 2010

No Jinxes, Please

Well, Klaw was discharged from the hospital this past Thursday.  We spent a long weekend just relaxing around the house and trying to get back to a "normal" schedule.  Oddly enough, our happy little wake up at the crack of dawn baby is now a happy little wake up about an hour before the crack of dawn baby. This does not bode well for me!

Many thanks to all of you have kept us in your thoughts & prayers during this stressful time.  We have truly been blessed with wonderful friends & family and, of course, a wonderful baby boy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Delta Calls Cops on Nursing Mom

Raising a Green Family: Rebel with a Cause :o)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Salmonella, I hate you...

Let me start this by clearly stating, "I HATE SALMONELLA!"

So, Klaw's brush with this nasty micro-organism has been a doozy.  However, with the exception of this past Sunday, he has maintained his cheery disposition.  Chris & I have truly been blessed with an easy-going, personable little baby.  His PICC line is in, he is receiving ampicillin every 6 hours, and he is eating well.  His stools are almost completely normal again.

Klaw is definitely in the best of hands with Dr. Proud (geneticist), Dr. Matson (infectious diseases), and CHKD.  We've hit a few speed bumps with a the sheer lack of knowledge about VLCADD by the regular doctors & residents (it's interesting and a little scary knowing more about a medical condition than the majority of the doctors you encounter).  Chris has learned that there is a reason that I ask questions of every doctor/nurse who wants to do anything to Klaw.  Trust me, I am NOT the mom you want to cross when it comes to the care of my son.  I don't care how many letters you have behind your name, I am not intimidated by you and you will have to justify everything you want to do to my son.  We have both learned more about Salmonella than we ever cared to know

So, Salmonella, you are a sneaky little bacteria.  We only recently learned just how sneaky you are.  First of all, evidently not everyone is even susceptible to salmonella. It requires a specific host and no one is quite sure exactly what makes one person a good host and not the next person.  As it was described to us, you could put Klaw in a room full of other babies and some of them would get infected, others not at all.  Secondly, people can be infected and be completely asymptomatic.  So, a seemingly perfectly healthy person could be walking around with a salmonella infection, spreading it around everywhere they go.  There was evidently an observation among preschoolers where they they literally just tested stool samples everyday and salmonella infections went through many of the kids with only a few actually showing symptoms.  Scary.

As it stands, all of Klaw's food sources (formula, cereals, etc) have been tested in the lab at CHKD and have come up clean.  The formula company is going to test the formula in house, also, just to be sure.  Dr. Matson feels that the most likely source of Klaw's infection is from an asymptomatic person handling him or his food.  During the week before he came down with symptoms of the salmonella infection, he was around several "new" people outside his regular interactions...including Chris...any of who could have been an asymptomatic vector.

I am not an overprotective mom by any means and I have never wanted to be "that" mom.  Kids need to be kids.  Klaw is so good with other people and, as long as he can see Chris or me, he's comfortable with just about anyone. However, this has been a horrible reminder that Klaw's medical condition really, truly makes every illness that much more serious than with a "normal" baby.  The prospect of flu season is seriously beginning to scare the poop out of me.  Chris & I have some serious discussions in our future and some big decisions we have to make about Klaw's exposure to other people.  Do they make a human-sized version of this?  If so, it's on the Christmas wish list...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Klaw in the Klink

Monday, September 13, 2010

And we're back...

...in the hospital.  Klaw was readmitted this past Sunday with more of the same symptoms returning with a vengeance.  After our geneticist consulted with an (possibly THE) infectious disease specialist, a 10 day course of antibiotics is the decided road to recovery.  Salmonella is not typically treated with antibiotics as it may prolong the time that Klaw continues to the shed the virus.  However, due to his VLCADD, it is of the utmost importance that we give the Salmonella a final knockout punch.  He has to remain on D10 iv fluids and will receive the ampicillin intravenously.  They are going to hopefully insert a PICC line tomorrow to make it easier on his little veins.

Klaw is in the absolute best of hands and we are hoping and praying for a speedy recovery (and for the clinicians to stop coming in the room every single time he finally falls asleep.  Please.)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Technical Difficulties

Don't know what's going on with the blog layout.  I've contacted the host site.  Sorry for the weirdness; I'll get it sorted out as quickly as possible or completely change the look of my blog.  Again.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Reality Check

Well, we have been blissfully moving along viewing Klaw's VLCADD as a mere side note in our lives at this point.  Alas, that is no more.  We just experienced our first hospitalization due to his disorder.  Earlier this week, he began having loose, bloody stools and spiked a fever, so we rushed him to the ER.  He was, thankfully, acting fine but he was definitely ill with something.  For the first time, I had to pull out his ER protocol sheet which lists several blood & urine tests that must be run and the specific IV solution he is to receive even before anything is discovered.  Having a baby with a metabolic disorder definitely puts everyone on alert...and ramps up the stress level of the parents...trust me.

The short version is - 3 nights in the hospital on IV fluids.  The final fecal cultures popped positive for salmonella, which he could have been exposed to through a variety of sources.  He was discharged today and we are finally at home.  Through it all, he never lost his pleasant personality and flirted with the nurses, even after they kept sticking him with needles!  Most everyone was surprised that this was our first hospital stay, which made me feel good that he has really been healthy thus far.  We were also told point blank that if it weren't for his VLCADD, he probably wouldn't have been admitted to begin with.  Hopefully, this cold & flu season will not change this too drastically because I have no desire for another stay at Chateau d' CHKD.

