Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A little bit of overcompensation

This Christmas I bought way too many gifts for the boys.  Hubs and I don’t really agree with going overboard on the materialist aspect of the holiday.  But, I can’t help myself this year.  I have so much guilt, anxiety and sadness rushing through my veins that I’m trying to absorb my boys happiness.


First of all, this is the last year of the last Christmas.  Last Christmas, we didn’t know Monkey was a boy.  We didn’t know he had Bear’s disorder.  We still had hope of a healthy baby.  I’m tired of it hanging over me.  When Christmas comes I want to look back on the year prior and see how much my boys have grown.  This year, I look back and still can see everything I’m grieving.


This is the first Christmas that we really have an idea of Bear’s skills.  This is the first year that he’s sitting, mobile and able to play with toys.  His first Christmas he got the Laugh N Learn farm and blocks that he has NEVER played with.  Even though that farm sat out in our living room he’s only been able to play with it for about 6 months now.  Last Christmas he had just learned to sit up and was not yet crawling at all.  His sitting skills were still very new and he had trouble righting himself.  He still needed a lot of assistance with playing with toys.  He only had the basic of button pushing for very simple toys.


This year, he’s mobile.  He crawls, he kneels, he pulls to a stand, he cruises the couch and he has mastered a bigger array of play skills.  He can work the Fisher-Price Gumball machine, he can stack stacking rings, he can play with stacking cups and slide beads on a bead maze.


This is the first Christmas that I have to swallow that both my boys have special needs.  I’m grieving the loss of a lot more than most people are able to realize.  I’ve been trying to focus a portion of Hubs’ income towards retirement.  With boys who will always be dependent on us, we can’t have the dream of retiring, moving away or traveling all the time and having minimal responsibilities.  We don’t have to worry about an “empty nest”.  I’m grieving the loss of ever seeing my boys get married, or have children.  I know I shouldn’t write these out of my boys lives, however they have an intellectual disability.  It is the defining characteristic of their disorder (it’s in the name).  They’re both going to have a markedly diminished cognitive skill set.  I don’t know if they’ll ever be capable of independent living, so I’m letting go of hope of marriage and children.  I want next Christmas to come, so it’s not the first one with Monkey.  I wish it could be more joyous for me than this, but alas, it’s not.  I want so badly to be able to excited for his first Christmas, but I just want to get it over with.


As Christmas approaches I’m really struggling with an overwhelming amount of guilt for passing this disorder on to them both and a lot of sadness for the difficulties they’re facing in the future.  A lot of people around me are having babies, especially girls.  I’m overjoyed for everyone of them.  However, my heart hurts for what I won’t have and what I hoped for more than anything when I found out I was pregnant with Monkey and when we got Bear’s diagnosis.


On a lighter note, some of my exciting gifts for the boys:


We got both of them the Fisher Price Little People Nativity, a Veggie Tales movie and the entire Baby Signing Time Collection.



Fisher Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm

Laugh N Learn Table (I got this free with another purchase)

Fisher Price Little People Noah’s Ark

Melissa and Doug Chunky Puzzle

Fisher Price Apptivitiy Case

R/C Thomas

Fisher Price Topsy Tumblers Funhouse

Fisher Pice Topsy Tumblers Fun Park

Fisher Pice Topsy Tumblers Boat



Skip Hop Owl toy and stroller toy

Lamaze musical caterpillar

Snugamonkey Good Night Monkey book and stuffed monkey

Sassy Bumpy Ball

Monday, October 29, 2012

Whole30: Day 4

Bear has been having a rough go, so I’ve been slightly stressed out today.  We’re also starting to experience the effects of the hurricane.  Here’s hoping to keeping our power!


Breakfast:  Smoothies and a few nuts.

Snack:  I had like 3 almonds.  I was on a crazy cooking and dishwashing adventure to get a lot finished incase we lose power.

Lunch:  I ate WAY too late.  I was famished.  I ate 2 eggs and a handful of mixed nuts.

Dinner:  Salad (mushrooms, tomatoes, green onion, etc) with balsamic vinagrette


I also managed to exercise.  After we put Bear down for a nap (Hubs was home today because of the hurricane, his work closed) I put in a DVD workout and went to town.  I was hot and sweaty, but I made it through the whole thing!!! I think that’s pretty impressive for me considering I had a baby 4 months ago and I haven’t done a thing in the way of exercise in about 6 months.  Outside of lifting a chunky baby.


As for how I feel, I’ve got a LOT of energy.  Hubs is noting that he has a ton too.  He used to get REALLY tired and need to take a nap, but now he says he’s not even sure he could take a nap.  TMI: He’s also noticed a huge decrease in his gas and his breath is much better.  He’s also starting to get THE COLD.  Monkey and I are on the mend, Bear is in the thick of it and Hubs is just starting to get it. 


I never really experienced any of the headaches that usually goes along with a huge diet change.  Maybe it’s because I was gluten-free before so my body was used to not having a lot of grains.  I haven’t really experienced a ton of cravings.  I’ve had some mild fleeting ones, where I think “mmm…gummi bears” but they it passes.

Whole30: Day 3


Breakfast:  Maybe 5 almonds while I got Bear his medicine just to get my metabolism going.  About an hour later I made Hubs and I smoothies… YUM!  I used 2 oranges, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 avocado, frozen strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and a handful of spinach.  However, if we’re going to keep this diet up I’m not sure my blender will be able to make it.

I also made a 2nd batch and froze them so we could thaw them out and have them anytime.

Snack:  mixed nuts on my way to the store

Lunch:  2 eggs

Dinner:  bison steak with horseradish, mashed cauliflower with garlic, horseradish and parsley.  Hubs also finished up the mashed butternut squash from last night.

Dessert:  Banana Cinnamon Nutmeg Ice Cream…Yummy!!!!

Snack:  I was so hungry and so was Hubs.  I didn’t have much dinner so we had a Gala apple with Almond Butter.

Today went really well except the evening hunger.  We’re still getting prepped for Hurricane Sandy but all is going well. 

I am planning to start exercising but I’m still fighting off this cold and tonight I felt pretty crummy.

Bear is having a tough week.  Lots of head slamming and I just cannot keep calm.  It’s really getting me frustrated.  I’m getting to the point of “Why are we bothering with all this therapy every week if he’s just going to slam his head into the floor, wall, door, crib rails, toys, etc?  He could do that on his own without 8 hours of therapy.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Whole30: Day 2

Day 2 started off much better. I was able to get a full night of sleep and while I’m still sick, my throat didn’t feel like I swallowed a flaming match.

Breakfast:  Frittata
Snack:  nuts and a banana
Lunch:  Sweet Potato Fries with avocado dip
Dinner:  Grilled Chicken, broccoli and mashed butternut squash (I added lemon dressing and arugula to my plate)

Tonight we didn’t end our day with anything sweet!  Victory 1!!!

