Monday, September 22, 2014

4 months old

Look who's growing! 

At 4 months: She can roll over both ways (front to back and back to front) - but only rolls over to her left, she loves to smile, she's starting to giggle. She loves her big brother, although mom and dad don't like it when he's in her face all the time. She's an 'assisted' sitter now, and if you are a mom, you know that means solid foods! She had her first taste of cereal this morning, given by daddy. She kept wanting more! 
Here she is, eating cereal for the first time! 

She loves to take cat naps - about half hour naps throughout the day. Which is fine with mommy, as I'm still lucky enough to be able to take her to work with me (for now). Not sure how much longer that will last, but the gals in the office enjoy her and miss her when she's not there (on my days off). 

Sometimes you just need a flower on your head! 
Oh those cheeks - and everyone loves her big eyes! 
She weighed 12 lbs 7oz - so she is now double her birth weight of 5 lbs. 9 oz! 
Still loves breast milk. Hubby fed her a little bit of formula once and then she was still hungry (because the formula wasn't very much, only like 2 oz. in a pre-made bottle) so I fed her some, and when she burped guess what came up? You guessed it, the formula. Weird, but true. Breast is best! 

Here are both my kids on the front porch one afternoon. 
Someday I'll even get them to both look at the camera at the same time! 

Just 3 months old here - so tiny. Taken after her surgery. 

Two months old, and super tiny- this was taken before her surgery. 

It's fun to see how she's growing - and in all my 'monthly' photos I'm keeping the same pillow and this time (her 4 month photo) she actually was trying to sit up. She hasn't got that down yet, but soon. She is rocking the lifting her head up thing and reaching for toys has now become a daily occurrence. She loves to talk and now that she has started, we are afraid we won't get her to be quite ever again! She's the sweetest baby, and she loves to suck on her hands and is usually attempting to get her whole hand in her mouth. 
She likes it when mommy wears her - there's a local baby wearing group I'm a part of that meets monthly. I recently bought a $50 table cloth and cut in half lengthwise. Am I crazy? Maybe a little bit, but she loves the sling that I have made out of it. Now I need to figure out what I want to do with the other half of the table cloth! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Car Problems

My car is my lifeline. It's what gets me around, my kids around. It's the thing that takes me to work.
Except it's not currently drivable.

Needs a new: water pump and a whole host of general maintainace things that should have been done a few months ago.

For those of you who might not know, a water pump helps pump water or antifreeze through the engine to keep it from getting to hot. Which is why there is a temperature gauge on your dashboard, and I have been looking at that gauge more than I watch my gas gauge or even my speedometer! Not that I go super fast, especially around town- I'm just more worries about my engine heating up than I am my speed!

Been seeing this side of my car way to much! 

At least there is beauty here. (Sometimes)

I have had the water pump replaced on this same vehicle, about 10 years ago, so I guess it's time.

But when money is as tight as it has been for us since the hubby lost his well-paid position with benefits, you tend to put off things like this, hoping another job will come along. Until you just can't put it off anymore. I am thankful for parents who help us out- probably more than they should. I am thankful for early Christmas presents, and a soon to be fixed car.  Thursday morning at 9am cannot come soon enough!

Not comfortable driving the car around town, especially when the hubby was pouring water into the radiator, and sure enough we looked under the car and it was pouring out almost as fast as he put it in there. Now how to get the car to the dealer on Thursday? The dealer is all the way across town, this might take a miracle. God will provide.

I guess we will be trying to squeeze into the truck for the next few days. I say squeeze because, while it's a 4 door truck, extended cab, it's not a large extended cab. I dislike putting baby girl in the front seat, but what choice do I have? I don't exactly want to be stranded with a baby and a 6 year old, especially if it's hot out, and hubby is usually at work some 60 miles away, and couldn't come rescue us until he was delivering his packages anyway.

The job situation is bleak for hubby, unless he gets a job and we would probably have to move- to a bigger city. With very few friends, and little family. The job he wants- or is qualified for just aren't in this town.