I will say this to all of our friends & family, please don't be offended or surprised if Chris & I get hyper-vigilant about hygiene around Klaw.  Please keep in mind that common child illnesses can land Klaw in the hospital.  If you are sick or may be sick or have been around anyone who has been sick...please don't put Klaw at risk.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Livin' Like No One Else!!! Debt from my POV

Okay. So this is the first post I've done so I'll start by letting all you curious readers a little about myself. Born a few years ago to two caring parents, the first of three; not three caring parents, but siblings. Spent the first 18 years of my life in Monroe, GA, about 20 minutes from Athens, GA, home of the horrific Georgia Bulldogs (and yes "dogs" is spelled d-o-g-s, not d-a-w-g-s) and about an hour from Atlanta. Grew up as an outside kid who never really watched TV but always looked for the nearest tree to climb, trail to explore, or pinecomb to throw at someone. I grew up playing baseball and was sure I was destined to be a major leaguer with the Chicago Cubs, a dream I have not given up on, by the way. Played sports all of those 18 years and had some scholarship offer to play baseball at some smaller schools. That's when pride stepped in and said "you are too good to play at anything less than a Division I school." I forgot to mention that I was planning on going to the Naval Academy out of high school, to play baseball. Short story is I didnt get in. Oh well. Back to pride. Grew up a Georgia Tech fan, not because I had influence from family members, who were all UGA fans, but because I knew that I wanted to be called "Boss" from UGA graduates. So I decided to go to GT, where I spent 3.5 years bouncing around from major to major (Architecture->Aerospace Engineering (2 weeks)

->Management ->Biology (thought maybe I'd be a doctor) ->Earth & Atmospheric Sciences). Let me say a little about the latter major. The movie "Twister" came out in 1996 and I thought/think it was/is an awesome movie. Weather was awesome, especially severe weather. GT didn't have a Meteorology program and EAS was the closest they had. However, after a year in that curriculum I was unimpressed and uninspired. I decided to transfer. So in the Spring Semester of 1998 I enrolled in the University of Oklahoma Meteorology program, one of the best in the country, I might add. Spent 2.5 years there (yep, total time adds up to 6 years) and graduated May of 2000 with a B.S. in Meteorology, minor in Hydrology. Okay, since I'm getting tired of typing, I'll shorten this. Moved back to GA, got a job teaching 7th grade math in Griffin, GA, hated it, and quit 7 months later, afterwhich I was accepted to the the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (NUPOC). Went to Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL in April of 2001, got commissioned as a United States Navy Ensign, and moved to Charleston, SC in August of 2001. Dana and I met through a mutual friend, thanks Arynn, and as Dana has so eloquently put it in the blog title, got engaged and then married. The rest Ill save for those who have any questions.

So, let's talk about debt since this is the reason I'm posting. As you can imagine 6 years of college is not cheap. Let's just say it was a little more than Dana's one year of grad school. In any event, it was all paid for by Mr. Stafford, as in Stafford Loans. Teaching wasnt exactly bringing in the dough, so when the Navy said they would give me $12k, I was sold. I never really had had a high paying job so when I got this bonus and was receiving Ensign pay, I thought I was rich. Got the car I wanted (Explorer previously mentioned in Dana's post) and spent money as I wanted, although I had never really been a freewheeling spender.  I never really thought much about debt until the time arose where I was posed with the idea of having one car and getting rid of the only car I had really wanted/enjoyed or drive 2 cars, one of which you never want your friends to see you drive.  Thankfully I had a loving, smart wife who made me realize that we have a future to think about.  We needed two cars and not one sweet SportTrac.  In the long run, it was the right decision.  I drove 14 hours to trade in the SportTrac for a car I had never even seen.  Even though I had to live with the Champagne Beige Pontiac Grand Am for a little while, it allowed us to use the money I was making more effectively.  The point. Sometimes it is more important to drive a grandma car for a while to make life better later.  Fast forwarding, I have had the fortunate opportunity to serve my country but at the same time live a humble life and pay off everything that Dana and I share (with the exception of our house).  There are times when I asked myself, and Dana, "why cant I just enjoy life right now with the money that we have?", cause lets face it; it is tempting to just spend when you get the first pocketful of dough.  I didnt want to be an old man when I could finally enjoy life, right?  Well, the wisdom that Dana has has let me see the light.  We have sacrificed little and gained a lot.  We have put money into IRA's and into savings (not without a fight from me, of course) and still able to live a good life.  I'll end this diatribe with this.  I was hard-nosed and fought Dana every step of the way but let me tell you this.  It feels awesome to be out of debt and wouldnt change anything about it.

On a different note, isnt my kid cute?

Continued...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Livin' Like No One Else!!!!! In the beginning...

It's finally happened...8 years in the making...plenty of ups & downs & falling off the debt wagon along the way...

WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! except for the house, which is A-OK in the world of Dave Ramsey and our family!

I am so excited and so relieved that this has finally happened and I'd like to share our journey.  Hopefully, it can be an inspiration to others who are saddled with debt, big or small.  I can be a bit long-winded, so I'm going to split this up into installments.

***********************************

When Chris & I met, he was a brand new JO in the Navy and I was working 50+ hours a week just to gross a whopping $14.500/year.  Both of us had school loans & a car loan apiece and Chris had some credit card debt leftover from his college days.  I won't go into detail about Chris's portion (he can feel free to talk about his on his own), but we split the total debt of just under $100,000 pretty evenly.

My school loans totaled a little over $30,000 and my car loan at that time was about $13,000.  Because I made next to nothing in income, my loans were in deferment building up interest all along the way.  Some of you know that I went to a small, private college for my undergraduate degree - well, I left Wesleyan without any debt.  My school loans were for graduate school where I took out the living allowance.  I mean, they offered it so I might as well take it, you know?  2 semesters later, I had a B+ in my sole completed course to show for it.  $30,000+ for ONE class.  Can you say, "stupid tax with zeros behind it?"

We moved to upstate New York for Chris to complete some Nuke training with the Navy a month after we got married.  I got a job at a local daycare.   Needless to say, it didn't take long for us to realize we were barely scraping by.  I pretty much have a pathological fear of being broke and I could see us heading there rapidly.  The very first step to debt freedom came out of basic necessity.  We could barely afford our car payments.  We had to make a decision:  keep Chris's nice, new Explorer SportTrac and sell my car OR sell his Explorer and buy a less expensive, more gas-efficient car.  Chris's favorite (hahahahaha) car entered our lives at this point - his champagne beige Pontiac Grand-Am.  The granny-mobile (no offense to grannies, but Chris was mortified to have to drive this vehicle) became a VERY motivating factor for Chris to get out of debt.

At this point, thanks to the vehicle changes, we were making enough to live on and we were living cheaply, but we were not yet making the necessary decisions & sacrifices to actually get us out of debt.  We had merely stabilized our situation, so at least things were no longer getting worse.