Today was tough though.  We’re getting ready for Sandy the Superstorm so we spent hours at the grocery store and Target.  I had to buy fruit snacks and juice for my Mom and pick up stuff for Bear, formula for Monkey and some stuff for us incase we lose power.  I also managed to find Almond Butter and Macadamia Butter.  I found it plenty of places but it all had cane sugar in it.  We found this awesome health food store a few towns over (right by where I take Bear for sign language class) and they had a GREAT assortment.

I am overwhelmed at the thought of keeping up this diet without any power.  Not sure why, it should be easy.  But perhaps because I’m just not used to it.  I did pick us up a box of Luna Bars just incase we need them.  I cannot stand them.  They have such a strange texture being based off of dates and I just do not like the flavor. But I figured, if I'm starving I'll eat them.

I did have cravings at the store today when we walked past the Gummy Bears.  But I just kept going.  It seems while I still have a ton of cravings they’re not hitting with any intensity and if I just keep going or think about something else they pass. 

I have felt strange today.  I’m not hungry but I feel strangely light-headed at times.  It seems my body is still re-learning how to use protein for energy instead of sugar and carbs.

But overall today was a good day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Whole30: Day 1

Welp…It was a lot harder than I anticipated.  And not for the “OH MY GOSH THERE IS A JAR OF NUTELLA IN THERE” reasons.

More like the, I’m fighting a nasty cold and had such a sore throat ALL day reason.  My brother had a cold can of ginger ale and all I could think of was the cold syrupy drink and how soothing it is on the way down.

Or just a darn cough drop. 

Bear and Monkey had a rough night.  I think Hubs and I both only got about 2 hours of broken sleep.  I needed caffeine so badly, but I HATE HATE HATE the taste of coffee.

I usually drink it mixed 50/50 with flavored coffee creamer.  So the thought of drinking it black or with just coconut milk was enough to turn my stomach.  I did end up having a cup of hot tea around 3PM to help soothe my throat.  It helped until  I sneezed.  My throat is on fire.

Hopefully, tonight I’ll get more sleep and start beating this cold.

Onto the rest of the program.

I have had no headaches or cravings for sugar, but I don’t usually everyday. For me that random and intense.  I can’t just have a teensy bit of Nutella every day and be okay, for me it’s 1 or 2 times a month I want to eat half the jar.

Today’s food is as follows:
Breakfast:  Frittata with Mushrooms, Onion, Red Bell Pepper, Ground Turkey, Tarragon and Parsley, 2/3 of Bear’s Banana
Snack:  Almonds on the way out the door to Bear’s sign language class
Lunch:  Chili (I made this recipe up, but I have a few improvements before I post it)
Snack:  Apple
Dinner:  Chicken Limone (chicken, arugula, mushrooms, brussel sprouts and lemon dressing)
Dessert:  Strawberries

At the end of the day I feel less bloated.  Hubs even noticed it compared to how I looked last night.  I thought eating all this fiber would give me a stomach ache but I haven’t felt one at all.  For now I’m trying to end the day with something sweet to kind of give me that dessert feel but I may try eliminating it in a few days. 

Tomorrow I’m excited to make smoothies and try some other produce I bought.

Whole30: Chicken Limone

This came out even better than I imagined.  However, word of warning…I LOVE lemon.

Basically, this is chicken, sautéed mushrooms and Brussel sprouts served over arugula, covered in a lemon vinaigrette.
Precooked chicken breast
3-4 oz. white mushrooms
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lemon
Fresh or frozen brussel sprouts

First I sliced up 1/2 of a 6.5 oz. pack of white mushrooms.
I added them to a hot fry pan with 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil.
While mushrooms are sautéing, prep your brussel sprouts.  I used fresh ones and washed them and then chopped off the ends.  (You can also use frozen ones, or the ones that come in steamer bags for more convenience.)
Place in steamer basket in 3/4” of water in a sauce pot.  Cover and steam for about 15 minutes.
Make sure to keep stirring the mushrooms occasionally to make sure they cook evenly.
Using a zester, zest the lemon.  I’m not a great zester so I showed a finished picture of how much I took off.  Make sure only to take the yellow part of skin and not the white bitter rind.
At this point, my mushrooms were finished.  I took them off the burner and let them sit.
I juiced and strained the whole lemon.
Combine zest, lemon juice, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of olive oil in mixing bowl and whisk well.  It will make this creamy yellow dressing.
I used a precooked chicken breast, I sliced it long ways to make it thin because I baked it in the toaster oven.
Put a nice handful of fresh arugula on a plate.
Top with chicken strips, sautéed mushrooms and spread brussel sprouts around.  Drizzle with lemon dressing.

Fantastic.  Even if after the 30 days we went back to our old eating habits, I would still make this.  The lemon dressing is fantastic. 

Other Options:
If you wanted to add more variety of color you could add tomatoes to this.  I was planning on adding grape tomatoes but didn’t have any.
If you’re unsure of brussel sprouts either try a different veggie or be experimental.  Use half the brussel sprouts and precook them.  Allow them to cool.  Cut them into quarters, and spread the leaves off the stems. This will pull all the leaves apart of the brussel sprouts and you can mix it in with the arugula.  Arugula has such a strong taste that you would never notice a few cabbage leaves in there. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whole30 to a whole new me!

Have you heard of Whole30?  I hadn’t. 

It’s basically a 30 day pledge to eat clean.  What’s clean you ask? 

No sugar, no beans, no imitation sugar, no grains and no dairy.

That’s a lot to lose, but I’m trying to focus on what I’ll gain.

I’m hoping to gain a lot from this program:
A better relationship with food
A new clothing size
A healthier appearance
More self esteem
More energy
More years on my life

Even though I’ve been gluten-free my postpartum weight loss has stopped.  I’m 15 lbs under my prepregnancy weight, which is fine and dandy except I’m still 35 lbs over my prepregnancy weight with Bear.  (Maybe if I had the stomachs of my boys and threw up half of everything I eat, that could change, or not.)

I’m still addicted to gluten-free junk food (Can we say NUTELLA?)

Isn’t the first step to fighting an addiction, to acknowledge it?  Well, here I am.  I’m going to just come out and say it.  I love all things junk, especially gluten-free ones. 

Ice cream, Cool Ranch Doritos, Nutella, Peanut Butter, Nutella, Nutella on Ice Cream….and so on.

I’m a little nervous about the first week of clean eating (although usually the first week of any life improvement is easy, it’s the sustaining that I struggle with).  So I way overspent on groceries, part in fear, and part in motivation to do this the right way.

I spent $160 on groceries, for one week of clean eating.  But, I think I can make it stretch further.  We got 2 huge Butternut Squash, a large Spaghetti Squash, 5 large yams, 2 quarts of strawberries, a pint of blackberries, 8 avocados, 2 packs of arugula, spinach, red peppers, Gala apples, bananas, almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, and a bunch of frozen fruits and veggies from Trader Joe’s and the farmer’s market. 

And a bunch of other stuff, including my favorite….BRUSSEL SPROUTS.