The good news is, I am able to pick up another 2 hours a week at my job. It's a start. Plus my job is downtown, so maybe on Tuesday this week I can take the bus while jinn has the day off, and spends some time with the much neglected 6 year old (or so he thinks).

School starts Wednesday for the 6 year old, so that will be nice on one hand to be able to have him back on some sort of schedule. While he won't like the fact that mom and dad are taking away his iPod- except on weekends, or even after he helps around the house. In first grade he'll have some homework to do possibly, and he doesn't need to be on an electronic device all the time anyway. I think I might have to go back to him earning screen bucks.

Secretly, I almost liked it when our XBOX360 wasn't working- because it seemed like we spent more time together as a family. Playing board games, just hanging out- albeit we were all on out iPods or iPhones.

Can't wait to move to the country, less internet (because it's slower out there) and more time outside.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Surgery

The night before:
Baby girl couldn't eat anything (milk) after 1:30am, so what did I do? Set my alarm on my iPhone for 1:00am - and woke her up. I know they say not to wake the sleeping baby, but in this case it had to be done! Daddy gave her some Clear Pedialyte  at 5am, because the cutoff for clear liquids was 5:30am. She did good, and drank almost all of the 4 oz in the bottle. It helped that it was not her first time taking a bottle.

The morning of:
We reported to the hospital by 7:30am, or shortly after- there was some rush-hour traffic in Des Moines. We checked in, did some paperwork and waited around a little bit. She slept through most of that process and didn't really start fussing until about 8am, which makes sense, because she usually eats at 7:30am. I was able to find a rocking chair just outside of her pre-op room, and put her back to sleep for a while. The anesthesiologist came and talked to us, as well as the doctor- at about 9am. Things moved very quickly after that and they took her back.

Mad baby girl, because she could not eat. 

About 15 minutes later, and she was asleep. 

The surgery center at Methodist Hospital in Des Moines is very efficient. They have a large waiting room for friends and family members. They even have a little coffee shop place that serves Starbuck Coffee. Yes, I did indulge. I didn't get much sleep the night before- plus it didn't help that the 6 year old woke up with growing pains at 4am, and crawled into the king sized hotel bed with us. At least he was on the hubby's side, which only makes it moderately better.
My parents came down and were able to take the 6 year old to the Iowa State Fair, so he wouldn't have to wait around for most of the morning- which we did. Part of the morning I was able to pump my breast milk, and hubby and I both enjoyed waiting with our pastor, who made the trip from our town (an hour and a half away) without his wallet!
During this time it was pretty boring, the waiting for this momma was tough! I remember going to the bathroom and just praying on the way there for the doctors, the nurses, for God to calm my nerves, and telling myself that everything was going to be okay. But as a mom, I think when someone has our 'baby' in their hands- their safety, well being- we worry. I don't care how old your 'baby' is- you still worry!

The surgery center has pagers, so when your pager goes off, something happened. They also have assigned numbers, and a board where you can check the patients status- much like an airport flight board, it was actually quite interesting. This can be a little nerve racking for a mom, because the first time the pager goes off is when the doctor will meet you in a family consult room. Here comes the good/bad news. For us it was good!
The surgery went well, there was indeed a second hernia on her left side, much smaller, but he got both of them and repaired the umbilical hernia as well.
Back to the waiting room for a while, so she can be in the recovery room for a little longer.
The pager goes off and we head back to see her. A  nurse was sitting and holding her in a wheel chair. The nurse didn't want to give her up! But she did, and I got to sit in the wheel chair while another male nurse wheeled me up to her room in Blank Children's Hospital.
This was probably about 11am.

It looks worse than it really is. 

We were placed in the PICU, or Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, but she was not a PICU patient. I just think the regular rooms were full and our unit was pretty slow. For most of the time there we were only the only patient for the nurses! When we first got there, there was a little boy going home, and as we were leaving there was another patient in the unit.

Sleeping peacefully in her crib. 

IV in her left foot. 

Monitor on her other foot. I told her that her foot glowed- that's an 'Upgrade!' 