Continued...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Klaw vs Oat Cereal

 I hope this works...

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Latest on Klaw!

Okay...I've been waiting to cover Klaw's latest & greatest doctor appointments until I had as much information as possible.

I'll start with the easy stuff:  He is just over 16lbs and just over 25".  He is growing exactly like he should be and everyone from his pediatrician to the geneticist are very happy with his growth and development.  So far, he seems to be a little ahead of average on the development chart...much to my dismay.  I am not ready for a mobile Klaw.  However, Chris & I are both overachievers, so I guess it's understandable.  He started having some issues with reflux, so he's been getting a little rice cereal added to his Monogen at every meal. Thankfully, this was enough to help him out and we haven't had to move on to medicine.  He still has to eat at least every four hours, so I am feeding him on demand throughout the day and then setting my alarm for every 4 hours at night.  Once he hits the 5 month point, we should be able to go 5 hours between feedings.  I cannot even begin to explain how much I am looking forward to that extra hour at night.

Our pediatrician wants us to start introducing Klaw to slightly thicker rice cereal with a spoon...Klaw just wants to rip the spoon out of my hand, kick the bowl over & gag himself.

Okay, now for the more technical stuff:  Klaw's biochemical workup was great.  His c14 levels are...are you ready for this?...NORMAL!!!!  YES!!!  NORMAL!!!  His l-carnitine levels are also right at the normal level.  This is music to my ears because this is basically confirmation that the formula & pantothenic acid supplement are working.

We also sent his blood off for a DNA workup.  He has the V283A mutation, which has been reported before...in fact, he has a double copy of it, which means he got the SAME mutation from both Chris & me.  Naturally, I asked the genetics counselor if this meant we were related and she assured me that it did not mean that we were secretly first cousins but that somewhere in our background, we most likely share similar ethnic ancestry (not necessarily relatives...I asked again!!!).  They found another variation that has not been reported before and they do not believe it will bear any clinical significance (fingers crossed).  Our next appointment is in October and they will be able to let us know if there are any clinical symptoms that correlate with V283A at that time.

Now, for everyone who knows me...I can't wait until October.  I really can't wait knowing that I have the full power of Dr. Google with me!  So, I did a little searching and from my not-so-scientific research, it looks like this particular mutation is fairly common in ASYMPTOMATIC patients.  It's not always asymptomatic and his secondary variation could definitely be a factor, but how often do you find potentially good news doing a google search regarding something medical???

And since he's so freaking cute...

Monday, July 26, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

1 - Borax - WOW!  I never thought I'd love something so much.  This stuff is AWESOME!  It will clean absolutely ANYTHING!  I scrubbed off some gunk on the fan above the stove that had been there, I'm sure, for years and it came off like buttah!  I have since scrubbed pans, cookie sheets, & a tea kettle.  I have also added it to the dishwasher - where it helped clean off some of the hard water calcification build up AND got our utensils & glasses super shiny.  ***LOVE***

2 - Mei Tai baby carriers - I am going to get a custom mei tai made by NuzzleMe Creations and sell my beloved BabyHawk "Alice" to a dear friend with a little one on the way.  I have sadly realized that the straps are "petite" and I need "extra long" straps to do back carries.  My lucky friend is the definition of petite, so I hope she loves Alice as much as I do.  I have officially decided that I am a mei tai mama and not a wrap mama.

3 - Half-caf coffee - I rarely, if ever, consumed caffeine before I got pregnant.  Now, I need it to function.  Full-caf coffee makes me too jittery and sick feeling.  Decaf, obviously, has no "ooomph."  Half-caf gives me just the jolt I need to help me get over the fact that I sleep in 2.5 hour shifts and gave birth to a "morning" baby.

4 - Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters - Read some of my previous posts and you'll get a full picture of what this hospital means to me.  In addition to the specialists working with Klaw, our pediatrician group is also a part of CHKD.

5 - Vidalia Onions - I still eat these babies raw.  Sorry, folks, the Walla Walla, Mayan Sweet, or any of the numerous other "sweet" onions cannot hold a candle to the Vidalia.  You haven't had a sweet onion until a Vidalia has touched your tongue.

More to come in future postings...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our Water Baby!

WHEW!  I can keep Klaw!  He loves the water!!!  We weren't able to stay in the pool for very long because the thunder started rolling, but it was fun anyways!  He was a pro - already kicking & sticking his face in the water without my prompting.  I can't wait to start swim lessons.

and just because he's so darn cute...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Genetics Appointment

It's been several weeks since our last appointment with Dr. Proud at CHKD.  Everybody is SUPER happy with Klaw's progress.  He is just over 15lbs and 25" long.  His height/weight ratio is in near perfect proportion.  He flirted with everyone (including the phlebotomist right before she stuck him!).  His heart sounds great and his liver felt just fine.

The did take a urine sample & more blood so that the could check his l-carnitine and c-14 levels (I expect them to be his "normal").  We are also going ahead & getting his DNA profile done so that we can see exactly which VLCADD mutation we are dealing with.  Evidently, story of our life with VLCADD, Tricare will not want to cover this and we will be fighting them once again.  Yay.  After we get a read on Klaw's mutation, Chris & I will get our DNA profiled to find out which mutation(s) we carry.  I can't really explain it better than this, but the different mutations correspond with different "types" of VLCADD and will give us a better idea of what we may or may not be facing down the road with Klaw.  Dr. Proud let us know how much this DNA workup will cost out of pocket for Klaw - I don't want to even repeat it here.  Yes, it's that bad.

Yes, I know I need to post more recent pictures of Klaw.  I'll get on it soon, I promise.

Friday, July 2, 2010

EFMP

Well, we were finally approved for the Navy's Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).  Due to the severity of Klaw's medical condition, we are Category V.  In addition to limiting which bases where we can be stationed (Rotten Groton, CT is NOT on the list!), this classification allows for homesteading at a naval base that is large enough to do multiple sea/shore duty rotations.  It has to be updated every 3 years, which is just about perfect because by the time Klaw is 3, we should have a better handle on what we are going to be dealing with as far as future health issues are concerned.  We really like the doctors who are caring for Klaw at this time so it's good to know that we will not have to move for at least 3 years.