I know, how can someone addicted to Nutella also love Brussel Sprouts.  But I truly love those little cabbages, always have.  Even as a kid in elementary school, but I was too afraid to voice my loner opinion.

I’m hoping to journal my 30 day journey (and include some pictures and recipes) for a realistic look at whether this diet change is the right one.

And don’t worry, Hubs is doing it right along side me.   I also plan (for personal possession to take pictures of us to compare before and after to see if there really is a difference).

Bear will not be joining unless I make this a permanent change.  He struggles so much with the oral motor skills of eating and is so skinny that I can’t jeopardize his calorie intake.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sometimes you can’t pick up where you left off.

Recently Hubs, Bear, Monkey and I moved back to my hometown.  After receiving Monkey’s diagnosis we just knew we needed more daily support.


It was the right move for us, but I do miss our home in the Midwest.  I miss our friends and the location.  But we’re back home and we have our high school and college friends back and family just on the other side of the door.


Tonight we decided to have an inaugural dinner with friends to celebrate our homecoming (and my belated birthday).  I was excited.  There was an energy in our kitchen as I prepared a home-cooked meal.  There was a constant buzz in the air as we set up the table and chairs, made some orange iced tea, and readied ourselves. 


Dinner was great, food was tasty and conversation was lusciously flowing.  And then dinner and dessert were over and another group of friends joined us.  Soon we traded the table and chairs for comfy couches and recliners.  We mixed up and sat next to people we hadn’t seen in months.  I kept checking on Bear and Monkey (who were graciously being babysat by Grandma and Granddad next door).  I sat in this circle of friends and tried to take it in.  I tried to feel the camaraderie that I once had with all of them.  Sure, I laughed at the funny tales we had of old teachers, or the silly stunts that we all once took part in. 


And then one friend said it.  The R word.  Retarded.  Then he said it a second time and I told him that he better lose that word in this house.  Then another friend said it.


My heart literally shattered.  I looked at their faces differently than I once had.  Hubs and I had been gone for 5 years.  5 years is a lifetime when you’ve been married, bought and sold 2 houses and had 2 children with special needs before your friends were even married (some still aren’t).


The R word is not tolerated in this house.  My children have intellectual disabilities.  They are legitimately, medically retarded.  I will not let them live their daily lives pushing themselves as hard as they can to accomplish all they can just to have someone demean it.  Using the word retarded to describe an action or someone else is making my children second class citizens.  You are instantly writing them into the category of “less than good”.  It makes them into invaluable members of society. 


In the past 2 years my life has taken a drastically different turn.  I became much more devoted to my faith and I gave birth to my first son.  My first son, who happens to be intellectually and physically disabled.  It forced me to focus on love and what my son is truly about. I can scream to the world about his milestones and I can cry into his shoulder because he pulled up to stand.  I have a bond with him that lets me know when he’s hungry, thirsty or just needs snuggles because he has no ability to communicate with us.  It’s forced me to slow down and try to stop time.  We spent so much time in and out of hospitals that first year of Bear’s life that all time spent at home was sipped.  I didn’t dare try to take to big of a drink for fear that it would make time go by too quickly. 


And then Monkey joined us.  With the same challenges as Bear.  Thankfully, with Bear’s diagnosis in hand it saved us from a lot of hospital time with Monkey and he doesn’t have the same feeding challenges as Bear did.  However, I still relish in everything about it.  I trace every fat roll with my fingers and try to memorize them.  I try to burn into my brain how he fits in my arm.  I close my eyes and envision his big juicy cheeks jiggling in the carseat when he falls asleep.   I try to forget how stiff his arms are, or how fisted his hands are or that he’s not yet rolling over or grabbing toys.  I’m mentally recording his baby giggles and I wish I could bottle that sensation I get when his whole face lights up with his big baby grin.


I see others and I don’t see their shortcomings.  I don’t care if the grocery store clerk is slow to check my items out.  I don’t care if the waitress gets my order wrong.  Maybe that’s the fast the clerk can go, or maybe it’s the first job s/he held.  Maybe they have their own physical or mental challenges.  Maybe the waitress had a bad day.  Maybe her baby is home sick, or in daycare, or in the NICU and she’s just managing to keep it together.  I’ve been there.  I am there.  Bear works so hard on a daily basis just to do what comes so naturally to others.  I know he will never be as fast, as smart, or as physically skilled as a typical child.  While it’s AMAZING to me that he’s pulling up to stand, most people just ask when he’s going to walk.  They don’t see what he has accomplished, only what he is lacking.  But who he is, is the best Bear he can be.  And that is enough for me.


And this house, this house is retard free.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Opening Up About My Journey

I have anxiety.  I don’t know if it’s postpartum anxiety, my-children-have-special-needs anxiety, or regular old anxiety.


But I do know it became a problem.


Since Monkey was born my anxiety has been heightened.  Like any new Mom I was super careful holding my baby so his head didn’t flop, gently loving on him and being vigilant that Bear didn’t accidentally trample him.  However, something changed.  It’s been slowly getting worse.  I’ve been having heightened fear of death and thinking of it more.  I also thought, maybe it’s just because now I’ve got two kids to worry about once I’m gone.


After Monkey’s diagnosis Hubs took a leave of absence from work (for 4 days) and we headed to visit family.  We just needed some emotional support and a short escape.  I was driving on the return trip and we passed through a “Falling Rock Zone”.  All of a sudden all I could think of was those stories you hear about people killed by falling rocks.  I imagined what that must be like, to be driving along and the next thing, you’re dead.  You can’t even see the rocks coming.  I drove with a death grip on the steering wheel through that falling rock zone.  For the rest of the drive I was couldn’t get my mind to stray from vehicular accidents.  I had images of tires blowing out, people coming across the median, rain, ice, etc.  I was short-tempered for the entire drive because it was taking everything in my body to remain calm and not freak out about the dangers outside of us.


When we got home my anxiety seemed a little better and I did fine for about 5 days.  Then Hubs was at work and Bear was having a fussy day.  It was nothing extreme and I was doing okay.  Then Monkey woke up.  He screamed for 5 hours.  I couldn’t do anything to make him stop, I tried shushing, swaddling, feeding, changing, bathing, and more.  You name it, I tried it.  Finally, after about 5 hours I hit my limit.  I was done and so stressed out I actually had a panic attack. I had sat on the couch to try to give him a bottle and I realized I was kind of out breath.  This quickly escalated to feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest and that I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, I recognized it as a panic attack and breathed through it.  In for 2, out for 2, in for 4 out for 4, in for 6 out for 6, in for 8 out for 8 and so on.  It took me about 5-10 minutes to get the panic attack under control but that didn’t change how I felt.


I started thinking back and realized that in the past couple of weeks I had barely slept.  No matter how tired I was my mind would be racing.  It would take me at least an hour to fall asleep and I would wake up frequently  with nightmares or just unable to stay asleep. I even contemplated taking Benadryl but it leaves me  zombie-like the next day.  I constantly felt like I had drank 5 cups of coffee, I was jittery and short.  My memory was awful and I felt terrible.