The night of:
We were able to call the Ronald McDonald House earlier in the day, and get a room for hubby. Best decision ever! I was able to stay in the hospital room with baby girl, and know that hubby was just across they complex, if something should happen during the night.
We were able to meet my parents and 6 year old and caught up with my brother in law and sister in law at the hospital, we had dinner at Ted's Coney Island restaurant in Des Moines, It was yum, and I defiantly ate way to much food! Very reasonable prices too. After eating we swing by Hubby's brothers office - and hubby showed us where he was staying. Nice digs! I would recommend Ronald McDonald House to anyone who needs it - and had my daughter been a little older, I might have spent the night there myself!

The House-
Truly the house that love built. 

They have a common kitchen, so any food not labeled is house food. Dinner is brought in by volunteers each night. The food is then kept in the fridge for people to grab as they need. Somebody want to build me this kitchen - well, like half of it. Seriously. 

There was a playroom / workout area and movie / game room on the lower level, a laundry room (free), the ground floor had the kitchen and eating room, and a library/ computer work stations.

Hubby is hiding in this photo, can you see him? 

Second floor was mostly rooms, but had a large lounge area, and we were able to hang out there and wait for family to come to us once we got out of the hospital- see the photo below.

Beautiful house. Of course you never want to stay there, but if we ever do need it, we now know it's there. The staff was just as nice and accommodating to me as they were to my husband, even though I had chosen to stay in the hospital. The cost was super low- just $10/night with a $25 deposit.
Plus hubby said they gave us a bag with some stuff in it.

I walked in the room, and it wasn't just a bag, it was a thirty-one bag! The same size as our diaper bag I saved up for a few paychecks! Hubby doesn't know, or understand about these things sometimes.

Puppy elevator door at Ronald McDonald House- great idea. 

Back at Blank's: 

After we checked out the house we went back to the hospital, and baby girl was awake, and hungry!
She ate and had her eyes open the entire time, which she hadn't done since before her surgery! She had eaten, but not with her eyes open. After she had her belly full she decided to talk to us and showed us her smiles and we knew everything was going to be alright.

Finally smiling at mommy again! 

Because she wasn't a full term baby and they used the word premie for her, although nobody ever did in the hospital she was born in, she was required to stay the night. She decided she liked to set off the machines and could somehow get her oxygen down to 86%, and because it dipped below 90%, that set off the machine. That number needed to stay high all night, in order for her to go home the next day. I came to a realization of how parents who are in the hospital long term with their children can quickly concentrate on these numbers- because sometimes they mean the scales are tipping one way (good) or the other (the not so good).
She did good and although I had fed her at 10:30pm, by midnight she was hungry- always a good sign. She slept until about 4am, and a nurse came in and checked on her at 2, and gave her some medicine. I decided not to get up unless she was crying because honestly I needed the sleep!

The next morning:
She was awake again by 6:30am looking for more food, and went back asleep after a good burp and spit up. This allowed me to walk over to the Ronald McDonald house and find something to eat with the hubby. After we did, we walked back into the hospital together, and shortly after that my parents showed up with our 6 year old asking what should we do, because it was kind of rainy out that day.

We suggested taking him to the Science Center and after a few African stories from my dad and gifts from their hunting/mission trip they were off. Caroline was hungry by then, and things started to move quickly. She was unhooked from her monitor on her right foot (the one with the red light) and unhooked from her IV (her left foot).  All that was left to do was to take out her IV and do some paperwork, once doctor made his rounds about 12:30, and we packed up. Hubby counted and there were 11 bags of stuff in our hospital room!
  • Pump bag
  • My purse
  • Diaper bag
  • Ronald McDonald bag
  • Sons bag from the Iowa State Fair
  • Baby girls canvas bag I had packed burp cloths, clothes and a few books in
  • A bag of gifts from Africa
  • Computer bag
  • My backpack
  • Hubby's backpack
  • Cooler bag for the pumped milk
And two pillows 1 regular one and one Boppy.
So glad I brought my Boppy! Life saver.

Leaving the hospital. 