Now, we are just waiting to find out when Chris can come home...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

peaceful parenting: REAL MEN WEAR BABIES

peaceful parenting: REAL MEN WEAR BABIES

I love my Babywearing Baby's Daddy!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Babywearing is addictive!

I'm so incredibly excited!  I'm part of a "babywearing swap" group and, well, I've been learning a lot about baby carriers, slings, and wraps.  The more I've learned...the more I've wanted to own.  First of all, babywearing fits in with my parenting style.  Second of all, my scrawny arms are physically unable to carry Klaw around in his awkward bucket (aka carseat) without me hurting myself.  I'm so not kidding - it throws my balance off kilter, which makes me walk funny, which hurts my neck & hips.  As prone as I am to injuring myself, the last thing I need to do is purposely add to the likelihood that it will happen!

So far, I own a ring sling made especially for me by a friend, a Moby stretchy wrap given to me as a gift (so great for snuggly newborns!), and a Gypsy Mama Bali Breeze in Iris (made from gauze & great for hot weather).

Now, on to the current excitement:  the new-to-me Beco 2 Butterfly soft-structured carrier (SSC) arrived today!!!  This carrier is mainly for Chris because he refuses to wear my wraps or sling outside of the house.  The Beco is a great carrier and gets excellent reviews so I am SOOOOO glad I found a Mama selling a used one in EXCELLENT condition!  I also found a used BabyHawk mei tai carrier in a hard to find print that I fell in love with...and I am in the process of buying it as soon as the funds are transferred to my PayPal account.

She's a beauty, isn't she?

This will be it for a while...although, I am starting to research woven wraps.  They are gorgeous but WAY too hot for the summer, so that is definitely on the back burner until it cools off significantly.  I guess this summer I am going to start finding stuff I can sell on eBay to fund my new addiction.

If you are interested in babywearing, there are several good sites to help you do it safely.  I like this blog entry because this Mama describes and reviews a TON of different-style carriers.  This article is a good summary of babywearing safety. Also, this forum is an excellent resource for finding carriers, advice, babywearing friends near you, etc.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm in trouble...

Klaw has a new hobby...


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

FYI

I am planning to change the URL of this blog over the next few weeks so that it will no longer include our last names.  I plan to replace our last names with some version of "WhatWereWeThinking" to keep it in line with the blog's title.  From what I've been reading, it should be a fairly seamless transition for the blog & for anyone who is "following" the blog.  For those of you who just check in from time to time, it may take another step.  I'm trying to find out if the current blog URL will automatically redirect to a new URL.  More to come...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fingers Crossed

Klaw had another checkup at CHKD.  He weighs 11lbs 11oz and is 23" long.  He had another round of blood work done and we are hoping this is the last for at least several months.  They were able to get blood from a vein in his arm on the first try!  It was wonderful to not have my son poked multiple times with nothing to show for it.  We should have the results near the end of the week.

He is now completely weaned and solely being fed the Monogen formula.  I have noticed some positive changes.  He is MUCH easier to wake up for his middle of the night feedings, which means I am getting slightly more sleep.  Previously, it was taking me almost an hour to wake him and I was having to work to keep him awake during the feedings.  Now, I get up & fix his bottle, wake him up, feed him, burp him, lay him back down to sleep.  The whole process only takes about 20 minutes.  I hope the blood work reflects the improvements I am seeing.

Klaw is becoming more and more alert, in general.  He is very interested in everything.  Getting him to take a nap is increasingly difficult because I don't think he wants to miss anything!  New faces, lights, new sounds, car rides, stores, you name it...he wants to take it all in.  He is also smiling & laughing a lot more and showing more interest in some baby toys.  It's a lot more fun to interact with him now because he responds in his own way.  He is also beginning to rock & try to roll over...if he is on any type of incline, regardless of how slight, he accomplishes the task of rolling over.  His strength & force of will as a 2 month old is rather daunting!  I think I'm going to have my hands full once he becomes mobile.

UPDATE:  Klaw's bloodwork showed that he has maintained a good C-14 level for a month which is exactly what we wanted to see happen!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Hooomeward Bound...

I just got back from a sojourn South for a week & a half with a 6 week old.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Truth be told, Klaw is an excellent traveler!  He was not bothered by the different locales, being locked in a car seat for hours on end, or all of the excitement of new people & lots of activity.

The purpose of the trip was my best friend's wedding on St. Simon's Island.  It was absolutely beautiful - the weather was perfect, the location divine & the bride gorgeous!  Congratulations to Sharon & Bill and best wishes for all of the happiness in the world!


In addition to Sharon's wedding, my Sister, Niece, Aunt & Uncle also came down to visit...so Nana & Mama had the whole family minus Chris & my Brother-in-Law.  Evidently, Klaw was quite personable and enjoyed meeting the whole family.

Now for the drama:

Klaw decided to jump from eating a mere 21 oz a day to about 27 oz a day for a few days.  The dietician at CHKD and I had not planned on this extreme jump when we worked to figure out how much Monogen I would need to take with me on this trip.  By Sunday, I realized I was going to be up the proverbial creek without a paddle so I frantically contacted the dietician.  I was afraid I would have to cut my trip short...then I became afraid that I wouldn't even have enough formula to make it home!  Talk about a scared Mama!!!

I was stressing out majorly at this point and I tend to keep my cool pretty well - I guess those days are over if the stressful situation involves my kid!  To make the situation even better, my iPhone dies.  DIES!!!!  A complete and horrible death.  I lost 24 hr access to email, facebook, my games...MY GAMES!!!!  Oh, and I couldn't make phone calls, either.  I had no way to be contacted by anyone who didn't know my mom's phone number.

Within 24 hours, the dietician had found another dietician nearby that had samples of a formula, Enfaport Lipil, that could be used in place of the Monogen until we returned.  Big hugs to Nemours Children's Clinic for helping us out!!!