I called the OB and they fit me in the next day.  Thankfully, she listened to me and agreed that I didn’t sound depressed.  I have no thoughts of hurting myself or my children.  In fact, I was so anxiety ridden over someone getting hurt that I can’t handle going anywhere because of all the hidden dangers.  She originally wanted to prescribe something as-needed for my anxiety but after expressing that my anxiety was pretty constant and that I was exhausted she said to try Zoloft.  It is an anti-depressant but also has great anti-anxiety properties.


I noticed an improvement in about 48 hours.  It does make me a little sleepy while my body adjusts to it.  I still have LOTS of awful thoughts.  However, they used to be marathons.  Once a thought would penetrate my brain, it wouldn’t leave.  It would just continue to play and grow and morph into more awful thoughts.  Now, they’re like commercials.  They come, they play and they leave.  I can move on.   I’m hoping that once I’m at the full dose and it’s had a few weeks to fully kick in that the thoughts start spreading out further and further.  I haven’t had a panic attack since and I have a lot more patience.  Yesterday Monkey screamed A LOT.  And for the first time it didn’t make my brain spin and didn’t evoke that sense of panic in my body.  It literally used to make my brain feel like it was going through a salad spinner.  My thoughts would jumble, I couldn’t hear right and I just struggled.  In turn, I would get panicky, my heart rate would increase, my palms would go sweaty and I was ready to fight or flight.  I was panicked that I wouldn’t be able to get him to stop crying, that I was a horrible mother, that something was wrong that I would miss.  You name it, I was anxious about it.


But now, I can breathe.  The mind jumbling fog is starting to thin and I feel focused.  You don’t realize how out of control your life is, until it’s too far gone.  I didn’t think my anxiety was that out of control until I was sitting on my couch, holding a 2-month old with my 2 year old on the floor and having a panic attack.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The News You All Have Been Waiting For

Throughout my pregnancy with Monkey we always noted how DIFFERENT he was than Bear.
He kicked.  He moved.  Bear had an echogenic focus in heart that appeared at 36 weeks, while Monkey had a Single Umbilical Artery.  Both soft markers for chromosomal issues, however, by themselves they don’t really increase your risks.

After Monkey was born they noted that his legs were “a little stiff”.  And he has micrognathia, which Bear also has but no one ever mentioned it, much less that it was a dysmorphic feature.  Also both his middle fingers are bent like when you make a fist.  He CAN straighten the right one, but it isn’t easy for him.  The left one is stuck.

Our pediatrician planted the seed that we might as well test him.  I had been dead set against it for a few months because of needle sticks and taking more blood, etc.  I ended up calling the geneticist and she wrote the order for the blood work.  I had no intention of having it drawn anytime soon.
We headed to the orthopedist for some checkups.  We wanted to check on Bear’s hips. 
Hypertonia, especially as severe at Bear’s, can cause the hips to not locate correctly as he grows.  Couple this with his minimal weight bearing and it’s a recipe for hip dysplasia.  He also has a large lump on his rib.  So we also went for peace of mind about whether he has signs of my bone disorder.  We decided to take Monkey and get his hips checked as to whether there was any anatomical reason for his “slight stiffness” and check on his fingers.

Finally, good news!  Bear has no evidence of hip dysplasia.  The orthopedist was shocked and said his hips look beautiful.  And, he has no evidence of my bone disorder as of now.

The orthopedist straightened Monkey’s fingers right in the exam room.  He said there is nothing orthopedically wrong with them, they’re contractures.  After a hip x-ray he also ruled that there is nothing wrong with his hips.  He said it’s just with his really high tone (aka hyperonia) that this has happened.  Both Hubs and I were shocked. I really feel like everyone was trying to lessen the blow and completely underplaying how bad his tone really is compared to typical.  We only have Bear to compare him to and he seemed totally different.  He had a newborn head flop, he needed support from both hands when holding and moving and he moves all his limbs.

And then it was just smacked across our faces by the orthopedist.  On the way home Hubs and I determined to have the blood draw.  We dropped Bear and my Mom off at our house and took Monkey by ourselves.

Fast forward 4 weeks and we call the geneticist to check in.  Hubs goes to work and calls me about 3 hours later with the awful news.  He says “The geneticist called back”.  Insert a really long pause here.  I knew. I just knew. My stomach dropped.  Literally.  I had just put Monkey in the swing to nap. I was still half bent over placing the burp cloth across his tummy.  I lost it.  I collapsed to my knees and sobbed so hard it physically hurt.  “Monkey does have it”.  It hurt so badly to hear those words.  Hubs asked me if I wanted him to come home and through my gut-wrenching sobs I managed to choke out “It’s up to you”. 

He thankfully said he was coming home and I picked Monkey back up and snuggled him on the couch.  I buried my face into his tightly swaddled body and sobbed with my entire body and heart.  It really felt like I was turning inside out in pain. 

This wound is still fresh (only a few weeks old) and it’s really deep.  It’s taking a long time to heal and stings every time I mention it.  Evidenced by the tears I’m wiping away as I write this.

My heart hurts so badly that I’m afraid it will never heal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Frugality and Ethnicity

I really feel that a lot of my frugalness has been handed down to me from prior generations.  My grandparents emigrated to the US in 1949 with my Aunt who was just a little baby at the time.  The three of them got on a boat and headed for a new land.  They were sponsored by a current US citizen so they got to skip the long lines of Ellis Island and landed straight in a big city.
Scan001, September 05, 2005
My Grandfather picked celery for a short time before landing a job working with boilers (I’m not really sure what he did, he retired long before I was born).  My Grandmother stayed home and they added to their family with 2 more little girls (the youngest being my Mother).  Once my eldest Aunt turned 18, she and my Grandmother got jobs and took citizenship classes.  My Grandmother had to wait till my Aunt was old enough to get her license because she couldn’t drive.  For some reason, that whole cars-coming-at-you thing was WAY too much for her to handle.

I couldn’t imagine packing up my things and leaving my entire family (including 8 brothers and sisters) and everything I’ve ever known to go an ocean away to a new continent.  And this was 63 years ago, before cell phones, internet and Skype.  Now we can just turn the computer on and hit “Video Call” and see our loved ones from all over the world, almost instantly.

What does my long family history have to do with frugality?  Everything.  My Grandparents didn’t have money to throw away (even if it was the wrong currency).  My Grandmother raised 3 little girls by sewing their own clothing, cooking all things homemade, providing my Grandfather with his comfort foods in a place far away from home, and saving money anyway she could.  They lived in a city and walked everywhere. Their home only had a wood burning stove in the kitchen.  So every winter, they would all move their beds downstairs and sleep as close to it as possible.

My parents have held strong to their roots.  Growing up I can count on my one hand the number of times I had jarred spaghetti sauce or Jell-o.  And if we did have Jell-o, it was dessert with whipped cream, NOT considered part of meal.  I didn’t realize how ethnically I grew up until I got old enough to go to friends’ houses for dinner.  They ate spaghetti with Ragu and Jell-o with carrots in it, and they never would have had bread pudding for dessert.