We loaded up the stroller and ourselves and baby girl in her car seat and we were out.
We loaded up the car and hubby decided to walk over to the house, while I drove the car. He still had a few things over there and had to do some simple housekeeping before checking out.

I hung out in this room. Gorgeous, right? I want the couch and the  chair ottoman set! Plus all those windows in my house!
Mom and dad dropped off CJ and said goodbye, their trip back home was longer than ours, plus we were planning on meeting up with hubby's brother and wife one more time before heading home.
I did end up napping for a little while on the couch with baby girl, while hubby showed CJ the game room and they played a little PacMan on the retro console and air hockey.

Uncle Jimmy and Daddy take some time to have some fun. 

Big brother hanging out with Ronald. 

While we didn't get home until 11pm that night, due to the fact that we went to Incredible's Pizza for the first time on closing (for good) weekend, some family had game cards they gave us to use up! It was a fun night.
That's our adventure, and we go see the surgeon in a few weeks, to see how her incisions are healing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Impending Surgery

My daughter has an umbilical hernia. We didn't think anything of it, as all the baby books I have say as long as it's not hurting her when we push it in, then it's fine. Yes, it looks weird, yes it makes a squish sound when we push it in that should only come from other parts of baby's body, not her belly button. Weird. It freaks hubby out.
We showed the local doctor, she referred us to a doctor in Des Moines, at Blank Children's Hospital, a surgeon. The doctor says he's done plenty of these types of surgeries, without complications. Okay, good to know. Let's not be the first. If it was just the belly button hernia, he would not recommend surgery, but she has another hernia in her groin area. Again, not painful to her, and sometimes it goes almost completely away, but the doctor says it's her fallopian tubes and her ovaries that are in that bulge, and if they get stuck, it could be very bad for baby girl. Hence the surgery, next week. They wanted to do it this week. We knew hubby couldn't get off work for this week, especially with another guy on vacation.
They will go in and fix the one she has on her groin (her right side) and explore on the left side, because he says chances are if they have one, they have a matching one on the other side. Obviously while they have baby under anesthesia, they will also take care of the belly button thing. Therefore fixing hubby's 'issue' with it.
Because she wasn't full term (a full term baby is 40 weeks, or at least 38) - she was born at 36 weeks and 6 days (just one day shy of 37 weeks) - they call her a premie, because while physically to me, she's 2 months old, to them and to the anesthesiologist, she isn't 2 months old yet, physically. Weird, I know. She will have to spend the night. We have a check in of 7am next Thursday, which means leaving our house by 5am to account for travel time and traffic in the big city. While she may not be the youngest one the doctor is operating on, because she's only 2 months old (in my mind), she could be one of the first to go because the doctor operates on the kids from youngest to oldest. This could be a good thing, especially if you've ever heard her cry when she's hungry. This is due to the fact that the youngest kids can handle going without food the least. Plus it's hard for her to understand, "I'm sorry, baby girl, mommy can't feed you right now, the doctor says so."
Here she is hanging out with Aunt Suzi at The Machine Shed Restaurant. 

Uncle Jim was kind enough to take a family photo- and yup, she's crying! 

Hold still, boy! I'd like to take you picture! 
We had some learning fun at the State Historical Museum (it's free!) 
They had a cool exhibit on Movies in Iowa, called 'Hollywood in the Heartland' and 
another one that focused on RAGBRAI. Fun learning times! 

The hubby teaching my son how a rotary dial phone 
works at West End Architectural Salvage in Des Moines. 

Got to spend some time near the capital building, and took this cool shot. 

Although we had some fun, and I got to check off some things off my 'to do' list, because I didn't grow up in Iowa - these things are new and exciting for me! 

Prayers appreciated and coveted for the upcoming surgery, and for safe travels, 
as our next trip to Des Moines will not be nearly as fun! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Single Mom and dreams

While I am by no means a single mom, I do have help from my husband - but there are those days when he has to work late and I have two kids until about 7 or 8pm at night. Sometimes I feel like a single mom. My hat goes off to the single moms out there who are raising young kids, because I am getting a taste of it and I know it isn't easy! Yet I am thankful for the job hubby has now, because it's regular income and it's paying the bills, despite the fact that his current job doesn't offer health benefits.