After picking up the Lipil, we made our way over to the Apple Store in St. Johns Town Center so I could try & get my phone fixed.  Guess what???  I stumped the Apple Geniuses.  Yep, my phone was/is/always shall be kaput.  Oh well, I had to buy a new phone!    Now, I am in the process of reinstalling many of my apps and hoping I can one day remember all of my contacts...yep, I never synced my contact list, so I lost them ALL!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to my Mama, Nana, Stepmom, Mom-in-Law, Stepmom-in-Law, & all of my bonus Moms & Grandmoms.

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to me!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Life is Good!

Well, we had an unexpected surprise this past Thursday!  Chris's boat pulled in for a personnel exchange and some repairs - they are still in the trials & testing phase, so this happens.  We were just lucky it happened when they were here!  Chris was able to spend two nights at home and, as a bonus, his mom, Cynthia, is in town visiting.  What a wonderful Mother's Day weekend for her to be able to spend it with her grandson & son!
 

You have to excuse the mustache - none of the guys expected to be able to see their families!

Klaw is doing well overall.  We are still trying to get his blood work results good & consistent.  We have greatly increased the amount of formula he needs to eat every day and we are only breastfeeding 1-2 times a day at the most.  He is gaining weight (10lbs 6oz, currently) and growing just like he should, so he is a healthy little boy.  A "not-so-professional" assessment from his doctor described him as a "beautiful baby boy."  I agree wholeheartedly!

We are getting into a routine and it seems like my sleep needs are adjusting pretty well overall.  Klaw is still such a little trooper.  He really is making all of the running around, formula feeding, blood work, urine samples, etc, as easy as possible.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

More Klaw cuteness

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Funny face!

Klaw is a pro at making crazy faces! I'll try to be better about
posting photos to the blog in the future.

Growing Boy!

Klaw is now over 9lbs and over 21" in length!  He is growing very well and the doctors are all pleased.  The last bit of blood work we did showed that his levels (don't ask me to be specific yet - lots of enzymes & lots of acronyms - I'm still learning) were only 3 times above normal as opposed to 20 times above normal like his initial reading.  This shows us that the Monogen/breast milk combo is working.

We just had more blood work taken today & a urine sample, so we should have even more specific news as to whether or not he'll need L-carnitine and/or panothenic acid supplementation to help with his condition.  I really, really, really hate it when he has to get blood work done, but I know it's for the best.  The more we learn about his specific condition, the better we will be able to protect him from the harm VLCAD can cause to his body if left unchecked.

In other news, he is still super cute & getting cuter by the day.  So far, he seems to be a pretty good combination of us both in the looks department.  He definitely has my mouth...and he definitely has Chris's hair line & random body/face hair!  He is becoming more & more alert every day.  He loves to watch people & any type of movement.  Even in the car, he stares out of the window the whole time.  Lights are also quite fascinating. He's a funny little baby...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Update on Klaw

 Well, I've been keeping this pretty quiet with the exception of immediate family.  Now that Chris is home and aware of the situation, I'll cut to the chase:

Klaw's newborn screening results were positive for VLCAD (very long chain fatty acid deficiency), which basically means his body cannot process very long chain fatty acids.  This metabolic disorder is caused by two recessive genes, so Chris and I are both carriers of this deficiency.  It's rare enough the genetic counselor asked if we could be related.  (We're not; I promise!)  We've been spending a lot of time each week at CHKD getting diagnostic tests done  - everything from blood work to ECGs.  Klaw's visit with the cardiologist went very well.  At this point, his heart is in perfect condition.  They will want to do another checkup in 6 months or sooner if we have any issues.  The cardiologist & Dr. Proud (geneticist) were very pleased.

I was also given a special formula (Mono-gen) that contains the medium-chain fatty acids, which he is able to metabolize.  Initially, I was mixing it with breast milk at first so that he would take to it more readily, but we are now working on getting him to take the formula just mixed with water to help balance out his fatty acid ratio.  A big issue is that breast milk is primarily made up of long-chain fatty acids, so about half of his daily nutrition will eventually come from the formula. Dr. Proud does not want me to stop breastfeeding because of the other numerous health benefits.  This formula should help provide the balance that his little body needs.  I'm looking at the positive side of this (in addition to Klaw's health) which is that Chris will be able to help feed Klaw, which I know he will enjoy immensely, even though we are both big supporters of breastfeeding. I will also be able to enjoy a guilt-free beer or glass of wine!

Basically, this first year of life is going to be the toughest.  Once he gets a little older, his body will be able to handle the imbalance a bit better because his liver will be big enough provide stores of glycogen during times of "fasting" (i.e. overnight, exercising, etc). Right now, he cannot go longer than 4 hours without  eating/drinking and if he gets sick (especially if he has diarrhea or vomiting), we have to respond quickly and have a very specific protocol the ER or our pediatrician MUST follow to prevent hypoglycemia or worse. Once he is older, that limit can hopefully be stretched to 10-12 hours.  He will have to be on a low-fat, high carb diet for the rest of his life. That won't be too much of a change from our current diet (especially once I get back to my vegetarian ways), so I think we will be able to handle it.  Dr. Proud said that this should not interfere with him being physically active, so Chris's dream of having a kid who plays for the Cubs is still on the table.

Virginia is one of the few states that actually does the expanded newborn screening...which is how this disorder was caught so early.  With proper care, it can be managed but had it not been caught so early, the results could have been tragic. We are very lucky in that respect.  As difficult as this diagnosis was for me to digest initially, I know we can handle this.  I had a few "Why me?" cries in the shower and it was very difficult to have to keep this from Chris until he was able to come home, but now it's just going to be part of our lives.

The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.
Rajneesh
“Until you have a son of your own . . . you will never know the joy, the love beyond feeling that resonates in the heart of a father as he looks upon his son. You will never know the sense of honor that makes a man want to be more than he is and to pass something good and hopeful into the hands of his son. And you will never know the heartbreak of the fathers who are haunted by the personal demons that keep them from being the men they want their sons to be.”
Kent Nerburn

Monday, April 5, 2010

Klaw has arrived!