I’ve been trying to carry on the traditions that my Grandparents worked so hard to hold onto, despite their long journey and tiresome life.  I’ve learned how to make recipes the way my Grandmother did, without lavish ingredients but overstuffed with love (and a little bit of elbow grease).  I’ve been living by my Grandfather’s stingy rule of BUY NOT WANT NOT.  He always preached that once you started buying stuff, you needed to keep buying more stuff.  He was a minimalist at heart.  If he needed something he bought it ONCE.  Meaning, he saved us his money and bought a new car so that he could drive it till it died.  Nothing he bought was disposable.
I’m trying to live this way.  I challenge myself to use as many reusable things as possible.  We try to throw as little out as possible.  I try to handmake gifts instead of just buying some cheap novelties.  I try to use as many cloth diapers as possible and we try to make as minimal trash as possible.

Have you ever tried cloth napkins instead of paper?  I bought these napkins in white when we were first married.  Once we use them we throw them in with the whites (and some bleach for santizing).  I even use them as burp cloths occasionally and they’re great to clean up Bear’s face and hands after eating.  I never have to worry about running out of napkins or needing to buy more.  I’m sure they’ve saved me money but they’ve also saved a LOT of paper products from being in the landfill.

How about rags for the kitchen instead of paper towels?  I do use paper towels.  I bought one pack of Small Steps over a year ago and I still have half a roll left.  Instead I use stained washcloths, microfiber cleaning cloths, retired burp cloths and any other clean rags.

Try taking your own reusable challenge.  It will save your wallet and our landfills.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to our little Monkey!

Warning:  Long, detailed birth story ahead

Bear's 2nd birthday was June 1 (one week before my due date).  We closed on our house that morning and had lots of errands to run.  I just felt off all day.  I kept having a tummy ache that would come and go.  My parents arrived around 3 PM to celebrate Bear's birthday and we all went out to grab a quick dinner while Hubs was at work.  All my crampiness died off in the evening, although I woke a few times during the night because I think I was in pain.  I was so tired though, that I just fell right back to sleep.

Saturday June 2, I had lots to do. I had to refill Bear's medication so that if we went into the hospital he wouldn't run out.  My parents were planning on staying until our Monkey joined us.  We also had to make a stop at a grocery store afterwards to fill a prescription for my Dad.  While walking around for the 20 minutes we had to wait for them to fill it I started having pretty noticeable contractions.  One I had to stop walking through and just breathe.  However, they were extremely irregular in time and intensity.  I went to the bathroom and realized I had lost my mucous plug.  All day long the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart.  But, they weren't extremely intense or regular.  Occasionally I would have to stop and breathe through one.  Hubs came home around 5:30 from work (he was making it up from the day prior).  My contractions seemed to completely stop so we all went to a local restaurant to celebrate Bear's birthday.  Saturday night is polka night after all.  On the way home we ran to Dairy Queen to get Bear a birthday cake and came home to sing Happy Birthday to him and Granddad.

Around 8PM I was overwhelmed by a sudden wave of exhaustion.  I excused myself and went and laid in bed and watched some Teen Mom on while the contractions returned..  Hubs put Bear to bed around 9:15 and came in to check on me.  The contractions seemed to be coming stronger however were still only about 5-7 minutes apart. Hubs decided to shower in case this was it.  Around 9:45 we decided to try to get some sleep since they weren't getting any closer together.  I was panicking that I couldn't see the clock from my side of the bed so how was I going to time them.   He said if I told him when I was having a contraction he would watch the clock.  About 30 seconds later I was moaning through a contraction.  5 minutes later another one.  5 minutes later another one.  Hubs decided to call the doctor since they were only about 5-7 minutes apart and lasting 20-60 seconds.  The doctor said it sounded like a false alarm but if we wanted to head to the hospital and get checked out it was okay.  The hospital is 30 minutes away so I was scared to go and not be in labor and I was scared to wait too long.

Finally around 10:45 we decided we should go in.  They seemed to be getting stronger despite not being anymore regular.  The car ride was intense.  They were lasting about 30-60 seconds and coming every 5 minutes.  It was strange, every time one would end I would breathe a sigh of relaxation.  After 3-4 minutes would pass I would convince myself that this was a false alarm and they were just going to stop.  Then a minute later another one would start.  At this point I was doing anything to get through them, more so because I HATED being in the car, strapped down under a seatbelt than because of how painful they were.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:22.  I had a contraction as soon as we got there and had to bend over and lean against the car while Hubs got our bag.  The ER clock said 23:22 while I sat in a wheelchair waiting for someone to take us to L&D.  We finally got up there about 10 minutes later and the nurse had me change into a gown.  About 15 minutes later she hooked me up to a monitor and left.  I had Hubs tell me if the numbers were going up on the contraction monitor.  When he said "YES!" I finally felt myself relax.  Somehow, I had been convincing myself these weren't real contractions (I had just had an NST the morning prior and didn't have one contraction while there).   The on-call doctor came in check on things and do a quick ultrasound to ensure baby was definitely head down.  Since I had declined prior cervical checks he was a little short with me.  However, he nonchalantly let me know I was already 5cm and would definitely be staying.

I finally got moved from triage to a room and the nurse started my IV.  She was very supportive of me going "natural" (I always hate this term, how is birth unnatural?).  She kept telling me "If that's something that you want, then you can do it".  After monitoring me and the baby and starting my IV she said I could walk the halls if I wanted for 40 minutes.  So DH and I took off, if not for anything but something to do.  After about 20 minutes I just couldn't walk anymore.  I was so tired, it was so late (about 2AM at this point), and my legs were feeling so shaky.  I tried laying down in bed which was fine and I would doze off inbetween contractions.  This was AWFUL!!! The contraction would wake me up and I struggled to catch myself mentally with the pain.  I just couldn't center my focus and decided to put on the TV to stay up between contractions.  Around 5AM I started bawling to Hubs that I couldn't do this.  I had a lot of pressure (although I didn't realize that's what it was at the time) and I was struggling to get through the contractions.  I had hit a wall and hadn't tried to find a more comfortable position to labor in.  I asked to be checked.  Like I said, the nurse was very supportive and said she wouldn't check me, unless I asked.  I told Hubs I couldn't do this, I would be way too tired to push.  So, if I was only 6 or 7 cm then I was getting an epidural.  I cried my eyes out.  I wanted so badly to go naturally and I felt like a failure.  Hubs was so encouraging saying, it didn't matter and no matter what I did my best.