But sometimes I wish we were in a financial position to just jump on the 'work from home - be your own boss' bandwagon. It'd be great to set your own hours, work with clients and still get paid. But the hard part is finding clients.

Anybody need a new logo for their business? New website? Seriously. Contact my husband. Or me. I'm good with those too.

We are regular people, living in a regular tax paying world. Our house, it's beautiful, it's big, it's old. I love it. It's brick (good for keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter), and it's in a great neighborhood. But the city we live in keeps increasing our taxes, but our income has not increased since we moved into this house 10 years ago - if anything our income has gone down. The jobs for two graphic design professionals just aren't here - or they are, but they are already taken (not by us).

Despite the fact I have never had a full-time graphic design position, I do okay with the part time job that I have and with side graphic design jobs. If you have been to the Market On Main (if you live locally) and see the Apple A Day clothing boutique sign - yup, I did that. I'm proud of my artwork and designs, and I love what I do, I just wish I could do more of it.

Country Living.
Hubby recently did the math on moving out to the country - and he says it wouldn't be that much per year in vehicle maintenance, and even tire replacement (darn gravel roads). We know where we would move and why and there are benefits and the negatives as well. The benefits being: my kids would be outside A LOT, my kids would be close to what we refer to as the farm (aka Grandma's house), and life would maybe move a little slower - or at least be quieter - not living in town has that effect on people, building our own house for the purpose of having everything (including the laundry) on one level.  The negatives being: living so far out (almost 10 - 15 min.), this would be an adjustment for me because I haven't lived in the country since I was like 4 years old! So just dropping everything and running to Target would no longer be an option. Building our own house (are we crazy?), because we have very little income right now, we don't have money to dump into all the things that are needed to build our own house, the way we want it.

I'm not afraid of work, I grew up working for my parents on their rental properties or on their own houses - of course most of the time they paid me pretty well (despite the fact that I wasn't the best worker), but I was by far their prettiest! I don't think my husband will pay me $8/hour for painting, though. :(

Building a house is not only a dream, in the next 10 years it will become a necessity - due to the fact that I have 65+ year old knees (I was told this by a doctor when I hadn't even reached 30 years old!) , and since baby girl is 2 months old, and the pregnancy stretching of the joints and extra fluid have 'worn off' I have noticed a whole lot of extra pain when I try to go up and down steps (mostly up). The hard part is going to be selling our house, which involves: ripping up some 1980s carpeting, refinishing floors, finding area rugs, getting rid of stuff (yikes!), teaching children how to put stuff away and painting/ touching up rooms.

Hubby wants to build basically a pole barn, but make it look like a house. The good thing with this is that they are cheaper to build, and they don't need support walls in the middle, so we don't have to have them, if we don't really need walls. Open floor plan, that's what I'm talking about! Hubby wants to design it himself - and as a former architecture major, I'm inclined to let him. Of course I'll have input, but hopefully we know what we like at this point in our lives.

Something like this, but not necessarily exactly like this:

Here's to dreaming big and making a new home! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Two Months!

Caroline Renee Howk
At 2 months old she can:
  • hold her head up (mostly steady)
  • smile at us 
  • starting to make noises and sounds on purpose
  • weighs almost double her birth weight at 9 lbs. 8oz 
  • has grown a full four inches since being born
  • likes to spend time with daddy
  • thinks her big brother is silly (because he usually is) 
Caroline is a mover - if she's in her car seat and not moving, she usually gets mad. 
In her short 2 months she has already:
  • gone swimming in Lake Wapello (and didn't like it) 
  • been to Market on Main like 10 times more than her dad (because he's never been there)
  • goes to work with me every day
  • usually only wakes me once in the middle of the night to eat
  • started to enjoy her bath time - she likes the warm water! 
  • sleeps better on her stomach than her back - but only when necessary.
  • still hasn't been out of the state of Iowa, but has been as far Northwest as Emmetsburg and North Forest City, Iowa; and as far South as Bloomfield, Iowa. 