*Please only refer to our son as Klaw on this blog because it is publicly accessible*

Klaw was born March 28, 2010 at 10:02pm.  He weighed a whopping 8lbs 2oz and was 20.5" long.  He was born after 20+ hours of labor, which is not easy but I did it!  Late afternoon, I stalled at 5cm dilation (where I was when I entered the hospital around 10am). I needed a break physically & mentally and took a "nap" thanks to a dose of stadol.  When I woke up, I was fully dilated & ready to push this big guy out into the world.  He was super alert and eager to make his presence known - APGAR scores were 8 at the one minute mark & 9 at the five minute mark.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

USS New Mexico (SSN 779)

The PCU (pre-commissioning unit) New Mexico is officially the USS New Mexico.  She belongs to the Navy!  The ceremony was held today in Norfolk, VA.  Chris is the official first Officer of the Deck and has a small role in the ceremony, ensuring his place in naval history!  It was very touching.  If you'd like to watch the full ceremony (approximately 45 minutes), it is available here.

Last night, the Commissioning Gala was held at the Waterside Marriot in Norfolk, VA.  Many New Mexico related gifts were given to the boat and there were various speakers.  Since I'm still just hanging around being pregnant, I decided to go with Chris.  Luckily I had ONE dress that actually fit & would work for semi-formal attire.  Other than free food, the highlight of the evening was having Donald Rumsfeld tell my husband that he married way out of his league.  That was music to the ears of this 10 months pregnant lady!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All I need is a little patience...

Well, my EDD has come & gone and there is no baby outside of the womb.  I am still healthy & feeling pretty darn good and Klaw is doing just fine, too.  I am still measuring 39 weeks which is keeping me from worrying about having a super-sized baby.  He is just not in the mood to leave the womb and I'm not ready to evict him.  Maybe something needs to cook a little longer.  Maybe he's just late like his Dad & stubborn like his Mom.  Maybe this is just a lesson in the futility of plans and the inaccuracy of "due dates."

For the record, walking DOES NOT induce labor.  I walk 2-3 miles a day...obviously, it's just for my health or Klaw would be here by now!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Let's get this show on the road

The USS New Mexico arrived home safely yesterday and I'll get to see Chris tonight!  He had duty, so his personal homecoming had to be postponed by a day.

I'm 39 weeks pregnant as of today, so I am perfectly fine if Klaw would like to move out of my dinky little uterus & into our big ol' house even though I don't plan on evicting him unless it's medically prudent.  Plus, it would be nice if Chris actually has the chance to meet his son.  Yes, Chris will only be home for a limited amount of time (BOO HISS!).

Here's a link to the USS New Mexico if you are interested in learning more about this brand new boat.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Just Call Me Cleopatra

'Cause I'm the Queen of Denial

Well, I finally have a baby tub & some wash cloths.  I just finally ordered some nursing tanks and Klaw's "Boob Man" hat.  Klaw's diaper bag is mostly packed except for the camera.  My hospital bag has two outfits packed and I finally bought some slippers so I don't have to walk around barefooted (although, I'm really hoping the hospital will give me some of those non-slip blue sock things...I love them).  I made a HUGE BJ's run this past weekend and just stocked up on some other necessities from Wal-Mart and I'll hit up some grocery stores this weekend.

However, I still haven't set foot in the hospital for a tour of the maternity ward/women's center.  I literally live 5 minutes from the hospital and pass it nearly every day.  All I have to do is place a call & find out if they have a room available for me to view and someone available to give me little tour of the place.  I readily admit I have a mental block when it comes to hospitals.  I hate 'em.  I have spent more time than I would like to in a variety of emergency rooms and, regardless of my treatment, I associate hospitals with all kinds of horrible things.  I know I need to get over it...soon.  Very, very soon.  My doula did remind me that even if I don't visit beforehand, I'll still end up at the right place when the time comes...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What I Wish for My Son

I'm sure everyone has hopes and dreams for their children.  These are mine:

I wish for my son to never doubt how much he is loved.
I wish for my son to know that his home is a place where he can feel safe & secure.
I wish for my son to learn how to love and respect other people through the example of his mother & father's love and respect for each other.
I wish for my son to respect himself.
I wish for my son the ability to express his feelings without fear or doubt.
I wish for my son to learn that what you own is not who you are and that who you are is far more important than what you own.
I wish for my son to understand that, although he is one small part of a much larger community, he can and will impact the world around him in some way.

and...with a nod to my husband:

I wish for my son to be left-handed and the best pitcher ever recruited by the Chicago Cubs.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Maternity Photos

My friend, Holly, & her husband, Beau, have entered the world of professional photography with H&B Photography (you can become a fan on Facebook!).  Beau is currently serving on the USS New Mexico with Chris and Holly offered her services to me for some maternity photos while the guys are away.   I gladly accepted, even though I don't particularly feel like a "model" right now.  As it turns out, her photos of me at 37 weeks made me feel better & prettier than I have in quite a while and I am sure Chris will appreciate "proof" of my last few weeks of pregnancy that he may or may not be able to witness for himself

If you'd like to view the photos, they are posted here.  I have a select few posted on Facebook, but this is the complete set.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

USS New Mexico in action

It's not often that you get to see submarines in action and actually learn what they are doing, but the Navy posted a pic of some fairly recent training activities somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.  So, if you are wondering what Chris is doing these days, here's a pretty cool picture.

UPDATE:  If you look at the hi-res version of the picture, you can kind of see two people on the bridge.  One of them is my husband!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

peaceful parenting: Until the Violence Stops!

peaceful parenting: Until the Violence Stops!

Just a heads up - the image in this blog piece really disturbed me.  It's not graphic by any means, which almost made it worse for me.

Chris & I decided to keep Klaw intact based on our own research into the realities vs myths of circumcision and, also, what the procedure actually entails.  It's not my place to tell anyone else what decision to make on this issue but I think it's important for parents to be fully informed before they make a decision that will affect their child permanently.  The fact that it is now a "decision" and not "routine" is a step in the right direction.

What Dr. Sears has to say...

This is a touchy subject and I don't care to debate something so personal, so I'm not allowing comments.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let the swelling begin...

Oh, geez.  My feet have started to spread & swell.  I know, I know...at 36.5 weeks, I should feel lucky that this is my biggest complaint.  My back doesn't hurt, my hips don't hurt, I'm not having difficulty breathing...etc, etc, etc.  I just really like my dainty little ankles & feet and I want them to stay that way forever.  Last night, my right foot looked like it belonged to Fred Flintstone.  I'm not kidding.