The nurse checked me, I WAS 9cm!  Well if that wasn't a boost of confidence.  I tried laboring standing up, but I was too shaky.  I found sitting cross legged in bed while holding Hubs' hand I was much more comfortable.  Around 5:45 it was getting intense. I had to squeeze Hubs' hand hard to send all my pain and tensing out that way so I didn't tense my lower half.  I had him continuously talk to me through a contraction telling me "you can do this" "you're almost there" "you're doing so well"  "you are so strong" meanwhile I was breathing like a crazy woman. As soon as the contraction peaked I would have him tell me so that I knew I was on the downhill and had made it through.  I had a lip of cervix left so the doctor broke my water (she had shown up at around 5:30).  She offered to check me and I declined because I was so uncomfortable.  The contractions were torture now because I wanted to push but they told me not to so fighting the urge was PAINFUL!  Finally I asked if I could push a little and they said yes, I just couldn't not push at all.  It was such a relief even to push just a little. It was like I had direction for the pain.  Instead of holding it in and spreading it around my belly I could focus it a little bit.  I did that for about 3 contractions and the next thing I knew, I HAD TO PUSH.  I COUDLN'T STOP IT.  Literally.  It takes over you.

After Bear's difficult birth and possible birth injury I was panicked through the pushing stage.  I just pushed.  As hard as I could.  I screamed through the first ones.  Another nurse had come into the room (I have no idea when she just appeared there) and said I needed to grab behind my knees (my hands were death gripping the bars on the side of the bed) and curl around the baby and push.  And to hold my breath.  I frantically told her I can't.  My nurse (amazing woman) calmly told me that I could, that I was doing this.  That I was so close, and that I had come too far to lose it now.  I have no idea how I did it, but I moved (I really don't remember it, I just remember that the next thing I knew my hands were around my knees).  I pushed and pushed and pushed and SCREAMED (Hubs look petrified, but hey, it hurt!!!) and Monkey was born at 6:04AM.  About 7 minutes of pushing.  They always tell you that pushing is 2 steps forward one step back.  The baby moves up and down the birth canal.  Not Monkey.  I pushed and when I stop pushing I was squeezing so hard that he never went back up.  Like I said, I was frantic.  We know too well the fears of birth injuries and the damage that can occur.  I pushed like his life depended on it and ended up with a 2nd degree tear because of it.  I didn't care it was worth it.  All in all, the labor part was pretty easy.  It was the delivery I was NOT prepared for.

They placed him on my chest while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.  Worst part of unmedicated deliveries?  The numbing shots and feeling all the stitches.  I got to love on my baby while panicking that I could feel the needle stitching me up.  After about 40 minutes they weighed him and cleaned him up.  He was 8lb 9oz and 19in long.  Ultrasound had estimated he would be 7lb 13oz so we were surprised he was as big as he was. However, Bear was even bigger (8lb 14oz) at birth at a similar gestational age.  After a few hours we were transferred to our postpartum room.  They took Monkey for his exams and a bath and Hubs and I got a GOOD, well deserved nap.  I think his hand hurt more than he let on.

Welcome to our little Monkey!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

My battle song

This song is constantly cycling on my Itunes.  I keep adding it to playlists so that I hear it every few songs.  It's the song that gets me through the days and gets me moving.

Stand Back Up by Sugarland
Go ahead and take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
I'm laid out on the floor, but I've been here before,
I may stumble, yeah I might fall,
Only human aren't we all?
I might lose my way, but hear me when i say,

I will stand back up,
Youll know just the moment when ive have enough,
Sometimes im afraid, and i dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,

I've been beaten up and bruised,
I've been kicked right off my shoes,
Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe,
When the darkness tries to get me,
Theres a light that just wont let me,
It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes,
But I'll stand back up,

I've weathered all these stroms,
But i just turn them into wind, so i can fly,
What don't kill you makes you stronger,
When I take my last breath,
Thats when I'll just give up,

So, go ahead to take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
You might win this round but you cant keep me down,

'Cause I'll stand back up,
And you'll know just the moment when ive had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,

You'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up. 

The part that goes  "Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe, when the darkness tries to get me, there's a light that just wont let me, It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes, but I'll stand back up" was written for me.  Or at least that's how it feels.  This song is so cathartic, I can't help but feel empowered every time I hear it.  It acknowledges the hurt, the collapse, the breaking point but it moves on.  It recognizes that you can't stand back up unless you've already fallen.  That place on the floor, the one with my knee impressions on it from where I've fallen so many times, that's just my battle scar.  The true victory is that I'm standing back up on my feet despite the viciousness of the attacks upon me.  I'm beaten and bruised, my struggle is clearly written upon me, but the tears that wash down my face don't weaken me.  They are my strength.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Follow up

Back in August I wrote a wish list for my son. They're all things that his hypertonia and genetic disorder make difficult and possibly impossible.

Well, I'd like to update that list today because I feel I owe it to Bear to show how he has proved everyone wrong.

The Wish List of a Special Needs Mom

1) To see my son take a step, even if it’s assisted in a gait trainer. I'm happy to report that Bear has taken off walking in his gait trainer.  We walk around the complex, around his school, and he is just on the go.
2) To hear the word “Mama” even if it’s not directed at me.
3) To be able to pack cute Bento lunches for him because he still hasn’t figured out chewing.
4) To have him develop separation anxiety because sometimes it feels like he doesn’t know I’m Mama.
5) The only needles my son will endure are vaccines.
6) To be able to use a restaurant high chair, because he still cannot sit unsupported.  Bear now sits in shopping carts and restaurant high chairs.  We only use ones with buckles or straps because he doesn't do very well with righting himself and catching himself.  He also sits completely unsupported and crawls and is starting to cruise furniture.
7) To not have tears at the scariness of the unknown future.  

Number 7.  I wish I could say the tears have stopped.  But they haven't.  However, they've changed.  They've grown, they've matured, they've found new homes and new paths.  I'm not crying at the fear of future although I still cry at the unknown.  I'm crying because my son has sat up for the first time at 18 months.  I'm crying because I've got 2 awful genetic mutations that have done this to him. However, I'm unscathed.  I cry because I would do ANYTHING to take the suffering Bear goes through away and bear it myself.  I cry because no matter how hard I try, I can't take it away.  I cry, because that little boy is mine.  That stubborn little boy who they said would never sit or crawl, and probably never walk.  That little boy that is proving them all wrong.  I cry because he's teaching me to move mountains, to push my hardest and to never give up even when the odds are stacked against you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Money Management, our beginning steps

Is it ironic that I'm in some pretty deep debt and yet writing a post about money management? Well maybe, but I've learned a lot from being in debt. Especially, when it seems easier to pull the towel over your eyes.

RULE #1 That heinous B word....No not that one!
Unless you know what money is coming in and going out, then you'll never know how much to spend or save. And if you're spending more than you're bringing in, you'll never get out of debt.