I love this photo of her just hanging with some RAGBRAIers in Emmetsburg, Iowa. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Need You Now

Need You Now (How Many Times)
Plumbfrom the album Need You NowBuy on Amazon | iTunes 
Well everybody's got a story to tell And everybody's got a wound to be healed I want to believe there's beauty here Cause oh, I get so tired of holding on I can't let go, I can't move on I want to believe there's meaning here 
(Chorus) How many times have you heard me cry out "God please take this"? How many times have you given me strength to Just keep breathing? Oh I need you God, I need you now. 
Standing on a road I didn't plan Wondering how I got to where I am I'm trying to hear that still small voice I'm trying to hear above the noise 
Oh I walk, oh I walk through the shadows And I, I am so afraid Please stay, please stay right beside me With every single step I take 
How many times have you heard me cry out? And how many times have you given me strength? 
I need you now I need you now

This song. Has helped me get through the last 2 years. 
There is beauty here: 

In the past 2 years: 
My husband was laid off from a good job, that allowed me to be a stay at home mom 
(hence the name of this blog).
We were worried that we would have to put our child in public school, something neither of us wanted, but thankfully God has provided us a way to keep in the local Christian School for at least another year.  It's also not the most expensive private school: we pay about $2,000/ year, which equals about $200/ month. While it's not 'free' we believe it is a better education, and the community has been great- we pray for the teachers and I know they pray for our family.

I was offered a part time position (during school hours) for a non-profit organization. While we have to pay for my son to go to daycare this summer, because last summer dad was able to take care of him, for free, I am able to take my daughter to work with me (for now). Thankful for a good day care provider and very thankful that my job allows me to have her at work with me! 

Husband was hired as a temporary, now a full time delivery driver for FedEx 
(but the contractor doesn't pay insurance). 

Found out we were pregnant in May of 2013, only to have a miscarriage
Found out we were pregnant late in 2013, and this one was a viable pregnancy - she's beautiful! 
Our daughter was born on May 20, 2014. 

I thought my world was ending when my husband got laid off, and in my mind, it was, and in a way, it did. My world was taking care of our son, getting him to school, volunteering at the school and working on my volunteering that I did for a local non-profit organization. The thought that they wouldn't 'call' him back never occurred to me at the time (we'd been through one layoff with this company before), but that has come true, as it's been a year and a half, I first mentioned it here

It's hard to believe today marks one month of my daughter being born! Where did the time go? She's so precious, and I know, after a hard day of delivering boxes, my husband enjoys holding our soft, squishy, wiggly baby - even if she is crying. 

Some things about my daughter: 
  • She hates being bundled (unlike most newborns) she likes to have her hands free. 
  • She is a very warm baby. They say to layer baby, like whatever you are wearing and then plus 1 layer. Not this girl. She's hot! 
  • She's started turning her head when she hears mom or dad's voices. 
  • Although she's only one month old, she still fits into most newborn clothing, and probably will for another month or two! 
  • She's a snacker: she will eat, then (maybe) burp, then take a nap, wake up and want more food (repeat). My son was different, he would eat, burp, eat (switching sides), burp and then take a nap. Boys and girls are so different. But I am a snacker to, if I have sweets in the house (cookies or bars or anything) I will snack on that stuff all day long
  • Her big brother is in love with her. Adores her. Thinks he has to kiss her. Every. 5 minutes. Sometimes every 10 minutes! 
  • She spits up more than my son ever did, in fact, I'm not sure if we have a clean burp cloth in the house right now. Oy! 
  • Loves to fall asleep on mom or dads chest, we think this is because she loves to hear the sound of our heartbeats. 
  • Likes to take naps anytime I am wearing her. I have a sling at church and a Moby wrap at work. 
  • She is starting to enjoy bath time (almost).
  • She is full of grunts, and squeals, and squeaks. In fact my boss calls her 'Squeaky baby.' 
  • All in all, she really is a good baby and only wakes me up in the middle of the night a few times.