On a very happy note, I had a good 36 week checkup earlier this week.  My blood pressure is still great, Klaw's heart rate is excellent, I am measuring just right for my weeks, and he is comfortably head down awaiting the moment when he decides to enter this world.  My midwife did an ultrasound and it was amazing.  Now that he has put some more meat on his bones, you can really see more of his features - even on the grainy black & white standard u/s machine.  During the u/s, he was sucking on his hands and when he finally pulled his hands away from his face, you could clearly see his puffy cheeks & big ol' pouty lips.  This was much more awe-inspiring for me than the previous Skeletor u/s pictures.

It's real.  I'm having a baby...and he just happens to be the cutest baby ever.  ;-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday

Today marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. What is Lent, you ask?  Oddly enough, this has always been one of my favorite times of the year.  I think a certain part of me has always enjoyed the "self-sacrificial" aspect of it.  Plus, several good, long-term changes have been made in my life due to the various things I have "given up" for Lent.  I gave up red meat once in high school, I gave up caffeinated soft drinks in middle school (STILL only drink about one cherry coke a year and that's only if I go to a matinee movie!), and I once limited the amount of time I spent on the computer to 15 minutes twice a day.  Obviously, the computer time limit didn't stick all that well...

One year, I even dumped ALL of my Madonna tapes, posters, records, etc off in a brown paper bag in our high school Sunday School classroom.  We had done a program about laying our burdens on the cross.  I don't know why, but it struck me that I had had a pretty big obsession with Madonna ever since I got her Like a Virgin tape when I was 8 years old.  Yes, 8.  My Barbie & the Rockers sang only Madonna songs.  I sang only Madonna songs.  It was ridiculous.  Anyways, I felt compelled to get rid of all of it, so I did.  I assumed someone else would remove the bag but it was never touched for well over a year.  By that time, my musical interests had broadened and I decided to reclaim my previous "burden."  I rarely listen to Madonna anymore...but I do have all of her albums, many on tape & CD, before her reinvention as a middle-aged body builder.

This year, I have no idea what I'm going to do.  I am 95% convinced that pregnancy is one big Lenten Season and since this pregnancy will almost fully overlap Lent, there's not really anything more I can give up!  However, I haven't always given up stuff for Lent.  Sometimes, I've added something beneficial to my life, whether it be a daily prayer or scripture reading or even half an hour of exercising.  I'm trying to decide if there is anything I can add that would be beneficial to me &/or to Klaw.

Lent is a time of reflection and preparation, which sits awfully well with the last few weeks of pregnancy.  I think it's a happy coincidence that I am preparing for the birth of our child at the same time that the Church is preparing for the death & resurrection of Jesus.  One will provide a multitude of changes in my life while the other provided and continues to provide a multitude of changes in the lives of people all over the world.  Maybe I have begun to answer my own question about what to do this Lenten Season...

O Lord, who hast mercy upon all,
take away from me my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of thy Holy Spirit.
Take away from me the heart of stone,
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore Thee,
a heart to delight in Thee,
to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake, Amen
St. Ambrose of Milan (AD 339-397)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Shayna, "The Loud One," & "Kitty"

 
Virginia Living Museum

My best friend/suite mate/partner in crime from college, Shayna, came to visit with her two hilarious kids.  I'm not at all surprised that her kids made me laugh as much as they did!  It was good timing, too.  I've been bored, sore, uncomfortable, etc since hitting the 8month mark in this pregnancy.  "The Loud One" and "Kitty" were perfect reminders of WHY I'm pregnant.

Now, you may be wondering why they are called "The Loud One" and "Kitty."  It's terribly easy to explain.  The Loud One has absolutely no volume control.  It was much like having my dear sweet husband back at home...the man can be right in front of me and you'd think he was speaking to a crowd without a microphone.  Luckily, The Loud One's voice doesn't carry quite as far as Chris's.  Kitty meows.  Plain & simple.  If she's tired, hungry, nervous, etc...she lets out a cute little "meow."  Now, don't let that fool you...she can turn that kitty into a tiger if she's tired/cranky/annoyed enough!

During their stay, we visited the Virginia Living Museum, the Aquarium in Virginia Beach, met with Shayna's relatives (who treated me to the Aquarium & dinner - easiest way to my heart!), saw a LOT of snow & several of Hampton Roads' "finest" drivers testing the limits of black ice, ate a fabulous french toast breakfast at my sister's house, and played some card game about dinosaurs - The Loud One set & reset the rules a few times.

The dogs were great during the trip...I'm often overly cautious when it comes to Samson around small children due to his previous negative experiences with children scaring the mess out of him.  Shayna's kids followed the "ignore Samson" rules and he eventually warmed up to them...even tolerating the stair sliding and squealing without running to hide in my bedroom.  Boomer, of course, was in heaven with all of the activity and extra attention.

There were a few issues, however.  1 - Kitty puked on the carpet within about 20 minutes of being in my house; 2 - It did not snow at my house, which was very disappointing to The Loud One; 3 - I do not have any TVs in the bedrooms...again, very disappointing to The Loud One; and 4 - The Loud One decided to pull a wrestling move on my niece after breakfast.  He's only 4 but built like he should be in the NFL.  Needless to say, when he jumped from the rope (stool) onto her stomach, it did not go over well.  All in all, we got over the speed bumps & had a great time.  I know I did!

Samson watching Shayna & her kids leave

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good Day Sunshine!