For the past 3 months I've been saving every receipt and recording everything we purchase. I just use a simple excel spreadsheet and record how much our rent is, car insurance, average utilities, and any other fixed bills (I pay $100/month to the hospital for Monkey's Delivery). Every paycheck I take out half of those costs and send it to savings so we don't accidentally spend it. When we get Hubs' 2nd paycheck of the month, I add that lump back into the checking account. From there I've follow the 10% rule. I try to send 10% minimum to each medical bill to stay in good standing. But they don't accrue interest and don't report to credit so it seems silly to pay them off fast while paying 16%-17% interest on a credit card. Then I pull out $50/week for Hubs' fuel for work, $65 biweekly for my fuel, $70/week for Monkey's formula and $50/week for groceries.

For us, we don't use paper towels or napkins, we use cloth and rags. We do have paper towels but I haven't bought a pack in almost a year. They're for the occasional cat mess or traveling. We also cloth diaper. We do use some disposables but they've all been gifted to us, or I only buy them once in a while and save some money from something else to pay for them. I buy kids clothes on sale and again, a lot were gifted. Bear doesn't really need many clothes, he hasn't grown very much in the past year. Monkey on the other hand is growing like a weed. He's already in 3-6 month clothing at the 8.5 week mark. We'll have to buy him new clothes as he keeps growing. I try to buy them off season at a deep discount (think $0.99 for a onesie with an adorable appliqued airplane from Gymboree)

RULE #2 Cut back...way back.
Since having Monkey my fuel costs have plummeted. I'm so exhausted and taking the two kids out is impossible, so I don't go anywhere. We now have central air so we're trying to keep it set high in the daytime. We've also closed most of the vents on the first floor and turn it down lower at night. In the winter our heat is set to 64 and we wear warm clothes. We have bundled cell phones and my mom is on our plan too. We just changed our car insurance to Geico and cut our bill by about $40/month. And now that there are 2 kids, going out to dinner is not fun so eating in has saved us so much money (and headaches). And because we don't go anywhere, we don't really buy much outside of food.

 RULE #3 Acceptance.
In our materialistic consumer based society "I want" is always at the forefront of our minds. Newer cars, newer stuff, newer clothes, newer toys and clothes for the kids, the latest restaurant, cute cloth diapers (okay so maybe this only for the fluff obsessed), and the list could go on and on. Learn to look around and be happy with what you have. Our main car is 3 years old. It's small and fuel efficient. Sure it's a pain to squish everybody in, but seeing the 35.8mpg on our trip a few weeks ago was more than enough incentive. Monkey has minimal toys or clothes that are new because Bear's stuff is more than enough.

One thing that helps me is to calculate how long I'd have to save up to buy something. Think of the cost PRIOR to purchase. Sure, you buy the car and pay $200/month for 5 years. Well, this doesn't seem so bad, you're basically paying to use a car. But if you calculate the payment plus interest you pay about 1.5-2times more for it than the purchase price. However, if you had to save $200/month for 5 years to purchase that car you would probably choose a cheaper model or one with a few miles one it to save some money. Sure, I may want an Ipad, but $500 is a half of a thousand. Which is a huge percentage of our debt. And even once we're debt free, $500 is a half of a thousand, which is a huge percentage of a down payment on a new house.

RULE #4 Combine your faith and your finances.

Matthew 6:24 says "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." When we're in debt we are serving a master that takes away from our faith in God. We cannot tithe because we're in debt payoff mode, we cannot give to others like we should. We need to commit to God first, family second, ourselves last. Nowhere in there is money.

RULE #5 Create shopping rules.
     Our #1 rule for any shopping is...NEVER go when hungry.
     Create a list and stick to it (but make sure there is always a family treat worked in so you don't    
     feel deprived).
     Choose a meal planning method that works for you.
     Don't impulse buy large purchases.
     Always research and get a few price quotes.
     Ask about price matching.
     And our last steadfast rule is "Before you buy always ask why" Why am I buying this? Why do    
     I feel I need it?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Since I've been gone

I've put 3 offers in on a house that were all rejected
Sold a house
Rented a condo
Gave birth, unmedicated!
Had my 3 week old go into surgery and land in a 4 day hospital stay
Received horrible, mind bending information (I will elaborate later)
Formulated a plan for the future (I will also elaborate on this later)

Hubs and I found a beautiful house that was foreclosed on and needed minimal work. It had a laundry room, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car garage and an acre of property. Oh and it was only 6 years old! Compared to our home with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, 5 acres and 60 years old, it was a huge improvement. Our first offer was thrown out. We put in a second offer and it was rejected. We put in a third offer and the house went to a higher bidder. A few months later we found the house back on the market. Before we could even get to put in an offer, it was under contract. We were devastated, so we went and found a condo down the road and rented. It's a $300 month savings on our mortgage/taxes.

 We sold our house. Unfortunately, our real estate agent was a crook. We asked her time and time again about closing costs etc and she repeatedly quoted us a number that was $6000 lower than it ended up being.

 We're not debt-free anymore. We racked up debt getting the house ready for sale (installing our new furnace, painting, finishing trim and flooring, cleaning, inspections, etc). On top of that we had to purchase things to be ready for our new little boy. And then we had some medical expenses that cropped up. And then, we had to put a security deposit down on the condo. Needless to say, our credit cards crept up and we're once again in debt payoff mode.

And then, we had a beautiful baby boy. Monkey was born 6/3/2012 at 6:04 AM. I'll post a birth story in the near future. And things have been crazy since.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Long time,

A lot has happened in the past few months. More than my brain, heart, and faith could handle. I had to take time away and focus on my family and myself. But, I think I'm back. I look forward to sharing with everyone. Be prepared for big things!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Breathing life into leftovers: Asian Salad

Last weekend Hubs and I headed to the grocery store.  They had pork roast on sale for $1.99/lb so I picked up a pack with 2 in it (about 3.5 lbs).  Fast forward a few days and I found it in the fridge on the bottom shelf.  I was weary about freezing it (a few days may be an understatement) so I roasted them both in the oven with some Montreal Steak Seasoning. We had it for supper with cauliflower and another side I don’t remember.

When Hubs and I were vacationing in Shipshewana, IN we ate a small coffee shop.  I can’t find a link for it, and I can’t remember the name.  I had an Asian chicken salad, which was so fantastic I drool thinking about it.

EDIT:  I found them.  It’s called Morton Street Coffee.

So I decided to try to recreate it.

I made a sweet asian dressing which was kind of morphed between a few recipes I found

Asian Salad (serves 4)

3/4 cup of oil (I used vegetable because I had it on hand.  I think olive would be too strong for this recipe)
3/8 cup of rice vinegar (I used seasoned because that’s what I have)
3/8 c sugar
1 Tbsp soy sauce ( I added this for that asian flavor and a lot of recipes called for salt so I thought this was a good addition)

1 head of Napa Cabbage (I cut mine into shreds)
1 cup shredded carrots (I like carrots, I only chopped mine because I was lazy)
1/4 cup of sliced almonds (or more if you like)
1/4 dried cranberries
1 cup of diced meat of your choice (I used leftover pork roast and it was fantastic.  I can’t wait to try it with grilled chicken. If you want to keep it vegetarian, skip the meat)

1/4 cup sesame sticks

Mix dressing ingredients and whisk or shake so that everything gets emulsified.  Toss with salad ingredients.  Top with sesame sticks.