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I've got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I'm in love and it's a sunny day

-The Beatles


So, I'm temporarily over my hatred of snow SOLELY because the sun is shining.  It's amazing what the bright, Vit D creating beams of light can do for my general attitude.  Plus, the dogs gave me plenty to laugh about as they ran wild in the yard earlier this morning.  (yes, Boomer is scratching his butt on the snow...maybe I need to get his glands expressed)

I will say that I saw the "results" of all of the idiots in this area who have no clue how to drive in snow last night.  I ventured over to my sister's for some tasty turkey chili in our big beast of a truck (Ford F-150 FX4 supercrew).  I have had more experience than I would like driving in various 4wd-required situations so I wasn't too concerned.  What did concern me was all the local yahoos flying down the road (no salt or sand, no plowing, nothing) in their stupid little compact cars.  One idiot came flying around a corner (I say "flying," but in reality it was only "flying" because of the road conditions) and I thought to myself, "if this moron slides, he's hitting my jacked up truck and dying."  Heading back to my house after dinner, I saw mountains (okay, molehills) of evidence of even more drivers losing control and sliding all over the road and into embankments.  Lucky for them, I assume they were able to keep driving since there was no police tape or vehicle left in the car shaped snow indentions.
Tip:  If you only see snow every 4 years or so, please stay off the roads.  Even better, if you are any number of the Hampton Roads drivers who can't drive during perfect weather, please trade your driver's license for an idiot card and let's call it a day.


Keeping in line with the Beatles theme for today:
They say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you



Today is Chris's birthday...and, evidently, the birthday of 4 other sailors on his boat and two of our friends.  Popular day!  This is not the first time he has been at sea for his birthday, sadly.  However, we had a "mail drop" take place for the boat since they are at a liberty port for a bit.  He won't get his cards on time, but at least he'll get them...hopefully.  I was able to speak to him on the phone earlier and he pointed out the fact that we would both be much happier if we could switch locations.  He enjoys the snow WAY more than I do and he's actually sad he is missing it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snow Pics

Oh, the weather outside is frightful!

Well, for the first time this year, the weather has been correctly predicted by the local meteorologists.  It's is snowing, snowing, snowing out here!  I initially woke up around 5am and looked outside.  To my dismay, there was snow on the ground.  However, the grass was still peeking through, so I figured it wouldn't be too bad.  Flash forward two more hours when I get up to let the dogs outside, the entire backyard & deck are completely covered in white.  Samson was even caught off guard and this is the dog that will lie down in snow like it's his job!

It is now mid-afternoon and the snow has definitely not eased up at all.  However, during the most recent doggie outing, Boomer & Samson ran around and played.  Boomer's skinny little golden retriever feet are not built for this snow.  He can beat Samson on dry land, but Samson's huge paws have a distinct advantage in snow.  It was funny watching him run around the backyard...and to watch the normally graceful Boomer trying to run around but tripping every few steps.

I'm going to try & post a few of the pictures I've taken via my phone...hopefully, this will work (I'm still learning how to work this blog).  I'll take more pics later with my real camera.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just when I least expected it...

I recently got a phone call from Chris.  It was unexpected and it made me incredibly happy.  Although I have been able to send him emails and he seems to have been receiving them, I can't always count on hearing anything back from him when he's at sea.  Partly because it's hit or miss if email communication will be up & running and partly because he (and most of the guys) are usually running on fumes by the time they are able to even bother checking email.  Any communication received on this end is so incredibly appreciated.

I've been asked this several times, so I'll answer it here:  Chris may or may not be here for the birth of our son.  His boat is being commissioned March 27 (public knowledge, so I can state it!) and it's safe to assume the boat will actually be here for the commissioning.  My EDD is March 23.  Chris will be here sometime before the commissioning and he will leave again sometime after the commissioning (no, I can't be more specific).  So, as you can imagine, there is a very small window of time where he will be available under the best of circumstances.

It's been a while since he was last at sea and I can honestly say it makes a huge difference being pregnant.  It's very hard to be as independent as I am accustomed to being when I'm tired, slow, and quite sore at times.  Managing a household by myself was far easier when half (maybe more?) of my energy wasn't being used to grow a baby.  I am very thankful that I do not have to work right now and I have an ever increasing amount of respect for the moms & moms-to-be who do work.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

JACKPOT!!!!



Well, we've gotten a lot accomplished during Chris's leave period.  He's been busy moving furniture, painting & putting furniture together.  We've both run ourselves ragged traipsing about Hampton Roads to buy baby necessities, attend our Hypnobirthing class, look at other furniture we need, etc.  However, my favorite part of this whole slew of activities has been our visits to local area thrift stores.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good deal (Mom hates it when I say I'm cheap).  We hit two Salvation Army Family Stores & two Goodwill thrift stores.  We purchased 45 articles of gently used clothing and spent approximately $1.42 per article, running the gamut of sizes between newborn & 24 months.  You can't beat that...and I haven't even visited all of the thrift stores around here (luckily, my sister knows some more good ones so Chris will be off the hook if he so chooses).  So, I feel good knowing we saved a TON of money AND we supported good causes.  When the time comes, I will gladly pass these clothes on to friends or donate them back to the local Goodwill so other people can use them, too.

Side note for more deals we've taken advantage of recently:  the NEX has a convertible crib, changing table, & chest of drawers set for ~$250, our Graco TravelLite stroller/car seat system was on sale almost 40% off at Babies-R-Us, & our Fisher Price Little Lamb Cradle Swing (~$150), also at Babies-R-Us, currently comes with a 50-pack of diapers, any size.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good Riddance, 2009!

In order to be a better daughter & friend, I am going to attempt to keep a blog about our little family as up to date as possible.  I figured January 1, 2010 would be as good a time as any to get this party started.  Maybe this counts as a New Year's Resolution...I don't know.  I stopped making resolutions a long time ago when I realized I always forgot about them by February.  Fingers crossed that doesn't happen again.  Maybe Chris will even join in with the blogging every once in a while...

2009 in a nutshell:
Holly died.
Mocha died.
Friends died.
Chris's boat was christened & finally made it out to sea.  Bonus:  The boat made it back even though there was a ton of drama getting her seaworthy (thank you, Newport News Naval Shipyard - grrrrrrrrrr).
I had a weak moment and much to everyone's surprise, became pregnant.  Much sickness ensued.
Dad moved back to the states after DECADES in Germany.

2010 Hopes:
"Klaw" will be born healthy & easily (please!) sometime in late March - preferably while Chris's boat happens to be in port for the commissioning.
Chris's move to Connecticut will go without a hitch and we will be able to afford two households (or Chris will enjoy camping for a year).
Our remaining 4 pets (Callie, Nixie, Samson & Boomer) will remain relatively healthy.

I don't think I'm asking for too much...
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