This was so good.  Hubs and I both had 2 bowls of it, but we only made half this recipe.  Next time I may try adding sunflower seeds for some more nutrition.  I’ve only tried Napa Cabbage once before, it was cooked and I didn’t like it.  But, I wanted to give it the chance to redeem itself. The checkout lady didn’t even know what it was when trying to ring it up.  I’m glad to have added a new vegetable to our repertoire and a new meal to our family’s meal plan.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Downsizing in today’s world

I read a lot of posts on the internet where people judge others for their spending habits.  Who cares if you’re “cheap”.  I know a lot of people with a lot of money who shop for clothing at Goodwill, can their own food, etc.

People seem to assume that once you have money you can start spending it.  But if we all did that, then we wouldn’t have any money.

Currently we live in a 1400 sq ft home.  It has 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms.  Most people consider our home “small”.  However we have a very large living room and kitchen.  Our rooms are good sized and have large closets.  We also have a full basement.  I’ve never longed for space here.

Hubs and I put in an offer on a house yesterday.  It’s only just over 1200 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  And it has no basement. A lot of people have asked why.

Well because we WANT to downsize.  Upsizing comes with a lot of hidden costs.  A bigger home costs more to heat, cool, maintain, taxes, insurance, etc.  It costs more of my time to clean it and I don’t have that luxury right now.

We’ve been furiously sorting, packing, donating and trashing our current possessions in order to get our house on the market on Tuesday. (Yes we put an offer in on a house before ours is sold. It is a short sale/foreclosure and the bank has up to 60 days to accept, counter or reject our offer.  It could take a long time). 

I cannot believe the amount of stuff we had that was unopened from my bridal shower or that I couldn’t remember the last time we used.  We had a beautiful set of crystal candlesticks, vase and dish that was literally still in the box, never used.  We had an electric skillet that I remember using once in this house.  We’ve lived here for 3.25 years now.

With every box we donated it really felt like a weight was lifted of my chest.  It’s been easier to clean our home without so much junk in the way, and it’s been easier to find everything we need.  We’ve done 1 van-full to a local thrift store that is part of church community and 1 to the new salvation army a few miles away. 

It’s been easy to overlook all the stuff because of our basement.  A lot of things were in boxes, out of sight and out of mind.  It’s been easier to ignore it than to dive into it and clean it. But then it hit me, we have to move all this stuff!  We’ve donated clothing, unused blankets, small appliances, wedding gifts, baby clothing, school supplies, etc.  And I feel better.

I’ve talked with a lot of people who can’t believe how much we’ve gotten rid of.  And I get the same old question…what if you need it in the future?  Well, I haven’t needed it in the 5 years we’ve been married and I didn’t even remember we had it, so I doubt I’ll ever need it.  People confuse the word want and need lately.  I wanted a nice new car.  I needed a reliable car to get Bear and I to doctors appointments with good gas mileage.  I got a car that was 2 years old and had 16,000 miles on it.  Not my dream car, but it’s been terrific.  I may WANT crystal candlesticks in my future, but I certainly do not need them. 

Once we started boxing things up we stored them in the kitchen (we have this weird corner which would be great for a china hutch, but we never got one) for two weeks.  If in those two weeks I needed something out of those boxes then I could retrieve it and all would be well.  Shortly after stacking them in the kitchen, I realized I wouldn’t need anything in them because to be honest, I couldn’t even really remember what we packed in them.

The only time I had a hard time parting with anything was our baby girl clothes.  We didn’t find out Bear’s sex before he was born and we had been given a few girl clothes.  I held on to them incase this baby was a girl.  It was very hard to get rid of them knowing that we won’t have anymore children after this Baby Boy (even though I desperately want them).  But I know in my heart, that someone else can use them and it can help me move through my grief over this diagnosis.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hello, out there.

Life has been viciously keeping me busy and occupied.  A lot has happened since I last wrote here.

Bear has begun crawling!  I literally cried when he got up on all four’s and crawled out of the living room.  He also hasn’t had a fever in 2 months and unfortunately one popped up on Monday.

The Botox has been a miracle drug here.   Unfortunately, it was far from the cheap aspect of our lives and we’ve been struggling with our medical debt.

This past Monday we were hit hard.  With a stomach virus.  I don’t think I’ve ever been that sick in my LIFE.  I ended up in the ER two times (IN THE SAME DAY) for fluids and anti-nausea meds so that I could keep something down.

Hubs came down with it Tuesday night just in time for our big ultrasound.

Speaking of our big ultrasound, our little baby showed off the goods in about 3 seconds.


I don’t know how to feel.  I yelled at Hubs the other night when he was saying “Well God surely won’t make us have another special needs baby.”.  I had to yell at him.  We’ve been saying the same thing for years and miraculously it’s never worked.  Surely he would give us a break and Bear would be fine, nope he has a genetic mutation that causes all of his issues.  Surely I won’t be a carrier.  Nope, I’m a carrier.  Surely this baby will be a girl so we can have a break from worry.  Nope, it’s a boy.

I can’t do it anymore. 

I can honestly say I’m 100% thrilled to have another boy.  I love boy stuff, I love blue and tan and trucks and planes.  But, I’m not 100% thrilled that I get to spend the next 4.5 months worrying about this baby.  If it was a girl, I would be almost free of this worry.  She wouldn’t have a 50/50 chance of being affected like Bear.  But this baby does.  I may be incubating another special needs child.  I may be bringing into this world another child that is going to struggle on a daily basis, is going to work harder than most people ever will just to still be behind. 

I’m going to be honest.  I’m petrified.  I’m petrified to love this little guy because I’m so scared of getting my heart broken.  I’m petrified of having a typical son, that I won’t know what to do, or I won’t be enough.  I’m petrified of Bear becoming second best having a typical brother.  I’m scared of people judging me if I have two special needs sons so close in age.  I’m scared of the day when everyone starts asking about Bear as his little brother because of his size and lack of skills. 

I’m not so sure how to swallow this news.  It is what it is, I can’t make him be a girl and I can’t erase these founded fears. 

Our other big news is, we’re selling our home.  Our home is a ranch. However, it’s not on a flat lot so our garage is in the basement and our stairs are very narrow and steep.  The hallways are narrow and have lots of turns.  This will not work for Bear in the long term.  We hope to be able to assist him in becoming mobile but the reality is that he will always need some sort of assisting equipment.  While Bear is still young and small (meaning we can carry him up and down stairs and in and out of the car) we are going to move into a rental.

Our hope is to get all our medical bills paid off and some money back in our savings so we’re not so strapped for cash when surprise bills roll in.  We’ll probably rent somewhere local for a year and then decide on our next move.

Hubs’ work is changing.  They’re making him work a different shift.  While this is okay for now and will probably work out well when we have a new baby, it’s not ideal for the long term.

Our family is in limbo right now just cleaning and decluttering our home getting ready to sell.

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